CHL facing another potential class-action lawsuit . . . Most everything with WHL these days is fluid . . . Former WHL owner, GM, coach dies at 79

These have to be tough days to be the owner of a WHL franchise, don’t they?

The WHL is only a few weeks removed from the CHL, the umbrella under which it, the whlOHL and the QMJHL operate, having settled a civil suit for $30 million. In that suit, players, former and present, were, among other things, asking to be paid minimum wage under labour legislation in various jurisdictions. While not admitting to any wrongdoing or agreeing to pay minimum wage, the CHL settled, with insurance covering half the tab and each of the Canadian teams believed to be on the hook for more than $280,000.

And there is another WHL-related lawsuit before the courts, this one involving concussions, with the parties waiting to see if it will be certified as a class-action.

And another lawsuit dropped on Thursday, this one also seeking to be certified as a class-action. It carries the signatures of two former major junior players — Daniel Carcillo, who played in the OHL, and Garrett Taylor, who split a couple of seasons (2008-10) between the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — and is looking for more co-signees.

This one could prove to be particularly ugly because, as you will see by reading this piece right here from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, Carcillo and Taylor are alleging that they were subject to abuse that is, to be honest, beyond description.

(BTW, you may recall that Taylor and his mother, Kim, were among those who appeared before an Oregon Senate committee on workforce on Feb. 27, 2018. They were opposing a proposed bill that would have exempted the Portland Winterhawks from state labour legislation. Ultimately, that request was denied.)

Geez, we haven’t even mentioned the hot mess that former OHL player Eric Guest hit that league and his old team, the Kitchener Rangers, with earlier in the week. The allegations, which included the forced ingestion of cocaine, are beyond messy, and the league, the team and the RCMP now are said to be conducting investigations.

And let’s not forget about the pandemic, you know, the coronavirus, COVID-19, and all that goes with that.

On Wednesday, following the completion of its annual meeting, the WHL issued a news release in which it said it “has targeted a start date of Friday, Oct. 2, for the 2020-21 regular season, but this date remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from government and health authorities in each of the six jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

Those would be Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, B.C., Washington and Oregon. To this point, the citizens of the four Canadian provinces have done a good job of battling this virus. As for the two states, well, let’s just point out that Canada has closed its border with the U.S. until at least July 21 for a reason. And Canadians, especially those in B.C., are pleading with the feds to keep it closed for a whole lot longer.

On Thursday, Ron Robison, the WHL commish, was on a Zoom gathering with various media types and it is obvious that a proposed starting date really is a moving target.

At his point, the WHL hopes to have a 68-game regular season, but . . .

It hopes to open training camps on Sept. 15, but . . .

It’s becoming more and more apparent that it’s all in the hands of the medical community and, as Rafferty Baker of CBC News, reports right here, people like Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, and Adrian Dix, the province’s health minister, aren’t ready to commit to anything just yet.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week was on the Zoom call and his report is right here. . . . The word “fluid” appears on more than one occasion and for good reason.

How fluid are things?

Don Moores, the Kamloops Blazers’ president and chief operating officer, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV this week that the club isn’t even selling season tickets.

Moores explained: “We actually haven’t sold any season tickets yet. One of the things we don’t want to do is over-promise and under-deliver. It’s important for us to make sure that we know what we’re going to have and what that season will look like before we move ahead with that.”

As for the Winterhawks, who aren’t believe to be experiencing financial difficulties but are in receivership, Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison “said there has been a lot of interest in acquiring the club.”

Danzer’s piece is right here.


Earlier in the week, the University of Alberta stunned the Canadian sporting community by announcing it has cancelled the 2020-21 seasons for it’s men’s and women’s basketball, hockey and volleyball teams.

Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, made the announcement, stating in a news release that “the Athletics budget is no longer able to support participation in the 2020-21 season.”

As The Canadian Press reported: “Earlier this year, the provincial government announced cuts to the Campus Alberta Grant and ordered universities to immediately begin balancing their budgets and reducing expenditures.

“Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a ripple effect on revenues.”

In April, the U of Lethbridge dropped men’s and women’s hockey from its program for financial reasons. Might there be more cuts on the way?

With two Alberta schools already having made moves, you are excused for wondering how things are with the U of Calgary, MacEwan U and Mount Royal U, the three other Canada West members based in Alberta.

Of course, it could be that there won’t even be basketball, hockey or volleyball seasons.

U Sports, which oversees Canadian university sports, and three of its four conferences announced last week that football, men’s and women’s soccer, women’s field hockey and women’s rugby wouldn’t be played during the first term.

Canada West has said it will make a decision by Oct. 8 on whether basketball, hockey and volleyball will be played after Jan. 1.

Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia has more on the U of Alberta story right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.”


Robbers


You may be aware that the Buffalo Sabres’ owners staged a massive house-cleaning this week, sweeping out more than 20 people from the hockey operation, including general manager Jason Botterill. . . . Also caught up in the mess were two men with ties to the WHL. . . . Mark Ferner played with the Kamloops Jr. Oilers/Blazers. He also coached in Kamloops and with the Everett Silvertips. . . . Randy Hansch played with the Victoria Cougars and the Blazers. He later was the Blazers’ director of player personnel before spending 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, first as assistant GM/director of player personnel, then as general manager.


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ coaching staff returned to the NFL team’s facility on Monday. By Thursday, one assistant coach had tested positive for the coronavirus, although he was asymptomatic, and was placed in quarantine. Two other assistant coaches also have bee quarantined.

Meanwhile, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, on Thursday that he doubts the NFL will be able to have a season without placing teams in bubbles much like the NBA has planned for next month in Orlando, Fla.

“Unless players are essentially in a bubble — insulated from the community and they are tested nearly every day — it would be very hard to see how football is able to be played this fall,” Fauci said. “If there is a second wave, which is certainly a possibility and which would be complicated by the predictable flu season, football may not happen this year.”

The NFL doesn’t have any interest in the bubble format.

Dr. Allen Sill, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that “we do not feel it’s practical or appropriate to construct a bubble. Anyone who tests positive will be isolated until medically appropriate to return.”


Real Turcotte, at one time a WHL owner and coach, died Monday after fighting congestive heart failure. He was 79. . . . Turcotte was born in East Angus, Que., but made a real mark as a coach in the Detroit area. . . . He was the owner and general manager of the Nanaimo Islanders for their only season (1982-83). He took over as head coach when he chose to replace Les Calder during the season. . . . Turcotte was the father of Alfie Turcotte, who played with the Islanders and Portland Winter Hawks (1982-84) and was selected 17th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1983 draft. . . . There is an obituary right here.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual meeting on Saturday and revealed in a Wednesday news release that it is aiming for open its regular season on Oct. 2. . . . As with so many other leagues, however, that is contingent on a number of things. As the league said in a news release: “As has been the case since the league’s 2019-20 season was cancelled on March 13, all decisions related to Return to Play will be made with the health and safety of players, staff, fans, volunteers and sponsors as our top priority.” . . . In that same release, Jeff Dubois, the league’s commissioner, said: “There are still a number of obstacles for us to navigate ahead of resuming league play this fall, but I’m confident that we’re trending in a positive direction.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Herman

No large gatherings in Alberta through August . . . Calgary and Edmonton lose major events . . . WHL planning to open on schedule

Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical officer, has said that restrictions on large gatherings in that province will run through the end of August.

Since Thursday, a number of events scheduled for Edmonton, including K-Days, and the city’s folk and jazz festivals, have been cancelled.

On Thursday, the Calgary Stampede and that city’s folk music festival were cancelled. On Friday, the City of Calgary extended its ban on large public gatherings and events through Aug. 31.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 will be with us for many months to come, and the relatively low case numbers we’re seeing in many parts of the province are the result of our collective efforts and sacrifices,” Hinshaw said in her daily briefing. “COVID-19 is still with us, and it spreads rapidly through social interactions.

“We have had several instances in the province of social gatherings where one person passed the virus on to many others at a single event before the individual knew they had COVID.”

She mentioned a bonspiel in Edmonton that included 73 attendees, 40 of whom later tested positive for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately,” she added, “this virus does not respect our feelings. I am keenly aware of the depth to which these measures are affecting everyone. I do not take them lightly. I ask you to do the same.”

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from Rod Pedersen, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told him that the league plans “to open the 2020-21 season on schedule and the June 27 import draft is unchanged.”

That, of course, is what Robison would be expected to say.

The WHL hasn’t yet released its 2020-21 regular-season schedules, but chances are it would begin the weekend of Sept. 25, about five weeks after teams will want to open training camps.

However, you would hope that the WHL has Plan B, Plan C, Plan D and maybe a few others . . . you know, just in case.

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with 19 teams in B.C. and one — the Spokane Braves — in Washington, normally would open its regular season in mid-September. Steve Hogg, the general manager of the Summerland Steam, has told John Arendt of Black Press that “we have full plans on having a league,” but that it might not get rolling until mid-October.

You also are free to wonder if the annual CHL import draft really will be held on June 27. It normally is held a day or two after the NHL draft, which, this year, is scheduled for June 26 and 27 in Montreal.

But . . . hold on . . . there are rumblings that the NHL may postpone its draft because there will be a whole lot to sort out if it is to be held prior to the end of the regular season. And you will recall that the NHL’s regular season remains in a holding pattern.



The Bellingham Bells of baseball’s West Coast League have cancelled their 2020 season, but the league says its remaining 11 teams are preparing to open on June 5. . . . The league includes two Canadian teams — the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats. . . . The Bells’ hand was forced when the city shut down all activities in its facilities through Aug. 31. . . .

The 10-team Cape Cod Baseball League, perhaps the top summer league for college players, has cancelled its 2020 season. The league has been around since 1885 and has played every season since 1945. . . . Its season was to have opened on June 13, with playoffs starting on Aug. 4. . . .

The 12-team Western Canadian Baseball League is expected to cancel its 2020 season after officials meet on Wednesday. The 12-team league features teams in Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton, all in Saskatchewan, and the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks. . . .

Organizers have cancelled the World Triathlon event that was scheduled to be held in Edmonton. The Grand Final of the ITU World Triathlon group was set for Aug. 17-23. . . . Reid Wilkins of Global News has more right here, including news that the Prairie Football Conference, which is scheduled to begin play in mid-August, is looking at a delayed start.



A nondescript wooden cudgel discovered in a Vermont home in 1980 — and just sitting in an umbrella stand ever since — turned out to be a circa-1850s hockey stick now up for auction online. It’s been appraised at $3.5 million,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Proving once again that it pays to forecheck.”


Pizza


Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “The PGA Tour is planning a mid-June return with no fans, assuring the look and ambiance of it will have all the excitement of a Tuesday practice round. Meantime, GolfTV reported exclusively that the gum Tiger Woods chews on a golf course is orange-flavored Trident. Run to the store and start hoarding!”



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “Khrushchev, too, looks like the kind of man his physicians must continually try to diet, and historians will someday correlate these sporadic deprivations, to which he submits ‘for his own good,’ with his public tantrums. If there is to be a world cataclysm, it will probably be set off by skim milk, Melba toast, and mineral oil on the salad.”


Wasps


Nick Deschenes has signed on as the head coach and director of player personnel with the junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . He has spent the past four seasons working with minor hockey programs and academies near his home in West Kelowna. . . . Prior to that he spent one season (2012-13) as the GM/head coach of the KIJHL’s Grand Forks Border Bruins and the next two as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. . . . Deschenes takes over the Steam from Ken Karpuk, who departed after one season. . . . Tim Hogg, the play-by-play voice of the Steam has more right here.


Barry Petrachenko spent 20 years running BC Hockey. On Monday, the province’s hockey CEO lost his job. . . . If you’re wondering what happened, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has the story right here.


StayAway

Chasing a story in Pats’ shower. Yes, those really were the days . . . Is international tennis season over? . . . Hay still not ready to retire


It’s like a bad dream that just won’t go away. It pops up every year or two, from out of the mist of time. Still, it makes me laugh every single time it appears. Hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself . . .

As for my broadcast partner from back in the day, well, I’m not so sure. LOL!

Those were the days when Peter was working at CK Radio in Regina, alongside Roger Millions. I was at the Regina Leader-Post. Believe it or not, Peter and I were the radio voices of the Regina Pats. Were we any good? I don’t know, but Troy Mick once refused to talk to us, a boycott that ended one night when he scored in OT to win a playoff game.

I don’t have proof that this particular ad resulted in an uptick in listeners, but I don’t have any evidence that it didn’t. So I have always assumed that it did. Although, had it been successful you might have thought there would be another ad done up, perhaps with us on the roof of the team’s bus as it hit the road . . . or perhaps Peter had the whole idea killed.

Anyway . . . whenever this photo rears its handsome head, there always are people wondering about the two young men peeking through the steam. They were two of the Pats fine defencemen — Terry Hollinger, on the left, and Jamie Heward on the right. Yes, that is the same Jamie Heward who now is on the Vancouver Giants’ coaching staff.

BTW, I no longer have any of the autographed pictures left, but I’m not sure if my ex-partner has any remaining. Should you bump into him, though, I would suggest you not ask him.

One other thing about that photo. . . . Back in the day, the media could get into a team’s shower. Now the WHL and its teams won’t allow the media in the dressing rooms.


The City of Toronto has postponed or cancelled all city-led events through June 30. . . . You have to think it would be kind of hard for the Toronto Blue Jays to play home games with something like this in place. Consider that between April 26 and June 30, the original MLB schedule called for the Blue Jays to play 44 home games. . . . You have to think it would be tough, too, for the Toronto Maple Leafs to play home games before June 30 under these circumstances. . . .

The Canadian Open, scheduled for June 8-14 at St. George’s Golf and Country Club, is expected to make an announcement later in the week. You have to know that it won’t be held as scheduled. . . .


Craig Tiley, Tennis Australia’s chief executive, has told the Sydney Morning Herald that the international tennis season may well be over. The ATP and WTA have put things on hold until June 7, but Tiley expects the pause to last a lot longer. “My personal view is I think for tennis to come back this year is going to be tough,” Tiley said. “It relies on global travel, and I think that’s probably the last thing that’s going to come back. I think sports that have a domestic focus are in a strong position and sports that have a global focus are more challenged.” . . . 


I’m watching Game 3 of the 1992 World Series between the Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. I had forgotten just how good Toronto 2B Roberto Alomar was. He really was smooth and made it look easy. . . .


Webster Garrison, a minor league manager with the Oakland A’s, is in a Louisiana hospital and on a ventilator because of the coronavirus. Garrison, 54, “is fighting hard and making small milestones,” his fiancee, Nikki Trudeaux, posted on Twitter. . . . Garrison was the Vancouver Canadians’ manager in 2001, when they played their second season in the Class-A Northwest League. . . .


Here’s the Thought of the Day from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, this one via H.L. Mencken: “It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything. I am strongly in favour of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.”


Don Hay is back at his Kamloops home for the offseason and is hoping that his time in PortlandPortland isn’t anywhere near over. On Tuesday, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he is hoping for a third season as an assistant coach with the Winterhawks. . . . “I’m on a year-to-year contract and that’s OK,” Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, told Hastings. “I’d like to go back for another year and see how our team does. I’ve enjoyed working with (general manager/head coach) Mike Johnston and (associate coach) Kyle Gustafson. I’m looking forward to another year.” . . . It was almost two years ago when Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, announced at a rather bizarre news conference that Hay was retiring. Hay wasn’t at that news conference and, in fact, one day later he addressed the media and made it clear that he wasn’t ready for retirement. . . . If you click right here, you will find the column that Hastings wrote almost two years ago that summed up the situation awfully well. . . .


The Toronto Blue Jays jumped out to a 7-0 lead over the visiting Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, but had to go to extra innings for an 8-7 victory. . . . Bo Bichette got the GWRBI when he hit into a fielder’s choice in the 11th inning. . . . The Blue Jays had opened the season by losing their first five games. . . . Toronto also made a roster move, sending down LHP Thomas Pannone and adding LHP Marc Rzepczynski. . . . It’s all part of a simulated season being played out by the gang at Strat-O-Matic. It’s all right here, including boxscores, leaders and standings.



The Western Lacrosse Association has postponed the start of its 2020 season. The WLA’s 52nd regular season was scheduled to begin on May 21. The seven-team WLA features the Burnaby Lakers, Coquitlam Adanacs, Langley Thunder, Maple Ridge Burrards, Nanaimo Timbermen, New Westminster Salmonbellies and Victoria Shamrocks. . . .


CHL cancels playoffs, Memorial Cup; next tournament set for OHL in 2021 . . . Winterhawks lay off employees; more to come

——

The University of Toronto Schools won the 1919 Memorial Cup, the first time the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association had put the trophy into competition. It was to go to the champion of junior hockey.

The Memorial Cup has been awarded every single year since then — not even the Second 2020MCWorld War could get in the way.

However, it won’t be awarded in 2020, the COVID-19 virus haven’t knocked the major junior hockey season for a loop.

The 60-team CHL announced Monday afternoon that the major junior hockey season is over. That means that there won’t be any playoffs in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.

Nor will there be a Memorial Cup tournament. This year’s four-team affair was to have been played in Kelowna, March 22-31. Interestingly, it would seem that the 2021 Memorial Cup won’t be decided in Kelowna, but in an OHL city.

The last line of the CHL’s Monday statement:

“We look forward with hope that next season will provide new opportunity to celebrate, and that the MemorialCup will be presented at our prestigious national championship, hosted by the OHL in May 2021.”

The CHL follows a three-year rotation among the three leagues. The QMJHL is to be the host in 2022, with the WHL back for 2023.

According to the Kelowna Daily Courier, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president KelownaRocketsand general manager, said that the city “may not have had the steam to muster a tournament in 2021.” The newspaper added that “it could tax volunteers, staff, players and sponsors too much.”

Hamilton also expressed doubts that he and his hockey staff would be able to ice a Memorial Cup-calibre team.

According to the newspaper, “Hamilton said he’d also been building a team that could compete for a national title this season, and he’s losing too many veterans to be ready for next spring.”

After cancelling the remainder of the regular seasons on March 12, the CHL said in a news release on Monday that it “continued to monitor the latest updates and advice from all public health agencies and medical experts, and worked tirelessly to determine a scenario by which the balance of our season could be played. Unfortunately, given the troubling state of our global climate and public welfare, there is still too much risk and uncertainty to move forward in good conscience.” . . .

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Losing a handful of regular-season games and the playoffs is going to hurt a few WHL teams. When WHL teams are preparing their budgets, they usually look upon playoff Lethbridgerevenue as gravy. But how much gravy might that be?

Well, let’s take a look at the Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s community-owned teams, which means they hold an annual general meeting and announce profits and/or losses.

After the 2017-18 season, the Hurricanes announced a net profit of $422,443, with playoff revenue of $885,558. That came after a playoff run that included 16 games, nine of them at home.

One year earlier, the Hurricanes had played 10 home playoff games during a 20-game run. At the 2017 AGM, they announced a profit of $737,710, with playoff revenue at $685,000.

A year ago, the Hurricanes’ playoff run was short-circuited when they lost a first-round series in seven games. Four of the games were played in Lethbridge, some of them in the 1,200-seat Nicholas Sheran Arena because the world men’s curling championship was being played in the ENMAX Centre. At the 2019 AGM, the team announced a profit of $282,168, with $336,397 in playoff revenue, some of that was compensation from the City of Lethbridge for having been forced from their home arena.

Yes, there was a lot of money — A LOT OF MONEY — at play in the decision to pull the plug on the playoffs. The story will become more explicit when the Hurricanes hold their 2020 AGM.

The WHL’s other publicly owned teams are the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. The Raiders are the WHL’s defending champions and finished atop the East Division this season. The Warriors and Broncos wouldn’t have qualified for this season’s playoffs. . . .

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The Portland Winterhawks have laid off employees from their front office and from their Portlandhockey staff, Taking Note was told on Monday morning. . . . The Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers both have laid off staff and implemented pay cuts. . . . According to one WHL insider, the league, with the playoffs and Memorial Cup having been cancelled, also is expected to lay off some of its office staff. . . . The 22-team WHL suspended its regular season on March 12 and then cancelled it on March 18. The Winterhawks finished atop the U.S. Division and won the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy as regular-season champions; the Blazers finished first in the B.C. Division. . . . On Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week wrote that Blazers president Don Moores, in a text, had confirmed the “layoffs and pay cuts and opted to make no further comment.” . . . 



Dick Pound of Montreal, a longtime influential IOC Committee member, told Christine Brennan of USA TODAY on Monday: “On the basis of the information the IOC has, postponement has been decided. The parameters going forward have not been determined, but the Games are not going to start on July 24, that much I know.” . . . Her story is right here. . . .



Here’s how Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times began his Monday column:

We are surrounded by a cacophony of chaos, our lives filled with words of warning and dread and doom.

“I need a sound of spring. This being the formerly opening week of the postponed baseball season, I crave the melodious tones of the ballpark, the bunting, the hope.

“So, what the heck, I call Vin Scully.

“And, wouldn’t you know, he answers on the first ring.”

This is what we need in these trying times, and it’s all right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has his thought for the day, courtesy of H.L. Mencken: “Laws are no longer made by a rational process of public discussion; they are made by a process of blackmail and intimidation, and they are executed in the same manner. The typical lawmaker of today is a man wholly devoid of principle — a mere counter in a grotesque and knavish game. If the right pressure could be applied to him, he would be cheerfully in favor of polygamy, astrology or cannibalism.” . . .


During a brief drive on Sunday afternoon, I spotted two curb-side signs advertising Garage Sale. . . . Seriously! . . . Yeah, like I want to buy and bring home garage sale items during a pandemic. Yikes! . . .


Spruce Meadows, one of the world’s best show-jumping facilities, announced Monday that it has cancelled its summer season, clearing its calendar through July 5. The cancellations include four tournaments that had been scheduled over a five-week span, starting on June 4. . . . The Masters, scheduled for Sept 9-13, remains on the calendar, at least for now. . . .


Memorial Cup in June? Who knows? . . . Gallivan, Irvin stand test of time. Oh, do they! . . . Social distancing is the thing


The Memorial Cup, a four-team tournament for the CHL championship, is scheduled for Kelowna, May 22-31. If it is held, the tournament will include the host Rockets and the OHL, QMJHL and WHL champions. . . . Bob McKenzie, the godfather of TSN’s Insiders, reported Thursday that the Rockets “have secured the ice for June if the Memorial Cup needs to be moved back a month. And they’re also working on hotel blocks just in case. No one is necessarily optimistic but all options are still on the table for the Memorial Cup.” . . .

Interestingly, as is noted in the tweet below from Kevin Shaw, the first game of the 1919 Memorial Cup — the first time the trophy was contested — was played on March 19, 1919.



Not many, if any, WHL players appear to have been made available to the media since the league shut down on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kamloops Blazers, though, made captain Zane Franklin available for a chat with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. Franklin, who was busy helping Mom bake cookies on the family’s farm, was, well, frank as he usually is during the conversation, even explaining that he and his teammates “were all a little worried because we were in that area where it was getting bad” during a road swing into Washington state a few days before the shut down. “It was kind of nerve-racking, but we saw we were healthy, so were weren’t too worried after that. I’m as healthy as I can be.” . . . The whole piece is right here.


Irvin 2
On a cool day in November 1988, Dick Irvin (right) tells me about growing up in central Regina. (Photo: Patrick Pettit/Regina Leader-Post)

If you were like me on Thursday afternoon, you were flipping channels and stumbled the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders playing Game 6 of the 1983 Prince of Wales Conference final on Sportsnet. . . . The Islanders, behind four goals from Mike Bossy, beat the visiting Bruins, 8-4, to win the series, 4-2. . . . Oh, the 30 minutes I was able to watch were glorious. . . . The great Danny Gallivan calling the play and the observant Dick Irvin providing colour/analysis from right beside him. It was glorious. . . . Of course, you notice the all-white boards and a playing surface interrupted only by lines necessary for the game to be played. . . . There were a handful of players without helmets, and Butch Goring of the Islanders wearing his infamous Spaps helmet. . . . The goaltenders — Billy Smith of the Islanders and Pete Peeters of the Bruins — looked to be half of the size of today’s behemoths. . . . And, well, I’m thinking that today’s players, on the whole, are much better skaters than those from days of yore. . . . BTW, the Islanders also got goals from Goring, Brent Sutter, Bryan Trottier and Wayne Merrick. . . . Rick Middleton, with two, Craig MacTavish and Ray Bourque scored for the Bruins. . . .

Hearing Irvin’s voice brought back memories of a cool November day in 1988 when he visited Regina while promoting his book, Now Back To You Dick. Leader-Post photographer Patrick Pettit, sports writer Rob Vanstone and I met Irvin in central Regina and we strolled around the neighbourhood in which Irvin had spent his childhood. . . . “I don’t get teary-eyed or sentimental thinking about Regina,” Irvin said at the time. “I still come back. It’s not like I’ve been away 20 years.” . . . Irvin, then 56, had moved to Montreal in 1951. His father, Dick Sr., spent 27 seasons as an NHL coach — 14 with the Canadiens. . . . The family home, built by Dick Sr. in 1921, had been demolished in 1985. By the time we visited the area, there wasn’t any sign of the pigeons, chickens and show dogs that had been raised in the backyard. . . . “I’m glad I wasn’t walking down the street when the wreckers came in,” Irvin said.



Not only has the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season, but, as Kelly Moore of radio station CJOB reports, it has had to postpone its 50th anniversary gala and awards dinner that was scheduled for May 13. . . . Moore reported that the decision to end the season came “moments before last Thursday’s opening game of the MMJHL McKenzie Cup playoffs between the St. Vital Victorias and Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins at the St. Vital Arena.” According to Moore: “The players had actually warmed up, on-ice officials were ready to go, and fans were in the stands when both teams were advised the game was not going to be played.”



If your are a follower of the PGA Tour, you should know that the next scheduled stop is the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, May 21-24. . . . The first major of the season, now that the Masters has been bumped, is the U.S. Open that is scheduled for Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., June 18-21.



Hey, I don’t know where the puck is, but I’m thinking these are the hottest sweaters I saw this hockey season. Yikes, these are good!

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


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

Scattershooting

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


IKEA


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



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



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


English


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



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


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


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


Doctor


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


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



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

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating greatness of Ken Dryden’s latest book . . .

Scattershooting

Helene Elliott of the Los Angeles Times: “If any good can come from the events that led to Bill Peters’ resignation Friday as (head) coach of the Calgary Flames . . . it will be to launch discussions about what constitutes appropriate behavior for coaches at every level in hockey, and beyond. Start with this: Anyone who resorts to physical or verbal abuse to convey a message is a coward and doesn’t deserve the honor of being called ‘coach’.”



There are a lot of parents who send their teenagers off to hockey academies, while other adults shake their heads and wonder: “Why?” . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week granted anonymity to the parents of eight such players and the results are right here. It’s worth your time; it’s also enlightening, scary and food for thought, especially the apparent lack of trust in those responsible for minor hockey.


People inside the WHL have long said that a 15-year-old player is allowed to get into five games per season so long as his club team’s season is ongoing. Unless, of course, there are emergency circumstances involved. I note that highly touted F Matt Savoie, 15, played in his sixth game of the season for the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday night. I would suggest the over-under for his first season with the Ice is 20 GP. Hey, Hockey Canada, what say you? . . . BTW, Savoie has one assist in his first six WHL games.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times makes a valid point: “Not that football needs another rule or anything, but any player who goes nutso celebrating a first down, a touchdown or a turnover — when his team is trailing by three or more scores — should get flagged 15 yards for stupidity.”



Patrick Beverley, a guard with the Chicago Bulls, grew up in West Chicago. “Coming from where I come from,” he told ESPN, “I didn’t have the luxury of having a trust fund. Or money from generations. Or the luxury of hoppin’ into the family business, you know? It’s either hoop or you sell dope.”


If you don’t have Ken Dryden’s latest book — Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other — on your Christmas list I would suggest you get it on there ASAP. If you are a hockey fan, this is a book like no other. I couldn’t wait until Christmas to get my hands on a copy, and I haven’t been disappointed. Yes, it’s about Scotty Bowman, but it’s so much more than a book about one man. No binge reading with this one; it’s one chapter at a time in the hopes that I can make it last and last.



Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, writing about the sign-stealing scandal in baseball: “Is baseball the stupidest sport? Bad question. It’s not even close. Only in baseball, this kind of thinking: ‘I’ve got an idea. We steal signals from opposing catchers with a spy cam. Nobody will know, except all 25 of our players, the manager and coaches, bat boys, the camera crew, and people we tell in bars when we’ve had too many, so it will be easy to keep it a secret, as long as none of those people have a conscience or character. Nobody on the outside will ever bust us, unless they have ears or look at a box score. We could win some games, and the only downside is that if we get caught, we’ll all be branded cheaters, liars and losers forever. Let’s do it!’ ”



There have been whispers that when Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones makes a coaching change, the new guy will be Urban Meyer. As Bob Molinaro scribbled in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot: “Can we look forward to the Urban Cowboy? The headline is too good to go to waste.”



How badly were the New England Patriots exposed during Sunday’s 28-22 loss to the Texans in Houston, which was far worse than the score would seem to indicate? Is it something that a wide receiver capable of beating man coverage could cure? No, I didn’t think so either. . . . But you were sad — really sad — to see the Patriots lose, weren’t you?


Derek Boogard, 28, died on May 31, 2011, of an accidental overdose after mixing prescription painkillers with alcohol. . . . Rick Rypien was 27 when he committed suicide on Aug. 15, 2011. . . . Wade Belak was 35 when he committed suicide on Aug. 31, 2011. . . . Todd Ewen, 49, committed suicide on Sept. 29, 2015. . . . All four were NHL enforcers. All four also were WHL enforcers. . . . After death, all four were found to have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). . . . Still, the WHL continues to condone fighting; in fact, the Brandon Wheat Kings and host Winnipeg Ice were involved in a line brawl on Saturday night. . . . If you haven’t seen it, Virginia Smart and Lisa Ellenwood of CBC News have a story right here and there is a link in the story to a piece by The Fifth Estate. It focuses on Belak and it’s scary.


Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .

Scattershooting

Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .



ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.


If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at whl.ca. . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


SpiderMan


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.


Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!


In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?

——

That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.

——-

When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.

——

This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.



I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


Superman


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.

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BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”


You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.


Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


DogVoice

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how it was that Hogan’s Heroes ate so well . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, on the state of the NBA today: “The NBA and its fans must come to grips with the fact that a new era has dawned. Professional basketball in the U.S. now is part of the Age of Load Management (ALM). The inexorable fact of life in the ALM is that a fan who tunes into a game — or purchases a ticket to see a game at an arena — cannot rely on seeing star players perform even when those star players are perfectly healthy. Now, if you think as I do that far too many NBA regular-season games are nothing more than an exhibition of dunks and 3-point shot attempts, the last thing you want to see is such a contest populated by the junior varsity.”



“Seattle Mariners infielder Tim Beckham drew an 80-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Considering he’s been hitting .211 since April 7, here’s hoping he kept the sales slip.”

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One more from Perry: “Two weeks after the LPGA Tour’s Dow Great Lakes Invitational included a Anannarukarn-Thanapolboonyaras twosome, Im and An shot 62s to share the first-round lead at the PGA Tour’s Wyndham Championship. That, folks, is what you call an overcorrection.”


Horses


The B.C. Lions are 1-7 after giving up a 15-point lead and losing, 35-34, to the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton on Saturday night. They also are the CFL’s biggest tire fire, lacking a pass rush and an ability to keep quarterback Mike Reilly on his feet. . . . The Lions visit the Winnipeg Blue Bombers (6-2) on Thursday, then return home to face the Tiger-Cats on Aug. 24. You are free to wonder just how many fans will show up for that one, especially if the Lions lose to Winnipeg and go home with a 1-8 record.

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The Lions were at home to the Edmonton Eskimos on July 11. The announced attendance for what was a 33-6 loss was 17,026. But theBreaker.news checked with PavCo, the landlord at B.C. Place, and the actual attendance was 12,502. . . . On July 27, the Lions dropped a 45-18 decision to the visiting Saskatchewan Roughriders before an announced crowd of 20,950.


DalaiLama


If you are wondering how this blog got to this point, moving from hockey to kidneys, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week explains it all right here.


If you haven’t seen the latest from Patti Dawn Swansson, it’s right here, including a rather timely fact check on Postmedia sports columnist Steve Simmons.


The Oakland A’s signed Nathan Patterson the other day after he hit 94 m.p.h. — or maybe it was 96 — on a radar gun in a booth at a minor-league game. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“I stepped into one of those booths about 15 years ago. Gave ’em my best Bruce Springsteen “Glory Days” speedball. The read-out was somewhere in the 50s. High 50s, as I recall. I slunk away, cursing the defective radar gun. Iced my throbbing arm for a week.

“Those speed-gun booths are to orthopedic surgeons what Halloween is to dentists. You warm up with a beer and a churro, then fire the rock as hard as you can? Snap, crackle, pop.”


File this one under ‘The More Things Change . . .’


Thread . . .


The 2019 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for Sept. 22. Dorothy Drinnan will be walking for a sixth straight year after having a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . If you would like to support her, you are able to do so right here. . . . Thank you, in advance.


Weaving