Ex-WHLer advocating for improved semi driver training. Again . . . NHL teams jump on NBA train . . . Two teams opt out of junior B league

Once again, Scott Thomas is calling for change in the training of big rig drivers in Canada. Thomas, a former WHL player, has been down this road before, shortly after his son, Evan, died in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, a tragedy that resulted in charges against a semi driver. Afterwards, Scott advocated for more stringent driver trainer. . . . These days, Scott is calling for change after a friend, Jeff Helperl, was involved in an accident in a construction zone near Wakaw, Sask., on Tuesday. . . . In that one, a semi rear-ended one vehicle and that resulted in a five-vehicle mess, the death of a 69-year-old man and other injuries. . . . The semi driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. . . . “Our truck drivers should be a skilled trade,” Thomas told Laura Woodward of CTV News. “They should be like plumbers, electricians, chefs. You go through a co-op program, apprenticeship and you work your way through a graduated licencing program before you’re in charge of an 18-wheeler.” . . . That story is right here.



The NHL’s players, at least those on the eight teams still involved in playoffs, jumped on board the NBA train on Thursday, meaning four games were postponed.

By postponing four games — two were to have been played Thursday and two more today — it allowed all eight of the surviving teams to participate in the protest.

With the NHL, NBA and WNBA postponing all of their games, and with NFL teams scrubbing practices and MLB moving some games, you now have to wonder: What’s next?

Do the leagues simply return to play and everybody moves on, or is it different this time? Have we witness the tipping point?

You will recall that there was a hue and cry following after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.

The athletes’ protests this week stem from the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

As I wonder what comes next, I read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Harry Edwards, a prominent sociologist who is highly respect and happens to be Black, suggested to Ron Kroichick that perhaps leagues/teams could refuse to play in Wisconsin.

“If the stars of the Bucks,” Edwards told Kroichick, “or LeBron James and Steph Curry — if athletes of this magnitude show up at the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin and say, ‘We made it here this time, but we may not make it back to the airport, because we could be stopped and shot. So what we’re asking, what we’re demanding, is change. We’re saying, Stop killing us.’

“If you have that kind of star power, with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver and the owners and the rest of the players behind them . . . Even if it comes down to saying, ‘We’re not playing any more games in Wisconsin.’ If they went in there right after breakfast, they’d have action by lunchtime.”

Of course, were that to happen in Wisconsin, there would then have to be a move to another state and another and on and on.

In reality, who knows what the next move will be. It’s just that this time things feel different. When something like this happens and it results in hockey players — Black and White — standing elbow to elbow and singing the same song it signals that something is different.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A sign of the times? Jayden Castle has organized a GoFundMe page in the hopes of helping him meet the cost of playing hockey for his junior B team in 2020-21. The intro the site reads: “Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic my hockey team has increased its fee to play to $10,000 and with a minimum wage it’s just not gonna cut it!” . . . A 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., Castle plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Sources have told Taking Note that the 20-team junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t start on Oct. 2 as it had hoped, and now is aiming for Nov. 13. It also won’t have the same 20 teams which it had last season; in fact, it now is down to 18 with the possibility of more franchises opting to sit out. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed for the foreseeable future, the Spokane Braves will take the season off and, in fact, informed their players of the decision on Thursday. The Braves are the KIJHL’s lone American entry. . . . The 100 Mile House Wranglers also are expected to take their leave, at least for one season. . . . There are believed to be other franchises pondering their immediate futures, too. They will have to decide before the KIJHL makes a number of announcements next week. . . .

Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that multiple sources have told them the Chicago Cubs are “slashing their scouting and player development staff . . . (including) scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.” . . . One week earlier, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reported that the New York Yankees began “a wave of layoffs and furloughs” that impacted minor-league coaches and support staff. . . . The Cubs and Yankees aren’t the first MLB teams to do go this route. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals also have furloughed employees. . . .

The NHL reported earlier in the week that its teams had spent another week in their bubbles without any positive tests. . . . Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that “it’s taken nearly 25,000 tests and cost nearly $8 million, but the NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test in almost five weeks. In 2020, that feels like a miracle.” . . .

The 62-team North American Hockey Classic, a minor hockey tournament that was to have been held in Winnipeg this weekend, has been cancelled. Kelly Moore of Global News reported that 61 of the 62 teams were from Manitoba, with the other from Kenora, Ont. The tournament was to be for girls and boys ages seven to 13. . . . Rhys Van Kemenade, the NAHC’s general manager, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was made because of a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Manitoba that coincide with the impending return to school. . . . The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports+Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Manitoba Blues. . . .

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have said there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice. . . . The Eagles are scheduled to open at Washington on Sept. 13, where there won’t be fans at any home games in 2020. . . . Philadelphia is to play at home on Sept. 20 and 27.


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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on a Monday night while waiting for pitchers and catchers to report . . .

Scattershooting

Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, following news that New York Giants QB Eli Manning was about to announce his retirement: “So, I’ll ask you . . do you think he’s a Hall of Famer? You can let me know by tweeting me your thoughts, but just know that I don’t care what you think because I’m a Patriots fan and Eli Manning has been dead to me for years.”


Larry Walker, the pride of Maple Ridge, B.C., is going into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., later this year. But how close was he to becoming a goaltender? . . . Legend has it that he was in camp with the WHL’s Regina Pats and ended up being cut — twice! — by general manager Bob Strumm, who is one of the most popular figures in WHL history. . . . Anyway, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post chatted with Strumm for a column that is right here.


Passwords


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Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle on the Baseball Hall of Fame: “The truth is, (Barry) Bonds deserves to be in the Hall. Not for his hitting — the PED business makes it hard to fairly evaluate Bonds’ hitting — but because baseball is the rudest sport, and Bonds should be in the Hall representing that aspect of our national pastime.”

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Ostler, again: “If I had a HOF vote, I’d write in Mike Fiers.”


The Bosa family doesn’t talk about it a whole lot, but it’s a story you are going to hear about as Super Bowl LIV (54) approaches. . . . It seems the great-grandfather of San Francisco 49ers DL Nick Bosa was a Chicago mobster who worked with Al Capone. Seriously! . . . Ron Kroichick of the San Francisco Chronicle has more right here.


Congrats to Kelly Kisio, who is to be honoured by the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen on March 1. CalgaryKisio will become the third person to be saluted as Forever A Hitmen, after players Ryan Getzlaf, who was honoured in 2015 and Andrew Ladd (2017). . . . In 18 seasons with Calgary, Kisio filled various roles, including stints as general manager, head coach and president of hockey operations. He twice was named the WHL’s executive of the year. . . . My favourite Kisio story doesn’t involve the Hitmen. In 1982-83, he was playing with HC Davos in Switzerland. He had eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. That was Kisio’s second-last game with Davos; three days later he was with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. . . . He finished that season with Davos with 87 points, 49 of them goals, in 38 games. . . . Now a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, Kisio will be honoured prior to an afternoon game against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes.


CallImportant


The NFL’s 2020 draft is to be held in Las Vegas, which now has its own franchise — the Raiders. . . . As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, points out, “The NFL has come a long way in just a few years.  About five years ago, the league would not allow Tony Romo to be a part of a Fantasy Football Convention in Las Vegas because of ‘close ties to gambling’. This year, the league will be part of a show that will close The Strip for three days.”

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Mike Leach, the new head coach of the Mississippi State football team, tweeted the other day: “Love being out in the great state of Mississippi recruiting some absolute studs! Any restaurant advice for me throughout the state?”

That was enough for The Sports Curmudgeon to come up with this response: “There was a time early in my career when I was in the Research, Development and Engineering business and I had reason to travel very extensively in the U.S. That tweet made me realize that Mike Leach’s wanderings as a head coach for the last couple of decades have taken him to places that would make him relish the idea of traveling around Mississippi. I have been to Lubbock TX and to Pullman WA and to Starkville MS. Let me just say that none of those venues can claim to be as close to the Garden of Eden as exists on Earth. If you spent a lot of time lobbying me, you might get me to concede that Pullman is a ‘bustling burb’ — but it won’t be easy. That will not be possible regarding either Lubbock or Starkville.

“Given where he has had to live for the last 20 years or so, I think I now understand why he is obsessed with pirates and aliens. There are not a lot of things to prevent his mind from wandering through the cosmos.

“As for restaurant advice, let me suggest to Coach Leach that he have some fun with his dining events. I have always wanted to go into a Denny’s for dinner and to ask the waiter to see the wine list.”


Sleep


You may have been watching when RB Raheem Mostert of the San Francisco 49ers ran for 220 yards and four touchdowns against the Green Bay Packers’ defence in the NFC final. As Mike Hart of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel put it: “There hasn’t been anything carved up like that since Emeril Lagasse was introduced to his first turkey.”


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Prior to a recent NBA game between the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, StubHub was listing tickets for as low as $4. The Left Coast Sports Babe wondered: “Are they asking or paying?”


Sportsbetting.ag, an offshore site, has listed a whole lot of prop bets for the Super Bowl. . . . Here’s one: “Which will be higher? (Tweets and retweets count). Donald Trump total tweets on 2/3/20 or the 49ers point total?” . . . Yes, Trump’s total will come from the day after the Super Bowl. . . . BTW, the over/under for Demi Lovato’s version of the U.S. anthem is two minutes one second. Take the over.


ipadexpert


You know how an NHL team now might fire its head coach and then hire a head coach who recently had been fired as the head coach of a different team? Well, it seems that trend has reached the junior A ranks. . . . The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys have hired Scott Atkinson as general manager and head coach, replacing Joe Murphy, who resigned on Jan. 15. The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks had ousted Atkinson on Dec. 30.


The Kamloops Blazers beat the host Prince George Cougars, 3-0, on Friday night, the first time in franchise history that its goaltenders have put up three consecutive shutouts. The Kamloops1Blazers had beaten the visiting Tri-City Americans, 9-0, on Jan. 18 and the host Vancouver Giants, 4-0, on Jan. 19. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 27 shots on Friday night. He blocked 21 against Vancouver, with G Rayce Ramsay turning aside 24 against the Americans. . . . The Cougars got a split on Saturday night, beating the Blazers, 3-1, and ending Kamloops’ shutout streak at a franchise-record 233 minutes 30 seconds. . . . The Blazers also put together back-to-back shutouts on Oct. 15 and 18, beating the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 4-0, and Vancouver, 6-0. Ramsay had 23 saves against the Broncos, with Garand stopping 23 in the victory over the Giants. . . .

Kamloops first posted back-to-back shutouts in 1991-92 when Corey Hirsch made 20 and 21 saves respectively in home-ice victories — 13-0 over the Tacoma Rockets and 9-0 over the Seattle Thunderbirds — on Feb. 7 and 9. . . . Kamloops scored 11 times in the second period against Tacoma. . . . Those two shutouts came in a seven-game stretch during which Hirsch put up four shutouts. . . .

Back-to-back shutouts didn’t occur again until 2006-07 when Dustin Butler did it on Jan. 10 and 13. He stopped 20 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Chiefs in Spokane, then turned aside 18 in beating the visiting Prince George Cougars, 6-0. . . .

In 2011-12, Cole Cheveldave did it on Jan. 1 and 6, blocking 22 shots in blanking the visiting Cougars, 5-0, then turning aside 32 shots in a 2-0 triumph in Prince George. . . . Cheveldave did it again in 2012-13, on March 3 and 5. He kicked out 25 shots in a 3-0 victory over the Kelowna Rockets, then stopped 14 in a 6-0 beating of Victoria. Both games were in Kamloops. . . .

It was Connor Ingram’s turn in 2016-17, when he made 28 stops in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Cougars on Feb. 19, then blocked 23 shots in a 7-0 triumph over the Edmonton Oil Kings in Kamloops on Feb. 21. . . .

One other shutout-related note involving Kamloops: In 2004-05, 19 of the Blazers’ 72 games ended in a shutout. Unfortunately for Kamloops, it was on the wrong end in 13 of those.


“Just wondering,” ponders the always deep-thinking Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Wheaties is the Breakfast of Champions, what is the Breakfast of Upsets, Coco Gauffs?”



JUST NOTES: If you watched Serena Williams lose a third-setter to China’s Qiang Wang in the third round of the Aussie Open the other night/morning, you have to wonder if we are watching the end of an era. Serena, who was the No. 8 seed, certainly seemed to be suffering from fatigue near the end of her loss to the No. 27 seed. . . . Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if Williams just once would give some credit to her opponent? . . . The NHL all-star stuff on Friday and Saturday evenings? Not in my home. The Aussie Open was on my TV. . . . One of the best things about the Aussie Open, and other tennis tournaments, is the lack of commentary while the ball is in play. . . . I did find time to watch The Irishman during the week. If you like gangster movies and know at least a bit about Jimmy Hoffa, you should like this one. If you aren’t aware, though, it’s three hours and 20 minutes long. . . . The book with the movie tie-in — The Irishman: Frank Sheeran and Closing the Case on Jimmy Hoffa — is rather good, too. . . . Sheesh! If only some people would learn the difference between cancelled and postponed!