Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

——

The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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.


Will OHL ban fighting and body-checking? . . . Some Toronto-area minor hockey groups shut down for season . . . Warriors reviewing the future of primary logo


Rick Westhead of TSN spoke with Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s sport minister, on Thursday. That conversation led to these tweets from Westhead . . .

1. The Ontario Hockey League may have to ban fighting and even body-checking ohlas a condition of resuming games, provincial sport minister Lisa MacLeod told me in an interview. (The OHL has said it hopes to open training camps in mid-Nov and begin its regular season Dec. 1.)

2. MacLeod: “The fact is that you can’t have physical contact right now. . . . We certainly will not be allowing people to be body-checking at the moment. We are trying to contain a healthcare crisis.”

3. MacLeod said the OHL has said that U.S.-based OHL teams will either relocate to Ontario for the season to avoid cross-border travel or they will remain in the U.S. and only play other American-based teams.

4. I asked whether spectators would be allowed at OHL games. MacLeod: “I don’t see that happening at the moment. . . . The last thing we want is to open and then have unintended consequences that put the safety and well-being of the athletes, spectators . . . and others at risk.”

5. MacLeod said the OHL & government are talking about a pandemic aid package but the OHL has not made a specific ask.

MacLeod also said the government still hasn’t heard a proposal from the OHL about how often the league would like to test players for Covid-19.


Batteries


TSN’s Rick Westhead also spoke with a couple of doctors, both of whom are wondering about the wisdom of playing hockey in these pandemic times.

After speaking with Dr. Andrew Morris, an infectious disease specialist, Westhead tweeted: “Dr. Andrew Morris (@ASPphysician) says it’s a bad idea to even contemplate major junior hockey right now. Ontario has an 85K test backlog. Some sick people, he says, aren’t being tested b/c they won’t line up for 5-6 hours.”

Dr. Morris told Westhead: “The numbers are going in the wrong direction fast.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Isaac Bogoch (@BogochIsaac), an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, told Westhead that he spoke with Toronto-area minor hockey leagues on a Sept. 24 conference call and recommended a shutdown for the 2020-21 season. “I’d be very hesitant to play,” Dr. Bogoch told Westhead. “Who do these players go home to and what’s the ripple effect this could have?”


The East York Hockey Association, with more than 800 minor hockey players, announced Monday that it was shutting down for the season.

“How would I feel, Lord forbid, if someone came into our organization, contracted this virus, took it home and their grandparent . . . gets it and dies?” Connie Mitchell, the association’s president, told Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic. “How would I live with myself?”

Fitz-Gerald added: “East York announced it was cancelling its season on Monday, just a week after it opened registration to returning players. It became the second GTHL-sanctioned association to close because of COVID-19, following Amesbury/Bert Robinson Minor Hockey League. (Swansea Hockey Association, which is not part of the GTHL, has also ceased operations for the season.)”

Fitz-Gerald’s story is right here.


So . . . you think you’ve got a gambling problem! Well, consider the bettor who picked the New York Giants to cover what was a four-point spread on Sunday. He put down $500,000. The visiting San Francisco 49ers won, 36-9. . . . Meanwhile, with the 49ers missing nine injured starters, someone bet that Giants QB Daniel Jones would throw for more than 244.5 yards. Uhh, no. He finished with 179, and there went another $500,000. . . . Both bets were placed with the DraftKings Sportsbook; a spokesperson wouldn’t tell the Action Network whether both bets were placed by the same person. . . . Now you can go back to that $2 scratch-and-win crossword.


Lastcall


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

With the Tennessee Titans having reported 11 positive tests, including five players, the NFL has postponed their scheduled Sunday game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers until sometime later in the season. Prior to two more positive tests revealed Thursday, including one player, the league had hoped to play the game Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings, who lost to the visiting Titans on Sunday, hadn’t had any positives through Wednesday tests and reopened their facilities on Thursday. . . .

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported that the bus driver who “drove the Titans last weekend in Minnesota also drove MLB’s Houston Astros on their trip for a playoff series this week against the Twins, per sources. After the Titans’ COVID-19 outbreak surfaced, the Astros removed the driver.” . . .

The MLS has postponed a game between the visiting Colorado Rapids and Portland Timbermen that was scheduled for Saturday. The move comes after the Rapids had two players and one staff member test positive. . . . The game now is scheduled to be played on Nov. 4. . . . The Rapids haven’t trained since Sept. 24 when the organization first experienced positive tests. . . .

The U of Hawaii has suspended training activities for its teams in football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and women’s volleyball. The decision was made after four football players tested positive. The football team had started its fifth practice when it was halted because of the positive tests.


——

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.



Geoff Grimwood has resigned as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s CowichanCowichan Capitals. . . . A news release from the team included this quote from Grimwood: “Effective today I have resigned my position of GM/head coach over ethical and philosophical differences with ownership. I have certain values that guide how I coach. I no longer felt comfortable continuing in this situation.” . . . Brian Passmore, the Capitals’ coach in 2017-18, has been named interim GM/head coach. . . . Grimwood didn’t get to coach even one regular-season with the Capitals. He was signed to what the team said was a “multi-year contract” on May 4. . . . In recent seasons, Grimwood has been on staff with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors and the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders and Winkler Flyers. . . . He was hired by the Capitals to replace Mike Vandekamp, who now is with the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm.


JUST NOTES: Darryl Plandowski is the new director of amateur scouting for the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. He is coming off 12 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, most recently as assistant director of amateur scouting. He has some WHL history, having spent six seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds, four as a scout and two as an assistant coach. . . . Judging by Thursday’s loss to the visiting Denver Broncos, the NFL’s New York Jets are most fortunate that fans aren’t allowed into their home games.


Dwarfs

Lots of food for thought in losses by Broncos and Warriors . . . QMJHL increases penalties for fighting at government request . . . Mustangs cleared for return to ice

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are publicly owned and, as such, are obligated to hold annual general meetings and to release their financial statements.

Two of those teams — the Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos — whlannounced combined losses of more than $1 million on Tuesday night, something that should have set off alarm bells among fans hoping for some kind of 2020-21 season.

Moose Jaw finished the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season in last place in the East Division, while Swift Current was in the cellar of the Central Division. So neither team was in line to reap the rewards that come with qualifying for the playoffs.

The Broncos, whose average attendance dropped 444 from the previous season, lost $791,000, ending a run of six straight seasons in which they had shown a profit. Season-ticket sales were down 345, which is a big number for a team that plays in a 2,879-seat facility.

The Warriors, with their attendance down 366 per game, lost $391,299, running their two-season deficit to $556,444.

After Tuesday’s meeting, Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com reported that the team attributed $282,286 of its deficit  to “pandemic-related lost revenues.”

The Warriors also had to pay $180,846 as its share of the settlement of a $30-MooseJawWarriorsmillion class-action lawsuit, although that settlement has yet to be approved by the court. Still, assuming that it is, each of the WHL’s Canadian teams will be on the hook for that amount.

The Warriors, Palmer reported right here, still have $610,653 in the bank, but they did defer their annual $200,000 payment that is part of their commitment to the Multiplex. They have two payments left in a 10-year pledge.

It’s worth mentioning, too, that the Warriors Booster Club raised $238,771 in 2019-20.

The Warriors, like all WHL teams, are going to have a different organizational look whenever it is that play resumes. As club president Chad Taylor told Palmer: “We’ll need the help of the community when we get going again and hockey will look different — our staff will look different, we’ll be leaner — but that is the times and we’ll make it work.”

The Broncos, meanwhile, also will be leaner. These days, Dean Brockman, the SCBroncosdirector of hockey operations and head coach, is the only employee working on the hockey side of things, with Nathan MacDonald and Ryan Stricker on the business side. Their retail store — The Stable — is open and management has authorized 10 paid hours per week for communications.

Trent McLeary, a former Broncos player who now is chairman of the team’s board of directors, said after the AGM that “it’s a fight to survive,” stating that it will take the franchise years to recover from the loss.

“It’s like how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” McLeary told Steven Mah of the Southwest Booster. “We don’t think we have to make this up in one year . . . so there’s lots of challenges, lots of things that are going to challenge us as an organization, as a community. But we’re not the only ones, you look at baseball, you look at soccer, you look at everything.”

(Mah’s story is right here.)

The WHL’s two other publicly owned teams — the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders — have yet to hold their annual general meetings.

The Raiders’ meeting is scheduled for Oct. 7. Following the 2018-19 season, one Raiders50in which they won the WHL championship, they announced a profit of $633,314. In the previous five seasons, they had shown losses totalling $806,571 in four of them; the exception being a profit of $3,892 in 2015-16.

When the 2019-20 season was halted, the Raiders were 36-18-10 and had clinched first place in the East Division. They had two home games remaining and may well have had a deep playoff run in their future. Their average attendance also was up 27 over the previous season, meaning the championship love affair in that city still was in full bloom.

The Hurricanes have said they will hold their AGM on a November date that Lethbridgehasn’t yet been announced.

They are coming off four straight profit-making seasons. Last season’s profit of $282,168 allowed the four-season total to grow to $1,639,321. (Don’t forget, though, that they had losses totalling more than $1.25 million in the previous five seasons.)

When the 2019-20 season ended, Lethbridge was 37-19-7 and third in the Central Division. Its attendance was down one fan per game, to 3,970, over 2018-19. Still, it lost three home dates to the cancellation, and who knows how many playoff games were in its future?

The Hurricanes pay the City of Lethbridge an annual maintenance fee of $166,667 for their home arena, the Enmax Centre. Last month, the Hurricanes and the City agreed to a one-year deferment of that payment, in the process adding a year to the arena lease that now runs through 2029-30. The Hurricanes asked for the deferment, citing revenues lost to the pandemic.

We will find out in November just how much they lost.

I would suggest that the four publicly owned franchises are far from being the WHL’s biggest spenders. Of course, the privately owned teams don’t have to share their numbers with the public. But judging by what the Broncos and Warriors reported, and what is surely to come from the Hurricanes and Raiders, you have to think there is some major pain being felt.

And that’s why the WHL can’t afford to start a season without being able to operate at less than 50 per cent capacity in its arenas. The losses from a season played without restrictions, albeit a shortened one, were large. Losses from a season played without fans in the stands would be mind-numbing.


Pic


Here, in summation, is what I believe has happened with the QMJHL and qmjhlnewfighting. . . . The league approached the government and asked for $20 million in subsidies to help its 12 Quebec-based team get through the pandemic. . . . Isabelle Charest, a former Olympic speed skater who is the junior education minister, suggested the league needed to do more to eliminate fighting. . . . On Wednesday, the QMJHL’s board of governors voted to slap a fighter with a major and a misconduct, meaning that player would have to sit out 15 minutes. A player also would face a one-game suspension after accumulating three fights, with more time off for each fight after that. . . . Here is the QMJHL’s Rule 47: “All players involved in a fight will now be assessed a misconduct penalty (duration of 10 minutes) which will be added to the major penalty (five minutes), except if a player involved is considered an instigator or an aggressor. An automatic one-game suspension will be assessed after the third fight, and for any additional fight.” . . . There is a chart right here that explains all possible situations. . . . I guess we can assume the QMJHL now is awaiting an etransfer from the government.


Flushot


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs said Wednesday that they have been “approved to resume our training hockey-related activities.” Things had been on hold since Sept. 25 when one of their players tested positive. . . . According to the Mustangs, all tests “administered . . . this week have come back negative and there is no risk of the spread of the virus.: . . .

The Tennessee Titans have a reported nine positive tests in their organization, and the NFL has said their game against the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers that had been scheduled for Sunday will be played Monday or Tuesday. . . . The Titans have halted football-related activities until at least Saturday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings, who played the visiting Titans on Sunday, haven’t had any positives. They should return to their practice facility today (Thursday). . . .

The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, who are forecasting a $10-million loss, revealed Wednesday that they have terminated some employees and laid off others in both business and football operations. . . . In a statement, the team said it “had to make significant adjustments to our workforce including temporary and permanent layoffs in both the Business Operations and Football Operations.” . . . Matt Lowry, a content provider with the team for four years, tweeted that he had been laid off, and added: “There’s too many awesome co-workers to thank, but you know who you are, and you’ll hear from me. And please WEAR A MASK so we can all enjoy the 2021 CFL season from wherever you may be.” . . .

The Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group is in the process of terminating 40 per cent of its staff at TD Place. The arena and stadium are home to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s and the CFL’s Ottawa Redblacks, both of which are owned by OSEG. However, staff from those teams weren’t included in the terminations. . . .

MLB announced Wednesday that it will allow about 11,500 fans into NLCS and World Series games at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Fans haven’t been allowed into MLB games since spring training. . . . Face masks will be mandatory and, according to MLB, “No seats will be sold within 20 feet of where a player can be located on the field, in the dugouts or in the bullpen.” . . . Some numbers from Deadspin’s Jesse Spector: “In September, there were 6,913 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Tarrant County, Texas, including 447 reported on Wednesday, the final day of the month. That brings the cumulative tally for the county to 46,527 people stricken by coronavirus, with 721 dead from the pandemic.”



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: Steve Hogle, who spent six seasons as president of the Saskatoon Blades, has been hired as the general manager of Hockey Edmonton. Hogle is from Edmonton and played minor hockey there. Before joining the Blades, he was with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as vice-president of communications and broadcasting. He replaces the retiring Dean Hengel with Hockey Edmonton. . . . The Minnesota Twins, who were eliminated from the American League playoffs yesterday, have lost 18 straight post-season games, going back to 2004. Since then, the Houston Astros, who finished off the Twins, have won 43 playoff games. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has a good look at Al Murray, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s assistant GM and director of amateur scouting, right here. It’s well worth your time.


Books

WHL: Broncos drop $791,000, while Warriors’ losses hit $391,299 . . . Virus finds an NFL team . . . Smith leaves Tigers for Chiefs


The Swift Current Broncos had a tough go of it on the ice last season, putting up a record of 10-48-5.

Things were just as bad in the accounting ledger as the WHL team announced a loss SCBroncosof $791,000 at its annual general meeting on Tuesday night. One year earlier, after a 2018-19 season in which it was 11-51-6, the team announced a profit of $38,196.

After last night’s AGM, the team explained in a statement: “The financial results for (the) season were severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, the settlement of a CHL-wide class-action lawsuit, an accounting revaluation of the education scholarship liability, and several unexpected reductions in key supplementary revenue streams, amounting to over $470,000 of additional losses for the season.”

The Broncos’ news release is right here.

——

Meanwhile, the Moose Jaw Warriors announced a 2019-20 loss of $391,299 at MooseJawWarriorstheir AGM, which also was held on Tuesday night. One year earlier, the team announced a loss of $165,145 for 2018-19.

“In total,” wrote Corey Atkinson of discovermoosejaw.com, “the Warriors lost $391,299 on the season, handing over $282,286 in lost revenues due to COVID and their share of a lawsuit assessment — $180,846 — against the Canadian Hockey League in May.”

Atkinson also reported: “The Warriors have trimmed staff and have been able to get some pay decreases to try to minimize the impact. They’re also taken a deferral of the commitment they made annually to the multiplex — a $200,000 commitment for this season. They pledged $2.5 million in 2011-12 for the building, and have been able to come through on $2.1 million of that over the last 10 years.”

The Warriors finished last in the six-team East Division, at 14-44-4. They lost three home dates to the pandemic, and averaged 2,981 fans for 31 games. That was down from 2018-19 when the average for 34 games was 3,347.

Atkinson also reported that “regular-season receipts were down from $1,661,649 last (season) to $1,356,766.”

Atkinson’s story is right here.


AlMurray
Al Murray and his wife, Lori, celebrated the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup victory with a Tuesday morning walk in Regina. (Photo: Murray McCormick/Facebook)

So . . . you’re Al Murray and you have been with the Tampa Bay Lightning for 10 NHL seasons. You are the assistant general manager/director of amateur scouting, so you have had a lot to do with the construction of the team’s roster. . . . You’re Al Murray and your team won the Stanley Cup on Monday night in Edmonton, while you watched from your home in Regina. So what did you do on Tuesday morning? . . . You went for a walk, that’s what. . . . Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post was out for a morning stroll when he encountered Murray and his wife, Lori. Yes, they both were smiling. . . .

You should know that Al Murray isn’t a stranger to winning. In three years as Hockey Canada’s head scout, his teams won two World Junior titles, one at the IIHF U-18 championship, and three Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament titles. . . . I first met him when he was the head coach of the U of Regina Cougars men’s team, a position he held from 1985-88. Sheesh, Al, that was a long time ago!



A note from the Monday posting by Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon:

“Dr. Harry Edwards is a noted sociologist who has spent a long time as an observer and a critic of sports as they impact Black athletes’ lives. Over the weekend, I ran across a Tweet from him related to the decision by the PAC-12 schools to reverse course and play football this fall:

“ ‘For PAC12 programs to use ‘our student-athletes want to play’ as a PRINCIPAL reason for restarting football/fall sports programs while soft-peddling COVID risks to athletes, denying MONEY considerations significantly driving this decision is disingenuous, delusional,& dangerous.’ ”


Two


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL announced on Monday that it had completed a ninth week of bubble play without any positive tests. There were 773 tests done from Sept. 20-26. All told, there were 33,174 tests to players and club personnel while the playoffs were conducted in the Edmonton bubble. . . . Of course, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup last night in Edmonton, securing a six-game victory over the Dallas Stars with a 2-0 victory in Game 6. . . . The NHL deserves straight As for getting through these playoffs in two bubble cities — Toronto being the other one — without any positive tests. . . .

The Tennessee Titans and Minnesota Vikings played an NFL game in Minneapolis on Sunday. On Tuesday, the Titans announced eight positive tests — three players and five other employees — and shut things down until at least Saturday. The Vikings have closed their practice facility pending further test results. . . . The NFL also is doing daily testing and monitoring of on-field officials from Sunday’s game. That crew won’t work in Week 4. . . . This all started on Saturday when Titans LB Shane Bowen tested positive and didn’t make the trip to Minneapolis. All other Tennessee players, coaches and staff were negative on Saturday. . . . The Titans are scheduled to meet the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, while the Vikings at to travel to Houston to meet the Texans. . . .

The 2020 Spengler Cup has been cancelled. The tournament, held annually in Davos, Switzerland, had been scheduled to run from Dec. 26-31. . . .

The five-school Manitoba Colleges Athletic Conference has cancelled its 2020 soccer season. The decision was made as Winnipeg shifted to a Code Orange response to the pandemic. . . .

After cancelling Saturday’s football game against host Wake Forest because of seven positive tests, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish revealed that they now have 18 positives. . . . All told, there are 25 players in isolation and another 14 in quarantine. . . . Notre Dame’s next scheduled game is Oct. 10 against visiting Florida State. . . .

The KHL has cancelled its all-star game and the week long festivities that accompany it. The party was to have been held in Riga, Latvia, in January.

Blake Anderson, the head football coach at Arkansas State, has admitted to testing positive after the Red Wolves beat host Kansas State on Sept. 12. That likely is no surprise because the Red Wolves have had to postpone their last two games because of positive tests and contact tracing. . . .

Central Arkansas is to play North Dakota State in Fargo on Saturday. NDSU was going to allow more than 8,000 fans into the game, this despite numbers rising in the area and the state having suggested a cap of 250 fans at indoor events. The Fargodome seats 18,700 for football. . . . On Tuesday, however, the school changed plans and will allow only the families of players to watch from the stands.


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.



Phone


Ryan Smith has left the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, where he was an assistant coach, to join the Spokane Chiefs as associate coach. . . . In Spokane, Smith will work alongside Adam Maglio, who was promoted to head coach to replace Manny Viveiros, who has joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights as head coach their AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Smith is coming off two seasons with the Tigers after spending three on the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff.


I haven’t seen an announcement from either team — although perhaps I missed it — but Gary Aubin appears to have moved on from the Swift Current Broncos and landed with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Aubin, from St. Albert, Alta., had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel since July 18, 2018; in fact, he guided them through the 2020 WHL bantam draft. Before joining the Broncos, he spent 11 seasons on the Spokane Chiefs’ scouting staff and before that he worked with the Kamloops Blazers for 15 years. . . . Now he is listed on the Rockets’ website as a member of their scouting staff.


JUST NOTES: Hey, NFL, it’s time to do away with kickoffs. Just spot the ball at the 25 and carry on. . . . I don’t know about you, but I really, really miss the CFL. . . . QB Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs looks like a man playing in a city’s minor football program. . . . Two WHLers — F Lukas Svejkovsky of the Medicine Hat Tigers and G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips — are among the 39 players invited to USA Hockey’s national junior team evaluation camp. That camp, which will be closed to fans, media and scouts, is scheduled for Oct. 8-13 in Plymouth, Mich. . . . The USHL has released its 2020-21 regular-season schedule. It calls for each of its 14 teams to play 54 games in what the league called a “regionally based schedule.” The regular season is to end on April 24. The USHL also said that its teams “are working with health and government officials regarding spectator policies. Each team will develop its own plan for spectators based on local and state guidelines.” . . . I don’t know about you, but rather than watch last night’s debate, I spent the evening with Statler and Waldorf.


Keys

WHL named in another proposed class-action suit . . . Former player Kobe Mohr involved in this one . . . Pats’ pick to skate in Sweden

Sheesh, it really can’t be much fun being the owner of a WHL team these days. For starters, you don’t know whether to be selling sponsorships, advertising and season tickets because you aren’t able to guarantee a starting date for a new whlseason. You are hoping to begin regular-season play on Dec. 4, but there aren’t any guarantees.

On top of that, you likely still are counting up the losses from not having been able to finish the 2019-20 season, thanks to the pandemic that doesn’t appear anywhere close to going way.

And now the WHL finds itself involved in yet another proposed class-action lawsuit, this one apparently having been filed this week.

Kobe Mohr, a former WHL player, is among those fronting this one that names the NHL, AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports: “A proposed $825-million class-action claim alleges a conspiracy among the world’s top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dream-chasing teenage players with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers.”

Mohr, now 21, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (2014-20). He totalled 35 goals and 66 assists in 265 regular-season games, after being selected by Edmonton with the 20th pick in the 2014 bantam draft.

The WHL now finds itself entangled to one degree or another in four separate class-action lawsuits in various stages of progression through the legal system. Two others — one involving concussions and the other regarding alleged hazing and other physical and mental abuses — are early in the process. . . .

The other, which involved a claim for past and present-day players to be paid minimum wage and other perks, was settled by the CHL for $30 million earlier this year, but the settlement still needs judicial approval. Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that an Ontario judge spent part of yesterday hearing arguments “about whether to approve” the settlement. According to Westhead, Justice Paul Perell said there are “objectors” to the settlement and that “a trade association called the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions has filed ‘an aggressive intervenor’ application with the courts to overturn” the settlement.

Ted Charney, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the courts to approve the settlement, saying, according to Westhead, that “a settlement wouldn’t bar new federal court case because the new case alleges a conspiracy to breach the Competition Act, not employment standards laws.”

When Tuesday’s hearing concluded, judgment was reserved.


Asteroid


F Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, will be travelling to Sweden so that he can skate with HV71’s junior team in Jönköping. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player in history to have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada in order to allow him to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old. . . . Because he won’t be playing in games in Sweden, the Pats didn’t have to issue a release. The WHL hopes to start its regular season on Dec. 4, by which time Bedard will have returned to Canada.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The United Kingdom’s 10-team Elite Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has suspended play because of the pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 5. . . . “We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again,” Tony Smith, the league’s chairman, said. “We operate around 75 to 100 per cent capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.” . . . The average attendance at league game last season was 3,043. . . .

The World Series will be played in one venue for the first time since 1944. The American and National League winners will play a best-of-seven championship series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. . . . In 1944, the World Series was played in St. Louis, with both teams from that city. The Cardinals beat the Browns, 4-2. . . . Leading to the World Series, the American League Championship Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego, with the NLCS at Arlington. . . . Prior to that, the AL Divison Series is to be played in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the NLDS in Arlington and Houston. . . .

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had five positives last week, bringing the team total to 75 since mid-June when testing began as football players returned to campus. The team is carrying more than 120 players. . . . The school has had 116 positives among its student-athletes. . . .

Ed Orgeron, the head football coach at LSU, told reporters on Tuesday that most of his time has had the virus. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not our for games.” . . . Alex Scarborough of ESPN pointed out: “LSU, like many programs in the SEC and nationally, has not provided regular reports on the number of players who have contracted the novel coronavirus.” . . .

The Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) cancelled university sports for the fall semester on Monday. This means none of Canada’s four university conferences will play football this fall. The Quebec conference has five teams. . . . U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, had cancelled its national semifinals and final in June. . . .

Organizers of the 2021 Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament have cancelled it. The tournament was to have run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3. . . . Tournament chairman Jan Antons told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “We still don’t know what games are going to look like, when games are potentially going to start and, overall, the main concern was still the health and safety of our players, bringing players in from other provinces and dealing with the 50-person gathering-size limit. It would make it very difficulty to run a tournament at the level we’re used to. We want to make sure KIBIHT remains one of the top-notch tournaments in Canada. . . . there is just too much unknown right now. It’s still a very hard decision.”


Sign


——

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 WHL’s four community-owned teams each holds an annual general meeting that is open to shareholders. The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Tuesday that they will hold their AGM on Sept. 29. The Swift Current Broncos said earlier that their meeting also will be held on Sept. 29, with the Prince Albert Raiders having said they will hold their AGM on Oct. 7. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have said their AGM will be held in November, but they have yet to announce an exact date. . . . I don’t know what it is — maybe NHL teams have come down with the ‘Bubble Blues’ — but the games are getting less and less watchable. Too many bodies in the area in front of both nets, not enough shots getting through, not enough offence, not enough goals. Whatever it is, it isn’t good for the NHL game. . . . Did you get your fill of football on Monday night? ESPN’s MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick — they did the second game — were OK, but the Game 1 pairing of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit was outstanding. Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together as ESPN’s No. 1 college football pairing. They are comfortable with each other and it showed.


Hearing

COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc . . . MLS tourney starts tonight without FC Dallas . . . Ryder Cup to be postponed


About the MLS is Back tournament . . .

FC Dallas was taken out of the tournament on Monday after having 10 players and one coach test positive. . . . There still are 25 teams in the competition, which is to begin today (Wednesday) with Orlando City and Inter Miami CF meeting.

The Vancouver Whitecaps left for Orlando without Lucas Cavallini, Fredy Montero, Georges Mukumbilwa, Tosaint Ricketts and Andy Rose. . . . Cavallini said he has lost two family members to COVID-19 and stayed behind “to support my loved ones.” . . . Rickets said he has a pre-existing condition. . . . Rose stayed at home to be with his pregnant wife. . . . Montero cited family reasons. . . . Mukumbilwa apparently isn’t cleared for travel outside of Canada at this time. . . .

Nashville SC arrived in Orlando on Friday, and reported Tuesday that it had five positive tests with four others ruled inconclusive. . . . As a result, Nashville’s game against the Chicago Fire that had been scheduled for tonight (Wednesday) has been postponed.

——

Bulgarian soccer club Cherno More revealed that it has had 12 players and four officials test positive after playing Sunday against Tsarsko Selo in Sofia. Tsarsko Selo apparently had one player test positive prior to the game, but didn’t reveal it.


Piano


G Asia Durr of the WNBA’s New York Liberty won’t play this season after testing positive on June 8. She has had symptoms and hasn’t yet recovered. . . . Durr was the second overall selection in the 2019 draft. . . . The league revealed Tuesday that seven of 137 players tested had come up positive over the past week. . . . The WNBA hopes to play a 22-game season in at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., starting later this month.


With NHL teams to open training camps on July 13 with teams travelling to Edmonton and Toronto on July 26, the league announced Monday that it had nine more players test positive. That brought the total to 35. The NHL announces its numbers on a weekly basis.


OF Nick Markakis of the Atlanta Braves has opted out after a conversation with teammate Freddie Freeman, who tested positive and has symptoms. “Just hearing him, the way he sounded on the phone, it was tough,” Markakis, 36, said. “It was kind of eye-opening. With everything that’s going on, not just with baseball but all over the world, it makes you open your eyes.”

The Philadelphia Phillies reported that coaches Rob Thomson, Jim Gott and Greg Brodzinski all tested positive and aren’t in camp. . . . As well, players Scott Kingery, Tommy Hunter and Mikie Mahtook have tested positive. . . . Kingery was diagnosed on June 11 and isn’t anywhere near ready to play baseball. More on that right here. . . .

P Eduardo Rodriguez and Bobby Dalbec of the Boston Red Sox have tested positive. Rodriguez, who had been tabbed as Boston’s opening day starter, has some symptoms but is feeling better. Dalbec, an infield prospect who apparently contacted it at home, is asymptomatic. . . .

——

Some positive tests with a high school baseball team in Newberg, Ore. . . .

——

OF Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers has been tested four times over the past 10 days. Two came back negative; two were positive. . . . The negatives came from nasal swab tests; the positives were after PCR/saliva tests. . . . Gallo hasn’t yet been allowed to work out with the Rangers as he awaits the result of yet another saliva test, one that was taken on Tuesday evening. . . .

OF Kole Calhoun of the Arizona Diamondbacks became the third player on that team’s 40-man roster to test positive. He is said to be asymptomatic and, according to manager Torey Lovullo, “feeling great.” . . .

The San Francisco Giants reported two positive tests on Monday. Here’s Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The club did not identify them, and the news release specifically did not describe the two who tested positive as players. It used the term ‘individuals,’ which means one or both could be coaches or other staff members.” . . . Both individuals are in self-isolation. . . .

P Brad Keller and 1B Ryan O’Hearn of the Kansas City Royals have tested positive. Keller has minor symptoms.


G Spencer Dinwiddie won’t be with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets as they open camp in Orlando where the season is to resume on July 30. Dinwiddie has tested positive and has symptoms so won’t be playing in Orlando. . . . Earlier, C DeAndre Jordan of the Nets tested positive and opted out.


Robots


In golf, the women’s British Open will be played at Royal Troon, Aug. 20-23, without spectators. That’s one week after the Ladies Scottish Open is scheduled to be played. . . .

ESPN reported on Tuesday that the PGA of America and the European Tour will announce today that the Ryder Cup has been postponed to 2021, with the Presidents Cup pushed back to 2022. . . . The Ryder Cup was to have been held at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, Sept. 25-27. . . .

The PGA Tour had hoped to have some fans on course next week for the Memorial at the Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, Ohio. But those plans have been scrapped because of the pandemic. . . .



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in writing about the kerfuffle about the NFL Washington franchise’s nickname, has a suggestion: “One team name that should offend no one because it is so obviously correct would be Washington Gridlock. That would honor the traffic situation here and the political situation nationally.” . . . He’s got more right here.


The curmudgeonly one also sent a Thought for the Day, along with this note — H.L. Mencken wrote this more than 70 years ago. Imagine what he might say today on a similar topic. . . . Here it is: “Suppose two-thirds of the members of the national House of Representatives were dumped into the Washington garbage incinerator tomorrow. What would we lose to offset our gain of their salaries and the salaries of their parasites?”


The Moose Jaw Warriors have added Gord Burnett to their coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Mark O’Leary. The coaching staff also includes assistant Scott King and coaching assistant Olivia Howe. . . . Burnett spent last season as the head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, who are owned by the owners of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. Burnett, who is from Regina, spent four seasons (2015-19) on the Kootenay Ice’s staff before the franchise moved to the Manitoba capital.


James Gaertner has signed on as the head coach and assistant general manager of the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Last season, he was the head coach of the VIJHL’s Kerry Park Islanders. Prior to that, he was on the coach staff of the U of Victoria Vikes for five seasons. . . . He takes over the Buccaneers’ bench from Brad Knight, who was hired on May 8 but stepped down late last month.


Clickit

Nicknames: To change, or not to change, that is the question . . . Top NASCAR driver tests positive . . . Hockey Canada cancels U-17 WHC

In a recent editorial, the Washington Post called for Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the NFL team’s nickname.

Asked by USA Today in 2013 if he would change the name, Snyder replied: “NEVER — you can use caps.”

But now, with Black Lives Matter front and centre, the pressure is on again.

From The Post’s View:

“Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and — yes — even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice. Quaker Oats announced it was getting rid of Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake mixes, and Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth seem sure to follow. . . . Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium in Washington, removed a statue of George Preston Marshall, who as owner of the local football team refused to allow black players for as long as he possibly could. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently admitted to — and apologized for — not listening to players about systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans. He also must know it is wrong for a team to have a name that the dictionary defines as a racial slur and that no one would ever use to address a person who is a Native American.

“This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of ‘NEVER,’ the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.”

It seems that a name change is imminent, what with various sponsors and other businesses with ties to the NFL team now applying pressure.

FedEx, which agreed to a naming rights deal for the stadium in which the team plays, has asked Snyder to change the name. Frederick W. Smith, FedEx’s CEO and chairman, is a minority owner of the team.

Nike has taken the team’s merchandise from its online store, but has yet to offer an explanation.

Officials with Pepsi and Bank of America also have indicated that they want to see a name change.

“It’s not hard to change the name,” Tony Dungy, who is well-respected in NFL circles, told William C. Rhoden of The Undefeated.

Meanwhile, you can add Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to the list of name-changers, too, because management told Reuters the other day that it will change the brand name of its Eskimo Pie ice cream stick.

Yes, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are facing pressure — again — to come up with a new nickname.

Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, almost surely will be changing its nickname — Clan — at some point in the coming months after 97 per cent of student-athletes voted to get rid of it. The athletes, it seems, are tired of being asked about the nickname, especially when they journey south to play against U.S. schools.

And the Cleveland Indians say they are ready to discuss a change. They issued a release on Friday that read, in part: “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

——

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, on the nickname situation involving the Washington NFLers: “It’s been theorized that a fan boycott might convince Snyder to change the team’s name. But judging from attendance at FedEx Field the last few years, how could anybody tell if there was a boycott?”

——

With all of that, allow me to place this on the table . . .

There are four WHL teams with nicknames and logos that refer in one way or another to Native American or Canadian First Nations peoples — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs.

In November 2014, the Prince Albert Raiders received some heat when they unveiled a new mascot — Boston Raider — that was sponsored by a pizza joint. But, as Adam Proteau wrote in The Hockey News, “The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage.”

The mascot, which also paid tribute to the Raiders’ original logo, quickly and quietly disappeared, with the club apologizing to anyone who may have been been offended.

The Raiders really didn’t mean anything with what they felt was a simple marketing move.

The WHL franchises in Moose Jaw, Portland, Seattle and Spokane aren’t trying to be offensive with their nicknames, either.

But with all that’s going on right now, should they be changing their nicknames to, as the Washington Post editorial read, “get on the right side of history,” or is it OK to maintain the status quo?

Maybe the WHL and one, two three or all of those franchises should take action now and, in doing so, get in front of things . . . instead of having to react at a later date.

——


Prescrip


Jimmie Johnson, with seven NASCAR titles under his belt, has tested positive and will miss this weekend’s races at Indy. He will have to have two negative tests within a 24-hour period before being allowed to return to racing. . . . Going into this weekend, Johnson had made 663 consecutive starts. In fact, he has never missed a start in his career. . . . According to Jeff Gluck, who covers NASCAR like a blanket for The Athletic, Johnson “got tested (Friday) after learning wife Chani tested positive.” . . . Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. . . .

Jeremy Rutherford and Scott Burnside of The Athletic reported Friday evening that, according to sources, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues have cancelled practices at their facility because of “multiple” positive tests. . . . The Blues skated on Thursday at the facility, but not on Friday. . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled the 2020 World U-17 Hockey Challenge that was to have been played in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. . . . The 2021 event will be held in those communities. . . . Hockey Canada also said that its remaining 2020 schedule remains unchanged, including the National Women’s U-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8, in Dawson Creek, B.C.; the Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12, in Bridgewater, N.S.; the World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20, in Cornwall, Ont.; and the 2021 World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer. . . .


MLB and the MLBPA announced Friday that positive tests total 31 players and seven staff members with teams having opened workouts to prepare for a July 23 opening day. . . . Identities of those testing positive aren’t being released, although OF Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians gave the team permission to reveal that he tested positive. . . . The Minnesota Twins said they have had four players test positive, including C Willians Astudillo, P Edwar Colina and INF Nick Gordon. The identity of the fourth player wasn’t released. . . .

The 2020 All-Star Game that was to have been played at Dodgers Stadium has been cancelled. The game had been scheduled for July 14. . . . This will be the first year since 1945 that an all-star game hasn’t been played. . . . The 2021 game is scheduled for Atlanta, and the 2022 game now is to be played in Los Angeles.


Psychic


“As organized sports attempt to return during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes, coaches, spectators and bystanders will all be expected to sign liability waivers,” writes Michael McCann of Sportico. “Everyone associated with the games will have to accept, in so many words, that he or she (1) assumes the risk of contracting COVID-19 through their participation and (2) agrees that the organizer—be it a league, team, venue, college or even high school—would not be liable for any COVID-19 related harms.

“This is not just true of players, coaches and referees. According to The Athletic, the NFL is weighing the possibility of mandating that ticket-holders sign COVID-19 waivers as a condition of stadium entry.”

McCann is an attorney and law professor who writes on sports and law. In this piece right here, he writes on the potential legality of these waivers in the U.S.



Had to go to a small grocery store on Friday afternoon. Might have been two dozen people in it. I saw one mask. I was wearing it. . . . Come on people. Be better. . . .

If you’re wondering what we’re dealing with here, go to Twitter and check out the thread accompanying the tweet below . . .


Cat

AAA Warriors coach has kidney transplant . . . Weisgerber at home, planning on playoff return . . . ‘I feel better after two weeks than I have the last two years’

Trevor Weisgerber has some catching up to do, and he hardly can wait.

Weisgerber can’t remember the last time he sat down with his wife, Laurren, and two children — London, 7, and Ty, 4 — to watch a movie and actually was awake for the end.

That’s what happens when you are dealing with kidney disease.

These days, though, Weisgerber, in his first season as head coach the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, is a couple of weeks removed from having a kidney transplant, and he’s feeling like a new man.

In a conversation with Weisgerber from his Moose Jaw home on Monday, he recalled life in the years before the transplant:

Weisgerber
Trevor Weisgerber hopes to be back with his hockey team early in March. (Photo: Epic Hockey)

“You’re gone all day working and running around and doing what you do. I would take the kids to hockey, be on the ice as much as possible at their practices, but as soon as I came home, my heart rate would go down . . . instantly sleeping.

“We would watch a movie . . . I’d be lucky if I got through the introductions. In the last two years, I don’t think I’ve seen more than a quarter through a movie.”

When I spoke with him, he was 15 days removed from the transplant and his voice was vibrating with energy and enthusiasm.

“It’s definitely life-changing,” he said. “I’m only two weeks in but I can tell the difference already.

“I feel better after two weeks than I have the last two years. It’s incredible . . . absolutely incredible.”

Weisgerber, 40, has known for 11 years that he had a rare kidney disease known as Mucin-1, which has run rampant through one side of his family.

“It goes through our whole family . . . one Grandpa and his siblings . . . through all their families. It’s pretty crazy,” Weisgerber said. “There’s not a lot they can do right now, but I’m hoping with more testing that they can figure out something for our kids or even our kids’ kids.”

Weisgerber, a native of Vibank, Sask., was a point-producer during his playing days, which included stops with the Beardy’s Rage and Yorkton Terriers in the SJHL, three seasons at Lake Superior State U, and seven seasons in the now-defunct Central league.

——

(If you run a Google search for ‘Trevor Weisgerber hit’, you will find the above YouTube video of a concussion-inducing check that left Weisgerber unconscious and ultimately ended his playing career.)

——

It was while Weisgerber was in the CHL with the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees that he found out he had Mucin-1. During his preseason physical it was discovered that his creatinine level was abnormally high. Creatinine is a waste product that is the result of normal muscle use. The kidneys filter the creatinine from the blood and pass it into the urine.

“I ended up getting a biopsy done and they said that I had it,” he said. “I monitored it from then on.”

At that time, his glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was in the 55 range. GFR is the best way to measure kidney function. For instance, my wife, Dorothy, began peritoneal dialysis (PD) when her GFR reached 10. She had a transplant on Sept. 23, 2013 and her GFR now is in the mid- to high-60s.

Weisgerber’s kidney function kept declining until April 2018 when he ended up on PD.

“My kidney function was around five or six,” he recalled, “so they said I needed to do that.”

Kidney patients on PD hook up to a machine called a cycler for about eight hours at home every night. In short, the cycler drains toxins from the body through the use of fluids.

The cycler now is in Weisgerber’s past and he couldn’t be happier.

Weisgerber2“Obviously, a guy is going to be on medications for the rest of his life, and they can cause complications,” Weisgerber said. “But just to be able to live a normal life and not have to hook up to that machine . . . just the routine of having to go to bed at a certain time and having to be on that machine for eight hours, and hooking it up . . . just little things that you don’t realize.

“Before I got the transplant, I was super itchy from all the toxins; it was crazy. The most uncomfortable . . . just so, so itchy. One of the biggest things is that I don’t have that itching anymore.”

In Weisgerber’s case, it was hoped that PD would be beneficial and keep him going until later this year because a cousin was going through testing in the hopes of being a living donor.

However, PD wasn’t being as effective as it had been, which brings us to Jan. 25.

Weisgerber’s daughter, London, was playing in a hockey tournament and he was in the penalty box, running the clock. All of a sudden his phone rang; it was a number from Saskatoon. He didn’t answer it. It rang again. He still didn’t answer. When it rang a third time, he decided that it might be a good idea to see who was calling.

Well, it was Dr. Abubaker Hassan, a nephrologist at St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

“Dr. Hassan said, ‘We have a kidney for you. . . . we need you up in Saskatoon,’ ” Weisgerber said. “It was like, holy moly.

“It was really unexpected. You’re scared; you don’t know what to expect. I have an uncle who had gone through it three years ago. He filled me in on everything but, still, you don’t know what to expect.”

When the call ended, Weisgerber went home, packed and headed for Saskatoon. He had surgery the next day.

“Everything went really well,” he said, noting that he spent 10 days in hospital before returning home. For now, he will visit Regina or Saskatoon once a week for bloodwork and checkups.

Weisgerber understands that his new kidney came from a “younger gentleman in Edmonton” who had died. The Weisgerbers will be in touch with the deceased donor’s family, something that is done, at least in the beginning, through a case worker.

Weisgerber plans on writing a letter, while Ty and London “are making pictures and everything.”

“We’re just super fortunate,” he said. “I’m just excited that a guy can live his life again and be somewhat normal here. They say it helps with their healing process, too. The whole thing is emotional.

“Obviously, it isn’t good that a person passed away. But it’s good that he was an organ donor and he does give a life.”

During the process leading up to a transplant involving a deceased donor, the recipient is told that there may well be a feeling of guilt because he/she actually is benefitting from someone else’s death.

Weisgerber said that hasn’t bothered him, but that “it does get a guy emotional, that you’re that fortunate to be able to be a match to that person . . . that he was an organ donor and he pretty much gave a guy a new chance at life.”

These days, Weisgerber’s focus is on getting on with his life, which means looking after a few rental properties and a return to his hockey team. As of Monday, he had missed three games; he expects to miss four more as the Warriors finish their regular season.

Transplant recipients take anti-rejection medications for the remainder of their lives, something that compromises their immune systems. As a result, Weisgerber has been told that it might not be a good idea for him to be in a dressing room or on a bus, at least not in the early days as his system adjusts to the changes.

“The plan is to be back for playoffs at the end of the month,” he said. “The way things are going and the way I feel I can’t see why I wouldn’t be. I’m really looking forward to getting back with the guys and having a long playoff run here.”

The Warriors (29-10-1), who were in first place for a lot of the season, were second in the 12-team league, two points behind the Regina Pat Canadians (29-7-5) and three ahead of the Saskatoon Contacts (27-13-2). Moose Jaw also went 5-1-1 at the Mac’s tournament in Calgary, where they dropped a 6-2 decision to the Calgary Buffaloes on New Year’s Day.

In terms of Weisgerber’s schedule, the surgery couldn’t have been scheduled at a better time. As he said: “It was absolutely perfect. It’s actually incredible that it happened then.”

The Warriors had 10 days off while he was away and his primary business — Epic Hockey — doesn’t start a new cycle until July when he begins working with midget AAA, junior and professional players who are preparing for new seasons. He also runs skill development camps, spring teams and conditioning camps for minor hockey players. During hockey seasons, he often travels to smaller communities to work with minor programs.

That all began after he spent one season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers and two (2010-12) as an assistant with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.

It was after his stint in the WHL that he started Epic Hockey.

Now, with a renewed energy level, he can hardly wait to get back on the ice.

“You don’t really realize how you feel,” he said. “I was super tired all the time, didn’t have a lot of energy. You would work and do stuff but at the end of the day, as soon as you sat down, you’d be falling asleep. You always felt blah.

“You just do what you do. You don’t realize how bad you actually feel and how tired you actually are.”

And now when he’s at home, you can bet there will be more family movie nights, although Laurren, London and Ty will have to forgive him if he asks for flicks they’ve already seen.

These days, he promises to stay awake for the entire show.

So, kids, no spoilers. OK?

Scattershooting on a Monday evening while wondering how many ex-WHLers have been Saran-wrapped to pillars . . .

Scattershooting


Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, has written a piece involving former Spokane Chiefs player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer. It has to do with a hazing incident that Sawyer says occurred with the Chiefs early in the 2005-06 season.

At that time, Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs; Jared Spurgeon was a freshman defenceman who hadn’t yet had his 16th birthday.

“Sawyer, for those who haven’t been introduced, is a former hockey goon and coach who now wears rose-tinted glasses and prattles on endlessly about the do-no-wrong Winnipeg Jets on TSN3,” Swansson writes, “and he attained unparalleled standards in stupidity by sharing his ‘favourite’ Jared Spurgeon story on Saturday.

“ ‘He was a 15-year-old . . . two months into the season we Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air. He was tiny. He looked like he was 12. So smart,’ Sawyer informed viewers.

“Seriously. Sawyer engaged in the boys-will-be-boys hazing of a 15-year-old kid while an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs and now, in today’s climate of zero tolerance and retro-punishment for bullying, he’s bragging about it on TV?

What part of ‘you have the right to remain silent’ does he not understand?”

Spurgeon, an Edmonton native, played five seasons (2005-10) with the Chiefs. He now is into his 10th season with NHL’s Minnesota Wild.

Sawyer was an assistant coach with the Chiefs from 2004-06, and again in 2013-14.

Bill Peters was the Chiefs’ first-year head coach in 2005-06 when the incident of which Sawyer spoke would have taken place.

This kind of behaviour, and worse, was rather commonplace in the WHL back in the day, which, when you think about it, wasn’t that long ago. There are a lot of former players out there, like Sawyer, who don’t see anything wrong with this kind of thing. Because it happened to them, the seem to think, it should happen to even today’s first-year players.

In fact, the way some of them see it, those who play hockey at the junior level have become a lot softer due to the elimination of hazing and the decrease in the number of fights.

I fail to understand how Saran-wrapping someone to a post, stuffing naked teenagers into a bus washroom and cranking up the heat, making those same players run up and down the aisle in a bus while whacking them in the area of the genitals with various items such as coat hangers, urinating on teammates while they sit naked in a shower, or shaving a young player’s genitals and painting the area with shoe polish had anything to do with someone’s degree of toughness. And, no, not everyone enjoyed it; in fact, there are players out there who lost their love for the game after being hazed.

Anyway . . . Swansson’s complete piece is right here.


If you haven’t yet read about the Russian people who thought their boys had won yesterday’s WJC final because they were watching a game from another year, well, Check out the thread on Slava Malamud’s tweet . . .


It wasn’t long after Canada had wrapped up its 4-3 championship game victory over Russia at the World Junior Championship on Sunday that Hockey Canada posted a message to social media: Get your gold medal-winning merchandise here.

Just wondering, but how much of the money from the merch goes to the players?


The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer. Canada, of course, will play its games in Edmonton where the arena is almost three times larger than the Centrium in Red Deer.

Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has looked at some numbers and determined that based on the prices being charged for ticket packages, the tournament “has the potential to generate about $38 million in revenues before it sells a single advertisement, corporate sponsorship package or replica sweater.”

In a column that is right here, he suggests the time has come to pay the players — not just the Canadian players, but all of the players.


Reese Kettler, 19, suffered a catastrophic injury while playing for the St. Vital Victorias of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League in Winnipeg on Dec. 19. He was left with four fractured vertebrae and is paralyzed from the chest down. . . . His father, Trevor, has told Winnipeg radio station CJOB that the family is taking things one day at a time. “We’re celebrating the small victories as they occur,” Trevor said. . . . There is a whole lot more right here, including a link to a GoFundMe page.


Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in World Series history, died on New Year’s Day. He was 90. . . . Larsen’s perfect game came while he was with the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series. . . . But there was more, a whole lot more, to Larsen than his right arm. It was outfielder Mickey Mantle who once referred to Larsen as “easily the greatest drinker I’ve known, and I’ve known some pretty good ones in my time.”

Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle reminisced about Larsen:

“In 1956, the Yankees were startled to learn that Larsen had a secret marriage. In July ’55 he had left his wife, Vivian, only three months after she had given birth. According to the Society for American Baseball Research, ‘Don insisted that the marriage be kept secret; he was marrying her only for the sake of the child. He left her with no intention of returning because he was not ready to settle down.’

“Such matters do not remain private for long. In October ’56, Vivian filed a complaint over Larsen’s failure to pay child support. A judge had ruled that Larsen’s World Series share was at risk of being seized by the Bronx Supreme Court — and there was a court order at his locker on the day he took the mound at Yankee Stadium for Game 5 of the World Series.

“Rattled? Not exactly. Larsen pitched the only perfect game in Series history. Up in the press box, New York Daily News writer Joe Trimble experienced a bit of a freeze, unable to find the appropriate beginning to his story. As the story goes, legendary colleague Dick Young leaned over and typed these words into Trimble’s typewriter: ‘The imperfect man pitched a perfect game.’ ”

I happened to stumble across a rebroadcast of Game 5 from the 1956 World Series on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM on Sunday afternoon. Oh my, what a treat to be able to spend some time listening to Mel Allen and Vin Scully.



Referee Mike Dean booked Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho during a recent 1-0 loss to Southampton. “I clearly deserved the yellow card, as I was rude,” Mourinho told reporters. “But I was rude to an idiot.”



General manager Alan Millar announced Monday afternoon that the Moose Jaw Warriors have fired head coach Tim Hunter. The Warriors are 2-15-1 since they last won MooseJawWarriorstwo straight games on Nov. 8 and 9. . . . Hunter, 59, was in his sixth season with the Warriors. In his first season, the Warriors went 32-35-5. This season, they are 11-22-2 and 15 points out of a playoff spot. In between, he never had a losing regular season, but wasn’t able to get past the second round of playoffs. Hunter had a 189-134-33 regular-season record in Moose Jaw. . . . Mark O’Leary, who had been the associate coach, is the new head coach. . . . O’Leary, a 34-year-old native of Owen Sound, Ont., is in his seventh season with the Warriors. . . . Millar is in his 10th season with the Warriors. He was the director of hockey operations for two seasons before being named general manager. Millar said that he chose to make a decision now because Hunter was in the last year of his contract and a new one wasn’t going to be offered. . . . Hunter leaves as the winningest coach, with those 189 victories, and second in games coached (356). . . . O’Leary takes over with a 24-6-5 record, having filled in while Hunter fulfilled Hockey Canada commitments, including a stint as head coach of the national junior team just one year ago. . . . The Warriors, who are scheduled to entertain the Edmonton Oil Kings on Wednesday, are the first WHL team to make a coaching change during this season.


“Maddon’s Post — the Wrigleyville restaurant co-owned by Joe Maddon — closed after just seven months in business and just three months after Maddon was fired as Cubs manager,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Repeat customers figured something was amiss when the bar ran out of relief pitchers.”

——

One more from Perry: “Useful household hint making the rounds on the internet — ‘Remember, every time the Cleveland Browns fire a head coach, you should change the air filter in your furnace.’ ”



JUST NOTES: Just wondering but how long before there is a t-shirt available the front of which is that TV camera with a gold medal hanging from it? . . . Having survived another year of pre- and post-Christmas shopping and a Sunday afternoon trek to Costco, I have reached the conclusion that it is time for big box stores to make shoppers hand over their phones before entering. That is sure to cut down on the near mid-aisle collisions involving those who make sudden stops to check/use their phones. . . . It appears that Dan Lambert, a former player and coach, has survived something of a coaching purge in Nashville where the Predators dumped head coach Peter Laviolette and associate coach Kevin McCarthy, himself a former WHLer, on Monday. Lambert spent the past two seasons as head coach of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs before signing with Nashville over the summer. . . . Thanks to Gary Bettman and the NHL’s regional telecasts, four of the TSN channels available in my home were blacked out on Monday evening. Yeah, that’s the way to market your game.

Silvertips sign Czech prospect. . . . Ice inks pair of import forwards. . . . Warriors’ record-holder now with Mooseheads

MacBeth

F Michal Kvasnica (Portland, 2018-19) has signed a one-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 66 games with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), he had eight goals and 12 assists. . . .

D Travis Ehrhardt (Moose Jaw, Portland, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had five goals and 26 assists in 55 games.


ThisThat

The Everett Silvertips have signed Czech F Michal Gut, who will turn 17 on Aug. 16. He Everettwas their lone selection in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Last season, with Pirati Chomutiov’s U-19 team, he had 14 goals and 20 assists in 34 games. . . . He also had five goals and 13 assists in 25 games with the Czech U-17 side. . . . Gut is in camp with the Czech Republic’s U-18 team this week as it prepares for next month’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup (Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10). As you can see from the above tweet, he scored the winning goal in a 4-1 victory over host Switzerland in Romanshorn on Wednesday. Gut also had an assist. . . . Everett’s second import is veteran F Martin Fasko-Rudas. A Slovakian, Fasko-Rudas, who turns 19 on Aug. 10, is preparing for his third WHL season. He had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 games last season.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed its two selections from the CHL’s 2019 import draft — Czech wpgiceF Michal Teplý, 18, and German F Nino Kinder, 18. . . . Teplý, the fourth-overall selection, was a fourth-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2019 draft. He had four goals and six assists in 23 games with HC Benatky and Jizerou (Czech2) last season. He also had four goals and seven assists in 23 games split between two Billy Tygri Liberec sides. On top of that, he played 38 international games, with U-18, U-19 and U-20 sides, totalling 13 goals and 22 assists. . . . Kinder had 17 goals and 24 assists in 33 games with the U-20 Eisbären Juniors in his hometown of Berlin. He was pointless in five games with the DEL’s Eisbären. He also had seven goals and 11 assists in 16 games with German’s U-18 team. . . . Last season, the Ice used Swiss F Gillian Kohler (one game), D Valtteri Kakkonen and Slovakian D Martin Bodak as imports. . . . Kakkonen, from Finland, had one goal and nine assists in 52 games as a freshman. The 19-year-old has signed with JYP of Finland’s Liiga. . . . Bodak, in his second season, had 11 goals and 14 assists in 58 games as he played out his junior eligibility. Bodak has signed with HC Vitkovice of Czech Republic’s top pro league.


F Michal Kvasnica won’t be back for a second season with the Portland Winterhawks. PortlandKvasnica, 19, is from Ostrava, Czech Republic, and has signed a one-year deal with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season with Portland Winterhawks (WHL) 66 GP, 8+12. . . .  Kvasnica went part of June in a tryout camp with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampeders. . . . The Winterhawks knew that Kvasnica wouldn’t be returning, so released him prior to the CHL’s 2019 import draft. They then selected Swiss F Simon Knak, 17, and Danish D Jonas Brondberg, 18, in the draft. . . . Knak has played in the EHC Kloten organization. Last season, he had 14 goals and 11 assists in 37 games with the U-20 team. He also had five goals and eight assists in five games with the U-17 side, and had one assist in three games with the Kloten team in the NLB. Knak also played 26 games with the U-18 national team. He was the captain, and put up 10 goals and six assists. . . . Brondberg played in Sweden last season, splitting 28 games between two U-18 teams (Växjö Lakers), totalling three goals and six assists. He also had one assist in 21 games with a U-20 team. In 14 international games, he had four assists. Brondberg captained Denmark’s U-18 team at the U-18 IIHF World championship tournament.


Joey Perricone, who holds some of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ career goaltending records, qmjhlhas signed on with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads as their goaltending/video coach. . . . He replaces Marco Raimondo, who left after one season in order to return to Montreal where he will be closer to family. . . . Perricone, 32, worked with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2014-17) and Moncton Wildcats (2017-19). . . . Perricone, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., played five seasons (2003-08) with the Warriors. He holds their career records for victories (93), shutouts (10) and games played (211).


Tweetoftheday