Ice’s new home on ice for a while yet . . . Happy anniversary to The Quad Town Forum


The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice is going to spend at least two mores seasons playing in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus at the U of Manitoba.

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that “the pandemic fallout is complicating plans by the owners of the Ice to build a new arena. . . . That timing, already affected by the slow pace of obtaining zoning approval for the land, has been further delayed by the pandemic.”

If you’re late to this story, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg wpgicebusinessman Greg Fettes, who is the chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, near the end of the 2016-17 season. They left the team in Kootenay for two seasons before moving to Winnipeg, having said that they would build a 4,500-seat arena in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald in time for the 2021-22 season.

“If you’re asking about a change in terms of the current circumstance, obviously I’ve been monitoring what’s happening,” Fettes told Sawatzky. “We don’t know what the hockey landscape’s going to look like after this. So are we taking a step back and making sure we understand that? Yes, absolutely.

“We’re going to do that but for all intents and purposes we’re still on the same track we were on. We’re doing our best to push forward but we are going to pay attention to see how are we going to be able to play games and how does that affect the type of building we build.”

The Ice’s owners say they spent $1.3 million on renovations to the Wayne Fleming Arena prior to moving into it, and now Fettes says there will be more renovating done. But they aren’t going to do anything to enlarge the seating capacity.

The bottom line to this story is that more than three years after the Chynoweth family reached an agreement to sell the franchise, Fettes and Co. have yet to start building the promised new arena. And the WHL now is faced with having a team in the Manitoba capital play at least three seasons in a 1,600-seat facility that was opened in 1981.

According to statistics compiled by the WHL, the Ice averaged 1,512 fans for 31 home games last season. In its last two seasons in Cranbrook that average was 2,214 (2018-19) and 2,442 (2017-18). In 2016-17, the last season under the Chynoweth umbrella, that figure was 1,754.

Sawatzky’s complete story is right here.


Comma


Considering the massive hit that the Canadian newspaper industry has taken in the last while, I’d like to tip my hat to Brad and Tracy Brown, the owners of The Quad Town Forum that is, according to its masthead, “devoted exclusively to covering White City, Emerald Park, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, Vibank, Sedley, Francis, Odessa, Montmartre, Kronau & surrounding areas.” . . . That would be in south-eastern Saskatchewan, just a couple of slapshots from Regina. . . . The Forum, which publishes 48 weeks a year, celebrated an anniversary on Thursday — it was No. 5. . . . The Browns went all-in, moving to Sedley and basing the Forum in Vibank, in 2015. You bet they were swimming against the current. . . . Brad has been in the newspaper business since 1999. He spent some time at the Prairie Post in Swift Current and while there covered the Broncos (2012-14). . . . The introduction in that first issue included this: “Newspapers are supposed to be dead. Gone. Extinct. Killed off by TV and the Internet and rock music and teenagers and Conrad Black and the Harlem Shake and SARS and gluten and pretty much anything else you can think of. Yet here we are, excitedly presenting to you the first issue of the Quad Town Forum.” . . . And here they are now, five years later. . . . Well done, and may the press never stop running! . . . Congratulations to the Browns and, yes, I will raise one in their honour at some point this weekend.

If you would like to check out The Forum, it’s all right here. Feel free to travel over there and tour around the site.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”


hotdogs


The 10-team Western Canadian Baseball League hopes to open its 2020 season in late June or early July. It had been scheduled to get started in late May. . . . The collegiate league features six teams in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan. . . .

The 2020 Little League World Series has been cancelled, along with 82 qualifying tournaments. Also gone is the MLB Little League Classic that would have seen the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play in Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 23. . . . The tournament was to have run from Aug. 20-30.



If you missed it, here’s part of what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times earlier this week:

“I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’ “


Paintings


Questions, I’ve got questions: If the NHL is able to get up and running, say at some point in June or even July, how excited will you be to watch the end of the regular season? . . . Will it matter to you if there are fans allowed into the games? . . . Will it matter to you if the Stanley Cup is presented in late August or at some point in September, and the 2020-21 regular season begins in December? . . . Does it matter to you when the NHL holds its draft — in June or August? . . . Do you get excited at the thought of the NBA gathering its teams at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., to finish its season?



Whatever happened to Andre Dawson, the Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s a mortician and owner of Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Miami. These days, he’s having to learn how to deal with a pandemic. . . . Steven Wine of The Associated Press has more right here.


So much winning . . .

QMJHL cancels rest of regular season; WHL, OHL expected to do same . . . Eskimos bow out of Brady chase

DailyNews


The QMJHL announced on Tuesday that it has brought an end to its regular season, which was to have ended on Friday. The league also has postponed its annual draft that had been scheduled for March 25. . . . The QMJHL is still hoping to be able to put together some kind of playoff with teams seeded based on points percentage. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors was to talk on Tuesday, but so far . . . crickets! However, it is widely believed that the WHL and the OHL will cancel the remainder of their regular seasons perhaps as soon as Wednesday. . . .

Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted Tuesday afternoon: “The WHL will be following the same path as the QMJHL. The OHL has a governors’ conference call (Wednesday), at which time it will be no surprise if the OHL also cancels the regular season.”

——

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The two players from the Winnipeg Ice who were tested for the COVID-19 virus are fine. Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that a source with the team has told him that both tests came back negative. . . . “The club,” Sawatzky wrote, “did not immediately make further comment.” . . . Both players had been symptomatic so were tested, while the remainder of the players were allowed to go home. . . .


On a day when it was announced that four players from the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, including Kevin Durant, had tested positive, it was learned that one player from the Ottawa Senators has tested positive. The player, whose identity wasn’t revealed by the Senators, is the first NHLer to test positive for the virus. . . . The team said the player’s symptoms are mild and that he is in isolation. . . . Hailey Salvian and James Mirtle of The Athletic reported that “multiple Senators players are ill and awaiting test results to determine how many have been infected.” The Senators played the host Los Angeles Kings on March 11, their last game before the NHL shut down. The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets played at Staples Center on March 10 and have had four players test positive. . . . The Senators also played in San Jose on March 7, which was after health officials had recommended a ban be placed on well-attended events. . . . Of the four Nets players involved, only one is experiencing symptoms. . . .


So . . . Tom Brady isn’t going to be returning to the New England Patriots and, at the age of 42, is expeced to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who will pay him in the neighbourhood of US$30 million for one season. . . . So much for him ending up in the CFL. . . .


The International Ice Hockey Federation has cancelled two more men’s tournaments — the Division I Group A tournament in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and the Division I Group B event in Katowice, Poland. Both were to have run from April 27 through May 3. . . . The IIHF Council continues to discuss the status of the world men’s championship that is scheduled for Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, from May 8-24. . . .

The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League officially cancelled the remainder of its season on Tuesday. . . .

The Achilles International Track Society announced Tuesday that it was cancelling the annual Vancouver Sun Harry Jerome International Track Classic. It was to have been held at Burnaby’s Swangard Stadium on May 30. . . .

The French Open tennis tournament now will be played from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4. It had been scheduled to being in Paris on May 24. The change in dates will make it the last of the four majors this year, and it will begin a week after the U.S. Open. . . . The Guardian has a good story right here on the reaction to the date change and, yes, there is some unhappiness. . . .

The PGA Championship has been postponed. It had been scheduled for Harding Park in San Francisco, May 11-17. One of the four majors for men’s professionals, organizers hope it will be played at Harding Park later in the summer. . . . Earlier, Augusta National announced that the 2020 Masters, which was scheduled for April 9-12, had been postponed. There now is speculation that it will be played in October. . . .

The PGA has cancelled the RBC Heritage (April 13-19), the Zurich Classic of New Orleans (April 20-16), the Wells Fargo Championship (April 27-May 3) and the AT&T Byron Nelson (May 4-10). . . .

The 2020 Canadian Transplant Games have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Winnipeg, Aug. 15-20. . . .


Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports is a huge fan of the New England Patriots. Here he is: “I’ll try to keep my weeping to a minimum, but it’s St. Patrick’s Day, our king has left us and all the bars are closed. Nothing makes sense anymore and us Pats fans can just never seem to catch a break.”

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after washing hands, washing hands, washing hands . . .

Scattershooting

MORE DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE PLAY A WAITING GAME . . . 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that there be no events that draw crowds of 50-plus people for the next two months in the U.S. . . . That would seem to put an end to the NBA and NHL seasons, and would leave Major League Baseball looking at starting sometime in the latter half of May, perhaps with no fans in their stadiums. . . . It just might be that the CDC recommendation spells the end of the NBA and NHL seasons. . . .


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Sunday afternoon that “two wpgicemembers of the Winnipeg Ice have been tested for COVID-19.” . . . The Ice now is awaiting the results. . . . According to Sawatzky, “The remainder of the club’s 22-man roster has been cleared to return to their homes. . . . The two Ice players were identified as symptomatic and are the only members of the team or staff to be tested so far.” . . . Ice GM Matt Cockell told Sawatzky: “If those tests are negative, they’ll return home. If they’re not, then we’ll proceed with them with the guidance and advice that we receive. Both players have been in self-isolation for a few days now.” . . . Sawatzky’s story is right here.

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As of Sunday evening, there had yet to be an announcement from the WHL. But more individual teams revealed that they were allowing players to return to their homes. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Prince George Cougars said on Saturday that their players had been given the OK to head for home. . . . On Sunday, the Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs all did the same. . . .



Apparently, plans are for the WHL’s board of governors to chat on Tuesday, after which the league perhaps will provide its fans with some information. The CDC’s recommendation would mean the WHL’s five American-based teams wouldn’t be able to hold home games in front of fans until mid-May at the earliest, so it would seem that the league is that much closer to having to end its season. . . .


In a column in which Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned a few things he is going to miss for the next while, he included:

Toilet paper. The wheel and sliced bread are way overrated. . . .

Steve Kerr’s news conferences. Honest answers, interesting side trips, always a laugh or two. The anti-Belichick. . . .



The 10-team Southern Professional Hockey League became the second pro league to end its season when it announced Sunday that its board of governors had voted in favour of cancellation. . . . The 26-team ECHL made the same announcement on Saturday. . . .


Anyone with plans to attend any hockey team’s spring camp should check and see if, indeed, the schedule is as it was. When Hockey Canada pulled the plug on all hockey-related activities, I took that to mean spring camps, too. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The NCAA says it won’t release brackets for 2020 March Madness. While I see their point, wouldn’t letting Americans argue about who was robbed be a welcome distraction about now?”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Word is (that) former CFL mainstay Chris Jones is staying with the Cleveland Browns in a personnel role. He wasn’t fired when head coach Freddie Kitchens was let go. Jones was moved from a coaching job to more of a scouting position.” . . .

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A social note from Simmons: “Some guys aren’t this fortunate. The just returning Morgan Rielly gets to spend his time away with girlfriend Tessa Virtue. Is this like the nicest couple ever — nice kid hockey player and the nicest of all-time women figure skaters.” . . .


Scattershooting on a Thursday night while waiting to steal the first signs of spring . . .

Scattershooting

ESPN continues to use Jessica Mendoza as a baseball analyst despite her being on the payroll of the New York Mets as a baseball operations special adviser. Of course, that is a conflict of interest, something that was very much in evidence on Thursday as Mendoza chose to speak out on at least three ESPN programs about the cheating scandal that has enveloped MLB.  . . . She pointed a finger at pitcher Mike Fiers, now of the Oakland A’s, for going public, something that sparked MLB’s investigation. Mendoza later tried to backtrack, but the genie was out of the bottle and her credibility has since taken a terrible beating, as it should have. . . . The Mets, of course, found themselves hip deep in it because their new manager, Carlos Beltran, was involved in the cheating while playing for the Astros. On Thursday, the Mets and Beltran parted company before he had managed even one game. While Beltran may be gone, Mendoza continues to cash cheques from ESPN and the Mets.


Astros


It was on Jan. 4 when former WHL player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer, now a broadcaster for TSN on games involving the Winnipeg Jets, related a story involving a hazing. Sawyer, then an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, talked of Saran-wrapping a 15-year-old Jared Spurgeon to a pillar in an arena. Spurgeon wsa “about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny,” Sawyer said. “He looked like he was 12.” . . . Paul Friesen, a columnist with the Winnipeg Sun, has some questions about all of this but has discovered a cone of silence seems to have been placed over everyone involved. Friesen, however, was able to speak with Akim Aliu, who is no stranger to hazing incidents. . . . Friesen’s column is right here.



A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a pair of WHL teams — the Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars announced on Thursday that they now are making sensory kits available at all home games. From a news release: “In partnership with AutismBC, the Cougars have purchased sensory kits that will be loaned out to families, at no cost, that have sensory issues. The sensory kit includes protective earmuffs, colouring book, crayons, ear plugs, sunglasses, and several different fidget / stress items.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Royals, with their home city and environs hit with some ugly weather, are rewarding fans who were able to get to their Wednesday game and ticket holders who couldn’t make it with freebies for a future game. . . . The Royals announced attendances of 2,519 and 2,901 for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, as they swept the Tri-City Americans, 3-1 and 6-1. However, it’s believed the miserable weather limited the actual attendance at each game to much closer to 1,000 people.


Christmas


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired Bob Beatty, their general manager and head OilBaronscoach, on Tuesday. Beatty, a veteran of the junior A coaching scene, was in his first season with the Oil Barons, who were 15-27-2 and in seventh place in the North Division in what is clearly a rebuilding/reloading season. . . . Mike Brodeur and Justin Rose, the team’s assistant coaches, ran things on an interim basis for a couple of days. . . . On Thursday, the Oil Barons announced that Gord Thibodeau had returned to the organization as GM and head coach. He had filled both positions with the Oil Barons for 11 seasons (2003-14). . . . Thibodeau is the winningest coach in AJHL history, having put up number 833 in February 2017 while with the Whitecourt Wolverines. He and the Wolverines parted company shortly after he put up that victory. . . . Thibodeau also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four separate occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted Wednesday that F Connor McLennon wpgicewill be out of the Winnipeg Ice’s lineup for up to eight weeks with a broken collarbone. . . . McLennon was injured Tuesday night in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars. He leads the Ice in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49), all in 42 games for the East Division-leading club. . . . Interestingly, the Ice didn’t list its two 2004-born forwards — Matt Savoie and Connor Geekie — on the WHL’s weekly roster report. Savoie, who has five assists in 12 games, is out with a concussion; Geekie, pointless in seven games, has mononucleosis. . . . The Ice selected Savoie with the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, and took Geekie with the next selection.


After Seattle had its season come to an end on Sunday in Green Bay, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch offered some advice for young NFLers: ““It’s a vulnerable time for a lot of young dudes, you feel me? So, you feel me? Start takin’ care of y’all mentals and y’all bodies and y’all’s chicken. So, when y’all ready to, you know, walk away, you be able to do what you want to do.” . . . By chicken, of course, he meant money. . . . All of that got lots of play, and by early in the week you could visit his website (beastmode.com) and purchase hoodies and T-shirts emblazoned with “Take Care Yo’ Chicken” across the chests. . . . Yes, Lynch practises what he preaches.


Micro


If you watched the video of the battling goaltenders on Saturday night, you will have noticed Roman Basran of the Kelowna Rockets holding his right arm in a gingerly KelownaRocketsfashion after he and Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers got up off the canvas, er, ice. . . . Well, the Rockets listed Basran as out day-to-day with an upper-body injury on Tuesday’s WHL roster report. . . . Basran has been the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender. . . . The Rockets (21-17-3), the host team for the Memorial Cup, are third in the B.C. Division and sixth in the Western Conference. . . . With Basran unavailable, the Rockets have added G Cole Tisdale, 17, to their roster from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Tisdale, an eighth-round pick by the Rockets in the 2017 bantam draft, will back up Cole Schwebius as the Rockets visit the Everett Silvertips tonight (Friday) and then go into Portland for a Saturday-Sunday doubledip with the Winterhawks. . . .

The Rockets also have lost F Liam Kindree, 19, for up to two months — i.e., the remainder of the regular season — with a broken collarbone. He had surgery on Thursday. . . . As well, Kelowna F Nolan Foote showed up on the weekly roster report as being out week-to-week with an undisclosed lower-body injury. . . . Foote was injured in a 4-1 loss in Kamloops on Friday. . . . Kindree went down in a 7-2 loss to the visiting Blazers on Saturday. The Rockets were adamant that it was a second-period hit on Kindree by Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt that resulted in some late-game fisticuffs. Kindree was given a boarding minor on the play.


Here is Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice on the spate of NHL firings:

“It’s a very painful experience. It’s a very personal, yet very public, experience.

“I think this is the best analogy: You’re in a marriage, you love the woman but it’s getting a little bit rocky. Then you come home one day and she says ‘Paul, we’re going in a different direction and there’s gonna be a press conference in three hours and we’re gonna talk about how great the new husband’s gonna be.’

“So, it’s tough. You put your heart and soul into it and then you’re out.”


JUST NOTES: The Minnesota Twins signed 3B Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal said to be worth US$92 million. Donaldson turned 34 on Dec. 8. Hey, gang, it’s only money. . . . Of course, with Donaldson at the hot corner, the Twins now will move Miguel Sanó, who will be 27 in May, to first base. . . . Donaldson hit 37 dingers with the Atlanta Braves last season; Sano hit 34 in only 380 ABs with the Twins. . . . If you’re like me, you’re wondering: How much of Subway does Martha Stewart own? . . . Do the people who had a problem with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow smoking a victory cigar also have issues when championship teams celebrate by pouring beer and champagne all over the place? . . . A final thought on MLB’s latest cheating scandal: Is this a case of a business that has turned a blind-eye — wink! wink!! — to different kinds of cheating over more than 100 years finally having the chickens come home to roost? . . . The first pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 12.

Scattershooting on a Friday evening while wondering if it’s Christmas shopping season yet . . .

Scattershooting

“As the discussion about the cult of shinny rages on, I find it most disturbing that some opinionists are just now discovering that hockey is not for everyone.” . . . That is how Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade, began a blog posting the other day. . . . If you have been following hockey’s latest mess, and if you haven’t yet had your fill, you should give this a read. It’s good stuff — it’s nail-meet-hammer kind of stuff, and it’s right here.


IKEA


ICYMI, the Swift Current Broncos fired Jamie LeBlanc, their trainer and equipment manager, on Monday “following revelations of a recent pattern of demeaning and derogatory comments, threatening behaviour and unprofessional conduct that is inconsistent with the values of the organization and the Western Hockey League.” . . . LeBlanc, whose nickname is Butter, was in his 10th season as the Broncos’ head trainer. In November 2017, the portion of a street leading to the Innovation Credit Union iPlex’s bus door was named Butter Way. . . . On Wednesday, the Broncos hired Andrew Kutnikoff as their athletic therapist/equipment manager. A native of Prince Albert, he had been in his second season with the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars. . . . The North Stars now are in the hunt for an athletic therapist/equipment manager.



There was an interesting goaltending matchup in the OHL on Monday night, one that featured two former WHLers. . . . The visiting London Knights had Dylan Myskiw, 20, in goal, going against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and Bailey Brkin, 19. . . . London won, 6-5 in OT. Myskiw, who is from Winnipeg, stopped 17 of 22 shots, but was replaced at 4:30 of the third period with his side down, 5-4. Brkin, from Sherwood Park, Alta., went the distance, stopping 33 shots. . . . They last had gone head-to-head on Oct. 6, 2018, when Brkin’s 28 saves helped the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oil Kings, who got 29 saves from Myskiw.



I paid $1.15.9 a litre when I filled up on Nov. 25. By the next day, it was $1.31.9, and it has stayed there. You can bet that Kamloops drivers are hoping for a better Christmas present than that from big oil.


English


Hey, there’s hockey in Cranbrook, only it’s not of the WHL or BCHL variety. The junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League are playing a handful of games in Cranbrook after an ammonia chiller failure shut down the Golden and District Centennial Arena. . . . The Rockets will play at least six December home games in either Memorial Arena or Western Financial Place in Cranbrook. . . . Their home arena, affectionately known as the Plywood Palace, will be closed at least until the new year.



I’m wondering how much your father paid you when/if you scored a goal during your hockey career? Connor Zary of the Kamloops Blazers scored the Teddy Bear goal in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. “I told my Dad before the game, ‘I think I’m going to get it this year,’ and he kind of put a little wager on it,” Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week quoted Zary as saying. “He said he’d give me 100 bucks if I scored it. When I came off the ice, the first time I looked at my phone, I had a little e-transfer from him.” . . . Maybe I didn’t get that kind of dough because my father’s etransfer app didn’t work on his phone in 1968.


F Matt Savoie was selected by the Winnipeg Ice with the first pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. He is to turn 16 on Jan. 1. . . . It has long been said and written that 15-year-old players are limited to five WHL games while their club team still is playing. However, as Paul Friesen of Postmedia referred to the rule in September, it is a “hard and not-so-fast rule.” . . . For example, F Kirby Dach played 19 regular-season games with the Saskatoon Blades in 2016-17, putting up six goals and four assists. . . . In that same September piece, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Friesen about Savoie: “We’re going to be probably at least in the 30 to 35 range. That would be a high-water mark. We’re still working through what that schedule looks like. We’re going to try and maximize his games through the course of the season.” . . . That being the case, it is time for the WHL to drop the pretense and throw open its doors to all 15-year-old players. . . . Savoie, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., has two assists in his first seven games.


If you are a subscriber to The Athletic, you don’t want to miss the story about former NHLer Gene Carr, who played with the Flin Flon Bombers back in the day, that was written by Lisa Dillman and Eric Duhatschek. The story is headlined ‘New kid in town’ — How a former King met the daughter he didn’t know existed.


Doctor


There are times when junior hockey’s coaching merry-go-round seems to spin at an incredible rate. . . . See if you can follow this. . . . In May, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders signed Geoff Grimwood as general manager and head coach. You may recall that he spent some time with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors last season and has since filed a lawsuit against then-owner Kim Dobranski after being hired, fired, rehired and later fired again. . . . Anyway, Grimwood resigned from the Stampeders on Friday, saying that he needs to “take some time away from the game.” . . . Meanwhile, Barry Wolff spent last season as the GM and head coach of those same Stampeders, who reached the MJHL’s championship final. But he left to sign on as GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. They fired him nine games into his stint there. Of late, he has been helping out with the junior B 100 Mile House Wranglers of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. On Friday, the Stampeders, who are 17-10-2, named him GM and coach, replacing Grimwood. . . . Got all that?


The WHL has to be a little nervous when it looks at the standings these days because, as Larry Fisher noted in the above tweet on Wednesday, the race(s) for playoff spots are pretty much non-existent. . . . Two of 10 teams in the Western Conference won’t make the playoffs, and those will be the Seattle Thunderbirds and Prince George Cougars. . . . The Eastern Conference drops four of its 12 teams, with the Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos already out of the picture, as they continue to pay for having gone all-in for playoff runs in recent seasons. Going into Friday games, the Moose Jaw Warriors were eight points out with five games in hand, but appear to be in seller’s mode having moved F Jadon Joseph, 20, to the Kelowna Rockets recently. The Red Deer Rebels, another team in a rebuilding stage, are six points out but the odds appear to be long. . . . It has to be a tough way to sell tickets when the fans know their favourite team is out of the playoffs in the first week of December.



JUST NOTES: Is Dak Prescott the NFL’s most over-rated quarterback? After Dallas owner Jerry Jones fires head coach Jason Garrett, should he also fire the general manager? Oh wait, Jones is the GM. . . . The Portland Winterhawks took two games from the Cougars in Prince George this week, winning 3-0 on Tuesday and 5-4 in OT on Wednesday. The same two teams are playing in Portland this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. That’s right. They are playing their entire season series in a span of six nights. . . . In case you haven’t noticed, the Carolina Hurricanes have become the NHL’s fun bunch. . . . Baseball’s winter meetings get started on Sunday through Thursday in San Diego. Are you ready for some wheeling and dealing?

Lowry next GM for Wheat Kings? . . . Pats, Thunderbirds sign prospects. . . . Remembering the NHL’s Saskatoon Blues


MacBeth

F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 53 games.


ThisThat

There has been speculation involving Dave Lowry and the Brandon Wheat Kings for a couple of weeks now.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7 that Grant Armstrong’s contract wouldn’t be BrandonWKregularrenewed after he had spent three seasons there. Armstrong had been the assistant GM with the Victoria Royals before signing with Brandon. Prior to joining the Royals, he had been the Portland Winterhawks’ director of scouting.

A source has told Taking Note that Armstrong was in Penticton on Tuesday. It could be that he is a candidate for an opening with the Okanagan Hockey Group, which is looking for a general manager for its academy in Penticton.

Lowry, 54, has ample WHL coaching experience. He has been on staff with the Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Flames, Victoria Royals and Los Angeles Kings.

He was the Royals’ head coach for five seasons (2012-17) before leaving to join Los Angeles as an assistant coach. He spent two seasons with the Kings before being dismissed on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

David Anning has been the Wheat Kings’ head coach for three seasons, after spending four seasons as an assistant coach. McGillivray has been on staff as an assistant coach through three seasons.

Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, has yet to announce whether the contracts of Anning and McGillivray will be extended.


The CHL import draft is scheduled for June 27 with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos holding the first selection. . . . The complete order of selection for the two-round draft is right here.


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Spencer Penner to a WHL contract. Penner, from Blumenort, Man., was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, Pennder had 14 goals and 26 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects. . . . The Thunderbirds now have signed each of their first three selections from the 2019 bantam draft. D Kevin Korchinski and F Jordan Gustafson, both first-round picks, signed WHL contracts earlier this month.

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The Regina Pats have signed F Zane Rowan to a WHL contract. The Pats held three third-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, and used the first one to take Rowan, who is from Torrance, Calif. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 18 assists in 53 games with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.



Tyson Ramsey is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Ramsey, 42, spent seven seasons on the coaching staff of the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, the last four as head coach. He joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to this season. . . . Ramsey, who is from Brandon, also has been scouting for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Ramsey replaces Troy Leslie, whose contract wasn’t renewed following the end of this season.


The Lacombe Generals, winners of the 2019 Allan Cup as Canada’s senior AAA champions, have folded. The decision, combined with a similar one by the Rosetown Red Wings, has left Allan Cup Hockey West with two remaining teams — the Innisfail Eagles and Stoney Plain Eagles. . . . Ashli Barrett of the Lacombe Globe has more right here.


It was in 1983 when the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, then owned by Ralston Purina, were sold to a Saskatoon group headed up by Bill Hunter, one of the WHL’s founding fathers. Of course, the whole thing fell apart when the NHL board of governors voted 15-3 against allowing the sale to go through. . . . But the tale of how Hunter worked to pull off the purchase is a great read, and it’s all right here from Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Enjoy!


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WJC in Everett/Seattle? Why not in 2025? . . . Paddock, Farkas put up clean sheets . . . Silvertips roll past Thunderbirds


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F Johannes Salmonsson (Spokane, 2005-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Timrå (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had five goals and seven assists in 52 games with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL).


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As was reported earlier in the week, Team USA will stop off in Everett and Kamloops before starting play in the 2019 World Junior Championship that opens in Vancouver and 2019wjcVictoria on Dec. 26.

Team USA will hold its selection camp at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett from Dec. 14-18, and then will go to Kamloops for its pre-tournament camp from Dec. 19-23.

While this is big news for Kamloops, it is huge news for the Pacific Northwest. In fact, I would suggest that the World Junior Championship will be held in Everett and Seattle in 2025, that is if everything goes according to plan and Seattle has an NHL franchise at the time.

Why 2025? Because that’s the next time the tournament is scheduled to be held in the U.S.

The Silvertips are owned by Consolidated Sports Holding (CSH).

“That’s the whole underlying thing,” Zoran Rajcic, the COO of CSH, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, “to not only help them out in a close location to where they’re going to be for this year’s World Juniors, (but get) a chance for us to sit down with USA Hockey (to find out) if they’d consider us hosting a future World Juniors in Everettt.”

John Vanbiesbrouck, the former NHL goaltender who is in his first go-round as general manager of USA Hockey’s national junior team, told Horton:

“We’re still a ways out. But we’re also looking at the impact that Seattle is going to have on the NHL and, between Seattle and Everett, it’s certainly a possibility and something that we haven’t had on the West Coast for some time, if ever. It’s lining up to be a decent fit and hopefully we can take (a look) as it gets closer at it becoming a reality.”

Gord Miller of TSN tweeted on Feb. 12 that the IIHF has reportedly picked these host countries for the next 14 WJCs:

2019: Vancouver and Victoria.

2020: Czech Republic

2021: Canada

2022: Sweden

2023: Russia

2024: Canada

2025: U.S.

2026: Canada

2027: Finland

2028: Czech Republic

2029: Canada

2030: USA

2031: Russa

2032: Canada


There has been ample speculation that an arena will be built in Winnipeg and that it Kootenaynewwould eventually be home to the Kootenay Ice, a WHL team that presently plays in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Ice’s owners, Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, both were in Winnipeg when they purchased the franchise prior to the 2016-17 season. Cockell relocated to Cranbrook, with his family, as president and general manager. . . . The Winnipeg Free Press reported recently that the Ice would move to Winnipeg, likely in time for next season, and that the team would play out of an arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba until a 5,000-seat arena, built in conjunction to the Rink Hockey Academy, was ready for use. . . . Mike Sawatzky, who has been covering this story for the Free Press, reported Saturday:

“Reeve Brad Erb, who was recently re-elected, told the Free Press this week he has not been approached by representatives of the WHL’s Kootenay Ice for approval to build an arena adjacent to the Rink Hockey Academy (RHA) on the west end of South Landing and just off McGillivray Boulevard.

“A new facility for the RHA, which is currently under construction, lies within the municipality’s boundries.”

Erb told Sawatzky: “I’ve not officially had any introduction or conversation with anyone regarding a Western Hockey League team. I’m more curious than anything about some of the rumours that are out there and whether there’s any truth to them or not. That’s kinda where we stand.”

Sawatzky’s story is right here.


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SATURDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

F Reese Johnson’s shootout goal gave the visiting Red Deer Rebels a 4-3 victory over the Red DeerMoose Jaw Warriors. . . . Red Deer improved to 12-5-1, while Moose Jaw now is 7-5-4. . . . The Warriors erased a 3-1 deficit in the final 2:04 of the third period. . . . F Ryan Peckford (4) got Moose Jaw to within a goal at 17:56, with his second goal of the game, and F Daniil Stepanov (3) tied it at 18:26. . . . Johnson was the first shooter in the fourth round of the shootout. F Oleg Zaytsev had scored for Red Deer in the second round, with F Peckford quickly replying for the Warriors. . . . F Jeff de Wit scored his 12th goal for Red Deer as he ran his goal streak to six games. He has 12 goals in 18 games; he went into this season with 30 goals in 247 career regular-season games. Last season, de Wit finished with 11 goals in 43 games — one goal in seven games with the Regina Pats, two in 15 with the Kootenay Ice and eight in 21 with the Victoria Royals. He also had an assist last night, and now has 21 points, two shy of his career high, in 70 games, with Red Deer in 2015-16. . . . The Rebels were without D Jacob Herauf, who was injured during a 6-3 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday. . . . F Justin Almeida was among Moose Jaw’s scratches. He suffered an undisclosed injury while playing for Team WHL in the CIBC Canada Russia Series in Kamloops on Monday. . . . The Rebels will meet the Broncos in Swift Current this afternoon in what will be the third game in fewer than 48 hours for both teams.


G Max Paddock stopped 20 shots to record his first WHL shutout as the host Regina Pats Patsgot past the Swift Current Broncos, 2-0. . . . The Pats (7-12-0) have won three in a row and four of five. . . . The Broncos (3-16-0) had lost two in a row. They have been blanked three times this season. . . . These teams have met three times this season and the Pats have won all three. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn (13) gave Regina a 1-0 lead at 19:22 of the first period, and F Scott Mahovlich (3) got the insurance marker at 2:03 of the second. . . . Paddock’s first shutout came in his 54th regular-season appearance. This season, he is 5-10-0, 3.82, .883. . . . Among the Broncos scratches were F Owen Blocker and D Garrett Sambrook, with undisclosed injuries, and D Matthew Stanley, who is ill and missed a second straight game. . . . The Pats will play their next six games on the road; they next play at home on Dec. 1.


The Saskatoon Blades got 31 saves from G Nolan Maier as they beat the Kootenay Ice, 2-1, Saskatoonin Cranbrook, B.C. . . . The Blades (12-7-2) have won two in a row. . . . The Ice (6-11-3) has lost four straight. . . . F Gary Haden (6) opened the scoring, giving Saskatoon the lead at 8:41 of the first period. That was his fifth goal in eight games since being acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . The Ice tied it when F Cole Muir (4) scored at 18:59. . . . Saskatoon D Seth Bafaro (2) broke the tie at 4:29 of the second period. . . . Maier was named the game’s first star for the second night in a row. On Friday, he turned aside 35 shots in a 3-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. . . . This season, Maier is 10-5-1, 2.84, .910. . . . Kootenay D Jonathan Smart played in his 200th regular-season game. A 19-year-old from Kelowna, he also has played with the Rockets (68 games) and Regina Pats (64 games).


F Brett Kemp started the scoring and he ended it as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the host EdmontonOilKingsMedicine Hat Tigers, 4-3, in OT. . . . Edmonton (12-7-2) has points in eight straight (7-0-1). . . . Medicine Hat (9-8-3) has lost two in a row. . . . Kemp, who has 14 goals, gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 9:20 of the second period and he won it at 1:11 of extra time. . . . These teams went into the third period tied 1-1. . . . D Trevor Longo’s first WHL goal gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead at 5:50. . . . The Oil Kings went ahead 3-2 on PP goals from F Vince Loschiavo (9), at 8:21, and F Andrei Pavlenko (5), at 11:19. . . . Medicine Hat forced OT when F Hayden Ostir (7) scored, on a PP, at 13:50. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Oil Kings had two assists and moved into the lead in the WHL scoring race, He has 42 points, two more than F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders, who didn’t play last night. Fix-Wolansky has a WHL-high 30 assists.


G Shane Farkas blocked 26 shots in earning his first shutout of the season as the Portland PortlandWinterhawks beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 3-0. . . . Portland (11-6-1) has won four straight. . . . Kelowna (8-11-0) had won its previous four games. . . . This was the Rockets’ first loss under head coach Adam Foote, who had been 4-0-0 since replacing Jason Smith. . . . Farkas had three shutouts last season. . . . F Joachim Blickfeld (15), who was credited with 10 shots on goal, gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 3:20 of the first period. He also had two assists. . . . F Cody Glass (7) made it 2-0 at 6:43 of the second period, with F Reece Newkirk (11) putting it away at 11:04 of the third. . . . Portland finished with a 50-26 edge in shots. . . . Blichfeld has 38 points in 18 games. . . . Glass has 31 points in 15 games. . . . The same teams meet again today in Portland.


F Connor Dewar scored twice to lead the Everett Silvertips to a 5-1 victory over the EverettSeattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . . Everett (13-6-0) has won three straight and leads the U.S. Division. . . . The Silvertips, who now have won six straight on the road, have won both meetings with the Thunderbirds this season. . . . Seattle (7-8-2) has lost five in a row. . . . Everett took control of this game in the first period, when it outshot Seattle, 18-1, and emerged with a 3-0 lead. . . . Dewar, who has 14 goals, got it started at 2:57, with F Jalen Price (1) scoring at 7:44, and D Wyatte Wylie (3) making it 3-0 at 18:19. . . . Dewar made it 4-0 at 5:59 of the third period. . . .  Everett F Akash Bains was among the scratches. He scored twice in Kamloops on Friday night before leaving with an apparent knee injury. . . . The Silvertips, 6-1 victors over the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday night, are back in Kamloops today for a 5 p.m. start.


G Trent Miner turned aside 32 shots to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 2-1 victory over Vancouverthe Prince George Cougars in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (13-3-2) has won three in a row. . . . Prince George (7-8-3) had won its previous two games. . . . These teams will play again this afternoon in Langley. . . . Miner’s evening included 17 saves in the third period. . . . F Connor Bowie (1) have the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 6:10 of the first period. . . . The Giants won it with second-period goals from F Tyler Ho (1), at 11:44, and F Cyle McNabb (1), at 15:07.


D Filip Kral had a goal and two assists to help the Spokane Chiefs to a 7-2 victory over the SpokaneChiefsRoyals in Victoria. . . . The Chiefs (9-7-3) had lost three in a row. . . . The Royals (10-6-0) had beaten the visiting Chiefs, 7-5, on Friday night. . . . F Luke Toporowski (6) of the Chiefs broke a 1-1 tie on a PP, at 13:38 of the first period. . . . Kral got his first goal of the season at 18:53. . . . F Eli Zummack (7) made it 3-1 just nine seconds into the second period as the Chiefs took control. . . . Kral drew assists on the goals by Toporowski and Zummack. . . . The Chiefs finished with two empty-net goals. . . . F Jake McGrew, who played for the Chiefs on Friday, was scratched from this one. He’s got six goals and nine assists in 16 games.


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