Wickenheiser wonders if Olympics should go ahead . . . Did virus find Flames? It found P.K. Subban . . . Hitmen return with a bang


One of the things that really, really hurts — and also amazes and confuses me — is the lack of respect shown to healthcare workers during the pandemic.

The numbers go up and it doesn’t seem to mean anything to a whole lot of folks. A government institutes new restrictions and a whole lot of people immediately start looking for loopholes, or just flat-out refuse to follow the recommendations.

So here we are . . . more than 14 months into this mess. And through it all our healthcare workers just continue to do their jobs. Day after day. Night after night.

It’s been more than a year now and I can’t begin to imagine the angst, the emotions, that every single one of them has to be feeling. I can’t imagine the feeling in the pits of their stomachs as they prepare for another day of working in their chosen profession.

That brings us to Hayley Wickenheiser, who has gone from being one of the world’s greatest hockey players to medical school. These days, she works the front lines at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary.

And she is wondering whether the Olympic Summer Games and Paralympics that are scheduled to be held in Tokyo this summer should go ahead.

“It’s very hard after what I’ve witnessed this past year and then think about the Games. I’ve seen such suffering,” the six-time Olympian and four-time gold medal-winner told Devin Heroux of CBC Sports.

Wickenheiser, who also is on the IOC’s Athletes Commission, asked the same questions in March 2020 that she’s asking now, and that’s when organizers chose to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics until July 2021.

And here we are again. But, as Heroux points out, Japan has vaccinated fewer than two per cent of its population and a majority of the citizens there don’t want the Games to go ahead.

“I think we maybe have another month before they have to make a decision,” Wickenheiser said. “If things change drastically in terms of vaccinations in the country of Japan. Cases there are spiking . . . This is someone’s country we’re going into. These are real people living in crisis. We have to be sensitive to the needs of a nation.”

And when it comes time to make a decision . . .

“This decision needs to be made by medical and health experts, not by corporate and big business,” Wickenheiser told Heroux. “A very clear and transparent explanation needs to be given if the Games are going to go ahead.”

Heroux’s complete story is right here.


Fire


Prior to Friday, the Calgary Flames had been the only NHL team not to have had nhl2to place a player on the COVID-19 protocol list. However, it seems the virus has found the Flames.

Calgary cancelled its Friday morning skate in advance of the evening’s game against the visiting Montreal Canadiens. According to the team, a player received a positive test on Thursday.

Later Friday, the Flames placed F Josh Leivo on the COVID-19 list. After beating the Canadiens, 4-2, Calgary head coach Darryl Sutter said that Leivo was asymptomatic.


D P.K. Subban of the New Jersey Devils said Friday that he has tested positive. In a video that he posted to Twitter, he said the virus “got right in my kitchen.” Subban, 31, was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday. . . . “The COVID thing hit me pretty hard,” he said, “but just battling through it, working through it. Just remember to take care of yourselves, stay healthy, I love you guys and I definitely will be back in the mix soon.”


The AJHL announced Friday afternoon that there has been a positive test “in ajhlthe Drumheller Dragons cohort,” so team activities have been suspended. . . . The Dragons were to have played the Okotoks Oilers on Saturday and Sunday, but those games have been “cancelled.” . . . Drumheller hasn’t played since April 3. . . . Okotoks last played on March 28. It was to have played the Calgary Canucks on April 2 and the Brooks Bandits on April 4 but both games were cancelled.


In the QMJHL, athletic therapist Joseph Ferrar and equipment manager Jean-qmjhlnewFrançois Larochelle of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies was evicted from the “protected environment” in Victoriaville for being in violation of COVID-19 protocol. The Huskies also were fined $5,000. . . . According to the league, “Support staff from within the protected environment have been found to replace them.” . . . The Huskies were in Victoriaville to open a first-round playoff series against the Tigres.


Canyon


Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times was back on the legal beat yesterday, reporting Krakenthat the city’s NHL team, the Kraken, “moved quickly Friday to head off a legal dispute with a University District punk-rock bar alleging trademark infringement and tortious interference in a $3.5 million lawsuit filed the previous day.” . . . The team said it won’t be naming the restaurant at its practice facility the Kraken Bar & Grill. . . . The owners of The Kraken Bar and Lounge, the dive bar that doesn’t want to be a hockey bar, filed suit Thursday, asking that the team not be allowed to use Kraken as a nickname or in any other marketing or projects. . . . Baker’s latest story is right here. . . . Spoiler: It doesn’t sound as though this move by the Kraken is going to appease the dive bar’s owners.


I mentioned here yesterday that there is ample speculation about the future of the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. No, they aren’t going to end up in Kamloops or Kelowna. . . . But if the Canucks choose to make a move, where might the AHL team land? . . . Rob Williams, who always has a solid grasp of what’s happening in the AHL, takes a look at some of the options right here.


Prof


The Calgary Hitmen were hit by a positive test earlier this month and were shut WHL2down for more than two weeks. They returned to game action on Friday and opened with a four-goal first period en route to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Kelowna Rockets, on hold for more than two weeks after a handful of positive tests, returned on April 7 with four goals in the first 27 minutes of a 7-5 victory over the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . Hmmm. . . . The Tri-City Americans are scheduled to return from their virus-enforced layoff on Wednesday. . . . In the meantime, there were six WHL games played last night. . . .

The Calgary Hitmen, playing their first game since April 5 because of a positive Calgarytest, scored four times in a span of 3:11 in the first period and went to a 6-3 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Josh Prokop (7), F Cael Zimmerman (4) and two from F Adam Kydd gave Calgary a 4-0 lead before the game was 11 minutes old. . . . Kydd has six goals in 15 games; last season, he finished with six goals in 53 games. . . . The Hurricanes bounced back with three second-period goals. The first two came from D Alex Cotton (7) and F Dino Kambeitz (5) added a shorthanded score. . . . F Brandon Whynott (1) restored Calgary’s two-goal lead at 19:03 of the second period, and F Riley Stotts (4) got the empty-netter at 19:58 of the third. . . . Whynott, a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his 14th game. . . . The Hitmen (7-6-2) have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Hurricanes (7-9-2) have lost two in a row. . . .

F Owen Pederson scored twice to lead the Winnipeg Ice to a 4-1 victory over the WinnipegSaskatoon Blades. . . . The Ice (16-5-1) has points in five straight (4-0-1). It moved into second in the Regina hub standings, two points ahead of Saskatoon and one behind the idle Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Saskatoon (14-5-3) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Wheat Kings have three games remaining, with the Ice and Blades each having two more. . . . The Ice scored the game’s first four goals. . . . Pederson got it started at 6:05 of the first period. . . . D Mike Ladyman (2) added another at 11:00, with F Connor McLennon (14) making it 3-0 at 14:32 of the second. . . . Pederson, who has 13 goals, got his second at 5:40 of the third. . . . F Alex Morozoff (2) scored for Saskatoon at 12:49. . . . Pederson has 30 points in 22 games. . . . McLennon also had two assists. He now has 33 points, including 19 assists, in 22 games. . . . Winnipeg F Peyton Krebs had two assists to run his point streak to 21 games. He now shares the Ice’s franchise record for longest such streak with F Mike Comrie, who did it in 2000-01 with the Kootenay Ice (hey, remember when Cranbrook had a WHL team?). . . . F Karter Prosofsky had an assist for the Ice. Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Blades, reports that Karter is the “son of Tyler, former Tacoma/Kelowna Rockets forward, also nephew to F Garrett Prosofsky,” who played with the Blades, Prince Albert Raiders and Portland Winterhawks. . . .

The Regina Pats scored two second-period goals 13 seconds apart and went on Patsto a 4-1 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . F Cole Dubinsky gave the Pats (9-10-3) a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 8:02 of the first period. . . . They broke it open in the second when D Layton Feist (5) scored, on a PP, at 15:30, and F Drew Englot make it 3-0 at 15:43. . . . F Zack Smith (4) scored while shorthanded for a 4-0 lead at 3:15 of the third period. . . . The Warriors (8-12-2) got their goal from D Cory King (2) at 12:46 of the third. . . . Regina D Ryker Evans ran his point streak to 12 games with an assist. He has two goals and 14 assists over that stretch. . . . The Pats were designated as the visitors for this game in the Regina hub. They are 3-5-3 as the home team and 6-5-0 as the visitors. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers erased a 1-0 deficit with three third-period goals as they Kamloopsbeat the Victoria Royals, 3-2. . . . Kamloops (10-2-0) has won three straight. . . . Victoria (1-11-1) has lost eight in a row. . . . F Brayden Schuurman (4) gave the Royals a 1-0 lead at 12:50 of the second period. . . . F Matthew Seminoff (6) got the Blazers even 36 seconds into the third. . . . F Connor Zary (5), at 12:57, and F Fraser Minten (1), at 16:25, stretched the lead to 3-1. . . . Zary had served 16 minutes in penalties — three minors and a misconduct — earlier in the game. . . . F Brandon Cutler (5) got the Royals within a goal while on a PP at 18:20. . . . Minten’s first WHL goal came in his 10th game — he has six assists — and stood up as the winner. He was a fourth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . G Dylan Ernst, in his second start of the season, stopped 14 for the Blazers. . . . At the other end, Adam Evanoff blocked 31. . . .

F Jake Poole had a goal and two assists to lead the host Kelowna Rockets to a 5-1 Rocketsvictory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Rockets now are 4-2-0. . . . The Cougars (4-7-2) have lost four in a row. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (2) gave the Rockets a 1-0 lead at 16:15 of the first period. . . . The Cougars tied it on F Jonny Hooker’s fifth goal, on a PP, at 15:49 of the second. . . . Kelowna D Tyson Feist (1) broke the tie at 18:55 and F Dylan Wightman (3) upped the lead to 3-1 at 19:38. . . . Kelowna F Alex Swetlikoff (3) added a PP goal at 1:34 of the third period, and Poole concluded the scoring with his first goal at 17:27. . . . Poole, a sixth-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, went into the game with three points, all assists, in his first five WHL games. . . .

G Dustin Wolf came within 1:58 of his 25th career shutout as the visiting Everett EverettSilvertips beat the Spokane Chiefs, 6-1. . . . Wolf, who recorded a 5-0 shutout over host Spokane on Thursday night, was beaten by F Cordel Larson at 18:02 of the third period. . . . Wolf earned his 100th career regular-season victory in his 142nd game. He is 1.83, .936 in those appearances. . . . D Zach Ashton, who went into the game with one goal in 89 career games, scored twice for Everett. . . . Ashton’s other goal came on Jan. 8, 2019, while he was with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . F Cole Fonstad (11) got Everett’s first goal, at 9:48 of the first period. . . . Everett also got goals from F Ryan Hofer (5), F Hunter Campbell (8) and F Austin Roest (2). . . . Roest, who also had an assist and was named the game’s first star, is the son of Stacy Roest, a former WHLer (Medicine Hat, 1990-95) who now is in his ninth season with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, now as assistant general manager and director of player development. . . . Wolf finished with 21 saves. . . . The Silvertips (13-3-0) have won four in a row. They lead the U.S. Division by 11 points over the idle Portland Winterhawks (6-5-3). . . . Spokane now is 4-7-3.


——

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have signed Mat Hehr, their general manager and head coach, to a contract extension that covers the next two seasons with an option for a third season. Hehr, 32, has been with the Terriers since 2016 when he signed on as an assistant coach. He stepped in as GM and head coach during the 2017-18 season.


Irony

Sutter steps down as Rebels’ head coach . . . Winterhawks win a wild one . . . Cougars end Miner’s shutout streak

I’m guessing that Brent Sutter went to bed on Friday night and spent the next few hours arguing with himself.

His Red Deer Rebels had been beaten, 6-3, by the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes a few hours earlier, their seventh straight loss dropping their record to 2-10-2.

After the game, Brent talked with Shaun Sutter, a nephew who is the Rebels’ RedDeerassistant general manager and director of personnel, and Merrick, his son who is the senior vice-president. The decision for him to step aside, Brent said, basically was reached at that time.

But there still was time for him to change his mind. After all, he’s the boss and he was born to coach.

As Sutter tossed and turned, the owner, governor, president and general manager titles were perched on one shoulder; on the other was the coach.

The argument, I’m thinking, raged all night long.

Sutter has owned the Rebels since 1999. He has been their head coach for all but five seasons since then. He spent two seasons (2007-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. And for the following three seasons, he was the Calgary Flames’ head coach.

This season, though, has been unlike any other. On the ice, it started in February for the Alberta teams. But for the likes of Sutter, with all their titles and responsibilities, it started long before then and it has gone on seemingly forever.

And then COVID-19 found the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Sutter’s son, Brandon, ended up sick — perhaps with the P.1 variant — and quarantined in his basement, with a pregnant wife and two children, ages 2 and 3, upstairs. There isn’t a more-helpless feeling than being the parent of an ailing child, even a 32-year-old NHL player, and being unable to provide help.

Combine everything — oh, and I should mention that the injury bug has hit the Rebels hard, leaving them almost out of defencemen — and it could be that Brent Sutter simply wore down.

As he told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com: “Everthing (negative) that could happen has happened.”

So, at some time in the wee hours of Saturday, Sutter, the husband and father, the owner, governor, president and general manager, won out over the coach.

Early Saturday afternoon, the Rebels announced that Sutter was out as the team’s head coach. Shaun will join assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn in running the coaching side of things.

Once the organization gets this season behind it, a decision will be made on the next head coach.

“You have to put so much time into it, and when you’re doing that plus the management side of it . . . because you’re so dialled in on the coaching side you’re not there to help out with some of the other side,” Sutter told Meachem. “Mentally it’s been really tough for everyone with the whole environment we’re in. We need to get the players upbeat again.”

Including this screwy season, Sutter has 526 regular-season WHL coaching victories, eighth on the all-time list. The Rebels won the Memorial Cup under him in 2001.

Sutter also won back-to-back World Junior Championship gold medals in 2005 and 2006 as the head coach of Canada’s national team.

“I’ve been coaching for 22 years and two months and I’ve been so dialled into it, so passionate about it,” he told Meachem. “Yet you can’t be selfish. The players and the front of the jersey always come first, no matter what. The right thing for this hockey team and this organization is for me to step down right now. For me personally, it’s the right thing.”


Spy


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here.


LethOn the ice, the Rebels were involved in one of six games played in the WHL on Saturday night. Playing in Lethbridge, the Rebels dropped a 5-2 decision to the Hurricanes, who got a goal, his third, and three assists from F Liam Kindree. . . . Lethbridge (5-6-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Rebels (2-11-2) have lost eight in a row. . . . If you’re wondering, the online game sheet didn’t list a Red Deer head coach. . . . F Logan Barlage scored his fourth goal and added two assists for Lethbridge, which also got goal No. 9 and two assists from F Justin Hall. . . . The Rebels lost D Trey Patterson, perhaps for the remainder of this season, with an undisclosed injury in Friday’s 6-3 loss to the visiting Hurricanes. The Rebels, with nine games remaining, are down to four healthy defencemen — Kyle Masters, Joel Sexsmith, Mason Ward and Jace Weir. Due to COVID-19 protocol, they aren’t able to bring in reinforcements, either. . . .

F Conor Geekie scored at 2:13 of OT to give the Winnipeg Ice a 4-3 victory over Winnipegthe Prince Albert Raiders in Regina. . . . Geekie’s fifth goal allowed Winnipeg (11-4-0) to run its winning streak to five games. . . . The Raiders (4-9-2), who have lost three straight, had erased a 3-1 deficit with second-period goals from F Michal Horon (2) and F Evan Herman (4). . . . F Peyton Krebs scored his ninth goal for the Ice, running his point streak to 14 games. He was blanked in the season’s first game, and has nine goals and 19 assists in his past 14 games. . . . Ice F Zachary Benson, 15, had a goal and an assist. The 14th overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, he’s got six goals and seven assists in 15 games. . . .

F Tristen Robins scored twice and added an assist to help the Saskatoon Blades Bladesto a 4-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . F Brayden Yager (4) gave Moose Jaw (7-8-1) at 1-0 lead at 9:01 of the first period. . . . Robins, who has 10 goals, tied it at 10:20 and gave the Blades (11-2-2) the lead at 14:11. . . . F Wyatt McLeod (2) upped the lead to 3-1 at 1:25 of the second. . . . F Tate Popple (5) got the Warriors to within a goal at 17:57, but Saskatoon F Kyle Crnkovic (6) scored shorthanded at 1:10 of the third. . . .

On most nights, you would think a five-goal period would guarantee a team PortlandAlternatevictory. That wasn’t the case with the host Spokane Chiefs who, despite scoring five times in the third period, dropped a 7-6 decision to the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Winterhawks (5-4-2), who had lost three straight, scored three second-period goals and took a 4-1 lead into the third. . . . The Chiefs tied it by scoring three times in 2:19 early in the period. . . . Portland responded with three straight goals to take a 7-4 lead. . . . The Chiefs (2-5-3) finished the scoring with two goals in the final 36 seconds. . . . Portland F Simon Knak (8) was credited with the game-winner and it was rather fitting that it came into an empty net. . . . F Seth Jarvis (6) had two goals and an assist for the winners, with F Jaydon Dureau (3) adding a goal and two helpers. . . . F Adam Beckman ran his goal-scoring streak to four games with his sixth of the season. . . . The Chiefs’ last two goals came from F Ty Cheveldayoff and D Chase Friedt-Mohr, the first WHL score for each. . . .

The Tri-City Americans scored the game’s first three goals and the last three to Americanstake a 6-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. . . . F Samuel Huo (7) and F Jake Sloan (2) each had a goal and two assists for the Americans (5-5-0). . . . Everett (9-2-0), which had won its previous four games, got PP goals from F Cole Fonstad (7) and G Gage Goncalves (8) in the second period to get within a goal. . . . But F Booker Daniel (2) restored Tai-City’s two-goal lead at 16:07 of the second and Huo scored shorthanded at 11:16 of the third. . . .

F Jonny Hooker had a goal and three assists as the Prince George Cougars skated PGto a 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops. . . . Hooker drew the lone assist on F Craig Armstrong’s first goal, shorthanded, that broke a 2-2 tie at 4:40 of the second period. . . . Hooker (3) scored on a PP at 19:55, and D Hudson Thornton (1) made it 5-2 at 9:55. Thornton scored in his first WHL game. . . . D Mazden Leslie, who turns 16 on Thursday, had two goals for the Giants. He has four goals in his first six WHL games. . . . F Eric Florchuk drew three assists for Vancouver. . . . F Ethan Browne (3) scored for Prince George at 8:43 of the first period. That ended G Trent Miner’s shutout string at 234:31. Each of his previous three starts had ended in a shutout. Chris Worthy of the 1967-68 Flin Flon Bombers holds the record (265:13). . . . The Cougars (2-2-2) had lost their previous three games (0-1-2). . . . The Giants (5-2-0) had won five straight. . . . G Tyler Brennan stopped 26 shots for the Cougars. It was his final WHL game of this season as he now will join Canada’s U18 team at the IIHF World championship that opens in Frisco and Plano, Texas, on April 26.


The NHL has decreed that the Vancouver Canucks, who are still recovering from Canucksan ugly run-in with COVID-19, will return to game action on Friday. Yes, this Friday. . . . They are to play host to the Edmonton Oilers that night, and it is to start the Canucks on a schedule that calls for them to play 19 games in 31 nights. Seriously! . . . The Canucks last played on March 24. . . . The Canucks had seven games postponed. Their schedule now is to end on May 16. . . . The Canucks still had 19 players on the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and some of them, judging from reports, have been quite ill. If Saturday’s tests come back OK, the Canucks will re-open their facilities today, 12 days after F Adam Gaudette was identified as the first of their positive tests. . . . Today’s activities are to include some training and individual practice sessions. The team isn’t likely to practice as a team until Wednesday. . . . All told, the organization had 21 players and four coaches test positive.


joy


The UMass Minutemen won the NCAA men’s hockey championship on Saturday, beating the St. Cloud State Huskies, 5-0, in the final game in Pittsburgh. . . . This was UMass’s first NCAA hockey title. . . . Anthony Travalgia of College Hockey News has all the details right here.


If everything falls into place, the World men’s curling championship, which postponed all of Saturday’s games in its Calgary bubble, could hold three draws today. . . . The competition ground to a halt after four people from three different teams tested positive for COVID-19 during exit testing. Participants have to be tested before leaving the bubble, and they can’t go without a negative result. . . . Players on four other teams were deemed close contacts. Some of those teams were to have played on Saturday had play gone on as scheduled. . . . Still to be played are a qualification game between Switzerland and the U.S., the semifinals, a third-place game and the championship game. . . . The tests carried out on Friday were the first in the bubble since April 1. Dr. Bob McCormack, the event’s chief medical officer, was asked if there should have been more testing. His response: “What I would say to that is that we had a lot of discussion with experts and also Alberta Health to come up with the protocols that we felt were safe to establish a clean bubble. The bottom line is the protocols were established with experts and Alberta Health, saying this is reasonable, appropriate and safe.” . . . There are three more events scheduled for the Calgary bubble — two Grand Slam of Curling competitions and the World women’s championship that is to run from April 30 through May 9.


The Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association was to have held a Secret Dream Gap Tour showcase in St. Louis this weekend, but it had to be postponed because “of a COVID exposure one of our teams,” according to the PWHPA. The St. Louis event was to have included two games. It is expected to be rescheduled.


DST


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.


HorseGames