Dale Hawerchuk rings Bell of Hope . . . Will some junior teams not make it? . . . Doughty can’t see NHL season resuming


One of the things I’ve been wondering about over the last month is whether there will be some junior teams who won’t answer the bell when it’s time to start another season, whenever that might be.

On Monday, Tyler Yaremchuk, who among other things is the host of Inside The AJHL on TSN 1260 in Edmonton, tweeted (@tyleryaremchuk) a couple of things that he has “heard about the AJHL” . . .

“As many as three teams are considering a sabbatical. They would take a season off and then reassess.

“The league will vote on whether or not to make players pay a fee to play next season. somewhere around $2,500 per player for the 20/21 season. Other CJHL leagues considering this as well.

“Finally, don’t expect this to impact the arrival of the new Blackfalds franchise. (It) should be okay to begin play in 2021/22.”

I fully expect that before we are out of this mess we will be hearing more about junior hockey franchises pondering their future, especially if the start of the 2020-21 season is delayed in any fashion.

None of these leagues were able to get anywhere close to a conclusion with their playoffs, which means a number of teams lost out on a great deal of revenue. In other words, the gravy train never did reach the station.

As well, junior A and junior B teams have had to cancel the spring camps they hold on an annual basis, all of which are revenue generators.

After Yaremchuk’s tweets landed, Trent Wilhauk, governor and vice-president with the AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys, tweeted: “Because my phone is blowing up I will comment only that the Olds Grizzlys ARE NOT in this situation. Yes COVID19 has been financially hard on us losing possible camps but the Grizzlys are business as usual.”



I am sure that you have heard rumblings about the NHL, NBA and MLB all having discussed playing games in facilities without fans in attendance.

Here’s Chip Kelly, the head coach of college football’s UCLA Bruins on the possibility of the NCAA playing without fans:

“If it’s not safe for fans to attend the games, then I don’t know why it would be safe for players to participate in the games.”


And here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot:

“Baseball’s Arizona plan is an example of a league thinking it can outsmart a pandemic. Science? Who needs that when you can send 30 teams to the desert for a mid-May start, sequestering players in hotels before letting them out to play in any of 11 stadiums? It also would prevent players from seeing their families and significant others. Whatever idea the NBA may come up with to restart its season, it cannot top this for stupidity.”


Taco


Here is Jack Finarelli’s Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.”


Drew Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings’ all-star defenceman, spent some of his Monday on a conference call with reporters. Here is part of what he had to say:

“I don’t see how this season is going to return. I really don’t. We have no idea when this virus is going to be over. We’re all kind of just sitting at home, just hoping to return to the season or hoping to watch the playoffs return. But we’re just sitting here, waiting, working out, being ready to return at any point.

“I think the NHL would have to make some kind of decision on that soon, and it seems like it’s pretty tough to resume the season or the playoffs.”

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has more right here.


Steve Ewen of Postmedia wonders “what will our new normal be?” . . . Or will there even be a normal? . . . He has a whole lot of questions but, like all of us, he doesn’t have any answers. . . . “Could we be waiting until there’s a coronavirus vaccine before the NHL and other pro sports have fans in the stands?” he wonders. “Could we be a year from big-time hockey, football, soccer, basketball and baseball with cheering crowds?” . . . Ewen’s complete column is right here.


Carl Mallette is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres. He had been an assistant coach with the Tigres for three seasons. . . . He also played in Victoriaville for five seasons and has had his number (97) retired. . . . Mallette, 38, takes over from Louis Robitaille, who left earlier this month to sign on as general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques, who had dismissed Eric Landry.


The family of the late Colby Cave returned to North Battleford, Sask., on Monday and folks lined up for miles along the highway as a show of love and support. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix had photographer Matt Smith on hand, and the photos are right here.


If you’ve been wondering, the Toronto Blue Jays are 6-11 and six games back in the AL East as the gang at Strat-O-Matic plays out a simulated version of the 2020 MLB season. . . . On Monday, the Blue Jays were blanked 2-0 by the visiting Minnesota Twins, who won despite being out-hit, 5-3. . . . Former Toronto 3B Josh Donaldson gave the Twins a 2-0 lead with a solo shot, his second homer of the season, in the fourth inning. . . . The Tampa Bay Rays (12-5) lead the AL East by two games over the New York Yankees (10-7). The other division leaders: Kansas City Royals (12-4), Oakland A’s (12-5), Washington Nationals (11-5), Chicago Cubs (11-5) and San Diego Padres (12-4). . . . Wondering about the Seattle Mariners? They’re 5-13 and 7.5 games off the pace in the AL West. It doesn’t look to be their year. Again.


Mona

Scattershooting on a Monday night while wondering how long they’ll be the Houston Asterisks . . .

Scattershooting

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Columnist Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, on the cheating mess in MLB:

“This scandal is a perfect illustration of why cheating in professional sports is so bad. It ruins everything. There is no way to fix the damage. And that scar across a sport’s visage is permanent, as with the World Series 101 years ago that is still known by just two words: Black Sox.

“That is why it is so important to make every effort to catch cheaters and crush those who get caught with penalties that get the attention of the next person who is tempted to do the same. We never seem to understand the true weight of the phrase ‘integrity of the game’ until some team or player tries to rip it to shreds to win.”

Boswell’s complete column is right here.

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The person who came up with the idea to feature Cam Hope, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, in a video as he put together a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors that brought sniper Brayden Tracey to Vancouver Island deserves a raise in pay. . . . If you haven’t seen the video, it’s about six minutes in length and it’s right here. . . . The script writer got a perfect ending, too, as Tracey scored the OT winner in his first game with the Royals. . . . BTW, I have all kinds of time for Hope, who has never shied away from answering any question that I may have asked him.


Psst! Did you hear about the hockey game that wasn’t able to start on time because one of the referees forgot his pants? No, it wasn’t in the WHL. . . . It was a National Ice Hockey League game in the United Kingdom between the Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers. . . . Officials are required to wear black pants with some padding, and referee Richard Belfitt didn’t have his with him. He ended up finding a pair in the arena’s lost-and-found bin and the game started after a 15-minute delay. . . . That story is right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, noted the other day that there was only one winless NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team at that point of the season — Mississippi Valley State at 0-13. . . . “Twelve of those 13 losses were road games for the Delta Devils,” he wrote. “The NCAA loves to refer to its ‘student-athletes’. Surely those 12 road games enhanced significantly the ‘student’ portion of college life for those ‘student-athletes’. . . . The Delta Devils have since split two games, both on the road, and now are 1-14. Last night, they beat the host Alabama A&M Bulldogs, 72-66. The Bulldogs are 5-10.

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After the Miami Dolphins fired offensive co-ordinator Chad O’Shea, Finarelli confessed: “I could not pick him out of a lineup with the WNBA all-star team.”



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “It now has been revealed that New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes broke an ankle at his Florida ranch last season when he stepped in a hole while trying to elude a wild pig. Or as Mets publicists immediately tried to spin it, he’s been out because of a bad hammy.”

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One more from Perry: “According to a study conducted by four universities in Ireland, the average doctor visit there lasts 14.1 minutes. Or roughly the same as an NFL video replay review.”



While the Battle of Alberta was showing life in Calgary on Saturday night, thanks to the Kamloops1Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers, the Battle of the Okanagan blew up in Kelowna as the Rockets and the Kamloops Blazers brawled their way to the conclusion of what was a 7-2 victory by the visitors, who had won 4-1 at home on Friday. . . . Saturday’s game included battling goaltenders as Kelowna’s Roman Basran and Dylan Garand of the Blazers gave fight fans across the Internet an orgasmic moment.

“The league’s got to take a hard look at how their refs are letting it get out of control,” Kelowna head coach Adam Foote told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “I talked to a league official before the game. I said, ‘They’ve let three hitting from behinds go, and they let 23 (Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt) board a guy.’ They call the right call there to control the game . . . Our guys, I never promote that stuff, but I think they just got fed up.”

The Rockets were upset about a hit by Appelt on F Liam Kindree at 12:49 of the second period.

Trifunov added: “The coach said he thought that precipitated much of the shenanigans at KelownaRocketsthe end of the game. But he also said after Kelowna’s Pavel Novak was suspended eight games for a check-from-behind on the Blazers’ Kyrell Sopotyk on Nov. 11, the Rockets have watched numerous similar calls go nearly unpunished.”

There are a few other WHL teams, like maybe 21 of them, who will be slapping foreheads and chuckling from behind hands over a Rockets coach complaining about the officiating. After all, everyone knows that the Rockets get all the officiating breaks because their owner, governor, president and general manager, Bruce Hamilton, rules the roost.

Right?

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When Basran and Garand tumbled to the ice as their scrap neared its end, the Kelowna goaltender said something to his Kamloops counterpart and the two quickly separated and got to their feet. Basran, though, was favouring his right arm/shoulder as he skated away. . . . Basran is the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender, having played in 33 games (1,816 minutes) to Cole Schwebius’s 13 (652 minutes). . . . If Basran is injured, remember that the fight took place slightly more than 24 hours after the passing of the WHL’s trade deadline. And remember that the Rockets are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup that is four months down the road.

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BTW . . . In the end, the goofiness resulted in one suspension — Kelowna D Kaedan Korczak got three games — and fines totalling $4,500, with the Rockets dinged for $3,000 of that. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out via Twitter that there were “18 fighting majors in the Kamloops-Kelowna game on Saturday night. That’s more fighting majors than all but five teams have incurred this season in the WHL.” . . . Kamloops has won seven of eight meetings with Kelowna this season, having outscored the Rockets 33-14 in the process. They will conclude the season series on March 13 (at Kamloops) and 14 (at Kelowna).

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Meanwhile, in Calgary, there seemed to be a whole lot of consternation from various NHLcorners because Tkachuk refused to fight Kassian when challenged in the third period of what was then a 3-3 game. Those who are up in arms seem to be forgetting one thing — Why do you play the game? As then-New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards so famously explained more than 17 years ago: “You play to win the game.” . . . Well, Kassian ended up in the penalty box and the Flames, with Tkachuk screening in front of the Edmonton net, scored on the power play as they went on to a 4-3 victory. . . . On Monday, Kassian was hit with a two-game suspension. . . . Gotta think Tkachuk won the night. . . . With the all-star break approaching, Kassian will be eligible to return on Jan. 29 when — you guessed it! — the Flames are scheduled to play in Edmonton.

Paul Stewart, a former NHL referee who was a tough cookie as a WHL/NHL player, has his take on Tkachuk vs. Kassian right here.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys announced on Monday that Joe Murphy, their general manager and head coach, had resigned, effective immediately. . . . Pete deGraaf was named interim head coach. . . . The Grizzlys are 9-17-5 and in sixth place in the seven-team South Division. . . . Murphy, a former Olds player, was in his second season as head coach, his first as GM. . . . DeGraaf is in his third season with Olds.



JUST NOTES: Why do I get the feeling that Houston’s American League time will be known as the Asterisks for the next while? . . . And it would seem that the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora are next up at MLB’s Cheaters’ Waltz. . . . When MLB lowers the boom on the Red Sox, the New York tabloids — the Post and Daily News — should be worth a look. . . . Are the drivers who don’t clean the snow off their vehicles — especially the windows — before leaving home/work the same people who don’t use their turn-signals? . . . All things considered, Boston play-by-play fan Jack Edwards was rather restrained as Bruins F Brad Marchand muffed that shootout attempt last night. Could it be that Edwards simply was in a state of shock? . . . Why do journalists continue to write/report that a team or person has “punched their ticket” to an event? For example, The Canadian men’s volleyball team didn’t punch a ticket to anywhere on Sunday; rather, it qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games.

Scattershooting: Ex-player starts Hockey Gives Blood . . . Bruins win emotional opener . . . Holick signs with Yale

Scattershooting


Stu Middleton was playing for the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies in 2000-01 when his father was killed in a car accident in the Rogers Pass while en route to a game. Since then, Middleton has been wanting to do something with his father’s memory in mind. Following the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, Middleton hooked up with some former teammates and now a project is underway. It involves the Canadian Blood Services Partners for Life Program and a website — hockeygivesblood.ca. . . . If you are with a team or league, you will want to check this out and you also will want to make this a full-time part of your program. . . . Pam Cowan of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.



The SJHL issued its players-of-the-week news release on Friday. . . . If you haven’t yet read the news release, it’s right here and it is well worth your time.


When there are tragedies such as the one involving the Humboldt Broncos, major media outlets often send in long-form writers who will attempt to capture the atmosphere in the community. Sports Illustrated assigned Greg Bishop to the story. . . . The top reads: “An unthinkable tragedy struck Humboldt when a bus crash killed 16 members of the Broncos junior hockey team. As the small city recovers, it doesn’t want to be defined by the crash; it wants to be defined by how its heartbroken community responds.” . . . If you haven’t seen it, Bishop’s piece is right here.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail gave the assignment to Marty Klinkenberg, who writes that these days “there is no normal” in Humbolt. His piece is right here.


The Estevan Bruins opened the SJHL’s best-of-seven championship final with a 5-2 victory over the Hawks in Nipawin on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 1,199 fans. They’ll play Game 2 tonight (Sunday) in Nipawin. . . . The Bruins put the game away with two late empty-net goals. . . . This was the first game for both teams since the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed en route to Nipawin for a playoff game on April 6. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Nipawin and filed two pieces. His game story is right here, while a piece looking at the overall scene is right here.



Meanwhile, there is quite a story being written in the AJHL where the Spruce Grove Saints have taken a 2-0 lead over the Okotoks Oilers in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . On Saturday night, the visiting Saints got an OT goal from F Chris Van Os-Shaw, who played the previous two seasons with the Humboldt Broncos, to beat the Oilers, 3-2. That was his second goal of the game. The Saints had tied the game on goal from F Josh Harris with 47 seconds left in the third period. . . . Van Os-Shaw, a 20-year-old from Regina, is ticketed for Minnesota State-Mankato next season. . . . One night earlier, Van Os-Shaw, the AJHL’s regular-season MVP, scored on a penalty shot and drew an assist on Harris’s OT winner in a 4-3 victory. . . . They’ll play Games 3 and 4 in Spruce Grove on Monday and Tuesday nights.



TheCoachingGame

Mark Holick is back in the coaching game, this time in Canada. He has been named head coach of the Yale Hockey Academy’s midget prep team and the director of the midget programs. According to a news release, Holick “will also be working with students this off-season on skill development and will be assisting with student recruitment.” . . . Holick has extensive coaching experience, including more than six seasons as a WHL head coach. . . . Most recently, he spent more than one season as the head coach of Pustertal/Val Pusteria, an Italian entry in the Alps Hockey League. . . . The Yale Hockey Academy is located in Abbotsford, B.C.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have signed Garry VanHereweghe to a two-year deal as general manager and associate coach, while removing the interim head coach tag from Joe Murphy, who also got a two-year deal. . . . The Grizzlys finished last in the South Division, at 18-37-5, this season, and head coach Adam Redmond and Doug Hergenhein, the director of player personnel and head coach left late in the season. Murphy, who had been associate coach and assistant GM, was named interim head coach at that time. . . . VanHereweghe had been the vice-president of hockey operations with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles.


The junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Bedard as their new general manager, replacing Jamie Fiset, who has joined the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Fiset, who had been with the Flames through 12 seasons, starting as the goaltending coach, will be the Hawks’ general manager. . . . The Flames also announced that Bayne Ryshak will return as head coach.


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League need a new head coach after Ken Law’s contract wasn’t renewed. The Coyotes have been in Osoyoos for eight years, and Law had been there from the beginning. Owner Randy Bedard told Richard McGuire of the Osoyoos Times that “it’s just sometimes you know when it’s time to make a change. You get that feeling where it’s time to freshen up.” . . . Law told McGuire: “I was planning on coming back and was negotiating my contract. Randy just said that he decided to change things up. These things happen.” . . . This season, the Coyotes finished 32-11-2, with two ties, leaving them atop the Okanagan Division, nine points ahead of the Kelowna Chiefs. Osoyoos dropped the Okanagan/Shuswap Conference final in seven games to the Revelstoke Grizzlies. . . . McGuire’s story is right here.