Jets won’t be landing in Saskatoon . . . WHL has 15 teams on pause; two others cleared to return; weekend sked down to two games


As of Friday afternoon, the WHL had 15 teams on pause “as a result of multiple players and staff” having been placed on the COVID-19 protocol list “due to Covidexhibiting symptoms or having tested positive.”

The Calgary Hitmen, Edmonton Oil Kings, Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders, Prince George Cougars, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Tri-City Americans, Victoria Royals and Winnipeg Ice all went into the weekend having paused all team-related activities.

At the same time, the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos were cleared to return. In fact, they are scheduled to play on Wednesday in Lethbridge.

As a result of all this, the WHL also postponed eight more games — Spokane at Seattle (Teddy Bear Game), tonight (Saturday); Calgary at Regina, Prince Albert at Edmonton, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Tuesday; and, Calgary at Moose Jaw, Spokane at Victoria, and Kelowna at Prince George, on Wednesday.

You may recall that Spokane was to have visited Victoria on Nov. 12 and 13, but that doubleheader was postponed after two of the Chiefs tested positive. Going into the Christmas break, those were the only two positive tests in the 22-team WHL to that point. The total number of positive tests now likely is somewhere north of 100.

With the postponement of tonight’s game in Spokane, it means that only two of the 23 games originally scheduled for this weekend are still alive — the Portland Winterhawks are to visit Kelowna tonight and then play the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C., on Sunday.

The Winterhawks, who left four players in Portland because of protocol, have added three 16-year-olds to their roster for the two weekend games — F Josh Zakreski of the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers, F Nick Johnson of the Calgary-based Edge School’s U-18 prep team, and D Rhett Ravndahl of the U-18 Prince Albert Mintos.

The Winterhawks were to have played in Kamloops last night. That game was postponed, of course, after the Blazers came up with a number of positives. The Winterhawks practised in Kamloops on Friday morning, then climbed on the bus and headed for Kelowna.

Despite all that has gone on, including 34 postponements since Christmas, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a statement that the league and its teams “remain fully committed to playing through” a 68-game regular season and playoffs.

Remember that not all of the postponements have been due to COVID-19. A handful of games in Brandon and Winnipeg have been postponed because of the provincial government restricting attendance, while a few games this weekend were scrubbed because of inclement weather in the Pacific Northwest.

——

If you are wondering about the WHL’s procedure in dealing with COVID-19, this is from a news release issued on Friday:

“WHL clubs are responsible for monitoring for symptoms of COVID-19 among players and hockey operations staff on a daily basis. Upon a player or hockey operations staff member exhibiting symptoms, the individual completes a rapid antigen test and isolates. If the rapid antigen test result is positive, the individual is sent for a PCR test to confirm the positive result and determine next steps.

“If there are multiple rapid antigen positive test results for COVID-19, WHLall team activities are paused immediately. The entire team completes one round of PCR testing and isolates until the results are received and the WHL Chief Medical Officer is made aware of the situation. The WHL, in consultation with its Chief Medical Officer, treats each situation as unique. As such, the WHL Chief Medical Officer reviews all positive test results and scenarios on a case-by-case basis, factoring in a number of variables, including travel, recent schedule, and potential exposures that may have occurred.”


Idol


Because of COVID-19, there are all kinds of moving parts in the WHL these days. BrandonLet’s take a look at the Brandon Wheat Kings’ upcoming schedule. . . . The Wheat Kings are one of seven teams not have had to pause team activities. But that doesn’t mean that won’t be impacted. . . . First, they were to have entertained the Calgary Hitmen last night (Friday), but that game was postponed because of the attendance restrictions imposed by the Manitoba government. . . . In the coming week, the Wheat Kings are scheduled to venture into Alberta for four games in five nights. But all four opponents — Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary — have been shut down by the WHL as part of their protocols. . . . After that road trip, the Wheat Kings next games are scheduled for home ice, against the Regina Pats on Jan. 21 and Jan. 22. But what if the provincial government hasn’t lifted its restrictions by that time? . . . And so it goes. . . . One would assume that the Wheat Kings have a few uncertain days ahead of them as they and so many others wait to see if/how this all sorts itself out. . . . The Wheat Kings also were planning a reunion of the 1978-79 WHL championship team and had hoped to hold it on the Feb. 4 weekend. The reunion was postponed on Friday, and the organization now is looking to hold it at some point during the 2022-23 season.


The BCHL put the Merritt Centennials and Vernon Vipers on pause for at least five days on Friday, citing COVID-19 protocol and provincial health regulations. The Vipers had three games postponed, while the Centennials lost a pair.


So . . . there are reports of a racial slur having been made during a junior B hockey game in Prince Edward Island on Dec. 17. It seems that a player on the Kensington Vipers directed the slur at a player on the Sherwood Metros. The guilty party drew a two-game suspension for his transgression. . . . Keegan Mitchell, 20, of the Metros was suspended for two games for slashing the offender across the legs in retribution. . . . Then, on Jan. 5, Mitchell took to social media and criticized officials for their response to the incident. . . . The Canadian Press reported that Mitchell posted: “For those of you who know me personally or through hockey, I am almost absolutely certain you recognize me as someone who always stands up for themselves, but more importantly for my friends and teammates. If Hockey P.E.I. took these scenarios as seriously as they say they do, this player would have been suspended appropriately. . . . A two-game suspension for a racist slur is absolutely disgraceful.” . . . Mitchell added that the “pitiful suspension is making our whole community look racist.” . . . This week, Mitchell was suspended indefinitely by Hockey P.E.I. for violating the league’s social media policy. Mitchell was told that has been found to be “a member not in good standing.” . . . Seriously! . . . There’s more right here.


Ricky


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

As expected, Matt O’Dette, the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, has heard from the WHL’s Dept. of Discilpine and was dinged for $500 “for public comments” following a 2-0 loss to the host Portland Winterhawks on New Year’s Eve. . . . Among other things, O’Dette told Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com: “I saw the worst officiated game in my nine years in the WHL, plain and simple.” . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles signed Chadd Cassidy as their head coach on Friday. Cassidy, who is from Lake Placid, N.Y., replaces Jake Grimes, who stepped down on Nov. 30, citing personal and family reasons. Assistant coach Matt Anthony stepped in as interim head coach. . . . Cassidy began this season as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers. . . .

In the OHL, the Kingston Frontenacs had only 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defencemen — available for a game against the visiting Peterborough Petes on Friday night. The Petes won, 6-5, snapping Kingston’s eight-game winning streak. . . . The OHL had eight games scheduled last night, but had to postpone four of them. . . . It also has postponed four of 11 games scheduled for Saturday.


The 2022 Saskatchewan Winter Games organizing committee announced Friday that the Games have been cancelled “due to COVID-19 to ensure the health and safety of all participants.” . . . The Games were to have been held in Regina, Feb. 20-26.


FixinTo


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.


Hearing

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while not watching the World Series game . . .

Scattershooting2

Hello, Interior Health . . . anyone home? Call for you on Line 1 . . . and Line 2 . . . and Line 3 . . . and . . .

Hey, Interior Health, when you say there’ll be news on Friday and then you stiff the commoners without so much as a whisper, well, we’re into Wednesday and we’re still waiting. Oh, and the people whose livelihoods are being messed with also are waiting.

Maybe it’s time for you to lift the veil of secrecy or come out from under the cone of silence and explain why you do the things you do. Tell them the gypsy fortune teller didn’t show up for work, or that it’s the health ministry that operates the puppet strings that control the messages you send out. Tell them something. Anything.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s Provincial Health Officer, announced on Oct. 19 that restrictions on attendance at some sporting events — including Vancouver Canucks’ home games — were to be lifted. (Yeah, I know. I was shocked at the timing of that one, too.)

When the announcement was made, the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets were among those to express relief. But, wait, not so fast . . .

It turned out that while the lifting of restrictions also included the Vancouver Giants, who play their home games in Langley, and the Victoria Royals, it didn’t apply to the Prince George Cougars, who are in the Northern Health Region, or the Blazers and Rockets, who are within the Interior Health Authority. So those three teams are left to operate under a restriction that allows them to sell only 50 per cent of available seats in their arenas.

Why? If it really is because of the hospitalization (high) and immunization rates (low) out here in the boonies, why not say so? Why not tell that to the teams on Friday?

“We kind of felt when Dr. Henry made her announcement that would be all Rocketsencompassing,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner and general manager, told Madison Erhardt of castanet.net for a story that is right here. “I understand they have decided now to have some regional rules put in where we didn’t have that most of the year. In the Northern region things are tougher up there right now than they are down here. But for you to allow Vancouver and Victoria to get going it has such a huge impact on our business and not just us.

“We just don’t understand it and we can’t get any answers and I guess that is the biggest frustration.”

Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week reported Tuesday morning that the WHL “has formally requested exemption from Interior Health’s indoor spectator limit of 50 per cent of a facility’s capacity.”

The newspaper got its hands on an email sent by Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, to Dr. Sue Pollock, the IHA’s interim chief medical health officer, on Monday.

“Given the preventative measures we have taken, combined with the public health guidelines currently in place in the province of B.C., we believe that WHL games in Kamloops and Kelowna represent no significant risk to the Interior public health system,” the email reads.

“With this in mind and given our proven track record with the WHL hub centres in Interior B.C., we would formally request that the Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets be granted an exemption from the indoor events capacity order and be permitted to operate at 100 per cent spectator capacity.”

In his story, Hastings pointed out that “there has been some confusion as to whether the 50 per cent capacity limits in Interior Health were eliminated by last week’s decision to lift capacity limits. Interior Health stated it would have clarification by Oct. 23, but the health authority did not address the matter by that date and has yet to respond to myriad media requests for answers on the issue.”

At a media briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Henry claimed that the situation is fluid.

“We’re looking at this on a day-to-day basis,” she said, “and I do believe it will be settling in the next few days and I’m hoping that we’ll be able to lift restrictions and get back to those important hockey games and arts and other events safely and very soon.”

At the same time, Dr. Henry explained: “Where we are still seeing high rates of transmission and low rates of immunization, those are all things that are important and we take into account.”

She also stated that “we’re not at the point where we feel we can take that risk of allowing that type of activity to occur with the stresses that are on the healthcare system right now.”

It would seem then that the Blazers, Cougars and Rockets are out of lock for the immediate future.

As for Robison’s request, perhaps he should have emailed Dr. Henry because she’s the one who pulls the strings.


Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, in a column on former football coaches Jon Gruden and Nick Rolovich, one of whom emailed his way out of the Las Vegas Raiders’ organization and the other of whom was fired as Washington State’s head football coach because he refused to be vaccinated:

“Too often coaches, operating in their own little fiefdoms, are insulated from the real world. They are awarded absurd amounts of power, compensation and fealty for coaching a sport. A study of the highest-paid state employees in 2021 reveals that in 41 states, the highest paid state employee is either a basketball or football coach (including California, where the dubious honor goes to UCLA football coach Chip Kelly).”

Yes, Rolovich was the highest paid state employee in Washington.

BTW, if you aren’t familiar with the Rolovich situation, well, Google is your friend. He has since filed a lawsuit against Washington State claiming that he was fired because of his — wait for it — Catholicism.

——

Headline at fark.com: “The NFL has investigated all the emails, and found it was only Jon Gruden being racist and homophobic. Trust us. Pinky swear. Honest.”

——

As you will be aware, Jon Gruden’s emails surfaced in an NFL investigation into the operation of the Washington Football Club. Despite going through 650,000 emails, the NFL claimed only some from Gruden were found to be sketchy. As Nick Canepa of The San Diego Union-Tribune put it: “Football’s Warren Report. Gruden acted alone.”


Clowns


Three notes from Jack Todd in the Montreal Gazette: “With their roster, the Los Angeles Lakers are a lock for the 2012 NBA championship. . . . The only way a World Series between the can-banging Astros and the tomahawk-chopping Braves could be worse is if the Blue Jays had made it. . . . . Has it occurred to Tyler Bertuzzi that he’s a really rotten teammate?”


It’s believed that Tyler Bertuzzi, a forward with the Detroit Red Wings, is the only unvaccinated player left in the NHL. That’s because G Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils got his first vaccination last week. He has begun the process but will have to follow the NHL protocols for unvaccinated players until two weeks after he gets a second dose. . . . You wonder if the fact that he has a chance to be part of Canada’s Olympic team factored into his decision to finally get vaccinated?


We have news from Calgary . . .


As of Tuesday afternoon, the Chicago Blackhawks had five players in COVID-19 Covidprotocol — F Jonathan Toews, F Henrik Borgstrom, F Patrick Kane, D Riley Stillman and F Jujhar Khaira — along with assistant coaches Marc Crawford, Tomas Mitell and Jimmy Waite. . . . The Blackhawks, who have yet to win this season (0-5-1), face the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs tonight. . . .

The St. Louis Blues placed F Ryan O’Reilly and F Brandon Saad on the non-roster COVID list on Tuesday. . . . O’Reilly has tested positive and is experiencing symptoms. He will miss at least four games. . . . Saad sat out the past two games and is expected to miss at least two more, including Thursday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. . . . The Blues are 5-0-0 in the early going of this season. . . .

The Minnesota Wild is on a road trip without assistant coach Darby Hendrickson, goaltender coach Freddy Chabot and video assistant T.J. Jindra, all of whom are in COVID protocol. . . . Wild general manager Bill Guerin was in protocol and will rejoin the team in Seattle on Thursday. . . .

Matt Nagy, the head coach of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, announced on Monday that he has tested positive for COVID-19. They had placed RT Elijah Wilkinson and LB Caleb Johnston on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Sunday morning. . . . The Bears are scheduled to entertain the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon. . . .

The Green Bay Packers (6-1) have placed WR Davante Adams and WR Allen Lazard on the NFL’s reserve/COVID-19 list, meaning they’re not likely to play Thursday night against the host Arizona Cardinals (7-0). As well, Green Bay defensive co-ordinator Joe Barry tested positive on Monday. . . . Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who had bye last weekend, have activated DL Zach Allen and LB Chandler Jones from the list.



Unsubscribe


You may be aware that there was some nasty weather off the West Coast coming WHLout of the weekend and that it resulted in the cancellation of a number of ferry sailings to and from Vancouver Island. As a result, the WHL had to reschedule a Tuesday night game that had been scheduled for Prince George. The Victoria Royals were to have been in Prince George for the fifth straight game between these teams — the Cougars won the first four. . . . But the Royals weren’t able to get off the island, so that game has been moved to Jan. 18. . . . The Royals are still scheduled to be in Prince George for a game tonight. . . . Victoria, with nine roster players injured, is scheduled to meet the Blazers in Kamloops on Friday and the Rockets in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . BTW, the Royals have dropped Austrian G Sebastian Wraneschitz, 19, from their roster. He was selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . .

Meanwhile, there was one WHL game on Tuesday night . . .

In Red Deer, the Winnipeg Ice ran its record to 10-0-0 with a 3-1 victory over the Rebels. . . . The last WHL team to open a season with 10 straight victories? The 2014-15 Kelowna Rockets. . . . F Skyler Bruce (6) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:48 of the third period and F Connor McClennon (9) iced it with the empty-netter. . . . F Arshdeep Bains played in his 200th regular-season game with the Rebels (6-4-1). . . . The Ice has outscored its opponents, 61-18. . . . The Ice is scheduled to visit the Calgary Hitmen (4-3-0) tonight and the Edmonton Oil Kings (6-2-1) on Friday.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “St. Louis pitching prospect Dalton Roach was bitten by a black bear while bow hunting in Wisconsin. Cubs-Cardinals vitriol, it appears, knows no offseason.”

——

Perry also spotted this tweet from Mark Whicker of the Orange County Register: “Congratulations to the first person who said Kyrie Irving finally found a shot he couldn’t take.”


Headline at @TheOnion: Astros Hope Victory Will Inspire Kids To Break Rules Without Punishment.

——

Headline at The Beaverton: No one on Raptors has the heart to tell Drake he’s not on the team.


Stupid


I’ve got a couple of early Christmas presents for you, both from Jeff Pearlman, who knows his way around a keyboard. Both of these pieces are lengthy, so don’t think you’ll read them both in one sitting. Set one aside for a different pot of coffee or tea.

First, right here is a list of what Pearlman calls his “64 favourite sports writers of 2021.”

And then there’s this right here. . . . Pearlman’s list of what he considers to be the top 50 all-time sports books.



JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings have signed general manager and head coach Cody Mapes to a three-year contract that will run through the 2023-24 season. Mapes had been an assistant coach with the Red Wings for two years. He was promoted on Aug. 4 after the Red Wings dropped GM/head coach Rich Pilon on Aug. 4, with team president Brent Stephanson saying at the time that “there are no further details at this time due to legal reasons.” . . . The Red Wings are 3-6-2 and tied for third place in the four-team Viterra Division. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders have added F Carter Massier, 20, to their roster and dropped F Michael Horon, 20. After being dropped by the Regina Pats, Massier had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . .

Former Kamloops Blazers D Nolan Baumgartner, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be inducted into the AHL Hall of Game on Feb. 7 in Laval, Que. Baumgartner played in 878 AHL games, splitting them between the Portland Pirates, Norfolk Admirals, Manitoba Moose, Philadelphia Phantoms, Iowa Stars and Chicago Wolves. He also was an assistant coach for five AHL seasons with Vancouver affiliates in Utica, N.Y., and Chicago.


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.


Tinfoil

Robison: WHLers completely vaccinated as its regular season begins . . . OHL hires female linesperson, too . . . SJHL lowers boom on Millionaires


The WHL opens is 2021-22 regular season tonight (Friday) with seven games — WHL2in Brandon, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Swift Current, Edmonton and Kennewick, Wash. . . . If you are planning to attend a game, make sure you check to see what restrictions are in place in terms of requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test, etc. And please be patient when entering the arena, keeping in mind that the folks doing the checking aren’t the ones who put the restrictions in place.

——

——

——

As the WHL opens its 2021-22 regular season, Ron Robison, its commissioner, said all is well with its vaccination mandate. . . . “We received excellent co-operation on that level,” Robison said in a video posted to the WHL’s website. “Prior to mandating, we had over 95 per cent and now we have 100 per cent of the players and staff fully vaccinated.”


The Jacksonville Jaguars are 0-4 after losing, 24-21, to the Bengals in Cincinnati on a last-play field goal on Thursday night.


Kirsten Welsh worked a game between the host Mississauga Steelheads and the OHLGuelph Storm on Thursday night, become the first female linesperson in OHL history. Welsh, from Blackstock, Ont., will be a part of the OHL’s officiating team for the 2021-22 season. . . . Welsh’s OHL debut came six nights after Alex Clarke, from Weyburn, Sask., became the first female linesperson in WHL history when she worked an exhibition game between the Regina Pats and host Moose Jaw Warriors. She will be working WHL games all of this season.


Gators


The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires haven’t had a good start to their season. . . . MelvilleThe league announced on Sept. 23 that the team was being shut down indefinitely due to a positive COVID-19 test within the organization. . . . Now the league has suspended general manager/head coach Mike Rooney and five players for a total of 35 games for their involvement in “an incident on Friday, Sept. 24.” . . . Rooney drew a 10-game suspension and also was fined $1,500. . . . The SJHL hit each of the five players with a five-game suspension — G Alexis Giroux, 19; F Braden Larochelle, 20; D Aiden Robson, 19; F Nicolas Samson, 19; and F Charles Thomas-Larochelle, 18. . . . Steven Wilson of discoverweyburn.com reported that the discipline was handed down “after an off-ice incident,” but added “the exact nature of the incident was not disclosed by the league.” . . . The Millionaires were to have opened the regular season on Sept. 24 against the host Weyburn Red Wings. That game was postponed as were games scheduled for Sept. 25 and 29, and Oct. 1. The next Melville game on the schedule is Sunday against the host Kindersley Klippers. . . . With Rooney ineligible, one would suppose that first-year assistant coach Daven Smith will run the bench.


Yes, Thanksgiving almost is upon us; at least, it is in Canada . . . but it’s never too early for this . . .


Vaccine


The New York Times has a daily email — The Daily — that subscribers can choose to receive. I found this interesting on Thursday morning:

“The United States owes its existence as a nation partly to an immunization mandate.

“In 1777, smallpox was a big enough problem for the bedraggled American army that George Washington thought it could jeopardize the Revolution. An outbreak had already led to one American defeat, at the Battle of Quebec. To prevent more, Washington ordered immunizations — done quietly, so the British would not hear how many Americans were sick — for all troops who had not yet had the virus.

“It worked. The number of smallpox cases plummeted, and Washington’s army survived a war of attrition against the world’s most powerful country. The immunization mandate, as Ron Chernow wrote in his 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Washington, ‘was as important as any military measure Washington adopted during the war.’

“In the decades that followed, immunization treatments became safer (the Revolutionary War method killed 2 percent or 3 percent of recipients), and mandates became more common, in the military and beyond. They also tended to generate hostility from a small minority of Americans.”


Brain


Were you even aware that there was a Ukrainian Hockey League before one player showed his racist side and then got less than a slap on the wrist for his disgusting action? . . . And now it isn’t about to go way. Let’s be honest here; the offender should have gotten a life sentence from hockey. Period. . . . Eugene Kolychev, who had been the league’s general manager, spoke out in favour of harsher discipline and was fired the next day. . . . And we wonder why this stuff just won’t go away. . . . It seems to me that the puck now is in the IIHF’s end of the ice.


Ankle


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: Former NHLer Andrei Nazarov (San Jose, Tampa Bay, Calgary, Anaheim, Boston, Phoenix, Minnesota, 1993-06) is back in the coaching game in the KHL. HK Sochi has fired head coach Evgeny Stavrovsky and replaced him with Nazarov, an ex-NHL enforcer who hasn’t had a coaching job since Neftekhimik fired him almost three years ago.


Cigar

Terrific series on Wheat Kings wraps up . . . Robison says “95 per cent” of WHL players, staff fully vaccinated . . . Virus loose in Pil Country?

Vacation

After posting this, I’m outta here for a bit.

I’m taking some time off to prepare for the fourth or fifth or sixth wave, or whatever it is, that now has its tentacles all around us.

Health officials in B.C. revealed 717 new positives on Friday — up from 513 on Thursday — which tells me that we are headed back to mandatory masking and more restrictions. For what? The third time? Fourth time? I actually have lost count.

How many times do we have to go through this before the people who make these decisions reach the conclusion that we can’t just keep doing this? Open . . . close . . . open . . . close . . . on with the mask . . . off with the mask . . . on with the mask . . . off with the mask . . .

Oh, and by the way, one of these days it may dawn on the decision-makers that recommendations don’t carry a whole lot of water with a number of people. Yes, it’s far past time to ditch the carrot and go to the stick . . . make it a big stick.

I don’t know who said it first — “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result” — but that someone surely had today’s society in mind. Because that is exactly what we keep doing. Over and over and over and over and over again.

I mean, really, are we any further ahead today than we were a year ago?

Of course we are, if only because there are a whole lot of people who are fully vaccinated. But B.C. is running more than 700 positives a day and Alberta is above 500. Alberta announced 582 positives on Friday, its third straight day above 500. Earlier in the day, the Alberta government backtracked on plans to lift most of its restrictions on Monday, saying that it will revisit things in six weeks.

What has become obvious is that the Delta variant is running the show now, and six weeks from now might not be much better, if at all, than what we are living with today.

While I’m away, get vaccinated, if you haven’t already, wear your mask when indoors and wash your hands . . . and stay safe.


If you haven’t already, you really should check out the 17-day series that Perry BrandonBergson put together for the Brandon Sun. It’s an oral history of the Brandon Wheat Kings’ 1978-79 season, the one in which they lost only five regular-season games, then went on to win the WHL championship before losing 2-1 in OT to the Peterborough Petes in the Memorial Cup final. That final game was to have been played in the Montreal Forum, but ended up in the arena in Verdun, Que., all of which is a story in itself. . . . Anyway, the gang at The Sun ran a whole lot of stories that appeared in the paper during that season, and Bergson interviewed almost every player who was on the Wheat Kings’ roster. Those interviews provide great insight into exactly what a WHL team goes through as it rides a bus through the grind of a championship season. . . . The series concludes in Saturday’s Sun, after which Bergson should take a bow.


Clubbing


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, says that 95 per cent of his league’s players and team staff are fully vaccinated. He made that statement in an WHL2interview with Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show.

At the same time, Robison said the WHL isn’t following the OHL and QMJHL in mandating vaccinations, although he admitted that may change.

“We have strongly recommended to our players, staff and hockey operations side to be fully vaccinated in time for training camp and start of the regular season,” Robison said. “We have not taken the position of mandating it yet. . . . Through education and discussions with players and staff we’re over 95 per cent currently vaccinated. We’re not sure we’ll need to take the mandated position.

“But, quite frankly, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be vaccinated in order to play in our league because of the cross-border travel with the U.S., and currently some restrictions that are in place in Manitoba for quarantine if you’re not vaccinated. I think it really speaks to the fact that everyone needs to be vaccinated; we’re hopeful we’ll be able to get to 100 per cent and we’ll deal with those circumstances where there are some exceptions along the way.”

The WHL’s 22 teams will be opening training camps on Sept. 1.

When Flaming asked why the WHL hasn’t mandated vaccinations, Robison replied:

“That’s something we are continuing to consider. We started out in the process (hoping) that the restrictions would be relaxed further. That hasn’t occurred so as a result of that we may have to take some further measures and mandate it. But at this particular stage we haven’t taken that big step.”

You are able to hear the complete interview right here, and you should know it covers a lot more than COVID-19.


Some headlines from Friday in WHL territory . . .

CBC News — British Columbia announced 717 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday — the highest daily case count since May 7 when the number was 722.

KIRO7 Seattle — COVID-stricken Oregon deploys National Guard to hospitals.

Daniel E. Slotnik, The New York Times — Oregon will deploy at least 500 National Guard troops to help its hospitals deal with a flood of coronavirus patients, as the state faces the largest wave of infections it has seen during the pandemic, the state’s governor said on Friday. . . . The governor, Kate Brown, said that hospitals were at risk of becoming overwhelmed, with 733 Oregonians hospitalized with severe cases of Covid-19, including 185 in intensive care. . . . The surge comes despite Oregon’s relatively high rate of vaccination, a fact that Ms. Brown noted in a videotaped address. “I know this is not the summer many of us envisioned with over 2.5 million Oregonians vaccinated against Covid-19,” Ms. Brown said. “The harsh and frustrating reality is that the Delta variant has changed everything.”


Salmon



The junior A Buffalo Jr. Sabres, who play in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, announced Friday that they won’t play in 2021-22 “due to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on cross-border travel.” They also sat out whatever there was of the 2020-21 season. . . . If you’re in B.C., this makes one wonder about the immediate future of the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild and the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Neither the Wild nor the Braves played in their respective leagues in 2020-21.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, was making a case one day this week for these being the Dog Days of August because, as he put it, “while we are sweltering in the heat and humidity, there is a dearth of juicy sporting attractions to take our minds off our discomfort.” . . . I was trying to find a way to disagree with him, but I gave it up after he wrote this: “Finally, to demonstrate what I mean by having a dearth of things to write about in these Dog Days of August, consider this headline from (Tuesday) at CBSSports.com in the world of college football — LSU’s live tiger mascot, Mike VII, is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.”



Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, prior to Thursday’s Field of Dreams MLB game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox in Dyersville, Iowa: “Wouldn’t it add a comforting realism if the White Sox players actually conspire with real gamblers to throw this game?”


Stretcher

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CTV News Regina — The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) is warning of an increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the Pil Country section at Mosaic Stadium at the Roughriders game on August 6. The SHA said a person or persons attended the game while infectious with COVID-19, between the hours of 5:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. Contact tracing is underway, however, the SHA added that the location of the case or cases in the Pil Country end zone makes contact tracing efforts difficult.

——

CBC News — The University of Saskatchewan announced Friday it expects all students, faculty and staff returning to campus this fall to be vaccinated against COVID-19, a move the U of S faculty association and student union have been calling for. (Note: The U of Saskatchewan was the first Canada West school to mandate vaccinations.)

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Global News — The University of Regina is following the steps of other Canadian universities by requiring all faculty, staff and students to have both doses of COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1.

——

A Friday afternoon tweet from Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada: “NHL sent a memo updating vaccination requirements to its teams: ‘Any person whose job, role, position or access entails or entitles them to have personal interactions (within 12 feet) with Club Hockey Operations personnel (including Players) are required to be Fully Vaccinated.’ ”

He added: “There are some limited exceptions — such as valet parking attendants. NHL/NHLPA protocols for players are not yet completed.”


Cure


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.


Scissors

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about the (mis-)state of NHL officiating . . .

Scattershooting2


Had you suggested to me in January that I would have two shots of Pfizer in me by now, I would have told you that you were nuts. But that’s the case. I got Pfizer’d for a second time on Saturday, 10 days after Dorothy got her second dose. . . . We got all four of our shots at the Tournament Capital Centre in Kamloops and, let me tell you, the operation there was running like a a well-oiled machine. On Saturday afternoon, I had a 2:15 appointment. I walked in the door at 2 o’clock. Got my shot at 2:06. Was on my way out the door at 2:21.

——

On the way home, I made one stop, ducking into a small grocery store to get some plastic utensils. You know . . . just in case.


Here are a few notes of interest from Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, from a piece on the website on Tuesday: “In the 2016 season, there were 3,294 more hits than strikeouts in the majors. By 2018, strikeouts had narrowly overtaken hits. And if the 2021 numbers continue at the current rates, there will be about 5,200 more strikeouts than hits this season.” . . . Yes, MLB has a problem.


It was with some interest that I noticed Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, WHL2was given a three-year contract extension by the board of governors the other day, and that the pooh-bahs had voted unanimously in favour of it. He has been in his office for 21 years, which is as long as Ed Chynoweth ruled the league, albeit in two separate stints. Interestingly, I don’t ever recall Chynoweth having unanimous support when it came time for a new deal. . . . In fact, I can remember one time, in March of 1976, when Chynoweth actually offered up his resignation. “It isn’t a play for money,” he said. “It is simply that there is too much hassle. It is starting to bother me that all my friends in Saskatoon are going to the airport to take flights out for winter holidays. I go to the airport and fly to Flin Flon.” . . . No, his offer wasn’t accepted.


Time out. My ears are ringing. I just gotta answer this one. It might be an incoming call from Bill Gates. Be right back . . . Ahh, it was only another coal train — or maybe it was an oil train — on the CP mainline across the river.


Wed


First it was Dominique Ducharme, the Montreal Canadiens’ interim head coach, nhl2testing positive for COVID-19, while every other team member has come up negative. . . . And then word came on Sunday that Kelly McCrimmon, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, also has tested positive and is in self-isolation in Montreal. Apparently, no other team member has tested positive. . . . How does it happen that only one person in a team situation like this tests positive? Or is this all of this just an example of COVID-19’s quirky sense of humour? . . . BTW, that fourth Wheat Kings goaltender in the tweet at the top of this post is actually D Ryan Pulock, now of the New York Islanders. He made a game-saving stop on Saturday as the Islanders beat the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . When McCrimmon was running the Wheat Kings, he drafted Pulock and helped turn him into the player he is today. McCrimmon, of course, also has had a thing or two to do with putting together the Golden Knights. What this means is that McCrimmon could end up having something to do with two teams reaching the NHL final.


A lot will be said and written about Kevin Durant’s airball at the conclusion of Saturday night’s Milwaukee Bucks’ OT victory over the New Jersey Nets. But not enough will be said and written about the defence provided by Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday on the play. He was on Durant like you’re supposed to be and he did it within the rules. . . . BTW, Durant played all 53 minutes. He was 0-for-6 from the field in the OT period. Might his legs have left him?

——

It was Herb Brooks who told his 1980 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team that “the legs feed the wolf.” That might well have been proven on Saturday night when the Nets didn’t eat.


In mentioning here last week that the WHL’s board of governors had scrubbed Vancouverinter-conference play at least for 2021-22, I suggested that it likely was done in an effort to cut costs because teams haven’t had any revenue coming since mid-March of 2019. . . . Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, doesn’t see it that way. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia wrote: “Toigo balked at the idea that cost-cutting was the main factor in the league’s decision to do away with these road trips for a season. He says that it’s more about extended travel coming out of these COVID-19 times.” . . . Ewen then quoted Toigo as saying: “I think you want to do what you know you can count on being able to do. I think it’s logistical more than anything. We’re going to do more games with the U.S. teams. There’s good teams in the U.S. The more you see them, the more intense the games get, and the better the rivalries get.”


A NBA-related note from Janice Hough, aka the Left Coast Sports Babe: “A Twitter pal said ‘John Stockton’s stupidity has jinxed the Jazz.’ Hey, as good an explanation as any how a No. 1 seed with a 22-point lead against the Kawhi-less Clippers could not only blow a lead but lose by 12.” . . . She added: “For those who missed it, Stockton appeared in an anti-vaccine video.”


Sharks


Things I wonder about at 3 in the morning . . . How is the WHL going to deal with league and team officials, on-ice officials and players in regards to vaccinations in the lead-up to and during the 2021-22 season? . . . What if the Toronto Blue Jays had a bullpen? . . . How is construction on that new arena that is to house the Winnipeg Ice coming along? Will it be done in time for the 2021-22 season? . . . What’s happening with the lease-related lawsuit the City of Cranbrook filed against the WHL and the Ice’s owners in January? . . . Is it time for the NHL to go back to having one referee on the ice? Or maybe games  should play without any as they seemed to be doing for much of Sunday’s game between Vegas and host Montreal. Either way, the two-man system just doesn’t seem to be doing the job, does it? . . . More than two months have passed us by since the BCHL confirmed that it was leaving the umbrella of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. When will it let the world in on its plans for the immediate future?


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): Man gets away with murder after eyewitness turns out to be NHL referee.


On Thursday, Brazil’s health ministry said there had been 66 positive tests among people involved with the Copa America soccer tournament. By Friday, that number had grown to 82. . . . Gee, maybe it wasn’t a good idea to move the tournament into one of the world’s hotspots? . . . Don’t forget that tournament organizers had said that it would be “the safest sporting event in the world.”

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Soccer’s World Cup is to be decided in Qatar in 2022 and the country’s government has announced that spectators will have to have been vaccinated in order to be admitted to venues. . . . To date, Qatar has experienced 220,800 positive tests and 585 deaths. . . . The World Cup is scheduled to open on Nov. 21, 2022.


Look, everyone knows that baseball is full of enough numbers to choke a calculator. But this from Dan Shulman, the sometimes voice of the Toronto Blue Jays, about blew me away: “On the heels of (Saturday’s) nine-pitch AB, how about this — Bo Bichette has fouled off 278 pitches this season, more than anyone in baseball . . .” So that got me to wondering if there’s a post-season award for that?


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.


Confucius

WHL teams start trimming 2001-born players . . . Oil Kings add d-man . . . ‘Quick lube guy’ doesn’t make Blazers’ short list

Milkyway2


The Tri-City Americans have released three 2001-born players, turning F AmericansBooker Daniel, F Edge Lambert and D Bryan McAndrews into free agents. . . . Daniel, from Vanderhoof, B.C., had four goals and five assists in 19 games this season. In 69 games over three seasons, he has 11 goals and 11 assists. . . . Lambert, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was a seventh-round selection by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He had two goals and five assists in 18 games with the Americans this season. In 77 games over two seasons with Tri-City, he put up 19 goals and 14 assists. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews, from Edmonton, was picked by Tri-City in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. In 117 games over three seasons with the Americans, he had two goals and four assists. This season, he had one assist in 11 games. . . . The Americans still have five 2001-born players on the roster with which they finished this season — D Mitchell Brown, F Connor Bouchard, F Samuel Huo, F Sasha Mutala and Slovakian D Andrej Golian. . . .

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars have released F Brendan Boyle, another PG2001-born skater. . . . From Lake Country, B.C., Boyle had one assist in 12 games with the Cougars this season. In 132 games over four seasons, he totalled three goals and four assists. . . . Boyle’s departure leaves the Cougars with six 2001-born players on their roster — F Connor Bowie, F Ethan Browne, G Taylor Gauthier, F Jonny Hooker, D Majid Kaddoura and F Tyson Upper. . . .

And the Saskatoon Blades have released 2001-born F Alex Morozoff. . . . From BladesSaskatoon, he started his WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels. After 94 games with the Rebels, he played 22 with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with his hometown Blades. . . . In 172 regular-season games, he put up 27 goals and 18 assists. . . . Saskatoon still has five 2001-born players on its roster — G Nolan Maier, F Evan Patrician, D Rhett Rhinehart, F Tristen Robins and F Blake Stevenson.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Carson Golder (2002) from the EdmontonVictoria Royals for a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft. . . . The pick originally belonged to the Saskatoon Blades, who surrendered it when they acquired D Wyatt McLeod from Edmonton on Jan. 25. . . . Golder, from Smithers, B.C., had two assists in 50 games with the Royals in 2019-20. This season, he was with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters, putting up two goals and one assist in 15 games.


After Matt Bardsley announced that he was leaving his job as general manager Kamloopsof the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, did you think about applying for the position? . . . No. . . . Why not? . . . Don Moores, the team’s president, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he has received “some really good resumes from the outside. We’ve had lots of great resumes.” Moores also allowed that “we’ve had some unusual resumes.” . . . He added: “I did have a guy from Brampton, Ont., who works for quick lube who felt he would be perfect for the position.” . . . As Seitz reported: “The Blazers have short-listed five, according to Moores, and the quick lube guy isn’t one of them.”

Meanwhile, Moores told Jon Keen, the Blazers’ play-by-play voice, that Swedish F Viktor Persson is “committed to the organization.” Persson was a seventh-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2020 draft. If not for the pandemic, it’s believed he would have been in Kamloops for the 2020-21 season. Persson, who turns 20 on Nov. 7, will be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Blazers. . . . Swiss D Inako Baragano, the Blazers’ lone import this season, won’t be returning. Baragano, another 2001-born skater, has signed with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of Switzerland’s National League.


Children


Kevin Draper, writing in The New York Times:

“N.F.L. players who aren’t vaccinated will face severe restrictions next football season. The league has made vaccinations mandatory for coaches and other essential team personnel, but cannot do so for players. Still, teams can make the trade-off quite clear.”

Draper quoted Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, as saying: “If you get vaccinated, you can go back to 2019 rules. If you don’t, you’ll have to follow 2020 protocols,” a strict regimen of testing, masking and social distancing guidance.


If you have been following the NBA playoffs, you will be aware that injuries to star players are turning into a huge story. . . . On top of that guard Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns now has tested positive. He was a key performer as the Suns ousted the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers and then the Denver Nuggets, but now will miss the start of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz. . . . Apparently, Paul has received at least one vaccination. . . . The Suns aren’t expected to update his situation before Saturday.

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Meanwhile, the number of positive tests involving people who are connect with the Copa America soccer tournament in Brazil has reached at least 65, up from 53 on Wednesday. . . . Of those 65, 19 are players and 46 are staff members or officials. . . . Teams from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — that’s half the field — have confirmed positive tests. . . . Brazil, one of the world’s COVID-19 hotspots, stepped is as the tournament host only a short time before the games were to begin.


Germany has replaced Canada in the schedule for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Aug. 2-7 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . Canada cancelled its U18 selection camp for pandemic-released reasons so has bowed out of this year’s tournament. The 2020 event, you will recall, was to have been held in Edmonton and Red Deer but was cancelled due to the pandemic. . . . There is a news release that includes a schedule 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.


JUST NOTES: Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner for 21 seasons, has been given a three-year contract running through 2023-24 by the board of governors. Robison, 66, took over the position prior to the 2000-01 season. In a news release, Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board, said the governors “voted unanimously to extend” Robison’s contract. . . . The WHL also announced Yvonne Bergmann’s retirement. The vice-president, business, Bergmann has been in the WHL office for 20 years. The league has hired Marco De Iaco as vice-president, business development. He had been president and CEO of JMI Sport & Entertainment Projects in Calgary. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels have signed Mike Egener as an assistant coach to work alongside recently signed head coach Steve Konowalchuk. Egener played four seasons (2000-04) as a defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen. He retired from playing in 2015 after spending three seasons with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. He has been coaching at the OHA Academy since 2017. With the Rebels, he fills the spot left when the Rebels chose not to renew Brad Flynn’s contract. . . .

Former WHLer James Henry has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s Binghamton Black Bears. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville Marksmen. Henry, 30, is from Winnipeg. He played five seasons (2007-12) in the WHL, getting into 281 games with the Vancouver Giants and 28 with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He finished with 72 goals and 142 assists, adding 15 goals and 22 assists in 59 playoff games. . . .

According to Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff), there won’t be a Young Stars exhibition tournament in Penticton in 2021. Paterson tweeted that the Vancouver Canucks “have confirmed no Young Stars in Penticton this season due to scheduling uncertainty. Team is working with city and South Okanagan Events Centre on long-term plan to ensure prospect tournament returns.”


Eyes

Robison: WHL committee reviewing diversity, inclusion policies . . . Oil Kings run streak to nine . . . Royals’ pick ends marathon NCAA game


Ron Robison, the commissioner of the WHL, says the league has established a diversity and inclusion committee that has been tasked with reviewing policies. WHL2Robison told Sammy Hudes of Postmedia that the committee was struck recently, presumably before the hockey world was rocked on Thursday by the news that the Seattle Thunderbirds had dropped two players — one 17, the other 18 — from their roster because of racist incidents involving a teammate. Hudes wrote that Robison “said the WHL is working to build ‘additional programming in this area,’ but didn’t specify what that might look like.” Robison also didn’t indicate who is on the committee. . . . Robison told Hudes: “We’re dealing with players who are of young age. They need further education, more training. They need to understand the sensitivities to all this and how it resonates with not only their teammates, but their opponents.” . . . One of the key issues involving incidents like these is that a victim often doesn’t have anywhere to turn outside of his team or the league. Hudes spoke with Courtney Szto, who is assistant professor at Queen’s University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. She co-authored a 2020 policy paper, Hudes wrote, “advocating for anti-racism policies in hockey. Among its calls to action, the paper identified ways for governing bodies like Hockey Canada to proactively work to eliminate racism in the sport. . . . The policy paper also called on the federal government to create an external oversight body to receive and investigate incidents of discrimination. Szto said victims have nowhere to report such incidents, other than through their own teams and leagues.” . . . Hudes’ complete story is right here.


Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, moved into a tie for sixth spot on the WHL’s list of all-time winningest regular-season coaches with a 5-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina on Saturday. . . . Habscheid now has 548 victories, tying him with Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . The Raiders (3-3-2) broke a 2-2 tie with the game’s last three goals, starting with one from F Eric Pearce, who is from Regina, at 1:53 of the third period. . . . F Justin Nachbaur, playing his 200th regular-season game with the Raiders, gave his guys a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 12:46 of the first period. . . . D Logan Linklater picked up his first two points, both assists, for the Raiders in his seventh game. . . .  Prince Albert scored its last two goals, from F Ozzy Wiesblatt and F Reece Vitelli, into empty nets. . . . The Warriors now are 4-4-0. . . . The game took 2 hours 8 minutes to play, the quickest game in the WHL this season. . . . Moose Jaw lost D Daemon Hunt to an elbowing major at 13:20 of the third period for a hit on Vitelli, who later scored an empty-netter. . . . The Raiders were without F Spencer Moe with an undisclosed injury, while D Kaiden Guhle missed his sixth straight game. . . . The Raiders dressed just one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — with starter Max Paddock sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Serhyenko stopped 16 shots. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings won again on Saturday afternoon, running their record Edmontonto 9-0-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton got two goals and an assist from F Jake Neighbours and a goal and two assists from F Dylan Guenther. He’s got nine goals and nine assists in eight games. . . . Neighbours has 16 points, 12 of them assists, in a nine-game point streak. . . . G Sebastian Cossa, who is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft, stopped 29 shots. He’s 8-0-0, 1.50, .945 this season. . . . The Hitmen slipped to 4-5-1. . . . Edmonton D Matthew Robertson didn’t play in Friday’s 4-3 victory over visiting Calgary, but was back on the ice Saturday. . . . The Hitmen were without D Tyson Galloway, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, then lost D Luke Prokop in the second period on Saturday. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the last two minutes of the second period as they defeated the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 3-2. . . . F Simon Knak gave Portland (2-1-2) a 2-1 lead with his third goal in as many games at 11:34 of the second. . . . F Payton Mount pulled Seattle (3-1-) even at 18:18 and F Jordan Gustafson snapped the tie at 19:07 with his first WHL goal. . . . The first period featured one goal, by Portland F Seth Jarvis, and 31 shots on goal, 16 by Seattle. . . . G Jackson Berry stopped 28 shots to record his first WHL victory in his first appearance with Seattle. He got into five games with the Moose Jaw Warriors last season, going 0-2-0 before being released. . . .

G Talyn Boyko put up his first WHL shutout as the host Tri-City Americans beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-0. . . . The 6-foot-8 Boyko stopped 26 shots as the Americans improved to 2-2-0. . . . The Chiefs fell to 0-4-1; they have been blanked three times including twice in two nights. They lost 5-0 to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. . . . Boyko’s first career clean sheet came in his 38th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Samuel Huo scored twice, but it was F Connor Bouchard’s goal, at 6:47 of the second period, that stood up as the winner. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers broke open a 2-2 game with three second-period goals Tigersen route to a 6-3 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Corson Hopwo snapped the tie with his sixth goal at 4:40, with F Lukas Svejkovsky scoring his sixth at 14:16, and F Brett Kemp getting No. 4 at 19:17. . . . Kemp’s drew an assist on Hopwo’s goal, giving him 200 career regular-season points. He now has 201 points, 88 of them goals, in 241 career games. . . . While the Tigers improved to 6-3-0, the Hurricanes now are 3-6-1. . . . Lethbridge scored all three of its goals on the PP. . . . G Beckett Langkow stopped 38 shots for the Tigers to record his second WHL victory in his second start. . . . Langkow’s father, Scott, played three seasons (1992-95) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 20 NHL games and 11 seasons in Europe. . . .

F Logan Stankoven’s second goal of the game, at 10:09 of the third period, Kamloopsbroke a 4-4 tie and gave the Kamloops Blazers a 5-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers were designated as the visitors even with the game being played in Kamloops. . . . The Cougars, the last of the WHL’s 22 teams to get into game action in this truncated developmental season, struck for three first-period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the second. . . . The Blazers (2-0-0) tied it on second-period goals by F Caedan Banker and F Josh PIllar. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer put the Cougars back out front at 15:03. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary tied it shorthanded at 5:25 of the third. . . . F Peyton McKenzie had two assists in his second game with Kamloops. He went into the game with two assists in 24 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . One of the referees was Matthew Hicketts of Kamloops, whose brother, Joe, spent five seasons playing defence for the Victoria Royals. . . . Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV tweeted that there were “over 20 scouts” in attendance. . . .



F Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins was added to the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and sat out the team’s 3-2 victory over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Marchand, 32, has 34 points, including 12 goals, in 29 games this season. . . . The Bruins, who had two games postponed last week due to protocols, are scheduled to play host to the New Jersey Devils today (Sunday) and Tuesday night. . . . The Sabres now have lost 17 straight games.

——

In the Swiss National League, EHC Biel-Bienne is in quarantine after two positive tests so a Saturday game with Lausanne HC was cancelled. With the playoffs approaching, the final standing are to be decided by points percentage, a decision that had been made at a Jan. 4 meeting.


F Luke Mylymok’s goal at 2:33 of the fifth OT period gave the Minnesota-BulldogsDuluth Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the NCAA men’s hockey Midwest Region final in Fargo, N.D., on Saturday night. . . . Mylymok, 19, is from Wilcox, Sask. This is his first season with the Bulldogs; he split last season between the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Victoria Royals selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The goal sent the Bulldogs, the two-time defending national champions, back to the Frozen Four. There wasn’t a champion in 2020 due to the pandemic. . . . At 142:33, it was the longest game in the history of the NCAA men’s or women’s hockey tournaments, surpassing a women’s game between Wisconsin and Harvard in 2007. . . . The men’s tournament is in its 74th year. . . . Zach Stejskal, the Bulldogs’ starting goaltender, left at 4:37 of the fourth OT when he began cramping up. He had stopped 57 shots when he was relieved by Ryan Fanti. . . . Leah Hextall — yes, of the hockey Hextalls — handled the play-by-play for ESPN.


Quiz


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.


Dust

Scattershooting on a Sunday night following an NFL weekend and with Alabama-OSU yet to come . . .

Scattershooting2

Whatever it was that the WHL was selling on Friday — hope? — F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers and F Conor Geekie of the Winnipeg Ice WHL2were buying. Both players have decided to stay put rather than play in a U.S. junior league. . . . The deadline for players released by Hockey Canada to move south was Sunday. . . . Stankoven chose not to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. He told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he made his decision on Friday night. . . . “I decided (Friday) night to stay in town,” Stankoven, who is from Kamloops, told Seitz, “and stick with the Blazers since the WHL came out with a statement (Friday) night saying that we’ll be having a 24-game season starting in February.” . . . The WHL said Friday that it had “made a commitment” to play a 24-game season, but didn’t indicate a potential starting date, saying that would be determined once health officials “in each provincial and state jurisdiction” give the OK for a return to play. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that Geekie, the second overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, had offers from two USHL and two NAHL teams. Geekie, who is from Strathclair, Man., got into nine games with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals this season, scoring once and adding four assists. . . .

The Dubuque Saints announced on Jan. 5 that they were adding Ice F Matt Savoie. Savoie, the No. 1 pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, didn’t play in either of Dubuque’s two weekend games and, in fact, hadn’t been added to the team’s roster as of Sunday night. . . . A notice on the Dubuque website: “Our offices have been closed temporarily due to recommendations from the CDC in regards to COVID-19.”

——

The WHL has done the smart thing in moving away from declaring potential starting dates for a new season. Here’s Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, in an Oct. 15 Zoom call with media:

“We just felt that at some point we needed to create some certainty around the start of the season. We had announced already two tentative target dates but this is not a tentative date, this is a firm date. We are going to start on Jan. 8.”


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “The 6-10 Giants think they got hosed by missing out on an NFL playoff berth? ‘Cry us a river,’ said the 10-6 Miami Dolphins.


After Trump’s stormtroopers stormed the gates on Wednesday, wouldn’t it have been nice to have heard from the likes of Brett Favre, Jack Nicklaus and/or Bobby Orr, all of whom were proud to be seen as Trump supporters before the November election? You may recall that Orr took out a full-page ad in the New Hampshire Union Leader, stating that Trump was “the kind of teammate I want.” . . . Really, Bobby? He wasn’t anywhere near the joint as his troopers were storming the gates. Some teammate!

And let’s not forget that it was Nicklaus who wrote in a tweet about Trump: “His love for America and its citizens, and putting his country first, has come through loud and clear.” . . . Yeah, hasn’t it!

——

Meanwhile, I wake up every morning and wonder how it is that the United States of America could experience what it did on Wednesday and still have the same orange clown operating out of the White House five days later.

——

Here’s Steve Kerr, the always thoughtful head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors: “A legitimate election is suddenly questioned by millions of people, including many of the people who are leading our country in government, because we’ve decided to, over the last few years, allow lies to be told. So this is who we are. You reap what you sow.”

If you aren’t familiar with Kerr’s background, well, Google is your friend.

——

And here is Draymond Green, a veteran forward with the Warriors: “Through social media and all these different tools we have at our fingertips today, we’re more aware. But nothing’s changed. We’re still the same America that it’s been. It’s no different. I’ve seen a lot of (statements) of ‘shoot (the protestors) like (Black people) would’ve been shot.’ Nah, I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Stop shooting us. That’s more the battle cry than necessarily shoot them like we would’ve been shot. Just stop shooting us.”

——

Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, has a question: “While he’s banned from most sites has anyone checked to see if Trump is trying to sell the White House china on eBay?”



A big thank you to the NHL and TSN or whoever was responsible for blacking out the Toronto Maple Leafs’ scrimmage that was held on Saturday night. It was live on TSN-4 and, had it been available here, I may have watched it, all the while wondering if I wouldn’t have been better off playing solitaire. . . . Update: Later Saturday night, I stumbled on replays on two separate Sportsnet channels. I watched about three minutes of it and, yes, play-by-play voice Joe Bowen was in Game 7 form.

——

So . . . why wasn’t the Montreal Canadiens’ Sunday night scrimmage available on TSN or Sportsnet?


If you’re a football fan, please allow me to suggest that you make Jack Finarelli’s Football Friday a regular stop. Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) dropped a terrific all-encompassing read on his website last Friday. Take a look right here and I think you’ll agree that it should become a habit.


The Pittsburgh Steelers, who were 11-0 at one point and had a quarterback being mentioned as a potential MVP, finished 1-5. . . . BTW, that quarterback’s cap hit next season is to be more than US$41 million.


Leftfield


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: As of Sunday, more than 90 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, with more than 49.8 million of those considered recovered or resolved, according to Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 case tracking tool. The global death toll stood at more than 1.9 million.

CBC News: As of 8:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Canada had reported 660,289 cases of COVID-19, with 84,567 cases considered active. A CBC News tally of deaths stood at 16,950.

CBC News: Ontario registered 3,945 new cases and 61 additional deaths. The new cases mark a single-day record for the province.

CBC News: Quebec reported 2,588 new cases and 39 new deaths, a day after it topped 3,000 new cases for the first time. Recent projections suggest Montreal’s hospitals could soon exceed capacity.

CNN, Sunday, 7:15 p.m. PT: 374,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Sunday, 3:15 p.m. PT: 22.3 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

The Vancouver Canucks cancelled their Sunday on-ice sessions because of a possible exposure to someone in their organization. They are due back on the ice today (Monday) and are to start the regular season in Edmonton against the Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Canucks are the fourth team to have cancelled training camp sessions, after the Dallas Stars, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins. Of the four clubs, though, only the Stars have reported positive tests — six players and two staffers. . . .

The Boston Celtics and Miami Heat were to have played an NBA game on Sunday night. However, one of the Heat players had an inconclusive test. That result and contact tracing left the Heat without the required eight players needed in order to play a game. The Celtics had eight players available after nine were ruled out because of protocols. . . . On Saturday night, the Philadelphia 76ers played despite having only seven healthy players, and lost to the visiting Denver Nuggets. Philadelphia lost Seth Curry to a positive test on Thursday and four teammates were out due to contact tracing. . . . Tim Bontemps of ESPN has a great look at the NBA’s situation right here.


Shopping


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.


Cxn

Will WHL change bantam draft age? . . . Lowry thinks NBA headed for positive season . . . Sorry! More ugly COVID-19 numbers


Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, appeared on The Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 in Edmonton on Wednesday night and, at one point, suggested that the annual bantam draft might be pushed back a year. . . . On Thursday, Gregor, writing at oilersnation.com, expanded on that story, and it’s all right here. . . . “The WHL has a wonderful opportunity to make the correct decision and permanently increase the draft age,” Gregor writes. “Doing it for only one year would be close-minded, stubborn and with the new NCAA rule changes completely unnecessary.”


The NBA’s regular season is set to begin on Tuesday night and, yes, things are going to be interesting. . . . Just in case you’re wondering whether the NBA has normalized COVID-19, PG Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors said Thursday that it’s a given there will players testing positive during the season. During a Zoom call with reporters, Lowry said: ”It’s going to happen and we have to adjust, and when it happens, no one’s going to know how guys get it, or coaches get it, or whoever gets it. No-one’s going to understand how it happened . . . it’s going to be like, ‘Damn, OK.’ But the players, the team, the coaches, the league, will have to go on, make adjustments and figure it out as we go and it will be a different year. It’s going to be a tough year, but we got some of the best people in the world working with us, working for us.” . . .  With the teams in training camps and playing exhibition games, the NBA had only one player out of 549 test positive from Dec. 10-16.


Weed


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Canada reported a total of 7,008 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday, which is the highest single-day increase the country has seen since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 74M: Johns Hopkins University.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 221 new cases. That’s the lowest daily total since November 3. The province is also reporting 14 additional deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 238 new cases, just above the province’s 7-day average of 231. There have been 7 additional deaths.  Nationally, there are 486,393 cases; 395,980 people have recovered while 76,548 cases are active. The death toll stands at 13,865. . . . Sask. reduces self-isolation period for people who test positive for COVID-19 to 10 days. All international travellers must still self-isolate for 14 days.

Dr. Deena Hinshaw: Over the last 24 hrs, we ID’d 1,270 new cases & completed about 17.5K new tests.  Our positivity rate stands at about 7.3%. 749 ppl are in hospital, incl 139 in ICU. AHS is taking steps to increase capacity & expand the number of acute care & ICU beds. . . . Sadly, 16 new deaths were reported in the last 24hrs. My thoughts are w/ those grieving their loss. Each death is a reminder it is vital to reduce spread quickly. In less than 10 months, more ABs have died from COVID-19 than from influenza in the last 10 yrs combined.

CBC News: Alberta reports record-breaking 30 COVID-19 deaths over past 24 hours. Total number of deaths since pandemic began reaches 790.

CBC News: B.C. reports 673 new COVID-19 infections, 21 more deaths and 587 recoveries, for a provincial total of 44,776 cases, 713 deaths and 32,963 recoveries.

CBC News: Ontario’s hospitals are calling for new 28-day lockdowns in all regions currently in the red tier of the province’s COVID-19 restriction framework. . . . Ontario reported a record-high 2,432 new cases on Thursday.

CBC News: 1,855 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec compared to the 7-day average of 1,817. Health authorities in the province are also attributing 22 additional deaths to the virus.

KOIN News: Gov. Brown extends Oregon state of emergency into March 2021.

NBC News: The U.S. reported 243,645 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday, setting a single-day record.

Dr. Tom Frieden: The US reported more Covid deaths Wednesday than Japan has since the start of the pandemic.

CNN: 310,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

Los Angeles Times: Unions for teachers, nurses, grocery and hotel workers call for L.A. County shutdown in January.

ABC7 Eyewitness News: ICU capacity drops to 0% in Southern California as state reports 379 new COVID deaths, shattering daily record.

CBC News: French President Emmanuel Macron has tested positive for COVID-19, his office said. He plans to continue to work while in isolation for seven days.

——

Canada West, which has 17 member schools, has cancelled the 2020-21 swimming and track and field championships, while deferring a decision on its curling championships, which are scheduled for Edmonton in March. . . . The U of Calgary was to have played host to swimming, with the U of Manitoba handling track and field. . . .

The New York Giants will be without CB James Bradberry when they play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday night. The Browns’ shutdown corner went on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Thursday. . . . The Giants also will be without Jason Garrett, their offensive co-ordinator, after he tested positive. That means that former Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, who coaches the tight ends, will call the plays for the Giants on Sunday night. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders were without Greg Olson, their offensive co-ordinator, on Thursday night as they dropped a 30-27 OT decision to the Los Angeles Chargers. Yes, he tested positive. . . .

The Baltimore Ravens placed three wide receivers — Marquise Brown, Miles Boykin and James Proche — on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Thursday. All three played in Monday’s victory over the Cleveland Browns. . . . The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have placed RB Ronald Jones on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . It isn’t known if any of the four tested positive or were identified as close contacts of someone who did. . . .

No. 12 Coastal Carolina won’t get a chance to improve to 12-0 on Saturday because the Chanticleers have run into COVID-19 problems. It was to have played No. 19 Louisiana (9-1) in the Sun Belt’s championship game. . . . The conference has declared the teams to be co-champions. . . . Also cancelled is Saturday’s scheduled game between the Michigan State Spartans and Maryland Terrapins, who had stopped all team activities. It is the second time in a month that a game between these two teams wasn’t played. Two other Big Ten games also have been cancelled — Michigan-Iowa and Indiana-Purdue.

Scott Van Pelt, who anchors ESPN’s nightly SportsCenter, revealed Thursday that he has tested positive. “Won’t be doing shows for a bit after a positive Covid-19 test,” he tweeted. “Thankfully, no fever & I feel fine. Just can’t smell or taste anything which was my clue to go get a test.”



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.



Poe

Toigo: Pandemic fallout won’t be pretty picture . . . Hamilton: We are in full support of what’s going on . . . Robison: Bantam draft may be delayed

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, said on Wednesday that the fallout in junior hockey from COVID-19 may take a year or two to be seen but that “it’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Appearing on Sportsnet 650 in Vancouver, Toigo said:

“At some point, there’s going to have to be some government support for these Vancouverthings to survive, and without that I think you’re going to see failures across the country from (junior A) to major junior to junior B. It’s inevitable.

“From our perspective, we were already down half-a-million dollars when (last season) ended because we didn’t get the last home games in which is where you start to break even. All these things are more or less designed to break even if everything goes right, and then if you get a run in the playoffs you can recover some of the money.

“Most teams in general, not just the Western Hockey League, the BCHL, across the board, people don’t get into this to make a living. . . . These aren’t great models from an economic perspective. Now when you take all the revenue away but keep most of the expenses, it’s not a good scenario for any business.”

The end result, according to Toigo, could be disastrous.

“You might not see it this year,” he said. “It might take a year or two where a lot of these things will come to fruition. It’s not going to be a pretty picture.”

Toigo pointed out that he and the other WHL operators are hardly alone in having to face this pandemic.

“It is a scenario that virtually all walks of life are dealing with,” he said. “Every business is dealing with it. The catastrophic impact on small businesses across this province is something we are going to feel for many many years to come, and junior hockey is just one of those that are caught up in it.”

Toigo’s appearance is available right here.

——

Bruce Hamilton, the Kelowna Rockets’ president and general manager and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, agrees with Toigo in terms of what’s ahead.

“We are going to have some teams that are going to really struggle,” Hamilton KelownaRocketstold Travis Lowe of Global News.“It’s up to the rest of us to help make sure that they make it through.”

But, at this point in time, Hamilton said, “We just don’t see there being any way that we can safely have our players back here.”

Hamilton also pointed out that the WHL and its teams aren’t about to question any of the public heath officials or the regulations that have been put in place in any of the six jurisdictions in which the league operates.

“We fully understand and fully, fully support what is going on,” Hamilton said.

There was a time when the WHL had hoped to open a regular season on Oct. 2. It later changed that date to Dec. 4 and then to Jan. 8. On Tuesday, the league announced that it has moved on from that date and that it now doesn’t have a starting date. Instead, its board of governors will meet in January and assess things at that point.

“I think we are being wise to not name a date,” Hamilton told Lowe. “To me, that becomes an issue for the players . . . they get their hopes up.”

Meanwhile, the OHL is hoping to open its regular season on Feb. 4.

The QMJHL tried to get its regular season started in October, and has gone in fits and starts. Like so many other leagues, it now is back on hold and is hoping to resume play in January. When it does get back on the ice, it could be in some sort of bubble format.

There are 12 Quebec-based teams in the league and seven of them want to play host to bubbles — the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Drummonville Voltigeurs, Quebec Remparts, Rimouski Oceanic, Shawinigan Cataractes and Victoriaville Tigres.

These days, however, there’s more to life than playing hockey.

As Rockets head coach Kris Mallette told Lowe: “There’s a bigger issue at hand. This pandemic is not going away.”

Lowe’s story is right here.

——

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said on Wednesday that the league’s is considering moving the bantam draft back on year because of what the pandemic has done to this season.

“Yes, absolutely,” Robison said on The Jason Gregor Show (TSN 1260, whlEdmonton). “It’s hard to evaluate players (and) it’s hard for players to develop under these circumstances. We are considering delaying the draft.

“We haven’t arrived at a decision on that but I think in fairness to the players and the system generally that is something we are seriously considering and we will hopefully make a decision real soon.”

Robison pointed out that scouting has “represented a challenge.” But, he said, the WHL wants to “do it right and give the players every opportunity.”

Under normal circumstances, the bantam draft is held on the first Thursday of May, although the 2020 draft was held virtually on April 23.

During his appearance, Robison also said that the WHL hasn’t had any conversations about scrapping the season, and added that there isn’t a drop-dead date by which time such a decision would have to be made.

“We’re just trying to find a window of time that’s going to make sense,” he said. “Our goal is to have all teams, all divisions playing. Our hope is to get everyone started. We may have to stagger our start. We’re not quite sure what that will look like. We’re prepared to do anything, quite frankly, to get the season in and find a way to make it a representative season for the players and our teams.”

In the end, Robison said, the league is well aware that a final decision will come down to the health authorities.

“We are in discussion with the health authorities in order to return to play,” he explained. “Our protocols are a little bit more extensive than the other levels of hockey, if you will. We have not received final approval from all jurisdictions in order to play. It’s a health-and-safety issue first and foremost for our players, and we want to make sure we do it right. We want to have a testing base and a protocol solution and we’re working through these with the various health authorities.”

The WHL announced on Tuesday that it wasn’t going to start its next season on Jan. 8 as it had hoped. Had it been able to go then, it likely would have had a 50-game regular season.

Now, with no start date even pencilled in, Robison said a determination hasn’t been made as to how many games is needed to have a season.

“We aren’t going to be in a position to deliver (50 games),” he said. “We’ve got to make a determination on whether we can play four full rounds of playoffs and a Memorial Cup. Once we have all that information we’ll set our schedule. But it’ll all depend on what our start date is . . . and what our end date will be.”

At the moment, restrictions in at least two provinces — Alberta and Saskatchewan — have been extended into mid-January. Whenever restrictions come off, Robison there will be about a three-week time frame before a regular season could start. That would include getting players into isolation, a testing procedure and holding some kind of training camp.

“There is a bit of a process we have to go through in preparation to start,” Robison said, adding that the WHL isn’t “in a position to project with restrictions into Jan. 15.”

Robison also touched on the financial picture involving the 22-team league.

“They’re all in a very difficult position,” he said. “This is something that is very challenging for a lot of organizations, a lot of teams at this stage. They’ve been holding on waiting to start play. They’ve got ongoing costs associated with that.

“Let’s not forget that we had to cancel the balance of our season, including the end of the regular season and playoffs and the Memorial Cup that we were scheduled to host (in Kelowna). A significant amount of losses has been accumulated by the teams to date.

“It’s a very difficult challenge for them to envision moving forward, especially when we’re a ticket-driven league and at this particular stage we are not envisioning spectators to be permitted. The whole financial equation is a very difficult one for our teams.”

The complete interview is available right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Earl Seitz, the long-time sports anchor at CFJC-TV in Kamloops, opened his Wednesday evening sportscast with this:

“We hear about the impact that no hockey, no sports, is having on the mental health of some.

“Can’t disagree with that.

“But to put it in perspective — think of the seniors, the elders, who are dying by the hundreds, the thousands, from Covid-19 — and because of restrictions are alone without the presence of loved ones there to comfort them in their final hours.

“Or those loved ones who will live with the anguish of not being able to be there with a mother, a father, a grandparent or wife or husband in their final hours.

“Hockey and sports will be back — those who are dying from Covid-19 won’t be.”

——

——

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg: 15 more Manitobans have lost their lives to COVID-19, and the province reported 292 cases Wednesday. . . . Total: 21,286. . . . Active: 5,797. . . . Deaths: 523. . . . Hospitalized: 328. . . . ICU: 46. . . . WPG test positivity rate: 13.7%. . . . Prov. test positivity rate: 13.6%.

CBC News: 169 new COVID-19 cases reported in Saskatchewan, the 2nd day in a row the number of cases has been below 200. That’s hasn’t happened since November 24-25.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,270 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths. Dr. Hinshaw points out that more Albertans have died from COVID-19 in 10 months, than from influenza over the past 10 years combined.

Kamloops This Week: B.C. health authorities are reporting 640 new cases of COVID-19 and 24 further deaths due to the disease. . . . Those new cases include 91 in the Interior Health region, which now has 843 active cases, including 28 in hospital and seven of those patients in critical care units. . . . In total, there are 9,950 active cases in the province. Of those, 362 are in hospital, including 91 in critical care. The province has now had 44,103 confirmed cases. Of those, 32,375 have recovered and 692 have died.

CBC News: Ontario reported 2,139 new cases of COVID-19 and 43 more deaths from the illness on Wednesday as hospitalization figures reached second-wave highs.

CBC News: 1,897 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, well above the 7-day average of 1,791. 43 additional deaths are also reported. The number of people in hospital rose by 16 to 975; 128 are in intensive care.

CBC News: New household gathering limits announced for all of Nova Scotia during Christmas period.

CNN: The United States reported at least 3,453 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

Jim Acosta, CNN: A devastating day in the pandemic for the US. So far today (Wednesday), Johns Hopkins has reported 242,490 new cases and 3,518 reported deaths (10:20pm eastern). This is the highest single day reporting of daily new deaths since the pandemic began.

——

The start of the Australian Open has been pushed back three weeks to Feb. 8. It was to have opened on Jan. 18 in Melbourne.


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 NHL’s Calgary Flames have moved Jason LaBarbera from the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen to be their goaltending coach. LaBarbera spent four seasons as the goaltending coach with the Hitmen, who are owned by the Flames. LaBarbera, 40, also is Hockey Canada’s goaltending coach, so is in the Edmonton bubble with the national junior team. He played four seasons in the WHL (Tri-City, Portland, Spokane, 1996-2000). . . . The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves need a head coach after Cory Stillman left to join the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes as an assistant coach. He had been the Wolves’ head coach for three seasons. Prior to that, he spent five seasons as the Carolina Hurricanes’ director of player development.

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