Two WHLers end Friday in hospital . . . Bedard, Stankoven burning it up . . . Rebels move to top of conference


Four quick anecdotes from back in the day . . .

The New Westminster Bruins beat the Portland Winter Hawks, 12-9, at Queen’s Park Arena on Nov. 5, 1978.

Hey, Ken Hodge, what happened?

“We had some bad bounces,” Portland’s head coach said. “The winning goal hit a knot in the boards behind the net and bounced out in front while our goalie as looking the other way. What can you do about that?
Knot much.

——

When you’re talking about the best defencemen in WHL history, Kevin McCarthy has to be in the discussion. He was a tremendous player while spending four seasons (1973-77) with his hometown Winnipeg Clubs/Monarchs.

During his career, McCarthy knew what it was like to have to face the big, bad New Westminster Bruins in their home den, Queen’s Park Arena.

By the early 1980s, McCarthy was in the NHL. And it was while with the Vancouver Canucks that he and some teammates were mugged by a gang of youths near Chicago’s O’Hare International? Airport.

“One guy started it by suckering Jere (Gillis),” McCarthy said. “I thought I was back in Queen’s Park Arena.”

——

Who invented the goalie stick with a curved blade?

Well, there have been times when former WHL goaltender/coach Doug Sauter laid claim to having been first.

As he told New Westminster coach Ernie McLean while both were with the Bruins: “The curved blade makes it easier to fish the pucks out of the net.”

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings lost just five games out of 72 during the regular season of 1978-79. At some point during that season, someone from the U of Manitoba’s athletic department said something about its men’s hockey team being the second-best team in the province.

To which Brandon coach Dunc McCallum responded: “Where does that leave the Jets?”


Craft


Much has been made of F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats and the fact that he is riding a 32-game point streak, having been blanked in only the his first game of the season. But what about F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers, who has at least a point in every game in which he has played this season. . . . On Friday night, Stankoven had two goals and an assist in a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria to run his point streak to 28 games. . . . Stankoven and the Blazers will complete a doubleheader in Victoria tonight. He has 64 points, including 25 goals, in 28 games. . . . Bedard and Pats were idle on Friday and won’t play tonight, either. They are to entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers before a sold-out crowd on Sunday afternoon. . . . Bedard goes into the game leading the WHL in goals (39), assists (42) and points (81). . . .Stankoven is third in the points derby.


Two WHL players were receiving medical attention as Friday turned into Saturday. . . .

Saskatoon lost F Justin Lies at 5:29 of the second period during a game in Red SaskatoonDeer after what Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran play-by-play man, said was a “high hit” from Red Deer F Carson Birnie. . . . Birnie was given an interference major and game misconduct. . . . The Blades tweeted that Lies “was taken off the ice on a stretcher following a hit in tonight’s game and will receive medical attention.” . . . After the game, the Blades tweeted that Lies was “stable and awaiting observation at Red Deer Hospital. He’s alert, in good spirits and thanks everyone for their concern and well wishes.” . . . Lies, 19, is from Flin Flon. He played three seasons with the Vancouver Giants before being acquired by the Blades prior this season. He has seven goals and 13 assists in 42 games this season. . . . The Blades were losing 1-0 when Lies was injured; they surrendered three more goals before the period ended as they dropped a 5-1 decision. . . .

Meanwhile, in Kennewick, Wash., F Parker Bell of the Tri-City Americans left Tri-Cityafter what one observer said was a “blind-side hit to the head” by F Andrew Petruk at 1:13 of the third period of a game with the Everett Silvertips. Petruk was ejected following the play that happened as Tri-City F Jalen Luypen scored for a 2-0 lead. Bell picked up an assist on the goal. . . . The Americans tweeted: “Parker Bell is being assessed by medical personnel. We will provide updates when we can.” . . . Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Bell was “at hospital” and that “all signs (are) positive . . . but he will be out for a while.” . . . Bell, 19, is from Campbell River, B.C. This season, his fourth with the Americans, he has 21 goals and 30 assists in 40 games. . . . Tri-City won the game, 2-1.


FRIDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

F Blake Swetlikoff broke a 1-1 tie at 10:44 of the third period as the Hurricanes got past the Winnipeg Ice, 2-1, in Lethbridge. . . . Swetlikoff won it with his eighth goal, his third in nine games with the Hurricanes since being acquired from the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Winnipeg F Connor McClennon (23) had tied the game 33 seconds into the third period. . . . F Hayden Smith (6) had a goal and an assists for the winners. . . . With G Daniel Hauser scratched, the Ice had Noah Stenvig backing up starter Mason Beaupit. Stenvig, who turned 17 on Jan. 16, plays for the U18 team at the Delta Hockey Academy. From Campbell River, B.C. he was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . . The Ice also had D Chase Bambrick, 16, in their lineup after bringing him in from the U18AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. He was an eighth-round pick in the 2021 WHL draft. . . .

The host Moose Jaw Warriors scored the game’s last five goals, four of them in the third period, to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-1 . . . F Harper Lolacher (11) and F Ryder Korczak (20) each scored twice for the winners. . . . Korczak, who had 25 goals in 68 games last season, got his 19th and 20th goals in his 28th game this season. . . . The Warriors took two of the game’s three minor penalties, one of which was for too many men. . . . Moose Jaw (29-15-3) moved past the Blades (28-11-4) into third place in the Eastern Conference. Saskatoon has four games in hand. . . .

F Chaz Lucius scored twice and added an assist as the host Portland Winterhawks skated to a 6-3 victory over the Swift Current Broncos, who were opening a U.S. Division swing. . . . Lucius, who starred for Team USA at the World Junior Championship, has four straight multi-point games — three goals and seven assists — since joining the Winterhawks. . . . The Broncos took a 2-1 lead into the middle of the second period but the Winterhawks scored three times before the period ended. . . . F James Stefan had two goals (17) and two assists for the winners, who finished the game by scoring two empty-netters. . . .

G Kolby Hay stopped 43 shots to lead the Edmonton Oil Kings to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . Hay, an 18-year-old from Monte Creek, B.C., recorded his first career shutout. It was a reward of sorts for what has been a rough season. After going 16-4-1, 3.11, .885 with the WHL champions last season, he is 5-24-2, 4.26, .886 this season. . . . The Oil Kings scored three unassisted goals — from F Gavin Hodnett (8), F Dawson Seitz (2) and F Noah Boyko (12). . . . Calgary was 0-for-7 on the PP. . . . The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes by inclement weather. . . .

F Kai Uchacz scored two goals to help the host Red Deer Rebels to a 5-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The victory lifted the Rebels (32-9-4) into first place in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Ice (33-6-1). Winnipeg holds five games in hand. . . . Uchacz, who has 37 goals, had Red Deer’s first and fifth goals as it built a 5-0 lead. He also had an assist. . . . F Frantisek Formanek had three assists. . . . The Rebels, nursing a 1-0 lead, broke it open with three goals in 2:13 just past the midway mark of the second period. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers jumped out to a 3-0 lead — they scored at even strength, on a PP and while shorthanded — en route to a 7-4 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (16) scored the Blazers’ first two goals and later added two assists. . . . F Fraser Minten (22) also scored twice for the visitors and also had an assist. . . . D Olen Zellweger had three assists for Kamloops. He has four goals and eight assists in six games since moving over from Everett at the trade deadline. . . . The Blazers (27-9-6) lead the B.C. Division by 16 points over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers and Royals will complete their doubleheader tonight in Victoria. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kennewick, Wash. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic (11), at 16:06 of the second period, and F Jalen Luypen (5), at 1:13 of the third, scored for Tri-City. . . . F Caden Zaplitny (9) got the Silvertips to within one at 8:09 of the third. . . . The Americans (21-16-5) moved into fourth place in the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Silvertips (22-21-1). . . .

F Jared Davidson scored twice and added an assist as his Seattle Thunderbirds dumped the host Spokane Chiefs, 7-2. . . . Davidson now has 25 goals. . . . F Luca Ciona added a goal, his 19th, and three assists for Seattle, with F Kyle Crnkovic scoring his 23rd goal and earning two helpers. . . . F Chase Bertholet (22) scored both Spokane goals. . . . Seattle (33-7-2) continues to lead the Western Conference by one point over the Portland Winterhawks (32-8-3). . . . Portland and Seattle will clash tonight in Kent, Wash. . . .

The Vancouver Giants erased an early 1-0 deficit as they beat the Kelowna Rockets, 3-1, in Langley, B.C. . . . D Tyler Thorpe (2) tied the game at 4:50 of the second period and F Jaden Lipinski (15) pulled the Giants ahead at 14:41. Both goals came via the PP as Vancouver went 2-for-6. . . . The Rockets were 0-for-5. . . . The victory allowed the Giants (18-20-6) to pull into a sixth-place tie with the idle Prince George Cougars (19-20-4) in the Western Conference. They now are 11 points ahead of the Rockets (14-26-3) and Victoria Royals (13-28-5). . . . The Giants and Rockets will do it again tonight, this time in Kelowna.


The U of Calgary Dinos beat the Mount Royal Cougars, 4-2, on Friday night in Calgary, running their winning streak to 18 games. That’s a new Canada West record, breaking the record of 17 that was set by the Alberta Golden Bears in 1978-79. . . . The game was played before 11,083 fans at the Scotiabank Saddledome as part of the annual Crowchild Classic.


Bacon


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.


Twitter

Ernie McLean in Japan? Did it almost happen? . . . Remembering Goldilocks and the Two Bears . . . Cristall to sit out Prospects Game

It was the spring of 1980 when Ernie McLean and Bill Shinske sold the New Westminster Bruins, who had gone 10-61-1 in 1979-80, to Nelson Skalbania for somewhere around $300,000.

“There comes a time in life when you have to say what more can you do,” said NewWestMcLean, who, with Shinske, had relocated the Bruins from Estevan for the 1971-72 season. “I’m at the crossroads now. I’m hitting the road. I’ve proven what I can do.”

Understand that this was a time when the WHL was more than an afterthought to many media outlets, including some in the larger centres. So it wasn’t unusual for some in the cast of characters to, well . . . after selling the Bruins, McLean, when asked about his immediate future, said he was dickering with some hockey people in Japan.

“I threw a figure at them that would choke a horse,” McLean said, “and it seemed quite acceptable. The sum was three times what I could make here with the Bruins. There was talk of flying my wife and me to Japan for the season, a rented house with butler, and a chauffeur to drive a rented car.”

No, McLean didn’t end up in Japan. Rather, he stayed on as the Bruins’ general manager for a few weeks.

“I stayed on and I worked for (Skalbania) for two months,” McLean said. “But there was no possible way that I could see that it was going to work out.”

So McLean bowed out.

After the 1980-81 season, Skalbania sold the franchise to the Edmonton Oilers, who then were owned by Peter Pocklington, and the team moved to Kamloops.

Of course, as evidenced by the above tweet, there would be a Bruins’ rebirth down the road and McLean would come to be involved.


Eggs


If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember that Nelson Skalbania installed his daughter, Rozanda, as president of the Bruins. So it wasn’t long before their front office was being referred to as Goldilocks and the Two Bears, with the bears being general manager Tracy Pratt, who replaced McLean, and head coach Muzz MacPherson, the latter another of the great characters in league history.

Early in that 1980-81 season, The Canadian Press reported that the Bruins had added a forward named Dan Hill to their roster, and that he was coming off a 30-goal season with the Montreal Jr. Canadiens. Unfortunately, a reporter who was interested in chasing facts checked out the story and discovered that, yes, Hill had played with Montreal, but that he had managed just one assist in four games. He would go pointless in eight games with the Bruins.

It should also be pointed out that Rozanda attended a board of governors’ meeting before the 1980-81 season got started. At that meeting, she suggested that the WHL should increase the number of 20-year-olds for each team from two to four. No, the governors didn’t agree with her.

But by the 1986-87 season each team was being allowed to dress four 20-year-olds per game. Of course, that number later was reduced to three, which is where it is now.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Study: Best way to get rid of a body is to check it as luggage with Air Canada.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Andrew Cristall of the Kelowna Rockets has been scratched from tonight’s Top Prospects Game at the Langley Events Centre, the home of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. Cristall, who has 62 points in 36 games, has been out since Jan. 6 with an undisclosed injury. F Denver Barkey of the OHL’s London Knights had replaced Cristall. Barkey, London’s first-round pick in the OHL’s 2021 draft, has 37 points, including 11 goals, in 41 games this season.


Winter


MONDAY’S WHL HIGHLIGHTS:

The host Portland Winterhawks scored four second-period goals en route to a 6-1 victory over the Spokane Chiefs in a matinee game. . . . Gabe Klassen (27) and Ryan McCleary (10) each scored twice and Jack O’Brien had a goal and two assists for Portland. . . . F Chaz Lucius picked up three assists and now has seven points, six of them assists, in his three games with Portland. . . . The Winterhawks lost F James Stefan to an undisclosed injury in the second period. . . . The Winterhawks closed to within one point of the Western Conference-leading Seattle Thunderbirds. The two teams are scheduled to clash in Kent, Wash., on Saturday. . . . The WHL schedule now is dark until Friday night.



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.


Closed

Colour Warriors red, Hurricanes black for 2021-22 . . . Rebels’ head coach a hall of famer . . . Interested in a NW Bruins’ reunion?

The Moose Jaw Warriors told shareholders at their annual general meeting on Tuesday morning that they lost $106,719 during the 2021-22 season.

“We still had lots of challenges getting through the pandemic last (season),” WarriorsNewChad Taylor, the franchise’s president and governor, said in a news release. “It affected our season-ticket sales, our walk-up ticket sales, so there were challenges and there are going to be challenges moving forward this (season) as well.”

The Warriors never did issue a news release stating their profit/loss for the 2020-21 season, but they reported losses of $391,299 for 2019-20 and $165,145 for 2018-19.

“The good news,” wrote Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com, “is the team’s bank balance is still healthy at $806,292, with $530,675 in outstanding loans for an overall net cash total of $275,617.”

(Palmer’s story is right here.)

The Warriors’ news release included this: “The loss came despite paying $166,450 in rent and $419,343 in a split of signage, suite and club seats and community rink profits with the Moose Jaw Events Centre and City of Moose Jaw.

“To date, the Warriors have also made eight of 10 payments in the organization’s multiplex pledge commitment, which totals $2.1-million.”

As well, the club reported that its education fund holds more than $150,000.

The Warriors (37-24-7) finished last season in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. According to numbers compiled by the WHL, their announced average attendance in the regular season was 2,665; Mosaic Place seats 4,500 for hockey.

The Warriors beat the fifth-place Saskatoon Blades, 4-1, in a first-round series before losing to the first-place Winnipeg Ice in five games. It all meant that the Warriors got to play five home playoff games.

——

The Lethbridge Hurricanes held their AGM on Monday night and reported a Lethbridgeprofit of $248,000 to shareholders “mostly due to saving on expenses and (improved) advertising sales,” according to a news release.

A year ago, the club reported a profit of $72,250 for the 2020-21 season, after a loss of $1,030 for 2019-20. Prior to that season, however, the club reported profits of $282,168 (2018-19), $422,443 (2017-18), $737,710 (2016-17) and $197,000 (2015-16). All of that allowed the Hurricanes to dig out of a massive hole after the franchise lost more than $1.25 million from 2011-16.

The Hurricanes, who play in the 5,479-seat ENMAX Centre, had an announced average attendance in 2021-22 of 2,983, 12th-best in the 22-team league.

The Hurricanes (33-30-5) placed seventh in the Eastern Conference last season, then were swept from a first-round playoff series by the second-place Edmonton Oil Kings. The Hurricanes played host to two playoff games.

——

The Prince Albert Raiders held their AGM on Sept. 14, and reported a profit of $152,191 for 2021-22 when their announced average attendance was 2,334 in the 2,580-seat Art Hauser Centre. The Raiders (28-35-5) finished eighth in the Eastern Conference and met Winnipeg in the opening round. The Raiders bowed out in five games, meaning that they played host to two games.

——

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are owned by shareholders in their respective communities and, as such, are required to present financial statements at annual general meetings.

The Swift Current Broncos, the fourth community-owned team, have scheduled their AGM for Oct. 4. The Broncos reported losses for each of the previous two seasons — $129,968 for 2020-21 and $791,000 for 2019-20. Prior to that, they had showed a profit in six straight seasons, including $561,500 for 2017-18.


Car54


Steve Konowalchuk, the head coach of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels, was inducted into the Utah Sports Hall of Fame on Monday night.

Konowalchuk, 49, is from Salt Lake City and was the first native of that city to RedDeerplay in the NHL.

He played two seasons (1990-92) with the Portland Winterhawks, putting up 196 points, including 94 goals, in 136 regular-season games and was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 1991 draft.

Konowalchuk then went on to a pro career that included 790 NHL regular-season games over 14 seasons. He scored 171 goals and added 225 assists while playing with the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche.

Konowalchuk returned to the WHL and spent six seasons (2011-17) as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds. He now is into his second season as the Rebels’ head coach. He is second from left in the photo in the tweet below.



Elvis


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.


Diner

Hammond, former Flin Flon goalie, dies at 71 . . . Neighbours won’t play in WJC . . . Two WHL teams lose assistant coaches to AHL

Cal Hammond, who spent three seasons as a goaltender with the WCHL’s Flin Flon Bombers, died Saturday at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg. He was 71. . . . Hammond, a Flin Flon native, played in 93 regular-season games with the Bombers from 1968-71. He retired after a couple of pro seasons. He also spent one seasons (2000-01) as an assistant coach with the Bombers, who by then were in the SJHL. . . . Hammond was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL’s 1970 draft; in 1972, he signed with the NHL’s Minnesota North Stars. . . . While he never got into an NHL game, he did spend four games on the North Stars’ bench backing up Cesare Maniago with Gump Worsley and Gilles Gilbert both injured. . . . Hammond’s son Evan is the play-by-play voice of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.



F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings has told Hockey Canada that he won’t be playing in the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship that is scheduled HockeyCanadato be played next month. This is the tournament that got underway in Red Deer and Edmonton in December before being cancelled following a number of positive COVID-19 tests. . . . Neighbours, 20, told Jeremy Rutherford of The Athletic: “I’ve made the decision I’m not going to go. With how long my season went and how my body is feeling right now, I’ve made Hockey Canada aware of that. We had a good discussion about it.” . . . The Oil Kings won the WHL championship and went on to play in the Memorial Cup in Saint John, N.B. . . . The St. Louis Blues selected Neighbours in the first round, 26th overall, of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He opened the 2021-22 season with them, scoring one goal and adding two assists in nine games. Back with the Oil Kings, he totalled 17 goals and 28 assists in 30 games. . . . Neighbours has turned 20 but is eligible to play in the WJC because the IIHF has chosen to allow those who were on rosters in December to play in Edmonton next month. . . . The tournament is scheduled to run Aug. 9-20.


Temple


The Philadelphia Phillies, who lost 6-1 to the Cardinals in St. Louis on Monday night, are to open a two-game series against the host Toronto Blue Jays tonight COVID(Tuesday). Prior to the series opener, the Phillies will place four players on the restricted list because they aren’t vaccinated so won’t be allowed into Canada. . . . Catcher J.T. Realmuto, 3B Alec Bohm and starters Aaron Nolan and Kyle Gibson won’t be making the trip to Toronto. Bohm may not have played anyway, after suffering a hand injury on Monday while sliding into second base. Nolan started Monday and Gibson on Saturday, so they likely wouldn’t have pitched in Toronto had they been eligible. . . . The Athletic’s Matt Gelb tweeted: “J.T. Realmuto said he consulted with doctors he knew and decided he did not need a COVID vaccine. He will forfeit close to $260,000. ‘I’m not going to let Canada tell me what I do and don’t put in my body for a little bit of money,’ Realmuto said. ‘It’s just not worth it.’ ” . . . One would hope that someone explained to Realmuto that the U.S. has the same restriction as Canada — you have to be vaccinated to get into the country, which is why Novak Djokovic isn’t likely to play in tennis’s U.S. Open. He would have to get vaccinated to play and says that isn’t going to happen. . . . The Phillies apparently have more than four players who aren’t vaccinated, as Gelb also tweeted that “other potential absences were mitigated through demotions to minors/injuries.”


Remote


THE COACHING GAME:

Rebecca Johnston, who has earned three gold medals as a member of the Canadian women’s Olympic team, is in Calgary this week as a guest coach at the development camp being held by the NHL’s Flames. . . . According to Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun: “Johnston, who ranks in the top-10 in all-time scoring for Canada’s national women’s program, will be on the ice for practice and skills sessions, will participate in meetings and will be asked for her feedback on player evaluation.” . . . You are free to wonder if Johnston might surface as a WHL coach at some point down the road. Johnston, 32, already has a WHL connection. Her uncle, Mike, is the longtime general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Josh Green and Keith McCambridge, both assistant coaches in the WHL last season, have moved on to the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Green, 44, spent five seasons (1993-98) in the WHL, playing with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks. He has spent the past two-plus seasons as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Ice. . . . McCambridge, 48, played four seasons (1991-95) in the WHL, starting with Swift Current and finished his career with the Kamloops Blazers, helping them win the 1995 Memorial Cup. He has been the Vancouver Giants’ associate coach for the past two seasons. . . .

The Ice filled the vacancy created by Green’s departure by moving Taras McEwen into that spot on the coaching staff. McEwen, 31, has been in the Ice organization for the past five seasons. He started out as the Ice’s manager of scouting in 2017, and also has been general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues for the past two seasons. The Blues, like the Ice, are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. . . . McEwen’s father, Brad, is a veteran WHL and NHL coach and scout. He now is on the scouting staff of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . In Winnipeg, Taras will work with Ice head coach James Patrick, who is preparing for his sixth season. Assistant coaches Byron Spriggs and Larry Woo also are returning. Spriggs is heading into a third season; Woo is back for a second season. . . . The Ice’s complete news release is 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.


Math

Remembering Ronning’s 14-point weekend . . . Memorial Cup in June? It could happen . . . Chiefs’ GM stepping down

A Twitter post on Thursday from John Winton, who runs the account tagged @NewWestBruins, reminded us that Jan. 27 was the 37th anniversary of F Cliff Ronning’s nine-point game, one off the WHL’s single-game record.

So I went back in the time machine one more time.

Ronning
Cliff Ronning was a major star with the New Westminster Bruins. (Photo: @NewWestBruins)

Yes, on Jan. 27, 1985, Ronning finished with six goals — two in each period — and three assists as the New Westminster Bruins pounded the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 16-4.

After that game, Ronning had 60 goals and 63 assists in 46 games. He would finish the season with a WHL-leading 197 points, including 89 goals. Ronning’s 197 points was a single-season record, but it was broken two seasons later when F Rob Brown put up 212 for the Kamloops Blazers. Brown’s record stands to this day.

The Bruins held period leads of 4-1 and 10-2.

Ronning got the Bruins started 65 seconds into the game; F Roger Mulvenna ended the scoring with goals at 19:22 and 19:56 of the third period.

Larry Rusconi, with three, Jim Camazzola, with two, Gary Moscaluk, Ward Carlson and Craig Berube also scored for the Bruins. The Warriors goals came from Bryan Walker, Kurt Lackten, Kelly Buchberger and Kent Hayes.

This was the fifth game in a six-games-in-nine-days trek through the Western Conference for the Warriors. They had been beaten 10-5 by the visiting Regina Pats on Jan. 20, their third straight loss. Two nights later, Kamloops dumped Moose Jaw, 11-4. The next night it was over to Kelowna and a 3-2 loss to the Wings. Then it was into the U.S., and an 11-5 loss to the Seattle Breakers on Jan. 25, and the Portland Winterhawks beat them 4-3 on Jan, 26. Next up was the game in New Westminster, followed by an 8-6 loss to the Cougars in Victoria on Jan. 29.

But back to the game in New Westminster . . .

Ronning was centring a line that had Camazzola on the left side and Brian Noonan on the right wing. Noonan finished with seven assists, tying a WHL single-game record that he then shared with F John Neeld of the Seattle Breakers (Nov. 24, 1979) and F Doug Trapp of the Regina Pats (Oct. 10, 1984.) F Brian Sakic of the Tri-City Americans upped that mark to eight on Oct. 3, 1990 in a 19-3 victory over the host Seattle Thunderbirds.

As usually happens when I go looking for information from a game like the Bruins’ victory, I stumbled upon a few nuggets.

For example, one night earlier, the Bruins had beaten the visiting Blazers, 11-2, with Ronning scoring twice and setting up three others. Yes, he put up 14 points in two games over 24 hours.

As well, Camazzola was playing in his first two games since he had starred for the Kamloops Junior Oilers at the 1984 Memorial Cup in Kitchener that was won by the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. (The Kamloops franchise went through ownership and name changes after the Memorial Cup.)

Camazzola had been selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 10th round of NWBruinsthe NHL’s 1982 draft. He attended their 1984-85 training camp but refused to report to the IHL-Milwaukee Admirals, so was placed on Chicago’s suspended list. He was still there in November 1984 when Al Patterson, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, acquired him from Kamloops. At the time, Camazzola, then 20, was a clerk in a Lower Mainland department store. By January, he knew he wanted back on the ice.

“I decided I wanted to make a career out of hockey,” he told the Vancouver Sun’s Elliott Pap. “I came here to get my confidence back instead of playing in Milwaukee.”

Camazzola had two goals and an assist in the victory over Kamloops, then added two of each the next night against Moose Jaw. He finished the season with 48 points, 19 of them goals, in 25 games. After three seasons split between the IHL and AHL, Camazzola went on to play in Europe for 12 seasons.

Oh, yes . . . one other thing of note happened that weekend.

Pap reported it this way: “Kamloops coach Ken Hitchcock was so incensed with his team’s performance Saturday he had his players walk over the Pattullo Bridge carrying their equipment bags.”

That bridge, which links New Westminster with Surrey, is 1,227 metres — 4,025 feet — in length.

There also was a coaching change that weekend as former NHL player Bill Hogoboam took over as head coach in Kelowna on an interim basis. Marc Pezzin, who had been the head coach, stayed on as general manager. The Wings were 18-26-2 and in third place in the Western Division. They were in their third season in Kelowna and Pezzin had been the head coach from the start. However, the Wings would be gone before another season arrived — relocated to Spokane as the Chiefs.

The Bruins would play three more seasons out of New Westminster’s Queen’s Park Arena before moving to Kennewick, Wash., and becoming the Tri-City Americans.


The QMJHL announced on Friday that it plans on resuming play on Feb. 3. It qmjhlnewsaid it hopes to complete its 68-game regular season on May 1. The league added that it will begin its playoffs on May 5 “and conclude no later than June 15.” . . . That means that the Memorial Cup schedule will have to be redone because it was scheduled to run from June 4 through June 13 in Saint John, N.B. . . . The OHL and WHL haven’t announced any changes to their closing dates for their regular seasons. Both leagues want to finish on April 3, with the playoffs to follow. . . . Interestingly, the QMJHL’s Quebec teams will play in empty facilities until Feb. 7, when they will be allowed 500 fans. Teams in New Brunswick now are at 50 per cent. Patrick McNeil (@cbepbp) adds that the Nova Scotia teams will start with games on the road. . . . And let’s not forget that the IIHF’s World U-18 championship is scheduled to run from April 21 through May 1 in Landshut and Kaufbeurn, Germany. The player pool might be a bit reduced if the three major junior leagues haven’t eliminated many teams.


Scott Carter, the general manager of the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, will be stepping aside after this season “for health and family reasons,” the team announced on Thursday. . . . He will help the Chiefs through the search for a replacement and the hiring process. . . . Through Thursday, the Chiefs were 165-129-39 with Carter as the GM. . . . Carter, who joined with the Chiefs on Sept. 8, 2016, signed a two-year contract extension on Nov. 22, 2020. . . . The news release is right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders were to have visited the Regina Pats Friday night, but WHLthe game was postponed on Thursday. According to the WHL, the Raiders were “unable to field a complete team due to injuries and an addition six players being added to the COVID-19 protocol list.” . . . With Raiders at Pats on TSN’s schedule as a national telecast, the WHL quickly slipped another game into that slot. A Brandon at Regina game that was postponed from Jan. 21 ended up being played on Friday night and got the national exposure treatment from TSN. The Wheat Kings erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and beat the Pats, 6-4. . . . The WHL also postponed a Saturday game that was to have had Brandon visit Prince Albert. . . . From a news release: “WHL regulations require each WHL club ice a roster with a minimum of 14 healthy skaters in order to compete. At this time, the Raiders are unable to meet that minimum requirement.”


Two WHL play-by-play voices have been MIA this weekend. . . . Dan O’Connor, the voice of the Vancouver Giants, tested positive for COVID-19 so is sitting out a few games. . . . At the same time, Fraser Rodgers, the voice of the Prince George Cougars, was hit by what he tweeted is a non-COVID bug. But while he isn’t with the team, he’s handling broadcasts off a monitor from his living room in Prince George.


I became a big fan of F Jason Spezza of the Toronto Maple Leafs the other day. Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun tweeted that Spezza “says that while he likes the pressure that comes with trying to score in a shootout, he is not a huge fan of them in general. ‘It has got a little bit stale,’ Spezza said.” . . . Hey, he’s right.


Manny Viveiros, a former WHL player and coach, returned to the AHL-Henderson Silver Knights’ bench on Friday night after getting medical clearance on Thursday. . . . Viveiros revealed on Oct. 28 that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He left the team early in December for treatments. . . . In his absence, assistant coach Jamie Heward, also a former WHL player and coach, was in charge. . . . The Silver Knights were at home to the Colorado Eagles for a Friday-Saturday doubleheader. Henderson won 3-2 in a shootout on Friday, then dropped a 4-0 decision on Saturday. . . . Viveiros, as general manager and head coach, and Heward, as assistant coach, guided the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship in 2017-18.


Phone


Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press travels a lot in order to cover the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. He also produces a weekly newsletter that often is full of interesting content. Here’s a few paragraphs from Thursday’s post, following a light from Pittsburgh to Minneapolis . . .

“We nearly had to turn back on Monday afternoon as we made our way to Minneapolis, thanks to a woman seated in the row behind me who repeatedly refused to wear her mask.

“She was travelling with a number of family members, including young children, and apparently felt she was above federal guidelines and didn’t have to play by the same set of rules.

“The extremely patient crew on Delta had three separate conversations that turned into warnings, the final one being that the plane was going to be turned around for an emergency landing if she didn’t smarten up.

“She eventually did, sort of, although she played fast and loose by nursing a package of almonds and a soft drink for the final 90 minutes of the flight, allowing her to keep her mask pulled down for long stretches of time on a technicality because she claimed to be eating and drinking.

“I figured this would happen sooner or later, and I’m surprised it took until the fourth month of travelling for this current Jets season to run into one of these ‘maskholes’ we often hear about.

“It was a vivid reminder of how selfish some folks can be, unfortunately.”



Ants


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.


Date

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering when COVID-19’s winning streak will end . . .

The Boston Bruins were to have played the Sabres in Buffalo on Saturday, but nhl2that didn’t happen. Boston’s game against the visiting New York Islanders that was to have been played on Tuesday also has been postponed and the Bruins’ team facilities are closed until at least Wednesday. . . . Yes, it’s all because of the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols. . . . Boston F Sean Kuraly went on the list on Thursday, and four more players — F Jake DeBrusk, F David Krejci, F David Pastrnak and F Craig Smith — were added on Friday . . . The Bruins had won, 4-1, in Buffalo on Thursday, as the Sabres had a staff member enter protocol. From Feb. 2-13, the Sabres missed six games and had nine players on the protocol list. Ralph Krueger, then the Sabres’ head coach, also tested positive during that time. . . . The NHL now has had to postpone 37 games because of COVID-19 protocols.


The Okotoks Oilers were to have met the host Brooks Bandits in an AJHL game ajhlon Saturday night. However, the league announced Saturday morning that the game “has been canceled due to precautionary measures within the AJHL Return to Play Plan.” . . . Brooks is scheduled to visit the Calgary Canucks today at 2 p.m. . . . On Thursday, the AJHL announced that it had “completed a fourth round of testing . . . with no positive COVID-19 results across 391 players and staff.” . . . Don’t be expecting anyone from the AJHL or any of its teams to be talking about this latest development, either. The last person who talked to the media on the subject got drilled with a 15-game suspension and a $1,000 fine. That discipline was dished out before Christmas but there doesn’t seem to be any mention of it on the AJHL’s website.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, after watching an early March Madness game: “The officials in the UCLA/Michigan State game may have been auditioning for jobs in the NBA. They certainly ignored enough traveling violations to demonstrate to the NBA mavens that they have that part of their officiating duties down pat.”


Vaccine


It won’t show up on your bracket, but COVID-19 actually won a game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament on Saturday in Indianapolis. No. 7 Oregon was to have met No. 10 Virginia Commonwealth. However, the game was declared a no-contest because of COVID-19 issues with VCU, so Oregon was handed the victory. . . . Oregon will play No. 2 Iowa on Monday. . . . Matt Norlander of CBS Sports reported that VCU experienced positive tests on Wednesday and Friday evenings and Saturday morning. . . . Don’t forget that the virus knocked Duke, Kansas and Virginia out of their conference tournaments just a week earlier.


Headline at TheOnion.com — Report: Most NFL teams just 1 or 2 overpriced free agents away from Super Bowl victory.


“We concern ourselves with the money athletes make,” notes Nick Canepa of The San Diego Union-Tribune. “The video game Grand Theft Auto II has made $6 billion.”

——

Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times checked out the transaction wire the other day and found this: “Alex Rodriguez and Jennifer Lopez: headed for free agency one day, exercising their mutual option the next.”

——

Perry also has discovered that “Tigerleg has supplanted dogleg as the more currently discussed golf term.”



The NBA’s San Francisco Warriors were left without even one centre after Kevin Looney went into the league’s health and safety protocols and missed Saturday’s 111-103 loss to the host Memphis Grizzlies. . . . If Looney is out for a week, as is often the case in the NBA, he’ll miss four games. . . . The Warriors also have centre James Wiseman and forward Eric Paschall on protocol list.



Cukes


With MLB working hard to find gimmicks that will draw new fans to its game, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle pointed out a few things in a recent column. Here’s part of it:

“Major League Baseball announced it will ‘slightly deaden’ the balls this season, enough to take a couple feet off deep drives. Maybe promote more hitting, less clouting.

“This comes after decades of commissioners insisting MLB has no control over the juiciness of the ball. MLB was always like the hot-dog vendor telling his customer, ‘Buddy, I have no idea what goes into these tube steaks, I just sell ’em. You want to ask questions, go on Jeopardy!, OK?’

“Suddenly Rob Manfred and his crew are micro-controlling the flight of the balls? Did they just find out where the ball factory is and phone the juicemaster?

“In the 2015 season, total homers jumped from 4,186 to 4,909, and the total in 2019 was 6,776, and MLB officials shrugged and said they had no idea what was going on.

“Now they’re microtweaking the ball like it’s the intake manifold of a moon rocket.

“How about getting one ball you like and sticking with it?

“At least MLB has a swell new motto for the 2021 season: ‘Baseball: Slightly deadened!’ ”

Ostler’s complete column is right here.


The Toronto Blue Jays were back on Sportsnet on Saturday afternoon, beating the Philadelphia Phillies, 3-1. If you’re a Blue Jays fan, you had the pleasure of listening to the Phillies’ broadcast crew. . . . On Sunday, it’s the Blue Jays and the New York Yankees on Sportsnet, and I’m betting it’ll be Michael Kay of the YES Network calling the play, perhaps with David Cone riding shotgun. So if you’re wanting to learn about the Blue Jays’ players and how their spring has been, well, you’re going to have to wait. Yes, Rogers is taking an interesting approach to promoting its baseball team by picking up telecasts from other teams.


Pie


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders fired general manager Kyle Chase on Friday. He had been GM since May 27, 2016, with the going 153-83-8 since then. Chase had been with the organization since 2004 and also had been co-owner and governor. . . . Colorado College is looking for a new men’s hockey coach now that Mike Haviland is out after seven seasons with the Tigers. This was one of those mutual agreement decisions with athletic director Lesley Irvine announcing that Haviland had “decided to move on.” The Tigers were 4-17-2 this season during which they were shut down three times by positive tests. . . . The U of Wisconsin won the NCAA women’s hockey championship on Saturday, beating Northeastern 2-1 in OT in Erie, Pa. Wisconsin’s roster included Dara Greig of Lethbridge, whose brother Ridly plays for the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, along with Saskatoon’s Shirley sisters, Sophie and Grace. Their brother, Collin, played 344 regular-season games over five WHL seasons (Kootenay Ice, Kamloops Blazers, 2012-17).


Smoking

That night when NW Bruins wouldn’t wear helmets; they won but they lost . . . SHA focusing on September . . . ECHL’s Beast stops snarling

A new post appeared at cougarshockeyproject.ca on Thursday, this one a recap of the Victoria Cougars’ 1972-73 season. . . . A few paragraphs into the post, I came across a piece of WHL history — it was the WCHL in those days — about which I don’t ever recall hearing:

“One of the seasons’ strangest events occurred on Dec. 14. Victoria came away with the victory in a game it actually lost. New Westminster defeated Victoria, 5-4, but the Bruins refused to wear their helmets. After the game, the WCHL awarded Victoria the points, ruling that New Westminster must forfeit the victory because they blatantly violated the league’s helmet mandate.”

So . . . I scurried to newspapers.com and took a look at the Victoria Times Colonist of Dec. 15, 1972. Here’s what I found on the Dec. 14 game that was played in New Westminster:

“Victoria Cougars lost the battle but won the war here Thursday night.

“New Westminster Bruins, erupting for four goals in the second period, edged the Cougars 5-4 but lost two Western Canada Hockey League points because they refused to wear helmets.

“Executive-secretary Tom Fisher of New Westminster announced the forfeiture after officially receiving the game report from referee Al Paradise.

“In addition to losing the points that would have provided the Bruins with undisputed possession of first place in the Western Division, the New Westminster club was fined $320.

“ ‘Our league is bound by Canadian Amateur Hockey Association rules,’ said Fisher, ‘and these rules make it mandatory for players to wear helmets.’

“Fisher fined 16 New Westminster players $20 each. The only ones to avoid fines were New Westminster’s two goaltenders and Denis Anderson, the only Bruin who wore a helmet.

“The Cougars did not lodge a protest. Fisher, who attended the game, took the default action on his own initiative.”

One day later, I found more on this story, with Ernie McLean, the Bruins’ owner-coach, saying that he would appeal Fisher’s ruling.

According to McLean, Fisher “doesn’t have the authority” to take away the points and the Bruins would be taking their case before the league’s governors.

On Dec. 17, the Bruins all wore their helmets as they beat the visiting Centennials, 3-2.

The Bruins also wore their helmets on Dec. 19 as they beat the host Cougars, 6-1.

On Dec. 21, Del Wilson of Regina, the league’s president, said there was “little chance” of the Bruins getting back the two points.

“I’ve talked it over with Fisher,” Wilson said, “and there can be no appeal. New Westminster broke the rules, and the points will remain with Victoria.”

And that was the end of that story, although there doesn’t seem to be any record of whether those Bruins players paid their fines.

In the end, the two points didn’t figure in the final standings as the Bruins (31-22-15) finished fourth in the Western Division, four points behind the Centennials (35-22-11).


Parrot


Kelly McClintock, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association’s general manager, told CBC News on Thursday that “it’s pretty safe to say that we’re not going to be having any hockey games.” . . . That was in reaction to the province extending public health restrictions until at least March 19. Under those restrictions, hockey games aren’t permitted, while players 18 and younger are allowed to practise in groups of eight while physically distancing and wearing masks. . . . According to CBC News, “McClintock said the association is now focusing on becoming as prepared as possible to start in September, if all goes well.” . . . McClintock said: “I’m hoping by September . . . there’s a lot more people vaccinated, there’s a lot less fear. I think and hope that we’re at levels where we can start our September season.” . . . The CBC story is right here.



The NHL’s Dallas Stars, who had their first four games of this season postponed after nhl2having a number of players test positive, now have had four more games scrubbed, all because of the weather conditions and power outages in Texas. . . . The Stars were to have played the Nashville Predators on Monday and Tuesday, and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday and Saturday. The latter two games would have been a rematch of last season’s bubbled Stanley Cup final, which the Lightning won in six games. . . . Two of the four early-season games that were postponed also were to have featured the Lightning and Stars. . . . Dallas is scheduled to play five games in eight days starting on Monday, with two of those games in Tampa.


The ECHL’s Brampton, Ont., Beast announced on Thursday that the franchise has folded. In an open letter, Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president and general manager, said the franchise had “become the latest of many victims of COVID-19.” . . . The Beast played seven seasons in the ECHL. . . . Spiros Anastas, a former U of Lethbridge Pronghorns head coach, was the Beast’s head coach.


Watch


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,439 have died from coronavirus; 839,155 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Thursday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,509 have died from coronavirus; 842,590 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — United States: 490,447 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,825,043 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Thursday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 493,082 people have died. . . . 27,896,042 have tested positive.

——

CBC News — COVID-19 vaccine deliveries back on track following weeks of delay, says Public Health Agency.

CBC News — In the past week in Canada, there were 20,334 cases, a decrease of 13 per cent. . . . The number of active cases declined 14 per cent. . . . There were 410 deaths, or 1.1 per 100,000 people, a decrease of 29 per cent. . . . Hospitalizations declined five per cent and ICU beds filled declined seven per cent.

CBC News — B.C. records 617 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 more deaths, the highest number of new cases since Jan. 7. There are 224 people in hospital with the disease, 60 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Number of new COVID-19 cases in Ontario rises to 1,038, the 1st time in 5 days the number has exceeded 1,000. Of those, 376 are in Toronto, 142 are in Peel Region and 122 are in York Region. There have also been 44 additional deaths. . . . York Region’s top doctor calls for return to red level as Toronto, Peel seek lockdown extension. A decision on these 3 Ontario areas and North Bay, which also remain under a stay-home order, is expected Friday.

CTV News — Two passengers fined a combined $17,000 for allegedly faking negative COVID-19 tests.

The New York Times — Arkansas has lifted its curfew for bars and restaurants and loosened restrictions on large outdoor venues.

CBC News — Alberta reports 415 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. There are now more than 2,300 contact tracers in the province and 239 variants of concern have been identified to date.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 146 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the most in 5 days but still below the province’s 7-day average of 163.

CBC News — Manitoba announces 139 new cases of COVID-19, the 1st time the number has been over 100 since February 5 and well above the 7-day average of 91. There have also been 2 additional deaths.

——

I have a feeling that Ken Campbell of The Hockey News was watching the waning moments of the Minnesota Wild’s 3-1 victory over the host Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night when he posted this tweet . . .

The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list was down to 13 players on Thursday, the lowest its been since Jan. 17 when it contained 12 players. . . . There were 59 players on the list on Feb. 12. . . . Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the Flyers have six players on the list, none of whom are expected to play in Sunday’s outdoor game at Lake Tahoe against the Boston Bruins. . . . The Flyers played Thursday night, their first game in 11 days, and lost, 3-2 in a shootout, to the visiting New York Rangers. . . . D Justin Braun, F Claude Giroux, F Travis Konecny, F Scott Laughton, F Oskar Lindblom and F Jake Voracek are the Philly players who didn’t play last night and aren’t likely to play Sunday.


Said


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.


Moon

Pachal, Bruins’ captain, WCHL champion and kidney donor, dies at 64 . . . Nachbaur returns to WHL

CPachal
CLAYTON PACHAL

Clayton Pachal, who won two WHL championships with the New Westminster Bruins, has died following a brief illness. Pachal, who died on Feb. 7 in Saskatoon, was 64. . . . Comfortable at centre, left wing or on defence, he was the captain of Bruins teams that won the 1974-75 and 1975-76 WCHL championships and went on to play in the Memorial Cup. . . . Those were the first two of four straight league titles for the big, bad, burly Bruins of head coach Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . They lost the Memorial Cup final in 1975 and 1976, then won the next two. . . . . . . He split the 1972-73 season between the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers — he was from Yorkton — and the Bruins, then spent the next three seasons with New Westminster. In all, he had 68 goals, 90 assists and 910 penalty minutes in 234 regular-season games. He aded 13 goals, 15 assists and 156 PiM in 48 playoff games. . . . He also played eight Memorial Cup games, scoring four times, adding one assist and serving 18 penalty minutes. . . . Clayton was a cousin to Kent Pachal, whose son Brayden, a defenceman, played four seasons in the WHL and captained the Prince Albert Raiders in 2018-19. He now is with the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . .

The Boston Bruins used the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 1976 draft to take Clayton Pachal. He went on to play 35 NHL games — 11 with the Bruins and 24 with the Colorado Rockies — recording two goals, three assists and 95 penalty minutes. . . . The Winnipeg Jets selected Pachal in the second round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 1976 draft. . . . He retired from pro hockey after splitting the 1979-80 season between the Central League’s Cincinnati Stingers and the International League’s Grand Rapids Owls. . . . When he returned home, he kept playing, this time in the Wild Goose Hockey League with the Unity Miners and Wilkie Outlaws. . . .

Pachal’s greatest contribution wasn’t made in an arena or on a sheet of ice. In 1997, he was a living donor for his brother, Evan, who needed a kidney. . . . The brothers were an excellent match and Evan told Taking Note on Tuesday that “I’ve enjoyed good health ever since . . . I am so thankful for his gift.” . . .

The family asks that donations be made to the Kidney Foundation of Canada in lieu of flowers. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


Don Nachbaur is the Tri-City Americans’ new associate coach. Nachbaur will Americanswork alongside head coach Kelly Buchberger, who is into his third season with the club. . . . Nachbaur, the WHL’s third-winningest regular-season head coach, spent six seasons (2003-09) as the Americans’ head coach. He also spent six seasons as head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds and seven with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . With 692 victories, he is behind only Don Hay (750), who now is an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, and the retired Ken Hodge (742). . . . After leaving Spokane, Nachbaur, 62, joined the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. He got caught up in a house-cleaning early in his second season (2018-19) in L.A. . . . Nachbaur spent the 2019-20 season as head coach of HKM Zvolen in the Slovakia Tipsport Liga. He started the 2020-21 season as head coach of SC Bern in the Swiss National League A, but left the team five games into the season with a 4-8-0 record.



Sleep


Starting pitcher Frankie Montas wasn’t there when the Oakland A’s reported to camp in Mesa, Ariz., on Wednesday. He has tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms. Under MLB’s protocols, players reporting to camp go through an intake process that includes a five-day home quarantine. A positive test also results in a player having to isolate for at least 10 days. He is allowed to rejoin the team only after undergoing cardiac evaluation and getting clearance from a team physician and from an MLB/MLBPA committee. . . . Pitchers and catchers were to report Wednesday. The mandatory reporting date for other players is Feb. 26. The first exhibition games are scheduled for Feb. 27. Opening day is set for April 1.


The NBA has scheduled its all-star game for March 7 in Atlanta — it was to have been held in Indianapolis but was moved for pandemic-related reasons. . . . Keisha Lance Bottoms is the major of Atlanta. How does she feel about having the game in her city? Here she is in a statement: “Under normal circumstances, we would be extremely grateful for the opportunity to host the NBA All-Star game, but this is not a typical year,” she said in a statement. “I have shared my concerns related to public health and safety with the NBA and Atlanta Hawks. We are in agreement that this is a made-for-TV event only, and people should not travel to Atlanta to party. There will be no NBA sanctioned events open to the public and we strongly encourage promoters, clubs, bars, etc. not to host events in the city related to this game.”


Line


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,395 have died from coronavirus; 836,594 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,439 have died from coronavirus; 839,155 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 487,927 people have died. . . . 27,753,824 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Wednesday, 10:01 p.m. PT — United States: 490,447 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,825,043 have tested positive.

——

The Globe and Mail — Global COVID-19 cases have dropped by half, and experts are looking for explanations.

The Globe and Mail — Alberta pastor accused of breaking COVID-19 health rules held in custody.

The Tri-City News — COVID-19 outbreak at Burnaby’s biggest daycare sees 24 cases.

CBC News — B.C. records 427 new COVID-19 cases and 3 more deaths. There are 232 people in hospital with the disease, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 277 new COVID-19 cases, 7 more deaths. Province has a case positivity rate of 3.9%.

CBC News — Manitoba is reporting 76 new COVID-19 cases, below the province’s 7-day average of 84. Health authorities are also reporting 1 additional death.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 124 new COVID-19 cases, well below the province’s 7-day average of 159. Health authorities also say there have been 5 additional deaths.

CBC News — New Brunswick is reporting 3 new COVID-19 cases and 15 recoveries. Province has had 1,407 total cases, 1,264 recoveries and 24 deaths. . . . N.B.’s top doctor urges residents to stay in own zone over March Break.

CBC News — Toronto and neighbouring Peel Region call for 2-week lockdown extension due to COVID-19 variant spread. Toronto’s top doctor says there are 56 confirmed cases while 283 others have screened positive; foresees 3rd wave ‘as worse as anything we’ve seen.’

——

The NHL has had to postpone 35 games because of COVID-19, seven teams have had to pause activities and there have been 124 players on the protocol list. It all has left some people wondering if the coronavirus is being transmitted during games. . . . Chris Bumbaca of USA TODAY has a lot more on this story right here.

——

From the NBA on Wednesday: “Of the 454 players tested for COVID-19 since Feb. 10, five new players have returned confirmed positive tests. Anyone who has returned a confirmed positive test, or has been identified as having been in close contact to an infected person, is isolated or quarantined until they are cleared under the rules established by the NBA and the Players Association in accordance with CDC guidance.”


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The junior B Langley Trappers have opted out of whatever might be left of the 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League’s 2020-21 season. The league has been in a holding pattern since Nov. 7.


History

Dietrich leaves quite a legacy; ex-Wheat Kings captain dies at 59 . . . Byram fitting right in with Avalanche

Don Dietrich, a former defenceman with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings (1978-81) who went on to a pro career, died on Tuesday morning. From Deloraine, Man., and proud of it, he was 59.

He is survived by his wife Nadine and three sons — Tristan, Jake and Nick. The latter two, like their Dad, played in the WHL.

Tristan posted Tuesday morning on the Facebook tribute page that they recently started to honour their husband and father:

“We are sad to announce that Don, Dad, Dins, Beaker passed away this morning peacefully. He fought hard til the end. The ‘I Can’ in him stayed true right til the end.

“If ever having a hard day, remember it can always be worse. A bad day doing something you love is still better than a good day doing something you don’t. Keep your toes up ice! The golden rule must always be followed. Get the most out of life by finding out what you can do for others. Take a second to look at the man in the mirror. Be true to your self. Take ownership. Find a way to win.

“Don made sure he passed on lessons so he could live on in all of us. We love him. Will see him on the other side . . . just not yet . . . not yet.”

It has been almost five years since Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote a terrific piece about Don after a Molson Canadian promotion resulted in his being part of a group that got to play hockey on a frozen lake in the mountains near Invermere.

Dietrich, who was battling Parkinson’s disease and then was diagnosed with cancer, later told Turner: “I’ll put it to you this way. If there’s a heaven on Earth, I’ve been there.”

Turner’s story is right here.

If you paid any attention to the Don Dietrich tribute page over the past couple of weeks, it became readily apparent that Don had a positive impact on the lives of a whole lot of people.

There can be no doubt that he left this world a much better place today than it was when he first made his presence heard.

Sleep well, old friend. You were one of a kind. Finally, the pain is gone.


Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has taken a look at the WHL’s plans to get WHL2players back on the ice, with a particular focus on the five teams in the U.S. Division. . . . Those five teams are scheduled to begin games on March 19, with all games in Everett or Kent, and with the Portland Winterhawks practising in Vancouver, Wash. . . . At one point, Baker writes: “I’m told not all U.S. Division teams favored playing, which isn’t surprising given risks to players, aged 16-20, paid only nominal ‘stipends.’ There’s no TV revenue at stake and gate-driven WHL squads will lose a bundle by taking the ice.” . . . Officials with the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds told Baker that “their motivation is showcasing and developing players for NHL careers.” That, of course, is what everyone is saying. . . . According to Baker, the Silvertips will have their players in a bubble — “most likely in currently empty dormitories at Everett Community College.” The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, will have their players with billets. . . . As Baker writes, “We’ll see how effective one ‘bubble’ team is when playing others mingling daily with nonquarantined people.” . . . Baker’s complete story is right here.

——

Meanwhile, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, held an in-person briefing on Tuesday. Asked when the WHL’s B.C. Division will be able to get its five teams playing again, according to Liza Yuzda of News 1130, she said that health officials “haven’t received an updated proposal in the last few weeks,” adding that they would be “happy to look at it.” . . . She also said that if the province continues on its present trajectory, she would hope for games in March or April.


The NHL announced a number of schedule changes on Tuesday, but also had another postponement on its hands. For the second night in a row, it had to postpone a game between the Nashville Predators and host Dallas Stars because of power-related issues in Texas all due to the inclement weather. . . . Former Lethbridge Hurricanes D Calen Addison made his NHL debut on Tuesday night as the Minnesota Wild played its first game since Feb. 2 because of protocols. The Wild dropped a 4-0 decision to the Kings in Los Angeles. . . .

The NHL had 22 players on its COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with seven of them from the Philadelphia Flyers, who last played on Feb. 7 and are scheduled to play the visiting New York Rangers on Thursday. The Flyers, with seven players on the protocol list, practised on Tuesday after being off for a week. However, they had only 14 skaters, four of them from the taxi squad, and two goaltenders available.


News


The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have had four players test positive and now have had four games postponed, including Tuesday game against the host Detroit Pistons. . . . The Spurs remain in quarantine in Charlotte, N.C., since playing the Hornets there on Sunday. . . . The Spurs were to have played road games against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the New York Knicks on Saturday and the Indiana Pacers on Monday. . . .

Due to contact tracing, the Hornets’ next two games have been scrubbed. They were to have played at home against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Denver Nuggets on Friday. . . . The NBA now has postponed 29 games for virus-related issues.


I have received a query from a WHL fan who has in his possession a black New Westminster Bruins sweater (No.22) from 1977-78 or 1978-79. He doesn’t know who wore it, although he wonders if it may have been Don Werbeniuk. . . . If you are able to help with some ID, please email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Dear hockey gods: We really, really need a best-of-seven series — a best-of- nine would be better — between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. Their game in Vegas on Tuesday, especially the third period, was hockey as art, even without fans. . . . D Bowen Byram, 19, made the play that led to Colorado’s winning goal late in the third period of a 3-2 victory. The former Vancouver Giants star played 25:03 last night, after going 23:07 in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Golden Knights. The Avalanche is without three defencemen — Cale Makar, Erik Johnson and Samuel Girard — but hasn’t missed a beat with Byram back there.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,298 have died from coronavirus; 832,375 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,395 have died from coronavirus; 836,594 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — United States: 486,321 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,692,967 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 487,927 people have died. . . . 27,753,824 have tested positive.

——

NBC Montana — State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman announced his resignation from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday in a letter to new Director Adam Meier. . . . The announcement came one day after Gov. Greg Gianforte announced plans to lift the state’s mask mandate, which went into effect Friday.


Panel


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: Troy Gillard will be the interim play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels for the approaching 24-game developmental season. He takes over from Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Gillard, a familiar media face in Red Deer since 2006, has been the host of Rebels broadcasts since 2011. He will be joined on home games by veteran analyst Mike Moller. . . . You may recall reading there last week about the travels of former WHL star goaltender Taran Kozun. Well, add another chapter because he was released by the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears on Tuesday.


Diet

The WHL, Part 5: There was tragedy, lots of movement and marshmallow punches . . .

Here is the fifth and final piece on the WHL’s first 25 years.  The five stories were written in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I have done just that over the past couple of weeks. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here, then, is Part 5 of 5. Thanks for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed these stories, and thank you for all of the positive feedback. . . .

——

The fifth five-year segment was easily the best of the WHL’s first 25 years.

There was success in the stands, particularly in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, and in Saskatoon where the Blades welcomed a new facility.

There was stability, too. Recent additions, like the Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes, settled in for what appeared to be long stays.

But the greatest success came on the ice where the WHL won four Memorial Cup championships during the five seasons, opening with three in a row and closing with a victory by the Spokane Chiefs.

DougSauter

The 1986-87 season actually started on something of a strange note. The Regina Pats signed Doug Sauter, who was under contract to the Medicine Hat Tigers, to a two-year deal as general manager/head coach. The result was that the Pats agreed to compensate the Tigers.

The compensation turned into two veteran players — defenceman Kevin Ekdahl and forward Kevin Clemens. It was the first time in WHL history that a coach had, in effect, been traded.

The Pats also welcomed back another familiar face with Dennis Sobchuk, the greatest and most-popular player in franchise history, signing on as assistant coach/assistant manager.

This was a time of great change in the front offices and behind the benches. Barry Trapp left the Moose Jaw Warriors, saying, “I wasn’t fired. It was just a mutual agreement. It was a very friendly parting.”

BryanMaxwell

Medicine Hat signed Bryan Maxwell to replace Sauter, while Peter Esdale was the new coach in Spokane and Wayne Naka took over the Cougars in Victoria. In New Westminster, John Olver was the GM, with Ernie McLean the coach. Harvey Roy was out as the Bruins’ director of marketing, but he would surface in Moose Jaw as the GM and would hire Greg Kvisle to coach the Warriors. In Prince Albert, GM/head coach Terry Simpson left to coach the NHL’s New York Islanders and Rick Wilson took over.

Perhaps the biggest news in the summer of 1986 came on June 2 when the WHL announced it was doing away with round-robin playoff series in the East Division. Instead, the top two teams would get first- round byes.

In the WHL office, Richard Doerksen’s title was upgraded from executive assistant/referee-in-chief to vice-president.

There was trouble in Brandon, where the Bank of Nova Scotia called in a $77,000 demand loan, asking for payment on July 31. This resulted in the Wheat Kings’ board recommending to shareholders that the franchise be sold.

bob cornell brandon wheat kings mvc
BOB CORNELL (Photo: Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame)

In August, shareholders voted 1,411-404 in favour of selling the Wheat Kings. Offers were received from two groups — one in Edmonton headed by Vic Mah, the other comprising Brandon businessmen Bob Cornell and Stuart Craig, and Winnipeg businessman Dave Laing.

Cornell’s group purchased the Wheat Kings for more than $300,000 and then added a unique twist to the situation by signing a 10-year working agreement with the Keystone Centre. The Keystone took over operation of the club, and hired Bill Shinske to run the front office. Shinske hired Marc Pezzin as coach.

The WHL also welcomed the Swift Current Broncos to the fold. Behind the bench was Graham James, who had recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the Warriors over a lawsuit he had started the previous year.

“If we continue to average close to 2,000, we’ll have a real successful year and we’ll show a profit of about $80,000,” Gary Bollinger, the Broncos’ vice-president and alternate governor, said. “That doesn’t include playoff revenue. We were budgeting for an average of 1,600. If we averaged that, we’d still make a bit of a profit.”

The first coaching change of the 1986-87 season took place on Dec. 8 in Seattle when Sheldon Ferguson gave up the Thunderbirds’ coaching reins, but stayed on as GM. Dan McDonald was the new head coach, with former Portland Winter Hawks star Jim Dobson as the assistant.

Broncos
When the Swift Current Broncos’ bus crashed on Dec. 30, 1986, the hockey world lost Chris Mantyka (left), Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger and Brent Ruff. (Photo: Swift Current Broncos)

Disaster struck on Dec. 30 when the Broncos, en route to Regina to play the Pats, were involved in a bus accident. Four players — Scott Kruger, Trent Kresse, Brent Ruff and Chris Mantyka — were killed.

EdChynoweth3
ED CHYNOWETH

“There has never been anything more devastating that has happened to me personally,” Ed Chynoweth, the WHL president, said. “The question I keep asking myself is ‘Why?’ My heart goes out to all the parents and the people involved. I wish someone would call and say this is all a mistake.”

John Foster, the Broncos’ publicity director, said: “This team will band together and win it for those guys who died. The (survivors) were absolutely professional under stress. If the people of Swift Current could have seen them, they would have been proud.”

There was never any thought of the team not continuing. As team president John Rittinger said: “It’s up to the players and the fans now. We aren’t ready to throw in the towel.”

Defenceman Ed Brost, talking about the club’s next game, stated: “It will be difficult. To go right back out on the ice would be cheating ourselves emotionally and physically. Right now people have to remember athletes are human beings, not robots.”

Moose Jaw centre Theoren Fleury was in Czechoslovakia with Canada’s national junior team at the time of the accident.

“I just can’t believe it,” Fleury said. “I just sat on the bus all the way to practice today thinking about what’s going on with all those guys on that team right now. It just blows me away. I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing we can do about it and I think being helpless is the most frustrating thing about it.”

As if losing four players in the accident wasn’t enough, Herman Kruger, 67, suffered a fatal heart attack as he entered the church for his great-grandson’s funeral.

And later the same day, Sauter and Regina trainer Stan Szumlak came to the rescue of Keith Giles, a member of the Prince Albert executive, who was choking on some food.

Donations in memory of the players poured into the Broncos’ office and an education fund was set up in their memory. Another fund was started to raise money that would go towards the cost of replacing the bus.

On Feb. 2, a longtime veteran of the WHL’s coaching wars returned for one last fling when John Chapman replaced Wally Kozak behind the bench of the Calgary Wranglers. Chapman also was the Calgary GM.

On Feb. 15, Portland won a game in Spokane and Ken Hodge took over as the winningest coach in WHL history. His 547 victories were one more than Ernie McLean.

BradHornung
BRAD HORNUNG (Photo: University of Regina)

Tragedy struck the WHL again on March 1 when Regina centre Brad Hornung was checked into the end boards at the Agridome and suffered a broken neck.

Dr. Chris Ekong, a neurosurgeon, said Hornung suffered a burst fracture of the third cervical vertebrae and a crushed spinal cord. “Brad has no feelings in his arms and legs,” Dr. Ekong said. “He is completely paralysed from the neck down.”

Hornung would never regain the use of his arms and legs, but that didn’t stop him from going on with his life.

As the WHL completed its 25th season, Hornung was continuing with his education, taking courses at the University of Regina.

Despite the bus accident, Swift Current made the playoffs in its first season. But there wouldn’t be a Cinderella story as the Broncos dropped a best-of-five series to Prince Albert, 3-1.

April was highlighted by three coaching changes — Esdale’s contract wasn’t renewed by Spokane, Kvisle resigned in Moose Jaw and McLean stepped aside in New Westminster.

And Medicine Hat won the WHL championship. The Tigers faced elimination twice in each of their last two series, and dumped visiting Portland 7-2 in the seventh game of the championship final.

The Tigers would win their first of two consecutive Memorial Cup championships, the first under Maxwell, the second under Barry Melrose. Both came with Russ Farwell as general manager.

EdStaniowski

John Van Horlick took over as coach in New Westminster for 1987-88, with

Butch Goring the coach in Spokane. Jim Harrison was the new head coach in Moose Jaw, with Ed Staniowski his assistant. Harrison and Roy, the GM, were friends from their days in Estevan, while Staniowski was a former all-star goaltender with Regina.

And the WHL was returning to Lethbridge. The Tier One Junior Hockey Club of Lethbridge purchased the Wranglers for about $350,000 from Brian Ekstrom. The Lethbridge franchise would be called the Hurricanes, causing Lethbridge Herald columnist Pat Sullivan to wonder if the logo would be an overturned mobile home.

The sale also meant that there wouldn’t be a franchise in the city in which the WHL office was located. But the office wasn’t about to be moved.

“It was decided that it was certainly the most central location for our league,” Chynoweth said.

Going into the new season, the WHL passed a rule cracking down on checking from behind.

“We do use (NHL) rules and the NHL doesn’t have hitting from behind instituted in its rule book,” Chynoweth said, “but I predict that within two years the NHL will have the same rule.”

That is exactly what happened.

There was change in the WHL’s boardroom, too, as Portland’s Brian Shaw stepped down as chairman of the board and was replaced by Saskatoon’s Rick Brodsky.

On June 5, Swift Current celebrated its first birthday by revealing the franchise was no longer in debt.

Rittinger said: “We bought the franchise and we borrowed money to buy the franchise. So we took the season-ticket money to pay the bank loan off. The bank loan is paid off. We don’t owe the bank anything. And that’s incredible because we just got the franchise last year.”

Maxwell left Medicine Hat, joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Lethbridge named Glen Hawker as its first GM/head coach. Before the season started, Lethbridge reorganized, with Wayne Simpson taking over as GM.

On July 6, Hornung, in his first interview since being injured, told the Regina Leader-Post: “You have to accept it. Life goes on and you do the best with what you have. At first, it was a time of change, shock really, but right now, it’s actually gotten easier because you get used to the adjustments. Like everybody else, I have my good days and bad days. But I don’t have many bad days.”

Separate pregame warmups came to the WHL on Sept. 28.

GerryJames

With Seattle off to a 2-15-0 start, owner Earl Hale told Ferguson, the GM, to take a leave of absence. On Nov. 16, Ferguson was fired. A couple of weeks later, Hawker was fired in Lethbridge, where Blaine Galbraith took over. And on Dec. 8, Moose Jaw fired Harrison and hired Gerry James, the only person to have played in a Grey Cup game and Stanley Cup final in the same season.

On Feb. 2, Saskatoon beat Regina 7-2 before 3,308 fans in the final game at the Saskatoon Arena. Regina coach Doug Sauter, for one, was glad to see the end of the old barn: “I get screwed every time I come in here and I haven’t been kissed yet.”

One week later, on Feb. 9, Saskatoon beat Brandon 4-3 in front of 9,343 fans at Saskatchewan Place. Chynoweth announced prior to the game that the 1989 Memorial Cup would be played in Saskatoon.

On March 11, amidst rumours that the Warriors were on the verge of major financial problems, it was announced that Roy’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.

WHL attendance figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that Swift Current drew 82,080 fans to 36 home games, which was 99 per cent of capacity. Portland led in total attendance — 200,911. The league drew 1,405,874 fans, an increase of almost 80,000 over the previous season.

For the first time in league history, the scoring race ended in a dead heat.

Two centres — Fleury and Swift Current’s Joe Sakic — finished the regular season with 160 points. Sakic had 78 goals, Fleury 68. But there was nothing in the WHL bylaws to deal with the situation so the scoring race was ruled a tie.

JoeCelentano
JOE CELENTANO

The rumours were true — there were financial problems in Moose Jaw. The Warriors began sorting things out by separating the hockey side of things from the business side. With an accumulated debt of $234,000, Joe Celentano, a former referee with basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters, was hired as business manager.

On April 17, Medicine Hat beat visiting Saskatoon 3-0 to win its third straight East Division title. The only other team to win three consecutive East titles was the Flin Flon Bombers, beginning in 1968-69.

On May 3, the Tigers beat visiting Kamloops 5-2 to win their second straight WHL title, this one in six games.

The very next day, Bob Vranckaert, who was in the construction business in Alaska, said he would like to put an expansion franchise in Anchorage in time for the 1990-91 season. Born in Drumheller, Alta., and raised in Burnaby, B.C., Vranckaert spent more than 20 years in general commercial construction 800 miles north of Anchorage.

The WHL said it would play two exhibition and four regular-season games in Anchorage and use that, plus the 1989 world junior championship, which was to be held in Anchorage, as a barometer.

On May 8, the Pats announced that Sauter’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.

A week later, Sauter’s old team, the Tigers, beat the Windsor Spitfires 7-6 in Chicoutimi to become the sixth team in the 70-year history of the Memorial Cup to win back-to-back championships.

The board in Moose Jaw put H.J. (Toby) Tobias in charge and then resigned en masse. Tobias was empowered to chair a committee whose immediate responsibility was to carry on a fund-raising campaign aimed at erasing the club’s debt. The immediate goal was to raise $150,000.

Tobias said he would look into the team’s accounting procedures, recommend constitutional changes and appoint an auditor to present a year-end statement at the club’s annual meeting.

“To me it’s a four-stage project,” Tobias said. “Stage 1: Solve the immediate debt crisis and give us some breathing room. Step 2: Have a look at the front office and see if there are some things we can tighten up. Stage 3: Come up with a budget we can live with in years to come. Stage 4: Make sure fund-raising becomes a year-round effort.”

In mid-May, Pezzin resigned as coach in Brandon. He would be replaced by Sauter, who was reunited with Shinske. The two were old friends, going back to the Estevan and New Westminster Bruins. Sobchuk replaced Sauter in Regina.

Celentano resigned in Moose Jaw, saying: “By my staying I become just another liability, one of those accounts payable that they have to make every day, and they don’t have the money.”

On May 31, Tobias announced that the Warriors had reached their goal of $151,800. That figure covered debts accrued up until March 31. Tobias said: “The phoenix has risen from the ashes. The financial health of the club remains fragile . . . but it’s business as usual from here on in.”

Indications were that New Westminster owner Ron Dixon would move the franchise to the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. He just happened to be building an arena, the Tri-Cities Coliseum, there.

TimSpeltz
TIM SPELTZ

In July, Farwell and Melrose resigned in Medicine Hat. Shortly after, they signed in Seattle. Wes Phillips was named GM in Medicine Hat and hired Ron Kennedy, a former Estevan player, as coach. Before the season started, Phillips quit, citing business and family pressures, and Tim Speltz replaced him.

Peter Anholt was named head coach in Prince Albert, where Wilson quit to join the L.A. Kings as an assistant coach. Brad Tippett was the GM in Prince Albert.

The WHL arrived in Anchorage on the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25, 1988.

Kamloops and Portland played two exhibition games in Anchorage, drawing 2,100 to the first game and 1,750 the next night.

A shakeup occurred in Spokane. It started on Oct. 14 when Spokane GM Bob Strumm acquired six players while giving up four others in trades that involved three other teams. The Chiefs were 1-4-0 and had given up 33 goals in those five games.

Twelve days later, with the Chiefs 2-9-0, Strumm relieved Goring of his duties. Strumm, with a three-year contract extension that would take him through the 1991-92 season, went behind the bench, went 2-4-0 and immediately installed Gary Braun as coach.

On Nov. 11, Moose Jaw dumped Gerry James and installed Kvisle as head coach/director of hockey operations.

Three days later, Regina shook up things. Sobchuk moved from coach to GM, with Bernie Lynch moving up from assistant coach to head coach.

It was announced on Nov. 17 that Vranckaert had purchased the Victoria Cougars from Fraser McColl. Ownership actually had changed hands 10 days after the end of the season.

“Bob has been after me for a long time,” McColl said. “He wants to get into the business with a passion. And, perhaps, that’s the type of enthusiasm this team needs right now.”

On Nov. 20, the Tri-City Americans, having played their first 17 games on the road because the Coliseum wasn’t ready, opened at home with a 4-3 overtime victory over Seattle in front of a sellout crowd of 6,004.

Swift Current started the season with 12 straight victories, and went into the Christmas break at 28-5-0 and on a 10-game winning streak. Referring to the bus accident of two years previous, James said: “I think the bus accident galvanized the spirit of the community. I think that was a catalyst. Since then we’ve had to provide a product that’s been worthy of fans coming, but I think that incident certainly rallied the community.”

Added centre Tim Tisdale: “That’s all anybody in town talks about. It’s hard to believe. You go downtown and you’re eating in a restaurant and everybody at the next table is talking about the Broncos. It definitely helps your hockey.”

There was big news out of Calgary on Jan. 3, 1989, when Petr Nedved, a centre with a midget team from Litvinov, Czechoslovakia, defected after a midget tournament. His WHL rights belonged to Moose Jaw, but the Warriors would deal them to Seattle.

The season wasn’t over when Spokane owner Vic Fitzgerald said that Braun wouldn’t be returning.

On March 14, Chynoweth revealed that the WHL “had an inquiry from Terry Simpson about putting a team in Red Deer. They would have to get a new building.” A conditional franchise was sold to Simpson on Aug. 12, 1991. The Rebels would begin play in the fall of 1992.

Attendance figures compiled by The Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance was up 232,951 over 1987-88. Most of that was attributable to the first-year Americans who attracted 203,532 fans, which was 156,149 more than they drew the previous season in New Westminster.

There was a change in Seattle on April 11 when Medicine Hat businessman Bill Yuill bought the Thunderbirds from Earl Hale of Calgary.

The usual spate of front-office changes began in earnest with the news that: 1. Galbraith would not be back in Lethbridge; 2. Al Patterson, who quit in Victoria after the season ended, had signed as Tri-City’s GM; 3. Ron Byrne had signed as the GM in Victoria; 4. Sobchuk had resigned as GM in Regina; 5. Shinske had resigned in Brandon; and, 6. Tippett had quit in P.A.

Swift Current won 4-1 in Portland on April 30 to sweep the Winter Hawks in the championship final. The Broncos became the first team to sweep its way to the WHL championship — they also got past Moose Jaw and Saskatoon in four games each. The Broncos, just a season and a half after having four players killed in a bus accident, went 55-16-1, the best record in the CHL.

 “This is a great accomplishment for our franchise,” James said. “But I don’t want the Memorial Cup to decide if we had a great year.”

TimTisdale

Tisdale added: “We have the team to do it this year. If we can’t get up for four games, we don’t belong there. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the Memorial Cup.”

On May 14, Tisdale’s goal at 3:25 of the first sudden-death overtime period gave the Broncos a 4-3 victory over Saskatoon in the final game of the Memorial Cup. The game was played in front of 9.078 fans in Saskatchewan Place and brought to an end the most successful Memorial Cup tournament ever played.

Shortly after the Memorial Cup, the changes continued: 1. Lynch found out his contract in Regina wouldn’t be renewed; 2. Rick Kozuback signed a two-year contract as coach with Tri-City; 3. Simpson returned to Prince Albert as GM/head coach; 4. Bill Hicke was named GM in Regina; 5. Tippett signed as Regina’s head coach; 5. Maxwell returned from L.A. to sign as co-coach and director of hockey operations in Spokane; 6. Braun was Spokane’s co-coach and assistant director of hockey operations; 7. Melrose left Seattle to become head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings; 8. Marcel Comeau signed a two-year deal in Saskatoon but shortly after resigned to become head coach of the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks; 9. Anholt quit in P.A. to join Seattle as head coach; 10. Rob Daum signed as assistant coach/assistant manager in P.A.; and, 11. Terry Ruskowski signed to coach the Blades.

On June 14, 1989, Moose Jaw, so close to financial ruin just one year earlier, revealed at its annual meeting that there was a paper profit of $119,722 and that the Warriors had about $40,000 in the bank.

At its annual meeting, the WHL had two major announcements. It had decided for the first time to use full-time referees. “We’re hoping it leads to more consistent, professional refereeing,” Regina governor Ted Knight said. By the time all was said and done, the WHL had hired eight full-time and four part-time referees.

The WHL also said it would no longer allow teams to list 13-year-old players. From that point on, 14-year-olds would count for two spots on a list, players 15 and older for one.

Seattle set a single-game attendance record on Oct. 7 when 12,173 fans showed up to watch the Thunderbirds edge Portland, 4-3. “We could have sold 2,000 more tickets,” Seth Landau, the club’s director of marketing and public relations, said. “We were sold out the day before the game.” The previous attendance record belonged to Portland, which had attracted capacity crowds of 10,437 to Memorial Coliseum on numerous occasions.

The first coaching change came on Oct. 15 when Naka resigned in Victoria. Lyle Moffat replaced him.

On Nov. 1, Ken Hitchcock, 36 years of age and in the neighbourhood of 400 pounds, went public with the news that he was going on a serious diet.

“There comes a time in life when it becomes a case of now or never,” said the popular coach of the Kamloops Blazers. “I look down the road four or five years from now, what do I want to be doing? If that’s what I have to do to move up the ladder, that’s what I have to do.”

Victoria made another coaching change on Nov. 13 with Garry Cunningham becoming the Cougars’ third coach of the season. Moffat stayed on as marketing director.

A lawsuit launched by Hornung was settled out of court in November. Thirteen defendants, including the WHL, were named in the suit launched in July of 1987. Details of the settlement weren’t made public.

At a WHL board of governors’ meeting on Nov. 20, the chair switched bodies again. It was a case of deja vu, with Shaw taking over from Brodsky.

Kelly-McCrimmon
KELLY McCRIMMON (Photo: Brandon Wheat Kings)

On Dec. 17, Sauter was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder that strikes at the central nervous system. He would not return to coaching until late in the 1990-91 season when he finished the winter with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Brandon GM Kelly McCrimmon moved in behind Brandon’s bench.

There was a player revolt in Tri-City when Dixon named Bill LaForge director of player personnel. LaForge said he had a five-year contract.

On Dec. 31, with Portland scheduled to play in Tri-City, the Americans players refused. A statement signed by 19 players read in part: “We will definitely not participate in any further games without the termination of Mr. Bill LaForge from the Americans organization.”

The players ended their holdout the next day, winning 8-4 in Portland. Dixon had contacted players earlier in the day and said LaForge would no longer have any contact with them.

Defenceman Colin Ruck later explained the Tri-City deal: “He came into the dressing room screaming and cutting guys down. To get to us, he said we had to call him Coach. He had (coach) Rick Kozuback picking up pucks during practice. That really upset us. Bill came out and ran a really brutal practice. We felt we had to do something.”

Byrne was gone as Victoria’s GM before January ended, while Cunningham was out as coach on Feb. 5. Moffat went back behind the bench. The Cougars would set a CHL record, losing 29 in a row.

On Feb. 7, Seattle centre Glen Goodall had an assist in a 5-3 victory over visiting Tri-City to break the WHL record for most points in a career. That lifted his point total to 530, one more than Craig Endean, who had played with Seattle and Regina.

Two nights later, Seattle broke the WHL single-game attendance record as 12,253 fans watched a 5-3 victory over Spokane.

Figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance totalled 1,678,651, up about 40,000 over the previous season. Tri-City, which sold out every home game, led the way with total attendance of 216,360. Saskatoon, in its first full season in Saskatchewan Place, played in front of 209,542 fans. Seattle, which finished with its best-ever record (52-17-3; the best previous was 32-28-12 in 1977-78), drew 181,211 fans, up 66,189 from a year previous.

On March 28, Chynoweth admitted that two groups had applied for an expansion franchise for Tacoma, Wash.

The Spokane franchise changed hands on April 10, with Fitzgerald selling to the Brett brothers — Bobby, George and Ken — for more than $600,000. Bob Brett wouldn’t say what they paid, other than to say it was “too much.”

JackShupe

The postseason changes started in April when Speltz and Kennedy learned that Medicine Hat wouldn’t renew their contracts, and Rick Hopper was named head coach/director of hockey operations in Victoria. Jack Shupe, the Tigers’ first GM/head coach in 1970-71, was the new GM in Medicine Hat. He hired Tim Bothwell as coach.

On April 29, Kamloops scored a 6-5 overtime victory in Lethbridge to win the WHL final in five games. Kamloops lost the opener and then won four straight. The Blazers struck out at the Memorial Cup, though, as the Oshawa Generals, with Eric Lindros, won it all in Hamilton.

There was much expansion talk in the WHL, resulting in this comment from Brodsky: “It’s sort of like being in love. If you have to ask yourself whether you’re in love, you’re probably not. If we’re wondering why we should expand, then maybe we’re forcing the issue a bit. If expansion is right, we’ll know it.”

DennisBeyak
DENNIS BEYAK

Farwell left Seattle to become GM of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Anholt added the GM’s nameplate to his door, and hired assistant GM Dennis Beyak from Saskatoon. Beyak had been in Saskatoon since 1981 and was the person deemed most responsible for the success of the 1989 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.

Simpson left Prince Albert again, this time to become an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. Daum was promoted to replace him.

There were shockwaves in Kamloops when Hitchcock resigned after six seasons with the Blazers. He signed as an assistant coach with Philadelphia. Tom Renney replaced Hitchcock, who left with a 291-125-15 regular-season record over six seasons, his .693 winning percentage the highest of any coach in WHL history.

Leaving wasn’t easy for Hitchcock, who said: “I got cold feet a couple of times. I almost went into (GM) Bob Brown’s office and said, ‘Call the whole thing off, I don’t want to go.’ ”

On Sept. 30, Chynoweth chatted about expansion: “There are what I like to call tire-kickers in Boise, Idaho; Eugene, Oregon; and, Tacoma, Washington. The WHL is in good shape and we’re aggressive to expand by one, possibly two teams in the West Division sometime soon. We are coming off our second record-setting attendance season. We’re also proud of the fact that this is the third year in a row we aren’t opening a new site. Believe it or not, but we’re stable.”

Bruce Hamilton, a former player and scout with the Blades, headed a group of Saskatoon and Tacoma investors who were eventually granted a franchise for Tacoma to start with the 1991-92 season.

On Oct. 30, with the 1990-91 season one month old, one night before Halloween, James went wild in Swift Current. Upset with referee Kevin Muench after the Broncos turned a 7-3 second-period lead into a 9-8 loss to visiting Medicine Hat, James went on to the ice in pursuit of Muench, then returned to the bench and threw sticks and water bottles onto the ice. James then removed his jacket, tie, shirt and one shoe and threw them onto the ice before his players escorted him to the dressing room.

Bothwell summed it up: “All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ I don’t know what words can describe what happened out there, from a lot of different aspects.”

James was suspended for six games and fined $2,000. “At least they didn’t ask me for the shirt off my back,” he said. The incident would show up on video on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and the David Letterman Show among others.

GerryJohansson
GERRY JOHANSSON

There was some silliness in Spokane, too. On Dec. 6, with Tri-City visiting Spokane, Maxwell and Americans assistant Gerry Johannson got into it after first period.

Here’s Maxwell: “He was waiting for me. He was yapping at me. He challenged me and I accepted the challenge.” Maxwell was said to have out-punched his opponent, 4-0.

Here’s Johansson: “He throws punches like marshmallows.”

Maxwell was suspended for three games and fined $500. Johansson got hit for $1,000 and four games.

Remember that $1 parking fee in Regina? Well, on Dec. 17, Regina Exhibition Park announced it was doubling it to $2. “I don’t think our fans will take very kindly to it if it does happen,” said co-owner/GM Bill Hicke. “If that’s the case it’ll drive another nail in the coffin.”

The Pats’ lease would expire after the 1990-91 season and Hicke had already made at least one trip into the Pacific Northwest to scout buildings.

A change in Prince Albert had Dale Engel move in as GM, with Rob Daum giving up that title but staying on as coach. It was no surprise when Daum left P.A. for Swift Current at season’s end.

On Feb. 4, Saskatoon fired head coach Terry Ruskowski, replacing him with former Blades defenceman Bob Hoffmeyer.

On March 17, Seattle was awarded the 1992 Memorial Cup.

The Leader-Post’s attendance figures showed that Tri-City, with 36 sellouts, again topped the WHL with 216,360 fans. Seattle was next at 215,248, up 34,037 from the season previous. But overall attendance was down 22,861 to 1,655,790.

LorneFrey
LORNE FREY

On April 17, Marcel Comeau was named the first head coach of the Tacoma Rockets. Hamilton would be the GM, with Lorne Frey, most recently with Swift Current, as director of player personnel.

Spokane scored a 7-2 victory over home-town Lethbridge to sweep the WHL final. The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup, with goaltender Trevor Kidd and right-winger Pat Falloon wrapping up dream seasons. Both played for the Canadian junior team that won the gold medal in Saskatoon.

One thing more than any other summed up the WHL as it headed into its second 25 years. When the 1991-92 season opened, the league not only had the same 14 teams for the fourth consecutive season, but it had welcomed the Tacoma Rockets to the fold.

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