Broncos strengthen goaltending department . . . Lions’ Rourke a treat to watch . . . Chiefs, Giants add to coaching staffs


There was an interesting trade in the WHL on Friday as the Swift Current SwiftCurrentBroncos acquired G Gage Alexander, 20, from the Winnipeg Ice for a third-round pick in the 2025 draft. . . . The 6-foot-6 Alexander, who is from Okotoks, Alta., was selected by the Anaheim Ducks in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Last season, he went 18-7-4, .911, 2.40 in 29 games with the Ice. . . . This trade gives the Broncos a 1-2 goaltending punch of Alexander and Reid Dyck, an 18-year-old who was selected by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. From Winkler, Man., the 6-foot-3 Dyck was 6-12-1, 4.26, .884 with the Broncos last season. . . . The Broncos, who didn’t make the playoffs in 2021-22, are going to want to get off to a good start in the fall. “Adding Gage gives us some depth at the position and an opportunity for us to start the season strong,” Chad Leslie, the Broncos’ general manager, said in a news release. “We feel that we are taking a step forward as a group and this addition helps us in that regard.”


Fine


Let’s check in on a couple of Dr. Google’s students . . .

It is the Detroit Tigers turn to spend time in Toronto as they play a four-game series with the Blue Jays. The Tigers arrived in Toronto minus only one COVIDunvaccinated player — left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin. . . . According to Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press, Chafin explained that “me and my wife talked about getting it or not getting it, and we decided it was best for our family if we didn’t. For me, family life and personal life comes before anything. We decided as a family it was best to go this route, and we’re willing to deal with the consequences.” . . . Chafin is having a decent season for a team that won’t be in the playoffs. He’s a southpaw, which means he’ll be in demand at Tuesday’s trade deadline. So . . . will he get vaccinated if he is traded? “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “If the situation calls for it, maybe.” . . .

Still with followers of Dr. Google, OF Andrew Benintendi, who couldn’t join his Kansas City Royals in Toronto for a recent series with the Blue Jays, apparently is thinking about getting vaccinated. All it took was a trade to the New York Yankees. The Royals won’t be in the playoffs; the Yankees will be. . . . As Larry Brooks wrote in the New York Post prior to the Royals and Yankees meeting Thursday night: “He delivered rehearsed and meaningless word salad when asked about the matter during his introductory press conference at the Stadium a couple of hours before (the game).” According to Brooks, Benintendi said: “Right now I’m still positioned in the same spot. I’m open-minded about it. I’m not against it. But time will tell as we get closer (to the Toronto series). For now I’m focused on getting comfortable here and with the guys.” . . . Of course, he now will get vaccinated. . . . The Yankees have one series left in Toronto (Sept. 26-28) and could face the Blue Jays at some point on the playoff trail.


Facebook


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Federal, provincial and municipal leaders strike landmark deal to blame each other for housing prices.


THINKING OUT LOUD: Hey, Sleeman, you can kill that 2.0 commercial, like, yesterday. I think everyone has seen it a mind-numbing number of times by now. . . . WHL training camps are about a month away. So is it safe to assume that the 22 teams are about to start posting their 2022-23 rosters on the WHL website? . . . ICYMI, the Seattle Mariners made a statement on Friday night by acquiring RHP Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds. He may have been the best starter available and you can bet Mariners’ fans will be excited now. . . . If you’re a football fan, you have to enjoy watching QB Nathan Rourke of the CFL’s B.C. Lions. He was nothing short of terrific on Friday night — 27-for-33, 336 yards, two TDs — in a 32-17 victory over the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina. The Roughriders led this one, 17-4, before Rourke took over. . . . BTW, the Lions are 5-1 for the first time since 2007.


Hooters


THE COACHING GAME:

The Spokane Chiefs have rounded out their coaching staff by hiring Stefan Legein as associate coach. Legein, 33, had been an assistant coach with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who won the 2022 Memorial Cup as the host team. He had been with Saint John since 2018. . . . In Spokane, Legein will work with head coach Ryan Smith and assistant Dustin Donaghy. . . . This completes something of a hat-trick for Legein, as he also has coached in the OHL, spending one season as the video coach for the Mississauga Steelheads. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here. . . .

Adam Maglio has joined the Vancouver Giants as their associate coach. He will work with Michael Dyck, who is heading into his fifth season as the club’s head coach. . . . Maglio, 36, is preparing for his fourth WHL season as a coach, the previous three having been spent with the Spokane Chiefs. He was in his second season as the Chiefs’ head coach when he was fired during the 2021-22 season. . . . With Vancouver, he is filling a vacancy created when Keith McCambridge signed on as an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Giants’ news release is right here. . . .

Sean Robertson has joined the junior B Saanich Predators of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . Robertson, from Cobble Hill, B.C., spent last season as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals. . . . With Saanich, he’ll be working alongside Cody Carlson, the general manager and head coach. . . .

Ryan McGill, a former WHL defenceman and coach, has signed with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils as an assistant coach under head coach Lindy Ruff. McGill, 53, was on the coaching staff of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights for the past five seasons. . . . He played in the WHL with the Lethbridge Broncos, Swift Current Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers (1985-89). He was on the Edmonton Ice/Kootenay Ice coaching staff (1996-2002), the last four-plus as head coach. . . . After coaching in the AHL and spending two seasons (2009-11) as an assistant with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, he returned to Cranbrook for three more seasons (2012-15) as head coach of the Kootenay Ice (remember them?) . . .

Former WHL player and coach Rocky Thompson has joined the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers as an assistant coach. His primary responsibility under head coach John Tortorella apparently will be the PP, which was the NHL’s poorest last season. . . . Thompson, 45, was with the San Jose Sharks in 2020-21 but left them prior to last season. At the time, he issued this statement: ”Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new league protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time. I will have no further comment on this matter.” . . . Most recently, he was with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an advisor as they won the 2022 Memorial Cup as the host team. . . . He played four seasons in the WHL, starting with the Medicine Hat Tigers and finishing up with 22 games with the Swift Current Broncos. Later, he was an assistant coach for three seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . .

Ben Walter is the new head coach of the men’s hockey team at Trinity Western University of Langley, B.C., as the Spartans prepare for their second season in Canada West. Walter is a Langley native whose pro playing career featured more than 900 games, including 607 in the AHL and stints in Austria, Finland, Japan and Sweden. . . . Last season, he worked as the skills coach with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers and also worked with the Cowichan Valley Minor Hockey Association. . . . With TWU, Walter takes over from Barret Kropf, now the general at the Prairie Hockey Academy in Caronport, Sask., where he also coaches the U-15 prep team.


Bard


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.


Green

Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


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.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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.


Sleeping

Looking for WHL rosters? Look no further . . . Thompson no longer on Sharks’ staff . . . NHL lays out restrictions for unvaccinated players

Unvaxxed


If you’re looking for WHL rosters, I would suggest that you check out the work of Alan Caldwell. He has the latest rosters right here, and you should know that they include a whole lot more than name and position. . . . And if you aren’t following him on Twitter, he’s at @smallatlarge.


The OHL, under commissioner David Branch, has issued an indefinite OHLsuspension to D Logan Mailloux of the London Knights. Yes, that’s the same Logan Mailloux who was selected by the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Branch’s reasoning behind the suspension was that Mailloux “violated the league’s expectation of appropriate conduct for an OHL player.” . . . He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement on Jan. 1 “based in part on his conduct since his return to Canada and the appropriate treatment, counselling, mentoring and/or education he receives from the date of this decision.”. . . Ken Campbell has more at his site right here.



The Prince Albert Raiders announced on Wednesday that Bruno Zarrillo is the club’s new director of player personnel, replacing Curt Brownlee “effective immediately.” . . . Brownlee had been with the Raiders since 2011, first as a scout and then as director of player personnel for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Zarillo has been scouting for the Raiders since 2011-12. . . . The last sentence of the Raiders’ news release stated: “No further comments will be made at this time.”


NoVax


You will recall that the Edmonton Elks weren’t able to play an Aug. 26 game after having 13 positive tests. That game, in Toronto against the Argonauts, now will be played on Nov. 16. . . . The Elks now will play their final three regular-season games in seven days, meeting the host Saskatchewan Roughriders on Nov. 13, playing in Toronto on Nov. 16, and facing the B.C. Lions in Vancouver on Nov. 19. . . . The Elks, Argos and Lions will be allowed to each add five players to their game rosters for those dates.


Rocky Thompson no longer is part of the San Jose Sharks’ coaching staff. The Covidformer WHL player and coach had been the NHL team’s associate coach. . . . “Due to a medical exemption that prevents me from taking the COVID-19 vaccine, under the new league protocols, I am not permitted to fulfill my duties on the Sharks coaching staff at this time,” Thompson said in a news release.”I will have no further comment on this matter.” . . . As a player, Thompson split three seasons (1994-97) between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos. He later was an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings for three seasons (2007-10). . . .

Meanwhile, in MLB, Bob Boone, a vice-president with the Washington Nationals, has quit rather than comply with the organization’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Boone, 73, is a former catcher, and is the father of New York Yankees manager Aaron and Bret, who also play in the majors. Bob had been with the Nationals since 2005. The Nationals told employees on Aug. 14 that they have until Sept. 15 to be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs unless there is a medical exemption involved.


Demons


The NHL is going to make life a lot tougher on unvaccinated players than those nhl2who have been vaccinated once the approaching season gets started. . . . Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported: “On the road, unvaccinated players will not be able to go anywhere except for the team hotel, practice facility and arena, according to a 27-page document outlining the protocols, which was obtained by ESPN. At the team hotel, unvaccinated players can’t use the bar, restaurant, gym or pool and cannot have teammates or visitors in their rooms. . . . Unvaccinated players are prohibited from carpooling or using saunas. They are encouraged not to eat and drink on flights, attend bars or clubs or eat indoors — even at home — with people outside their households or personal bubbles.” . . . Kaplan has more, a whole lot more, right here.

——

In the meantime, two NFL teams — the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers — are 100 per cent vaccinated. That’s all players and staff. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to get rolling on Thursday with the Buccaneers, the defending Super Bowl champions, entertaining the Dallas Cowboys, who were 0-4 in the preseason, if that means anything.



The Oakland A’s have closed their minor-league complex in Mesa, Ariz., at least through Sunday because of COVID-19 issues. . . . “Following a number of positive COVID-19 tests by members of the Oakland A’s organization at the Lew Wolff Training Complex, the Club will close the Mesa complex through Sunday,” a news release from the A’s reads.“We are following Major League Baseball’s recommendations for testing and protocols to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff.”


Marines


Boxer Oscar De La Hoya is in a Los Angeles hospital after having tested positive for COVID-19. De La Hoya, who said he is fully vaccinated, was quoted as saying: “I feel bad, bad, bad, bad. I have Covid, my chest doesn’t — I can’t breathe well.” . . . The 48-year-old was to have returned to the ring on Sept. 11 in Los Angeles against Vitor Belfort, a former UFC champion. That fight isn’t going to happen now. . . . De La Hoya last fought in 2008 when he lost to Manny Pacquiao.


Matt Hagan, the NHRA points leader in Funny Car and the defending champion, won’t be able to compete in the U.S. Nationals after testing positive. The Nationals are being held this weekend in Indianapolis.


Musketeers


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: General manager Steve Yzerman has made some changes to the Detroit Red Wings’ scouting staff. Two men who know their way around the WHL — Bruce Haralson and Marty Stein — are gone, while Greg Hawgood has been added. Haralson had been with the Red Wings since 1996, first as an amateur scout and then, for the past 12 seasons, as a pro scout. Before joining Detroit, he split 10 seasons between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Hartford Whalers. Stein had been an amateur scout since 1996. Hawgood, a former Kamloops Blazers defenceman who was the team’s head coach for part of one season, was a scout with the Chicago Blackhawks for the past three seasons. . . . Think about his for a minute or two — in his last three seasons with Kamloops, Hawgood put up 119, 123 and 133 points. . . .

The Regina Pats have added Ken Schneider to their staff as an assistant coach. Schneider spent the past three seasons scouting for the Pats. He is a former WHLer (Brandon, 1980-82). He has coached at various levels and was behind the bench with the Ile-des-Chenes, Man., North Stars when they won the Allan Cup as Canada’s national senior champions.


Coffee

Lynn Lake legend takes on the ‘Hammer’ . . . Remembering a fax from Rocky . . . The virus finds the QMJHL

When I was a hockey-playing teenager in Lynn Lake, Man., Steve Andrascik was THE MAN.

Two years older than me, he played two seasons (1967-69) with the Flin Flon Andrascik.Bombers, totalling 62 goals and 62 assists in 110 games. He also earned 230 penalty minutes as he sometimes rode shotgun with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. Steve was selected 11th overall by the Detroit Red Wings in the 12-team NHL’s 1968 draft — 24 players were selected over three rounds.

Steve would come home in the offseason and work in the mine. Competitive? Sometimes he would stop off at the fastball diamond on his way to work and pitch for one of the men’s teams . . . while wearing work boots.

Yes, he was a Lynn Lake legend.

As a pro, he played 77 games in the WHA and had stints in the CHL, SHL and AHL, finishing up with the Hershey Bears with whom, as I understand it, he was quite popular.

His NHL career consisted of one game, a playoff game in Madison Square Garden. After spending the 1971-72 season with the AHL’s Providence Reds — he had 14 goals, 10 assists and 104 penalty minutes in 74 games — the New York Rangers added him for their playoff run. On April 20, he was in their lineup for a 3-2 victory over Chicago in Game 3 of what would be a sweep of the Blackhawks.

The Rangers would lose the Stanley Cup final in six games to Bobby Orr’s Boston Bruins. Steve didn’t get in the New York lineup but he was along for the ride.

That brings us to the following tweet . . .

——

The tweet referencing the bout between Steve Andrascik and Dave Schultz reminded me of a WHL-related story from a few seasons back.

This is one of those stories that really is too good to try and confirm just in case it didn’t happen. It just may be one of those stories best prefaced with “Legend has it . . .”

But, hey, here it is . . .

It was early in December of 1996 and Rocky Thompson and the Medicine Hat Tigers were preparing to head out on a three-game swing into B.C. They were scheduled to visit the Kelowna Rockets (Dec. 10), Kamloops Blazers (Dec. 11) and Prince George Cougars (Dec. 13).

Defenceman Scott Parker was the man with the Rockets, while the Blazers had forward Rob Skrlac. In Prince George, Zdeno Chara, a young 6-foot-8 defenceman from Trencin, Slovakia, was making people sit up and take notice.

Thompson, of course, knew the challenges he would face on this road trip. He was in his fourth season with the Tigers, although he would be traded to the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 24, which was the trade deadline. Todd McLellan, the Broncos’ general manager and head coach, acquired Thompson, 19, and sniper Josh Green, 19, for F Tyler Perry, 19; F Andrew Milne, 18; D Kevin Mackie, 15; F Brett Scheffelmaier, 15; and a 1997 second-round bantam draft pick.

But that trade was yet to happen.

Preparing to head into the rugged B.C. Division, Thompson was well aware of just who would be his dance partners.

He knew all about Parker and Skrlac, both of whom were WHL veterans. But, hey, what about the new guy in Prince George?

Well, Thompson thought it would be a good idea to really test the new guy, so before heading out on the road he sent a fax to Chara via the Cougars’ office. “I’m coming for you” is all it read.

The Tigers opened the trip in Kelowna and, true to form, Thompson and Parker scrapped right off the opening faceoff. Moments before the puck was dropped, Parker skated up from the Kelowna blue line and traded shots with the Rockets’ starting right winger, which put him nose-to-nose with Thompson, who was lined up at left wing. The epic bout that followed is available on YouTube.

One night later, Thompson was back in the Tigers’ lineup in Kamloops, but as hard as Skrlac tried in the early going he wasn’t able to engage the Medicine Hat tough guy. Eventually, the referee approached Thompson and  asked if he had plans to accommodate Skrlac. Thompson told him that he had damaged a hand in the bout with Parker so wasn’t about to scrap with Skrlac.

Two nights later, Thompson picked up a roughing minor in Prince George, but there wasn’t a bout with Chara.

The best laid plans — and sent faxes — and all that . . .

BTW, the Tigers made out just fine on the trip, beating the Rockets 5-4 in OT on a goal by F Jason Chimera at 4:48 of extra time, winning 3-1 in Kamloops and earning a 2-2 OT tie (remember ties?) in Prince George.

Of course, we are referencing the same Rocky Thompson who, at the age of 43, is preparing for his first season as an associate coach with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He spent the previous three seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. He also was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for two seasons, helping them to the 2017 Memorial Cup title.



These are interesting times in major junior hockey, where the OHL and WHL are qmjhlnewhoping to get their regular seasons started in December. The QMJHL, meanwhile, has one weekend under its belt and has lost three teams. . . . The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have suspended all in-person activities. That comes after an Armada player tested positive following a weekend doubleheader between the teams. . . . At the same time, the Armada and Quebec Remparts have been shut down at least for the rest of this month as they are in a red zone as defined by the provincial government. . . . Armada staff and players are in isolation as they await further testing and results, and the outcome of contact tracing. . . . The Armada and Remparts each has eight games on their October schedules.

From a QMJHL news release:

“Following the Quebec government’s announcement to prohibit the practice of sports in the designated red zones, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is very disappointed in this decision.

“The conduct of our activities has been above reproach since the start of training camps at the end of August. The return to play protocol was approved and applauded by public health officials in Quebec and by the three Maritime-based provinces in which the league operates. It has been hailed as thorough and effective. The league would like to congratulate the players and team staffs for its flawless execution.

“Over the course of the next few days, we will share with Quebec public health officials additional measures which will render the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada’s and Quebec Remparts’ bubbles even more secure. We hope that these new directives will be well-received by Quebec’s health agency. The QMJHL is convinced that these additional measures will go above and beyond what is required to protect our players, staffs and officials and enable all of our teams to continue playing.”


That’s Kelly Olynyk at the left of the photo in the following tweet. He and his Miami Heat are scheduled to play Game 4 of the NBA final tonight in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers lead the best-of-seven series, 2-1.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

F Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers tested positive on Monday. According to the Oilers, he is “in voluntary self-quarantine at his home. He will continue to be monitored and will follow all associated health protocols. He is feeling well and is experiencing mild symptoms.” . . .

Kevin Sumlin, the head coach of the Arizona football team, has tested positive. He is in self-isolation while contact tracing is conducted. His team is scheduled to begin practising on Friday, with its first game scheduled for Nov. 7 against host Utah. . . . “My family and I have been aggressive in our efforts to remain safe and healthy throughout the past seven months,” Sumlin said in a statement. “My positive test result, while a shock, is a stark reminder of how we must all remain vigilant in our focus on hand washing, physical distancing and face coverings.” . . . At least four FBS coaches have tested positive since July, the others being Florida State’s Mike Norvell, Jason Candle of Toledo and Blake Anderson of Arkansas State. . . .

Bobby Bowden, who spent 34 years as the head coach of the Florida State football team, has tested positive. Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat reported that Bowden, who will turn 91 next month, “tested positive following his release from (a Tallahassee) hospital last weekend while being treated for an unrelated leg infection.” . . . He had been released from hospital on Thursday and was informed on Saturday that he had tested positive. . . . Bowden retired in 2009 after 44 seasons as a football coach.


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.


%d bloggers like this: