It seems that hockey fans in Calgary are in for some interesting times with the news that the NHL’s Flames are moving their AHL affiliate, the Heat, from Stockton, Calif., to Calgary. . . . The AHL announced on Monday that its board of governors has approved the relocation of the franchise in time for next season. . . . With the exception of the 2020-21 season that was impacted by the pandemic, the Heat had been in Stockton since 2015. . . . The Flames and Heat are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corp., which also owns the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen and the National Lacrosse League’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . All four teams play out of the Scotiabank Saddledome. . . . “At this point,” wrote Danny Austin of the Calgary Sun, “it remains unclear whether the Heat will play at the Scotiabank Saddledome. It’s already a busy rink, so one of the CSEC tenants may need to move.” . . . Former WHL player and coach Mitch Love is the Heat’s head coach and has them in the third round of the AHL playoffs. They opened a best-of-five Pacific Division final against the visiting Colorado Eagles on Monday night. The Heat won that game, 5-0, behind 23 saves from G Dustin Wolf and two goals from F Justin Kirkland.
After taking Sunday off, the WHL playoffs resumed on Monday night with the Winnipeg Ice meeting the Oil Kings in Edmonton in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final. They will play Game 4 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Game 5 there on Friday. . . . The Western Conference final will be back on the ice tonight with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds tied, 1-1, in Kent, Wash.
MONDAY IN THE WHL:
Kaiden Guhle and Jake Neighbours help out on Jalen Luypen's tying marker with 1:18 to go. Guhle put home only goal of 2nd period, his fourth of postseason for a 2-point game. Neighbours also sets up winning marker, 2nd multi-assist & 2nd multipoint game thus far. https://t.co/366mZjiIL8
In Edmonton, F Justin Sourdif scored in the first OT period to give the No. 2 Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, who held a 55-21 edge in shots, have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven conference final. . . . They’ll play Games 4 and 5 in Edmonton on Wednesday and Friday. Because of the distance between the cities, this series is following a 2-3-2 format. . . . This was the second game in the series to be decided in OT; the Oil Kings won Game 1, 5-4, in Winnipeg on Friday. F Tyler Horstmann scored the winner at 1:07 of the first OT period. . . . Last night, the teams were tied 1-1 after the first period for the third time in as many games. . . . The home side went ahead 1-0 when F Dylan Guenther (12) struck at 14:28, with F Jack Finley (7) pulling Winnipeg even, on a PP, at 18:02. . . . The Oil Kings went back in front at 2:12 of the second period when D Kaiden Guhle (4) scored. . . . The visitors scored a pair of third-period goals — by F Connor McLennon (7), at 9:00, and F Zach Benson (9), at 16:14 — to take a 3-2 lead. . . . But Edmonton F Jayden Luypen (4) tipped in a Guhle shot at 18:42 to force extra time. . . . Sourdif scored the winner off a rush through the neutral zone. He split two defencemen at the top of the circles in the Ice zone and sent in to beat G Gage Alexander at 8:04 of OT. . . . F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton’s captain, drew an assist on each of his club’s last two goals. . . . Alexander finished with 51 saves, 33 more than Edmonton’s Sebastian Cossa. . . . Winnipeg was 1-for-2 on the PP; Edmonton was 0-for-4. . . . The Oil Kings were without F Jaxsen Wiebe, who also will sit out Game 4. He was suspended for two games after being tossed from Game 2 for a headshot on Winnipeg D Max Streule, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . Winnipeg had McClennon in the lineup, but F Matt Savoie was scratched with an undisclosed injury. Neither player finished Game 2. . . . The Ice had to scratch F Owen Pederson, who drew a one-game suspension under supplemental discipline for high-sticking D Luke Prokop. Pederson was given a double minor on the play at 17:25 of the first period.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered wrote on Monday about the impending sale of the OHL’s Niagara Falls IceDogs to Darren DeDobbelaer and speculation that Wayne Gretzky is in for five per cent. Both men are from Brantford, Ont. . . . Campbell also had this:
“DeDobbelaer also declined to comment on the purchase price, which is believed to be $18 million, which is actually 10 percent less than the $20 million owners Bill and Denise Burke were seeking for the franchise. And that makes sense, since the league had suspended GM Joey Burke and coach Billy Burke, the sons of the owners, until at least 2024 for violating the league’s harassment, abuse and diversity policy. And while the Burkes were not forced to sell, they were definitely a motivated seller, which served to bring the price down.
“(And, once again, the next time you hear these junior hockey owners complain that they have to pay their players poverty wages in order to keep the lights on — and the government of the day agrees with them by allowing them to skirt minimum-wage laws — remember that they do just fine. When their teams are competitive and enjoy long playoff runs, they make plenty of money. And as the Burkes did, they always, always cash out when they sell.)”
If you aren’t already, you should consider subscribing to Hockey Unfiltered.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.
The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs as head coach.
Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).
However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.
The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.
While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.
The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.
The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s Memorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.
Yes, they did. Seriously.
Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”
And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.
The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.
One of the things that makes Gardiner MacDougall an ideal candidate for Saint John is that he’s been watching the team (and league) for years for recruiting purposes.
Although he’s never coached in the QMJHL, there’ll be a high-level of familiarly for him with a lot of players.
The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.
The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.
Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.
The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.
For those counting, whoever Saint John chose to replace Gordie Dwyer will be their 5th head coach over the last 3 seasons.
Josh Dixon, Jeff Cowan, Greg Gilbert, and now Gordie Dwyer have all served as head coach of the Sea Dogs since February 2020.
This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.
Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.
The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.
The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to step behind the bench late in a season.
Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.
In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.
Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.
“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”
With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.
“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”
Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”
The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.
(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)
In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.
The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.
That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.
Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.
In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).
Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.
“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.
Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after testing positive for COVID-19.
“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”
Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”
The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.
“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”
We have a date! The new scoreboard will be installed this summer in time for the next @SeattleTbirds season. Looking forward to seeing it.
These days I am spending time going through more than 40 years worth of files. As pages and pages of clippings, news releases and more, most of them related to the WHL and various teams, go into the recycling bin there are memories, lots of memories involving personalities.
Like Patty Ginnell, or Paddy Ginnell, who was Pat Ginnell when he took over as head coach of the Flin Flon Bombers on June 1, 1966. Quick now . . . who did he succeed? That would be Tom Baird, who stayed on as the general manager.
The Bombers were in the SJHL at the time, but that changed when they moved to what was then the Western Canada Junior Hockey League for its second season (1967-68). It had been the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League for its inaugural season (1966-67).
Anyway, Ginnell was 29 when he took over the Bombers. He had spent the previous three seasons playing for the IHL’s Des Moines Oak Leafs. You know that putting Ginnell behind the bench was a popular choice in Flin Flon because he had played for the Bombers when they won the 1958 Memorial Cup.
Ginnell coached the Bombers through Dec. 9, 1973, his final game a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats.
Why was that his final game?
He had purchased 40 per cent of the Victoria Cougars and was about to step in as general manager and head coach.
Ginnell told Mal Isaac of the Regina Leader-Post that he had been trying to purchase a piece of the Bombers but hadn’t met with any success.
“I’ve been manager-coach in Flin Flon for nine years,” he told Isaac, “and I don’t have a thing to show for it. I don’t even own a stick.” (If you did the math, you know that he actually was in his eighth season with the Bombers, but, hey, facts didn’t get in the way of a lot of stories back in the day.)
“It’s always been my desire to own and operate my own club and that was something I was unable to do in Flin Flon,” Ginnell continued. “Now I’ll have my own team.”
Interestingly, Ginnell’s impending move leaked with the Bombers on the road and before he was able to inform the team’s board of directors.
With the Cougars, Ginnell bought out Eric Bishop, who said he was quitting as the team’s general manager. The Cougars, who started that season with Ollie Dorohoy as their head coach, were in their third WCHL season, hadn’t made the playoffs in their first two and were struggling again.
Victoria finished that season at 22-40-6, which left it fifth in the six-team Western Division.
At some point before Ginnell bought a piece of the Cougars, he had been asked how long it would take him to turn the team into a contender. “One year minimum,” he replied.
Well, the Cougars, led by Mel Bridgman, finished the 1974-75 season atop the West Division with a 47-18-5 record but dropped a best-of-seven semifinal series to the New Westminster Bruins, 4-2.
The Bombers’ board of directors, meanwhile, accepted Ginnell’s recommendation that Mel Pearson, a teammate on the 1958 Memorial Cup-winning team, be the next GM/head coach. Pearson had spent the 1972-73 season with the WHA’s Minnesota Fighting Saints.
Pearson didn’t get to Flin Flon in time for the Bombers next game, on Dec. 13 against, yes, the Cougars. So trainer Nick Oklobdzija — he was known as Nick Alphabet — served as the interim head coach and posted one of his dozen or so career coaching victories, this one by a 10-2 score. Ginnell watched from the Whitney Forum stands as Dorohoy continued for the moment as the Cougars’ coach.
(Bruce Penton, writing in the Brandon Sun of March 7, 1974, noted that Oklobdzija “is undefeated in 12 tests as coach of the WCHL Bombers.”
“That goes back about eight or nine years,” Oklobdzija told Penton. “I’ve filled in here and there when (Ginnell) was away or suspended, or something. And we’ve never lost while I’ve coached.” The WHL’s coaching records show Oklobdzija with a 2-0-0 coaching mark.)
Pearson made his Flin Flon coaching debut on Dec. 18 with a 7-3 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. (One of Brandon’s goals came from John Paddock, now the Pats’ vice-president of hockey operations, general manager and head coach.)
Pearson, who had signed a contract taking him through 1974-75, was gone early in the 1975-76 season, fired on Oct. 29. At the time, the Bombers had two victories in 12 games.
The Bombers then hired Mickey Keating to replace Pearson, thus ending Ginnell’s connection to the Flin Flon franchise.
As an aside, my favourite Keating quote emerged late in the 1976-77 season. At one point, I wrote a few stories detailing the history of the WHL and it included this:
A nine-hour meeting in Calgary resulted in a new playoff format. Under the original format, the Flin Flon Bombers, third in the East, were 20 points ahead of Regina and all but had a playoff spot locked up. Suddenly, there was a new format and the Bombers were fighting for a spot. Oh yes, they were also on a 15-game West Coast road trip.
“In this league, you need two pieces of equipment,” said Flin Flon boss Mickey Keating. “You need a face-guard when you play some of the teams on the ice and a back protector for the committee room. I had inklings that there may be changes in the playoffs but I had confidence there were intelligent hockey men in this league. I was shown different.”
Ahh, yes, those were the days.
If you have time on your hands, you could track down the Twitter account belonging to the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) and check out the ‘apology’ from the Burke brothers — Billy and Joey. And then see if you can find the screen shot of the WhatsApp chat that got them into trouble with David Branch, the OHL commissioner. . . . And after you have done all that, you are free to wonder why the Burke boys weren’t suspended for life.
Meanwhile, there is ample speculation that the IceDogs are soon to be sold to, as Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered reported, “a group headed by Darren DeDobberlaer, an insurance magnate from nearby Brantford, who owns both the Brantford 99ers Jr. A team and the Brantford Bandits Jr. B team.”
Campbell also wrote: “Oh, yes, and the selling price is rumoured to be in the range of $20 million, which should disavow anyone of the notion that major junior hockey operators in Canada are mom and pop operations that require millions of dollars in tax money to meet their scholarship commitments and provincial government laws to help them skirt minimum wage requirements. Teams make money when they are strong and struggle financially when they aren’t. If the operators know what they’re doing, they can make it work. And as we’re seeing with the IceDogs, they can cash out when they sell the team.”
Campbell’s piece is right here and it’s because of reports like this that I subscribe to his site.
Bombshell out of Quebec today: Minister Isabelle Charest threatens to unsanction the QMJHL if fighting isn't banned.
“The Greater Toronto Hockey League has hired a private investigator to scrutinize allegations that Jewish players with the U-13 Avenue Road Ducks and their family members were targeted with anti-Semitic slurs during games this season,” reports Rick Westhead of TSN. . . . That story is right here.
Meanwhile, CBC Ottawa reports that “after some Black minor hockey players in western Quebec alleged they were racially abused, a Gatineau, Que., team has suspended six of its players and the provincial governing body cancelled weekend games.” . . . That story is right here.
And, from Oakland, Mich., comes this from clickondetroit.com: “A 15-year-old boy is suing three players on an under 16 youth hockey team, their parents and the coach after he said he endured antisemitic bullying until he quit the team.” . . . That story is right here.
Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . You are able to support her by making a donation right here.
FRIDAY IN THE WHL:
G Nolan Maier became the winningest regular-season goaltender in WHL history as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 2-0. . . . Maier stopped 20 shots in posting his 121st career regular-season victory, breaking a record he had shared with Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . . Hirsch tweeted: “Congrats Nolan! Your perseverance, resilience and dedication is nothing short of inspirational. Enjoy the moment; you’ve earned it!” . . . The Blades won it with two third-period goals, from F Egor Sidorov (23), at 12:17, and F Trevor Wong (16), at 18:01. . . . Maier has three shutouts his season; he holds the franchise career record, with 11. . . . Saskatoon (37-26-4) moved into fourth place, one point ahead of the idle Moose Jaw Warriors, who hold three games in hand. . . . The Raiders (26-34-5) are 10th, two points out of a playoff spot. . . .
F Jake Chiasson had two goals and two assists as the Brandon Wheat Kings doubled the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 6-3. . . . Chiasson, who has six goals, struck twice in the second period as Brandon took a 5-1 lead. Chiasson missed a huge chunk of the season with an injury and only began play on March 4. He now has 15 points in 16 games. . . . D Mason Ward added two goals, giving him six, and an assist for Brandon, with D Chad Nychuk getting a goal, his 21st, and two assists. Nychuk has 68 points in 60 games. . . . Brandon (34-25-5), which has won four in a row, is sixth, four points behind Moose Jaw. Each team has four games remaining. . . . Medicine Hat (11-50-4) has lost nine straight games. . . .
In Red Deer, F Ben King, who leads the WHL in goals, scored in OT to give the Rebels a 5-4 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . King, who also had two assists, scored his 49th goal of the season at 2:56 of OT. . . . King has a WHL-leading 15 game-winning goals this season. F Brian Propp of the 1978-19 Brandon Wheat Kings holds the WHL record of 16. . . . F Logan Wormald scored twice for Lethbridge, giving him 14. His second goal, at 8:33 of the third period, gave his side a 4-3 lead. . . . D Christoffer Sedoff (7) forced OT with a goal at 12:04. . . . Red Deer (44-17-4) is third, four points behind the idle Edmonton Oil Kings, who have a game in hand. . . . Lethbridge (30-30-5) is headed for a seventh-place finish. . . .
F Connor Bedard set two franchise records as his Regina Pats beat the Broncos, 4-2, in Swift Current. . . . Bedard scored twice to give him 47 this season. His 46th goal, a shorthanded effort, set the Pats’ record for most goals by a player in his 16-year-old season. F Jeff Friesen scored 45 times in 1992-93. . . . Bedard now has 89 point in 58 games, and that also is a Pats’ franchise record for a player in his 16-year-old WHL season. F Doug Wickenheiser finished the 1977-78 season with 88 points. . . . Regina got 37 saves from G Kelton Pyne. . . . Regina (25-34-5) is 11th and, with four games remaining, trails the eighth-place Broncos (26-34-7) by four points.
F Matthew Seminoff scored with four seconds remaining in the third period to give the Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The goal came one second after the end of a Victoria PP opportunity. . . . F Logan Stankoven had three assists for the Blazers, including the only one on the winner. . . . Seminoff has 25 goals. . . . F Bailey Peach (36) scored twice and added an assist for Victoria, which came back to tie the score three times but wasn’t able to grab the lead. . . . Stankoven now has 99 points, leaving him three behind F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels, who leads the points race. . . . Stankoven, who has played 56 games, leads the WHL in points-per-game (1.77). . . .Kamloops (47-16-2) is second, four points behind the Everett Silvertips. Each team has three games remaining. . . . Victoria (22-37-6) is tied for seventh with the Vancouver Giants, one point behind the idle Spokane Chiefs. . . .
F Alex Swetlikoff scored three times and added an assist as the host Everett Silvertips dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-2. . . . The Silvertips, who clinched the U.S. Division regular-season pennant, scored the game’s last four goals, the first two from Swetlikoff, who has 33 goals. . . . Everett was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-for-2. . . . Everett had a 50-13 edge in shots. According to the online game sheet, shots were 10-0 in the third period. . . . F Jackson Berezowski had an empty-net goal and two assists for Everett. He’s got 46 goals. . . . Everett (45-10-10) leads the conference by four points over Kamloops. . . . Tri-City (18-42-7) has been eliminated from playoff contention. . . .
F Jack O’Brien had two goals to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 7-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . O’Brien has 13 goals. . . . F Cross Hanas scored his 25th goal and added two assists for the winners. . . . There was something of a brouhaha at 19:17 of the third period that resulted in 97 penalty minutes being handed out. . . . Portland (44-16-5) is third, three points behind Kamloops. . . . Vancouver (23-36-4) is tied for seventh with Victoria, one point behind Spokane and one ahead of the idle Prince George Cougars.
JUST NOTES: F Logan Nijhoff, the Regina Pats’ captain, has signed a two-year contract with the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks. Nijhoff, 20, had 20 goals and 23 assists in 52 games when the signing was announced on Thursday. He is completing his fifth season with Regina. Nijhoff attended the Ducks’ rookie camp in September. . . . The EIHL’s Cardiff Devils have fired head coach Jarrod Skalde, who was in his first season there. Assistant coaches Brodie Dupont and Neil Francis will run things through the end of the season. With four games left in the regular season, the Devils are third at 27-15-3.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
You have to wonder if we will be seeing any new Russian or Belarusian players headed this way for the next season — or longer — because of the decision by Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, to invade Ukraine.
On Monday, the NHL revealed that it has suspended a Memorandum of Understanding that it had with the KHL, the Russia-based professional league that involves a number of Putin friends and Russian oligarchs.
As Aaron Vickers of the Daily Hive reported, the move effectively ends communication between the KHL and NHL.
Frank Seravalli of Daily Face-off obtained a memo that went from the NHL to its teams, in which teams were told to “immediately cease all dealings (direct or indirect) with the KHL and KHL clubs (and all representatives of both), as well as with player agents who are based in and continue to do business in Russia.”
Meanwhile, the CHL, which oversees the 60 major junior teams in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL, met last week and one of the items on the agenda was the 2022 import draft. There was speculation that the CHL would ban Russian and Belarusian players from the draft. However, after the meeting, the CHL announced that “the date and format for the 2022 CHL import draft have yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.”
The CHL and its leagues often operate in lockstep in a lot of ways, so it will be interesting to see the end result of the major junior deliberations, especially in light of the NHL’s decision to at least temporarily sever relationships with the KHL.
It also will be interesting to see how NHL teams deal with Russian and Belarusian players who are eligible for the 2022 draft. Considering the uncertainty surrounding those two countries at the moment, how many NHL teams will even consider drafting Russians or Belarusians? And should the CHL choose to include those players in the annual import draft, will major junior teams shy away from selecting them?
If you are wondering, there presently are six Belarussians and three Russians listed on WHL team rosters.
TUESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: G Daniel Hauser stopped 14 shots to earn the shutout as the host Winnipeg Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 2-0. Hauser has four career shutouts, all of them this season. In 32 appearances over two seasons, he is 26-2-2, 2.48, .904. . . . The Ice became the seventh WHL team to clinch a playoff spot. . . . F Evan Herman scored twice, giving him 21 goals, and G Tikhon Chaika stopped 23 shots as the Prince Albert Raiders beat the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-0, for their third straight victory. Chaika, an 18-year-old freshman from Belarus, has two shutouts this season. He is 16-15-2, 2.92, .902. . . . The Raiders (22-28-3), Calgary (20-26-7) and Swift Current Broncos (20-28-78) are tied for the Eastern Conference’s eight and final playoff spot. . . . F Bailey Peach scored his 30th goal of the season on a penalty shot and added two assists as the host Victoria Royals dumped the Portland Winterhawks, 5-3. Victoria closed to within one point of the Spokane Chiefs, who hold down the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot. The Winterhawks had won five in a row. They remain three points behind the conference-leading Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, each with 80 points.
The Swift Current Broncos have made Devan Praught the ninth head coach in the franchise’s history. Praught, a native of Summerside, P.E.I., had been the interim head coach since Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman resigned as general manager and head coach. The Broncos are 18-25-7 under Praught. . . . There is a news release right here. . . . The Broncos named Chad Leslie as their general manager on Jan. 31 when they removed the interim from his title.
Doug Ford really likes his junior hockey. Is it not enough that his government already lets OHL teams skirt minimum-wage laws? That's $176,470.59 of public money going to each for-profit OHL team. If you're a taxpayer in Ontario, you should be livid. https://t.co/eUiJI5V3xi
The QMJHL has suspended F Lou-Félix Denis of the Shawinigan Cataractes for five games for remarks he made in the direction of Russian D Evgenii Kashnikov of the Gatineau Olympiques during a game on Sunday. The incident occurred late in the first period, referee Pascal Saint-Jacques heard the comments, and Denis was handed a game misconduct for, according to the online game sheet, “discriminatory taunts, gestures and slurs.” Denis also will have to take part in a workshop about the QMJHL’s anti-discrimination policy. . . . Denis is the third QMJHL player to have been suspended under that policy this season.
Meanwhile, the OHL investigated allegations of inappropriate comments having been made by a member of the Sudbury Wolves towards a player with the North Bay Battalion on March 3. On Tuesday, the OHL issued a statement that read, in part: “The league has done a thorough investigation of the allegation, including speaking to players and team officials of both teams in addition to the on-ice officials, and the allegation cannot be substantiated.”
The OHL also said it “will treat any discrimination against Russian and Belarusian players as we would with all allegations in accordance with our Harassment & Abuse/Diversity Policy. Further, last week we advised all of our on-ice officials to be aware of any inappropriate conduct among players including any anti-Russian/Belarusian discrimination and are working with the Canadian Mental Health Association through our Talk Today program to ensure supports are in place for our Ukrainian, Russian and Belarusian players.”
What time is it? HOGLE TIME
The Edmonton Riverhawks baseball club is excited to announce the hiring of Steve Hogle as their first General Manager!
Steve Hogle isn’t going to settle the dispute between MLB and the MLBPA, but he is getting into baseball. The West Coast League’s Edmonton Riverhawks have announced that they have hired Hogle, a former president of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, as their first general manager. Prior to working with the Blades, he was vice-president communications and broadcast with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Since returning to Edmonton from Saskatoon, Hogle had been working with Hockey Edmonton.
My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.
If you are a Seahawks fan, and you are driving, and you are listening to the radio, and you hear about Russell Wilson. …please don't drive off the road. Calmly pull over, and then react. pic.twitter.com/kObNgIJYPr
Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted on Friday afternoon that “a Russian player on the OHL’s North Bay Battalion (one of two Russians on NB) was allegedly targeted during Thursday game with an anti-Russian slur by at least one Sudbry Wolves player, North Bay GM Adam Dennis confirms. Dennis says OHL is investigating and conducting interviews.”
Shortly after, Dan Milstein, a Ukraine-born hockey agent, tweeted: “Disturbing news . . . I confirm Rick Westhead’s report that my teenage Russian-born client on OHL North Bay Battalion was targeted with Anti-Russian slur at (Thursday’s) game.”
What you look like after getting the first win in an international ice hockey game of your country's history after two games. Congrats Iran🇮🇷 @IranHockey
It is because of information like this that I subscribe to Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell:
“Iran has a national hockey team that is currently playing in the Division IV World Championship in Kyrgyzstan. Their backup goalie’s name is Oveis Hassanzadeh Moghadam Tabalvandani. Their first-line left winger is Mohammadmatin Ghaharzadehmahabadi and manning the blueline is Abbas Dehghanimohammadabadi. Despite a spirited effort, Iran lost 13-1 to the host country in its international hockey debut before beating Singapore 5-2 on Friday.”
Seriously, while Campbell did have that in a Friday piece, he also reported this:
“The Canadian Hockey League could be doing a major about-face when it comes to having players from Russia and Belarus included in its 2022 import draft. A source close to the situation said the CHL was prepared this week to announce that players from those two countries would be barred from the draft this year as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“But there was significant pushback from some owners on the proposal, which led the CHL to delay making an announcement. It’s believed they will continue deliberating and will have a decision by the end of this month. There are 24 Russians and 13 Belarusians playing in the Ontario, Western and Quebec Leagues this season. The OHL has the majority of Russian players this season, with 15 on rosters. There is only one player from Ukraine in the entire CHL this season, Barrie Colts defenseman and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Artur Cholach.”
You are able to check out Campbell’s work right here.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes are on the road for six games because the Brier, the Canadian men’s curling championship, has taken over the ENMAX Centre. . . . The Hurricanes met the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday night, losing 6-3, and also will make stops in Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina (again) and Moose Jaw before returning home to face the Pats on March 16.
My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here. . . . A huge thank you to those who already have joined Dorothy’s team. Much appreciated!
Richard Doerksen’s name first shows up in a WHL Guide prior to the 1978-79 season. He is listed, quite simply, as statistician. I am pretty sure he kept the WHL stats with pencil and paper in those days. . . . Anyway, Doerksen, now the WHL’s vice-president, hockey, was Hartley Miller’s latest guest on Cat Scan. They chatted about the past two seasons, scheduling and rescheduling and a whole lot more. . . . It’s a 30-minute listen and it’s all right here.
F Nolan Ritchie, playing in his 100th regular-season game, had three goals and an assist to lead the host Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night. . . . Brandon F Jake Chiasson had a goal and an assist in what was his first game this season. He underwent shoulder surgery after being injured while at an Edmonton Oilers rookie camp in September. The Oilers selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .
F Connor Bedard had one assist to run his point streak to 14 games as the Regina Pats dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels, who have won seven in a row. . . . F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings also is riding a 14-game streak, but he is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. . . . Bedard has 29 points, including 16 assists, in his past 14 games, while Neighbours has 23 points, 10 of them goals. . . .
Dan O’Connor, the radio voice of the Vancouver Giants, called the play of his 700th WHL game on Friday night in Langley, B.C. The Giants lost 4-3 in OT to the Kamloops Blazers as F Daylan Kuefler tied the game at 19:31 of the third period and won it at 4:43 of extra time. O’Connor also has done play-by-play with the Prince George Cougars. . . .
The Edmonton Oil Kings clinched a playoff spot by scoring the game’s last five goals in a 7-2 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . In Kelowna, F Gabriel Szturc’s 12th goal, at 1:29 of OT, gave the Rockets a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals who took a 4-2 lead into the last 10 minutes of the third period. Kelowna has won nine of 10 from Victoria. . . . In Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs scored the last three goals and beat the Cougars, 4-3. F Graham Sward (8) broke a 3-3 tie 37 seconds into the third period. The Cougars are 2-13-1 in their past 16 outings. . . .
F Jakin Smallwood scored his 20th goal of the season with 0.7 showing on the clock as the visiting Winnipeg Ice got past the Saskatoon Blades, 4-3, in OT. F Jack Finley (17) had pulled Winnipeg even with a PP goal at 17:15 of the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored his 10th goal and added two assists as the Prince Albert Raiders escaped from Moose Jaw with a 5-3 victory over the Warriors. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds scored once in each period as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-1, in Kennewick Wash. . . .
G Taylor Gauthier, who signed a three-year free-agent deal with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the week, stopped 47 shots as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Silvertips, 4-2, in Everett. Portland scored the game’s last four goals. Gauthier is 14-1-0, 1.66, .945 since being acquired from the Prince George Cougars. The Winterhawks have taken four straight from the Silvertips and now trail the U.S. Division leaders by five points. . . .
Russian F Ivan Miroshnichenko, a potential top 10 selection in the NHL’s 2022 draft, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the Russian Hockey Federation has said he will be taking time away from the game. “At the moment,” the federation said in a tweet, “he is receiving medical treatment in Germany and might miss the entirety of next season.” Miroshnichenko, 18, had 16 points, including 10 goals, in 31 games with the VHL’s Omskie Krylia club. He captained the Russian team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer, putting up four goals and five assists in five games.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Dan Courneyea, Taking Note’s man in Beijing, reports that folks are hard at work as they put the final touches on venues with the Olympic Winter Games about to get rolling. While organizers refer to Feb. 4 as the opening date, some competitions actually start today (Wednesday).
“Lots of final preparation still being done before the first puck drop,” Courneyea told Taking Note late Monday night Pacific Time. “Everything is coming together.” That missive, with the National Indoor Stadium photo, arrived Monday at 11:15 p.m. PT, which was 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday in Beijing.
The women’s hockey begins with Pool A games today. It’s Switzerland and Canada in the NIS and China against Czechia in the Wukesong. Both games start at 8:10 p.m. PT.
It's a sad day for the @theSJHL as commissioner @BillChow1 is stepping down after 10 years with the league, effective May 31/22. Bill has worked tirelessly on behalf of the league. His experience, knowledge & commitment will be missed. https://t.co/YE1mXzvUyx
Bill Chow announced on Monday that he will be leaving his post as commissioner of the SJHL on May 31. Chow, who has been commissioner for 10-plus years, said that he won’t complete his contract that is set to expire on May 31, 2023. . . . Chow didn’t give a specific reason for his decision, saying in a news release that “there have been many factors that have gone into my final decision.” . . . Chow was named commissioner in the spring of 2011 after having retired at the age of 52 after almost 30 years with the Prince Albert Police Service and leaving as a staff sergeant. . . . In his last few years with the SJHL, he dealt with, among other things, the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that took 16 lives and then the first two years of the pandemic. . . . He also spent 25 years as a WHL scout, 10 of them with the Spokane Chiefs.
Chad Leslie was named general manager of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos on Monday, more than two months after he stepped in as the interim GM. Leslie, from Elkhorn, Man., had been the club’s assistant GM since the start of the 2020-21 season. He was named interim GM on Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman, who had been GM and head coach, resigned. . . . Before becoming the assistant GM, Leslie spent two seasons as the Broncos’ director of scouting. . . . The complete news release is right here.
Since Brandon's home game against Edmonton on Dec. 30, the WHL hasn't played a game in Manitoba under the current COVID-19 regulations
Meanwhile, every other major league in the province has played games and the OHL just did a ton of games without fans
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades, will call his 2,000th WHL game tonight (Wednesday) from Regina.“To put 2,000 games under your belt is just an astonishing achievement at any level, in any capacity, in any industry,” Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, told Pat McKay of CTV News. “When you think of Blades hockey, especially when you think of the sound of Blades hockey, it’s Les Lazaruk.” . . . Of course, 2,000 games means a whole lot of bus miles. Here’s Wawryk, again: “He has a knack for sleeping on the bus. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like and how loud it is and what position he’s in, he can always find a way to grab a couple of Zs on the bus. I have a few videos of him sleeping upright, and he snores like a chainsaw.” . . . The Blades will salute Lazaruk on Friday as they play host to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . McKay’s complete story is right here. . . .
The Thief River Falls, Minn., Norskies of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have shut down for the remainder of this season. A news release from the league stated that “an issue that the Norskies struggled with since the outset of the campaign — a shortage of players — is ultimately what led to the decision.” . . . The departure of the Norskies, who are expected back next season, leaves the SIJHL with six teams as it prepares to resume play on Feb. 4. The league has been shut down since Jan. 5 because of Ontario government restrictions due to COVID-19. . . . A complete news release is right here.
It would seem that you don’t have to be a hockey fighter in order to end up with CTE. Ralph Backstrom, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 83, played 15 seasons in the NHL and four more in the WHA, totalling 490 penalty minutes in 1,336 games. He was hardly a fighter, but he still was found to have CTE.
“Ralph would have been proud of this research to know that even after he died, he could be helping others by increasing our knowledge about CTE. This is now part of Ralph's legacy." https://t.co/jXjQyWbCBF
The Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was to have met Switzerland in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, that game, which was to have been played in Zug, was postponed after Swiss D Christian Marti tested positive. Canada is to open preliminary play in Beijing against Germany on Feb. 10 at 5:10 a.m. PT.
One of the more bizarre happenings of this pandemic occurred in San Francisco on Saturday night as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets visited the Golden State Warriors. . . . Kyrie Irving of the Nets is unvaccinated and not allowed to play home games because of a New York City regulation that allows only those who are vaccinated in city facilites. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also has such a mandate, however it made an exception for visiting NBAers. That meant that on Saturday night every person in the Chase Center was vaccinated . . . except for one.
Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If anyone can find a plausible explanation for this exemption, please come forward. It’s reckless and irresponsible, although not terribly surprising in light of so many people, companies, counties and government agencies mistakenly letting their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The local health order states that visiting players ‘are, by definition, present in the venue only occasionally,’ but how does that make sense? You might ‘only occasionally’ stray from your personal safe zone in these difficult times, but that’s when you put yourself most at risk.”
Well, it’s all over for another year. As always, we wait and wait and wait for Christmas week to get here and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I was outside for a bit on New Year’s Eve afternoon and had a chance to visit with 10 close friends who were looking for dinner.
I hope you were disappointed but not surprised when the IIHF pulled the plug on the 2022 World Junior Championship on Dec. 29. Really, organizers didn’t have any choice but to listen to their medical advisors and bring it to an end. That, of course, led to the usual choristers gnashing their teeth and whining about letting the boys play. One columnist even complained that “nobody gave the players a vote.” . . . On the day of the cancellation, there had been four positive tests among three teams. Little was made of the five or six on-ice officials who had tested positive. The following day, officials reported seven more positive tests — six players and one on-ice official — only confirming that the proper decision had been made. . . . But in watching all of this unfold, mostly via social media, on the afternoon/evening of Dec. 29, I was left to wonder how so many people came to lose the plot as COVID-19 continues its march? Whatever happened to trying to protect the vulnerable — the young, the elderly, the thousands who live among us with compromised immune systems — and the healthcare workers? Have we forgotten about the thousands of folks who haven’t been able to get health issues properly cared for because of hospitals not having staff available? . . .
I walked into a small grocery store in Kamloops on Sunday afternoon. It had been a long while since encountering anyone not masked-up, but there were three people — looked like mother, father and son about 12 — headed to the checkout without a mask in sight. Just another reminder that not everyone is on the same team; in other words, we’re in this for a while yet.
Here is part of what Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered wrote about the decision to halt the WJC:
“It’s safe to say there was a fair bit of outcry from certain corners when the tournament was scrubbed. Some people couldn’t understand why a handful of positive tests and a few forfeits had to submarine the entire event. Well, it’s because of what Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney referred to as ‘an opponent that was not on the ice, but was bigger than all of us.’
“The Omicron variant is the most highly contagious COVID-19 variant we’ve seen by a wide margin. There is speculation that it is not as severe as the Delta and other variants, but nobody can say that with 100 percent certainty at the moment. And while the athletes are young, fit and double vaccinated and likely would not have severe outcomes, they don’t live in a vacuum. And the logistics around quarantining would have been disruptive.
“One infectious diseases specialist Hockey Unfiltered spoke with said that once even a couple of players from USA, Russia and Czechia tested positive ‘this thing is so contagious, those three teams are done. If you have a positive test on those teams, you can be sure the infection has spread well beyond the individuals who are there. I’d be shocked if that were the actual size of the outbreak.’ ”
Congratulations to Earl Seitz, the venerable sports director from CFJC-TV in Kamloops who called it a career after his New Year’s Eve sportscast. Yes, after more than 50 years in radio and TV, the Earl of Kamloops has retired. . . . Earl and I spent a lot of nights seated beside each other in the press box during Kamloops Blazers games. Yes, we solved a lot of the world’s problems during those times; in fact, it may not be a coincidence that so much has gone downhill since our press box partnership came to an end. Right, Earl!
We really don’t have any idea how many positive tests or exposures there have been involving WHL players and staff since the Christmas break. The league announced on Dec. 27 that “36 players or hockey operations staff have been added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result for COVID-19 through rapid antigen testing . . .” But, the league noted, “results are pending for Kamloops and Prince George.” The league has yet to update that release. . . .
On Dec. 29, the league announced the postponement of that night’s game that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks visit the Tri-City Americans “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.” The WHL noted at the time that it would “provide further information when it is available.” However, it has yet to update either team’s situation. . . .
On Dec. 30, the league shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure occurred outside the team environment.” . . .
On Jan. 1, the league shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . .”
Add it all up and you’ve got 54 players and/or staff on the protocol list, plus how ever many are involved with Portland and Tri-City.
I am guessing that the Omnicron situation also had something to do with a couple of teams playing without backup goaltenders on the bench. Tri-City did it in Portland on Dec. 28 and fans who were there will tell you that G Nick Avakyan was injured at 7:41 of the second period when he was involved in a goal-mouth collision. . . . As one source told Taking Note: “Avakyan was hurting bad after he was run into.” . . . But he finished the game, one the Winterhawks won, 9-2. With G Tomas Suchanek serving a one-game suspension, the Americans didn’t have any support for Avakyan on their bench. . . . Then, prior to a New Year’s Eve game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Portland, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for pnwhockeytalk.com, tweeted: “The Winterhawks have no ‘official’ backup goalie tonight. Either a forward or a defenceman would go back to the locker room and change into the goalie gear should the need arise.” Fortunately, the need didn’t arise.
Bailey Peach has rocketed to top of the charts now leading all Western Conference scoring with 42 points. 16 goals, 17 assists, 33 points over last 15 games. Recorded 46 points (on 19 Gs, 27 As) in 52 matches with Sherbrooke in 2019-20. Already 39.25% to career total in QMJHL. https://t.co/QNCG7qfUjT
F Bailey Peach and the Victoria Royals continue to write one of this hockey season’s best stories. . . . Peach, 20, set a franchise single-game record with seven points, three of them goals, as the Royals beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 7-3, on Thursday night. That broke the record of six points that had been held by F Ryan Peckford, who had a goal and five assists in a 9-3 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 18, 2016. . . . Peach added two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on New Year’s Day. That left him with 19 points, including 11 goals, in a six-game point streak. In 30 games with the Royals, he has 44 points, 20 of them goals. . . . Not bad for a guy who was claimed off waivers by the Royals after he was dropped by the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . . The Royals, meanwhile, opened the season by going 1-11-2, a stretch that included five straight losses to the Prince George Cougars. Today, the Royals are 12-14-4 and are tied for seventh in the Western Conference with those same Cougars (13-17-2). . . .Back to Peach for a moment, though. It seems his nickname is — wait for it! — Peacher. Come on, Royals. Why not something original like Ty? You know, after Ty Cobb, aka The Georgia Peach? Just asking . . .
“Santa Claus didn’t visit the Jacksonville Jaguars this year,” reported Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times on Dec. 26. “For some reason the reindeer couldn’t touch down.”
Perry, with another scoop: “The EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl was canceled after a virus plague swamped the Rainbow Warriors program. Perplexed bowl officials can’t decide whether to declare it a forfeit, a no-contest or COVID-19, Hawai’i 0.”
When Baltimore played Green Bay the other day, Wink Martindale, the Ravens’ defensive co-ordinator, made sure to double- and triple-team Packers receiver Davonte Adams. As Martindale explained: “Adams is one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2.”
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, remembering the late John Madden and his famed bus excursions:
“Just after the 9/11 attacks, Madden left his Manhattan apartment and headed to California. He heard that the airline shutdown had stranded famed figure skater Peggy Fleming in Philadelphia, so he detoured through Philly and picked her up.
“In Nebraska, the Cruiser stopped at a store in a small town so Madden could buy some American flags for his bus. Imagine the looks on faces when John Madden and Peggy Fleming strolled into the store.”
Ostler also had a few of interesting New Year’s resolutions, among them: “Stay off the list of sports figures who died in 2022.” . . . “Lose 20 pounds in January. Gain ’em all back in February, just to show my body who’s boss.” . . . “Help Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Novak Djokovic and other vaccine resisters in sports with their research, by sending them info I have gathered on alternative COVID-fighters, such as blood-letting, leeches and voodoo curses.”
JUST NOTES . . .
Like Connor Bedard says “Supporting local hockey right now is even more important than ever.” You can do that today by getting involved in the BC Hockey 50/50! All proceeds go to developing grassroots initiatives and programs in BC!
If you are in B.C., and interested in helping out minor hockey, BC Hockey wants you to know that it is operating a 50/50 draw with all proceeds staying in the province to help grassroots hockey. Jeff Harris, the executive veep of communications, tells Taking Note that “originally, we were doing this in conjunction with Hockey Canada and the WJCs, but with the tournament cancellation we had to call an audible. Luckily, our gaming license enabled us to hold one further draw, which concludes (Monday) night.” . . . So you have until tonight (Monday) at 8 to get your numbers, and you are able to do that right here. . . .
Stacy Pratt, who played three full seasons (1981-84) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, was killed in a car crash on Dec. 31, according to Darryl Wolski (@2112hockey) of Brandon. Pratt was 56. . . . Pratt, from Sioux Valley, Man., played four games with Brandon in 1980-81 before becoming a regular in 1981-82. In his last season, he played alongside Ray Ferraro, who scored a WHL single-season record 104 goals. Pratt finished the season with 34 goals and 64 assists in 55 games. . . . “Stacy was my winger in Brandon,” Ferraro tweeted. “An amazing passer, a great laugh and awesome to play with.” . . .
Curtis Toneff took over as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials following the Dec. 22 firing of Dave Chyzowski, who had been in his first season there. . . . Toneff was in his third season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Centennials were 1-20-1 at the time the move was made. . . . Chyzowski was back coaching for a couple of games as he worked with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips during a Dec. 28-29 sweep of the Cougars in Prince George. The Silvertips were short as head coach Dennis Williams was with Canada’s national junior team. . . .
Long-time hockey coach Bob McCammon, who spent a couple of years with the Tri-City Americans, died on Dec. 23. He was 80. . . . McCammon was the Americans’ general manager and head coach in 1992-93, added the president’s title to his portfolio for 1993-94, then resigned during the season. He also coached in the AHL, IHL and NHL during his lengthy career. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more on McCammon right here. . . .
Bob Calvert, the father of former WHL G Jeff Calvert and a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors, died on Dec. 22. He was 74. . . . Bob worked at the Regina Leader-Post for a while during my almost 17-year stint there, and he often dropped by my desk for a vociferous discussion on the latest goings-on in the world of hockey. . . . Jeff, now 48, played two seasons (1989-91) with the Warriors and three (1991-94) with the Tacoma Rockets before going on to spend five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. On Dec. 29, 1992, Jeff came on in relief for the Rockets and scored a goal and added an assist as they erased a 4-0 deficit to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-4. . . . Jeff’s two sons, Atley (Warriors) and Rowan (Saskatoon Blades), both play in the WHL; in fact, Rowan scored his first WHL goal in his debut for the Blades on Dec. 27. Somewhere, Grandpa Bob was smiling and chuckling. . . . An obituary can be found right here. . . .
G Curt Ridley, who played five games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1070-71, died on Dec. 19. He was 70. Ridley played almost all of his junior hockey with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers before going on to a pro career that included 104 NHL games — 96 with the Vancouver Canucks, six with the Toronto Maple Leafs and two with the New York Rangers. . . . Ridley perhaps is best remember for the iconic mask he wore while with the Canucks. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has more on Ridley right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) of TSN reports that the WHL has contacted former players to inform them that they will be receiving a survey that is related to a potential class-action lawsuit that the WHL, as a member of the CHL, is facing. . . . According to Westhead, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has confirmed that the survey will ask the former players “if they attended rookie parties, were hazed, etc.”
The letter, the legitimacy of which Westhead reports Robison has confirmed . . .
The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has dropped the hammer on the Sicamous Eagles “for violations under (its) COVID-19 vaccination policy.” The league explained in a news release: “The sanctions stem from the participation of an Eagles player in team activities, including KIJHL regular-season games, at a time when they did not meet the KIJHL’s requirement of being fully vaccinated.” . . . The team has been fined an undisclosed amount, while general manager Ron Sleeman was suspended for 45 days and head coach Gerald Bouchard drew an eight-game sentence. . . . Sleeman is out until Jan. 23; Bouchard can return to the bench on Jan. 14. . . . The Eagles went into Friday’s action with a 5-13-1 record, good for sixth place in the six-team Doug Birks Division. . . . Here’s Sheila Devost, the Eagle’s president: “The KIJHL has policies and rules for teams to follow . . . when they are not adhered to, there are consequences. We broke the rules and now must respect we have to face the consequences.” . . .
This was the second time the KIJHL has had to take this kind of action. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were fined $2,500 and GM/head coach Terry Jones got an eight-game suspension after two players got into regular-season games despite not being fully vaccinated. Jones, who hasn’t coached since Nov. 15, is eligible to return tonight (Saturday).
As if hockey leagues in B.C. haven’t had enough scheduling issues because of weather-related road closures, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League had to postpone a Friday night game because of a power outage. It seems that there was an issue with a substation in the area late on Thursday afternoon. . . . The problem hadn’t been fixed by late Friday afternoon and a lot of people were preparing to spend a second night without power. . . . The game against the visiting Kimberley Dynamiters will be rescheduled.
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with some NFL-related thoughts:
“Antonio Brown — along with teammate Mike Edwards — has been suspended for three games by the NFL for acquiring and presenting a false vaccination record to the team and the league. The players are not going to appeal the suspensions and the NFLPA was part of the investigation/adjudication processes. I read one report that said that a forgery of a record that included the seal of the CDC was a Federal crime; I have no idea if that is correct, but it does seem reasonable. On the assumption that is correct:
“Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards get three games off (without pay) for endangering the health of others, lying to league officials and possibly violating Federal law; and
“Tom Brady got four games off (without pay) for allegedly underinflating a football.
With head coach Michael Dyck having left to join Canada’s national junior team — he’s an assistant coach — associate coach Keith McCambridge ran the Vancouver bench on Wednesday night as the Giants dropped a 7-1 decision to the Blazers in Kamloops. It was a homecoming of sorts for McCambridge, who was acquired by the Blazers from the Swift Current Broncos during 1994-95. He played 21 regular-season and 21 playoff games for the Blazers as they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . McCambridge was joined behind the bench by former WHL/NHL D Brent Seabrook, who is helping out as a volunteer assistant in Dyck’s absence. . . . BTW, McCambridge is from Thompson, Man., the hometown of former WHL coach-of-the-year Jack Sangster and also F Glen Goodall, who holds the WHL record for most regular-season career games played.
The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced on Wednesday that they and general manager/head coach Gord Thibodeau had “mutually agreed to part ways.” According to a two-paragraph news release, Thibodeau, 58, the winningest regular-season coach in AJHL history, resigned for “personal reasons.” . . . At the time of Thibodeau’s departure, the Oil Barons were 26-6-0 and atop the Viterra North Division. . . . “The team is doing well this year and we positioned ourselves at the top of the North Division here,” David Fitzgerald, the team president, told Laura Beamish of Fort McMurray Today, “and he’s a big part of that. So from that perspective we were moving in the right direction. We had to look at things outside of the ice and he’s had to make a decision from a personal perspective and we respect that.” . . . Beamish’s story is right here. . . .
On Friday, the Oil Barons hired Adam Manah as their new GM/head coach. Manah, 34, had been dismissed by the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders on Nov. 26. He had spent the previous six seasons with the Crusaders. He was the head coach for four of those seasons and the assistant GM/head coach last season. Then he added the GM’s duties in March. Manah is familiar with Fort McMurray, having spent three seasons (2005-08) playing with the Oil Barons.
When Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Cody Fajardo met with the Regina media for one of those season-ending gabfests on Monday, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post asked what it meant for him to be the CFL team’s quarterback. . . . Vanstone later wrote: “Fajardo broke down in front of the cameras and a room full of reporters. The words and images were summarily disseminated far and wide. Fajardo spoke of the ills of social media, and about ‘disgusting’ comments that were often made about himself, and even his family. He paused once or twice to compose himself, while ultimately delivering an impassioned two-minute response — more than a hint of what it is like to reside in the football fishbowl that is Saskatchewan.” . . . That was part of a column that Vanstone wrote in which he took dead aim at the keyboard idiots who ride a horse named Anonymous through social media. “In a supposedly enlightened age, when so much is said and written about the importance of mental health, there are nonetheless people who will simplistically suggest that Fajardo needs to ‘toughen up’ or ‘get a thicker skin’,” Vanstone wrote. “The detractors’ heads, it seems, are considerably thicker.” . . . The complete column is right here.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered notes that “Tij Iginla, whose father, Jarome, was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, was drafted ninth overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in its Prospects Draft. So the son already has one over on his dad because Jarome was never drafted by a WHL team.” . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes used the 10th overall pick in Thursday’s draft to take F Miguel Marques, a 15-year-old from Prince George who plays at the Delta Hockey Academy. In 16 games, he has 64 points, including 27 goals. Marques signed a WHL contract on Friday and made his debut that night as the Hurricanes dropped a 3-2 OT decision against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . .
The Victoria Royals went into Friday’s WHL action having played in five straight OT games. They went 4-0-1 in those games. . . . Wait! There’s more. Six of the Royals’ last seven games went to extra time (4-0-2), and to go deeper, it’s seven of nine (4-0-3). . . . Last night, they went into Langley, B.C., and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. This time, they didn’t need OT. . ..
F Cole Shepard, 19, played his first game with the Giants since March 7, 2020, on Friday night. Shepard had been out since undergoing hip surgery. Shepard had an assist and was plus-2 in a 4-3 loss to visiting Victoria. . . . BTW, Michael Bublé, who owns a piece of the Giants, and his family took part in the ceremonial faceoff. . . .
Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades set a franchise record for goaltenders on Friday when he made his 178th career regular-season appearance in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Maier, who is in his fifth season with the Blades, had been tied with Braden Holtby, who made one appearance in 2005-06, then played in 51, 64 and 61 games in the next three seasons. . . .
In Regina on Friday night, F Tanner Howe, who is from Prince Albert, scored the Teddy Bear goal for the Pats, who went on to dump his hometown Raiders, 5-2. . . . Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, has 17 points, including nine goals, in 21 games this season. . . .
In Portland on Friday night, the Winterhawks beat the Spokane Chiefs, 4-1. . . . The Chiefs’ next three games also will be against the Winterhawks — tonight in Portland and Dec. 17 and 18 in Spokane. The Winterhawks will interrupt the four-game series for a Tuesday night engagement with the visiting Everett Silvertips.
If you were in attendance at the Toronto Raptors’ game on Sunday against the visiting Washington Wizards, Toronto Public Health wants you to self-monitor for 10 days because you may have been exposed to COVID-19. TPH has added the event to the list of exposures on its website. . . . TPH also is telling people to get tested if they demonstrate any symptoms. . . . That warning came Friday, after Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ vice-chairman and president, revealed on Thursday that he had tested positive. That test followed his attendance at a Giants of Africa in-person event before Sunday’s game. Some other guests have since come up positive, as well. . . . Nav Bhatia was at the Giants of Africa event, so the Raptors’ superfan wasn’t able to attend Friday’s game. He had been at every home game since the franchise entered the NBA in 1995.
JUST NOTES: As of Friday evening, the Vancouver Canucks’ change in direction had cost six men their jobs. So if you’re part of the organization at this moment how are you feeling about job security? . . . The Canucks are 3-0, all at home, under new head coach Bruce Boudreau with two of the victories coming in shootouts. They also have had some co-operation from the schedule-maker. Vancouver beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-0, on Monday. The Kings had played in Edmonton the previous night, while the Canucks were off. On Friday, Vancouver got past Winnipeg, 4-3 in a shootout. The Canucks had enjoyed Thursday off, while the Jets were beating the Kraken in Seattle. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on Sunday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who are in Edmonton tonight (Saturday). . . . The best part of the World Junior Championship that is quickly approaching? It means that we’ll get to spend some time listening to hockey’s best play-by-play man — Dennis Beyak, who is TSN’s man on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts. Hey, Sportsnet, throw a gob of money his way, toss in the personal use of a company jet, and make him your national voice. . . . Sunday’s Grey Cup game? Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18. Winnipeg LB Adam Bighill will be the best player on the field.
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I spent some time running errands on Sunday afternoon, which means I stayed in the Tucson while Dorothy went in and out of a few stores. Why did I stay in the Tucson? So that I could listen to the CFL’s West final. It was the last game of Hall of Famer Bob Irving’s superb play-by-play career and he went out — as one might expect — by having an excellent game. . . . While he now may be official retired, he does have to be on the air at some point during the Grey Cup game’s national broadcast, doesn’t he?
It was Sunday at 5:05 p.m. PT when Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman tweeted: “Hearing tonight that Bruce Boudreau will be the next coach of the Vancouver Canucks.” . . . And the social media feeding frenzy was on. It continued for the better part of five hours until the Vancouver Canucks issued a news release at 10:30, confirming what had already been leaked, that general manager Jim Benning, assistant GM John Weisbrod, head coach Travis Green and assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner had been fired. . . . Stan Smyl now is the interim GM, with Ryan Johnson the interim assistant GM. Bruce Boudreau is the head coach, apparently signing on for the remainder of this season and 2022-23, with Scott Walker coming in as assistant coach. . . . If you think coaching is responsible for the Canucks’ woes, you really haven’t been paying attention. . . . BTW, Green is signed through next season. . . . Surely it is only a coincidence that the Canucks have been mostly dysfunctional since then-president Trevor Linden disappeared into the ether. . . . And here’s hoping the Canucks’ fans are prepared for another four- or five-year plan to be put into place because that’s where this is headed.
HEY, KID, SEAL THAT EDGE: Mike Vrabel, now the head coach of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, played for the New England Patriots and, according to former QB Matt Cassell, was on the phone while on the way home after a game in Kansas City. Cassell wrote at NBC.com that Vrabel was saying: “We’ve got to be better at the end of the line of scrimmage on the defensive side! . . . We’ve got to set the edge in the run game! The interior guys, look, we can set up some stunts!” . . . Cassell then pointed out that Vrabel “was talking to a fellow dad — about the Pee Wee team of 7- and 8-year-olds he was coaching.”
NYET, NYET: Bill Peters, once the head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, was fired on Tuesday by Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. He was in his second season with the KHL team. . . . Avtomobilist signed Peters in April 2020. He had been head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames until resigning on Nov. 29, 2019 after he was alleged to have used racial slurs and been physically abusive with players while in the Chicago Blackhawks’ organization. . . . Avtomobilist was 14-15-5 and holding down the Western Conference’s last playoff spot when Peters was replaced by Nikolai Zavarukhin. . . . Peters, now 56, spent three seasons (2005-08) as the Chiefs’ head coach.
They’ll be happy to get the two points, but #Rebels have a right be concerned about future of top goal scorer Ben King. King was ejected and given a misconduct for something he said at a faceoff at 9:41 of the second.
VIEW FROM BEANTOWN: I was watching the Detroit Red Wings and the Bruins from Boston on Tuesday night and Jack Edwards, the TV voice of the Beantowners, kept referring to F Brad Marchand as having been suspended for an “alleged” slewfoot when he took down D Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Vancouver Canucks. And that’s when it dawned on me that Edwards really is “alleged” to be an NHL play-by-play guy. . . . Edwards wouldn’t even admit that there was a slew-foot after watching a replay, or maybe his Bruins toque had slid over his eyes.
HEADLINES: At AwfulAnnouncing.com — MLB insider Marcus Stroman breaks the news that he signed with the Cubs. . . . At fark.com: Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy tests positive for COVID-19, blames the officials.
PERRY TIME: “Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley left Oklahoma to seek his fortune in California,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, who also supplied the above Headlines, “finding about $100 million when he got there. In other words, he fared a little better than Tom Joad.”
One more from Perry: “Topps, Donruss and Score are scrambling to produce the first fake Antonio Brown trading card. Or is it Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson?”
HEY, UNCLE, HOW’S THAT? D Graydon Gotaas, who scored the Edmonton Oil Kings’ Teddy Bear goal on Saturday night, is the nephew of Steve Gotaas, who put up 314 points in 266 regular-season games with the Prince Albert Raiders (1983-87). Graydon, 17, scored his first Edmonton goal in his first game with the Oil Kings, who acquired him from the Raiders in October. He had been playing for his hometown Camrose Kodiaks of the AJHL.
NOTHING WRONG HERE: Here’s Ken Campbell of Hockey unfiltered after Hockey Canada issued invitations to its national junior team’s selection camp:
“Connor Bedard is not a lock to make Canada’s World Junior team, but it would be a shock if he were not on the final roster. All Canada’s coaching staff has to do is go back and look at the tapes of both Bedard and Shane Wright in last summer’s World Under-18 championship and see what those two young men did with the maple leaf on their chests. Granted, there is a big difference between being 15 and playing against 17-year-olds and being 16 and playing against 19-year-olds, but still. People keep looking at the scoring totals put up by Bedard and Wright this season and continue to ask what is wrong. Nothing is wrong. These two young men are going to be just fine.”
In the same piece, Campbell also dropped this gem: “Patrick Roy claims the Montreal Canadiens have nothing to lose by making him the GM. That’s some sound reasoning right there.”
WHEELING AND DEALING: If you ever wondered what the best junior hockey player in the world might bring in a trade, well, we found out on Wednesday. That’s when the Prince Albert Raiders dealt D Kaiden Guhle, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Carson Latimer, 18, D Eric Johnston, 17, and as many as four draft picks — a 2021 first that originated with the Kelowna Rockets, a 2023 first, a 2022 sixth and a conditional 2025 third. . . . The deal came just four days after Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s a special player.” . . . Do you think Habscheid really meant it, or was he just trying to drive up the price?
NOT A POSITIVE TIME: The OHL postponed a Saturday night game that was to have had the Mississauga Steelheads visit Peterborough after a Petes player came up positive. “Our actions were to hopefully alleviate concerns,” David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told the Peterborough Examiner. “There was a positive test, the numbers we’re not disclosing and the names we’renot disclosing, and we took the action. The player are being tested once again and we’ll see how it evolves.” . . . Earlier in the week, the OHL had to shutdown the Sudbury Wolves after 12 positive tests.
ICYMI: G Nolan Maier made his 177th regular-season appearance for the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday night in a 6-2 victory over the Ice in Winnipeg. That equalled the franchise record that he now shares with Braden Holtby (2005-09). . . .
Some shutouts are more special than others. Right, Jackson Unger? Unger, a 16-year-old from Calgary, posted his first WHL victory and shutout — he stopped 30 shots — on Friday night when the Moose Jaw Warriors beat the Rebels, 4-0, in Red Deer. This one was extra special, though, because Unger blanked the Rebels in their Teddy Bear Toss game. . . . As for the Teddy Bears, the fans tossed them late in the game after the Warriors had scored their final goal into an empty net.
NO LOVE HERE: Olen Zellweger put up six points — a goal and five assists — as the Everett Silvertips beat the visiting Tri-City Americans, 8-2, on Friday night. That set a club record for most points by a defenceman in one game, breaking the mark that had been held by fan-favourite Mitch Love, who had a goal and four assists in a 5-2 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon on Nov. 6, 2004. Interestingly, Love scored his goal on the PP and added three PP assists and one on a shorthanded EN goal. That was Love’s first WHL season — he finished with nine goals and 20 assists in 59 games. . . . Zellweger, 18, came out of his six-pointer with seven goals and 19 assists in 19 games. He went into this season with 25 points, including 21 assists, in 70 career games over three seasons. . . . No, he isn’t related to Renée.
THE COACHING GAME: The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks fired Doug Johnson, their general manager and head coach, on Saturday. Johnson, 45, who played three seasons (1993-96) with the Hawks, had been with Nipawin since March 2010. He is a three-time SJHL coach of the year and the franchise’s winningest head coach. Assistant coach Tad Kozun, a 28-year-old Nipawin native, has been named interim head coach. At the time of the firing, the Hawks were 10-12-5, and tied for third in the four-team Sherwood Division, six points out of second.
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I lost my best friend yesterday without ever being able to tell him how much he means to me. More importantly Carla lost her husband, Thomas, Blake and Kody lost their dad. This world sure doesn’t make sense sometimes. If you can, please help them. ❤️ https://t.co/9IHvfQWQMb
Matt Swaby, who spent four seasons playing in the WHL, was killed in what family members say was a farming accident on Friday. . . . Swaby, 34, was a native of Prince Albert. . . . A defenceman, he spent three seasons (2004-07) with the Tri-City Americans and one (2007-08) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Oil Kings were an expansion team that season and management chose to acquire Swaby to serve as their captain in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . AJ Jakubec, who was the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice back then, tweeted: “Heartbreaking. The perfect captain for an expansion team. Humble, hard-working guy with a great sense of humour. Loved this guy.” . . . Swaby went on to play three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . He is survived by his wife Carla and their three boys — Thomas, 6; Blake, 4 and Kody, 2.
We are deeply saddened by the loss of former Americans player Matthew Swaby.
Shaun Clouston moved into the Top 10 on Saturday night. Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, posted his 467th regular-season coaching victory and that moved him into 10th place on the WHL’s all-time list. He did in style, too, as the Blazers (17-2-0) won, 3-2, in Everett, handing the Silvertips (16-1-2) their first regulation-time loss of the season. Kamloops G Dylan Garand (14-2-2, 1.76, .935) came up with 41 stops. . . . Everett actually has lost two in a row now, having dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the host Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Clouston’s 467th victory moved him past Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time list that is led by Don Day (750). . . . Clouston has 76 victories with the Blazers after putting up 375 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 16 with the Tri-City Americans. He won’t be moving up the ladder again anytime soon because the next man on the list, Pat Ginnell, is at 518. . . . BTW, the Blazers went 4-0-0 on a swing into the U.S. Division, winning twice in Kent, Wash., and beating the Winterhawks, 4-3, in Portland on Friday night. . . .
Marc Habscheid, the winningest active head coach in the WHL these days, put up No. 561 on Saturday night, his Prince Albert Raiders beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. It would seem that he didn’t get fined — at least, there isn’t anything noted on the WHL’s discipline page — after getting tossed for whispering Christmas greetings to the on-ice officials prior to the start of the third period of a 4-1 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday. . . . BTW, after D Kaiden Guhle scored twice in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s just a special player.” Guhle, 19, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has signed his first NHL contract.
Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A pro golfer can still make a decent buck, if he’s willing to travel. While Phil Mickelson pocketed $2.16 million for winning the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm $2.25 mil for winning the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa just cashed a check for $2.97 million for winning some tourney in Dubai. Now you know why gas prices are so high.”
Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): World Chess Championship Forced To Use Salt Shaker After Losing Bishop
Ken Campbell, at Hockey Unfiltered (and he is correct): “Love the New Jersey Devils third sweater. Love it. And even though it has ‘Jersey’ emblazoned across the front, it’s a sweater, not a jersey. Always has been, always will be.”
With eight players on the COVID-19 protocol list, the NHL finally stepped in and halted the New York Islanders’ season, at least for now. The Isles were to have played the New York Rangers today and then visited the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Those games have been postponed. The Islanders next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . The final straw for the NHL came Saturday when F Casey Cizikas went on the list. He became player No. 8, joining F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene, F Ross Johnston, F Anders Lee and D Adam Pelech. . . . Earlier, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed as they went through a stretch in which 10 players and a coach were impacted. The Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins also have been down this road, but their schedules were left intact.
JUST NOTES: If you’ve been watching NHL games of late, I think you will agree that the crackdown on cross-checking has come to an end. . . . We shouldn’t expect anything different from a league in which one player (F Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers) gets fined $5,000 for throwing a glove at another player (super-pest Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins). As Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that’s the same amount that “Tom Wilson was (fined) for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head while he was laying face down on the ice.” . . .
The Thursday afternoon NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the host Dallas Cowboys drew 38.531 million viewers to CBS (TV and streaming), the highest total for a regular-season game since 1990. Just in case you were wondering why neither the NBA nor the NHL played any games on what was American Thanksgiving. . . .
You may have heard that the City of St. Louis will get US$790 million from the NFL and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to settle a lawsuit stemming from the team’s departurein 2016. If you were wondering about how much the lawyers get, well, according to the aforementioned Scott Ostler, it seems the firm that represented St. Louis gets a cool 35 per cent, or $276 million.
The two Canadian sports networks — TSN and Rogers Sportsnet — are so large that I have 14 of their channels available in my home. On Saturday afternoon, TSN’s six channels featured Canadian Olympic curling trials (2), Spanish Primera Division soccer (2), U.S. college football (Penn State at Michigan State) and an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile, Sportsnet was showing Bundesliga on five channels, poker on two and rasslin’ on another. . . . You know what they weren’t showing? Canadian university football. . . . Look, they can be excused for not showing the eastern semifinal because USports has a problem that it chooses not to address. The AUS entry gets an automatic semifinal berth and often gets routed, which is what happened to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday when they went to London, Ont., and got whipped, 61-6, by the host Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl. It was 51-3 at the half. . . . Later, in the game that should have been televised nationally, the Saskatchewan Huskies took the lead for the first time with five seconds left in the fourth quarter and beat the host Montreal Carabins, 14-10, to claim the Uteck Bowl. . . . The Huskies will face Western in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Dec. 4. . . . The Vanier Cup will be televised . . . by CBC.
Does Wilt Chamberlain get the credit he’s due for being a great, great NBA player? Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors enjoyed his 220th career 30-point game on Friday night, in a 118-103 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. That is third on the Warriors’ all-time list. Next up is Rick Barry at 223. Chamberlain is No. 1, at 369. Yes, as prolific a scorer as Curry is, he still is 149 behind Chamberlain.
Hey, Luke, well done! Have to admit I had a lump in my throat and it wasn’t a sugar cube.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders announced Thursday that Adam Manah, their general manager and head coach, had “departed his position . . . effective immediately.” Adam Sergerie has taken over as the GM, with Jeff Woywitka now the head coach. Manah had been with the Crusaders since signing on as associate coach in 2015. He took over as head coach in 2016. The Crusaders were 9-15-1 — they had lost four in a row — at the time of the announcement, good for seventh place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North.
Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Amari Cooper is just the latest chowderhead in sports to help cost his team a game by being unvaccinated. While being paid $21 million a year by Jerry Jones. What a guy. Cooper, that is.”
Lupica, again: “You know who’s going to end up with settlement money from the NFL one of these days? Jon Gruden. They’re either going to have to pay him, or they’re going to have to release all of the emails relating to the Washington Football Team.”
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