Why do some leagues rush through their playoffs? . . . Broncos dump Pats . . . Ice gets past Raiders in OT . . . Royals beat Rockets

I have long wondered why some hockey leagues play a long, grinding regular season only to get to the playoffs and seemingly rush to get them over with as kijhlquickly as possible. I mean, shouldn’t the playoffs be the highlight of your season? Shouldn’t it all be about crowning the league’s best team? If it is, why not slow things down and let the players enjoy it?

Well, it turns out I’m not alone.

“ . . . I think in terms of injuries it’s having an effect on every team,” Derek Stuart, the general manager and head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, told the Kimberley Bulletin’s Paul Rodgers the other day.  said. “We play a ridiculous amount of games in a short time and guys are getting hurt. It’s something that I’ve said before has got to change, but they have injuries as well, it’s not just us.”

At the time, the Dynamiters and Nelson Leafs were tied 2-2 in a best-of-seven semifinal series. The Leafs went into Kimberley and won, 4-3 in OT, on Monday night and — you guessed it! — they played again the very next night, this time in Nelson. This one needed extra time, too, before Nelson won, 2-1, in the second OT period. Game 7, had it been needed, was to have been played tonight in Kimberley. Three games in as many nights at this stage of a season simply is silliness.

Look, I’m not picking on the KIJHL here because other leagues seem to get in a hurry like this, too. But . . . why do leagues get to this time of their seasons and force teams to play three games in three nights or even four in five?

In some instances, I’m sure the primary reason is that everything is based on the championship at the end of the season — be it provincial or national. Leagues have to be finished their playoffs in time for their champion to get to that competition.

That being the case, why can’t the leagues start their seasons earlier, or hack some games from the regular-season schedule?

They owe it to the players.

“It’s crazy,” Stuart said. “It’s absolutely insane what we’re making these young kids do, playing this many games in such a short period of time. It’s insane . . . I can’t believe that it’s actually happening.”

By that point, Rodgers reported that Kimberley had played 17 games in 30 days, with Nelson having played 20 games in 30 days.

The Dynamiters were without F Carter Spring (broken leg), F Ty Smith (broken ankle) and F Conner Furukawa (knee).


Month


Gregg Popovich, the head coach of the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, has a degree in Soviet studies from the Air Force Academy. Here he is in conversation with Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

““Here, any sane individual is traumatized at what they’re seeing. And it’s still impossible for us, as I’m sure you agree, we can’t feel what it would be like to drive you wife and your daughter and son to the border, and say goodbye and know you’re going to go back and die, because the Russians are going to pull this bulls—t that a lot of people fall for, including some of the people in our government.

“Those are the people that really make me sick. For political and personal reasons, they’re willing to jump on a (Vladimir) Putin bandwagon. Guys like (Sen. Ted) Cruz … you could just go down the list. They’re just despicable people for even thinking about saying the things they’ve said. You’ve got the people on Fox News I won’t even name, they know what they’re saying, they’re highly intelligent people, but they’re still willing to do it. Just lickspittles of the highest order.”


World


Nine of Canada’s junior A leagues will have representatives in Estevan, Sask., in May to play for the Centennial Cup. Including the host Bruins, there will be 10 teams competing, from May 19-29. . . . “In lieu of today’s announcement,” read a news release, “it was also determined that, since each of the nine member-league champions will advance directly to compete in the Centennial Cup, the four CJHL regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) won’t be held this season.” . . . Keep in mind that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL before this season got started, so its champion won’t be in the Centennial Cup competition.


Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that the Silvertips will be without D EverettRonan Seeley on a week-to-week basis. Seeley, a 19-year-old in his fourth WHL season, suffered an apparent shoulder injury on Friday during a 5-3 loss to the host Vancouver Giants. F Adam Hall of the Giants was given a minor for boarding on the play and then was suspended for three games under supplemental discipline. . . . “The good news for Seeley and Everett,” Patterson wrote, “is that (GM/head coach Dennis) Williams said he’s fully confident Seeley will be back in time for the playoffs to start, which being around April 22.” . . . Seeley, with 41 points in 48 games, and Olen Zellweger, with 67 points, including 55 assists, in 48 games, gave the Silvertips two minute-eating veteran defencemen, who are a big reason why Everett sits atop the Western Conference, two points ahead of the Kamloops Blazers and five up on the Portland Winterhawks.


SmackTV


Some news on the Kootenay Ice, just in case there are WHL fans out there who remember them . . .


TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

F Raphael Pelletier scored twice to help the host Swift Current Broncos to a 5-3 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Pelletier, who has 17 goals, broke a 3-3 tie at 17:02 of the third period. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard ran his point streak to 21 games as he scored twice to give him 43. His second goal, coming on the first penalty shot of his WHL career, tied the score 3-3 at 6:44 of the third. He also has goals in seven straight games. . . . Bedard, who also had an assist, now has 83 points in 51 games. . . . Swift Current was without G Reid Dyck, F Josh Filmon and D Owen Pickering, all of whom are in Kitchener for tonight’s Top Prospects Game. . . . With Dyck away, the Broncos had Joey Rocha, who is from Nanaimo, backing up Isaac Poulter. Rocha, who turned 17 on Jan. 22, has yet to play a WHL game. He spent this season with the U18 Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Broncos (24-30-7) hold down the Eastern Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot, one point behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes and two ahead of the Prince Albert Raiders. The Pats (23-29-5) are 10th, four points behind the Broncos. . . .

F Jack Finley scored his 20th goal of the season with 15.3 seconds left in OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 3-2 victory over the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . F Vladislav Shilo (6) had pulled the Raiders even at 7:22 of the third period. . . . The Raiders got 39 saves from G Tikhon Chaika. . . . Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 25 shots in improving his numbers to 25-2-1, 2.06, .914. . . . Winnipeg (44-9-5) is tied with the idle Edmonton Oil Kings (45-12-3) atop the Eastern Conference. The Ice holds two games in hand. . . . The Raiders (24-29-5) are ninth, two points behind Swift Current. . . .

In Victoria, F Bailey Peach’s 34th goal, at 13:43 of the third period, broke a 2-2 tie and the Royals went on to beat the Kelowna Rockets, 4-2. . . . F Riley Gannon helped the winners with his 20th goal and an assist. . . . The Royals also got a goal, his 15th, and an assist from F Tarun Fizer. . . . The Royals (20-34-6) are seventh in the Western Conference, four points behind the Vancouver Giants and three ahead of the Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Rockets (34-17-6) are fifth, four points behind the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Royals and Rockets will play again tonight in Victoria.


Safety


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.


Syrup

Some B.C. teams cleared for 100 per cent capacity . . . Not Blazers, Cougars, Rockets . . . Want a drink at Kraken game? Bring money. Lots of money


B.C.’s NDP government and the Provincial Health Office have been guilty of mixed messaging and poor communications on more than one occasion over the last 18 or 19 months or however long we have been in this pandemic-induced mess.

That appears to have been the case again on Tuesday.

Of course, no one should have been surprised when it was announced that (some) facilities, including the home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, would be allowed to go to 100 per cent capacity — up from 50 — on Oct. 25. Uhh, the Canucks’ home-opener is scheduled for Oct. 26. I know. I know. Surely, a coincidence. Right?

But there are a lot of junior hockey teams in B.C., and many of them believed that they were included in the change to 100 per cent capacity. Except it turns out they weren’t.

While the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals are among the 100 Club, the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Prince George Cougars aren’t. Neither are the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, Cranbrook Bucks, Merritt Centennials, Penticton Vees, Prince George Spruce Kings, Salmon Arm Silverbacks, Trail Smoke Eaters, Vernon Vipers and West Kelowna Warriors. Oh, and the AHL’s Abbotsford Canucks aren’t in the 100 Club either. At least, not yet.

It took Richard Zussman of Global BC to unmuddy the waters.


If you missed it over the weekend, the family of the late Jimmy Hayes, a former nhl2NHLer, revealed that he had fentanyl and cocaine in his system when he died in August. That came after he had ended up addicted to painkillers while rehabbing an injury. . . . Rick Westhead of TSN spoke with Len Boogaard, whose son Derek, a former NHL/WHL player, died of an accidental overdose in May 2011. . . . “How many players have to die before the NHL acknowledges that there’s a problem?” Len Boogaard said. “Ten years ago, with Derek, I maintained that it was a learning experience for everybody, so that Derek didn’t die in vain. Well, we continue to just go through the same thing. After me it was Steve Montador’s dad. And now it’s Jimmy’s dad saying he wants to bring this to everyone’s attention, so it doesn’t happen to everyone else. I guess it’s going to take more players dying, maybe three or four back-to-back again, or maybe more, for the NHL to do something. Maybe it has to happen again, God forbid. I know it sounds so callous . . .” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here. . . . And if you haven’t read the book Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard, written by John Branch of The New York Times, it’s well worth your time.


You should know that there aren’t any “overage” players in the WHL.

Merriam-Webster defines “overage” as being “too old to be useful.”

There was a time, prior to April 2, 1985, when the WHL and its teams referred to 20-year-old players as “overagers.” However, that came to an end at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on that sunny April day in 1985.

At that same meeting, governors voted to allow each team to dress three 20-year-olds, up from two, a rule that remains in existence today.

“I’m pleased about the move to three 20-year-olds,” WHL president Ed Chynoweth said at the time. “We also decided to eliminate the word ‘overage.’ From now on, those players will be referred to as 20-year-olds.”

——

There were 20-year-olds in action on Tuesday night as the WHL featured two games. Some highlights . . .

In Medicine Hat, F Lukas Svejkovsky, a 20-year-old, scored his league-leading seventh goal of the season at 2:17 of OT to give the Tigers a 5-4 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . F Teague Patton (1) of the Tigers (3-3-1) had tied the game at 8:24 of the third period. . . . Svejkovsky also had three assists, with D Bogdans Hodass also finishing with a goal, his second, and three assists. . . . D Mathew Ward (4) had a goal and two assists for the visitors. . . . The Broncos (2-5-1) had opened the season with a home-and-home sweep of the Tigers. Swift Current now has lost six straight (0-4-2). . . .

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s first three goals and went on to a 5-3 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . F Mekai Sanders (2) scored once and added an assist for Seattle (3-2-1) which had lost it previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Seattle lost F Matthew Rempe with a charging major and game misconduct at 7:06 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs (2-4-1) got to within a goal, at 4-3, when F Blake Swetlikoff (1) scored on a PP at 9:18 but they weren’t able to equalize.


Medical


The Foo Fighters were on stage at Climate Pledge in Arena, the home of the NHL’s Seattle Kraken, on Tuesday night. . . . If you’re thinking of catching an NHL game there once the U.S. opens up its border, well, you may want to visit your banker first. . . .


If you enjoy reading hockey-related notebooks, I’ve got one for you. Ken Campbell, who spent so many years writing for The Hockey News, now is on his own and writes at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . His weekly notebook is right here, and there is an especially interesting piece on a whole lot of scouts testing positive after attending a recent event.


JUST NOTES: F Nathan MacKinnon was back in the Colorado Avalanche’s lineup on Tuesday night, his stint with COVID-19 over after a couple of negative tests. He had been asymptomatic as he missed his team’s first two games of the NHL’s regular season. MacKinnon is fully vaccinated so, under the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols, he won’t lose any pay. . . . D Jack Johnson also is back with Colorado after missing one game following a positive test. He since has had two negatives. . . . The Winnipeg Jets were without F Blake Wheeler, their captain, on Tuesday night when they visited the Minnesota Wild. He has tested positive for COVID-19 and has symptoms; the remainder of the team also tested negative on Tuesday morning. Wheeler will be in isolation for at least 10 days, so won’t play in the Jets’ home-opener on Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.



So . . . you’re the general manager of a hockey team and you’re thinking that you had a bad day or a bad weekend. Well, let’s take a look at Derek Stuart, the GM/head coach of the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, and what he and his squad went through last weekend. . . . Leading up to a pair of weekend games, the Dynamiters had two of their top four defencemen leave the team, one of them retiring to go into firefighting at the age of 20. . . . Then, before the weekend games arrived, three players were suspended, two of them for “participating in a multiple-fight altercation.” That mean Stuart also was suspended for a game. . . . Then, on the first shift of Saturday’s game, the Dynamiters lost their captain to a broken collarbone. Later, another forward also left with an injury. . . . When he woke up on Monday and after he had his first cuppa, he told Paul Rodgers of the Kimberley Bulletin: “I’m doing better today than I was Saturday night.” . . . There’s got to be a good country song in there somewhere. Right? . . . Rodgers’s story is right here.


The junior B Summerland Steam of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and general manager/head coach Nick Deschenes “have mutually agreed to part ways, effective immediately,” according to a three-sentence news release from the team. . . . The really interesting part of this is that the Steam is 4-1-0 to start the season. . . . Gus Cave, the associate coach, now is the interim GM/head coach. . . . Deschenes, 42, had been with the Steam since April 2020.


Oil


So . . . Washington State University’s head football coach, Nick Rolovich, who had US$10 million left on his contract, got punted from his job on Monday because he wouldn’t get vaccinated. WSU is a state school and the state mandated that all employees get vaccinated. Oh, and four assistant coaches wouldn’t comply either, and, yes, they’re gone, too. As freelancer Henry Schulman, once of the San Francisco Chronicle, tweeted: “Don’t let the door hit your anti-science Palouse cabooses on your way out.”


Here’s Kendra Woodland, the pride of Kamloops, getting things done . . .


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.


Bears

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