Scattershooting on a Sunday evening as the smoke rolls in like the tide . . .



John Schultz of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a Saturday morning piece: “COVID-19 has claimed its first Olympic competition: Czech beach volleyball player Marketa Slukova tested positive this week, forcing a cancellation of her match with teammate Barbora Hermannova against Japan’s Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishiibeing, The Associated Press reports. The Japanese were awarded a victory by default in what would have been the tournament’s opening match. Olympics-related COVID cases in Japan has reached 127, including 14 athletes.”

By Sunday, that number had reached 137. . . . There’s more on all of that right here, including a list of athletes who have tested positive.

Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau was knocked out of the Games on Saturday by a positive test before he left for Tokyo. Patrick Reed, who finished play in the PGA’s 3M Open, will replace him on the American team. The Olympic golf tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

The field for that even may be set at 59 because Spain’s Jon Rahm may not be replaced after he, too, tested positive.

You will recall that Rahm, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive on June 5 while holding a six-stroke lead after three rounds in the Memorial Tournament. This time, he tested positive in the final round of tests prior to leaving for Tokyo.


On Saturday evening, I had flashbacks to December 1985 when the WHL’s KrakenRegina Pats came oh, so close to relocating to Swift Current over the Christmas break. It all began in May when the Regina Leader-Post reported that “Regina Pats fans are going to have to dip into their pockets for an extra dollar to cover parking charges announced by the Pats’ landlord, the Regina Exhibition Association.” . . . You may recall that it ultimately led to Herb Pinder Jr. and his family selling the Pats to a group of Regina businessmen. . . . Anyway, the reason for the flashback was this tweet from the Seattle Times: “The Seattle City Council will consider a proposal Monday to raise on-street parking fees in Uptown during large events at Climate Pledge Arena.” . . . That, of course, will be the home arena for the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken.

Michelle Baruchman of the Times reported:

“Under a proposal before the City Council on Monday, drivers would pay $3 per hour for their first two hours of street parking and $8 per hour for the second two hours during events that attract 10,000 or more guests.

“That means Uptown visitors parking near the arena who spend four hours shopping, eating and watching the Kraken play would pay $22 to park. On-street parking would be limited to four hours during the day and evening hours.”

I have never been a Montreal Canadiens’ fan — it was always Gordie Howe and the Detroit Red Wings for me — but I must admit to having had a tear in my eye on Friday night when the Montreal Canadiens revealed the name of their first-round selection in the NHL draft. There was a time when they set the bar for everyone else. But I guess it’s fair to say they no longer hold the torch as high as they once did.


Here’s veteran hockey writer Ken Campbell on the Montreal Canadiens and that first-round pick:

“When Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin faced his questioners Friday night after choosing defenseman Logan Mailloux in the first round of the NHL draft, he provided the following answer in French: ‘On the hockey side, he was the best pick.’

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, tells you everything you need to know about the toxic culture that surrounds this great game. You do have to hand it to “hockey people”, however. No matter how much they embarrass themselves, they simply don’t seem to care what people outside their tight little circle think about their attitudes and actions.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here, and if you haven’t already you should consider subscribing to Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell.


Colin Priestner, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Saskatoon BladesBlades, apparently was watching the draft, and he chose to hit Twitter three times with his opinion of what transpired with the Montreal Canadiens and their first pick. Priestner hitting social media with his red-hot reaction really was something when you consider that WHL and team officials rarely offer anything resembling hard-hitting commentary, or anything that might stir the pot, on anything these days. . . . BTW, he wasn’t wrong.


It is quite evident that the NFL isn’t going to show any patience with unvaccinated team personnel who don’t follow the restrictions that are being placed on them.

According to ESPN, Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told his players that an unvaccinated player will be fined “$14,000 on the spot every time he isn’t wearing a mask or is breaking a protocol.”

Arians later told ESPN in a text: “NFL policy. League rules.”

It turns out that the fine actually is $14,650.

Things could get interesting with the Bucs, too, because RB Leonard Fournette tweeted on Thursday: “Vaccine I can’t do it.”

They opened training camp on Sunday.


The NFL lost a pair of offensive line coaches on Friday and both appear to have departed over a refusal to be vaccinated. Rick Dennison chose not to be vaccinated so no longer is an offensive line coach/run game co-ordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, while Cole Popovich isn’t with the New England Patriots. He was their co-offensive line coach. . . . Under NFL rules, all coaches must be vaccinated in order to have any direct interactions with players, including on the field and in meeting rooms.


If you are wondering why the NFL is going to such disciplinary lengths to try and protect its product from COVID-19 consider this: Each team will be paid $309 million for its share of television revenue; the NFL’s salary cap this season is $198 million.


If all goes according to plan — in other words, if COVID-19 doesn’t rear its ugly head in a big way again — WHL teams will open their training camps on or about Sept. 8. That is six weeks from Wednesday. So . . . if the WHL is going to a mandatory vaccine protocol as is the OHL, anyone who hasn’t yet been fully vaccinated is running out of time.

Steve Sparks, an analyst on the Houston Astros’ radio crew, won’t be on an eight-game road swing that opens today (Monday) against the Seattle Mariners. Yes, he tested positive on Sunday.

Here’s Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “For this season, unlike last, if a college football team can’t post for a game because of a COVID outbreak in its locker room, it should lose by forfeit. There are no excuses anymore.”

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, added: “I could not agree more. And I do not care if one of the elite teams has to be the one to forfeit a game and ruins its chances for the CFP.”

Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I guess we’re past the point where couples counselling is going to help with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.”

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Peter Repcik, 17, to a WHL contract. The Slovakian was selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. Repcik had nine goals and 15 assists in 27 games with Team Slovakia’s U-18 side. He also had two assists in three games with the U-20 team.

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


No comment from Hurricanes on Memorial Cup bid . . . Silvertips’ sales booming . . . Winterhawks sign first-round pick


D Rasmus Rissanen (Everett, 2009-11) signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had three assists in 31 games with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL).


The WHL’s deadline for teams to declare an official interest in bidding to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament was May 31.

The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals had made no secret of the whlfact that they were all-in. The Blazers and Rockets made their intentions known at news conferences; Victoria didn’t hold a news conference but general manager Cam Hope said on numerous occasions that his organization would bid.

However, May 31 came and went and there was nary a word from the WHL. June 1 . . . June 2 . . . June 3 . . . nothing.

On the morning of Monday, June 4, Bruce Hamilton broke the silence. Hamilton is the president and general manager of the Rockets; he also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors.

Hamilton told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of intent with the WHL office and that those four teams were Kamloops, Kelowna Victoria . . . and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Hamilton even went out of his way to point out that the Hurricanes “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”

Until that moment, there hadn’t been even the smallest of hints that would have indicated the Hurricanes had an interest in bidding on the event.

On Monday, a WHL spokesperson told me that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”

As of Tuesday evening, there hasn’t been anything official from the Hurricanes or from the WHL office.

In fact, the only thing that I have seen from Lethbridge came in the form of a Tuesday tweet from Kaella Carr of CTV-Lethbridge.

So we are left to wonder if Hamilton spoke out of turn, or is there more to this than meets the eye?

One supposes that we will find out whenever it is deemed to be the appropriate time.

One team that apparently didn’t express official interest in bidding on the 2020 Memorial Cup was the Everett Silvertips.

It’s really too bad that American teams seem to be on the outside looking in when it Everettcomes to bidding on the Memorial Cup, because it would be interesting to see how fans in the Everett area would respond.

According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Silvertips averaged 5,686 fans through 12 home playoff games this spring, trailing only the Regina Pats (6,484 for three games) and Victoria Royals (5,726 for six games).

In the regular-season, Everett’s announced average attendance was 5,129, good for seventh in the 22-team league. That was up from 4,865 in 2016-17.

This season, the Silvertips finished atop the 10-team Western Conference, then reached the WHL championship final where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.

On Tuesday, Zoran Rajcic, the COO of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips, released a statement that read, in part:

“This last Saturday, we experienced a response and demand in Silvertips hockey from our community like we’ve almost never seen before.

“Our commitment to providing a first-class service to our season-ticket holders resulted in a projected boost of 500 new season tickets, adding to a 92 percent retention from this last season. It’s proof that our region’s thirst for the game has developed into a full passion.”

The Silvertips play in the Angel of the Winds Arena, which, according to the WHL Guide, has a capacity of 8,149.

Apologies to members of the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars, who won the WHL championship. In a piece I posted here Monday night, I made mention of the fact that Victoria had never VicCougarsplayed in a Memorial Cup tournament. That was in error. . . . The Cougars won a thrilling seven-game championship series from the Calgary Wranglers that spring. . . . Here’s what I wrote as part of an essay on the 1981 Memorial Cup that was played in Windsor:

Jack Shupe, a veteran of the western Canadian coaching wars, was running the Cougars. Shupe had last been to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1973 with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Cougars actually trailed the Calgary Wranglers 3-1 in the WHL’s best-of-seven final before rallying. They didn’t win the WHL title until Terry Sydoryk broke a 2-2 tie at 18:07 of the third period of Game 7. An empty-netter by Grant Rezansoff made the final score 4-2.

The Cougars had finished on top of the West Division, their 121 points (60-11-1) leaving them eight ahead of the Portland Winter Hawks.

The Cougars’ offensive leader was centre Barry Pederson, whose 147 points left him third in the scoring race, just 13 points off the lead.

Pederson added 36 points in the playoffs, second behind the 43 points put up by Calgary’s Bill Hobbins.

Pederson was supported by Rezansoff, who totalled 27 playoff points after a 97-point regular season, Rich Chernomaz (113 regular-season points), Torrie Robertson 111), Brad Palmer, Paul Cyr, Bud McCarthy and Mark Morrison. This was a team that could score — witness its league-high 462 goals.

But it was Fuhr who dominated this team. He was the primary reason for it surrendering only 217 regular-season goals, 49 fewer than any other team.

The Cougars opened the playoffs by sweeping the Spokane Flyers in four games. They then took apart the Winter Hawks in four straight.

That sent them into the final where they fell behind the Doug Sauter-coached Wranglers, who featured goaltender Mike Vernon, 3-1 in games before roaring back to win their first WHL championship since they entered the league in 1971.

“Fuhr was the difference,” Sauter said. “There’s no doubt he’s an all-star.”

This would also mark the first Memorial Cup appearance for a team from Victoria.

The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Gabe Klassen and G Lochlan Gordon to WHL Portlandcontracts. . . . Klassen, from Prince Albert, will turn 15 on June 30. He was taken in the first round, 19th overall, of the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 52 goals and 37 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Prince Albert Mintos. He led the league in goals and points. . . . Gordon, from Edmonton, was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Gordon, 15, played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, going 12-5-0, 2.68, .891, with four shutouts in 18 games.

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.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

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:

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Conner Roulette to a WHL contract. Roulette, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he played for the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks, putting up 52 goals and 49 assists in 34 games. He led his league in goals, assists and points.

Inde Sumal, the president and CEO of a Vancouver-based private equity firm, is leading the charge to build a new arena on B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Sumal sees a facility with about 10,000 seats somewhere in Surrey, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. . . . Kenneth Chan of has more right here.


Ben Simon is the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He takes over from Todd Nelson, who left last week to join the NHL’s Dallas Stars as an assistant coach. . . . Simon, 39, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Griffins.

The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have signed Drew Bannister as their head coach. He had been the head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Bannister spent three seasons as the Greyhounds’ head coach and is the CHL’s reigning coach of the year. The Greyhounds were 136-50-18 under Bannister, winning two division titles and, this season, the OHL’s regular-season championship. This season, they set franchise records with 55 victories and 116 points.


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