WHL’s wait is almost over; two games set for tonight . . . Second team opts out of AJHL restart . . . Beast prexy with good dope on folderoo

It was March 11. The Victoria Royals and host Kelowna Rockets were tied, 2-2, in the third period of a WHL game.

F Brayden Tracey of the Royals broke the tie, banking a shot off G Roman Basran and into the Kelowna net. The goal would give the Royals a 3-2 victory and would be the last score of the WHL’s 2019-20 season.

The last goal of the CHL’s 2019-20 season was to have been scored in Kelowna, but it should have happened in the Memorial Cup in May. That tournament, like so many other things, was cancelled.

With the world in the early stages of what has turned into a full-blown pandemic, the WHL put things on hold after March 11, a pause that will end tonight (Friday) with two games featuring four Alberta teams.

In Red Deer, the Rebels will play the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. The same teams will play again Saturday, only they will switch venues. The Calgary Hitmen, the fifth of the league’s five Alberta teams, have the bye.

In Red Deer, Troy Gillard will make his debut as the interim play-by-play voice of the Rebels, replacing Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Down the way from Gillard, Bob Ridley will be calling his 3,999th game as the only voice the Tigers have known.

If the excitement of tonight’s game doesn’t get to him, Ridley will do No. 4,000 in Medicine Hat on Saturday night. If you haven’t heard, he has called every game in Tigers history — except for one. It’s an oft-told story, but back in the day — way, way back — his then-boss’s wife was playing in the Canadian women’s curling championship in Saskatoon and, well, Ridley missed a Tigers game while covering curling. Yes, that’s a true story!

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings game won’t be heard on an Edmonton radio station, but will be available, with Andrew Peard on the call, on the team’s website.

(I had written here that G Lukáš Pařík of the Spokane Chiefs had scored the last goal of the season. That was in error.)

——

JUST NOTES: You may not have been aware of it, but the WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT. For the first time in league history, there wasn’t even one trade. . . . The league released a U.S. Division schedule this week. The five American teams will open their season on March 18 with the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans meeting in Kennewick, Wash. With the Winterhawks not having clearance to play in Oregon, they will play their two March home games at the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. (aka the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds). The Portland home games April 2 through May 7 have TBD as the home arena. . . .

A schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but the seven-team Regina hub is expected to begin play on March 12. The hub will feature the five Saskatchewan-based teams, along with the two from Manitoba. . . . The five B.C. Division teams have yet to receive clearance to return to play from government and health officials. . . . Earlier this week, on the subject of 15-year-olds, the afore-mentioned Gillard tweeted: “So I confirmed that Alberta players are good to go since the U18AAA season here is cancelled, but Sask players are limited to 5 WHL games for now as they’ve yet to officially cancel league play in that province.” . . .

The Oil Kings have added three people to their front office — Shaun Mahe as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator, the afore-mentioned Andrew Peard to handle hockey broadcasting and media, and Erin Klatt in charge of game-day operations. Mahe has been with the Oilers Entertainment Group for eight years, most recently in statistical analysis with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Peard’s duties include play-by-play, taking over from Corey Graham who somehow lost his job during recent Bell Media cuts. Klatt has been with OEG for two years, working as a hockey engagement co-ordinator. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have added Brodi Stuart, 20, to their coaching staff. Stuart, from Langley, B.C., played three seasons with the Blazers. His WHL career came to an end when he had knee surgery on Jan. 20. In 204 regular-season games, he had 115 points, including 45 goals. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders have added Ryan McDonald as an assistant coach. He will work with the team during its time in the Regina hub. A Prince Albert native, McDonald, 33, played four plus seasons in the WHL (Regina Pats, Raiders, 2004-09). He was the head coach for the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats in 2020-21. . . .

Josh Green, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, has moved to the Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. The Ice and Freeze are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. Green, who played five WHL seasons in the WHL (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98), was an assistant coach with the Ice in 2019-20. . . . Ryan Guenter, who had been on the Ice’s scouting staff, also will be on the team’s coaching staff in the Regina hub. When that stint is over, he will step in as the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations. . . . The Ice also has added Byron Spriggs as goaltending consultant. He has been the U of Manitoba Bisons’ goaltending coach for the past two seasons and is expected to work with both clubs. . . . Cole Hillier, a former head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, now is in that role with the Ice. Darcy Ewanchuk, who made the move to Winnipeg from Cranbrook with the franchise, now is on staff as a consultant.


Questions, there are questions . . .

We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days. . . .

F Seth Jarvis of the Chicago Wolves is tied for the AHL lead in goals (6) and points (9). He has played seven games. Jarvis, who turned 19 on Feb. 1, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. The rules call for him to be returned to the Portland Winterhawks, but if this odd-ball season, with no fans allowed, is all about development why not leave him in the AHL? . . .

If you are a hockey fan who lives in Canada, does your NHL include only your country’s seven teams? And would you be content with a seven-team NHL and having those teams play an 84-game regular season? . . .

If you get vaccinated in the next month or six are you going to want to go back into an arena next fall not knowing how many unvaccinated people are in the same facility? Is that same thing going to be an issue in some work places? . . .

If you are paying attention to the coronavirus-related numbers in B.C., with variants showing up in schools and teachers in at least one city having marched in protest, will you be surprised if the province’s five WHL teams have to wait a while longer before getting the OK to return to play? . . .

What’s wrong with this picture? . . . On March  21, B.C. announced 76 new positives, raising the number of confirmed cases to 424. There were 27 people in hospital and 12 in intensive care. There was one new death, for a total of 10. So health officials closed all personal service establishments — remember when you couldn’t get a haircut? — and ordered all restaurants to go to takeout and delivery only. . . . On Feb. 25, B.C. reported 395 new cases — down from 559 two days earlier — for a confirmed total of 78,673, with 4,489 of those active. Ten new deaths raised the grim total to 1,348. But, hey, you can get a haircut and eat in a restaurant.


On Feb. 12, Brendan Batchelor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Sportsnet 650, revealed via Twitter that he had been “exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” and was going into self-isolation. . . . All is well and Batchelor, whose resume includes calling Vancouver Giants games, returned to action on Thursday night as the Canucks lost, 3-0, to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


The Lloydminster Bobcats are the second team to opt out of the AJHL’s return Bobcatsto play. According to a news release from the team, it was “denied participation . . . due to public health restrictions of the Saskatchewan government.” . . . More from that news release: “The organization exhausted all efforts to resolve barriers to meet the requirements of the Saskatchewan government. So far the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has also been unable to meet requirements, while the Western Hockey League has been approved by forming a bubble in Regina, SK. Attempts were made to establish a bubble in Lloydminster, but the team was shut out by circumstance.” . . . While they play in the AJHL, the Bobcats’ home arena, the Centennial Civic Centre, is in Lloydminster, Sask. . . . Earlier, the Canmore Eagles announced that they were opting out of a return to play. 


For the last while we regularly have heard from junior hockey pooh-bahs about Beasthow some teams may not survive the pandemic. To date, they’re all still alive, but that’s more than can be said for the Brampton Beast, a seven-year-old ECHL franchise.

The Beast called it quits last week, another victim of COVID-19, but one that won’t show up in death totals.

Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president, general manager and minority owner of Brampton Beast, said that the pandemic simply made the hurdles too huge to continue.

Here’s part of what he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and all of this will be applicable to junior hockey teams, as well . . .

“What we realized recently is that next season is compromised. Normally at this time of year, you sell a lot of season tickets, you renew your season tickets, you make group sales, you do a lot of sponsorship. There’s so much nervousness out there, we realized for the upcoming season . . . that revenues would be greatly depleted. You’re losing revenues in three distinct hockey seasons. As a business, it’s not sustainable. We came to that realization probably since Christmas, (and) for us that was just too much.”

And now we wait to see if more teams meet the same fate.

If you haven’t already seen it, Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts is right here.


Sauce


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The City of Toronto has cancelled outdoor events and parades through July 1. That includes Canada Day celebrations and its Pride Parade. . . .

The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association has cancelled any games for the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The provincial government has extended restrictions until at least March 19, so the association decided it was time to move on from this season. Teams are still able to practice with eight mask-wearing, social-distancing players on the ice at a time. . . .

The San Jose Sharks had F Thomas Hertl enter COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, so their Thursday game against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights has been postponed. The Sharks didn’t hold any practice or training sessions on Wednesday. . . . San Jose next is scheduled to play on Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . Also on Wednesday, the New York Rangers placed F K’Andre Miller on the COVID-19 protocol list, but they still played that night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Philly. . . .

Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reports that the CFL, which didn’t play in 2020, is looking at holding training camps in May with the first exhibition game on May 23. He also writes that an 18-game regular season would open on June 10 without fans in the stands. . . . That story is right here. . . .

The 10-team Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. “These are unprecedented times,” Kerry Lines, the league president, said in a news release, “and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.” . . . The MMJHL last played on Oct. 29.


Warranty


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.


Kids

Sask. gov’t provides some relief to WHL, SJHL teams . . . Teams expect to get money in Feb. . . . Savoie scores twice in USHL debut


One day after the Saskatchewan Hockey Association informed its membership via letter that there likely won’t be games played in that jurisdiction before the end of March, the provincial government handed over $4 million to the province’s major junior and junior A franchises.

The announcement came as the province, according the Postmedia, “reported 382 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, the second highest one-day total, to cap a week in which Saskatchewan became the leader in per capita active cases in Canada.”

Each of the five WHL organizations based in Saskatchewan will see $600,000; SJHLthe 12-team SJHL, which includes one team (Flin Flon Bombers) in Manitoba, gets $1 million.

Yes, the Bombers will get their share.

“All the teams in our league have had a decline in finances and revenue,” Bill Chow, the SJHL president, told Postmedia. “We decided that would be the best way — not help one, but help everybody.”

While the SJHL’s teams all are community-owned, three of the WHL’s Saskatchewan teams — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — are owned by community shareholders, with the other two — the Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades — having private owners.

Community-owned teams are obligated to hold annual general meetings open WHL2to shareholders. The Warriors, Raiders and Broncos did just that before 2020 ended, and announced combined losses of more than $1.5 million for a 2019-20 season that was halted prematurely by COVID-19.

The Pats are owned by five local businessmen — Anthony Marquart, the president of Royalty Developments Ltd.; Todd Lumbard, the president of Speers Funeral and Cremation Services; Gavin Semple, the chairman of the Brandt Group of Companies; Shaun Semple, the president of the Brandt Group of Companies; and Jason Drummond, the managing director of York Plains Investment Corp., and the found and president of DGC Investments.

The Blades are owned by Mike Priestner, the CEO of Go Auto. His son, Colin, is the Blades’ president and general manager.

Jeremy Harrison, Saskatchewan’s minister of trade and export development, said in a news release that junior hockey is “a critical part of the cultural fabric and local economies across the province.”

Harrison told Postmedia that the government has been working with the junior hockey people “on this particular question probably for a month and a half now. I think it’s fair to say that the initial request was of a quantum that was significantly larger. But we worked with the leagues to come to a place where a contribution would be sufficient for those teams to survive and for the league to be viable going forward.”

Chow called the money “a small Band-Aid on a big cut.”

“But,” he said, “it will definitely stop some of the bleeding.”

The money is expected to be in the hands of the five WHL teams and the SJHL sometime in February, and it’s not believed that it will have any strings attached.

So . . . with Saskatchewan having taken the plunge, will other western provinces be far behind?

The wheels, as Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Friday, already are in motion. Ewen writes right here about how the WHL and BCHL, who under normal conditions would never sit down for coffee together, have teamed up in an attempt to land some financial relief from the B.C. government.


Veteran Portland journalist Kerry Eggers, who now writes at his own website PortlandAlternate(kerryeggers.com), posted a lengthy piece on the Winterhawks on Friday. While most of the story dealt with the franchise’s new ownership and the potential new season, the story also included some interesting items.

“It has already been announced that the Memorial Cup will not be held this year,” Egger writes, adding that Mike Johnston, the team’s vice-president, GM and head coach, “says the matter of league playoffs has yet to be determined.

“It remains a discussion point,” Johnston told Eggers in reference to WHL playoffs. “Even if things go quite smoothly, I’d anticipate that each division declares a champion. I just don’t know (about playoffs). The goal is to play hockey in June.”

While I wasn’t aware that the 2021 Memorial Cup had been cancelled, it only makes sense. The OHL and WHL haven’t yet played any games, while the QMJHL is waiting to restart after having teams play a handful of games in fits and starts before shutting down late in November.

Eggers also informed us that “the new owners, incidentally, are moving toward securing Memorial Coliseum as the permanent site for home games. Most of the home contests will be staged there this year.”

Keep in mind, too, that if a WHL season gets started, the Winterhawks go in as the defending regular-season champions.

Eggers’ piece is right here.


Willie


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice played his first game with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints on Friday night, scoring two goals and adding an assist in a 7-4 victory over the visiting Waterloo Black Hawks. That was the most goals the Fighting Saints (6-13-0) have scored in a game this season. . . . Savoie, 17, is one of a number of WHL players who have joined USHL teams over the past few days.


Some people have been decrying the epidemic of cross-checking that has been evident in the NHL for some time now. It’s really in the spotlight now because the Toronto Maple Leafs complained after Montreal Canadiens D Shea Webber gave F Auston Matthews the business on Wednesday night. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, who has long been a critic of the NHL for its mostly turning a blind eye to the foul, has more right here.


The Dallas Stars, who have had 17 players test positive since Dec. 30, now have had their first four regular-season games postponed. After bumping their first three games earlier in the week, the NHL on Friday postponed their Jan. 19 game against the host Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . The Stars now are scheduled to play their first game on Jan. 22 against the visiting Nashville Predators. . . . As you can see by the above tweet, the NHL has done some rescheduling, all of which has added a couple of days to the regular season — barring further changes, and that’s hardly a sure thing, the last games now will be played on May 10 as opposed to May 8.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Health officials warn that not enough is being done to limit the spread of COVID-19. They say the daily case count could rise from about 7,900 to 13,000, and that as many as 100,000 people could contract the virus over the next 10 days.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 5 more deaths and 191 new cases of COVID-19. In the past week, the number of new daily cases has ranged from a high of 261 to a low of 89; the 7-day average is 170.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 386 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 new deaths. 210 people are in hospital, the most since the pandemic began, including 35 people in intensive care. There are 4,010 known active cases in the province.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 785 new cases of COVID-19 and 13 new deaths. 796 people are in hospital, including 124 in ICU. Alberta currently has 12,189 active cases of the illness. Provincial labs completed 13,575 tests Thursday with a positivity rate of 5.5 per cent. So far 1,402 Albertans have died of COVID-19. On Thursday, there were 796 people in hospital with the illness, 10 fewer people than Wednesday.

Janet Brown, CKNW Vancouver — Friday’s B.C. Covid numbers: 349 people in hospital (-13), 68 ICU (-6), 509 new cases (60,117), 9 more deaths (1047).

CBC News: Ontario has a record 100 deaths from COVID-19, but officials say that includes 46 earlier deaths. There are 2,998 new cases, with 800 in Toronto, 618 in Peel and 250 in York. Almost 76,500 people were tested.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,918 new cases of COVID 19. The province is also reporting 62 new deaths, 9 of which occurred in the past 24 hours. 1,496 people are in hospital, including 231 in ICU.

CBC News: New Brunswick continues to experience a COVID-19 surge with 25 new cases. That’s the 4th highest day since the pandemic began; all have occurred since January 5.

CBC News: The Northwest Territories has reported its first case of COVID-19 “with no known source and no travel history.”

CBC News: The number of global deaths related to COVID-19 has passed the 2-million mark. Johns Hopkins University says the death toll has now reached 2,000,905.

The New York Times: It took over nine months for the world to pass one million virus deaths in September, a moment the UN secretary-general called “mind-numbing” and “an agonizing milestone.” In just a little over three months, the virus claimed another one million lives.

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Karl-Anthony Towns of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves revealed on Friday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. He already has lost his mother and six other family members to the virus . . .

The U of Montana and Montana State announced Friday that their football teams won’t take part in the Big Sky Conference’s spring championship season. The conference has said it will operate a six-game season from Feb. 27 to April 10. . . .

The U of Vermont men’s hockey team has paused activities after a positive test. . . . The team’s series at Merrimack that had been scheduled for this weekend was postponed. . . .

If you are watching NHL games, the following tweet may be of interest to 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.


JUST NOTES: Two WHL teams have lost their video coaches to pro teams. . . . Michael Chan, who had been the Edmonton Oil Kings’ video coach, has signed on with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies as their video coach. Chan, 29, had been with the Oil Kings for five seasons, the last three as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator. . . . Meanwhile, Adam Purner, who spent five season with the Portland Winterhawks, is joining the AHL’s Binghamton Devils. He also had been the Winterhawks’ manager of group events.


Aussie

WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

——

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

——

The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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.


JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

WJC exhibition games start today . . . WHL moves draft to December . . . Former Pats owner has died



After having eight German players and two Swedish team managers test 2021WJCpositive last week at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, the IIHF announced Monday that it has had only one positive test since then. One German staff member has tested positive and will remain in quarantine until Dec. 30. . . . The two Swedes who tested positive will remain quarantined until Sunday, with all players now having been cleared to return to the ice. . . . The WJC’s exhibition schedule begins today (Tuesday) with two games — Switzerland-Austria, 3 p.m. PT, and Finland-U.S., 6:30 p.m. PT . . . The exhibition schedule wraps up Wednesday with two more games — Canada-Russia, 3 p.m. PT, and Slovakia-Czech Republic, 6:30 p.m. PT. . . .  The tournament opens with three games on Friday — Slovakia-Switzerland, 11 a.m. PT; Finland-Germany, 3 p.m. PT; and U.S.-Russia, 6:30 p.m. PT. Canada plays its first game on Saturday when it meets Germany at 3 p.m. PT.


Fir


There had been a school of thought that the WHL might change the age of players eligible for its annual bantam draft, taking it from a player’s 15-year-old season to 16. But that isn’t going to happen. . . . While the WHL has changed the event’s name — the WHL bantam draft now is the WHL draft — it has only moved it from its normal date in May to an undisclosed date in December 2021. . . . “Moving the 2021 WHL draft from May to December allows additional time for players in the 2006 age group to be evaluated following a challenging season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a news release. “We anticipate minor hockey leagues and tournaments will be fully operational in the fall, which will allow players to compete at a high level once again.”



The QMJHL’s 12 Quebec-based team are planning to resume play on Jan. 22 in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. They won’t be in bubbles; rather, the QMJHL is referring to them as protected environment events. Each host team will be joined by two other teams Jan. 22-24. . . . Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski also will play host to similar events, from Jan. 29-Feb. 6, with four teams in each venue.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Headline from The Onion — Arizona: Tumbleweeds must quarantine for 14 days after rolling in from out of state.

CBC News: As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, there were 515,314 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Canada, with 423,621 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 14,332.

Brittany Greenslade, Global News: It’s been weeks but Manitoba’s numbers are way down Monday. 167 new COVID cases today and 4 deaths. 5,736 active cases. 16,717 recovered. 572 total deaths. 310 hospitalized, 42 in ICU. Test positivity rate 11.5%. Test positivity rate 10.5% in Winnipeg.

Bob Holliday, Winnipeg: “WOW!!! For those who refuse to believe that social distancing and masks don’t prevent the spread of COVID-19, check out the latests stats from Manitoba Health. On Dec. 6, 380 new cases were reported n the province, with 272 in Winnipeg. Well, folks, on Dec. 21 the provincial new cases dropped to 166, while Winnipeg’s dropped to 83. Both are the lowest since Nov. 25 when there were 349 new cases provincially and 213 in the city. Keep wearing the masks and stay two metres apart in crowds, and we’ll all have a Happy New Year.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 206 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the province’s 7-day average down to 217. The province is also reporting 4 additional deaths.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,240 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths. The province has a test positivity rate of 6.8%.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat sits at 78 active COVID-19 cases. There are six new cases and seven new recoveries. . . . Other numbers: Cypress County, 10 active; Forty Mile, one; Lethbridge, 155; Taber, 19; Brooks, 42; Calgary, 5,836; Edmonton, 7,367.

rednewsNOW: Red Deer with 415 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 1667 new cases of COVID-19 in BC. There were 652 cases from Fri to Sat, 486 cases from Sat to Sun and 529 cases from Sun to Mon. There have been 47,067 total cases. . . . There are 341 people in hospital, this is down 15. There are 80 in ICU, down 12. So far 35,455 people have recovered. There are 9,718 active cases of the virus. . . . There have been 41 COVID deaths over the last  3 days in BC.

CBC News: 2,123 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, 7th straight day above 2,000. There are 17 additional deaths. 915 people are in hospital, with 265 in ICU and 152 on ventilators. 54,505 people tested; positivity rate 4.7%. Comes ahead of lockdown announcement.

CBC News: All of Ontario will move into a lockdown on Boxing Day in a bid to curb climbing COVID-19 case numbers and spare hospitals and their intensive care units from being inundated in January, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday. The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and remain in place until at least Jan. 23, 2021, in the 27 public health units that comprise southern Ontario. In the seven public health units in Ontario’s north, where daily case numbers have been significantly lower, the lockdown is set to expire on Jan. 9.

CBC News: Quebec reports 2,108 new COVID-19 cases. The province’s 7-day average now tops 1,935 cases. There are 30 additional deaths attributed to the virus. Quebec has 1,852 new recoveries and 1,048 COVID-19 patients in hospital.

——

The 2021 Saskatchewan Summer Games that were to have been held in Lloydminster have been cancelled. Originally, the 2020 Games were to have been held July 26 through Aug. 1, but they were postponed to 2021. A decision also was made to return the Summer Games to a quadrennial cycle, meaning the next ones will be held in 2024. Lloydminster has been given the first right of refusal to act as host city. . . .

If you’re into football bowl games, you should know that the Independence Bowl was cancelled on Sunday. It was to have featured Army (9-2) but an opponent couldn’t be found. Seriously. . . . Later Monday, Army accepted an invitation to the Liberty Bowl where it will face West Virginia (5-4). That game is set for Dec. 31 in Philadelphia. . . . Army got in only because Tennessee (3-6) pulled out because of COVID-19 issues. ESPN reports that head coach Jeremy Pruitt, some assistants and a bunch of players all tested positive. . . . So far, 16 bowl games have been cancelled and at least 22 teams have opted out. . . . The Independence Bowl was to have been played Saturday at Shreveport, La. . . . Also cancelled on the weekend: The Guaranteed Rate Bowl that was to have been played Saturday in Phoenix and the Birmingham Bowl that would have gone on New Year’s Day. . . . Also on Sunday, Boise State joined the list of teams opting out of playing in bowl games.

The Baltimore Ravens once had 23 — yes, 23! — players on their reserve/COVID-19 list. On Monday, they activated DB Geno Stone on the list, leaving that list empty. Finally. . . .

Manitoba and Ontario curling officials announced Monday that they have cancelled their women’s, men’s and mixed doubles curling championships for 2021. . . . The Northern Ontario Curling Association made the same decision earlier this month. . . . B.C. officials have said they will announce a decision on Jan. 8.


Dogs


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.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while waiting for the snow to arrive . . .

Scattershooting


If as expected the sale of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks closes on Dec. 31, Michael Kramer, a 52-year-old native of Los Angeles who has been described by one of his former professors as “a rock star in the world of finance,” will be one of the new owners.

MichaelKramer2
MICHAEL KRAMER

The Winterhawks are planning a news conference at which it will be announced that Kerry Preete, a native of Melfort, Sask., and Kramer have purchased the franchise out of receivership for US$5,850,000.

Preete, 60, spent more than 30 years with Monsanto, and was its executive vice-president and chief strategy officer when it was sold to Bayer A.G., in 2018.

Kramer, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance from California State U Northridge (CSUN), lives in New Canaan, Conn. He is the CEO and founding partner of Ducera Partners LLC, an investment bank. As such, he has been involved in some monster deals.

Ducera advised Monsanto in the US$70-billion deal in which it was purchased by Bayer. Yahoo!finance reported in 2016, two years before the deal was completed, that “approximately $100 to $110 million in fees are expected to be divvied up between lead adviser Ducera and Morgan Stanley for their sell-side advisory roles, according to estimates by consultant Freeman & Co.”

Ducera also was involved in the restructuring or sales of iHeart Radio ($20 billion) and Nieman Marcus ($5 billion), among others.

Kramer also has been described as having been “the architect” of the sales of such professional franchises as the Dallas Stars, New Jersey Devils and Texas Rangers.

If you’re wondering just what it is that Kramer does, he explained during a speaking engagement at CSUN in 2019 how he handled a project involving Hostess Brands in 2012.

As Olivia Herstein of CSUN Today reported, Kramer told his audience:

“It’s the great American icon, the Twinkie. We can’t live without our Twinkies. Seven years ago, I was called by the board of Hostess. They said, ‘We’re having a lot of financial trouble, we’re running out of money — we don’t know how we’re going to continue. Can you come in and help us think through this?’

“When I, or any investment banker, gets involved in these transactions, it is usually a multi-year process. It’s not two or three weeks. In that situation, we had to figure out how to restructure the company. They had approximately 42 different union contracts! Two of the primary unions were the International Teamsters and the Bakers (the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International). So, I got to spend six months of my life, going three or four days a week down to D.C., to the headquarters of the Teamsters, negotiating with their most senior leaders.

“We actually cut a deal. The Teamsters were an incredibly tough counterpart, but we cut a deal. Unfortunately we weren’t as successful with the Baker’s Union. We were forced to totally shut the company down — that was me, I’m the guy who took away Twinkies for a few months. About six months later, we sold the company for approximately $1 billion. In many ways, that’s what we deal with all the time. It was a success in the price we were able to receive for the assets, but a failure in some respects, because a lot of people lost their jobs.”

Meanwhile, thanks to Joshua Critzer’s reporting on Twitter (@jjcritzer), we know that Mike Johnston, the vice-president, general manager and head coach, and Kyle Gustafson, the assistant GM and associate, will remain with the Winterhawks. Critzer also reported that Doug Piper, the franchise’s president and governor, will be staying put.


Dennys


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area. Of late, it seems that he has been trying to find some morning listening on the ol’ wireless. Here he is, trying to explain his adventure as only he can:

“I have tried for a couple of months to warm up to the current morning show on ESPN Radio. I decided about a week ago that was never going to happen. Jay Williams is the only one of the three hosts who ever says anything that is thought-provoking and among the three, he is generally the silent partner. As of now, I will only listen to these three guys in the morning if my alternatives are NPR’s Morning Edition and a televangelist preaching in some unknown language.

“This restricts my morning radio options in the DC area significantly. There are two other options. One is called The Sports Junkies — a show featuring 4 insufferably uninteresting people sharing inside jokes and ‘frat boy banter.’ The other option is the Kevin Sheehan Show which is now going to be my morning aural experience. I arrived at that position by selecting the least worst option available to me.”


Cooking


“The Gonzaga-Baylor men’s basketball game featuring the 1-2 teams in the country was scuttled by positive tests in the Bulldogs’ camp,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “In a related story, COVID-19 was just voted No. 1 in the latest AP poll.”


The Onion: Taylor Swift Fans Furious After Artist Excluded From ESPN’s List Of Best NBA Players Of 2020.


So . . . Michael Jordan has a new golf course — The Grove XXIII — in Hobe Sound, Fla., and it uses drones to deliver beverages. Why drones? Well, as Nick Piastowski of Golf.com, points out: “He was Michael ‘Air’ Jordan. Not Michael ‘Beer Cart’ Jordan. Not Michael ‘Hot Dog at the Turn’ Jordan.”



The 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk will be held virtually, as it was in June. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bartley Kives, CBC Manitoba: Manitoba announced 273 new cases of COVID-19 and 7 more deaths on Sunday. . . . Active cases: 5,728 (overstated due to backlog in calling patients to designate active cases as recovered). . . . Total caseload: 21,023. . . . Recovered: 14,805. . . . Deaths: 490. . . . In hospital: 304, and In ICU: 43 (Understated. Both these counts do not include long-term COVID patients who are no longer contagious but still require hospital care.) . . . Five-day test-positivity rate: 13.5 per cent. . . . Tests completed Saturday: 2,145.

CTV News: There have been 222 new cases of COVID-19 and three related deaths reported in Saskatchewan in the past 24 hours.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,717 new COVID-19 cases as well as a record 22 deaths.

B.C.: More crickets.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,677 cases of #COVID19 and nearly 58,200 tests completed. Locally, there are 456 new cases in Toronto, 356 in Peel and 143 in York Region. There are 1,678 more resolved cases.

CBC News: Quebec reported 1,994 new cases of COVID-19 and 33 more deaths.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 6 new cases of COVID-19. All of the new cases have been traced back to previously reported cases or travel outside Atlantic Canada.

CBC News: N.B. reports 2 new cases of COVID-19, both in Fredericton region.

BNO News: 16,987 COVID deaths were reported in the U.S. this week, making it the deadliest week on record.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: 299,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Ryan Struyk, CNN: 16.2 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

Pierre Lacroix, a former general manager of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, died on Sunday in Las Vegas. According to Le Journal de Quebec, he died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 72. . . .

Offensive line coach John Benton of the San Francisco 49ers missed their Sunday game with Washington in Glendale, Ariz., after testing positive. This was the 49ers’ first positive test since they were forced to relocate to Glendale.


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.


JUST NOTES: F Štěpán Novotný, who played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos (2008-11), has retired due to concussions. The MacBeth Report tweeted that he “suffered his fourth concussion in 10 years in a game against Liberec on March 3.” . . . The BCHL’s Penticton Vees appear to have lost F Quinn Hutson to the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks. His name now is on the Lumberjacks’ roster on their website. Hutson, who will turn 19 on Jan. 1, is from Chicago and has committed to Boston U. He was in his first BCHL season and led the Vees with 10 goals in 14 games during the extended exhibition season.


Paranoia

Winterhawks sale should close Dec. 31; price tag is US$5,850,000 . . . Virus takes two off U.S. roster


Joshua Critzer, who has been following the saga of the Portland Winter Hawks on Twitter (@jjcritzer), has posted a series of 14 tweets involving the sale of the WHL franchise.

You will recall that the franchise went into receivership in May after owner Bill PortlandAlternateGallacher apparently wasn’t able to repay money that had been borrowed in 2018 with the Winterhawks’ franchise among the collateral.

Gallacher had purchased the Winterhawks in October 2008.

Here, then, are the Critzer tweets:

The purchase price is listed as US$5,850,000. The new ownership group will be known as Winterhawks Sports Group LLC. The sale is expected to be approved in the necessary Canadian and Oregon courts. As first reported by Jeff Marek of Sportsnet, Kerry Preete will be one of the primary owners. Michael Kramer is the second. There may be other members of the ownership group, but they are not listed on any of the court documents.

Included in the sales price are the majority of Portland’s assets such as: All cash, intellectual property (i.e., 78 domain names and use of the Winterhawks logos), tangible personal property, rights associated with membership in the WHL, sponsorship contracts, and more.

The closing date for the sale is 12/31.

After the Receiver approved the new owners, there were two conditions. Both “have been met or waived”: 1. WHL Approval (League did approve); 2. A new lease for the Winterhawks practice facility. . . . The Winterhawks will stay in Portland.

The new owners are also taking on many of the liabilities including: Anything owed to customers after cancelling last season, up to $200,000 as a result of a lawsuit against the WHL for allegedly misclassifying players as amateur athletes rather than employees, two leased vehicles, accounts payable owing to the WHL up to US$10,718 and US$38,347, and all liabilities arising after the closing date that were incurred in the ordinary course of business.

One main liability is excluded, “in respect to employees.” Regarding employees: The new owners may make a written offer of employment to any employee at least 5 days prior to closing. In the court documents obtained, “9 employees shall have accepted an offer” with the new ownership. Mike Johnston & Kyle Gustafson are among the 9.

After reading the court documents, the new owners may make a written offer to any of the Portland scouts including those in temporary layoff/furlough. They would become “Transferred Contractors” and keep the same “active or inactive status & compensation” prior to the sale.

At the start, 34 parties executed a confidentiality agreement and 6 offers were submitted by 6/30. Three were chosen to participate in a 2nd round, only one submitted a “competitive offer.” The Receiver couldn’t come to an agreement with that party. All 6 offers are sealed.

When the 2nd round failed to produce a competitive offer, a broker was retained by the Receiver to help with the sale. The broker had previous experience selling WHL teams. They would have received a 3% commission. It is believed the principal of that entity is Daryl Henry.

On 9/23 the Receiver was contacted by the new owners and on 10/23 the diligence was completed allowing the process to move forward with league approval, as well as solution for the practice facility lease. The new owners placed a deposit of US$312,500 as part of the sale.

An important aspect of the sale is the new owners “agree to co-operate and execute any written assignment and assumption pertaining to the Standard Player Agreement as recognized by the WHL.” A key aspect of the Standard Player Agreement is the education benefit for players.

The sale price of the Winterhawks was impacted by the current situation with COVID-19, lost revenue from last season, and uncertainty pertaining to when fans will return to games. The majority of revenue for WHL teams comes from ticket sales.

Lastly, after the Winterhawks’ previous owner defaulted on a loan, the Portland organization, and the Receiver, sought out a new owner by the start of the 2020-2021 WHL season. This sale accomplishes that goal.

——

Some notes related to the sale of the Winterhawks, who are expected to hold a news conference in the near future. . . .

The sale price of US$5,850,000 translates to Cdn$7,471,269. . . . Bill Gallacher purchased the franchise from Jim Goldsmith, Jack Donovan and John Bryant in October 2008 for what was believed to be about Cdn$7.5 million. . . . At that time, I wrote: “That would be a record price for a WHL franchise. The Kamloops Blazers were sold last summer for a price that ended up being around Cdn$6.1 million. The last expansion franchise, which was sold to the NHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings two years ago, carried a Cdn$4-million price tag.” . . . In the last two seasons under the Goldsmith, Donovan and Bryant ownership, the Winterhawks had the WHL’s poorest record. . . . Under Gallacher and with Mike Johnston as general manager and head coach, the Winterhawks became one of the WHL’s flagship franchises. . . .

BonnieKerryPreete
Bonnie and Kerry Preete. (Photo: U of Saskatchewan)

Kerry Preete, one of the new owners, joined Monsanto in 1985, but left the company after it was bought up by Bayer A.G. in 2018 for US$70 billion. At the end, he was the executive vice-president and chief strategy officer. . . . Preete, 60, is from Melfort, Sask. He has a bachelor of commerce degree from the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon and an MBA from Washington University (Olin Business School) in St. Louis. . . . He played in the SJHL in the late 1970s with the Prince Albert Raiders and Humboldt Broncos, before going to the U of Saskatchewan. While there, he played for the Huskies under head coach Dave King and won a national championship in 1983. Preete spent time on a line with Dave Adolph, who went on to coach the Huskies and is the winningest coach in Canadian university hockey history. Adolph announced earlier this month that he will be retiring in April. Also on that Huskies team: Willie Desjardins, now the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Peter Anholt, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . At the same time, Preete’s wife, Bonnie, was playing for the women’s hockey team, then nicknamed the Huskiettes. . . . The Preetes donated $150,000 to the campaign that resulted in a new arena — Merlis Belsher Place — for the U of S hockey teams. . . . Kerry and Bonnie have three sons; he coached them in minor hockey in St. Louis. He also was a director with the Amateur Hockey Association of Missouri. . . . If you believe in coincidences, Gallacher and the Preetes all lived in Scottsdale, Ariz., a short time ago.


Team USA decided on its roster for the World Junior Championship on Saturday 2021WJCin Plymouth, Mich., but not before having to drop two players because of one positive test. . . . F John Beecher, a Boston Bruins’ first-round pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, tested positive. That took him and roommate F Thomas Bordeleau off the roster. The San Jose Sharks selected Bordeleau in the second round of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He is the son of former NHLer Sebastien Bordeleau. . . . Beecher’s father, Bill, told the Boston Globe that his son had a second test that came back negative. But according to the IIHF’s pre-tournament protocol a single positive calls for disqualification. . . . Beecher and Bordeleau both play at the U of Michigan and were back on campus later Saturday. . . . G Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips is on the U.S.’s roster for a second straight year. He made one appearance in the 2020 tournament. This time, he is expected to back up Spencer Knight, a first-round pick by the Florida Panthers who is also back for a second go-round. . . . The U.S. also won’t have D Nicholas Robertson, 19, on its roster after the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs chose not to make him available. Robertson, a California who played for the Peterborough Petes last season, has been quarantining in Toronto. He made his NHL debut on Aug. 2 in the Toronto bubble. . . . The 10-team 2021 WJC opens Dec. 25 in the Edmonton bubble. All teams will be into the bubble on Sunday.


Waffle


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The Associated Press: Charley Pride, country music’s first Black star — whose rich baritone on such hits as Kiss an Angel Good Morning helped sell millions of records and made him the first Black member of the Country Music Hall of Fame — has died. He was 86. . . . Pride died Saturday in Dallas of complications from COVID-19, according to Jeremy Westby of the public relations firm 2911 Media.

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg: There are 18 more deaths and 360 new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba today. . . . Cases: 20,750. . . . Active cases: 5,630. . . . Deaths: 483. . . . Hospitalizations: 289. . . . ICU: 42. . . . Provincial test positivity: 13.9. . . . Winnipeg test positivity: 13.2%.

CBC News: Saskatchewan reports 274 new cases of COVID-19 and a record 11 additional deaths.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,590 new COVID-19 cases along with 13 deaths.

B.C.: Crickets.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,873 new cases of COVID-19, including 522 cases in Toronto, 436 in Peel and 185 in York Region.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,898 new cases of COVID-19. The province added 40 deaths to its total, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 1 new case of COVID-19 in the Saint John region. There are 72 known active cases in the province. 4 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 3 in intensive care.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 of the cases are travel-related; the source of the remaining case is under investigation. There are 23 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital due to the virus.

CBC News: Nunavut adds 2 new COVID-19 cases today.  Both in Arviat.   Also 8 cases in Arviat listed as recovered.  Current active cases in Arviat: 50.  No active cases in any other Nunavut communities.

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Keyontae Johnson, a star basketball player with Florida, collapsed on the court as the Gators and Florida State Seminoles were coming out of a timeout on Saturday afternoon. Johnson, who along with most of his teammates tested positive over the summer, was taken to a Tallahassee hospital where he was listed in critical but stable condition. . . .

NFL teams had at least three players test positive on Saturday. RB Myles Gaskin of the Miami Dolphins, DE Everyone Griffen of the Detroit Lions and LB Jachai Polite of the Los Angeles Rams all went on the reserve/COVID-19 list and won’t be playing today (Sunday). . . .

Saturday’s scheduled NCAA football game that was to have California playing at the Washington State Cougars was cancelled less than two hours before kickoff because of a positive test and contact tracing with the Golden Bears. . . . The Cougars now have had three games cancelled or postponed because of the virus.


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.


FlinFlonCartoon

B.C.’s top doc points to adult rec team; more restrictions come down . . . Marek: Winterhawks in process of changing hands

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, singled out an unidentified adult hockey team from the province’s Interior at her Wednesday briefing.

“We know that there are sports teams in BC that have travelled to other provinces despite the restrictions that we’ve put in place,” she said. “There’s a hockey team in the Interior that travelled to Alberta and has come back and now there are dozens of people who are infected, and it has spread in the community.”

According to Dr. Henry that after the team returned the virus spread to family members, work places, long-term care and the broader community.

“We need to stop right now to protect our communities and our families, and our healthcare workers. This is avoidable and these are the measures that we need to take.”

This team apparently chose to travel to Alberta despite a provincial health order in place banning “travel for teams outside their community.” It is that order that shut down hockey games in B.C., and put a junior A league and at least three junior B leagues on pause.

Later Wednesday, more restrictions were placed on sports in B.C. For example, all adult team sports, indoors or outdoors, now are banned. That includes curling, adult hockey (whether you call it beer league, adult, rec league or anything else), basketball, soccer, combat sports, cheerleading and anything else. Period.

As well, minor sports have had to move back to Phase 2 — they had been in Phase 3 — meaning physical distancing, small groups, no spectators and no travel. Minor hockey teams will be able to practice but there will be restrictions in place.



The NBA has plans to resume play with exhibition games next week, something that would lead to the opening of its regular season on Dec. 22. However, it is trying to do this without bubbling up. . . . Will it work? . . . In advance of opening training camps, the NBA began testing again last week. The league announced Wednesday that 546 players were tested and 48 came up positive between Nov. 24-30. . . . Some teams hope to start 5-on-5 workouts on Friday. . . . Doc Rivers, the new head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, offered: “I’m very concerned if we can pull this off.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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CBC News: Manitoba has 14 more COVID-19 deaths and 277 new cases. That’s 2 straight days below 300, the 1st time that’s happened in almost a month. The province says there are 351 people in hospital with the virus, a new record. Of those, 51 are in intensive care.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: Another day of new record highs for active cases (3,970), hospitalizations (132) and ICU patients (26) in Saskatchewan. . . . Two more deaths also makes 20 deaths in the past two weeks from COVID-19. . . . The 238 new cases came on 2,473 tests, which works out to a 9.62 test positivity rate. The province’s seven-day test positivity is 8.16.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,685 new cases of COVID-19 and 10 more deaths. More than 61,000 Albertans have now contracted the disease.

CBC News: B.C. reports 834 new cases of COVID-19 and 12 additional deaths. The province reports new community outbreaks in homeless shelter in Surrey and greenhouse in Delta.

CBC News: In Ontario, 656 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, 183 are in ICU and 106 on a ventilator. Labs processed 44,200 more tests in the province.

CBC News: 1,514 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, the province’s biggest single-day tally since the pandemic began. Health authorities also report 43 additional deaths due to the virus. 740 people are in hospital, with 99 in intensive care. . . . Clarification: 2,209 COVID-19 were reported in Quebec on May 3, but of those, 1,317 cases were older cases that had not been reported. Today’s number of 1,514 is the province’s largest single-day tally for new cases.

CBC News: 17 new COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia, up from the province’s previous 7-day average of 12. The province currently has 127 active cases; none are in hospital.

The New York Times: At least 2,760 people were reported dead from Covid-19 in the U.S. on Wednesday, more than on any other day since the pandemic began.

The New York Times: Winter will be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation” unless more people follow precautions, the CDC director said.

——

The Michigan Wolverines won’t be playing football against the visiting Maryland Terrapins on Saturday. The Wolverines are having COVID-19 problems and won’t be back on the practice field until Monday at the earliest. This was to have been Michigan’s last home game of the shortened season. The Wolverines are 0-3 at home so this will be first season in program history in which they didn’t win a home game. . . .

Also gone from the weekend schedule is Friday’s game that was to have UNLV play host to Boise State, which lost its game last weekend when San Jose State had COVID-19 issues. . . . A statement from the Mountain West Conference said that “both medical teams have been in communication in order to understand the full picture of COVID issues in our region.” . . .

Houston and SMU were to have played a football game on Nov. 21. However, it was moved to Dec. 5 when Houston was hit with the virus. Now the game has been postponed again, this time because of issues with SMU, which is believed to have more than 20 players out. . . . This is the third straight Houston game to be postponed. . . .

The virus is into Liberty’s football team so its game at Coastal Carolina on Saturday may not be played. Liberty (9-1) expects to be able to make a decision sometime today. If Liberty can’t play, BYU (9-0) may fill in against Coastal Carolina (9-0) in Conway, S.C. . . . If Liberty does play, it will be without QB Malik Willis. According to ESPN, he has tested positive three times since Sunday. . . .

Scratch the Las Vegas Bowl from your list of college bowl games to be played this year. It was to feature a Pac-12 team against one from the SEC and would have been the first bowl game played at Allegiant Stadium, the new home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. . . . From ESPN: “The Las Vegas Bowl is the 10th bowl game canceled because of the pandemic — the Bahamas, Celebration, Fenway, Hawaii, Holiday, Motor City, Pinstripe, Redbox and Sun bowls are the others.”

The NFL finally was able to have the Baltimore Ravens play the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Wednesday afternoon, a game that had been scheduled for last Thursday. The Ravens ran into COVID-19 issues — the Steelers had a few, too — and the game was moved to Sunday, then to Tuesday and, finally, to Wednesday. It couldn’t be played Wednesday night because NBC-TV had the annual Christmas tree lighting from Rockefeller Center scheduled for prime time. . . . Of course, Wednesday’s game didn’t come off without another positive test as the Steelers placed C Maurkice Pouncey on the reserve/COVID-19 list before the game. . . . But not to worry because Roger Goodell, the NFL’s commissioner, told reporters on a Wednesday conference call: “We feel strongly our protocols are working.” . . . Oh, the Steelers won Wednesday’s game, 19-14, but it didn’t come anywhere close to living up to the hype. Gee, I wonder why? . . . 

The Tennis Channel has reported that the Australian Open, normally held in the last two weeks of January, won’t start until Feb. 8.


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.

WHLer says he was subjected to racial slurs in SJHL game . . . AJHL has positive test in Calgary . . . Sasakamoose in ICU battling COVID-19


F Kishaun Gervais of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, who is on loan to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, has said he was the subject of racial slurs during a SJHLgame against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., on Monday night. . . . “This definitely hurt,” Gervais, a 19-year-old from Kamsack, Sask., wrote in a Facebook post. “I’ve put up with a lot of racism in my life and I’ve tried to be a positive influence to bring change to it so this obviously set me off. I will never be ashamed of my Jamaican and Native descent, l am proud of who l am and l will continue to try be a positive voice for racial equality.” . . . Rob Palmarin, the school’s president, told CTV News Regina that the incident was a “one-off,” adding that “if it happened, there’s definitely no place for this type of unacceptable behaviour, period. If it happened, we’re still investigating the person or persons responsible for the action, they will be held accountable.” . . . Bill Chow, the SJHL’s president, said he spoke with Gervais’ family and “they just want to move on from here and that’s their wishes, so that’s what we’ll do.” . . . The Terriers won the game 5-4 in a shootout with Gervais scoring the only goal of the circus. He was given a misconduct immediately after scoring because, according to assistant coach Scott Musqua, he made a “shushing gesture” to the students who had been riding him. . . . Michaela Solomon and Claire Hanna of CTV Regina News have more on this story right here.


The AJHL announced Friday that it has had a player with a second team test ajhlpositive. . . . This time it was a player with the Calgary Canucks. On Thursday, the league announced that a player with the Canmore Eagles had tested positive. . . . The Canucks were to have visited the Brooks Bandits on Friday night with the Bandits in Calgary on Saturday. Both games, according to the online schedule, have been “cancelled.” . . . The Canucks last played on Monday against the visiting Okotoks Oilers, whose Sunday game at home to the Camrose Kodiaks has been “postponed.” . . . Brooks’ home-and-home series with Canmore scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 also won’t happen. . . . Also off the schedule: A home-and-home between the Olds Grizzlys and Drumheller Dragons on Friday and Saturday. The Dragons had played visiting Canmore on Nov. 14. . . . Calgary’s home-and-home series with Olds scheduled for Nov. 27 and 28 remains on the schedule.



After receiving further clarifications regarding province-wide restrictions kijhlbeing implemented by the B.C. government and health officials, the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has chosen to suspend play through Dec. 7. . . . Clarification came in the form of a release from viaSport that included this: “Games, competitions, training and practice, such as those outlined in the viaSport Phase 3 Guidelines, can continue without spectators and restricted to your local community. Until the written order and public health guidance are released we recommend that you err on the side of caution and stay close to home for now.” . . . Six games were played on Friday night, while one other — Revelstoke Grizzlies at Golden Rockets — was postponed as Golden town officials awaited further clarification. . . . The league has 17 teams taking part this season. Those teams all will be allowed to practice in their home communities during the pause in the schedule. . . .

Meanwhile, the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials announced via Twitter on Friday night that their Saturday game against the visiting Prince George Spruce Kings has been cancelled “due to the province’s most-recent health order.” . . . According to the BCHL online schedule, the Trail Smoke Eaters’ game at the Cranbrook Bucks also won’t be played. . . . On Nov. 8, the league cancelled games involving the Chilliwack Chiefs, Coquitlam Express, Langley Rivermen, Powell River Kings and Surrey Eagles for two weeks. Those teams are located in the Vancouver Coastal and Fraser Health regions and all were placed under restrictions from health officials.

——

“Whenever an organization is the victim of theft, the impact can be deep and long lasting,” writes Jamie Strashin of CBC News. “When money is stolen by an employee or volunteer, it can take years to rebuild trust with the community.

“That’s certainly the case for youth sports organizations, which every year provide countless programs and opportunities for hundreds of thousands of Canadian families.

“An investigation by CBC Sports reveals that in the past decade nearly $8 million has been stolen from dozens of sports leagues and associations across Canada, almost all of it by someone inside the organization, leaving it and the families who participate devastated.”

Strashin has put together quite a story, all of which is right here. It includes interactive maps showing details on various incidents in which money went missing.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Fred Sasakamoose, a beloved former NHL player, is in ICU with COVID-19, Sasakamooseaccording to Jordan Wheeler, a writer from the George Gordon First Nation in Saskatchewan. . . . Sasakamoose, who is to turn 87 on Christmas Day, was the first Canadian indigenous player to reach the NHL. After playing junior for three seasons with the Moose Jaw Canucks, he went on to play 11 games with the Chicago Blackhawks in 1953-54. . . . According to a Facebook post, Sasakamoose “had symptoms for a couple of days, was admitted (Friday) to a local hospital and confirmed that his test was positive.” . . . The post continued: “We are asking people, the hockey community and fans to think about Fred at this time. Chief Thunderstick needs your prayers at this moment for a full recovery!” . . . Sasakamoose’s biography, which is titled Call Me Indian: From the trauma of Residential School to becoming the NHL’s first Treaty Indigenous Player, is expected to be published on April 6.

——

Daily Hive Vancouver: ”A normal Christmas is, quite frankly, right out of the question” — Trudeau.

——

With the New Brunswick government having declared the Moncton health region an orange zone because of rising case numbers, the QMJHL’s Wildcats have had to postpone weekend games. They were to have played host to the Cape Breton Eagles on Friday and Saturday nights. . . . Under present restrictions, the Wildcats are allowed to practice but can’t play games. . . . Hockey New Brunswick confirmed that a  coach with a U-13 team in Greater Moncton has tested positive. The team has been shut down for two weeks while coaches and players self-isolate. . . .

Meanwhile, Saint John also had been declared an orange zone, so the QMJHL’s Sea Dogs won’t be able to resume play until there is a change in that status. . . . The Sea Dogs, of course, have paused activities due to a positive test for a staff member who, according to the team, “is sick and in isolation.” The team also reported that this case “is not travel-related. The staff member has not been outside the Atlantic bubble since prior to training camp”. . . .

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 9 more COVID-19 cases, one of the highest daily totals since the pandemic began; there have been eight days when the daily cases totalled 10 or more.

——

CJOB Winnipeg: A man in his 20s from Winnipeg has become Manitoba’s youngest victim of COVID. His death is one of nine reported Friday as health officials say 438 new cases have been identified.

CBC News: Manitoba announces 438 new cases of COVID-19, a jump from the previous 7-day average of 368. The province is also reporting 9 more deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 153 new cases of COVID-19 and 1 new death related to the illness. The province has now seen a total of 5,804 cases, including 33 deaths and 3,626 recoveries.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: After dropping for the first time in five days yesterday, active cases reach a new high of 2,145. . . . Hospitalizations are up to 85 in Saskatchewan, which is also a new record. Some good news is ICU patients is down two after two days of new record highs.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting a record number of new COVID-19 cases. The province has confirmed 1,155 new cases and 11 additional deaths. There are 10,655 active cases in the province. 310 people are in hospital, including 58 in intensive care.

CTV News: Alberta is the sole province without a mask mandate.

Provincial Health Services Authority of B.C.: 516 new cases for a total of 25,474 cases. There are 227 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 57 of whom are in intensive care. There has been 10 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 331 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,418 new cases of COVID-19. That surpasses the average of the previous 7 days, which was 1,370. 400 of the new cases are in Peel Region, 393 are in Toronto and 168 are in York Region. . . . Ontario reports 8 new COVID-19 deaths and 1,415 cases resolved — 48,173 tests completed. 518 people with COVID-19 in hospital, including 142 in ICU.

CBC News: 32 additional deaths in Quebec are being attributed to COVID-19. The province is also reporting 1,259 new cases, up from the previous 7-day average of 1,221.

CBC News: Nunavut reports 10 new cases of COVID-19. All are in small fly-in communities on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay. 6 are in Rankin Inlet, 3 are in Whale Cove, and 1 is in Arviat. Nunavut is now up to 84 cases, just 2 weeks after it confirmed its 1st case.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 5 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Central Zone. 2 are connected to previously reported cases; the other 3 are still being investigated. The province now has a total of 28 active cases.

CBC News: Nova Scotia announces new gathering limits for the greater Halifax area. Starting Monday, social circles will be limited to 5 people and informal events will be limited to 25 people. The measures are set to continue until Dec. 21.

CBC News: 3 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 1 is a close contact of a previously announced case, 1 is travel-related and the remaining case is under investigation. All 3 are self-isolating. N.L. has 13 known active cases.

oregonlive.com, from Thursday: 20 die in record one-day coronavirus death toll for Oregon; news cases come in at highest ever: 1,225.

KATU-TV: Providence to stage temporary morgues, surge tents as Oregon sees COVID-19 spike.

KOMO News: For the third time this week Washington state added over 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, continuing an alarming trend before the holiday season.

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The junior B Keystone Junior Hockey League, a five-team circuit in Manitoba, has decided it won’t try to start its season until hopefully Jan. 1. . . . Carter Brooks of gameonhockey.ca has more right here.

The Miami Dolphins are scheduled to play the Broncos in Denver on Sunday. On Friday, the Broncos announced that it will the last home game this season at which fans will be permitted to attend. There will be fewer than 6,000 fans at Sunday’s game. . . .

The Minnesota Golden Gophers had 20 players out with injuries or COVID-19 as they beat the visiting Purdue Boilermakers, 34-31, on Friday night. Brian Callahan, the offensive co-ordinator, and two other staff members also sat this one out after testing positive. . . . Minnesota wouldn’t specify how many of those 20 players had tested positive. . . .

The Washington State Cougars won’t be playing at the Stanford Cardinal today (Saturday). The game was cancelled on Friday after the Cougars said they would be able to have the minimum number of scholarship players available due to positive tests and contact tracing. Four of those positive tests came Friday morning, and one was starting QB Jayden de Laura. . . . The Cougars are scheduled to play the Washington Huskies in the annual Apple Cup game on Nov. 27.


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.



 

The WHL, Part 2: Changes of scenery, battles on and off the ice and, uhh, a toupee . . .

At some point in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post, I put together a brief history of the Western Hockey League. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I am in the process of doing just that. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories that are posted here are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here is Part 2. . . .

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When the 1970-71 season ended, the Western Canada Hockey League was still very much a prairie circuit, what with 10 teams spread over Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

But that wasn’t the case when the 1971-72 season rolled around.

VcrNats

By then, there were three teams in British Columbia — Ernie McLean and Bill Shinske had packed up their Estevan Bruins, moved west and taken up residence in New Westminster, and two expansion franchises, the Vancouver Nats and Victoria Cougars, had set up shop. (Interestingly, the Nats’ logo used an apostrophe — Nat’s — but in print the nickname always seemed to be Nats.)

The WCHL had, indeed, become a western league.

And there would be just two franchise shifts (Vancouver to Kamloops, Swift Current to Lethbridge) by the time the league completed its 10th season in the spring of 1976.

But it was an announcement out of New York that made the biggest news in the summer of ’71. Bill Hunter, one of the WCHL’s founding fathers, was involved, as was Ben Hatskin (Winnipeg). It would change the face of hockey forever.

“We announced we’d start the World Hockey Association with 12 franchises and we would have parity,” Hunter said.

In an interview in 1988, Hunter maintained he wanted nothing to do with drafting under-age juniors.

“Ben (Hatskin) and I made an agreement with the CAHA (Canadian Amateur Hockey Association) that we would not sign under-age juniors,” Hunter recalled. “The NHL made the same agreement. We had two separate meetings. The very next day: Baby Bulls.”

The WHA’s Birmingham Bulls signed half-a-dozen under-age juniors, including Rob Ramage and Ken Linesman.

“We couldn’t control the owners within our league,” Hunter said.

Prior to the birth of the WHA, the WCHL was the only game in town everywhere but Vancouver. In the next few years, pro hockey would come to Edmonton, Calgary and Winnipeg and junior hockey would lose out in the process.

Everyone was fighting with someone in those days, on and off the ice. The juniors in the west, in Ontario and in Quebec were fighting with the NHL, with the WHA, with the CAHA, with themselves.

The WHA continued to romance under-age juniors. Dennis Sobchuk, a flashy centre with the Regina Pats, was courted by the Los Angeles Sharks after his second WCHL season.

The House of Commons in Ottawa threatened to get involved. WCHL president Ed Chynoweth said his league was thinking about obtaining an injunction against players who sign pro contracts while still holding junior eligibility.

The action off the ice was hot and heavy. It’s a wonder they could find time to play the games.

TomLysiak

The Edmonton Oil Kings had won the 1971-72 championship, their second straight and the last junior title that city would win. But it was the Medicine Hat Tigers, in only their second season, who had everyone talking.

The Tigers, with Tom Lysiak winning the scoring title and Stan Weir and Lanny McDonald finishing second and eighth respectively, were fourth in the West Division, five games over .500.

That was a harbinger because the Tigers, coached by Jack Shupe, won it all the next season, in only their third season of operation. Lysiak won his second straight scoring title, with McDonald finishing third.

It was at meetings in Medicine Hat in February of 1973 that the WCHL took a giant step forward, announcing plans to establish an office, with a full-time administrative staff, in Saskatoon. Chynoweth would replace Thomas K. Fisher of New Westminster as executive secretary.

And there was more talk of shifting franchises. Lethbridge was on the verge of getting a $2-million sports centre for the 1975 Canada Winter Games.

The first mention of Lethbridge actually getting a franchise came on Feb. 15, 1973, when Chynoweth, in discussing possible franchise moves, said: “Swift Current is another possibility, even though (owner) Bill Burton would like to keep the club in that city. Economically, it might not be possible.”

Meanwhile, Regina Pats owner Del Wilson said he was tired of “scrimping and saving, trying to operate in a building like (Exhibition) Stadium. It’s like beating your head against a brick wall.”

Regina met the Flin Flon Bombers in the first round of playoffs in ’73. The series opened in Flin Flon with the Bombers winning, 3-1 and 5-3. There was no Agridome in Regina then and Exhibition Stadium was booked by the annual Regina Horse Show. So, the Pats played their home games in Moose Jaw, and lost, 5-1 and 4-3.

BobTurner

A glorious season awaited the Pats, though, as they would win the Memorial Cup in the spring of 1974. Under coach Bob Turner, the former Montreal Canadiens defenceman and five-time Stanley Cup champion, the Pats became the first WCHL team to win the Canadian championship.

Edmonton had won it in 1966, the year before the major junior league was formed. Between ’66 and ’74 the WCHL wasn’t always eligible for the Memorial Cup, what with the CAHA outlawing it at various times.

By the time that 1973-74 season arrived, the Vancouver Nats were gone, purchased by Kamloops interests and reborn as the Chiefs.

There was concern, too, over the Winnipeg Junior Jets, who were struggling because of the presence of the WHA. Ben Hatskin soothed the troubled waters, saying he didn’t “plan to sell the franchise, or move it out of Winnipeg.” Shortly after, Hatskin sold it and the team was renamed the Clubs.

EdChynoweth1
ED CHYNOWETH

At the 1973 annual meeting in Saskatoon, Chynoweth, who had joined the league in December of 1972 as assistant executive secretary and was named executive secretary in February of 1973, was named president.

On July 16, it was revealed that the WCHL, Ontario Hockey Association Junior A Series and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had united under the umbrella of the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League.

It was during the 1973-74 season where things started to get out hand on the ice.

On Oct. 12, 1973, a brawl between Swift Current and Regina spread to the stands. Three days later, the WCHL had a board meeting in Regina and put the onus for increased security on its teams and arena operators.

Unfortunately, people in Regina were slow to react to this directive and the Broncos were in the stands during a playoff game on April 20. Three days later, two Broncos — Dave Williams and Terry Ruskowski — were charged by police.

On Aug. 23, Ruskowski and Williams were fined a total of $450, both pleading guilty to charges of common assault.

The two “disgraced themselves,” said Judge Howard Boyce. “Hockey is considered tops with many among body contact sports. It contains controlled violence. When control and direction are lost, it deteriorates into a criminal spectacle and that’s what happened.”

It would happen again and again through the 1970s.

On March 27, 1974, Chynoweth took what was then believed to be a drastic step. He announced that an undercover agent (an official from a neutral team) would attend each playoff game. It is a policy the league follows to this day.

RonChipperfield
RON CHIPPERFIELD

There were good things happening on the ice, too. After centre Ron Chipperfield scored three goals in a 3- 1 victory in Regina, Brandon Wheat Kings GM/head coach Rudy Pilous said: “Ron Chipperfield is the greatest box-office attraction this league has ever had or ever will have.” Chipperfield would score 261 goals in 252 games, a career record that stood until 1989-90 when Glen Goodall (Seattle Thunderbirds) finished with 262 goals (in 399 games).

By late in the 1973-74 season, the Pats were talking about moving. “We certainly don’t want to leave Regina but we may be forced to,” Wilson said, admitting that he had talked with operators of the Spokane Coliseum. “Like I said before, we don’t want to leave Regina. But unless there is a firm commitment on a new building forthcoming, we have no other choice but to look elsewhere.”

And by now Burton was admitting that he was thinking of moving: “I will be in Lethbridge to discuss the move with a committee they have formed to study the possibility of joining the league.”

The Broncos changed cities on May 6.

DennisSobchuk

On April 30, 1974, things heated up as Sobchuk signed a 10-year, $1.7-million contract with the WHA’s Cincinnati Stingers. Charles Hillinger of The Los Angeles Times wrote: “The kid earns only $300 a month. Come fall his paycheque soars to $472 a day, $14,166 a month, $170,000 a year.”

Sobchuk was thrilled: “I’ve been skating since I learned to walk, but I sure never expected anything like this. It all happened so sudden. My name on a piece of paper and I’ve gone from farmhouse to penthouse.”

Two weeks later, Chynoweth revealed the three major junior leagues were looking at using a limited number of 20-year-old players to compensate for losing under-age players to the pros.

The 1974-75 season signalled the beginning of the New Westminster dynasty. Shinske, McLean and the Bruins would win four straight league titles.

But before that happened, there were some interesting developments.

On Oct. 17, 1974, Chynoweth, Wilson and Scotty Munro were given the OK by the board to visit Spokane.

“Regina has the right of first refusal on the Spokane question,” Chynoweth said, “but we are just testing the waters.”

They were also to visit Portland, the first time the Oregon city had been mentioned publicly as a possible franchise site.

On Jan. 14, 1975, the stuff hit the fan as the WCHL announced it had decided to withdraw from the CAHA. The WCHL said it would increase its age limit from 19 to 20 and would seek separate agreements with NHL and WHA.

“We now will control our own destiny and we’re through dealing through a third party (CAHA) comprised of people who have no direct investment in the sport,” Chynoweth said. “We operate a $1-million business and some guy who doesn’t own one puck comes along and tells us what to do. It’s time we started looking after ourselves.”

At the time, the WCHL claimed the NHL and WHA owed it $640,000 for players drafted in 1974.

“Eight NHL clubs and six from the WHA have yet to pay for players they’ve been using since October,” said Chynoweth. “We have an obligation to support minor hockey leagues, our source of supply, and we’ll live up to any agreements we make. All we ask is that the pro leagues do the same.”

Chynoweth was quickly becoming one of the most popular hockey people in the country. Accessible and blessed with a dry wit, the media was going to him with more and more frequency.

In the press box at the Calgary Corral one night, Chynoweth was clowning with the press. Chatting about some of the owners who were losing money, he said: “You know something. When it comes to it, we’ve got some guys in this league who wouldn’t get to first base in a women’s prison with a handful of pardons.”

Chynoweth continued to have his hands full with the likes of Pat Ginnell, who by now was in Victoria as head coach of the Cougars, and McLean. At one point, Chynoweth fined and suspended Ginnell, who in turn threatened to hit Chynoweth with an injunction.

Then, on March 11, 1975, McLean became physically involved with Regina sportscaster Mal Isaac and police were called. McLean was hit with a five-game suspension and had to post a $1,000 bond.

The Pats announced on April 30 that they would stay in Regina and that a new building should be completed by Christmas of 1976.

The Bruins, down 3-2 in the best-of-seven final to Saskatoon, won 4-1 and 7-2 to claim the title. They became only the second B.C. team, after the Trail Smoke Eaters in 1944, to advance to the Memorial Cup final.

“We moved the franchise here from Estevan four years ago,” McLean said, “and it’s taken us that long to get the farm system where we want it. We’ve got a solid system now with plenty of good, young talent on the way and we’re going to be OK for a long time.”

He was right.

But before the Bruins could continue to build their dynasty, the WCHL turned down expansion bids from Portland and Vancouver. Brian Shaw, coach of the WHA’s Edmonton Oilers, Nat Bailey and Oil Kings coach Ken Hodge wanted to move the Oil Kings to Vancouver. Of course, Shaw and Hodge would later move the team to Portland.

PatGinnell
PAT GINNELL

The 1975-76 season would be perhaps the ugliest in WCHL history.

It began with Victoria mayor Peter Pollen leaving his seat to have a heated discussion with Ginnell in the middle of a game against Calgary. Pollen, angry after a 20-minute second-period brawl, left his seat behind the penalty bench, circled the rink, climbed on the Cougars’ bench and gave Ginnell a tongue-lashing.

“I asked him if he was going to get his animals under control,” Pollen explained. “Is this the example we set for our young people? This is a complete disgrace. If I have my way, they won’t play here anymore. This isn’t sport — it’s barbarism.”

On Nov. 4, Ginnell said he had proposed two rule changes that were designed to reduce fighting and that both would soon come into effect. One forced players not involved in a fight to go immediately to the player benches or be given game misconducts. The other called for a match penalty and a suspension for anyone charging a goaltender in his crease.

Twelve days later, Ginnell was hit with a game misconduct after he jumped on the ice to protest a game misconduct that had been given to one of his players.

It was on Feb. 20 when the situation bottomed out.

In Saskatoon, Blades defenceman Bryan Baron was struck in one eye by a high stick belonging to Victoria’s Tim Williams. That touched off a brawl involving all players, and it took 50 minutes before play was resumed.

BruceHamilton
BRUCE HAMILTON

Moments before the brawl, Saskatoon’s Bruce Hamilton, who would go on to own the Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets, was taken to hospital with a concussion. He later was joined by Glen Leggott, who got a concussion in the brawl. And teammate Fred Williams needed 14 stitches to close a cut.

Before this one blew over, politicians at the city and provincial levels were involved, as were police. On Feb. 22, Saskatoon council, fearing another outbreak of violence, voted unanimously to shut down the Arena for the evening, forcing postponement of the rematch.

On Feb. 24, Ginnell resigned as coach of the Cougars during a 4-1/2 hour governors’ meeting in Saskatoon. He returned for the playoffs and apparently never was fined or suspended for the brawl. Ginnell said he wasn’t pressured into resigning, but “if I am responsible for violence in hockey, I don’t want to be in it.”

With the Bruins in Saskatoon on Feb. 24, Blades coach Jack McLeod and McLean signed an agreement in which they pledged to do everything in their power to see that the game was played within all rules and regulations for proper conduct. New Westminster took five of eight minors and won the game, 5-2.

On March 16, three players — Victoria’s Greg Tebbutt and Williams and Saskatoon’s Peter Goertz — were charged with assault causing bodily harm. The charges later were dismissed.

Amidst everything, Chynoweth offered his resignation. “It isn’t a play for more money; it is simply that there is too much hassle,” he reasoned. “It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.”

Some of the hassle was relieved when it was announced the league office would move from Saskatoon to Calgary at season’s end.

Meanwhile, Shaw and Hodge put together a group that bought the Oil Kings from World Hockey Enterprises, owners of the WHA’s Oilers, for more than $150,000.

And Chynoweth revealed in January that the WCHL was increasing its playoff teams from eight to 10. “We added the two teams simply for financial reasons,” Chynoweth said.

Still, the goofiness wouldn’t go away.

Lethbridge coach Mike Sauter and defenceman Darcy Regier, who wasn’t dressed for the game, spent almost two hours in a Medicine Hat jail after a bench-clearing incident.

GerryBrisson
GERRY BRISSON

Winnipeg owner/GM/coach Gerry Brisson pulled his team from the ice in New Westminster. The game, won by the Bruins 17-0, was delayed 30 minutes after Winnipeg’s best player, defenceman Kevin McCarthy, had his nose broken in the first minute of play. “I think (McLean) recruits his players in a lumber camp,” Brisson said. “Playing in New Westminster is like sending a pig to slaughter, and hoping he comes out alive.”

McLean responded: “Whatever happens in our building we get blamed for it. The other teams know they can start anything and we’ll end up getting blamed for it.”

Through it all, the Bruins rolled to title No. 2. But the march to the title was marred by an incident involving McLean and linesman Harvey Hildebrandt.

On April 30, McLean was fined for criticizing the officiating in a 10-3 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades in the championship series. That night, during a game his team would lose 9-3 in Saskatoon to even the eight-point series at 4-4, McLean reached over the boards and yanked the toupee off Hildebrandt’s head. It was in the third period and the Blades had just scored their eighth goal.

“Losing causes some coaches to grasp at straws,” wrote Lyndon Little of the Vancouver Sun. “Ernie McLean grabs toupees.”

McLean had to post a $5,000 personal performance bond before the next game.

On June 11, the WCHL headed south of the 49th as Shaw announced the Oil Kings would move to Portland.

“The attitude of the people in Portland is fantastic,” Shaw said. “I really don’t think we could have picked a much better location. The first year I was involved with the (Oil Kings) was 1971. We drew something like 150,000 fans. The following year, when the Oilers moved in, we attracted 90,000, and the next year only 68,000. There is the charisma of a professional team that we can’t compete against. We had to make the move.”

Not everyone was thrilled. Alberta NDP leader Grant Notley spoke up when the WCHL declared Edmonton a protected area for the Portland Winter Hawks.

Notley said the arrangement “makes hockey players look like pigs and swine being sold at an auction.”

Leo LeClerc, a founder of the Oil Kings, added: “It’s change enough for a youngster to move from Stettler in central Alberta to Edmonton. Imagine moving to a foreign country. I’m frankly appalled that the ruling class in hockey — the board of governors of the WCHL — would even consider moving Canadian youngsters into a foreign country. The next thing you know they’ll be sending them to East Germany.”

There was a change in Saskatoon in June when Jim Piggott, who had been involved in ownership of a junior team in Saskatoon for almost 20 years, sold to McLeod, Nathan Brodsky and Joe Reich. Brodsky became the majority shareholder.

NEXT: Part 3 of 5.