Smoke too much for Lions . . . Twins hit seven homers and lose . . . KHL’s 2021-22 season has started

Having lived just east of Kamloops — in Campbell Creek — since the spring of 2000, we have lived through smoky skies in past years. But we haven’t lived through anything like we are seeing these days, and there isn’t an end in sight.

How bad is it?

Where we live, visibility has been down to about one km for two or three days now. We have air-conditioning, thankfully, but it brings some smoke into the house, and our air-purifier has been working overtime. It signals air quality with a light that is blue (for clean), purple or red. We are seeing red rather frequently these days.

One map I saw on Tuesday showed eight fires burning within 20 or 30 km of Kamloops. The one that is sending so much of this smoke in the direction of Campbell Creek is the White Rock Lake fire, which is burning to the south of here. As of Wednesday evening, it was believed to be somewhere around 20,000 hectares in size (that’s 49,422 acres). It has shown extreme behaviour, preventing firefighters from really getting at it, and heavy smoke has prevented accurate mapping and a sustained air attack. As well, the plus-30 C temperatures and winds aren’t helping.

Meanwhile, the CFL’s B.C. Lions have been training in Kamloops, but they cut their stay short and headed for Surrey on Wednesday.

Here’s J.J. Adams in the Vancouver Province:

“The CFL team has cut short its training camp in Kamloops after cancelling practice for the second straight day because of air quality concerns. There are four separate large fires burning near the Interior city, blanketing the area with a layer of smoke that’s made it impossible to practise.”

The Lions open the season against the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Aug. 6. The Roughriders are welcoming all fans, including the unvaccinated, to that game.


A couple of headlines, both from Wednesday:

CBC News — COVID-19 spreading faster in Alberta than during peak of 3rd wave.

CBC News — Alberta to remove most COVID-19 isolation, testing requirements by mid-August.



QB Lamar Jackson of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens tested positive for COVID-19 on Wednesday before the team’s first practice session of training camp. . . . From Jason La Confora of CBS Sports: “Jackson . . . has declined to offer his vaccination status in the past, but (head coach John) Harbaugh indicated he has taken multiple tests in the past week — many of them negative — which, given the NFL’s testing protocols, is indicative of a player who has not been vaccinated. Those players, when testing positive, are precluded from practicing for 10 days, which takes Baltimore up to the week of its first preseason game, Aug. 14 against New Orleans.” . . . Jackson also missed time last season after a positive test. At that time, he struggled with some of the symptoms.


Taco


ICYMI, Geoff Molson, the Montreal Canadiens’ owner, president and CEO, threw some gasoline on the blaze that was started when his team made F Logan Mailloux its first-round selection in the NHL draft on Friday.

Molson released an open letter that was posted on the team’s website, then held Canadiensa Zoom call for invited media members. Interestingly, the English-speaking Montreal Gazette was among those outlets not invited to participate.

“I understand that you expect more from us and we let you down,” Molson wrote. “The Montreal Canadiens are more than a hockey team. Logan’s actions do not reflect the values of our organization and I apologize for the pain this selection has caused.”

Except that the Canadiens made this kid their first-round selection after he tried to withdraw his name from the draft after being charged with invasion of privacy and defamation in a sex-related case in Sweden and paying a fine of about $1,700.

Molson chose to make his statement and hold the Zoom call as NHL teams were handing out bushels of cash to free-agent players. You don’t suppose that the Canadiens picked Wednesday afternoon knowing (hoping?) that their effort would got lost in all the transactions, do you? You know, like governments so often dump the bad news on us late on Friday afternoons?

Anyway . . . Molson needs to realize that despite what he says publicly this is what the Canadiens now stand for, and this does reflect the values of his organization.

Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered says that it’s time for the Canadiens to stop with the lip service and for them to renounce the pick. That piece is right here.


Fishing


The Minnesota Twins are having an abysmal season. How abysmal, you ask? . . . On Wednesday, the Twins entertained the Detroit Tigers. The Twins hit seven home runs; the Tigers didn’t hit any. . . . The Twins lost, 17-14. . . . That is the first time in MLB history that one team has outhomered the other team by seven and lost. . . . LHP J.A. Happ started for the Twins. He didn’t give up any homers — he has allowed 21 in 98 innings — but was touched for nine earned runs on 10 hits and four walks in three innings. The Twins are paying him $8 million on a one-year contract. . . . Each of the Detroit players who went to the plate in Wednesday’s game had at least one hit, one run and one RBI. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that’s the first time that has happened since the then-California Angels did it on Sept. 14, 1978.


No one brightened up a scouts/media room at a WHL game more than Charlie Hodge. . . . And, oh boy, did he love Nanaimo bars. . . . Oh, he also could tell a story or two. . . . Yes, we miss him.


You will recall that the Washington Senators pulled SS Trea Turner during the first inning of a Tuesday night game with the Phillies in Philadelphia because of a positive test. Well, Wednesday’s game didn’t even get to the first inning. It was postponed with the Nationals now having at least 12 positive tests, four of them players. . . . The majority reportedly were fully vaccinated, with a number of them having been given the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. . . . They will try to get in a doubleheader today (Thursday). Presumably, the Nationals will be bringing in a few players.


Don’t look now but the 2021-22 hockey season hit the ice on Wednesday; at KHLleast it did in the KHL where Admiral Vladivostok scored a 4-3 shootout victory over Dinamo Minsk in an exhibition game. . . . It was return to the KHL for the winners, who sat out last season after, as Andy Potts wrote at en.khl,ru, “local authorities diverted funds away from the sport to help fight the pandemic.” . . . D Sergei Sapego, who played two seasons in the WHL, made his debut with Dinamo Minsk. Sapego started his WHL stint with three games with the Tri-City Americans to start the 2017-18 season. He finished that season by playing 41 games with the Prince Albert Raiders, whom he helped to a WHL title in the spring of 2019.


The Guardian — ‘Disinfo kills’: protesters demand Facebook act to stop vaccine falsehoods.

The Washington Post — Analysis: People are more anti-vaccine if they get their covid news from Facebook than from Fox News, data shows.


The NCAA has granted eligibility to F Austen Swankler, who had 18 goals and 27 assists in 59 games with the OHL’s Erie Otters in 2019-20, and has committed to the Bowling Green U Falcons. With the OHL not playing in 2020-21 because of the pandemic, Swankler sat out. . . . Swankler, from North Huntington, Penn., will turn 20 on Aug. 21. . . . USCHO.com reported that “according to a CCHA news release, Swankler and his family applied directly to the NCAA for eligibility prior to expressing interest to the Falcons.”


Lawsuit


The Victoria Royals have signed Austria G Sebastian Wraneschitz to a WHL Royalscontract. The Royals selected his rights in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . Wraneschitz, 19, played for the Vienna Capitals in the ICE Hockey League in 2020-21. In the pro league, he was 5-7-0, 3.18, .886 in 12 games. He also played for Austria at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Edmonton, going 0-3-0, 7.45, .892 in three appearances. . . . The Royals had one import — Swiss F Keanu Derungs — on the roster that finished the 2021 development season. . . . They also have one goaltender who is eligible to return remaining on that roster — Connor Martin, who will turn 19 on Dec. 17.



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: Ashley Chase is the new director of operations and play-by-play voice of the NAHL’s St. Cloud Norsemen. From the team’s news release: “Chase becomes the first female team play-by-play broadcaster across junior hockey in the United States, including the North American Hockey League (NAHL).”


Call

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

CHL takes its show to TSN . . . Cameron steps in with Canada’s juniors . . . Blades get their man

On Feb. 18, 2014, Sportsnet “announced it has reached a 12-year partnership extension with the Canadian Hockey League through the 2025-26 season, continuing its tradition as the exclusive broadcaster of the CHL and Memorial Cup in Canada.

“The new agreement, which begins with the 2014-15 season, features a comprehensive suite of multimedia rights including television, online and mobile, delivering more than 50 CHL games each year, including CHL playoff games and the Memorial Cup.”

Somewhere along the line things went sour and it would seem that the CHL and Sportsnet went through a divorce at some point this summer.

On Wednesday, the CHL and TSN announced a “new multi-platform, multi-year broadcast rights partnerships that will make TSN, RDS, and CBC the home of the CHL.

“Beginning with the 2021-22 season, the new partnerships include approximately 30 regular-season games each year delivered by TSN, in addition to select playoff coverage and the comprehensive suite of CHL national events.”

It only makes sense that TSN be the CHL broadcaster, if only because TSN is the carrier for so much Hockey Canada content, including the IIHF World Junior Championship.

There is more from TSN on the deal right here. Sportsnet didn’t post a story about the move on its website.


Biker


Dave Cameron, who has returned to the OHL as the head coach of the Ottawa Canada67’s, has been named the head coach of Canada’s national junior men’s team. Cameron, 62, replaces Andre Tourigny in both positions. Tourigny now is the head coach of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. . . . Cameron also was the Canadian team’s head coach in 2011 when it finished second at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Buffalo. . . . Cameron has OHL head-coaching experience with the Son Greyhounds (1997-99), Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (2000-04) and Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors (2007-11). He has been coaching in Europe with the Vienna Capitals for the past three seasons. . . .

Cameron’s assistant coaches, barring any future moves to the pro ranks, are Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants; Dennis Williams, the general manager/head coach of the Everett Silvertips; and Louis Robitaille, the GM/head coach of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. . . .

At the same time, Hockey Canada invited 51 players, 19 from the WHL, to its national junior team summer development camp that is to run from July 28 through Aug. 4 in the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex at Tsuut’ina Nation near Calgary. . . . F Jack Finley of the Spokane Chiefs was invited to the camp but he is rehabbing a shoulder injury so won’t be attending. The shoulder injury prevent him from playing in the 2021 development season. . . . F Ozzie Wiesblatt of the Prince Albert Raiders also was invited but won’t be attending, presumably because he is rehabbing some kind of injury. . . . There is more on the camp invites right here.



The Prince George Cougars have signed Swiss F Liekit Reichle to a WHL PGcontract. From Zurich, he was selected by the Cougars in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. Reichle, 18, had 20 goals and 55 assists in 43 games with the GCK Lions in Switzerland’s U-20 league. He led the league in assists and was third in the points race. . . . Reichle had one goal in five games for Switzerland at the 2021 IIHF U-18 World championship in Texas. . . . The Cougars didn’t have any imports on the roster that played in the 2021 developmental season.

——

The Tri-City Americans have signed G Tomas Suchanek and F Petr Moravec, Americanstwo CHL import draft selections, to WHL contracts. . . . Both players are 18 years of age and from Czech Republic. . . . NHL Central Scoutings ranks the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Suchanek, who was taken in the 2020 import draft, sixth among international goaltenders eligible for the 2021 draft that is scheduled for Friday and Saturday. He was 3.12, .908 with HC Frydek-Mistek of Czech2, the country’s No. 2 league, in 2020-21. . . . Moravec, 6-foot-0 and 180 pounds, was selected in the 2021 import draft. He had a goal and three assists in 10 games with HC Stadion Litomerice in Czech2. He also had a goal and three assists in four games with a junior team, HK Hradek Kralove. . . . Both players have represented their country in international competitions, including the U-17 World Hockey Challenge and IIHF U-18 World championship.



Moon


When you consider all the billions spent on facilities for the Tokyo Olympics, you might think that the IOC could have made sure that a decent diamond was constructed for the women’s softball competition. If you tuned in Tuesday night, as I did, to watch Canada and Mexico you can’t be faulted if you wondered if you were watching two local teams on a slo-pitch diamond or a school field. . . . They have tried to place a softball playing field on a full-sized baseball diamond. It’s ugly and the women deserve a whole lot better.

——

Taylor Crabb, a player with the U.S.’s men’s beach volleyball team has tested positive while in Tokyo so his Olympic Games are over before they started. . . . Pavel Sirucek, a Czech table tennis player, also has tested positive, as have Dutch skateboarder Candy Jacobs and an unnamed female taekwondo competitor from Chile. . . . There is more on positive tests right here. . . .

Meanwhile, as if Tokyo 2020 didn’t have enough on its plate, the show director for Friday’s Opening Ceremony has been fired. Liam Morgan of insidethegames.biz reports that Kentaro Kobayashi, a Japanese comedian, “has been sacked by organizers on the eve of the event following criticism of ‘anti-Semitic’ jokes he made in a stand-up comedy routine in 1998.

Morgan added: “Kobayashi’s sacking follows the resignation earlier this week of Keigo Oyamada, the composer of the music for the Opening Ceremony, after he admitted abusing and bullying disabled children during his school days.”


Lucy


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 Red Deer Rebels have hired former WHL G Ian Gordon as their director of goaltending/goalie coach. Gordon, 46, spent the past eight seasons as the Seattle Thunderbirds’ goaltending coach. For four of those seasons, Gordon worked with then-Seattle head coach Steve Konowalchuk, who is heading into his first season as Red Deer’s head coach. As a player, Gordon split three seasons (1992-95) between the Swift Current Broncos and Saskatoon Blades. He won a WHL title with the Broncos in 1992-93. In Red Deer, he replaces Kraymer Barnstable, whose contract wasn’t renewed. . . . The Montreal Canadiens have added Trevor Letowski to their staff as an assistant coach. Letowski, 44, spent the previous five seasons with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, the past three as head coach. . . .

Travis Clayton has joined the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines as associate coach where he will work with GM/head coach Shawn Martin. Clayton, 45, had been with the Sherwood Park Kings Athletics Club since 2019, where he also was the head coach of the U-18 AAA team. . . . Geoff Grimwood is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The former coach, Steve Gainey, now is the Storm’s director of hockey operations. In recent seasons, Grimwood has been the GM/head coach with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons (2015-18), the GM/head coach with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors for part of 2018-19, the GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders for the start of 2019-20 and an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers for the last part of the season. He signed on with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals prior to the 2020-21 season, but resigned on Oct. 1 citing “ethical and philosophical differences with ownership.” Before joining Kindersley, he spent three seasons as an assistant coach under Dave Lowry with the WHL’s Victoria Royals.


JobInt

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about the (mis-)state of NHL officiating . . .

Scattershooting2


Had you suggested to me in January that I would have two shots of Pfizer in me by now, I would have told you that you were nuts. But that’s the case. I got Pfizer’d for a second time on Saturday, 10 days after Dorothy got her second dose. . . . We got all four of our shots at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops and, let me tell you, the operation there was running like a a well-oiled machine. On Saturday afternoon, I had a 2:15 appointment. I walked in the door at 2 o’clock. Got my shot at 2:06. Was on my way out the door at 2:21.

——

On the way home, I made one stop, ducking into a small grocery store to get some plastic utensils. You know . . . just in case.


Here are a few notes of interest from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, from a piece on the website on Tuesday: “In the 2016 season, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts in the majors. By 2018, strikeouts had narrowly overtaken hits. And if the 2021 numbers continue at the current rates, there will be about 5,200 more strikeouts than hits this season.” . . . Yes, MLB has a problem.


It was with some interest that I noticed Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, WHL2was given a three-year contract extension by the board of governors the other day, and that the pooh-bahs had voted unanimously in favour of it. He has been in his office for 21 years, which is as long as Ed Chynoweth ruled the league, albeit in two separate stints. Interestingly, I don’t ever recall Chynoweth having unanimous support when it came time for a new deal. . . . In fact, I can remember one time, in March of 1976, when Chynoweth actually offered up his resignation. “It isn’t a play for money,” he said. “It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.” . . . No, his offer wasn’t accepted.


Time out. My ears are ringing. I just gotta answer this one. It might be an incoming call from Bill Gates. Be right back . . . Ahh, it was only another coal train — or maybe it was an oil train — on the CP mainline across the river.


Wed


First it was Dominique Ducharme, the Montreal Canadiens’ interim head coach, nhl2testing positive for COVID-19, while every other team member has come up negative. . . . And then word came on Sunday that Kelly McCrimmon, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, also has tested positive and is in self-isolation in Montreal. Apparently, no other team member has tested positive. . . . How does it happen that only one person in a team situation like this tests positive? Or is this all of this just an example of COVID-19’s quirky sense of humour? . . . BTW, that fourth Wheat Kings goaltender in the tweet at the top of this post is actually D Ryan Pulock, now of the New York Islanders. He made a game-saving stop on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . When McCrimmon was running the Wheat Kings, he drafted Pulock and helped turn him into the player he is today. McCrimmon, of course, also has had a thing or two to do with putting together the Golden Knights. What this means is that McCrimmon could end up having something to do with two teams reaching the NHL final.


A lot will be said and written about Kevin Durant’s airball at the conclusion of Saturday night’s Milwaukee Bucks’ OT victory over the New Jersey Nets. But not enough will be said and written about the defence provided by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday on the play. He was on Durant like you’re supposed to be and he did it within the rules. . . . BTW, Durant played all 53 minutes. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the OT period. Might his legs have left him?

——

It was Herb Brooks who told his 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that “the legs feed the wolf.” That might well have been proven on Saturday night when the Nets didn’t eat.


In mentioning here last week that the WHL’s board of governors had scrubbed Vancouverinter-conference play at least for 2021-22, I suggested that it likely was done in an effort to cut costs because teams haven’t had any revenue coming since mid-March of 2019. . . . Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, doesn’t see it that way. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Toigo balked at the idea that cost-cutting was the main factor in the league’s decision to do away with these road trips for a season. He says that it’s more about extended travel coming out of these COVID-19 times.” . . . Ewen then quoted Toigo as saying: “I think you want to do what you know you can count on being able to do. I think it’s logistical more than anything. We’re going to do more games with the U.S. teams. There’s good teams in the U.S. The more you see them, the more intense the games get, and the better the rivalries get.”


A NBA-related note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “A Twitter pal said ‘John Stockton’s stupidity has jinxed the Jazz.’ Hey, as good an explanation as any how a No. 1 seed with a 22-point lead against the Kawhi-less Clippers could not only blow a lead but lose by 12.” . . . She added: “For those who missed it, Stockton appeared in an anti-vaccine video.”


Sharks


Things I wonder about at 3 in the morning . . . How is the WHL going to deal with league and team officials, on-ice officials and players in regards to vaccinations in the lead-up to and during the 2021-22 season? . . . What if the Toronto Blue Jays had a bullpen? . . . How is construction on that new arena that is to house the Winnipeg Ice coming along? Will it be done in time for the 2021-22 season? . . . What’s happening with the lease-related lawsuit the City of Cranbrook filed against the WHL and the Ice’s owners in January? . . . Is it time for the NHL to go back to having one referee on the ice? Or maybe games  should play without any as they seemed to be doing for much of Sunday’s game between Vegas and host Montreal. Either way, the two-man system just doesn’t seem to be doing the job, does it? . . . More than two months have passed us by since the BCHL confirmed that it was leaving the umbrella of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. When will it let the world in on its plans for the immediate future?


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Man gets away with murder after eyewitness turns out to be NHL referee.


On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry said there had been 66 positive tests among people involved with the Copa America soccer tournament. By Friday, that number had grown to 82. . . . Gee, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move the tournament into one of the world’s hotspots? . . . Don’t forget that tournament organizers had said that it would be “the safest sporting event in the world.”

——

Soccer’s World Cup is to be decided in Qatar in 2022 and the country’s government has announced that spectators will have to have been vaccinated in order to be admitted to venues. . . . To date, Qatar has experienced 220,800 positive tests and 585 deaths. . . . The World Cup is scheduled to open on Nov. 21, 2022.


Look, everyone knows that baseball is full of enough numbers to choke a calculator. But this from Dan Shulman, the sometimes voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, about blew me away: “On the heels of (Saturday’s) nine-pitch AB, how about this — Bo Bichette has fouled off 278 pitches this season, more than anyone in baseball . . .” So that got me to wondering if there’s a post-season award for that?


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.


Confucius

Get your Last Man Back gear right here . . . Bedard continues red-hot start for Pats . . . Selkirk College drops hockey


We are nearing the third anniversary of the bus crash that involved the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. It occurred on April 6, 2018. Morgan Gobeil, who wore No. Humboldt24, was injured in the crash and spent almost a year in hospital. Morgan was, in fact, the last person from the crash to be released from hospital; he was the Last Man Back.

His brother, Ryan, was in the hospital with his brother one day when he found himself entranced by the heart monitor. So Ryan had Morgan’s heartbeat off the monitor tattooed onto one arm.

“I was watching the screen for, I don’t know how long it was,” Ryan told Global News. “I thought to myself, I never want this moment to end for me.

“I have this on me and it is something that I can see all the time. Whether we’re in the waiting room or going to catch some sleep, or eating or whatever. We can always see it. It’s always there.”

Ryan also has taken to marketing Last Man Back clothing, with all proceeds going to STARS air ambulance, the service that responded to the bus crash. The Last Man Back logo also incorporates No. 24.

If you’re interested, there’s more info in the tweet below . . .


Former WHL G James Priestner and his brother, Jared, are part of a Vancouver-based rock band — Rare Americans — these days. And they have had to ask for help from police after a thief or thieves stole some instruments and unreleased music . . . . CTV Vancouver reported: “The items were taken on Wednesday night, while James and his girlfriend were asleep in their home in Gastown. But it wasn’t until Friday, when the band got together in James’ basement studio, that they noticed several things were missing.” . . . The complete story is right here.



I don’t watch a lot of NCAA basketball, but I do see some of it during March Madness. One thing that crossed my mind while watching this weekend was that the men’s coaches sure seem to spend a lot of time whining about or at the officials. I kind of shrugged it off, until Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, posted this as part of a brief Monday comment on the Florida State-Michigan game: “I also liked the fact that both coaches avoid histrionics on every possession and they also accept some of the calls that go against their team without making it seem as if they are suffering more than Job.” . . . Glad to know it wasn’t just me.



G Nolan Maier stopped 24 shots on Monday night, helping the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . This was the 11th shutout of this WHL season, but the first in the Regina hub. . . . Maier has eight career shutouts, all of them with the Blades, who are off to a franchise-best 8-0-1 start. He is one shutout shy of the franchise record held by Andrey Makarov. . . . This season, Maier is 6-0-0, 2.00, .913. . . . The victory was the 85th of Maier’s career, tying him with Tim Cheveldae for the franchise’s regular-season record. . . . Saskatoon got two goals and an assist from F Colton Dach (6). . . . The Raiders slid to 3-4-2. . . . The Blades were 2-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Raiders lost F Logan Linklater to a butt-ending major and game misconduct for a play involving Colton Dach at 3:20 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon F Chase Wouters got the ol’ heave-ho for cross-checking for a hit on Raiders F Ozzy Wiesblatt at 11:50 of the third. . . . The Raiders continue to play without D Kaiden Guhle and G Max Paddock, so again had only one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — dressed. . . .

F Connor Bedard, the only player in WHL history to have been granted exceptional status to play at 15 years of age, had a goal and three assists as the Regina Pats dumped the Swift Current Broncos, 9-4. . . . Because of the pandemic, Bedard is hardly the only 15-year-old in the WHL, but he is at the head of the class with seven goals and 10 assists in nine games. . . . The Pats (3-4-2) got two goals and an assist from F Zack Smith, three assists from F Carter Chorney, and two more goals from F Carson Denomie (9). . . . D Mathew Ward had a goal, his first, and an assist for the Broncos (2-7-1). The 14th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft has a goal and 12 assists in his first 10 games. . . . F Owen Williams of the Broncos scored once in his 200th regular-season WHL game. . . .

F Connor Bowie scored three times to spark the Prince George Cougars to a 5-3 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals in Kelowna. . . . This one was the Royals’ home-opener. . . . Bowie, who will turn 20 on April 10, went into this one with 17 goals in 137 regular-season games with the Cougars (1-1-0). That included three in 64 games as a freshman in 2018-19. . . . F Riley Heidt, the second overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his first goal in his second game. . . . Prince George F Ethan Browne (2) snapped a 3-3 tie at 6:55 of the second period and Bowie added insurance at 19:19. . . . The Royals (0-2-0) and Spokane Chiefs (0-4-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one victory.


Elliotte Friedman posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Monday, and the top of it is terrific. He wrote about Ryan Fanti and his parents. Who? Fanti is a goaltender with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. He spent six periods on the bench Saturday night watching his guys play the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in a regional final game in Fargo, N.D. But when starter Zach Stejskal started cramping up early in the fourth OT, Fanti got the call. He finished with six saves and the Bulldogs won, 3-2. But it’s what happened right after the goal was scored that made an impression with Friedman and anyone else who saw it on TV. Fanti took time away from celebrating to console UND G Adam Scheel. . . . Friedman’s piece is right here.



The Montreal Canadiens were back on the practice ice on Monday, the first time they had skated since being shut down on March 22 because of COVID-19 protocol. F Jesperi Kotkaniemi has been removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Joel Armia and newly acquired F Eric Staal remain. . . . General manager Marc Bergevin has said that one player had tested positive for a variant. That player wasn’t Armia or Kotkaniemi, but several players were identified as close contacts of the player so things were shut down. . . . The Canadiens, who haven’t played since March 20, are scheduled to return to game action tonight (Tuesday) against the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


Volcano


Selkirk College, which has is main campus in Castlegar, B.C., has dropped its men’s hockey program “due to budgetary constraints.” The Saints had been members of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League since 2006. The Saints won four consecutive BCIHL championships (2013-16). . . . Selkirk College’s departure leaves the BCIHL with four teams — Simon Fraser U, Trinity Western U, the U of Victoria and Vancouver Island U. However, Trinity Western was to join Canada West for the 2020-21 season that ended up being scrubbed because of the pandemic. Presumably Trinity Western will make the move whenever the next season gets started.


The Vancouver Canadians announced Monday that they will at least open the 2021 baseball season by playing out of Hillsboro, Ore. They usually play out of Nat Bailey Stadium in Vancouver, but that isn’t possible these days with the U.S.-Canada border closed to non-essential travel. The Canadians will share Ron Tonkin Field with the Hillsboro Hops. . . . Both the Canadians and Hops play in the High-A West; the Canadians are affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays, the Hops with the Arizona Diamondbacks.


——

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.


Mitts

Thunderbirds drop two after racist incident . . . COVID-19 takes chunks out of Fighting Irish, two baseball leagues, NHL


Earlier this week, Geoff Baker, a reporter with the Seattle Times, was writing about Brendan Lee, a forward with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips who was born Everettin Seattle and is of Chinese heritage.

Baker wrote about how Lee was “jolted” by last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, something that brought stories of anti-Asian harassment to the forefront.

Baker wrote: “Lee said neither he nor his immediate family have felt targeted, though he’s aware of fears within the broader Asian community. He hopes there’s some role he can play, through hockey, in projecting a positive image of Asian Americans — within that diverse community and beyond.”

Lee told Baker: “It’s horrible what happened. And with the platform I have, I think I can be an influencer. Maybe have somebody look up to me that’s a kid, who can see an American Asian playing hockey — and that it’s a kid from Seattle.”

Let’s move ahead to Thursday now, when Baker was writing this:

“Two teenage forwards with the Seattle Thunderbirds major junior hockey Seattleteam have been released for the remainder of the season for a racial-taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and had a banana waved in front of him.

“The players, age 17 and 18, had been suspended the Thunderbirds’ first two Western Hockey League games last weekend after team officials investigated a complaint of racial harassment against a 17-year-old teammate.

“On Thursday the team informed the suspended players they were no longer on the team and would be flown back home to Canada shortly, and removed their names from the roster.”

Baker reported that the Thunderbirds have said neither player will be back next season, although the team will maintain their rights and could trade them.

“Both are awaiting further instructions on when they can return to Canada due to tightened border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote. “The 17-year-old is from Alberta, the 18-year-old from British Columbia.”

The victim texted Baker: “I am very disappointed with what happened, but I appreciate and respect the way my organization has handled this situation. That’s all I am going to say, and now I just want to focus on our season at hand.”

Baker’s wonderful story on Lee is right here.

Baker’s story involving the Thunderbirds is right here.


Oh boy, is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators going to be sorry about losing his cool in this age of social media, or what? This was Pierre Dorion after his club lost in OT to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night . . .


The Regina Pats broke a 1-1 tie with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub on Thursday. . . . F Carson WHL2Denomie, who went into this developmental season with 35 goals in 198 regular-season games, scored his seventh goal in as many games for the Pats (2-3-2). He also had an assist. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists, giving the 15-year-old 12 points as he has started his WHL career on a seven-game point streak. . . . F Cole Carrier also had a goal and an assist for Regina, with D Ryker Evans adding two assists. . . . The Raiders (2-3-2) are winless in four games (0-3-1) after opening this developmental season by earning five points in their first three games. . . . Regina lost its captain, F Logan Nijhoff, to a kneeing major at 5:24 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert was without its captain, D Kaiden Guhle, for a fifth straight game due to a hand injury. . . . The Raiders dressed only one goaltender, Carter Serhyenko, because Cam Paddock is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW that “we had a goalie from another team (WInnipeg Ice) in the stands, so if something (had) happened to Carter, he would have dressed. It’s part of the bubble. It’s the way it is.” . . .

In the night’s other game, F Ridly Greig’s first goal of the season, shorthanded at 4:11 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . F Connor Geekie gave the Ice a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Brandon scored three times — F Nate Danielson, F Rylen Roersma and F Jake Chiasson — in a span of 2:17 before the period ended. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Owen Pederson pulled the Ice (5-2-0) even, the latter scoring on a PP at 2:09 of the third. . . . Winnipeg had won five straight since opening with a 3-2 loss to Brandon on March 13. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-2-1) were without D Braden Schneider for a second straight game. He is listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be an injury to his right knee.


Scarecrow


It was a big day for COVID-19 on the sporting front Thursday. First, it took the Notre Dame Fighting Irish right out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey title. And then it took big chunks out of two summer baseball leagues that used to feature lots of U.S. college players. Oh, and it got into the coach staff of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season . . .

——

The Fighting Irish were to have taken part in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey tournament in Albany, N.Y., this weekend. But they have had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . According to head coach Jeff Jackson, “With multiple positives and contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and others in the tournament we could not proceed.” . . . Notre Dame was to have played the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. That game has been declared no-contest and the Eagles moved directly into Sunday’s regional final against either St. Cloud State or Boston U. . . . Interestingly, Notre Dame was in the tournament as a late invitee after St. Lawrence U had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols. Notre Dame couldn’t be replaced because the NCAA had set a Monday night deadline for replacements to be made.

——

The pandemic has forced quite a shuffling of the deck with the Western Canadian Baseball League. . . . The Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Okotoks Dawgs (two teams) and Sylvan Lake Gulls have said that they will play the 2021 season using only Canadian players. . . . According to the league, the Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss their options. . . . At the same time, “due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes,” five other teams — the Brooks Bombers, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers — have decided to sit out the 2021 season. . . . At the same time, Taylor Shire of Global Regina tweeted that the “Yorkton Carinals and Melville Millionaires have left the WCBL and, according to WCBL president Kevin Kvame they both ceased operations.” . . .

From a news release issued by the Red Sox:

“Player and staff testing protocols will need to be in place at an estimated cost of $40,000 per team, as well as quarantine costs amounting to $2,000 per player. Interprovincial travel continues to be restricted, and the US/Canada border remains closed at this time. The WCBL is exploring options for an ‘All Canadian League’ in Alberta, which would also be subject to quarantine, testing, and border restrictions, presenting a challenge for the league. The Saskatchewan franchises have made the decision to defer the resumption of operations until 2022.”

——

Marker

——

The West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, has revised its 2021 schedule in order to remove international travel from its regular season, but it is leaving open the possibility of a playoff format involving teams from both Canada and the U.S. . . . The WCL, which features 15 teams, didn’t play in 2020. . . . In Canada, the Kelowna Falcons have opted out of the 2021 season, leaving the Victoria HarbourCats to play against three first-year teams — the Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls. . . . American teams in the league are the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee Apple Sox and Yakima Valley Pippins.

——

Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager, served as head coach on Thursday night as the team lost 4-0 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That’s nhl2because Don Granato, who was named interim head coach last week after Ralph Krueger was fired, and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were in self-isolation. . . . This is the second time this season that the Sabres’ coaching staff was impacted by the virus. Earlier, Krueger tested positive and missed some time. . . . The Sabres have six victories this season; they have been shut out seven times. . . .

Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had assistants Jacques Martin and Greg Brown back behind the bench for last night’s 8-3 victory over the host Philadelphia Flyers. But head coach David Quinn has yet to be cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol, so former WHL player/coach Kris Knoblauch continues to work as head coach. Under normal conditions, Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. . . . Knoblauch will stay with the Rangers at least through Saturday’s game in Philly. . . .

Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expects his club to return to the ice next week. He said Thursday that one player had tested positive — forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi — and that it was a variant. . . . So far, the Canadiens have had four games postponed — three against the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Ottawa Senators. . . . If all goes well, the Canadiens will return to practice on Monday and play in Ottawa on Tuesday. . . . The NHL now has postponed 41 games because of COVID-19.


And how are things going out west? Hey, thanks for asking . . .

Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 800 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the highest number since the very height of the second wave, as the province’s trendline is going up VERY sharply now. . . . Active cases jump by almost 300, now the highest since January 8. . . . Five new deaths and hospitalizations up.

Oh, hey, things are going great in Alberta, too . . .

CBC News — Alberta reports 764 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. The province confirms 191 variants of concern cases. 294 people are in hospital, 55 in ICU. . . . Variant cases now make up more than 20 per cent of the total.

Party on, Garth!


——

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 Spokane Chiefs have promoted Chris Baird to director of hockey operations. He had been assistant director of hockey operations since 2017. He first was hired by the Chiefs in 2006-07 as a part-time video co-ordinator. . . . The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have named Adam Manah as general manager — he will continue as head coach — and Jeff Woywitka as assistant GM. Manah has been with the Crusaders since 2015 when he was associate coach. He took over as assistant GM and head coach in 2016. Woywitka has been associate coach since 2016. The moves were necessitated by the firing of general manager Kyle Chase on March 19. Chase, who had been part of the organization since 2004, had been GM since 2016. Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News has more on Chase’s dismissal right here.


Anger

Are the messages mixed, or what? . . . SJHL cancels its season as BCHL unveils schedule . . . Canadiens on pause; Bruins hope to skate today

Yellow


If the past year has proven anything, it has been the inability of the politicians and health officials from the various provinces to work together. Forget about them being on the same page; they aren’t even reading from different chapters in the same book.

I would go so far as to say that this is one of the most disappointing things to come out of the pandemic.

Lockdown? Stop complaining. We have yet to see a complete lockdown, certainly not in western Canada. And it’s too late now because COVID-19 is so entrenched that a true lockdown isn’t going to keep it and its variants from multiplying. It’s just too bad that we couldn’t have been locked down months ago, just for six or eight weeks, because I really would like to know what normal would look like today had that happened.

But, of course, the embarrassingly selfish society that we have created and in which we now live couldn’t live with that kind of inconvenience for any length of time.

So we are where we are today, entirely dependent on vaccines, and we are going to need to get perhaps 70 per cent of the population inoculated before we are able to find out what the new normal will be.

In the meantime, consider the following and then try to figure out how the politicians and health officials are making their decisions . . .

Other than the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets and their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, there aren’t any hockey games being played in Manitoba. That has been the case since late October or early November.

The province’s two WHL teams — the Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice — are secluded in school dorms in Regina where they are playing in that league’s developmental season with five teams from Saskatchewan.

The 12-team MJHL cancelled the remainder of its season on Feb. 12, explaining that “in the end, our advocacy efforts were not enough for Public Health to allow for a return to on-ice team training activity, even in a non-contact, professionally managed, closed to public, distanced, 100 per cent masked and extremely protected environment.”

——

Cameron MacLean, CBC News — Manitoba won’t move down to orange-level COVID-19 pandemic restrictions after spending more than four months in the red zone, the province said on Tuesday. The decision to keep the province at the highest level of restrictions during the pandemic stemmed from feedback from Manitobans, concern over rising numbers of more transmissible coronavirus variants, and the need to maintain stability in the health-care system, the province said.

680 CJOB — Another Manitoban with COVID-19 has died and the province says an additional 98 people have been infected with the virus. The current five-day COVID-19 test positivity rate is 5.3 per cent provincially and 3.9 per cent in Winnipeg.

——

Next door in Saskatchewan, the 12-team SJHL announced Tuesday that its sjhlseason is over. In a news release, the league said: “A decision by Saskatchewan Government and Health has been made on the submissions that have been before them; unfortunately the SJHL will not be allowed to return to play.”

Taylor Shire of Global Regina reported that the SJHL proposed putting seven teams into a Weyburn hub, with the other five teams having decided to opt out of continuing the season.

The WHL has seven teams playing in a Regina hub, with players staying in dorms at the U of Regina and Luther College. According to Shire, the SJHL plan called for teams to stay in two Weyburn hotels, one of which would still have been open to the public. According to Shire, SJHL president Bill Chow told him that the league “had a process in place it felt would be able to overcome the public/hockey players interaction in the partial hotel but he said SK Gov/health authority were not ok with this and the submission was not approved.”

Shire also reported that the SJHL could have “altered the proposal and submitted it again . . . which would have taken two to three more weeks.”

Instead, the SJHL held a governors’ meeting on Monday night and decided to end the uncertainty.

The SJHL, which received $1 million from the Saskatchewan government in January, last played on Nov. 23.

With COVID-19 numbers in Regina seemingly out of control, the province has announced that effective immediately “travel is not recommended in or out of the Regina area unless absolutely necessary” and that effective Sunday “event venues such as conference facilities, museums, libraries, live theatre, cinemas, bowling or any non-essential indoor locations that had limits of 30 individuals are not permitted to operate.”

——

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 150 new COVID-19 cases, just below the province’s 7-day average of 158. However, the daily number has fluctuated dramatically during that time, from a low of 87 to a high of 205. . . . From CBC’s Adam Hunter: Due to increased COVID-19 transmission risk in Regina area all indoor gatherings must be household only effective immediately. As of Sunday, restaurants, bars must close to in-person dining. Non-essential indoor venues like movie houses, museums must close. . . . Restaurants to close Sunday, private gatherings banned under new Regina public health orders.

——

That brings us to Alberta, where the WHL’s five teams have been playing since Feb. 26, with the schedule now calling for six games involving four teams each weekend. One of the teams has a bye each weekend, while the other four play tripleheaders — one here, one there, one here — with no overnight trips.

The 15-team AJHL, which had two teams opt out, began play on March 12 with games on weekends. It postponed a March 20 game that was to have had the Okotoks Oilers meet the Bandits in Brooks “due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return-to-Play Plan.” The Bandits played the Canucks in Calgary the next night.

Who knows what happened with the Oilers or Bandits, and the AJHL has things locked down when it comes to anyone mentioning COVID-19. The last AJHL insider to discuss the subject with the media now is believed to be roommates with Alexei Navalny.

——

CBC News — Alberta reports 465 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. 197 new variants of concern cases recorded Tuesday, making it the highest daily variant case count to date. Variant cases now account for 18 per cent of all active cases in the province. . . . The province reported Tuesday that 290 people are being treated in hospital for COVID-19, 53 in intensive care beds. . . . The Alberta government will not move into the next phase of reopening, Step 3. Health Minister Tyler Shandro said on Monday that no restrictions will be eased at this time because hospitalizations are on the rise. . . . Hospitals in Alberta are preparing for a third wave of the pandemic, driven by more aggressive variants of the coronavirus. Doctor says teams are planning how to isolate those with variants.

——

In B.C., where COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, the five WHL teams are to start playing games in Kamloops and Kelowna on Friday. The Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals are set up in Kelowna, with the Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants holed up in Kamloops. The Blazers and Rockets are with billets; the other three teams are in hotels.

The WHL announced a positive test “within the Rockets team cohort” on March 18, but nary a word has been said since then, and Kelowna’s scheduled wasn’t impacted.

Meanwhile, as the SJHL was announcing that it was done until September, the bchlBCHL was revealing a 20-game schedule that will open on April 2 and conclude May 9. The Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is out due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, while the Langley Rivermen opted out of a return to play. That leaves 16 teams left, with each assigned to one of five pods— in Chilliwack, Coquitlam (games will be played in Burnaby), Penticton, Port Alberni and Vernon.

All three of B.C.’s junior B leagues had already announced they were done for this season.

——

CBC News — B.C. records 682 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 more death. There are 314 people in hospital with the disease — the highest total since Jan. 25 — including 83 in intensive care. . . . The latest numbers mean that the seven-day rolling average of new cases has hit 617, the highest since Dec. 20. . . . There are currently 5,409 active cases of coronavirus in the province, the highest total since Jan. 9. Public health is now monitoring 9,488 people across B.C. who are in self-isolation because of COVID-19 exposure.

Rod Mickleburgh, former Globe and Mail correspondent — BC reported more new COVID-19 cases Tuesday than the state of Washington (682 compared with 566) . . . that may be a first.

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And as of Monday evening there had been 22,735 deaths in Canada, including 19 on Tuesday. There have been 942,325 confirmed cases, with 3,607 of those reported on Tuesday. There have been 883,280 recoveries.



The virus found the NHL’s Canadian division this week, with the Montreal nhl2Canadiens having been shut down through Sunday. They put F Joel Armia and F Jesperi Kotkaniemi on the COVID-19 list and by Sunday will have had four games postponed. They were to have played Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers and Sunday at home against the Ottawa Senators. . . . These are the first postponements involving Canadian teams this season. . . . The Canadiens hope to return to practice on Monday. . . . The Oilers are scheduled to play the host Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. . . .

Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins, with five players on the protocol list, hope to skate today (Wednesday). The Bruins are scheduled to meet the visiting New York Islanders on Thursday, and there should be some fans in attendance for the first time since March 7, 2020. . . . Boston hasn’t played since beating the Sabres 4-1 in Buffalo on Thursday. Forwards Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, Sean Kuraly, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith went on the protocol list the next day. . . . The Bruins were to have played the Sabres again on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday.


The AHL’s Utica Comets were to have played at home against the Rochester Americans tonight (Wednesday). But the game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols, the fifth straight Utica game to meet that fate.



Vaccine


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Account

WHL’s off-ice season begins today . . . Bedard gets exceptional status . . . Cranbrook Bucks have their GM/coach

Turnsignals


The WHL will hold its inaugural two-round U.S. prospects draft today (Wednesday), along with its annual bantam draft lottery. . . . The lottery, which won’t be streamed live, is to be held at 11 a.m. (MT) and will originate from the WHL office in Calgary. The U.S. prospects draft will be held online, starting at 2 p.m. MT. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL announced that it has cancelled its annual awards show and changed the date of its bantam draft. . . . The awards show was to have been held in Red Deer on May 6. . . . The bantam draft that was scheduled for Red Deer on May 7 now will be held online on April 22. . . .



In loading up for a run at the 2020 Memorial Cup, no one went to the lengths as did the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Wildcats, under general manager Ritchie Thibeau, traded for three star players, giving up 13 draft picks and a prospect. Chicoutimi GM Yanick Jean bettered that by adding five players for 18 picks, seven of them first-rounders, and two players. . . . And, of course, there won’t be any playoffs in the QMJHL, nor will there be a Memorial Cup. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reviews the situation involving the two big buyers right here. . . .


Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that “the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25 per cent.” . . . The cuts will come into play on April 1. . . . Kaplan wrote, “According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.” . . . The NHL had 189 games remaining in its regular season when it halted play on March 12. . . .

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The owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers had told salaried employees that they would be hit with pay cuts of 20 per cent and would be moving to four-day work weeks. . . . However, on Tuesday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reversed course. . . . “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Josh Harris, HBSE president, said in a statement. “As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. . . . To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.” . . .

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Groupe CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens and the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has announced layoffs that will affect 60 per cent of the employees in the organization. The layoffs will begin on Monday. . . . From a report by The Canadian Press: “Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period. The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.” . . .



Janet Brown of Vancouver radio station CKNW tweeted Tuesday morning that “White Spot restaurants has laid off about 3,000 employees in last week . . . owner Ron Toigo says restaurant industry was already hurting . . . he uses the words ‘bleak and staggering’ describing impact of COVID-19.” . . . Toigo also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . .



Former Boston Bruins star Johnny Bucyk was to have had a hip replaced this week, but — guess what! — yes, the surgery was postponed. Dave Stubbs of nhl.com caught up with Bucyk, who is 84, and wrote this story right here. . . . You will enjoy this one. I guarantee it. . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” . . .


The headline on the IIHF website reads: Ireland Coaches Italy. . . . Seriously. . . . Greg Ireland has signed on as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . Ireland, 54, takes over from Clayton Beddoes, who resigned earlier this year. . . . Ireland has been the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL since January. . . . Prior to that, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Switzerland’s HC Lugano. . . .



BC Hockey announced Tuesday that F Connor Bedard has been granted exceptional status, so the 15-year-old will be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player granted such status for WHL play. . . . Bedard, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, had 84 points, including 43 goals, in 36 games for West Vancouver Academy’s midget prep team this season. . . . The WHL bantam draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, WHL teams were allowed to use a 15-year-old in only five games before his club team had its season end. However, the Winnipeg Ice got F Matthew Savoie into 22 games, turning that ‘rule’ into something of a fallacy. Savoie, who applied for exceptional status by Hockey Canada but didn’t get it, finished with seven points, all of them assists. . . .

Two other players — F Riley Heidt and F Brayden Yager — also applied for exceptional status in the hopes of playing in the WHL next season as 15-year-olds. They both are from Dundurn, Sask., and both played with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Heidt had 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games; Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. . . . There was no mention of either in the announcement involving Bedard. . . .

Bedard is the seventh player to have been granted exceptional status, after Sean Day, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright, all of whom played in the OHL, and Joe Veleno, who played in the QMJHL. . . .


Floss


Ryan Donald is the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who are scheduled to begin play in the BCHL in 2020-21. The Bucks have signed Donald to a four-year contract. . . . Donald, who is from Edmonton, has been an assistant coach at Yale U for five seasons. Earlier, he played at Yale for four seasons. . . . “Ryan is an incredible hire for our club,” Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen said in a news release, “and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”


Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. He signed a three-year contract. . . . Oulahen had been the interim head coach since Dec. 10, when he replaced Stan Butler. . . . A former captain of the Battalion when the franchise was based in Brampton, Oulahen spent two seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Flint Firebirds. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Battalion for five seasons. . . . Butler had been the Battalion’s head coach since 1998-99. . . .