Lori Sopotyk: ‘They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again’ . . . Joseph wants semi driver deported . . . Virus hits Vegas coaching staff


“They didn’t sugarcoat anything and told him he would never walk again,” Lori Sopotyk told Mart Hastings of Kamloops This Week on Tuesday. “He’s paralyzed from the belly button down and it’s a long, long journey ahead for all of us. That was the first thing out of his mouth, his hockey, that he would never skate again. And he felt like he had let everyone down.” . . . Lori was referring to Kyrell, her 19-year-old son, who was injured in a snowboarding accident near North Battleford, Sask., on Friday and is in a Saskatoon hospital. He played the last two seasons (2018-20) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . .

A GoFundMe page, launched by Kathleen Zary, the mother of Blazers F Connor Zary, has surpassed $160,000. It is right here should you wish to donate.


Chris Joseph, a former WHL/NHL defenceman, and his wife, Andrea, lost their son, Jaxon, in the accident that occurred almost three years ago when a semi-trailer pulled out onto a Saskatchewan highway in front of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus. But unlike Scott Thomas, who also lost a son in the accident, Joseph doesn’t want Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to be allowed to remain in Canada whenever he is freed from jail. Thomas, whose son, Evan, died in the crash, has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s plea to avoid deportation. . . . “As much as I can admire someone who finds that forgiveness,” Joseph told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, “I personally don’t have it yet, don’t know if I’ll ever get it to be quite honest. Everyone’s forgiveness journey is their own journey. I just can’t understand why you cannot forgive while he’s on a plane back to India.” . . . One thing that Joseph and Thomas can agree on, meanwhile, is the need for a serious upgrade to some of the rules and regulations around Canada’s trucking industry. . . . Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Just wondering, but what have you accomplished during this pandemic? Trent Miner, a goaltender with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, has been studying and working towards a private pilot’s licence. “I always wanted to do this,” Miner, 19, told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, “but obviously didn’t have any time to get into it until this summer.” . . . Miner started the process by taking lessons at the Brandon Flight Centre in May. Now the only thing standing between him and his licence is a written exam. . . . These days, Miner is in camp with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Bergson’s story is right here.


Here’s a snippet of the Tuesday morning post from Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon):

“If 2021 were destined to be a ‘normal sports year’ teams would be setting up facilities in Florida and Arizona for the onset of spring training about now. Instead, there are reports this morning that Arizona officials have sent a letter to MLB asking for a delay in the start of spring training there because of the high rate of COVID infections in Maricopa County. The report I read in the Washington Post said that the officials there do not have the authority to order such a delay, meaning this could evolve into a negotiation with MLB. Unfortunately, any negotiation with MLB will have to involve the MLBPA as well; history tells us that those two entities have difficulty agreeing on even basic things like Tuesdays always following Mondays.”

You are able to catch all of his musings at sportscurmudgeon.com.


The latest 31 Thoughts from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman includes lots on the weekend deal between the Winnipeg Jets and Columbus Blue Jackets, and also some interesting stuff with former Everett Silvertips D Shaun Heshka. It’s all right here.


With one member of the Vegas Golden Knights’ coaching staff having reportedly tested positive, the NHL team had to sideline all of its coaches, at least for Tuesday night’s game against the visiting St. Louis Blues. As a result, Kelly McCrimmon, the former owner/general manager/head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, made his NHL coaching debut. He is the Golden Knights’ general manager. . . . On the bench with McCrimmon were Manny Viveiros, a former WHL coach and player who is the head coach of the team’s AHL franchise, the Henderson Silver Knights; Jamie Heward, a former WHL player and coach who is an assistant coach with Henderson; and former NHL player Joel Ward, also an assistant in Henderson. . . . The Blues won the game, 5-4 in a shootout. The Golden Knights hit four posts in regulation, one in OT and another in the shootout. . . . F Brayden Schenn, who spent three seasons (2007-10) with McCrimmon’s Wheat Kings, scored the shootout winner. . . . The Golden Knights’ coaching staff comprises head coach Peter DeBoer; assistants Ryan Craig, Ryan McGill and Steve Spott; goaltending coach Mike Rosati; and video coach Tommy Cruz.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — Anyone entering Manitoba, including people coming from Western Canada, will have to self-isolate for 14 days starting Friday. . . . The travel restriction is designed to stop non-essential travel, by land or by air, and applies to people visiting the province and returning Manitobans.

CBC News — Sask. extends public health orders as daily death toll reaches new high. The measures will remain in effect until Feb. 19. They were set to expire on Jan. 29.

CBC News — Saskatchewan saw its deadliest day of the pandemic, with a record-high 14 fatalities reported on Tuesday. The previous record came on Dec. 21, when 13 people died after being diagnosed with the virus. The province has now reported 268 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic came to the province. Of those, 115 deaths have happened in 2021.

If you’re wondering how the NCAA men’s basketball season is going, check out this piece right here by Ryan Young of yahoo!sports.

The New York Times — The coronavirus death toll in Britain surpassed 100,000 on Tuesday, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying he accepted responsibility as fatality rates continue to soar. “I am deeply sorry for every life that has been lost,” he said.

AFP News Agency, Tuesday, 1:39 p.m. PT — Global coronavirus cases pass 100 million mark, AFP tally shows.

Ron Johnson, who got into five games with the Montreal Expos in 1984, has died in Tennessee from complications related to COVID-19. He was 64. Johnson spent 25 seasons as a minor league manager, most recently with the Triple-A Norfolk Admirals, who are affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles.

Sekou Smith, who worked as an analyst for NBA TV, died Tuesday after contracting COVID-19. He was 48.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL is expected to announce today (Wednesday) that it will have a franchise in Savannah, Ga., in time for the 2022-23 season. The team will play out of the Savannah Arena, a facility that is under construction.

Victoria bows out, three remain in running for 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Signings, signings, everywhere a signing . . . Murray Westgate dies at 100

ThisThat

And then there were three . . .

The Victoria Royals bowed out of the race for the 2020 Memorial Cup on Monday, leaving the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets still in the hunt.

Victoria, with Vancouver, will play host to the 2019 World Junior Championship. With the VictoriaRoyalshigh costs associated with attending events such as the Memorial Cup and the WJC, and considering that the Royals would be asking their ticket-buying public to support both events, you can bet that the organization and the bid committee grew wary of going to the well once too often.

“Everybody wants to be the very, very best. Not just win the bid but win the bid in a way that the Memorial Cup you put on is the best one that’s ever been put on,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, told Marlon Martens, the team’s radio voice. “I think we’re close. I think it’s possible we could win this bid for 2020. But the truth of it is there are a number of boxes that I think we will tick much, much better two or three years down the road.

“Everything from our club and the building of the club, although that’s a secondary issue for us. I think we’ll be competitive in 2020, but the venue . . . there’s some changes we want to make to the arena that would enhance it for the fans and for everybody and the community.

“We are just about to embark on a wonderful World Junior Championship and it’s a significant ask of our fans to buck up every year for season tickets — which they do and our base grows every year — and then go to that market and ask them to pay not an insignificant amount for World Juniors, which is a big tournament, and then ask them again the following season to buck up again for a big tournament like the Memorial Cup.

“Those things are all factors I think we could overcome, but when you combine them we have to think about the reality of the very best time to bid.”

Hope admitted that this decision has been a while coming.

“The bid committee has been working on this for a few months . . . assessing what our bid would look like for 2020 and whether or not we think it’s the right year to go,” Hope said. “The bid committee has decided they are going to focus on 2023.

“We agonized over it . . . spent a lot of time deciding whether or not it was the right thing . . . it’s clearly the right thing to do.”

Martens’ complete interview with Hope is right here.

The Rockets, of course, were the host team in 2004 and it was such a good show that it KelownaRocketswas the benchmark for Memorial Cup tournaments to that point. Obviously, the city and the organization know what it takes, and there isn’t any doubt but that they would put on a terrific show.

Kelowna’s bid committee is headed up by Tom Dyas, a former president of the city’s chamber of commerce. Paul Mitchell and Bill Winter, who headed up the bid committee prior to the 2004 event, also are heavily involved.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, has said that the team will foot the bill for the tournament, including about $100,000 to improve dressing rooms in Prospera Place.

“This is the Kelowna Rockets putting this on,” Hamilton said at a news conference in April. “We’ll get some support I’m sure from other areas, but the city is taking no risk at all except they’ll be very involved in helping to prepare the bid.”

The Blazers announced in November that they would be bidding for 2020, which will Kamloops1mark the 25th anniversary of their having won the 1995 tournament.

Norm Daley of Daley and Co., who has been involved in bid committees that have brought numerous events to Kamloops, including the 2016 IIHF World Women’s Championship, heads up the Blazers’ bid committee.

“One thing is, we’ve lost,” Daley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in April. “So we understand we didn’t get the 2013 women’s worlds (curling), we didn’t get the 2009 Olympic curling trials. So we’ve lost.

“So we understand where maybe there’s some shortcomings in what the bid process is when we did it those times . . . so we have that understanding of what it takes to win, so we actually have won a number of other ones . . . so that’s the big thing. We can take the information of what we maybe did wrong in those bids and use it for our advantage in this one.”

In Lethbridge, the Hurricanes, with Bill Reddick of Mercer Wilde Group Charter LethbridgeAccountants chairing the bid committee, have received assurances from city council that it will kick in $750,000, along with $250,000 in in-kind services, should the bid be successful. The in-kind package would include such things as costs, including labour, involved with the use of the ENMAX Centre.

While Kelowna no doubt is alone as the favourite now that Victoria is out, you have to think that Lethbridge is at least a sentimental favourite, even with the tournament having been held in Red Deer in 2016. (Prior to that, it hadn’t been held in Alberta since 1974 when it was played in the Calgary Corral.) After all, it was slightly more than three years ago when the franchise was in dire financial straits. The team had missed the playoffs for six straight seasons and had lost well over $1 million in the process. On top of that, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was urging shareholders to sell to private interests.

Since then, well, Peter Anholt has taken over as the general manager, things are looking up on the ice, where the Hurricanes have reached the Eastern Conference final each of the past two seasons. Anholt and the likes of Terry Huisman, the GM of business operations, have got things turned around to the point where the organization announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season.

The Blazers, Hurricanes and Rockets will present their bids to the WHL’s board of governors at a meeting in Calgary on Oct. 3. It is expected that the host city will be named later that same day.


This is why you won’t find any scrimmage-related news on this site . . . I am retired and can’t afford to pay the fine.


F Kole Gable, who helped the Swift Current Broncos win a WHL title last season, will SCBroncosopen this season with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Gable, 20, is from Fort McMurray. . . . Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 68 regular-season games with the Broncos, then added one assist in 26 playoff games. . . . Gable was a ninth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2013 bantam draft. He played 61 games with the Oil Kings before being dealt to the Broncos during the 2016-17 season. . . . In 166 regular-season WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 21 assists. . . . The Broncos have five 20-year-olds on their roster — F Kaden Elder, F Andrew Fyten, Russian D Artyom Minulin, F Tanner Nagel and D Ryan Pouliot. Minulin, who is from Russia, would be a two-spotter should he return.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Craig Armstrong, a first-round selection, ninth PrinceGeorgeoverall, in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Airdrie, Alta., he led his hometown bantam AAA Xtreme in scoring in the regular season and playoffs. He put up 23 goals and 31 assists in 34 regular-season games, then added 14 goals and nine assists in 13 playoff games. He also had three goals and four assists in five games at the Western Canadian bantam AAA championship tournament.

Armstrong’s signing leaves two of the 22 first-round selections without WHL contracts. . . . F Trevor Wong, taken 18th overall by Kelowna, attended the Rockets’ camp but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22. . . . The Cougars took G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg with the second-last pick of the first round and have yet to sign him.

——

The WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed Sammy May, 15, to a WHL contract. May, from SaskatoonRichmond, B.C., was an 11th-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . “Despite his position in the draft, May quickly earned himself an offer on the final day of training camp,” the Blades said in a news release. . . . Last season, with a bantam prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, he had 11 goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . May is expected to get a taste of WHL action when the Blades open their exhibition season against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Thursday.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed G Mads Sogaard, who will turn 18 on Dec. 13, and F Tigers Logo OfficialCaleb Willms, a 16-year-old from Cochrane, Alta. . . . Sogaard, from Aalborg, Denmark, was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-7, 190-pounder played last season with the NAHL’s Austin Bruins, going 2.64, .909 in 22 appearances. . . . He is expected to push veteran Jordan Hollett, 19, for playing time. . . . Willms, a list player, spent last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR  Bisons, putting up three goals and seven assists in 35 games.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca to a WHL contract. SeattleKukuca, who will turn 19 on Nov. 14, scored 43 goals and added 27 assists in 44 games for Trencin’s team in Slovakia’s U-20 junior league last season. He added 18 goals and 10 assists in 18 playoff games. . . . The Thunderbirds have yet to sign their other 2018 import draft selection — Czech D Simon Kubicek, who is to turn 17 on Dec. 19 — but it is believed that he is getting his paperwork in order before joining them. He was pointless in four games with the Czech U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup earlier this month.


The Victoria Royals have signed F Trentyn Crane, 15, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. From Morden, Man., he had 46 goals and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who are based in Morden and play in a Winnipeg league.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed D Lucas Brenton, 15, and D Cole Jordan, who will MooseJawWarriorsturn 16 on Sept. 21, to WHL contracts. . . . From East St. Paul, Man., Brenton was a sixth-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, with the bantam AAA Winnipeg Sharks, he had nine goals and 15 assists in 32 games. . . . Jordan, from Brandon, was added to the Warriors’ protected list in January. He had three goals and 15 assists in 46 games with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings last season.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Owen MacNeil, 15, to a WHL contract. He was selected in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Calgary, he had 15 goals and 32 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Royals, and also had a goal and two assists in five games with the minor midget CRAA Blue.


The Tri-City Americans have signed three players — D Bryan McAndrews, 17, from tri-cityEdmonton; F Parker Bell, who will turn 15 on Sept. 26, from Campbell River, B.C.; and F Sequoia Swan, 16, from Winnipeg. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews was a fifth-round pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. McAndrews played last season with the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s midget prep Red team, putting up five goals and six assists in 25 games. . . . Last season, Bell scored three goals and added seven assists in 20 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team in Abbotsford, B.C. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Swan, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, had eight goals and 14 assists in 32 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy’s elite 15s last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


“With football already underway and hockey starting soon,” writes Jack Todd in the pages of the Montreal Gazette, “it’s a good time to talk about toxic parents on the sideline.” . . . This right here is a good piece, and there are a handful of rules, all of them worth following, at the end of it.


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