Raiders make money in 2021-22 . . . Americans may not see Luypen until 2023 . . . Lazaruk back for 29th season in Saskatoon

The Prince Albert Raiders told shareholders at their annual general meeting on Wednesday night that they had a profit of $152,191 for their 2021-22 fiscal year.

That is a considerable increase from 2020-21, a season that was shortened PrinceAlbertconsiderably by the pandemic. That season, which for East Division clubs featured 24 games and was played entirely in Regina, the Raiders showed a profit of $25,891. However, that included $1,081,179 in government grants, $600,000 of that from the Saskatchewan government.

“From the start of the (2021-22) regular season,” the team said in a news release last night, “the Raiders saw a large number of ticket sales, with the primary reason being it was the first time that the team had played at the Art Hauser Centre since March 6, 2020. The organization also saw a large uptick in promotions, fundraising and advertising, thanks to the ability to host events inside the rink.”

The Raiders’ news release included only three paragraphs on the AGM.

In 2019-20, a season that was halted by the pandemic in March before the regular season was completed, the Raiders lost $331,895. That followed a 2018-19 season in which they won the WHL championship and showed a profit of $633,314.

Four of the WHL’s 22 teams are owned by local shareholders and as such are required to present profit-loss statements at annual general meetings.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes have scheduled their AGM for Sept. 19, with the Moose Jaw Warriors going on Sept. 20 and the Swift Current Broncos on Oct. 4.

The WHL’s other 18 teams all are privately owned.



The Tri-City Americans, looking to add some experience and some offence to their lineup, acquired F Jalen Luypen, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings on Aug. Tri-City9. The Americans also got two conditional WHL draft picks — a fifth-rounder in 2024 and a second in 2026 — while giving up F Rhett Melnyk, 18, D Bryson Andregg, 19, and a conditional 2023 second-round selection. . . . Luypen had been picked by the Chicago Blackhawks in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2021 draft and he signed a three-year entry-level deal earlier this summer. . . . But now comes the bad news. Luypen apparently suffered an injury to his left shoulder during last spring’s playoffs and tried to play through it as the Oil Kings made their run to the Memorial Cup. In the end, however, he needed more than offseason rehab, and he now has undergone rotator cuff surgery. The Blackhawks have said that he will be out for up to 18 weeks, which means he won’t be available to the Americans until after Christmas. . . . As a 20-year-old, Luypen is eligible to play in the AHL this season, but one would think the Blackhawks would much prefer him to play with the Americans once he has recovered from the surgery. . . .

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if the Americans and Oil Kings end up Edmontonrenegotiating any parts of what was an intricate deal. . . . As reported by Alan Caldwell shortly after the deal, here are the original conditions: Edmonton gets the 2023 second if Luypen comes back from the pros by Nov. 15. If he returns after Nov 15 but before Jan 10, it becomes a 2023 third-round pick instead. If he does not return to the WHL this year, Edmonton doesn’t get a 2023 pick at all, and Tri-City gets the Edmonton 2026 second-round pick. The 2024 pick is tied to the 2023 pick — if Edmonton gets Tri-City’s 2023 second, then Tri-City gets Edmonton’s 2024 fifth-round pick. If Edmonton gets the 2023 third-rounder instead, then Tri-City gets the 2024 sixth-rounder instead. . . .

Last season, Luypen put up 64 points, 29 of them goals, in 66 regular-season games. He added four goals and nine assist in nine playoff games as the Oil Kings won the WHL title. He followed that up with a goal and two assists in three Memorial Cup games.


Potholes


There was good — nay, great — news for fans of the WHL and, in particular, the SaskatoonSaskatoon Blades on Tuesday. That’s when Les Lazaruk revealed that he hasn’t retired, nor has he moved on to another job. Yes, he will be back for a 29th season of calling Blades’ games. . . . Lazaruk tweeted that he “did pursue a job opportunity,” but was told on Monday that he wasn’t going to be offered that position. . . . “I may be 63 years old,” he added, “but doing Blades hockey play-by-play makes me feel more like 36!” . . . You likely wouldn’t be wrong if you guessed that Lazaruk had interviewed for the play-by-play opening that TSN has on the TV crew that covers the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. There has yet to be an announcement on who will replace Dennis Beyak, who has retired from the spot he held since 2011.


The Regina Pats erased a 2-0 deficit and beat the Swift Broncos, 4-2, in an exhibition game played in Estevan, Sask., on Tuesday night. The Pats, who got two goals from F Connor Bedard, hung around after the game to sign some autographs and visit with the fans.



Fan


THE COACHING GAME:

The Portland Winterhawks have hired Brendan Burke, one of their former goaltenders, as assistant goaltending coach. Burke, 32, will work with goaltending coach Andy Moog “to assist in the development of Winterhawks goalies and prospects,” according to a news release. . . . Burke, who is from Scottsdale, lives in the Phoenix area and also works as the goaltending director with the Jr. Coyotes program. . . . Burke spent four seasons (2011-15) with the Winterhawks, then played his 20-year-old season with the OHL’s London Knights. And think about this — he won a WHL title with the Winterhawks (2013), an OHL title and a Memorial Cup championship with the Knights (2016), and three Canada West titles and a national championship with the U of Alberta Golden Bears. . . .

The NHL’s Calgary Flames have added Rebecca Johnston, a three-time Olympic gold medal-winner with the Canadian women’s team, as a full-time member of their organization. According to the Flames, Johnston, 32, “will work within the player development team, assisting in prospect evaluations and on-ice instruction and work with (the Flames Foundation) in grassroots, growing (hockey) in our community.” . . . You may have heard of her uncle — Mike Johnston is the vice-president, general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders have signed general manager and head coach Jim Hulton to a three-year contract. Hulton has been the QMJHL’s coach of the year each of the past two seasons; he was the CHL coach of the year last season. He is going into his eighth season as the Islanders’ head coach and his seventh as GM. . . . Guy Girouard, Charlottetown’s assistant GM and associate coach, signed a two-year deal, as did assistant coach Kevin Henderson, equipment manager Andrew (Spider) MacNeill and athletic therapist Devin Atkin. . . .

Former WHL F Dane Byers has joined the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League as an assistant coach. Byers, 36, is from Nipawin, Sask. He played four seasons (2002-06) with the Raiders before going on to a pro career that concluded after the 2018-19 season. He spent the last four seasons in Europe. . . . With the Mintos, he’ll be working alongside Tim Leonard, who is into his second season of his second stint as the Mintos’ head coach. another former WHLer, is the Mintos’ head coach. He was the head coach from 2002-12 before joining the Raiders for two seasons as an assistant coach. . . .

The junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Derek Stuart, their general manager and head coach, to a five-year contract extension that will take him through the 2026-27 season. . . . Stuart has been with the Dynamiters since May 9, 2016.


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.


Minivan

Winterhawks get whole new look; remembering how they came to land in Portland . . . Pair of ex-WHLers retiring? . . . Thunderbirds’ camp closed to fans

With the Portland Winterhawks having unveiled their new look — a new logo came prior to the 2021-22 season and now there is a whole new uniform — it’s worth taking a look back at how the WHL ended up in the Oregon city.

Dean (Scooter) Vrooman, the longtime radio voice of the Winterhawks, wrote the story that first appeared here on March 30, 2008. Remember, too, that they originally were Winter Hawks; Winterhawks came later.

Enjoy!

——

It was the summer of 1975 and Brian Shaw, Ken Hodge and Innes Mackie were unemployed. With nothing but time on their hands, they decided to go duck hunting in Stettler, Alta.

Shaw and Hodge had been fired by ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter, who owned the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Mackie had just returned from Kimberley, B.C., where he had turned down a job offer at a mine. The offer Mackie had received included a chance to play a little hockey on the side.

Shaw was in the process of putting together a group of investors to buy the Oil Kings from Hunter. Shaw would run the show. Hodge would coach. Mackie would be the trainer. They didn’t know it at the time but they were embarking on a 20-year relationship — relationships of hockey, business and friendship.

The Three Amigos became inseparable until Shaw passed away in the summer of 1994.

On this day in Stettler, the three men, who would become the three original members of the Winter Hawks’ front office, were solidifying the mutual respect and trust needed. The ducks weren’t flying that day, at least not in the Stettler area, so the three erstwhile hunters headed for a local bar to shoot a little pool. Everyone was having fun, too, until a cowboy in a black hat came over and started yipping at Hodge for monopolizing the pool table. After an unflattering comment from Hodge regarding the cowboy’s hat, feathers started to fly — and it had nothing to do with ducks.

“He started to take his jean jacket off and when it got about half way down each arm, I smoked him,” Hodge remembers. “It’s Saturday night and the place is full. There were five of us — and two of them bailed out. Brian, who was always quick with the wit, was not ready to handle this type of negotiation. So that left Innes and I — and, needless to say, we had our hands full. There were probably eight of them involved by now. The pool cues are getting broken, I’m getting thumped in the back of the head and Innes got jumped. Finally, we hear sirens and red lights. The three of us were never so happy to see the RCMP.”

That incident was neither the first nor the last for friendships that would last more than 20 years.

When he was 16 years of age, Hodge earned a job as a defenceman with the Jasper Place Mohawks — a high-profile team in Edmonton. Coincidentally, the general manager and head coach was Shaw, who was working in the first of what would be many dual roles. It didn’t take Shaw long to earn his reputation as a slick team manager.

“The team was the talk of the town,” Hodge says. “People in Edmonton were very envious. Brian started out with just one bantam team and ended up with the first true feeder system in the Edmonton area when he expanded to midgets and junior. The Jasper Place Mohawks were first class all the way. They paid all their bills, wore flashy uniforms and won lots of hockey games.”

Hodge was one of four players from Jasper Place chosen by Shaw to play the next season with the Moose Jaw Canucks of the newly formed Western Canada Hockey League. Shaw was the general manager and head coach and Hodge was a key defenceman.

Other than the Canucks, the WCHL featured the Oil Kings, Estevan Bruins, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Weyburn Red Wings and Calgary Buffaloes. Moose Jaw finished fourth in a 56-game regular season, 16 points behind the first-place Oil Kings, but went on to win league’s first championship trophy by beating the Oil Kings — the Canucks won that series 3-2 with four games tied — and then Regina, winning the best-of-seven final, 4-1.

It was the pivotal season of Hodge’s career. In a regular-season game against Regina, Hodge was struck in an eye by a high stick. In the playoffs, he again was hit in the same eye. After a series of operations during the summer, doctors told him that they would know by early 1968 if his eye would ever recover.

On Nov. 15, 1967, Hodge received a call from Gordon Fashaway inviting him to Portland to play for the Buckaroos of the professional Western Hockey League. Hodge was excited about the offer and pushed the doctors for an answer. Unfortunately, the answer he received wasn’t the one he had hoped to hear. Hodge’s playing career was over.

The next season, Shaw moved on to the St. Catharines Black Hawks of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. While Hodge was helping with training camp, he accepted an offer to coach the Sorel Eparviers of the Quebec Junior A Hockey League.

Hodge, at 21 likely the youngest head coach in the history of Canadian junior hockey, had quite a debut season. Sorel put up a 33-16-1 regular-season record and went all the way to the Eastern Canadian best-of-five final where it lost 3-1 to the Montreal Jr. Canadiens, who would go on to win the Memorial Cup. It’s worth noting that the Jr. Canadiens played in the OJHL, where they ousted Shaw’s Black Hawks from the best-of-seven championship final in five games.

Hodge’s impressive season in Sorel opened up an opportunity for him to coach in the International Hockey League, with a team in Flint, Mich. He would spend four seasons in Flint.

Meanwhile, Shaw returned to Edmonton where he coached the Oil Kings, winning the WCHL’s 1971-72 title in his first season. That put the Oil Kings into what was the first Memorial Cup to be decided in a tournament format — this one also featured the Peterborough Petes and Cornwall Royals, but no host team — in Ottawa. The Oil Kings were eliminated with a 5-0 loss to Cornwall during which Edmonton defenceman Keith Mackie, Innes’s brother, was struck in an eye by a deflected puck and suffered a torn iris. For the record, Cornwall edged Peterborough 2-1 in the final.

The next season, Hunter, the Oilers’ general manager who was most impressed with Shaw’s championship season with the Oil Kings, offered him the head-coaching job with the WHA team. When Shaw accepted, Hunter hired Hodge to coach the Oil Kings.

“I jumped at the opportunity because the Oil Kings were a very prestigious team,” Hodge remembers. “I wanted to get on with my career in hockey and I saw too many people stagnating in Flint.”

As it turned out, Hodge made the wrong move at the wrong time. He got caught in a rebuilding program with the Oil Kings. Much of the talent from the previous season graduated and Hunter gave Hodge a little over a year to win. He didn’t, so Hunter fired him.

Meanwhile, Shaw’s Oilers got off to an amazing start — winning 18 straight games. Unfortunately for Shaw, the team was playing over its head and it didn’t take long for reality to set in. Hunter enjoyed the winning streak and wanted it to continue. When the wins stopped coming, Hunter, never know for his patience or for a willingness to avoid headlines, fired Shaw.

Two months later brought Shaw, Hodge and Mackie to a pool room in Stettler.

Eventually, Shaw’s group bought the Oil Kings from Hunter and 16 games into the 1975-76 WCHL season the three amigos became the WCHL club’s new management team. Shaw was the general manager, Hodge the head coach and Mackie the trainer.

However, things weren’t all coming up roses. Shaw’s one year at the helm of the Oil Kings was less than successful. Edmonton hockey fans weren’t in any hurry to go to the old Memorial Gardens to watch the Oil Kings when they could watch the WHA’s Oilers in the brand new Northlands Coliseum.

“Brian and I felt we knew more about the game than anyone else,” Hodge says. “We thought we would be able to turn the Edmonton Oil Kings into the premier franchise in the Western Hockey League and a very profitable venture. We found out very quickly that we weren’t as smart as we thought we were. We thought we could compete with a major league team on a minor league budget, but we lost more money than any of us could afford to lose.”

Mackie had played on Shaw’s and Hodge’s Oil Kings and, contrary to what you might have guessed, the relationship didn’t begin on the best of terms. When Mackie was an 18-year-old defenceman playing for Shaw in Edmonton, he had been asked to go to Crosstown Motors, an Oil Kings sponsor, and pick up a new car for Shaw.

“Innes and Brian probably came to an understanding after Innes smacked up two of Brian’s brand new cars,” Hodge says with a laugh. “One of the accidents was just one of those things, but the other was pretty funny. Innes went to Crosstown Motors, picked up Brian’s big Dodge, and only had to cross one busy two-way street. Smack! He couldn’t have been more than 40 feet out of the parking lot when he’s done and it’s tow truck city.”

As a player, Mackie quit the Oil Kings early in the 1973-74 season after being taken out of a game by Hodge.

“It’s all water under the bridge now,” Mackie says. “When I was 18, I played for Brian as a fifth or sixth defenceman. At that time they only used four defencemen and sometimes three. I wasn’t getting very much ice time and I wasn’t going to go through the same thing when I was 19. So, Hodgie sat me out one game and that was it. Goodbye.“

“Innes and I didn’t see eye to eye as coach and player,” Hodge agrees. “But I always enjoyed Innes as a person. His brother Keith and I were golfing buddies and Innes was the little brother who always tagged along.”

Even through their trials and tribulations, Hodge had enough respect for Mackie to make him the Oil Kings trainer.

Since then, Mackie has always been more than just a trainer. He looks for statistics, quotes and any other information he can find out about every player in the league. One of his attributes is a near photographic memory, and Hodge and Shaw came to depend on that over the years. If there is ever a question about a player, Mackie is the first person asked.

“Innes sometimes confirmed my feelings about hockey players,” Hodge says. “He has always been a very knowledgeable hockey person. Innes helped Brian and I on some of our decisions on who we would keep and who we would release or trade. He also had input on people from other teams that might help our franchise if we traded for them. The early years of the Winter Hawks was basically built through trades. Most of our trades were very positive for us and Innes had a role in many of them.”

Mackie also scours the rule book on the long bus rides. He knows the rules inside and out — and has a knack for memorizing them, no matter how obscure.

Mackie earned the nickname ‘Eagle Eye’ for his ability to spot illegal curves in the blades of opponents’ hockey sticks. Players with illegal sticks were sent to the penalty box with minor penalties and several Portland victories were earned as the result of subsequent power plays. In 18 seasons, he was wrong about one stick — and he still claims that the referee didn’t measure that one properly.

“When the game is on, I watch things differently,” Mackie, who now is with the Tri-City Americans, points out. “I watch what’s happening behind the play, on the other team’s bench, and away from the puck. If I see something the coaches don’t, I can help out once in awhile. Sometimes, I can relay information to the coaches if an opposing player misses a shift, or a guy is hurt.”

All three of the amigos were involved in the move from Edmonton to Portland.

Originally, Shaw went to Vancouver to meet with Nat Bailey, who owned the Mounties of baseball’s Pacific Coast League. Bailey wanted to get involved in hockey and was going to underwrite all the costs of moving the Oil Kings to Vancouver. Bailey also was prepared to give Shaw plenty of working capital to get started. This dream move never happened, however, because the New Westminster Bruins, a nearby WCHL franchise, blocked the move.

At the time, Hodge wanted to move to Spokane. Shaw, though, wanted to check out Portland and arranged a meeting with Dick Reynolds, the general manager of Memorial Coliseum.

“I didn’t have any idea where Portland was,” Mackie says. “I had to get a map. All I knew was that the Edmonton Oil Kings were in the Western Canadian Hockey League — and Portland wasn’t in Canada.”

Shaw’s meeting with Reynolds and the Coliseum staff was very positive and soon the Oil Kings were to become the Portland Winter Hawks.

“It was one of the best decisions that Brian made,” Hodge recalls. “At that time, we both had an equal vote. So, it was one vote for Spokane and one vote for Portland. Brian decided his vote was bigger than mine and he won.


Bear


THE COACHING GAME:

Brock Sheahan is the new head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Caroline Hurricanes. Sheahan, 38, had been the head coach of the USHL’s Chicago Steel since being promoted from assistant coach on Dec. 1, 2019. The Steel was the USHL’s regular-season champion in 2019-20 and 2020-21 and won the playoff title in the spring of 2021. . . . With the Wolves, the AHL’s reigning champions, the Lethbridge native replaces Ryan Warsofsky, who left to join the NHL’s San Jose Sharks as an assistant coach. . . . The Steel, meanwhile, promptly named general manager Mike Garman as its new head coach. He will carry both titles for 2022-23.


Your


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

An interesting tweet from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday revealed that “training camp is closed to the public” except for the annual Blue vs. White game on Sept. 4. . . . An explanation wasn’t provided. . . .

Ryan Campbell is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager. He spent 2021-22 as an assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, a franchise that has since relocated to Calgary as the Wranglers. . . . In Seattle, Campbell replaces Justin Sturtz, now the head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks.


The above tweet from the Brandon Wheat Kings appeared here last week. Stacey Preston now has started a GoFundMe for her nieces and nephews, who “have lost their best friend, their Dad. . . . Unfortunately, the kids do not have the financial resources to lay him to rest. If anyone would like to help they would be grateful, and so would I.” . . . Al Gibbs left behind four children, including 18-year-old twins. . . . A friend of his told me: “In 2015 he had a chronic infection in a shoulder and hip that resulted in his kidneys failing, exacerbating his diabetes and setting off a litany of other health challenges. There were a couple of periods of time over the past seven years when Al was told he qualified for a kidney transplant and a niece was found to be a match. The catch was always that Al needed to be healthy enough for the surgery. . . . This never quite happened.”

If you would like to help, the GoFundMe page is right here.


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.


Optimist

Gustafson back with Winterhawks as associate coach . . . Remembering the night Ridley doubled as Kamloops radio voice . . . Sopotyk pushes to bronze medal

As expected, Kyle Gustafson is back with the Portland Winterhawks. The WHL team announced Wednesday that he has signed on as associate coach. . . . PortlandGustafson had been a member of the Portland coaching staff for 18 seasons when he left a year ago to join the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant coach/special assignment coach. At the time, Travis Green, also a former Winterhawks coach, was the Canucks’ head coach. He was fired during the 2021-22 season, however, and Gustafson was released after the season. . . . With the Winterhawks, he fills the spot created when Don Hay left after four seasons to return to the Kamloops Blazers, this time as associate coach. . . . Gustafson, 41, will work alongside Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ senior vice-president, general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brian Pellerin. . . . Some observers also feel that Gustafson’s return sets in motion a succession plan whereby he will take over as head coach from the 65-year-old Johnston in a year or two.


Child


Bob Ridley, the long-time radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, announced his retirement on Tuesday, something that sparked a memory for Earl Seitz, a KamChiefsveteran of the airwaves in Kamloops who retired in December.

It seems that hockey fans in Kamloops were treated to Ridley’s play-by-play of a game between the visiting Chiefs and the Tigers on Feb. 26, 1977.

Seitz was in his fourth and final season of calling games for the Chiefs, who  were the Seattle Breakers when the 1977-78 season rolled around. (As Seitz put it, “They moved to Seattle after that fourth season and I stayed here.”

As Seitz remembers: “The Chiefs were playing in Medicine Hat. My sister was getting married that day in Calgary. I arranged with Bob to simulcast his broadcast on CFJC radio. Always grateful to Bob for helping me to be able to attend my sister’s wedding.”

Hmmm! Does Ridley get credit for calling two games that night because he was on the home and away radio stations?

Who won the game? The Tigers, 10-6.


Sopotyk
Kyrell Sopotyk, a former WHL player, has won a bronze medal for Saskatchewan in a 1,500-metre wheelchair race at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Sask. (Photo: Michael Scraper/Team Saskatchewan)

Former Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk of Aberdeen, Sask., won bronze in a 1,500-metre wheelchair race at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ont., on Wednesday. Sopotyk was paralyzed from the waist down when he suffered a fractured vertebrae in a snowboarding mishap near North Battleford, Sask., on Jan. 21, 2021. . . . On Wednesday, he finished in four minutes 40.20 seconds, behind the winning time of 4:29.39 that belonged to Leo Sammarelli. . . . Sopotyk, 21, also will compete in 100- and 400-metre events at the Summer Games. . . . He is a member of the Cyclones Track and Field Club, a Saskatoon-based club for para-athletes.


Coke


THE BEST LAID PLANS: When the San Diego Padres’ marketing team scheduled its 2022 promotions, it put a Fernando Tatis Jr. bobblehead game on the calendar for Sept. 7. But then Tatis Jr. tested positive for a PED and drew an 80-game suspension. That took care of the bobblehead promotion. So now that Sept. 7 come-on will involve a Juan Soto City Connect shirt. And that’s what you call a great job of stick-handling around a sticky situation.


COVID-19 SAYS HELLO . . . AGAIN: Health Canada reports that 263 people died from COVID-19 from July 31 through Aug. 6. That brings Canada’s pandemic total to 43,178. . . . Rachel Gilmore of Global News has more right here. . . . And because you were wondering, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center reports 1,037,935 deaths in the U.S. . . . So why not wear a mask when inside a public facility?


Char


THE COACHING GAME:

Kyle Turris has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as special advisor to the general manager and player development coach. Turris, 33, played two seasons with the Express (2005-07). From an Express news release: Turris “was drafted third overall by the Phoenix Coyotes (in the NHL’s 2007 draft) and spent 13 seasons in the NHL before retiring this offseason.” . . . Turris, who has been plagued with back issues, had one goal and three assists in 23 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season as he completed a two-year contract. There doesn’t seem to have been an official retirement announcement, at least not yet, and capfriendly.com shows him as an unrestricted free agent. . . .

The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs have added Mark Lee, 37, to their staff as an assistant coach. He had been coaching a U-18 team in Newfoundland before signing to work alongside head coach Travis Crickard with the defending Memorial Cup champions.


Tech


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.


Doritos

 

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while eagerly awaiting QB Rourke’s next start . . .

scattershooting

Hockey in Canada was big news with The New York Times on Sunday and for all the wrong reasons.

The story and photos, by Ian Austen, carried this headline on Twitter: Sexual Assault Revelations Turn Canada’s Game Into the Nation’s Shame.

The subhead: Once a jewel of Hockey Canada’s schedule, the world junior tournament is playing to a largely empty arena as turmoil forces Canadians to rethink what they believe about the sport.

In the actual newspaper, the story appeared in the A section, on Page 29, with this headline: Sexual Assault Revelations Dim the Shine of Canada’s National Game.

The hook for the story was the prevalence of empty seats at the 2022 World Junior Championship that is ongoing in Edmonton. But woven into the story is the embarrassingly sad saga of Hockey Canada and the mess it has become.

“All of Hockey Canada’s corporate sponsors, which include one of the country’s largest banks and the ubiquitous Tim Hortons coffee and doughnut chain, have abandoned it,” Austen wrote, “leaving the arena free of the usual advertising on the ice and rink boards. Edmonton’s tourism board is no longer promoting the tournament, and the federal government has also cut off its funding to Hockey Canada and ordered an audit to make sure that its funds were not used to silence victims while lawmakers in Ottawa hold hearings. Police have also resumed investigating the events of 2018. As the story began to dominate the news, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called for a ‘real reckoning at Hockey Canada and condemned its leaders for their ‘willful blindness.’ ”

It’s a mess . . . a morass . . . it really is. And it’s a big enough mess that The New York Times felt the story was worthy of some major play.

If you’re able to access it, Austen’s story is right here. BTW, Austen is from Windsor and lives in Ottawa, so this isn’t an American writing about a scandalous time in Canadian hockey.


Coffee


Old friend Hartley Miller touches on a whole lot of pet peeves in his latest edition of Hartley’s Hart Attack. Somehow, though, he missed the fact that there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the inaugural; the second one is the second annual. . . . Miller’s list is a good one, though, and it’s all right here.


Boat


COVID-19 SAYS HELLO (AGAIN): The Minnesota Vikings didn’t have QB Kirk Cousins on hand Sunday when they opened their 2022 exhibition season with a 26-20 loss to the host Las Vegas Raiders. Cousins, who isn’t vaccinated, was sent home from training camp on Thursday and tested positive on Friday. He missed one regular-season game in 2021 after testing positive.

——

The New York Yankees will retire Paul O’Neill’s No. 21 on Sunday (Aug. 21). I know! I know! You’re wondering if the team that has retired the numbers of the likes of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, Mickey Mantle and Mariano Rivera has lowered the bar. But O’Neill did hit .303 over nine seasons in the Bronx and was on four World Series winners. . . . However, it turns out that he is another of baseball’s anti-vaxxers, which is why he, as an analyst for Yankees games on the YES Network, works from his home in Cincinnati. . . . He is the lone YES broadcaster granted this privilege despite the network having imposed a vaccine mandate. On Sunday at Yankee Stadium, O’Neill won’t be allowed in the YES broadcast booth because he isn’t vaccinated. Also, because of MLB regulations, he won’t be permitted on the Yankees’ clubhouse or dugout. He will be allowed onto the field, but won’t be joined by any players. . . . It isn’t known whether Dr. Google will be joining him on the field.

——


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “What’s this world coming to when stealing classified nuclear documents is treated like some kind of crime?”

——

Lupica, again: “My friend Stanton is wondering how Aaron Rodgers worked it out that he’s afraid of vaccines, but not psychedelic drugs.”


Chapstick


THINKING OUT LOUD: If you missed it, QB Nathan Rourke of the B.C. Lions was lighting it up again on Saturday night in a stunning 41-40 victory over the host Calgary Stampeders. Despite a first quarter during which he actually looked mortal, Rourke finished with 488 passing yards in erasing a 20-3 deficit. Rourke, 24, is a CFL sophomore after three seasons with the Ohio U Bobcats. And he’s magic, he really is. Won’t be long and they’ll be comparing him to a young Dieter Brock — he was Ralph then — and Doug Flutie. Asked about Rourke after Saturday’s game, Calgary QB Bo Levi Mitchell offered: “Enjoy him while he’s here.” . . . Or, as Lions DB T.J. Lee put it: “Man, we call him Nate Brady for a reason.” . . . Next up for the Lions? They go home-and-home with the Saskatchewan Roughriders — Friday in Regina and Aug. 26 in Vancouver. . . . The Baltimore Orioles are in Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays and all of the visiting players now are vaccinated. That wasn’t the case in June when LHP Keegan Akin and OF Anthony Santander weren’t vaccinated so couldn’t cross the border into Canada. . . . RHP Mike Soroka may yet get back into the Atlanta Braves’ lineup before this season is over. The Calgary native will make a rehab start in Rome, Ga., on Tuesday for the High-A Braves as he continues working his way back from a twice-ruptured right Achilles tendon. He hasn’t pitched for Atlanta since first injuring it in August 2020. . . . If you haven’t yet read Pleasant Good Evening, the memoir written by former Sportstalk host Dan Russell, you should. If you’re wondering what it’s all about, check out this story right here by John Ackerman of CityNews 1130 in Vancouver.


THE COACHING GAME:

Todd Nelson is the new head coach of the Hershey Bears, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Nelson, 53, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars for the past four seasons. . . . Nelson takes over from Scott Allen, who now is an assistant coach with Washington. Allen spent one season as the Bears’ head coach after three as an assistant. . . . A native of Prince Albert, Nelson played four seasons (1986-90) with the WHL’s Raiders. . . . The Bears also signed Adam Purner, who spent time with the Portland Winterhawks, as their video co-ordinator and video coach. Purner, 46, was in the New Jersey Devils organization for the past two seasons with their AHL affiliate in Binghamton and then Utica. . . . He spent four seasons (2016-20) with the Winterhawks.


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Food Network Goes Off Air After Every Iteration of Ingredient Combinations Completed.


Billy Napier, the head coach of the Florida Gators football team, has banned all but white socks at practice sessions. As Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel put it: “You know what the great Grantland Rice once wrote: ‘It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you match your socks!’ ”


Ankle


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.


Airbag

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while wondering if the Blue Bombers are shopping for a kicker . . .

scattershooting

Tyler Chandler, an infield prospect in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, hit four home runs on Wednesday night. Not only that, he hit a solo shot, a two-run blast, a three-run dinger and a grand slam as his Double-A Springfield Cardinals whipped the host Amarillo Sod Poodles, 21-4. . . . Redmond also had a single as he drove in 11 runs. . . . The only other player in pro baseball history to accomplish this was Tyrone Horne, who also was a Cardinals’ farmhand. On July 27, 1998, he did it while with the AA Arkansas Travelers of the Texas League.



Thermos



COVID-19 SAYS HELLO: The MLS’s Vancouver Whitecaps had six players test positive late last week. They hope to be cleared in time to practice and then play in Saturday night’s game against the host L.A. Galaxy. . . . The Houston Astros had manager Dusty Baker back in the dugout on Thursday as they beat the visiting Texas Rangers, 7-3. Baker, 73, is fully vaccinated. He had tested positive on Friday. “I’m very fortunate that I had both my shots and the two boosters,” he said. “So, I’m really hoping that everybody goes and gets the shots and boosters, because if you do get (COVID-19), hopefully it’s mild like mine was.”



Chips


THE COACHING GAME:

The WHL-champion Edmonton Oil Kings have added Serge Lajoie to their coaching staff as an assistant to head coach Luke Pierce. Lajoie, 53, also has been named manager of player development. . . . Lajoie had been the head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears men’s hockey team for three seasons when he signed on as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. But that relationship lasted just one season (2018-19). For the past three seasons, he has been the head coach of OHA Edmonton’s U18 prep side. . . . Pierce, who had been an assistant coach, was named the Oil Kings’ head coach on July 25. He took over from Brad Lauer, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant coach. . . .

Jamie Kompon, who spent two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, has joined the NHL’s Florida Panthers as an assistant coach. Kompon, 55, was the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach for two seasons (2014-16). He spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. . . . Kompon also has worked in the NHL as an assistant coach with the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks. . . .

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan have signed Gordie Dwyer to a four-year contract as their general manager and head coach. Dwyer, 44, was the head coach of the Saint John Sea Dogs, who went 47-17-4 last season. However, he was fired after a first-round playoff loss. . . . The Sea Dogs, of course, went on to win the Memorial Cup as the host team. . . . With the Titan, he takes over from Jason Clarke, who left to join the AHL’s San Diego Gulls as an assistant coach. . . .

The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have hired Brad Tobin, 33, as their general manager and head coach. The announcement came Thursday, one day after Brandon Switzer left to join the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints as an assistant coach. . . . Switzer, 27, was named Creston Valley’s general manager and head coach on April 6. He had been assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . Tobin has worked with Creston Valley before, starting out as an assistant coach and winding up as GM and head coach in 2017-18. He spent the past four seasons with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles. . . .

Bob Beatty is back with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers for his first full season as associate coach. The veteran junior hockey coach stepped in late last season following the order from the BCHL that put Darren Naylor, the Clippers’ general manager and head coach, on administrative leave. Naylor no longer is with the organization. . . . Beatty, 67, will be working alongside Colin Birkas, the GM and head coach, and fellow associate coach Bob Foglietta. . . .

Andrew Shaw has left the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs to join the Prince George Spruce Kings. Shaw, 32, had been an assistant coach with Chilliwack for three seasons. He joins the Spruce Kings as the associate coach, replacing Lukas Limicky, who now is with the Vernon Vipers. . . .

The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has extended the contract of Jeff Wagner for three seasons. He is preparing for his second season as associate coach and director of scouting. . . . The extension runs through 2024-25. . . .

The BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals have added Jason Becker to their coaching staff. He will help them out as skills coach, working alongside Brian Passmore, the general manager and head coach. For the past two seasons, Becker, 48, has been the head coach of the U18 men’s team at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Victoria. While working with the Capitals, he also will be the head coach of the PCHA’s new U17 prep team. . . . Becker also has coached with the Prince George Cougars, the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and St. George’s School in Vancouver. He has long been involved with Hockey Canada and BC Hockey coaching programs and, at present, is the lead evaluator for the U16 team that will represent the province at the 2023 Canada Winter Games. . . . You look at this guy’s resume and ask yourself: Why isn’t he the head coach of a major junior team?



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.


SnowWhite

Baseball loses its voice as Scully dies at 94 . . . Hay back with Blazers for third time . . . Raiders add assistant coach

After calling the home run by Kirk Gibson, Vin Scully was silent for 75 seconds as he allowed the game to breathe and the viewing audience to take it all in. . . . Yes, there is a lesson there somewhere.


The Kamloops Blazers made it official on Tuesday morning — Don Hay is back in the organization as associate coach. Hay, 68, is the winningest head coach in KamloopsWHL history. He spent the past four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, three as an assistant coach and last season as assistant coach. . . . Of course, if you’re a regular here, you weren’t surprised by the announcement. Because here’s what you read in this space on July 26:

“The Kamloops Blazers . . . have an opening after associate coach Mark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach.”

What is interesting about Hay’s return is that he didn’t leave Kamloops on the best of terms with majority owner Tom Gaglardi. It was on May 10, 2018, when Gaglardi, at a news conference that didn’t include Hay, announced: “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history.” . . . Except that Hay wasn’t retiring. As mentioned, he moved on to work with general manager/head coach Mike Johnston in Portland. . . . And, in fact, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he had agreed to return to Portland for another season. But that was before Clouston asked Johnston for the OK to talk with Hay about a return to Kamloops. . . .

Hay also told Hastings that he and Gaglardi patched things up before making this latest deal. “I talked to Tom through the process,” Hay told Hastings. “That was a concern for me, definitely, and we talked it over. We both talked our way through it and I understood the way he was thinking and he understood my side of it, as well. We both have the ability to move past it. That was a big step in making the decision. It’s funny how situations change.” . . .

When the new season gets here, Hay will be back behind the Blazers bench for a 14th season. A Kamloops native, he was an assistant coach for six seasons (1986-92) and head coach for seven (1992-95, 2014-18). He was a big part of the Blazers’ three Memorial Cup championships — 1992, 1994 and 1995. The Blazers, of course, will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . According to the WHL, Hay has 750 regular-season and 108 playoff victories to his credit, and is the all-time leader in both categories. . . . Clouston, with 498 regular-season victories, is the leader among head coaches still active in the WHL. He is on track to become the 10th head coach in league history to reach 500 regular-season victories. . . .

Also on Tuesday, the Blazers revealed that they and Clouston, 54, have agreed to a contract extension. No, they didn’t reveal the length of the extension. Clouston is preparing for his fourth season as the Blazers’ head coach; he has been the GM for a year. . . . Hastings also reported that former Blazers D Aaron Keller is expected back as an assistant coach, while long-time goaltending coach Dan DePalma also is expected to return. Also from Hastings: “Clouston . . . said the team is still working to hire Chris Murray as full-time assistant. Murray had shoulder replacement surgery last week.”


Deer
This mother and her two fawns stopped by the Drinnan residence above the South Thompson River on Tuesday evening and feasted on the fallen fruits of our Jon Gold apple tree. It’s interesting, at least to me, that they didn’t gorge themselves; they just ate their fill and then moved along.


As I also wrote in this space on July 26, Don Hay’s departure from Portland likely will allow Kyle Gustafson to return to the Winterhawks. Gustafson, who is from PortlandPortland, spent 18 seasons with them before signing on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2021-22 season. At the time, Travis Green, also a product of the Winterhawks, was in his fifth season as the Canucks’ head coach. Unfortunately, Green didn’t finish the season, and Gustafson lost his job in a post-season shakeup. . . . Gustafson, 41, started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach; when he left, he was assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . His return as associate coach also would allow the Winterhawks to put into place a plan of succession that could have Gustafson take over the head-coaching reins from Mike Johnston in a season or two. Johnston, 65, also is the vice-president and general manager.


Horses


Keaton Ellerby, a former WHL defenceman, is getting into the coaching game. PrinceAlbertThe 33-year-old native of Strathmore, Alta., has signed on with the Prince Albert Raiders as an assistant coach. He fills the spot that opened up when Jeff Truitt was promoted to head coach following the departure of Marc Habscheid. . . . Ellerby played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and finishing up by playing 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . His pro career included 212 NHL games over six seasons, split among the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets. He spent the past seven seasons in Europe, finishing up his playing career with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers in 2021-22.


The Calgary Wranglers are back, just not in the WHL. The NHL’s Calgary Flames Wranglersannounced on Tuesday that their AHL affiliate that will play out of the Saddledome will carry the nickname Wranglers. . . . That AHL franchise had been in Stockton, Calif., where it was the Heat, for seven seasons. . . . The junior Wranglers played in the WHL for 10 seasons, beginning in 1977. . . . The AHL Wranglers, under head coach Mitch Love, will be housed in the Saddledome, along with the Flames,  the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . I don’t know . . . can you have the Wranglers in Calgary without Doug Sauter being involved? Maybe he’ll drop the puck on opening night.


Homicide


THINKING OUT LOUD: It could be worse . . . you could be a fan of the Washington Nationals, who won the 2019 World Series but now haven’t anything left. Over the last while, the Nationals have gotten rid of starter Max Scherzer, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 3B Anthony Rendon and now OF Juan Soto. . . . The Nationals went 26-34 in the 2020 pandemic season, then 65-97 in 2021. Now they are the worst team in baseball and they just traded away the game’s brightest young star. Oh, and the franchise is for sale. . . . Here’s Joe Posnaski: “(Soto) dominates the strike zone in ways that boggle the mind; it’s no coincidence that people constantly compare him to Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.” . . . Posnaski, who writes at Joe Blogs, also wrote: “I guess for me, it comes down to this: Yesterday I could go to a Nationals game and watch one of the best hitters who ever lived. And today I can’t. And, to be honest, today I can’t think of a single other reason to watch the Nationals play.”


Wayne Kartusch, who spent 25 years as the president of the SJHL, died a week ago in Red Deer. He was 82. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


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.


Dogs

Checking in on WHL coaching game — one signing and some scuttlebutt . . . 2022 WJC “a turd in a punch bowl”? . . . Rockets’ voice moves to The Lizard


Luke Pierce was introduced Monday as the new head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 38, spent the past four seasons as an assistant Edmontoncoach with head coach Brad Lauer, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant alongside head coach Rick Bowness. . . . From an Oil Kings’ news release: “In his four seasons behind the Edmonton bench as an assistant coach, Pierce helped guide the club to a record of 154-46-13-10, four straight Central Division championships and the 2022 WHL championship while overseeing the team’s defence and penalty-kill unit.  During his tenure, the Oil Kings have finished in the top 10 in penalty killing each season and had the best penalty kill during both the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.” . . . Pierce has previous WHL head-coaching experience from two seasons (2015-17) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . From Merritt, B.C., he was the general manager and head coach for his hometown Centennials of the BCHL for five-plus seasons (2009-15). . . . It also must be pointed out that Pierce has served as vice-president and chairman for Hockey Gives Blood since 2018.


Scam


With the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders — Jeff Truitt taking over from Marc Habscheid — having named new head coaches over the past few days, the 22-team WHL doesn’t have any openings for head guys. . . . But there are some teams with vacancies on their coaching staffs. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, for example, have an opening after associate coach KamloopsMark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach. . . . The Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, and wouldn’t it be fitting for Hay to conclude his long coaching career in his hometown? . . . You may recall that Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced Hay’s retirement on May 10, 2018. “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. . . . Not so fast, though. Hay, it turns out, wasn’t finished. He has spent the past four seasons (2018-22) with the Portland Winterhawks, the first three as assistant coach and last season as associate coach. . . . All told, Hay has spent 13 seasons on the Blazers’ coaching staff — six (1986-92) as an assistant coach and seven (1992-95, 2014-18) as head coach. . . .

So . . . if Hay returns to Kamloops, the Winterhawks would have an opening. PortlandWell, it just so happens that Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 seasons in their organization, is available. Gustafson, 41, is from Portland. He was an assistant coach with the Winterhawks for 14 seasons (2003-17), the associate coach for one (2017-18), and the assistant general manager and associate coach for three (2018-21). . . . He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, but lost his job in the offseason as the NHL team shuffled its coaching staff. . . . A return by Gustafson to Portland also would allow the Winterhawks to put in place a plan of succession that could see him take over the head-coaching duties from Mike Johnston, 65, in a year or two. . . . Johnston, who has been with the Winterhawks for a total of 12 seasons covering two stints, also is the franchise’s vice-president and general manager. . . .

And then there are the Vancouver Giants, who have a vacancy on head coach VancouverMichael Dyck’s staff because associate coach Keith McCambridge, 48, left after two seasons to join the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, as an assistant coach. . . . Don’t be surprised if the Giants sign Adam Maglio, 36, to fill that spot. He joined the Spokane Chiefs as the associate coach for 2019-20, then was promoted to head coach on Aug. 27, 2020, replacing Manny Viveiros, who had moved on to the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . The Chiefs fired Maglio on Feb. 10, and named assistant coach Ryan Smith the interim head coach. Smith has since had the interim tag removed and is preparing for his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach. . . . Maglio, who is from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, the last two as head coach, before signing with the Chiefs.

In digesting all of this buzz just remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Gustafson was rumoured to be ticketed for Spokane as the Chiefs’ head coach.

OK?


Last week, it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who discovered that COVID-19 COVIDhad made its way into their locker room. This week, it’s the Calgary Stampeders. . . . The Roughriders had at least 11 players, including starting QB Cody Fajardo, test positive and had to push back their game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts from Saturday to Sunday. . . . Now the Stampeders have a problem. Five players, three of them starters, missed Tuesday’s practice. Danny Austin of Postmedia reported that head coach Dave Dickenson “confirmed there was at least one case of pneumonia and several in COVID protocol.” . . . The Stampeders (4-1) are scheduled to entertain the two-time defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-0) on Saturday night.


With the Hockey Canada mess on centre stage in Ottawa and with the warm HockeyCanadasummer weather — on Tuesday, at 8 p.m., it was 32 C in Kamloops — it’s easy to forget that the 2022 World Junior Championship is scheduled to open in Edmonton on Aug. 9. . . . It’s hard to disagree with Dan Barnes of Postmedia who wrote on Tuesday that the tournament “seems much less like a potential money-maker and far more like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.” . . . Yes, it seems ticket sales for games not involving Team Canada are in the dumper. Because, as Barnes wrote, “it seems the boys of winter are not the same kind of draw in the dog days of summer.” . . . He also wrote: “Two weeks out, the tournament does not have an overt presence in the city. Officials from Hockey Canada and the IIHF have not answered interview requests from Postmedia regarding the tournament.” . . . Could it be that there is some ducking and running going on, what with Hockey Canada neck deep in other things these days? . . . Barnes’ column, which is well worth a read, is right here.



RedBull


Just like the Kelowna Rockets, Regan Bartel, their play-by-play voice, is taking Lizardhis show to The Lizard. . . . Bartel, the Rockets and Kelowna radio station 104.7 FM — aka The Lizard — announced on Monday that he will continue as the play-by-play voice of the local WHL team, a job he has held for 22 years. . . . The Rockets had been with Bell Media’s AM 1150 for more than 20 years, but announced earlier this month that they were making the move to The Lizard, which is owned by Pattison Media. At the time, Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a news release: “We especially want to recognize Regan Bartell (sic). Regan has an incredible voice and his dedication to our fans to produce a first-class broadcast for all Rockets games will always be appreciated.” . . . In a news release on Monday, The Lizard offered that Bartel’s signing is “all part of a strategy to restore the Rockets profile in the city.”



The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHL D Ryan Rehill as an assistant coach. Rehill, 26, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (2012-16) with the Kamloops Blazers, before going on to the U of Alberta for four years. . . . Last season, while working as a teacher, Rehill spent time on the ice with the Bulldogs and the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Bulldogs, Rehill will be working alongside general manager/head coach Joe Martin.


THINKING OUT LOUD: ICYMI, the St. Louis Cardinals, without their two best players, who couldn’t get into Canada because they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, dropped a 10-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Cardinals will play in Toronto again tonight and they’ll again be without 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado, who are back home, presumably doing more research. . . . The Cardinals are clinging to the NL’s last wild-card spot by half-a-game over the Philadelphia Phillies. . . . If you’re a fan of the Boston Red Sox, you have to be wondering what happened! Your Sox now are in the AL East cellar, the first time that has happened in a full season since 2015. Yes, they are trailing the Baltimore Orioles. . . . BTW, Boston’s payroll is at $243,815,233, while Baltimore is at $46,217,169. . . . It was great to see Buck Martinez back in the broadcast booth for the Blue Jays’ game Tuesday night. And wasn’t that a welcome back that he received from the fans!


Bears


And there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the “inaugural;” the second one is the “second annual.” Thank you!


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.


GolfBalls

WHL’s conference finals all even . . . Milne, Alexander lead Ice to win . . . Roulette, Milic spark Thunderbirds

Tyson


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Kamloops for Game 1 of the Western Conference final between the Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night.

WHLplayoffs2022Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Thunderbirds, wasn’t there, though. It seems an undisclosed illness — sorry, no idea whether it’s an upper-body or lower-body illness — kept him at home in Kent, Wash.

And, furthermore, it seems that no one wanted to talk about it.

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week visited the Seattle dressing room after the game and met up with assistant coach Kyle Hagel. Here’s what Hastings wrote:

“He’s just not here,” Seattle assistant coach Kyle Hagel told KTW.

Why is he not here?

“He’s just not here,” Hagel said.

Is it health related?

“He’s just not here,” parroted the T-Birds’ assistant coach.

Hastings added: “Hagel does not expect O’Dette to return for Game 2 . . .”

O’Dette wasn’t there for Game 2 on Saturday night, a game the Thunderbirds won, 4-1, to tie the Western Conference final, 1-1.

The question now becomes: Will O’Dette be back behind the Seattle bench for Game 3 in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday night?

Of course, there also are all kinds of questions concerning O’Dette’s health.  Thom Beuning, the Thunderbirds’ veteran play-by-play man, said in the third period of Friday’s broadcast that O’Dette was out because of “illness” and that he had stayed home as a precautionary measure.

You are free to wonder if O’Dette has the flu or whether his “illness” is related to COVID-19. He didn’t respond to a text on Saturday night asking if he could provide clarification about his health and/or his status for Game 3.


SATURDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored the game’s last four goals, all in the third WinnipegIceperiod, as it beat the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, 5-1, to even the best-of-seven final, 1-1. . . . This was Edmonton’s first loss after nine straight playoff victories. . . . The Oil Kings had won, 5-4 in OT, on Friday night. . . . The next three games are scheduled to be played in Edmonton — Monday, Wednesday and Friday. . . . F Mikey Milne, who finished with three goals, got the scoring started, giving the Ice a 1-0 lead at 10:08 of the first period. . . . The Oil Kings pulled even at 18:45 when D Logan Dowhaniuk (2) scored, on a PP, at 18:45. . . . After a scoreless second period, Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe took a headshot major and game misconduct two minutes into the third. The Ice promptly took control with a pair of PP goals. . . . F Owen Peterson (7) struck at 3:15 and Milne made it 3-1 at 6:20. . . . Milne completed his hat trick with an empty-netter at 18:24. That was his 13th goal of these playoffs. . . . D Max Streule (1), who had been the victim of Wiebe’s high hit, completed the scoring at 19:17. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-5 on the PP; Edmonton was 1-for-4. . . . Chances are Wiebe won’t be around for the next game or two as he almost certainly will be hearing from the WHL’s Dept. of Discipline. . . . The Ice got a big game from G Gage Alexander, who finished with 35 stops. Alexander started a game for the first time since March 5. He had come into Game 1 in relief of Daniel Hauser and stopped 18 of 19 shots. . . . G Sebastian Cossa turned aside 18 shots for the Oil Kings. . . . As per the tweets from Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press, Ice forwards Matt Savoie and Connor McClennon didn’t finish the game. Both will be evaluated Sunday before the teams heads for Edmonton. Savoie was the Ice’s leading regular-season scorer, with 90 points, while McClennon was tied for second, with 81. McClennon had a team-high 43 goals.

——

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Conner Roulette broke a 1-1 tie early in the second period and Seattlethe Seattle Thunderbirds went on to a 4-1 victory over the Blazers, evening the best-of-seven conference final, 1-1. . . . Kamloops had put up a 5-2 victory on Friday night. . . . The series now shifts to Kent, Wash., for games on Tuesday and Wednesday, with Game 5 scheduled for Kamloops on Friday. . . . Last night, the Thunderbirds scored the game’s last four goals after F Logan Stankoven gave the Blazers a 1-0 lead with his WHL-leading 14th goal at 1:39 of the first period. . . . F Lucas Ciona (7) shot Seattle into a tie at 6:39. . . . Roulette (2) gave the visitors the lead at 5:32 of the second period. . . . F Sam Oremba (2) added some insurance at 5:25 of the third period, and F Reid Schaefer (6) iced it with the empty-netter at 17:55. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was the game’s first start, with 40 saves. He beat Stankoven on a late second-period breakaway with Seattle leading 2-1, then made a wonderful come-across stop on Kamloops D Viktor Persson off a Stankoven pass. In the third period, Milic stopped F Luke Toporowski on a breakaway immediately after the Thunderbirds had gone ahead 3-1. . . . The Blazers got 23 saves from G Dylan Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds were without F Henrik Rybinski, who apparently suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 1 of the series. He has 13 points, including 10 assists, in 13 playoff games. . . . Seattle also was again without head coach Matt O’Dette, who stayed home with an apparent illness. In his absence, assistant coaches Kyle Hagel and Matt Marquardt ran things for a second straight game.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has signed F Jaydon Dureau of the Portland Winterhawks to a three-year entry-level contract. Dureau, who turned 21 on Jan. 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Lightning in the NHL’s 2020 draft. From White City, Sask., Dureau had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 49 regular-season games with the Winterhawks this season.


Decaf


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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.


Salad

Ice takes out Warriors; Oil Kings next up . . . Ostapchuk key as Giants stay alive against Blazers. . . . Hanas fills hat for Winterhawks

And then there were six . . .

The Winnipeg Ice, the WHL’s best regular-season team, finished off the visiting WHLplayoffs2022Moose Jaw Warriors on Friday night, taking the Eastern Conference semifinal in five games. The No. 1 Ice will meet the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. That series, which will follow a 2-3-2 format for travel reasons, is scheduled to open in Winnipeg with games on May 20 and 21. . . .

Meanwhile, it’ll be a quiet Saturday night in the WHL — with the exception of Portland, of course. Six teams with championship dreams still are alive, but only the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds will be on the ice tonight. . . . They played Friday night in Kent, Wash., with the Winterhawks posting a 5-1 victory. That means they lead the Western Conference semifinal, 3-1, going into tonight’s game in Portland. . . .

The other Western Conference semifinal is to resume Sunday in Langley, B.C. The Vancouver Giants stayed alive last night with a 5-2 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops, which now leads that series, 3-2.

——

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice erased a 2-0 first-period deficit and went on to beat WinnipegIcethe No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-3. . . . The Ice won the conference semifinal, 4-1, and will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the final. The No. 2 Oil Kings are 8-0 in the playoffs, having made short work of the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Ice now is 8-2 and will play host to Edmonton for Games 1 and 2 on May 20 and 21. . . . Last night, the Warriors took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ryder Korczak (3), at 0:46, and F Thomas Tien (2), at 15:52, in the first period. . . . The Ice scored the next four goals. F Zachary Benson (8) cut the deficit to one at 17:04, before Winnipeg took control with three second-period goals — F Matt Savoie (5) tied it at 1:39; F Cole Muir (2) made it 3-2 at 11:12; and F Conor Geekie (3) upped it to 4-2 at 15:04. . . . F Atley Calvert (3) got the Warriors to within one, on a PP, at 17:04, but that was it for the visitors. . . . Savoie (6) added his second goal at 4:03 and F Mikey Milne (9), who also had two assists, scored a shorthanded empty-netter at 18:28. . . . The Ice got 23 saves from G Daniel Hauser, while G Carl Tetachuk stopped 22 shots for the Warriors. . . .The Warriors had D Daemon Hunt, their captain, back in the lineup. Hunt, who is to turn 20 on Sunday, last played on March 19. . . .

If you’re wondering, Winnipeg and Edmonton met four times during the regular season, with the Oil Kings winning three times. However, three of the games were played in 2021. Edmonton won at home, 3-1, on Oct. 29, and 3-2 in Winnipeg on Dec. 8. . . . The Ice won, 5-2, at home on Dec. 11 on a night when four of Edmonton’s top players — G Sebastian Cossa, F Dylan Guenther, D Kaiden Guhle and F Jake Neighbours, each of them an NHL first-round draft pick — were with Canada’s national junior team. . . . In the most-recent clash, the Oil Kings won, 6-3, on Feb. 21.

——

Western Conference

In Kamloops, the No. 8 Vancouver Giants scored the game’s last four goals, all Kamloopsin the third period, and beat the No. 2 Blazers, 5-2. . . . Kamloops leads the series, 3-2, with Game 5 scheduled for Sunday in Langley, B.C. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk, the WHL’s leading playoff scorer, had two goals and two assists for Vancouver. He has 23 points, two more than linemate Fabian Lysell. . . . The Blazers led this one 2-1 after two periods as F Luke Toporowski (7) and F Matthew Seminoff (3) sandwiched a Vancouver goal by F Adam Hall (9). . . . F Ty Thorpe (3) got the Giants into a 2-2 tie at 1:33 of the third period and Ostapchuk (6) put them out front at 2:32. . . . Hall (10), who also had an assist, and Ostapchuk (7) later added empty-netters. Hall leads the WHL playoffs in goals. . . . G Jesper Vikman had a big night for the Giants, stopping 35 shots, 14 more than G Dylan Garand of the Blazers. . . .

In Kent, Wash., F Cross Hanas scored three times and added an assist to lead the PortlandPortland Winterhawks to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Portland leads the series, 3-1. . . . They’ll meet again tonight, this time back in Portland. . . . The Winterhawks had lost Game 3, 5-0, at home on Wednesday night. . . . Portland’s PP went into the game with three goals in its past 23 opportunities. Last night, it was 3-for-4. . . . Hanas (2) got his guys started at 7:09 of the first period and F Tyson Kozak (2) made it 2-0 at 14:35. . . . Seattle F Lukas Svejkovsky (6) scored a PP goal at 4:56 of the second period. . . . Portland got second-period goals from Hanas (3), at 11:42, and F Jack O’Brien (2), at 17:44, both via the PP. . . . Hanas (4) finished the scoring with a shorthanded empty-netter at 19:41. . . . F Kyle Chyzowki had a big night with three assists. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 31 shots for Portland, including a late second-period penalty-shot attempt by F Reid Schaefer with Portland leading 4-1. . . . Seattle got 17 stops from G Thomas Milic. . . . According to Winterhawks historian Andy Kemper, Hanas’s hat trick was Portland’s first in the playoffs since F Nic Petan turned the trick in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets on April 23, 2014.

——

We can’t leave the Kamloops-Vancouver series without a look back to the post-game scene after Game 4, which the visiting Blazers won, 4-2, after F Logan Stankoven broke a 2-2 tie with a late PP goal.

It was then when Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, told us without telling us that he wasn’t impressed with the officiating.

“With the price of gas these days, I can’t waste money on fines,” he said when asked about the men in stripes, who were booed off the ice at game’s end.

“The fans have a pretty good idea what’s going on,” he said in complimenting the home crowd.

Shortly after Stankoven’s goal, the Giants were hit with a minor penalty for too many men on the ice.

“The too-many-men . . . you’d have to ask their bench,” Dyck said. “They called it. We didn’t.”

And what did Stankoven, who added an empty-netter on the late PP, think of the officiating?

“I think it was very fair,” he said.

(The quotes here were lifted from a story by Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. That story is right here.)


Organic


From The Canadian Press: A Canadian warship has been hit with an outbreak of COVIDCOVID-19 while preparing for an overseas deployment in the Pacific. HMCS Winnipeg is back home in Esquimalt, B.C., after seven sailors tested positive, only weeks before the ship is due to participate in a major training exercise and two overseas missions. . . .

The Vancouver Whitecaps will be without at least two players — Ryan Gauld and Tosaint Ricketts — when they meet the San Jose Earthquakes in MLS action today. Both are in health and safety protocols after testing positive for COVID-19. . . .

From The New York Times: New coronavirus cases surged in most counties in New York State this week, putting them on “high” alert under Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and triggering recommendations for indoor masking, including inside schools. The state refrained from imposing an indoor mask mandate, but health officials on Friday afternoon did urge residents living in counties that have been placed on “medium” or “high” alert to wear masks in indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. . . . As of Thursday, the average of new cases stood at more than 10,000 a day, according to a New York Times database. New cases have increased 47 percent over the past two weeks, and hospitalizations have increased 28 percent over that time period, to an average of more than 2,600 a day.

Also from The New York Times: Jacinda Ardern, the prime minister of New Zealand who led the island nation through the pandemic, has tested positive for the coronavirus, her office said.


Goals


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Tri-City Americans announced Friday that Bryan Collier won’t be back as the club’s equipment manager. Collier had joined the Americans on June 1, 2021, after working with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. Prior to that, he worked with the Seattle Thunderbirds where his father, Brent, has been the equipment manager since 1994. . . .

In the QMJHL, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who trailed 2-0 in the best-of-five first-round series, beat the Halifax Mooseheads, 2-1, in Game 5 on Friday night. The game had been scheduled for Thursday night but was moved after the teams played into a third OT in Game 4 on Wednesday.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you feel so inclined you are able to sponsor her right here.

——

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.


Horse

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the magic of a no-hitter has been permanently lost . . .

scattershooting

Mothers


There was one playoff game in the WHL on Sunday night, and there will be WHLplayoffs2022another one tonight (Monday). . . . Last night, the host Portland Winterhawks used a shorthanded goal to get past the Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-1, to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. . . . Tonight, in the Eastern Conference, the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings take a 2-0 series lead into Red Deer for a game with the No. 3 Rebels. . . . The Rebels have yet to score in the series, having been blanked 4-0 and 5-0 by the Oil Kings and G Sebastian Cossa.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Portland, the No. 3 Winterhawks got the winner late in the third period as they defeated the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds, 2-1. . . . Portland, which won, 4-2, Portlandin Kent, Wash., on Saturday night, holds a 2-0 lead in the conference semifinal. They’ll play the third game in Portland on Wednesday. . . . Last night, F Lucas Ciona (4) put Seattle in front at 9:05 of the first period. . . . F Tyson Kozak pulled Portland even at 11:02 of the second period. . . . Then, with D Josh Mori serving a tripping minor, F Gabe Klassen (4) snapped the 1-1 tie at 16:22 of the third period. . . . F Jaydon Dureau, in his return to Portland’s lineup after a two-game absence, drew the lone assist on Klassen’s goal. . . . Portland was 0-for-3 on the PP; Seattle was 0-for-4 with two of those opportunities coming in the last half of the third period. . . . Portland got 28 saves from G Taylor Gauthier, who is 6-0, 1.17, .959 in these playoffs. Gauthier, 20, was acquired from the Prince George Cougars during the season and it would seem he is enjoying his first WHL playoff run. . . . G Thomas Milic blocked 29 shots for Seattle, including a second-period penalty-shot attempt by F Cross Hanas.


Here’s Larry Brooks, in the New York Post: “So the (New Jersey) Devils conducted a soul-searching and thorough review of the organization and appear to have to come to the conclusion that assistant coaches Alain Nasreddine and Mark Recchi were the problem and thus had to go.

“That kind of reminds me of when the Devils missed the 1996 playoffs as defending Stanley Cup champions and decided to dismiss PA announcer Bob Arsena after the season ended.”

Recchi, a Hockey Hall of Famer, had one year left on his contract. He owns a chunk of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. Recchi, 54, was an assistant with the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons before spending the past two seasons with head coach Lindy Ruff and the Devils.


Joe Posnanski just couldn’t get fired up recently when five New York Mets pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies, and here’s why . . .

“The magic of a no-hitter is not that one team gets no hits,” Posnanski wrote. “That’s just a bad hitting performance. The magic is that one pitcher accomplishes the feat. The magic is that the pitcher finds a way to keep the no-hitter going even after he’s shown all his pitches, even as his stuff diminishes.

“Sending five hard-throwing pitchers out there to throw a no-hitter — ending with a closer who throws 100 mph — feels sort of the opposite of magic. It feels like playing a video game on cheat mode.”

He’s not wrong.



Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Delta and Omicron variants jealous that younger XE strain gets away with anything it wants.



THINKING OUT LOUD — Hello, baseball gods. Would you please, please, please free Joey Votto from the hell that is the Cincinnati Reds. Thank you. . . . Surely you have been stuck at a railroad crossing with a train crawling along, perhaps even getting almost past you and then backing up and doing it all over again. While you’re sitting there have you ever wondered if whoever is running that train has ever had to sit at a crossing? Yes, I sat at one for 14 minutes on Thursday afternoon. No, the ice cream in the grocery bag didn’t melt. . . . If the Vancouver Canucks were going to bring Bruce Boudreau back as their head coach, wouldn’t the deal have been done before now? . . . I’ve been told that Rylan Ferster, a veteran junior hockey coach, is soon to be back in the BCHL, if he isn’t already. Are you hearing that, too?



Here’s a thought from Sportsnet’s Luke Fox: “Based on Jim Rutherford’s half-hearted endorsement, the cleared bench in Philadelphia, and the relationship with GM Chuck Fletcher, it’s nearly impossible to find someone in hockey who doesn’t believe Bruce Boudreau will end up behind the Flyers’ bench.”


Beer


The pandemic will claim its one millionth American victim this week and we won’t even blink . . . 1,000,000 dead . . . ho hum!

Here’s Charles P. Pierce of Esquire:

“There was a point in the pandemic at which one million dead was as inconceivable to us as a million cattle would have been to an Englishman of the 12th century. There was a point in the pandemic at which 674,000 deaths, more deaths than in the 1918 pandemic, was inconceivable. But every grisly mile marker went by until we got to the past week, and one million dead, and this happened because a great deal of the country’s reaction to the pandemic was just as inconceivable at its beginning as the ultimate body count once was.

“For example, I figured that there would be a general ‘war’ on the disease, because we can’t confront any big problem without declaring ‘war’ against it. What I did not see coming was an actual political and social ‘war’ against the cure, one that included everyone from radio hosts to certain cardinals of Holy Mother Church. What I did not see coming was a ‘war’ against the public health measures that the pandemic made necessary. Pissing and moaning, yes. Bristling over the little inconveniences, absolutely. But not an all-out assault on the idea that we must adopt measures against epidemic disease that might disrupt our daily lives, however slightly.”

On Sunday night, the counter at Johns Hopkins University of Medicine showed the U.S. at 997,503 deaths, along with 81,858,744 confirmed cases.

Johns Hopkins had Canada with 39,817 deaths, along with 3,805,916 confirmed cases.


The Boston Bruins were without D Charlie McAvoy when they beat the visiting COVIDCarolina Hurricanes, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon to even their first-round NHL playoff series at 2-2. Where was McAvoy? He was in COVID-19 protocol after having tested positive. . . . A good guess would be that McAvoy was showing symptoms, which is why he was tested. . . . And now you know why professional teams playing in Canada have taken to avoiding testing by riding a bus over the U.S. border before catching a flight to an American destination. The last thing those teams want is to have an asymptomatic player test positive and have to miss playoff action.


Err


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Sign of hard times, at Wednesday’s Oakland Athletics game at the Coliseum: One food truck on the plaza. Used to be there were eight or 10 to choose from. Pretty soon it will be just a guy selling day-old churros and two kids with a lemonade stand.”



“Hey, badder batter!” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “MLB hitters had a bad April, scoring the fewest runs per game (4.0) in the month since 1981 and posting the worst   batting average (.231) in history.”


The MJHL’s championship final is going to a seventh game. The Dauphin Kings took it to Game 7 with a 2-0 victory over the visiting Steinbach Pistons on Sunday night. G Carson Cherepak earned the shutout with 24 stops. . . . They’ll decide things in Steinbach on Wednesday night with the winner moving on to the Centennial Cup tournament in Estevan, Sask.


Tuna


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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.


Open

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