As expected, Kyle Gustafson is back with the Portland Winterhawks. The WHL team announced Wednesday that he has signed on as associate coach. . . . Gustafson had been a member of the Portland coaching staff for 18 seasons when he left a year ago to join the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant coach/special assignment coach. At the time, Travis Green, also a former Winterhawks coach, was the Canucks’ head coach. He was fired during the 2021-22 season, however, and Gustafson was released after the season. . . . With the Winterhawks, he fills the spot created when Don Hay left after four seasons to return to the Kamloops Blazers, this time as associate coach. . . . Gustafson, 41, will work alongside Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ senior vice-president, general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brian Pellerin. . . . Some observers also feel that Gustafson’s return sets in motion a succession plan whereby he will take over as head coach from the 65-year-old Johnston in a year or two.
Bob Ridley, the long-time radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, announced his retirement on Tuesday, something that sparked a memory for Earl Seitz, a veteran of the airwaves in Kamloops who retired in December.
It seems that hockey fans in Kamloops were treated to Ridley’s play-by-play of a game between the visiting Chiefs and the Tigers on Feb. 26, 1977.
Seitz was in his fourth and final season of calling games for the Chiefs, whowere the Seattle Breakers when the 1977-78 season rolled around. (As Seitz put it, “They moved to Seattle after that fourth season and I stayed here.”
As Seitz remembers: “The Chiefs were playing in Medicine Hat. My sister was getting married that day in Calgary. I arranged with Bob to simulcast his broadcast on CFJC radio. Always grateful to Bob for helping me to be able to attend my sister’s wedding.”
Hmmm! Does Ridley get credit for calling two games that night because he was on the home and away radio stations?
Who won the game? The Tigers, 10-6.
Former Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk of Aberdeen, Sask., won bronze in a 1,500-metre wheelchair race at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ont., on Wednesday. Sopotyk was paralyzed from the waist down when he suffered a fractured vertebrae in a snowboarding mishap near North Battleford, Sask., on Jan. 21, 2021. . . . On Wednesday, he finished in four minutes 40.20 seconds, behind the winning time of 4:29.39 that belonged to Leo Sammarelli. . . . Sopotyk, 21, also will compete in 100- and 400-metre events at the Summer Games. . . . He is a member of the Cyclones Track and Field Club, a Saskatoon-based club for para-athletes.
THE BEST LAID PLANS: When the San Diego Padres’ marketing team scheduled its 2022 promotions, it put a Fernando Tatis Jr. bobblehead game on the calendar for Sept. 7. But then Tatis Jr. tested positive for a PED and drew an 80-game suspension. That took care of the bobblehead promotion. So now that Sept. 7 come-on will involve a Juan Soto City Connect shirt. And that’s what you call a great job of stick-handling around a sticky situation.
COVID-19 SAYS HELLO . . . AGAIN: Health Canada reports that 263 people died from COVID-19 from July 31 through Aug. 6. That brings Canada’s pandemic total to 43,178. . . . Rachel Gilmore of Global News has more right here. . . . And because you were wondering, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center reports 1,037,935 deaths in the U.S. . . . So why not wear a mask when inside a public facility?
THE COACHING GAME:
Kyle Turris has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as special advisor to the general manager and player development coach. Turris, 33, played two seasons with the Express (2005-07). From an Express news release: Turris “was drafted third overall by the Phoenix Coyotes (in the NHL’s 2007 draft) and spent 13 seasons in the NHL before retiring this offseason.” . . . Turris, who has been plagued with back issues, had one goal and three assists in 23 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season as he completed a two-year contract. There doesn’t seem to have been an official retirement announcement, at least not yet, and capfriendly.com shows him as an unrestricted free agent. . . .
The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs have added Mark Lee, 37, to their staff as an assistant coach. He had been coaching a U-18 team in Newfoundland before signing to work alongside head coach Travis Crickard with the defending Memorial Cup champions.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
After calling the home run by Kirk Gibson, Vin Scully was silent for 75 seconds as he allowed the game to breathe and the viewing audience to take it all in. . . . Yes, there is a lesson there somewhere.
The Kamloops Blazers made it official on Tuesday morning — Don Hay is back in the organization as associate coach. Hay, 68, is the winningest head coach in WHL history. He spent the past four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, three as an assistant coach and last season as assistant coach. . . . Of course, if you’re a regular here, you weren’t surprised by the announcement. Because here’s what you read in this space on July 26:
“The Kamloops Blazers . . . have an opening after associate coach Mark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach.”
What is interesting about Hay’s return is that he didn’t leave Kamloops on the best of terms with majority owner Tom Gaglardi. It was on May 10, 2018, when Gaglardi, at a news conference that didn’t include Hay, announced: “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history.” . . . Except that Hay wasn’t retiring. As mentioned, he moved on to work with general manager/head coach Mike Johnston in Portland. . . . And, in fact, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he had agreed to return to Portland for another season. But that was before Clouston asked Johnston for the OK to talk with Hay about a return to Kamloops. . . .
Hay also told Hastings that he and Gaglardi patched things up before making this latest deal. “I talked to Tom through the process,” Hay told Hastings. “That was a concern for me, definitely, and we talked it over. We both talked our way through it and I understood the way he was thinking and he understood my side of it, as well. We both have the ability to move past it. That was a big step in making the decision. It’s funny how situations change.” . . .
When the new season gets here, Hay will be back behind the Blazers bench for a 14th season. A Kamloops native, he was an assistant coach for six seasons (1986-92) and head coach for seven (1992-95, 2014-18). He was a big part of the Blazers’ three Memorial Cup championships — 1992, 1994 and 1995. The Blazers, of course, will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . According to the WHL, Hay has 750 regular-season and 108 playoff victories to his credit, and is the all-time leader in both categories. . . . Clouston, with 498 regular-season victories, is the leader among head coaches still active in the WHL. He is on track to become the 10th head coach in league history to reach 500 regular-season victories. . . .
Also on Tuesday, the Blazers revealed that they and Clouston, 54, have agreed to a contract extension. No, they didn’t reveal the length of the extension. Clouston is preparing for his fourth season as the Blazers’ head coach; he has been the GM for a year. . . . Hastings also reported that former Blazers D Aaron Keller is expected back as an assistant coach, while long-time goaltending coach Dan DePalma also is expected to return. Also from Hastings: “Clouston . . . said the team is still working to hire Chris Murray as full-time assistant. Murray had shoulder replacement surgery last week.”
As I also wrote in this space on July 26, Don Hay’s departure from Portland likely will allow Kyle Gustafson to return to the Winterhawks. Gustafson, who is from Portland, spent 18 seasons with them before signing on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2021-22 season. At the time, Travis Green, also a product of the Winterhawks, was in his fifth season as the Canucks’ head coach. Unfortunately, Green didn’t finish the season, and Gustafson lost his job in a post-season shakeup. . . . Gustafson, 41, started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach; when he left, he was assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . His return as associate coach also would allow the Winterhawks to put into place a plan of succession that could have Gustafson take over the head-coaching reins from Mike Johnston in a season or two. Johnston, 65, also is the vice-president and general manager.
Keaton Ellerby, a former WHL defenceman, is getting into the coaching game. The 33-year-old native of Strathmore, Alta., has signed on with the Prince Albert Raiders as an assistant coach. He fills the spot that opened up when Jeff Truitt was promoted to head coach following the departure of Marc Habscheid. . . . Ellerby played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and finishing up by playing 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . His pro career included 212 NHL games over six seasons, split among the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets. He spent the past seven seasons in Europe, finishing up his playing career with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers in 2021-22.
The Calgary Wranglers are back, just not in the WHL. The NHL’s Calgary Flames announced on Tuesday that their AHL affiliate that will play out of the Saddledome will carry the nickname Wranglers. . . . That AHL franchise had been in Stockton, Calif., where it was the Heat, for seven seasons. . . . The junior Wranglers played in the WHL for 10 seasons, beginning in 1977. . . . The AHL Wranglers, under head coach Mitch Love, will be housed in the Saddledome, along with the Flames,the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . I don’t know . . . can you have the Wranglers in Calgary without Doug Sauter being involved? Maybe he’ll drop the puck on opening night.
THINKING OUT LOUD: It could be worse . . . you could be a fan of the Washington Nationals, who won the 2019 World Series but now haven’t anything left. Over the last while, the Nationals have gotten rid of starter Max Scherzer, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 3B Anthony Rendon and now OF Juan Soto. . . . The Nationals went 26-34 in the 2020 pandemic season, then 65-97 in 2021. Now they are the worst team in baseball and they just traded away the game’s brightest young star. Oh, and the franchise is for sale. . . . Here’s Joe Posnaski: “(Soto) dominates the strike zone in ways that boggle the mind; it’s no coincidence that people constantly compare him to Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.” . . . Posnaski, who writes at Joe Blogs, also wrote: “I guess for me, it comes down to this: Yesterday I could go to a Nationals game and watch one of the best hitters who ever lived. And today I can’t. And, to be honest, today I can’t think of a single other reason to watch the Nationals play.”
Wayne Kartusch, who spent 25 years as the president of the SJHL, died a week ago in Red Deer. He was 82. . . . A complete obituary is right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Got an update on the City of Cranbrook's lawsuit against the Kootenay/Winnipeg Ice and WHL. The City filed a notice of claim in Dec. 2020 alleging breach of contract and seeking lost revenues when the club relocated. It went unanswered…until March 2022.https://t.co/M3fhjIPNXk
The City of Cranbook filed a lawsuit claiming breach of contract in December 2020 after a WHL franchise that had been located there left for Winnipeg. Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has discovered that the owners of the Winnipeg Ice filed a response to that lawsuit last month. . . . Of course, that response presents a different version of the facts than does Cranbrook’s lawsuit. . . . Crawley’s story is right here.
The IIHF’s 2023 World men’s hockey championship was to have been decided in St. Petersburg, Russia, from May 5-21. That won’t happen now that the IIHF announced that “out of concern for the safety and well-being of participating players, officials, media and fans, the IIHF council has decided to withdraw the hosting rights . . . from Russia . . .” . . . The decision was made during an IIHF council meeting in Zurich on Tuesday. The IIHF said it will confirm “an alternative host” during its 2022 Congress in Tampere, Finland, during the final week of the 2022 World men’s tournament. . . . From a news release: “The decision to relocate the event was taken primarily out of concern for the safety and well-being of all participating players, officials, media, and fans. As was the case with Council’s earlier decision to withdraw the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship that was to be held in Omsk and Novosibirsk, Russia, the Council expressed significant concerns over the safe freedom of movement of players and officials to, from, and within Russia.”
There were six playoff games on the ice and there weren’t any surprises as the higher seed won each of the games. . . . There are six more games on tap tonight with four teams already facing elimination. The Prince Albert Raiders, Saskatoon Blades, Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars trail their best-of-seven series, 3-0, as they play on home ice again tonight. . . . Here’s how things went last night. . . .
I asked Mike Johnston about what happened with Ryan McCleary and the penalty situation because that was a mess.
First the WHL game sheet had a 2-5-10 (Instigator, Fighting, Misconduct), then switched to a game misconduct, and eventually back to a 2-5-10.
In Prince George, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 28 shots in leading the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks to a 2-0 victory over the No. 6 Cougars. . . . Portland has won the first three games of the series and can end it tonight in Prince George. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Gauthier, 20, from the Cougars during the season. His first playoff shutout came in his third appearance, all of them this season with Portland. . . . F Gabe Klassen scored both of Portland’s goals — at 2:46 and 13:36 of the second period. . . . F Riley Heidt of the Cougars took a kneeing major and game misconduct for a second-period hit on D Luca Cagnoni, who wasn’t injured on the play. . . . There was something of an oddity on the play as Portland D Ryan McCleary was shown on the online game sheet as having received a game misconduct, along with an instigating minor and a major for a fight with Heidt. McCleary apparently returned to the dressing room, took off his hockey gear, put on his suit and headed up into the stands. He later was told that he hadn’t been ejected, so went back to the dressing room, put his hockey gear back on and returned to the action. The game misconduct later disappeared from the game sheet, to be replaced by misconduct. . . . D Clay Hanus and F Aidan Litke were out of Portland’s lineup, presumably with undisclosed injuries, and didn’t even make the trek north. . . .
The shutout for @tgoats_35 was the first playoff blanking for @pdxwinterhawks since @Adin_Hill stopped 21 shots in a 3-0 win over Seattle on 3/29/15. and the first on the road since @maccarruth31 made 29 saves in a 3-0 win over Kamloops on 4/24/14.
In Kelowna, the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds struck for three third-period goals in the span of 1:32 and went on to beat the No. 5 Rockets, 5-1. . . . The Thunderbirds hold a 3-0 series lead going into tonight’s Game 4 in Kelowna. . . . F Jake Poole of the Rockets opened the scoring when he counted on a penalty shot at 18:22 of the first period. . . . F Reid Schaefer pulled Seattle even, on a PP, at 5:07 of the second. . . . Seattle’s offensive explosion began at 5:57 of the third period when D Kevin Korchinski scored for a 2-1 lead. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky notched his fourth goal of the series, on a PP, at 7:12, and Korchinski added his second goal of the game — and third of the series — at 7:29. That goal also came on a PP; it was Seattle’s 10th goal with the man advantage in the three games. The Thunderbirds are 10-for-19 on the PP in the three games. . . . The two PP goals came after Kelowna F Mark Liwiski was hit with a checking-to-the-head major at 4:00 of the third period. . . . Korchinski has three goals and six assists in the series. F Jared Davidson, who had three assists, has two goals and eight assists.
In Prince Albert, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice scored four first-period goals and added five more in the second en route to a 10-1 victory over the No. 8 Raiders. . . . Winnipeg leads the series 3-0 and gets its first opportunity to wrap it up tonight. . . . The Ice led 2-0 at the 7:03 mark of the first period, having scored two PP goals. . . . F Mikey Milne scored three times for the Ice, completing his hat trick with a shorthanded score at 19:15 of the second period. He also had an assist. . . . F Connor McClennon had a goal and three assists. . . . Winnipeg had a 36-19 edge in shots. . . . The Ice was 3-for-5 on the PP, and now is 7-for-12 in the three games. . . . The Raiders had Ozzy Wiesblatt back in their lineup. Wiesblatt, who had 41 points in 43 regular-season games, hadn’t played since March 12. . . . Winnipeg F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 1 and missed Game 2, was on the ice for the pregame warmup. Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com tweeted that Savoie “is visibly favouring his left leg.” Savoie ended up being a scratch. . . .
In Lethbridge, the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 4-1 victory over the No. 7 Hurricanes. . . . The Oil Kings now hold a 3-0 edge and can sweep the series Thursday night in Lethbridge. . . . F Jalen Luypen had a goal and two assists for Edmonton, opening the scoring at 2:21 of the first period. . . . D Kaiden Guhle upped the lead to 2-0 at 1:56 of the second period. . . . F Carter Souch made it 3-0, on a PP, at 11:03. . . . The Hurricanes counted at 3:18 of the third period when F Yegor Klavdiev scored on a PP, but F Dylan Guenther got that one back — it was his third of the series — at 6:13. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 25 shots to record the victory over Bryan Thomson, who blocked 34 shots. . . .
In Brandon, the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels got third-period goals from F Arshdeep Bains and F Ben King as they beat the No. 6 Wheat Kings, 3-1. . . . Red Deer holds a 2-1 lead now with Game 4 in Brandon tonight. They’ll be back in Red Deer for Game 5 on Friday. . . . Bains, who won the WHL scoring race, broke a 1-1 tie, on a PP, at 6:35, with King, who led the WHL in goals, adding insurance at 15:26. . . . Bains also had two assists. . . . Red Deer was 2-for-7 on the PP; Brandon was 0-for-6. . . .
In Saskatoon, F Cordel Larson scored in OT to give the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors a 3-2 victory over the No. 5 Blades. . . . The Warriors lead the series 3-0 with Game 4 in Saskatoon tonight. . . . Saskatoon took a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period when F Jayden Wiens scored. . . . The Warriors grabbed a 2-1 lead on goals from F Eric Alarie, at 18:15 of the first, and F Martin Rysavy, at 4:43 of the second. . . . The Blades forced OT at 19:15 of the third period when F Brandon Lisowsky scored with G Nolan Maier on the bench in favour of the extra skater. . . . Larson won it at 9:40 of extra time with his second goal of the series. (NOTE: The online game sheet credits F Atley Calvert with the winner, but it would seem a change is in the works.) . . . The Warriors got 27 saves from G Carl Tetachuk, while Maier blocked 34 for Saskatoon. . . . F Tristen Robins, Saskatoon’s captain, returned to the lineup after missing six games with an undisclosed injury.
JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The City of Revelstoke and the junior B Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League will play host to the 2023 Cyclone Taylor Cup tournament. The four-team event, featuring a host team and champions from the KIJHL, Pacific Junior Hockey League and Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, is scheduled for April 13-16. This will be first time the tournament will have been played in Revelstoke. . . . Mike Leone is the new general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program. Leone takes over from Pat Mikesch, who spent eight seasons with the Gamblers. He and the organization parted company after the Gamblers missed the playoffs for the fourth time in eight seasons.
My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The way I figure it, there was a WHL record set in Portland on Sunday night as the Winterhawks erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Kamloops Blazers, 5-2. . . . Four of the coaches — two with each team — total 1,875 regular-season victories. . . . Don Hay, Portland’s associate coach, holds the WHL career record, of course, having put up 750 victories. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, is No. 10, at 472. . . . Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach, has 432, good for 16th spot. . . . Mark Holick, the Blazers’ associate coach, has 221 victories to his credit. . . . Understand that those numbers all are unofficial as we await a new WHL Official Guide and Record Book, but that is a whole lot of victories signifying that those men have been behind WHL benches for a whole lot of games. . . . Oh, the stories they can tell!
It was late Friday night — early Saturday morning further east of here — when there was some interesting discourse on Twitter, featuring Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) and Taylor Rocca (@taylorrocca).
Brandow is a stats guy who posts interesting facts and numbers from every major junior hockey game; Rocca is the WHL’s director of communications.
Brandow, in the course of posting tidbits after Friday night’s WHL games, wondered about the fact the WHL hasn’t made available an updated Official Guide and Record Book since the 2019-20 season.
Rocca’s responses provide some insight into the workings of the WHL’s Calgary office during this pandemic:
“Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a staff member solely dedicated to media guide/stats. We’re a small office desperately working to simply keep junior hockey on the ice, players healthy, etc. Because, you know, we’re into Year 2 of a global pandemic. . . .
“I’m not trying to fight. Just trying to provide some context. In the case of our office, specifically, we experience widespread layoffs and had LITERALLY one full-time Communications staff member for over a year who was responsible for . . .
“Web/social content, PR/media relations (people have had some questions), mobile app mgmt, dev consult/admin/launch of new streaming service, internal/external comms/Club support, COVID test results processing, etc. I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other time-consuming tasks. . . .
“Point I’m trying to make is most people don’t understand the incredible challenge it has been for small staffs to keep these leagues running. Speaking for myself, I’ve worked nothing short of 100+ hours a week, almost every single week since March 2020. . . .
“I’m not one to speak out or be overly vocal, especially on social media.
But a lot of people in junior hockey are beyond burnt out. They’re doing the best they can every day to show up & make sure the hockey gets delivered. That is what needs to happen first. For the players. . . .
“People work in jr hockey because they love the game. It’s not for the pay. When we’re frustrated about a stream that errors, or a media guide that’s later than ideal, we need to remember there are hard-working people doing their best to survive & meet beyond high demands. . . .
“Just remember: There are real people w/ real emotions, who have been working tirelessly to keep these leagues alive & navigate a world that no one has a blueprint for. And sometimes, keeping the players/staff healthy & games going is all that’s possible from one day to the next.”
It all ended on a positive note as Brandow wrote: “Fair’s fair.I greatly appreciate the explanation and once again, I apologize for the outburst.”
Rocca closed with: “It’s all good, Geoffrey. The media guide is on the list. It will get done. All I ask for is your patience & understanding. Appreciate the time & effort you put into tracking stats across the entire CHL. I check in on them every single game night & I’m always impressed.”
While you aren’t able to download a new WHL Guide, the OHL’s new Media and Information Guide (aka record book) is available right here, while the QMJHL’s updated Media Guide, which includes a records section, is right here.
Brandon will head to a 5-3 on 1:48 to start the second. Also, Edmonton's backup goalie Kolby Hay took a bench minor during the first period. I can't remember ever seeing a backup goalie take a penalty before other than in a bench-clearing brawl. https://t.co/3SpEIukqCL
JUNIOR JOTTINGS — While the OHL is playing without fans in most of its buildings, the QMJHL has decided that it won’t resume its schedule until at least Feb. 1. It had hoped to start up again during the week of Jan. 17, but government-imposed restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted before then. . . . The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that was to have been held in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 2, has been postponed. Officials hope to reschedule it for some point during this season. . . . Congrats to referee Brett Iverson, who was presented with a WHL Milestone Award prior to Saturday’s game in Langley, B.C. Iverson has been working WHL games since 2008-09 and has been on the ice for more than 650 regular-season games. He also has done four WHL finals and two Memorial Cup tournaments. . . . If you were watching the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver play in Langley, B.C., on Friday night, you may have seen Giants F Ty Thorpe shove a linesman at 19:30 of the second period. Somehow, he escaped with only a misconduct penalty, but he missed Saturday’s rematch after the WHL hit him with a one-game suspension. . . . The Cougars swept the two games from the host Giants, leading some fans to wonder whether Vancouver will be buying or selling as the trade deadline arrives today (Monday).
Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “You can start marking time until the guy who runs Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, walks the plank for his role in this fiasco with Novak Djokovic. I still love Djokovic trying to blame the mistakes on his paperwork on his agent. . . . Got it. . . . Dog ate my visa.”
Lupica, again: “It’s going to be fun, now that ESPN has hired David Cone, to go back to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the sound on.”
In the SJHL, the Humboldt Broncos beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. No, wait a minute. Not so fast. . . . That was thought to be the final score until the Mustangs protested over what they felt was an officiating error at 10:23 of the third period. The Mustangs won the protest, so the teams replayed the last 9:37 of the third period prior to Saturday night’s game in Humboldt. . . . On Friday, the Broncos scored a 5-on-3 goal at 10:23 to get to within 3-2, at which point there was confusion over whether anyone should be allowed out of the penalty box. When no one was allowed out, Humboldt scored again another PP goal, then thought it had won it in OT. . . . When play resumed Saturday night, Melfort stretched that 3-2 lead to a 5-2 victory. . . . Humboldt then won the regularly scheduled game, 6-4. . . . There is a complete explanation right here.
There was a time, before the birth of the Toronto Blue Jays, when a lot of Canadian baseball fans got their fix through Dave Van Horne, the voice of the Montreal Expos. Van Horne, who has been calling Miami Marlins’ games for the past 21 years, has chosen to retire. It seems the Marlins cut his schedule back to 54 games last season and wanted him to do fewer than 20 games in 2022. In speaking with Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, Van Horne, 82, took the high road, saying: “After they made the last offer to have me come back in some role in 2022 . . . less than 20 games, I could not do it. I said I’m a baseball play-by-play broadcaster. I’m not one who makes guests appearances and works on recorded interviews. . . . I’m not upset about it. I’ve thought about it during last season. I thought this could very well be it for me. I’m comfortable with the decision I’ve made. Life goes on. I have, in effect, retired. I’m living on my pensions. I have no plans to pursue anything else. I will not pursue another baseball broadcast position.” . . . Jackson’s story is right here.
The NFL’s regular season ended on Jan. 9 and the next day, as is the norm, featured a number of teams firing their head coaches. “Since the NFL is all about sponsorships,” wondered Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Babe, “how long until we start hearing about ‘Black Monday, brought to you by LinkedIn?’ ”
#MHL team Sarmaty Orenburg have fired coach Vladimir Gromilin after he kicked one of his players during a game earlier this week. https://t.co/3DX2DfhYPc
There was a time when pro and college football teams didn’t each employ a couple of dozen assistant coaches and aides. As Steve Spurrier, a former head coach at Florida, explained to the Orlando Sentinel, the Gators back in the day had only one nutritionist on staff: “We had one, and it was me. I used to go around during meals and tell the players to stop eating just meat and potatoes and go put something green on their plates. That’s how we handled nutrition back then.”
THINKING OUT LOUD — Isn’t there something strange about hockey leagues that hand out minor penalties for checking to the head, but allow two players to stand and repeatedly punch each other in the face? . . . The Florida Panthers, one of the NHL’s best and most-entertaining teams, were at home and on my TV set a couple of times in recent days, beating the Vancouver Canucks and Dallas Stars in front of a whole lot of empty seats. Meanwhile, Gary Bettman’s NHL doesn’t include a team in Quebec City, which has an arena and a huge hunger for hockey. . . . The worst thing about live sports on TV in Canada? The same commercials over and over and over and over, again. The first time I saw the spot for Cavendish waffle fries, I thought I might like to try them. By the 10th or 12th time in a couple of hours, well, there’s not a chance. . . . Isn’t it absolutely bizarre the way the NFL allows non-playoff teams with coaching vacancies to interview coaches from playoff teams while their teams are involved in preparing for games? Two of the men on the Buffalo Bills’ coaching staff interviewed for head-coaching positions prior to their Saturday night playoff game. . . . Do you think that it will bother the NFL that it let two more teams into the playoffs and the first weekend of play wasn’t especially entertaining? You’re right. They’ll likely add two more to the bracket next season.
Perhaps you follow Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner) on Twitter or perhaps you have seen reference to a tweet or two of his on this site. When it comes to the history of the Regina Pats, he’s THE MAN. He often posts tweets involving Pats games from the 1960s and early ’70s, and chances are that the stories in those posts were written by Mal Isaac, then of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . Isaac, who went through two hearts, both of which were stronger and tougher than any hockey player, died on Saturday. He was 84. . . . Condolences to Vivian and family, and to Mal’s brother, Dale. Both brothers are in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
F Blake Astorino of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials was among the residents of that B.C. community who were forced out by horrific flooding on Nov. 15. In Merritt, Astorino, a 20-year-old from Prince George, was billeting with Jenny and Jesse Pierce, whose home is a snapshot away from the Coldwater River.
Here’s a bit of what Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen wrote in a story about Astorino’s experiences . . .
It was just past 5 a.m. and the flood waters hadn’t reached the end of the driveway but within 15 minutes nature’s fury was lapping at their feet and waves rippled as a torrent of rising water enveloped their yard. As a third-generation Merritt resident, Jenny knew the house her grandparents built was prone to flooding occasionally, because it was only a short walk from the river, and Jesse told Blake they would likely be back later that day when the water level dropped. But it didn’t.
“I didn’t really pack as much stuff as I probably should have, and when I looked outside the water was starting to get a little worse, but it wasn’t serious,” Astorino said. “So I went back to my room for a bit and I heard (Jenny) yelling, ‘OK, we’ve got to go, we’ve got to go,’ and it happened within five minutes. It was like nothing to water almost in the house in 20 minutes. It was coming so fast and the water was strong.”
By the time Astorino got into his car, the rushing water was already lapping at the doors and as soon as he backed out of the driveway and started down the road his car was half-submerged.
“It was pretty scary for me because my car is so low to the ground and the water was coming up to my windshield and going over the roof,” Astorino said. “If I had left any later I would have been stuck. Luckily, it didn’t stall and I got out.”
Clarke’s complete story — and it’s an excellent one — is right here.
It now is really doubtful that the Portland Winterhawks will have F Seth Jarvis in their lineup this season. Jarvis, 19, played in his 10th regular-season game with the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night, meaning the first-year of his three-year entry-level contract has started. . . . The Hurricanes lost, 2-1 in OT, to the host San Jose Sharks. . . . Carolina selected Jarvis with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . He has four goals and one assist in 10 games with the Hurricanes this season. . . . Interestingly, it was an injury to F Nino Niederreiter that opened a spot in the lineup for Jarvis on Oct. 31. Niederreiter also is a product of the Winterhawks. . . . Jarvis put up 73 goals and 93 assists in 154 regular-season WHL games, all with Portland. . . . Yes, Jarvis still could be assigned to the Winterhawks, but that isn’t likely to happen because the first year of his contract would be burned in any case.
QUESTIONS: Did the late Nat King Cole release only one Christmas song, that one being The Christmas Song? You know the one: Chestnuts roasting . . . Considering the battering that TE Rob Gronkowski of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has taken — and continues to take — how is it that he is still able to walk, never mind run? . . . Have you seen enough of that Connor McDavid commercial yet? Or do you agree that Sportsnet could/should squeeze it in a few more times each evening?
Mitch Love suffered the first regulation-time defeat of his AHL head-coaching career on Monday night when the Stockton Heat dropped a 5-3 decision to the host Ontario Reign. . . . Love, a former WHL player and coach, spent the previous three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. That followed seven seasons as an assistant with the Everett Silvertips. . . . In last night’s loss, the Heat goals came from F Matthew Phillips, F Glenn Gawdin and and F Luke Philp, all three former WHLers. . . . The Heat now is 10-1-2.
Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Kamloops Blazers, reminds us via Twitter (@JonKeenNLSports) that Shaun Clouston, the team’s general manager and head coach, is moving up the WHL’s all-time victories ladder. “He sits at 464,” Keen tweeted. “One more win ties him with Dean Clark and Kelly McCrimmon for 12th all-time. Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe are next at 466.” . . .
Officially, the top five on that list won’t change, with Don Hay (750) on top, followed by Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692), Lorne Molleken (626) and Mike Williamson (572). Of course, Hay, now the associate coach with the Portland Winterhawks, could add to his total should he have an opportunity to run the bench if head coach Mike Johnston is absent. That happened earlier this season but the Winterhawks dropped a 5-2 decision to the visiting Everett Silvertips with Johnston away on a scouting trip. . . .
Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders is the winningest active coach. He’s in sixth spot, at 560, ahead of Ernie (Punch) McLean (548), Brent Sutter (526) and Pat Ginnell (518). . . .
Shupe and Anholt are tied for 10th, at 466, with McCrimmon and Clark next, at 465. . . . Clouston, whose club next is scheduled to play Wednesday in Kent, Wash., against the Seattle Thunderbirds, is 14th and has a chance to join the 500 Club before this season ends. . . . The Blazers (14-2-0) are on pace to win 60 games, but it isn’t likely they can play to an .875 winning percentage for 68 games. Still, a 50-victory season would have Clouston at an even 500 victories, making him the 10th head coach in WHL history to reach that milestone. . . .
Also in the 400 Club: Bob Lowes (453), Mike Johnston (420), Doug Sauter (417) and Marcel Comeau (411). . . . Johnston moved past Sauter this season. . . . Next into the 400 Club will be Willie Desjardins with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He is at 392, good for 19th on the all-time list.
NOTE: The WHL hasn’t updated its Media Guide and Record Book since before the 2019-20 season, so the totals for active coaches are unofficial.
Shaun Clouston and his Blazers are one game into something of a bizarre road trip. They beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., on Saturday night and are scheduled to play their again on Wednesday. But rather than stay in Kent or return home, the Blazers moved into Vancouver for a couple of days. . . . “Some guys went and rode bikes on the seawall and a bunch of our players went to the Canucks game (Sunday) night,” Clouston told Radio NL. “It was a nice break.” . . . The Blazers skated with players from St. George’s School at UBC on Monday. Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, has served on the board at St. George’s and has had sons play hockey there. . . . After playing in Kent, the Blazers are scheduled to meet the Winterhawks in Portland on Friday and the Silvertips (15-0-1) in Everett on Saturday.
It doesn’t appear that the situation involving the USHL’s Omaha Lancers has reached any sort of resolution just yet. Chris Peters of faceoff.com has been following the goings-on and his latest report is right here.
A tip of the fedora to F Carter Streek of the Spokane Chiefs, who just happens to be from Kamloops. Due to injuries and a couple of positive tests, the Chiefs were short of forwards earlier this month, which is one of the reasons they gave up a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft to acquire Streek, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades on Nov. 11. . . . In 21 games with the Blades, six of them this season, Streek had yet to score. So guess what happened in his first game with the Chiefs? Yes, he scored his first WHL goal — it was Spokane’s first goal, tying the score 1-1 at 3:54 of the second period, in what would be a 5-3 loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.
COVID-19 NOTES: Boston College has postponed a pair of weekend men’s hockey games “due to COVID-19 protocols and out of an abundance of caution.” The Eagles were to have met host Notre Dame on Friday and then entertained Harvard on Nov. 30. . . . D Ethan Bear of the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t play Monday night against the Sharks in San Jose after testing positive. . . . You do realize that more people died from COVID-19 in 2021 than in 2020. USA TODAY reported on Monday: “The disease was reported as the underlying cause of death or a contributing cause of death for an estimated 377,883 people in 2020, accounting for 11.3% of deaths, according to the CDC. As of Monday, more than 770,000 people have died from the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University data. That means over 15,000 more people have died in 2021 than last year from COVID-19 — and there’s still more than a month left.” . . . On Monday, The New York Times reported that “as Americans travel this week to meet far-flung relatives for Thanksgiving dinner, new virus cases are rising once more, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.”
First hand experience. Some owners in this league have been approached to sell their teams by prospective expansion groups, and told said expansion group they wanted what their team was worth (in their eyes) + the expansion fee.
A group in Quesnel, B.C., that is headed up by Cory Broadhead is preparing to make a proposal to the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League in the hopes of landing a franchise that would be known as the Thunder and begin play in 2022-23. . . . Broadhead told George Henderson of mycariboonow.com: “We’ve received letters of support from some of the businesses in the community and a letter of support from the North Cariboo Advisory Committee to rent us the ice at the West Fraser Centre. I haven’t heard anything negative in town. It’s all been really positive and it sounds like this town would really support a team and go to the games.” . . . Broadhead said a proposal would be into the league “by the end of the week.” He added that according to its bylaws the KIJHL has “about 30 days to have a meeting.” A decision apparently would be announced three or four days after that meeting. . . . Henderson’s complete story is right here.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
A brief weather-related note: As we were driving into Kamloops early this afternoon, the temperature was 31C. . . . That is 16 degrees higher than what it was at 2 a.m. . . . It also is 16 degrees ‘cooler’ than what it was here on June 29. . . . Is this a great time to be alive, or what?
Grant Armstrong has added a couple of rings to his haberdashery since leaving the WHL. Armstrong and his wife, Lezlie, were in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night to celebrate with the Lightning as they won their second consecutive Stanley Cup. . . . “I’m a little weary because it was a late night,” he told Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader on Thursday, “but well worth it. It’s special.” . . . Zillich’s complete story is right here. . . . Armstrong was with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons (2007-12) and the Victoria Royals for three (2013-16) before working for the Brandon Wheat Kings for three seasons (2016-19) as general manager. . . . He has been scouting for the Lightning for two seasons and, yes, he now has two Stanley Cup rings. . . .
Also on Tampa Bay’s scouting staff is Josh Dye, a former Portland scout who has been with the Lightning for two seasons, meaning that he, too, has a pair of rings. Dye scouted for Portland from 2006-13 before spending three years with Newport Sports Management Inc. He returned to Portland prior to the 2016-17 season as the team’s U.S. and European scout. . . .
And let’s not forget Jason Berger, the Lightning’’s assistant equipment manager. Berger spent four seasons (2007-11) with the Seattle Thunderbirds as their equipment manager. He just completed his fourth season with the Lightning.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s front office also includes two former WHL players — Jamie Pushor and Stacy Roest. . . . Pushor is assistant general manager, director of player personnel. Pushor played 204 regular-season games over five seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He has been with the Lightning for 10 seasons now. . . . Roest, the Lightning’s assistant general manager, director of player development, played four full seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He has been with the Lightning for eight seasons; he also is the general manager of Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Roest’s son, Austin, is a 17-year-old forward preparing for his second season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.
The Prince Albert Raiders have signed G Tikhon Chayka of Belarus, who was picked in the CHL’s 2001 import draft. . . . Chayka, who turns 18 on Aug. 26, got into three games with Belarus at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, going 2-1-0, 2.67, .911. . . . In 29 appearances with Team Belarus in a junior league there, he was 3.60, .870. . . . The Raiders didn’t have any imports on their roster in the Regina hub earlier this year. They finished the 2019-20 season with three on their roster — F Daniil Stepanov, now 20, of Belarus; F Aliaksei Protas, now 20, also of Belarus; and F Ivan Kechkin, now 19, of Russia.
The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders haven’t opened training camp — that happens on Saturday — but they lost four players to torn Achilles injuries on Thursday as they worked out at Mosaic Stadium in preparation for things getting serious. DE Freddie Bishop, MLB Larry Dean, RB Jonathan Femi-Cole and DB Nelson Lokombo all went down in a matter of minutes. General manager Jeremy O’Day told reporters that he expects all four to be out long-term. . . . Bishop and Dean were projected as starters after signing in February. . . . “It wasn’t a competitive drill by any means,” O’Day told reporters. “It happened close enough that while one trainer was dealing with one, then another trainer was dealing with another.” . . . Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.
JUST NOTES:Barry Wolff has signed a two-year contract extension with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. According to a team news release, the contract contains “an option for a third year if he chooses.” Wolff is heading into his fourth season with the junior A team. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted on Wednesday that “longtime Vancouver Giants equipment manager Shingo Sasaki has left the club for a post with the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL team in Abbotsford.” . . .
Scott Burt, a former WHL player and assistant coach, has signed on as head coach and director of hockey operations with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Burt spent 2019-20 as an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. Burt, 44, played three seasons (1995-98) in the WHL, suiting up with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. He later spent six seasons (2013-19) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Jackson Playfair has joined the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team as a full-time assistant coach. Playfair, 27, played in the WHL for three seasons (2012-15) with the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans before going on to spend four seasons at Dalhousie U. His father, Jim, also a former WHL player, is an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers. . . .
USA Hockey has added F Cross Hanas of the Portland Winterhawks to the roster for the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., from July 24-31. Hanas, a draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is the only WHL player on the 44-man roster. . . . Matt Bardsley, who spent the previous three seasons as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager, has joined the Philadelphia Flyers as an amateur scout. He left the Blazers with three years left on his contract, saying that he wanted to get his family back to the U.S. He will spend most of his scouting time working WHL games out of Portland. . . .
The Winnipeg Ice will have a new play-by-play voice following the resignation of Mitch Peacock, who had been its manager, broadcast and communications. He handled the play-by-play for each of the previous two seasons. . . . Hockey Canada has invited 45 players, 17 of them from the WHL, to it U-18 summer development that is scheduled for the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina National near Calgary, from July 25 through Aug. 4. The six-man coaching staff includes three WHL head coaches — Brent Kisio (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Brad Lauer (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dennis Williams (Everett Silvertips). There’s more right here.
The NAHL’s Maryland Black Bears have signed Kimberly Weiss as an assistant coach. The NAHL is a Tier II junior league and, according to Murry N. Gunter, founder and CEO of Black Bear Sports Group, Weiss will be “the first ever female bench coach in junior hockey in North America.” . . . According to a news release, Weiss spent “almost 10 years” coaching with the Washington Pride girls program. She also was a four-year starter, and All-America, at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. . . . Clint Mylymok, who spent five years on the coaching staff of the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds, is prepping for his third season as the Black Bears’ general manager and head coach. . . . The news release is right here.
Mark Recchi, who owns a chunk of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, is part of the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame’s class of 2021. Recchi, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, played in 1,652 regular-season NHL games, 602 of those with the Philadelphia Flyers (1991-94, 1998-2004). He put up 232 goals and 395 assists with the Flyers, and holds their single-season points record (123, 1992-93). . . . He is scheduled to be inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 4. . . . Also included among others in the class of 2021 are former NBA player Richard (Rip) Hamilton, former Philadelphia Eagles star linebacker Seth Joyner and former Philadelphia Phillies manager Dallas Green. . . . Recchi was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2017.
Recchi’s Blazers have added F Nick McCarry, 20, to their list after he was dropped by the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . From Calgary, McCarry wasn’t selected in the WHL bantam draft. He played two games with the Tigers in 2017-18 and 24 in 2018-19 when Shaun Clouston was the general manager/head coach. . . . Clouston now is the Blazers’ GM/head coach. . . . In 104 regular-season games, McCarry has 23 goals and 18 assists. In the abbreviated 2020-21 season, he had seven goals and five assists in 20 games. . . . McCarry joins F Connor Zary and D Quinn Schmiemann as 20-year-olds with the Blazers at the moment. . . . The Tigers still have four 20s on their roster — D Daniel Baker, F Corson Hopwo, F Lukas Svejkovsky and D Eric Van Impe. The Tigers also hold the rights to Danish F Jonathan Brinkman, who stayed home this season. . . .
Meanwhile, D Conrad Mitchell, 20, a veteran of three WHL seasons, has joined the AJHL’s expansion Blackfalds Bulldogs. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder played this season with the Calgary Hitmen — he was pointless in nine games — after splitting 2019-20 between the Everett Silvertips and the Hitmen. The Silvertips selected him in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. In 98 regular-season games, he scored six times and added six assists.
Evan Daum is leaving the WHL’s Regina Pats with whom he had been director of brand marketing and communications. On Tuesday, he announced on Twitter that he will be finished with the Pats on July 2. “It’s bittersweet to leave ahead of what I’m sure will be some exciting years here in the Queen City,” he wrote, “but an opportunity presented itself that my family and I couldn’t pass up.” . . . The Pats had announced his hiring on Oct. 6 and he started work on Nov. 2. . . . On Wednesday, Daum revealed that he will be joining the CFL’s Edmonton Elks as their manager of communications and media relations on July 5.
So sad to hear the news of the passing of Bill Allison. Bill spent 45 years as an off ice official at Memorial Coliseum. He will definitely be missed by the Winterhawks family. pic.twitter.com/rAiJI7kJnM
Denis Shapovalov, the highest-ranked Canadian on the ATP Tour at No. 12, won’t play at the Tokyo Olympics. Shapovalov, 22, tweeted on Monday that he’s out “due to the current situation.” . . . He added that “my team and I have decided this is the best decision for everyone’s safety.” . . . The Games are scheduled to open on July 23. The Associated Press reported Tuesday that “opposition among Japanese to holding the Games in July remains high, though may be softening, as new infections in Tokyo have begun to subside.” . . . The AP’s report also included this: “Officials say local fans will be under strict rules. They will not be allowed to cheer, must wear masks, and are being told to go straight home afterward.” . . . That story is right here.
Big news in the USHL as P.K. O'Handley, longtime coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks is stepping back from coaching duties. He will remain president of hockey ops. Record 778 career victories in the league. Joe Pavelski, Brock Boeser among many NHL alumni coached by P.K.
JUST NOTES: The WHL now has released its exhibition schedule and its regular-season schedule. You are able to find both at whl.ca. . . . Derek Dorsett, a former Medicine Hat player who spent part of the 2020-21 season with the Tigers as an assistant coach, has joined the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets as a developmental coach. . . . D Cam Barker has ended his playing career and joined the BCHL’s Penticton Vees as an assistant coach. The Chicago Blackhawks selected Barker third overall in the NHL’s 2004 draft. He played four seasons (2002-06) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. He played 310 regular-season NHL games and another 191 in the KHL. Barker spent the past two seasons playing for Rouen in Ligue Magnus, France’s top league. . . . Garry Childerhose has joined the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars as an assistant coach. A former Flin Flon Bombers’ assistant coach, he signed on as the head coach of the Kindersley Klippers in April 2020. But he stepped down before the 2020-21 season citing health reasons.
So . . . Dorothy got her second shot of Pfizer on Wednesday afternoon. We had soup later in the day. Whenever she tried to lift her spoon towards her mouth, it would hit her in the forehead and stick there. . . . Now I know why. . . . Lucky for her that we had some plastic spoons in our kitchen.
The Everett Silvertips promoted Mike Fraser, a longtime WHL scout, to director of player personnel, effective immediately, on Wednesday. The Edmonton-based Fraser, 42, had been the team’s head scout for three seasons. . . . From a news release: “Fraser will support Silvertips hockey operations with roster management, co-ordinate scouting and recruiting efforts across North America and Europe, and prospect evaluation in conjunction with the WHL draft.” . . . Before joining the Silvertips, Fraser spent six seasons as a scout with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Prior to that, he worked with the Swift CurrentBroncos for seven years. . . . The Silvertips’ complete news release is right here. . . .
When the Silvertips hired Fraser as head scout on July 3, 2018, they also named Alvin Backus as their director of player personnel. At the time, Backus, who had spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, was to assist general manager Garry Davidson “and the Silvertips coaching staff with roster improvements and co-ordinate the Silvertips scouting and recruiting efforts of talent across North America and Europe.” . . . Neither Backus, who has retired, nor Davidson remains with the Silvertips. They announced on May 21 that they wouldn’t be renewing Davidson’s contract. He had been their GM through nine quite successful seasons, but was dropped as part of a restructuring that the organization was going through that it said was “necessitated” by the past two seasons. . . . Head coach Dennis Williams was named acting GM on June 1.
Kyle Gustafson is moving on from the WHL after 18 seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, most recently as assistant general manager and associate coach. Gustafson, a native of Portland, is joining the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant/special assignment coach. . . . Gustafson and Canucks head coach Travis Green were on Portland’s coaching staff together for five seasons (2008-13). . . . Gustafson started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach in 2003-04. . . . There was a time two years ago when Gustafson came this () close to signing on as the Kamloops Blazers’ head coach. During the summer of 2019, Gustafson turned down a four-year contract offer from the Blazers, who were preparing for Matt Bardsley’s second season as general manager. They had hired Bardsley away from the Winterhawks on June 1, 2018. He had been working with Portland since 1999 so had some history with Gustafson. . . .
The Canucks also announced that assistant coach Newell Brown wouldn’t be back, while signing Brad Shaw as a new assistant coach, and re-signing assistant coaches Nolan Baumgartner and Jason King, goaltending coach Ian Clark and video coach Darryl Seward. . . . Former WHL G Adam Brown, the Kelowna Rockets’ goaltender coach, is Brown’s son.
Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, will be back with the Portland Winterhawks in 2021-22 for a fourth season as an assistant coach. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, confirmed that with Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com earlier this week. You may recall that the Kamloops Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi announced Hay’s retirement following the 2017-18 season. . . .
Johnston also told Critzer that Matt Bardsley, who resigned as the Blazers’ general manager on May 25, “has another exciting opportunity which he will be announcing in the next couple of weeks.” . . . Johnston said that after Bardsley’s Kamloops announcement, he reached out “to Matt originally when it happened in Kamloops and just talked to him about if any openings came in our organization. At the present time, in the area Matt is and was, we already have staff in those positions.”
JUST NOTES: Brad Bakken, who played 53 games over three seasons (2005-08) with the Seattle Thunderbirds, has been named head coach of the junior B Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He was the Trappers’ GM and assistant coach in 2017-18, before moving up to the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen as assistant GM/associate head coach.
Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, ran his WHL regular-season victory total to 401 on Sunday as his guys beat the Chiefs 4-3 in Kent, Wash. This one will go into the books as a Portland home game thanks to the schedule that has been put together in the midst of this pandemic. The remainder of the Winterhawks’ home schedule is expected to be played in Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum, starting Friday with a visit by the Everett Silvertips.
But back to Johnston . . .
He became the 18th coach in WHL history with at least 400 coaching victories on Saturday night when the Winterhawks dumped the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-1.
Johnston, 64, has recorded all of his victories behind Portland’s bench. He is only the fourth head coach in WHL history to post at least 400 victories with one franchise. The others? Ken Hodge (Edmonton-Portland, 742), Brent Sutter (Red Deer, 526) and Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon, 465). While Ernie McLean put up 548 victories with the Estevan/New Westminster Bruins, he did it with two Bruins franchises — the one that relocated from Estevan and one that moved from Nanaimo.
Next up on the victory list for Johnston is Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna, 411).
Other active coaches with at least 400 victories are Marc Habscheid of the Prince Albert Raiders, with 547; Sutter, 526; and Shaun Clouston of the Kamloops Blazers, 432. The Blazers, of course, have yet to play a game this season.
Habscheid has an opportunity to tie McLean for sixth place on the list tonight when the Raiders meet the Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre in Regina.
Don Hay, who is on Johnston’s staff in Portland, leads the list, at 750, with Hodge second at 742.
Don Nachbaur, who has joined the Tri-City Americans as associate coach, is third, at 692, with Lorne Molleken fourth, at 626.
They are followed by Mike Williamson, 572; McLean, 548; Habscheid, 547; Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell, 518; Jack Shupe and Peter Anholt, each 466; McCrimmon and Dean Clark, each 465; Bob Lowes, 453; Clouston, 432; Doug Sauter, 417; Comeau, 411; and Johnston, 401.
Please note that the figures involving active coaches are unofficial and subject to adjustments from the 2019-20 season should any of them have missed games while scouting or for any other reason. The WHL hasn’t yet updated its record book to include coaching records from that season.
G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips had quite a weekend — two games and two shutouts. He stopped 22 shots on Saturday night in a 2-0 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs, then turned aside 18 shots in a 7-0 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., on Sunday. Wolf now has 22 career regular-season shutouts, four of the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 179 games, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 190 games, 2013-18). Wolf now has appeared in 129 games. . . . Wolf’s career GAA of 1.82 is second among goaltenders with a minimum of 100 games played. Kelly Guard (Kelowna, 115 games, 2002-04) holds the record of 1.73. . . . The Calgary Flames selected Wolf in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. He has signed with the Flames. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels (2-6-2) got swept in a three-game series with the Edmonton Oil Kings on the weekend, losing 5-0 in Edmonton on Friday, 3-1 in Red Deer on Saturday and 5-2 back in Edmonton on Sunday. . . . The Rebels won’t play again until early April — the WHL hasn’t yet released the April schedule for the five Alberta teams — and they are without five players so can use the time off. F Ben King and F Kyle Masters were injured Friday and missed the next two games, but could return in two weeks. D Mason Ward apparently was injured Saturday, because he couldn’t go last night. D Joel Sexsmith last played on March 12, while F Jayden Grubbe, the team captain, won’t play again this season as he is to have knee surgery. . . . With three defencemen injured, the Rebels dressed five blue-liners on Sunday, two of them (Hunter Mayo and Jace Weir) 16 years of age. . . .
G Colby Knight of the Oil Kings earned his first WHL victory on Sunday in beating Red Deer. The victory allowed the Oil Kings to run their record to a WHL-leading 7-0-0. . . . “It feels amazing,” Knight, an 18-year-old from Red Deer, told Andrew Peard of oilkings.ca. “I had a dream about it last night and to have it happen, it’s just awesome.” . . . The Oil Kings selected Knight in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Edmonton has won each of its last 14 meetings with Red Deer.
Our very own James Gallo (@jamesgallo2) is making his 1,000th broadcast in tonight's match-up with Saskatoon. Congratulations James!
Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the Saints have had to withdraw from the NCAA championship tournament. . . . The Saints (4-8-3) won the Eastern College Athletic Conference title on Saturday night, beating Quinnipiac in the final after sidelining Colgate in a semifinal game. . . . “The roller-coaster of emotions in the last 24 hours for everyone is unimaginable,” Brekke said in a statement released by the school on Sunday. “(Saturday) night we are holding the trophy above our heads and today we are shaking our heads in disbelief that the season is over. This hurts.” . . . Quinnipiac, which had won the ECAC regular-season title, will replace St. Lawrence in the NCAA tournament.
As I watch the NCAA men’s basketball championship, I have to wonder why they bother having the coaches wear masks. I mean, what’s the purpose? . . . You have to know that a whole lot of coaches live in another world — they really are oblivious to the world outside their small circles — and they prove it with the way they handle masks. Embarrassing! . . . Perhaps hearing that Brent Brekke, the head coach of the St. Lawrence U men’s hockey team, has tested positive will be enough to make other coaches, no matter the sport, wear their masks properly at all times. Then, again, maybe not.
Spotted this headline on Twitter on Sunday — Tiger Woods didn’t brake before car crash. . . . Perhaps someone can explain why this is news.
Joey Votto, the Cincinnati Reds’ all-star first baseman, rejoined the team on Sunday for the first time since March 10. Votto, 37, left spring training in Goodyear, Ariz., after testing positive. . . . Votto indicated that doesn’t have any idea when he will be ready to play again, or whether he will be in the Reds’ starting lineup when the season opens on April 1.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Two things about Super Bowl LV — 1. QB Tom Brady was solid for Tampa Bay, but it was the Buccaneers’ defence that was great, dominating an offensive line that was forced to play two backup tackles; Brady should at least share the MVP award with defensive co-ordinator Todd Bowles; 2. It’s amazing how many comedians come of the woodwork and do their thing on social media during major sporting events. What did they do before social media? Try out their lines on their dogs?
Montreal Gazette headline — Former Montreal Expos draft pick wins Super Bowl, named MVP
Allow me to remember an old friend by pointing out that Tom Brady won his seventh Super Bowl on the 16th anniversary of the death of Bob Turner, a former NHL defenceman, who was part of five consecutive Stanley Cup championships (1956-60) with the Montreal Canadiens. He also won a Memorial Cup, coaching the Regina Pats to the 1974 title in the Calgary Corral.
The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced Saturday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The league last had games played on Nov. 20. . . . The decision to cancel was made after B.C. provincial health officials said Friday that restrictions presently in force will remain in place at least through month’s end. . . . Here’s Jeff Dubois, the KIJHL commissioner, in a news release: “As we approach March and April, we are faced with the reality of arenas removing their ice for the spring and summer, and that leaves us unable to plan for a meaningful conclusion to our season.” . . . Also from the news release: “KIJHL clubs will have the option to continue to train under the current PHO guidelines, and the possibility remains that exhibition games may be played if restrictions are relaxed in the future.” . . . The Kamloops Storm and Kelowna Chiefs both have said they will go on training. . . . The KIJHL features 18 teams, with 17 of them in B.C. The Spokane Braves didn’t start the season because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel. . . . There are two other junior B leagues in B.C. — the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League and the Pacific Junior Hockey League. Both remain on pause. The nine-team VIJHL hasn’t played since Nov. 20; the 13-team PJHL last played on Nov. 7.
You can substitute any other sport for baseball and the premise of this quote is still bang on. The worst thing that ever happened to kids in sport is when adults decided to introduced the term “revenue generation”. https://t.co/mBVXvIRIxn
Headline at TheOnion.com: Charles Barkley blasts today’s fragile NBA players who can’t just play through COVID like he did.
By now you will have heard that some players, including LeBron James, aren’t at all pleased with the NBA’s plan to hold an all-star game in Atlanta on March 7. Here’s Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, explaining things: “A meaningless exhibition game during a pandemic. Gue$$ the league ha$ it$ rea$on$.”
On the subject of money, here’s a gem from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “According to Spanish newspaper El Mundo, Barcelona soccer star Lionel Messi’s four-year contract he agreed to in 2017 would have netted him $168.5 million a season if all incentives had been met. That pencils out to roughly $3.7 million per goal.”
So . . . you wake up every morning wondering: What’s wrong with the Vancouver Canucks? Well, they were mediocre last season and then let their starting goaltender, two good defencemen and a scoring forward go elsewhere. I also would suggest that the goaltender and one of those defencemen were two of the team leaders. Looks to me like they haven’t filled those holes in the roster to this point. But, yeah, let’s get rid of the coach.
For all our former players who watched me show clips of Tom Brady over the years – now you know why!🏈
Two former WHL forwards — Dylan Cozens and Curtis Lazar — were added to the Buffalo Sabres’ COVID-19 protocol list on the weekend. The Sabres now have eight players on the list, and let’s not forget that head coach Ralph Krueger is in quarantine after testing positive. . . . The Sabres’ facility has been closed since Tuesday. They next are scheduled to play Thursday and Saturday against the visiting Washington Capitals. . . .
As of Sunday, the NHL had 46 players on the protocol list. . . . That included D Travis Sanheim of the Philadelphia Flyers, who is another WHL grad. . . . Sanheim practised with the Flyers on Saturday, but didn’t play in Sunday’s 7-4 victory over the host Washington Capitals. From an NHL news release on Sunday: “As a result of a Philadelphia Flyers player entering the league’s COVID protocol earlier today, a decision was made by the NHL’s and NHLPA’s medical experts to have all Flyers players, coaches and staff receive POC tests in advance of this afternoon’s game vs. the Washington Capitals. After all tests returned negative, the league’s, NHLPA’s and clubs’ medical groups determined that it was appropriate to play the game.” . . . The Flyers and Capital are scheduled to meet again Tuesday in Washington. . . .
Public Health Agency of Canada, Sunday, 4 p.m. PT — 804,260 total cases . . . 44,727 active cases . . . 20,767 deaths.
CNN, Sunday, 4:27 p.m. PT — 463,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.
Transplant successful. Thank you a million times Charlene Hardy. You are an angel on Earth. Oh and I got to shower today! pic.twitter.com/qhM5sWMGty
Meet my new friend Heather. She isn’t smiling because she had Tampa Bay in Sunday’s Super Bowl. No. She’s smiling because she had a kidney transplant in Edmonton on Wednesday, and she knows she’ll be on her way home early in the week. . . . Heather, who had been on dialysis since March, received a kidney from a good friend.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Today we are sending condolences to the family of Assistant Coach Brandin Cote. Brandin’s father Denis, who was a member of the 1975-76 SC Broncos of the SJHL, passed away this weekend. pic.twitter.com/zQIwqppcjG