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

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after a Grey Cup game to remember . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the CFL title on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who were playing at home, 33-25 in OT to successfully defend their Grey Cup championship. The Bombers also won in 2019; the CFL didn’t play in 2020 because of the pandemic. . . . This was a terrific football game, with a strong wind making the decision-making process that much more important and the passing and punting games difficult. . . . If you’re not aware, the CFL OT format opens with mini-games as each team scrimmages from the 35-yard line. Score a TD and you have to go for two. The Bombers went ahead 31-25 on a Zach Collaros to Darvin Adams TD pass, with Collaros then hitting Rasheed Bailey for the deuce. . . . Moments later, the Bombers sealed the victory with an interception by LB Kyrie Wilson. . . . This was the 108th playing of the Grey Cup game and only the fourth time OT was needed. . . .

The Bombers were trailing 22-10 in the fourth quarter. They got to within 22-13 with a 20-yard field goal, and 22-20 with a 29-yard pass to Nic Demski and the convert. . . . A rouge on the kickoff got the Bombers to within one, at 22-21. . . . The Bombers took their first lead of the game, 24-22, with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter when K Sergio Castillo booted a 45-yard field goal. . . . Another rouge on the kickoff stretched that lead to 25-22. . . . The Tiger-Cats pulled even when Michael Domagala hit on a 13-yard FG with six seconds left. . . .

Richie Hall, Winnipeg’s defensive co-ordinator, is one of the game’s really good guys. He now has won five Grey Cups — two with the Blue Bombers and three with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. . . . The 2009 and 2010 Montreal Alouettes were the last team to win back-to-back championships. . . . Winnipeg head coach Mike O’Shea is 6-0 in Grey Cup games — the two with the Bombers, one as an assistant coach with the Toronto Argonauts and three as a smash-mouth linebacker with the Argos. . . .

The Blue Bombers went through an early-season stretch where they struggled in the kicking game. That’s when they signed Castillo, who was with the NFL’s New York Jets last season. On Sunday, he kicked five field goals. . . . Winnipeg beat Hamilton 33-12 in the 2019 Grey Cup game in Calgary. . . . The Tiger-Cats last won the Grey Cup in 1999. They are 0-4 in finals since then. . . . In the next while, you are going to hear noise about Hamilton head coach Orlondo Steinauer perhaps going to the U of Washington as defensive co-ordinator and the Edmonton Elks wanting O’Shea as GM/head coach. . . . You also are going to hear rumblings about the CFL pooh-bahs studying all aspects of the game, including three-down football versus the four-down variety. Of course, a change to four-down would turn the CFL into a mini-NFL and that wouldn’t fly with Canadian fans, would it? . . . One of those Canadian things is the rouge, something that may seem minor but played a major role in Winnipeg’s victory on Sunday. The CFL doesn’t need to tinker; it needs to develop players — especially Canadians — so that it can provide its fans with more games like the one that ended the 2021 season.


So . . . the owner of the Vancouver Canucks fired six men last week, moves that will have impacted the lives of a number of people. And he takes to Twitter on Saturday evening in search of a few pats on the back! It’s all about priorities, in case you were wondering why this franchise wanders around the NHL wilderness like a dying man in search of water. . . . Yes, the Canucks now have won four straight since the regime change was undertaken. But a grain of salt, please — while all four victories were home games, three of them came against teams that had played the previous night while the Canucks were off. . . . Besides, four victories don’t erase the mess that Aquilini has been paddling through for the past few seasons. . . . The Columbus Blue Jackets are to visit Vancouver on Tuesday night. Vancouver then plays the host San Jose Sharks on Thursday before returning home to face the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday and the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.


BlackFriday


Recent headlines, courtesy of Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. . . . At @NOTSportsCenter: “Report Chase Claypool is still at US Bank Stadium celebrating his 4th-down catch, and is wondering where everyone went.” . . . At TheOnion.com: “Hiker trapped for days under fallen boulder survives by cutting off own ponytail.”

——

“A fan in Las Vegas took off her prosthetic leg and beat another fan with it during the Golden Knights’ 3-2 loss to Edmonton the other night,” reports Perry. “Lucky she wasn’t whistled for a gam misconduct.”

——

Perry, again: “Seattle just experienced its wettest fall in history, with 19 inches of rain between September and November. It got so bad, the Seahawks practiced swimming for a first down.”


Comedy writer Alex Kaseberg, on Chase Claypool’s strutting at a rather inopportune time on Monday Night Football: “It was the stupidest thing done in the NFL, besides saying, ‘Trade me to the Jets.’ ”


“Starting January 15, unvaccinated NBA players will no longer be able to play in Canada,” writes Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe. “Suddenly find myself hoping the Toronto Raptors end up in the playoffs.”


PANDEMIC NOTEBOOK: Ngozi and Kibo, residents of the Denver Zoo, are the first hyenas in the world to have tested positive. . . . The Chicago Zoo has had positive tests in a bearcat, a fishing cat and a coati. There also were two hippos who tested positive in Belgium. From a story by the National Geographic’s Natasha Daly: “They’re now part of a group of 315 animals from 15 species in the United States confirmed to have SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The list also includes cats, dogs, tigers, lions, snow leopards, gorillas, otters, a cougar, a ferret, white-tailed deer. (Infected mink, nearly all on fur farms, are not included in the total).” . . .

The Chicago Bulls are supposed to play the visiting Detroit Pistons on Tuesday. However, the Bulls, who are to play the host Toronto Raptors on Thursday, had nine players in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday evening. They are down to nine healthy players, with eight needed to play a game. . . . The Raptors have their own COVID-19 issues, having put F Precious Achiuwa into protocol on Sunday as a close contact of someone who tested positive. As well, Masai Ujiri, their president and vice-chairman, tested positive late in the week. They are to entertain the Sacramento Kings tonight. . . .

The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who had 12 players come up positive, will return to action on Thursday when they visit the Barrie Colts. The Wolves, who last played on Nov. 27, had five games postponed while they dealt with the outbreak.


Wisdom


You may have seen video of Fox-TV’s 50-foot artificial Christmas tree in midtown Manhattan going up in flames on Wednesday. It was Stephen Colbert who pointed out: “Of course, it would never have happened if the tree had a gun.” . . . Vanity Fair, in the prelude to a story by Caleb Ecarma, noted: “Even though police haven’t ascribed a motive to the suspected arsonist, (Fox-TV) hosts and guests framed the incident as a ‘hate crime,’ part of a ‘war on religion,’ and emblematic of out-of-control crime. ‘No city is safe,’ said Brian Kilmeade.”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Nothing has changed on the subject of vaccinations: The idea that this has become a polarizing political issue and not a medical one is as dumb a moment as we’ve ever had in America.”

——

Lupica, again: “You can talk about the great Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll and Bill Walsh, and Bear Bryant from college football. But in the history of coaches, there is Nick Saban and there is Bill Belichick and then there is everybody else.”


Scuba


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Medicine Hat Tigers beat the host Red Deer Rebels, 4-3, in a shootout on Saturday night. That halted the Tigers’ 16-game losing skid. It also was the 393rd regular-season victory of head coach Willie Desjardins’ WHL career. Seven more victories and he becomes the 19th member of the WHL’s 400 Club. . . . There won’t be a 20th member of that club for a while, as the next active head coach on the list is Mark Lamb of the Prince George Cougars, and he’s at 264. After him, it’s Michael Dyck of the Vancouver Giants (237) and Steve Konowalchuk of the Red Deer Rebels (236). . . .


Back in the day, when Kevin Gallant was the vociferous play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats, you know that the Moose Jaw Warriors and Saskatoon Blades were Public Enemies Nos. 1A and 1B. Now Gallant’s oldest son, Matthew, is a freshman defenceman with the Warriors. His other son, Michael, was selected by the Blades in Thursday’s WHL draft. . . . Just in case you didn’t know that the hockey gods have a sense of humour. . . .

F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has made the roster of Canada’s national junior team as a 16-year-old. Mark Masters of TSN has Bedard as the seventh player to make the team at 16, the others being Connor McDavid, Jay Bouwmeester, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza, Eric Lindros and Wayne Gretzky. . . . The 25-player roster features 12 players from the WHL, including goaltenders Sebastian Cossa (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), five from the OHL, four from the QMJHL, and two each from the AHL and the NCAA. . . . A complete roster is right here. . . .

Team Canada’s roster includes three returnees from the team that won silver at the 2021 tournament — Garand, D Kaiden Guhle (Edmonton) and F Cole Perfetti (AHL-Manitoba Moose). . . . Three WHLers — F Jack Finley (Winnipeg Ice), D Vincent Iorio (Brandon Wheat Kings) and D Daemon Hunt (Moose Jaw Warriors — were among the final cuts on Sunday. Hunt was released after he was injured while blocking a shot during a Sunday game against university players. . . . Team Canada will train in Banff through Dec. 18. It will play two exhibition games in Red Deer (Switzerland, Dec. 19; Sweden, Dec. 20). . . . The tournament, which is to be played in Red Deer and Edmonton, runs from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

Apropos of nothing, I’ll just leave this here. . . . F Ivan Ivan, a 19-year-old Czech, has 30 points, including 18 goals, in 29 games with the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. . . . F Marcel Marcel, an 18-year-old Czech, has six goals and 18 assists in 22 games with his country’s under-20 side.


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.


Clowns

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while the hockey world mourns . . .

Scattershooting2

Matt Swaby, who spent four seasons playing in the WHL, was killed in what family members say was a farming accident on Friday. . . . Swaby, 34, was a native of Prince Albert. . . . A defenceman, he spent three seasons (2004-07) with the Tri-City Americans and one (2007-08) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Oil Kings were an expansion team that season and management chose to acquire Swaby to serve as their captain in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . AJ Jakubec, who was the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice back then, tweeted: “Heartbreaking. The perfect captain for an expansion team. Humble, hard-working guy with a great sense of humour. Loved this guy.” . . . Swaby went on to play three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . He is survived by his wife Carla and their three boys — Thomas, 6; Blake, 4 and Kody, 2.


THE COACHING GAME:

Shaun Clouston moved into the Top 10 on Saturday night. Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, posted his 467th regular-Kamloopsseason coaching victory and that moved him into 10th place on the WHL’s all-time list. He did in style, too, as the Blazers (17-2-0) won, 3-2, in Everett, handing the Silvertips (16-1-2) their first regulation-time loss of the season. Kamloops G Dylan Garand (14-2-2, 1.76, .935) came up with 41 stops. . . . Everett actually has lost two in a row now, having dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the host Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Clouston’s 467th victory moved him past Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time list that is led by Don Day (750). . . . Clouston has 76 victories with the Blazers after putting up 375 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 16 with the Tri-City Americans. He won’t be moving up the ladder again anytime soon because the next man on the list, Pat Ginnell, is at 518. . . . BTW, the Blazers went 4-0-0 on a swing into the U.S. Division, winning twice in Kent, Wash., and beating the Winterhawks, 4-3, in Portland on Friday night. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the winningest active head coach in the WHL these days, put up No. 561 on Saturday night, his Prince Albert Raiders beating the Wheat RaidersKings, 2-1, in Brandon. It would seem that he didn’t get fined — at least, there isn’t anything noted on the WHL’s discipline page — after getting tossed for whispering Christmas greetings to the on-ice officials prior to the start of the third period of a 4-1 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday. . . . BTW, after D Kaiden Guhle scored twice in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s just a special player.” Guhle, 19, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has signed his first NHL contract.


Tacos


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A pro golfer can still make a decent buck, if he’s willing to travel. While Phil Mickelson pocketed $2.16 million for winning the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm $2.25 mil for winning the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa just cashed a check for $2.97 million for winning some tourney in Dubai. Now you know why gas prices are so high.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): World Chess Championship Forced To Use Salt Shaker After Losing Bishop



Ken Campbell, at Hockey Unfiltered (and he is correct): “Love the New Jersey Devils third sweater. Love it. And even though it has ‘Jersey’ emblazoned across the front, it’s a sweater, not a jersey. Always has been, always will be.”


With eight players on the COVID-19 protocol list, the NHL finally stepped in and nhl2halted the New York Islanders’ season, at least for now. The Isles were to have played the New York Rangers today and then visited the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Those games have been postponed. The Islanders next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . The final straw for the NHL came Saturday when F Casey Cizikas went on the list. He became player No. 8, joining F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene, F Ross Johnston, F Anders Lee and D Adam Pelech. . . . Earlier, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed as they went through a stretch in which 10 players and a coach were impacted. The Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins also have been down this road, but their schedules were left intact.


JUST NOTES: If you’ve been watching NHL games of late, I think you will agree that the crackdown on cross-checking has come to an end. . . . We shouldn’t expect anything different from a league in which one player (F Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers) gets fined $5,000 for throwing a glove at another player (super-pest Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins). As Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that’s the same amount that “Tom Wilson was (fined) for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head while he was laying face down on the ice.” . . .

The Thursday afternoon NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the host Dallas Cowboys drew 38.531 million viewers to CBS (TV and streaming), the highest total for a regular-season game since 1990. Just in case you were wondering why neither the NBA nor the NHL played any games on what was American Thanksgiving. . . .

You may have heard that the City of St. Louis will get US$790 million from the NFL and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to settle a lawsuit stemming from the team’s departure  in 2016. If you were wondering about how much the lawyers get, well, according to the aforementioned Scott Ostler, it seems the firm that represented St. Louis gets a cool 35 per cent, or $276 million.


Mom


The two Canadian sports networks — TSN and Rogers Sportsnet — are so large that I have 14 of their channels available in my home. On Saturday afternoon, TSN’s six channels featured Canadian Olympic curling trials (2), Spanish Primera Division soccer (2), U.S. college football (Penn State at Michigan State) and an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile, Sportsnet was showing Bundesliga on five channels, poker on two and rasslin’ on another. . . . You know what they weren’t showing? Canadian university football. . . . Look, they can be excused for not showing the eastern semifinal because USports has a problem that it chooses not to address. The AUS entry gets an automatic semifinal berth and often gets routed, which is what happened to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday when they went to London, Ont., and got whipped, 61-6, by the host Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl. It was 51-3 at the half. . . . Later, in the game that should have been televised nationally, the Saskatchewan Huskies took the lead for the first time with five seconds left in the fourth quarter and beat the host Montreal Carabins, 14-10, to claim the Uteck Bowl. . . . The Huskies will face Western in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Dec. 4. . . . The Vanier Cup will be televised . . . by CBC.



Does Wilt Chamberlain get the credit he’s due for being a great, great NBA player? Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors enjoyed his 220th career 30-point game on Friday night, in a 118-103 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. That is third on the Warriors’ all-time list. Next up is Rick Barry at 223. Chamberlain is No. 1, at 369. Yes, as prolific a scorer as Curry is, he still is 149 behind Chamberlain.


Hey, Luke, well done! Have to admit I had a lump in my throat and it wasn’t a sugar cube.


Fantasy


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders announced Thursday that Adam Manah, their general manager and head coach, had “departed his position . . . effective immediately.” Adam Sergerie has taken over as the GM, with Jeff Woywitka now the head coach. Manah had been with the Crusaders since signing on as associate coach in 2015. He took over as head coach in 2016. The Crusaders were 9-15-1 — they had lost four in a row — at the time of the announcement, good for seventh place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North.


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Amari Cooper is just the latest chowderhead in sports to help cost his team a game by being unvaccinated. While being paid $21 million a year by Jerry Jones. What a guy. Cooper, that is.”

——

Lupica, again: “You know who’s going to end up with settlement money from the NFL one of these days? Jon Gruden. They’re either going to have to pay him, or they’re going to have to release all of the emails relating to the Washington Football Team.”


Lumber


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.


Airbags

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after it got dark early out here . . .

Scattershooting2


I took some time away from the keyboard to sit back and watch the sporting world go by.

What I witnessed wasn’t at all pretty.

Of course, the situation involving Kyle Beach and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gets messier every time an NHL or NHLPA official opens his mouth.

But let’s be honest. As far as the NHL is concerned, it’s all about protecting the shield. If it wasn’t, Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, would have put Sheldon Kennedy on the payroll as a consultant or advisor a long time ago.

But there’s more going on than that . . .

If you Google “Pittsburgh Penguins,” you will find the NHL team is embroiled in a scandal that involves a couple of coaches and one of their wives.

If you Google “Vancouver Whitecaps,” you will find that Major League Soccer has hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the team’s handling of alleged misconduct by a couple of coaches. Those accusations were levelled more than 10 years ago; the Whitecaps led an investigation into them in 2019.

And then there was the high school boys hockey game in the Pittsburgh area the other day that was marred by the vulgar chants of students from one school towards the other team’s female goaltender. No, adults in the stands didn’t see fit to intervene.

Meanwhile, there were reports that F Nicholas Daigle of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, who has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, may — or may not — be going to play in the controversial Ukrainian Hockey League. Daigle is one of two players who was charged following the Tigres’ championship victory last season; the QMJHL subsequently suspended both players. Reports indicated that he would be going overseas to play for HC Rulav Oddr of the Ukrainian Hockey League. The team announced his acquisition with this: “To be found guilty and to be charged is a big difference. Nicholas will be the most famous young player in UHL history . . . and the fact that the guy is sexy, the residents of Kharkiv will like him. ” The UHL is the league that found itself embroiled in a nasty racist incident earlier this season. . . . The QMJHL, however, has said that it won’t be releasing Daigle to play in the UHL or, one can assume, in any other league.

PHEW! Take a breath because there’s more . . .

The NFL launched an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and more with the Washington Football Team, but won’t release the results, although some emails leaked that resulted in the departure of the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach.

The NBA is investigating allegations of misogyny and racism involving the owner of the Phoenix Suns, while the Portland Trailblazers are investigating allegations of workplace misconduct against their general manager.

The National Women’s Soccer League had its commissioner resign amid a scandal involving misconduct and sexual misconduct. The league and the players association are launching a wholesale investigation.

As well, Rana Reider, who coaches Canadian sprinting star Andre De Grasse has been accused of sexual misconduct and SafeSport is investigating.

Meanwhile, former WHL/NHL D Bryce Salvador tweeted this on Oct. 31:

“I just spent 10 mins on the ice holding the hand of a 12yr player I coach. He lay there motionless, crying that his back hurt, unable to move at all.

“I ultimately called off the game as we waited until the ambulance came.  (we were winning 4-1 with a 1min left in the semi-final game). . . . With the traumatic toll weighing on my 12-year players about the health of their teammate, I then decided we would forfeit the final game.

“What happened next is unbelievable. The coach of the team that we were scheduled to play in the final couldn’t believe that we were not going to play the final game because I felt it was unethical to put 12yrs back on the ice again that day.

“He insisted that we still had enough players to play . . . ‘. . . what, you are just going leave?’

“YES! I need to see how the player is doing!  Where is empathy anymore?”

Where indeed?

——

BTW, if you think the NHL will be in the market for a new commissioner because of recent happenings, well, it’s not going to happen. Bettman works for the owners and his No. 1 priority is to make money for them. During his reign, the NHL somehow got its players to accept a salary cap, and the last two expansion franchises brought in a total of $1,150,000,000. Yes, that’s more than a billion dollars in US funds.



Brock McGillis came out in 2016. A goaltender, he still was playing pro hockey so it was kind of a big deal. These days, he does a lot of speaking in the world of hockey, work that he hopes will help improve the inclusivity in that particular part of our world. . . . But there are roadblocks. I know, you’re shocked! . . . As he told Matt Larkin of The Hockey News:

“I really do appreciate the teams that bring me in – it matters. But I’ve been begging, pleading with the OHL for four years to do this and make it a mandatory program like they’ve done with so many others. Unfortunately, they haven’t. I’ve stopped pleading. I felt like I was a bother and it wasn’t accomplishing anything. I hope they circle back, because it’s needed but, until they engage that conversation, I can’t plead with them, but I will work with individual teams that see the value and other groups. . . . Frankly, I hope the CHL reaches out, especially considering they do have an out player (Luke Prokop). I’m hoping it’ll be the catalyst to a conversation with the CHL. I’m becoming exhausted with leagues and teams dipping a toe in with Pride nights. I’ve told them all, ‘This is performative.’ Sorry, but it is. Studies have shown that it doesn’t move the needle or impact the locker room or anything.”

Larkin’s complete story is right here.


Milk


Just wondering, but whatever happened to the coaches’ union in junior hockey? There was a time when junior hockey coaches had frequent conversations, oftentimes before or after games. . . . Could it be those in-season communications have gone the way of the mask-free goaltender? . . . In an email conversation with the head coach who took over a junior team prior to this season, I asked if any of the league’s other coaches had “called or emailed or contacted you in any fashion just to welcome you to the league?” . . . His response: “The answer to your question is ‘no.’ If they did reach out and give me some form of welcome, it was only because they had another agenda and/or were trying to screw me somehow!” . . . I guess the days of two coaches sharing a post-game beverage before one boards the bus for the trip home are over.


Seatbelts

DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Who fell further faster — the Chicago Blackhawks or Aaron Rodgers? . . . Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “After Aaron Rodgers reported that he turned in a 500-page research paper to the NFL detailing supposed problems with the COVID vaccines, the world wondered, ‘What kind of college student was Rodgers?’ Well, he didn’t graduate from Cal (‘Thank God,’ sigh a million Cal alums). Rodgers did major in American Studies at Cal, and one of his classes was Food Appreciation. Food Appreciation.” . . . Here’s Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: “Even if the Packers win the Super Bowl, the people in charge at Lambeau Field will be willing to drive (Rodgers) to the airport next February.”


THE WORLD OF COVID: The Ottawa Senators, fresh off a six-day trip into the U.S., had two players (D Nick Holden and F Austin Watson) and assistant coach Jack Capuano in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday night. Yes, chances are there will be more in the days ahead. . . . S Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings didn’t play Sunday against the host Baltimore Ravens because he is on the NFL’s COVID-19 list. Smith, who isn’t vaccinated, is a Pro Bowler. The Vikings lost, 34-31 in OT. They also were without C Garrett Bradbury, who is vaccinated and tested positive. G Dakota Dozier, who is on their practice squad, also is on the COVID list. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis StarTribune blamed the loss on “Smith’s unwillingness to get vaccinated and the offense’s inability to function without a script or a sense of panic.” . . . The San Jose Sharks have games in Calgary and Winnipeg this week, and because of COVID protocols they’re without head coach Bob Boughner, F Matt Nieto, D Erik Karlsson, D Jake Middleton, D Radim Simek, D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, F Kevin Labanc, F Tino Meier, trainer Ray Tufts and equipment manager Mike Aldrich.


Ex


WORK NEWS: It was good to see old friend Travis Crickard’s name in a news release the other day as he joined the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Crickard spent four-plus seasons on staff with the Kelowna Rockets before Bruce Hamilton announced on Dec. 8, 2018, that they had “mutually parted  ways.” (Wink! Wink!!) . . . Crickard had been head coach of the U-18 AAA Waterloo, Ont., Wolves. . . . Once upon a time he was a goaltender for two seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers. He also was the video coach with the Canadian team that won the IIHF U-18 tournament in Texas last spring. . . . Bobby Jo Love, one of the WHL’s regular referees, made his AHL debut in Abbotsford, B.C., last weekend. The 25-year-old from Smithers, B.C., worked the Ontario Reign’s sweep — 5-2 on Oct. 29 and 3-2 in OT on Oct. 30 — of the Canucks. . . . Congrats to Jayson Hajdu, another old friend, on his new position as director of communications for College Hockey Inc. The Regina native worked in the U of North Dakota’s athletic media relations office (1995-2018) and was the primary contact for men’s hockey there from 2008 through 2018. For the past two years, he’s been the marketing and communications strategist for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City.


A GOOD READ: It seems the reports of the demise of Marc Habscheid’s Prince Albert Raiders were a bit premature. The Raiders are laughing at the critics after sweeping the Saskatoon Blades on the weekend, winning 5-1 at home and 5-2 in Toontown. Once 2-7-0, the Raiders now are 5-7-1. . . . The same holds true for Dave Struch’s Regina Pats. They also were 2-7-0, but now have won four in a row. . . . If you’re looking for an entertaining hockey-related read, you can’t go wrong with Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend. Murray, the legendary Calgary-based trainer, told his story and George Johnson, whose fingers play on a computer keyboard the way Oscar Peterson’s tickled the ivories, wrote it. Good stuff! . . . While watching the Nashville Predators and host Vancouver Canucks on Friday night I found myself wondering if the NHL’s crackdown on cross-checking had been relaxed.


Teens


JUST WHAT WE NEED: Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Clear evidence that we’re running out of things to investigate: On Nov. 19, FX/Hulu is offering up a probe into Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.” . . . Perry, again: “BASS announced its 2022 high-school bass-fishing schedule, four tournaments scheduled on weekend days called the Bassmaster High School Series. Back in the good old days, fishing took place on a weekday and we just called it hooky.” . . . You know what is really wonderful these days? You turn on the TV and tune into an NFL game. A woman is part of the on-field officiating crew and from the game’s start to its end no one mentions it.


OUR WORLD IS EMPTIER TODAY: Condolences to Verita van Diemen and sons Ryan and Chad and their families following the death of Case, who was a guiding hand for the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society when the WHL franchise, which then was owned by community shareholders, was going through some difficult times. Case, 74, died on Oct. 30. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 65. He did a two-year stint as the Blazers’ president and I always enjoyed conversing with him. He always gave an honest answer and/or opinion, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to read in his obituary that “Case was thankful to be able to have the choice to go out on his terms.” . . . I also won’t ever forget Case and Verita’s generosity when I was running the Christmas Cheer Fund for the Kamloops Daily News. They were on board with us from the beginning and I always, always heard from them early in the campaign.


The NHL may not want to speak with Sheldon Kennedy, but the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame certainly did. Kennedy was inducted into the Winnipeg-based Hall of Fame on Thursday night. . . .


Beer


NO TAG DAYS FOR BUSTER: Don’t be concerned about Buster Posey’s financial future now that the San Francisco Giants veteran catcher has announced his retirement. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Financially, Posey should be OK. He invested heavily in BodyArmor sports drink around 2013. Coca-Cola just bought BodyArmor for $5.6 billion. That sale turned the late Kobe Bryant’s $6-million investment into a net gain for his estate of $400 million.” . . . I don’t know about you but I absolutely despise those computer-generated ads that TSN floats onto the field during CFL games and the ones that Sportsnet plasters on the glass during NHL games. . . . Here’s a for-real headline from FoxNews.com: Monkey belonging to Texas special-teams coach’s stripper girlfriend bites child on Halloween.


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.


Divorce

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching the Blue Bombers bring some heat to Regina . . .

Scattershooting2



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Whatever (head coach Bill) Belichick says, Cam Newton at least partially lost his job with the (New England) Patriots because he’s another bonehead in sports who hasn’t been vaccinated. . . . So pro sports continues to be a capital of Stupidville on the subject of COVID and vaccines. . . . Now John Smoltz and Al Leiter represent the Stupidville district as they’re not allowed inside the studio of the MLB Network because they’re anti-vaxx guys. . . . You’d say that on and on we go and where we stop, nobody knows, except we do know: This particular train stops in the place where the slow thinkers reside.”



So . . . Nebraska played host to Fordham in a college football game on Saturday. Darren Rovell, who reports on the business of sports, tells us that (a) Nebraska paid Fordham US$500,000 to play the game; (b) Scott Frost, Nebraska’s head coach, makes $416,667 per game; and (c) Fordham head coach Joe Conlin is making $250,000 this season. . . . Nebraska, a 41.5-point favourite, won the game, 52-7.


Justin Foster, a defensive end with Clemson, tested positive for COVID-19 last summer. So, too, did T.J. Quinn, a staff writer with ESPN. . . . You know what else they have in common? They are COVID long-haulers. If you’re one who thinks that COVID-19 isn’t a big deal and that it comes and then it’s gone, well, think again. Maybe this piece right here, written by Quinn, will change your mind.



Now that’s high-end trash talk — Phil Mickelson was prepping for a practice round with a couple of PGA lesser-knowns — Harry Higgs and Keith Mitchell — the other day, when he told them he would be using a ball with his logo on it. As he explained: “It’s from when I won the Masters. What are you guys using?”


And then there’s the guy who bet US$220,000 on the Thursday night football game between Tennessee and Bowling Green. He had Tennessee winning by at least 36. Uhh, the Vols won, but only by 32 — 38-6. . . . Easy come, easy go!



“I love the Field of Dreams concept,” writes columnist Norman Chad, as he hits the nail on the head. “I love the Field of Dreams buildup, I love the Field of Dreams setting, but then . . . it’s just another MLB game that takes forever to get from a 1-0 count to a 2-2 count.”



Peter King, in his weekly Football Morning in America column: “A football field, from end of end zone to end of end zone, is 360 feet long. Jeff Bezos’ new yacht is 50 feet longer than that. Bezos’ yacht will cost about $500 million to build. Twenty-one NFL teams play in stadiums that cost less to build than the yacht Jeff Bezos has under construction.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Kimi Raikkonen sat out Sunday’s Netherlands Grand Prix after testing positive. The Alfa Romeo team replaced him with Robert Kubica. Raikkonen, 41, has said he will retire from Formula One at season’s end.


The Ole Miss Runnin’ Rebels won’t have head coach Lane Kiffin with them tonight when they open their NCAA football season against the Louisville Cardinals in Atlanta. He is fully vaccinated, but has tested positive. . . . Earlier this month, Kiffin revealed that 100 per cent of Ole Miss’s players, coaches and staff members were fully vaccinated.



ODDS AND ENDS — Hey, Toll Free Serv., you may as well give up because we’re not answering when you phone during an election. . . . We answered one unknown number recently and it was from a candidate in West Kelowna. Uhh, we live in Kamloops. . . . If you are looking for a really, really good read, you won’t go wrong with Billy Summers, the latest work from the prolific Stephen King. You can thank me later. . . . And if you’re looking for some good listening, you won’t go wrong with Rita Chiarelli. Start with her Breakfast at Midnight album. . . . DE Willie Jefferson of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers set the table for Sunday’s Labour Day Classic — the game is played the day before Labour Day — when he said Saturday that the host Saskatchewan Roughriders “ain’t played nobody special. Nobody with no heat, the way we’re coming. We know it’s a battle for first place in the West but we could care less. We just want to give them our best game and show them that their offence isn’t as prolific as people are saying.” It’s not bragging when you can do it; the Bombers won, 23-8. . . . D Matthew Gallant, 17, will be in camp with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. From Langley, B.C., he is the oldest of Kevin Gallant’s two boys. Kevin, you may remember, is a former play-by-play voice of the Regina Pats. The Warriors placed Matthew on their protected list last winter.



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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Arnie Caplan as general manager and head coach. Caplan, 53, is from Winnipeg. He has been living in Dauphin, Man., where he was the U18 AAA Parkland Rangers’ head coach in 2019-20. A goalie in his playing days, Caplan got into nine games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 1987-88. The Rebels actually signed Carter Duffin to a multi-year extension as general manager and head coach on May 29. Duffin left two months later to join the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as assistant GM and assistant coach. He had been the Rebels’ head coach for the previous three seasons. . . . Long-time NHL scout Marty Stein wasn’t out of work for long. Stein, who is based in Vernon, B.C., now is a Western Canada scout with the Buffalo Sabres. He had been with the Detroit Red Wings since 1996 when he recently was dropped as GM Steve Yzerman made some changes.


Printer

Scattershooting on a Sunday evening as the smoke rolls in like the tide . . .

Scattershooting2

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John Schultz of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a Saturday morning piece: “COVID-19 has claimed its first Olympic competition: Czech beach volleyball player Marketa Slukova tested positive this week, forcing a cancellation of her match with teammate Barbora Hermannova against Japan’s Megumi Murakami and Miki Ishiibeing, The Associated Press reports. The Japanese were awarded a victory by default in what would have been the tournament’s opening match. Olympics-related COVID cases in Japan has reached 127, including 14 athletes.”

By Sunday, that number had reached 137. . . . There’s more on all of that right here, including a list of athletes who have tested positive.

Meanwhile, Bryson DeChambeau was knocked out of the Games on Saturday by a positive test before he left for Tokyo. Patrick Reed, who finished play in the PGA’s 3M Open, will replace him on the American team. The Olympic golf tournament is scheduled to begin on Thursday.

The field for that even may be set at 59 because Spain’s Jon Rahm may not be replaced after he, too, tested positive.

You will recall that Rahm, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive on June 5 while holding a six-stroke lead after three rounds in the Memorial Tournament. This time, he tested positive in the final round of tests prior to leaving for Tokyo.


Fire


On Saturday evening, I had flashbacks to December 1985 when the WHL’s KrakenRegina Pats came oh, so close to relocating to Swift Current over the Christmas break. It all began in May when the Regina Leader-Post reported that “Regina Pats fans are going to have to dip into their pockets for an extra dollar to cover parking charges announced by the Pats’ landlord, the Regina Exhibition Association.” . . . You may recall that it ultimately led to Herb Pinder Jr. and his family selling the Pats to a group of Regina businessmen. . . . Anyway, the reason for the flashback was this tweet from the Seattle Times: “The Seattle City Council will consider a proposal Monday to raise on-street parking fees in Uptown during large events at Climate Pledge Arena.” . . . That, of course, will be the home arena for the NHL’s newest franchise, the Seattle Kraken.

Michelle Baruchman of the Times reported:

“Under a proposal before the City Council on Monday, drivers would pay $3 per hour for their first two hours of street parking and $8 per hour for the second two hours during events that attract 10,000 or more guests.

“That means Uptown visitors parking near the arena who spend four hours shopping, eating and watching the Kraken play would pay $22 to park. On-street parking would be limited to four hours during the day and evening hours.”



I have never been a Montreal Canadiens’ fan — it was always Gordie Howe and the Detroit Red Wings for me — but I must admit to having had a tear in my eye on Friday night when the Montreal Canadiens revealed the name of their first-round selection in the NHL draft. There was a time when they set the bar for everyone else. But I guess it’s fair to say they no longer hold the torch as high as they once did.

——

Here’s veteran hockey writer Ken Campbell on the Montreal Canadiens and that first-round pick:

“When Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin faced his questioners Friday night after choosing defenseman Logan Mailloux in the first round of the NHL draft, he provided the following answer in French: ‘On the hockey side, he was the best pick.’

“And that, ladies and gentlemen, tells you everything you need to know about the toxic culture that surrounds this great game. You do have to hand it to “hockey people”, however. No matter how much they embarrass themselves, they simply don’t seem to care what people outside their tight little circle think about their attitudes and actions.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here, and if you haven’t already you should consider subscribing to Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell.

——

Colin Priestner, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Saskatoon BladesBlades, apparently was watching the draft, and he chose to hit Twitter three times with his opinion of what transpired with the Montreal Canadiens and their first pick. Priestner hitting social media with his red-hot reaction really was something when you consider that WHL and team officials rarely offer anything resembling hard-hitting commentary, or anything that might stir the pot, on anything these days. . . . BTW, he wasn’t wrong.


Beer


It is quite evident that the NFL isn’t going to show any patience with unvaccinated team personnel who don’t follow the restrictions that are being placed on them.

According to ESPN, Bruce Arians, the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, told his players that an unvaccinated player will be fined “$14,000 on the spot every time he isn’t wearing a mask or is breaking a protocol.”

Arians later told ESPN in a text: “NFL policy. League rules.”

It turns out that the fine actually is $14,650.

Things could get interesting with the Bucs, too, because RB Leonard Fournette tweeted on Thursday: “Vaccine I can’t do it.”

They opened training camp on Sunday.

——

The NFL lost a pair of offensive line coaches on Friday and both appear to have departed over a refusal to be vaccinated. Rick Dennison chose not to be vaccinated so no longer is an offensive line coach/run game co-ordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, while Cole Popovich isn’t with the New England Patriots. He was their co-offensive line coach. . . . Under NFL rules, all coaches must be vaccinated in order to have any direct interactions with players, including on the field and in meeting rooms.

——

If you are wondering why the NFL is going to such disciplinary lengths to try and protect its product from COVID-19 consider this: Each team will be paid $309 million for its share of television revenue; the NFL’s salary cap this season is $198 million.


Ear


If all goes according to plan — in other words, if COVID-19 doesn’t rear its ugly head in a big way again — WHL teams will open their training camps on or about Sept. 8. That is six weeks from Wednesday. So . . . if the WHL is going to a mandatory vaccine protocol as is the OHL, anyone who hasn’t yet been fully vaccinated is running out of time.


Steve Sparks, an analyst on the Houston Astros’ radio crew, won’t be on an eight-game road swing that opens today (Monday) against the Seattle Mariners. Yes, he tested positive on Sunday.


Here’s Bob Molinaro in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot: “For this season, unlike last, if a college football team can’t post for a game because of a COVID outbreak in its locker room, it should lose by forfeit. There are no excuses anymore.”

Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, added: “I could not agree more. And I do not care if one of the elite teams has to be the one to forfeit a game and ruins its chances for the CFP.”



Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I guess we’re past the point where couples counselling is going to help with Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.”


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Peter Repcik, 17, to a WHL contract. The Slovakian was selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. Repcik had nine goals and 15 assists in 27 games with Team Slovakia’s U-18 side. He also had two assists in three games with the U-20 team.


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.


Motel

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