Wheat Kings’ Thornton released from hospital, now with family at home . . . Health of Rockets’ Dach a concern . . . WHL still has three unbeaten teams

F Ben Thornton of the Brandon Wheat Kings was released from Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday afternoon and now is at home with his family in Chilliwack.

Thornton, an 18-year-old sophomore, was taken to hospital after absorbing a Brandonhard hit in a game with the Vancouver Giants at the Langley Events Centre on Friday night.

The Wheat Kings, who beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-2, tweeted on Saturday that all of “Ben’s CT scans came back clear.”

On Sunday evening, Erin Thornton, Ben’s father, told Taking Note that Ben is dealing with concussion-related issues — a bad headache and dizziness — and also has a “hip that needs attending to.”

It sounds as though Ben won’t be rejoining his team for at least a few days, and could know more after seeing a doctor today (Monday).

“We are extremely grateful the situation isn’t worse and that he will be back with the team in the near future,” added Erin, who played 52 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds over two seasons (1990-92). “The support from the team and messages from friends and family have been overwhelming.”

Vancouver F Kyle Bochek was given a charging major and game misconduct for the hit. The WHL suspended Bochek, with the length yet to be determined. At the same time, Brandon F Brett Hyland was given a TBD suspension after taking a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver D Mazden Leslie in Friday’s game.

The Wheat Kings, without Thornton and Hyland, surrendered the game’s last five goals in losing 5-3 to the Royals in Victoria on Saturday night. Brandon is to play the fifth game of an eight-game road swing in Kamloops against the Blazers on Tuesday.


Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has taken a long look at the Cougars and their attendance woes. That includes a conversation with John Pateman, one of PrinceGeorgethe team’s six owners and the organization’s president.

At one point, Clarke wrote:

“Pateman doesn’t like to think about how much money the owners have lost since they bought the Cougars but it is substantial, and it’s getting more expensive to run a junior hockey team. Hotel rooms have doubled in price and hotel managers are refusing to cut hockey teams deals that used to allow them to check out after the pre-game nap. Restaurants are still trying to recoup their losses from the pandemic years and the higher cost of food is showing up on menus. Then there’s the price of diesel fuel for the bus, which only seems to go up.

“ ‘We’ve got to get more of the business community on board just as much as the fans,’ said Pateman. ‘In terms of dollars, we probably need 50 per cent more fans at the game and probably 50 per cent more sponsorship revenue. We think we have a playoff team and you never know what happens in the playoffs. We’d like to get to the stage of maybe breaking even in the season and then maybe getting a bit ahead of the game in the playoffs.’

“So where does that leave the Cougars? Despite their losses, there’s no indication ownership is going to move the team to greener pastures or sell it to somebody that might want to build a rink a rink in Nanaimo. The Cougars’ braintrust has faith the bleeding will stop eventually and a winning team on a lengthy playoff run would do wonders to make that happen. But it is up to the fans to show whether they want a WHL team to continue waving the P.G. flag.”

Clarke’s complete piece is right here.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Sportsnet apologizes for interrupting gambling commercial with hockey.


The sons of two former NHLers, both of whom own chunks of the Kamloops Blazers, scored newsworthy goals on Friday night. . . . F Tij Iginla, the 16-year-old son of Jarome, counted his first WHL goal as the Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0. Iginla, the ninth overall pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft, scored the game’s final goal. . . . Meanwhile, in Tempe, Ariz., F Josh Doan, the son of Shane, scored the first goal in the school’s new hockey facility — Mullett Arena — and the Sun Devils went on to a 2-0 victory over the Colgate Raiders. Doan, ASU’s captain, scored on a breakaway at 19:15 of the first period, banging in his own rebound. “I couldn’t have made it harder on myself to put it in,” Doan told Jenna Ortiz of the Arizona Republic. “A great pass from (Lukas Sillinger) and it was a pretty special moment. You get an opportunity to score the first in this rink and that’s pretty special. That goes up to a lot of guys that played in the program before me.” . . . Doan, 20, was selected by Kamloops in the WHL’s 2017 draft, but chose the NCAA route. The Arizona Coyotes grabbed him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . BTW, Lukas Sillinger, 22, is the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger.



Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Winnipeg Jets, won’t be behind the bench COVIDtonight (Monday) when they visit his former club, the Dallas Stars. Bowness tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday and missed that night’s home game, a 4-1 victory over the New York Rangers. The Jets are hopeful that Bowness will be available on Friday when they meet the Colorado Avalanche in Denver. . . . With Bowness sidelined, associate coach Scott Arniel is in charge.



Meeting


You have to think the Kelowna Rockets are concerned about the health of their captain, Colton Dach, who took a high hit during a 5-4 loss to the Silvertips in KelownaEverett on Friday night. Dach, 19, needed help getting off the ice after a hit from D Dexter Whittle, who was given a major and game misconduct. On Saturday, he was hit with a three-game suspension.

Regan Bartel, the longtime radio voice of the Rockets, wrote at rocketfan.ca: “You hope Dach suffered nothing more than a neck injury on the play when he was struck by Whittle just outside the Tips’ blueline. The concern is the injury is worse.”

Dach recently returned to Kelowna after a stint in camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. And it turns out that he missed time there after suffering a concussion during a prospects’ game with the Minnesota Wild on Sept. 16. He was placed in concussion protocol the next day.

Dach told Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune: “For me it’s still a mystery, I kind of just hit someone. Having just one shift I was going out there running around hitting some guys and came back to the bench and got a little headache.

“During intermission, it didn’t go away. I was going to try and just play through it but it kept getting worse and worse and never went away. (Those are the) kind of things you need to tell the training staff. . . . (It’s) pretty serious.”

As for symptoms, Dach told Thompson: “A lot of headaches, a lot of neck pain and dizziness, sensitive to the light a little bit. So everything was kind of normal. There (were) no weird things going on.”

The Rockets are scheduled to entertain the Brandon Wheat Kings on Wednesday and the Winnipeg Ice on Saturday, and then will be off until Oct. 28.



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Phil Mickelson was in Saudi Arabia this week, singing the praises of that LIV Tour, and I was just happy to see Phil back with his people. Mickelson can’t play a lick any more, but he still can talk.”


Workout


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The WHL goes into a new week with three undefeated teams . . . the same three that were unbeaten when the weekend games began. . . . The Red Deer Rebels, Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds all are 7-0-0. . . . The Rebels went on the road and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 4-2, on Friday and the Swift Current Broncos, 4-3, on Saturday. This is the second time in franchise history that the Rebels have opened with seven victories. They also did it in 2000-01, a season in which they won the Memorial Cup. Red Deer next is scheduled to play Wednesday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . The Winterhawks played once on the weekend; they beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 5-4, in a shootout. Portland erased a 4-1 deficit with three goals in the latter half of the second period. Kamloops had won its previous four games. The Winterhawks are scheduled to visit the Tri-City Americans on Saturday. . . . Seattle, meanwhile, dumped the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-0, on Friday and then went into Everett and thrashed the Silvertips, 11-3, on Saturday. The Thunderbirds got four goals and five assists from F Lucas Ciona in the two games. Next up for the Thunderbirds will be a visit by the Spokane Chiefs on Saturday. . . . BTW, TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits) points out that the Thunderbirds are the first visiting team ever to score 10 goals in Everett. The Chiefs had held the record, having scored nine in a 9-1 victory on Jan. 28, 2009. . . . It’s worth noting that the host Silvertips bounced back Sunday with a 7-3 victory over the Chiefs behind three goals from F Jackson Berezowski and three assists from F Austin Roest. . . .

The WHL’s Dept. of Discipline (whl.ca/discipline) has been busy of late. Including discipline handed down on Oct. 9, the league issued 13 games in suspensions through Sunday, with two other sentences yet to be determined. As well, the Regina Pats were fined $250 for a warmup violation against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Oct. 12; the Edmonton Oil Kings paid $500 for “instigator in last five minutes” of a game against the host Seattle Thunderbirds on Oct. 14. . . .

F Gabe Klassen of the Portland Winterhawks struck for seven goals in his first three games before suffering an undisclosed injury. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ veep/GM/head coach told Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for @pnwhockeytalk, that Klassen is back skating and “I would expect he’ll play next week as long as he has a good week in practice.” Sounds like he could return Saturday in Kennewick, Wash., against the Tri-City Americans.


Slugs


THE BEDARD UPDATE — F Connor Bedard scored twice on Friday — he had eight shots on goal — as the Pats beat the Broncos, 4-3, in Swift Current. Bedard, the likely No. 1 selection in the 2023 NHL draft, broke a 3-3 tie at 19:52 of the third period. The announced attendance was 1,922, the largest Swift Current crowd through four games this season. . . . On Sunday, Bedard ran his point streak to 10 games with one assist as the Pats, who erased a 3-0 deficit with three third-period goals, dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. Bedard drew the primary assist on F Tanner Howe’s tying goal at 9:34 of the third period. Announced attendance was 3,211, the second-largest crowd through five games in Regina this season. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in goals (9) and points (20). F Austin Roest of the Everett Silvertips has 17 points; Roest, teammate Jackson Berezowski and F Reid Schaefer of the Seattle Thunderbirds each has eight goals. . . . Bedard leads the WHL in shots on goal, with 73, in 11 games. Berezowski has 43 in nine games.



Jon Runyan Jr., a guard with the Green Bay Packers, was fined US$5,215 by the NFL after leg-whipping an opponent during the 27-22 loss to the New York Giants in London on Oct. 9. The letter he got informing him of the fine read “further offenses will result in an escalation of disciplinary action, up to and including suspension.” . . . The letter was signed by Jon Runyan Sr. Yes, Junior’s father is the NFL’s vice-president of football operations. . . . “My dad and I always joked about this happening, but I never thought my style of play would ever warrant what he deemed to be unnecessary roughness, but it happened,” Junior told ESPN. “I thought since I left for college, I wouldn’t have to deal with him punishing me anymore, but I was wrong about that.”


Fateddy


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.


Urinal

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while continuing to wonder what hit the Blue Jays . . .

Scattershooting2

You are able to find Randy’s Vinyl Tap on a Corus radio station near you for two hours every Sunday evening. Check it out!


While watching the Toronto Blue Jays implode on Saturday, I kept seeing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. beating the visiting New York Yankees with a walk-off home run a few weeks ago and screaming something about it being “my house” as he trotted from third to home. . . . Of course, the Yankees won in Toronto the next night to clinch the AL East. And then along came Friday-Saturday and the Seattle Mariners. . . . Let’s not forget that Aaron Judge hit No. 61 there, too. . . . All of that means that the Yankees and Mariners have done a lot of celebrating in Vladdy’s house. . . . Maybe he and the rest of Toronto’s young guns will learn something about humility and the baseball gods from how this season ended . . . Oh, and get rid of that gawdawful jacket thing, too.



Amazon


Joe Posnanski, who writes baseball as well as anyone, had this after Saturday’s marathon between the visiting Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians: “For almost five hours, under the heat of playoff baseball, we watched two teams fail to score a single run. They failed to score a single run off FIFTEEN different pitchers. Until the last batter, Cleveland hit .090 and struck out 20 times. Tampa Bay hit a stouter .122 and struck out only 19 times.”

——

And here’s Posnanski on a key point in the Seattle-Toronto game: “And Blue Jays manager John Schneider, the one who did not play in ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ went to the mound, pulled (Kevin) Gausman, and brought in lefty Tim Mayza. It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense when he did it, since Gausman clearly was not gassed and (switch-hitter Carlos) Santana has, throughout his career, been a better hitter against lefties. This year, he hit just .178 and slugged .366 against righties — he hit almost 90 points better and had 150 more OPS points against lefties.

“But, he was 0-for-3 against Mayza, so maybe that’s what Schneider saw. I don’t know.”

Of course, the bases were loaded, Mayza threw a wild pitch and then Santana drilled a three-run homer. The rest, as they say, is history.


Here’s Matt Rhule, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, after losing, 37-15, to the visiting San Francisco 49ers on Sunday: “We’re not going to win unless we score more points. I’m not going to lie to you.”


Corndogs


“Minnesota Twins pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson made major-league history by having the longest last name on the back of his jersey, supplanting ex-catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The team seamstress is now on the 10-day injured list with RSI.”

——

Perry also passed along this gem from Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune after Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady threw a tantrum: “Brady broke two tablets vs. the Saints, tying the cherished 3,500-year-old world record set by Moses.”


Here’s Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Herschel Walker isn’t the one who belongs in a concussion tent. No. Anybody who’s still thinking of voting for this guy belongs in the blue tent.”

——

Lupica, again: “One more thing about Herschel. I’m really starting to worry about just the sheer logistics of what next Father’s Day are going to be like for this guy. The more you read, the more you think he hooked up with everybody except Stormy Daniels.”


There are some parts of the world of hockey that really do need to pay more attention to history and, in particular, to the people who put so much into the building of leagues and franchises. So . . . here’s hoping the decision to remove banners from the Regina Pats’ home arena is a temporary measure to accommodate the removal of dust from the rafters or some other house-cleaning item. . . . And here’s hoping, too, that there is a plan in Regina to hang more banners representing names from the Pats’ glorious past to those rafters.


Keith


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Logan Stankoven, the CHL’s player of the year for 2021-22, has been returned to the Kamloops Blazers by the Dallas Stars, who selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. He has signed a three-year deal with the Stars. Last season, Stankoven had 104 points, including 45 goals, in 59 regular-season games, then added 17 goals and 14 assists in 17 playoff games. . . . Remember that the Blazers are to be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . Stankoven, 19, is expected to be in the Kamloops lineup on Friday night against the host Tri-City Americans. . . . While returning Stankoven to his hometown team, the Stars kept F Wyatt Johnston, 19, who was their first pick in that 2021 NHL draft. He played the past two seasons with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, putting up 124 points, 46 of them goals, in 68 games last season. . . .

Meawhile, the Vancouver Giants got back F Zack Ostapchuk, their captain, from the Ottawa Senators. Ostapchuk, 19, was a second-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. Last season, he had 26 goals and 17 assists in 60 regular-season games, then added 23 points, 16 of them assists, in 12 playoff games. . . . The Giants next are scheduled to play on Friday against the Brandon Wheat Kings in Langley, B.C. . . .

The Tri-City Americans, playing their home-opener, got two goals and two assists from F Jordan Gavin in beating the Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-1, on Saturday night. Gavin, from Surrey, B.C., was the second overall selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft, and has two goals and five assists in five games. He won’t turn 16 until Nov. 13. . . .

When host Kamloops dropped Victoria, 3-1, on Saturday night, it was the Blazers’ 23rd consecutive victory over the Royals. . . . Seriously! . . . The loss also left the Royals at 0-7-0, not quite the start the franchise needed. . . . Victoria is the only one of the league’s 22 teams without a victory. . . .

At the other end of the spectrum, the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds remain unbeaten — the former at 5-0-0, the latter 4-0-0. They’ll go home-and-home on Nov. 4 and 5, opening in Portland and closing the series in Kent, Wash. . . . Before then, the Winterhawks are home to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday, the same night the Thunderbirds entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . According to TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits), this is the first time in franchise history that the Thunderbirds have opened with four straight victories. . . . The Red Deer Rebels, meanwhile, are 5-0-0, the first time that has happened since 2000-01, according to Troy Gillard, their director of broadcasts and media.


Commas


THINKING OUT LOUD — In getting swept from a best-of-three series, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t get even one pitch out of Jose Berrios or Yusei Kikuchi. Berrios has an average salary of US$18,714,286, while Kikuchi’s annual average is $12 million. . . . Hockey Canada didn’t make a big news dump late Friday afternoon, but Andrea Skinner, the interim chair of the board of directors, did resign on Saturday. Hey, it’s a start. . . . How come I didn’t know before Saturday evening that the Okanagan Sun has a hotshot KR/WR named Mike O’Shea, who just happens to be the son of Mike O’Shea, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach? . . . BTW, the Sun just finished off a 10-0 regular season. . . . ICYMI, the Cincinnati Bengals left three points on the field Sunday night in Baltimore and lost by two to the Ravens. Could it be some of those coaches are spending too much time listening to the analytics people? Sheesh, kick the field goal!


I wish I had seen this trick on Twitter about 50 years ago. . . .


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.


Store

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while eagerly awaiting QB Rourke’s next start . . .

scattershooting

Hockey in Canada was big news with The New York Times on Sunday and for all the wrong reasons.

The story and photos, by Ian Austen, carried this headline on Twitter: Sexual Assault Revelations Turn Canada’s Game Into the Nation’s Shame.

The subhead: Once a jewel of Hockey Canada’s schedule, the world junior tournament is playing to a largely empty arena as turmoil forces Canadians to rethink what they believe about the sport.

In the actual newspaper, the story appeared in the A section, on Page 29, with this headline: Sexual Assault Revelations Dim the Shine of Canada’s National Game.

The hook for the story was the prevalence of empty seats at the 2022 World Junior Championship that is ongoing in Edmonton. But woven into the story is the embarrassingly sad saga of Hockey Canada and the mess it has become.

“All of Hockey Canada’s corporate sponsors, which include one of the country’s largest banks and the ubiquitous Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut chain, have abandoned it,” Austen wrote, “leaving the arena free of the usual advertising on the ice and rink boards. Edmonton’s tourism board is no longer promoting the tournament, and the federal government has also cut off its funding to Hockey Canada and ordered an audit to make sure that its funds were not used to silence victims while lawmakers in Ottawa hold hearings. Police have also resumed investigating the events of 2018. As the story began to dominate the news, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a ‘real reckoning at Hockey Canada and condemned its leaders for their ‘willful blindness.’ ”

It’s a mess . . . a morass . . . it really is. And it’s a big enough mess that The New York Times felt the story was worthy of some major play.

If you’re able to access it, Austen’s story is right here. BTW, Austen is from Windsor and lives in Ottawa, so this isn’t an American writing about a scandalous time in Canadian hockey.


Coffee


Old friend Hartley Miller touches on a whole lot of pet peeves in his latest edition of Hartley’s Hart Attack. Somehow, though, he missed the fact that there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the inaugural; the second one is the second annual. . . . Miller’s list is a good one, though, and it’s all right here.


Boat


COVID-19 SAYS HELLO (AGAIN): The Minnesota Vikings didn’t have QB Kirk Cousins on hand Sunday when they opened their 2022 exhibition season with a 26-20 loss to the host Las Vegas Raiders. Cousins, who isn’t vaccinated, was sent home from training camp on Thursday and tested positive on Friday. He missed one regular-season game in 2021 after testing positive.

——

The New York Yankees will retire Paul O’Neill’s No. 21 on Sunday (Aug. 21). I know! I know! You’re wondering if the team that has retired the numbers of the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Mariano Rivera has lowered the bar. But O’Neill did hit .303 over nine seasons in the Bronx and was on four World Series winners. . . . However, it turns out that he is another of baseball’s anti-vaxxers, which is why he, as an analyst for Yankees games on the YES Network, works from his home in Cincinnati. . . . He is the lone YES broadcaster granted this privilege despite the network having imposed a vaccine mandate. On Sunday at Yankee Stadium, O’Neill won’t be allowed in the YES broadcast booth because he isn’t vaccinated. Also, because of MLB regulations, he won’t be permitted on the Yankees’ clubhouse or dugout. He will be allowed onto the field, but won’t be joined by any players. . . . It isn’t known whether Dr. Google will be joining him on the field.

——


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “What’s this world coming to when stealing classified nuclear documents is treated like some kind of crime?”

——

Lupica, again: “My friend Stanton is wondering how Aaron Rodgers worked it out that he’s afraid of vaccines, but not psychedelic drugs.”


Chapstick


THINKING OUT LOUD: If you missed it, QB Nathan Rourke of the B.C. Lions was lighting it up again on Saturday night in a stunning 41-40 victory over the host Calgary Stampeders. Despite a first quarter during which he actually looked mortal, Rourke finished with 488 passing yards in erasing a 20-3 deficit. Rourke, 24, is a CFL sophomore after three seasons with the Ohio U Bobcats. And he’s magic, he really is. Won’t be long and they’ll be comparing him to a young Dieter Brock — he was Ralph then — and Doug Flutie. Asked about Rourke after Saturday’s game, Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell offered: “Enjoy him while he’s here.” . . . Or, as Lions DB T.J. Lee put it: “Man, we call him Nate Brady for a reason.” . . . Next up for the Lions? They go home-and-home with the Saskatchewan Roughriders — Friday in Regina and Aug. 26 in Vancouver. . . . The Baltimore Orioles are in Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays and all of the visiting players now are vaccinated. That wasn’t the case in June when LHP Keegan Akin and OF Anthony Santander weren’t vaccinated so couldn’t cross the border into Canada. . . . RHP Mike Soroka may yet get back into the Atlanta Braves’ lineup before this season is over. The Calgary native will make a rehab start in Rome, Ga., on Tuesday for the High-A Braves as he continues working his way back from a twice-ruptured right Achilles tendon. He hasn’t pitched for Atlanta since first injuring it in August 2020. . . . If you haven’t yet read Pleasant Good Evening, the memoir written by former Sportstalk host Dan Russell, you should. If you’re wondering what it’s all about, check out this story right here by John Ackerman of CityNews 1130 in Vancouver.


THE COACHING GAME:

Todd Nelson is the new head coach of the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Nelson, 53, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars for the past four seasons. . . . Nelson takes over from Scott Allen, who now is an assistant coach with Washington. Allen spent one season as the Bears’ head coach after three as an assistant. . . . A native of Prince Albert, Nelson played four seasons (1986-90) with the WHL’s Raiders. . . . The Bears also signed Adam Purner, who spent time with the Portland Winterhawks, as their video co-ordinator and video coach. Purner, 46, was in the New Jersey Devils organization for the past two seasons with their AHL affiliate in Binghamton and then Utica. . . . He spent four seasons (2016-20) with the Winterhawks.


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Food Network Goes Off Air After Every Iteration of Ingredient Combinations Completed.


Billy Napier, the head coach of the Florida Gators football team, has banned all but white socks at practice sessions. As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel put it: “You know what the great Grantland Rice once wrote: ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you match your socks!’ ”


Ankle


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.


Airbag

COVID-19 finds Roughriders . . . AHL team takes bite out of two WHL coaching staffs . . . Red Wings add former Everett coach as assistant


Riders


The WHL’s Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds have vacancies on their coaching staffs after the San Jose Barracudas signed Louis Mass and Kyle Hagel as assistant coaches. . . . The Barracudas are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Both men were on the ice with the Sharks at their development camp late last week. . . . Mass, who had been the Silvertips’ associate coach, spent four seasons with Everett. . . . Hagel had been with Seattle for five seasons. . . . They will be working with Barracudas head coach John McCarthy. . . .

Meanwhile, a couple of former Silvertips coaches were making news on Monday.

The long and winding coaching road finally has led Jay Varady to the NHL. A former assistant coach with the Silvertips, Varady now is an assistant with the Detroit Red Wings. He spent the past four seasons in the Arizona Coyotes organization, one as an NHL assistant and three as head coach of the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. . . . Varady, 44, spent eight seasons (2003-11) on the Silvertips’ staff, the last four as associate head coach. Since leaving Everett, he has coached the Ducs d’Angers in France, the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers, the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs and the Roadrunners. . . .

Kevin Constantine, the Silvertips’ head coach for eight seasons, has been named the head coach of Hungary’s national men’s team. Constantine, 63, also is the head coach of Fehérvár AV19 in the Austrian-based ICE Hockey League, Fehérvár AV19 plays out of Székesfehérvár, Hungary. . . . Constantine did two stints as the Silvertips’ head coach — 2003-07, 2013-17.


Kong


A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A group of farmers and unemployed youngsters have been busted for running a fake Indian Premier League, streaming staged cricket matches online and swindling Russian bettors out of thousands of dollars. But we’ll never know how it turned out. The scam was detected before it reached the championship round.”

——

Perry, again:

No kidding — Simone Biles got reverse-carded at the airport.

The 4-foot-7 world-champion gymnast was mistaken for a child when she caught a flight home after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom this month.

“The flight attendant (tried) to give me a coloring book when I board . . .” she wrote on Instagram. “I said, ‘No, I’m good, I’m 25.’

“The other flight attendant gave me a mimosa, so we’re in the clear.”

Even better, the pilot stuck the landing.



As you no doubt are aware, the BCHL withdrew from the Canadian Junior bchlHockey League, the umbrella under which junior A leagues operate in Canada, more than a year ago. That means that BCHL teams can’t compete for the Centennial Cup that was won this season by the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits at a 10-team tournament in Estevan, Sask. . . . With the BCHL on the outside of the CJHL and looking in, it is at least a bit interesting that the Wenatchee Wild will play four road exhibition games against USHL teams in September, while the Cranbook Bucks will go on the road to play games against the AJHL’s Bandits and the Okotoks Oilers. . . . If you’re wondering, the Wild will play two games against the Fargo Force and singles versus the Sioux Falls Stampede and Sioux City Musketeers.


THINKING OUT LOUD: Canada’s women’s soccer team had a chance to clinch a berth in the 2024 Paris Olympics on Monday night when it met the U.S. in Monterrey, Mexico, and the game wasn’t on Sportsnet or TSN. There is something horribly wrong with that picture. . . . By the way, the Americans won, 1-0. . . . If you were able to watch the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the visiting Calgary Stampeders, 26-19, on Friday night, you were treated to the CFL at its best. . . . And then, if you were lucky, you switched over to watch the Milwaukee Brewers and the host San Francisco Giants. OF Mike Yastrzemski won it with a ninth-inning walk-off grand slam, the first time the Giants have managed that since Bobby Bonds beat the Los Angeles Dodgers with one in 1973. The best part, though, was listening to Jon Miller, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow call the game. . . . I don’t know when/why the Saskatchewan Roughriders decided to try and become the CFL’s version of Al Davis’s Oakland Raiders but it isn’t working.


Waldo


There was an interesting development in the junior B Kootenay International kijhlJunior Hockey League on Monday when it released its regular-season schedule, one that includes the Spokane Braves. . . . Because of the pandemic, the Braves have sat out the past two seasons. . . . From the KIJHL news release: “The Spokane Braves are scheduled to play their first KIJHL regular-season game since February 2020 when they host Osoyoos Coyotes on Sept. 23 to begin their long-awaited 50th season. The league is continuing to monitor circumstances around the Canada-U.S. border and will provide updates.” . . . Taking Note has been told that the Braves have been given until Aug. 1 to declare their intentions for 2022-23. So you have to think that the KIJHL has another schedule ready to be released, one that doesn’t include Spokane. . . . With the U.S. and Canadian governments not allowing anti-vaxxers to cross their borders, the Braves don’t have enough vaccinated players to ice a team. In fact, owner Bob Tobiason and head coach Darin Schumacher aren’t vaccinated, either. That fact prevented Tobiason from attending the KIJHL’s annual general meeting at Fairmont Hot Springs in late June.


After the International Olympic Committee decided — finally! — to give the late Jim Thorpe back his classic pentathlon and decathlon gold medals from the 1912 Olympic Summer Games in Stockholm, comedy writer Alex Kaseberg summed things up: “In an equally timely move, the IOC strongly feels women should be allowed to vote.”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Phil Mickelson keeps saying how happy he is that he went with that Blood Money Tour. And, boy, he sure looks happy these days, doesn’t he?”


Family


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes revealed on Monday that F Yegor Klavdiev, 19, won’t be returning for a second season. He has decided to stay at home in LethbridgeBelarus and begin his pro career with Shakhtyor Soligorsk of the Belarusian Extraliga. . . . Lethbridge GM Peter Anholt, from a news release: “We are really disappointed about the news of Klavdiev not returning. It’s disappointing to lose a good player who was going to be a key 19-year-old for us this coming season and someone that we were going to count on. The timing isn’t great for us, but his decision was made, and we respect that and wish him the best in his next step.” . . . Klavdiev had 21 goals and 26 assists in 61 games last season; he was one of three 20-goal scorers on the roster. . . . F Justin Hall led Lethbridge with 34 goals last season, but that was as a 20-year-old. F Jett Jones, who is to turn 20 on Aug. 27, was the other 20-goal man last season, with 20. . . . In the CHL’s 2022 import draft, the Hurricanes selected Slovakian F Alex Ciernik, who turns 18 on Oct. 8, in the first round and then passed on their second pick. The Hurricanes also hold the rights to Swiss F Liekit Reichie, 19, who had two goals and nine assists in 34 games after being claimed off waivers from the Prince George Cougars last season.

The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express is looking for a head coach with Brandon Shaw having left to join the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs as an assistant coach. Shaw, who was with Coquitlam for one season, also was the assistant general manager. . . . Shaw has been coaching in the BCHL for the past five seasons — two with the Merritt Centennials and two with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . .

The OHL’s Soo Greyhounds have extended the contract of general manager Kyle Raftis for four years, taking him through the 2025-26 season. Raftis is preparing for his ninth season with the Greyhounds.


Jason Knight, a former WHL player, died on June 30 in Regina, four days after his 49th birthday. . . . Knight played 56 WHL regular-season games over three seasons (1990-93) — 26 with the Saskatoon Blades, 29 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and one with the Tacoma Rockets. He finished with three goals and four assists. . . . From the obituary: “There will be no Funeral Service at this time but a Celebration of Life will take place at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made, in memoriam, to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, 100 – 119 14 Street NW Calgary, AB, T2N 1Z6 or to KidSport Canada, 423 – 145 Pacific Avenue, Winnipeg, MB, R3B 2Z6.” . . . That obituary is right here.


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.


Puns

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening while enjoying Randy Bachman’s Vinyl Tap . . .

scattershooting

NormDaley
Norm Daley is to be introduced as the Kamloops Blazers’ president on Monday. (Photo: Daley and Co. LLP/Facebook)

GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: The WHL’s Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to hold a news conference today (Monday) to introduce Norm Daley, who is well-known in the city’s business and sporting communities, as the organization’s president. . . . Daley will fill the office vacated when Don Moores died of a heart attack while golfing on June 30, 2021. Moores was 65. He had been the team’s president since June 30, 2016. . . . Daley, who recently retired from Daley and Company LLP, an accounting firm, already is chairman of the organizing committee that won the right for Kamloops and the Blazers to play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup. He also has been the chairman of the Blazers’ advisory board that helps the organization connect with the community. . . . Daley also is co-owner of the Kamloops NorthPaws, who are in their first season in the West Coast League, a short-season summer baseball league. . . . Among other things, he was co-chair of the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship that was held in Kamloops.


SORRY, BUT IT ISN’T OVER: If you regularly tune in to Donnie and Dhali on Victoria’s CHEK-TV, well, you can skip today (Monday). That’s because co-hosts Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal, and producer Ryan Henderson, all tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday. . . . According to a Tweet from the show’s account, they are in isolation and “won’t have a show” on Monday. “We hope to be back on Tuesday.” . . . No, the pandemic isn’t over. And, by the way, it’s here for at least another year or two. . . . Get vaccinated. . . . Get boosted. . . . Wear a mask. . . . Thank you!


Bodies


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Supreme Court overturns Alien v. Predator.


“The Dallas Cowboys coined the term Hail Mary, and now they’re putting a different spin on the coffin corner,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Rabid fans of the team have something to die for — a custom casket decked out in the NFL team’s colors and iconic lone-star logo. For a proud franchise that hasn’t won a Super Bowl since 1996, it’s just one more letdown.”

——

Perry, again: “Major League Baseball will allow its teams to sell sponsorships to cannabis companies that market CBD products, the Sports Business Journal reported. ‘Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain’ is about to be supplanted by ‘Cheech and Chong and Pass the Bong.’ ”


There can’t be anything more painful in sports these days than watching Joey Gallo of the New York Yankees at the plate with a bat in his hands. He is more lost than was Dr. Livingstone. You want proof? In June, Gallo struck out 32 times. The late Tony Gwynn of the San Diego Padres struck out 27 times — total— in the final three seasons of his career.


TurnSignal


There is an expression in major junior hockey that goes like this: “Because it’s qmjhlnewthe Q.” . . . It has long been a way for observers to shrug off some of the bizarre things that often seem to occur involving the QMJHL and its teams. Take Saturday, for example. The QMJHL’s summer trading period opened and no one was more active than the Cape Breton Eagles. How active were they? Well, they made 10 trades in one day — yes, 10 . . . in one day. When they were done, the Eagles had acquired seven players and nine draft selections while moving out eight players and nine picks. . . . Only in the Q.



THINKING OUT LOUD: Wouldn’t you love to know how today’s NHL players really feel about the salary cap under which they play? F Kevin Fiala put up 33 goals and 52 assists in 82 games with the Minnesota Wild in 2021-22, but then was dealt to the Los Angeles Kings for cap-related reasons. He signed with the Kings for US$55.125 million over seven years. At the same time, NBA teams were giving players five-year deals worth $200 million or more. . . . F Chris Boucher, who played about 20 minutes per game last season, re-signed with the Toronto Raptors for $35.25 million over three years. . . . F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, arguably the best player in hockey today, is about to enter the fifth year of his eight-year, $100-million contract. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “When the NHL went to (a) salary cap in 2004, the highest-paid players were Jaromir Jagr and Peter Forsberg, each at $11 million a year. The salary cap then was $39 million. It has more than doubled in the 18 years since then, but the highest-paid player’s salary has only grown from $11 million to $12.5 million. The salaries of the middle-range players have grown out of control in the NHL, and that’s happened at the expense of the superstars, who aren’t paid comparable to what the greats are paid in other leagues.” . . . There was a time early in my newspaperin’ career when the item referred to in the following tweet was my favourite book. . . .


WifeTrunk


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News, on the NBA and its teams’ penchant for throwing around the Benjamins: “This has become a league that is ridiculous with money, a league where Bradley Beal — maybe you’ve ever actually watched him play, maybe not — can command a $250-million contract with the Wizards and where (Kyrie) Irving, whom the Nets don’t even want, can exercise an option and put the Nets on the books for $36.5 million. And who wouldn’t want to pay Dr. Irving that, after he was such a team guy in 2021-22?”

——

Lupica, again: “The Blue Jays missed the postseason by one game last season and if that happens to the Red Sox this time, they might remember a couple of games they lost this week in Toronto because they didn’t have the unvaxxed Jarren Duran or their unvaxxed closer Tanner Houck with them. Two more graduates of the Kyrie Irving School of Medicine.”


Headline at fark.com: Kevin Durant the player not happy with the team Kevin Durant the GM has created, demands to be traded to any team that was in the Finals in the last 3 years.


Let’s close with one more from Dwight Perry: “Muhammad Ali on a commemorative stamp? It’s way overdue. As the ever-confident heavyweight champ, who died in 2016, once said: ‘I should be a postage stamp. That’s the only way I’ll ever get licked.’ ”


Alien


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.


Cosell

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Stars’ Oettinger can continue to hold off the Flames . . .

scattershooting

A few words from blogger Joe Posnanski:

In 1974, a rock journalist named Jon Landau watched a concert at Harvard Square Theater and wrote, “I saw rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”

That’s how I feel now watching Carlos Alcaraz play. There has been a bit of sadness among many tennis fans because we all know that the greatest era in the sport’s history is coming to an end. But I’m not sure that era is ending. I saw tennis’ future and its name is Carlos Alcaraz. He just might be Fed, Rafa, Novak and Andy all rolled into one.



Is this the season when we get to see Mike Trout and the Los Angeles Angels in the MLB playoffs for the first time in his career? He’s the best hitter in the game and it would be great to see him perform in the autumn. As Chris Branch of The Athletic Pulse put it this week: “They’re (24-13), with Trout looking like Mickey Mantle again and Shohei Ohtani looking like Babe Ruth.” . . . Of course, the Angels haven’t finished with a record above .500 since 2015, so . . . yes, it’s early.


Penfish


And then there were five . . .

The Kamloops Blazers went on the road Sunday and were able to finish off the WHLplayoffs2022Vancouver Giants, posting a 6-0 victory in Langley, B.C., to win their WHL Western Conference semifinal, 4-2. . . .

That leaves just one conference semifinal still being played — the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks will visit the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., tonight. The Winterhawks hold a 3-2 lead in the series and have won both games that have been played in Kent — 4-2 on May 7 and 5-1 on Friday. . . . If this series needs a Game 7, it will be played in Portland on Tuesday. And, yes, Seattle has won twice in Portland — 5-0 on Wednesday and 3-1 on Saturday.

In the Eastern Conference, meanwhile, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice and No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings are waiting to get started. Games 1 and 2 are scheduled to be played in Winnipeg on Friday and Saturday.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., F Fraser Minten scored an early shorthanded goal and G Dylan Garand stopped 24 shots, leading the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers to a 6-0 victory Kamloopsover the No, 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers won the conference semifinal, 4-2. . . . The Blazers will be in the conference final for the first time since 2013 when they lost in five games to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kamloops will meet either the No. 3 Winterhawks or No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in the final. Portland holds a 3-2 lead in that series going into a game tonight in Kent, Wash. The conference final is to open in Kamloops with games on Friday and Saturday. . . . Minten opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 6:06 of the first period. . . . F Luke Toporowski (8) made it 2-0 at 10:27. . . . Kamloops got second-period goals from F Daylan Kuefler (4), at 12:03, and F Logan Stankoven (10), on a PP at 13:07. . . . Kuefler also had two assists. . . . Toporowski (9) added a PP goal at 1:05 of the third period and F Caedan Bankier (5) closed out the scoring at 12:30. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-6 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-3. . . . Vancouver held a 12-10 edge in first-period shots, but was outshot 15-4 in the second. . . . Garand posted his third shutout in 10 playoff games. He is 8-2, 1.51, .940. . . . D Alex Cotton, who left Game 5 with an undisclosed injury, was in the Giants’ lineup, as was F Colton Langkow, who hadn’t played since Game 1 on May 6. F Cole Shepard left after one period on Sunday. He hadn’t played since March 16, then came back for Game 4.

——

Michael Bublé, who owns a piece of the Vancouver Giants, wasn’t able to be in VancouverLangley, B.C., for their WHL playoff game with the Kamloops Blazers on Sunday. He was in Las Vegas where he was a presenter during the Billboard Music Awards. . . . But he planned on listening via his phone, even while was on the red carpet. . . . “Forget about being an owner, I love hockey and I’m a proud Vancouver guy,” he told Simon Little of Global News earlier Sunday, “so even if I had nothing to do with the Giants, I’d still be on the red carpet listening to the game.” . . . He also said that he is really proud of the Giants, who went into the playoffs as the Western Conference’s eighth seed and knocked off the No. 1 Everett Silvertips in the first round. . . . “I’m not sure if people realize but it’s the first time in the history of the WHL that an eighth seed has taken out the top seed,” he added. “There’s not a lot of parity in our league, it’s not like the NHL, the No. 1 seed is a goliath. The fact that we’re here, hoping to push it to seven is absolutely wild. . . . I’m surprised more Vancouverites aren’t as excited as I am. I say it all the time, I love my city but sometimes I wonder, are we a hockey town or are we a Canuck town? Prove me wrong Vancouver.” . . . The Blazers beat the Giants, 6-0, on Sunday to win the series, 4-2. The announced attendance was 4,310.


From The Associated Press: Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais said on COVIDSunday “a couple players” won’t make the trip for a three-game series in Toronto because of the Canadian government’s vaccine mandate. Servais did not identify which players will be unavailable. . . . Just as the U.S. does for foreign travellers, Canada requires anyone entering the country to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, the second at least 14 days before entry. . . . From Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times: But per an agreement between MLB and the players union, (Servais) wouldn’t provide any details. He is not allowed to speak of a player’s vaccination status.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Poll: Majority of Canadians favour making sports betting illegal again just to get rid of the (bleeping) ads.

——

Another headline from The Beaverton: Sportsnet apologizes for interrupting gambling commercial with hockey.



Hats


THINKING OUT LOUD: The Winnipeg Ice and Edmonton Oil Kings are to open the WHL’s Eastern Conference final with two games in the Manitoba capital in an old arena that seats around 2,000 fans, many of them on benches. Gotta wonder if the WHL considered moving Winnipeg’s home games to Cranbrook? You know, just for old times’ sake. . . . Does anyone know when the first shovel will go into the ground to start construction of the Ice’s new home? . . . Are you old enough to remember when you could turn on your TV set and watch a WHL playoff game, or even an entire series, on Shaw? . . . The Cincinnati Reds are 9-26 this season so I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that they lost, 1-0, to the host Pittsburgh Pirates who didn’t muster even one hit on Sunday. And the game won’t count as a no-hitter because the two Reds’ pitchers didn’t combine to throw nine innings.


You may have heard that a guy named Elon Musk is in the process of buying Twitter and has said that when it’s all done he will reinstate Donald Trump, who presently is sitting out a permanent ban. “In related news,” writes Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel, “Pete Rose is lobbying for Musk to buy the Baseball Hall of Fame.”



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I really was genuinely happy for Touchdown Tom, though, when I heard about the Fox deal. Finally, the guy catches a break.”


Towers


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:

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.


Open

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching a terrific Brier final . . .


It’s not too late for you to tell me why you no longer go to WHL games, or why you cut back on the number you attend. Or if you’re one who attends regularly, let me know why you think other folks should be going. . . . Thanks to those who already have contacted me. I hope to put something together at some point in the next week or 10 days. . . . If you want to, you are able to DM me via Twitter or email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Who was the last goaltender in professional hockey to play without a mask? Was it Andy Brown of the WHA’s Indianapolis Racers or Gaye Cooley of the NAHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms? What about Joe Daley of the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets? . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post decided to try and find out, and settle the age-old argument in the process. Was he successful? You are able to find out right here in the best thing you will read today. . . . You should know, too, that Vanstone is writing a book about goaltenders and their love/hate relationship with facial protection. Can’t wait to read that one.


My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


Stuart Kemp has led quite a life, going from professional wrestling announcer to being an active wrestler — yes, he has taken a chair or two to the noggin — to the president of the Portland Winterhawks Booster Club, one of the most successful organizations of its kind in junior hockey. . . . He also has experienced some serious health problems over the past few years but really is persevering as he continues to put one foot in front of the other. . . . Kemp was the latest guest on Hartley Miller’s Cat Scan podcast out of Prince George. Give it a listen right here. You won’t be sorry that you did.


Bacon


“Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Evidently he didn’t get the express written consent of the NFL’s official betting partners, Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel.”

——

More from Perry:

“Last week wasn’t a good week for truth-telling, as a lot of pants spontaneously caught fire:

  • MLB: We are canceling the first two weeks of the season.
  • Seahawks: There are no plans to trade Russell Wilson.
  • Wilson: My aim is to play my whole career in Seattle.
  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov: We didn’t attack Ukraine.

Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, tweeted Saturday that he saw F Luke Toporowski of the Kamloops Blazers “with crutches, sporting a knee brace on left knee” on Friday night. Toporowski had left the Blazers’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Rockets in the first period following a collision with Kelowna D Tyson Feist as both players were leaving the penalty box. . . . Toporowski has 35 goals this season, including 20 in 22 games with the Blazers since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Toporowski and Feist were teammates with the Spokane Chiefs for a few games in 2017-18 and 2018-19 before the latter was dealt to the Regina Pats. . . . The Blazers likely will learn more about Toporowski’s injury when their medical staff sees him today.


You may recall that offensive lineman Alex Karras of the Detroit Lions once was suspended for a year because of gambling. Legend has it that upon his return to game action, he was asked to call the pre-game coin flip, at which point he told the referee: “I’m sorry, sir, I’m not permitted to gamble.”



Shopping


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

F Bear Hughes struck for three goals and added two assists to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a 6-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Hughes, the Chiefs’ captain, has 21 goals. . . . The Chiefs also got a goal, his 10th, and three assists from F Carter Streek. . . .

F Dylan Guenther scored twice — he’s got 38 — and added an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Broncos, 5-1, in Swift Current. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 20 shots in posting his WHL-leading 30th victory of the season. He lost the shutout when Russian F Alexei Shanaurin scored his second goal in 21 games with 0.1 left in the third period. . . . Cossa is 30-6-3, 2.22, .915 this season. Over his three-season career, the 6-foot-6, 215-pounder is 68-13-7, 2.09, .923. . . .

F Connor Bedard scored twice to help the host Regina Pats to a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Bedard is riding a 17-game point streak during which he has 17 goals and 18 assists. . . . Bedard, 16, has 73 points, including 37 goals, in 47 games this season. Add in the 15 games he played in the 2021 development season and he has 101 points, 49 of them goals, in 62 games. . . . The Pats also got two assists from F Tanner Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28. He’s got 54 points, including 31 assists, in 49 games. . . . Brad Herauf, in his eighth season as an assistant coach with the Pats, has been running the bench along with assistant Ken Schneider since Feb. 11 as John Paddock, the club’s GM and head coach, deals with an undisclosed illness. . . .

In Portland, the Vancouver Giants opened up a 6-0 lead and then hung on to beat the Winterhawks, 6-5. . . . F Adam Hall scored twice for the Giants, giving him 14. He scored his second at 8:11 of the second period to give the visitors that 6-0 lead. . . . The Winterhawks got back in it with three second-period goals, two from F Marcus Nguyen, who has 17, and two in the third. . . . D Clay Hanus had four assists for Portland. He leads WHL defencemen with 62 points — 15 goals and 47 assists — in 58 games. . . .

F Drew Englot scored in the 12th round of a shootout to give the Kamloops Blazers a 4-3 victory over the Rockets in Kelowna. . . . Each team scored twice in the circus — in the fifth and seventh rounds — before Englot won it. . . . F Daylan Kuefler, who has 32 goals, scored all three of the Blazers’ goals, each one on a PP. . . . Kamloops was 3-for-8 on the PP; the Rockets were 2-for-7. . . . Kelowna erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits on goals from F Colton Dach (19) at 13:22 of the third period and F Adam Kidd (13) at 14:16. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 35 shots for Kamloops; G Talyn Boyko had 30 saves for the Rockets. Both are draft picks of the NHL’s New York Rangers. . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes scored the game’s last three goals to beat the host Moose Jaw Warriors, 5-2. . . . The Hurricanes went 3-3-1 in a seven-game road trip with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home arena. . . . Belarusian F Yegor Klavdiev’s 12th goal, at 3:25 of the second period, broke a 2-2 tie. . . . F Brayden Yager tied the Warriors’ franchise record for goals in one season by a 16-year-old when he scored No. 29 at 1:02 of the second period. He now shares the record with Theo Fleury (1984-85). Fleury did it in 71 games; Yager has played 53 games this season. He also played 24 games in the 2021 development season but the WHL has decreed that skaters are rookies if they haven’t appeared in more than 25 games prior to this season. The rule for goaltenders is 25 times on the scoresheet or more than 420 minutes played. . . . Fleury tweeted: “Congrats young man honoured to share the record with you tonight. Here’s hoping you break it!!!” . . .

G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots and D Nolan Orzeck had a goal, his fifth, and two assists to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 5-0 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Hauser has five career shutouts, all of them this season. He is 21-2-1, 2.20, .909 this season. Include his eight appearances from last season and he is 28-2-2, 2.42, .906 in his career. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored two goals in each of the first two periods en route to a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . F Ben Hemmerling (8) broke a 2-2 tie at 7:14 of the second period and F Jackson Berezowski (38) made it 4-2 at 15:00. . . . Seattle F Matthew Rempe was tossed after taking a boarding major at 9:30 of the first period. He already has been suspended three times for a total of five games this season. . . .

F Ben King’s WHL-leading 45th goal was the winner as the Red Deer Rebels beat the Tigers, 6-2, in Medicine Hat. . . . King has 14 game-winners this season, two shy of the WHL single-season record. F Brian Propp scored 16 winners for the 1978-79 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . F Arshdeep Bains drew three assists for Red Deer. He leads the WHL in assists (45) and points (88). . . .

D Nolan Allan scored the goal and Tikhon Chaika suppled the goaltending as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders beat the Saskatoon Blades, 1-0. . . . Allan scored his fourth goal in 52 games this season at 12:12 of the third period; it was his third game-winner. He went into the season with three career goals in 81 games. . . . Chaika blocked 31 shots in recording the third shutout of his freshman season. The 18-year-old is from Minsk, Belarus. He is 17-15-3, 2.84, .905. . . . G Nolan Maier turned aside 28 shots for the Blades on Nolan Maier Bobblehead Night. . . . Chaika was selected as the game’s first star. On Friday night in Prince Albert, Maier wasn’t named a star despite turning aside 49 shots in the Blades’ 3-2 OT victory. . . .

In Prince George, the Cougars scored the game’s last nine goals as they rallied to a 9-1 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer scored four times, giving him 27, and F Craig Armstrong got his 11th goal and added three assists. . . . Ziemmer single-handedly erased Victoria’s 1-0 lead with goals at 9:04, 9:25 and 13:33 of the first period. He got his fourth goal at 1:24 of the third period. . . . The Cougars were without Mark Lamb, their general manager and head coach, for a second straight game due to illness. In his absence, associate coach Josh Dixon and Steve O’Rourke, their development coach, ran the bench.


Has anyone had a better description of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers than Charles Barkley? He told ESPN Radio: “I think he’s the pretty girl that you gotta tell her she’s pretty every day.”


Bikers


The OHL’s Oshawa Generals fired head coach Todd Miller on Saturday. OshawaAssistant coaches Kurtis Foster and Mike Hedden will run things for the remainder of this season. . . . “We feel our team is underperforming right now,” Roger Hunt, the Generals’ general manager, said in a news release. “We all think the group can benefit from a different voice down in the room.” . . . Miller was in his first season as Oshawa’s head coach. He spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Barrie Colts before working as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings last season. . . . The Generals, who dropped a 7-2 decision to the Frontenacs in Kingston on Friday, were 24-24-5 and tied for sixth place with the Ottawa 67’s (23-25-7) in the 10-team Eastern Conference going into Saturday’s games. . . . The Generals beat the visiting Peterborough Petes, 5-4 in OT, on Sunday. Oshawa is to meet the host Hamilton Bulldogs in the OHL’s Outdoor Showcase today.


Veteran junior coach Mike Vandekamp is a free agent again after he and the GrandePrairieAJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm parted company on Saturday. According to a news release from the team, the parties “mutually agreed to part ways effective immediately.” Vandekamp was the Storm’s general manager and head coach for two seasons. . . . This season, the Storm finished 22-30-8 and didn’t qualify for the playoffs. . . . Until a replacement is hired, the Storm said that business manager Ryan Carter and assistant coach Chris Schmidt will run things.


Children


With MLB’s labour difficulties over, at least for now, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News writes that it’s a big deal for his city: “We need baseball in New York right now, unless you think that the Knicks can write some kind of miracle on their side of the East River or think the Nets can make a run in the playoffs with Dr. Kyrie Irving of the Center for Sports Disease Control, as a part-time, un-vaxxed star. We need baseball more than ever after another lost pro football season, as the Giants and Jets continue to be teams from Loserville over there in Jersey.”

——

More from Lupica: “Novak Djokovic, another graduate of the Center for Sports Disease Control along with Dr. Irving, says he hasn’t yet gotten vaccinated because he doesn’t trust the science behind the vaccine. Right. Got it. Six million people, worldwide, have now died because of this pandemic. What does Dr. Djokovic think that number would be if there had been a vaccine he doesn’t trust from the beginning? If he is allowed to play in the French Open, I hope he gets his Asics hat handed to him by Rafael Nadal.”



Mom


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.


Mom2

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching the Daytona 500 (aka Daytona Demolition Derby) . . .

Scattershooting2

There was a time when I would have told you that the best rivalry in the WHL featured the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats. Brent Parker, then the Pats’ general manager, was never shy about firing verbal darts. You had head coaches battling at the player benches. You had a helmet ending up in the other team’s dressing room and coming out in unwearable condition. There was the play-by-play guy who showed up one night dressed as Donald Duck.

I mean, stuff happened. And I can only imagine what stuff might have happened had there been social media back in the day.

These days I would suggest that torch has been passed to the Portland PortlandWinterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds. Because when these two teams meet now . . . stuff happens. And there often seems to be an aftermath, too.

Take Saturday night in Portland. . . .

The first period wasn’t even two minutes old when Winterhawks’ F Jack O’Brien left with what appeared to be a bad leg injury.

That came after he was hit along the boards by Seattle F Matthew Rempe. SeattleRempe, who is listed at 6-foot-8 and 240 pounds, was given a kneeing major and game misconduct.

After the game, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for @pnwhockeytalk, asked the two head coaches about the incident.

Mike Johnston of the Winterhawks responded: “I thought it was a cheap hit. I know Rempe has had quite a few of those. He’s been suspended a few times this year even. He’s a big guy who has to get control when he’s hitting people. I don’t know what he was thinking. I just know it was knee-on-knee. You have to be careful when you go in with your knee, especially when you are a big guy like that.”

(NOTE: Rempe has served two suspensions this season. The first was for two games under supplemental discipline for something that happened in game with the host Tri-City Americans on Nov. 5. The second, for one game, was assessed after he was given a charging major and game misconduct during a game against the Silvertips in Everett on Nov. 21. Last season, Rempe was suspended once for one game, that after he took a kneeing major and game misconduct in a game at Portland on Dec. 31.)

When Critzer asked Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette about Saturday’s hit, the response was:

“I thought their player was coming down the boards and our guy tried to finish his check. It was along the boards, wasn’t in open space where it was knee-on-knee in my opinion. I thought their guy lunged out of the way and (Rempe) kind of hit his leg that was dragging behind.

“(Rempe) is a big guy and, when he’s on his path, he’s come a long way to be a clean hitter. He’s a big guy and sometimes he’s just bigger than the other guy, which is why he gets penalties. I thought everything was compact — arms down, legs in — on that hit. Sometimes unfortunate plays can happen not intentionally.”

So . . . that was that. Right? Well, not quite. On Sunday, just as the Daytona 500 was heating up, there were sparks flying between Portland and Seattle.

It started when Thom Beuning, the long-time play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, tweeted: “So just saw that video of the Rempe major for kneeing. My reaction? ‘Where’s the penalty?’ I don’t see a minor, let alone a major. No initial call on the ice, so what changed?”

Beuning also tweeted: “Incidental contact happens all the time in hockey, including knee-to-knee. Doesn’t mean it is a penalty, doesn’t mean it’s a major, doesn’t mean it is a suspension. Example A, Ty Bauer injury.”

(Bauer, a forward with the Thunderbirds, suffered a knee injury during a game against the Blazers in Kamloops on Dec. 10 and hasn’t played since that night. There wasn’t a penalty on the play.)

After Beuning fired things up, Andy Kemper, a former Portland radio analyst who now is the Winterhawks’ historian, tweeted: “Rempe led into the check with his leg not his upper body. O’Brien was moving to the corner and Rempe put his leg out to stop him and it went knee on knee. That is not incidental. No intent, but it was a kneeing penalty.”

Beuning: “Wrong.”

Kemper: “Yeah, I figured that would be your response. Have a nice day.”

That is when Nick Marek, the Winterhawks’ broadcaster and media relations manager, chimed in with: “Andy said it very well. Everyone knew there was no intent to injure (also why no match penalty assessed) and ‘he didn’t mean to do it.’ Still looks like everything was followed correctly according to the WHL Rule Book.”

Beuning: “Rempe compacts his body to deliver the hit, to avoid a check to the head. O’Brien moves down along the boards to avoid the hit, thus exposing his trailing leg to the contact. Incidental. Same reason there was no penalty when Bauer was injured. Or are you saying the league was wrong?”

Kemper: “The rulebook doesn’t account for incidental or not. The first four words in the rule book are clear: ‘All knee on knee.’ Since it resulted in an injury, the major penalty was assessed. I didn’t see the Bauer hit. Are you saying the league is wrong?”

Beuning: “By not calling a penalty on the Bauer hit, the league has determined there is knee-on-knee contact that doesn’t warrant a penalty.  Plenty of time to review and bring forth supplemental discipline. They didn’t.”

Kemper: “OK. But there is a difference between assessing a penalty and assessing a suspension. Doesn’t mean that a penalty should not have been assessed at the time on the Bauer play. The league may decide to not suspend Rempe for the infraction.”

Beuning: “Have you not been around the WHL for a while now? I might very, very reluctantly concede the minor. But players often put themselves in vulnerable positions. Some of the onus is on that player.”

Marek: “Thom, this take is ridiculous. Essentially saying ‘he shouldn’t have been standing there.’ If that’s your belief, then I suppose you should say the same onus is on Bauer for his major injury he suffered. Can’t believe you just said that honestly.”

Beuning: “What’s the old expression? Keep your head up? It happens all the time. Players duck to avoid a hit and put their heads in the path of an opposing players shoulders. Or they turn at the last second and put their backs to the hit in the corner, exposing their numbers.”

Kemper: “I have been around a long time and every time something like this happens, the bias of the individual looking at the play comes out in how they see it called. I’m not going to change your opinion, nor you mine. By the rule book, it was a major penalty. I’m done.”

——

Here’s a tweet that includes the video of the play in question, so you can be the judge . . .

And here’s another angle . . .

——

The Winterhawks played host to the Spokane Chiefs on Sunday night and O’Brien was in the lineup; in fact, he scored twice and added an assist in a 9-1 victory.

It could be that, as the old all-star centre Billy Shakespeare of the Stratford-upon-Avon Rivermen once wrote, it all was “much ado about nothing.”

The Winterhawks and Thunderbirds are scheduled to meet four more times this season — March 11 and 19 in Kent, Wash., and March 20 and April 2 in Portland.

So there’s still time for even more fun.

——

BTW, the Thunderbirds won Saturday’s game, 5-1. Portland leads the season series, with a 5-4-0 record. Or maybe the series is tied, because Seattle is 4-3-2. Yes, thanks to loser points each team has 10 points from the series.


Bruce Vance is one of the good guys. He really is. At one time he worked in the Prince Albert Raiders’ front office, and now he is the the city’s marketing and sponsorship co-ordinator. He and his wife, Liane, also have been through more in the past few years than anyone should have to face in three lifetimes, but they have kept on smiling. Both have battled cancer and Bruce now is having another go-round with the Big C. . . . My wife, Dorothy, is a wonderfully positive person and she will tell you how important that frame of mind was as she went through a kidney transplant. . . . Well, Liane and Bruce are writing about their adventures on a blog — it’s right here — and through all the ups and downs positivity is a huge part of their approach. . . . Teena Monteleone of paNOW wrote about Liane and Bruce right here.


RuinDay


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “A cargo ship packed with luxury cars caught fire and is aimlessly adrift in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Sort of the nautical equivalent of the L.A. Lakers.”

——

Perry, again: “The team that won the opening coin toss now has now lost the past eight Super Bowls. Where’s the public outcry over the unfairness of that?”



SATURDAY IN THE WHL: The Everett Silvertips, with points in 12 straight (10-0-2), clinched a playoff spot on Saturday night, beating the visiting Victoria Royals, 3-1. This is the Silvertips’ 18th season in the WHL and they have been in the playoffs in every one of them. . . . F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers ran his point streak to 19 games on Saturday in a 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Vancouver Giants. Stankoven, who had a goal and an assist, has 17 goals and 22 assists on his tear. Vancouver, now 1-19-0 when trailing after two periods, won it on F Fabian Lysell’s second goal of the game, and 17th of the season, at 4:33 of extra time. Kamloops is 28-1-2 when trailing after two. . . .

F Ben King’s second goal of the game, his WHL-leading 37th, gave host Red Deer a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Ice as the Rebels overcame a 2-0 third-period deficit. F Arshdeep Bains had two assists for Red Deer; after Saturday’s games, he led the WHL in assists (46) and points (71). . . . F Connor Bouchard’s ninth goal of the season at 2:01 of OT gave the Tri-City Americans a 4-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kennewick, Wash. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Jagger Firkus scored his 29th goal and added two assists as the Moose Jaw Warriors doubled the Raiders, 4-2. The Warriors have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . F Dylan Guenther scored four times, giving him 32, as the host Edmonton Oil Kings spanked the Saskatoon Blades, 9-1. G Sebastian Cossa is 24-6-3, 2.30, .915 for the Oil Kings, who have won five in a row. . . .

F Ridly Greig had a goal and an assist to lead the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. He’s got 50 points, including 23 goals, in 32 games. The Wheat Kings went into the Central Division and won four games in six nights. The Wheat Kings ended up spending the night in Swift Current because of the horrid weather conditions that swept across the Prairies. . . . F Reid Schaefer scored twice, giving him 23, as the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-1, for their seventh straight victory. . . .

In Prince George, the Kelowna Rockets got past the Cougars, 3-2, giving them a sweep of the weekend doubleheader. On Friday, the Rockets also had won, 3-2. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes rode two first-period goals to a 2-1 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers, who have lost six in a row.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL: F Kyle Crnkovic reclaimed the WHL scoring lead with two goals — giving him 32 — and an assist as the visiting Saskatoon Blades beat the Calgary Hitmen, 4-1. That boosted Crnkovic’s points total to 73, two more than F Arshdeep Bains of the Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Clay Hanus had a goal — his 13th — and two assists as the host Portland Winterhawks dropped the Spokane Chiefs, 9-1. The teams combined for 118 minutes in penalties, with 69 of those going to the visitors. It was the sixth game between these teams since Feb. 5; the Winterhawks won five of them, outscoring the Chiefs, 39-10, in the process. Portland won the season series, 10-2-0, while the Chiefs went 2-9-1.


Headline at fark.com: NBC wants you to know their Super Bowl ratings KILLED IT. Oh, and their Olympics . . . look, a bunny.


“A new study shows the horse medicine, ivermectin, is useless in combating COVID,” tweets comedy write Alex Kaseberg (@AlexKaseberg). “This is hard to believe based on the tireless research of that great medical mind Aaron Rodgers.”


Minecraft


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Dr. Oz vs. Dr. Phil in an old-time steel cage match — no way to root, right?”

——

Lupica, again: “Novak Djokovic says he’s not anti-vaccine, but he’s still not going to get jabbed. What an amazing tennis hill on which to die. Taking this kind of stance against something that has saved lives all over the world.”



Dick Butkus — yes, that Dick Butkus — is enjoying Twitter, witness this: “The USFL is back. Herschel Walker is all over the news. Did I have a stroke, or is it still 1985?”


You may have heard that NBA analyst Charles Barkley is talking about retiring in a couple of years once his contract with TNT expires. As he explained: “I don’t want to die on TV. I want to die on the golf course or somewhere fishing. I don’t want to be sitting inside over (by) fat-ass Shaq (waiting) to drop dead.”


Arthur Blank, who owns the Atlanta Falcons, apparently referred to the NFL teams and their seeming inability to hire minority head coaches as “just not acceptable.” It was then that Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune pointed out: “It’s apparently acceptable in Atlanta, where his Falcons are one of 13 franchises never to have had a Black head coach.”


THINKING OUT LOUD:

As a hockey fan, are you old enough to remember when the boards were the boards and not the wall? . . . Are you old enough to remember when the goaltender’s crease was the crease and not the blue paint? . . .

The best entertainment-related news I’ve heard in a long while: Randy Bachman has cut a deal with Corus Entertainment under which some of its radio stations will carry a two-hour Vinyl Tap once a week. It all starts on March 6. . . . CBC Radio dumped Vinyl Tap in July after a 16-year run. . . .

Here’s to a happy retirement to Vicci Weller after 22 years as the Thompson Nicola-Regional District film commissioner. It was because of her that Clint Black was once in the area filming a movie and made acquaintance with my wife, Dorothy, who was working at the time at a Shoppers Drug Mart outlet. Yes, it gave her quite a thrill when he struck up a conversation and then showed her family pictures.


ChocBars


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.


Math

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after some uninspiring NFL playoff games . . .

Scattershooting2

Shortbread
Do you know what this is? The last two shortbread cookies are on the verge of disappearing, signalling the end of another festive season in our home. Yes, it is one of the saddest pictures every year. And, yes, they tasted mighty good.

Think about taking two minutes out of your busy day to watch this. It will help you understand how a whole lot of people are feeling at this point of this seemingly never-ending pandemic . . .


The way I figure it, there was a WHL record set in Portland on Sunday night as Portlandthe 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. . . . Kamloops1Mike 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 WHLmajor junior hockey game; Rocca is the WHL’s director of communications.

Brandow, in the course of posting tidbits after Friday night’s WHL games, wondered about the fact the WHL hasn’t made available an updated Official Guide and Record Book since the 2019-20 season.

Rocca’s responses provide some insight into the workings of the WHL’s Calgary office during this pandemic:

“Contrary to popular belief, we do not have a staff member solely dedicated to media guide/stats. We’re a small office desperately working to simply keep junior hockey on the ice, players healthy, etc. Because, you know, we’re into Year 2 of a global pandemic. . . .

“I’m not trying to fight. Just trying to provide some context. In the case of our office, specifically, we experience widespread layoffs and had LITERALLY one full-time Communications staff member for over a year who was responsible for . . .

“Web/social content, PR/media relations (people have had some questions), mobile app mgmt, dev consult/admin/launch of new streaming service, internal/external comms/Club support, COVID test results processing, etc. I’m sure I’m missing plenty of other time-consuming tasks. . . .

“Point I’m trying to make is most people don’t understand the incredible challenge it has been for small staffs to keep these leagues running. Speaking for myself, I’ve worked nothing short of 100+ hours a week, almost every single week since March 2020. . . .

“I’m not one to speak out or be overly vocal, especially on social media.

But a lot of people in junior hockey are beyond burnt out. They’re doing the best they can every day to show up & make sure the hockey gets delivered. That is what needs to happen first. For the players. . . .

“People work in jr hockey because they love the game. It’s not for the pay. When we’re frustrated about a stream that errors, or a media guide that’s later than ideal, we need to remember there are hard-working people doing their best to survive & meet beyond high demands. . . .

“Just remember: There are real people w/ real emotions, who have been working tirelessly to keep these leagues alive & navigate a world that no one has a blueprint for. And sometimes, keeping the players/staff healthy & games going is all that’s possible from one day to the next.”

It all ended on a positive note as Brandow wrote: “Fair’s fair.  I greatly appreciate the explanation and once again, I apologize for the outburst.”

Rocca closed with: “It’s all good, Geoffrey. The media guide is on the list. It will get done. All I ask for is your patience & understanding. Appreciate the time & effort you put into tracking stats across the entire CHL. I check in on them every single game night & I’m always impressed.”

While you aren’t able to download a new WHL Guide, the OHL’s new Media and Information Guide (aka record book) is available right here, while the QMJHL’s updated Media Guide, which includes a records section, is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS — While the OHL is playing without fans in most of its buildings, the QMJHL has decided that it won’t resume its schedule until at least Feb. 1. It had hoped to start up again during the week of Jan. 17, but government-imposed restrictions aren’t likely to be lifted before then. . . . The CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game that was to have been held in Kitchener, Ont., on Feb. 2, has been postponed. Officials hope to reschedule it for some point during this season. . . . Congrats to referee Brett Iverson, who was presented with a WHL Milestone Award prior to Saturday’s game in Langley, B.C. Iverson has been working WHL games since 2008-09 and has been on the ice for more than 650 regular-season games. He also has done four WHL finals and two Memorial Cup tournaments. . . . If you were watching the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver play in Langley, B.C., on Friday night, you may have seen Giants F Ty Thorpe shove a linesman at 19:30 of the second period. Somehow, he escaped with only a misconduct penalty, but he missed Saturday’s rematch after the WHL hit him with a one-game suspension. . . . The Cougars swept the two games from the host Giants, leading some fans to wonder whether Vancouver will be buying or selling as the trade deadline arrives today (Monday).



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “You can start marking time until the guy who runs Tennis Australia, Craig Tiley, walks the plank for his role in this fiasco with Novak Djokovic. I still love Djokovic trying to blame the mistakes on his paperwork on his agent. . . . Got it. . . . Dog ate my visa.”

——

Lupica, again: “It’s going to be fun, now that ESPN has hired David Cone, to go back to watching Sunday Night Baseball with the sound on.”


Wrench


In the SJHL, the Humboldt Broncos beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 4-3 in OT, sjhlon 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.


Antlers


The NFL’s regular season ended on Jan. 9 and the next day, as is the norm, featured a number of teams firing their head coaches. “Since the NFL is all about sponsorships,” wondered Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Babe, “how long until we start hearing about ‘Black Monday, brought to you by LinkedIn?’ ”



There was a time when pro and college football teams didn’t each employ a couple of dozen assistant coaches and aides. As Steve Spurrier, a former head coach at Florida, explained to the Orlando Sentinel, the Gators back in the day had only one nutritionist on staff: “We had one, and it was me. I used to go around during meals and tell the players to stop eating just meat and potatoes and go put something green on their plates. That’s how we handled nutrition back then.”


Bacon


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.


Remote


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.


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.


Kitchen

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the NFL playoffs can top that game . . .

Scattershooting2

The good news is that the Portland Winterhawks played a hockey game on Saturday night. The bad news is that it was the only game played on what was to have been a three-game road swing into B.C., with stops in Kamloops, Kelowna and Langley.

When the Winterhawks left home via bus on Thursday, they were headed for PortlandKamloops and a Friday night date with the Blazers. Halfway to Kamloops, Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, found out that the game had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Blazers. The Winterhawks continued on to Kamloops, practised there Friday morning, then left for Kelowna and Saturday’s assignment against the Rockets.

The Winterhawks beat the Rockets, 3-1. “That would have been a long trip without two points,” Johnston told Taking Note.

Before the game, Johnston was informed that Sunday’s game in Langley had been scrubbed because of COVID-19 protocols involving the Vancouver Giants, who were forced to halt all team activities.

So the Winterhawks put the two points in their pocket and headed for home.

That latest postponement meant that 22 of the 23 games originally scheduled for the weekend didn’t happen.

Also on Saturday, the WHL announced that the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans all were cleared to resume team activities. They went into the weekend as three of 15 teams who were on hold because of having players and/or staff in protocols.

With the addition of the Giants, that list was at 13 as of Sunday night.

The Giants had been scheduled to play three games over the weekend; all three were postponed. They next are scheduled to play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars in a game that is on TSN’s telecast schedule.

Will COVID-19 allow the game to be played?

Stay tuned.

——

BTW, the Portland Winterhawks had F Josh Zakreski, who turned 16 on Dec. 17, in their lineup in Kelowna on Saturday. Zakreski is from Saskatoon and plays for the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Upon seeing his name, I was curious as to whether he was related to Peter Zakreski, who died on Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 80. Peter, a quiet gentleman, was a giant in a lot of areas of life in Saskatoon and was a big push behind the move to bring the 1991 World Junior Championship to Saskatchewan. . . . Anyway, it turns out that Josh and Peter weren’t related, although Josh apparently gets asked that question on a regular basis.


With some Canadian teams in the NHL and WHL facing attendance restrictions in their facilities, a number of games have been postponed in the hopes that they can be rescheduled for when the various governments involved loosen the rules.

However, Dr. Brian Conway, the head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, told Ben Kuzma of Postmedia: “That’s unrealistic.”

As Dr. Conway explained: “Right now as a society, we’re being asked to plan for a situation where on any given day, and in any workplace, one-third will be out with COVID or COVID restrictions.

“Even if you wanted to fill (Vancouver’s) Rogers Arena, you wouldn’t have the staff. And it’s probably going to be the situation at the minimum until the end of February and probably longer — and that’s pretty optimistic. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to stand up and say I’m wrong. But I’m just so not seeing this.

“Modelling is still projecting a worst-case scenario that could dwarf what we have now. It’s based on if things continue the way they are. If they change the modelling can flatten out. But, it brings the issue if we ignore this, it could actually get worse.”

Kuzma’s complete story is right here.

BTW, Dr. Conway is a Canucks’ season-ticket holder and would love nothing more than to be able to sit in a full house and watch his favourite team. He also is a realist.


Jim Riley used to cover the Seattle Thunderbirds for the Seattle Times while also keeping an eye on the other teams in the U.S. Division. That was before the newspaper industry got out the paring knife and went to work. These days, he is in the wine business.

I mention Jim here because he is one of the thousands of people who has a health issue but hasn’t been able to have it dealt with because of a dearth of hospital beds — in Seattle, in his case.

The other day, he posted this on Facebook . . . 

“I don’t post often, but this is raising my blood pressure and perhaps venting will help. I recently underwent a nuclear stress test, designed to check the blood flow in my heart. My cardiologist said results were ‘abnormal’ and immediately scheduled me for an angiogram. That angiogram now has twice been postponed. Why? There are no hospital beds in Seattle because they are almost all filled, mostly with unvaccinated covid patients. I believe in free choice, but people who came to the irresponsible decision to avoid a simple, free and easy vaccination now are imposing their choices on all of us.

“I have yet to hear a rational explanation why people refuse to use the best tool we have (vaccinations) to fight a virus that has already killed 5.47 million people around the world.”

Me, too, Jim. Me, too.


Oh boy, do I ever agree with Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, who writes: “If you grew up during the 1970s, like me, and you’re not already following Super 70s Sports on Twitter, you really should.” I actually grew up in the 1960s — although my wife might debate whether I ever grew up — and I love the tweets that come from Super 70s Sports.


BevHills


If you don’t believe that the NFL is the behemoth of North American sports leagues, you should know that 75 of the most-watched telecasts in 2021 were NFL games. Yes, Super Bowl LV was No. 1. . . . Nine of the top 10 were NFL games. Only the inauguration of Joe Biden as the U.S. president kept the NFL from a Top 10 sweep. . . . No, there weren’t any hockey games in the Top 100. Nor were there any NBA or MLB games. . . . There were 75 NFL games, 11 Olympics telecasts, seven NCAA football games and two NCAA college basketball games, both from March Madness, in the Top 100. . . . Oh, one other thing. You may not like Tom Brady, but he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in 11 of those 75 telecasts.


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Point: Let’s expand the College Football Playoff field.

“Counterpoint: So we can have even more riveting games like Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6 and Georgia 34, Michigan 11.”

——

Perry also scrounged up a couple of quotes from the vault . . .

The late Mickey Mantle, at a roast for the late Billy Martin, on his former Yankee teammate’s proclivity for getting into bar fights: “This is the only man I know in the world who can hear somebody giving him the finger.”

Arkansas coach Lou Holtz, when his team was pelted with oranges after winning a trip to the 1978 Orange Bowl: “I’m glad we’re not going to the Gator Bowl.”



THINKING OUT LOUD: If you watched Sunday night’s NFL game, you saw again why live sporting events are the best of reality TV. . . . Just wondering, but have Jack and Rebecca convinced you to buy whatever it is they are flogging in that TV commercial, or are you going to have to see it another 1,000 times this week before making a decision? . . . Would have been nice if Hockey Night in Canada had picked up the Saturday game that had the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vegas Golden Knights. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Marc-Andre Fleury return to the city that he owned not all that long ago and beat the home team, 2-1?


2022


With Novaxx, err, Novak Djokovic having problems getting into Australia because he isn’t vaccinated, comedy writer Brad Dickson reports that “the news isn’t all bad for Novak. He just signed to be the new backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”

——

BTW, Rafael Nadal, vaccinated and ready to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, had this to say: “From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view. I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.”


Yes, they have COVID-19 issues in the KHL, too. On Sunday, the league revealed that 14 players, one coach and two staffers from Dinamo Riga have tested positive. The league has scrubbed three games through Jan. 17.


After the Kingston Frontenacs were able to dress only 14 skaters for a Friday OHLnight game — they lost, 6-5, to the visiting Peterborough Petes — the OHL announced Saturday that COVID-19 protocols meant their next three games would be postponed. That included a game that had been scheduled for Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, the Chase Heat became the latest team in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League to have games postponed, while the BCHL announced Saturday that it has paused the Nanaimo Clippers for five days.


Snowman


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I love the idea that ESPN now believes that Alex Rodriguez can be part of the kind of ManningCast that we got this season from Peyton and Eli. . . . Right. . . . Got it. . . . One big difference: People like Peyton and Eli.”


It seems that Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has about had enough of MLB using humans to call balls and strikes. As he put it: “Human umps were fine in the old days. So were phone booths and stage coaches.”


Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old junior varsity hockey player with St. Luke’s School in New Caanan, Conn., died on Thursday night after he suffered a skate cut to his neck in a collision with a player from Brunswick School. . . . There is more on this story right here.


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.


Printer

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