Think about taking two minutes out of your busy day to watch this. It will help you understand how a whole lot of people are feeling at this point of this seemingly never-ending pandemic . . .
The way I figure it, there was a WHL record set in Portland on Sunday night as the Winterhawks erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Four of the coaches — two with each team — total 1,875 regular-season victories. . . . Don Hay, Portland’s associate coach, holds the WHL career record, of course, having put up 750 victories. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, is No. 10, at 472. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach, has 432, good for 16th spot. . . . Mark Holick, the Blazers’ associate coach, has 221 victories to his credit. . . . Understand that those numbers all are unofficial as we await a new WHL Official Guide and Record Book, but that is a whole lot of victories signifying that those men have been behind WHL benches for a whole lot of games. . . . Oh, the stories they can tell!
It was late Friday night — early Saturday morning further east of here — when there was some interesting discourse on Twitter, featuring Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) and Taylor Rocca (@taylorrocca).
Brandow is a stats guy who posts interesting facts and numbers from every major junior hockey game; Rocca is the WHL’s director of communications.
Brandow, in the course of posting tidbits after Friday night’s WHL games, wondered about the fact the WHL hasn’t made available an updated Official Guide and Record Book since the 2019-20 season.
Rocca’s responses provide some insight into the workings of the WHL’s Calgary office during this pandemic:
“Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a staff member solely dedicated to media guide/stats. We’re a small office desperately working to simply keep junior hockey on the ice, players healthy, etc. Because, you know, we’re into Year 2 of a global pandemic. . . .
“I’m not trying to fight. Just trying to provide some context. In the case of our office, specifically, we experience widespread layoffs and had LITERALLY one full-time Communications staff member for over a year who was responsible for . . .
“Web/social content, PR/media relations (people have had some questions), mobile app mgmt, dev consult/admin/launch of new streaming service, internal/external comms/Club support, COVID test results processing, etc. I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other time-consuming tasks. . . .
“Point I’m trying to make is most people don’t understand the incredible challenge it has been for small staffs to keep these leagues running. Speaking for myself, I’ve worked nothing short of 100+ hours a week, almost every single week since March 2020. . . .
“I’m not one to speak out or be overly vocal, especially on social media.
But a lot of people in junior hockey are beyond burnt out. They’re doing the best they can every day to show up & make sure the hockey gets delivered. That is what needs to happen first. For the players. . . .
“People work in jr hockey because they love the game. It’s not for the pay. When we’re frustrated about a stream that errors, or a media guide that’s later than ideal, we need to remember there are hard-working people doing their best to survive & meet beyond high demands. . . .
“Just remember: There are real people w/ real emotions, who have been working tirelessly to keep these leagues alive & navigate a world that no one has a blueprint for. And sometimes, keeping the players/staff healthy & games going is all that’s possible from one day to the next.”
It all ended on a positive note as Brandow wrote: “Fair’s fair. I greatly appreciate the explanation and once again, I apologize for the outburst.”
Rocca closed with: “It’s all good, Geoffrey. The media guide is on the list. It will get done. All I ask for is your patience & understanding. Appreciate the time & effort you put into tracking stats across the entire CHL. I check in on them every single game night & I’m always impressed.”
While you aren’t able to download a new WHL Guide, the OHL’s new Media and Information Guide (aka record book) is available right here, while the QMJHL’s updated Media Guide, which includes a records section, is right here.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS — While the OHL is playing without fans in most of its buildings, the QMJHL has decided that it won’t resume its schedule until at least Feb. 1. It had hoped to start up again during the week of Jan. 17, but government-imposed restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted before then. . . . The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that was to have been held in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 2, has been postponed. Officials hope to reschedule it for some point during this season. . . . Congrats to referee Brett Iverson, who was presented with a WHL Milestone Award prior to Saturday’s game in Langley, B.C. Iverson has been working WHL games since 2008-09 and has been on the ice for more than 650 regular-season games. He also has done four WHL finals and two Memorial Cup tournaments. . . . If you were watching the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver play in Langley, B.C., on Friday night, you may have seen Giants F Ty Thorpe shove a linesman at 19:30 of the second period. Somehow, he escaped with only a misconduct penalty, but he missed Saturday’s rematch after the WHL hit him with a one-game suspension. . . . The Cougars swept the two games from the host Giants, leading some fans to wonder whether Vancouver will be buying or selling as the trade deadline arrives today (Monday).
Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “You can start marking time until the guy who runs Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, walks the plank for his role in this fiasco with Novak Djokovic. I still love Djokovic trying to blame the mistakes on his paperwork on his agent. . . . Got it. . . . Dog ate my visa.”
Lupica, again: “It’s going to be fun, now that ESPN has hired David Cone, to go back to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the sound on.”
In the SJHL, the Humboldt Broncos beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. No, wait a minute. Not so fast. . . . That was thought to be the final score until the Mustangs protested over what they felt was an officiating error at 10:23 of the third period. The Mustangs won the protest, so the teams replayed the last 9:37 of the third period prior to Saturday night’s game in Humboldt. . . . On Friday, the Broncos scored a 5-on-3 goal at 10:23 to get to within 3-2, at which point there was confusion over whether anyone should be allowed out of the penalty box. When no one was allowed out, Humboldt scored again another PP goal, then thought it had won it in OT. . . . When play resumed Saturday night, Melfort stretched that 3-2 lead to a 5-2 victory. . . . Humboldt then won the regularly scheduled game, 6-4. . . . There is a complete explanation right here.
There was a time, before the birth of the Toronto Blue Jays, when a lot of Canadian baseball fans got their fix through Dave Van Horne, the voice of the Montreal Expos. Van Horne, who has been calling Miami Marlins’ games for the past 21 years, has chosen to retire. It seems the Marlins cut his schedule back to 54 games last season and wanted him to do fewer than 20 games in 2022. In speaking with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Van Horne, 82, took the high road, saying: “After they made the last offer to have me come back in some role in 2022 . . . less than 20 games, I could not do it. I said I’m a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I’m not one who makes guests appearances and works on recorded interviews. . . . I’m not upset about it. I’ve thought about it during last season. I thought this could very well be it for me. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made. Life goes on. I have, in effect, retired. I’m living on my pensions. I have no plans to pursue anything else. I will not pursue another baseball broadcast position.” . . . Jackson’s story is right here.
The NFL’s regular season ended on Jan. 9 and the next day, as is the norm, featured a number of teams firing their head coaches. “Since the NFL is all about sponsorships,” wondered Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Babe, “how long until we start hearing about ‘Black Monday, brought to you by LinkedIn?’ ”
There was a time when pro and college football teams didn’t each employ a couple of dozen assistant coaches and aides. As Steve Spurrier, a former head coach at Florida, explained to the Orlando Sentinel, the Gators back in the day had only one nutritionist on staff: “We had one, and it was me. I used to go around during meals and tell the players to stop eating just meat and potatoes and go put something green on their plates. That’s how we handled nutrition back then.”
THINKING OUT LOUD — Isn’t there something strange about hockey leagues that hand out minor penalties for checking to the head, but allow two players to stand and repeatedly punch each other in the face? . . . The Florida Panthers, one of the NHL’s best and most-entertaining teams, were at home and on my TV set a couple of times in recent days, beating the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars in front of a whole lot of empty seats. Meanwhile, Gary Bettman’s NHL doesn’t include a team in Quebec City, which has an arena and a huge hunger for hockey. . . . The worst thing about live sports on TV in Canada? The same commercials over and over and over and over, again. The first time I saw the spot for Cavendish waffle fries, I thought I might like to try them. By the 10th or 12th time in a couple of hours, well, there’s not a chance. . . . Isn’t it absolutely bizarre the way the NFL allows non-playoff teams with coaching vacancies to interview coaches from playoff teams while their teams are involved in preparing for games? Two of the men on the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff interviewed for head-coaching positions prior to their Saturday night playoff game. . . . Do you think that it will bother the NFL that it let two more teams into the playoffs and the first weekend of play wasn’t especially entertaining? You’re right. They’ll likely add two more to the bracket next season.
Perhaps you follow Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner) on Twitter or perhaps you have seen reference to a tweet or two of his on this site. When it comes to the history of the Regina Pats, he’s THE MAN. He often posts tweets involving Pats games from the 1960s and early ’70s, and chances are that the stories in those posts were written by Mal Isaac, then of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . Isaac, who went through two hearts, both of which were stronger and tougher than any hockey player, died on Saturday. He was 84. . . . Condolences to Vivian and family, and to Mal’s brother, Dale. Both brothers are in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
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Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
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604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.