WHL vaccine announcement on tap? . . . Blazers add Holick to staff . . . Winterhawks sign Czech defender

It has been suggested to me that the WHL will have an announcement of some WHL2sort regarding COVID-19 precautions today (Friday) or early next week. . . . No, I have no idea what that announcement might involve, but you have to think it will involve something to do with mandatory vaccinations for all involved. After all, that is exactly what the OHL and QMJHL have done, and the WHL also plays under the CHL umbrella. . . . It can’t be easy for the WHL with 22 teams scattered across four provinces and two states, meaning that there are a whole lot of health officials with whom to deal. . . . But training camps are less than three weeks away and there are nine exhibition games scheduled for the Sept. 10 weekend. In other words, as Danny Gallivan would have said, time is of the essence.

In the meantime, some Thursday headlines from WHL country . . .

Laura Sciarpelletti, CBC Saskatchewan — COVID-19 is once again ramping up in Sask. Today spike in new cases with 141, 51 higher than Wednesday. The province hasn’t recorded this many new cases in a single day since May 30. Two more deaths. 40% of all new cases are in the 20-39 age category.

Tri-City Herald — Public health officials fear they will see a surge in deaths from COVID-19 and even higher demand for hospital care as the delta variant drives new daily cases higher. . . . The Tri-Cities area had 470 new COVID-19 cases announced on Thursday, bringing the confirmed cases reported since last Friday to 220 per day on average. That’s up from an average of 58 new cases per day just three weeks ago.

CBC News — Alberta reports 550 new COVID-19 cases, highest daily case count since late May.

Byron Hackett, Red Deer Advocate — Most cases since late May. And on Monday, the province stops most contact tracing and isolation. Good times.

CBC News, 6:26 p.m. PT — Alberta is rowing back on plans to end COVID-19 protocols including isolation requirements, asymptomatic testing and contact tracing by Aug. 16, a government source told CBC News. The province’s health guidelines will remain in place for now, the source said.

CHAT News Today — A month ago on July 18, there were fewer than 10 active COVID-19 cases in Medicine Hat. Now the city has a record-high 361 active cases, with 12 people currently in hospital.

CBC News — British Columbia announced 513 new cases of COVID-19 and one more death on Thursday, as the seven-day rolling average of new cases in the province rises to its highest level since May 21. . . . A total of 81 people are in hospital, with 33 in intensive care. Overall hospitalizations, which typically lag behind spikes and dips in new cases, are up 40 per cent from last Thursday, when 58 people were in hospital with the disease and have doubled from their 2021 low 18 days ago.

KIRO7 Seattle — Washington superintendent Chris Reykdal requested Gov. Jay Inslee to issue an executive order to make the COVID-19 vaccine a requirement for all K-12 school employees.

KATU News — Oregon — like Florida, Arkansas and Louisiana — has more people in the hospital with COVID-19 than at any other point in the pandemic.

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Guy Flaming, host of The Pipeline Show, asked his Twitter followers this week: “Should the WHL follow the lead of the OHL and QMJHL mandating full vaccination for ‘all players, coaches, trainers, team and league staff, officials, volunteers and billet families?’ ” . . . By Thursday night, he had received 335 responses with 79.1 per cent voting “Yes.”

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Asked about a mandatory vaccination policy by Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, Dan Price, the Royals’ general manager and head coach, replied: “We don’t have an answer to that. The league is assessing that now. They are working with each health jurisdiction, including in the U.S.”

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CTV News has reported that the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers are discussing whether to follow the Winnipeg Jets, who have mandated that all employees, event staff and guests must be fully vaccinated and that masks will be required at all home games in 2021-22. In a statement to CTV, the Oilers ssaid: ”We are in on-going conversations with Alberta Health, Canadian venues, the NHL and other key stakeholders. Once finalized, we will communicate our plan at an appropriate time in advance on the 2021-22 NHL season.” . . . The Oilers own the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and both teams use the same facility. So you are free to wonder whether a decision one way or the other by the Oilers will impact the Oil Kings. . . . As for the Calgary Flames, who own the WHL’s Hitmen, they told CTV in a statement: “We aren’t in a position to make any comments on that at this point. See you in September.”


As expected, the Kamloops Blazers introduced Mark Holick as their new associate coach on Thursday. . . . Holick, 52, will work alongside general manager and head coach Shaun Clouston. . . . Holick replaces Cory Clouston, Shaun’s brother, who left the organization on Wednesday, saying that he wanted to spend more time with his daughter. . . . Holick, the U-18 prep head coach at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., for the past three seasons, is a former WHL coach of the year. He was the head coach of the Kootenay Ice (2007-10) when he was honoured as coach of the year for 2009-10. He also was the head coach of the Prince George Cougars for three-plus seasons (2013-16). . . . In his playing days, Holick played four seasons (1984-88) with the Saskatoon Blades and New Westminster Bruins. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has a story right here explaining how Holick ended up with the Blazers.


Arm


The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Ty Thorpe, 19, from the Brandon Wheat VancouverKings for a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Thorpe, from Brandon, was selected by the Victoria Royals in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. He was traded to the Wheat Kings in January 2018. In 136 regular-season games, all with Brandon, he had 10 goals and 20 assists. In the 2021 development season, he had three goals and three assists in 21 games.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Czech D Marek Alscher to a WHL Portlandcontract. They selected him in the CHL’s 2021 import draft on June 30. . . . Alscher, 17, had one assist in four games while playing for Czech Republic in the recently completed Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Alscher has spent the past two seasons playing in Finland with the Pelicans organization. In 2020-21, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 games with the U-18 team. . . . The Winterhawks also hold the WHL rights to Danish D Jonas Brondberg, 20, who had six assists in 20 games in the 2021 development season. As a 20-year-old, he would be a two-spotter should he return.



The Saskatoon Blades have acquired F Brendan Lee, 19, from the Everett Silvertips for G Koen MacInnes, 19. . . . Lee, from Seattle, had two goals and four assists in 17 games in the 2021 development season. In 71 career regular-season games, he has 11 goals and eight assists. The Silvertips signed the updrafted Lee out of the Colorado Thunderbirds program. . . . MacInnes backed up Nolan Maier each of the past two seasons, going 18-7-2, 2.78, .901 in 31 games. . . . Maier is expected to return for his 20-year-old season, with one of two 17-year-olds — Ethan Chadwick or Austin Elliott — backing him up. . . . In Everett, MacInnes, who is from Burnaby, B.C., will pair up with Braden Holt, 18, in goal.


Pi


CBC News — Everyone working in long-term care and assisted living in B.C., including volunteers and personal care workers, will now be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

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Rolling Stone — The Killers will require fans attending their New York City warmup gig on August 19th to be both vaccinated and show a negative Covid test.

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Claudia Cautillo, CTV News — Queen’s University now among growing number of Canadian universities requiring all students, staff, and faculty returning to campus to be vaccinated against COVID-19. (Note: In the past couple of days, Carleton U, U of Guelph, U of Ottawa, U of Toronto, and Western all have gone public with mandatory vaccination protocols.)

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The Victoria HarbourCats and Nanaimo NightOwls of baseball’s West Coast League may not be playing this season because of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention. The teams are owned by Shwing Batter Investment Group and it has announced that vaccinations will be mandatory for all players, coaches and staff members. The protocol also will apply to the Victoria Golden Tide, a new team that is to play in the Canadian College Baseball Conference. . . . “Our people are out in the community,” Jim Swanson, the organization’s managing partner, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist. “Our programs travel — we take ferries, and cross borders — we cannot operate in a bubble. The programs are too complex.”

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Proving that COVID-19 hasn’t forgotten about the stocks, Max Papis has tested positive so won’t be running this weekend in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series on the Indy road course. Papis, 51, was going to race for the first time since 2013 this weekend. . . . J.J. Yeley will replace Papis behind the wheel of the No. 17 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

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CBC News: The Toronto International Film Festival says proof of COVID-19 vaccination won’t be required to enter its venues, but masks will be mandatory for anyone attending in-person screenings, and talent and media will be tested regularly.

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KETV NewsWatch 7 — Nebraska health care systems will require employees to get vaccinated.

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The New York Times — San Francisco will impose some of the toughest restrictions on unvaccinated people in the U.S., barring them from indoor dining, bars, gyms and more.


Cinderella


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.


Irony

NFL to be hard on unvaccinated . . . Bergson 17-parter on Wheaties arrives Monday . . . Ice inks two imports

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall in the locker room of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills?

The NFL on Thursday informed its teams that it won’t be postponing any games that can’t be played for COVID-related reasons because there isn’t room in the 18-game schedule. The NFL also said that if a team can’t field a team because of virus spread within unvaccinated players, then that team will forfeit the game and be given a loss in the standings, something that could have rather expensive playoff implications.

As well, the NFL said the forfeiting team would be responsible for all expenses incurred by the other club and that players from both teams wouldn’t be paid for the missed game. The forfeiting team also could be disciplined by Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner.

That brings us to the Bills . . .

Here’s a tweet from OG Jonathan Feliciano, out of the U of Miami: “It’s been proven that COVID was made in lab. Fauci also a part of Pfizer . . . that’s why ppl don’t want to get the vaccine. Sad to come to the realization that you can not trust the government. #dontshootthemessenger.”

And then there was this one from WR Cole Beasley, an SMU product who has been spewing anti-vaxx stuff for a while now: “The players association is a joke. Call it something different. It’s not for the players. Everyone gives me the 98 percent of people who are vaccinated don’t get cover again. The odds of me getting in the NFL and playing for 10 years are lower than that and I’m here.”

Meanwhile, DE Jerry Hughes Jr., who played at TCU, came at it like this: “Sooo the top scientists in the entire world got together to figure out how to combat Covid-19. And when they came up with a vaccine, you question them. They are trying to save lives and you have doubt.”

Yes, these could be interesting times around the Bills, who are scheduled to open camp on Wednesday.

And then there was WR DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals, who fired off this tweet: “Never thought I would say this, But being put in a position to hurt my team because I don’t want to partake in the vaccine is making me question my future in the @NFL.”

Shortly after, Hopkins deleted that tweet, and added this one: “Btw I got about 9 more years in me, y’all have a good day”

That second tweet might have something to do with the fact that were Hopkins to leave the NFL, he would have to repay the Cardinals US$22 million in unearned signing bonus money.

BTW, last week The Associated Press reported that the NFL had four teams that didn’t have as many as 50 percent of their players vaccinated, although it now says those teams have surpassed that mark. USA TODAY reported that 78 percent of NFL players have had at least one shot.

Earlier, the NFL had told its teams that unvaccinated players will be subjected to daily testing; will have to wear masks inside the team facility; won’t be allowed to leave the team hotel while on the road other than for the game; and won’t be allowed to eat meals with teammates on the road or at the team facility.


Organizers announced 19 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday that have been linked to the Tokyo Olympics. With the Games about to get into high gear, the total since July 1 rests at 106. . . .

Remember that it was IOC president Thomas Bach who said a while back that there was “zero risk” of there being any spread because of these Games. . . .

Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who is in Tokyo: “As the circus gets under way, the citizens of Tokyo are going about their business in this city, which is somewhat muted under a state of emergency. There are no visible protests, but the displeasure is clear. It has been measured by polls that show how opposed the public is to these Games. Perhaps the most damning development is that Toyota pulled all its Olympic-related advertising in the country. One of the most important corporations in Japan doesn’t want to give any implication of endorsing these COVID Games.”


Phil Hoad, at theguardian.com: “From Wednesday, showing either a health pass, or proof of a negative PCR test dated to within 48 hours, is obligatory in France for anyone wishing to access any cultural or leisure facilities with a capacity of more than 50 people. This includes cinemas, art galleries, libraries, museums, sports centres and work-related events. Cafes, restaurants and trains will fall under the measures at the beginning of August.

“The measures are part of President Macron’s push to reignite France’s flagging vaccination drive amid a fourth wave of the pandemic. With 18,000 cases reported in the 24 hours prior to 20 July, French government spokesman Gabriel Attal described the Delta variant-driven surge as ‘stratospheric’; the national week-on-week infection rate has jumped 125% to 86 per 100,000, well above the national alert threshold of 50.”

The New York Times: “Italy said it will require vaccination proof or a negative Covid test for many social activities, including indoor dining and attending shows, as debate grows over limits being placed on the unvaccinated. France made a similar announcement last week.”


If the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings aren’t the greatest team in WHL history, Brandonthey certainly are in the discussion. Perry Bergson covers the Wheat Kings for the Brandon Sun and is about to unleash a 17-part series on that team, one that went 58-5-9 — the 9 representing ties (remember them?) — and earned 125 of a possible 144 regular-season points. . . . The Wheat Kings won the WHL title that season, but lost the Memorial Cup final in OT. . . . The series will include a capsule on each of the 104 games the team played that season. . . . Bergson, who finished the writing part on Wednesday at 6 a.m., will have a new feature each day as he looks at the 21 players and the late Dunc McCallum, who was the team’s coach. Bergson also has been into The Sun’s photo files and the series will include previously unpublished pics. . . . It all starts on Monday. Watch for it!


Murphy


As I do from time to time, I would like to point out that the cartoons that appear on this website are provided by Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. . . . Thanks a bunch, Jack. . . . And if you haven’t already you should check out his rants at sportscurmudgeon.com. It’s well worth a daily visit.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed D Martin Bohm and D Maximilian Streule to WHL Winnipegcontracts. . . . Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Bohm, 18, is from Czech Republic. From a news release: “Bohm played for Bili Tygri Liberec in the Czech U20 league where he scored three goals and added seven assists in eight games. He also spent time playing for HC Benatky nad Jizerou in the Czech2 league where he scored two goals in 17 games.  Bohm has represented the Czech Republic at the U16 and U18 levels.” . . . Streule, 17, is from Switzerland. He played last season with the GCK Lions in a U20-Elit league, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


Stabbing


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Kris Mallette, the head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, has been added as an assistant coach for Hockey Canada’s U-18 team’s summer development camp. He replaces Dennis Williams, the GM/head coach of the Everett Silvertips, who now is an assistant coach with the national junior team. . . . Carter Duffin has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as assistant general manager and assistant coach. He spent the past three seasons as the GM/head coach of the junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Kelly Buchberger, whose contract as the head coach of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans wasn’t renewed, has joined the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens, as an assistant coach. Buchberger, who spent three seasons with the Americans, signed a three-year deal with Laval. . . . The Americans haven’t yet introduced their next head coach. . . .

Daniel Renaud has signed on as the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes. Renaud was the Cataractes’ head coach for three seasons (2017-20) before moving on to become head coach of the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Jason Clarke, former GM/head coach of the Carleton Place Canadians of the junior A CCHL is joining Shawinigan as an assistant coach. . . Darryl Robinson has taken over as the director of scouting for the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles. He joined the Eagles’ scouting staff in 2020 after working with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs.


Stab

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if Golden Knights will have to pay that hotel bill . . .

Scattershooting2


Kelly McCrimmon has eaten hundreds of pre-game meals since 1977. That’s when he first played junior hockey, with the Prince Albert Raiders, who then were in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

VegasBut even with that kind of history, McCrimmon, 60, experienced a first involving a pregame meal on Friday in San Jose.

The former owner, general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, McCrimmon now is the general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, who were in San Jose on Friday to begin a weekend doubleheader with the Sharks.

The Golden Knights were staying at the Fairmont Hotel in downtown San Jose, which is where they gathered for their pregame meal early on Friday afternoon. As things turned out, those were the last meals anyone will be having in that hotel, at least for a while.

That’s because the hotel declared bankruptcy — the San Jose Mercury News reported that its owners’ debts are between $100 million and $500 million — and it shut its doors as the Golden Knights were enjoying dessert.

“Crazy times,” McCrimmon told me on Saturday night. “Staff had no idea it was coming. They got ushered right out of the building.”

The Golden Knights, had to pack their bags, then head to the SAP Center for Friday’s game, knowing that at game’s end they would be going to a different hotel.

While the disruption no doubt gave them something to talk about, it didn’t seem to bother the players on the ice. The Golden Knights beat the Sharks, 5-4 in OT, on Friday, then 4-0 on Saturday.

Justin Emerson of the Las Vegas Sun pointed out: “This will affect more than just the Golden Knights. Because of NHL virus protocols, the league designates one hotel in a city to serve as every visiting team’s lodging to ensure the hotel abides by league rules. So when the St. Louis Blues come to town on Monday, they won’t be staying at the Fairmont Hotel.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Many spring training ballparks have opened up to a limited number of fans, so how do half of those fans show their gratitude to be at a live ballgame after a year of quarantine? By refusing to mask up and protect the other fans from that still-deadly virus. I salute you anti-maskers for your fearlessness and courage, your refusal to be bullied by nerdy scientists, but some of your fellow fans are allergic to death.”


I smiled when I heard from an old friend the other day. He and his wife had had to make a driving trip that took them along the Yellowhead Highway and through Hinton, Alta.

After arriving back home, he messaged me: “I smile when I see ‘Old Drinnan Town’ sign.”

That would be the same sign that welcomes all comers to this website. Yes, it’s a real sign, located just off the highway a few slapshots east of Hinton.

(BTW, a chunk of the Trans-Canada Highway that runs through Hinton actually is Gregg Avenue. Oh, and Gregg Lake is about 30 km north of Hinton. And let’s not forget Mount Drinnan, which is located near Drinnan Creek about 30 km south of Hinton.)


Headline at The Onion: COVID Announces Plan To Move Operations To Texas Full-Time To Escape Burdensome Regulations.


“A Tom Brady rookie trading card — an autographed 2000 Playoff Contenders Championship Ticket version — sold for a record $1.32 million last week,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Or more than 1½ times what his latest Super Bowl counterpart, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, got paid in base salary last season.”

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Here’s Perry, again: “March 4, in case you missed it, was supposed to be National Grammar Day. So we checked a bunch of breathless-fanboy message boards, and no, it didn’t appear to be.”


Triangle


The Sports Curmudgeon (aka Jack Finarelli) was at his best earlier this week after the Washington Football Team announced that it is replacing its cheerleading squad with a co-ed dance team. . . . Remember that the curmudgeonly one lives in the Washinton, D.C., area, and that he has referred to the team as the WTFs since the moment the organization dropped its previous nickname. . . .

“I know,” he wrote about the co-ed dance team announcement. “It is enough to take your breath away.”

He continued: “That announcement is about as important as nose hairs on a statue; cheerleaders for NFL teams are worthless and co-ed dance teams for NFL teams are no better.  At its absolute best, consider this announcement by the team — and obliquely by the NFL — as a means to divert attention to the fact that after 8 months of ‘investigating,’ there are no findings regarding sexual harassment and a ‘toxic work environment’ for female cheerleaders there.”

You are able to find his entire thoughts on all of this right here.



The WHL and the AJHL announced their latest virus-testing results on Friday. . . . The WHL was clean through 602 tests for the period from Feb. 27 through March 5. That involved 428 tests on the seven teams in the Regina hub and another 159 for the five Alberta teams. . . . The five Saskatchewan and two Manitoba teams in Regina had each player and staff member tested twice — once upon arrival and again after quarantine. As a result of all tests being negatives, teams were cleared to start on-ice work on Friday. . . . Meanwhile, the AJHL ran 385 tests through 13 teams without a positive test among players and staff. Everyone will be tested once more before games begin on March 12.



The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League announced Saturday that it has suspended play for the remainder of the 2020-21 season. “Our decision reflects the uncertain timeline and lack of direction from Public Health with respect to game play,” the league said in a news release that carries the signature of Levi A. Taylor, its commissioner. . . . On the heels of that announcement, the Manitoba Female Hockey League (U18 AAA) cancelled its regular season and playoffs.


Goat


Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune with something worth thinking about: “Players hate going to the NBA All-Star Game — as they should — and get upset when they’re not invited.”


Curlers got through the Scotties Tournament of Hearts for the Canadian women’s championship without any issues in a bubble in Calgary. The Tim Hortons Brier for the Canadian men’s championship started on Friday. . . . Earlier in the day, it was announced that the LGT world women’s championship will be played in the same bubble with 14 teams competing from April 30 through May 9. This is a big event because the top six finishers qualify for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. . . . That same Calgary bubble will be home to the Home Hardware Canadian mixed doubles championship, and the BKT Tires/OK Tire world men’s championship, and two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling events.


There is smoke coming out of Seattle and it has to do with whether QB Russell Wilson wants to leave the Seahawks. LaToya Cantrell, the mayor of New Orleans, went so far as to make a pitch on behalf of her Saints. . . . That elicited this response form Jenny Durkan, Seattle’s mayor, who tweeted: ““I love you Mayor, but keep your eyes off @DangeRussWilson. His home is Seattle. #GoHawks. And so you know, Seattle is in the market for a @NBA team. Don’t make me go there.”


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Kyle Chipchura, who played in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06), is getting into the coaching game. He has joined the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 prep team as an assistant coach for 2021-22. Chipchura, 35, was the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2001 bantam draft. He went on to play 481 regular-season NHL games and was in the KHL for the past four seasons (2016-20). . . . Brayden Toma is the new head coach of the U15 prep team. He has been at the academy since the 2017-18 season.


Sheep

QMJHL taking seven teams into bubble . . . BCHL cancels some games . . . MJHL shuts down three more teams



While you may be aware that this was a week for hard-hitting journalism, you may not be aware as to precisely how hard-hitting it was. . . . For example, on the evening of the U.S. election, Jordan Armstrong, an anchor and reporter with Global TV in Vancouver, was decrying an apparent shortage of Hawkins Cheezies in his part of the world. . . . Someone suggested via Twitter, of course, that there was a pandemic-related shortage. . . . It remained for Steve Ewen of Postmedia to do the grunt work. On Wednesday morning, Ewen contacted the good people at Hawkins via email and received this response: “Due to the covid virus we were behind in production in the spring, but have ramped up production and are making and shipping record amounts.” . . . Ewen ended his tweet with: “Glad to bring good news.” . . . Jason Pires of CTV Vancouver followed with: “Excellent, important journalism.” . . . I’m just thrilled to know Cheezies will be available for my Christmas stocking. I was beginning to get worried.



Dummy


Headline at TheOnion.com: Antonio Brown agrees to one-year plea deal with Tampa Bay Buccaneers.


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Dodgers players and employees allowed or encouraged virus-positive Justin Turner to join the on-field World Series celebration, in defiance of MLB security. Fines, penalties, suspensions? Zero. I’m starting to wonder what you have to do to get Rob Manfred ticked off.”


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “MLB announced its won’t discipline Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner for returning to the field to celebrate his team’s World Series championship after testing positive mid-game for COVID-19. Hey, it was either that or suspend him for 10 spring-training games.”


You may have heard that Jon Gruden, the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders, was fined $150,000 for repeated violations of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols. As Dan Daly of ProFootballDaly.com put it: “Maybe it would help if somebody explained to Gruden that COVID gets up even earlier in the morning than he does.”


Here’s Chad Picasner, who blogs at chadpicasner.blogspot.com, describing Major League Baseball today: “You used to judge a pitcher by things like: How good is his curveball? Or how hard does he throw? Now you need to know spin rates, arm angles and BABIP, which is Batting Average of Balls In Play. Hitting coaches have to know bat speed, time in the zone and launch angles. Base-running coaches need to know . . . a different career, since the new metrics frown on stealing bases.”


Airport


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .


The QMJHL announced Sunday that it is going to move seven of its Quebec-qmjhlnewbased team into a bubble in Quebec City, from Nov. 17-27. . . . Interestingly, one of those teams — the Chicoutimi Sagueneens — had a member of its organization test positive and suspended all activities on Saturday. . . . According to the QMJHL, its plan has gotten the all-clear from the province’s Assembly of Members and public health officials. . . . The seven teams, each of which is located in a provincially designated red zone so recently was shut down, are Chicoutimi, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada, Drummondville Voltigeurs, Gatineau Olympiques, Quebec Remparts, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres. . . . Each team is to play six regular-season games at the Videotron Centre in Quebec City. . . . Earlier, the Armada had to shut things down after experiencing 18 positive tests. All told, it’s believed that QMJHL teams have had about 30 positive tests. . . . On Oct. 15, the Quebec government said it would give the QMJHL $12 million in funding to help the Quebec-based teams through the pandemic. . . . Roby St-Gelais of Le Journal de Quebec reported that each organization will be allowed to have 34 people in the bubble, with a maximum of 25 being players. On-ice officials also will be isolated in the bubble. Unless something changes, media and scouts won’t be permitted to attend. . . . St-Gelais also reported that the QMJHL still is working on the process for testing those in the bubble. As he pointed out, a “COVID-19 test costs an average of $200” in the private sector.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,397 new cases of COVID-19. This is Quebec’s highest single-day increase according to Public Health Canada’s historical data. The province also added 9 deaths, for a total of 6,440 deaths since the pandemic began.

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The BCHL has cancelled seven exhibition games involving its four Lower BCHLMainland teams — the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen and Surrey Eagles — in light of restrictions announced Saturday by the province’s health officer. . . . Those games were to have been played from Nov. 13-21. . . . Under the restrictions, all indoor sports incapable of physical distancing have been suspended in two health regions — Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal — until Nov. 23. . . . Powell River is within Vancouver Coastal, but the BCHL is awaiting clarification on the status of the Kings. Powell River is in a two-team cohort, along with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. They were to have played on Sunday in Duncan, but the game was cancelled because of travel restrictions that also were implemented. . . . The four Lower Mainland teams were playing in a cohort among themselves. . . . The BCHL has said that it wants to open its regular season in “early December.”

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Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that he MJHL has had to shut down three more teams as part of the decision by mjhlManitoba health officials to declare the Southern Health Region a red zone. The Portage Terriers, Steinbach Pistons and Winkler Flyers have joined the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze in a holding pattern. . . . The Pistons, Steelers, Blue and Freeze comprise the Southeast Division, while the Terriers and Flyers are in the Interior Division with the Virden Oil Capitals and Neepawa Natives. . . . The OCN Blizzard, one of four teams in the Northwest Division, were shut down last week after a player tested positive.

Brandon Sun: Three more people have died and 441 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in Manitoba on Sunday.

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CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 159 new cases of COVID-19, a new single-day record, and 1 new death. The province has 1,122 active cases.32 people are in hospital, including 7 in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 727 new cases of COVID-19 and 6 new deaths for a total of 33,504 cases and 363 deaths since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Nunavut’s 2nd case of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Sanikiluaq. The territory’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Michael Patterson says: “The individual is part of the same household as the first positive case, is asymptomatic, isolated and is doing well.”

The New York Times: The U.S. reported its 10 millionth coronavirus case on Sunday. The latest million was added in just the last 10 days, and the country now accounts for about one-fifth of all reported cases in the world.

The New York Times: The U.S. surpassed 10 million coronavirus cases on Sunday, and experts say the virus is spreading out of control. With winter ahead, the next 73 days before Inauguration Day could be critical for controlling the pandemic.

Minyvonne Burke of NBC News reported Sunday that the Los Angeles Dodgers have had nine positive tests within their organization. As well, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, one family member has tested positive. . . . It isn’t known if Dodgers 3B Justin Turner is included in the total. Turner was removed late in the team’s Game 6 World Series-clinching victory on Oct. 27, but returned to the field to take part in the post-game celebrations in Arlington, Texas.


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Mike Bianchi, in the Orlando Sentinel: “Why did the officials pick up the flag for pass interference on the Tampa Bay Bucs during the potential game-tying two-point conversion for the New York Giants on Monday Night Football? Because Daniel Jones threw the pass and not Tom Brady. No matter what the sport is, don’t ever forget this: The studs get the calls and duds don’t.”


Horses

Regular seasons all done for WHL, OHL, QMJHL . . . Will there be playoffs? . . . The waiting game continues . . .


The WHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled what remains of its regular season. When the WHL suspended play on March 12, the 22 teams had a total of 54 games remaining before the season was to wind up on March 22. . . . The 22-team WHL still is hoping to get its playoffs in “at a later date,” according to a statement. . . . The WHL’s final standings have been “determined by using win percentage” for its teams, reads a statement from the league. Actually, as TBird Tidbits pointed out in the above tweet, the standings were determined using points percentage. That’s how the Kamloops Blazers ended up ahead of Spokane, even though the Chiefs have one more point, and how the Vancouver Giants are ahead of Victoria, even thought the Royals finished with one more point. . . . No matter. The Portland Winterhawks finished atop the heap, so are the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy champions. . . . Even though the Everett Silvertips finished with one more regulation victory.

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About those playoffs. . . . Last season, the WHL began its playoffs on March 22. They played four rounds, all best-of-seven, and finished on May 13. . . . In total, they played 80 games in about seven weeks. . . . Let’s be honest. That’s not going to happen this time around. . . . You can bet that the WHL is tossing around all kinds of playoff options, likely incorporating best-of-three and best-of-five series. . . . But in the end it’s going to come down to how much time there will be for playoffs. It could be that in Washington state and B.C., for starters, games with more than 50 people on hand will be taboo until mid-May. . . . And don’t forget that the Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. That is highly unlikely to happen, so how far can it be pushed back? And what about Sportsnet, the CHL’s television partner? How much room will Sportsnet have on its schedule whenever the time comes? . . . And don’t forget that if the CHL is into playoffs, the NHL will be, too. So how does all that figure into this? . . . With all that is going on, and not going on, perhaps it’s best to take a day-to-day or even a week-to-week approach. Just to help maintain sanity. . . . OK? . . .

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Next up for the WHL is the inaugural U.S. prospects draft that is scheduled for March 25, and is to be run from the league office in Calgary. It’s a two-round draft featuring 44 selections, if each team uses its two picks. . . . The 2020 WHL bantam draft is scheduled for Red Deer on May 7. . . .

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The OHL also cancelled its regular season on Wednesday, and announced that its 2020 draft will be held online on April 4. . . . The OHL’s regular season was to have ended on March 22. . . . Like the WHL and QMJHL, the OHL is monitoring the situation.“When it is safe and we may resume play, we will advise on the status of the 2020 playoffs,” a statement from the league reads. . . .

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The QMJHL, which cancelled the remainder of its regular season on Tuesday, has taken its annual entry draft online. It was to have been held on June 6 in Sherbrooke. It still will go ahead on June 6, but now it all will be online. . . . As well, the QMJHL has cancelled its annual session that was scheduled for June 3-5. It features “meetings between its members along with hockey and administrative staffs.” . . .


Pub


The 16-team USHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its season. The league’s board of directors made a unanimous decision to end the season, including the playoffs. . . . The regular season, which was suspended on March 12, was to have ended on March 29. . . .


Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic reported Wednesday that The Hockey News has laid off eight full-time employees. “The layoffs affected longtime editor-in-chief Jason Kay,” Fitz-Gerald reported, “senior editor Brian Costello, managing editor Edward Fraser, senior writers Ken Campbell, Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin, features editor Sam McCaig and art director Shea Berencsi. Two contract workers are still producing content for THN’s website.” . . . THN publisher and owner Graeme Roustan told Fitz-Gerald that all will be rehired in an instant if/when the NHL resumes play. . . .



Philip Rivers is taking his arm to the Indianapolis Colts for one year and something like US$25 million. I wonder who will pay the moving expenses to get his wife and their nine children to Indy? . . . Rivers, 38, told us all a while back that he wasn’t interested in returning to the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers with whom he had spent his entire career. . . .


There was good news from South Korea on Wednesday as its top basketball league, the KBL, which hasn’t played in four weeks, announced that it has games scheduled for month’s end. . . . In the beginning, games will be played without fans in attendance. . . . If you’re curious about all of this, Jonathan Givony of ESPN has more right here. . . .


Pic


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings announced the re-signing of assistant coach Jason Garneau, who spent eight seasons with the club a few years ago. . . . At the same time, assistant coach Colin Minardi, who joined the club in October, won’t be returning to the coaching staff. . . .


Cody Reynolds is the new head coach of the U-18 Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He has spent the past seven seasons as associate coach with the Red Deer College Kings. . . .


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