Scattershooting on a Monday night after KIJHL rocked by Creston Valley hazing incident . . .

Scattershooting2

While Hockey Canada was busy trying to determine whether the mess it finds itself in has been swept far enough under the carpet so as to cut down the glare, CrestonValleythe Kootenay International Junior Hockey League was dealing with a hazing incident.

What’s that? You thought hazing was a thing of the past.

Well, think again.

Following a quick investigation, the KIJHL, a junior B league with 19 teams in the Interior of B.C. and one inactive franchise in Spokane, dropped the hammer on the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.

In a news release, the league said it learned of the incident on Sept. 13 and “immediately suspended team activities, including the cancellation of the team’s exhibition game” on Sept. 14. Creston Valley was to have played host to the Fernie Ghostriders that night.

On Sept. 15, the league sent staff into Creston to “conduct interviews with . . . players and coaches.”

“Throughout this process,” the league said, it “has consulted with its Safe Sport partner, ITP Sport, and with BC Hockey.”

On Monday, the league announced that the Thunder Cats have been fined an undisclosed amount and been “placed on probation for a period of two years.”

“During this time,” the news release continued, “the Thunder Cats must take proactive steps to ensure a positive team culture free from abuse, bullying and harassment. Any occurrence of a similar incident will result in further sanctions.”

Furthermore, members of the Thunder Cats “will be required to complete training designed to identify and eliminate instances of abuse, bullying and harassment.”

The KIJHL also suspended two members of the team’s leadership group — captain Clayton Brown, a 20-year-old defenceman from Beaverlodge, Alta., will sit out 12 games and alternate captain Campbell McLean, who will turn 20 on Nov. 4, is to miss six games, both “for violations of the league’s individual conduct policy.” McLean, a forward, is from Whitecourt, Alta.

“The KIJHL is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our athletes, volunteers, staff and fans,” Jeff Dubois, the KIJHL’s commissioner, said in the news release. “What occurred in Creston was unacceptable, and the discipline imposed against the Thunder Cats’ organization and members of the team reflect our zero-tolerance approach to these types of incidents.

“Our investigation made clear that we have considerable work to do in order to educate our players on the standard of behaviour and leadership expected of them in a team environment. We take this responsibility seriously, and we are taking immediate steps to address this issue.”

The news release concluded with the one sentence that has become standard when leagues are dealing with these kinds of issues:

“The KIJHL will not comment further on this matter.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Hockey Canada seems to be carrying on as if nothing is wrong and all is well. Somebody from the government, somebody with some kind of power, somebody with sponsorship clout needs to unseat the board of directors and replace the senior executives without much delay. Otherwise, it will just be same old, same old.”


Inn


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Nebraska — college football bluebloods — got taken down in Week 2 by supposed cannon fodder Appalachian State, Marshall and Georgia Southern. Even worse, they each had to cough up $1 million-plus in appearance fees to the teams that beat them. Well, as mom always used to say, ‘Don’t play with your food!’ ”

——

Perry, again: “Nebraska has fired its last four football coaches — Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini, Mike Riley and Scott Frost — and paid them a combined $32 million in buyouts, all within a year of awarding them contract extensions. In other words, Groundhog Day I, II, III and IV.”



Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Local consultant not sure what he does, either.

——

Headline at TheOnion.com — Referees call for replay to admire great call.


THINKING OUT LOUD — ICYMI, Arizona State fired head football coach Herm Edwards on Sunday. Yes, he’s the former NFL coach. The Sun Devils are 1-2 this season and the program is under NCAA investigation. ASU could be on the hook for a payout of more than $9 million, though, because Edwards was signed through 2024. That’s still less than the $15 million that Nebraska will be coughing up after dumping head coach Scott Frost after just two games. . . . There are a lot of great stories in this young NFL season, but none will bear watching more than the San Francisco 49ers. I have never really understood how it was that QB Jimmy Garoppolo fell out of favour there, but they weren’t able to move him. Of course, now he’s the starter after Trey Lance broke his right ankle on Sunday and had season-ending surgery on Monday. . . . BTW, Garoppolo pocketed more than $750,000 on Sunday, including a $382,000 game cheque. Grant Marek of sfgate.com has more on Garoppolo’s contract situation right here, and it’s an interesting read. . . . You may have noticed that the New York Mets, Yankees, Jets and Giants all won on Sunday. That’s the first time that has happened since Sept. 27, 2009. So all was well with the Big Apple as another week began.


Ignorance


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Congratulations to Scottie Pippen for being the latest big sports star to lend his name and fame to the LIV Golf circuit. Pippen filmed a heartfelt commercial welcoming the LIV tour to Chicago. Maybe he figures we’ll all stop calling him basketball’s greatest sidekick, and start calling him the murderin’ Saudis’ goofiest pawn.”

——

Here’s Ostler again, this time with a great idea: “If MLB hitters have walk-up songs, they should also be required to have slink-back songs for when they strike out, songs to be chosen by the opposing team’s pitching staff. Some possibles: ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,’ ‘I’m Missing You,’ ‘Heat of the Moment,’ ‘Walk Away, Renee,’ and ‘Blue Bayou’ (blew by you).”



Asked how he felt rookie RB Jaylen Warren fared in his first NFL game, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin replied: “He didn’t urinate down his leg, man — that’s a great place to begin.”


Blinker


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.


Iron

Hasek speaking out against Russian invasion . . . Clouston: Pats ‘going to try to add’ . . . TWU adds Beach as assistant coach

As another hockey season arrives and dictator Vladimir Putin’s Russia continues its war on Ukraine, the impact, or lack of same, on professional hockey hasn’t been much of a story.

But former NHL goaltender Dominik Hasek is working to get it into the headlines.

Here’s a chunk from Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered:

More than a decade after his Hall of Fame career, Hasek has not stopped taking the road less travelled. He’s one of the very few athletes, past or present, who has the courage to speak out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying Russian NHLers should be suspended and Czech players should be barred from playing in the KHL, the league in which he played in the final season of his career. He also thinks that the government in Czechia should bar any Russians playing for the Nashville Predators (winger Yakov Trenin) and San Jose Sharks (wingers Alexander Barbanov and Evgeni Svechnikov) from playing in Prague when the two teams kick off the NHL’s regular season there Oct. 7 and 8.

“It will be a beautiful hockey celebration,” Hasek told Hockey Unfiltered in a telephone interview. “At the same time, however, I am doing everything to ensure that no Russian players can play here and that they cannot make multimillion-dollar advertisements for Russia and its war and killings in Ukraine.”

Hasek also has thoughts on Russians playing in the NHL. Campbell writes: “Hasek believes all Russian-born NHL players should be suspended by the NHL, with the suspensions lifted only if and when they denounce Russia’s actions.”

Of course, there are people in the hockey community who don’t agree with Hasek.

If you haven’t already, you should hunt up Campbell’s Hockey Unfiltered site and check out stories like this one.


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Are you waiting for the Regina Pats to trade F Connor Bedard, who is the favourite to be the No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2023 draft? Well, perhaps you Reginashouldn’t be holding your breath. In fact, what if the Pats are working to add to their roster in the hopes of making a run this season? . . . The Kamloops Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup and there has been ample speculation that they are eager to land Bedard. Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, isn’t so sure that Bedard will come available. “I think Regina is going to evaluate things,” Clouston told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “The information we have is they’re not trading him right now. They believe they have a generational-type player and they’re going to try to add. So, right now, that’s the direction they’re going and I guess time will tell if they’re able to get to a place where they feel confident kind of going all-in at some point with Connor Bedard as the centrepiece or whether they change that mindset. But that, right now, from our understanding, is their mindset They’re looking to add right now.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here.


Cotton


The Medicine Hat Tigers have added F Alex Drover, 20, to their roster. Drover, from Port-aux-Basques, Nfld., spent the previous four seasons in the QMJHL. MedicineHatHe played with the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Saint John Sea Dogs and Rimouski Oceanic, totalling 29 goals and 48 assists in 178 regular-season games. Last season, he put up 37 points, including 14 goals, in 44 games with Rimouski. . . . Drover is one of four 20-year-olds in camp with the Tigers, the others being F Brendan Lee, F Dallon Melin and Finnish F Oskari Kuntonen, who was selected by Medicine Hat in the CHL’s 2020 import draft. Last season, he had six goals and 20 assists in 24 games with KooKoo’s U20 side. Melin is coming off four seasons with the Red Deer Rebels; he had 11 goals and 13 assist in 67 games in 2021-22. Lee was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades last season; he finished with 10 goals and 11 assists in 52 games, 22 of them with the Tigers. . . . Melin had two assists Friday in a 6-3 victory over the host Swift Current Broncos. Lee had one assist; Drover was pointless.


WillieNelson


Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the retirement announcement from tennis great Roger Federer:

“Once a teenage brat who would throw his racket on the court, Federer grew up and evolved and became the definition of class and sportsmanship.

“He was doing that in an era of what often seemed relentlessly boorish and unbecoming behavior by professional athletes. When star athletes too often seemed to do something to let their public down, to embarrass themselves or to fail to understand the privilege and position they have.

“Federer never did that. In a modern era of scrutiny and social media, he was a safe harbor.”


The Tofino Resort and Marina, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, is owned by a group that includes retired NHLers Willie Mitchell and Dan Hamhuis. The latter also is one of the six men who own the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . Something happened at the resort on Sunday night that has resulted in a management change, the closure of the place for a week or so, and a whole lot of speculation as to what caused it all. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has that story right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD — F Nick Suzuki may have been given the captain’s ‘C’ this week, but isn’t F Brendan Gallagher really the captain? Gallagher is one of those players who doesn’t need the ‘C’ to be the captain. . . . If F Connor Bedard really is a generational talent — and all signs point to that being an accurate evaluation — how would the Regina Pats explain it to their fans were they to trade him away? . . . There looked to be a lot of empty seats at Mosaic Stadium on Friday night, but the ticket holders who did show up didn’t hesitate to let their feelings be known as their favourites dropped a 26-24 decision to the Edmonton Elks. Yes, it was ugly. . . . The Roughriders are 3-5 at home. They once were 3-0. Whoops!



THE COACHING GAME:

Former WHL F Kyle Beach has joined the Trinity Western U Spartans of the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League as an assistant coach. . . . From Ian Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Last fall, Beach made headlines stepping forward as ‘John Doe’ in a case in which Beach was sexually assaulted by Chicago Blackhawks video coach Brad Aldrich during the 2009-10 season. The case made international news headlines, and eventually resulted in a confidential settlement between the Blackhawks and Beach made in December of 2021.” . . . Beach, 32, is from Kelowna. He played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Spokane Chiefs (2005-10). . . . Beach and TWU head coach Ben Walter, who is in his first season, were teammates with EC Salzburg in Austria’s EBEL and won championships together in 2015 and 2016. . . . Beach spent the past two seasons with the Ten Art BlackDragons in Austria, playing in Germany’s Oberliga. In those two seasons, he totalled 110 points, including 58 goals, in 68 games.


Shifter


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Gino De Paoli is the new play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. The team made the announcement on Friday, three days after he announced he was leaving the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. He had been the voice of the Oilers for 11 seasons. . . . Scott Roblin handled the Tigers’ play-by-play on CHAT last season after Bob Ridley, the only radio voice the team had known since it entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season, took time off for health-related reasons. . . . Roblin left Medicine Hat over the summer and now is covering sports for Global TV in Saskatoon. . . .

Kevin Kaminski, the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves, begins the regular season by starting a 10-game suspension. From the Ice Wolves: “The suspension is the result of reports received by the league after the final playoff game of last season that was played March 27. The sanction is under appeal but until this is finalized, we will comply with the suspension and assistant coach Kyle Schneider will lead the bench.” . . . Playing at home on March 27, the Ice Wolves dropped a 5-3 decision to the Humboldt Broncos in Game 6. The Broncos won the series, 4-2. . . . The Ice Wolves opened their regular season on Friday night with a 7-4 victory over the visiting Nipawin Hawks.


Sales


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.


Milkshake

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


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


Scam


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

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

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

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

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

OK?


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


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



RedBull


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



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


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


Bears


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


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


GolfBalls

WHL final opens tonight in Edmonton . . . Thunderbirds, Oil Kings ready to roll . . . Another hall of fame opens doors to Kid Dynamite

The 2022 Kamloops Kidney Walk is almost upon us. It will take place (virtually, Dorothy-040719thanks to the pandemic) on Sunday. . . . What this means is that you’re running out of time if you would like to sponsor my wife, Dorothy, who received a kidney on Sept. 23, 2013, and is fund-raising for a ninth straight year. . . . Thanks to so many of you who stop by here, she has set a new personal-best as she closes in on $4,000. . . . If you would like to join an NHL head coach, a former WHL franchise owner, a former WHL general manager who once won three Memorial Cups in four years, three former WHL play-by-play voices, the wife of a WHL general manager and head coach, the head coach of a team that will play in the Memorial Cup later this month, someone who once worked in the WHL office and a whole lot of other friends and acquaintances by donating, you are able to do so right here. . . . Thank you so much in advance.


Breakfast


The WHL’s 2022 championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup gets started tonight (Friday) in Edmonton as the Oil Kings face the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . EdCupEdmonton went into these playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed. The Oil Kings swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels, then dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 4-1. So the Oil Kings go into this final with a 12-1 record. . . . Seattle, the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference, has travelled a much more difficult road. It started by eliminating the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets, 4-1, then went seven games to sideline the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and seven more to oust the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. That all adds up to the Thunderbirds taking a 12-7 record into Game 1. . . . In the process, the Thunderbirds went 5-0 in elimination games, became the 16th team in WHL history to win a series after trailing 3-1, and became the first team in WHL history to win two Game 7s on the road in one playoff year. No, playing at Rogers Place in Edmonton isn’t going to bother these guys. . . . The Oil Kings were 29-4-1 at home in the regular season; they are 7-0 in the playoffs. On the road, they were 21-10-3 in the regular season and are 5-1 in the playoffs. . . . The Thunderbirds were 23-10-1 on the road in the regular season and are 6-4 in the playoffs; at home, they were 21-8-5 in the regular season and now are 6-3 in the playoffs. . . .

The Oil Kings will be a whole lot fresher, having played six fewer games this spring. . . . For what it’s worth, the Oil Kings are averaging 4.38 goals per game, while allowing 2.08. . . . The Thunderbirds are scoring 3.32 per game, and surrendering 2.42. . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa is 12-2, 1.97, .909, while Seattle’s Thomas Milic is 12-7, 2.16, .926. . . .

It doesn’t mean a thing, but these teams last faced each other on Oct. 26, 2019, when the host Oil Kings scored the game’s first three goals and the last three in a 6-2 victory. F Dylan Guenther, who will be a key figure in the championship final, had two goals and an assist.

There is a comprehensive series preview right here.

——

So . . . the Seattle Thunderbirds’ home arena is booked for graduation ceremonies, meaning their WHL championship series will follow a 2-2-3 format. Should the series go seven games, five of them will be played in the home of the Edmonton Oil Kings.

But, you’re wondering, why couldn’t the Thunderbirds play in the Everett Silvertips’ home arena, or where the NHL’s Seattle Kraken play? . . . Here’s the explanation . . .



If you watched Game 1 of the NBA final on Thursday night, you were listening to Mark Jones call the play, with Mark Jackson providing the analysis and Lisa Salter on the sidelines. It was the first time in the history of the NBA final that a telecast featured all Black announcers. . . . How did that come to be? Because Mike Breen, who had been scheduled to call the play, remains out after testing positive for COVID-19, and because analyst Jeff Van Gundy and ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski both have tested positive. . . . Breen missed Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final after testing positive last week.


Gerry James, who once was the head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, doesn’t get nearly his dues as one of Canada’s all-time greatest athletes. Sheesh, this is a man who played in the CFL and the NHL at the same time; in fact, he is the only man ever to play in the Grey Cup game (Nov. 28, 1959) and a Stanley Cup game (April 9, 1960) in the same season. . . . The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame will be the sixth such honour for James. He also is an honoured member of the Canadian Football Hall of Fame (1981), Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame (1982), Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1994), Yorkton Sports Hall of Fame (1998) and Winnipeg Blue Bombers Hall of Fame (1999). . . . Through it all, he also was a huge supporter of Special Olympics. . . . Hey, Canadian Sports Hall of Fame, are you paying attention? It’s long past time for you to make room for Gerry (Kid Dynamite) James alongside his father, Eddie, who already is an honoured member.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have signed general manager and head coach Tyson Ramsey to a four-year contract extension that is to run through the 2025-26 season. Ramsey joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to 2018-19 and took over as GM/head coach for the 2019-20 season.


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.


Meteor

Oil Kings one win from WHL final . . . Western Conference tied at 2-2; resumes Friday in Kamloops . . . Settlement in sexual assault case


After two games on Wednesday night, the WHL’s four remaining teams rested or travelled on Thursday. . . . And when they return to the ice Friday night, the WHLplayoffs2022team that holds the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy for having had the best regular-season record will be facing elimination. . . . Yes, the Winnipeg Ice is down 3-1 to the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference’s best-of-seven final. They’ll play Game 5 in Edmonton on Friday. . . .

The Western Conference final is tied 2-2 and the Seattle Thunderbirds will face the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday. The Thunderbirds held F Logan Stankoven, the WHL scoring leader, to one assist on Wednesday night and will need a similar effort if they are to win Game 5. Stankoven had seven goals — including hat tricks in Games 1 and 3 — in the first three games of the series. . . . A late, late Tuesday night tweet from Geoffrey Brandow: “The franchise record for goals in a single playoff belongs to Dean Evason (21 in 17 games in 1984, under the Kamloops Junior Oilers moniker); the circuit record is 24 by Blair Chapman of the Saskatoon Blades in 1976 (20 games). 9 players have hit 20.” . . . Stankoven leads these playoffs in goals (17) and points (29).



WEDNESDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, F Carter Souch scored the No. 2 Oil Kings’ first two goals as they Edmontonskated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Oil Kings, now 11-1 in these playoffs, lead the series, 3-1, with Game 5 in Edmonton on Friday night. . . . Souch (6) got the scoring started at 5:01 of the first period, but Winnipeg tied it at 6:12 when F Owen Pederson (8), who had missed Game 3 with a one-game suspension, scored on a PP. . . . Souch (7) sent Edmonton out front again, at 9:23. . . . F Justin Sourdif (4) gave the Oil Kings a two-goal lead at 11:47 of the second period. . . . The Ice got to within a goal at 18:22 on Pederson’s ninth goal of the playoffs. . . . Edmonton got some insurance at 11:24 of the third period when F Dylan Guenther (13) counted on a PP. . . . F Josh Williams had three assists for Edmonton. . . . Each team was 1-for-4 on the PP. . . . G Sebastian Cossa stopped 20 shots for Edmonton. Cossa, whose NHL rights belong to the Detroit Red Wings, is 11-1, 2.04, .906 in the playoffs. . . . The Ice got 32 stops from G Gage Alexander. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe didn’t play as he completed a two-game suspension for a headshot major he incurred in Game 2. . . . The Ice was without F Matt Savoie, its leading regular-season scorer, for a second straight game. He suffered an undisclosed injury in Game 2.

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Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., F Nico Myatovic scored the game-winning goal as the No. 4 SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds beat the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers, 2-1 in OT. . . . That tied the Western Conference final, 2-2, with the teams scheduled to play Game 5 in Kamloops on Friday night. . . . Game 6 is to be played back in Kent on Sunday. . . . The Blazers took a 1-0 lead into the second period after F Daylan Kuefler (7) scored, on a PP, at 19:06 of the first. . . . It was the 13th time in 14 games that the Blazers had scored the first goal. . . . Seattle got that one back, on a PP, at 1:55 of the second period with F Jordan Gustafson (4) pulling the trigger. . . . The goaltenders — Thomas Milic of Seattle and Dylan Garand of Kamloops — kept the game at 1-1 until Myatovic ended it with his third playoff goal, at 11:16 of extra time. . . . Myatovic, who won’t turn 18 until Dec. 1, is from Prince George. He was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 draft. In 67 regular-season games, he scored four times — one of them a winner — and added 24 assists. In the playoffs, he has three goals and four assists in 16 games. This was his second playoff winner, the other coming on May 14 in a 3-1 victory over the Winterhawks in Portland in Game 5 of their conference semifinal. . . . F Lucas Ciona drew an assist on each of Seattle’s goals. . . . Milic finished up with 35 saves, two fewer than Garand. . . . The Thunderbirds had an 8-5 edge in OT shots. . . . Seattle was 1-for-1 on the PP; Kamloops was 1-for-4. . . . Seattle was without F Henrik Rybinski for a second straight game, while F Lukas Svejkovsky was scratched with an undisclosed injury after apparently being injured in Game 3. . . . Rybinski and Svejkovsky have combined for 10 goals and 21 assists in the playoffs after totalling 56 goals and 85 assists in the regular season.




My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.

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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.

2023 WJC to Halifax/Moncton . . . Oil Kings’ Cossa blanks Rebels . . . McCrimmon not going anywhere

The 2023 World Junior Championship will be played in Halifax and Moncton. The bid from the Maritimes cities won out over other bids from Kitchener and London, Ottawa, Quebec City and Trois-Rivieres, and Regina and Saskatoon. . . . You may recall that the tournament had been awarded to Novosibirsk, Russia, but the IIHF cancelled that plan after the attack on Ukraine. . . . Halifax last played host to the tournament in 2003. . . . The 2023 tournament will run from Dec. 26, 2022, through Jan. 5, 2023. . . . The 2022 tournament, which got started in December in Edmonton and Red Deer before being postponed because of positive COVID-19 tests among players and on-ice officials, is to be held in Edmonton, Aug. 9-20.



Sportsnet has a story right here on how professional teams are altering their travel arrangements in order to avoid mandatory testing for COVID-19.


Dan Shulman, who has been handling play-by-play of Toronto Blue Jays games COVIDon TV and radio of late, informed fans via Twitter on Thursday that he’ll be away for a few days “because of a close contact with someone who tested positive.” The Blue Jays began a series in Cleveland against the Guardians on Thursday and Ben Wagner and analyst Pat Tabler had the call on TV and radio. . . . Yes, Sportsnet has turned to simulcasting. . . .

Meanwhile, Karl Ravech of ESPN, who is the play caller for the network’s Sunday night MLB game, has tested positive so won’t be doing this week’s game that has the Los Angeles Dodgers in Chicago against the Cubs. Boog Sciambi will be calling the play in his place, joining analysts Eduardo Perez and David Cone.


Facebook


The WHL playoffs resumed on Thursday night with one game — the host WHLplayoffs2022Edmonton Oil Kings opened their Eastern Conference semifinal with a 4-0 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors will start the other semifinal in Winnipeg against the No. 1 Ice tonight. . . . One Western Conference semifinal also is to begin tonight as the No. 8 Vancouver Giants visit the No. 2 Kamloops Blazers. . . . There are four games scheduled for Saturday, including Game 1 between the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash. . . .

Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for @pnwhockeytalk reported from Portland’s practice on Thursday that “Clay Hanus, Jaydon Dureau and Aidan Like, all of whom missed games in Round 1, are in regular jerseys. No one is in a non-contact sweater.” . . .

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THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, G Sebastian Cossa earned the shutout and added an assist on the Edmontongame-winning goal as the No. 2 Oil Kings opened an Eastern Conference semifinal with a 4-0 victory over the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . . The series will resume in Edmonton on Saturday night. . . . F Dylan Guenther (5) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 10:18 of the first period, with D Kaiden Guhle, the game’s first star, and Cossa drawing the assists. . . . D Simon Kubicek (1), Guhle (3) and F Dawson Seitz (2) added second-period goals. . . . Cossa finished with 18 saves as he recorded his first career playoff shutout to go with 14 in three regular seasons. . . . Red Deer starter Chase Coward was beaten four times on 27 shots. Connor Ungar came on for the third period and stopped all eight shots he faced. . . . Red Deer was blanked three times during the regular season, all of them at home. Cossa stopped 21 shots in a 4-0 victory in Red Deer on Feb. 11. . . . Red Deer F Liam Keeler didn’t return after absorbing a check from behind at 16:49 of the first period. Seitz was given a minor penalty on the play. . . . Troy Gillard, the Rebels’ play-by-play voice, called the game off a monitor at home after tweeting: “Omicron says it’s my turn to call a game from home.”


Gym


JUST NOTES:

Bill Foley, the owner of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, confirmed on Thursday that general manager Kelly McCrimmon will be back for a fourth season. McCrimmon, 61, is a former player, coach, general manager and owner of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

D Ronan Seeley of the Everett Silvertips has joined the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes. Seeley, who will turn 20 on Aug. 2, was a seventh-round selection by Carolina in the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has played four seasons with the Silvertips. . . .

Jay Pandolfo is the new men’s hockey coach at Boston University. Pandolfo, who replaces Albie O’Connell, played four seasons with the Terriers before going on to a professional career that included 899 games and two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils. . . . He worked as an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins for seven seasons (2014-21). In 2021-22, he was an associate coach at BU. . . . O’Connell went 58-49-16 in his four seasons with the Terriers. . . .

Curtis Brolund will return for a fourth season as head coach of the U-18 AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. The team’s executive made the announcement on Thursday. The Wheat Kings went 33-4-3 this season.


Fred


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

——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Fired

Blades give fans chance to gamble on playoff tickets . . . Milne fills hat as Ice dumps Warriors . . . Pickleball big in Washington

Vacation


The Portland Winterhawks and Saskatoon Blades have qualified for the WHL playoffs and have playoff tickets/packages available for purchase.

It’s interesting to see the different approaches these organizations have taken.

The Blades (34-23-4) are fifth in the Eastern Conference and appear headed for Saskatoona first-round confrontation with the Moose Jaw Warriors (34-22-5). The Warriors, who hold a three-point edge, are scheduled to be in Saskatoon on Friday to conclude the season series. The Blades are 5-2-0; the Warriors, who beat the visiting Blades 7-0 on Saturday, are 2-4-1.

Saskatoon has made available what it calls a Playoff Pass. One adult Playoff Pass sells for $79. “This will guarantee your seat through the entire post-season, no matter how far we make it,” reads a news release on the Blades’ website. “That means you could enjoy as many as 16 playoff games for less than $80!”

So here’s the deal . . . this is an opportunity for you to roll the dice.

If you purchase one adult Playoff Pass and the Blades bow out in a first-round sweep, meaning two home games, well, that will have cost you $39.50 a game. But if they get into the second round and end up playing six home games, it’s $13.17 per game. A third-round appearance and, say, nine home games and it’s $8.78 per game.

“Or,” as Colin Priestner, the Blades’ president and general manager, told me, “you can just buy game-to-game and get the same seat with credit card on file but you’ll pay a higher price each round.”

OK, Blades fans, which will it be?

BTW, a youth Playoff Pass can be yours for $39, with a child’s going for $29.

The Blades haven’t yet revealed single-game playoff ticket prices but a regular-season adult ticket is $25.

Meanwhile, the Winterhawks are third in the Western Conference and could be Portlandheaded for a first-round matchup with the Vancouver Giants or Victoria Royals.

The Winterhawks are selling 11-game packages for various prices, running from US$152 to $362.

Single-game tickets will go on sale once opening-round matchups are set. But a seat will cost anywhere from $18 to $63.50 in the first round. Should the Winterhawks get to the championship final, the prices will run from $20 to $66.50. (BTW, the priciest seats are the ones along the glass.)

Portland’s info, including a seating diagram, is right here.



The IIHF has released the schedule for the U18 men’s World Championship that is to run April 23 through May in Landshut and Kaufbeuren, Germany. . . . With Russia and Belarus having been suspended from international competition, this will be an eight-team tournament. Canada (1), the U.S. (4), Czechia (5) and Germany (8) will be in Group A, with Sweden (2), Finland (3), Switzerland (6) and Latvia (7) in Group B. . . . There are more details right here.


Recipes


The Columbus Blue Jackets were without head coach Brad Larsen and assistant coach Steve McCarthy, both former WHLers, when they met the visiting New York Islanders on Tuesday night. Yes, both coaches tested positive and entered COVID-19 protocol. With them gone, associate coach Pascal Vincent ran things at the bench. . . . The Blue Jackets dropped a 4-3 decision to the Islanders. . . . Just wondering, but do you think the WHL would let the public know if a team or teams had staff members, say a coach or even an athletic therapist, out of action because of COVID-19? Hey, just thinking out loud.


Dorothy-040719My wife, Dorothy, is fund-raising, again, as she takes part in her ninth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, this one will be held virtually, again, but she continues to take it seriously. She is more than a little thankful for having had a kidney transplant more than eight years ago, and this is her way of giving back. . . . As of Tuesday evening, Dorothy is the No. 1 fund-raiser in B.C. . . . If you would like to donate to the cause and become a member of her team, you are able to do so right here.



TUESDAY IN THE WHL:

F Mikey Milne scored his 33rd goal just 24 seconds into the game and the host WinnipegIceWinnipeg Ice went on to beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 8-1, in the night’s only game. . . . Before the game was eight minutes old, Winnipeg held a 4-0 lead as F Conor Geekie (21), F Zach Benson (22) and F Jack Finley (24) joined the party. . . . Milne finished with three goals — his first WHL hat trick — and an assist. . . . G Daniel Hauser stopped 22 shots to record the victory. He is 29-2-1, 2.03, .913 this season. . . . The Ice (48-9-5) is the first WHL team this season to crack the 100-point barrier. It leads the Eastern Conference by six points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (46-13-3). . . . The Warriors (35-22-5) are fourth, three points ahead of the Saskatoon Blades (34-23-4).


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald, who once upon a time was that newspaper’s man on the Silvertips’ beat, tweeted Tuesday that “the Snohomish County-led effort to make pickleball Washington’s official state sport came to fruition Monday when Governor Jay Islee signed the bill into law.” Take that baseball, football and hockey. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia posted this tweet on Tuesday: “(The Vancouver Giants’) injury report, which had been listing C Ty Halaburda (upper body) as sidelined week-to-week, has him now at indefinite. D Alex Cotton (LBI, week-to-week), LW Cole Shepard (LBI, week-to-week), G Jesper Vikam (LBI, week-to-week) and C Zack Ostapchuk (UBI, day-to-day).” The Giants have eight regular-season games remaining, starting with a Saturday-Sunday doubleheader against the visiting Spokane Chiefs. The Giants are tied for sixth in the Western Conference with the Victoria Royals, who have five games left. . . . G Tavin Grant, who played with the Prince George Cougars (2014-18), was the EBUG for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies on Tuesday night as they met the Canucks in Abbotsford. Due to injuries, the Marlies signed G Talor Joseph, 27, who plays for the BCIHL’s Trinity Western Spartans and started him. Grant didn’t get into the game, as Joseph turned aside 34 shots in the Marlies’ 5-3 victory.



Former WHLer Ryan Pilon is the new coach of the Estevan Bears, a U18 AAA men’s hockey team. He takes over from Riley Hengen, who had been the interim head coach since Nov. 24 when Jeff Smith was fired. . . . The Bears just completed their second season in the SMAAAHL. . . . Pilon, 25, played parts of five seasons (2011-15) in the WHL with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brandon Wheat Kings. He has been an assistant coach with the U18 AAA Beardy’s Blackhawks, who were dropped from the SMAAHL by Hockey Saskatchewan and replaced by the Bears, and the junior  B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League.


Carrot


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.


Romance

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after getting a real deal on cheap gas . . .

scattershooting


On Sunday, Westhead tweeted that “Branch said OHL commissioned an ‘independent investigation’ after a player reached out via its ‘player communications tool’ to report alleged incident.


There was a time when MLB had the best playoff format of them all; of course, that was before TV money came to rule the roost. But back in the day the American and National League teams with the best regular-season records met in the World Series. Now they are bickering over whether 14 teams should get into post-season play. That’s like holding a debate over whether to add more chopped lettuce to a Subway ham sandwich.

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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a column about what’s on the MLB commissioner’s consideration list: “Expand playoffs, for the fans’ good! Bud Selig is in the Hall of Fame solely because he expanded the playoffs. Hmmm. Our side has proposed expansion of playoffs to 14 teams, the players say they’ll go for 12. Why be so exclusive, like the playoffs are some snooty country club? Propose 32-team playoffs! We have only 30 teams, but we could add two minor-league teams to even out the brackets.”

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Headline at TheOnion.com: MLB owners propose CBA that offers players college credit in lieu of salary.



The price of gas hit $1.95.9 a litre in Kamloops at some point on Sunday. But don’t feel sorry for me because I was able to find one station at $1.75.9. With a deal like that, how could I not stop and fill up even though the gas gauge still was above half?



ICYMI, the pandemic is over. Done. Finis. It is because the NFL says it is. On Thursday, the NFL told its 32 teams that life is back to normal. No more protocols related to COVID-19. No more mandatory testing. As Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) tweeted: “Being around everyone is back.”

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Meanwhile, David Rising of The Associated Press wrote this on Sunday morning:

“The official global death toll from COVID-19 is on the verge of eclipsing 6 million — underscoring that the pandemic, now in its third year, is far from over.

“The milestone is the latest tragic reminder of the unrelenting nature of the pandemic even as people are shedding masks, travel is resuming and businesses are reopening around the globe. The death toll, compiled by Johns Hopkins University, stood at 5,996,882 as of Sunday morning and was expected to pass the 6 million mark later in the day.”

At the same time, Johns Hopkins had the U.S. death toll at 958,437. Through Friday, the seven-day average was 1,541. . . . What about Canada, you ask? Johns Hopkins had the death toll at 36,998, with a seven-day average of 62 through Friday.

The NFL is right. What pandemic?

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T. Ryan Gregory is a professor of evolutionary biology at the University of Guelph . . .


Fixes


If you’re a sports fan who loves great anecdotes, you can’t go wrong with The Baseball 100. This marvelous book was written by Joe Posnanski, a veteran writer who obviously is a huge baseball fan. He rates his top 100 baseball players of all-time, and has provided an essay on each one of them. The key is that the essays aren’t over-populated with numbers; rather, he has stories to tell about each of the players. The book is pricey — the Canadian cover price is $54 — but it’s 700-plus pages of great reading. Get your hands on one and thank me later.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, isn’t taking sides in the baseball mess. As he explained: “Neither side is worthy of praise or support. If you ‘take sides’ here, you are merely selecting the tallest of the Seven Dwarfs.”

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My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here.


After a Global AgeWatch Index ranking of the world’s top 96 places for seniors to live, RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com noted: “Its top three are Switzerland, Norway and the L.A. Lakers.”


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.


Beer

OHL investigating alleged anti-Russian slur . . . Iran makes mark on international stage . . . Gauthier continues big week with Winterhawks

Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted on Friday afternoon that “a Russian player on the OHL’s North Bay Battalion (one of two Russians on NB) was allegedly targeted during Thursday game with an anti-Russian slur by at least one Sudbry Wolves player, North Bay GM Adam Dennis confirms. Dennis says OHL is investigating and conducting interviews.”

Shortly after, Dan Milstein, a Ukraine-born hockey agent, tweeted: “Disturbing news . . . I confirm Rick Westhead’s report that my teenage Russian-born client on OHL North Bay Battalion was targeted with Anti-Russian slur at (Thursday’s) game.”


It is because of information like this that I subscribe to Hockey Unfiltered with Ken Campbell:

“Iran has a national hockey team that is currently playing in the Division IV World Championship in Kyrgyzstan. Their backup goalie’s name is Oveis Hassanzadeh Moghadam Tabalvandani. Their first-line left winger is Mohammadmatin Ghaharzadehmahabadi and manning the blueline is Abbas Dehghanimohammadabadi. Despite a spirited effort, Iran lost 13-1 to the host country in its international hockey debut before beating Singapore 5-2 on Friday.”

Seriously, while Campbell did have that in a Friday piece, he also reported this:

“The Canadian Hockey League could be doing a major about-face when it comes to having players from Russia and Belarus included in its 2022 import draft. A source close to the situation said the CHL was prepared this week to announce that players from those two countries would be barred from the draft this year as a response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“But there was significant pushback from some owners on the proposal, which led the CHL to delay making an announcement. It’s believed they will continue deliberating and will have a decision by the end of this month. There are 24 Russians and 13 Belarusians playing in the Ontario, Western and Quebec Leagues this season. The OHL has the majority of Russian players this season, with 15 on rosters. There is only one player from Ukraine in the entire CHL this season, Barrie Colts defenseman and Vegas Golden Knights prospect Artur Cholach.”

You are able to check out Campbell’s work right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes are on the road for six games because the Brier, the Canadian men’s curling championship, has taken over the ENMAX Centre. . . . The Hurricanes met the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Friday night, losing 6-3, and also will make stops in Regina, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina (again) and Moose Jaw before returning home to face the Pats on March 16.


My wife, Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, is taking part in her ninth kidney walk, albeit virtually, on June 5. She has been involved in every walk since she had her transplant. If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do that right here. . . . A huge thank you to those who already have joined Dorothy’s team. Much appreciated!


Richard Doerksen’s name first shows up in a WHL Guide prior to the 1978-79 season. He is listed, quite simply, as statistician. I am pretty sure he kept the WHL stats with pencil and paper in those days. . . . Anyway, Doerksen, now the WHL’s vice-president, hockey, was Hartley Miller’s latest guest on Cat Scan. They chatted about the past two seasons, scheduling and rescheduling and a whole lot more. . . . It’s a 30-minute listen and it’s all right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Nolan Ritchie, playing in his 100th regular-season game, had three goals and an assist to lead the host Brandon Wheat Kings to a 6-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday night. . . . Brandon F Jake Chiasson had a goal and an assist in what was his first game this season. He underwent shoulder surgery after being injured while at an Edmonton Oilers rookie camp in September. The Oilers selected him in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .

F Connor Bedard had one assist to run his point streak to 14 games as the Regina Pats dropped a 3-2 decision to the visiting Red Deer Rebels, who have won seven in a row. . . . F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings also is riding a 14-game streak, but he is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. . . . Bedard has 29 points, including 16 assists, in his past 14 games, while Neighbours has 23 points, 10 of them goals. . . .

Dan O’Connor, the radio voice of the Vancouver Giants, called the play of his 700th WHL game on Friday night in Langley, B.C. The Giants lost 4-3 in OT to the Kamloops Blazers as F Daylan Kuefler tied the game at 19:31 of the third period and won it at 4:43 of extra time. O’Connor also has done play-by-play with the Prince George Cougars. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings clinched a playoff spot by scoring the game’s last five goals in a 7-2 victory over the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . . In Kelowna, F Gabriel Szturc’s 12th goal, at 1:29 of OT, gave the Rockets a 5-4 victory over the Victoria Royals who took a 4-2 lead into the last 10 minutes of the third period. Kelowna has won nine of 10 from Victoria. . . . In Prince George, the Spokane Chiefs scored the last three goals and beat the Cougars, 4-3. F Graham Sward (8) broke a 3-3 tie 37 seconds into the third period. The Cougars are 2-13-1 in their past 16 outings. . . .

F Jakin Smallwood scored his 20th goal of the season with 0.7 showing on the clock as the visiting Winnipeg Ice got past the Saskatoon Blades, 4-3, in OT. F Jack Finley (17) had pulled Winnipeg even with a PP goal at 17:15 of the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt scored his 10th goal and added two assists as the Prince Albert Raiders escaped from Moose Jaw with a 5-3 victory over the Warriors. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds scored once in each period as they beat the Tri-City Americans, 3-1, in Kennewick Wash. . . .

G Taylor Gauthier, who signed a three-year free-agent deal with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins earlier in the week, stopped 47 shots as the Portland Winterhawks beat the Silvertips, 4-2, in Everett. Portland scored the game’s last four goals. Gauthier is 14-1-0, 1.66, .945 since being acquired from the Prince George Cougars. The Winterhawks have taken four straight from the Silvertips and now trail the U.S. Division leaders by five points. . . .

Russian F Ivan Miroshnichenko, a potential top 10 selection in the NHL’s 2022 draft, has been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the Russian Hockey Federation has said he will be taking time away from the game. “At the moment,” the federation said in a tweet, “he is receiving medical treatment in Germany and might miss the entirety of next season.” Miroshnichenko, 18, had 16 points, including 10 goals, in 31 games with the VHL’s Omskie Krylia club. He captained the Russian team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer, putting up four goals and five assists in five games.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.

——


Kids

Dorothy gearing up for virtual Kidney Walk . . . CHL dumps series versus Russia . . . School drops South Island Royals program

First things first . . . Dorothy is preparing to take part in the annual Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year. She has participated in every one since she underwent a kidney transplant at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver on Sept. 23, 2013. . . . The 2022 Kidney Walk will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . The Kidney Walk is a huge fund-raising venture for the Canadian Kidney Foundation and its provincial branches. By participating, Dorothy is able to give something back to an organization that has been such a big part of our lives. . . . If you would like to be on her team by making a donation — you should know that Mel Recchi was first on the bus — you are able to do so right here.


You may not have noticed but I was away for a few days. No writing. Not a whole lot of Twitter surfing. Just kicking back, reading . . . oh, and driving.

We made a return trip over the Coquihalla — the first one since October —  and I have to tell you that there are some engineering and reconstruction miracles taking place on the stretch of highway between Merritt and Hope. Yes, there still is a lot of work to do before the highway is back to its pre-flood state, but what we got to drive on is a whole lot better than what I had expected.

It’s also good to see that the Coquihalla continues to attract so many NASCAR drivers-in-training. Speed limit? What speed limit? It’s 120 km-h between Kamloops and Merritt. From Merritt to Hope, the signs tell you that it’s 110, 100, 90, 80 or 60, depending on what kind of construction area you find yourself driving through. In reality, though, the areas without traffic cones have only imaginary speed limits. And don’t get me started on the driver of the Toyota SUV with Alberta plates who was in the left lane all the way from Hope to Merritt . . . speeding up and slowing down as the mood struck him.

No matter. The overall condition of the Coq was the star of this trip.


Ukraine

While I was away, national teams from Belarus and Russia were banned from almost the entire surface of our planet because Dr. Evil has chosen to attempt a violent takeover of Ukraine.

On Wednesday, the CHL, which governs the three major junior hockey leagues, CHLannounced it has cancelled what used to be an annual series of six games featuring OHL, QMJHL and WHL teams against a touring Russian side. The series, which has lost its lustre in recent years, should have been permanently discarded.

At the same time, the CHL announced that “the date and format for the 2022 CHL import draft has yet to be determined and will be announced at a later date.”

That buys some time for the three leagues to see how things develop in Ukraine. If war continues to rage, those leagues will have to decide whether to keep the 2022 import draft open for eligible Russian and Belarusian players.

The CHL’s statement also pointed out that it “is committed to the safety and well-being of all of its current players and is supportive of their continued development regardless of their country of origin.”

Hopefully that means the CHL and its teams will continue to care for current Belarusian and Russian players even after this season ends, rather than casting them to the winds. Michael Traikos of Postmedia reports that “there are about 36 Russians and Belarusians currently playing in the CHL.”

You have to think there are some awfully confused young men among that group. Here they are in a foreign country while the leaders of their countries have drawn the wrath of the vast majority of the world by blasting away at Ukraine.

While these teenagers haven’t had anything to do with any of that, you have to wonder what they think when they venture into arenas and see fans waving yellow-and-blue flags to show their support for Ukraine.


Monster


Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, and the owners have cancelled the first two series of what was to have been the 2022 regular season. These are the first MLB games cancelled by a labour dispute since 1994 and 1995, and this time there isn’t any doubt about who’s at fault. The owners locked out the players in December and then didn’t even make a proposal for more than 40 days.

Here’s Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“There are a lot of questions. But ‘who is to blame?’ is not one of them. There are no ‘both sides’ in this fight. This is on the owners, who instituted a self-described ‘defensive lockout’ Dec. 2, then waited six weeks to present an offer. And still failed to address the real issue:

“They’re making more and more money while players are getting less.

“Listening to Commissioner Rob Manfred speak on the owners’ personal broadcast mouthpiece, MLB Network, would have been comical if it wasn’t sad. (Incidentally, please don’t think you’re going to get both sides of the argument by watching an outlet run by the owners, which let go well-respected reporter Ken Rosenthal because he wasn’t sucking up enough to Manfred.)”


The MJHL has suspended D Klim Georgiev, 20, of the Dauphin Kings for 18 mjhlgames for a racist gesture during at game against the host Waywayseecappo Wolverines on Feb. 18. . . . Georgiev, who is from Toronto, was given a gross misconduct as the third period ended. . . . Nathan Liewicki of CBC News reported that Georgiev “raised his stick and made what seemed to be a bow-and-arrow gesture toward some of the Wawayseecappo players who were skating away from Dauphin’s end of the rink.” . . . Georgiev will miss the Kings’ final 11 regular-season games and seven playoff games. . . . Georgiev began the season with the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals before being traded to Dauphin. . . . Liewicki’s story, written after the gesture but before the suspension was handed down, is right here.

Meanwhile, in B.C., Zaya Morro, a player with the U17 AAA North Island Silvertips, has alleged via an Instagram post that an opposing player uttered a racist slur in his direction in a game on Nov. 7.

“As a Black player in B.C. hockey I am continually made aware that I am different,” Morro wrote. “I have to play harder, play smarter, just because of the colour of my skin. I have to be more resilient because unfortunately there is still soooo much racism in hockey and in Canada. February (was) Black History Month and as I look back at how far we have come I am also reminded how much further we need to go.”

According to Morro, an opposing player “racially assaulted” him after Morro had won a puck battle. That player, Morro wrote, “felt the need to yell ‘nice hit you F**king N****r.’ I’ve experienced other racial slurs and have been able to shake them off but being called a N****r . . . I can’t explain the anger, sadness and complete disgust it made me feel. I have never been an angry kid but this brought out something in me I never knew was there. Thankfully, my team captain also heard what was said and we were able to tell the referee who immediately threw (the offending player) out of the game.”

According to Morro, the offending player eventually was suspended for six games.


With racism so often rearing its ugly head in the arenas and on the ice surfaces of our country, I really wonder what kind of conversations take place around the dinner tables in so many homes. I really do.


A letter dated March 1 and signed by Bruce Bidney, the principal of Spectrum Community School in Victoria, has informed parents that the school “will no longer be hosting the South Island Royals program following the completion of the 2021-22 school year.” . . . The letter continues: “This means that the hockey programming your child experienced this school year will no longer be embedded in the school day. Spectrum will remain an option for your child’s academic programming as will our hockey Skills Academy. . . . In recent conversations with BC Hockey, we have mutually agreed to no longer offer the in-school programming exclusive to our South Island Royal student-athletes. We will continue offering dryland training the school day to students registered in our Spectrum Skills Academy.”: . . . According to their website (southislandroyals.ca), the program features three male teams — U18AAA, U17AAA and U15AAA. . . . In his letter, Bidney doesn’t offer up any reasons for ending the South Island program.


Phone


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have signed Craig Carter, their assistant general manager and director of player personnel, to a two-year extension. He has been with the Spruce Kings since April 2020. . . . The WHL’s injury/roster report dated March 1 doesn’t show any players in COVID-19 protocol, the first time that has happened since teams returned from the Christmas break. . . . Just don’t think for a minute that means the pandemic is over. In the OHL, the Peterborough Petes had seven players test positive, resulting in the postponement of a game that had been scheduled for last Saturday. As Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner noted: “The postponement comes less than 24 hours after the OHL announced the lifting of proof of vaccination and capacity limits for spectators beginning on Tuesday.” The Petes are scheduled to play host to the Niagara IceDogs tonight (Thursday).


Work


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.


Liquor

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