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

scattershooting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Coffee


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


Boat


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

——

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

——


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

——

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


Chapstick


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


THE COACHING GAME:

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


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


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


Ankle


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Airbag

Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while watching Shohei Ohtani weave his magic . . .

scattershooting

A lot of junior hockey teams have signed assistant coaches during my 50-plus years around the game. But I can’t recall an announcement like the one the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades made on Monday.

The Blades welcomed back Wacey Rabbit, this time as an assistant coach, but they also brought his wife, Ashley Callingbull, into their organization as an ambassador.

From a Blades’ news release: “Ashley is a Cree First Nations woman from the Enoch Cree Nation on Treaty Six territory in Alberta. Ashley has many passions that include dance, and she is professionally trained in jazz, ballet, pointe and tap. She also has developed a career in acting, starring in many commercials and television shows.”

These days, she also can be found in Edmonton where she is the in-game host at Commonwealth Stadium for games involving the CFL’s Elks.

But she is making her biggest mark working with First Nations people and in these days of reconciliation the Sask Entertainment Group, which owns the Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, has done well be bringing her aboard.

“I work with a lot of women and children around the communities and within Saskatoon so I am here quite often and now it will be easier for me to be more accessible to these communities,” she said in that news release.

Her position with the Blades and Rush will allow her a large platform to continue her work in the Saskatoon area and in Saskatchewan.

“I’m hoping to create more programs for not only the youth but indigenous peoples,” she said. “I can’t wait so I will be at every game.”

Sorry, Wacey, but I think your wife’s inclusion in this deal has overshadowed your return.

——

With the Blades, Wacey Rabbit, 35, fills the vacancy created when associate Saskatooncoach Ryan Marsh left after four seasons to join the DEL’s Schwenninger Wild Wings in Germany as an assistant coach. . . . Rabbit, who is from the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, played four seasons (2002-06) with the Blades and 30 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. He ended his pro career by playing three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen, while also playing in Czechi and Romania. . . . In 2021-22, he was an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . From a Blades’ news release: Rabbit “will join head coach Brennan Sonne, assistant coach Dan DaSilva, goaltending coach Jeff Harvey, video coach Karter Parisloff and assistant Jerome Engele on the staff.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Has the reputation of one organization taken a beating in recent days and weeks as much as Hockey Canada’s has? (It) should never get another cent of government money, which won’t begin to undo anything close to all that’s gone wrong here.”

He’s not wrong.


The good folks of Imperial, Sask., got it right. Well done, folks!


Giraffe


THINKING OUT LOUD: I learned a few days ago that Johnny Rivers isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. . . . It’s also wrong, wrong, wrong that Leo Cahill isn’t in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. . . . And while we’re on the subject, it’s embarrassing that Paul Henderson isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. . . . Is there a better race track in B.C. than the highway between Vernon and Kelowna? If you haven’t been on it, it’s one of those tracks where the speed limit seems to be whatever you want it to be. . . . Look, 3-on-3 overtime is fine for a hockey league’s regular-season games. But in the Memorial Cup? How embarrassing to see the CHL decide meaningful games in this fashion. . . . There was news the other day of thieves breaking into the Atlanta home of former NBA star Vince Carter and making off with about $100,000 in cash. So I asked my wife: “How much cash do we have in our home?” We stopped counting at $70. . . . Hope you feel at home here despite the absence of gambling ads.


Have to wonder if any junior hockey teams might try this in an attempt to attract fans and keep them coming back?



With all that is going on in our world these days, you may have missed this story, from The Associated Press:

“ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Happy the elephant may be intelligent and deserving of compassion, but she cannot be considered a person being illegally confined to the Bronx Zoo, New York’s top court ruled Tuesday.

“The 5-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals comes in a closely watched case that tested the boundaries of applying human rights to animals.”

The complete story is right here.

As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, put it: “I guess I should be happy in these days of hyper-political correctness that the NY State Court of Appeals ruled that an elephant is not a person and that an elephant in the Bronx Zoo cannot be released under habeus corpus. . . . However, before I get too carried away in my euphoria, let me point out that the vote of the judges was only 5-2.  Two judges wanted the elephant released via habeus corpus.” 


Stupid


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual general meeting recently, the details of which are included in the link in the above tweet. I’m disappointed that the news release didn’t include anything about the part of the gathering in which the commissioner was kind enough to give me some free publicity. . . . BTW, the Canadian government has extended pandemic-related border restrictions at least through Sept. 19. I’m told, Mr. Commissioner, that this means the Spokane Braves will be sitting out another KIJHL season. They last played in 2019-20.



THE COACHING GAME:

I’ve been coasting for the last couple of weeks, recharging the batteries, making certain that the mask supply is up to date, and watching to see if the quicksand completely envelops Hockey Canada before the Hlinka Gretzky Cup opens in Red Deer on July 31. So a lot of what follows is a bit dated . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have removed the ‘interim’ from Ryan Smith’s title and Spokanesigned him to “a multi-year contract” as head coach. The precise length of the deal wasn’t revealed. . . . Smith was in his second season as the WHL team’s associate coach when head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith was named interim head coach and guided the Chiefs into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Smith spent two seasons on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ coaching staff and was with the Swift Current Broncos for three seasons. . . . The Chiefs also signed Dustin Donaghy as an assistant coach for 2022-23. A part-time assistant when last season began, he assumed a full-time role when Maglio was fired. As a player, Donaghy, now 33, helped the Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup title. . . . Of course, the Chiefs’ decision to stay with Smith throws a wet blanket on the speculation that the job would be going to Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 years with the Portland Winterhawks but now is a free agent after being released by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have signed Blake Spiller, their general manager and head coach, to another contract. The Terriers, who do things right, revealed that it is a three-year deal. . . . Spiller has been with the Terriers since 2001 and has been head coach since 2006. . . . The Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. . . . From a news release: “Spiller won the CJHL coach-of-the-year award in 2015, 2016 and 2019. He holds the MJHL record for league championships (8) and ANAVET Cups (2). He also won the RBC Cup in 2015. Spiller holds all Terriers coaching records, and has 604 career wins. He is 67 regular-season victories away from breaking Doug Stokes’ all-time MJHL record.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and coach, now is the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. He signed on as the Rush’s head coach and director of hockey operations in July 2021, then got the club into the second round of the playoffs. Burt was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs for six seasons (2013-19). As a player, he split four seasons (1994-98) between the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The BCHL has announced the sale of the Nanaimo Clippers to Northern Lights bchlHockey Canada, “an investment group headed by Brad Kwong, a Western Canadian-born investment professional with a long history in the sport of hockey as a player, executive and team owner,” according to a news release. . . . That news release is right here. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention from whom Kwong and Co. purchased the franchise. . . .

Darren Naylor is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . You may recall that Naylor, then the general manager and head coach of the Nanaimo Clippers, was placed on administrative leave by the BCHL in February due to what the league said was “allegations of code of conduct breaches.” At the time, the BCHL said that Naylor would remain on administrative leave until at least May 31. At the time, Naylor was under contract to the Clippers through the 2022-23 season. . . . The BCHL said at the time that it had appointed an independent investigator to look into the allegations, but it has never updated Naylor’s status. . . . Colin Birkas, the Clippers’ associate coach at the time, also was placed on administrative leave when Naylor was, but shortly after was reinstated. On May 24, Birkas was named the Clippers’ general manager and head coach. . . . With the Blizzard, Naylor replaces Billy Keane, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the 2021-22 season. . . .

Barret Kropf has chosen to leave the Trinity Western Spartans of the BCIHL. He had been the head coach since 2013, but is moving on to the Moose Jaw-based Prairie Hockey Academy as general manager and U15 prep head coach. Kropf is from Estevan. A three-time coach of the year, he led the Spartans to BCIHL titles in 2018 and 2019, then led them into Canada West in 2020. . . .

Eric Thurston has signed on as head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. He spent the past four seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. There had been speculation a few weeks ago that Bill Peters, a former NHL, KHL and WHL coach, was going to sign with the Storm.


Wifi


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Petr Moravec, 19, has left the Tri-City Americans to sign a junior contract with his hometown team, Hradec Králove of the Czechia, Extraliga, as reported by the MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport). Moravec put up 16 goals and 19 assists 68 games in 2021-22, his only WHL season. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told me that he wasn’t surprised that Moravec wouldn’t be back. “He’s a good kid,” Tory said. “This is a good opportunity for him.” Tory was pleased to have a decision before the CHL’s 2022 import draft that is scheduled for Friday. . . . The Americans expect to make one pick, what with Czech G Tomas Suchanek, 19, back for a second season. As a freshman, he was 12-24-4, 3.87, .901 in 42 games for a non-playoff team. . . . Don’t forget that the CHL won’t permit the selection of Russian or Belarusian players in this year’s import draft. . . .

The Everett Silvertips have promoted Mike Fraser to assistant general manager — he had been director of player personnel — and signed him to a multi-year contract extension. The exact length of the extension wasn’t revealed. Fraser has been with Everett through four seasons — three as head scout and one as director of player personnel. He is a veteran WHL scout, having also worked with the Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Silvertips also have added veteran scout Brian Leavold to their staff as a senior scout. He has worked for the Broncos (1999-2018) and Saskatoon Blades (2018-22). . . .

Dan O’Connor announced via Twitter recently that he is moving on from the Vancouver Giants. O’Connor will be joining the U of British Columbia as a sports information co-ordinator. O’Connor spent the past 11 seasons doing WHL play-by-play — six with the Prince George Cougars and five with the Giants.


Elevator


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.


KidDraw

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering about Prime Mooner Socks . . .

Scattershooting2

Hey, if you’re going to be in New York City on June 26, you may be interested in knowing that Springsteen on Broadway will be playing at the St. James Theater. It is scheduled to run through Sept. 4. Yes, you will need a ticket. You also will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. Enjoy!



So many people criticize athletes for providing stock answers in any kind of news conference situations. . . . Then, earlier this week, Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets offered comment on the four-game suspension he had received after a nasty hit in a playoff game against the Montreal Canadiens. . . . “I thought I was going to be tried to be shut down by Phillip Danault,” Scheifele said, referring to a Montreal forward. ”Instead, it was department of player safety that shut me down.” . . . For that, the social media mavens were all over him. Yes, it’s a hard world out there.


Jackson


By now you will be aware that the MLB spotlight has shifted from inept hitters who are incapable to going the other way against the shift to pitchers who are gooping up in order to increase their spin rates, which makes the ball to previously unseen things. Apparently, one of the products at least some of the pitchers are using is Spider Tack, which is what serious weightlifters use in order to make sure they have a solid grip on the bar.

Anyway, it turns out that there is another theory out there. Here’s slugger Pete Alonso of the New York Mets in conversation with media during the week: “The biggest concern is MLB manipulates the baseballs year in and year out depending on the free agency class. . . . Oh, no, that’s a fact. Yes, guys have talked about it. It’s not a coincidence. It definitely is something that they did.”

That brought this response from R.J. Anderson, who covers MLB for CBS Sports: “Whether or not one finds merit in Alonso’s conspiracy theory — and it’s reasonable to doubt that MLB is a competent enough organization from top to bottom to pull off such maneuvers — his willingness to publicize it, and to suggest other players hold the same belief, points to the distrust that exists within clubhouses toward commissioner Rob Manfred and the owners.”

And therein is the rub . . . the distrust between players and owners in MLB is off the charts.


Brazil, which has been something of a hotbed for COVID-19, is preparing to play host to Copa America, but first, well, a couple of teams have this problem. . . . Venezuela had eight players and three coaches test positive after arriving in Brazil, while three of Bolivia’s players and one coach also came up positive. . . . Venezuela, which also had two players test positive before departing for Brazil, responded by bring in 15 new players for its opening game today (Sunday) against Brazil. . . . The Bolivians are to play Monday against Paraguay. . . . The tournament will be played without spectators.


Autopsy


After 10 seasons in the KHL, former Kootenay Ice star Nigel Dawes has chosen to move to the DEL, having signed a two-year deal with Adler Mannheim. . . . Dawes, 36, played this season with Ak Bars Kazan, scoring 23 goals and adding 20 assists in 47 games. . . . Dawes, a Winnipeg native, left North America to play in the KHL with Barys Astana for the 2011-12 season. He spent seven seasons with the team in Kazakhstan and has a Kazakh passport. In fact, he has played internationally for Kazakhstan. . . . Dawes then played two seasons with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg before moving to Ak Bars Kazan. . . . According to Addler Mannheim’s news release, Dawes played in 608 KHL regular-season and playoff games, putting up 293 goals and 257 assists. He is No. 1 among non-Russian goal scorers and No. 2 overall. Dawes also is the fifth-leading point-getter in KHL history. . . . He played four seasons with the Ice in Cranbrook. . . . The New York Rangers selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2003 draft. In 212 NHL games, split among the Rangers, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens, he had 39 goals and 45 assists.


The legend lives on . . .


If/when the Okanagan Lakers get final approval, they will begin play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League in time for the start of the 2021-22 season. . . . The Lakers, who will play out of UBC-Okanagan in Kelowna, announced Friday that Kevin Bathurst will be their first head coach. He has been with the Pursuit of Excellence midget varsity team since 2018. . . . The Lakers also announced that Gage Colpron has signed on to the “coaching and operations staff.” He played four seasons at this level, splitting time between the BCIHL’s VIU Mariners and ACAC’s Augustana Vikings.


——

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 Victoria Royals and Medicine Hat Tigers cut a deal on Friday. The Victoria Royals added D Damon Agyeman (2002) and a ninth-round selection in the 2023 WHL prospects draft with the Tigers getting a conditional sixth-round pick in that same draft. . . . Agyeman, from Cochrane, Alta., has one goal and one assist in 21 games over three seasons with the Tigers.


Wok

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