Interesting look at King County’s road to cancelling large gatherings . . . U of Lethbridge drops axe on hockey programs

Some reaction after Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, held her daily pandemic-related briefing on Monday . . .


Meanwhile, there is speculation in the east, too . . . Larry Mellott is the radio voice of the OHL’s Guelph Storm on 1460 CJOY . . .


The story by Ken Armstrong of ProPublica and the Seattle Times’ David Gutman and Lewis Kamb is headlined: Health Officials Recommended Canceling Events with 10-50 People. Then 33,000 Fans Attended a Major League Soccer Game. . . . It is a terrific story and looks at the early days of the pandemic in Seattle and King County, in Washington state, and how, despite warnings, the Seattle Sounders played a home game at CenturyLink Field on March 8. . . . The story begins: “On March 6, at 2:43 p.m., the health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, the hardest-hit region in the first state to be slammed by COVID-19, sent an email to a half-dozen colleagues, saying, ‘I want to cancel large group gatherings now.’ ” . . . They write: “Two days after the public health department wrote on Facebook, ‘We are making a recommendation to postpone or cancel events greater than 10-50 people,’ officials in King County allowed a soccer match to be held with 33,000 fans, squeezed together.” . . . That story is right here. . . . The WHL isn’t mentioned in this story, but it’s interesting that it went ahead with games in Everett on March 6 and 7, and in Kent on March 8. . . . All told, the WHL played eight games in the U.S. Division — including one in Spokane, two in Kennewick, Wash., and two in Portland — from March 6 until the season was suspended on March 12.


The U of Lethbridge brought an end to its men’s and women’s varsity hockey programs on Monday, saying it was “facing three successive years of significant reductions to its operating grant.” . . . From a news release: “The elimination of the hockey programs is one of a number of budget reduction strategies in response to unprecedented cuts from the provincial government.” . . . The Pronghorns men’s team had been around since 1984-85 and won a national championship in 1994 under head coach Mike Babcock. . . . The women’s program began in 1997-98. . . . Without the two U of Lethbridge teams there will be seven teams in each of the Canada West leagues. . . . The men’s team is full of players who played in the WHL. You can check out the 2019-20 roster right here. . . . The university’s news release is right here.

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You know there are concerns at a lot of Canadian universities, such as the U of Alberta. Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia wrote late last week about a letter sent by Dr. Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, to coaches, sponsors, donors, volunteers and alumni. . . . That story is right here, and it isn’t pretty.



“It’s a small point,” points out Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “but is every single person in the White House terrified to tell Trump that the Spanish Flu was 1918, not 1917?” . . . Uhh, yes. Yes, they are. In fact, they are petrified, as is every Republican in the country.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.”


Nick Sinclair announced his resignation as general manager of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting on Saturday. He had been with the organization for 11 seasons, the last six as GM, before deciding to leave. . . . According to a Sting news release, Sinclair has “elected to pursue other career opportunities.” . . . Sinclair left just two weeks after taking the club through the annual OHL draft. . . . Interestingly, Mark Malone of the London Free Press reported that “a Sting spokesman said Saturday no team officials were giving interviews.” . . . That would include co-owners David Legwand and Derian Hatcher, who also is the head coach.


Alive

Scattershooting on a Friday evening while wondering if it’s Christmas shopping season yet . . .

Scattershooting

“As the discussion about the cult of shinny rages on, I find it most disturbing that some opinionists are just now discovering that hockey is not for everyone.” . . . That is how Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, began a blog posting the other day. . . . If you have been following hockey’s latest mess, and if you haven’t yet had your fill, you should give this a read. It’s good stuff — it’s nail-meet-hammer kind of stuff, and it’s right here.


IKEA


ICYMI, the Swift Current Broncos fired Jamie LeBlanc, their trainer and equipment manager, on Monday “following revelations of a recent pattern of demeaning and derogatory comments, threatening behaviour and unprofessional conduct that is inconsistent with the values of the organization and the Western Hockey League.” . . . LeBlanc, whose nickname is Butter, was in his 10th season as the Broncos’ head trainer. In November 2017, the portion of a street leading to the Innovation Credit Union iPlex’s bus door was named Butter Way. . . . On Wednesday, the Broncos hired Andrew Kutnikoff as their athletic therapist/equipment manager. A native of Prince Albert, he had been in his second season with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . The North Stars now are in the hunt for an athletic therapist/equipment manager.



There was an interesting goaltending matchup in the OHL on Monday night, one that featured two former WHLers. . . . The visiting London Knights had Dylan Myskiw, 20, in goal, going against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Bailey Brkin, 19. . . . London won, 6-5 in OT. Myskiw, who is from Winnipeg, stopped 17 of 22 shots, but was replaced at 4:30 of the third period with his side down, 5-4. Brkin, from Sherwood Park, Alta., went the distance, stopping 33 shots. . . . They last had gone head-to-head on Oct. 6, 2018, when Brkin’s 28 saves helped the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who got 29 saves from Myskiw.



I paid $1.15.9 a litre when I filled up on Nov. 25. By the next day, it was $1.31.9, and it has stayed there. You can bet that Kamloops drivers are hoping for a better Christmas present than that from big oil.


English


Hey, there’s hockey in Cranbrook, only it’s not of the WHL or BCHL variety. The junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing a handful of games in Cranbrook after an ammonia chiller failure shut down the Golden and District Centennial Arena. . . . The Rockets will play at least six December home games in either Memorial Arena or Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. . . . Their home arena, affectionately known as the Plywood Palace, will be closed at least until the new year.



I’m wondering how much your father paid you when/if you scored a goal during your hockey career? Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers scored the Teddy Bear goal in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. “I told my Dad before the game, ‘I think I’m going to get it this year,’ and he kind of put a little wager on it,” Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week quoted Zary as saying. “He said he’d give me 100 bucks if I scored it. When I came off the ice, the first time I looked at my phone, I had a little e-transfer from him.” . . . Maybe I didn’t get that kind of dough because my father’s etransfer app didn’t work on his phone in 1968.


F Matt Savoie was selected by the Winnipeg Ice with the first pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. He is to turn 16 on Jan. 1. . . . It has long been said and written that 15-year-old players are limited to five WHL games while their club team still is playing. However, as Paul Friesen of Postmedia referred to the rule in September, it is a “hard and not-so-fast rule.” . . . For example, F Kirby Dach played 19 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades in 2016-17, putting up six goals and four assists. . . . In that same September piece, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Friesen about Savoie: “We’re going to be probably at least in the 30 to 35 range. That would be a high-water mark. We’re still working through what that schedule looks like. We’re going to try and maximize his games through the course of the season.” . . . That being the case, it is time for the WHL to drop the pretense and throw open its doors to all 15-year-old players. . . . Savoie, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., has two assists in his first seven games.


If you are a subscriber to The Athletic, you don’t want to miss the story about former NHLer Gene Carr, who played with the Flin Flon Bombers back in the day, that was written by Lisa Dillman and Eric Duhatschek. The story is headlined ‘New kid in town’ — How a former King met the daughter he didn’t know existed.


Doctor


There are times when junior hockey’s coaching merry-go-round seems to spin at an incredible rate. . . . See if you can follow this. . . . In May, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders signed Geoff Grimwood as general manager and head coach. You may recall that he spent some time with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors last season and has since filed a lawsuit against then-owner Kim Dobranski after being hired, fired, rehired and later fired again. . . . Anyway, Grimwood resigned from the Stampeders on Friday, saying that he needs to “take some time away from the game.” . . . Meanwhile, Barry Wolff spent last season as the GM and head coach of those same Stampeders, who reached the MJHL’s championship final. But he left to sign on as GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. They fired him nine games into his stint there. Of late, he has been helping out with the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. On Friday, the Stampeders, who are 17-10-2, named him GM and coach, replacing Grimwood. . . . Got all that?


The WHL has to be a little nervous when it looks at the standings these days because, as Larry Fisher noted in the above tweet on Wednesday, the race(s) for playoff spots are pretty much non-existent. . . . Two of 10 teams in the Western Conference won’t make the playoffs, and those will be the Seattle Thunderbirds and Prince George Cougars. . . . The Eastern Conference drops four of its 12 teams, with the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos already out of the picture, as they continue to pay for having gone all-in for playoff runs in recent seasons. Going into Friday games, the Moose Jaw Warriors were eight points out with five games in hand, but appear to be in seller’s mode having moved F Jadon Joseph, 20, to the Kelowna Rockets recently. The Red Deer Rebels, another team in a rebuilding stage, are six points out but the odds appear to be long. . . . It has to be a tough way to sell tickets when the fans know their favourite team is out of the playoffs in the first week of December.



JUST NOTES: Is Dak Prescott the NFL’s most over-rated quarterback? After Dallas owner Jerry Jones fires head coach Jason Garrett, should he also fire the general manager? Oh wait, Jones is the GM. . . . The Portland Winterhawks took two games from the Cougars in Prince George this week, winning 3-0 on Tuesday and 5-4 in OT on Wednesday. The same two teams are playing in Portland this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. That’s right. They are playing their entire season series in a span of six nights. . . . In case you haven’t noticed, the Carolina Hurricanes have become the NHL’s fun bunch. . . . Baseball’s winter meetings get started on Sunday through Thursday in San Diego. Are you ready for some wheeling and dealing?

Hey, WHL, how about filling us in on trade rules? . . . Kichton, Leslie head for school . . . Royals sign Danish skater


MacBeth

F Oscar Möller (Chilliwack, 2006-08) signed a four-year contract extension with Skellefteå (Sweden, SHL). Möller has one year left on his current contract; the extension begins next season and runs through the 2022-23 season. Last season, he had 18 goals and 24 assists in 49 games.


ThisThat

Here’s part of what I wrote here on July 24:

“Taking Note has been told that the WHL has acted in an attempt to put a halt to the number of young players who get traded within the league.

“The move is a reaction to the number of deals that were made in the period leading up to last season’s Jan. 10 trade deadline. . . .

“Taking Note has been told that the league has decided that its teams won’t be allowed to trade any 15- or 16-year-old players who have signed WHL contracts. On top of that, the only time the trading of a 17-year-old player will be allowed is if that player has requested a trade.

“The 17-year-old player will have had to approach the team’s general manager to ask for a trade; a team won’t be able to make the first move, asking said player to waive his no-trade clause. Taking Note was told that the WHL will approach a 17-year-old player’s parents to make sure the procedure was followed.”

That entire piece is right here.

It is most unfortunate that the WHL has such an uncomfortable relationship with transparency. It really would be nice if the league would let parents, players, fans, observers and anyone else who might be interested in on the particulars.

You will recall that the Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos made a deal this week that involved four players and three draft picks. After the deal was announced, there was speculation on social media as to which players had signed and which players hadn’t, and also wondering about the presence of no-trade clauses.

As one observer wrote in an email after that deal was made: “So the rules appear to be in effect. Nice of the league to publicize everything so we all know how things work.”

It also would be nice if the league and its teams worked a bit harder to keep the fans informed on the movement of players in the offseason.

What would be so wrong with someone revealing at some point that G Brodan Salmond, 20, no longer was with the Kelowna Rockets? Why should fans have to wait until training camp rosters start to appear before finding out these things?

Another note from an email to Taking Note:

“Brodan Salmond shows up on Moose Jaw’s camp roster and that’s the first anyone is aware that Kelowna released him. You waive your No. 1 goalie from the previous season over the summer and that’s not worthy of a press release? Or even a TWEET? Your fans get to find out he’s gone when another team shows him on their roster?

“What a (poor) PR job this league (and some of its teams in particular) does. Why do they continue to believe fans don’t care about anything other than the games themselves?”

That’s a good question.



It would seem that D Marcus Kichton, 19, won’t be back with the Vancouver Giants.

When his name didn’t appear on the Giants’ training camp roster, a fan asked Steve VancouverEwen of Postmedia via Twitter: “Do you know if he’s been released?”

Minutes later, Ewen responded: “Being told Marcus Kichton is going to school.”

Kichton, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a second-round selection by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. The Giants acquired him, D Tyler Brown and a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft from the Warriors on Jan. 8, 2016, for D Josh Thrower and a fifth-rounder in 2017.

Kichton played two seasons with the Giants — 47 games in 2016-17 and 34 last season. He totalled one goal and three assists in 81 games.


D Jantzen Leslie is heading to school, rather than return to the WHL for his 19-year-old season. Leslie, who has played with the Everett Silvertips, Saskatoon Blades and Edmonton Oil Kings, will attend Red Deer College and play for the Kings. . . . A native of Lloydminster, Alta., he was a first-round selection by the Everett Silvertips in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 102 regular-season WHL games, he had one goal and five assists.


The Victoria Royals have signed F Phillip Schultz, 18, who was a selection in the 2018 VictoriaRoyalsCHL import draft. Schultz, from Rodovre, Denmark, played last season with the Rodovre Mighty Bulls of Denmark’s top pro league. He had five goals and seven assists in 40 games. He added nine goals and eight assists in 10 games with Rodovre SIK, which plays in the second tier. . . . The Royals finished last season with F Igor Martynov of Belarus and and Russian F Andrei Grishakov as their imports. Both are eligible to play this season as 19-year-olds; however, the Royals chose to bring back only Martynov, who had 18 goals and 25 assists in 63 games as a freshman last season.


If you haven’t heard, the Portland Winterhawks have a new assistant coach. Yes, it’s true. PortlandDon Hay, who was rather unceremoniously squeezed out by the Kamloops Blazers’ ownership group in May, already was in Portland on Monday when the team announced that he was joining the staff of Mike Johnston, who is vice-president, general manager and head coach. . . . Hay, of course, has more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history. He also has been part of four Memorial Cup championships — three as a head coach and one as an assistant. . . . “I was pretty excited when I got the phone call to see if I was interested,” Hay told Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune. “I’m really excited about (coaching) with Mike.” . . . Danzer’s story is right here.


F Ryan Bowen, 20, is in camp with the Kelowna Rockets, but his brother, Ethan, 16, isn’t. . KelownaRockets. . The Rockets acquired Ryan from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in January, but he chose to finish the season with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, who won the RBC Cup in May as the host team for the national junior A championship tournament. He and D Braydyn Chizen, who is preparing for his fourth season in Kelowna, are the only two 20s on the Rockets’ camp roster. . . . Ethan, who was a second-round selection by the Rockets in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, won’t be joining the Rockets, at least not right now. He will play for Chilliwack and protect his NCAA eligibility. . . . Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier has that 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 on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


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