NHL revamps playoff format for Covid Cup playoffs . . . But will there be games? . . . Royals hope Price is right

The unfortunate thing about Gary Bettman, the commissioner of all things NHL, telling us a whole lot of non-specific things on Tuesday afternoon is that we now are faced with another couple of months of this stuff.

Why?

Because nobody knows a whole lot about anything right now.

This pandemic-causing virus is brand new, which is why it’s the novel coronavirus. NHLScientists and the medical community are learning about it as we move along.

So, on Tuesday, Bettman told us that the NHL’s 2019-20 regular season is over and that there is to be some kind of convoluted Stanley Cup playoff featuring 24 teams, up from the 16 that would have made it in a ‘normal’ season, with all games played without fans in the stands. (I’m wondering if the players from the seven teams that didn’t make it are breathing sighs of relief.)

Bettman talked about the draft lottery and the draft, and that these playoffs may not get started until sometime in August, which would mean a Stanley Cup presentation two months after that, which would mean the 2020-21 regular season wouldn’t start until January.

(Whoever comes out of this as the Stanley Cup champion gets a gigantic asterisk. Right? And if that happens to be the Toronto Maple Leafs, it doesn’t officially bring an end to that championship drought that has been ongoing since their last title in 1967. Right?)

Bettman also said that this push to decide a Stanley Cup winner isn’t about the money, and if you believe that you just haven’t been paying attention. Because that’s all that it’s about; it always is.

Bettman also said that the playoffs will go ahead in two hub cities, with half the teams in one and the other half in the other. As Bettman spoke, there apparently were 10 cities under consideration.

But it became evident later that the NHL will have to drop Vancouver from that list because the province of B.C. doesn’t seem likely to drop its demand that incoming international travellers self-quarantine for two weeks upon arrival.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s chief medical officer, said later Tuesday afternoon that, although she hasn’t seen an NHL plan yet, “We’re not bending the rules in any way that would put what we have achieved here in B.C. at risk.”

Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner, offered: “If in fact we are not able to really find an interpretation of the quarantine consistent with our players’ ability to travel in, and not be able to do a strict quarantine in a hotel room, we won’t be in a position to use any of the Canadian cities as a hub city.”

If it comes down to Dr. Henry vs. the NHL, my money is on B.C.’s top doc. If you aren’t aware, she’s a star out here. A shoe company put out a line of shoes in her honour and they sold out in minutes, at a suggested retail of $339 a pair, crashing the website in the process. T-shirts with her likeness on them have raised more than 10 grand for charity.

Oh, and did I mention that, despite all of the positive spin we heard yesterday, all of this might not happen at all.

So for the next few weeks we are going to see a barrage of stories and reports on all of this, including playoff previews, speculation on what team rosters will look like and on and on.

Meanwhile, as of Tuesday evening, the virus-related death toll in the United States was at 94,702, according to statistics kept by John Hopkins University. The number of deaths in Canada was at 6,639. That figure worldwide is somewhere around 350,000.

No one was talking about any of that on Tuesday in all the chatter about the NHL’s possible return to play.

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The most sensible comments I have seen to date on the NHL’s plan to return to play have come from Minnesota Wild G Devan Dubnyk. He is the Wild’s representative on the NHLPA’s executive board.

The executive board voted 29-2 last week to accept the 24-team format as presented by the NHL. However, that doesn’t mean the NHL is anywhere close to returning to the ice.

In speaking with Michael Russo of The Athletic on Monday, Dubnyk said: “We voted strictly on the format. In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble (the players are) supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

Dubnyk also said:

“I think it’s really important to start having these conversations with as many players as we can about, ‘Guys, what scenarios are we OK with?’ From what it sounds like, it’s going to be some sort of hub city scenario, so we’ve got to talk about that. How long are guys OK with being away for? When we are in this city, are we locked in our hotel room? Going from the hotel room to the rink and back only, are guys OK with just doing that? Can our families come with us, or if there’s a family emergency and we leave the bubble (to go back into society), can we return to the bubble or are we done? What’s the food situation? Like, can we only eat in our hotel rooms? How often are we tested? Who pays for that? What’s the damage economically to the sport?

“All of these things, and there’s so many variables, need to be talked about and we’ve got to start getting a grasp on it now so that it doesn’t just hit us in the face all of a sudden. This stuff hasn’t been discussed with the players. Everything’s just been so hypothetical.”

Dubnyk also admitted to Russo that he wonders “if this is going to truly happen unless things relax enough where that bubble doesn’t necessarily need to exist as tightly as we think it does right now. Even with the players, it’s like, if your wife’s having a baby or something and you have to leave, do I have to miss an entire series now or suddenly quarantine for two weeks?

“That’s why I just feel like it doesn’t seem feasible to make this happen unless those rules relax by the time we’re going to play later this summer. There’s just so much stuff that hasn’t been figured out yet that we’ve got to start figuring out what are we OK with or not OK with, and then once that’s discussed, have another vote.”

Russo’s complete story is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “A man may be a fool and not know it, but not if he is married.”


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



Rory McIlroy has told the BBC that he doesn’t believe the 2020 Ryder Cup will be played. It is scheduled for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits near Sheboygan, Wisc. . . . McIlroy would like to see the event moved to 2021. . . .

Japan’s Nippon Professonal Baseball season is set to start on June 19, but without fans in attendance. The league, which was to have started play on March 20, has yet to release its schedule, but is hoping to have each of its 12 teams play about 120 games, down from 143. . . .

The Alpine skiing world championships are scheduled for Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy, from Feb. 7-21. However, the Italian Winter Sports Federation already is talking about postponing them until March 2022, which would be one month following the end of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games that are scheduled for Feb. 4-20. . . .

The EuroLeague, Europe’s top men’s basketball league, has cancelled its season, which had been on pause since March 12. The league comprises 18 teams from 10 countries. . . .

The 2021 Burton U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Vail, Colo., from March 1-6. . . .

The AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons have had adjustments made to their rent by the town council. According to a news release from the town, Dragons owner Blair Christianson had made a presentation to council on May 11 that explained the team is likely to lose about $330,000 because of the pandemic and that without some aid the team wouldn’t be viable. On Monday, Mayor Heather Colberg said the “adjustments to the fee structure will have a financial impact of $66,291.50 over four years.” . . .

The 11-team Western States Hockey League announced Tuesday that it won’t play in 2020-21 because of uncertainties brought on by the pandemic. The WSHL includes four teams in Alberta — the Barrhead Bombers, Cold Lake Hornets, Edson Aeros and Hinton Timberwolves — and two in Washington state — the Bellingham Blazers and Seattle Totems. . . . The WSHL, a pay-to-play league, bills itself as junior A but to say it has had trouble gaining traction would be something of an understatement. . . .



Dan Price, who joined the Victoria Royals as an assistant coach during the 2016-17 VictoriaRoyalsseason, now is the WHL team’s general manager and head coach. He has completed three seasons as the team’s head coach. He takes over as GM from Cam Hope, who was fired on April 29 after eight seasons in the office. The Royals made the playoffs in each of those eight seasons, but never were able to get out of the second round. . . . The Royals are 105-81-18 in Price’s three seasons as head coach. . . . Price, 45, holds a law degree from the U of Saskatchewan. . . . His only experience as a general manager is from three seasons (2009-12) as the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . There now are six WHL teams with one man holding the titles of general manager and head coach. The others are Dean Brockman, Swift Current Broncos; Willie Desjardins, Medicine Hat Tigers; Mike Johnston, Portland Winterhawks; Mark Lamb, Prince George Cougars; and Brent Sutter, Red Deer Rebels.


Casinos


It seems that John Pateman is more convinced than ever that his Prince George Cougars PrinceGeorgeare on the right track. He just doesn’t know when the WHL team is going to get started on that track. . . . “To me, the million-dollar question is when are we going to be playing games,” Pateman, a co-owner and the franchise’s president, told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen. “Certainly in our league, our main sources of revenue are certainly the fans and corporate sponsorships for rink boards and all that, but you have to have fans. What everybody is attempting to do is prepare for every option that’s out there so when we know what’s going to happen we’re fully prepared.” . . . Pateman and the ownership group there purchased the Cougars after the 2013-14 season, so they are waiting for their seventh season as owners to begin. The Cougars wouldn’t have been in the playoffs last season, had the pandemic not wiped out everything, and Pateman has said they were 1,500 fans per game from breaking even. Still, he told Clarke, “In the last two seasons, I feel we’ve really started to head in the right direction.” . . . The complete story is right here.



The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have signed associate coach Gaelan Patterson to a one-year extension. Patterson, who is from La Ronge, is preparing for this third season with the Ice Wolves. . . . Patterson, 29, played four seasons (2006-10) with the WHL’s Saskatoon seasons (2015-18) in Europe.


Winterhawks sale would be ninth since 2007 . . . WHL GM tells Ewen ‘lineup’ of shoppers is expected . . . What’s the price tag?

Sooner or later, the Portland Winterhawks likely will be sold.

Why likely? Because never say never, and perhaps owner Bill Gallacher will end up keeping the WHL franchise.

But if the Winterhawks are sold, it will mark the ninth time a WHL franchise has Portlandchanged hands since the Kamloops Blazers went from community to private ownership during the summer of 2007. Of course, it also will be the second time the Winterhawks will have changed hands since 2008.

However, as of Tuesday night, there didn’t appear to be anything new regarding the Winterhawks’ situation, The WHL’s top regular-season team in the shortened 2019-20 regular-season is in receivership after a number of Gallacher-owned companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia, who covers the Vancouver Giants, writes that “a WHL general manager, who requested anonymity, says he expects a ‘lineup’ of interested buyers for the Winterhawks . . .”

Yes, the vultures will be circling.

The last WHL franchise to have changed hands was the Seattle Thunderbirds.

One source who knows his way around the WHL told Taking Note on Tuesday: “Bet Russ Farwell is patting himself on the back . . .”

Farwell was the Thunderbirds’ governor and general manager, and also owned a piece of the action when that deal went down in 2017.

Here’s Ewen:

“WHL teams don’t change hands often and sale prices are rarely made public, as you’d expect. The Seattle Thunderbirds were sold in October of 2017, going from a group led by longtime Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell to brothers Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, who own Silent-Aire, an engineering and data centre equipment manufacturing company based in Edmonton.

“Multiple sources say the Thunderbirds were sold for US$12 million. That’s never been confirmed.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Six months before the Thunderbirds changed hands, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. After two winters in Cranbrook, they moved the franchise to Winnipeg immediately after the 2018-19 season.

The Regina Pats were sold in April 2014 with Russ and Diane Parker of Calgary, who had owned the franchise for 19 years, selling to a local group comprising Jason Drummond, Todd Lumbard, Anthony Marquart, Gavin Semple and Shaun Semple. The Regina Leader-Post reported that the sale price “is believed to be in the neighbourhood of Cdn$7.5 million.”

In March of 2014, Rick Brodsky sold the Prince George Cougars to a group that includes local businessmen Ray Fortier, Ernest Ouellet, John Pateman and Greg Pocock, along with two former Cougars defencemen — Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis. The sale price was reported by the Prince George Citizen as being close to Cdn$7 million. Brodsky had bowed out of his family’s ownership of the Saskatoon Blades to purchase the Cougars franchise in 1992 when it was playing out of Victoria.

After owning the Saskatoon Blades for 37 years, the Brodsky family sold the franchise to Mike Priestner of Edmonton, who owns Go Auto, on Aug. 27, 2013. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported the sale price as Cdn$9 million.

On April 4, 2011, the WHL confirmed the sale of the Chilliwack Bruins by owners Jim Bond, Brian Burke, Moray Keith, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather to RG Properties, which was headed up by Graham Lee. He moved the franchise to Victoria where it operates as the Royals.

Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in August 2008, buying the franchise from John Bryant, Jack Donovan and Jim Goldsmith. The sale price was believed to have been about US$6 million.

The Kamloops Blazers were sold over the summer of 2007, with Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland Properties and now the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, partnering with former players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor to purchase the franchise from community shareholders. The sale price was about Cdn$6.1 million.

So what will be the price tag on the Winterhawks?

Well, if this was four or five months ago, one might have guessed it to be somewhere around US$12 million.

However, in these pandemic times — I mean, can anyone guarantee when/if the next season will begin? — and with the franchise in receivership and the vultures circling, it just might go for something less than that.

Or could the WHL step in and purchase the franchise for a healthy price, if for no other reason than to protect the values of its other 21 franchises, and then try to find new ownership once we find out what things will look like when we get to wherever we are going?

These are bizarre times in which we find ourselves living and there are oh, so many questions, aren’t there?


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


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one a zinger from H.L. Mencken: “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

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There have been reports that Vince McMahon, he of grapplin’ fame, is working to sell his football league, the XFL. If you’re interested, The Sports Curmudgeon has a few words of warning: “If you are thinking that it might be a hoot to put in a bid for ‘3 easy payments of only $39.95,’ let me offer a word of caution and suggest that you might wind up as the owner.”

——

One more thing regarding The Sports Curmudgeon . . . if you aren’t a regular reader of his work, you should at least consider taking a look at his Tuesday post. He tackled two questions: 1. What might sports be like in a post-COVID-19 world?, and 2. Are sports important with regard to (a) ‘return to normalcy?’ . . . It’s all right here.


Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Tuesday that there won’t be any special treatment given to the NHL if it wants to use Vancouver as a hub for its proposed return to play. . . . “I’m not going to compromise safety for any organization, whether it’s the NHL or anything else, as much as I love hockey,” Dr. Henry said during her daily briefing. If the NHL is to bring teams into Vancouver, she said, all people involved with the teams and arriving from outside Canada would have to self-isolate for two weeks. . . .

The Canadian National Exhibition, Canada’s largest annual fair, has been cancelled for 2020. It was to have been held from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 in Toronto. . . .

The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced Tuesday that its schools “have determined that NCAA sport competition will not occur during the fall of 2020.” . . . This news came after the U.S.’s largest four-year college system, the California State University (CSU), announced most classes will be presented online in the fall. CSU has 23 schools. . . .

Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, said at a news conference on Tuesday that pro sports can resume in his state, without fans, as of May 16. He said leagues and teams would have to provide public health protections and follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control. . . .

There are 41 theaters on Broadway in New York City that are part of the Broadway League. They announced Tuesday that they will remain closed through at least Sept. 6, which is Labour Day.


When the Detroit Pistons were winning NBA titles, they were a fearsome aggregation of aggressive players. As Charles Barkley explained on Facebook: “Those guys were out there trying to hurt people. . . . When you were playing the Pistons you had to call home and tell your family you love them just in case you never saw them again.”


Aris Brown, the 18-year-old son of NFL great Jim Brown, who is 84, has committed to play lacrosse at Hampton University. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot wrote: “It appears that Jim enjoyed a strong fourth quarter.”


Sheep

Pandemic responsible for rash of WHL signings? . . . Co-owner: Cougars 1,500 fans a game from breaking even . . . Hanlon’s latest gig in German DEL

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


After the Red Deer Rebels announced the signing of Arjun Bawa, a second-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft, on Thursday, Alan Caldwell, who keeps track of these things, tweeted:

“Bawa makes 15 of 22 second-rounds picks signed now. Add to 19 of the 22 first-rounders and that’s 34 of the first 44 picks from 2020.

“Five 3rd-rounders, one 4th and one 5th make 41 players signed from the 2020 draft already.”

And, as Caldwell also noted, the numbers “may actually be higher as some teams don’t announce signings.” (Note: There were more signings on Friday, too, with 21 of 22 first-round picks from 2020 now having signed.)

Whatever the numbers, I can’t ever recall a time when the WHL’s 22 teams signed so many players in such a short period of time. After all, the draft was held on April 22.

So . . . why the rush?

I had wondered if perhaps the WHL’s 22 teams were feeling more pressure than usual from leagues like the BCHL and USHL. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Two people with an understanding of the situation have told me that you likely can chalk it up to the pandemic. Unable to take vacations and with not a whole lot of other things on their plate at the moment, team executives simply have sped up the signing process.

And, no, neither Bill Gates nor 5G have had anything to do with it.



Wondering how much money the Prince George Cougars lost last season? Hartley Miller PrinceGeorgeof 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97 takes a look in his weekly Hart Attack column and it’s all right here. . . . On Tuesday, John Pateman, one of the team’s owners and the franchise’s president, took part in a virtual town hall with fans. At one point, he offered: “It’s been a struggle financially for the ownership group over the last several years. We’ve obviously lost a lot of money. I would suggest, last season, we were probably 1,500 fans short of paying all our bills per game, that’s without making the playoffs.” . . . Do the math, as Miller does in his column, and this looks a lot like about a $1-million loss. Yikes!


Married


Glen Hanlon is the new head coach of the Krefeld Pinguine of the German DEL. He finished last season as the head coach of DVTK Jegesmedvek in Slovakia. . . . Hanlon, 63, spent two seasons (2016-18) as the general manager of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants before going back to Europe where he gained considerable experience after spending the better part of four seasons on staff with the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Paul McFarland has left his position as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs to take over as head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . McFarland spent three previous seasons (2014-17) as the Frontenacs’ head coach before joining the Florida Panthers for two seasons as an assistant coach. He then spent one season with the Maple Leafs. . . . In Kingston, he replaces Kurtis Foster, who was fired on April 29 after two seasons in the position.


Mike Rooney is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. Rooney, from Yellow Grass, Sask., spent last season working as a skating/skills coach with the Notre Dames Hound program in Wilcox, Sask. . . . Rooney replaces Kyle Adams, who was dismissed on Feb. 26. . . . Rooney is a familiar face in Saskatchewan hockey circles, but hasn’t done a whole lot of coaching. He was the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for two seasons (1995-97) and the GM/director of player personnel for the SJHL’s Hounds (1997-2000). . . . He also has considerable experience as an NHL and WHL scout.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “If x is the population of the United States and y is the degree of imbecility of the average American, then democracy is the theory that x × y is less than y.”


Banjo


Oliver David of the Dubuque Fighting Saints has been named the USHL’s coach of the year for 2019-20. The Fighting Saints had the USHL’s best defensive record en route to finishing second in the overall standings. . . . Oliver spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, where he worked alongside general manager and head coach Mike Johnston. . . . You have to admit that Johnston’s managerial coaching tree is looking rather impressive. It includes Garry Davidson, the general manager of the Everett Silvertips; Matt Bardsley, the GM of the Kamloops Blazers and the Western Conference’s executive of the year; Grant Armstrong and Josh Dye, who both have gone on to scout with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning; Karl Taylor, the head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals; and Travis Green, the head coach of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . It is somewhat interesting that Johnston, despite Portland being one of the WHL’s premier franchises, has never been saluted as executive or coach of the year. The Winterhawks are the reigning Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy holders as regular-season champions.



The B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner that was to have been held in Penticton on July 24. It is expected that the 2020 inductees will be installed in the Hall of Fame at a celebration in the summer of 2021. The class features players Eric Brewer and Mattias Ohlund, official Jay Sharrers, builder Ray Stonehouse, and two teams — the 2002 Kootenay Ice and 2012 Penticton Vees.


The West Coast League says it still hopes to play baseball this season, despite the fact that five of its 12 teams have said they aren’t able to play because of restrictions having been placed on facilities by health officials and the fact that the U.S.-Canada border remains closed. That includes the Kelowna Falcons and Victoria HarbourCats, the league’s two Canadian franchises. Also out are the Bellingham Bells, Bend Elks and Corvallis Knights. . . . The WCL’s regular season was to have started on June 5. In a news release, the league said it now is “targeting early July for the return of baseball to our member cities.” . . . The WCL’s other franchises are located in Portland the Washington communities of Longview (Cowlitz Black Bears), Port Angeles, Ridgefield, Walla Walla and Yakima. . . .

Baseball Alberta announced on Friday that it has cancelled all sanctioned events and activities through Aug. 31. . . . The senior Red Deer Riggers immediately tweeted that their season was over, but they are looking forward to 2021 when they are to be the host team for nationals.


Grandma

Sign stealing in the WHL? Yes, it happened . . . Not watching The Twilight Zone here . . .

It wasn’t quite the Houston Astros, but it turns out that the Kamloops Blazers were involved in the sign-stealing racket in the spring of 1998.

They were in the early stages of a first-round playoff series with the Prince George Kamloops1Cougars when the accusations started flying.

It seems the Cougars were of the opinion that Garnet Stevenson, the Blazers’ backup goaltender, was spying on Prince George head coach Ed Dempsey and his line calls.

“As Dempsey called out the next line combination,” I wrote in the Regina Leader-Post on March 28, 1998, “the Cougars felt that Stevenson was taking it all in and getting that information to Kamloops head coach Marc Habscheid.

“So, for Game 4, the Cougars had enforcer Richard Peacock stand at the end of the bench PrinceGeorgenearest the Blazers’ bench. His job was to screen out Stevenson’s view of Dempsey.”

According to Jim Swanson, then the sports editor of the Prince George Citizen: “Peacock, who also helped by opening the gate for teammates, stood next to Stevenson, talking to him and reminding the goaltender the Cougars knew about the Kamloops spy job. Early in Game 4, Habscheid kept looking for Stevenson for a hint of what the Cougars were planning but he had nothing to report.”

The Blazers won Games 3 and 4 — 5-3 and 2-1 — to take a 3-1 series lead. Prince George then won two straight, 4-1 at home and 4-3 in OT on the road, to force a Game 7, which it won, 2-1, at home.

As for the sign-stealing accusations, Stevenson told me via email this week: “The story was 100 per cent true.”


We were watching an episode of Hogan’s Heroes (so sue me) on Tuesday night when a promo came on for The Twilight Zone. Hey, you know the music . . .

Dorothy: We’re not watching that!

Me: Why not?

Dorothy: Because we’re living in The Twilight Zone right now.

Me: Hard to argue with that kind of reasoning.


Quarantine


As had been anticipated, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club has cancelled Wimbledon for 2020. Not postponed. Cancelled. . . . The tournament first was held in 1877. Prior to this, only the First and Second World Wars had kept it off the tennis calendar. . . . It was to have been held from June 29 through July 12. . . . The 2021 tournament is scheduled for June 28 through July 11. . . . At the same time, the ATP and WTA announced that all of their events have been cancelled through July 13. So that takes care of the grass-court season. . . . With Wimbledon gone, the first major the season is scheduled to be the U.S. Open, which is to begin on Aug. 31. For now. . . .

The Queen’s Plate, which was to have run at Woodbine on June 27, is expected to be postponed indefinitely. . . . The race dates to 1860 and is the oldest continuously run stakes race in North America. . . .Earlier, Woodbine Entertainment postponed the start of its thoroughbred season, as well as the harness racing season at Mohawk Park. . . .

According to Golf Digest, the R&A is expected to announce today (Thursday) that it has cancelled the 2020 Open Championship (aka the British Open). The tournament was to begin on July 16 at Royal St. George’s Golf Club. . . . The Golf Digest story is right here. . . .


The NFL, meanwhile, is steaming towards the start of its 2020 season early in September. A schedule is to be released around May 9. . . . On a Tuesday conference call, NFL general counsel Jeff Pash said: “All of our discussions, all of our focus, has been on a normal, traditional season, starting on time, playing in front of fans, in our regular stadiums and going through a full 16-game regular season and a full set of playoffs. That’s our focus.” . . . But as The Sports Curmudgeon points out, it was Dr. Anthony Fauci, who knows a thing or two about this pandemic, who noted: “We don’t set the timetable; the virus sets the timetable.” . . .



The Ottawa Senators have announced that four more people from their organization have tested positive for the coronavirus. They now have had seven people test positive, all of them having been part of the group that travelled to California and returned to Ottawa on a chartered flight on March 12. All told, five players and one staff member have tested positive, along with broadcaster Gord Wilson. According to the Senators, the five players and staff member all have recovered. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun has more right here.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “A city with one newspaper, or with a morning and an evening paper under one ownership, is like a man with one eye, and often the eye is glass.”



Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his weekly 31 Thoughts on Wednesday and, as usual, there is some neat stuff here. Especially good is the latter part of the piece where he pays tribute to a number of young players who weren’t able to complete their seasons, including WHLers Jadon Joseph and the Warm twins, Beck and Will. . . . It’s all right here.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Craig Carter to their staff as assistant general manager and director of player personnel. . . . Carter, who is from Langley, B.C., was the Salmon Arm Silverbacks’ director of hockey operations last season after spending two seasons as a scout with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


Memorial Cup in June? Who knows? . . . Gallivan, Irvin stand test of time. Oh, do they! . . . Social distancing is the thing


The Memorial Cup, a four-team tournament for the CHL championship, is scheduled for Kelowna, May 22-31. If it is held, the tournament will include the host Rockets and the OHL, QMJHL and WHL champions. . . . Bob McKenzie, the godfather of TSN’s Insiders, reported Thursday that the Rockets “have secured the ice for June if the Memorial Cup needs to be moved back a month. And they’re also working on hotel blocks just in case. No one is necessarily optimistic but all options are still on the table for the Memorial Cup.” . . .

Interestingly, as is noted in the tweet below from Kevin Shaw, the first game of the 1919 Memorial Cup — the first time the trophy was contested — was played on March 19, 1919.



Not many, if any, WHL players appear to have been made available to the media since the league shut down on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kamloops Blazers, though, made captain Zane Franklin available for a chat with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. Franklin, who was busy helping Mom bake cookies on the family’s farm, was, well, frank as he usually is during the conversation, even explaining that he and his teammates “were all a little worried because we were in that area where it was getting bad” during a road swing into Washington state a few days before the shut down. “It was kind of nerve-racking, but we saw we were healthy, so were weren’t too worried after that. I’m as healthy as I can be.” . . . The whole piece is right here.


Irvin 2
On a cool day in November 1988, Dick Irvin (right) tells me about growing up in central Regina. (Photo: Patrick Pettit/Regina Leader-Post)

If you were like me on Thursday afternoon, you were flipping channels and stumbled the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders playing Game 6 of the 1983 Prince of Wales Conference final on Sportsnet. . . . The Islanders, behind four goals from Mike Bossy, beat the visiting Bruins, 8-4, to win the series, 4-2. . . . Oh, the 30 minutes I was able to watch were glorious. . . . The great Danny Gallivan calling the play and the observant Dick Irvin providing colour/analysis from right beside him. It was glorious. . . . Of course, you notice the all-white boards and a playing surface interrupted only by lines necessary for the game to be played. . . . There were a handful of players without helmets, and Butch Goring of the Islanders wearing his infamous Spaps helmet. . . . The goaltenders — Billy Smith of the Islanders and Pete Peeters of the Bruins — looked to be half of the size of today’s behemoths. . . . And, well, I’m thinking that today’s players, on the whole, are much better skaters than those from days of yore. . . . BTW, the Islanders also got goals from Goring, Brent Sutter, Bryan Trottier and Wayne Merrick. . . . Rick Middleton, with two, Craig MacTavish and Ray Bourque scored for the Bruins. . . .

Hearing Irvin’s voice brought back memories of a cool November day in 1988 when he visited Regina while promoting his book, Now Back To You Dick. Leader-Post photographer Patrick Pettit, sports writer Rob Vanstone and I met Irvin in central Regina and we strolled around the neighbourhood in which Irvin had spent his childhood. . . . “I don’t get teary-eyed or sentimental thinking about Regina,” Irvin said at the time. “I still come back. It’s not like I’ve been away 20 years.” . . . Irvin, then 56, had moved to Montreal in 1951. His father, Dick Sr., spent 27 seasons as an NHL coach — 14 with the Canadiens. . . . The family home, built by Dick Sr. in 1921, had been demolished in 1985. By the time we visited the area, there wasn’t any sign of the pigeons, chickens and show dogs that had been raised in the backyard. . . . “I’m glad I wasn’t walking down the street when the wreckers came in,” Irvin said.



Not only has the Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season, but, as Kelly Moore of radio station CJOB reports, it has had to postpone its 50th anniversary gala and awards dinner that was scheduled for May 13. . . . Moore reported that the decision to end the season came “moments before last Thursday’s opening game of the MMJHL McKenzie Cup playoffs between the St. Vital Victorias and Fort Garry/Fort Rouge Twins at the St. Vital Arena.” According to Moore: “The players had actually warmed up, on-ice officials were ready to go, and fans were in the stands when both teams were advised the game was not going to be played.”



If your are a follower of the PGA Tour, you should know that the next scheduled stop is the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, May 21-24. . . . The first major of the season, now that the Masters has been bumped, is the U.S. Open that is scheduled for Winged Foot in Mamaroneck, N.Y., June 18-21.



Hey, I don’t know where the puck is, but I’m thinking these are the hottest sweaters I saw this hockey season. Yikes, these are good!

Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

——

One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while waiting to steal the first signs of spring . . .

Scattershooting

ESPN continues to use Jessica Mendoza as a baseball analyst despite her being on the payroll of the New York Mets as a baseball operations special adviser. Of course, that is a conflict of interest, something that was very much in evidence on Thursday as Mendoza chose to speak out on at least three ESPN programs about the cheating scandal that has enveloped MLB.  . . . She pointed a finger at pitcher Mike Fiers, now of the Oakland A’s, for going public, something that sparked MLB’s investigation. Mendoza later tried to backtrack, but the genie was out of the bottle and her credibility has since taken a terrible beating, as it should have. . . . The Mets, of course, found themselves hip deep in it because their new manager, Carlos Beltran, was involved in the cheating while playing for the Astros. On Thursday, the Mets and Beltran parted company before he had managed even one game. While Beltran may be gone, Mendoza continues to cash cheques from ESPN and the Mets.


Astros


It was on Jan. 4 when former WHL player/assistant coach Kevin Sawyer, now a broadcaster for TSN on games involving the Winnipeg Jets, related a story involving a hazing. Sawyer, then an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs, talked of Saran-wrapping a 15-year-old Jared Spurgeon to a pillar in an arena. Spurgeon wsa “about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny,” Sawyer said. “He looked like he was 12.” . . . Paul Friesen, a columnist with the Winnipeg Sun, has some questions about all of this but has discovered a cone of silence seems to have been placed over everyone involved. Friesen, however, was able to speak with Akim Aliu, who is no stranger to hazing incidents. . . . Friesen’s column is right here.



A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a pair of WHL teams — the Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars announced on Thursday that they now are making sensory kits available at all home games. From a news release: “In partnership with AutismBC, the Cougars have purchased sensory kits that will be loaned out to families, at no cost, that have sensory issues. The sensory kit includes protective earmuffs, colouring book, crayons, ear plugs, sunglasses, and several different fidget / stress items.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Royals, with their home city and environs hit with some ugly weather, are rewarding fans who were able to get to their Wednesday game and ticket holders who couldn’t make it with freebies for a future game. . . . The Royals announced attendances of 2,519 and 2,901 for Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, as they swept the Tri-City Americans, 3-1 and 6-1. However, it’s believed the miserable weather limited the actual attendance at each game to much closer to 1,000 people.


Christmas


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons fired Bob Beatty, their general manager and head OilBaronscoach, on Tuesday. Beatty, a veteran of the junior A coaching scene, was in his first season with the Oil Barons, who were 15-27-2 and in seventh place in the North Division in what is clearly a rebuilding/reloading season. . . . Mike Brodeur and Justin Rose, the team’s assistant coaches, ran things on an interim basis for a couple of days. . . . On Thursday, the Oil Barons announced that Gord Thibodeau had returned to the organization as GM and head coach. He had filled both positions with the Oil Barons for 11 seasons (2003-14). . . . Thibodeau is the winningest coach in AJHL history, having put up number 833 in February 2017 while with the Whitecourt Wolverines. He and the Wolverines parted company shortly after he put up that victory. . . . Thibodeau also has battled non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma on four separate occasions since 1989, most recently in 2016.


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press tweeted Wednesday that F Connor McLennon wpgicewill be out of the Winnipeg Ice’s lineup for up to eight weeks with a broken collarbone. . . . McLennon was injured Tuesday night in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars. He leads the Ice in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49), all in 42 games for the East Division-leading club. . . . Interestingly, the Ice didn’t list its two 2004-born forwards — Matt Savoie and Connor Geekie — on the WHL’s weekly roster report. Savoie, who has five assists in 12 games, is out with a concussion; Geekie, pointless in seven games, has mononucleosis. . . . The Ice selected Savoie with the first overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, and took Geekie with the next selection.


After Seattle had its season come to an end on Sunday in Green Bay, Seahawks RB Marshawn Lynch offered some advice for young NFLers: ““It’s a vulnerable time for a lot of young dudes, you feel me? So, you feel me? Start takin’ care of y’all mentals and y’all bodies and y’all’s chicken. So, when y’all ready to, you know, walk away, you be able to do what you want to do.” . . . By chicken, of course, he meant money. . . . All of that got lots of play, and by early in the week you could visit his website (beastmode.com) and purchase hoodies and T-shirts emblazoned with “Take Care Yo’ Chicken” across the chests. . . . Yes, Lynch practises what he preaches.


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If you watched the video of the battling goaltenders on Saturday night, you will have noticed Roman Basran of the Kelowna Rockets holding his right arm in a gingerly KelownaRocketsfashion after he and Dylan Garand of the Kamloops Blazers got up off the canvas, er, ice. . . . Well, the Rockets listed Basran as out day-to-day with an upper-body injury on Tuesday’s WHL roster report. . . . Basran has been the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender. . . . The Rockets (21-17-3), the host team for the Memorial Cup, are third in the B.C. Division and sixth in the Western Conference. . . . With Basran unavailable, the Rockets have added G Cole Tisdale, 17, to their roster from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. Tisdale, an eighth-round pick by the Rockets in the 2017 bantam draft, will back up Cole Schwebius as the Rockets visit the Everett Silvertips tonight (Friday) and then go into Portland for a Saturday-Sunday doubledip with the Winterhawks. . . .

The Rockets also have lost F Liam Kindree, 19, for up to two months — i.e., the remainder of the regular season — with a broken collarbone. He had surgery on Thursday. . . . As well, Kelowna F Nolan Foote showed up on the weekly roster report as being out week-to-week with an undisclosed lower-body injury. . . . Foote was injured in a 4-1 loss in Kamloops on Friday. . . . Kindree went down in a 7-2 loss to the visiting Blazers on Saturday. The Rockets were adamant that it was a second-period hit on Kindree by Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt that resulted in some late-game fisticuffs. Kindree was given a boarding minor on the play.


Here is Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice on the spate of NHL firings:

“It’s a very painful experience. It’s a very personal, yet very public, experience.

“I think this is the best analogy: You’re in a marriage, you love the woman but it’s getting a little bit rocky. Then you come home one day and she says ‘Paul, we’re going in a different direction and there’s gonna be a press conference in three hours and we’re gonna talk about how great the new husband’s gonna be.’

“So, it’s tough. You put your heart and soul into it and then you’re out.”


JUST NOTES: The Minnesota Twins signed 3B Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal said to be worth US$92 million. Donaldson turned 34 on Dec. 8. Hey, gang, it’s only money. . . . Of course, with Donaldson at the hot corner, the Twins now will move Miguel Sanó, who will be 27 in May, to first base. . . . Donaldson hit 37 dingers with the Atlanta Braves last season; Sano hit 34 in only 380 ABs with the Twins. . . . If you’re like me, you’re wondering: How much of Subway does Martha Stewart own? . . . Do the people who had a problem with LSU quarterback Joe Burrow smoking a victory cigar also have issues when championship teams celebrate by pouring beer and champagne all over the place? . . . A final thought on MLB’s latest cheating scandal: Is this a case of a business that has turned a blind-eye — wink! wink!! — to different kinds of cheating over more than 100 years finally having the chickens come home to roost? . . . The first pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 12.

Hey, WHL, fans are waiting on 18 rosters. . . . Nine WHLers on Team Canada. . . . Hitmen sign two import forwards

MacBeth

F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .

F Chase Clayton (Calgary, Saskatoon, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Blue Devils Weiden (Germany, Oberliga Süd). Last season, in 27 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West), he had eight goals and four assists.


ThisThat

Guy Flaming, the host of The Pipeline Show, chatted with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, on July 4. Part of that conversation — a partial transcript of which is right here — included this:

Flaming: One of the questions that came in from a listener was about the updated roster pages on the WHL website. It’s something I’ve mentioned over the last couple of years as well. Right now, if I go to the QMJHL website, I can pull up a roster for a respective team, Halifax, whatever, and see every player that that team holds the rights to. If I go to the WHL website and I look at the Calgary Hitmen, Jett Woo isn’t even listed on their roster and, in fact, the roster page is blank for the 2019 pre-season. Why is that and how can we fix that moving forward because, I think you’d agree, that it would be advantageous for the fans at least to generate interest by seeing all the players that a team holds the rights to?

Robison: Well, I think that that is a very good question and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ll certainly look into that. I think it’s important that we keep current rosters. Not quite sure why that would be the case but I will certainly look into it and would suggest to you that as long as there’s the ability to do that, that we would certainly have that information posted.

——

Well . . . July is about to end, meaning it has been almost four weeks since Flaming and Robison had that conversation.

I checked for pre-season rosters on the WHL website on Monday evening and here is what I found — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats and Victoria Royals have rosters available.

As for the other 18 teams . . . crickets!

So the next time you hear the commissioner of all things WHL talking about how important fans are, well . . .

I mean, sheesh, we’re talking about pre-season rosters here. Not the contract terms of all 22 head coaches, or how much players are being paid, or how much the WHL is paying in legal fees these days.

——

BTW, Robison’s response to Flaming’s first question — he asked for two or three highlights from the past 12 months — had me spitting out my coffee. I’m thinking the good folks of Prince Albert would have done the same. . . . One of Robison’s highlights was the Raiders having won the 2018-19 WHL championship:

“What a good news story that is,” Robison said, “and it really helped solidify that franchise moving forward, because as you’re well aware, in the smaller markets, there’s challenges and certainly in Prince Albert we need a new facility and the timing couldn’t have been better for their run in the WHL playoffs and winning the championship.”

Hey, Prince Albert, you have been forewarned. Time to start saving your pennies for a new arena.

Quit snickering, Swift Current, because you’ll be up next.


There are nine WHLers on the 22-man roster for the Canadian team that will play in the CanadaHlinka Gretzky Cup that runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The roster was revealed Tuesday after a five-day selection camp in Calgary. . . . Here are the WHL players named to the team: F Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders; F Justin Sourdif, Vancouver Giants; F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings; F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg Ice; F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings; F Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert; and G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers. . . . WHLers who were in camp but weren’t selected: F Jakob Brook, Prince Albert; F Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon Blades; F Jack Finley, Spokane Chiefs; F Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw; D Tyrel Bauer, Seattle Thunderbirds; D Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen; and D Ronan Seeley, Everett Silvertips. . . . Canada will open against Finland on Monday in Breclav. . . . Michael Dyck, Vancouver’s head coach, is the head coach of Canada’s team, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, one of the assistant coaches.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, Calgary17, both of whom were picked in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Peterek had two goals and seven assists in nine games with HC Ocelari Trinec’s U-19 team last season, then added two goals and nine assists in 41 games on loan to HC Frydek-Mistek (Czech2). He also had five goals and eight assists in 29 games with his country’s U-18 side. . . . Krajc had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-18 team, and also had 11 goals and eight assists in 27 games with the U-20 side. In seven games with Slovakia’s U-18 team, he had two goals and an assist.


Leland Mack has joined the Prince George Cougars has their head scout in the Pacific PrinceGeorgeRegion. He is the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. Mack had been scouting for the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars also have added Tim Mills, David Reekie, Rob Rogers and Trevor Sprague to their scouting staff. . . . Mills moves over from the Swift Current Broncos and will be the Cougars’ Okanagan scout. . . . Reekie, a goaltender in his playing days who suited up with the Regina Pats and Everett Silvertips (2004-07), will work Regina and southern Saskatchewan for the Cougars. . . . Rogers, who had been working with the Spokane Chiefs, will focus on B.C. . . . Sprague, the general manager of the major midget Cariboo Cougars, will keep an eye on the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and northern B.C.


Taking Note has been told that F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, won’t be playing in 2019-20 because of concussion issues. A Winnipegger, he has played four seasons in the ECHL, with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators, Indy Fuel and Norfolk Admirals. Last season, he had seven goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . In 2017-18, he had 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk.


Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has taken an in-depth look at the NHL and its fighting numbers. NHL. . . “In 1,271 regular-season games in 2018-19,” he writes, “there were 224 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. That’s down from 280 fights in 2017-18.” . . . Also: ”The rate for 2018-19 was 0.18 fights per game, which marks the first time that the average fights per game has dropped below 0.20.” . . . And: “In 2018-19, 15.3% of regular-season games had a fight. In 2008-09, that number was 41.4%.” . . . Let’s compare a couple of those numbers to the WHL’s 2018-19 season, using numbers available at hockeyfights.com. In 748 regular-season WHL games, there were 272 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. (That number was 345 in 2017-18, when each team played 72 games; last season, each team played 68 games.) The rate for 2018-19 was 0.36 fights per game, down from 0.44 in 2017-18. . . . Yes, there are more fights in the WHL than in the NHL these days. . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.


JUST NOTES:

Dan MacKenzie has signed on as the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate. . . . MacKenzie, who spent the past eight years as the managing director of NBA Canada, will report to the CHL executive council which comprises the three commissioners of the aforementioned leagues — David Branch (OHL), Gilles Courteau (QMJHL) and Ron Robison (WHL). As well as being the OHL commissioner, Branch had been the CHL president since 1996. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . .

F Sebastian Streu, who will turn 20 on Nov. 22, has signed a tryout agreement with Eisbären  Berlin (Germany, DEL), meaning that he won’t be returning to the Regina Pats. Streu, who has German/Canadian citizenship, had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games with Regina last season. . . . Streu’s father, Craig, is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Eisbären  Berlin. . . . The Pats are left with three 20s on their roster — F Robbie Holmes, F Dawson Holt and F Austin Pratt.


Tweetoftheday

Redlick on road to recovery. . . . Maglio replaces Burt on Chiefs’ staff. . . . Giants’ Byram gets NHL contract


MacBeth

F Mitch Callahan (Kelowna, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). Last season, in 61 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had 15 goals and 19 assists. He was an alternate captain.


ThisThat

Redlick
Jack Redlick, the AMHL’s coach of the year, is recovering in hospital from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. (Kristina Lindsay photo, Facebook)

Jack Redlick, a former WHL player, won’t be coaching in 2019-20 after being injured in a motorcycle accident. Redlick, the head coach of the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders, is the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s reigning coach of the year. . . . He played 75 WHL games over three seasons, split among the Kamloops Blazers, Vancouver Giants and Regina Pats. . . . Redlick was injured on June 29 while riding near Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has since been transferred to the U of Alberta Hospital. . . .

Kristina Lindsay posted this on Redlick’s Facebook page earlier in the week:

“Surgeries 3 and 4 to repair the torn pectoral on the right shoulder and do the skin graft on his left forearm are complete. “Can I please have 2 M&Ms and 1 Crisper?” The comedy show is appreciated. It will be a long week with extremely limited mobility on both arms. They will check his foot again in 2 weeks.”

On July 13, she had posted this:

“Two weeks ago today I got the knock at the door that everyone dreads. Today I got to roll Jack outside for the first time since the accident, it’s a good day. Many of the staples and stitches came out today, the bruising and swelling is gone, he looks great. Monday will be shoulder surgery to repair the detached pectoral on the right side, a skin graft on the left forearm is up next later in the week. The bruised heart, collapsed lung and broken femur are healing as they should. The tib/fib is coming along but will be a long haul. The big question is what will happen with his foot, it’s a waiting game for now until the foot declares what will survive. Another surgery down the line on the foot once decisions have been made, no word yet on how long he’ll be in here but a while yet still. Jack loves visitors to combat the boredom so if you’re in the U of A area between 12-6 come say hi.”

——

The latest from the Raiders on Friday:

“The Redlick family would like to extend a huge thank you to their Raiders family and all those who have supported them through this tough process. On June 29 an oncoming motorcycle crossed the centre line and hit Jack head on while he was on a motorcycle trip with friends in Idaho. Jack sustained various serious injuries but was very lucky and has no head, neck or spinal injuries. The longest part of the recovery will be a partial amputation of his (left) foot, which will keep him from coaching this year. We believe that with Jack’s strength and determination he will make a successful recovery and we will see him back on the bench. We wish the 2019/2020 Raiders luck In the upcoming season and Jack will be in stands as soon as he’s able.”

Geoff Giacobbo will be the Raiders’ head coach in 2019-20, with Rob Hayne, Jeff Leyer and Dave Ridd the assistant coaches.


Scott Burt no longer is on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff, while Adam Maglio has SpokaneChiefsbeen hired as associate coach under new head coach Manny Viveiros. . . . Burt, who had been with the Chiefs for six seasons, was passed over twice in the past two years as the team hired new head coaches. Two years ago, they signed Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. The Chiefs announced Viveiros’s signing on July 9. . . . Maglio, a 33-year-old from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the Spruce Kings, two as an assistant coach and two as head coach. He led them to back-to-back BCHL championship series. They won the Fred Page Cup last season, and then won the Doyle Cup, before losing the junior A national championship in the final game. . . . The Spruce Kings immediately promoted Alex Evin, their associate coach, to head coach. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here. . . .

The Chiefs also announced the signing of Russian D Matvei Startsev, who will turn 17 on Sept. 4, to a WHL contract. The Chiefs selected him in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Last season, he had four goals and eight assists in 25 games with the Moskva U-17 team, and added three goals and six assists in 13 games with the U-18 side. . . . His signing leaves the Chiefs with three imports on their roster, the others being Czech G Lukas Parik, who also was selected in the 2019 import draft, and veteran D Filip Kral, who will turn 20 on Oct. 20. Kral, also a Czech, was a fifth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL draft and has signed a contract with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. . . . Parik, 18, was picked by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Kyren Gronick, 15, and F Filip Koffer, 18, to PrinceGeorgeWHL contracts. . . . Gronick, from Regina, was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. Last season, he had 27 goals and 26 assists in 24 games with the bantam AA Regina Aces. . . . Koffer was the 10th-overall pick in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. From Czech Republic, he had 10 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech U-19 league. He also had one assist in 12 games with Dynamo Pardubice in the Extraliga. Koffer played for the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship in April and led the team with six points, four of them goals, in five games. . . . Koffer joins sophomore Czech F Matej Toman, who is from, as the Cougars’ import players. Toman had nine goals and 11 assists in 66 games last season. . . . Belarusian F Vladislav Mikhalchuk is eligible to return to the Cougars as a 20-year-old for a third season, but he has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). If he doesn’t stick with that club, he likely would play with Torpedo Nizhny Nogorod-2 (Russia, VHL). . . .

The Cougars also announced the signing of Mike Matthies as athletic therapist. A Prince George native, he spent the past two seasons with the Victoria Royals, working as a student athletic therapist. . . . He takes over the Cougars’ position from Chico Dhanjal, who has been the team’s athletic trainer and equipment manager for 11 seasons. He remains as the Cougars’ equipment manager. . . . In fact, he will work in that role for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9. This week, he is in Calgary working at Hockey Canada’s U-17 development camp. . . . Dhanjal, one of the WHL’s really good guys, has been with the Cougars since 2008. How do I now he’s one of the good guys? Because every time he sees me, he asks about my wife, and that means a lot. (Hey, Chico, she is excellent. Thanks for asking.)


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders will pay $100,000 towards the purchase of a PrinceAlbertnew scoreclock for the Art Hauser Centre. The club will play that money over a five-year period. . . . City council has voted to pay about $95,000 of the remaining cost, which will total more than $275,000. . . . The new clock will bring the arena “into full compliance with new WHL facility standards set to come into affect for the 2019-20 season,” reports Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Also included in those standards are a new LED lighting system and acrylic boards and new glass. . . . By the way, Kerr also reported that the Raiders’ deep playoff run put $153,402.98 into the city’s offers. . . . Kerr’s complete story is right here.


JUST NOTES:

D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants has a signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He was the fourth-overall selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . A native of Cranbrook, Byram, 18, had 26 goals and 45 assists in 67 regular-season games with the Giants in 2018-19. He led all playoff scorers by putting up 26 points in 22 games as the Giants reached Game 7 of the championship final. . . . His father, Shawn, played three WHL seasons (Regina Pats, Prince Albert Raiders, 1985-88) and was a fourth-round pick by the New York Islanders in the NHL’s 1986 draft. . . . As an 18-year-old, Byram’s options for the 2019-20 season are the Avalanche or the Giants. . . .

Veteran scout Jeff Finley has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets after spending seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, the last three as their chief amateur scout. Finley, 52, fills the vacancy on Winnipeg’s staff created by the retirement of Marcel Comeau. . . . Finley played three seasons (1984-87) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 708 regular-season and 52 playoff NHL games. . . . Finley spent two seasons (2007-09) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . He is the father to Jack, who plays for the Spokane Chiefs, and Mason, who was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


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Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


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F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


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Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


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The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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