Pickles’ owners, including Roughriders’ punter, are sweet on Winterhawks . . . AHL pulls plug on its season

A group that includes Saskatchewan Roughriders punter Jon Ryan has expressed interest in purchasing the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest in Portland reported Monday afternoon that the Picklesowners of baseball’s Portland Pickles are kicking the tires.

The Winterhawks have been owned by Calgary oil man Bill Gallacher since 2008, but now are in receivership after a number of his companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

“They have a broker in Toronto who is running the file on behalf of the finance company,” Alan Miller, one of the Pickles’ owners, told Jaynes. “And a representative of our company has had a conversation with them. I love hockey. Been to Winterhawks games. My partner, Jon Ryan, has had plenty of experience in hockey — he comes from Regina, Saskatchewan, and he tells the story that he was cut from five different teams in that league.”

The Pickles play in the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer league for college players.

Jaynes’ complete story is right here.

At the same time, Merritt Paulson, who owns soccer’s Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, has told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he isn’t interested in purchasing the Winterhawks. . . . That story is right here.

Meanwhile, Scott Sepich, a Portland journalist who has covered the Winterhawks, posted a series of tweets on the current situation:

“According to documents I’ve read, Bill Gallacher anticipated defaulting on the loan and Portlandpledged to the lender in November that he would try to sell the Winterhawks by January. That obviously did not happen, nor was there any public statement that the team was for sale.

“Gallacher also seemed to have an agreement to sell a $5 million stake in the Lausanne Swiss hockey team but that seems to have fallen through. He also put a home up for sale in Scottsdale, AZ (that he bought for $11 million) for $26 million in 2018, but it never sold.

“Nearly half of the original $20 million loan in December 2018 was earmarked for arena improvements for the team in Lausanne. Other big chunks were for exercising stock options in two companies. It was a short-term loan, with repayment due in December 2019.

“The WHL had to sign off on the loan since the team was being used to secure the loan. The league approved, acknowledging that the ownership of the team would be at risk if there was a default on the loan.

“Financial statements for the Winterhawks are omitted from the public documents. However, a balance sheet for Audible Capital (the parent company) lists the Winterhawks as an asset of $2,587,166. Not sure where that number comes from (is that what he paid for the team?)

“A study of CHL team values conducted in 2016 (likely inflated as it was part of the labor lawsuit about player compensation) pegged the Hawks as worth more than $36 million. I can’t imagine that’s anywhere near accurate (especially now) but $2.5 million seems way low.”



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . You also would light up her life. . . . Thank you.


The AHL cancelled the remainder of its regular season and its playoffs on Monday. . . . AHLThe AHL had suspended play on March 12. . . . According to the league, “The standings — sorted by points percentage — and statistics as of March 12 are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.” . . . When another season gets here, the AHL will have a new commissioner as this was Dave Andrews’ last go-round. A former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars (1982-84), Andrews has been the AHL’s president and CEO since 1994. . . . This season also marked the end of a franchise in San Antonio, with the Rampage relocating to Henderson, Nev., for 2020-21.


It never hurts to begin your Monday with Peter King’s Football Morning in America — even if I am in Canada. . . . This week, King started off by chatting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has come to prominence during the pandemic. . . . If you are wondering what leagues are up against in trying to get back on the playing field — or the ice surface — you should give this piece a read. . . . King asked Dr. Fauci what would happen if four players from an NFL team’s 53-man roster tested positive on a Saturday night. The response: “You got a problem there. You know why? Because it is likely that if four of them are positive and they’ve been hanging around together, that the other ones that are negative are really positive. So I mean, if you have one outlier (only one player testing positive), I think you might get away. But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down.” . . . The complete piece is right here, and it is most enlightening. . . . Come for Dr. Fauci and stay for some great anecdotes involving Don Shula, the winningest head coach in NFL history who died on May 4.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”


“Veteran musher Lance Mackey’s 21st-place finish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was vacated after the veteran musher’s drug test turned up positive for methamphetamine,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So chalk up another triumph for the sport’s investigative initiative, Operation Yellow Snow.”


Solo

Dorothy, kidney patients need your help . . . Can pro leagues overcome logistics involved in a return to play? . . . DuPont signs with Canucks


It’s that time of the year again.

Under normal circumstances, we would be starting to get geared up for the annual Kidney Walk that was scheduled for Kamloops on Sept. 23. Yes, it has been cancelled.

So now we’re taking part in a virtual Kidney Walk that is being used to raise funds to help those fighting kidney disease to get through this stage of their lives.

My wife, Dorothy, who is approaching the seventh anniversary of her kidney transplant, is among those raising funds, as she has done for each of the six previous Kidney Walks.

If you would like to support her and join her team, you are able to do so right here.


As much as we all would like to see it, I really don’t think we should be holding our breath waiting for the NHL and/or the NBA to resume their 2019-20 seasons, or for MLB to start its 2020 season.

The logistics of getting these operations up and running are mind-numbing. And all the while there is the possibility of someone testing positive.

There has been speculation that if the NHL resumes play in five or six cities, one of those centres might be Edmonton.

Well, Ryan Rishaug of TSN asked Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s chief medical health officer, “what would happen in the event of a player testing positive after competition was under way in a hub city scenario?”

Here is Dr. Hinshaw’s response:

“The individual who is the confirmed case would need to be isolated for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, or until symptoms resolve, and anyone who is a close contact with that person while they were infectious would need to be in quarantine for 14 days from that point of last exposure. That’s how we in public health would treat any case independent of wherever it happens.”

And the waiting game continues . . .

——

One thing that hasn’t been given much attention in all the speculation about professional leagues and when they might return/start play is: What do the wives and girlfriends think?

Consider the family of Washington Nationals’ pitcher Sean Doolittle. His wife, Eireann Dolan, has a lung condition and, as she explained on Twitter, has “been hospitalized and on oxygen for weeks at a time with viral pneumonia. Since I was nine years old. Go through something like that and maybe then you’ll have the requisite experience to judge my response.”

Yes, she was being abused on social media after suggesting that there was a lot more involved in a return to play than just pitching, hitting and playing defence.

She also pointed out: “I’m also not the only member of a player’s family who has a pre-existing condition or co-morbid condition. Not only that, there are players who have pre-existing conditions. This is not the time for haste when lives are on the line.”

At the same time, her husband was on a podcast with Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville, telling them: “We’ve all seen the way a common cold goes through a clubhouse. We’re in such close proximity, it’s impossible to enforce social-distancing measures when you’re trying to play a Major League Baseball season.”

So . . . how eager are players in any pro sport going to be to leave their families and enter into a facility where one opponent — the other team — is in their faces, while another is invisible?


Gulch


Could it be that there are junior hockey leagues out there that just don’t like each other? If so, is it envy or jealousy or something else?

Fred Harbinson, the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, spoke out on Monday, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that he and others have had enough.

After the conversation, Ewen wrote: “Harbinson says he was so frustrated with prospective players and college coaches telling him that they’re being told that the BCHL won’t run this season that he felt obligated to take to Twitter to fire back.”

This all seems to have started last month when Chris Hebb, the BCHL commissioner, said that the league was preparing to ask provincial and federal governments for financial aid to help it get through the pandemic. However, Hebb never even intimated that any of the BCHL’s 18 teams might not be able to answer the next bell.

More from Ewen: “Harbinson wouldn’t point fingers at exactly who might be trying to spread the word that the entire BCHL is in harm’s way, but it’s no secret that the league has long duelled with the U.S. Hockey League for players.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Bryan Erikson is the GM/head coach of the NAHL’s Northeast Generals.


Peter King’s Football Morning in America, usually available on Sunday night in the Pacific time zone, is one of the week’s best reads. This week is no exception.

In a week in which the NFL is to release its schedule, here’s King writing about one of the stumbling blocks to a September start to the season:

“Potentially sensitive. What if each of the 32 teams is testing its players and essential staff twice a week. (Obviously, they’ll have to be tested regularly, to ensure that no COVID-positive person spreads the disease in the close quarters of a football team.) Say that’s 150 people (players, coaches, staff). So 300 tests per week (17) per team (32) — that adds up to 163,000 tests for the regular season. Let’s round up for the full season: 200,000 tests for a sports league to play its full schedule. By August, will there be enough tests so that the NFL doesn’t seem piggish to be using 200,000 that could go to the general public? (Even half that number, 100,000 tests, is a major number if many in the country are going without.)

“And teams will have to be willing, in the case of a positive test, to commit to placing that person in quarantine for two weeks. So the Kansas City Chiefs had better be comfortable with Chad Henne playing for two weeks or more if Patrick Mahomes tests positive. The Patriots had better be comfortable with Josh McDaniels coaching the team for two weeks if Bill Belichick tests positive.”

King’s complete column is right here.


DuctTape


The next world swimming championship are scheduled for Fukuoka, Japan, May 13-29, 2022. They had been scheduled for July 16 through Aug. 1, 2021, but those dates ended up in conflict with the Olympic Summer Games after they were postponed from 2020 to 2021. . . .

There are 36 teams in Germany’s top two soccer leagues, and it was revealed on Monday that there have been 10 positive tests for the coronavirus. All told, players and staff underwent 1,725 tests. . . . The leagues are hopeful of starting at some point this month. . . . On Tuesday, Erzgebirge Are, a team in Germany’s second division, which is the men’s third division, announced it had put all players and staff into isolation after a staff member tested positive. . . .

The Associated Press is reporting that “the head of English Soccer says he does not expect crowds to be allowed back into matches ‘any time soon.’ ” . . . Greg Clarke, the FA Council chairman, wrote that “it’s hard to foresee crowds of fans — who are the lifeblood of the game — turning to matches any time soon.”


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “An Englishman teaching an American about food is like the blind leading the one-eyed.”


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have added Micki DuPont and Jamie Henry to their coaching staff. DuPont will work as an assistant coach under Brad Moran, the general manager and head coach. Henry signed on as assistant coach/video co-ordinator. . . . DuPont played four seasons (1996-2000) with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and was named the CHL’s top defenceman for 1999-2000. He went on to play extensively in Europe, retiring after 2018-19, his fourth season with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. He worked last season with the midget AAA Calgary Royals. . . . Henry is a familiar face in Calgary minor hockey circles. . . . Tyson Avery is the Canucks’ other assistant coach.


Joe Birch has been named the chief operating officer and governor of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He takes over from the retiring Steve Bienkowski on June 1. Bienkowski had been with the Rangers for 18 seasons. . . . Birch has spent the past 12 years working in the OHL office, most recently as vice-president of hockey development. He also is a former Rangers player.


Here is Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot with an observation regarding the NFL draft: “If every team gets the players it wanted, why are some franchises on their 12th consecutive rebuilding year?”


WashHands

Has Smith signed with Tigers? . . . Has Heward left Broncos? . . . Is Chynoweth no longer with Giants?

UPDATES to indicate that Ryan Smith is joining the Medicine Hat Tigers.


MacBeth

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with the Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had 14 goals and 20 assists in 48 games.


Scattershooting

A source familiar with the situation has told Taking Note that the Swift Current Broncos have lost another assistant coach. The source indicated on Sunday afternoon that Jamie SCBroncosHeward, a former NHL/WHL defenceman, is leaving the Broncos and “has signed with another team out west.”

The source didn’t indicate the team Heward would be joining. However, Steve Ewen of Postmedia indicated earlier that the Vancouver Giants had been talking with Heward about joining their coaching staff to work alongside Mike Dyck, who is preparing for his first season as their head coach. Dyck and Heward were teammates with the Regina Pats during their playing days.

Meanwhile, Dean Chynoweth, the Giants’ associate coach last season, no longer is shown on the Vancouver website. It would seem, then, that his association with the Giants is over after one season.

Heward had been with the Broncos through six seasons. He also served as their director of player development.

The same source told Taking Note that Ryan Smith also has signed with a new team. Smith, who had been the Broncos’ associate coach for three seasons, left the organization last week, about the same time that the entire scouting staff resigned. A different source, also familiar with the situation. told Taking Note late Sunday night that Smith will be joining the Medicine Hat Tigers. They have had an opening for an assistant coach since June 22 when they promoted assistant coach Bobby Fox to director of player personnel, to replace the departed Carter Sears. Fox had been an assistant coach for two seasons.

All of these moves in Swift Current, along with the departure of Jamie Porter, who had been with the Broncos since 2003, most recently as director of hockey operations, follow the hiring of Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach.

A number of teams, including the Everett Silvertips, are believed to be looking for assistant coaches. Taking Note was told last week that the Silvertips were close to making an announcement. They have room on their staff because Mitch Love left to sign on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.

As well, the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans have yet to announce their new head coaches.



Doug Paisley has taken over as head coach of the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes, replacing Michael Dyck, now the head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The Hurricanes won the Alberta Midget Hockey League championship last season. . . . Paisley also is the president of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, who are community-owned. . . . Paisley had been the head coach of the bantam AAA Lethbridge Val Matteotti Golden Hawks. . . . Ryan Aasman will be one of Paisley’s assistant coach. Aasman split 166 regular-season WHL games between the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Medicine Hat Tigers and Edmonton Oil Kings (2007-12).


Headline at Fark.com: ESPN ditches its comments sections, unfairly silencing thousands of morons.


“Serena Williams made her 10th final at Wimbledon — just her fourth tournament since returning from maternity leave,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “Face it, the lady knows how to deliver.”


One more from Currie: “Reuters reports a 46-year-old armless man was charged in Florida for stabbing another man with scissors — using his feet. His lawyer plans on using the ‘no arm, no foul’ defence.”


Ron Delorme, who has been part of the Vancouver Canucks’ scouting department since 1986, was one of those inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this month. A hard-nosed forward when he played, Delorme split 154 regular-season WCHL games between the Swift Current/Lethbridge Broncos (1973-76). But there’s a whole lot more to Delorme than what you can find at eliteprospects.com. Ed Willes of Postmedia covers that right here.


If you’re an NFL fan, you will be aware that Peter King has left Sports Illustrated and joined the staff at NBC Sports. His first column at his new home — the column now is called Football Morning in America — was posted early this morning. As always, it’s a must read — even if just for Aaron Rodgers’ comments after he went eye-to-eye with a shark off the coast of San Diego — and it’s all right here.


“England not only lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semifinals,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “but the team was fined $70,000 for wearing ‘unauthorized socks.’ Since when has Roger Goodell been in charge of the World Cup?


Here’s Perry, again: “Jim Brandstatter, the Detroit Lions’ color commentator during the team’s 1-9 playoff showing the past 31 seasons, has been sacked by the team. Well, now that they’ve fixed that problem . . . on to the Super Bowl!”



After Joey Chestnut posted his 11th victory in the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog eating contest, Janice Hough (LeftCoastSportsBabe.com) noted: “So who needs the World Cup when we still have American supremacy in eating?”


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: Hirsche’s death adds to weekend of tears

Scattershooting

Brock Hirsche, the captain of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, died on Sunday. He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer a couple of years ago and learned earlier this year that it had advanced to a terminal stage. . . . Hirsche, who turned 26 on March 2, was from Lethbridge. He played four seasons (2009-13) with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, before joining the Pronghorns. He last played in 2015-16 when he was the Pronghorns’ captain. . . .  Hirsche was well aware of his situation and wanted to leave a scholarship as a legacy. More than $30,000 had been raised as of Sunday. Should you wish to donate to the Brock Hirsche Pronghorn Hockey Award you are able to do so right here.



Chris Beaudry is the lone surviving member of the Humboldt Broncos’ coaching staff. General manager/head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant coach Mark Cross died in Friday’s crash. . . . Beaudry, who farms near Humboldt and was helping out as an assistant coach, was driving to Friday’s playoff game in Nipawin and was behind the bus. . . . Frank Seravalli of TSN has more on Beaudry right here.



Logan Boulet, a defenceman who was killed in the bus crash on Friday, was mature well beyond his 21 years, of that there is no doubt. He turned 21 on March 2 and immediately committed to organ donation. Less than a month later, some of his organs were used to benefit others. . . . Sammy Hudes of Postmedia has more on Boulet and organ donation right here.



The more I think about it, the more I feel it’s important that the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League continue with its playoffs and allow the Nipawin Hawks and Estevan Bruins to play in a best-of-seven championship final and see it through to its conclusion. . . . As one long-time junior hockey observer told me, “The best way to honour the dead would be to carry on.” . . . I just don’t feel that you honour those who lost their lives by quitting and leaving unfinished business.


It’s amazing how many people have felt something from what happened with the Humboldt Broncos on Friday night. Peter King, perhaps the pre-eminent football writer in the U.S., writes a weekly online piece — Monday Morning Quarterback — that has a huge following. Today, King gave some space to the Broncos. That column is right here. Scroll down a bit to find the piece on the Broncos, including quotes from Dan Ukrainetz, who is part of the Nipawin Hawks’ broadcast team.