CFL players back to practice fields as strike ends . . . WHL conference finals on tap . . . Two veteran goalies change teams

Thankfully (mercifully?), the CFL and the CFLPA moved out of the media spotlight earlier this week, went quietly in behind closed doors and emerged with a seven-year agreement.

The CFL’s nine teams were on their respective practice fields on Thursday, with CFLlogoplayers and the board of governors expected to ratify the agreement in the days to come.

The players, it seems, made what TSN’s Dave Naylor referred to as “significant gains” in this agreement. But that doesn’t mean it was one of those deals with winners and losers.

Yes, Virginia, these labour disputes can have winners and winners. At first glance, this looks to be one of those deals.

In this instance, a league that has long talked about having its players as partners may actually have taken giant steps in that direction.

For example, while we don’t have access to numbers, the deal is said to include a decent increase in the salary cap and, more importantly for the players, the inclusion of all revenues, including from the Grey Cup game, as football-related revenues. And, it’s said, the players will have access to the books so will be able to have them independently audited.

Players also will be able to have some guaranteed money if they sign for a third year with the same team. Football, of course, is famous for having contracts that don’t feature guaranteed money.

The guaranteed money is all part of an attempt to keep players with teams for more than a year or two. While this CBA doesn’t directly tinker with the ratio and all that goes into that — teams must have seven Canadian starters — but it does allow players who have been with one team for three years or five in the league to, as Naylor put it, “play as Canadians in some circumstances.”

On top of all that, the players will get improved medical benefits from teams that want more padded practices. There will be 12 such practices permitted this season.

While this is a seven-year agreement, there is a clause that could end it after five years, which is when the current TV deal with TSN is to expire. If you aren’t aware the TSN deal is the CFL’s meat and potatoes. Without it, the CFL would starve to death.

One other key part is that this agreement is to end 30 days before the start of training camp. Past deals, including the one that just expired, were up the day before training camps opened, something that meant players had all travelled to sites and then had to sit around and wait. In the future, those extra 30 days could prove most important to those same players.

The exhibition season was to have started on Monday with the defending-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers to travel to Regina for a game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That game now will be played on May 31.

The first exhibition games now will be played on Friday, with the Toronto Argonauts in Ottawa to face the Redblacks, and the Edmonton Eskimos in Winnipeg.

The regular season is scheduled to open on June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes visiting the Calgary Stampeders.

Naylor’s piece for TSN is right here.

F Kris Foucault, who spent four seasons (2007-11) in the WHL, ran and swam to the rescue on May 10 in Nassau, Bahamas, when a six-year-old girl found herself in trouble at a beach. . . . “As I got through the wave, I saw her lifeless body floating on the top about 50 feet in front of me,” he told Lauren Merola of “I actually thought I was just recovering a body.” . . . The little girl was alive, but in great danger, and you can credit Foucault with saving her life. . . . Foucault, 31, has played the past six seasons in the DEL, Germany’s top league. This season, he had 12 goals and 16 assists in 24 games and now is coming off shoulder surgery. . . . Merola’s story is right here.


The WHL’s conference finals open tonight in Winnipeg and Kamloops. The last WHLplayoffs2022four standing are the teams with the first-, second-, fourth- and seventh-best regular-season records. Yes, that’s comparing apples and oranges because teams didn’t play outside their conferences this season, but it does show the quality of the remaining teams. . . . In Winnipeg, the Ice, who finished atop the overall standings, will play host to the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The Ice are 8-2 in the playoffs; the Oil Kings are 8-0. . . . In Kamloops, the Blazers, the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, will entertain the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds. The Blazers are 8-2; the Thunderbirds are 8-4, with four of those victories coming on the road. . . . Each of the two series will continue Saturday with games in Winnipeg and Kamloops.

The WHL held its annual draft on Thursday and you are able to find all the WHLdetails at . . . There also were a couple of trades involving veteran goaltenders, who could be impact players next season.

The Moose Jaw Warriors acquired G Connor Ungar, G Justen Maric and a fourth-round pick in 2026 from the Red Deer Rebels for G Kyle Kelsey, a fourth-rounder in yesterday’s draft and a sixth in 2026. With that fourth-round pick, which originally belonged to the Victoria Royals, the Rebels took D Tate Dolinsky of Winnipeg.

Ungar, a 20-year-old Calgarian, was acquired by Red Deer from the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to this season. He went 21-9-1, 2.43, .911 with the Rebels. . . . Maric, 18, is from Edmonton, and played this season with the U18 AAA CAC Canadians. The Rebels selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. . . . Kelsey, 18, is from Maple Ridge, B.C. He was 14-12-0, 2.83, .913 with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies this season. The Warriors had picked him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

Ungar joins F Calder Anderson, D Daemon Hunt, D Cole Jordan and F Ryder Korczak as the 2002-born players on Moose Jaw’s roster.

As things now sit, the Rebels have Chase Coward, 19, and Kelsey atop their goaltending depth chart, with Chase Wutzke, who turns 16 on July 26, in the third slot. Coward was 22-10-2, 2.51, .906 in 35 games this season.

The Rebels still have six 2002-born players on their roster — D Blake Gustafson, F Jace Isley, F Ben King, F Dallon Melin, D Christoffer Sedoff and D Joel Sexsmith.

In the other  deal involving a veteran goaltender, the Regina Pats got Koen MacInnes from the Everett Silvertips for two draft picks — a sixth yesterday (130) and a conditional seventh in 2024. . . . MacInnes, 20, is from Burnaby, B.C. He played with the Saskatoon Blades in 2019-20 and the 2021 development season. This season, with Everett, he went 21-7-5, 2.60, .909. . . . The Pats were lacking in experience in the goaltending department this season and are hoping MacInnes will solve that problem for 2022-23. . . . The Silvertips used that sixth-round pick to take F Lukas Kaplan of Spruce Grove, Alta.

In the only other draft-day trade the involved a player as opposed to picks, the Prince George Cougars got F Noah Boyko from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-round pick yesterday. . . . The Blades had acquired Boyko, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in late December. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he totalled 30 points, 16 of them goals, in 47 games. . . . Boyko and D Aiden Reeves are the lone 2002-born players on Prince George’s roster. . . . Saskatoon used that fourth-round pick to take F Maxx Hamelin of Winnipeg. . . . Boyko’s departure leaves the Blades with four 2002-born players on their roster — F Kyle Crnkovic, D Aidan De La Gorgendiere, F Josh Paulhus and F Josh Pillar.

From Wednesday’s New York Times: Federal health officials warned on COVIDWednesday that a third of Americans live in areas where the threat of Covid-19 is now so high that they should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. They cited new data showing a substantial jump in both the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations over the past week. . . . Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the seven-day average of hospital admissions from Covid rose 19 percent over the previous week. About 3,000 people a day were being admitted with Covid, she said, although death rates, a lagging indicator, remained low.

One more from The New York Times: More than 70 New York City judges descended on a Long Island resort last week to enjoy an annual three-night retreat. In the days after, 20 tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for New York’s courts, confirmed Wednesday that the judges had tested positive. He said that, to his knowledge, none of the judges were seriously ill, and that those who were symptomatic had not reported to work.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Penticton Vees completed a BCHL championship series sweep of the host Nanaimo Clippers with an 8-2 victory on Wednesday night. Penticton lost its first game of this spring’s playoffs, then won 16 straight. . . . The Vees held a 58-23 edge in shots, including 21-1 in the third period. . . . F Bradly Nadeau, a Penticton native, led the Vees with three goals and an assist. Nadeau, who turned 17 on May 5, is committed to the U of Maine. His brother, Josh, who also is headed for Maine, added a goal and two assists. . . . The announced attendance was 2,069. . . . While the 10-team national junior A championship for the Centennial Cup opened Thursday in Estevan, Sask., the Vees weren’t there. You will recall that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL, which oversees junior A hockey in Canada, prior to the start of this season. . . .

The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHLer Wacey Rabbit to a two-year contract extension as assistant coach. He just completed his first season as an assistant alongside Joe Martin, the general manager and head coach. . . . Rabbit, 35, played five seasons (2002-07) in the WHL, enjoying stints with the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants. He finished his pro career with three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. . . .

Jake Grimes, who stepped down as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles during this season, is joining the U of Waterloo Warriors as an associate coach. Grimes also has worked in junior hockey with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, Peterborough Petes and Guelph Storm. With the Warriors, he will be working alongside head coach Brian Bourque, who was a minor hockey teammate in Nova Scotia back in the day. . . .

The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have added Sam Waterfield and Tyler Steel to their coaching staff. Waterfield, who had been with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, will be the assistant general manager and associate coach, while Steel, a former Centennials goaltender, is the new goaltending coach.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873



Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


NHL Central Scouting likes WHLers. . . . Former Pats sniper dead at 42. . . . BCHL coach of the year makes move


F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had 15 goals and 25 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Ingolstadt (Germany, DEL). This season, with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and two assists in seven gams. He missed most of the season after suffering a concussion. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) announced his retirement via his Twitter account. This season, with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite), he had 23 goals and 23 assists in 58 games. . . .

F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dresden (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 21 goals and 50 assists in 41 games. He led his team in assists and points. He was second in the league in assists and fourth in points.


NHL Central Scouting issued its final rankings prior to the 2019 draft and three of the top whlfive-rated North American skaters are out of the WHL. . . . D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants moved from No. 4 in the midseason rankings to No. 2. F Kirby Dach of the Saskatoon Blades is at No. 3, and F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is ranked fifth. . . . F Jack Hughes of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program U-18 team is the top-ranked North American skater. . . . Central Scouting has seven NTDP skaters rated as potential first-round picks. . . . F Kaapo Kakko of TPS in Finland is atop the list of international skaters. . . . All told there are 50 WHLers in the final rankings. . . . The draft is scheduled for Rogers Arena in Vancouver, June 21 and 22. . . . There is more on the rankings right here.

F Riley Sutter of the Everett Silvertips has joined the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of Everettthe NHL’s Washington Capitals. Sutter, who will turn 20 on Oct. 25, was a third-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . This season, Sutter had 14 goals and 27 assists in 38 games. He missed 37 consecutive games with an undisclosed injury, before returning for Game 3 of a second-round series against the Spokane Chiefs. The Chiefs won that series in five games. . . . In 204 career regular-season WHL games, Sutter had 137 points, including 60 goals. . . . Hershey is scheduled to open the AHL playoffs on Friday. . . . If you’re wondering, Riley is a member of the famed hockey family. His father, Ron, is one of the Sutter twins and played 19 seasons in the NHL.

Three skaters from the WHL are on the roster for the Czech team that will play in the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is to begin on Thursday. . . . F Martin Lang of the Kamloops Blazers, F Matej Toman of the Prince George Cougars and D Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds are on the final roster that was revealed on Monday. . . . The tournament is to run through April 28 in the Swedish cities of Ornskoldsvik and Umea. . . .

Team Canada won its second pre-tournament game on Monday, beating Russia, 5-4, in Umea. Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), who had three assists in a 6-5 OT victory over Belarus on Sunday, scored twice, one on a penalty shot. F Peyton Krebs (WInnipeg Ice) had two assists. G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) stopped 32 shots. . . . Team Canada is to open tournament play on Thursday against Finland.

Joe Martin, the BCHL’s coach of the year for this season, has left the Merritt Centennials AlberniValleyto sign on as the Alberni Valley Bulldogs’ general manager and head coach. Martin, 38, spent four seasons as the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. This season, the Centennials were 36-15-4-3 and finished second in the Interior Division. They lost a first-round series, 4-1, to the Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Martin had been with Merritt since signing on as an assistant coach prior to the 2011-12 season. . . . In Alberta Valley, Martin replaces Matt Hughes, who, according to the Bulldogs, “resigned his position from the club by mutual agreement” late in March. . . . Taking Note actually was told by a reliable source on April 4 that “Joe Martin is going to Alberni Valley.” On Friday, that same source told Taking Note: “It’s happening. Joe Martin to Alberni Valley.” . . . That same day, when Bulldogs business manager David Michaud was asked about Martin, his response was: “Joe Martin is under contract with the Merritt Centennials. If you want to write gossip about a man who just gave birth to a newborn have at it. Get better sources or call me.” . . . If Martin was under contract to Merritt on Friday and my source was feeding me gossip, it would seem that the deal between him and the Bulldogs got done in a hurry.


Broncos sign 2016 first-rounder … Honour for Ice’s new logo … Ex-WHL coach out in Nanaimo shakeup


F Kris Foucault (Swift Current, Kootenay, Calgary, 2006-11) has signed a one-year extension with the Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). In 32 games, he has 16 goals and 13 assists, and he leads the team in goals and points. He is tied for third in the league in goals. . . .

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has been released by Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL) by mutual agreement due to a shoulder injury suffered on Dec. 16. He had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games. He is expected to return to Prague for treatment. . . .

F Peter Quenneville (Brandon, 2013-15) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He played for Aalborg last season, putting up 30 goals and 19 assists in 45 games. He led the league in goals and was fourth in the points race. . . . This season, with Dynamo Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and an assist in 12 games, and he had three goals and an assist in nine games with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract with SaiPa on Dec. 12.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Jacson Alexander, 16, who was one of their two first-round selections in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. Alexander, from Victoria, was taken with the 16th overall pick.

Alexander, who will turn 17 on Feb. 1, was in his first season with the BCHL’s Victoria SCBroncosGrizzlies — he put up three goals and seven assists in 29 games — but will join the Broncos after Christmas.

He committed to the U of Denver on Dec. 7, 2016, for the 2019-20 season, while playing for the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School prep team in the CSSHL.

This season, the 5-foot-10 Alexander also played for Hockey Canada’s Team Black at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge last month in Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, B.C. He had one assist in five games.

Alexander could make his WHL debut on Dec. 27 when the Broncos return to play against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.

Alexander’s arrival will give the Broncos seven defencemen and may take some of the pressure off Manny Viveiros, the director of player personnel and head coach, with the trade deadline approaching on Jan. 10. Observers were watching closely to see if Viveiros would go to the marketplace to land a seventh defenceman, something that may not be necessary now.

BTW, in that 2016 bantam draft, the Broncos used the fourth overall selection to take F Logan Barlage, who was playing for the bantam AA Humboldt, Sask., Broncos. This season, the 6-foot-4 Barlage, a freshman, has a goal and six assists in 30 games with the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have the WHL rights to the only unsigned first-round selection from the 2017 bantam draft. They took D Joel Sexsmith of Edmonton with the ninth overall pick. He now is playing at the Edge School in Calgary.

Meanwhile, F Massimo Rizzo now is the lone first-round selection from the 2016 bantam draft not to have committed to the WHL.

The Kamloops Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall pick, but he chose to sign with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.

From Burnaby, B.C., Rizzo has six goals and 11 assists in 28 games with the Vees this season. He had a goal and three assists in five games as a teammate of Alexander’s on Team Black at the U-17 WHC.

Rizzo has yet to make an NCAA commitment, nor has he told the Blazers that he definitely won’t sign with them at some point.

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When it comes to sports logos, Chris Creamer is the man. You are able to find him at, or on Twitter at @sportslogosnet.

On Friday, he announced the 2017 Creamer Award winners for best new sports logos.

KootenaynewThe 14-person judging panel considered logos that “made their in-game debut in 2017.”

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice placed third in the Primary Logo of the Year Award, behind baseball’s Memphis Redbirds and the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves.

Of the Ice’s new logo, which is pictured on the left, Creamer wrote: “Love the hidden ICE in this logo, designed by Bill Frederick’s team at Fanbrandz, who gave this junior hockey team the identity update it so desperately needed. Well done!”

The top 50 in that category and whole lot more, including a mention of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 50th anniversary logo, can be found right here.

Less than a week after staging a father/son trip with his BCHL team, Mike Vandekamp is out of work.

Wes Mussio, a Vancouver-based lawyer who is the majority owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, revealed on Thursday, at 11:43 p.m., via Twitter that he had fired Vandekamp, the team’s general manager and head coach, “due to irreconcilable differences with the management team.”

Vandekamp’s contract would have expired at season’s end.

Late Friday night, the Clippers’ website continued to list Dustin Donaghy as the team’s

On Nov. 10, Penny and Wes Mussio (second and third from left) were introduced as the new majority owners of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Darren Naylor (left) was named director of hockey operations, while team president David LeNeveu (fourth from left) retained five per cent. Mike Vandekamp (far right), then the general manager and head coach, was fired Thursday night and replaced by Naylor. (Photo: Greg Sakaki/Nanaimo News Bulletin)

head coach. However, a BCHL insider told Taking Note that Donaghy had been “fired by the Clippers.” Donaghy, from Cranbrook, played three seasons in the WHL (Spokane, Lethbridge, 2007-10).

Darren Naylor, who was part of that management team as the director of hockey operations, is the new GM and head coach.

Mussio and his wife, Penny, purchased 95 per cent of the Clippers last month and installed Naylor as director of hockey ops. Naylor also has been working as GM/head coach of the junior B Delta Ice Hawks, who are 26-2-1 in the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Mussio had been the majority owner of the Ice Hawks but is believed to have sold his shares when he purchased the Clippers.

On Friday, Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin that he and Naylor were tired of butting heads with Vandekamp. (Sakaki’s complete story is right here.)

“The previous owner gave Mike a carte-blanche ability to do anything he wants and I wanted some input and I wanted Darren Naylor to have some input and sadly that didn’t seem like something Mr. Vandekamp was prepared to accept,” Mussio told Sakaki.

Mussio added: “We brought in a few key players and they were hit with resistance and we also tried to bring on some (affiliate players) and that was hit with resistance. So in order to move forward to the next (season), we need to have a look at players and recruit. Without any support from the coach, it’s pretty hard to do.”

Mussio also told Sakaki that Vandekamp had been given until Dec. 22 to commit to the new situation.

“He didn’t think it was in his personality . . . to do so, so that the end of it,” Mussio said.

Vandekamp, who has yet to comment, is a veteran junior coach who was in his seventh season with the Clippers. This season, the Clippers are 18-13-3-2 (that’s two ties), leaving them one point behind the Powell River Kings (18-10-3-3), who lead the BCHL’s Island Division.

The Clippers’ next game is Dec. 29 when they are scheduled to visit Powell River.

Vandekamp’s resume includes a season and a half as head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. In the BCHL, he also has worked with the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers. He joined the Clippers after four seasons with the AJHL’s Grand Prairie Storm.

As for the father/son trip . . . the Clippers beat the Trail Smoke Eaters, 7-2, on Friday, then got past the Penticton Vees, 4-2, on Saturday. Nanaimo ended the trip by dropping a 4-2 decision to the Merritt Centennials on Sunday afternoon.

Dominic Abassi is the news director for Island Radio and @NanaimoNewsNOW.

It was rather interesting on Friday when F Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who has missed his NHL team’s past six games, discussed with reporters why he has been out of the lineup.

Matthews practised for the first time in almost two weeks and later talked about having symptoms of a concussion after colliding with Toronto D Morgan Reilly during a game against the host Pittsburgh Penguins on Dec. 9.

While Matthews didn’t go into great detail on the symptoms, he did say that he “went MapleLeafsthrough all that return to play, and all the protocols and everything and obviously, you know, they take it pretty seriously and they deemed me out so I went through all that stuff and I feel great now.”

Toronto next is scheduled to play today (Saturday) in New York against the Rangers, but it’s not yet known if Matthews will play.

Matthews’ conversation with reporters on Friday just may be another sign that NHL teams are loosening up when it comes to detailing injuries.

A couple of weeks ago, head coach Ken Hitchcock of the Dallas Stars explained why he no longer plays the “upper-body or lower-body” game.

“I think we collectively hate playing that game,” said Hitchcock, who posted his 800th victory as an NHL head coach on Thursday. “What I mean by that is we say upper-body, then you go on the phone, and then you look up things or you go to the doctors, find out what part of the upper body . . . We try to make your work easier, quite frankly, and so we just don’t like going through the dance.

“It’s easy to tell you what it is and let’s move forward. It’s just the whole game. It’s an injury and within two hours after we tell you it’s upper-body you know exactly what it is, so why not just tell you? And the players don’t go out and say: ‘He has a broken left pinkie and we’re going to go after that pinkie.’ Nobody thinks like that.

“Our feeling is just tell them what the injury is and move it forward and let’s stop the dance.”

But, then again, it could be that the Toronto braintrust wasn’t at all pleased with the way Matthews handled things on Friday. David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail takes a look at the situation right here.


Dec. 18-Dec. 26:

No Games Scheduled.

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