Free Press columnist calls for stiff discipline . . . MJHL all done for 2020 . . . Heward leaving Giants after two seasons

The owner of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and two MJHL franchises — 50 Below Sports and Entertainment — is in the eye of the storm after the two junior A franchises were caught violating COVID-19 protocols as set down by the provincial government.

And now at least one Winnipeg writer — columnist Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press — is calling for stiff discipline.

In a column headlined ‘Throw the book at league’s code-red violators,’ McIntyre calls what happened “a cold, calculated disregard for public health protocols in the middle of a global pandemic that is as brazen as you’ll see.

“The pathetic attempt to cover it up, using teenage hockey players as pawns, was even worse.”

In case you missed it, the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze practised in Warren, a community about half an hour northwest of Winnipeg, despite the city having been placed in a critical zone by health officials. The MJHL also had told its teams they weren’t to “travel outside the region to participate in sanctioned hockey activities.”

Winnipeg media received an anonymous email that included video showing the teams skating at the arena in Warren. The president of that arena, Rhys van Kemenade, is 50 Below’s director of teams and tournaments.

A parent of one of the players involved told McIntyre that the player went along because he “didn’t want to get benched.”

“Kids didn’t have a lot of choice,” the parent said. “Coach tells you to show up, well, you show up. Or you’re in the doghouse. You know your hockey. Coaches at this age have all the power. And if a parent said ‘You can’t go!’, they become a problem parent. Most of those kids are adults, but I am a little dumbfounded by the whole thing.”

That same parent also explained to McIntyre that “Blues and Freeze players pay lots of cash to play, and there is an item in the contract that says fees are based on ‘training,’ not number of games played. So if teams still had skill sessions or ‘training,’ they continue to collect fees.”

McIntyre’s column is right here.

Meanwhile, Don McIntosh, the president of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League, told Jason Bell of the Free Press that he isn’t at all pleased with what went on.

“All of us will be painted with the same brush,” said McIntosh, a longtime hockey executive in his fifth season with the AAA league. “That’s the real frustration. Our league has busted our butts on mitigating risk. This is important stuff.”

McIntosh added that he “used to sit on the board of Hockey Manitoba and dealt with numerous issues. If you use an ineligible player or forge a game sheet, you can get substantive fines for that. To me, this is beyond that.

“They caught them live. There it is for all to see. This thing is way, way out of line.”

Bell’s piece is right here.

If you’re wondering, Hockey Manitoba and the MJHL are investigating.

To the best of my knowledge, nary a word has been heard from anyone involved with 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which would include Greg Fettes, the chairman, and Matt Cockell, who is president and general manager of the Ice and president and governor of both the Blues and the Freeze.

You may recall that Fettes and Cockell were front and centre in the Kootenay Ice’s operation in Cranbrook, prior to the franchise’s relocation to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season.

BTW, does anyone know if the Ice has settled its lease with Cranbrook city council yet?

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The MJHL announced on Thursday that it is shutting things down for the remainder of 2020. The province of Manitoba is at critical level and all kinds of public health orders are in place at least until Dec. 11. The MJHL hopes to be able to resume activities on Jan. 1. . . .

Meanwhile, in the SJHL, the Flin Flon Bombers and Kindersley Klippers won’t be playing this weekend, after all. The teams had been scheduled to play a weekend doubleheader in Flin Flon. But with Manitoba locking things down on Thursday, a decision was made to play the games in Kindersley on Friday and Saturday. . . . On Thursday, however, it was decided to postpone the games.


The Vancouver Giants are expected to introduce a new associate coach today Vancouver(Friday). The WHL team announced Thursday that Jamie Heward, their associate coach for the past two seasons, is leaving the organization “to pursue a different hockey opportunity.” He is expected to join the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights as an assistant coach under Manny Viveiros. . . . The two of them spent two seasons together with the Swift Current Broncos, winning a WHL title in the spring of 2018. . . . The Silver Knights, who are preparing for their first season, are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. The Silver Knights are to play out of Paradise, Nev. . . . The Giants’ new associate coach will be working with head coach Michael Dyck, who will be spending about seven weeks bubbling up with Canada’s national junior team at its selection camp in Red Deer and then at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton. The selection camp gets started on Monday. . . . The WJC is to end on Jan. 5; the WHL says it will start its regular season on Jan. 8.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

There is good news as former WHL/NHL D Blake Wesley, who spent more than a month fighting COVID-19 in Austria, says he is “back in action.”

On Wednesday, Wesley took to his Facebook page to let us know that he had his ninth COVID screening earlier in the day.

“I’m back in action!!!!” he wrote. “My COVID screening was negative.

It was his first negative since Oct. 5.

“It’s a blessing,” he wrote, “and reduces some anxiety and fear.”

Wesley, 61, played three seasons (1976-79) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 298 regular-season NHL games. These days, he is coaching at a hockey academy in Sankt Pölten, Austria.

If you aren’t aware of what Wesley went through battling the virus, click right here and see what I wrote last week.

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I tried. I really did. With the entire province of Manitoba having been declared a critical zone as of Thursday, I tried to figure out what that meant in terms of travel. Here’s part of what I found about the Manitoba restrictions in the section under Travel and Self-Isolation:

“In general, anyone arriving in Manitoba is required to self-isolate for 14-days upon arrival to reduce the spread of COVID-19. However, there are exceptions to this requirement specified in the order.

“In particular, Manitoba residents who have travelled to “western Canada* or “northwestern Ontario** are exempt from the self-isolation requirements when they return to Manitoba if they have not travelled outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. Residents of western Canada or northwestern Ontario are also exempt, if they have not travelled to another country or any part of Canada outside of western Canada or northwestern Ontario in the 14-day period immediately before entering or arriving in Manitoba and are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.

“*Western Canada means British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. (as defined in the order).

“**northwestern Ontario means that portion of Ontario that is located west of Terrace Bay (as defined in the order).”

What followed that was a list of exceptions to the requirements, including “professional athletes and team members (players, coaches, managers, training and technical staff and medical personnel) employed by or affiliated with a professional sports team from Manitoba are also exempt from the self-isolation requirements as well as film production crew members (cast and crew) if they are not displaying any symptoms of COVID-19.”

There was more, a lot more, but by now my eyes were starting to roll back in my head.

Those Manitoba restrictions are right here.

And then the Alberta government brought down some restrictions of its own. So minor hockey has been shut down for a couple of weeks in some cities, but the AJHL is scheduled to open its season tonight (Friday). Meanwhile, the 10-team Okotoks Ladies Classic, a curling event that drew some high-end rinks skipped by the likes of Jennifer Jones, Rachel Homan, Casey Scheidegger and Corryn Brown, was halted Thursday afternoon shortly after it got started.

Judging by reactions on social media there surely is a lot of confusion in provinces, including B.C., over restrictions and recommendations. You are left to wonder if the politicians and health officials are muddying the water on purpose are whether they simply no longer know how to communicate on the same level as the little people.

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The Ivy League has cancelled its winter sports season, and postponed spring sports through February 2021. That means that Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton and Yale won’t be playing hockey this season. . . . They join Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) as NCAA Div. 1 teams to have had their hockey seasons cancelled. . . . College Hockey News has more right here. . . .

Governors in seven northeastern states have shut down interstate youth hockey competitions through the end of 2020. “All interstate hockey competitions for public schools, private schools and youth leagues in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont and New Jersey have been suspended beginning Saturday and until Dec. 31 at the earliest,” KC Downey of WCVB-ABC reported. . . . Downey also reported: “The coronavirus-related safety measure does not cover collegiate hockey teams, professional hockey teams or the U.S. national hockey teams, officials said, but those teams will be subject to existing COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . .

CB Iman Marshall of the Baltimore Ravens tested positive on Thursday, so is on the reserve/COVID-19 list. He hasn’t played after suffering a knee injury early in training camp. . . . CB Marlon Humphrey came off the list on Wednesday after 10 days in quarantine. He is expected to play against the host New England Patriots on Sunday night. . . .

I don’t have any numbers today. Oh, I saw them. But they’re just too depressing — also frustrating — and there are far too many signs that not everyone is prepared to pull the rope in the same direction. Saskatchewan is expected to introduce measures of some sort today, meaning all four western provinces will be living with pandemic-related restrictions of one degree or another. The way things are going, I would suggest there will be more restrictions coming as B.C., Alberta and Saskatchewan move closer to Manitoba’s lockdown.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

COVID-19 playing havoc with MJHL; Free Press: OCN player positive . . . Gogol had quite a season in ’77-78

It didn’t take long for life in the pandemic to take a nasty turn for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

The 12-team league was cruising along, having gotten in 38 regular-season mjhlgames since opening on Oct. 9, until the province’s numbers started running wild. By Tuesday, the Winnipeg Free Press was suggesting the MJHL’s season might be in doubt.

Let’s recap . . .

On Monday, Hockey Manitoba announced that it had shut down all hockey activity in the Winnipeg metropolitan region effective immediately, with things to be revisited on Nov. 15. As a result, the MJHL postponed weekend games that were to involve the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze. At the time, the league said the weekend’s other games would go ahead as scheduled, after which it would shut down until Nov. 20.

On Tuesday, the MJHL announced that “this week’s games involving the OCN Blizzard have been postponed due to a public health concern.”

It wasn’t long before Jason Bell and Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press were OCNreporting that “at least one player with the OCN Blizzard has tested positive for COVID-19, putting the club’s season and perhaps even the MJHL’s 2020-21 campaign into doubt.”

The Blizzard was to have played the Kings in Dauphin on Tuesday night, but that game was postponed. The teams played Sunday in Dauphin, with the Blizzard winning, 7-4. The Blizzard player who tested positive played in that game.

OCN’s lineup on Sunday included two players on loan from the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders — F Justin Nachbaur and F Evan Herman — and F Eric Alarie of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Dauphin’s lineup included F Tyson Kozak of the Portland Winterhawks, F Jakob Brook of the Regina Pats and F Kade Runke of the Warriors.

The parent of an OCN player told the Free Press: “All the details haven’t been released yet. I certainly wouldn’t want to provide any misinformation, so the information has to come from the right channels. (The organization said) just that there’s been possible exposure in the division, so we’re following proper health protocols and going into isolation mode until there’s more information.”

The Free Press also reported it had been told by multiple sources that “OCN players from outside The Pas were being told to return home.”

A parent of a player with a different MJHL team told the Free Press: “Almost close to calling that anonymous line for COVID reporting. Something I think MJHL commissioner should answer questions on. Certainly OCN. But sure the league is done until (Christmas) at least after this.”

Taking Note has been told that at least one of the four on-ice officials who worked Sunday’s game has been told he should self-isolate for 14 days.

According to the MJHL’s schedule, weekend games in Winkler, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach and Dauphin will be played before the league breaks until Nov. 20.

The story from the Free Press is right here.


Brent Gogol holds the WHL record for most penalty minutes in one season — 511 in 1977-78. He started the season with the Victoria Cougars, earning 46 minutes in six games. He was dealt to the Billings Bighorns, where he added another 465 minutes in 61 games. . . . Interestingly, Mel Hewitt, who split his 1977-78 season between the Saskatoon Blades and Calgary Wranglers, finished only three minutes behind Gogol in that same season. . . . In 1990-91, Kerry Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs got to 505 minutes. You have to wonder if he knew how close he was to Gogol’s record at the time.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CB Marlon Humphrey of the Baltimore Ravens has tested positive. He played every defensive snap on Sunday in the Raven’s 28-24 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. . . . The Steelers announced Monday that all of their tests had come back negative. . . . By Tuesday, though, the Ravens had put seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list — linebackers Tyus Bowser, L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Matthew Judon and Patrick Queen, DB DeShon Elliott and practice squad DB Terrell Bonds. Those seven will quarantine for five days but could be activated in time to face the host Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. . . .

RB AJ Dillon of the Green Bay Packers has tested positive and won’t play Thursday against the host San Francisco 49ers. Dillon played on Sunday as the Packers dropped a 28-22 decision to the visiting Minnesota Vikings. He was on the field for 10 offensive snaps and seven plays on special teams. . . . RB Jamaal Williams and LB Kamal Martin, named as high-risk close contacts, also won’t play. . . .

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals came off their bye week and head coach Cliff Kingsbury revealed a pair of positive tests from the weekend. Kingsbury wouldn’t provide identities of the two players, but LB Devon Kennard later reported on Twitter that he had tested positive. . . . The team also has placed CB Byron Murphy on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . The Cardinals are to play the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday. . . .

The Denver Broncos revealed Tuesday that team president Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway have tested positive. Meanwhile, assistant coaches Ed Donatell, Curtis Modkins and Mike Munchak are under COVID-19 protocols, as is OL Graham Glasgow. . . . The Broncos are scheduled to visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. . . .

QB Andy Dalton of the Dallas Cowboys had been expected to return on Sunday against the host Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. . . . Dalton missed the Cowboys’ previous game with a concussion. . . .

The U of Wisconsin Badgers have had a second straight football game cancelled. The Badgers were to have played Purdue on Saturday. Wisconsin has had 27 positives since Oct. 24 — 15 players and 12 staff. . . . Interestingly, there isn’t room in the Big Ten schedule to play games that are affected by the virus, so the games are cancelled. . . .

Following one positive test, the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay DynamitersInternational Junior Hockey League have nine additional members of the organization self-isolating until Nov. 11. This comes after the Interior Health Authority completed contact tracing. The Dynamiters’ last exhibition game, scheduled for Friday against the visiting Fernie Ghostriders has been cancelled. . . . The KIJHL plans on opening its regular season on Nov. 13. The Dynamiters are scheduled to be at home to Fernie that night. . . .

The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association has paused for at least two weeks. An outbreak at a Chilliwack dance studio — there are at least 30 positives — resulted in meetings between the CMHA and health authorities, and a decision was made to suspend all hockey activities. . . .

The South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League has delayed the start of its regular season to Nov. 26. The seven-team league hopes to play a 12-game regular season. . . . The original plan was to play the regular 18-game season starting on Nov. 6. . . .

The QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs have lost assistant coach Mathieu Turcotte, who has left the team for personal reasons. According to Mikael Lalancette of TVA Sports, Turcotte “has health problems that put him at risk” during these pandemic times. . . . The Voltigeurs are one of the QMJHL teams that has experienced positive tests. . . .

The U of Rhode Island Rams football team has had to put things on hold after a player and a staff member tested positive. All players and staff members have been told to quarantine for two weeks. . . . The Rams have been hold light workouts as they aren’t scheduled to play until Feb. 27 as the Colonial Athletic Association chose not to play in the fall.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Did Branch laugh, slap forehead or roll eyes? . . . Chirpin’ hockey with Jason Gregor . . . Blades add assistant coach

I spent some of Friday afternoon wondering if David Branch, the OHL commissioner, burst out laughing or slapped his forehead when he discovered that Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s sport minister, now is running his league.

ohlIf you missed it, a Canadian Press story indicated that MacLeod, who apparently was speaking to the Empire Club of Canada, stated that the OHL’s teams will play without bodychecking should their season get started on Feb. 4 as planned.

According to CP, MacLeod said that removing purposeful physical contact from the game is a necessary step to preventing the spread of COVID-19. She also said the decision was influenced by the QMJHL, which has had three teams experience a number of positive tests. Two of the QMJHL’s on-ice officials also tested positive.

Surely, Branch, who has been the man in charge of the OHL since 1979, must have had a good laugh, or another forehead-slapping experience. Or maybe he just rolled his eyes.

Anyway, it wasn’t long before the OHL put out this statement: “Until such time as we arrive at an agreed upon Return to Play protocol with the Government of Ontario, the League will have no further comment on the matter of body contact.”

Hopefully, Branch didn’t turn to Twitter to see the reaction. I mean, to say that people lost their stuff, well, that would be too kind.

People . . . people . . . really! Yesterday was Oct. 30. A couple of days ago, you thought the OHL was going to start on Dec. 1. Now it’s Feb. 4. This is, as they say, a fluid situation. If you haven’t learned that the virus is in charge here, you really haven’t been paying attention.

Meanwhile, allow me to share some of Friday’s virus-related headlines and tweets with you, just to, you know, keep you up to date because, hey, stuff is happening and it isn’t good . . .

CBC News: Quebec adds 1,108 new coronavirus cases; that’s the highest daily total in almost 2 weeks and pushed the province’s 7-day average to 961.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 896 new cases of COVID-19. . . . The province’s 7-day average is now 909, the highest recorded since the pandemic began.

Daily Hive Vancouver: Canada is extending its ban on cruise ships until February of next year.

Bartley Kives, CBC Manitoba: Manitoba announced a record 480 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday.

Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver, on Manitoba’s announcement: Per capita, that’s by far the highest any province in Canada has seen in a single day since the pandemic began.

Global News: St. Boniface Hospital intensive care unit officially over capacity.

Global News: Winnipeg closing rec centres, pools, arenas, libraries under new coronavirus restrictions.

680 CJOB: With over 400 new COVID-19 cases reported on Friday in Manitoba, new, tighter restrictions will effectively end sports in the Winnipeg region as of Monday.

Mike Sawatzky, Winnipeg Free Press: “Hockey Winnipeg president Chris Hall says that his organization is ‘shutting down everything effective (Saturday)’ after it was announced city would be under code red status by Monday. Several facilities, including the Iceplex, have already said they are shutting the doors.”

CBC News: Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, said there were active alerts or COVID-19 outbreaks at 249 schools in the province.

CBC News: Alberta adds a record 622 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 5 new deaths, bringing the province’s total number of deaths to 323. This is significantly above the average of 450 new cases the province has been seeing for the last 10 days.

CBC British Columbia: B.C. announces 272 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death.

Global Okanagan: B.C. has granted regional medical health officers the powers to issue COVID-19 restrictions for their own jurisdictions. It comes as the province topped 6,000 people in isolation due to exposure for the first time.

Keith Baldrey of Global TV: Updating our southern neighbour’s COVID-19 situation: more than 1,000 cases in Washington state today (highest in weeks). In the past week alone: 5,200 cases/70 deaths/291 hospitalizations. 

Associated Press: Confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases surge past 9 million as infections are on the rise in 47 states. (NOTE: There are 50 states in the U.S.)

CNN: The US surpasses 9 million coronavirus cases just 14 days after reaching 8 million. It was the nation’s fastest 1 million-case rise of the pandemic.

The COVID Tracking Project: Our daily update is published. States reported a new record number of cases — 97k — and 1.4 million tests. Currently, 47k people are hospitalized. There were 933 COVID-19 deaths reported.

Detroit News: President Trump claims country is ‘rounding the corner’ amid new COVID-19 surges.

The Globe and Mail: Bobby Orr endorses Donald Trump, calling him ‘the kind of teammate I want’


Hating


Now for something completely different . . .

Jason Gregor of TSN1260 in Edmonton was looking for good hockey chirps on Friday. . . . He tweeted that a texter who had played junior hockey sent him this one: “I started chirping a guy to scrap, and his response was ‘Put a coat on; it might be cold when you wake up.” . . . D Hal Gibb, who played with the Prince George Cougars, said he “slashed Ty Rattie after he scored to complete his hat trick and he said, ‘Don’t touch me. I have more goals this period than you do in your career.’ That was a little hurtful but fair.”

A few others that showed up on Gregor’s timeline . . .

To an opponent wearing an Itech bubble mask: “Nice window . . . can I get fries with that?”

“You better pack a lunch but, ’cause I’ll be beating you for days.”

“Another kid used to call me Shrek every time we played. I scored to make it 7-0 us and skated to his bench and told him, “This is my swamp now.”

“I was filling in as PA Announcer in MedHat for the Tigers. Clarke MacArthur just returned from a Gold Medal performance with Canada at the World Jrs, and was getting chirped about punching a rookie. His answer was . . . ‘How was your Christmas? Did you like watching me on TV?’ ”

“GMAC VS NAIT in playoffs. There’s a big round guy chirping in the stands as we come off the ice. One of our dmen yells back, ‘Hey buddy gravy isn’t a beverage!!’ The crowd on both sides laughed. Priceless.”

“At a high school basketball game in Southern Alberta an elderly lady yelled, ‘Come on Ref! I’ve seen better eyes on a potato!’ ”

“I was chirping a guy who played on the Canadian World Junior Team. I kept using his name and he turned to me and said: ‘Why do you know my name but I don’t know yours?’ That hurt.”


Corona


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

An unidentified member of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters organization has Dynamiterstested positive, resulting in the postponement of the team’s next two scheduled games. From a Kootenay International Junior League news release: “The individual in question has been placed in a 14-day quarantine and the Kimberley Dynamiters organization is following the direction of the Interior Health Authority relative to further testing and contact tracing, and adhering to all KIJHL Return to Play protocols.” . . . It wasn’t revealed whether this person is a player or staff member. . . . The Dynamiters were to have visited the Fernie Ghostriders on Friday and the Creston Valley Thunder Cats on Sunday. . . .

The 10-team Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League has put its schedule on hold until further notice due to a possible exposure and as the province’s numbers continue to climb. There were 480 positives announced on Friday; Manitoba’s previous single-day record had been 193. . . . Kerry Lines, the MMJHL president, told Game On Magazine: “We are taking a cautious approach due to exposure to COVID-19. We will reassess the situation on Monday. Games will be re-scheduled.” . . .

The Manitoba Female Hockey League has postponed all games until further notice. . . .

The MJHL postponed Friday and Sunday games between the Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze. A scheduled Sunday assignment between the Steinbach Pistons and host Selkirk Steelers will be played tonight (Saturday). . . . After weekend games, it also will suspend games in its South East Division until further notice. The Blues, Pistons, Steelers and Freeze are in that division. . . .

The Manitoba AAA U18 Hockey League has postponed all games involving the Winnipeg Bruins, Winnipeg Thrashers and Winnipeg Wild through Nov. 15. . . .

Nineteen days after testing positive, soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has tested negative so is able to return to play with Juventus. He tested positive while with the Portuguese national team, but has missed four Juventus games. Ronaldo is eligible to return Sunday against host Spezia in a Serie A game. . . .

The Hockey Hall of Fame won’t have a Class of 2021. However, the Class of 2020 will be inducted during the 2021 induction weekend (Nov. 12-15, 2021). The Class of 2020 comprises Ken Holland, Marian Hossa, Jerome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre and Doug Willson. . . .

MLB has cancelled its owners’ meetings that had been scheduled for November and the winter meetings that were to have been held in December. Any sessions deemed necessary now will be held virtually.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have added Tyler Dietrich as an assistant coach. He fills Saskatoonthe void created when Ryan Keller, an assistant coach there since 2016, decided to step back a bit for family reasons. Keller will stay involved as a skills and development coach. . . . Dietrich, 36, spent the past four seasons involved with Hockey Canada’s video coaching program. . . . In Saskatoon, Dietrich will work alongside head coach Mitch Love and associate coach Ryan Marsh. . . . Dietrich is a former WHL player (Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2000-05). He and Love were teammates in Moose Jaw and Everett.


Orange

IIHF to go bubble route for 2021 WJC . . . Former pro hockey player dies of COVID-19 in Texas . . . Jr. B team loses GM/head coach to border closure


IIHFThe IIHF revealed Thursday that the 2021 World Junior Championship will be played in Edmonton using a bubble system. The plan was submitted to the IIHF by Hockey Canada, as prepared by the local organizing committee, and approved by its Council. . . . Originally, the WJC was to have been played in Red Deer and Edmonton, running from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . The IIHF hasn’t yet announced a revamped schedule. . . . At the same time, the IIHF said the 2022 tournament will be shared by Red Deer and Edmonton. Gothenburg, Sweden, which was to have played host to the 2022 event, now will have it in 2024. The 2023 tournament is scheduled for Novosibirsk, Russia. . . .

At the same time, the IIHF cancelled all lower division U-20 men’s tournament that had been scheduled for Horsholm, Denmark (Division I Group A); Tallinn, Estonia (Division I Group B); Brasov, Romania (Division II Group A); Belgrade, Serbia (Division II Group B); and Mexico City (Division III). . . . The 2021 U-18 women’s world championship that was to have been held in Linkoping and Mjolby, Sweden, also was cancelled, along with other women’s U-18 events that had been set for Gyor, Hungary (Division 1 Group A); Radenthein, Austria (Division I Group B); Dumfries, Great Britain (Division II Group A); Kocaeli, Turkey (Division II Group B). . . . The IIHF also postponed Round 1 of the women’s Olympic pre-qualification event that was to have been held in Reykjavik, Iceland, Dec. 17-19.


The OHL announced Thursday that its teams will open training camps on Nov. ohl15, with the regular season, as previously announced, to run from Dec. 1 through April 29. . . . Its playoffs are to begin on May 2 and conclude by June 14, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie, June 17-27. . . . At the same time, the OHL said that it “continues to work with government and health agencies to plan the safe return of OHL action while also finalizing outstanding issues such as safe attendance at venues and cross-border travel for teams.” . . .

There are two other major junior leagues in Canada. The QMJHL’s 18 teams are holding training camps right now and is planning on opening its regular season on Oct. 1. . . . The WHL is aiming to begin its regular season on Dec. 4.


Love


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Tyler Amburgey, a youth hockey coach who had a brief pro career, died at his home in Lavon, Texas, just northeast of Dallas, on Aug. 29. His wife, Aimee, told The New York Times that the cause of death was Covid-19. . . . Amburgey, a Dallas native, was 29. . . . He had concussion issues during his pro career and recently had experienced memory issues. His brain has been donated to the CTE Center at Boston U. . . . From 2012-16, he played for six teams in three leagues — the CHL, SPHL and ECHL. . . .

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——

Billy Witz, in The New York Times, after the Big Ten announced its football season would start on Oct. 8 after earlier cancelling it:

“Members of several fraternities and sororities at Michigan State University have been ordered to isolate for two weeks after a coronavirus outbreak on campus. Wisconsin’s chancellor urged students to “severely limit” their movements after more than 20 percent of its tests on students over Labor Day weekend came back positive. At Iowa, where the fall semester is less than a month old, more than 1,800 students have tested positive, and there are a whopping 221 cases in the athletic department alone. . . .

“The way the decision was met with hallelujahs in locker rooms, coaches’ offices, the warrens of social media occupied by die-hard fans and even at the White H0use — to say nothing of congratulations offered up by several reporters on a conference call with Big Ten leaders — it might have seemed as if Jonas Salk had risen and delivered a new vaccine.” . . .

——

The NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues have suspended operations for 2020-21 due to the pandemic. They hope to return for the 2021-22 season. The NAHL hopes to open its regular season on Oct. 8 and, at this point, Illinois is not allowing indoor gatherings of more than 50 people. . . . The  Blues were the longest-tenured franchise in the league, having first played in 1993. . . . Earlier, the Corpus Christi IceRays and Kansas City Scouts, formerly the Topeka Pilots, also chose to opt out of the 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2021 Canada Games have been postponed by the Canada Games Council, which hopes to hold them in the summer of 2022. The 2021 Games were to have taken place in the Niagara Region of Ontario in August. . . .

The Associated Press reported Wednesday that an unidentified MLB umpire has tested positive, resulting in the shuffling of a few game assignments. The umpire and four others who had been in contact with him have since tested negative. . . .

When the Kansas City Chiefs opened their NFL season at home on Sept. 10, there were 6,000 fans allowed into Arrowhead Stadium. The Kansas City Health Department revealed Thursday that one of those fans has tested positive. Ten people who came into contact with fan have been asked to quarantine. . . .

Meanwhile, Adam Schefter of ESPN reported via Twitter that the Houston Texas “are working towards having up to 15,000 fans Week 4.” . . . The Indianapolis Colts “are increasing from 2,500 fans in Week 2 to 7,500 in Week 3.” . . . The Tennessee Titans “will have fans starting at 10% capacity and scaling up beginning in Week 4.”


Phone


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The NHL’s Stanley Cup final, featuring the Dallas Stars and Tampa Bay Lightning, is to begin on Saturday. This means that the final won’t run into October as Game 7, if needed, will be played on Sept. 30. . . . The ECHL has awarded an expansion franchise to Coralville, Iowa, that will play in the new Xtream Arena beginning in 2021-22. The arena will seat 5,100 for hockey. The franchise is owned by Deacon Sports and Entertainment, a Canadian firm that also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. . . .

Nick Redding, who was preparing for his third season as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, has had to step down. The team revealed via Twitter that Redding, who is from Spokane, made the decision “due to Covid and Canadian/US restrictions on crossing the border.” The Thunder Cats had signed him to a three-year contract in March. . . . There now are at least two teams in the KIJHL that say their seasons are in jeopardy because of a shortage of billets. The Kimberley Dynamiters made the statement earlier this month. On Wednesday evening, the Revelstoke Grizzlies tweeted: “Our club is in urgent need of billet families. The season is in jeopardy of being cancelled if enough billets are not found.”


Dwarfs

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how many junior hockey teams still need billets . . .

Scattershooting


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has said the WHL won’t have a 2020-21 season unless its teams are allowed to operate in arenas with at least 50 per cent capacity.

After Robison held a Zoom gathering with reports on June 18, Marty Hastings of whlKamloops This Week reported: “Robison said a minimum of 50 per cent capacity in all arenas will be required for play to begin. No scenario is expected to be considered in which a team begins the campaign with a maximum capacity of less than 50 per cent.”

Early in August, Robison told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post that 50 per cent still was the mark.

“It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity,” Robison said. “We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Now, as we near the middle of September, with the league planning on a Dec. 4 opening, could it be that the wind is starting to change?

Here’s Todd Lumbard, the president of the Regina Pats, in conversation with Harder:

““I don’t think it’s 50 per cent or nothing, at least from our point of view. There are lots of discussions going on with different ways we might set up the season if it had to be less than 50 per cent. I know there are a lot of conversations going on with different levels of government and how we might work together with them to potentially help us out through a difficult time until we can get to a level where there is enough people in the crowd to make the Western Hockey League viable again.

“There is some hope out there that there might be some ways to do it.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.


Friends


By now, you may have heard that the BCHL issued a return-to-play news BCHLrelease on Thursday that explained “a COVID-19 alternative plan to fulfill the 2020-21 season,” as approved by its board of governors. . . . The release included this paragraph: “In the case that the original request for 25 per cent capacity in arenas by the scheduled Dec. 1 start date is not approved by the PHO (Provincial Health Office), the league will move forward with a model of reduced games without fans and will rely on player fees along with sponsorship and government support to fund the season.” . . . When you want to know what’s happening in the BCHL, you turn to Brian Wiebe. He interviewed Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, and got a whole lot of answers, including how the amount of individual player fees will be set. That’s all right here.


Hey, what do you do if you are operating a team in the SJHL, but you’re based FlinFlonout of Manitoba? General manager and head coach Mike Reagan and the Flin Flon Bombers have their hands full as they work to navigate the pandemic while dealing with health officials from two provinces. . . . Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder has more right here.



Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “In Orlando, NBA coaches are neatly dressed in sneakers, slacks and polo shirts. Let’s have them lose the suits for good. What’s the point of basketball coaches dressing as if they’re applying for a bank loan?”


Pizza


There was a time when Dorothy and I spent a few weeks every year in Jasper and area. At the time, there was a Recall drug store there, and high up on one of its walls were a number of black-and-white photos of Marilyn Monroe. The photos had been taken in the area while she was there filming a movie — River of No Return — with Robert Mitchum. . . . Yes, I have watched the movie; no, I wouldn’t watch it more than once. But, really, the scenery is nice. . . . Anyway, Ian Wilson of albertadugoutstories.com has more right here on Marilyn Monroe in Jasper, including a visit by the then-retired Joe DiMaggio. Great stuff!


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Who needs the moon in the seventh house and Jupiter aligned with Mars? The sporting world lined up quite an impressive first of its own on Thursday — with the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS and WNBA all playing on the same day.” . . . There also was NCAA football, U.S. Open tennis and pro golf. And somewhere there had to be poker and darts, too. Right?

——

Perry, again: “Mike Trout, with his 300th round-tripper, just passed Tim Salmon as the Angels’ all-time home-run leader. So how’d this team ever miss out on drafting Mike Carp and Kevin Bass?”


The first thing I thought of when I flipped to Thursday’s NFL game and saw that facemask being worn by Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid was car windows at drive-in movies on steamy summer nights a long, long time ago.


“On the news tonight,” wrote comedy writer Brad Dickson in reference to life in 2020, “all they talked about were boycotts, protests, riots, violence, dissension, disease, lawsuits and court cases. And that was just the sportscast.”


Candy

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

OF Alex Dickerson of the San Francisco Giants was told Friday night that he had tested positive. That resulted in Friday and Saturday games with the host San Diego Padres being postponed. When it turned out to be a false positive, the teams played a Sunday doubleheader. . . . MLB now has postponed 45 games during the pandemic. . . .

The KHL has postponed five games involving the Finnish team Jokerit after all personnel was forced into quarantine. Jokerit played against Neftekhimik on Wednesday after which the latter had seven positive tests turn up. Jokerit was to have played Ak Bars Kazan on Friday, but that one never happened. Jokerit also had games postponed from Sept. 15, 17, 19 and 21. . . .

Scottie Scheffler has had to pull out of golf’s U.S. Open after he tested positive. He is reported to be asymptomatic and at home in Dallas. . . . Braden Grace drew into the tournament as the first alternate. He withdrew from the PGA Championship in August after testing positive. . . . The U.S. Open begins Thursday at Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Here’s a tweet from Nick Petaros of the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that gave me flashbacks: “I wasn’t able to work a Kentucky Derby photo onto our Sunday sports cover. I hope the horse’s parents don’t complain.”


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade:

“Steve Simmons, Postmedia Tranna, on Sept. 6: ‘Two words that never, ever, should be attached to Steve Nash: White privilege.’

“Steve Nash, head coach, Brooklyn Nets, on Sept. 9: ‘I have benefited from white privilege.’

“D’oh!”


JUST NOTES: I tried. I really tried. I was going to watch Game 7 of the Toronto Raptors-Boston Celtics series from start to finish, with the sound up. But I couldn’t do it. Oh, I finished watching the game, but the sound was off early. The play-by-play voice using so many Raptors’ first names — Fred and Norm and OG and all their friends — and the cheerleading analyst were just too much. . . . If you’re wondering how much the WHL will miss former Brandon Wheat Kings owner Kelly McCrimmon, consider that he finished fifth in the voting for the NHL’s GM-of-the-year award. And he is in only his first season as an NHL GM. . . . Aren’t you glad that you aren’t a fan of the Cleveland Browns or Detroit Lions? Oh, you are. Sorry about that. . . . The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters tweeted Sunday evening that “we are in dire need of billet homes for this season. . . . We need 9 beds in order for this season to proceed. . . . Without billet homes the season cannot proceed.” I wonder how many junior teams are in a similar predicament?


Dumb

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while wondering if I will get my shopping finished . . .

I am one of those people who quite enjoys Christmas music, especially the traditional stuff. Having said that, I don’t think it gets any better than this one. It’s Fairytale of New York, from The Pogues, featuring the late Kirsty MacColl.


I don’t know how many, if any, other businesses have done something like this, but check it out . . .


Clam


If you have ever wondered why he’s called The Sports Curmudgeon, here’s something he wrote after the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Washington Redskins, 37-27, on Sunday:

“After the Skins lost to the Eagles, one of the post-game talking heads declared that the ‘fight’ and the ‘grit’ shown by the Skins — despite the season being a total loss — meant that this game was a ‘moral victory’ for the Skins.  I have heard about ‘moral victories’ many times in the past; but Sunday’s label made me wonder:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘moral defeat’?

If there is such a thing, are ‘moral defeats’ paired with ‘moral victories’? Or can ‘moral defeats’ exist on their own?

If they are paired entities, should the Eagles chalk up Sunday’s win as a ‘moral defeat’?”


“This is the Year of the Pig, according to the Chinese calendar,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “though one could argue that Russian doping and the can-banging Astros make it seem like the Year of the Cheetah.”

——

One more from Perry: “Prince Charles’ office released a statement saying 93-year-old Queen Elizabeth has no plans to step down at 95 ‘or any other age.’ In other words, she’s the Tom Brady of royals.”



I don’t know if you’ve noticed but there are a few Christmas movies on TV this year. . . . I checked out our PVR the other night. There were 41 items recorded. One Bob Dylan special. Two Hogan’s Heroes episodes. And more than 30 Christmas movies. . . . Christmas Vacation wasn’t among them. . . . Neither was Bad Santa.


Cotton


On Sunday night, F Gage Concalves of the Everett Silvertips won a game with a nifty move that resulted in a shootout goal against G Campbell Arnold of the Spokane Chiefs. Arnold later responded with a tweet for the ages . . .


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Request to the International Olympic Committee: Let Russia compete as an official country at next year’s Olympics. Russia has been banned from the Tokyo Games due to its state-sanctioned program of doping. But IOC, if you let Russia compete, maybe their government will be too busy rigging the Olympics to rig the U.S. presidential election. #Priorities.”



Condolences to the family and friends of Ron Areshenkoff, who died on Sunday. He was 62. A native of Grand Forks, B.C., he played two seasons (1975-77) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, totalling 76 goals and 77 assists in 131 games. He was a second-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 1977 draft, but never played for them. His NHL experience amounted to four games with the Edmonton Oilers in 1979-80. . . . He had missed all of the 1978-79 season with a shoulder injury that required surgery. . . . The New England Whalers had selected him with the 11th overall pick in the WHA’s 1977 draft. . . . Areshenkoff was a financial advisor in Estevan, Sask., where he was quite involved in the minor hockey scene.


Dog


The price seems to be right in Victoria where there is, yes, hope for the Royals. Hey, I’m here all night and again later in the week. . . . The Victoria Royals, under president and general manager Cam Hope, have signed head coach Dan Price to a “multi-year” extension. No terms, including precise length, were announced. . . . Price is in his third season as the Royals’ head coach; they are 89-67-12 with him in charge. . . . He had spent one season as a Royals’ assistant coach, under then-head coach Dave Lowry, before moving up.

Meanwhile,  former WHLer Ryan Aasman is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm fired Matt Keillor, the head coach and associate GM, on Tuesday. . . . Aasman’s WHL career included stints with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos and Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Keillor had been head coach since being promoted during the 2016-17 season and had guided the Storm into the playoffs each of the past three seasons. This season, the Storm was 12-16-3 when Keillor was replaced by Aasman. He is in his first season with the Storm after coaching with bantam and midget teams in Lethbridge.


JUST NOTES: Is there a secret to keeping the top of the toothpaste tube neat and orderly as opposed to being a gooey mess? . . . The best part of watching the Detroit Red Wings playing the host Montreal Canadiens? The uniforms of two of the NHL’s Original Six. . . . Are you ready for the Arizona Coyotes as Stanley Cup contenders? . . . City council in Nanaimo is talking about a five-year financial plan. No, there isn’t any chatter about a new arena. . . . Hey, is John Shorthouse hockey’s best play-by-play voice? . . . As a fan of MLB, it’s great to have Joe Girardi back managing a team, and wouldn’t it be great to see his Philadelphia Phillies and his former club, the New York Yankees, in the World Series? It could happen. . . . Right now, the most-watchable player in the NHL is F Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. . . . With their home arena unavailable due to equipment issues, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing out of Cranbrook these days. On Tuesday night, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Kimberley Dynamiters before an announced crowd of 1,350 at Western Financial Place, the former home of the WHL team that now is the Winnipeg Ice. Meanwhile, the Ice dropped a 4-3 decision to the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings in front of a crowd announced as 1,621. . . . ICYMI, next season Western Financial Place will be home to the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks.

Hockey’s heartland left to cry once again

Humboldt is in the heartland of hockey. It really is. Located east of Saskatoon, south of Prince Albert, not far from Yorkton and Tisdale and Melfort and Nipawin, it is one of those hockey-town communities where teenagers grow into men as they chase their dreams.

The junior A Humboldt Broncos were doing just that on Friday when they boarded the team bus and headed for Nipawin and Game 5 of their Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League semifinal series with the Hawks. Nipawin held a 3-1 edge in the best-of-seven affair, but you can bet your boots that the Broncos didn’t think it was close to being over.

That game, of course, wasn’t played, nor will it be. As the bus rolled closer to Nipawin, it was involved in a collision with a big rig.

Early Saturday morning, Nipawin RCMP revealed that there were 28 people on the Broncos’ bus, and that 14 were dead, with 14 others injured, three of them critically. Later Saturday, the RCMP updated those numbers, saying that there had been 29 people on board, and that 15 of them were injured.

That other number — 14 fatalities — didn’t change.

(Later Saturday, RCMP said the number of dead now was 15, including 10 players. Also dead are two coaches, two broadcasters and the bus driver.)

The accident immediately brought back thoughts and memories of Dec. 30, 1986, when the Swift Current Broncos were involved in a single-vehicle accident in which four players died.

On that night, the Broncos were en route to Regina for a game with the Pats. Just east of Swift Current, in winter driving conditions, the bus fishtailed, went into a ditch and, at a high rate of speed, struck an approach, went airborne, ended up on its side and skidded for a distance, before coming to a stop and becoming engulfed in silence.

On Friday, the Humboldt team’s north-bound bus came into collision with the west-bound truck at an intersection and was left a mess of crumpled metal. (There are photos out there but I just can’t bring myself to post them here. Sorry.)

Stuff like this simply isn’t supposed to happen, not to junior hockey players. They are 10-feet tall and bulletproof. The bus is their sanctuary, their home away from home away from home.

The Humboldt players were from places like Slave Lake, Edmonton, Saskatoon, St. Albert, Allan, Montmartre, Airdrie, Stony Plain, Lethbridge, Humboldt . . . hockey towns, all of them.

They now were living in Humboldt, and you can bet that the community had adopted them.

Most of these players, the ones who weren’t from Humboldt, had three homes, one with their own immediate families, others with billet families. There are siblings, and the brothers and sisters of the billet families. Ask an NHLer about his relationship with his billet family and, invariably, you will find that the vast majority of the these are long-term and rock solid, too. In later years, there often are wedding anniversaries, visits during off-seasons and Christmas visits.

And then there is the team as family, one that lives a lot of the time in a dressing room and on a bus, which really is the third home.

Todd McLellan, the head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, is from Melville, one of those Saskatchewan hockey towns. He cut his coaching teeth with the SJHL’s North Battlefords North Stars. He pointed out on Saturday that the team bus “is as important as the ice. It’s a part of the fabric of our game. . . . It provides camaraderie and community.”

The team bus isn’t supposed to be a coffin. It just isn’t. It’s a place for movies, complete with goofy commentary from the peanut gallery. It’s a place for music and card games and cheap shots and zingers and the kibbitzing of teenagers. It’s a place to talk about dreams and girls and, well, life.

This was supposed to have been one of the best weekends on the sporting calendar. There was Sedin magic in Vancouver on Thursday night, and the twins putting the wraps on their careers in Edmonton tonight (Saturday). There is the Masters, starring Tiger Woods, in case you hadn’t heard. It’s also the final weekend of the NHL’s regular season, and there should be some excitement there.

Meanwhile, the second round of the WHL’s playoff continues. The Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans opened with victories on Friday night. None of the victors celebrated.

“I really don’t want to be here talking to you guys,” Moose Jaw head coach Tim Hunter told media after the game. “I feel really sad for those people. All these young kids that we have on our team, and I’m sure those guys over there and throughout the Western Hockey League, they’re all connected.

“It’s not an easy thing to talk about or even think about. It makes you sick to your stomach.”

There are four more games tonight, after which the Brandon Wheat Kings, Swift Current, the Winterhawks and the Americans will board busses and head for home.

You know they will do so with heavy hearts.

Meanwhile, the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters won the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League championship on Friday night. They rode their bus to Revelstoke, where they beat the Grizzlies, 5-3. The Dynamiters climbed right back on the bus and drove home through the night. You wonder how much dread was mixed with the excitement of what was a night to remember, at least in part because of all the wrong reasons.

But what now for the SJHL?

While it’s early and the tears have yet to dry, the SJHL powers-that-be, led by Bill Chow, their president, are trying to come to grips with what has happened. Still, they will have to make a decision soon. The RBC Cup is to open on May 12 in Chilliwack, and there are schedules in place with not a lot of time with which to play.

The Estevan Bruins have been waiting to see whether they will face Humboldt or Nipawin in the SJHL’s championship final. It is obvious that Humboldt can’t continue, but I would suggest that Chow and his people will decide to forge ahead. Really, it’s the thing to do; it’s what those who won’t play again would have wanted.

The Humboldt Broncos were chasing a dream, just like the players with Estevan and Nipawin. Those who no longer are with us would want the playoffs to continue and to be played to a conclusion.

Play them in honour of the Humboldt Broncos. Dedicate the RBC Cup to a franchise that won that championship in 2003 and again in 2008.

Besides, that’s who we are. We are Canadians, we are hockey fans, and we won’t ever forget while we watch through the tears.

Wednesday in the WHL: A pair of four-goal games … ‘Sudden-Death’ Kemp beats Pats … Wolf howls in Everett

Scattershooting

Thankfully, the madness that was the WHL trading deadline has passed us by. Might I suggest that somewhere along the line some people appear to have forgotten that this is junior hockey. . . . Is it not completely absurd to be moving around 15- and 16-year-olds, some of whom haven’t even had a taste of the WHL?


Just putting this out there, but when the Regina Pats lost 4-3 in OT to the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings last night they had four players — D Josh Mahura, F Nick Henry, F Robbie Holmes and D Liam Schioler — in the lineup who played in Game 6 of last spring’s WHL championship final. F Jake Leschyshyn, who played last night, missed last season’s playoffs with a knee injury. F Sam Steel, who didn’t play last night, is resting after playing for Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. . . . The Pats made seven trades after the Christmas break. . . . This is what you call a massive makeover.



The biggest winners at the WHL trade deadline? How about the folks who recruit for NCAA hockey teams? Hey, with the whacky WHL schedule and teams combining to move 110 players and 77 bantam draft picks since Nov. 13, you have to think NCAA recruiters are fine-tuning their sales pitches.


It didn’t used to be this way, you know. There was a time when players and draft picks didn’t fly around like snowflakes at the WHL trade deadline. Asked what changed, one GM told Taking Note: “Greed. It’s all about the money now. You can’t build a team anymore.”



One thing to keep in mind after all that has gone on in the last while is this: At the end, only one team can win.


The way I see it, there are four legitimate championship contenders in the WHL right now. My rankings look like this: 1. Portland; 2. Moose Jaw; 3. Everett; 4. Swift Current. . . . For the fans of the other 18 teams, well, the WHL is sorry but there’s always next season.


I would say that Tri-City and Kelowna are close, and I really like Vancouver as a dark horse. But they aren’t quite there. The Americans? They need to get their key guys healthy, something they haven’t been able to do for most of two seasons now.


Thanks to eliteprospects.com, a site that is invaluable during a hockey season, but even moreso with a trade deadline approaching.


Peter Anholt gets it. He really does. On Tuesday morning, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes traded two players — G Stuart Skinner and F Giorgio Estephan — who have been cornerstones of that franchise. Later that night, after the Hurricanes scored a 5-4 OT victory over the Red Deer Rebels, Anholt met with fans to explain the trade and to answer any questions they might have.


All those players who left Regina over the past while? Here’s hoping their parents didn’t purchase Memorial Cup tickets and make travel plans.



MacBeth

F Jared Aulin (Kamloops, 1997-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Rapperswil (Switzerland, NL B). This season, he has 10 goals and 33 assists in 30 games. He leads his team in assists and points; he is fourth in the league’s scoring race and second in assists.


A LITTLE OF THIS …

Scott Burt, an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs, will have his number (12) retired by the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads on Feb. 3 when they entertain the Utah Grizzlies. Burt played 403 games with the Steelheads over seven seasons (2000-07). Burt is second in Steelheads history in games played (403), third in goals (111) and third in points (250). He played on two ECHL-championship clubs. . . . Burt, now 40, played four seasons (1994-98) in the WHL, making stops with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels.


The Swift Current Broncos have dropped F Logan Foster, 18, from their roster. He has joined the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. From Kamsack, Sask., Foster had one assist in seven games with the Spokane Chiefs last season. This season, he had two goals and an assist in 22 games with the Broncos. The Chiefs selected him in the seventh round of the 2014 bantam draft.


The Red Deer Rebels have dropped D Sam Pouliot, 17, from their roster. He is expected to join the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. He had one goal in 12 games with the Rebels. A native of Ottawa who now calls North Vancouver, B.C., home, he is an undrafted list player who was in his first WHL season.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have dropped F Jaxon Steele, 17, from their roster and he is expected to join the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He was pointless in 17 games with the Tigers.


THE COACHING GAME …

KABOOM! The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior KimberleyHockey have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a two-season contract extension that contains an option on a third season. . . . Stuart is a former Dynamiters player. From Calgary, he is in his second season on the bench. This season, the Dynamiters are 27-6-1-1 (one OTL and one tie) and lead the overall standings by a point over the Nelson Leafs.


Scoreboard

WEDNESDAY:

At Moose Jaw, F Tristan Langan scored four goals, including three in a row in the first period, to lead the Warriors to an 8-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Moose Jaw (34-MooseJawWarriors6-3) has points in nine straight games (8-0-1) and leads the overall standings by 10 points over Swift Current. . . . Calgary (13-23-6) had lost two in a row. . . . F Jakob Stukel gave the Hitmen a 1-0 lead at 4:22 of the first period. . . . The Warriors scored the next six goals. . . . Langan, who has 12 goals, scored at 7:42, 14:12 and 19:36 of the first period. His fourth goal, at 8:08 of the second period, gave the home side a 6-1 lead. . . . F Justin Almeida (25), F Brecon Wood (2), F Tyler Smithies, with his first WHL goal, and F Tate Popple (5) also scored for Moose Jaw. . . . Stukel, who has 20 goals, scored twice, the second one coming on a third-period penalty shot. . . . F Carson Focht also scored for Calgary. . . . The Warriors got three assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot and Jayden Halbgewachs, with D Dmitri Zaitsev getting two and Smithies one. . . . The Warriors were 2-4 on the PP; the Hitmen were 1-3. . . . The Warriors got 17 saves from G Adam Evanoff. . . . Calgary starter Nick Schneider gave up six goals on 22 shots in 28:08. Matthew Armitage came on to stop 10 of 12 shots in 31:52. . . . Announced attendance: 3,048.


At Regina, F Brett Kemp scored at 1:40 of OT to give the Edmonton Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the Pats. . . . The Oil Kings (12-24-6) have won two in a row. . . . The Pats (21-19-4) EdmontonOilKingshave points in two straight (1-0-1) and hold down the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, one point ahead of Saskatoon. . . . One night earlier, Kemp, who has 11 goals, scored at 2:06 of OT to give Edmonton a 3-2 victory in Brandon. . . . Last night, F Robbie Holmes gave Regina a 2-0 lead before the first period was half over. Holmes, who has 12 goals, scored at 4:37 and 9:59. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky (18) got Edmonton’s first goal, at 12:12. . . . The Oil Kings took a 3-2 lead on two goals from F Colton Kehler, at 1:07 of the second period and 1:13 of the third. . . . The Pats forced OT when F Matt Bradley (26) scored at 14:25. . . . Fix-Wolansky also had an assist. . . . F Austin Pratt drew two assists for Regina and Bradley had one. . . . The Pats were 0-2 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-3. . . . G Josh Dechaine stopped 33 shots for Edmonton, four more than Regina’s Ryan Kubic, who was acquired earlier in the day from the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Cam Hebig, who went to Regina in the same deal, didn’t play. . . . D Libor Hajek, who came over from Saskatoon on Tuesday, made his Regina debut. F Jesse Gabrielle, who was acquired from Prince George, also was in Regina’s lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.


At Saskatoon, F Bryan Lockner scored in his Medicine Hat debut as the Tigers beat the Blades, 3-2. . . . Medicine Hat (23-16-3) leads the Central Division by 10 points over Tigers Logo OfficialLethbridge and Kootenay. . . . Saskatoon (22-18-3) has lost two in a row and now holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot, seven points ahead of Prince Albert.. . . . The Blades actually acquired Lockner from the Regina Pats on Wednesday morning, then flipped him to Medicine Hat in a deal that brought F Max Gerlach to Saskatoon. Gerlach made his Saskatoon debut and had an assist. . . . The Tigers opened up a 2-0 first-period lead on goals from F Gary Haden (11), at 1:57, and Lockner (8), at 6:00. . . . F Braylon Shmyr (22) pulled the Blades to within a goal at 17:39. . . . D David Quenneville (18) gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead at 12:31 of the third period. . . . The Blades got to within a goal when F Chase Wouters (11) scored at 19:45. . . . Quenneville also had an assist, as did F Elijah Brown, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Tuesday. . . . Wouters had an assist for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades were 0-2 on the PP; the Tigers were 0-4. . . . G Jordan Hollett earned the victory with 31 saves, 12 fewer than Saskatoon’s Nolan Maier. . . . Maier was backed up by Tyler Brown, who was acquired from Regina earlier in the day. . . . F Ryan Jevne was back in Medicine Hat’s lineup after serving a three-game suspension. . . . Announced attendance: 2,709.


At Prince George, F Josh Maser scored four goals, the last one coming in OT, as the Cougars beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . Prince George (16-19-7) had lost its previous PrinceGeorgetwo games (0-1-1). The Cougars are tied with Kamloops, six points out of a wild-card spot. . . . Vancouver (24-14-6) is 7-0-1 in its past eight games. It went 4-0-1 on a five-game road trip that ended with this game. The Giants are second in the Western Conference, one point behind Kelowna. . . . One night earlier, the Giants had beaten the host Cougars, 5-1. . . . Last night, seven goals were scored and they all came from two players, as F Ty Ronning had all three Vancouver goals. . . . Ronning, who has 39 goals, scored the game’s first two goals, at 10:16 of the first period and 7:53 of the second. . . . Maser, who now has 20 goals, gave the Cougars a 3-2 lead with goals at 9:17 of the second and 0:08 and 17:35 of the third. . . . The Giants forced OT when Ronning completed his hat trick with 29.9 seconds left in the third. . . . Master won it at 2:49 of OT. . . . The Cougars got two assists from F Josh Curtis. . . . Vancouver was 0-2 on the PP; Prince George was 0-3. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 27 shots for the Cougars. . . . The Giants got 33 saves from G David Tendeck. . . . The Giants had traded G Todd Scott to Edmonton earlier in the day, a move that left them without a backup goaltender. Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen reports that Cougars G Isaiah DiLaura was on the lineup sheet as the Giants’ backup “and would have been called into service” had Tendeck been injured. . . . D Darian Skeoch was among Vancouver’s scratches. He had played in Tuesday’s victory. . . . Announced attendance: 2,495.


At Everett, G Dustin Wolf turned aside 29 shots to lead the Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Everett (25-16-2) has won two in a row and leads the U.S. EverettDivision by a point over Portland. . . . Tri-City (22-13-5) had won its previous two games. It is third in the U.S. Division, two points behind Portland and three ahead of Seattle. . . Wolf, 16, has been starting for Everett in the absence of Carter Hart, who won gold with Team Canada at the WJC in Buffalo. Wolf now is 9-5-0, 2.17, .933, with three shutouts. . . . Hart is expected to return Saturday in Spokane. . . . The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Connor Dewar and D Kevin Davis. . . . Dewar, who has 18 goals, scored the game’s first and fourth goals, at 5:27 of the first period and 8:35 of the third, on a PP. . . . Davis made it 2-0 while shorthanded at 10:41 of the second period, then added his sixth goal at 4:35 of the third. . . . F Matt Fonteyne had two assists, and Davis had one. . . . Everett was 1-4 on the PP; Tri-City was 0-3. . . . G Patrick Dea started for Tri-City and allowed four goals on 51 shots in 50:05. Beck Warm finished up by stopping all six shots he faced in 9:55. . . . Tri-City F Max James was handed a charging major and game  misconduct for a hit on Everett F Matt Fonteyne at 7:24 of the third period. . . . F Garrett Pilon and D Ondrej Vala, both acquired Sunday from Kamloops, made their Everett debuts. Vala had a game-high 11 shots on goal. . . . The Americans were without D Jake Bean, who is expected to make his debut on Friday against Portland, and F Morgan Geekie, F Kyle Olson, D Juuso Valimaki and F Michael Rasmussen, all of whom are hurt. . . . Announced attendance: 2,997.


At Kelowna, F Kyle Topping score two goals and added an assist to help the Rockets to a 7-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Kelowna (26-12-3) has won two in a row and KelownaRocketsleads the Western Conference by a point over Vancouver. . . . Spokane (21-18-3) has lost three straight. It holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot. . . . Topping, who has 17 goals, got the scoring started at 5:14 of the first period. . . . D Kaedan Korczak’s first WHL goal made it 2-0 at 14:57. . . . The Chiefs followed that with three straight goals, from D Jeff Faith (4), at 18:27; D Tyson Helgesen (6), at 0:19 of the second period; and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan (23), on a PP, at 2:11. . . . The Rockets erased the deficit and took a 5-3 lead as F Nolan Foote (12) scored at 3:37, D Cal Foote (7) counted, on a PP, at 14:20, and D Braydyn Chizen (4) added another at 7:53 of the third period. . . . F Zach Fischer (19), who also had an assist, pulled the Chiefs to within a goal at 15:41. . . . The Rocket put it away as Topping scored at 18:06 and F Kole Lind added his 21st goal at 18:55. . . . The Rockets got three assists from F Carsen Twarynski, with Lind, Topping and Nolan Foote adding one each. . . . Kelowna was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 1-3. . . . G Roman Basran started for Kelowna but was shaken up and left at 5:53 of the first period. He stopped all five shots he faced. James Porter Jr. finished up, stopping 23 of 27 shots in 54:07. . . . The Chiefs got 18 stops from G Donovan Buskey. . . . Spokane again had Campbell Arnold, 15, backing up Buskey with Dawson Weatherill scratched again. . . . Announced attendance: 5,372.


THURSDAY (all times local):

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Edmonton at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.

Swift Current at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Medicine Hat at Regina, 7 p.m.

Calgary at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.

Lethbridge at Red Deer, 7 p.m.

Prince George at Spokane, 7:05 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Kamloops at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

Kelowna vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.