Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


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.


Unvaxxed

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if London will be OK in the morning . . .

Scattershooting2

Smoke
The South Thompson River valley from our deck on Sunday, 6:45 p.m. Somewhere behind the smoke in mid-photo is Mount Martin. And over on the right, somewhere beyond the river, is the Trans-Canada Highway.

Virus


Cole Beasley, a receiver with the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, has said that he won’t get vaccinated, adding: “I may die of Covid, but I’d rather die actually living.” To which Ron Borges of si.com wrote: “How many times has this guy been hit on the head again?”

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Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Buffalo Bills anti-vaxxer, anti-masker Cole Beasley tweeted, ‘I may die of COVID, but I’d rather die actually living.’ What a drama queen. One who sings in the key of me. The comic irony of NFL players avoiding vaccine needles is that in their line of work, they get shot up more often than race horses.”


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, drops the hammer on the nail with this one: “Joey Chestnut set a new world’s record in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest on July 4. Chestnut ate 76 hotdogs — and buns, of course — in the 10-minute event. Here is a task for historians and observers of societal/cultural trends: At exactly what point did gluttony cease to be one of the seven deadly sins and become a sport?”



Headline at The Onion on July 18, 2011: “U.S. Quietly Slips Out Of Afghanistan In Dead Of Night.”
Headline at the BBC on July 6, 2021: “US left Bagram Airbase at night with no notice, Afghan commander says.”



Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is going to pitch and DH in Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game. If you haven’t been paying attention to him, you should. Here’s Angels manager Joe Maddon explaining why: “We all romanticize what it would have been like to watch Babe Ruth play — he pitched, really? I mean, you hear this stuff and it’s a larger-than-life concept. Now we’re living it. So don’t underestimate what we’re seeing.”


If you aren’t familiar with Kaye Kaminishi, please allow Google to be your friend. Kaminishi is 99 years of age now. He is the last surviving member of the Asahi baseball team — he played third base. Again, let Google be your friend. . . . The Asahi team was huge in Vancouver in the years before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After the bombing, Kaminishi was one of those rounded up and taken to an internment camp in the Interior of B.C. . . . One day in June 2013, I visited his Kamloops home. The plan was to write a short story about Kaminishi’s exploits on the badminton court. I ended up writing a pair of lengthy stories on a man who didn’t have a bitter bone in his body despite the wrongs that had been forced upon him. He really and truly is a remarkable human being.


I spent some time over the past few days watching the visiting Detroit Tigers play the Minnesota Twins. And what a treat it was to listen to Jim Kaat, who was riding shotgun with play-by-play man Dick Bremer. The ex-southpaw known as Kitty is 82 now but he hasn’t lost a step. It was just so great to listen to someone whose analysis wasn’t full of launch angles, exit velocities, spin rates and barrel rates.


Canada Soccer has cancelled a bunch of 2021 national championships due to the pandemic. From a news release: “Canada Soccer’s Toyota National Championships, which include the U-15 Cup, U-17 Cup, Jubilee and Challenge Trophy, as well as the Eastern and Western Masters competitions, have been cancelled for 2021 in respect of the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic related to participant health and safety.”

So . . . England scored in the second minute to take a 1-0 lead over Italy in Sunday’s UEFA Euro Cup final at London’s Wembley Stadium. Italy, of course, went on to win on penalties, after which the fun started in the city streets. Gee, instead of blaming the three young fellows who came up empty in penalties, perhaps England fans should be wondering why their favourites didn’t push harder for a second goal during regulation time.


Headline at theonion.com: Bob Baffert Once Again Denies Doping Allegations After Medina Spirit Wins Coca-Cola 600.


Drunk


At least 13 players have withdrawn from the British Open that is scheduled to start Thursday at Royal St. George’s. That includes Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, who is isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, and Bubba Watson, a two-time Master champ who came in contact with someone who was positive.


Right-hander Aaron Nola was to have started Sunday for the Philadelphia Phillies against the host Boston Red Sox. But he had to be scratched after being placed on the COVID-19 injured list, along with RHP Connor Brogdon, LHP Bailey Falter and 3B Alec Bohm. . . . Bohm was taken out of Saturday’s game against the Red Sox after testing positive. . . . Nola, Brogdon and Falter went on the list as close contacts. Brogdon and Falter both played in Saturday’s game; in fact, Falter got the victory in an 11-2 triumph. . . . I was watching the Phillies and Red Sox on Sunday and Boston’s TV crew mentioned that neither team has reached the 85 per cent vaccination threshold needed for some restrictions to be loosened. . . .

Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners placed RHP Yusei Kikuchi on the COVID-19 list on Sunday. He tested positive after showing symptoms, but is fully vaccinated. He since has tested negative, and needs just one more such result in order to be cleared to play in Tuesday’s All-Star Game. . . . The Mariners went over the 85 per cent threshold late in May.



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: Chadd Cassidy is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. Cassidy spent the previous five years coaching at the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. In Omaha, he replaces former WHL player David Wilkie, 47, who, according to a news release, “stepped down earlier to pursue other opportunities.” Wilkie played four seasons (1990-94) in the WHL, playing with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats. . . . The Val-d’Or Foreurs have signed Maxime Desruisseaux, 37, as their new head coach. He had been an associate coach with the Victoriaville Tigres. In Val-d’Or, Desruisseaux takes over from Daniel Renaud. Shortly after Val-d’Or lost to Victoriaville in the QMJHL final, the Foreurs announced that they and Renaud had gone their separate ways by mutual agreement.


Wishbone

Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

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Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


ipadexpert


You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!