WHL heads into season’s final night . . . Winterhawks, Giants finish with victories . . . Happy birthday to the guy traded for a bus — Tom Martin!


On May 1, Medina Spirit, trained by Bob Baffert, won the Kentucky Derby.

On Sunday, it was revealed that Medina Spirit had failed a drug test and that Baffert had been suspended indefinitely from Churchill Downs in Kentucky, the site of the Derby.

The horse tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory.

Baffert, who has had five horses test positive in the past year, called the situation “disturbing” and added that it was “the biggest gut punch in racing for something I didn’t do.”

We now await the outcome of a second round of testing on Medina Spirit.

In the meantime . . .

On Monday, Baffert told ESPN: “I’m not a conspiracy theorist. I know everybody is not out to get me, but there’s definitely something wrong. . . . There’s problems in racing. But it’s not Bob Baffert.”

Also on Monday, Baffert was blaming “cancel culture” and saying that Medina Spirit “has never been treated with” betamethasone.

Sheesh, he even talked about the possibility of a groom taking cough medicine, urinating in the horse’s stall and the horse eating some of the tainted hay.

By Tuesday, Baffert was admitting that the horse had been treated with an anti-fungal ointment that contains betamethasone.

Talk about a new take on “the dog ate my homework . . . or did he?”

Anyway . . . the Preakness Stakes is scheduled for Saturday. Medina Spirit will come out of the three-hole in the field of 10.


Better


Fernando Tatis Jr., the San Diego Padres’ most watchable shortstop, and at least two coaches with the New York Yankees have tested positive. . . . The Padres put Tatis Jr., who was asymptomatic, and teammates Jorge Mateo and Jurickson Profar, who were close contacts, on the injured list. . . . The Padres are in Denver where they beat the Colorado Rockies, 8-1, on Tuesday night. . . . Phil Nevin, the Yankees’ third-base coach, and first-base coach Reggie Willits tested positive despite having been fully vaccinated. An unidentified member of the team’s support staff also tested positive after having been fully vaccinated. . . . As of last night, the team was awaiting test results for other coaches and support staff. . . . The Yankees are in Tampa Bay where they beat the Rays, 3-1, on Tuesday. They are planning to play again today as scheduled. . . . Lindsey Adler of The Athletic reported that a source had said the game was allowed to proceed because contact tracing and the high rate of vaccinations among Yankees personnel indicated there was no significant additional risk.


Lives


Three more WHL teams concluded their seasons on Tuesday, with the last four set to do the same tonight (Wednesday) with the Prince George Cougars meeting the Blazers in Kamloops and the Victoria Royals facing the Rockets in Kelowna. . . .

F Kishaun Gervais broke a 2-2 tie at 4:10 of the third period and the Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks went on to a 5-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . This was the final game of the season for both teams. . . . Portland finished 13-8-3 by winning its last four games. . . . Tri-City (7-12-0) lost four in a row. . . . Portland got out to a 2-0 lead on goals from D Nick Cicek (5), at 12:06 of the first period, and D Clay Hanus (1), on a PP, at 2:47 of the second. . . . The Americans, who were beaten, 9-1, by the visiting Winterhawks on Sunday night, tied it on second-period goals by F Jake Sloan (4), at 3:13, and F Booker Daniel (4), at 16:57. . . . Gervais broke the tie with his first goal of the season, and F Gabe Klassen (8) made it 4-2, on a PP, at 10:03. . . . F Nick Bowman (5) pulled the Americans to within a goal, on a PP, at 15:23, but F Jaydon Dureau (10) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . Cicek also had two assists as he closed out his major junior career with a three-point outing. . . . Portland was 2-for-2 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-3. . . . The Winterhawks held a 43-20 edge in shots, including 16-1 in the first period. . . . From the WHL: “After 60 days and 55 games, the 2020-21 WHL U.S. Division schedule came to a successful conclusion on Tuesday.” The five U.S. teams went through 4,103 tests for COVID-19 with only two of those turning up positive. . . .

F Tristen Nielsen, playing the final junior game of his career, drew four primary Vancouverassists to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 6-1 victory over the Victoria Royals in Kamloops. . . . The Giants finished their season at 12-10-0. . . . The Royals, with one game remaining, are 3-16-2. . . . Nielsen, who turned 21 on Feb. 23, finished the season with 32 points, 15 of them goals, in 22 games. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (7) scored shorthanded at 11:03 of the first period and D Marko Stacha (1) scored at 12:13 to give Vancouver a 2-0 lead. . . . Stacha, a freshman from Ilava, Slovakia, scored his first WHL goal in his 22nd game. He also has five assists. . . . F Keanu Derungs (5) scored for the Cougars, on a PP, at 19:29. . . . But the Giants closed it out with one second-period goal — from F Justin Sourdif (11) — and three in the third. . . . D Alex Kannok Leipert (7), on a PP, F Justin Lies (3) and F Bryce Bader (5), on a PP, finished the scoring. . . . D Tanner Brown had three assists, with Sourdif adding two helpers to his goal. . . . Last season, Brown had one goal and one assist in 57 games. This season, he finished with two goals and eight assist in 22 games. . . . The Giants outshot the Royals, 37-13, including 20-2 in the second period. . . .

Meanwhile, on Monday night, a pair of 16-year-olds — F Connor Levis and F KamloopsFraser Minten — had five-point outings as the Kamloops Blazers whipped the host Kelowna Rockets, 10-2. . . . That lifted the Blazers’ record to 17-4-0, with the Rockets slipping to 9-5-1. . . . Levis scored three times — his second hat trick of the season — and drew two assists, with Minten scoring once and adding four assists. . . . F Caedan Bankier (11) and F Josh Pillar (10) each chipped in a goal and three assists. . . . Levis, the 20th selection in the 2019 bantam draft, has nine goals and five assists in 21 games, while Minten, a fourth-round pick in that same draft, has three goals and 15 assists in 19 games. . . . The Blazers also got two goals from F Matthew Seminoff (12) and singles from D Inaki Baragano (5) and F Orrin Centazzo (6). . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (5) and F Dillon Hamaliuk (6) replied for the Rockets, their goals coming early in the third period to cut the deficit to 6-2. . . . The Blazers got 24 saves from G Dylan Ernst. . . . Kamloops, which held a 44-26 edge in shots, scored four times in each of the second and third periods as it went 5-for-7 on the PP. Kelowna was 0-for-2. . . .

——

The WHL’s department of justice came down on the Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs after their starting goaltenders got into a scrap late in the third period of Sunday’s game. Each team was fined $500.



Prince Albert is another step closer to a new arena, one that would be home to the WHL’s Raiders, as city council has voted to award design-related contracts for an estimate $3.2 million to firms from Saskatoon and Toronto. . . . Interestingly, the vote was 6-3 with one councillor, Tony Head, upset that local companies didn’t receive more consideration from the city’s administration. . . . Jason Kerr has that story right here.


Truck


ICYMI, the Priestner Sports Corporation, which owns the Saskatoon Blades, has purchased the National Lacrosse League’s Saskatchewan Rush from Bruce Urban. Urban moved the franchise from Edmonton to Saskatoon in 2016. . . . Both teams play out of Saskatoon’s SaskTel Centre. . . . The PSC is headed up by Mike Priestner, who also owns Go Auto, which controls 47 Canadian dealerships. . . . Colin Priestner will be the Rush’s governor and president while continuing on as the Blades’ president and general manager. . . . Derek Keenan will stay on as the Rush’s GM.


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Reading

Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

——

WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


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