The Bookshelf: Part 3 of 3


Here is the third and final part of my annual Bookshelf piece, a thumbnail look at some of the books I have read in the past year. Perhaps you will find something you want to read or to purchase as a gift. . . .


Razor Girl — Author Carl Hiaasen has produced another hilarious novel. If you are familiar with his work, you won’t be disappointed with this one. If you haven’t yet read anything by Hiaasen, you should know that Razor Girl is centred in the Florida Keys and, yes, it’s outrageous, loaded with, yes, razor wit, entertaining characters — think more than one Florida Man — and loaded dialogue.

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original — Author Howard Bryant was handed a tough task when he set out to write an authorized biography of Rickey Henderson. And he certainly was up to the task. If you are familiar with Bryant and his work, this definitely is up to his standards as he tells the life story of a man with many sides. But more than a book strictly about Henderson, Bryant tells the story of the Black migration to Oakland and what resulted from that, especially in sports. It also is an in-depth look at racism in baseball. And, yes, it also is the story of Henderson, one of baseball’s all-time greats.


Rising From the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival — If you’re looking for a book about why the Kraken hired Dave Hakstol as head coach or why it selected this player or that in the NHL expansion draft, this book isn’t for you. If you want to know all that went on behind the scenes financially and politically to get the team on the ice in time for the 2020-21 season, it’s all right here. Remember that before the Kraken came to life, there was a big push being made to land an NBA expansion franchise for Seattle, something that still hasn’t happened. Geoff Baker, who covers the Kraken for the Seattle Times, gets in deep and it makes for a fascinating read.

Rogues: True Stories of Grifters, Killers, Rebels and Crooks — The author, Patrick Radden Keefe, has put together a collection of his essays that have appeared in The New Yorker. The interesting thing is that the people portrayed in these essays all are different, but they provide an interesting look into the kind of folks who walk this earth with us. As Rachel Newcomb wrote in the Washington Post: “Taken together, the essays reflect the collective preoccupations of the unsettling era in which we now live: mass shootings and terrorism, unaddressed mental health issues, and the many flavors of financial corruption.”

The Ruin — The opening chapter of this work by Dervla McTiernan is enough to keep you reading. Cormac Reilly, a fresh-faced Irish policeman, is sent to a house that is collapsing into itself and discovers a woman dead in her bed, with two children — Maude, 15, and Jack, 5 — appearing ready for whatever may come. The rest of the book doesn’t quite live up to the opening chapter, but that would be awfully tough to do. Still, Reilly is a likeable character, something that is important to any book, and there are enough twists to keep things interesting. . . . Oh, and make sure you read the author’s note where she admits to doing a bit of, uhh, cheating. LOL!

The Scholar — This is the second of author Dervla McTiernan’s books that follow Cormac Reilly, a veteran Irish policeman. And like The Ruin, which is mentioned above, The Scholar is good stuff. It has an interesting plot and even though the twists are fairly easy to figure out, McTiernan’s way with words is more than enough to keep the reader involved.

The Series — This is a wonderful, albeit short, book about the 1972 hockey series between Canada and the Soviet Union. Written by Ken Dryden, who was one of three goaltenders on Team Canada and played the deciding eighth game, this is a 200-page gem. It isn’t full of anecdotes or play-by-play; rather, it’s just Dryden writing about some of his recollections — and sometimes he admits that he doesn’t remember much about a particular game or games — of the eight-game series, as well as what came before and after. A gem . . . a real gem!

Shōgun — I have no idea why it took me this long to dig into author James Clavell’s masterpiece about Japan in 1600. And that really is what this is — a masterpiece. For the most part, the story is told through the eyes of John Blackthorne, the first Englishman to reach the shores of Japan. It is awfully easy to get lost in all that there is to this book. BTW, it’s rather lengthy, coming in at about 428,000 words.

Three-Ring Circus: Kobe, Shaq, Phil, and the Crazy Years of the Lakers Dynasty — It turns out that the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers, with Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal as the stars, really did win three championships in spite of themselves. Jeff Pearlman, who has written a number of terrific sports-related book, spells out the winning mess these teams were in all the gory details. It turns out that the young Kobe was a belligerent and rude human being, and he and Shaq couldn’t stand each other. Oh boy, there’s a lot of dirt in this one, including details on the rape charge Kobe faced in Colorado.

Throwback: A Big-League Catcher Tells How the Game is Really Played — Jason Kendall was a catcher who had a 15-year career in the major leagues. You can bet he saw a lot during that time. But this isn’t that kind of book. Instead, Kendall provides a whole lot of insight into what goes into the game, providing all kinds of tips involving catching, hitting, pitching, signs, managing and a whole lot more. If you’re even slightly interested in the big leagues, you’ll enjoy this one.

24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid — Willie Mays is considered by many to be the greatest MLB player of them all. It’s hard to argue with that after reading this gem from author John Shea. With lots of commentary from the Say Hey Kid, this is a terrific look at Mays’ life and career . . . a wonderful book about a wonderful human being.

Visionary: The Ernie Gare Story — Author John Korobanik, a former sports editor of the Nelson Daily News who went on to spend 20 years writing for The Canadian Press, tells the story of the late Ernie Gare, and it’s quite a story. Gare was heavily involved in the founding of the Canadian national ski teams in Nelson. He was the athletic director at Notre Dame University in Nelson — it was shuttered in 1977 — and was a big push behind the school being the first in Canada to offer athletic scholarships. He also was ahead of his time when it came to training, both in- and off-season. And, yes, he was the father of former Buffalo Sabres captain Danny Gare. Unfortunately, Ernie died a young man, taken by ALS in 1981 at the age of 52.

We Begin at the End — This thriller/mystery novel will stay with you for a while if only because author Chris Whitaker has created a memorable character in the outlaw Duchess Day Radley, who is all of 13 years of age and struggling with the unfair hand she has been dealt by life. In fact, more than anything, this is about folks who live in Cape Haven, a small coastal California community, and how each of them is fighting to get through life. But it’s Duchess, the outlaw, who will live in your memory bank.

Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty — There was a time in the not-too-distant past when Calumet Farms was THE name in thoroughbred horse racing. In this book, author Ann Hagedorn Auerbach details its rise — it was founded in 1924 — and all that led it into bankruptcy, including the death of Alydar, perhaps the most-productive sire in thoroughbred history, but a horse that may have been worth more dead than alive. This is an impeccably researched book and the numbers, many of which had to do with bank loans, will make your head spin.


As for the 10 most-enjoyable books that I read this year, here they are, in alphabetical order (OK, I included 12, so sue me) . . .

The Baseball 100, by Joe Posnanski

Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom, by Carl Bernstein

The Dark Hours, by Michael Connelly

Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series, by Gary J. Smith

The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson, by Jeff Pearlman

The Late Show: Letterman, Leno, & the Network Battle for the Night, by Bill Carter

Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk, by Dan Russell

Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant

Rising From the Deep: The Seattle Kraken, a Tenacious Push for Expansion, and the Emerald City’s Sports Revival, by Geoff Baker

The Series, by Ken Dryden

24: Life Stories and Lessons from the Say Hey Kid, by Willie Mays and John Shea

Wild Ride: The Rise and Tragic Fall of Calumet Farm, Inc., America’s Premier Racing Dynasty, by Ann Hagedorn Auerbach

Part 3 of 3


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while remembering “Henderson has scored for Canada” . . .


We purchased our first colour television set in August 1972. Yes, it was because the eight-game Summit Series — Canada vs. Soviet Union — was to begin on Sept. 2 in Montreal.

At the time, we had been married for about two months and I was a year into my TVsports journalism career that began at the Brandon Sun.

If memory serves, the price tag on the TV set — it was a beauty, a 19-inch RCA XL100— at Eaton’s in downtown Brandon was $499, which we didn’t have in our bank account. So I went to the Royal Bank for a little financial help.

At the time, I spent a lot of time covering the Manitoba Senior Baseball League and one of the players with the Brandon Cloverleafs worked at the Royal Bank. So . . . he turned me down.

But the CIBC, with whom my parents had banked for years in Lynn Lake, came to the rescue, which is how I (we?) came to enjoy the Summit Series in glorious colour. Not just colour . . . 100 per cent solid state AccuColor!

And what a glorious time it was.

We are going to hear a lot about the Summit Series over the next while, this being the 50th anniversary of what I would suggest is the greatest and most meaningful event in Canada’s sporting history.

What other event brought an entire country to a screeching halt on a number of days? What other event brought an entire country to a fever pitch after first leaving it in a horrid depressive state? What other event dominated the country’s conversation for that long a period of time?

Without going into great detail, Team Canada won the last three games to win the series, 4-3-1. Yes, the “1” was a tie.

Incredibly, Paul Henderson scored the winning goal in each of those three games, the winner in Game 8 coming with 34 seconds remaining in the third period.

If you were watching, Foster Hewitt’s play is etched forever in your memory:

“Cournoyer has it on that wing. Here’s a shot. Henderson made a wild stab for it and fell. Here’s another shot. Right in front, they score! Henderson has scored for Canada!”

(Let us pause for a short rant . . .

After all that, Henderson somehow isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. And, yes, he was a pretty fair NHL/WHA player. He put up 477 points, 236 of them goals, in 707 regular-season NHL games. Throw in five seasons in the WHA and he totalled 760 points, including 376 goals, in 1,067 games. He’s a member of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame — individually and with Team Canada — and the IIHF Hall of Fame.

But, somehow, he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and that’s amazing! It’s also a damn shame.)

Anyway . . .

Unfortunately, some of the joy in reliving the series is dampened because Russian despot Vladimir Putin continues to make war on Ukraine. That will prevent surviving players from the Soviet team from being involved in any Summit Series-related events.

I have read two of the books that have been published with the 50th anniversary in mind.

Scott Morrison’s contribution — 1972: The Series That Changed Hockey Forever — tells a terrific story, from before training camp through the exhibition game that Team Canada, while on its way home from Moscow, played in what was then Czechoslovakia. That happened to be Canadian C Stan Mikita’s homeland and he was greeted as a conquering hero.

I also would highly recommend Ice War Diplomat: Hockey Meets Cold War Politics at the 1972 Summit Series. Author Gary J. Smith was in the Canadian diplomatic service. He could speak Russian and was stationed at the Canadian embassy in Russia. The story he tells could only be related by someone who was heavily involved behind the scenes and he does a masterful job.

I haven’t yet read Ken Dryden’s new book — The Series — but I definitely have it on my list. It’s only 200 pages in length, but you can bet that Dryden, one of three goaltenders on Team Canada, will tell things his way.

Also available: The Greatest Comeback: How Team Canada Fought Back, Took the Summit Series and Reinvented Hockey, by John U. Bacon; and Montreal to Moscow — 1972 Summit Series: Cartoons & Anecdotes, by Terry Mosher (aka Aislin, the Montreal Gazette’s superb editorial cartoonist).

On top of that, a four-part documentary — Summit 1972 — will begin on CBC-TV on Sept. 14. The series will air on four consecutive Wednesdays. I will be watching and, yes, I will set the PVR and watch it again, and likely again.

“Henderson has scored for Canada!”


The Seattle Thunderbirds tweeted on Wednesday that their “training camp is closed to the public,” except for the Future Thunderbirds and Blue-White Seattlegames on Sept 4. On Friday, however, the Thunderbirds reversed field, tweeting that “training camp begins Aug. 31 and starting Thursday (Sept. 1) it is open to the public.” . . . Meanwhile, Sarah Brusig of reported that Dan Hearst, a citizen of Kent, appeared at the City Council meeting of Aug. 16. Why was he there? According to Brusig, “he asked Council to stop funding the Seattle Thunderbirds because they don’t reference Kent in their branding. ‘They need to understand that they owe the citizens of Kent,’ Hearst said.” . . . Hmm. . . . Might be time to start referring to them as the Seattle Thunderbirds of Kent.

From Bill James Online (@billjamesonline), in response to a question posed by former MLBer-turned-broadcaster Kevin Youkilis: “You asked in a recent broadcast how many balls go through BECAUSE of the shift, vs. those lost to the shift.  According to the Bill James Handbook 2022, in 2021 there were 4,802 hits taken away by the shift, but 3,946 balls that went through BECAUSE of the shift. . . . Ratio is 11 to 9. For every 11 hits taken away by the shift, 9 balls beat the shift by hitting through the vacated area.”

Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Trump to represent self in case against United States; has already stiffed self out of legal fees.

Joe Posnanski, a terrific baseball writer, with a note about his friend Len Dawson, the former NFL quarterback who died on Wednesday at the age of 87: “For much of (his time with the Chiefs), he was also a sports broadcaster in Kansas City. On Dec. 25, 1971, the Kansas City Chiefs lost a soul-crushing, double-overtime playoff game to the Miami Dolphins — it remains the longest game in NFL history. Dawson was the Chiefs’ quarterback in that game. And when it ended, he put on a suit and did the sports report for KMBC television in Kansas City. ‘One of the toughest things I’ve ever done,’ he said. ‘But I didn’t stutter.’ ”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion) — Durand and Kyrie Agree To Be Teammates So Long as They’re Never in Same Room Together.

There was an intriguing report on Friday about a trade in the QMJHL that will qmjhlnewhave F Justin Robidas, 19, the captain of the Val-d’Or Foreurs, move to the Quebec Remparts for a package that will include G Mathys Fernandez, 17, and a number of draft picks. The intriguing part is that, as Mikael Lalancette of Le Soleil reported, the transaction will “be announced during the holiday season.” That would be “holiday” as in Christmas. . . . Yes, because it’s the Q. . . . BTW, Robidas’ father, Stéphane, is a former NHLer who now is an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens.


Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) tells me that he first heard of a Lisfranc injury “about 20 years ago when Philadelphia Eagles RB Duce Staley suffered the injury and had to have surgery on his foot.” It turns out that Staley’s 2000 season came to an early end because of the injury to his right foot. He underwent surgery and had two pins inserted. Staley returned to play six more seasons — three with the Eagles and three with the Pittsburgh Steelers. In 2002, he rushed 269 times for 1,029 yards. . . . QB Nathan Rourke of the B.C. Lions underwent surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury to his right foot on Friday. The Lions later tweeted that “surgery went well.” Of course, when’s the last time an athlete had surgery and the team informed fans that it didn’t go well?

The CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers obviously are onto something here . . . It works just like a coat check. You turn your bike over to a valet and you are given a number in return. At game’s end, you hand over the number and your bike is brought to you . . .


THINKING OUT LOUD — The Baltimore Ravens beat the visiting Washington Commanders, 17-15, on Saturday night. From the department of meaningless statistics: Baltimore has won 23 straight exhibition games. . . . ICYMI, Nebraska and Northwestern opened the U.S. college football season at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland, on Saturday. The highlight may have occurred when Internet issues prevented fans from paying for concession items with credit cards or even cash. As a result, many products, including beer, were given away. “Fans ended up able to get as much beer as they could carry,” CBS reported, “. . . all at no cost to them.” Can you see that happening in an American or Canadian sporting facility? . . . Has a Canadian business or organization ever read the room worse than Bell Media with its decision to dump anchor Lisa LaFlamme? Well, other than Hockey Canada, that is. . . . Just wondering who in the Alberta tourism industry had the idea to allow someone with a limited wardrobe and who seems to struggle with one language to welcome home Canada’s deputy prime minister and minister of finance, who is fluent in five languages and a Rhodes Scholar? And the video hits the Internet and you aren’t even on the hook for advertising costs. Smooth move!


Former WHLers Morgan Klimchuk and Ralph Jarratt have joined the Victoria Royals as assistant coaches. . . . Last season, Klimchuk was an assistant coach with the the U15 prep team at the Edge School in Calgary. Klimchuk, 27, played four WHL seasons, starting with the Regina Pats (2010-15) and finished with the Brandon Wheat Kings (2014-15). . . . Jarratt, 24, spent five seasons (2014-19) with the Royals. . . . Ed Fowler, the Royals’ director of player personnel since 2019, is retiring. As a result, J.F. Best, who had been associate coach and assistant general manager, is the club’s new director of player personnel and player development. Best joined the Royals as an assistant coach in 2017. Fowler had been there since 2013, and had worked as a scout and senior regional scout. . . . There is a news release right here that details the Royals’ hockey operations staff.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night while pondering what just happened on the PGA Tour . . .



It has been a while since the sporting media has had access to locker rooms/dressing rooms, and it would appear that this situation will go on for a while longer. For starters, it seems the NFL is going to keep the warriors of the keyboards and the talking heads away at least during training camps and exhibition games. . . . The NFL, of course, is citing health concerns due to COVID-19, but this kind of access has come to be a real bone of contention in recent years. . . . During the pandemic, media has had to make do, for the most part, with Zoom calls. . . . Jay Rigdon of Awful Announcing writes: “The longer ‘no reporters in the locker room’ is the practice, the tougher it might be for reporters to ever get that privilege back again. If that happens, the job is going to look much, much different for sports journalists.” . . . Rigdon’s report is right here.

Meanwhile, in MLB, members of the media who are fully vaccinated will be allowed to have one-on-one conversations with team personnel on the field during pre-game warmups and batting practice. . . . Andrew Bucholtz of Awful Announcing has more on all of this right here.

Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Ron Artest Lands Consulting Role Teaching NBA Players How To Defend Selves From Rowdy Fans.

I haven’t watched a whole lot of these NHL playoffs, and I was reminded why after tuning in for the last half of the Wednesday night game between the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche. The inconsistent standard of officiating just never seems to change. The Golden Knights got away with a cross-check off a faceoff that should have been a double minor, then lost the game on a PP goal after a slashing call that was embarrassingly soft. . . . It’s too bad because that weak slashing call overshadowed what had seemed to be an awfully good playoff game.

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, reflecting on the number of injuries to key players in the NBA playoffs and whether a compressed regular season may be having an impact: “It would be such a sensible idea to shorten the schedule and lengthen the spells between games. Back-to-backs: never again. Long stretches of playing every other day: nope. Cut it to 58 games, each of the 30 teams playing the others twice each. Couldn’t be simpler, except for one thing: the greedy nature of billionaire owners. As Draymond Green put it so well on TNT the other night: ‘If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.’ ”


The Victoriaville Tigres won the QMJHL championship on Saturday afternoon, beating the Val-d’Or Foreurs, 3-2 in double OT, on a goal by F Alex Beaucage. . . . Victoriaville won the best-of-seven championship, 4-2, with all games played in Quebec City. The first game was played without fans; a maximum of about 2,000 fans was allowed for each of the last five games. Saturday’s announced attendance was 2,176. . . . The Tigres led 2-1 after the first period. . . . The Foreurs forced OT on F Jeremy Michel’s goal at 14:40 of the third period. . . . Beaucage won it at 1:01 of the second extra period.

Here’s Ken Dryden in Saturday’s Toronto Sun:

Head hits. Whether intentional, careless or completely accidental, that distinction matters only to the hitter, not to the player hit. Nor even much to the rest of us now. The back stories — it’s the sort of thing he would do, or wouldn’t do — who cares? It’s about Tavares not Corey Perry, Evans not Mark Scheifele.

“And we know now. Everybody knows. Not just the scientists. The media know. Ron MacLean knows. So do Elliotte Friedman and Cassie Campbell, so do Darren Dreger, Craig Simpson, Pierre LeBrun and all the others. They know. George Parros knows, Bill Daly knows, so do all the owners. Jeremy Jacobs, Geoff Molson, Larry Tanenbaum, they all know. Mark Chipman, David Thomson, Murray Edwards, Daryl Katz, Francesco Aquilini, Eugene Melnyk. They all know. Don Fehr, the head of the NHL Players’ Association, he knows. Gary Bettman knows.”

That complete piece is right here.

Jon Rahm, the second-ranked golfer in the world, finished his third round with a six-stroke lead at the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village in Dublin, Ohio, on Saturday when he was told that he had tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, he had to withdraw from the tournament. . . . It’s interesting that Rahm didn’t get vaccinated until earlier this week when contact tracing found him to have been in close proximity to someone who had tested positive. . . . He was in line to win more than US$1.5 million. . . . Bob Harig of ESPN has more right here.

As another reminder of the times in which we are living, the Singapore Grand Prix that was scheduled for Oct. 3 has been cancelled due to the pandemic. The Canadian Grand Prix that was to have run on June 13 and the Chinese Grand Prix both were cancelled earlier in the year. . . . The Turkish Grand Prix was going to take over the June 13 race date, but that also was cancelled. . . . The Australian Grand Prix was to have been run in March but now is on the schedule for November.


Soccer’s Canadian Premier League will gather its eight teams in Winnipeg and play 32 games from June 26 through July 24. Games will be played without fans at IG Field, the home of the CPL’s Valour FC and the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. . . . Following the completion of the Winnipeg schedule, teams will return to their homes and hopefully complete their seasons with fans in the stands.

Gaelan Patterson has joined the junior B Port Alberni Bombers as the Vancouver portalbernibombersIsland Junior Hockey League expansion team’s first general manager and head coach. . . . Patterson, 30, spent three seasons on the coaching staff of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves, leaving in mid-April to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. His stint with NMHA didn’t last two months. . . . The VIJHL recently awarded an expansion team to the same Port Alberni group that owns the BCHL’s Bulldogs. . . . Patterson played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. . . . Most recently, he was the Ice Wolves’ associate GM and associate head coach.

The Sarnia Sting selected G Taya Currie in the 14th round of the OHL’s Priority Selection draft on Saturday. The 16-year-old from Parkhill, Ont., thus became the first female player to be picked in the draft’s history. She is 5-foot-7, 143 pounds and catches left. She played in 2019-20 with the U-16 AAA Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, but her 2020-21 season was cancelled because of the pandemic.

Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, today. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


The Bookshelf: Part 2 of 3 . . .


What follows is Part 2 of a three-part look at some of the books I have read over the past 12 months. Before we get to those, here are a handful of suggestions from the thumbnails that appeared here a year ago. If you haven’t read these, you can’t go wrong with any of them:

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times, by Mark Leibovich

Bower: A Legendary Life, by Dan Robson

Football for a Buck: The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL, by Jeff Pearlman

Hockey Fight in Canada: The Big Media Face-off Over the NHL, by David Shoults

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West, by John Branch

Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other, by Ken Dryden

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman (but only if you already have read Backman’s Beartown)

Now here is Part 2 of this year’s bookshelf . . .

Gloves Off: 40 Years of Unfiltered Sports Writing: Lowell Cohn, now retired, had a lengthy career as a sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press Democrat. This is his look back at some of the people he dealt with and things that he witnessed. He doesn’t pull any punches as he writes about his career; no, it’s not a compilation of columns. I’m a sucker for books of this type, but this one really is an entertaining read.


The Good Earth: My mother was a reader and I can remember seeing Pearl S. Buck’s The Good Earth in a bookcase at home. But I can’t explain why I hadn’t read it before the summer of 2020. Published in 1931, it follows the life of a Chinese farmer and his family through more than 50 years of change, and it always returns to the importance of owning land. It won a Pulitzer Prize so I don’t need to tell you how good it is — but it’s great. It also is the first book in Buck’s House of Earth trilogy, the other two being Sons (1932) and A House Divided (1935).


The Gray Man — This is the book that started the legend of The Gray Man, aka Courtland Gentry. He’s an assassin who at one time worked for the CIA but most times freelances. In his debut, there is a bounty on his head, and he faces down a dozen kill squads, but not without paying a price. Author Mark Greaney has created a likeable leading man, and the excitement is palpable between the front and back covers.


The Grim Reaper: The Life and Career of a Reluctant Warrior — With help from writer Kevin Allen, then of USA TODAY, former hockey enforcer Stu Grimson told his story in a book that came out in the autumn of 2019. The book’s title is a touch misleading because Grimson, who had about 400 fights combined in major junior and the NHL, doesn’t seem to regret any of it. That may seem a bit strange seeing as he was forced into retirement by post-concussion syndrome. Anyway, he provides some valuable insight into the thought-process of NHL heavyweights — their anxieties and fears, both for the present and the future. Grimson, who was adopted, also opens up about his personal life, including a surprising introduction to his birth father.


The Guardians — Cullen Post is a lawyer/minister who spends more time lawyering than preaching. His lawyering is aimed at correcting wrongful convictions and the group he works with, Guardian Ministeries, has had some successes. This book, by the prolific John Grisham, is about one of those cases, and a whole lot more. It’s good Grisham and the genesis, unfortunately, was a true story, as the author informs us at book’s end.


The Huntress — I absolutely loved The Alice Network, and The Huntress is every bit as good, if not better. Both books were written by Kate Quinn. The Huntress is the story of two young men who pursue war criminals and are brought together with a Night Witch, a woman who was part of a female crew that flew night bombing missions for the Russians during the Second World War. The hunters’ latest target is a woman in Boston, who isn’t what she is trying hard to be. There are great characters and much intrigue here. You won’t be disappointed.


The Jordan Rules — I don’t have any idea why I hadn’t read Sam Smith’s book prior to May. I finally read it while taking breaks from watching The Last Dance, the 10-part documentary on Michael Jordan, co-starring the Chicago Bulls, on Netflix. Smith, a writer with the Chicago Tribune, details the Bulls’ 1990-91 season. As the Bulls run to their first NBA title, the reader is left to decide whether The Jordan Rules was the name for the way the Detroit Pistons played defence on Jordan or how his teammates came to feel about what dictated life with the Bulls. If you haven’t read this, it’s great. Interestingly, Smith now writes for the Bulls’ website.


Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey — Author Jeremy Allingham, a reporter with CBC in Vancouver, takes an in-depth look at the post-hockey lives of three former enforcers — James McEwan, Stephen Peat and Dale Purinton — and what he uncovers isn’t at all pretty. Interestingly, all three got their starts as enforcers in the WHL, a major junior league that has yet to ban fighting. This is a horrifying look at life after hockey fights and should be read by anyone involved in junior hockey — from fans to parents to executives.


The Mighty Oak — Tim O’Connor is the fighter — goon — for the West Texas Hockey League’s El Paso Storm. But his best days are behind him and he’s feeling it all over. O’Connor, whose nickname is Oak, hasn’t yet come to grips with the fact that a hip and a shoulder and a whole let else have him headed for hockey’s junk heap. He’s hoping the Oxy and Toradol and Adderall and whatever else is available will get him through it. Then he punches a cop. Author Jeff W. Bens has written an engrossing character study of a hockey enforcer trying to find a way back into a previous life.


Mission Critical — I had heard of author Mark Greaney and his Gray Man books, but I hadn’t ready any of them until this one, which is No. 8 in the series. Court Gentry is The Gray Man; he also is an assassin, code name Violator. In Mission Critical, Violator is working for the CIA and there is a lot of nastiness happening in a paperback that runs 706 pages. But it is readable and it is fun.


Mohawk — I don’t know if there is an author who captures small-town life in all of its idiosyncrasies like Richard Russo. Such is the case, again, in Mohawk as he follows a handful of citizens through the routine of their daily lives and stays with them as they deal with life’s ups and downs. Mohawk was published in 1986 and it is as great today as it was then.


Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World! — A member of the U.S. freestyle ski team suffers a career-ending injury and ends up running high stakes poker games in Los Angeles and, later, in New York City. This is the story of how Molly Bloom did all of that and more. She spills some of the beans in anecdotes that involve players like actors Tobey Maguire, who comes out rather poorly, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck, and some Russian gangsters. The obscene amounts of money thrown around in these games prove only that some people have no idea how the rest of us live. In the end, though, it all comes crashing down. Unfortunately, the book ends before the end, which is the part where Bloom pleads guilty to federal charges. You’ll have to turn to Google to find out what happened in court.


Next: Part 3 of 3.

The Bookshelf: Part 3 of 3


What follows is the third and final part of my annual Bookshelf piece, a thumbnail look at some of the books I have read in the past year. Hopefully, you will find something you want to read or to purchase as a gift. . . .

As for the 10 best books that I read this year, here they are, in alphabetical order (the last three are in the compilation that follows) . . .

Big Game: The NFL in Dangerous Times by Mark Leibovich

The Border, by Don Winslow

Bower: A Legendary Life, by Dan Robson

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches, by Tyler Kepner

The Last Cowboys: A Pioneer Family in the New West, by John Branch

November Road, by Lou Berney

The Other Woman, by Daniel Silva

Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other, by Ken Dryden

Us Against You, by Fredrik Backman

We Were the Lucky Ones, by Georgia Hunter


Past Tense — This is No. 23 in author Lee Child’s books that follow the adventures of Jack Reacher. It is a bit different in that for the first while it details two stories that run parallel to each other like side-by-side railroad tracks. As a reader you know that they are going to merge, you just don’t know when. Reacher, for his part, gets caught up in a tangled web when he visits Ryantown, Maine, in search of some family history.


The Power of the Dog — This is the first of three amazing books that author Don Winslow has written about the U.S. government’s war on drugs. The Cartel and The Border, the latter having been released in February, are the others. Winslow obviously knows his subject inside and out, as he tells the story from the perspective of politicians and law enforcement people from both sides of the U.S./Mexico border, and from those inside the cartels and on the streets. It’s all amazing and gory, and, in Winslow’s hands, it all makes for a tantalizing read.


The Quiet Game — Author Greg Iles knows his way around the southern U.S., especially Natchez, Miss. This was the first book to feature Penn Cage, a former district attorney in Houston turned best-selling author. In The Quiet Game, Cage is recently widowed and has a daughter, four-year-old Annie. He returns to his hometown of Natchez in an attempt to find some peace and quiet. Of course, he becomes embroiled in a situation that involves his father, who is a popular doctor, especially with the poor folks, an old love, her father and a whole lot more. I must admit that I quite enjoy the Iles-written books that I have read to date.


The Reckoning — A war hero who is a gentleman cotton farmer in post-Second World War Mississippi kills the local Methodist preacher and doesn’t offer a defence. From there, author John Grisham takes the reader on quite a journey that includes the breaking apart of a family, a wife and mother in a mental institution, war, the Bataan Death March, lawyers, judges, life in small-town Mississippi and a whole lot more. In short, this isn’t your typical Grisham legal thriller; it’s more about historical fiction wrapped around everything else.


Road to Gold: The Untold Story of Canada at the World Juniors — The biggest complaint about author Mark Spector’s look at Canada and the IIHF’s U-20 World Hockey Championship is that, at 220 pages, it isn’t anywhere near long enough. There are a number of entertaining anecdotes between the covers, and the opening chapter is especially interesting. It details the work done by Murray Costello, then the president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association, to get the three major junior leagues to buy into the program that would produce such golden results at this tournament. Spector also explains how the tournament came to be such a major part of TSN’s programming when it started out as the property of CBC.


Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other — Oh, how I looked forward to reading author Ken Dryden’s latest work! Yes, it met all expectations. In fact, it exceeded them. This isn’t a book strictly about Scott Bowman, though. Rather, Dryden, who played goal for the Bowman-coached Montreal Canadiens at one point in his career, had Bowman pick his top eight teams in NHL history in chronological order. Dryden then alternates chapters as he tells Bowman’s story and then writes about one of those top eight teams. Great stuff and a whole lot of memories here.


Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike — Phil Knight, the author of this book and the creator of Nike, was heavily in debt in his younger days, as the first part of this book details. By the end of the book, he is worth US$10 billion. This is the story of all that went on in between, and it’s a pretty good read — just don’t expect to read anything about the sins of Tiger Woods. Particularly interesting are the stories emanating from negotiations with Japanese and later Chinese businessmen. A highlight may be the evening in which Knight and his wife, Penny, were leaving a movie in Palm Springs, Calif., and encountered Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in the theatre lobby. I’ll let you try and figure out how much money was standing there and chatting.


Slow Curve on the Coquihalla — This is subtitled A Hunter Rayne Highway Mystery, Book 1. Hunter Rayne is a former RCMP officer who retired following the suicide of a friend and now is a long-haul truck driver. When a fellow driver dies in an accident on the Coquihalla Highway, Rayne decides to look into it and, yes, it turns out to be murder. Living in Kamloops, which is at one end of the Coquihalla — the other end is near Hope — I found it most interesting to read a novel in which I was familiar with many of the landmarks that were mentioned. Yes, I will search out Book 2, written by R.E. Donald.


Sold on a Monday — Author Kristina McMorris has written an engrossing novel based on a newspaper photo from 1931 in which two youngsters pose under a sign indicating that they are for sale. Ellis Reed, a newspaper writer with a camera, is looking for his big break. He takes one photo, then comes back for another. One thing leads to another and Reed ends up on a soul-searching journey. This is a fine period piece.


Us Against You — This is the sequel to Beartown, Swedish author Fredrik Backman’s stunning novel about hockey and life in a small town. The sequel doesn’t disappoint and, yes, it is about hockey as life and one as a metaphor for the other. Pick up either of these books and you will find yourselves lingering as you read, enjoying them like a DQ Blizzard on a hot August day. Oh my, but Backman can write!


We Were the Lucky Ones — Georgia Hunter spins an amazing story with her first novel, which really is a work of historical fiction. Thanks to a high school English project, Hunter, then 15, interviewed her grandmother about the family’s history. As Hunter learned, that history was quite something, and she was able to turn it into this book a few years later. As the Second World War began, the Kurc family was living in Radom, Poland. They were Polish Jews, so you can imagine what was in their immediate future, and it wasn’t pretty. In the end, though, as Hunter discovered, they really were fortunate. Trust me on this one . . . a huge recommendation.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating greatness of Ken Dryden’s latest book . . .


Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times: “If any good can come from the events that led to Bill Peters’ resignation Friday as (head) coach of the Calgary Flames . . . it will be to launch discussions about what constitutes appropriate behavior for coaches at every level in hockey, and beyond. Start with this: Anyone who resorts to physical or verbal abuse to convey a message is a coward and doesn’t deserve the honor of being called ‘coach’.”

There are a lot of parents who send their teenagers off to hockey academies, while other adults shake their heads and wonder: “Why?” . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week granted anonymity to the parents of eight such players and the results are right here. It’s worth your time; it’s also enlightening, scary and food for thought, especially the apparent lack of trust in those responsible for minor hockey.

People inside the WHL have long said that a 15-year-old player is allowed to get into five games per season so long as his club team’s season is ongoing. Unless, of course, there are emergency circumstances involved. I note that highly touted F Matt Savoie, 15, played in his sixth game of the season for the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday night. I would suggest the over-under for his first season with the Ice is 20 GP. Hey, Hockey Canada, what say you? . . . BTW, Savoie has one assist in his first six WHL games.

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times makes a valid point: “Not that football needs another rule or anything, but any player who goes nutso celebrating a first down, a touchdown or a turnover — when his team is trailing by three or more scores — should get flagged 15 yards for stupidity.”

Patrick Beverley, a guard with the Chicago Bulls, grew up in West Chicago. “Coming from where I come from,” he told ESPN, “I didn’t have the luxury of having a trust fund. Or money from generations. Or the luxury of hoppin’ into the family business, you know? It’s either hoop or you sell dope.”

If you don’t have Ken Dryden’s latest book — Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other — on your Christmas list I would suggest you get it on there ASAP. If you are a hockey fan, this is a book like no other. I couldn’t wait until Christmas to get my hands on a copy, and I haven’t been disappointed. Yes, it’s about Scotty Bowman, but it’s so much more than a book about one man. No binge reading with this one; it’s one chapter at a time in the hopes that I can make it last and last.

Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about the sign-stealing scandal in baseball: “Is baseball the stupidest sport? Bad question. It’s not even close. Only in baseball, this kind of thinking: ‘I’ve got an idea. We steal signals from opposing catchers with a spy cam. Nobody will know, except all 25 of our players, the manager and coaches, bat boys, the camera crew, and people we tell in bars when we’ve had too many, so it will be easy to keep it a secret, as long as none of those people have a conscience or character. Nobody on the outside will ever bust us, unless they have ears or look at a box score. We could win some games, and the only downside is that if we get caught, we’ll all be branded cheaters, liars and losers forever. Let’s do it!’ ”

There have been whispers that when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones makes a coaching change, the new guy will be Urban Meyer. As Bob Molinaro scribbled in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: “Can we look forward to the Urban Cowboy? The headline is too good to go to waste.”

How badly were the New England Patriots exposed during Sunday’s 28-22 loss to the Texans in Houston, which was far worse than the score would seem to indicate? Is it something that a wide receiver capable of beating man coverage could cure? No, I didn’t think so either. . . . But you were sad — really sad — to see the Patriots lose, weren’t you?

Derek Boogard, 28, died on May 31, 2011, of an accidental overdose after mixing prescription painkillers with alcohol. . . . Rick Rypien was 27 when he committed suicide on Aug. 15, 2011. . . . Wade Belak was 35 when he committed suicide on Aug. 31, 2011. . . . Todd Ewen, 49, committed suicide on Sept. 29, 2015. . . . All four were NHL enforcers. All four also were WHL enforcers. . . . After death, all four were found to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). . . . Still, the WHL continues to condone fighting; in fact, the Brandon Wheat Kings and host Winnipeg Ice were involved in a line brawl on Saturday night. . . . If you haven’t seen it, Virginia Smart and Lisa Ellenwood of CBC News have a story right here and there is a link in the story to a piece by The Fifth Estate. It focuses on Belak and it’s scary.

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .


Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .

ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.

If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.

Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!

In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?


That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.


When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.


This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.

I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.


BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”

You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.

Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


It’s time for WHL to do the right thing . . . Decision-makers must act . . . Fighting, headshots have to go



Included in a WHL news release that was issued on June 14 following the league’s annual meeting in Vancouver was this sentence:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

The news release didn’t provide any further details, but it says here that anything short of a complete ban on fighting and all contact with an opponent’s head, including incidental contact, is a complete failure.

If the WHL really — really, really, really — cares about the health and safety of its players it is time to make these moves. In fact, it’s well past time.


Well, let’s start with this Ken Dryden piece from the op-ed pages of the Washington Post.

And then there’s this piece right here from The Players Tribune. Written by Nick Boynton, a former major junior player who went to skate in the NHL, it isn’t pretty.

At one point, Boynton writes of his three-year-old son: “But I cannot, in good conscience, let him play the game of ice hockey until something changes and we start looking out for our players by taking the problems of head hits and concussions — and their potential impact on mental health — more seriously.”

Boynton also writes:

“Yes, ours is a physical, violent sport. And it may be the case that we cannot rid hockey of that violence and danger altogether. But at the very least let’s deal with the issues that arise as a result of that. Deal with the head trauma. Deal with the concussions. And deal with all of the ramifications that those things bring about.

“Stop telling people the world is flat and just do the right thing. Instead of ignoring the damage that occurs to the brain when you get your bell rung out on the ice, let’s own up to it and get guys the help they need. Not just after they retire, but while they’re playing the game.

“Let’s start addressing the problem. Let’s look closely at the brain — and how our sport as we currently play it might be harmful to the brain — and begin making things right.”

In a recent conversation with Brandon Rivers of, WHL commissioner Ron Robison was asked about the fact that the OHL has fighting restrictions — Rivers pointed out that “If a player fights more than three times in a season, that player will be subjected to a two-game suspension for each fight over the number allowed” — while the WHL has no such thing.

Robison replied:

“I think that is another example. Each in our own way we are looking to reduce or eliminate fighting or what we would call . . . unnecessary fighting in the game. In our case, we have a WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan, which has been in place for several seasons. We review that annually and make recommendations and we will be reviewing that actually with our general managers . . . It is an ongoing process. We each approach things a little differently but for the most part we are on the same page as far as what we are trying to accomplish.”

Robison, if you haven’t noticed, has got commissioner-speak down to a fine art where he uses many words to really say, well, not much. What he should have said is this:

“There is more and more scientific evidence linking CTE to blows to the head. Whether or not CTE is a direct result of blows to the head and/or concussions/traumatic brain injury, we are well aware that blows to the head aren’t good and may cause irreparable damage.

“As a result, the WHL is moving to the forefront of this issue by banning fighting. When a player has one fight, he will receive a warning. A second fight will carry with it a two-game suspension, with three games for a third, four for a fourth, etc.

“This is just another case of our wanting to protect the health of our players now and in the future.”

It would be easy for the WHL to adopt the IIHF’s rule that deals with checking to the head or neck. It’s Rule 124 in the IIHF rule book that is readily available at

Dryden, the former NHL goaltender whose latest book is Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey, spoke for 40 minutes at the See The Line symposium in London, Ont., on Thursday.

“Six years ago the process began (with See The Line),” he said. “Injuries happen, sometimes career-diminishing, sometimes career-ending, some that change a person’s life; and change them and make them not them anymore. In six years we are now more aware of that too.

“But after six years we still have this immense problem with brain injury in sports. Why? What can we do now? Our response to it is we need better science; we need to understand it better and that becomes our focus . . . to get better technology and the focus becomes on science. The problem is when it becomes so much of the focus; science takes time and games are played tomorrow.”

Later, he told Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press, whose piece is right here:

“If you don’t force decision-makers to do something, things will remain the same. We have to move beyond just awareness and science. As I said in the end it is up to the decision-makers to take all this awareness that’s been raised and apply it. They have every right to simply carry on and that’s the problem; they are the roadblock. Why do we let them off the hook? Put it into the hands of those whose hands it should be in. Say to them ‘you are not custodians of the game; but custodians of the people playing the game.’ What are you doing for them?”

If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


RCMP investigating ‘fire incident’ that left three players hospitalized . . . Royals sign first-round pick


F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) wasn’t offered a contract for this season after his one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga) expired on Sunday. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games.


RCMP in Cochrane, Alta., are investigating a Saturday night incident that resulted in three hockey players being taken to a Calgary hospital.

Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos, along with Jordy Bellerive and Ryan Vandervlis, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, remained in hospital Sunday night, being treated for Lethbridgeburns suffered in what the RCMP termed a “fire incident” that occurred “at approximately 11:43 p.m.”

According to the RCMP news release:

“Cochrane RCMP, along with Rockyview Fire and EMS were dispatched to a structure fire in the Bearspaw area of Rockyview County, located approximately 10 km east of Cochrane.

“Upon arrival, it was determined that a substance was placed into a fire-pit that caused an explosion. No structures were involved or affected by the incident.

“Three people who were in the area of the fire-pit sustained burn injuries. . . . The injured persons were transported via ground ambulance to a Calgary hospital, where they are being treated for their injuries. . . .

“The investigation into this matter is ongoing.”

While the RCMP has yet to release the identities of the three injured players, the Hurricanes revealed on Saturday night that they are Bellerive, Alfaro and Vandervlis.

The three players are in the Foothills Medical Centre. According to a report by Evan Radford of StarMetro Calgary, a spokesperson for Calgary EMS said that “one of the three is critical, one is in serious, potentially life-threatening condition, and one is in serious, non-life-threatening condition.”

Bellerive, 19, finished the 2017-18 season as the Hurricanes’ captain. Last summer, he went to training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins and earned a three-year entry-level NHL contract.

On Sunday, the Penguins issued a news release that indicated assistant general manager Bill Guerin “has spoken with Bellerive, who is in good spirits and expected to make a full recovery.”

Bellerive is from North Vancouver, B.C.

Vandervlis, 20, is from Red Deer. His 2017-18 season was short-circuited when he underwent shoulder surgery in December.

Alafaro, 21, has played one season with the Dinos. From Calgary, he played in the WHL with the Kootenay Ice, before being traded to the Hurricanes during the 2016-17 season.

The Victoria Royals have signed D Nolan Bentham to a WHL contract. Bentham, who is from Victoria, was a first-round selection, 13th overall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Last season, Bentham played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., putting up five goals and 17 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team. . . . He is the son of John Bentham, a defenceman who had three assists in 35 games with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars in 1989-90.


The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.


The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

In a news release following its annual general meeting in Vancouver last week, the WHL issued a news release that included this:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to provide specifics. But anything less than a complete ban on headshots, including fighting, is a fail . . . a large fail.

If you’re wondering why, well, if you haven’t already seen it already, the always literate Ken Dryden wrote a piece for The Athletic on the NHL, commissioner Gary Bettman and its stance on concussions, CTE, checks to the head, etc.

Dryden’s essay is right here and it explains it all.

Josh Lee has signed on with the MJHL’s WayWayseecappo Wolverines as associate general manager and associate coach. Lee, 28, is from Edmonton. He will work under GM/head coach Taylor Harnett with the Wolverines.

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