McCrimmon on verge of selling Wheat Kings? . . . KIJHL announces return-to-play plan, loses three teams . . . Two WHLers sign to play in Sweden


The smoke started with a query on Wednesday night. . . . An insider with one WHL team wanted to know if I had heard “any rumblings out of Brandon . . . BrandonWKregularthat the team is on the verge of being sold.” . . . I hadn’t. But it seems that there might be something happening, especially if the WHL’s board of governors has been alerted. . . . Kelly McCrimmon purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings from Bob Cornell in 1992 and became the sole owner in 2001. McCrimmon took a step back from the Wheat Kings when he joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, then an expansion team, as assistant general manager on Aug. 2, 2016. He moved up to general manager on May 2, 2019. . . . If a sale occurs, speculation has Jared Jacobson as being involved. His family is the Jacobson in the Jacobson & Greiner Group of Companies — he is the president and CEO — that has been a part of Brandon for more than 60 years. . . .

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any news on the sale of the Portland Winterhawks, despite Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having said in June that he hoped to have the situation resolved within weeks.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison said: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

Bill Gallacher, who had owned the Winterhawks, had used the franchise as part of the collateral for a $20-million loan. When he forfeited on that, the Winterhawks ended up in receivership.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hopes to open its 2020-21 season on Nov. 13, a move from its original projection of Oct. 2. It also kijhlhas lost three teams, with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves all opting to sit out the season for pandemic-related reasons. . . . That leaves the league with 17 teams, each of whom will play 30 games in the regular season that is to begin without fans in the buildings. A schedule is to be released on Sept. 25. . . . The league’s news release is right here.

Interestingly, each of the three teams that opted out did so for a different reason.

Spokane isn’t able to participate because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel and that situation isn’t likely to change for a while now.

The Wranglers opted out because, as Greg Aiken, the organization’s president, told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.” . . . Aiken also said that not having fans at games was a difference-maker, too. “We can’t survive on these few fans,” he said. “We rely on 500 fans coming per game.” . . . Aiken’s story is right here.

In Beaver Valley, the Nitehawks’ decision was made by 16 players who decided they weren’t going to play. . . . As Jamie Cominotto, the general manager, explained to Jim Bailey of the Trail Times: “Our players decided they were not going to play, and we don’t have time to replace 16 players.” Cominotto said he had a Zoom meeting with the players, “and we explained the league plan for play, as well as the costs for them to play. The team fees went up a little bit, and obviously we were unable to help with the billeting financially, because we just don’t have the money.” . . . Cominotto also told Bailey that “we don’t have the billet homes that we usually have.” That would seem to be a problem in more than one jurisdiction, at least judging by the number of teams on social media who are looking for billet homes. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled three 2020 events — the National Women’s U-18 Championship that was to have been decided in Dawson Creek, B.C., Nov. 2-8; the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 6-12; and the World Junior A Challenge, in Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 13-20. . . . Hockey Canada is hoping to be able to place those events in those same communities in 2021. . . .

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NCAA will furlough about 60 staff members from its office in Indianapolis. They’ll be gone for between three and eight weeks starting later this month and running through January. . . . Senior management people have taken a 20 per cent cut in pay. . . .

The South African Ice Hockey Federation has pulled its U-20 men’s hockey team from the Division III championship that is scheduled to be played in Mexico City, Jan. 10-17. The tournament now will featured the host team and clubs from Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Israel and Turkey. . . .

Brandon’s three high school football teams won’t be playing this season, not even if the Winnipeg high school league is able to get off the ground. “We aren’t playing, plain and simple,” Neelin High head coach Rob Cullen told Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun. “We have already made our voice known that we will play in the spring as long as everything tapers down. I’m not going to put my athletes, my athletes’ families or anybody else at risk to play the sport of football at this time.”


——

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.


Jokerit, the Helsinki-based team that plays in the KHL, was to have opened the regular season against host Dinamo Minsk on Thursday. Minsk is in Belarus, the site of a great deal of political unrest of late. . . . Jokerit didn’t show up for its flight to Minsk, and the KHL later announced that the game had been forfeited to Dinamo Minsk. . . . According to newsnowfinland.fi, “Jokerit have faced growing pressure this week over their decision to travel to Belarus, amid an ongoing brutal crackdown against democracy protesters by regime forces. The club’s official supporters association Eteläpääty Ry says they’re very happy with the decision to cancel Thursday night’s game, after calling for a boycott of home matches if the fixture went ahead as planned.” . . . That story is right here. . . .

There are all kinds of political angles to this story. For starters, Jokerit has Russian owners with ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. . . . The hosting duties for the 2021 IIHF World championship are scheduled to be shared between Belarus and Latvia. However, Latvia has said it won’t take part if Belarus is involved. . . . In other words, this story is far from over.


Bacon


Two WHL players — F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings — have signed one-year contracts with Karlskrona HK, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra. . . . Erik Belin, Karlskrona HK’s general manager, said in a news release that the club “gets this opportunity as we live in a troubled time and players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever launched! These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft.” . . . Greig had 26 goals and 34 assists in 56 games with Brandon last season. . . . McClennon put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 42 games with the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a shoulder injury. . . . Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft and are expected to be selected somewhere in the first two rounds. . . . The HockeyEttan Södra season opens on Oct. 3, with Karlskrona scheduled to play its first game on Oct. 4. . . . Both players are believed to have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to return to the WHL, which hopes to open its regular season on Dec. 4.


JUST NOTES: Tali Campbell has left the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after one season as their general manager. He had been with the Clippers since Nov. 28, 2018 when he signed on as director of business operations. He took over as GM on Dec. 18, 2019. . . . The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League now is aiming to open its regular season on Sept. 21 or Sept. 28. This comes after it earlier had said it have four potential openings dates — Sept. 7 for a 48-game season, Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40) or Dec. 14 (32).


Ex-WHLer advocating for improved semi driver training. Again . . . NHL teams jump on NBA train . . . Two teams opt out of junior B league

Once again, Scott Thomas is calling for change in the training of big rig drivers in Canada. Thomas, a former WHL player, has been down this road before, shortly after his son, Evan, died in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, a tragedy that resulted in charges against a semi driver. Afterwards, Scott advocated for more stringent driver trainer. . . . These days, Scott is calling for change after a friend, Jeff Helperl, was involved in an accident in a construction zone near Wakaw, Sask., on Tuesday. . . . In that one, a semi rear-ended one vehicle and that resulted in a five-vehicle mess, the death of a 69-year-old man and other injuries. . . . The semi driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. . . . “Our truck drivers should be a skilled trade,” Thomas told Laura Woodward of CTV News. “They should be like plumbers, electricians, chefs. You go through a co-op program, apprenticeship and you work your way through a graduated licencing program before you’re in charge of an 18-wheeler.” . . . That story is right here.



The NHL’s players, at least those on the eight teams still involved in playoffs, jumped on board the NBA train on Thursday, meaning four games were postponed.

By postponing four games — two were to have been played Thursday and two more today — it allowed all eight of the surviving teams to participate in the protest.

With the NHL, NBA and WNBA postponing all of their games, and with NFL teams scrubbing practices and MLB moving some games, you now have to wonder: What’s next?

Do the leagues simply return to play and everybody moves on, or is it different this time? Have we witness the tipping point?

You will recall that there was a hue and cry following after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.

The athletes’ protests this week stem from the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

As I wonder what comes next, I read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Harry Edwards, a prominent sociologist who is highly respect and happens to be Black, suggested to Ron Kroichick that perhaps leagues/teams could refuse to play in Wisconsin.

“If the stars of the Bucks,” Edwards told Kroichick, “or LeBron James and Steph Curry — if athletes of this magnitude show up at the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin and say, ‘We made it here this time, but we may not make it back to the airport, because we could be stopped and shot. So what we’re asking, what we’re demanding, is change. We’re saying, Stop killing us.’

“If you have that kind of star power, with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver and the owners and the rest of the players behind them . . . Even if it comes down to saying, ‘We’re not playing any more games in Wisconsin.’ If they went in there right after breakfast, they’d have action by lunchtime.”

Of course, were that to happen in Wisconsin, there would then have to be a move to another state and another and on and on.

In reality, who knows what the next move will be. It’s just that this time things feel different. When something like this happens and it results in hockey players — Black and White — standing elbow to elbow and singing the same song it signals that something is different.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A sign of the times? Jayden Castle has organized a GoFundMe page in the hopes of helping him meet the cost of playing hockey for his junior B team in 2020-21. The intro the site reads: “Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic my hockey team has increased its fee to play to $10,000 and with a minimum wage it’s just not gonna cut it!” . . . A 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., Castle plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Sources have told Taking Note that the 20-team junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t start on Oct. 2 as it had hoped, and now is aiming for Nov. 13. It also won’t have the same 20 teams which it had last season; in fact, it now is down to 18 with the possibility of more franchises opting to sit out. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed for the foreseeable future, the Spokane Braves will take the season off and, in fact, informed their players of the decision on Thursday. The Braves are the KIJHL’s lone American entry. . . . The 100 Mile House Wranglers also are expected to take their leave, at least for one season. . . . There are believed to be other franchises pondering their immediate futures, too. They will have to decide before the KIJHL makes a number of announcements next week. . . .

Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that multiple sources have told them the Chicago Cubs are “slashing their scouting and player development staff . . . (including) scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.” . . . One week earlier, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reported that the New York Yankees began “a wave of layoffs and furloughs” that impacted minor-league coaches and support staff. . . . The Cubs and Yankees aren’t the first MLB teams to do go this route. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals also have furloughed employees. . . .

The NHL reported earlier in the week that its teams had spent another week in their bubbles without any positive tests. . . . Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that “it’s taken nearly 25,000 tests and cost nearly $8 million, but the NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test in almost five weeks. In 2020, that feels like a miracle.” . . .

The 62-team North American Hockey Classic, a minor hockey tournament that was to have been held in Winnipeg this weekend, has been cancelled. Kelly Moore of Global News reported that 61 of the 62 teams were from Manitoba, with the other from Kenora, Ont. The tournament was to be for girls and boys ages seven to 13. . . . Rhys Van Kemenade, the NAHC’s general manager, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was made because of a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Manitoba that coincide with the impending return to school. . . . The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports+Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Manitoba Blues. . . .

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have said there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice. . . . The Eagles are scheduled to open at Washington on Sept. 13, where there won’t be fans at any home games in 2020. . . . Philadelphia is to play at home on Sept. 20 and 27.


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.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night after getting a taste of MLB with Vin and Joe . . .

Scattershooting


Jeff Wright, the vice-president of the junior B Nelson Leafs, has said that the 20 teams in kijhlthe Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have been given the option to sit out the 2020-21 season if finances dictate it. . . . “We don’t want to lose anybody if we don’t have to,” Wright told Tyler Harper of Black Press. “We’re willing to assist them.” . . . At the same time, Leafs president Corey Viala told Harper that he wouldn’t be surprised if the KIJHL season didn’t start until sometime after September. . . . “I’ll be quite honest,” Viala said. “I cannot see us having a league next (season) unless things change, and I’m not really sure how much things need to change in order for us to be back on the ice for next (season).” . . . Harper’s story is right here.


A tweet from @AndyHermanNFL after the Green Bay Packers drafted QB Jordan Love to back up Aaron Rodgers: “Just realizing that the Packers’ current QBs are A-Rod and J-Lo.”


There has been speculation that the NHL’s best-case scenario has players back in their NHLteam’s home facilities on May 15 for what likely would be a three-week training camp before the resumption of a regular season. Chances are that games would be played without fans in five or six different arenas. . . . However, Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said Sunday in his daily briefing that players coming into Canada would have to self-quarantine for two weeks. . . . “I think it’s a question we’ll have to look into,” Trudeau said. “Certainly at a strict minimum, anyone who arrives from another country will have to follow all the rules of quarantine in an extremely strict manner, but we’re not there yet in our discussions with the NHL.” . . . Of course, some kind of a deal would have to be struck to allow those players to return to Canada, because the border with the U.S. remains closed to non-essential travellers. . . . I believe that the last extension of that closure is to run through May 20. With the way the numbers are running amok in the U.S., it’s hard to see the Canadian government wanting to re-open the border anytime soon.


The  Burnaby Winter Club had suspended its operations because of the pandemic and a closure order from the Fraser Health Authority that is in force until May 31. But BWC now has informed members that it has the OK to re-open on Wednesday under a few conditions, including physical distancing practices as well as limiting the number of skaters and instructors on an ice surface at any one time. . . .

The U.S. Tennis Association has come up with a plan under which the U.S. Open could move across the continent from New York City to Indian Wells in California’s Coachella Valley. . . . If the pandemic prevents the Open from being played at the Billy Jean National Tennis Center in Queens, N.Y., from Aug. 24 through Sept. 13, it could be moved to the Indian Wells Tennis Centre and played there at some point in the fall. . . .


“U.S. sprinter Deajah Stevens has been provisionally suspended for being unavailable for drug testing,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In other words, you can hide but you can’t run.”


With NASCAR planning on opening with four races in 11 days, Perry notes that “Kawhi Leonard is urging drivers to take a couple of races off in the name of load management.”


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers announced Sunday that assistant coach Geoff Grimwood has resigned in order to sign on as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals. . . . Grimwood started last season as the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. He left on Dec. 6, saying that he wanted to “take some time away from the game.” He joined the Flyers on Jan. 9, working there alongside head coach Kevin Cech. . . . Grimwood will replace Mike Vandekamp with the Capitals. Vandekamp left to take over as GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm.


Sitting here watching the Montreal Expos — the return of Tim Raines — and the host New York Mets in a game from May 2, 1987. It’s Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola and, oh my, it’s enjoyable. . . . So let’s scoot over to see how the 2020 season is going at Strat-O-Matic where the simulation is in full swing. . . . On Sunday, the New York Yankees moved into first place in the AL East with a 5-3 victory over the host Toronto Blue Jays. RHP Gerrit Cole had 10 Ks in 5 1/3 innings but didn’t get a decision. . . . The Yankees (22-13) hold a half-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays (22-14). Toronto (14-20) is last in the East, 7.5 games back. . . . Other division leaders: Minnesota (21-13), Houston (22-12), Washington (22-11), Chicago Cubs (22-13) and Los Angeles Dodgers (21-12). . . . You are able to find it all right here. . . . Meanwhile, Raines had quite a comeback game, with a grand slam, a triple, two singles, a walk and a stolen base. Yes, the Expos won — 11-7 in 10 innings. It was Raines’ first game that season, the one that you may recall followed the offseason of collusion, after he signed a new contract.


With lots of talk about the NBA perhaps taking its season to Disney World in Orlando, Fla., comedy writer Brad Dickson went to Twitter with: “This is gonna be so embarrassing when Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs defeat the Golden State Warriors.”


There is a whole lot of chatter about MLB starting up in the not-too-distant future. But the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Nick Canepa suggested that no one rush into it. As he pointed out: “If you’ve never seen the floor of a baseball dugout after a game, know this: It’s a virus and bacteria Petri dish.”


Oil

Scattershooting on a Thursday night after noticing the Vees went Ho-Ho-Ho in Game 1 . . .

Scattershooting

By now you’ve likely seen the ugly video of the fight in which F Kale Kessy, a former WHL scrapper now with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, was KO’d. . . . If you haven’t seen it, find it, watch it and then tell me why fighting needs to be a part of hockey. . . . If you’re wondering, Kessy spent Tuesday night in hospital and was released on Wednesday. . . . According to the Bears, Kessy now is sidelined with an “upper-body injury.” Yeah, I bet.

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Headline at The Onion: Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Horrified To Learn Madison Bumgarner Risking Health as Baseball Pitcher.


You don’t see something like this happen every day in the world of hockey. . . . Jeff Dubois, the general manager and head coach of the junior B Comox Valley Glacier Kings of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, is leaving to take over as commissioner of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The KIJHL is a 22-team junior B circuit in the interior of B.C. . . . Dubois stepped in as the Glacier Kings’ head coach during an October shuffle. . . . He will move into the commissioner’s chair, replacing Larry Martel, on May 1. . . . Dubois spent three seasons as GM/head coach the KIJHL’s Creston Valley Thunder Cats, and was the league’s coach of the year for 2016-17. . . . Martel had been commissioner since June 2018 when he took over on an interim basis from longtime president Bill Ohlhausen. . . . The KIJHL’s news release is right here.



Former WHLer Jake Toporowski is to make his head-coaching debut tonight (Friday) with the Quad City Storm meeting the host Evansville Thunderbolts in a Southern Professional Hockey League game. . . . Head coach Dave Pszenyczny, the Storm’s head coach, drew a one-game suspension for the actions of his players late in a game against the Fayetteville Marksmen on Feb. 16. . . . BTW, Toporowski is to turn 22 on Friday. . . . “I always wanted to have a head coaching job,” Toporowski told Bobby Metcalf of the Quad-City Times,”so there’s got to be a first game at some point.” . . . Toporowski played three seasons (2014-17) with the Chiefs, then retired after playing one game in 2017-18. Injuries had limited him to 36 games in 2016-17,


The New York Yankees owe OF Giancarlo Stanton more than US$200 million through 2027. Stanton, who rooms with the injury bug, has been on the injury list six times in his career. In nine seasons, he has played fewer than 125 games five times. That includes last season when he got into 17 regular-season games. . . . You guessed it. He’s hurt again, this time with a Grade 1 calf strain that likely will have him on the shelf when this season starts.


Fishing


The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires didn’t waste any time putting this season behind them as they fired Kyle Adams, the general manager and head coach, on Tuesday. . . . Jarett Waldbauer, the assistant coach and assistant GM, now is the interim GM and head coach. . . . With three games remaining in the regular season, the Millionaires are 15-34-6, good for fourth in the four-team Viterra Division. . . . Adams was in his first full season as GM/head coach after signing a two-year contract in April. He had joined the club as an assistant coach early in 2018-19, then moved up to interim GM/head coach in December 2018.



In a column suggesting that it’s time for a “de-escalation of in-game technology” in Major League Baseball, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes:

“The aim of my campaign is not to stop analytics. That ship has sailed and it can’t be squeezed back into the toothpaste tube. Let the numbers jockeys have their fun, but once the game starts, let’s mix in a little baseball with our video-gamery, shall we?”

Ostler says he is on a crusade “to inject some baseball back into baseball.”

Ostler also took time to add this:

“While I’m at it, I also advocate a ban on cell-phone use by fans seated in the first five rows behind home plate. Hello, you rich, cool people! Many of us watching the game on TV cling to a romantic fantasy that a fan blessed with amazing seats that the rest of us would kill to sit in is actually, you know, watching the freaking baseball game.”

Bingo!


Parrot


JUST NOTES: Craig MacTavish is back in the coaching game, this time has head coach of Lausanne HC, which dumped Ville Peltonen. MacTavish began this season as the head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL, but was fired eight games into the season. Lausanne HC plays in the National League, Switzerland’s top pro league. . . . Brantt Myhres, a former WHL enforcer who totalled 137 points and 1,025 penalty minutes in 241 games, has a book in the works, and that’s one I will be sure to read. He has battled alcohol and drug addiction, and now has been sober for more than 11 years. . . . The BCHL’s Penticton Vees opened the playoffs Thursday night with a 7-1 victory over the visiting West Kelowna Warriors. What was different about this one? F Tyler Ho, who had 13 goals in 42 regular-season games, scored three times, each one of them with his side shorthanded. . . .

I have access to six TSN channels. On Thursday evening, five of them were blacked out because Canadian NHL teams were playing and only folks in each region are permitted to watch. One Sportsnet channel, featuring the Calgary Flames, also was blacked out. But, hey, we could watch the Dallas Stars and the Bruins play in Boston. . . . I need someone to explain to me how keeping Canadian teams off Canadian TV screens helps grow the game. . . . On Wednesday night, the Edmonton Oilers played the host Vegas Golden Knights. You will be aware that Edmonton’s lineup includes Connor McDavid, perhaps the best player in the game today, and Leon Draisaitl, who is right up there, too. But — you guessed it! — the game was blacked out too.

Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


MacBeth

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


ThisThat

A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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Time running out on Cranbrook group hoping to relocate junior B Kelowna Chiefs. . . . Broncos, Pats sign prospects


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F Chase Schaber (Calgary, Kamloops, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, in 30 games, he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two goals in 12 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) has retired. This season, as an alternate captain with Kometa Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and 14 assists in 18 games. . . .

F Bruno Mráz (Brandon, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and six assists in 42 games. On loan to Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Tomáš Hříčina (Regina, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract with Dukla Michalovce (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had eight goals and seven assists in 49 games. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2), he had 14 goals and 29 assists in 34 games. . . .

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has retired, per a press release by his club this season, Sokolov (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games in helping Sokolov win promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with the Linz black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he was pointless in 10 games, while he had one goal and five assists in four games with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). . . .

D Zack FitzGerald (Seattle, 2001-05) has retired from playing and has been named the new head coach for the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Glasgow, he was the team captain and had four goals and 13 assists in 56 games.


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If the City of Cranbrook approves things sometime today (Friday), there could be junior B hockey in Western Financial Place when the 2019-20 season gets here.

Taking Note was told on Thursday that a Cranbrook group that is believed to be kijhlcomprised of 10 local investors has an agreement in principle to purchase the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League from owner Grant Sheridan, who also is the team’s president and general manager.

The relocated Chiefs likely would be renamed the Colts, a salute to a junior B team that played out of Cranbrook in the 1980s, winning six league champ[ionships and four provincial titles.

Western Financial Place was built to house a WHL franchise and was the home of the Kootenay Ice until its 2018-19 season ended and the team moved to Winnipeg. The Ice’s lease with the city runs through the 2022-23 season, and owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell have yet to reach a settlement.

But they have agreed on a four-year sublease with the Cranbrook group that would allow the relocated Chiefs to play in Western Financial Place.

Taking Note also was told that the deal on the sublease is contingent on the city accepting it on or before May 31, which is today (Friday). It also is the KIJHL’s deadline for franchise owners to notify it of relocation plans. As of Thursday afternoon, the city had yet to offer a response.

The Cranbrook group, which is believed to include former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, who is a former co-owner of the Ice, apparently is willing to pay the same rental rates as the Ice did,

According to a Jan. 30 story on the lease by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, the Ice “must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance.

“For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

“Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

In its final three seasons, the Ice averaged 1,754, 2,442 and 2,214 fans per game. It isn’t like that a junior B franchise would reach those numbers, but there are other KIJHL teams in the area, in Creston, Fernie, Invermere and Kimberley, so there would be some natural rivalries.

A KIJHL franchise also would mean Cranbrook wouldn’t have to go a year or longer without a tenant in Western Financial Place.

On top of that, Larry Martel, the KIJHL’s president, has told Crawley that a franchise in the city would be a “perfect fit.” (Crawley’s story is right here.)

The KIJHL’s annual meeting is scheduled for June 8 in Sun Peaks, the ski resort located just north of Kamloops.

Earlier, a group looked at bringing in an AJHL franchise, but that attempt was rejected by Hockey BC. There also has been interest in acquiring a BCHL franchise, but that apparently has been stalled by, among other things, a reported $1.2-million expansion fee.


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You may have read about Catherine Pearlman in the last week or two. She recently walked into a Starbucks in the Los Angeles area, saw a flier that had been placed by a woman seeking a kidney donor for her husband, and, within minutes, had put the wheels in motion. . . . On Thursday, Pearlman told her story in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and on their website. . . .

“Over the next four months,” she writes, “I gave 32 vials of blood, had a kidney CAT scan and chest X-ray, met with nephrologists, a social worker and the nurse coordinator, collected urine and had a mammogram and pap smear. By the end of April, I was deemed a healthy match and cleared for surgery.

“During that time, I learned that one kidney can do most of the work of two. Also, kidney donors tend to live longer than those who haven’t donated because someone who is healthy enough to donate is likely someone already in excellent health.

Also, one of the most comforting pieces of information I learned is that if I ever need a transplant (less than 1 per cent chance), I would go to the top of the waiting list. My risk of death during surgery was significantly lower than dying in a fire, drowning or a car accident.”

Pearlman’s story, in her words, is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Josh Davies to a WHL contract. From Airdrie, Alta., Davies was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had 20 goals and nine assists in 28 games with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Marcus Taylor to a WHL contract. A ninth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, Taylor is from Coquitlam, B.C. This season, he had three goals and 14 assists in 35 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s elite 15 team.


Ben Boudreau was named the head coach of the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets on Thursday. . . . He replaces Gary Graham, who had been with the franchise since 2009, first as an assistant coach, then as head coach and, finally, as head coach and director of player personnel for the past six seasons. . . . Boudreau, 34, was an assistant coach with the Komets for the past two seasons. He has never before been a head coach. . . . He also has worked as an assistant with two other ECHL teams, the Bakersfield Condors and Norfolk Admirals. . . . Boudreau is the son of Bruce Boudreau, the head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


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Vegas assigns goalie to Brandon . . . Blades add Labelle to front office . . . Storm brewing in Kamloops


MacBeth

D Keaton Ellerby (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, he had six assists in 42 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL).


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The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights have assigned Czech G Jiri Patera, 19, to the Brandon BrandonWKregularWheat Kings, which leaves them with three goaltenders on their roster. . . . Patera, 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, was selected by Vegas in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL draft. He played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders. . . . With the CHL lifting its ban on import goaltenders prior to its 2018 import draft, the Wheat Kings selected Patera. . . . Of course, Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager, owns the Wheat Kings. . . . Also on Brandon’s roster are veteran Dylan Myskiw, 19, and freshman Ethan Kruger, who will turn 17 on Sept. 27. Kruger, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . While the WHL website shows Patera as having been born on Feb. 16, 2000, he actually was born on Feb. 24, 1999.


The Saskatoon Blades have added Xavier Labelle, 18, to their front office as a hockey Saskatoonoperations assistant. Labelle played the past two seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos and is a survivor of the April 6 bus crash. . . . From a Blades news release: “Following the accident, Xavier spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital recovering from his injuries, which included a fractured skull and concussion, internal bleeding, approximately 20 broken bones (including 13 in his spine), plus nerve damage affecting his legs and left arm.” . . . From Saskatoon, he continues to rehab in his hometown. . . . Labelle attended the Blades’ training camp on three occasions and also was on their protected list at one time.


The WHL has signed Zach Hodder as its manager, player development. According to a news release, he will be “responsible to lead the WHL player recruitment and development programs.” . . . From North Delta, B.C., Hodder, 25, played 128 WHL regular-season games over five seasons (2009-14), splitting time between the Vancouver Giants, Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders, Medicine Hat Tigers and Moose Jaw Warriors. He went on to use his WHL education policy to attend BCIT and Royal Roads U.


If there is a bigger mess in hockey today than that involving the Kootenay International KamStormJunior Hockey League and the Kamloops Storm, well, I can’t imagine it. . . . “It’s a great city and it’s a great hockey market and it’s just a bit of a mess right now,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week.“All franchises go up and down. Right now, we’re in a low point in that city.” . . . This is a story that involves charges of tampering, $10,000 in fines, a one-year suspension to one individual, a head coach who has been suspended for 20 games, except, well, it doesn’t seem that he really is the head coach. . . . It seems that someone else was named the head coach so that he could take the hit instead of the real head coach. Got that?. . . . Oh, it’s all enough to give you a headache. . . . Check out Hastings’ complete story right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


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