Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

Royals make change at top . . . Number of leagues are looking for financial help . . . Coaching award to McGuigan

The Victoria Royals fired Cam Hope, their president and general manager, on Wednesday. He had been with the Royals through eight seasons. . . . The Royals are VictoriaRoyalsowned by GSL Group, which is based in Vancouver. Graham Lee is GSL Group’s CEO and president. . . . “We would like to thank Cameron for contributions and for guiding our franchise,” Lee said in a three-paragraph news release announcing the decision. “The COVID-19 crisis has given us the time to reassess our organization and to set a new direction. We are committed to finding strong leadership that will help the Royals reach their full potential both on-and-off the ice.” . . . The news release’s third paragraph dealt with ticket-related info. . . . A lawyer, Hope, who is from Edmonton, had been with the NHL’s New York Rangers for seven seasons, first as vice-president of hockey operations and then as assistant general manager, when he signed with the Royals in time for the 2012-13 season. . . . The Royals qualified for the playoffs in each of Hope’s first seven seasons, and won five first-round series. However, they weren’t able to get past the second round. . . . In 2019-20, his eighth season in Victoria, the Royals were second in the B.C. Division, at 32-24-8, when the season was halted. . . . Interestingly, Victoria head coach Dan Price signed what the team said was a “multi-year contract extension” on Dec. 17. It is believed that contract runs through the 2021-22 season. . . . You are free to wonder if former Kamloops Blazers general manager Stu MacGregor is a candidate to replace Hope. MacGregor was fired by the Blazers after the 2018-19 season, his third with them after a lengthy career as an NHL amateur scout. Prior to last season, MacGregor joined the Royals as their senior regional scout for Western Canada.


Lettuce


In speaking about the late Jack Bowkus, F Rocco Grimaldi of the Nashville Predators told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that “California hockey is where it is today because of him.” . . . Bowkus, a former WHLer, died on March 28. He was 53 when he lost his two-year battle with cancer. . . . Bowkus played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts is right here and it includes more on Grimaldi’s relationship with Bowkus.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Leibling: “The function of the press in society is to inform, but its role in society is to make money.”


The lineup of sports organizations looking to the federal government to help them get through the pandemic continues to grow. . . . On Wednesday, soccer’s Canadian Premier League and the Canadian Elite Basketball League both confirmed that they have requested financial help from the feds. . . . Devin Heroux of CBC Sports reported that the eight-team CPL has asked for $15 million in short-term financing, with the seven-team CEBL having asked for a loan of $5 million. . . . The CPL’s second season was scheduled to start on April 11, but has been postponed indefinitely. . . . The CEBL had been scheduled to begin play in May, but is on hold indefinitely. . . . At the same time, the CFL is hoping to get as much as $150 million, and would like to see $30 million of that ASAP. . . . As well, at least two B.C.-based junior hockey leagues, the junior A BCHL and the junior B KIJHL, are asking for help. . . . Heroux’s story is right here.


Lincoln


“As if all the other shutdowns weren’t enough, now they’re telling us there won’t be a Scripps National Spelling Bee this year,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “There are no words . . .”



The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., has cancelled its 2020 induction weekend that had been scheduled for July 26. This year’s class of inductees, including Canada’s own Larry Walker, now will be inducted on July 25, 2021. . . . Also in this year’s class are Derek Jeter, former catcher Ted Simmons and the late Marvin Miller, the long-time leader of the Major League Baseball Players Association. . . .

Baseball’s 15-team Coastal Plain League said Wednesday that it plans to open its 2020 season on July 1 with fans in attendance. The CPL is a wood-bat collegiate summer league with teams in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. . . .

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, has said the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games won’t go ahead unless the coronavirus is “contained.” At the same time, Yoshiro Mori, the president of Tokyo 2020, said if that happens, the Games will be cancelled and not postponed. . . . The Japanese Medical Association is on record as saying that if there isn’t a vaccine available the Games shouldn’t go ahead. . . .


Parachute


The Toronto Blue Jays have won two in a row and are 13-18 in the AL East after Wednesday’s games in Strat-O-Matic’s simulated MLB season. The Jays beat the visiting Boston Red Sox, 6-4, yesterday. . . . Toronto is last in the AL East, 7.5 games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays (21-11), who are half-a-game up on the New York Yankees (20-11). . . . The other division leaders — Minnesota (19-12), Houston (19-11), Washington (19-10), Chicago Cubs (20-11) and Los Angeles Dodgers (.633). . . . Check out all the stats right here.


Billy McGuigan, the head coach of the junior A Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Hockey League, is the recipient of the Darcy Haugan/Mark Cross Memorial Award for 2019-20. The award is presented annually to the Canadian Junior Hockey League’s coach of the year. It is in memory of Haugan and Cross, the head coach and an assistant coach who were among those killed in the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018. . . . McGuigan spent one season (2013-14) as an assistant coach with the Regina Pats. . . . There is a news release right here.


The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs have fired head coach Kurtis Foster after two seasons on the job. Foster, a veteran of 15 NHL seasons as a player, was an assistant coach in Kingston for one season before moving up as head coach. . . . The rebuilding club went 14-52-2 in Foster’s first season, then was 19-39-4 last season.


BassBoat

OHL deal includes 11 draft picks . . . Leason, Raiders just keep rolling . . . Wolf bars the door on Hitmen

ThisThat

There was another one of those deals for which the OHL has become so well-known — ohlfour players and 11 draft picks. The Kingston Frontenacs sent two players to the Niagara IceDogs for two players and 11 draft picks. Seriously!

From the Kingston Frontenacs website . . .

The Kingston Frontenacs have acquired defenceman Billy Constantinou, forward Ian Martin, and 11 OHL Priority Selection picks from the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for forward Jason Robertson and defenceman Jacob Paquette.

In addition to Constantinou and Martin, the Frontenacs have acquired a number of OHL Priority Selection picks:

  • Sarnia’s 2nd-round pick in 2019
  • Windsor’s 7th-round pick in 2019
  • Windsor’s 3rd-round pick in 2020
  • Peterborough’s 2nd-round pick in in 2021
  • Niagara’s 5th-round pick in in 2021
  • Niagara’s 2nd-round pick in 2022
  • Kitchener’s 3rd-round pick in 2022
  • Niagara’s 2nd-round pick in 2023
  • London’s 3rd-round pick in 2024
  • Niagara’s 13th-round pick in 2020
  • Niagara’s 11th-round pick in 2021


So . . . the Nelson Leafs dropped a 4-2 decision to the Braves in Spokane on Saturday. These are teams that play in the junior B Kootenay International Hockey League. . . . After the game, things got a little heated on social media. The Nelson Star has that story right here.


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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Brett Leason scored three times and Prince Albert scored two more shorthanded goals PrinceAlbertas the Raiders dumped the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-1. . . . Prince Albert (21-1-0) has won 14 straight games. It now heads out on a seven-game road swing that will feature stops in Medicine Hat, Cranbrook, B.C., Red Deer, Edmonton, Regina, Swift Current and Brandon. . . . The Hurricanes (9-8-4) have lost two in a row. . . . Leason opened the scoring with his 20th goal of the season, at 4:30 of the first period, to run his season-opening point streak to 22 games. . . . F Taylor Ross (12) pulled Lethbridge even 28 seconds into the second period. . . . D Brayden Pachal (3), who also had two assists, broke the tie at 18:55. . . . Leason then scored twice, shorthanded at 7:03 of the third, and at 11:35. . . . F Kody McDonald (3) added another shorthanded goal at 17:00. . . . Leason’s first career hat trick left him leading the WHL in goals (22) and points (47). He has two more goals than F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks, and one more point than F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Raiders now have scored 14 shorthanded goals. The Red Deer Rebels are next, with six. The WHL record? The Spokane Chiefs scored 31 of them in 1990-91. . . . At the same time, the Raiders have surrendered only seven PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly drew three assists. . . . F Sean Montgomery played in his 300th regular-season game, all with the Raiders. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. With 11 goals and 14 assists in 21 games, he is nearing his career highs of 13 goals, 17 assists and 29 points. . . . The Raiders lost Pachal in the second period when he was given a major for interference and a game misconduct for a hit on Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive.


The Regina Pats erased a 1-0 deficit with two second-period goals en route to a 3-2 victory Kamloops1over the host Kamloops Blazers. . . . Regina (8-15-0) had lost its previous three games. The Pats are 1-3-0) on a seven-game road swing, including 1-2-0 in the B.C. Division. They last played at home on Nov. 10; they next are scheduled to play at home on Dec. 1. . . . Kamloops (8-10-2) had won their previous two games. The Blazers are 2-6-1 at home; they are 6-4-1 on the road. . . . F Zane Franklin opened the scoring, giving the Blazers a 1-0 lead at 3:26 of the first period. That was his career-high 15th goal this season. Last season, he had 14 goals in 67 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Acquired from Lethbridge over the summer, Franklin has 15 goals in 20 games with Kamloops. . . . The Pats scored the next three goals. . . . F Marco Creta (2) tied the score at 5:07 of the second period, and F Nick Henry (12) gave the visitors the lead with 16.6 left in the period. . . . Regina took a 3-1 lead as F Riley Krane (3) crashed the net and scored at 9:11 of the third. . . . Kamloops got to within a goal at 13:28 as F Kyrell Sopotyk (2) scored. . . . Regina F Jake Leschyshyn drew an assist on Henry’s goal to run his point streak to 11 games. He’s got 11 goals and 10 assists over that stretch.


G Dustin Wolf stopped 26 shots to help the host Everett Silvertips to a 4-0 victory over the EverettCalgary Hitmen. . . . Everett (17-7-1) has points in three straight (2-0-1). The Silvertips are 6-1-1 in their past eight games. . . . Calgary (8-13-2) had won its previous three games. . . . Wolf posted his second shutout of the season and the sixth of his career. . . . This season, Wolf is 16-7-1, 1.87, .924. . . . F Riley Sutter (10) scored the first goal, at 7:16 of the opening period. . . . Everett’s other three goals came in the third period. . . . F Dawson Butt (6) made it 2-0 at 0:22, with F Martin Fasko-Rudas (4) scoring at 3:36, and F Bryce Kindopp (9) getting a shorthanded tally at 8:02. . . . Butt, who has six goals and five assists in 22 games, went into this season with a goal and two assists in 48 games. . . . This was regular-season Game No. 301 for Calgary F Jake Kryski, who has 69 goals and 122 assists in his career. He has played 136 games with the Kamloops Blazers, 37 with the Kelowna Rockets and 128 with Calgary. . . . F Akash Bains was back in Everett’s lineup after missing six games.