Bedard tour sure to sell out B.C. arenas . . . Wheat Kings make coaching change . . . Oil Kings still wheeling, dealing

F Connor Bedard’s I Can Sell Out the B.C. Division Arenas Tour will wrap up with Reginaa game against the Prince George Cougars on Friday night.

Taking Note was told that as of late Monday afternoon there were fewer than 100 tickets remaining for the game that will be played in the 5,971-seat CN Centre. Through 12 home games, the Cougars’ average announced attendance is 2,551.

A sellout in Prince George will mean that Bedard and his Regina Pats will have sold out all five games on their B.C. Division swing.

The trip opened Friday in Langley, B.C., with a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. The announced attendance was 5,276, the largest crowd for a Giants’ home game since they left the Pacific Coliseum for the Langley Events Centre prior to the 2016-17 season. Going into Friday night, the Giants’ average announced attendance through nine home games had been 3,017.

One night later, Bedard and his travelling show went into Victoria and dumped the Royals, 9-5, before an announced crowd of 7,006. That was the largest crowd in Victoria since Feb. 22, 2020, when 7,006 fans watched the Royals beat the Kelowna Rockets, 4-3 in OT. . . . The Royals had been averaging an announced attendance of 2,956 through 11 home games prior to Saturday’s game.

The Pats are to meet the Rockets in Kelowna tonight in 6,886-seat Prospera Place. Through 11 home games, the Rockets’ average announced attendance has been 4,021.

On Wednesday, Bedard and his mates will face the Blazers in Kamloops’ 5,464-seat Sandman Centre. Through 10 home games, the Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup, have average an announced attendance of 4,650 fans.

If the five B.C. Division teams aren’t prepared to offer up a cut of their gate receipts to Bedard, they should at least present him with keys to their arenas. Or coupons good for free meals whenever he should happen to visit their cities. He should never have to pay for a meal again in any of those communities.

That’s the least they could do to show their appreciation.

Right?

BTW, Bedard has three goals and two assists through the first two games of his trek through B.C. However, he has been overshadowed somewhat by F Tanner Howe, who turned 17 — yes, 17!!! — on Monday. Howe scored five times and added two assists in those two games, and was named the WHL’s player of the week on Monday.


The Brandon Wheat Kings became the first of the WHL’s 22 teams to make a coaching change this season when they fired head coach Don MacGillivray on BrandonMonday morning. . . . Marty Murray, who is in his first season as the team’s general manager, has taken over behind the bench. . . . This is the first firing in Brandon since Kelly McCrimmon announced on Sept. 8, 2020, that he had sold the franchise to the J&G Group of Companies, under Jared Jacobson. . . .

MacGillivray, 57, had been with the Wheat Kings since signing on as an assistant coach prior to the 2016-17 season. . . . He was working on a contract that is to run through 2023-24. . . . This season, the Wheat Kings are last in the six-team East Division, at 8-15-2, after being swept in a weekend doubleheader by the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes — 4-3 on Friday and 6-4 on Saturday. . . .

Since taking over as head coach on Nov. 24, 2020, prior to the pandemic-forced developmental season, MacGillivray had a 61-47-9 record. He replaced Dave Lowry, who left for the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. . . . Before joining the Wheat Kings, MacGillivray spent five seasons as the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . He also worked as the head coach of the MJHL’s St. James Canadians (1989-91), Southeast Blades (1992-93), and Neepawa Natives (1993-96); the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders (1996-98), the MJHL’s Portage Terriers (1998-2006) and the U of Manitoba Bisons (2006-09). . . .

Murray played four seasons (1991-95) with the Wheat Kings, putting up 392 points, including 260 assists, in 264 games. His time there included 114- and 128-point seasons. He has head-coaching experience from his time in the NAHL and USHL. He was the GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros from 2011-20 and then spent two seasons with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. . . .

Mark Derlago and Del Pedrick, the Wheat Kings’ assistant coaches, remain on the coaching staff. . . .

The Wheat Kings, who have lost two in a row and are 2-7-1 in their past 10 outings, will be at home to the Prince Albert Raiders on Friday and the Swift Current Broncos on Saturday.


Umbrella


THE TRADING PLACE:

At 2:30 p.m. PT, Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) tweeted: “Will the last member of the 2021-22 Oil Kings to leave please turn out the lights? 18 players got a Edmontonpoint for the Oil Kings in the 2022 playoffs. Only 3 of them are still on the team today after the Golder trade. (Dowhaniuk, Wiebe, Seitz).”

At 3:10 p.m. PT, he followed up with: “This tweet was accurate for 37 minutes. Wiebe is gone now.”

Yes, the Edmonton Oil Kings, the WHL’s defending champions, made two more trades on Monday afternoon.

They started by sending F Carson Golder, a 20-year-old who also can play on Kelownathe back end, and a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft to the Kelowna Rockets for F Riley Kovacevic, 18.

It wasn’t long after that when Edmonton dealt F Jaxsen Wiebe, 20, and a conditional eighth-round pick in the 2026 WHL draft to the Prince George Cougars for F Noah Boyko, 20, a third-round pick in the 2023 draft and a conditional third-rounder in the 2026 draft.

This season, Golder, who is from Smithers, B.C., has eight goals and seven assists in 24 games. Last season, he scored three goals and added nine assists in 46 regular-season games, then scored three times and set up five others in 16 playoff games in helping the Oil Kings win the WHL championship. . . . Kovacevic, from Kelowna, has five goals and four assists in 20 games this season. Last season, he recorded three goals and four assists in 49 games. The Rockets selected him in the 10th round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. . . .

Meanwhile, the Cougars traded Boyko, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-round pick in the 2022 draft on May 19. From Fort PrinceGeorgeSaskatchewan, Alta., Boyko had five goals and five assists in 23 games with the Cougars. He was a first-round selection by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2017 bantam draft. In 198 career regular-season games, he has 94 points, including 48 goals. . . . Wiebe, from Moose Jaw, has three goals and one assist in six games with Edmonton this season. He is six games into a seven-game suspension that was handed down after he, a repeat offender, took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in Saskatoon on Nov. 12. Earlier, he sat out four games after being suspended following a knee-on-knee hit on Saskatoon F Josh Pillar. . . . In 130 regular-season games, the first 73 with the Red Deer Rebels, Wiebe has 60 points, 22 of them goals. Last season, he finished with 10 goals and 26 assists in 41 games, then added two goals and six assists in 13 playoff games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games at the Memorial Cup. . . . Obviously, he brings more edge to the game than does Boyko, and that would seem to be what the Cougars want. . . .

After all this, the Oil Kings are left with two 20-year-olds — Boyko and D Logan Dowhaniuk. Their roster also includes only one 19-year-old — D Ethan Peters. . . . The Rockets now have three 20-year-olds on their roster, with Golder joining F Adam Kydd and G Talyn Boyko. . . . And the Cougars also have three — Wiebe, F Cole Dubinsky, who was acquired from the Regina Pats on Nov. 4, and F Chase Wheatcroft, who came over in a June 10 deal with the Winnipeg Ice.

——

On Monday night, the Victoria Royals announced that they had acquired G VictoriaRoyalsNicholas Cristiano, 18, from the Kelowna Rockets for a fifth-round selection in the 2023 WHL draft. . . . With veteran G Tyler Palmer, 19, not having played since Nov. 12, the Royals needed a goaltender to pair with Logan Cunningham, 17. . . . Cristiano, from Langley, B.C., started this season with the Rockets — he was 0-1-0, 2.61, .879 — before being released and joining the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. In three games with the Warriors, he was 1-2-0, 4.42, .867. . . . According to Dan Price, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, Palmer is “on personal leave and with his family.” . . . Palmer, who is 3-10-3, 4.22, .876 this season, is from Fernie, B.C. . . . The Royals (3-17-3) are scheduled to entertain the Moose Jaw Warriors (15-9-0) tonight.

——

Since Oct. 25, the WHL has featured 16 trades involving 27 players, 33 draft picks and six conditional picks.


Gate


With the Edmonton Oil Kings in rebuilding mode just months after winning the WHL championship, Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) tweeted the records last week of the four teams who appeared in the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament that was won by the host Saint John Sea Dogs. I have updated their records going into tonight’s games:

Edmonton, 4-20-1, last in six-team division.

Hamilton Bulldogs, 9-10-1, fourth in five-team division.

Shawinigan Cataractes, 11-12-2, last in four-team division.

Saint John Sea Dogs, 6-15-1, last in six-team division.


Ticket packages for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament that is scheduled to be held in Kamloops are to go on sale Thursday through Ticketmaster. . . . According to a news release, one tournament package covering eight games plus a possible tiebreaker will set you back “$600 plus GST and applicable fees.” . . . The tournament is to run from May 26 through June 4. . . . There is more info, along with a tournament schedule, right here.


I have referred to Andrei Lupandin and his family a couple of times over the past few days. You will recall that Lupandin, who spent four seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings, his wife and their two sons have left Ukraine and now are in Saskatoon hoping to get a fresh start. . . . Jim Matheson of Postmedia takes a really good look right here at Lupandin and the situation in which he and his family find themselves.


Pets


A couple of tweets about a former WHL player from The MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport):

“Antti Boman (Kamloops, 1991-1992) refereed his 800th Liiga (Finland) game on Friday evening. He is the third referee in Liiga history to reach the 800-game mark and is first among active referees. Timo Favorin is the leader with 1,000 games and Jari Levonen is second at 979.

Boman is in his 15th season as a referee in Liiga, Finland’s top pro league. He ended his playing career in 2004-05 with Frisk Asker (Norway, GET-Ligaen). He also played in Germany, France, Sweden, and Scotland, in addition to Finland and the WHL.”

Boman played one game with the Kamloops Blazers in 1991-92. He didn’t record a point.


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.


Pizza

Wheat Kings’ Thornton released from hospital, now with family at home . . . Health of Rockets’ Dach a concern . . . WHL still has three unbeaten teams

F Ben Thornton of the Brandon Wheat Kings was released from Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday afternoon and now is at home with his family in Chilliwack.

Thornton, an 18-year-old sophomore, was taken to hospital after absorbing a Brandonhard hit in a game with the Vancouver Giants at the Langley Events Centre on Friday night.

The Wheat Kings, who beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-2, tweeted on Saturday that all of “Ben’s CT scans came back clear.”

On Sunday evening, Erin Thornton, Ben’s father, told Taking Note that Ben is dealing with concussion-related issues — a bad headache and dizziness — and also has a “hip that needs attending to.”

It sounds as though Ben won’t be rejoining his team for at least a few days, and could know more after seeing a doctor today (Monday).

“We are extremely grateful the situation isn’t worse and that he will be back with the team in the near future,” added Erin, who played 52 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds over two seasons (1990-92). “The support from the team and messages from friends and family have been overwhelming.”

Vancouver F Kyle Bochek was given a charging major and game misconduct for the hit. The WHL suspended Bochek, with the length yet to be determined. At the same time, Brandon F Brett Hyland was given a TBD suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver D Mazden Leslie in Friday’s game.

The Wheat Kings, without Thornton and Hyland, surrendered the game’s last five goals in losing 5-3 to the Royals in Victoria on Saturday night. Brandon is to play the fifth game of an eight-game road swing in Kamloops against the Blazers on Tuesday.


Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has taken a long look at the Cougars and their attendance woes. That includes a conversation with John Pateman, one of PrinceGeorgethe team’s six owners and the organization’s president.

At one point, Clarke wrote:

“Pateman doesn’t like to think about how much money the owners have lost since they bought the Cougars but it is substantial, and it’s getting more expensive to run a junior hockey team. Hotel rooms have doubled in price and hotel managers are refusing to cut hockey teams deals that used to allow them to check out after the pre-game nap. Restaurants are still trying to recoup their losses from the pandemic years and the higher cost of food is showing up on menus. Then there’s the price of diesel fuel for the bus, which only seems to go up.

“ ‘We’ve got to get more of the business community on board just as much as the fans,’ said Pateman. ‘In terms of dollars, we probably need 50 per cent more fans at the game and probably 50 per cent more sponsorship revenue. We think we have a playoff team and you never know what happens in the playoffs. We’d like to get to the stage of maybe breaking even in the season and then maybe getting a bit ahead of the game in the playoffs.’

“So where does that leave the Cougars? Despite their losses, there’s no indication ownership is going to move the team to greener pastures or sell it to somebody that might want to build a rink a rink in Nanaimo. The Cougars’ braintrust has faith the bleeding will stop eventually and a winning team on a lengthy playoff run would do wonders to make that happen. But it is up to the fans to show whether they want a WHL team to continue waving the P.G. flag.”

Clarke’s complete piece is right here.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Sportsnet apologizes for interrupting gambling commercial with hockey.


The sons of two former NHLers, both of whom own chunks of the Kamloops Blazers, scored newsworthy goals on Friday night. . . . F Tij Iginla, the 16-year-old son of Jarome, counted his first WHL goal as the Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0. Iginla, the ninth overall pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft, scored the game’s final goal. . . . Meanwhile, in Tempe, Ariz., F Josh Doan, the son of Shane, scored the first goal in the school’s new hockey facility — Mullett Arena — and the Sun Devils went on to a 2-0 victory over the Colgate Raiders. Doan, ASU’s captain, scored on a breakaway at 19:15 of the first period, banging in his own rebound. “I couldn’t have made it harder on myself to put it in,” Doan told Jenna Ortiz of the Arizona Republic. “A great pass from (Lukas Sillinger) and it was a pretty special moment. You get an opportunity to score the first in this rink and that’s pretty special. That goes up to a lot of guys that played in the program before me.” . . . Doan, 20, was selected by Kamloops in the WHL’s 2017 draft, but chose the NCAA route. The Arizona Coyotes grabbed him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . BTW, Lukas Sillinger, 22, is the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger.



Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, won’t be behind the bench COVIDtonight (Monday) when they visit his former club, the Dallas Stars. Bowness tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and missed that night’s home game, a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers. The Jets are hopeful that Bowness will be available on Friday when they meet the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. . . . With Bowness sidelined, associate coach Scott Arniel is in charge.



Meeting


You have to think the Kelowna Rockets are concerned about the health of their captain, Colton Dach, who took a high hit during a 5-4 loss to the Silvertips in KelownaEverett on Friday night. Dach, 19, needed help getting off the ice after a hit from D Dexter Whittle, who was given a major and game misconduct. On Saturday, he was hit with a three-game suspension.

Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, wrote at rocketfan.ca: “You hope Dach suffered nothing more than a neck injury on the play when he was struck by Whittle just outside the Tips’ blueline. The concern is the injury is worse.”

Dach recently returned to Kelowna after a stint in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. And it turns out that he missed time there after suffering a concussion during a prospects’ game with the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 16. He was placed in concussion protocol the next day.

Dach told Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune: “For me it’s still a mystery, I kind of just hit someone. Having just one shift I was going out there running around hitting some guys and came back to the bench and got a little headache.

“During intermission, it didn’t go away. I was going to try and just play through it but it kept getting worse and worse and never went away. (Those are the) kind of things you need to tell the training staff. . . . (It’s) pretty serious.”

As for symptoms, Dach told Thompson: “A lot of headaches, a lot of neck pain and dizziness, sensitive to the light a little bit. So everything was kind of normal. There (were) no weird things going on.”

The Rockets are scheduled to entertain the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday and the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday, and then will be off until Oct. 28.



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Phil Mickelson was in Saudi Arabia this week, singing the praises of that LIV Tour, and I was just happy to see Phil back with his people. Mickelson can’t play a lick any more, but he still can talk.”


Workout


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The WHL goes into a new week with three undefeated teams . . . the same three that were unbeaten when the weekend games began. . . . The Red Deer Rebels, Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds all are 7-0-0. . . . The Rebels went on the road and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2, on Friday and the Swift Current Broncos, 4-3, on Saturday. This is the second time in franchise history that the Rebels have opened with seven victories. They also did it in 2000-01, a season in which they won the Memorial Cup. Red Deer next is scheduled to play Wednesday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Winterhawks played once on the weekend; they beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 5-4, in a shootout. Portland erased a 4-1 deficit with three goals in the latter half of the second period. Kamloops had won its previous four games. The Winterhawks are scheduled to visit the Tri-City Americans on Saturday. . . . Seattle, meanwhile, dumped the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0, on Friday and then went into Everett and thrashed the Silvertips, 11-3, on Saturday. The Thunderbirds got four goals and five assists from F Lucas Ciona in the two games. Next up for the Thunderbirds will be a visit by the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday. . . . BTW, TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits) points out that the Thunderbirds are the first visiting team ever to score 10 goals in Everett. The Chiefs had held the record, having scored nine in a 9-1 victory on Jan. 28, 2009. . . . It’s worth noting that the host Silvertips bounced back Sunday with a 7-3 victory over the Chiefs behind three goals from F Jackson Berezowski and three assists from F Austin Roest. . . .

The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline (whl.ca/discipline) has been busy of late. Including discipline handed down on Oct. 9, the league issued 13 games in suspensions through Sunday, with two other sentences yet to be determined. As well, the Regina Pats were fined $250 for a warmup violation against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Oct. 12; the Edmonton Oil Kings paid $500 for “instigator in last five minutes” of a game against the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Oct. 14. . . .

F Gabe Klassen of the Portland Winterhawks struck for seven goals in his first three games before suffering an undisclosed injury. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ veep/GM/head coach told Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for @pnwhockeytalk, that Klassen is back skating and “I would expect he’ll play next week as long as he has a good week in practice.” Sounds like he could return Saturday in Kennewick, Wash., against the Tri-City Americans.


Slugs


THE BEDARD UPDATE — F Connor Bedard scored twice on Friday — he had eight shots on goal — as the Pats beat the Broncos, 4-3, in Swift Current. Bedard, the likely No. 1 selection in the 2023 NHL draft, broke a 3-3 tie at 19:52 of the third period. The announced attendance was 1,922, the largest Swift Current crowd through four games this season. . . . On Sunday, Bedard ran his point streak to 10 games with one assist as the Pats, who erased a 3-0 deficit with three third-period goals, dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. Bedard drew the primary assist on F Tanner Howe’s tying goal at 9:34 of the third period. Announced attendance was 3,211, the second-largest crowd through five games in Regina this season. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (9) and points (20). F Austin Roest of the Everett Silvertips has 17 points; Roest, teammate Jackson Berezowski and F Reid Schaefer of the Seattle Thunderbirds each has eight goals. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in shots on goal, with 73, in 11 games. Berezowski has 43 in nine games.



Jon Runyan Jr., a guard with the Green Bay Packers, was fined US$5,215 by the NFL after leg-whipping an opponent during the 27-22 loss to the New York Giants in London on Oct. 9. The letter he got informing him of the fine read “further offenses will result in an escalation of disciplinary action, up to and including suspension.” . . . The letter was signed by Jon Runyan Sr. Yes, Junior’s father is the NFL’s vice-president of football operations. . . . “My dad and I always joked about this happening, but I never thought my style of play would ever warrant what he deemed to be unnecessary roughness, but it happened,” Junior told ESPN. “I thought since I left for college, I wouldn’t have to deal with him punishing me anymore, but I was wrong about that.”


Fateddy


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.


Urinal

Winterhawks get whole new look; remembering how they came to land in Portland . . . Pair of ex-WHLers retiring? . . . Thunderbirds’ camp closed to fans

With the Portland Winterhawks having unveiled their new look — a new logo came prior to the 2021-22 season and now there is a whole new uniform — it’s worth taking a look back at how the WHL ended up in the Oregon city.

Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the longtime radio voice of the Winterhawks, wrote the story that first appeared here on March 30, 2008. Remember, too, that they originally were Winter Hawks; Winterhawks came later.

Enjoy!

——

It was the summer of 1975 and Brian Shaw, Ken Hodge and Innes Mackie were unemployed. With nothing but time on their hands, they decided to go duck hunting in Stettler, Alta.

Shaw and Hodge had been fired by ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter, who owned the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Mackie had just returned from Kimberley, B.C., where he had turned down a job offer at a mine. The offer Mackie had received included a chance to play a little hockey on the side.

Shaw was in the process of putting together a group of investors to buy the Oil Kings from Hunter. Shaw would run the show. Hodge would coach. Mackie would be the trainer. They didn’t know it at the time but they were embarking on a 20-year relationship — relationships of hockey, business and friendship.

The Three Amigos became inseparable until Shaw passed away in the summer of 1994.

On this day in Stettler, the three men, who would become the three original members of the Winter Hawks’ front office, were solidifying the mutual respect and trust needed. The ducks weren’t flying that day, at least not in the Stettler area, so the three erstwhile hunters headed for a local bar to shoot a little pool. Everyone was having fun, too, until a cowboy in a black hat came over and started yipping at Hodge for monopolizing the pool table. After an unflattering comment from Hodge regarding the cowboy’s hat, feathers started to fly — and it had nothing to do with ducks.

“He started to take his jean jacket off and when it got about half way down each arm, I smoked him,” Hodge remembers. “It’s Saturday night and the place is full. There were five of us — and two of them bailed out. Brian, who was always quick with the wit, was not ready to handle this type of negotiation. So that left Innes and I — and, needless to say, we had our hands full. There were probably eight of them involved by now. The pool cues are getting broken, I’m getting thumped in the back of the head and Innes got jumped. Finally, we hear sirens and red lights. The three of us were never so happy to see the RCMP.”

That incident was neither the first nor the last for friendships that would last more than 20 years.

When he was 16 years of age, Hodge earned a job as a defenceman with the Jasper Place Mohawks — a high-profile team in Edmonton. Coincidentally, the general manager and head coach was Shaw, who was working in the first of what would be many dual roles. It didn’t take Shaw long to earn his reputation as a slick team manager.

“The team was the talk of the town,” Hodge says. “People in Edmonton were very envious. Brian started out with just one bantam team and ended up with the first true feeder system in the Edmonton area when he expanded to midgets and junior. The Jasper Place Mohawks were first class all the way. They paid all their bills, wore flashy uniforms and won lots of hockey games.”

Hodge was one of four players from Jasper Place chosen by Shaw to play the next season with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the newly formed Western Canada Hockey League. Shaw was the general manager and head coach and Hodge was a key defenceman.

Other than the Canucks, the WCHL featured the Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Weyburn Red Wings and Calgary Buffaloes. Moose Jaw finished fourth in a 56-game regular season, 16 points behind the first-place Oil Kings, but went on to win league’s first championship trophy by beating the Oil Kings — the Canucks won that series 3-2 with four games tied — and then Regina, winning the best-of-seven final, 4-1.

It was the pivotal season of Hodge’s career. In a regular-season game against Regina, Hodge was struck in an eye by a high stick. In the playoffs, he again was hit in the same eye. After a series of operations during the summer, doctors told him that they would know by early 1968 if his eye would ever recover.

On Nov. 15, 1967, Hodge received a call from Gordon Fashaway inviting him to Portland to play for the Buckaroos of the professional Western Hockey League. Hodge was excited about the offer and pushed the doctors for an answer. Unfortunately, the answer he received wasn’t the one he had hoped to hear. Hodge’s playing career was over.

The next season, Shaw moved on to the St. Catharines Black Hawks of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. While Hodge was helping with training camp, he accepted an offer to coach the Sorel Eparviers of the Quebec Junior A Hockey League.

Hodge, at 21 likely the youngest head coach in the history of Canadian junior hockey, had quite a debut season. Sorel put up a 33-16-1 regular-season record and went all the way to the Eastern Canadian best-of-five final where it lost 3-1 to the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, who would go on to win the Memorial Cup. It’s worth noting that the Jr. Canadiens played in the OJHL, where they ousted Shaw’s Black Hawks from the best-of-seven championship final in five games.

Hodge’s impressive season in Sorel opened up an opportunity for him to coach in the International Hockey League, with a team in Flint, Mich. He would spend four seasons in Flint.

Meanwhile, Shaw returned to Edmonton where he coached the Oil Kings, winning the WCHL’s 1971-72 title in his first season. That put the Oil Kings into what was the first Memorial Cup to be decided in a tournament format — this one also featured the Peterborough Petes and Cornwall Royals, but no host team — in Ottawa. The Oil Kings were eliminated with a 5-0 loss to Cornwall during which Edmonton defenceman Keith Mackie, Innes’s brother, was struck in an eye by a deflected puck and suffered a torn iris. For the record, Cornwall edged Peterborough 2-1 in the final.

The next season, Hunter, the Oilers’ general manager who was most impressed with Shaw’s championship season with the Oil Kings, offered him the head-coaching job with the WHA team. When Shaw accepted, Hunter hired Hodge to coach the Oil Kings.

“I jumped at the opportunity because the Oil Kings were a very prestigious team,” Hodge remembers. “I wanted to get on with my career in hockey and I saw too many people stagnating in Flint.”

As it turned out, Hodge made the wrong move at the wrong time. He got caught in a rebuilding program with the Oil Kings. Much of the talent from the previous season graduated and Hunter gave Hodge a little over a year to win. He didn’t, so Hunter fired him.

Meanwhile, Shaw’s Oilers got off to an amazing start — winning 18 straight games. Unfortunately for Shaw, the team was playing over its head and it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Hunter enjoyed the winning streak and wanted it to continue. When the wins stopped coming, Hunter, never know for his patience or for a willingness to avoid headlines, fired Shaw.

Two months later brought Shaw, Hodge and Mackie to a pool room in Stettler.

Eventually, Shaw’s group bought the Oil Kings from Hunter and 16 games into the 1975-76 WCHL season the three amigos became the WCHL club’s new management team. Shaw was the general manager, Hodge the head coach and Mackie the trainer.

However, things weren’t all coming up roses. Shaw’s one year at the helm of the Oil Kings was less than successful. Edmonton hockey fans weren’t in any hurry to go to the old Memorial Gardens to watch the Oil Kings when they could watch the WHA’s Oilers in the brand new Northlands Coliseum.

“Brian and I felt we knew more about the game than anyone else,” Hodge says. “We thought we would be able to turn the Edmonton Oil Kings into the premier franchise in the Western Hockey League and a very profitable venture. We found out very quickly that we weren’t as smart as we thought we were. We thought we could compete with a major league team on a minor league budget, but we lost more money than any of us could afford to lose.”

Mackie had played on Shaw’s and Hodge’s Oil Kings and, contrary to what you might have guessed, the relationship didn’t begin on the best of terms. When Mackie was an 18-year-old defenceman playing for Shaw in Edmonton, he had been asked to go to Crosstown Motors, an Oil Kings sponsor, and pick up a new car for Shaw.

“Innes and Brian probably came to an understanding after Innes smacked up two of Brian’s brand new cars,” Hodge says with a laugh. “One of the accidents was just one of those things, but the other was pretty funny. Innes went to Crosstown Motors, picked up Brian’s big Dodge, and only had to cross one busy two-way street. Smack! He couldn’t have been more than 40 feet out of the parking lot when he’s done and it’s tow truck city.”

As a player, Mackie quit the Oil Kings early in the 1973-74 season after being taken out of a game by Hodge.

“It’s all water under the bridge now,” Mackie says. “When I was 18, I played for Brian as a fifth or sixth defenceman. At that time they only used four defencemen and sometimes three. I wasn’t getting very much ice time and I wasn’t going to go through the same thing when I was 19. So, Hodgie sat me out one game and that was it. Goodbye.“

“Innes and I didn’t see eye to eye as coach and player,” Hodge agrees. “But I always enjoyed Innes as a person. His brother Keith and I were golfing buddies and Innes was the little brother who always tagged along.”

Even through their trials and tribulations, Hodge had enough respect for Mackie to make him the Oil Kings trainer.

Since then, Mackie has always been more than just a trainer. He looks for statistics, quotes and any other information he can find out about every player in the league. One of his attributes is a near photographic memory, and Hodge and Shaw came to depend on that over the years. If there is ever a question about a player, Mackie is the first person asked.

“Innes sometimes confirmed my feelings about hockey players,” Hodge says. “He has always been a very knowledgeable hockey person. Innes helped Brian and I on some of our decisions on who we would keep and who we would release or trade. He also had input on people from other teams that might help our franchise if we traded for them. The early years of the Winter Hawks was basically built through trades. Most of our trades were very positive for us and Innes had a role in many of them.”

Mackie also scours the rule book on the long bus rides. He knows the rules inside and out — and has a knack for memorizing them, no matter how obscure.

Mackie earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’ for his ability to spot illegal curves in the blades of opponents’ hockey sticks. Players with illegal sticks were sent to the penalty box with minor penalties and several Portland victories were earned as the result of subsequent power plays. In 18 seasons, he was wrong about one stick — and he still claims that the referee didn’t measure that one properly.

“When the game is on, I watch things differently,” Mackie, who now is with the Tri-City Americans, points out. “I watch what’s happening behind the play, on the other team’s bench, and away from the puck. If I see something the coaches don’t, I can help out once in awhile. Sometimes, I can relay information to the coaches if an opposing player misses a shift, or a guy is hurt.”

All three of the amigos were involved in the move from Edmonton to Portland.

Originally, Shaw went to Vancouver to meet with Nat Bailey, who owned the Mounties of baseball’s Pacific Coast League. Bailey wanted to get involved in hockey and was going to underwrite all the costs of moving the Oil Kings to Vancouver. Bailey also was prepared to give Shaw plenty of working capital to get started. This dream move never happened, however, because the New Westminster Bruins, a nearby WCHL franchise, blocked the move.

At the time, Hodge wanted to move to Spokane. Shaw, though, wanted to check out Portland and arranged a meeting with Dick Reynolds, the general manager of Memorial Coliseum.

“I didn’t have any idea where Portland was,” Mackie says. “I had to get a map. All I knew was that the Edmonton Oil Kings were in the Western Canadian Hockey League — and Portland wasn’t in Canada.”

Shaw’s meeting with Reynolds and the Coliseum staff was very positive and soon the Oil Kings were to become the Portland Winter Hawks.

“It was one of the best decisions that Brian made,” Hodge recalls. “At that time, we both had an equal vote. So, it was one vote for Spokane and one vote for Portland. Brian decided his vote was bigger than mine and he won.


Bear


THE COACHING GAME:

Brock Sheahan is the new head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Caroline Hurricanes. Sheahan, 38, had been the head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel since being promoted from assistant coach on Dec. 1, 2019. The Steel was the USHL’s regular-season champion in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and won the playoff title in the spring of 2021. . . . With the Wolves, the AHL’s reigning champions, the Lethbridge native replaces Ryan Warsofsky, who left to join the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as an assistant coach. . . . The Steel, meanwhile, promptly named general manager Mike Garman as its new head coach. He will carry both titles for 2022-23.


Your


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

An interesting tweet from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday revealed that “training camp is closed to the public” except for the annual Blue vs. White game on Sept. 4. . . . An explanation wasn’t provided. . . .

Ryan Campbell is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager. He spent 2021-22 as an assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, a franchise that has since relocated to Calgary as the Wranglers. . . . In Seattle, Campbell replaces Justin Sturtz, now the head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.


The above tweet from the Brandon Wheat Kings appeared here last week. Stacey Preston now has started a GoFundMe for her nieces and nephews, who “have lost their best friend, their Dad. . . . Unfortunately, the kids do not have the financial resources to lay him to rest. If anyone would like to help they would be grateful, and so would I.” . . . Al Gibbs left behind four children, including 18-year-old twins. . . . A friend of his told me: “In 2015 he had a chronic infection in a shoulder and hip that resulted in his kidneys failing, exacerbating his diabetes and setting off a litany of other health challenges. There were a couple of periods of time over the past seven years when Al was told he qualified for a kidney transplant and a niece was found to be a match. The catch was always that Al needed to be healthy enough for the surgery. . . . This never quite happened.”

If you would like to help, the GoFundMe page is 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

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.


Optimist

CFL trying hard to get more players vaccinated . . . Warriors sign two imports . . . Murray leaves Western Michigan


Are you ready for some football? . . . The CFL season opens on Thursday night CFLwhen the Hamilton Tiger-Cats visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a rematch of the 2019 Grey Cup game. That just happens to have been the last CFL game played because of the pandemic. . . . Winnipeg won that game, 33-12, in Calgary, taking possession of the Grey Cup for the first time since 1990. . . . On Tuesday, the CFL announced a cancellation program that could result in teams forfeiting a game and players not being paid. . . . “Our goal is to ensure we have zero game cancellations due to issues caused by an outbreak of COVID-19 within our football operations,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement. “While this policy spells out what will happen if cancellations do occur, its main purpose is to encourage all of our players to get fully vaccinated in order to minimize the risk to our season and, most importantly, their health and safety.” . . . There is more on this story right here.



The WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors have signed Slovakian F Robert Baco and Czech F Martin Rysavy, both of whom were selected in the CHL import drafts. . . . Baco, 18, was selected in the 2021 draft on June 30. He played last season with Karlovy Vary’s U-20 side, scoring two goals and adding four assists in nine games. He also had one goal and an assist in nine games while on loan to SK Kadan in the Czech2 league. He added two goals and two assists in six international games for Slovakia. . . . Rysavy, also 18, was the sixth overall selection in the 2020 import draft. He played last season at home with HC Prerov in Czech2, putting up three goals and six assists in 19 games. He was pointless in six games with HC Vitkovice in the Czech Republic’s top league. He also played in the IIHF U-18 Worlds in Texas, finishing with two goals and an assist in five games. The Columbus Blue Jackets selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft.


The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings are expected to name a new general manager/head coach on Thursday. The club revealed Tuesday that Rich Pilon, its general manager and head coach, no longer is part of the organization. . . . Greg Nikkel of sasktoday.ca wrote a brief story that quoted team president Brent Stephenson as saying: “There will be no further details at this time due to legal reasons.” . . . According to Nikkel, Stephenson added that the matter may end up in court, so no additional comment can be made.” . . . Pilon, 53, is a former WHL and NHL defenceman. He joined the Red Wings as general manager and head coach on April 29, 2019. . . . On Tuesday afternoon, the team’s website didn’t list a general manager/head coach or an assistant coach.


CNN — New York City will require proof of vaccination to enter all restaurants, fitness centers and indoor entertainment venues, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday. “If you’re unvaccinated, unfortunately, you will not be able to participate in many things,” de Blasio said. “If you want to participate in our society fully, you’ve got to get vaccinated.”


Virus


RHP Luis Gil made his MLB debut with the New York Yankees on Tuesday night, taking the spot in the starting rotation that usually belongs to Gerrit Cole. . . . Cole tested positive on Monday, so is likely to be out until at least sometime next week. . . . On Tuesday, the Yankees revealed that LHP Jordan Montgomery also has tested positive so he, too, is likely to be out at least 10 days. . . . Last month, the Yankees, who have more than 85 per cent of their people fully vaccinated, had six players test positive, including OF Aaron Judge. . . . BTW, Gil pitched six scoreless innings, giving up just four singles and one walk, as the Yankees beat the visiting Baltimore Orioles, 13-1, on Tuesday night.



Western Michigan U announced on Tuesday that Andy Murray has resigned after 10 seasons as head coach of the men’s hockey team, with Pat Ferschweiler promoted to replace him. . . . “The last 10 years at WMU have been as rewarding as anything I have done in my life,” Murray said in a news release. “I am in great health and full of energy, so this is not a retirement. I still have a number of things on my bucket list and now is the time to pursue those.” . . . Murray, 70, has coached since 1976 when he was the head coach of the MJHL’s Brandon Travellers. His past includes stints as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, Minnesota North Stars and Winnipeg Jets. He also worked as the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings for six seasons and the St. Louis Blues for two seasons and parts of two others. . . . He also owned the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks for six seasons with childhood friend Garry Davidson. . . . Ferschweiler has been the program’s associate coach since 2019. He joined the program as an assistant coach in 2010 under head coach Jeff Blashill. Ferschweiler left the Broncos to work under Blashill with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins and then the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, before returning in 2019.



The host Winnipeg Goldeyes dumped the Sioux City Explorers, 14-6, on GoldeyesTuesday night in the first American Association baseball game in the Manitoba capital since Sept. 2, 2019. There were 2,716 fans in Shaw Park. You will recall that I had something here yesterday about the problems the Explorers were having fielding a team because a majority of their players aren’t vaccinated and even some of those who are vaccinated didn’t want to come over the U.S.-Canada border for fears of testing positive and having to quarantined. . . . Here’s Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun: “That was a big problem for the Explorers, who had only nine of 24 players on the roster who were vaccinated. Eight of those nine vaccinated players were leery about crossing the border and chose not to travel to Winnipeg. So the Explorers signed a bunch of players from the Pecos League, considered a step down from the American Association, to travel to Winnipeg.”


DNA



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.


Gift

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching Mahomes weave his magic . . .


Hey, junior hockey fans, especially those of you in the west, how’s it going these days? Well, let’s take a look . . .

Let’s start in Manitoba. Oh, wait, there isn’t any hockey being played in Manitoba these days where they are on lockdown. The MJHL, for one, won’t be back until the new year. I have a feeling the junior B and U-18 leagues on hold also will be quiet until 2021.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 243 new cases of COVID-19, including 135 in the Winnipeg region. There have been 12 new deaths related to the virus. Manitoba’s 5-day positivity rate is 13.7%. A record 288 people are in hospital, including 52 in ICU.

——

Moving further west to Saskatchewan, the SJHL continues to play but it postponed a game between the La Ronge Ice Wolves and the Mustangs in Melfort on Saturday night without providing a reason. The Mustangs have experience with COVID-19, having had a player test positive late in September.

Games involving the Flin Flon Bombers also are on hold. With the team based in Manitoba and that province on lockdown, the Bombers are trying to get the OK from health officials to practice in Creighton, Sask., and play all their games on the road.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 236 new cases of COVID-19 and 90 new recoveries. There are now 2,683 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Hospitalizations are at a record high with 99 people receiving care, including 19 in ICUs. The 7-day average daily case count has risen to 211.

——

That brings us to Alberta where it seems the virus is enjoying a veritable buffet.

The AJHL has had four teams — the Canmore Eagles, Calgary Canucks, Drumheller Dragons and Okotoks Oilers — hit with positive tests in recent days. Drumheller and Okotoks are done through Dec. 3, as are the Olds Grizzlys, who have postponed their games“as a precautionary measure.” . . . As of Sunday night, the AJHL schedule showed 12 games having been “cancelled” from Nov. 20 through Nov. 28.

Despite all the precautions taken by Hockey Canada, the virus found the national junior team’s selection camp and now a number of people, including assistant coaches Michael Dyck and Jason Labarbera, have been isolated. But the camp goes on — Team White beat Team Red, 6-3, in a game on Sunday night.

The 14-team Heritage Junior B Hockey League shut down on Nov. 13 and will remain on pause until at least Nov. 27.

Troy Gillard, rdnewsNOW: Alberta recorded more new cases (Sunday) than both Quebec (1,154) and Ontario (1,534).

——

As for B.C., well, we don’t have any fresh numbers — almost everyone in the province but retail workers and the virus takes Saturday and Sunday off — but you can bet there will be some big ones announced Monday afternoon.

Junior hockey? There isn’t any at the moment. It’s all shut down until at least Dec. 7. Just a hunch but perhaps there won’t be any until 2021.

Aside to B.C. politicians and health officials: Why do you continually choose to muddy the waters with your announcements regarding restrictions? It would be a lot easier for everyone if you just said: No games. Period. . . . Or if you said: All games are good to go. . . . But let’s stop with the ‘no travel between communities but you can travel in your region’ and all that junk. . . . It’s all about sending mixed messages. Surely some of you have heard about mixed messages. Surely?

——

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,154 new cases of COVID-19 and 23 additional deaths. 642 people are in hospital, including 103 in intensive care.

CBC News: Ontario reporting 1,534 more COVID-19 cases and 14 new deaths.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 11 new cases of COVID-19. New restrictions come into effect for much of the Halifax region Monday, including tighter limits on social gatherings. All 11 new cases in Nova Scotia today are in the Central Zone. 6 are linked to previously reported cases; the remaining 5 are under investigation. There are now 44 active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital. . . . Today marks the province’s highest single-day rise in cases since early May.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 6 new cases of COVID-19. 5 are in the Saint John region; 1 is in the Fredericton region. All of the new cases are self-isolating and under investigation. The province has 77 known active cases, including 1 person in hospital.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 of the cases are close contacts of previously identified cases; 1 is travel related. There are 21 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital.

CBC News: 21 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut. 18 are in Arviat, 1 is in Whale Cove, and 2 are in Rankin Inlet. A news release from the Nunavut government says: ‘There remains no evidence of community transmission in Rankin Inlet or Whale Cove.’

New York Daily News: More than 1M people traveled on planes in U.S. on a single day ahead of Thanksgiving amid the coronavirus pandemic.

BNO Newsroom: Los Angeles County bans all in-person dining at restaurants due to surge in COVID cases.



Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the NBA draft: “How about this: Have the draftee put on an appropriate hat. You get drafted by the Celtics, you put on a green leprechaun derby. Kings, a crown. Warriors, a combat helmet. Spurs, a sombrero or cowboy hat. Bucks, an antler hat. Orlando, a magician’s top hat with a rabbit popping out the top. Charlotte, a hornet’s nest. And so on.”

Ostler, again: “Rae’s Creek? Henceforth it will be known as Tiger’s Creek. Whatever you call that creek, Woods was up it, without a paddle. Does Nike make a paddle?”


TryingOn


Joe Murphy was the first overall selection in the NHL’s 1986 draft. He won a Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in 1980. Rick Westhead of TSN found him living in the bush near Kenora, Ont., in 2018. Murphy was last seen on the streets of Regina. . . . Westhead has written a book — Finding Murph — about the former NHLer’s slide and a whole lot more. Westhead appeared on CBC’s The Current during the week. There’s a story and link to that show right here. Give it a read and a listen — it’s worth about 30 minutes of your time.



“Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kevin Porter Jr. was arrested on a gun charge in Ohio after he crashed his car and investigating officers discovered a loaded firearm inside,” Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports. “Apparently he was on his way to the morning shoot-around.”

Perry also took the time to update some sporting cliches, just for 2020:

• “Playing .500 ball”: Completing as many games as you’ve had canceled by COVID.

• “Grabbing the facemask”: What you’d better do if you want to get into Costco.

• “We sent a message today”: Practice was once again replaced by a Zoom call.

• “Defense wins championships”: Costco rules apply to athletes, too.



Headline at TheOnion.com: Man Hasn’t Heard Or Read Single True Thing In 6 Years.



Parking


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The annual Apple Cup football game between the Washington State Cougars and Washington Huskies won’t happen this year. It was scheduled for Friday at Washington State. According to a statement from the Pac-12: The decision was made due to “Washington State not having the minimum number of scholarship players available for the game” as a result of positive tests and contact tracing. . . .

The Quinnipiac men’s hockey team has postponed its season-opener against visiting AIC from Tuesday to Dec. 26, and has cancelled games scheduled for Nov. 27 and Nov. 29. The moves were made after two positive tests. . . .

Brazilian soccer star Marta has tested positive and won’t play in friendlies against Ecuador on Nov. 27 and Dec. 1. Marta, 34, plays for Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League. She is a six-time world player of the year.


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.


LeAnne Jakubeit of Penticton lost her battle with cancer on Saturday. She was married to Andrew Jakubeit, who spent seven years as an on-ice official in the WHL and 10 in the BCHL. He also is a former mayor of Penticton. . . . LeAnne and Andrew owned and operated The Grooveyard, a music store that has been a Penticton mainstay for more than 30 years.




JUST NOTES: F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings was on the ice at the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp in Red Deer on Sunday. He had tested positive for COVID-19, but now is out of quarantine and has been cleared to practice. . . . Hey, TSN, how about giving us some MAC football action? In these pandemic nights, we really need a bridge to get us from Monday Night Football to Thursday Night Football. . . . Do you want to be the person to show Ken Norton Jr., the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive co-ordinator, how to properly wear a facemask? . . . Can anyone provide the name of just one singer or group that hasn’t cut a Christmas album? . . . If you’re wondering, Part 3 of my look back at the WHL’s early years will show up here at some point on Monday. Thanks for the great response to it.


Turkey

QMJHL to take 15 days at Christmas . . . More positives in NCAA, NFL, golf . . . Liberty League cancels winter season

Things could be about to get even more confusing for the QMJHL. There are reports that the area that includes Sherbrooke, the home of the Phoenix, could qmjhlnewbe declared a red zone by the Quebec government at some point this week. . . . The Phoenix, which had eight positive tests last month, was to have the Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada this week. However, the Armada has been idled because it, too, is in a red zone. . . . The Armada is one of the teams to be included in the QMJHL bubble in Quebec City starting on Nov. 17. If it isn’t too late to adjust the schedule, maybe the Phoenix will be added to the bubble. . . .

Interestingly, Stephane Julien, Shebrooke’s general manager and head coach, has told Sebastien Lajoie of the Sherbrooke Tribune, tried to set up a five-team bubble but the QMJHL wouldn’t go for it. Julien suggested that the Phoenix, Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Val-d’Or Foreurs, Baie-Comeau Drakkar and Rimouski Oceanic, teams from orange and yellow zones, could play in Sherbrooke. “I think the QMJHL doesn’t want two bubbles, so it won’t work,” Julien said. . . .

The QMJHL also has announced that its Christmas break will cover 15 days — Dec. 20 through Jan. 3. That will result in the rescheduling of a number of games that were to have been played after Christmas. . . . Keep in mind that players leaving the bubble in the Maritime provinces for Christmas will need to quarantine when they get back. . . .


You can’t make up stuff like this . . .

By now, you may have seen pictures or video of Notre Dame football fans storming the field, pandemic be damned, after the No. 4 Fighting Irish beat No. 1 Clemson on Saturday evening. . . . Well, it seems that Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, wasn’t at all happy with what he witnessed. On Sunday, he wrote a letter to all students, pointing out that “it was very disappointing to see evidence of widespread disregard of our health protocols at many gatherings over the weekend.” . . . With the U.S. Thanksgiving approaching, he notified students that they aren’t to leave campus without being tested and getting the results. Don’t get tested and you won’t be able to “matriculate or register for classes next semester or receive a transcript.” . . . If you have been following the pandemic, you may be aware that Jenkins tested positive after not wearing a mask at an event held at the White House on Sept. 26. . . . In other words, do as I say. . . .


Premature


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The MJHL said Monday that its board of governors will meet this week “to further discuss the situation.” The league is into a planned break with its next games scheduled for Nov. 20. . . . Of course, six of its teams have been shut down by orders from health officials that involve two areas that have been declared red zones. . . . One other team, the OCN Blizzard, has been on pause after having had a player test positive. . . . The other five teams are in orange zones, which have their own restrictions. . . . So we’ll see where the MJHL is when Nov. 20 gets here.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 365 new cases of COVID-19. That’s down from (Sunday’s) report of 441 cases, but still above the province’s 7-day average of 299. The province is also reporting 3 additional deaths due to the virus.

——

CBC News: Saskatchewan reports highest daily total of new COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began, with 190 cases. The province’s previous high was 159, set (Sunday). And it pushes the province’s 7-day average to 114 from 97.

——

CBC News: As pandemic rages, Alberta now has 7,965 active cases of COVID-19, an increase of more than 1,000 since late last week. The province reported 644 new cases and seven additional deaths (on Monday), bringing the death toll to 369.

CBC News: Alberta physicians call for ‘sharp’ two-week lockdown to curb spread of COVID-19. Letter sent to premier and health minister warns of ‘catastrophic’ consequences without further restrictions.

Troy Gillard, rdnewsNOW: Red Deer active cases up 49% in under a week.

Pat Siedlecki, CJOC Lethbridge: In Lethbridge, there were 88 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed between Nov. 3 and Nov. 8 and there are now 201 active cases.

——

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver: Latest covid19 numbers; 998 new cases over 2 days (536, 462); 5 deaths; 133 hospital (+29), 43 ICU (+15), just over 9100 in self isolation.

——

Todd Battis, CTV: Nova Scotia reports one new Covid case bringing active total to 16. New restrictions for NS; For example, a family member comes to your home from Ontario. Now everyone must isolate 14 days not just visitor.

CBC News: Travellers coming into Nova Scotia from outside the Atlantic provinces will now have to isolate away from family and friends, as new COVID-19 cases continue to be identified among close family contacts.

——

NBC News: With COVID-19 cases fast on the rise, El Paso is running out of morgue space.

CBS News: Utah governor issues statewide mask mandate.

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah’s hospitals prepare to ration care as a record number of coronavirus patients flood their ICUs.

——

The Masters begins at Augusta on Thursday morning, but former champ Sergio Garcia won’t be there. He pulled out Monday after testing positive. Garcia, the 2017 Masters winner, was tested on Sunday — he had a sore throat and a cough — after having missed the cut in the Houston Open. . . . Joaquin Niemann of Chile has also withdrawn after testing positive. . . .

The Pittsburgh Steelers had an unidentified player test positive on Monday morning. The Steelers played the host Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. . . . WR Kendrick Bourne of the San Francisco 49ers went back on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Monday. He had been placed on the list after testing positive on Wednesday, missed Thursday’s loss to the visiting Green Bay Packers, then was activated Friday after two negative tests. . . .

The NCAA football schedule — it had 10 games postponed or cancelled last weekend — has Alabama visiting LSU on Saturday. However, that game would seem to be in jeopardy. LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said Monday that “we do have some players who have COVID and have some players in quarantine.” There are reports that four players tested positive and The Athletic reports that LSU is down to one scholarship QB, freshman T.J. Finley, and zero long-snappers or right ends. . . . Neither No. 1 Alabama nor LSU played last weekend. Originally, LSU wasn’t scheduled to play on Dec. 12, but a game against Florida was moved to then after the Gators had COVID-related issues in October and a game was postponed. . . . The Auburn-Mississippi State game scheduled for Saturday has been postponed and rescheduled for Dec. 12. That’s due to positives tests and players in quarantine at Mississippi State. . . . There reportedly also are issues at Kentucky that will leave it missing some coaches against Vanderbilt on Saturday.

You want more? OK . . . Sam Pittman, the head football coach at Arkansas, has tested positive, as has Tom Izzo, the men’s basketball coach at Michigan State. . . . Pittman’s Razobacks played Texas A&M 10 days ago. Yes, the Aggies have some positives now. . . . Meanwhile, Wisconsin’s football team is ready to go again. It missed two games as it dealt with 27 positives. . . .

The Liberty League (NCAA Div. III) cancelled its winter sports season on Monday. That involves men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s squash, men’s and women’s swimming and diving, and men’s and women’s indoor track and field. . . . This is interesting because Clarkson, Rensselaer, St. Lawrence and Union, schools that are in the Liberty League, have hockey teams that play in the ECAC. All four are believed to be continuing towards a 2020-21 season. However, the Rochester Institute of Technology said it won’t operate its men’s and women’s hockey teams.


Eve


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.



Floater

Jets captain wants mandatory masks . . . No releases, so Swedish team drops two WHLers . . . QMJHL: Fighting or $20 million?

Blake Wheeler, the captain of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, tweeted in the direction of Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, on Sunday, saying it’s “time for universal mask mandate. Why not? Let’s take care of each other.” . . . Of course, the mouth-breathers were out in full force, one of them referring to Wheeler as a “moron.” . . . Wheeler responded: “I live here all the time my friend. Not left or right, not liberal or conservative. I do care about people, especially here in Winnipeg. I may be a moron, but I’m still going to wear a mask to make sure I keep people like you safe.” . . . Suddenly, I now am a big Blake Wheeler fan. . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more on the Wheeler story right here.



In the early days of September much was made of an announcement by Karlskrona KH, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra, that it had signed a pair of WHL players to one-year contracts. Erik Belin, Karlskrona’s general manager, said the signings of F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings was “the coolest news” that his team “has ever launched!” . . . Well, it turns out that neither Brandon nor Winnipeg was eager to issue releases to the players, something that was needed in order for them to play games with Karlskrona. Were the players just to practise with Karlskrona, releases wouldn’t have been needed.


Alexandre Pratt of lapresse.ca reports that the 12-team QMJHL has asked the qmjhlnewNational Assembly of Quebec for about $20 million in subsidies to help it through the pandemic. Isabelle Charest, the minister responsible, turned around and asked the QMJHL to work harder to get rid of fighting. According to Pratt, there now is one fight every four games in the QMJHL; Charest is of the opinion that is one too many. . . . Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s long-time commissioner, suggested to owners that they give a fighter major and misconduct penalties, meaning he would sit out 15 minutes rather than five, and that a player be suspended after five fights, rather than 10 as it now is. That didn’t get enough votes to pass so nothing changed, except that Pratt reports that Charest and Courteau both are unhappy. . . . Pratt’s complete column is right here.


Error


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL now is through eight weeks of its Phase 4 Return to Play and hasn’t had even one positive test. In the most recent week (Sept. 13-19), 1,127 tests were performed without any positives. . . . The NFL announced that it administered 36,664 tests to 7,845 players and team personnel last week — 14,074 to 2,438 players and 22,590 to 5,407 personnel. There weren’t any positives for players, but there were five for other personnel. . . .

The football game between the host Wake Forest Demon Deacons and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish that was to have been played on Saturday has been postponed. The reason? The Fighting Irish had seven of 94 tests conducted Monday come back positive. The school has paused all football-related activities as it awaits more testing. . . . According to Nick Bromberg of Yahoo Sports, the NCAA now has had 16 games postponed by COVID-19 concerns. . . .

Andrelton Simmons, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting shortstop, has opted out of the remainder of the MLB season. Maria Torres of the Los Angeles Times reported that Simmons opted out “because of COVID-19 concerns, according to a person with knowledge of the decision.” . . . Simmons, 31, was hitting .297 in 30 games. He missed 22 games with an ankle injury. . . .

Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, said on Tuesday that he expects the next season to begin at some point in January. Silver told Bob Costas in an interview aired on CNN: “I continue to believe that we’re going to be better off getting into January. The goal for us next season is to play a standard season . . . 82-game season and playoffs. The goal would be to play games in home arenas, in front of fans, but there’s still a lot that we need to learn.” . . .

The 2021 National Aboriginal Hockey Championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Winnipeg’s Seven Oaks Arena, May 1-9. . . .

The 2020-21 Mac’s Tournament, one of Canada’s top minor hockey tournaments, has been cancelled. The tournament, for midget-aged players, is held in Calgary on an annual basis, running from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1. . . .

Meanwhile, in the KHL, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl forfeited its Tuesday game when it failed to show up for a road game against Kunlun Red Star in Mytishchi. The game already had been moved from Monday to Tuesday so that, according to a KHL release, the clubs had “time to resolve their organizational duties.” The release also stated that “there are discrepancies between the COVID-19 test results carried out independently by Lokomotiv and carried out in the KHL’s laboratories.” . . . RIA Novosti reported that “about 30 hockey players” from Lokomotiv had tested positive. A source told RIA Novosti that “the number of positive results based on the results of testing conducted by the league is significantly less.”


adobe


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.


Bill Rotheisler has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He is hardly a stranger to the KIJHL, having stints as GM and head coach the Castlegar Rebels and Princeton Posse on his resume. . . . Rotheisler, a cancer survivor, takes over from Nick Redding, who is from Spokane and had to step down because of the U.S.-Canadian border being closed to non-essential travel. . . . In early December 2019, Rotheisler was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in his esophagus. At the time, he was an associate coach with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.


The NAHL’s Jamestown Rebels won’t operate in 2020-21. The team has said that it will return for the 2021-22 season. . . . From an NAHL news release: “Currently, the State of New York does not allow for scrimmages or games to played in the sport of ice hockey, which has been placed in the ‘high risk’ category by the Governor.” . . . The NAHL now has had four teams opt out of a 2020-21 season, the others being the Springfield Jr. Blues, Kansas City Scouts and Corpus Christi IceRays. . . . Meanwhile, the NAHL’s Fairbanks Ice Dogs have announced that they will play the first two months of the 2020-21 season out of Marshall, Minn.


JUST NOTES: Former WHL D Micki DuPont is the new head coach of the U15 team at the Edge School for Athletes in Calgary. DuPont, 40, is from Calgary. He played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Kamloops Blazers and was the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to a lengthy pro career, most of it in Europe, and retired after 2018-19. . . . The junior B Saanich franchise that plays in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced Tuesday that its new nickname is Predators. The team had announced in July that it no longer would be going by Braves.


Dickens

Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


MacBeth

F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


ThisThat

Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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Habscheid: It was open season on our goaltender. . . . Lauer: We need to do more of that. . . . Cozens helps Canada stay unbeaten


MacBeth

F Todd Fiddler (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Spokane, Moose Jaw, Prince George, 2009-14) has signed a one-year contract with Neuilly-sur-Marne (France, Division 1). This season, with the Rosetown Red Wings (Allan Cup Hockey West), he had three goals and six assists in 10 games.


ThisThat

OK. The WHL’s Eastern Conference final officially became a series after Game 2. The Edmonton Oil Kings tied the series, 1-1, with a 4-3 OT victory over the Raiders in Prince EdChynowethCupAlbert on Saturday night.

When the game was over, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ veteran head coach, pointed out what he felt were some deficiencies in the work of referees Mike Langin and Steve Papp when it came to protecting his goaltender, Ian Scott, from on-rushing Oil Kings.

Brad Lauer, the Oil Kings’ first-year head coach, said his guys need to get to the Prince Albert crease even more than they did in Game 2.

“One thing that concerned me a little bit was it was open season on our goaltender,” Habscheid told reporters. “We depend on the officials to defend our goaltender, because we have no recourse anymore these days. He was getting bumped and stuck and ran all game. We expect them to take care of that and they didn’t. That was real disappointing.”

As for Lauer, he said:

“Their (defencemen) do a really good job getting into (you). They box you out early and they tie you up. We found it really tough in Game 1 to get in front of the net. . . . We had to find ways to get to him and make things difficult for him. We did it a couple times. Did we do it enough? I don’t think so. We need to do more of that and create that second or third opportunity. If we do that, we’ll be okay.”

Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com has a story right here.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has a game story right here.

The series resumes with Games 3 and 4 in Edmonton on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.




The Western Conference final also will continue with games on Tuesday and Wednesday nights as the Vancouver Giants take a 2-0 lead over the Chiefs into Spokane. . . . The Chiefs have lost two games in a row for the first time since mid-February when they lost three in a row — 5-4 to the Giants in Langley, B.C., 7-5 to the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., and 4-3 in OT to the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . After those losses, Spokane closed out the regular season on a 10-2-0 run, then opened the playoffs by going 8-2 before losing twice to the Giants. . . .

A key in this series may well be the status of Spokane F Luc Smith, who left Game 1 early in the first period with an apparent ankle injury. Here’s Kevin Dudley of the Spokane Spokesman-Review after Game 2: “The Chiefs were without forward Luc Smith, who was hurt early in Game 1. (Spokane head coach Dan) Lambert said there is no update and they are waiting for Smith to see the team doctors. Smith was walking with a visible limp outside the Spokane dressing room.”


Team Canada ran its record to 3-0 at the IIHF U-18 World Championship by whipping CanadaBelarus, 11-1, on Sunday in Umea, Sweden. . . . F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes) led Canada with two goals and three assists, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) adding a goal and an assist. F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) each scored once. F Daemon Hunt and F Brayden Tracey, both of the Moose Jaw Warriors, each had an assist. . . . G Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) stopped 41 shots in his first start of the tournament. . . . Belarus now is 2-1. . . . Canada is next scheduled to play on Tuesday against Czech Republic. . . .

In Sunday’s other Group A game, Czech Republic improved to 2-1 with a 4-2 victory over Finland (0-3). . . . In Group B, Team USA went to 3-0 with a 6-3 victory over Russia (2-1), and Sweden went to 2-1 with a 5-1 victory over Slovakia (0-3). . . .

On Monday, Switzerland (0-2) is to meet Belarus in a Group A game, while, in Group B, Latvia (0-2) will meet Slovakia (0-3).

The tournament, in Umea and Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, runs through April 28.


Tweetoftheday

Gaglardi ‘suspects’ Lajoie will be back. . . . Habscheid, Love in war of the words. . . . Ice, assistant coach go separate ways


MacBeth

F Aaron Gagnon (Seattle, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Langnau (Switzerland, NL). This season, he had 14 goals and 14 assists in 39 games.


ThisThat

It seems that a lot of folks who follow the WHL are wondering about the coaching situation with the Kamloops Blazers. Specifically, they want to know if Serge Lajoie will be back for a second season as the head coach.

You will be aware that the Blazers went 28-32-8 this season, then beat the Kelowna Kamloops1Rockets in a tiebreaker to get into the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals in a spirited first-round series.

Let’s break down the Blazers’ season a little bit.

Darryl Sydor, one of the franchise’s five owners, was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12. A former Blazers defenceman who went on to play and coach in the NHL, Sydor is a two-time Stanley Cup winner and also won a Memorial Cup.

When the Blazers made that announcement, they were 20-27-5. With Sydor officially on board, they finished the regular-season 8-5-3, won that tiebreaker, then went 2-4 in the playoffs.

So, all told, they were 11-9-3 after the Sydor announcement.

Which brings us to an interview that Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week did with Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner. Here are three questions and answers:

Hastings: Will Serge be the head coach to start next season?

Gaglardi: I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that. We’re very happy with where we are. We had a great finish to the year and we’re excited about next season, but this week is just a week to lick our wounds. This is a series (vs. Victoria) we truly thought we could win.

Hastings: What do you think assistant coach Darryl Sydor brought to the team?

Gaglardi: Darryl really understands what it takes to win and what a successful bench feels like. He’s been a long-time player and had success at the junior level, had success at the NHL level, won a couple of Stanley Cups. He knows what benches need. I think he was really instrumental in figuring out what his role could be to help. Sometimes you’ve got a coach that’s a hard coach and the kids need to be brought up and built back, and Darryl really understands the ying and yang, the methods, and figured out a role that he could help in. He really worked hard to make sure the kids believed they could actually get the job done. He perhaps brought something to the staff that was missing. Darryl is a tremendous guy and I was thrilled when he agreed to join full-time and come on board and he made a difference.

Hastings: Does Darryl have what it takes to be a head coach here or somewhere else?

Gaglardi: I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do. He’s come home and I think he’d like to be involved in some way. We’ve had lots of talks around this for a long time. What this blossoms into, I’m not sure. He’s a tremendous guy and we’d love to have him involved. He’s got kids playing competitive hockey. I’m not sure where he’s going to be, in terms of level of commitment next year, whether he’s ready to step in and take on some sort of full-time role again with the club. I’m not sure. He did make a big difference to us down the stretch.

That complete interview is right here.

I don’t have any idea what the future holds here. I do know that in the 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi, the Blazers have gotten out of the first round twice, been a first-round casualty six times, and have missed the playoffs on four occasions.

Lajoie is the 10th head coach or interim head coach, including Guy Charron on two occasions, this franchise has employed over those 12 seasons.


It’s ‘Game On’ in the Eastern Conference seminal between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The series resumes tonight in Saskatoon, with the Raiders holding a 2-0 lead. Game 3 will be televised by Sportsnet.

Other than the quotes in the above tweets, Ryan Flaherty of Global TV in Saskatoon also Saskatoontweeted this quote from Blades head coach Mitch Love:

“There was four head-whipping incidents (Sunday) night, three of which led to penalties on our side, by their players. So is that embellishment? I don’t know. Is it? I hope they’re getting their necks fixed over there today.”

You’ll recall that prior to the series Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, offered up PrinceAlbertthese thoughts to Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

As Zary reports in a story posted on Monday evening, Love went so far as to suggest that the WHL office needs to be paying more attention to player safety.

“I really chose not to say too much about it up until this point,” Zary quotes Love as having said, “but after watching two games in which I felt there were several incidents — especially (Sunday night’s) hockey game where there was a lot of contact towards players’ heads — I know our league stresses player safety, so I think the real story here is how people have turned a blind eye to that kind of thing, based on comments that were made previously, prior to the start of the series.”

Zary’s story is right here.

And, in case you missed it, here’s some video of Habscheid off the Sportsnet telecast early in Game 2 on Saturday night. . . .


The Winnipeg Ice revealed via Twitter on Monday that the organization and assistant coach Gord Burnett “have agreed to part ways.” Burnett, a native of Regina, just completed his fourth season on the Ice’s coaching staff. . . . According to the Ice’s website, its coaching staff now comprises head coach James Patrick and associate coach Jon Klemm. . . . Patrick, from Winnipeg, and Klemm, who is from Cranbrook, have been with the Ice through two seasons.


F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans has joined the San Diego Gulls, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, on an ATO. From Calgary, Olson was selected by the Ducks in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He hasn’t signed an NHL contract. . . . This season, Olson, who turned 20 on March 22, had 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games with the Americans.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed D Matt Smith to a WHL contract. An Edmonton native, Smith was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., Rangers, recording two goals and 10 assists in 41 regular-season and playoff games.


Rick Westhead of TSN filed another story regarding the minimum-wage lawsuit on Monday, and this one really involves the WHL.

“A fight is unfolding in the Western Hockey League minimum-wage class-action lawsuit over the privacy of current and former players who pursue a claim against the league for minimum wage, back pay and overtime,” Westhead writes.

“A year and a half after an Alberta judge certified a minimum-wage lawsuit against the WHL, lawyers for the plaintiffs and the league are now battling over how to notify those players about their right to proceed with a case or, if they choose, withdraw from the litigation.

“The two sides will appear at a hearing in Calgary on Monday to make arguments about the notice the players will be given regarding the lawsuit.”

The complete story is right here.

Westhead also mentioned that “the CHL and its three leagues have been battling minimum-wage lawsuits for the past five years.”

It is hard to fathom that it already has been that long. Wouldn’t you like to know how much money the WHL has spent on legal fees over that time?


F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks will play for Denmark’s national men’s team in a pair of exhibition games against visiting Finland this week. The games are scheduled for Thursday in Aalborg and Saturday in Vojens. . . . The Danish team, under head coach Heinz Ehlers, dropped eight players from its training camp after weekend workouts. . . . Blichfeld, who won the WHL scoring championship with 114 points in 68 games this season, is hoping to earn a spot on the national men’s A team that will play in the IIHF World Championship in the Slovakian cities of Bratislava and Košice, from May 10 through May 26.


Kevin Kaminski is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice larongeWolves. Kaminski, who is from Churchbridge, Sask., signed a three-year contract. . . . Kaminski, 50, spent three seasons (1986-89) with the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 139 games in the NHL. . . . For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of the Western States Hockey League’s Fresno Monsters. . . . The Ice Wolves also announced that Gaelan Patterson, another former Blades skater, will be turning, but as associate GM and associate coach. Patterson finished the season as the team’s interim head coach after the firing of Evan Vossen. . . . The team also said that Travis Hegland will be returning as athletic therapist and trainer.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: D Jake Kustra of the Victoria Royals has been suspended for two games after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct for a hit on F Jared Dmytriw of the DisciplineVancouver Giants at 2:54 of the second period on Saturday. That was in Game 2 of the series. The Giants won, 2-1 in OT, and hold a 2-0 leading going into Game 3 tonight in Victoria. . . .

Meanwhile, the Giants have been fined $750 for, according to the WHL website, “actions of player at end of game” on Saturday night. There was a bit of a brouhaha after Vancouver F Tristen Nielsen scored the game-winner at 3:29 of OT. G Griffen Outhouse of Victoria came out of it with a roughing minor, while Giants D Alex Kannok Leipert was hit with a roughing minor and a game misconduct. I would think it’s safe to assume that he is the “player” in question. . . .

In these playoffs, the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline now has issued 13 suspensions totalling 30 games, and handed out six fines worth a total of $4,250. . . . In all of last season’s playoffs, there were six players suspended for a total of 12 games, and two fines meted out worth $1,250. . . .

——

After a quiet Monday night, there are three second-round games on the schedule tonight. . . .

As mentioned, the Vancouver Giants hold a 2-0 lead as they play Game 3 against the Royals in Victoria. The Royals obviously will be without D Jake Kustra, while F Kody McDonald serves the fifth of a six-game suspension. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt left late in Game 3 with an apparent injury to his left shoulder or arm and didn’t return. . . . The Giants are expected to again be without F Aidan Barfoot, who was injured in the first round. . . .

——

In Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings, with a 2-0 lead, will meet the Hitmen as the Battle of Alberta resumes. . . . Here’s a note from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun involving the first two games:

“Two games and two won face-offs have ended up the back of the Hitmen net so far in the series.

“The Oil Kings won 3-2 in overtime Saturday after (Mark) Kastelic won a clean draw in his own zone and pulled it back through the legs of an unsuspecting (goaltender Jack) McNaughton and off the goal post. Jake Neighbours was then first to the rebound and knocked it into the net for the game-winner.

“On Sunday, Carson Focht pulled one back from the same face-off circle past McNaughton and into the net to give the Oil Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period.”

As Calgary head coach Steve Hamilton told Van Diest: “It’s not everyday you win two faceoffs and shoot two pucks into your own net in two games. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that. That was a bid odd, but it was probably par for the course, too.”

——

The Prince Albert Raiders, with a 2-0 lead, venture into Saskatoon to meet the Blades in a game that will be televised by Sportsnet, which also showed the first two games of the series. . . . With the two head coaches firmly involved in a war of the words, it will be interesting to see the attendance in the SaskTel Centre tonight.

——

The other second-round series, between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs, is to resume on Wednesday. The Chiefs went into Everett and won twice, so they take a 2-0 lead on to home ice. The next three games, if necessary, are scheduled for Spokane because the Cirque du Soleil is in the Angels of the Wind Arena in Everett through Sunday.


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