With pandemic ongoing, the WHL’s attendance not pretty picture . . . Oil Kings win 12th straight game . . . BCHL reinstates one Nanaimo coach


Just about the time the Portland Winterhawks and the Royals were facing off in Victoria on Tuesday night, a photo showing part of the crowd was posted on Twitter.

Shortly after it surfaced, a friend sent me a message: “Is Victoria only allowed 15 per cent capacity?”

After the game, with the Royals having announced attendance as 2,070, the WHLfriend sent another note: “Oh my goodness! Is the league as we know it dying in front of us?”

That likely is a bit of an overstatement, but there has to be more than a little concern in WHL circles, especially when the Winnipeg Ice, which plays in a city of more than 800,000 people, announces a crowd of 1,030 as it did on Tuesday night.

No, there aren’t any attendance restrictions in Manitoba sporting facilities these days. The Ice plays in the Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus of the U of Manitoba. The arena’s capacity once was said to be 1,400, but the Ice said in a Feb. 2 news release that the U of M “has confirmed the capacity . . . is 2,000 persons.”

The Ice, of course, played out of Cranbrook through the 2018-19 season, after which owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell packed up and moved to the Manitoba capital.

You may recall Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, visiting Cranbrook in January 2019 and telling people: “The WHL appreciates the support we have received from the City of Cranbrook, the corporate community, and, in particular, hockey fans in the East Kootenay region. However, after many years of monitoring the operations of the Kootenay Ice, it is evident this franchise is not viable in the market moving forward. It is a difficult decision, but given low attendance trends and the support required to operate a WHL Club, it is necessary to move the franchise to a market where it can be sustainable on a long-term basis.”

In 2018-19, its last season in Cranbrook, the Ice’s average announced attendance was 2,214. (BTW, the BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks, in their first season after moving into the Ice’s former home, are drawing 2,199 fans per game, according to hockeydb.)

Announced attendances at Wednesday night’s five WHL games: 2,426 . . . 1,837 . . . 2,035 . . . 2,824 . . . 2,056.

Granted, this has been a tough season thanks to the pandemic and various mandates and restrictions, but according to figures compiled by the WHL the Ice is averaging 1,500 fans through 23 home games. Only the Swift Current Broncos, playing in a city of about 17,000 people, are playing in front of fewer fans — 1,392 through 27 games.

Those same WHL figures show that the 22 teams have an average announced attendance of 3,047 through 586 games. In 2019-20, the season that the pandemic brought to a premature end in March, the average was 4,154 for 694 games. In 2018-19, the last complete season, teams average 4,361 fans for 748 games.

This season, the WHL has three teams averaging more than 4,000 fans per game. There are 13 teams under 3,000.

With attendance numbers where they are and with so many costs on the rise — both for the teams and for the ticket-buying public — one has to think there will be some head-scratching and soul-searching going on in the WHL’s Calgary office and a whole lot of team offices once this season is over . . . if there isn’t already.


Plastic


WEDNESDAY NIGHT IN THE WHL: F Josh Williams, who reached the 100-goal career mark, and F Justin Sourdif each scored twice as the Edmonton Oil Kings ran their winning streak to 12 games by beating the Tigers, 7-3, in Medicine Hat. Williams has 32 goals; Sourdif has 18. F Hayden Wheddon, playing his first WHL game, scored for Edmonton in the second period. Wheddon, from Stonewall, Man., was a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Williams has scored 79 goals with the Oil Kings, after starting his career with 21 for the Tigers. . . .

In Saskatoon, F Brandon Lisowsky scored twice, including his 30th goal of the season at 4:30 of OT, as the Blades beat the Lethbridge Hurricanes, 4-3. F Trae Wilke, who is from Saskatoon, scored his first WHL goal in his first game with the Hurricanes. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was there and his report is right here. . . . Saskatoon has points in seven straight (5-0-2). . . . The Hurricanes are 2-3-0 while on a seven-game road swing with the Canadian men’s curling championship in their home building. . . .

F Nolan Ritchie scored at 1:11 of OT to give the host Brandon Wheat Kings a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Hitmen. Ritchie, who is from Brandon, has 26 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings are sixth in the Eastern Conference, 11 points ahead of Lethbridge and 13 up on Calgary. . . . The Hitmen hold down the last playoff spot, one point ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. . . .

F Blake Swetlikoff scored his ninth goal and added two assists to lead the Spokane Chiefs to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . Matthew Hutchison became the fourth 15-year-old goaltender in Giants’ franchise history to start a game — after Ryan Kubic (2013), Payton Lee (2012) and Tyson Sexsmith (2005). Hutchison, from Nanaimo, stopped 28 shots. He was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2021 draft. . . . G Jesper Vikman, the Giants’ starter, is on the sidelines with an undisclosed injury. . . . Spokane moved into a tie with the idle Prince George Cougars for seventh in the Western Conference, two points behind the Giants. . . .

In Victoria, F Cross Hanas had two goals, giving him 22, and two assists to help the Portland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Royals. Victoria had beaten the Winterhawks, 5-3, on Tuesday night. Last night, the Royals’ second goal came from Danish F Marcus Almquist, who got his first WHL goal in his 29th game. . . . The Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference, one point behind the Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips. . . . The Royals are ninth, three points out of a playoff spot.



The BCHL has reinstated Colin Birkas, the Nanaimo Clippers’ associate  general Nanaimomanager/associate coach, who was suspended early in February while the league had an unidentified independent investigator review what it said were “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . On Wednesday, the league said that while it is reinstating Birkas, “the investigation has been partly completed but is still ongoing.” . . . At the same time, the BCHL said that Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, “will continue on administrative leave until May 31, 2022.” . . . While Naylor and Birkas were sidelined, the Clippers brought in long-time junior coach Bob Beatty to work with assistant coach Ken McPhalen. . . . At the time of the suspensions, Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas filed a civil claim, arguing, according to CHEK News, “that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . . A B.C. Supreme Court judge issued a temporary injunction that would have allowed Naylor and Birkas to continue coaching; however, the team ended up putting the two on administrative leave just prior to what would have been their first game after the league had taken action. . . . With seven games remaining in their regular-season schedule, the Clippers are 29-16-2 and in third place in the nine-team Coastal Conference.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The QMJHL has unveiled its playoff format, with games to begin on May 5 with the final running from June 4 through June 15, depending how many games are needed. The first three rounds will feature best-of-five series with the championship final a best-of-seven series. There is a news release right here.


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


Bedtime


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.


Driving

Cougars’ co-owner opens up on Cat Scan . . . Royals end lengthy skid . . . Veteran coach joins BCHL’s Clippers

Hartley Miller hit another home run with his Cat Scan podcast this week. In his previous two episodes, Miller, the sports director at Vista Radio in Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge, chatted with Rick Brodsky, a former owner of the Cougars and once the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. This week, Miller visited with John Pateman, one of the men who purchased the Cougars from Brodsky and the organization’s president.

Pateman is one of the Cougars’ six owners, and he was quick to admit that these aren’t the best of times. He also talked about the Cougars having received government subsidies to help them through these pandemic times.

“We get an update on attendance around the league every Monday,” Pateman told Miller. “On average, it’s down about 30 per cent. There are people who aren’t vaccinated, there’s people who wearing a mask for two or three hours straight is an issue. There’s people who don’t feel comfortable coming out too much in public . . . that’s been across the league. The attendance being down that much . . . that’s the negative.

“Certainly, a lot of businesses, ourselves included . . . the federal wage subsidy . . . we received significant subsidies through that time period to help us out. The province . . . in August or so, we received significant funds there. We’re probably not losing any more money than we have the last few years. It’s obviously not good but, again, we believe we’re heading into a three- or four-year run. We’ve kind of hurt for six or seven so . . . it’s going to get better.”

According to Pateman, the Cougars have the youngest team in the WHL, but they are on pace to make the playoffs. And, as he said, a good run would certainly help the bottom line.

“We have been able to do some things on the expense side,” he explained. “If we can get into the playoffs and end up having a bit of run that makes a huge difference.”

If the playoffs were to start today, the Cougars would meet the Portland Winterhawks in the first round. Pateman also talked about what that would mean, especially with Taylor Gauthier now Portland’s starting goaltender. The Winterhawks acquired him from the Cougars earlier this season, giving up D Jonas Brøndberg, a 2023 third-round draft pick and a pair of conditional fifth-rounders. Those latter two picks just might be tied into how deep the Winterhawks get in the playoffs, so a first-round meeting with the Cougars could prove interesting.

Pateman also reaffirmed that the Cougars’ owners remain committed to making it work in Prince George.

“Certainly, that is the case,” he told Miller. “Over the next three, four years, all being well, we have a pretty good hockey team and I still think wins make a big difference. If we can get a bit of run in the playoffs at some point over the next year or two or three, I think we’ll have that fan support to at least not lose money to any great degree.

“If we can just pay the bills in the end, we’d be quite happy.”

It runs about 36 minutes, it’s well worth listening to, and it’s all right here.


The WHL announced adjustments to its regular-season schedule on Thursday, WHLindicating that the 68-game season now is to conclude on April 17. If there is a need for tiebreakers, they will be played on April 19. The first round of playoffs is to begin on April 22. . . . The playoffs will include four rounds of best-of-seven series, with the first three rounds all in-conference. The championship final is to start on June 3 and, if seven games are needed, would end on June 14. . . . The WHL’s playoff format is explained right here. . . . The Memorial Cup, which is to be held in Saint John, N.B., is to run from June 20 through June 29. . . . The WHL also announced a number of rescheduled games all of which can be found on the schedule at whl.ca. . . . And, again, make sure you check your favourite team’s schedule for any changes that may have been made.


Agree


The International Ice Hockey Federation had news about a couple of tournaments on Thursday. . . . The 2022 World Junior Championship that got started in Red Deer and Edmonton before being cancelled due to multiple positive tests among players and on-ice officials will be held in Alberta in August. No dates were provided, but Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted that organizers are aiming for Aug. 8-19. . . . If all goes according to plan — in other words, if COVID-19 allows it — the WJC will proceed at some point after the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. It is scheduled for Red Deer early in August. The exact dates haven’t yet been announced. . . . The WJC will feature the same teams that gathered in December with all players who are on those teams still eligible. Results of the few games that were played in December have been scrubbed, so teams will start fresh.

Meanwhile, the U18 Women’s World Championship that was to have been held in Linköping and Mjölby, Sweden, in January now will be played “in June in the north of the USA,” Luc Tardif, the IIHF president, told reporters on Thursday. The 2023 event likely will be held in Sweden. . . . There is a whole lot more on these stories right here.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

EverettMarty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted on Thursday that Shaun Clouston, the Kamloops Blazers’ GM/head coach, said G Dylan Garand isn’t “likely to play this weekend, but injury not expected to keep him out long term.” Garand appeared to suffer an injury to his left leg during the second period of a 6-4 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Wednesday night. . . . That means that G Dylan Ernst started on Friday night against the visiting Everett Silvertips, with Jesse Sanche, 15, on the bench. Sanche plays at OHA in Kelowna. . . . The Silvertips were without G Braden Holt (non-COVID illness) and had Evan May up from the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals to back up Koen MacInnes, who stopped 28 shots to beat the Blazers, 4-1. . . . Everett scored three times in 10:31 in the first period. The Silvertips got two goals from each of F Niko Huuhtanen (28) and F Jackson Berezowski (34). . . . Kamloops F Logan Stankoven had an assist to run his point streak to 18 games. . . . The Western Conference-leading Silvertips now lead the Blazers by five points. . . .

The WHL hasn’t posted a roster/injury report since Feb. 8, so there is no way of knowing how many players tested positive for COVID-19 from then through Feb. 14. The Vancouver Giants experienced some positives and had a couple of games postponed during that time period. . . .

F Adam Kydd’s 10th goal of the season gave Kelowna a 3-1 lead and stood up as the winner as the Rockets beat the Cougars, 3-2, in Prince George. He’s got 14 points, including six goals, in 14 games since coming over from the Calgary Hitmen. On the season, Kydd, 19, has 33 points in 44 games. . . . In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-1. F Matthew Rempe’s 12th goal, at 2:38 of the second period, broke a 1-1 tie. . . .

F Mathew Ward scored three times — it was his first WHL hat trick — and added an assist to lead the host Swift Current Broncos to a 7-2 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. He’s got 46 points, including 18 goals, in 44 games. Ward, 18, now has 68 career points in 68 regular-season games. . . . F Connor Bedard drew the lone assist on F Cole Carrier’s game-tying goal at 15:29 of the third period and then won it with this 30th goal of the season 24 seconds into OT as the Regina Pats beat the Raiders, 5-4, in Prince Albert. Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and filed this piece right here. . . .

F Nate Danielson scored three times, giving him 18 this season, and F Ridly Greig put up three assists in his hometown as the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the host Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-2. The Wheat Kings wrapped it up with two empty-net goals. . . . In Red Deer, F Arshdeep Bains scored two goals — he’s got 25 — and added to assists as the Rebels beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-3. Bains broke a 3-3 tie with his second goal at 9:12 of the third period. . . .

F Zach Benson scored the game’s last two goals as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Hitmen, 3-1, in Calgary. Benson, who has 16 goals, scored at 2:00 and 17:52 of the third period. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme had three third-period goals to spark the Portland Winterhawks to a 6-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. Fromm-Delorme, who has eight goals and 11 assists in 18 games, completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:06 of the third period. His first career multi-goal game came in his 157th game. Fromm-Delorme has missed 30 games this season; he was playing just his second game since returning from an injury. . . . In Langley, B.C., the Victoria Royals got a goal and two assists from F Tarun Fizer, their captain, as they snapped a 17-game losing skid with a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants. The Royals broke a 1-1 tie with three goals in 2:57, scoring at 19:27 of the first period and 2:09 and 2:24 of the second. The Royals are 13-29-5, with seven of the victories coming over the Giants.


With two coaches suspended pending an independent investigation, the BCHL’s NanaimoNanaimo Clippers have added veteran coach Bob Beatty to their staff. Beatty was behind the bench Friday night, along with assistant Ken McPhalen, as the Clippers dropped a 5-0 decision to the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs. . . . Darren Naylor, Nanaimo’s vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, were suspended by the BCHL for what the league has said are alleged “Code of Conduct breaches.” . . . Beatty spent 17 seasons coaching (1996-2013) in the SJHL and then was in the BCHL for four seasons with the Cowichan Valley Capitals. He was at Shawnigan Lake School for two seasons (2017-19) before joining the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons prior to the 2019-20 season. He left the Oil Barons on Jan. 14, 2020. Most recently, he has been scouting for the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires.



THINKING OUT LOUD:

If you missed it — if you blinked you likely did — MLB and the MLBPA met again on Thursday. This negotiating session lasted all of 15 minutes. . . . Before the owners locked out the players, pitchers and catchers were to have begun reporting three days ago. . . . There isn’t much doubt now but that Opening Day is in jeopardy and there are those who suggest — wait for it! — that the entire season is in danger of not happening. . . . Oh wait! Owners and players say they are prepared to meet every day next week. Don’t hold your breath for a deal. . . . On Friday, it was announced that they already have flushed away the first week of spring training games. . . .

I saw a graphic on Thursday that showed the entire coaching staff of the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars. Head coach Doug Pederson has a staff of 23 assistant coaches. Yes, 23! . . . When I first had anything to do with covering the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers for the late, great Tribune in the mid-1970s, I believe head coach Bud Riley had four assistants one season and three the next. . . . And then, on Friday, I happened upon a list showing the Miami Dolphins’ coaching staff. Head coach Mike McDaniel has 26 assistants. Yes, 26! . . .

Derek Taylor, the radio voice of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders, revealed on Thursday that he won’t be back for a third season at CKRM. Speculation has him ending up in Winnipeg, where the Blue Bombers will have a new play-by-play voice on CJOB following the retirement of Bob Irving, or back at TSN, where he was before moving to Regina. Hmmm! I’m thinking TSN. . . .

It would seem more obvious than ever that the rest of the curling world has caught up with Canada, at least it has if we can go by the results from the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. I don’t know what it means but it sure is interesting to see just how many Canadians are coaching Olympic curling teams from other countries. . . .

Here’s how Jesse Campigotto of CBC Sports’ The Buzzer summed it up: “So, has the rest of the world ‘caught up’ to Canada in curling? In terms of depth, no. This country still produces roughly half of the top 10 men’s and women’s teams. But you can only send one to the big international tournaments. And it’s becoming clear that, here, the players wearing the maple leaf are no longer exceptional. At best, they’re first among equals. Often, they’re simply among equals.”


Quiz


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.


Facebook

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after an entertaining Super Bowl — it was great to see Meadow and A.J. again, too . . .

Scattershooting2

Rick Brodsky spent somewhere around 40 years involved in the WHL. His family owned the Saskatoon Blades and he later purchased the Victoria Cougars, operating the franchise in the B.C. capital for two seasons before moving it to Prince George. He even did a stint as chairman of the WHL’s board of directors. . . . Brodsky recently appeared on Hartley’s Cat Scan — a podcast that is owned and operated by Hartley Miller, a longtime Prince George radio voice and analyst on Cougars’ home broadcasts. . . . Brodsky’s visit was so good that Miller split it into two parts. . . . And it is really good stuff. . . . Part 1 is right here. . . . Part 2 is right here.


When Nanaimo beat the host Powell River Kings 7-3 in a Saturday night BCHL game, the Clippers had assistant coaches Ken McPhalen and Bob Foglietta running the bench for a second straight game. That’s because Darren Naylor, the general manager and head coach, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, were placed on administrative league by the BCHL, a move later endorsed by Clippers’ owner Wes Mussio, pending the outcome of an investigation. The BCHL has appointed what it says is an independent investigator to look into allegations of breaches of a Code of Conduct. . . . The Clippers are next scheduled to play on Friday against the visiting Chilliwack Chiefs.


WR Cooper Kupp of the Los Angeles Rams finally got his MVP award after his side beat the Cincinnati Bengals, 23-20, in Sunday’s Super Bowl. The easy thing, it seems, is to give the NFL’s regular-season MVP award to a quarterback, but Kupp won a Triple Crown of sorts, leading all receivers in receptions, touchdowns and yardage. Kupp was saluted as the NFL’s offensive player of the year after what was one of the greatest offensive seasons in the league’s history, but he deserved to be the MVP. Instead, the award went to QB Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers.


Put it on your calendar: The next Super Bowl is scheduled for State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 12, 2023. . . . After that, it’s on to Las Vegas for 2024 and New Orleans in 2025. . . . The game on Sunday was quite entertaining, but, yes, the 2021 Grey Cup game was more exciting.


Hose


“Five female competitors were disqualified from the Olympic mixed team ski-jump final near Beijing because officials said their jumpsuits didn’t comply with the rules,” reported Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The NFL, simply out of habit, piled on with a $10,000 fine.”

——

Perry, again: “SiriusXM fired PGA Tour Radio analyst Mark Lye after he said on-air ‘I’ll shoot myself’ rather than watch a WNBA game. Now they call him Unplayable Lye.”




Back in the day when Kevin Kaminski was known as Killer and was putting up points and penalty minutes with the Saskatoon Blades (1986-89), I don’t know how many people saw him as a coach. But here we are. He’s now the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves and they are saluting him for putting up the 600th career coaching victory on Saturday night. . . . Kaminski has been the head coach of the Long Beach Ice Dogs (WCHL and ECHL), Missouri River Otters (UHL), Youngstown Steelhounds (CHL), Mississippi River Kings (CHL), Louisiana IceGators (SPHL), Portland Jr. Pirates (USPHL Elite), Louisiana Drillers (NA3HL), Fresno Monsters (WSHL) and now the Ice Wolves. . . . All that and he’s still on 52 years of age. . . . The Ice Wolves beat the host Melfort Mustangs, 5-4, on Saturday night for No. 600.


Two sporting figures were guilty of really telling it like it is last week. . . . Here’s Mike McDaniel after signing on as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach, when asked how he feels when someone points out his lack of head-coaching experience: “The thing that trips me up is every single head coach in the history of football has never been a head coach until he’s been a head coach. Everyone has to have their first time.” . . . And then there’s legendary surfer Kelly Slater, who is retiring at the age of 50 but told The Associated Press that he’s not worried about future plans: “Everyone who retires from surfing just goes surfing more.”


gas


THINKING OUT LOUD:

It was in the wee hours of Friday when Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa put a big bow on an 8-5 victory over Canada’s Jennifer Jones in a women’s curling match at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. I watched a lot of it and must say I don’t know that I have ever seen a team in any sport have as much fun and do as much smiling as the Fujisawa foursome. . . .

When Pittsburgh played the host Ottawa Senators on Thursday night, Penguins star Sidney Crosby was gunning for his 500th regular-season goal. If you live in Canada, the game was only available via TV in the Ottawa zone. The rest of us got to listen to the bizarre Jack Edwards cheering his Boston Bruins on to a 6-0 loss at the hands of the visiting Carolina Hurricanes. . . . On Friday night, with Jay Woodcroft and Dave Manson making their debuts behind the bench as the Oilers played the New York Islanders, the game was blacked out everywhere but in the Edmonton zone. . . . The NHL really makes it easy to become less and less of a fan. . . . BTW, the Penguins are home to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night and you know that the hockey gods will see to it that Crosby gets No. 500 in that one. . . .

So . . . F Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins punched Pittsburgh Penguins G Tristan Jarry in the head, albeit with a gloved hand, and then poked him in the facemark with his stick. That resulted in a six-game suspension for Marchand, who later told Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic: “Of course it was stupid. I’m not denying that. I absolutely should not have done it. But suspension-worthy? I don’t think so.” . . . Marchand is appealing the suspension. Perhaps the NHL should overturn it and then give him 10 games for stupidity. . . . BTW, this is the NHL-record eighth time Marchand has been suspended. That’s one more time than the retired and nasty Chris Pronger. . . .

It’s just about time for Elon Musk or Richard Branson or one of those other guys who don’t pay taxes to put the guy who is in the ice bath in the garbage can and the gal on the forklift platform into one of their rocket ships and send them to the sun. Please! . . .

The best of the Super Bowl commercials? I would vote for the Chevy ad that featured Meadow and A.J. . . . E.J. Schultz of Ad Age has an excellent story right here on the commercial and its ties to the original opening to The Sopranos. Good stuff.


Moray


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.


Bob

Clippers go along with BCHL and put coaches on leave pending investigation; two assistants run bench in win; interim staff to be installed


Most times the action in a junior hockey league is on the ice with one team playing another. But these days in the BCHL it’s league versus team in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

Or is it?

Let’s recap . . .

The BCHL informed players on the Nanaimo Clippers via email on Tuesday that Darren Naylor, the vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach, had been placed on administrative leave while a league-appointed independent investigator reviewed “allegations of Code of Conduct breaches.” . . .

With the Clippers next scheduled to play last night (Friday) against the host NanaimoPowell River Kings, the league told the players that it would put another coach in place in order to keep their season going. . . .

On Thursday, the Clippers, Naylor and Birkas received a temporary injunction from a BC Supreme Court justice after filing a lawsuit that also asked for damages from the BCHL. . . . However, Naylor and Birkas weren’t on the Clippers’ bench for a 6-4 victory over the Kings last night. Instead, assistants Ken McPhalen and Bob Foglietta did the coaching. . . . The teams are to play again tonight in Powell River. . . .

On Friday night, the BCHL issued a statement via email, saying that the Clippers “without notice to the BCHL” had “made an ex parte injunction application and obtained a court order restraining the BCHL from placing the coaches on leave. The BCHL will be applying to have the order set aside.” . . .

The Clippers are owned by Wes Mussio, whose bio on the team website says he is a personal injury/estate litigation lawyer and the managing partner and founder of Mussio Goodman Law. . . .

Victoria-based CHEK News reported Friday that “a notice of civil claim was filed . . . by Clippers Hockey Limited Partnership, Naylor and Birkas, arguing that the league acted ‘erroneously and in a high-handed manner’ in issuing the suspensions when no allegations have been proven, irreparably damaging the coaches’ reputations and putting the team’s season in jeopardy because there are no alternate coaches to take over.” . . .

According to CHEK News, “The lawsuit indicates that the Nanaimo Clippers organization conducted its own internal investigation into the allegations after being alerted to the BCHL investigation at the start of the season in October 2021 and found no wrongdoing.” . . . The Clippers, including the two coaches, “argued that the complainants who first brought forward the allegations were mostly disgruntled former employees and former billet parents ‘who have significant motivation to lie, exaggerate and attack without evidence in support as they had a falling out with the coaches before leaving the Clippers organizations.’ ”

The CHEK News story is right here.

But, wait, there’s more . . .

Shortly after Friday’s game ended, the Clippers issued a statement that was signed by Mussio.

According to the statement, the Clippers have decided to “place their coaching staff on temporary leave to allow the BCHL to complete their internal investigation process. . . .

“We stand with our players and will allow them to continue the push for the conference title without any further distractions. An interim coaching staff will be implemented forthwith while the BCHL also has a chance to investigate the allegations to their satisfaction.”

So . . . it would seem that takes the whole mess out of the courts and back into the BCHL’s boardroom.

Stay tuned. . . .


Change


G Kelton Pyne benefited from F Connor Bedard’s five-point night as the host ReginaRegina Pats beat the Calgary Hitmen, 5-0, on Friday night. Pyne, 16, was making his second appearance with the Pats, whose two regular goaltenders are sidelined with concussions. He stopped 24 shots in posting his first victory. . . . Bedard scored three times, giving him 28 on the season. He has 52 points in 35 games, including 28 in his last 11 outings. . . . Don’t be sleeping on Regina F Tanner Howe, either. Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, had two assists. He’s got 38 points, including 22 assists, in 37 games. . . . If you track such things, Regina assistant coach Brad Herauf earned his first WHL head-coaching victory as he filled in for an ailing John Paddock. . . .

G Taylor Gauthier of the Portland Winterhawks had his shutout streak halted at Portland251:11 in an 8 -1 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane. While Gauthier set a franchise record for longest shutout streak, he fell short of the record (265:13) set by Chris Worthy of the Flin Flon Bombers in 1967-68. . . . F Cross Hanas scored three times for Portland, once on a penalty shot. He has six goals and 11 assists over his past six games. . . . According to the Winterhawks, Mike Johnston made his 700th regular-season appearance behind their bench. The WHL record (1,411) is held by Ken Hodge, who coached the original Edmonton Oil Kings and the Winterhawks. . . . The Chiefs and Winterhawks are in a stretch of five straight games against each other; Portland has won the first three — 7-3, 9-0 and 8-1. . . . The game was Ryan Smith’s first as Spokane’s head coach after he took over from Adam Maglio on Thursday. . . .

G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades stopped 29 shots in a 4-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. That was the 112th regular-season victory of his career, eight shy of the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver Giants, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops Blazers, 1988-92). . . .

G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 21 shots as the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings beat the Red Deer Rebels, 4-0. The Rebels could have closed to within four points of the Central Division-leading Oil Kings, but instead fell eight points off the pace. . . . Cossa leads the WHL with five shutouts this season. He has 13 in 84 career appearances. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, beaten 4-3 by visiting Tri-City on Wednesday, scored Kamloopsfour times in the first period en route to a 6-1 victory over the Americans. F Luke Toporowski scored twice and added two assists, while linemate Logan Stankoven ran his point streak to 15 games with two goals and a helper. . . . Toporowski has 13 goals and seven assists in 11 games since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Stankoven, who has 63 points in 36 games, has 34 points in that 15-game tear. . . . BTW, a Kamloopsian contacted me with a friendly reminder for the four Tri-City players who were in a downtown Tim Hortons sans face masks on Friday morning: There is mask mandate in B.C. that takes in all public indoor settings. Hey, guys, not a good look to be wearing team colours and not abiding by provincial mandates. . . .

In other games . . . D Max Wanner (4), F Jagger Firkus (27) and D Daemon Hunt (13) each had a goal and assist to lead the host Moose Jaw Warriors to a 3-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . F Connor Hvidston’s sixth goal, at 2:36 of OT, gave the Swift Current Broncos a 4-3 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . F Pavel Novak scored the only goal of the shootout as the host Kelowna Rockets beat Everett, 4-3, snapping the Silvertips’ eight-game winning streak in the process. Czech freshman Gabriel Szturc scored his eight goal for the Rockets, this one was special because his parents were in the stands. . . . F Ty Thorpe scored twice to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 4-1 victory over the Cougars in Prince George. The Giants had had their previous two games postponed due to some positive tests within the organization. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last six goals — two each from F Lukas Svejkovsky and Reid Schaefer — as they beat the Royals 6-1 in Victoria.


Scrabble


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.


Dinos

WHL positive tests somewhere above 150 . . . Winterhawks, Gauthier on real roll . . . BCHL suspends Nanaimo coaches pending investigation

Dan Courneyea, our man at the Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, was on hand Beijingfor the opening day of the men’s hockey competition on Wednesday.

“Well . . . that was an interesting first day of men’s ice hockey,”  he reported. “ROC almost lost to the Swiss, who played a great game. A bounce is how that game ended.

“Denmark has come to play! They also played a great game and beat Czechia in what I saw was a big upset. Denmark, as a team, played very well with their goalie standing on his head.”

ROC scored a first-period goal and hung on for a 1-0 victory over Switzerland. In the other game to which our man referred, Denmark, playing in the Olympics for the first time, got past Czechia, 2-1.

In one other game, Sweden eked out a 3-2 victory over Latvia.

“Three games today,” he added. “It’s just going to get better as it goes along.”

Games on the second day (Thursday) will have Slovakia meeting Finland (National Indoor Stadium, 12:40 a.m. PT), China taking on the U.S. (5:10 a.m. PT, NIS), and Canada versus Germany (5:10 a.m. PT, Wukesong Sports Centre).

There is a women’s game Thursday, too, with Czechia and the U.S. meeting in a quarterfinal at 8:10 p.m. PT. On Friday, it’ll be Sweden and Canada at 5:10 a.m. PT and Switzerland versus ROC at 8:10 p.m. PT. The other quarterfinal will have Japan playing Finland on Saturday at 12:40 a.m. PT.


According to the WHL’s weekly roster/injury report, teams didn’t report any players in COVID-19 protocol until after the Christmas break. Since then, teams have shown 149 players having been in protocol.

However, the real number isn’t known because four teams — the Kamloops WHLBlazers, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels — haven’t listed even one player as having been in protocol. Interestingly, each of those teams has been shut down by the WHL at one point or another. Kamloops, Medicine Hat and Red Deer were among 15 teams that were told to pause team activities on Jan. 7 “as a result of multiple players and staff being added” to the protocol list “due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive for COVID-19.”

Also on Jan. 7, the WHL announced that Lethbridge had been “cleared to resume team activities” after it had been put on pause.

That figure of 149 also doesn’t include staff members who have  tested positive.

Here are the WHL teams who have reported having had players in protocol since returning from the Christmas break — Saskatoon Blades, 18; Seattle Thunderbirds, 17; Swift Current Broncos, Victoria Royals, each 14; Tri-City Americans, 13; Prince George Cougars, 11; Everett Silvertips, 10; Prince Albert Raiders, 9; Portland Winterhawks, 8; Spokane Chiefs, Vancouver Giants, each 7; Edmonton Oil Kings, Kelowna Rockets, Moose Jaw Warriors, Winnipeg Ice, each 4; Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Hitmen, each 2; and Regina Pats, 1.

As well, Spokane had two players test positive in November, but they weren’t shown on the roster report.


Airport


The Spokane Chiefs were in Portland for a Wednesday night date with the PortlandWinterhawks, the second of five straight games between these teams. . . . Portland, which had posted a 7-3 victory in Spokane on Saturday, delivered a quick message with five first-period goals, en route to a 9-0 victory. . . . They’ll play the next three in Spokane — on Friday, Saturday and Tuesday — and finish their season series on Feb. 20 in Portland. . . . Portland has points in 17 straight games — 16-0-1. . . . After last night, Portland is 7-1-0 in the season series; Spokane is 1-6-1. . . . Also last night, Portland G Taylor Gauthier, a recent acquisition from the Prince George Cougars, set a franchise record for longest shutout streak. He now has put up three straight shutouts and the shutout streak is at 232:19. The previous record (174:57) was set by Brendan Burke during the 2013-14 season. . . . In nine starts with Portland, Gauthier, who will turn 21 on Tuesday, is 9-0-0, 1.33, .954. His three shutouts leave him with nine in his WHL career.


Some Super Bowl trivia for you just in case you are trying to impress someone between now and Sunday. . . . In nine different Super Bowl games, there has been a starting quarterback named Joe — Namath, Kapp, Montana (4 times), Flacco, Theismann and Burrow. . . . In 10 different Super Bowl games, there has been a starting QB named Tom — Brady.


The BCHL has notified players with the Nanaimo Clippers that it “has appointed bchlan independent investigator to review allegations of Code of Conduct breaches” by Darren Naylor, the team’s vice-president, general manager, head coach and director of hockey operations, and Colin Birkas, the associate GM and associate coach. . . . In a Tuesday email from the Executive Committee to “Nanaimo Clippers Players,” the players were informed that the BCHL “has placed the coaches on temporary administrative leave while the investigation proceeds. At this time, the allegations are allegations only; no findings have been made against the coaches.” . . . According to the BCHL, it “cannot comment on particulars of the investigation itself due to privacy laws . . .” The letter also informs players that they may be contacted by the investigator “to discuss the allegations. It is very important for all concerned, particularly the game of hockey, that you provide the investigator with your full and honest cooperation. This is not the time for silence or silencing others; no one should lie on any person’s behalf for any reason.” . . . The league has told the Nanaimo players that “we will be advising your billets about this situation” and “we strongly encourage you to inform your parents as soon as possible as they will want to hear this development from you first . . . Please do not hesitate to reach out for support, whether it is to your parents, your billets or the league.” . . . The letter also indicates that the league will be “appointing an interim coaching solution to continue your day-to-day team activities and games.” . . . The Clippers are 23-13-2 and five points out of first place in the nine-team Coastal Division. They are scheduled to be in Powell River for games with the Kings on Friday and Saturday nights.


Pipe


Chad Harden, who scouts for the Calgary Hitmen, will be back in the Calgary Stampede’s chuckwagon races this year. Krista Sylvester of the Calgary Citizen reports that Harden, who was facing a potential lifetime ban after an accident in the 2019 Rangeland Derby, has been invited to return and has accepted the invitation. Harden received a stiff reprimand after the accident in which one horse died and three others were injured. A driver since 2000, Harden also was fined $10,000 and had to pay $10,000 for the horse that was killed. . . . Sylvester’s story is right here.


The Regina Pats ran out of goaltenders this week. Yes, they did! That’s how PatsKelton Pyne, a 16-year-old from White City, Sask., came to make his WHL debut with 36 saves in a 6-3 loss to the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday. . . . Matthew Kieper and Drew Sim, the two goaltenders on the Pats’ roster, both are sidelined with concussions. . . . Pyne wasn’t selected in the WHL draft and has been on the Pats’ protected list since last fall. . . . He is a regular with the U-18 Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League. . . . The Pats are scheduled to meet the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Friday and then visit the Saskatoon Blades on Saturday. Regina’s goaltenders are expected to be Pyne and Spencer Welke, who has come in from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post has more on this story right here.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League will have a new team — the Logan Lake LoganLakeMinersMiners — when the 2022-23 season arrives. The Miners will play out of the Logan Lake Recreation Centre. As an independent team, they will, according to a news release, feature players “enrolled in full-time courses at Thompson Rivers University and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.” . . . Those schools are located in Kamloops and Merritt, respectively. . . . Logan Lake will get a look at a couple of BCIHL teams this weekend as the Okanagan Lakers meet Vancouver Island University at the Recreation Centre on Friday and Saturday nights. There won’t be an admission charge for either game, but public health guidelines will be in place. . . . The BCIHL’s news release is right here.


Bed


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.


Barrow

Canucks to return on Sunday vs. Leafs . . . Wheat Kings get new GM . . . BCIHL may add some Heat

OK. We think that the Vancouver Canucks’ schedule has been settled on . . . at least for now.

The Canucks, who last played on March 24 and have been in the midst of a CanucksCOVID-19 outbreak since March 30, are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and Tuesday nights. Earlier in the week, the schedule called for the Edmonton Oilers to visit Vancouver on Friday with the Maple Leafs there on Saturday.

The schedule, as it now sits, has the Canucks concluding their 56-game season by playing 19 games in 32 nights. They actually began the season by playing 19 times in 34 nights.

F Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ captain, addressed the media on Friday and provided some insight into what the club has been through.

“I’ve had the flu before,” he said, “and this doesn’t hit you like a normal flu. It’s not something you want to get, it’s not something you want your family go through either. I can’t stress enough to follow the protocols.”

Horvat also said that he had passed the virus on to his wife, Holly, and that “it hit her a little harder than it hit me.”

“I’m one of the lucky ones,” he said. “My symptoms were fairly mild . . . I’m not going to lie. It was tough to know my family got it from me.”

At the same time, Jim Benning, the Canucks’ general manager, confirmed that the team had been hit by the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil. It is more aggressive than the original virus, which explains why the Canucks, as a group, had so much more illness than any of the other teams that have been hit this season.

Benning also said that the Canucks have three or four players who may not be ready to return on Sunday, while head coach Travis Green, who also tested positive, has yet to return to the practice ice. The team is hopeful that he will be on the ice today.

Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet has more right here.

And there’s a story right here from Karen Larsen of CBC News.


Before Kelly McCrimmon left to join the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, he had been the Brandon Wheat Kings’ general manager since 1989, or for 27 seasons.

With Friday’s announcement that Darren Ritchie is leaving, the club promoted BrandonDoug Gasper, making him its third general manager since McCrimmon’s departure.

Grant Armstrong, who had been the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, succeeded McCrimmon as Brandon’s GM on Aug. 23, 2016.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7, 2019, that they wouldn’t be renewing Armstrong’s contract.

On July 12, 2019, Ritchie was promoted to general manager. He will be leaving after the completion of this season to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. He spent 14 seasons with Brandon, moving up from assistant coach (2007-16) to director of scouting (2016-19) and then into the GM’s office.

Gasper, a familiar face in WHL circles, joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019. From Rosetown, Sask., he had been scouting for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks before joining the Wheat Kings. He also spent six seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, including a stint as their director of scouting (2015-17). Gasper also has scouted for the Prince Albert Raiders.

Ritchie will work for Toronto out of Brandon; Gasper will be relocating to Brandon from Saskatoon at some point in May.

The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here.

McCrimmon sold the franchise in September to the Brandon-based J&G Group of Companies, headed up by Jared Jacobson, the president and CEO.


The BCHL announced Friday that the Nanaimo Clippers “have been cleared to Nanaimoresume team activities.” The organization had been shut down Thursday to allow for further analysis of a COVID-19 test. It was found to be a negative, so the shackles have been removed. . . . The Clippers are scheduled to play the Victoria Grizzlies this afternoon in Port Alberni. Nanaimo’s Thursday night game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs had been postponed because of the COVID-19 scare. . . . In that cohort on Friday night, Victoria beat the Cowichan Valley Capitals, 10-0.


The B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League is exploring adding an expansion franchise in Kelowna — the UBCO Heat, which would call UBC’s Okanagan campus home. . . . The Heat has put together a committee that, according to its Facebook page, “now is recruiting marketing staff and potential student-athletes to help build a new team for the BCIHL in Kelowna.” . . . The BCIHL is down to three active teams, with the Trinity Western Spartans moving to USport’s Canada West conference and Selkirk College having cancelled its hockey program. . . . You know that expansion will be on the agenda when the BCIHL holds is annual general meeting virtually on May 18 and 19.


Donuts


It would appear that Mark Rassell, a former WHLer, is thinking about a new career! A native of Calgary, he played four seasons (2014-18) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, then spent two seasons at the U of New Brunswick. . . . He doesn’t mention here whether he knows how to drive a bus, though.


The Kelowna Rockets are scheduled to return to game action tonight in Kamloops against the Prince George Cougars. The Rockets have played only two games in this developmental season, having been sidelined since March 28 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. While the original schedule had the Rockets playing 24 games, the one now on the WHL website has them with 13 games remaining. . . .

Meanwhile, there were four games played on Friday night . . .

F Owen Pederson broke a 3-3 tie at 10:27 of the third period and F Michael Milne Winnipegadded another at 12:30 as the Winnipeg Ice beat the Swift Current Broncos, 5-4, in Regina. . . . Pederson, who has 10 goals, and Milne, who has three, each scored twice in this one. . . . D Owen Williams (4) got the Broncos’ last goal at 15:57 of the third. . . . While the Ice improved to 13-5-0, the Broncos (3-14-1) have lost seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had his point streak snapped at 16 games. Krebs put up nine goals and 21 assists over that stretch. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon, who had his 12th goal and an assist, ran his streak to 11 games. He has 12 goals and 15 assists in 18 games and has only been blanked twice. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 40 shots for Winnipeg. . . . Swift Current was presented with the only PP opportunities of the game, and went 1-for-5. . . . The Ice went into the game with a PP that was running at a 34.6 efficiency rate (27-for-78), behind only to the Medicine Hat Tigers (41.8). . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the visiting TigersRed Deer Rebels, 4-2. . . . F Ben King scored both Red Deer goals, at 10:14 of the first period and 4:36 of the second. He has seven goals, and has put up four goals and five assists over his past five games. All told, he’s got seven goals and 10 assists in 15 games for a Red Deer team that now is 2-13-2 and has lost 10 in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo (12) scored twice for the Tigers, getting them started at 13:34 of the second period and adding the insurance goal at 13:08 of the third. . . . Hopwo has goals in seven straight games. . . . F Brett Kemp (9) tied the game, at 3:29 of the third, and D Eric Van Impe (3) snapped the tie just 33 seconds later. . . . The Tigers, with points in seven straight (6-0-1), now are 10-3-1. . . . Medicine Hat was 3-for-5 with the man advantage. . . .

The Everett Silvertips scored three goals in the second half of the third period to Everettbeat the host Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-3. . . . Everett, which had lost two in a row, improved to 10-3-0. . . . Seattle, which had won its previous two games, now is 7-6-0. . . . F Gage Goncalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 17:20 of the third period and F Cole Fonstad made it 2-0 just 50 seconds later. . . . Seattle F Henry Rybinski (4) scored in his third straight game, getting his guys on the board at 10:03 of the second period. . . . F Jared Davidson (5) put Seattle out front with goals at 13:48 of the second and 9:25 of the third. Davidson also assisted on Rybinski’s goal. . . . The Silvertips tied it on F Jacob Wright’s fifth goal, at 10:15. . . . Goncalves, who has 10 goals, broke the tie at 11:17 and Fonstad, now with 10 goals, got the empty-netter. He also had an assist. . . . Goncalves also had two assists. He has 19 points in 13 games. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf stopped 34 shots. He’s 9-2-0, 1.81, .938. . . . Seattle dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum, with F Payton Mount sitting out this one. He was taken to hospital following a game on Tuesday after being struck on the head by a puck that glanced off the wall behind the Seattle bench. He was checked over and released on Wednesday morning. . . .

In Kelowna, F Jonny Hooker broke a 2-2 tie at 18:08 of the second period and PGthe Prince George Cougars went on to a 5-2 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . Victoria (1-8-1), which has lost five straight, led 1-0 after one period on a PP goal by F Brayden Tracey (6). . . . D Majid Kaddoura (1) pulled the Cougars even at 2:09 of the second period and D Keaton Dowhaniuk (1) gave them the lead just 1:14 later. . . . Dowhaniuk, the third overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal. . . . F Trentyn Crane, a fifth-round pick in 2018, got the Royals into a tie at 11:40 with his first WHL score. . . . Hooker broke the tie, and F Kuren Gronick (2) and F Tyson Upper (1) added insurance in the last minute of the period. . . . Prince George (4-3-2) outshot Victoria, 41-21, and had a 39-16 edge in the face-off circle.


Carpenter


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Gaelan Patterson is leaving the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves to take over as director of hockey operations for the Nanaimo Minor Hockey Association. Patterson, 30, who played four seasons (2006-10) with the Saskatoon Blades, joined the Ice Wolves prior to the 2018-19 season. From La Ronge, he had been the Ice Wolves’ associate GM/associate head coach. . . . Blaine Gusdal won’t be returning for a 14th season as the head coach of the U of Alberta-Augustana Vikings. The school made the announcement on March 31. Gusdal, 53, is from Erickson, Man. He played two WHL seasons (1984-86), splitting time between the Prince Albert Raiders (one game), Moose Jaw Warriors (59) and Saskatoon Blades (34).


Brunch

Canucks’ sked remains unsettled . . . BCHL’s Clippers put on hold . . . Shutouts gone wild in WHL


One day after F J.T. Miller said he and his Vancouver Canucks teammates needed more time to recover from a COVID-19 outbreak before returning to game Canucksaction, the NHL scrubbed at least one of their upcoming games.

The Canucks, who haven’t played since March 24, have been in the middle of the outbreak since March 30.

They were scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers tonight (Friday) and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. The NHL acted Thursday to postpone the game against Edmonton, and more changes could be announced today.

Including tonight’s game, the Canucks have had nine games postponed.

The Canucks had at least 21 players test positive, along with four members of the coaching staff, including head coach Travis Green. After once having 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, only three players were there on Thursday — F Nils Hoglander, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

On Wednesday evening, the Canucks had indicated that their Thursday morning practice — the first since March 31 — would be open to the media. However, Canucks PR (@CanucksPR) tweeted on Thursday at 9:08 a.m., saying that “today’s practice, originally scheduled open to media, is now a closed practice.”

Miller, who was able to escape the virus, had said on Wednesday that “it’s kind of frustrating if I’m being 100 per cent honest with you. We try to talk about the No. 1 priority is the players’ health and the families’ safety, and it’s almost impossible to achieve that with what they’ve asked us to do here on our return.”


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers stopped all team activities on Thursday “to allow Nanaimofor further analysis of a potential positive COVID-19 test result,” the league announced. . . . All team members, who have been tested once a week since the BCHL returned with a pod-type season, went into isolation until results are confirmed one way or the other. . . . The league said it would “provide an update once further analysis has been completed.” There wasn’t an update as of Thursday at 10 p.m. PT. . . . The Clippers were to have played the Alberni Valley Bulldogs last night, but that game was postponed. . . . The Clippers, Bulldogs, Victoria Grizzlies and Cowichan Valley Capitals have been playing in Alberni Valley under the cohort format. . . . Victoria and Cowichan Valley are scheduled to play tonight, with Nanaimo and Victoria on tap for a Saturday afternoon game, followed by the Capitals and Bulldogs that night.


Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, held a news conference on Thursday morning.

Among other things, she indicated that the OHL won’t be starting up anytime soon.

With COVID-19 and variant numbers on the rise in many jurisdictions, including Ontario, she said: “The ground has shifted significantly. . . . We will not be putting young athletes at risk.”

There is a whole lot more right here from Queen’s Park Briefing.


Radio-Canada reported Thursday morning that the 2021 Canadian Grand Prix has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for June 13 in Montreal. According to Radio-Canada, “Montreal public health authorities concluded that even behind closed doors without spectators, the risk of spreading COVID-19 during the Formula One event is too high.”


Boxes


Shutouts were the order of the night in the WHL on Thursday, with three goaltenders in the spotlight . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart scored three times to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 4-1 Bladesvictory over the Pats in the Regina hub. . . . Rhinehart, who went into the game with one goal, came out of it with his first career hat-trick. Interestingly, Regina’s lone goal went in off one of Rhinehart’s skates. It was credited to F Logan Nijhoff. . . . The last Saskatoon defenceman with three goals in one regular-season game? Ryan Flaherty (@RFlahertyGlobal) tweeted that Darren Dietz had four goals in a 7-3 victory over Swift Current on Feb. 17, 2012. . . . Rhinehart scored his first two goals at 8:07 and 11:41 of the first period. . . . Nijhoff counted his ninth goal at 3:08 of the second, but Rhinehart got that one back at 18:23. . . . Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (8) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon had a 35-21 edge in shots, including 16-3 in the third period. . . . The Blades (14-2-2) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Pats, who are 0-3 since F Connor Bedard left to join Canada’s U18 team, are 6-9-3. . . . The Pats were without F Zack Smith, who absorbed a headshot from D Landon Kosior of the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday. Kosior has been suspended for three games. . . .

G Max Paddock turned aside 45 shots to earn the shutout as the Prince Albert RaidersRaiders beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 2-0. . . . The Warriors (7-10-1), who have lost three in a row, outshot the Raiders, 45-25, including 21-8 in the second period. . . . The Raiders now are 7-8-3, with points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . This was Paddock’s first shutout of the season and the eighth of his career. . . . Prince Albert’s goals came from F Michael Horon (4), at 17:41 of the first period, and F Eric Pearce (7), at 16:37 of the second. . . .

G Sebastian Cossa stopped 30 shots to help the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 4-0 Edmontonvictory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The 6-foot-6 Cossa now has won 12 straight games. He has two shutouts this season and six for his career. This season, he is 12-0-0, 1.33, .948. Yes, he is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . F Carson Latimer (4) scored the only goal Cossa would need, at 16:55 of the first period. . . . F Jayden Henderson (1), F Jalen Luypen (11) and D Matthew Robertson (3) added third-period goals. . . . The Oil Kings (13-1-0) have won four in a row. . . . Lethbridge (6-7-2) had points in each of its previous four games (3-0-1). . . . Edmonton was 3-for-9 on the PP. . . .

G Drew Sim earned his first career shutout as the Vancouver Giants dumped the VancouverVictoria Royals, 4-0, in Kamloops. . . . Sim, who is 2-1-0, was making his fourth appearance of the season. . . . Vancouver had a 40-16 edge in shots, including 14-5 in the second period and 17-5 in the third. . . . The Giants are 6-3-0 and have posted shutouts in four of those victories. . . . The Royals (1-7-1) have lost four in a row. . . . Vancouver was 2-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4), D Alex Kannok Leipert (3) and D Mazden Leslie (5) had second-period goals, with F Tristen Nielsen (8) scoring in the third. . . . Leslie, who turned 16 on Thursday, scored his fifth goal in eight games for the Giants. He was the 10th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft.


Mower


F Payton Mount of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who was taken to hospital on a Seattlestretcher after a Tuesday night game against the visiting Tri-City Americans, was back with his billets on Wednesday morning. . . . According to the Thunderbirds, “All of Mount’s diagnostic tests at the hospital showed positive results and he was diagnosed with a contusion from the impact of the puck.” . . . Mount was seated on the Seattle bench near game’s end when he was struck on the neck by a puck that glanced off the back wall. . . . The Thunderbirds are next scheduled to play tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips.


G Braden Holt of the Everett Silvertips will play for Team USA at the U18 IIHF EverettWorld championship that opens April 26 in Frisco and Plano, Texas. Holt is the only player on Team USA’s roster who isn’t out of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . Holt, 17, is from Bozeman, Mont. The Silvertips selected him in the 12th round of the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Holt is 1-1-0, 2.75, .862. Last season, in eight games backing up Dustin Wolf, Holt was 4-2-0, 1.82, .926. . . . With Holt gone, the Silvertips are left with Wolf and Evan May, a 16-year-old from Nanaimo, as their goaltenders. An 11th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, May has yet to appear in a WHL game.


My wife, Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, will take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on June 6. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


West

Don Dietrich says thanks and farewell . . . Psst! Wanna buy a BCHL team? . . . Ahh, yes, baseball’s back!

Don Dietrich, a defenceman who played three seasons (1978-81) with the Brandon Wheat Kings, died on Feb. 16. He was 59. If you are on Facebook and haven’t checked out the tribute page that his family set up, you should take the time to do just that. This was a special, special man whose memory will long remain with the people he touched, and he touched a lot of us.

Earlier this week, Nick, one of Nadine and Don’s three sons, posted this on the tribute page . . .

Before dad passed, he asked me to send this message out to everyone after he was gone. Transcribed directly from his words.

“I truly am a lucky man. Having two chronic illnesses has taught me patience and compassion, and I really believe that they have made me a better person. A better father, son, and husband.

If I came home with a flat tire, kicked the furniture and swore at the dog, I’d look out the window and the tire would still be flat.

I wouldn’t have gotten to do so many things in my life if it wasn’t for Parkinson’s and cancer. I am grateful that these illnesses have given me another opportunity to teach and inspire.

I would like to thank everyone for the stories they’ve shared and all of the nice things that they’ve said about me. It appears that I’ve fooled you all

I’ve just tried to be a good human being and treat people with dignity, and respect.

It’s been an honour to have known and met you all. Smell ya later!

— Don Dietrich, Dieter, Dins, Beaker, Heathcliff, Double D, Redbird”


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “NFL owners are pushing to implement a 17-game schedule for this coming season. “A$ you might $u$pect, we have our rea$ons for playing $eventeen,” said one.


Penguin


It seems that Wes Mussio, the owner of the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers, is fed up with Dr. Bonnie Henry, who is B.C.’s provincial health officer, and the NDP government so now wants to sell the franchise that he purchased in November 2017.

NanaimoMussio, a lawyer from Vancouver, wrote: “With games suspended for 1 year now and Dr. Bonnie Henry giving the league no indication of any starting up this year, I see no path forward to any full return to normal in hockey, even in 2021-2022.”

Mussio continued: “The NDP has offered zero financial support to the suffering teams of the BCHL or for that matter, any hope of a full return to hockey for year(s). So, it is time for me to stop my huge personal and financial contribution to BC Hockey and I will be selling the team effective immediately. Serious enquires (sic) only at mussio@mussiogoodman.com. Nanaimo needs an ownership group who can wait out the PHOs.”

Mussio told Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News-Bulletin on Sunday that he already had “close to a dozen” tire-kickers contact him.

When Mussio purchased the Clippers, he said he was going to buy a home in Nanaimo. Sakaki reported that Mussio has sold his Nanaimo condo and “has been living in Florida of late.”

Sakaki’s story is right here.

——

It’s interesting to watch the approaches taken by the BCHL and WHL as they work to hopefully get government approval for their teams to return to play.

While the BCHL and its 17 teams and the WHL’s five B.C. Division teams BCHLsupposedly are working in concert in terms of presenting return-to-play protocols to government and health officials, the opposite would appear to be happening in the public eye.

While silence seems to be golden for the WHL teams, the BCHL, or at least people associated with the league, seem to think that lots of noise is the best approach.

Former NHLer Garry Valk has taken an active role by starting a petition requesting that the NDP government loosen the reins. To be fair, he also wants to see WHL teams back on the ice, but he got involved because his son Garrett, 18, plays for the Trail Smoke Eaters.

Andy Prest of vancouverisawesome.com has more on Valk and his petition right here.

And then, on Sunday, Valk posted this on Facebook:

“So help me understand John Horgan. You approved the NHL teams to play in 24 hours? Why have we not heard anything from you or Dr. Bonnie Henry or Adrian Dix regarding our junior teams in BC? I know BCHL has sent you multiple proposals months ago, still nothing has been said at all about it. I guess our youth are not as important as multimillionaires.”

Horgan is the premier of B.C., with Dix the health minister and Dr. Henry the provincial health officer.

The BCHL hasn’t commented on Valk’s petition. News 1130, a Vancouver radio station, reported that it asked the league for a response, “but a representative said the league isn’t commenting until after the province responds about whether or not play will resume.”

You also can read into Wes Mussio’s announcement that he wants out of Nanaimo — is it at least in part a pressure tactic aimed at government officials, especially after he appears to have left himself an out?

Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo News Bulletin wrote: “(Mussio) said if things change and he gets ‘surprised pleasantly’ and can see a pathway forward, he won’t sell the Clippers, but he has been living in Florida and has started thinking about buying a hockey team in the U.S.”

And then there was a tweet from Tali Campbell, the Clippers’ general manager until early September when he left the organization. He now is the vice-president of team operations for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express.

On Sunday afternoon, he tweeted: “First time in my six years in the BCHL I have had to talk to two players about the thoughts of suicide. So sad.”

It’s not often a junior hockey official broaches such a subject in a public forum, and, if you’re at all like me, you are wondering about the timing of this tweet.

If you’re at all like me, you’re also wondering how government and health officials might respond to these kinds of messages. Hopefully, they treat them as white noise, but human nature being what it is, you also might wonder if the noise results in the BCHL’s cause being bumped just a bit further down the priority list.


BowlingShoe


CBC News — Prince Edward Island closes schools, shuts down personal gatherings for 72 hours as it tries to a quash clusters of COVID-19 cases in Summerside and Charlottetown. The province is reporting 5 new cases for a total of 18 active cases.


Old friend Kevin Dickie, now the executive director of athletics and community events at Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S., tells me that university hockey in Nova Scotia has been shut down due to new restrictions. They had started up on Feb. 12, and now are hoping to get the OK again for a March 27 restart. . . . A lot of ice has been made and melted since Dickie was coaching in Saskatchewan with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs and later the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades. He coached the Acadia Axemen for three seasons after leaving Melfort and before coaching with the Blades. He moved into the administration side of things in 2005 and really hasn’t looked back, having spent six years at the U of New Brunswick before moving over to Acadia. . . . And it’s always great to hear from a native of Shaunavon, Sask.



Headline at Fark.com: Patrick Mahomes welcomes first child, Sterling Skye Mahomes, expected to play against Tom Brady in about 20 years.


The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees opened their MLB exhibition seasons on Sunday in Tampa, Fla. Yes, it was an exhibition game. I watched every pitch and it was glorious.


John Harbaugh, the head coach of the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, paid the entire restaurant bill of more than $2,000 at a recent charity event. Or, as Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com put it: “Harbaugh covered the spread.”


Crane


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: Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, will be a bit late in joining his team in the Regina hub where seven teams are to play some games starting on March 12. Teams arrived in Regina over the weekend, but Habscheid is with family after the death of his brother Robert. . . . Irv Cross died on Sunday near his Minnesota home. He was 81. Back in the day, the former All-Pro cornerback was part of CBS Sports’ Sunday NFL preview show The NFL Today, along with Brent Musburger, Phyllis George and Jimmy (the Greek) Snyder. If you were an NFL fan, you started your Sunday with Brent, Phyllis, Irv and the Greek.

WHL dumps Jan. 8 start date; all will be quiet for next month . . . How/why did we start to normalize the numbers? . . . USTA out of Frisco Bowl, into First Responder Bowl

There won’t be many of us doing this over the next 10 days, but here’s a Christmas song that I really, really enjoy . . .


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the WHL for doing the right thing in not only whlscrubbing its Jan. 8 start date, but also for not coming up with another proposed start date.

The 22-team league, which has teams in four provinces and two states, announced Tuesday that “with public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on Jan. 8.”

This decision was made, according to a statement, “following further consultation with regional health authorities.”

What’s next for the WHL? According to the statement, its board of governors ”will meet in January to consider potential start dates.”


If you stop by here on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I didn’t post anything, not even a COVID-19 update, on Monday.

Well, I did edit a Mondays With Murray piece and posted that, but that was it.

CovidI actually started to put together a regular week-day piece, but I found that as I pulled in the COVID-19 numbers I only got more and more frustrated. No matter how you look at the numbers, there really isn’t an end in sight.

Yes, one vaccine is here and more are on the way. But it’s not a magic elixir that is going to make things better overnight. Yes, we are going to need still more patience.

Earlier on Monday, I had spoken with the owner of a small business in Kamloops and he, like me, figures we’re in this until the summer months get here. Even though it didn’t have to be that way.

And then I spoke with a friend in Regina, who told me about the clown show that hit Regina on Sunday in which the two lead clowns weren’t even from Regina. We talked, too, about the restrictions that are coming to Saskatchewan. It was, we agreed, like in so many other Canadian jurisdictions, too little, too late. And, we agreed, it didn’t have to be like this. If only the politicians had acted sooner, we agreed.

But, still, I was going to write something. I was going to cobble something together and get it on the site.

But then . . .

I had been told on Friday about a B.C. junior hockey team whose 19- and 20-year-olds had skated together that day. If, indeed, that happened it would have been in direct contravention of restrictions that had been put in place by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier in the month, one that prohibited such players from participating in indoor or outdoor sports.

On Monday, as I was getting my thoughts together, I got another text, this one informing me that same team had held a “full team practice” earlier in the day. As the source put it: “Other teams have gone home and they are practising!”

And then I saw the ‘woe is me’ piece that the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers — who aren’t the team referred to above — posted on their website. Well . . . that was enough to shut down my brain and open John Grisham’s latest novel.

At one point, Clippers owner Wes Mussio is quoted (on the Clippers’ website, not in the Grisham book):

“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining. I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”

Nowhere in the Clippers’ statement is there even one word about the safety of their community, or even a mention of families who have lost loved ones, or anything about people in hospitals. Nothing about healthcare workers. Nada about teachers. Retail workers? Forget it.

Nowhere is there anything about using these times as a teaching moment. Nothing about accountability. Nothing about being socially responsible. Not a word about trying to keep a community safe. Crickets about what the players can take out of living through this kind of adversity and having to deal with it.

In the meantime, the Canadian death toll from this pandemic reached 13,659 on Tuesday. The number of positive cases went over 475,000, an increase of 6,733 in the previous 24 hours.

At the same time, there have been 42,943 positive cases in B.C., and 647 deaths.

BCHL rosters include a number of American players. There have been 16.8 million positive cases and 304,000 deaths in their country.

But somehow we seem to have normalized all of this. Somehow these numbers have become just that — numbers.

How did that happen? By now most of us know someone who is or was ill, or someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, someone whose Christmas dinner table will have an empty space. We’ve read the stories about those families, or about the long-termers, those people who had the virus, some of them months ago, and continue to suffer. So how do so many people either ignore what’s going on or pretend it isn’t happening?

Perhaps some of them get their cues from what is going on in the U.S., especially in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA basketball and football, where the risk seems to be looked upon as though a positive test is nothing more than a mosquito bite.

Look, as much as I want to see junior hockey players back on the ice, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen until the numbers come down . . . way down. The virus will decide when junior hockey returns.

Having been around junior hockey for the better part of 50 years now, I fully understand the role it plays in so many communities. And I know how much it means to young players to be on the ice, all the while trying to carve out their future. But to suggest that it is an essential service or that the mental health of “many” fans is “declining”  because it is missing in action. . . please, get a grip.

Oh, and wear a mask!



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba reports 272 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the 7-day average up slightly to 309. There are also 9 more deaths being attributed to the virus, raising the province’s death toll to 508.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 194 new COVID-19 cases; it’s the 1st time in a week the daily total has been below 200. 7 additional deaths are also attributed to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,341 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. There are 742 people in hospital and 137 in ICU, both an all time high for the province.

CBC News: Health-care worker becomes first in B.C. to receive COVID-19 vaccine as province reports 522 new coronavirus cases and 21 more deaths. . . . A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna B.C. has grown to 60 confirmed cases. Large number of people in shared homes and social gatherings to blame for spread, says Interior Health.

CBC News: Ontario reports 2,275 new COVID-19 cases, the 1st time the province has had more than 2,000. It pushes the 7-day average to 1,926. (Note: The health minister’s office says today’s number may be higher due to a change in the way data are tabulated.) . . . Changes to how Public Health Ont. collects, analyzes cases mean today’s figure has 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the number — but by how much not yet clear. 20 more deaths, 39,600 tests completed. . . . Hospitals across Ontario have been ordered to brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients. A memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately.

CBC News: 1,741 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, health authorities say. That nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 1,790. 39 additional deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Quebec looking to use Christmas break as way to slow down surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. Schools, offices, non-essential businesses to close until Jan. 11 to help curb spread of 2nd wave.

Klamath Alerts: COVID-19 has claimed 54 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,214 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,129 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 96,092.

Seattle P-I: The number of confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday climbed to 205,069, including 2,953 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of Monday, there were 54,849 cases in King County according to King County Public Health’s dashboard. That included 948 deaths.

——

The BC Senior Games Society has postponed the 2021 55+ BC Games that were to have been held in Victoria, from Sept. 14-18. Those Games will be moved to the fall of 2022 and be held in Victoria. The 2022 Games that were to have been held in Abbotsford now will be there in 2023. . . .

For the period Dec. 6-12, the NFL announced that it had 14 players and 31 staff members test positive. . . . During that time, 41,857 gets were given to 6,960 players and personnel. . . .

The Seattle Seahawks announced that “as case counts . . . remain high in Washington state, we will continue to play without fans in attendance at our final regular-season home game on Dec. 27 vs. the L.A. Rams.” . . .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, played kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known if they will be out for Sunday’s game. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders will be without WR Henry Ruggs III on Thursday when they meet the Los Angeles Chargers. He went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

The Winter X Games are scheduled to go ahead as planned, running from Jan. 29-31 in Aspen, Colo., but there won’t be any fans in attendance. The Games are operated by ESPN. . . .

Vanderbilt won’t be playing at the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the Commodores are dealing with an outbreak. That means the career of Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller is over after two games. The first woman to play in a Power Five game kicked two extra points in her second game on Saturday against Tennessee. . . .

The first bowl game of the Christmas season was schedule for Saturday between SMU and the U of Texas at San Antonio. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, was cancelled on Tuesday because of an outbreak in the SMU program. Don’t dry for USTA, though. The Roadrunners now have accepted an invitation to play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU. An opponent has yet to be announced. . . .  SMU ended up losing three games to the virus this season. . . . Meanwhile, Michigan continues to have COVID-19 issues and has cancelled it’s Saturday game at Iowa. Michigan AD Warde Manuel said that between the virus, contact tracing and injuries the Wolverines are without more than 50 players. Michigan ended up cancelling its last three games.


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.


 

WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

——

Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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.



JUST NOTES: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


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