Oil Kings add big defenceman in deal; send four assets to Hitmen . . . Bankier leads Blazers to sweep . . . QMJHL to retire No. 4


If there was any doubt about whether the Edmonton Oil Kings are serious about Edmontonthe title chase this season, it ended on Wednesday afternoon when they cut a deal with the Calgary Hitmen. Yes, the Oil Kings, the CHL’s top-ranked team, are all-in. . . . The Oil Kings (3-1-1) acquired D Luke Prokop, the first player in junior hockey history to come out as gay, from the Hitmen (1-2-0) in exchange for D Blake Heward, D Keagan Slaney, a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2024. . . .

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Prokop, 19, is from Edmonton. The Hitmen selected him with the seventh-overall pick of the WHL’s 2017 draft. He has one goal and one assist in three games this season. In 153 career games, he put up eight goals and 35 assists. . . . He came out on July 19. He signed an entry-level deal with the Nashville Predators, who had selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2020 draft, and is the only openly gay player signed to an NHL contract. . . . “He has had a significant impact on our team, our city and the entire hockey community with his courage and determination,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said of Prokop in a statement. “The trade provides Luke the opportunity to finish his WHL career in his hometown. We wish him the very best.” . . .

Slaney, 18, had two goals and nine assists in 78 games with Edmonton. From CalgaryAirdrie, Alta., he was the 20th overall pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Heward, from Regina, is the son of former WHL/NHL D Jamie Heward, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Henderson, Nev., Silver Knights. Blake, a seventh-round pick by the Swift Current Broncos in the WHL’s 2018 draft, has three assists in 23 games with the Oil Kings. . . .

The Oil Kings and Hitmen are scheduled to meet for the first time this season on Nov. 5 and 6 when they go home-and-home, opening in Calgary and finishing the Friday-Saturday doubleheader in Edmonton. . . . Prokop should make his Edmonton debut on Friday against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . On Friday, the Hitmen are at home to the Red Deer Rebels.

——

There were three WHL games on Wednesday night . . .

In Moose Jaw, the Prince Albert Raiders built a 3-0 lead and hung on for a 3-2 victory over the Warriors. . . . F Sloan Stanick, acquired this week by the Raiders (1-4-0) from the Regina Pats, took a major for goaltender interference at 15:50 of the third period. The Warriors (2-2-0) scored twice on the PP but weren’t able to equalize. . . . D Kaiden Guhle had two assists in his first game back with the Raiders after being with the Montreal Canadiens. . . .

D Chad Nychuk scored twice, including the winner at 2:22 of OT, as the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-4. . . . The Blades (2-1-1) had a 35-24 edge in shots, but were outshot 4-0 in OT. . . . Nychuk has four goals for Brandon (3-3-0). . . . The Blades got two goals and an assist from F Brandon Lisowsky and a goal and two helpers from F Tristen Robins, who has two goals and six assists in three games. . . . Saskatoon was without F Jayden Wiens, who served the first of a two-game suspension after running into Brandon G Ethan Kruger in Saskatoon’s 6-2 victory in Brandon on Oct. 9. Kruger left that game with an apparent left leg injury, Kruger was scratched for a second straight game last night and, according to the online scoresheet, the Wheat Kings didn’t dress a backup goaltender for a second straight game. . . .

F Caedan Bankier scored three goals and set up two others to lead the Kamloops Blazers to an 8-3 victory over the Royals in Victoria. . . . Bankier, who scored twice on the PP, has five goals with the Blazers at 4-0-0. They had beaten the host Royals, 3-2, on Tuesday. . . . F Brayden Schuurman scored his sixth goal for the Royals (1-4-0). . . . Bankier had three goals, including the OT winner, in a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on May 1 during the 2021 development season. The 18-year-old from Surrey, B.C., was a third-round pick by the Minnesota Wild in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Blazers will complete a stretch of four road games in five nights by playing the Rockets in Kelowna on Friday and the Giants in Langley, B.C., on Saturday.


Jamie Kompon, now an associate coach with the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, spent two seasons (2014-16) as the Portland Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach. He is in his sixth season on the Jets’ staff.


Saturday


I hope you took time away from watching the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs play one of a gazillion hockey games that will be on TV this season to watch at least some of Canada’s men’s soccer team beating Jamaica, 4-1, in a World Cup qualifier on Wednesday night. . . . And if you did I hope you got to see Alphonso Davies’s goal because it was one for the ages. Yes, it should be the GOAL OF THE YEAR on every year-end highlight show two months down the road.


The QMJHL will retire No. 4 across the league in honour of the great Guy qmjhlnewLafleur. The ceremony will take place on Oct. 28 in Quebec City as the Remparts play host to the Shawinigan Cataractes. . . . From a QMJHL news release: “Lafleur was elected the league’s all-time greatest player as determined by a panel of experts during the 50th anniversary season celebrations, just ahead of the great Mario Lemieux. The Outaouais native played two seasons with the Quebec Remparts from 1969 to 1971, collecting 233 goals and 146 assists in 118 games. On Feb. 5, 1971, he became the only QMJHL player to score five goals in a single period. He finished that game with 11 points. The “Démon Blond” also led the 1971 Remparts to a Memorial Cup championship, the first of 13 national championships for the QMJHL.” . . . The Guy Lafleur Trophy is awarded to the most valuable player in the QMJHL playoffs. . . . Lafleur was among the first players inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame in 1997. . . . If you’re wondering, the QMJHL has had this on its agenda for a while now, but the pandemic kept getting in the way.


Cheese


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.


Vegas

Maurice says juice missing without fans . . . NHL game scratched by power outages . . . Yes, Texas was colder than Kamloops

Prior to Monday night’s 6-5 victory over the host Edmonton Oilers, head coach Paul Maurice of the Winnipeg Jets spent some time during a media availability nhl2talking about playing NHL games in empty arenas.

For starters, he feels the experience is good for the players’ long-term relationship with the fans.

“I think,” Maurice said, “that this is actually great for the players of the NHL to go through because they truly have an appreciation for how much the fans bring to the building. . . . We will be really, really happy when we get people back in the building, for sure.”

(Thanks to Carter Brooks of fullpresshockey.com for the quotes.)

And it’s something that is felt just as much on the road as it is on home. In fact, Maurice said, when you’re playing on the road, well . . .

“There is not that energy, that juice, that excitement (right now), and that’s true on the road, too,” he said. “Sometimes winning the game on the road is even more fun because you depress 20,000 people. That sounds terrible, but it’s true. You come in and you’re out-playing them, the fans are booing their own team. There is an energy that comes out of that.”

D Nathan Beaulieu, who is in his ninth season as a pro, admitted that it isn’t easy adjusting to playing before empty seats.

“I think having no fans is definitely wearing on guys . . . especially with games that are emotional and tight,” Beaulieu said. “If you need that extra boost, if you’re playing a back-to-back, I think we miss the fans more than we (let on). They’re such a big part of our game. That’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed . . .

“But playing the same teams over and over . . . you kind of know what to expect when you’re showing up at the rink, so there’s not a lot of surprises. But personally, the fans . . . you don’t really realize how much you miss them until they’re not there.”

——

As if the NHL doesn’t enough on its hands with the pandemic, it was forced to postpone a game on Monday night due to a lack of power. Yes, power as in electricity. . . . The Dallas Stars were to have played host to the Nashville Predators but was scrubbed because of, as the NHL put it, “extreme weather conditions that have caused significant power outages in the Dallas area.” . . .

At 10 p.m., The Weather Network reported that the temperature in Dallas was minus-14 C; it was minus-5 C in Kamloops. . . .

The St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes wrapped up their seven-game set on Monday afternoon, the host Coyotes winning, 1-0. Arizona won four of the games. . . . While those teams were meeting seven times in 13 days, the Buffalo Sabres didn’t play even once thanks to COVID-19 protocols. The Sabres returned to action last night for the first time since Jan. 31, losing 3-1 to the visiting New York Islanders.



The San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in the Michigan city tonight. But the NBA announced Monday that the game had been postponed. The Spurs had a player test positive and contact tracing has left them without the required eight players necessary to play a game.


There was an accident on the Trans-Canada Highway on the eastern side of Kamloops on Monday morning. The east-bound lanes were shut down and traffic was rerouted onto Shuswap Road, which runs along the north shore of the South Thompson River for 17 km before providing a link to the highway. Dorothy and I often take Shuswap Road into the city and on a lot of trips might pass eight or 10 vehicles. On Monday, we had to go in to pick up groceries at 2 p.m. On our way in we must have passed between 200 and 300 vehicles. Somehow I don’t think the week-long pleas by B.C. politicians and health officials asking people not to travel on the long weekend had the desired effect.


Foil


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 143 new COVID-19 cases, which nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 160.

CBC News — Alberta is reporting 251 new COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths.

CBC News — Red Deer slaughterhouse to close temporarily amid growing COVID-19 outbreak that has claimed one life. . . . As of Monday, 326 employees had tested positive, nearly double the count of 168 on Feb. 6. Of those, 192 remain active.

CBC News — Widespread testing of all residents at a condo building in Mississauga, Ont., starts today after 5 cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in South Africa were identified there, Peel Public Health says.

CTV Montreal — Eleven Ontario students fined at least $17,000 for cottage weekend in Quebec Laurentians.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 728 new cases of COVID-19. The province is also reporting 16 additional deaths, 5 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. The province removed 1 previously reported death from its total. 804 people are in hospital, including 136 in ICU.

CBC News — 1 new COVID-19 case in New Brunswick, the lowest daily total since December 30. Health authorities also say there has been another death due to the virus.

CBC News — 7 new cases of COVID-19 are being reported in N.L., along with 21 presumptive positive cases identified through rapid testing. There are 298 known active cases in the province. 1 person is in hospital.

CBC News — Surge in cases in hamlet of Arviat, Nunavut continues to grow with 7 new COVID-19 cases reported Monday, marking Nunavut’s biggest daily increase of 2021. New cases bring the territorial count of active cases to 18, all of them in Arviat.

CBC News — Global cases of COVID-19 top 109M cases and over 2.40M deaths: Johns Hopkins University.

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

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


Shopping


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.


Pigeons

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while waiting to steal the first signs of spring . . .

Scattershooting

ESPN continues to use Jessica Mendoza as a baseball analyst despite her being on the payroll of the New York Mets as a baseball operations special adviser. Of course, that is a conflict of interest, something that was very much in evidence on Thursday as Mendoza chose to speak out on at least three ESPN programs about the cheating scandal that has enveloped MLB.  . . . She pointed a finger at pitcher Mike Fiers, now of the Oakland A’s, for going public, something that sparked MLB’s investigation. Mendoza later tried to backtrack, but the genie was out of the bottle and her credibility has since taken a terrible beating, as it should have. . . . The Mets, of course, found themselves hip deep in it because their new manager, Carlos Beltran, was involved in the cheating while playing for the Astros. On Thursday, the Mets and Beltran parted company before he had managed even one game. While Beltran may be gone, Mendoza continues to cash cheques from ESPN and the Mets.


Astros


It was on Jan. 4 when former WHL player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer, now a broadcaster for TSN on games involving the Winnipeg Jets, related a story involving a hazing. Sawyer, then an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, talked of Saran-wrapping a 15-year-old Jared Spurgeon to a pillar in an arena. Spurgeon wsa “about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny,” Sawyer said. “He looked like he was 12.” . . . Paul Friesen, a columnist with the Winnipeg Sun, has some questions about all of this but has discovered a cone of silence seems to have been placed over everyone involved. Friesen, however, was able to speak with Akim Aliu, who is no stranger to hazing incidents. . . . Friesen’s column is right here.



A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a pair of WHL teams — the Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars announced on Thursday that they now are making sensory kits available at all home games. From a news release: “In partnership with AutismBC, the Cougars have purchased sensory kits that will be loaned out to families, at no cost, that have sensory issues. The sensory kit includes protective earmuffs, colouring book, crayons, ear plugs, sunglasses, and several different fidget / stress items.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Royals, with their home city and environs hit with some ugly weather, are rewarding fans who were able to get to their Wednesday game and ticket holders who couldn’t make it with freebies for a future game. . . . The Royals announced attendances of 2,519 and 2,901 for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, as they swept the Tri-City Americans, 3-1 and 6-1. However, it’s believed the miserable weather limited the actual attendance at each game to much closer to 1,000 people.


Christmas


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired Bob Beatty, their general manager and head OilBaronscoach, on Tuesday. Beatty, a veteran of the junior A coaching scene, was in his first season with the Oil Barons, who were 15-27-2 and in seventh place in the North Division in what is clearly a rebuilding/reloading season. . . . Mike Brodeur and Justin Rose, the team’s assistant coaches, ran things on an interim basis for a couple of days. . . . On Thursday, the Oil Barons announced that Gord Thibodeau had returned to the organization as GM and head coach. He had filled both positions with the Oil Barons for 11 seasons (2003-14). . . . Thibodeau is the winningest coach in AJHL history, having put up number 833 in February 2017 while with the Whitecourt Wolverines. He and the Wolverines parted company shortly after he put up that victory. . . . Thibodeau also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four separate occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted Wednesday that F Connor McLennon wpgicewill be out of the Winnipeg Ice’s lineup for up to eight weeks with a broken collarbone. . . . McLennon was injured Tuesday night in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars. He leads the Ice in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49), all in 42 games for the East Division-leading club. . . . Interestingly, the Ice didn’t list its two 2004-born forwards — Matt Savoie and Connor Geekie — on the WHL’s weekly roster report. Savoie, who has five assists in 12 games, is out with a concussion; Geekie, pointless in seven games, has mononucleosis. . . . The Ice selected Savoie with the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, and took Geekie with the next selection.


After Seattle had its season come to an end on Sunday in Green Bay, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch offered some advice for young NFLers: ““It’s a vulnerable time for a lot of young dudes, you feel me? So, you feel me? Start takin’ care of y’all mentals and y’all bodies and y’all’s chicken. So, when y’all ready to, you know, walk away, you be able to do what you want to do.” . . . By chicken, of course, he meant money. . . . All of that got lots of play, and by early in the week you could visit his website (beastmode.com) and purchase hoodies and T-shirts emblazoned with “Take Care Yo’ Chicken” across the chests. . . . Yes, Lynch practises what he preaches.


Micro


If you watched the video of the battling goaltenders on Saturday night, you will have noticed Roman Basran of the Kelowna Rockets holding his right arm in a gingerly KelownaRocketsfashion after he and Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers got up off the canvas, er, ice. . . . Well, the Rockets listed Basran as out day-to-day with an upper-body injury on Tuesday’s WHL roster report. . . . Basran has been the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender. . . . The Rockets (21-17-3), the host team for the Memorial Cup, are third in the B.C. Division and sixth in the Western Conference. . . . With Basran unavailable, the Rockets have added G Cole Tisdale, 17, to their roster from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Tisdale, an eighth-round pick by the Rockets in the 2017 bantam draft, will back up Cole Schwebius as the Rockets visit the Everett Silvertips tonight (Friday) and then go into Portland for a Saturday-Sunday doubledip with the Winterhawks. . . .

The Rockets also have lost F Liam Kindree, 19, for up to two months — i.e., the remainder of the regular season — with a broken collarbone. He had surgery on Thursday. . . . As well, Kelowna F Nolan Foote showed up on the weekly roster report as being out week-to-week with an undisclosed lower-body injury. . . . Foote was injured in a 4-1 loss in Kamloops on Friday. . . . Kindree went down in a 7-2 loss to the visiting Blazers on Saturday. The Rockets were adamant that it was a second-period hit on Kindree by Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt that resulted in some late-game fisticuffs. Kindree was given a boarding minor on the play.


Here is Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice on the spate of NHL firings:

“It’s a very painful experience. It’s a very personal, yet very public, experience.

“I think this is the best analogy: You’re in a marriage, you love the woman but it’s getting a little bit rocky. Then you come home one day and she says ‘Paul, we’re going in a different direction and there’s gonna be a press conference in three hours and we’re gonna talk about how great the new husband’s gonna be.’

“So, it’s tough. You put your heart and soul into it and then you’re out.”


JUST NOTES: The Minnesota Twins signed 3B Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal said to be worth US$92 million. Donaldson turned 34 on Dec. 8. Hey, gang, it’s only money. . . . Of course, with Donaldson at the hot corner, the Twins now will move Miguel Sanó, who will be 27 in May, to first base. . . . Donaldson hit 37 dingers with the Atlanta Braves last season; Sano hit 34 in only 380 ABs with the Twins. . . . If you’re like me, you’re wondering: How much of Subway does Martha Stewart own? . . . Do the people who had a problem with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow smoking a victory cigar also have issues when championship teams celebrate by pouring beer and champagne all over the place? . . . A final thought on MLB’s latest cheating scandal: Is this a case of a business that has turned a blind-eye — wink! wink!! — to different kinds of cheating over more than 100 years finally having the chickens come home to roost? . . . The first pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 12.

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