Brockman resigns from Broncos, says it was his decision . . . Silvertips have new radio voice . . . Rockets drop a goaltender


The winds of change blew through Swift Current on Thursday afternoon as the Broncos announced the resignation of Dean Brockman, who was in his fourth Scurrentseason as the community-owned organization’s general manager and head coach.

Chad Leslie, the Broncos’ assistant general manager, now is the interim GM, with assistant coach Devan Praught stepping in as interim head coach.

Leslie, 44, was the Broncos’ director of scouting each of the past three seasons.

Praught, 34, is from Summerside, P.E.I. He is in his first season with the Broncos after spending eight seasons at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. He was the head coach of the U-18 Hounds for the past five seasons.

Matt Keillor, also in his first season, now is the lone assistant on the Broncos’ staff.

The Broncos (2-3-0) have lost three straight games after opening the season with a pair of victories — 2-0 and 3-2 — over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Swift Current is scheduled to play the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Saturday night and the Ice in Winnipeg on Sunday. The Broncos then will meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Tuesday, before returning home for a Friday night date with the Calgary Hitmen.

Brockman, 54, didn’t really explain why he was resigning, telling a news conference: “I want to reiterate this was my decision. It’s a personal decision on my behalf. It had nothing to do with the board of directors. In fact, the board of directors have supported me from Day 1. They took a chance and that chance was me.”

Before joining the Broncos, Brockman spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades, under Bob Woods, followed by two seasons as their head coach. The Blades fired him immediately after the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season.

Brockman had spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, seven as GM/assistant coach and 10 as GM/head coach. Under Brockman, the Broncos won five league championships and two national titles. He was honoured as the SJHL’s coach of the year on four occasions.

Three months after being fired by the Blades, the Broncos hired him to replace Manny Viveiros, who had been named the WHL’s coach of the year after leading Swift Current to the WHL’s 2018 playoff championship. That was the Broncos’ first title since 1993. Viveiros joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers two days after the Broncos finished an 0-3 run at the Memorial Cup in Regina.

The Broncos paid a steep price for going all-in to win that championship, especially in trades with the Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Swift Current sent five players — F Conner Chaulk, F Riley Stotts, D Dom Schmiemann, F Josh Prokop and G Ethan Hein — along with a second-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Hitmen, for F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a fifth-rounder in 2018.

Then, at the trade deadline, Swift Current dealt G Logan Flodell, F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, D Matthew Stanley, first- and third-rounders in 2020 and a conditional second-rounder in 2021 to the Hurricanes for G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel.

The rebuild hasn’t been especially rapid, with the Broncos going 11-51-6 and 10-48-5 in the two seasons after the championship. They were 6-16-2 in the 2021 development season.

At the moment, the Broncos hold the sixth and seventh selections in December’s WHL draft.

But just how tough has the rebuild been? The WHL’s final four in the spring of 2018 featured the Broncos, Hurricanes, Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. Brad Brown (@saskawhat) pointed out via Twitter that Everett has won 114 regular-season games since then, with Lethbridge at 89; Tri-City, 60; and Swift Current, 29.

Financially, the team’s board of directors told shareholders that it had made a $561,500 profit in the 2017-18 championship season. However, a $38,196 profit for 2018-19 was followed by a loss of $791,000 for the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

Late last month, at the organization’s annual general meeting, shareholders were told there was a loss of $129,968 — including a $600,000 grant from the provincial government — for that 2021 development season in which the Broncos played 24 games in the Regina hub.



The Everett Silvertips have hired Casey Bryant as their broadcasting and media Everettrelations manager, replacing Mike Benton, who left to join Seattle radio station KJR where he plays host to Seattle Kraken pre-game, intermission and post-game shows. Benton had been with the Silvertips through six seasons. . . . From a Silvertips news release: “Bryant is an award-winning play-by-play broadcaster whose prior credits include the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL), Sacred Heart University Pioneers (NCAA D1), Jersey Hitmen (NCDC) and New York Apple Core (EHL). A 2017 graduate of Marist College, Bryant also worked as a production assistant for MSG Networks for four years, editing on-air promotions for the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and other MSG flagship teams.” . . . The Silvertips are scheduled to visit Kent, Wash., for a game with the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight.



Cremation


JUST NOTES: F Patrick Brown of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t able to play last night after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. . . . The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals have had three positive tests within their organization this week. OLB Chandler Jones is on the COVID list, while two unidentified staff members also have tested positive. The Cardinals have had 18 players on that list since July 23, with three of them landing there twice each. . . . The Atlanta Braves aren’t planning to have OF Jorge Soler on their roster when they play host to Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday. Soler tested positive earlier this week and didn’t play in Game 4 of the NLDS as the Braves clinched the series with a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. OF Christian Pache was added to the roster in Soler’s place.


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.


Pedlars


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The junior B Saanich Predators of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League named Cody Carlson, a former WHL player, as general manager and head coach on Thursday. He replaces Brent Polischuk, who was relieved of his duties “effective immediately.” Polischuk had been with Saanich since July 28, 2019. The Predators (5-9-1) are fourth in the five-team South Division. Carlson, 30, had joined the Kerry Park Islanders as assistant GM and associate coach prior in July. He split 305 regular-season WHL games between the Medicine Hat Tigers, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars (2006-12). He played the past three seasons in Europe, mostly in Romania. . . . The NHL’s Calgary Flames have hired Connor Rankin, who played five seasons in the WHL, on a full-time basis as their video analyst. He had done part-time work for the Flames over the past five years. Rankin played 339 WHL regular-season games (2010-15), split between the Tri-City Americans and Calgary Hitmen. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have released G Cole Schwebius, 20. He has cleared waivers so now is a free agent. He went 17-23-2 in 48 regular-season games split between the Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds over parts of four seasons. . . . D Jackson van de Leest, 20, has returned to the Calgary Hitmen from the camp of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He is expected to be in Calgary’s lineup tonight against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Ian Furness, who has done his share of play-by-play on Seattle Thunderbirds’ games during his career, was at the KJR radio microphone on Thursday night as the NHL’s Seattle Kraken played the Predators in Nashville. Furness was filling in for Everett Fitzhugh, who remains in Seattle after testing positive.


Day

No Ridley, no victories for Tigers . . . Benton back with ‘Tips for two . . . WHL, Raiders backtrack on alternate sweaters


The Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos completed a season-Tigersopening home-and-home series on Saturday night. The Broncos won the opener, 2-0, at home on Friday, then completed the sweep with a 3-2 victory in Medicine Hat on Saturday. . . . However, you can bet that the participants recognized that something was missing. Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Tigers, wasn’t there; he’s in Lethbridge undergoing radiation treatments. . . . Darren Steinke, who keeps track of such things, notes that Ridley has done the play-by-play on 4,021 of the 4,022 games the Tigers have played since entering the WHL for the 1970-71 season. That includes regular-season games, one tiebreaker, playoff games and Memorial Cup games. . . . And let’s not forget that Ridley drove the Tigers’ bus for a lot of those seasons. You don’t even want to think about how much coffee he drank back in those days. . . . In Ridley’s absence, Scott Roblin of CHAT in Medicine Hat is calling the games.


The Everett Silvertips will play their season-opener tonight (Sunday) when Everettthey face the Chiefs in Spokane. The Silvertips won’t play again until Friday when they hold their home-opener, this time against the Portland Winterhawks. . . . With Mike Benton, the Silvertips’ radio voice for the previous six seasons, having left to join Seattle radio station KJR, you are wondering who will be doing the play-by-play for Everett now, aren’t you? . . . Well, a little birdie has told me that Benton will handle the first two games as the Silvertips work to get a new voice into place. . . . With KJR, Benton is handling the pre-game, intermission and post-game shows for Seattle Kraken games.


The WHL issued a statement late Saturday after the Prince Albert Raiders had unveiled a third sweater that included a controversial logo from their past. Yes, this qualifies as one of those ‘Yikes, what were they thinking?’ moments. . . . Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com has more right here.


Meanwhile, on the ice in the WHL on Saturday . . .

If you’re on Twitter, there are some interesting noise-related comments on the thread here . . .

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s last three goals to beat the Prince Albert Raiders, 5-2. F Sloan Stanick scored twice and added an assist for the Pats in a game that was televised nationally by CBC with Victor Findlay calling the play and Sam Cosentino providing the analysis. . . . If you’re on the Connor Bedard watch, he was interviewed during CBC’s pre-game show and again in the second intermission. Oh, he also scored the game’s last goal, his third in two games. . . . Regina had won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. While the Pats rode the iron lung home after the game, the Raiders got some shut-eye in their own beds before heading south Saturday at 6:15 a.m. . . . Rob Vanstone has more on Saturday’s game right here. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice completed a home-and-home sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings, winning 7-1 in the Manitoba capital. F Connor McClennon had two goals for the Ice, with D Carson Lambos adding a goal and two assists. . . . The Ice had won, 10-2, in Brandon on Friday. . . .

The visiting Swift Current Broncos opened up a 3-0 first-period lead en route to a 3-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . G Isaac Poulter stopped 29 shots for his second victory in two nights. . . . The Broncos had beaten the Tigers, 2-0, in Swift Current on Friday. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored the game-winner and added an assist on the insurance goal as the host Saskatoon Blades beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2. . . . The Warriors had dumped the Blades, 7-1, in Moose Jaw on Friday. . . .

The host Red Deer Rebels skated to a 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, scoring the game’s last three goals, the final two into an empty net. . . . The Rebels earned a split in their season-opening home-and-home series, having lost 4-1 in Edmonton on Friday. . . . Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate noted that Saturday’s victory was “just the second time the Rebels have beat Edmonton since December 2018, a span of 20 games.” . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals, the first two early in the second period and both from F Matthew Rempe, as they beat the Winterhawks, 3-1, in Portland. . . .

F Connor Levis broke a 4-4 tie with a PP goal at 15:09 of the third period as the Kamloops Blazers beat the Cougars, 5-4, in Prince George. The Cougars had come back from 3-0 and 4-3 deficits but weren’t ever able to grab a lead. . . . D Hudson Thornton had a goal and two assists for Prince George. . . .

G Jesper Vikman, a 19-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden, stopped 16 shots in his WHL debut as the Vancouver Giants defeated the host Victoria Royals, 5-0. . . . The game wasn’t as kind to Victoria G Sebastian Wraneschitz, who is from Vienna, Austria. He gave up three goals on six shots and left 7:24 into the game. . . . Vancouver F Connor Horning scored once and added an assist in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . . The Giants were without head coach Michael Dyck, as he served a one-game suspension after his team was involved in a “multiple-fight situation” against Prince George on Sept. 24. Associate coach Keith McCambridge took over in Dyck’s absence. . . .

In Spokane, the Tri-City Americans erased a 3-2 deficit with three third-period goals as they scored a 5-3 victory over the Chiefs. . . . F Parker Bell’s goal at 15:13 of the third period broke a 3-3 tie and stood up as the winner.


It doesn’t happen often, but a veteran of the QMJHL wars has made his way to Royalsthe WHL. F Bailey Peach, 20, has been added to the Victoria Royals’ roster and was in the lineup on Saturday night. . . . From Falmouth, N.S., he cleared QMJHL waivers after being released by the Charlottetown Islanders. He played three seasons (2017-20) plus five games last season with the Sherbrooke Phoenix before moving on to the Islanders last season. In 184 regular-season QMJHL games, he put up 40 goals and 67 assists. He added one goal and five assists in 26 playoff games. . . . Peach joins F Tarun Fizer and F Graeme Bryks as the Royals’ 20-year-olds.


G Robin Lehner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights hit the send button on the above tweet on Saturday evening. He has more than 107,000 followers. You can bet that we are going to be hearing a lot about this over the next few days.


Helf


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.


Specials

NHL executive: COVID defines everything we do . . . Doctors want Flames, Oilers to change direction . . . 2022 Memorial Cup has a home

Cats


If you haven’t seen it, Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada posted his first 32 Thoughts of a new NHL season this week. He had been on a bit of an NHL media tour, so had gotten to speak to a number of people, including Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner.

And it was Daly who said something that really jumped off my computer screen. Here’s how Friedman wrote it:

“On the 32 Thoughts podcast, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said he was recently asked, “Putting COVID aside, what is your biggest challenge?”

“You can’t put COVID aside,” he responded. “COVID defines everything we do and everything we’re going to do, unfortunately.”

Words that all sporting leagues are having to live by. Unfortunately.

The first 32 Thoughts of the season is right here.


Some COVID-related NHL notes . . .

While about 78 per cent of eligible Canadians are fully vaccinated, the NHL is saying that it expects at least 98 per cent of its players will be there come nhl2opening night, which is scheduled for Oct. 12. . . . If you do the math, that would leave about 15 players on the 32 rosters who won’t be fully vaccinated when the regular season begins. . . . Of course, you know that we are going to be hearing about those 15. . . .

On Tuesday, the Columbus Blue Jackets revealed that F Zac Rinaldo, who isn’t vaccinated, won’t be in their training camp; instead, he will go to camp with the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters. . . .

At this point, F Tyler Bertuzzi of the Detroit Red Wings is the only player on their roster not to have been vaccinated. That could result in him not playing in any of their nine games in Canada, something that would cost him about US$450,000. . . . “It’s his decision,” Detroit GM Steve Yzerman said, “and it’s the world we live in today. I’m not in a position to force anyone.” . . . You’re wondering if Yzerman is disappointed in Bertuzzi? “I personally am vaccinated,” he said. “My family is vaccinated. I will leave it at that.” . . .

G Tyler Parsons won’t be taking part in the Calgary Flames’ training camp. Brad Treliving, the Flames’ GM, said Parsons was “unable to satisfy quarantine rules” so he’s out. The Flames say that every player on the camp roster is fully vaccinated. . . .

General manager Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils has said his club has one unvaccinated player whom “we are trying to help (get) through this.” . . .

The Edmonton Oilers aren’t expecting to have G Alex Stalock in uniform at any point this season. He ended up with COVID-19 last season and was found to have myocarditis, a swelling of the heart muscle that is associated with the virus. . . .

Edmonton general manager Ken Holland also said Wednesday that the Oilers have one player who isn’t vaccinated. Holland said that he and head coach Dave Tippett have met with the unidentified player and are trying to persuade him to get vaccinated. . . . Reports later Wednesday indicated that the player in question is F Josh Archibald.



Rocky


The Stettler Lightning of Alberta’s Heritage Junior B Hockey League announced Wednesday that they won’t play in 2021-22. “The new COVID restrictions put us in a very depleted player situation,” the team said via Twitter, “so the decision was made so players could join other teams for the remainder of this season.” The Lightning has been in the league since 1994.



Mike Benton, the Everett Silvertips’ director of broadcasting/public relations, is leaving the team. Benton was preparing for his seventh season as the Silvertips’ radio voice. . . . He is joining Seattle radio station 950 KJR where he will be the host of pregame, intermission and postgame shows on broadcasts involving the NHL’s Seattle Kraken.


Lifeboats


WR Antonio Brown of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was placed on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, Tampa Bay placed LB Kevin Minter, a special teams captain, on the list. Both players are fully vaccinated, so would need two negative tests at least 24 hours apart prior to Sunday in order to play against the host Los Angeles Rams. . . . LB Keanu Neal of the Dallas Cowboys is on the COVID list and his status for Monday’s game against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles is up in the air. . . . The Minnesota Vikings have placed CB Harrison Hand on the COVID list. They are at home to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.


The 2022 Memorial Cup has been awarded to Saint John, N.B., so the QMJHL’s CHLSea Dogs will be the host team. The CHL made the announcement on Wednesday, with the tournament to run from June 3-12. One other team — the Quebec Remparts — had been in the running. . . . The Sea Dogs are in their 16th season in the QMJHL; this is the first time they will play host to the tournament. . . . Because of the pandemic, the four-team tournament hasn’t been held since 2019. It was to have been held in Kelowna in 2020 and in an OHL city — either Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie — in 2021. Because of the uncertainty, the OHL never got around to selecting a host city for 2021.


MaskSign


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.


Takeout

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while wondering if the virus will leave when cold weather arrives . . .

Scattershooting


With MLB having started exhibition games and with a 60-game regular season soon to begin, Ann Killion, an excellent sports columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle, sums up the situation:

“Who is going to get the coronavirus next? Where is the roulette wheel going to stop? What will the repercussions be for that player’s or coach’s family? Will the games have to abruptly end?

“A welcome distraction?

“Not likely. Not when we know that the baseball players we’re watching are each receiving multiple tests a week so they can play some games that will carry asterisks forever.”

Nail, meet hammer. Killion’s complete column is right here.



With rookies for the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs reporting to training camp today (Monday), a number of NFL stars took to Twitter on Sunday to question what is going on concerning safety procedures. . . . Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterback, tweeted: “My wife is pregnant. Training camp is about to start. And there’s still No Clear Plan on Player Health & Family Safety.” . . . Nicholas Reimann of Forbes has more right here.


Cats


So . . . Sidney Crosby, one of the NHL’s few true superstars, leaves a Saturday scrimmage early and doesn’t return. Mike Sullivan, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ head coach, says: “We’re to permitted to comment.” . . . There isn’t a league anywhere in the world that does a better job of suppressing information than the GBHL — Gary Bettman Hockey League. . . . And the women and men who cover the GBHL better get used to this because I’m thinking it will be the new norm whenever the virus chooses to leave us.


It’s my understanding that the virus will go away once the weather turns cold.


The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported: “Lindsay Whalen, the Minnesota women’s basketball coach, says she’ll buy hot dogs for the first 500 fans at the Gophers’ home opener this season.” . . . To which Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times responded: “In a related story, Joey Chestnut just bought 75 tickets.”

——

Danica Patrick’s mouthpiece says that the former race-car driver and Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers have visited Splitsville. Here are the aforementioned Perry’s thoughts: “Rodgers apologists claim he called an audible; her spinmeisters say they hit the skids.”


The QMJHL announced on Saturday that its plan right now is for each of its 18 teams to qmjhlnewplay 60 games in a regular season that will open on Oct. 1. Training camps will open on Aug. 26 with teams bringing in a maximum of 34 players, down from around 60 in previous times. . . . The league also will be split into three divisions and teams will play only within their own divisions, meaning 12 games against each opponent. . . . The QMJHL hasn’t yet announced a playoff format, nor does it know whether fans will be allowed to attend games. . . . The QMJHL features six teams in the Maritimes, who would play in one division, with the other two divisions comprising the 12 Quebec teams. . . . If you were wondering, the Quebec Midget AAA League says it will start its regular season on Sept. 11.


Curtis Toneff, an assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos, has been suspended by the SJHL team, which said he “will have no further association” with the team until further notice. Toneff is facing an undisclosed criminal charge by the RCMP and is looking at a court date somewhere down the road. . . . Toneff, 27, is from Nanaimo, B.C. He joined the Broncos’ staff prior to last season after spending two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.


Knife


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “The taxpayers are sending Congressmen on expensive trips abroad. It might be worth it, but they keep coming back.”


Headline at fark.com: Astros owner wants fans in the stands wo he can sell overpriced, watered down cold beer.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN) has trimmed its Baltimore Orioles broadcast crew because of the pandemic, meaning play-by-play man Gary Thorne and analyst Jim Palmer won’t be on the air when things get restarted. Rick Dempsey, Brian Roberts and Gregg Olsen also won’t be taking part. . . .

Former MLB P Bob Walk, now a broadcaster with the Pittsburgh Penguins, is recovering after testing positive.

1B/DH Jose Martinez was on the field with the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday. He had been out while quarantining following a positive test. . . .

P Collin McHugh of the Boston Red Sox, who has had elbow issues of late, has opted out of the season. He likely was headed to the injury list, but will spend time with his family. . . .

Golfing great Jack Nicklaus said Sunday that he and his wife Barbara, both of whom are 80, tested positive in March. Jack had some symptoms into late April, while Barbara was asymptomatic. . . .

Brandon Banks, the CFL’s most outstanding player in 2019, said via Twitter on Sunday that he won’t play in 2020 if there is a season. A wide receiver and kick returner, Banks tweeted that “Idk what they gonna do but I won’t put on a helmet til 2021.”



Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, after the Canadian government refused the Blue Jays’ request to play home games in Toronto: “This was never about the sport itself. The Jays got caught up in something much bigger than a game. This is about Canada wanting to continue to distance itself from a dysfunctional neighbour who seems to have lost touch with reality.”

——

So . . . why didn’t Jason Kenney, Alberta’s premier, invite the Blue Jays to play their home games out of Edmonton’s RE/MAX Field? It seats 9,200, but who cares because fans wouldn’t be allowed. Imagine the smile on Kenney’s face if he had the NHL and MLB in Alberta’s capital at the same time.

——

With the Blue Jays on the move, apparently to Buffalo or Dunedin, Fla., let’s check out the standings in the Strat-O-Matic simulation league. . . . The Blue Jays were shelled 12-1 by the visiting Cleveland Indians on Sunday, falling to 46-54 and leaving them 13 games behind the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays (59-41). The New York Yankees (52-46) are six games back in second place. . . . The other MLB division leaders — Cleveland (61-39), Houston Astros (65-33), Washington Nationals (58-42), Milwaukee Brewers (53-45) and Los Angeles Dodgers (64-36).


After organizers cancelled the 2021 Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wondered: “If the Rose Parade is a public-health risk not worth taking, would a Rose Bowl game played in the same venue make sense?”



Hook

Washington governor expected to ban large gatherings . . . Would impact two WHL teams . . . Junior B series opener postponed


Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at which, according to the Everett Herald, he is expected to “announce a ban on events and social gatherings attended by more than 250 people” as the area continues to battle COVID-19.

It is believed that an initial ban would impact Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

Everett, the home of the WHL’s Silvertips, is the county seat and the largest city in EverettSnohomish County. The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds play out of SeattleKent, Wash., which is located in King County.

It will also affect the MSL’s Seattle Sounders, Major League Rugby’s Seattle Seawolves and XFL’s Seattle Dragons.

The Thunderbirds have three home games remaining — on Saturday (Vancouver), Tuesday (Spokane) and March 21 (Portland).

The Silvertips have one home game remaining, on March 20 against the Victoria Royals.

Later Tuesday, the Silvertips announced the cancellation of the Silvertips Radio Show “until further notice.” It was broadcast live from Sporty’s Beef & Brew, featuring play-by-play voice Mike Benton and appearances by players. Last night’s show was available via the Internet.

On Tuesday, Inslee said the banning of large gatherings, including sporting events, is under consideration.

“I would not be shocked if we have some more news on that in the next few days,” he said. “If we’re going to stop this epidemic, we need to look at what’s coming, not just what’s here today.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll in the state from COVID-19 had reached at least 23, with more than 190 confirmed cases. Inslee said he expects that number to grow rapidly.

On Monday evening, Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, had displayed a chart that features five levels of actions. Washington state already has moved through Level 2 and, Hayes said, “We are at the ready to institute the third level. Level 3 includes “involuntary isolation of those sick” and “involuntary quarantine of those who have interacted with those sick.”

Hayes added: “We haven’t had to do this because our public has been extremely compliant . . . But the health officer does have the authority to involuntarily isolate or quarantine individuals.”

Level 4 involves ordering the “cancellation of major public and large private gatherings,” which would appear to be where at least three counties now find themselves.


With less than two weeks remaining in its regular season and the playoffs scheduled to open on March 27, the WHL has announced a handful of operational changes in response to COVID-19.

It has ordered the “elimination of handshakes between teammates, opponents and whlofficials,” while also impressing upon teams that players not share water bottles or towels.

The WHL also has asked all teams to “avoid direct contact with fans, including high-fives, handshakes, and autographing of items.”

The WHL’s statement didn’t make mention of whether it has looked at other options, such as playing games in empty arenas or even postponing/cancelling games.

While the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers, for two, have said they will abide by the WHL’s request, Saskatoon radio station CKOM reported that the Blades “aren’t putting limitations on fans.”

The station reported that “Tyler Wawryk, director of business operations with the Blades, told 650 CKOM the team isn’t planning on following the recommendations, and autograph sessions will continue as scheduled.”



In Everett, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced that its men’s and women’s basketball championships are moving from Everett Community College to Clackamas CC in Oregon City, Ore., and Linn-Benton CC in Albany, Ore. . . . The tournaments were to have been played last weekend at Everett CC and, in fact, three women’s games were played on Thursday before the campus was shut down because of coronavirus concerns. A student from Everett CC later tested positive. The campus received a thorough cleaning and reopened on Monday.

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Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island, the start of a junior B playoff series between the Oceanside Generals and Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has been postponed. The North Division final was to have started Tuesday night in Parksville, but BC Hockey said several Campbell River players are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms. . . . Gerry Bickerton, the Generals’ president, told Nanaimo NewsNOW that his team is healthy. “Hockey-wise it’s frustrating but public safety-wise this has to be done,” Bickerton said. “With what’s happening right now, BC Hockey went and did their questioning and they’ve made their decision.” . . . It is hoped that the series now will begin Saturday in Parksville. . . . Alex Rawnsley’s story is right here. . . . As of Tuesday night, there hadn’t yet been a positive test for coronavirus on Vancouver Island.


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Kings “have banned their scouts from plane travel because of the COVID-19 virus. If they can’t drive to the game, they’re not to go.” . . . Campbell followed that up with: “Buffalo Sabres scouts are still flying, but not to Europe. They’ve also told their scouts that if they feel uncomfortable about flying, they don’t have to fly.”


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Some of Tuesday’s other developments . . .

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors played a home game in front of fans on Tuesday night, despite an aggressive recommendation from the City of San Francisco on Friday that all large, non-essential events be cancelled. . . . This isn’t sitting well with city officials. “I have expressed my desire that they do this voluntarily before, in the days ahead, we do it as an emergency public health order,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the online news site Mission Local. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. I hope they come to that conclusion before we make them come to that conclusion.” . . . The Warriors have said that they don’t plan any changes before their next home game, either. That game is scheduled for Thursday. . . .

The NBA will hold a conference call involving team owners on Wednesday afternoon during which they will discuss possible moves. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each franchise was required to have “several contingency plans in place” by Tuesday, including “an arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the identifying of a specific facility to test for coronavirus and a plan to limit the number of team and arena staff members that would interact with players.” . . . On Wednesday, the owners are expected to discuss the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. . . .

The Austrian EBEL (Erste Bank Ice Hockey League) cancelled the remainder of its season, with the German DEL quick to follow suit. . . . The EBEL features teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy. A statement from the league stated that “no championship title will be awarded in the 2019-20 season.” . . . The DEL statement read, in part: “The DEL is forced to end the current season. . . . The reason for this is the banning by federal states of events such as DEL games with more than 1,000 spectators. . . . Due to the premature end of the season, there is no German champion this year. As the main round winner, the EHC Red Bull Munich, together with the Adler Mannheim, the Straubing Tigers and the Eisbären Berlin, represent the DEL in the Champions Hockey League (CHL 2020-21).” . . .

Igor Eronko, a Sport-Express hockey writer and KHL-TV commentator, tweeted that “Moscow plans to cancel all the sports events with more than 5,000 spectators. . . . It will definitely affect the KHL playoffs.” . . .

For an in-depth look at postponements, cancellations and more from the hockey world, check out this right here from Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog. There is a whole lot of information here. . . .

The Ivy League shut down all spring football practices, effective Tuesday morning and running through at least April 5. . . .

The Ivy League also cancelled its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that were to have been played this weekend in Cambridge, Mass. The Princeton women and Yale men were awarded the league’s NCAA tournament bids. . . . The Ivy League also made the decision to limit attendance at all sporting events through the end of its spring season. . . .

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference cancelled the rest of its state boys and girls basketball, boys ice hockey and boys swimming tournaments. . . . The Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association has also cancelled its playoffs. . . .

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, has recommended all indoor games be played without spectators. That would include the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, who are at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, whose next home game is scheduled for March 24. . . . DeWine tweeted that “for indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents and others essential to the game.” . . . The Blue Jackets later issued a statement, saying that they have been in contact with the NHL and “it has been determined that our scheduled games, including Thursday vs. Pittsburgh and Saturday vs. Nashville, will go on as scheduled and be open to ticket fans that wish to attend.” . . . The Mid-American Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland starting on Thursday, but with a restricted attendance policy. Thus, they won’t be open to the public. . . .

The Big West Conference will play its conference tournaments without fans in the buildings. The men are to play this week at the Honda Center in Anaheim; the women will play at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State. . . .

The Zac Brown Band has postponed a spring tour. . . . BMI, a music rights management company, has postponed its Latin Awards that had been scheduled for Los Angeles on March 31. A new date hasn’t yet been chosen. . . . The Coaches Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was to have run April 10-12 and April 17-19, has been postponed to Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. It annually draws more than 200,000 people to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. . . . Stagecoach, a country music festival, also has been postponed. It, too, is held at the Empire Polo Club. Originally scheduled for April 24-26, it now is to be held Oct. 23-25.



I have spent the past couple of days cleaning out a filing cabinet. Of course, it never gets done as quickly as it should because, well, there are all of those old stories to read.

Like the one about when the WHL officially stopped referring to 20-year-old players as overage. The decision was made at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on April 2, 1985, when it also was decided to allow teams to dress three such players, up from two.

“I’m pleased about the move to three 20-year-olds,” WHL president Ed Chynoweth said. “We also decided to eliminate the word ‘overage’. From now on, those players will be referred to as 20-year-olds.”

At the same meeting, the WHL made 12-year-olds ineligible to be placed on teams’ protected lists. Prior to that decision, a 12-year-old took up two spots on a team’s list.

The WHL, at the time, continued to allow the listing of 13- and 14-year-old players without any restrictions.


Rybinski asks out of Medicine Hat . . . Krebs leads Ice past host Blades . . . Winkler Flyers forced to move


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F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zell am See (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, with Zell am See, he had 13 goals and 25 assists in 35 games. He led the team in assists and points.


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F Henrik Rybinski is no longer with the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The Tigers revealed on Thursday that they “along with the family and the agent of Henrik Rybinski have mutually agreed to pursue a trade.”

In short, Rybinski wants more playing time, but found himself third on the team’s depth Tigers Logo Officialchart at centre, behind veterans James Hamblin and Ryan Chyzowski.

Shaun Clouston, the Tigers’ general manager and head coach, pointed out in a news release that with those two as the club’s top centres “we are not able or willing to meet that request.”

Rybinski’s agent is Daren Hermiston of PointsWest Sports & Entertainment.

Rybinski, 17, is from Vancouver. The Tigers selected him in the second round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft.

Last season, as a freshman, he had three goals and nine assists in 63 games with the Tigers. This season, the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder recorded one goal and four assists in 14 games.


The Prince George Cougars have added F Kjell Kjemhus, 17,to their roster. He will be PrinceGeorgeavailable to play tonight and Saturday against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kjemhus, from Grande Prairie, Alta., had one assist in 10 games with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 25 games with the Cougars. . . . He was a fourth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. The Cougars acquired him from the Pats, along with D Ethan McColm and third- and fifth-round picks in the 2018 bantam draft on Jan. 5, in a deal that had F Jesse Gabrielle and D Jonas Harkins go to Regina.


The Kamloops Blazers have promoted Tim O’Donovan to director of hockey operations. O’Donovan, 32, has been with the Blazers on a full-time since 2009. Most recently, he has been the director of hockey/media administration.


F Alex Young, a sixth-round selection by the Everett Silvertips in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, has made a commitment to attend Colgate University and play for the Raiders starting in 2020-21. . . . Young, 17, is from Calgary. He is in his second season with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles and has 10 goals and nine assists in 16 games. Last season, he finished with 21 goals and 29 assists in 60 games.


Mike Benton, the radio voice of the Everett Silvertips, always — which is every second season — chronicles the team’s East Division road trip on his blog Benton Hockey. This season was no different and, as usual, it’s an entertaining read. . . . It’s all right here. Enjoy!


If you stop off here and enjoy what you see — or even if you don’t — feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and make a contribution. Thanks in advance.


The MJHL’s Winkler Flyers will be out of their home arena for the next few weeks, so are Winklerin the process of shifting their operations to Morden, which is about 13 km to the west. . . . The City of Winkler revealed Thursday morning that the Winkler Centennial Arena will be closed for perhaps four weeks due to a mechanical failure that must be repaired immediately. . . . The problem was discovered Tuesday and the arena was closed on Wednesday night. . . . The Flyers practised in Morden on Thursday and will remain there for the next few weeks. . . . Interestingly, head coach Steve Mullin and assistant coach Rylan Price live in Morden, as do a number of players. . . . Winkler’s next home game is scheduled for Nov. 9 when the Waywayseecappo Wolverines come calling.


THURSDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Kootenay Ice erased a 2-1 deficit with three third-period goals and beat the host KootenaynewSaskatoon Blades, 4-2. . . . This was the only game played in the WHL on this night. . . . The Ice (6-7-3) has won two in a row. . . . The Blades now are 9-6-2. . . . F Gary Haden (4) gave the Blades a 2-1 lead at 19:45 of the second period. . . . F Brad Ginnell (4) got Kootenay into a 2-2 tie at 6:02 of the third period. . . . F Jaeger White (9) broke the tie at 9:32, and F Peyton Krebs, who also had two assists, added insurance at 18:56 with his sixth. . . . White, 20, is one goal shy of his career high. He had 10 in 68 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers last season. . . . Krebs, 17, has six goals and 16 assists in 16 games. . . . G Duncan McGovern stopped 32 shots for the Ice. . . . Kootenay had lost its last eight games in Saskatoon. . . . Earlier in the day, the Ice announced that it had brought in D Karter Prosofsky for the game. Prosofsky, 15, is from Saskatoon and plays for the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. He was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Prosofsky’s father, Tyler, played in the WHL with the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets (1992-96). Karter’s uncle, Garrett, played with the Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert Raiders and Portland Winterhawks (1996-2001). . . . Karter made his WHL debut in this one, as did F Owen Pederson, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft.


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