OHL sets opening date, while WHL has some legitimate questions . . . Yankees, Phillies have COVID-19 issues . . . Hulak running back to Saskatoon

Parachute


When you’re trying to figure out who are the powerbrokers in the WHL, you have to know that Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, is among the select few.

He was been a WHL owner since 1991 when he purchased the Tri-City WHL2Americans. He sold that franchise in 2000 and has been the Giants’ majority owner since he paid $2 million for an expansion team and got it on the ice for the 2001-02 season.

The point being that if you’re a WHL fan, you should be paying attention when Toigo speaks, as he did last week in an interview with Postmedia’s Steve Ewen.

This particular Ewen story dealt primarily with Toigo’s reaction to having the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, into the Abbotsford Centre, which is 34 km east of the Langley Events Centre, the facility the Giants call home.

However, it sounded like Toigo had a lot more on his mind concerning the 2021-22 season than having an AHL team nearby.

“Are people going to be allowed to come to games?” Toigo said as he looked ahead a few months. “If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

If this is what’s on Toigo’s mind, you can bet that this is the kind of conversation that has been happening whenever the WHL’s board of governors — or even the executive committee that includes Toigo — have hooked up for a meeting.

In other words, WHL teams are well aware that they may not be able to open the doors and invite everyone in come October.

The best quote I have seen recently on what’s ahead for all of us came from Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees’ ace right-hander.

“I don’t think this is going to be over for a few years,” he said one day last week. “I think we’re going to be dealing with this kind of thing for a while. Every time these things come up, we’re gonna have to adapt and learn as a species. So, well, we’re gonna take it one step at a time and do the best we can with it.”

I would suggest that is exactly what the WHL and its teams will be doing — one step at a time and doing the best they can under the circumstances.


BettyWhite


The OHL, which wasn’t able to get in any games in a 2020-21 season that it ohlultimately cancelled on April 20, announced on Thursday that its 2021-22 regular season will open on Oct. 7. . . . Training camps are to open on Sept. 4. The schedule, which hasn’t yet been revealed, will call for each team to play 68 games, with playoffs to begin on April 7 and run through May 30. . . . The OHL release has the Memorial Cup, which is to be held in a QMJHL city yet to be named, running from June 2-12.

Here’s hoping that the OHL is able to meet these dates, which would mean that the WHL would be able to start up about the same time. However, that fly on the wall in the OHL office actually was the virus in disguise. “Hmm,” it buzzed. “We’ll see . . .”



The New York Yankees have reported eight positive tests among players, coaches and support staff. That includes one player — SS Gleyber Torres, who went on the COVID-19 protocol list on Thursday. Torres, who had tested positive during the offseason, has been fully vaccinated, as have each of the other seven people who tested positive. They all were given the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. . . . All eight of them are asymptomatic. That includes pitching coach Matt Blake, third-base coach Phil Nevin, who had symptoms early on, first-base coach Reggie Willits and four members of the travelling staff. All are quarantining  in Tampa. . . . Yankees GM Brian Cashman said: “The one thing I take from this is that the vaccines are working. . . . It will save you and protect you from a lot more than what you think.” . . .

The Philadelphia Phillies have placed C J.T. Realmuto on the COVID-19 protocol list after her reported a stomach ache and fever on Wednesday night. He was tested for COVID-19 and was found to be negative. But he didn’t travel with the team to Florida on Thursday. . . .

Meanwhile, Bill Maher, the host of Real Time With Bill Maher, has tested positive, forcing cancellation of this week’s taping. Maher, who is fully vaccinated, tested positive during weekly staff testing. He was reported Thursday to be asymptomatic.


——

Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: Derek Hulak has returned to the U of Saskatchewan, where he spent four seasons (2010-14) as a player, to work as an assistant coach with the Huskies under head coach Mike Babcock. Hulak also spent four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL, the first 19 games with the Regina Pats and the remainder with the Saskatoon Blades. Hulak, a 31-year-old native of Saskatoon, announced his retirement after playing eight games this season with HC Thurgau of the Swiss League.


Octopi

Toigo and Giants ready for AHL challenge . . . Canada, Russia on to U18 final . . . Jarvis fills hat for Portland


Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, says his Vancouverfranchise is more than ready to deal with having a bit more competition should the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks move their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets, to the Abbotsford Centre. . . . The Canucks said Tuesday that they intend to move the Comets, that they are negotiating with the City of Abbotsford, and that the AHL’s board of governors is expected to vote on the move during a meeting today. . . . The Giants play out of the Langley Events Centre, which is 34 km west of the Abbotsford Centre. . . . “It’s no different than the restaurant business, where a guy can open another restaurant just down the street,” Toigo, whose family owns the White Spot restaurant chain, told Steve Ewen of Postmedia. “It’s competition and I think that’s a healthy thing. It keeps everyone on their toes. It gets rid of complacency. It’s going to be more of a challenge. At end of the day, I think we’ll be fine.” . . .

Toigo also pointed out that with the pandemic still running amok, there still are a whole lot of unanswered questions with the start of the 2021-22 season hopefully around five months away.

As Toigo told Ewen: “Are people going to be allowed to come to games? If they are, how many will you be allowed to have in the rink? And, if they are allowed to come, how many are going to want to? There are still a lot of question marks.”

Ewen’s complete story is right here.



F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats scored three times on Wednesday as Team U18Canada dropped Sweden, 8-1, in one semifinal game at the IIHF U18 World championship in Frisco, Texas. . . . Canada had beaten Sweden, 12-1, in a round-robin game. . . . In the other semifinal, Russia edged Finland, 6-5. . . . Canada will meet Russia for the gold medal today (6 p.m. PT, TSN). . . . That means it will be Bedard against Russian F Michkov Matvei, 16, who leads the tournament with 11 goals. Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . Matvei also shares the points lead, at 13, with teammate Nikita Chibrikov. Matvei had one goal last night, while Chibrikov, the team captain, scored twice and added an assist. . . . Bedard has 12 points, including six goals, in Canada’s six games. He put up five goals and three assists in his last two games; he had two goals and three assists in a 10-3 victory over Czech Republic in a Monday quarterfinal game. . . . Bedard also is two points shy of F Connor McDavid’s output as a 15-year-old in the 2013 tournament in Sochi, Russia. McDavid had a tournament-high 14 points, eight of them goals, in seven games. . . . This will be only the second time in the U18 event’s history that Canada and Russia have met in the final. In 2008 in Kazan, Russia,, Canada beat Russia, 8-0. Team Canada’s head coach? Pat Quinn.


Stuffing


The WHL’s 2021 developmental season is into its final days. In fact, there are only seven days remaining with 12 teams — two in Alberta, five in B.C., five in the U.S. — scheduled to play 17 games before it’s over. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers will conclude their seasons tonight. . . .  There were three games on Wednesday night. . . .

In Kamloops, G Taylor Gauthier stopped 26 shots to lead the Prince George PGCougars to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The Cougars (9-7-3) have points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Giants (10-9-0) have lost two in a row. . . . The Cougars moved past the Giants into second place in the B.C. Division. . . . Vancouver’s loss also means that the idle Kamloops Blazers (14-4-0) will finish with more points than any of the other four B.C. teams. The idle Kelowna Rockets (8-3-1), however, are still able to finish higher by way of points percentage — with each team having four games to play Kamloops is at .778 with Kelowna at .708. The WHL ruled that first place in this developmental season will be decided by points percentage because of the difference in games played. . . . The Blazers and Rockets will meet once more, in Kelowna on Monday. . . . Last night, F Koehn Ziemmer scored the Cougars’ first two goals, at 4:36 and 17:31 of the second period. He’s got nine goals, five of them over his past three games. . . . F Tyson Upper (5) got the empty-netter. . . . Gauthier, making his 150th regular-season appearance, earned his first shutout this season and No. 6 for his career. This season, he is 7-6-0, 2.70, .917. . . . Vancouver G Drew Sim made 13 saves. . . . The Cougars were able to dress only 11 forwards and five defencemen, tweeting before the game that “the hub is taking its toll.” . . . D Jack Sander, the Cougars’ captain, played in his 200th regular-season game. . . .

F Gage Goncalves scored the only goal of a shootout to give the host Everett EverettSilvertips a 4-3 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Everett (17-4-0) has won two in a row. . . . Seattle now is 8-12-0. . . . Seattle held 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second period. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon scored first, at 4:49 of the first period, with F Henry Rybinski (5), who also had two assists, making it 2-0 at 1:06 of the second. . . . F Austin Roest (3) scored for Seattle at 9:43. . . . Jeri-Leon made it 3-1 with his 15th goal at 11:02. . . . The Silvertips tied it on second-period goals from F Jackson Berezowski (6), at 16:48, and Goncalves (12), on a PP at 18:19. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 28 shots for Everett, four fewer than Seattle’s Berry Jackson. . . .

F Seth Jarvis scored three times as the visiting Portland Winterhawks beat the PortlandAlternateTri-City Americans, 7-2. . . . The Winterhawks improved to 10-8-3. . . . The Americans (7-9-0) had won their previous two games. . . . D Marc Lajoie (1) gave the Americans a 1-0 lead just 45 seconds into the game. . . . Portland then struck for five first-period goals — two from Jarvis, two from F Mason Mannek, who has 10, and one from F Simon Knak. . . . Jarvis completed his second hat trick of the season at 18:47 of the second period when a shot by F Jack O’Brien went in off one of his legs. . . . Knak (14) got his second goal of the night in the third period. . . . F Nick Bowman (3) had Tri-City’s other goal. . . . Tri-City D Lukas Dragicevic, the fourth overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, picked up an assist on Bowman’s goal. It was Dragicevic’s first WHL point and came in his fifth game. He’s only 108 points behind his father, Milan, who put up 109 points, 34 of them goals, in 240 games split between the Regina Pats, New Westminster Bruins, Tri-City, Spokane Chiefs and Victoria Cougars (1986-90). . . . Tri-City scratched D Luke Zazula, its captain, presumably with an undisclosed injury.



Bologna


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: Brent Hughes has joined the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific Junior Hockey League as head coach. Hughes 55, played four seasons in the WHL (1983-87, New Westminster Bruins, Victoria Cougars) before going on to a pro career that included 357 NHL games. He takes over the Flames from Bayne Ryshak, who was dropped after last season. . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves have hired Braden Malsbury as their director of marketing, communications and broadcasting. According to a news release, he “will oversee the team’s marketing and communications effort. He also will return to the broadcast booth for his ninth season of calling games in the SJHL.” He had been the radio voice of the Ice Wolves for MBC Radio until being laid off on March 29.


Cheerio

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.

Questions about older managers, coaches . . . MiLB cancels season for 160 teams . . . Pats’ pxp post open as Andrews leaves

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Monday that the Minnesota Twins have told coaches Bob McClure, 68, and Bill Evers, 66, that they won’t be taking part in the 2020 season whenever it gets started.

The Twins said last week that an undisclosed number of players and one staff member had tested positive for the coronavirus.

Numerous reports have indicated that people over the age of 65 have a much greater whlchance of dying from the coronavirus. The Twins are believed to be the first North American professional team to excuse older coaches from working with their team.

The NHL, NBA, NFL and especially MLB have numerous managers and coaches who are 60 years of age and older. Chances are that in the coming days we will hear about more MLB teams doing precisely what the Twins have done with McClure and Evers.

But what about the WHL? Might this be just one more thing its teams are going to have to deal with should they get to open training camps in mid-September and begin the season on Oct. 2?

The WHL has two head coaches past the age of 60 — Willie Desjardins of the Medicine Hat Tigers and Mike Johnston of the Portland Winterhawks, both of whom also are general managers, are 63.

Their are 11 other head coaches over the age of 50.

The WHL also has at least eight general managers 60 or older, beginning with Garry Davidson of the Everett Silvertips, at 69, and John Paddock of the Regina Pats, at 66.

There also are a couple of assistant coaches who have had at least 65 birthdays — Jerome Engele of the Saskatoon Blades is 69 and Portland’s Don Hay is 66.

Just more food for thought in these uncertain times.



The NHL announced on Monday that it knows of 26 players who have tested positive for NHLCOVID-19. Fifteen of those players were in training at team facilities. The other 11 were working out away from those facilities. . . . All 26 players have been self-isolated. . . . The NHL says there were 1,450 tests on more than 250 players administered to players who were working out in training facilities. . . . Still to announce its hub cities, the NHL has said it will release testing figures on a weekly basis. . . .

The Detroit Red Wings have cancelled the 2020 version of the eight-team prospect tournament that was to have been played in Traverse City, Mich., in early September. . . . The Red Wings also have moved the site of their 2020-21 training camp, whenever that might be held, to Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.


Hockey


OF Ian Desmond said Monday that he won’t be joining the Colorado Rockies for the 2020 MLB season. He made the announcement in a nine-panel posting on Instagram. . . . There’s more right here. . . .

Infielder Ryan Zimmerman and pitcher Joe Ross said Monday that they won’t be joining the Washington Nationals, the defending World Series champions, for the approaching season. Also opting out is pitcher Mike Leake of the Arizona Diamondbacks. . . . All three cited health and safety concerns related to the pandemic. . . .

The Arizona Diamondbacks revealed on Monday that three players on their 60-man roster have tested positive. Two of them were in Arizona, while wasn’t yet in Arizona. . . .

OF Hunter Bishop, the San Francisco Giants’ first-round draft pick in 2019, has tested positive in Arizona. He will miss at least the start of the Giants’ workouts that are to begin on Friday in San Francisco. . . .

They have been playing Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the United States since 1901. Prior to Tuesday, a season never had been cancelled. That’s all changed now, as MiLB announced that there won’t be a 2020 season thanks to the pandemic. There are 160 minor league teams, including the Vancouver Canadians, under the MiLB umbrella.


The Denver Nuggets closed their training facility on Tuesday after the NBA team’s travelling party was found to include three positive tests. Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN reported that 35 people were preparing to head for Orlando, Fla., and the restart of the season when the trio tested positive. . . . It’s not known if the positives are players or staff. . . . C Nikola Jokic of the Nuggets tested positive in Serbia earlier in June, while head coach Michael Malone has said that he tested positive in March. . . .

The NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans have had three players test positive, but the team hasn’t identified them. All three were tested on June 23, along with all of their teammates. . . .

Two members of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets — G Spencer Dinwiddie and F DeAndre Jordan — have tested positive and won’t be joining the team in Orlando, Fla. . . . Dinwiddie told The Athletic that he has been experiencing symptoms — fever and chest tightness. . . . The Nets also will be without F Wilson Chandler, who has opted out.


Golf Canada has cancelled the CP Women’s Open that was to have been played at Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, Sept. 3-6. The 2021 LPGA event will be played at Shaughnessy. . . .

Chad Campbell is the sixth player from the PGA Tour to test positive. He was tested as part of the screening prior to the Rocket Mortgage Classic, which is to start Thursday in Detroit. . . . Meanwhile, three players — Jonathan Hodge, Taylor Montgomery and Brandon Wu — tested positive and had to withdraw from the Korn Ferry Tour event that starts today (Wednesday) in Colorado.


MLS announced that four players have tested positive on Monday and Tuesday. All told, 392 people were tested, all of whom are staying in the league’s bubble hotel in Orlando, Fla. . . . On the weekend, MLS announced that 18 players and six staff members had tested positive since early June. . . . The league’s MLS is Back tournament is scheduled to open on July 8. . . .

Officials cancelled the rest of the 2020 World Rugby Seven Series on Tuesday, meaning there won’t be stops in Langford, B.C., London, Paris, Singapore or Hong Kong. . . .

A statement on the University of Georgia website on Monday indicated that at least 143 members of the school’s community, including students and staff, have tested positive. . . .

Williams College, a NCAA Division 3 school in Williamstown, Mass., has cancelled all fall sports, but has yet to decide on winter and spring activities. . . . Two other New England-area schools, Bowdoin College and UMass-Boston, have said their teams won’t play in the fall, either. . . .

The Broadway League said Monday that theatres on Broadway in New York City are likely to remain closed at least through the end of 2020. Performances have been suspended since March 12. . . . Theatres are hoping to re-open early in January.



Phil Andrews, the radio voice of the Regina Pats for the past nine seasons, said on PatsMonday that he was leaving the post. He cited family reasons for his decision. . . . Andrews was the Pats’ director of media and communications, and handled the play-by-play duties. . . . His departure opens up one of the WHL’s plum play-by-play positions and you can bet that a lot of junior hockey radio types have been preparing resumes.


Teacher


And a happy Bobby Bonilla Day to you, too. It’s July 1, which means that the New York Mets paid Bobby Bonilla US$1,193,248.20 as they have been doing since 2001. It’s all part of deferred payments that were part of his last contract. The payments began in 2011 and will run through 2035. Oh, and he hasn’t played since 2001.


——


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that Brad Knight “has stepped down” as general manager and head coach. . . . The Buccaneers had announced Knight’s signing early in May. He was returning to the team after being the head coach for its first two seasons (2012-14). . . . Last season, with then-owner Clayton Robinson as head coach, Nanaimo finished 14-23-11. . . . Robinson, who owned the franchise for about 18 months, sold the team to Carl Ollech, who owns some of Duncan Iron Works, in June. . . . Greg Sakaki of the Nanaimo Bulletin has more on the sale right here.


Puzzle

Toigo suggests Giants’ camp may be delayed . . . Also says second wave could be devastating, and WHL won’t play without fans

From Wednesday’s Regina Leader-Post . . .


If you hadn’t already guessed, the WHL’s 2020-21 regular season doesn’t seem likely to start on time, which under what used to be normal circumstances would be in late September.

Yes, that is more than four months away and, yes, there are whole lot of unknowns in these days of a pandemic. But the Vancouver Giants already are looking at pushing back Vancouverthe start of their training camp.

Ron Toigo, the Giants’ majority owner and president, said Wednesday that training camp may not start on Sept. 1, a date that already had been moved back a few days.

Appearing with James Cybulski and Perry Solkowski on Sportsnet 650, a Vancouver radio station, Toigo said: “It’s looking less likely that that will be your starting date.”

Earlier in his appearance, Toigo, who is on the WHL’s executive committee, said that for now they are watching to see what happens with Major League Baseball and the NFL.

“We talk probably weekly about different scenarios,” he said. “The position we’re taking . . . sit back and watch for a while. I think the NFL will dictate a lot of things that happen. They’ve got all the resources. They have all the influence. We’ll follow what happens there. Major League Baseball will certainly have a lot of influence on what happens . . . find a path to making this thing work somehow.

“At our level there really isn’t a lot we can do except sit back and watch and wait.”

Toigo was adamant that the WHL, unlike the big four pro leagues, won’t play without fans in attendance.

The WHL, he said, is “completely” a gate-driven league. “If we can’t get gate revenue then we can’t operate. If we carry on the way we’re going we’re losing significantly hundreds of thousands of dollars as time goes on. If we go the whole year, it’ll be into the millions. It’s not sustainable for a long period of time, that’s for sure.”

As for delaying the start of the regular season, Toigo said: “If we had to do something like that you can . . . probably start in the new year and get a relatively decent season in, and still be able to operate.”

In terms of B.C., Toigo pointed out that the province has done a good job, that “it looks like this wave is under control and could disappear over the summer.”

But, he added, “the second wave is what everybody’s fear is and what happens then. If you’ve got to retrench and shut things down again then I think we’re all in trouble for quite some time.”

At this point in time, Toigo doesn’t see any WHL teams in danger of folding.

“I don’t see it but who knows?” he said. Then, in reference to the Portland Winterhawks being in receivership, he added: “Who saw Portland coming with their scenario, but it had nothing to do with the hockey. It was more to do with the oil industry and (owner Bill Gallacher’s) challenges on that side of it. When oil goes from $100 to $10 if you’re in that business you’re going to feel it no matter how big your are.

“I don’t think anybody is safe if a second wave comes. I don’t care what league you’re talking about — NHL, CHL, CFL — I think they’re all going to be challenged and there will be some that don’t survive.”

In the end, as Toigo put it: “The best scenario is they come up with a vaccine or some way of dealing with this.”

The complete interview is right here.


Weather


Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, is bound and determined that his league is going to finish its 2019-20 season on the ice.

On Tuesday, during a virtual town hall played host to by the San Jose Sharks for the NHLbusiness community, Bettman said shutting things down is “not something I’m even contemplating.”

He added: “I believe that if the right time comes, and the right circumstances, based on all of the options that we’re considering and our ability to execute them, we’ll get this season done.

“I don’t want to sound Pollyanna, but canceling is too easy a solution. That means you stop working hard to do all of the things that we’re doing, and I ultimately believe that there will be an opportunity.”

The NHL shut things down on March 12 and since then there has been all kinds of speculation about how and when it will get up and running.

Meanwhile, B.C. Premier John Horgan suggested on Wednesday that his province could play host to all 31 NHL teams as they finished the regular season.

Horgan earlier had offered Vancouver as a hub for Pacific Division play, including the Canucks. On Tuesday, he spoke with Bettman and Bill Daly, the NHL’s deputy commissioner.

“I believe we’re in a good place to host, that’s why I contacted the commissioner,” Horgan said. “The Canucks have been working very co-operatively with my minister. We’ve heard from others around the league that have other ideas about perhaps having all of the games played in British Columbia.

“We have WHL rinks in Victoria, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, in Prince George . . . Cranbrook has an outstanding facility as well. We have hotel space.”

Look, the NHL may somehow find a way to complete its season, although the odds are stacked against it. But all 31 teams in B.C.? Sorry, that isn’t going to happen.


When the AHL cancelled the remainder of its 2019-20 season on Monday, it had 31 teams. AHLDave Andrews, the soon-to-retire president, said Wednesday that if the league has to return without fans some teams may not answer the bell. . . . ”We have a very strong league in terms of our ownership,” Andrews told the ESPN On Ice podcast. “We have 19 NHL-owned teams and 12 independently-owned teams. And the independently owned teams are in very good financial condition, even after what happened in this 2019-20 season,” he said. “But if their businesses aren’t viable, if they have to play in front of an empty building for six months, some of those teams will likely choose not to play.” . . . Andrews also said that the AHL is preparing schedules that will begin in October, November, December and January. . . . More on the story right here.


BestMan


The junior A Manitoba Junior Hockey League cancelled the remainder of its season on March 13. On Wednesday, Kim Davis, the league’s outgoing commissioner, explained in a mjhlstatement what has been happening behind the scenes in terms of preparing for next season.

For starters, the MJHL has been working to access “any and all federal and provincial financial assistant programs that have been made available to small businesses.” According to Davis, the league office and member teams have applied for various programs and “some have accessed these funds already, which is reassuring.”

Davis also said that the 2020-21 regular-season schedule is a work in progress; in fact, it would be fair to say it is ‘works’ in progress because there is more than one scenario.

“These scenarios have been extensive and range from the development of a normal 60-game schedule starting in September down to a 30-game schedule starting in December and several options in between,” he said.

Davis added that the MJHL is developing what he called Return to Play Protocols, which “will be extensive and will range from how fans enter and exit the building and all interactions once they are within the facility to how the two competing teams will prepare for a complete on the ice and everything in between.”

As well, he said, “The MJHL has been informed by the Provincial Public Health Office that the Return to Play Protocols we design must be approved by the Chief Provincial Public Health Officer before league play can resume.”

Davis’s complete statement is right here and it’s quite possible that the insight it provides is applicable to all junior leagues at the moment.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one for A.J. Liebling: “News is like the tilefish which appears in great schools off the Atlantic Coast some years and then vanishes, no one knows whither or for how long. Newspapers might employ these periods searching for the breeding grounds of news, but they prefer to fill up with stories about Kurdled Kurds or Calvin Coolidge, until the banks close or a Hitler marches, when they are as surprised as their readers.”


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Ranger

WHL’s off-ice season begins today . . . Bedard gets exceptional status . . . Cranbrook Bucks have their GM/coach

Turnsignals


The WHL will hold its inaugural two-round U.S. prospects draft today (Wednesday), along with its annual bantam draft lottery. . . . The lottery, which won’t be streamed live, is to be held at 11 a.m. (MT) and will originate from the WHL office in Calgary. The U.S. prospects draft will be held online, starting at 2 p.m. MT. . . .

Meanwhile, the WHL announced that it has cancelled its annual awards show and changed the date of its bantam draft. . . . The awards show was to have been held in Red Deer on May 6. . . . The bantam draft that was scheduled for Red Deer on May 7 now will be held online on April 22. . . .



In loading up for a run at the 2020 Memorial Cup, no one went to the lengths as did the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats and Chicoutimi Sagueneens. The Wildcats, under general manager Ritchie Thibeau, traded for three star players, giving up 13 draft picks and a prospect. Chicoutimi GM Yanick Jean bettered that by adding five players for 18 picks, seven of them first-rounders, and two players. . . . And, of course, there won’t be any playoffs in the QMJHL, nor will there be a Memorial Cup. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reviews the situation involving the two big buyers right here. . . .


Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday morning that “the NHL is temporarily cutting the pay of league office employees by 25 per cent.” . . . The cuts will come into play on April 1. . . . Kaplan wrote, “According to sources, the NHL is hoping that the temporary pay cut among league office employees will prevent layoffs during this uncertain time.” . . . The NHL had 189 games remaining in its regular season when it halted play on March 12. . . .

——

The owners of the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers had told salaried employees that they would be hit with pay cuts of 20 per cent and would be moving to four-day work weeks. . . . However, on Tuesday, Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment, reversed course. . . . “Our commitment has been to do our best to keep all of our employees working through this very difficult situation,” Josh Harris, HBSE president, said in a statement. “As part of an effort to do that we asked salaried employees to take a temporary 20% pay cut while preserving everyone’s full benefits — and keeping our 1,500 hourly workers paid throughout the regular season. After listening to our staff and players, it’s clear that was the wrong decision. We have reversed it and will be paying these employees their full salaries. . . . To our staff and fans, I apologize for getting this wrong.” . . .

——

Groupe CH, which owns the Montreal Canadiens and the AHL’s Laval Rocket, has announced layoffs that will affect 60 per cent of the employees in the organization. The layoffs will begin on Monday. . . . From a report by The Canadian Press: “Groupe CH says it has established a $6-millon assistance fund to help employees. The organization says the fund will help enhance employment insurance benefits for eight weeks, ensuring that employees will receive 80 per cent of their base salary for that period. The fund also will provide loans to employees in difficult financial situations.” . . .



Janet Brown of Vancouver radio station CKNW tweeted Tuesday morning that “White Spot restaurants has laid off about 3,000 employees in last week . . . owner Ron Toigo says restaurant industry was already hurting . . . he uses the words ‘bleak and staggering’ describing impact of COVID-19.” . . . Toigo also is the majority owner of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . .



Former Boston Bruins star Johnny Bucyk was to have had a hip replaced this week, but — guess what! — yes, the surgery was postponed. Dave Stubbs of nhl.com caught up with Bucyk, who is 84, and wrote this story right here. . . . You will enjoy this one. I guarantee it. . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.” . . .


The headline on the IIHF website reads: Ireland Coaches Italy. . . . Seriously. . . . Greg Ireland has signed on as the head coach of Italy’s national men’s hockey team. . . . Ireland, 54, takes over from Clayton Beddoes, who resigned earlier this year. . . . Ireland has been the head coach of HC Bolzano of the EBEL since January. . . . Prior to that, he spent three seasons as the head coach of Switzerland’s HC Lugano. . . .



BC Hockey announced Tuesday that F Connor Bedard has been granted exceptional status, so the 15-year-old will be eligible to play full-time in the WHL next season. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player granted such status for WHL play. . . . Bedard, 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, had 84 points, including 43 goals, in 36 games for West Vancouver Academy’s midget prep team this season. . . . The WHL bantam draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, WHL teams were allowed to use a 15-year-old in only five games before his club team had its season end. However, the Winnipeg Ice got F Matthew Savoie into 22 games, turning that ‘rule’ into something of a fallacy. Savoie, who applied for exceptional status by Hockey Canada but didn’t get it, finished with seven points, all of them assists. . . .

Two other players — F Riley Heidt and F Brayden Yager — also applied for exceptional status in the hopes of playing in the WHL next season as 15-year-olds. They both are from Dundurn, Sask., and both played with the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Heidt had 17 goals and 20 assists in 44 games; Yager had 18 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. . . . There was no mention of either in the announcement involving Bedard. . . .

Bedard is the seventh player to have been granted exceptional status, after Sean Day, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, John Tavares and Shane Wright, all of whom played in the OHL, and Joe Veleno, who played in the QMJHL. . . .


Floss


Ryan Donald is the first general manager and head coach of the Cranbrook Bucks, who are scheduled to begin play in the BCHL in 2020-21. The Bucks have signed Donald to a four-year contract. . . . Donald, who is from Edmonton, has been an assistant coach at Yale U for five seasons. Earlier, he played at Yale for four seasons. . . . “Ryan is an incredible hire for our club,” Bucks owner and president Nathan Lieuwen said in a news release, “and is absolutely the right person to build this franchise. “Not only does he have quality experience coaching at high levels, but he also has great connections throughout the NCAA.”


Ryan Oulahen has been named head coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion. He signed a three-year contract. . . . Oulahen had been the interim head coach since Dec. 10, when he replaced Stan Butler. . . . A former captain of the Battalion when the franchise was based in Brampton, Oulahen spent two seasons (2016-18) as head coach of the Flint Firebirds. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach with the Battalion for five seasons. . . . Butler had been the Battalion’s head coach since 1998-99. . . .


Toigo: TV deal “terrible” for WHL. . . . ACC to honour Wheat Kings’ owner. . . . ECHL loses Monarchs


MacBeth

F Juraj Bezúch (Lethbridge, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Hradec Králove (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and four assists in 30 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had two goals and two assists in three games, and on loan to Dukla Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and two assists in seven games. . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) has signed a two-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games. He averaged 19:17 time on ice, the most of all forwards on the team. . . .

G Juha Metsola (Lethbridge, 2007-09) has signed a three-year contract extension with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, in 48 games, he was 25-20-1, 2.02, .934, with four shutouts and one assist. He was the KHL’s goaltender of the month for October and April. He also was the KHL’s goaltender of the week in during the quarterfinals and semifinals. . . .

F Chris Collins (Chilliwack, Saskatoon, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 28 goals and 37 assists in 60 games. He led the Wings in goals and points. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had two goals in nine games. . . . Collins was named the ECHL’s rookie of the year and to the ECHL’s all-rookie team. . . .

D Neil Manning (Vancouver, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL), he was pointless in three games. He had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL), and seven assists in 13 games with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). . . . Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08), who will be entering his third season as head coach after three years as an assistant coach with Everett. . . .

F Marcin Kolusz (Vancouver, 2003-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with Podhale Nowy Targ (Poland, PHL). He had three goals and 13 assists in 16 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with Buran Voronezh (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season,  with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal and one assist in eight games; two goals and two assists in 17 games with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga); and no points in three games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

Jeff Pearlman is a prominent writer who has produced some terrific football- and baseball-based books. His most-recent work, Football for a Buck, was subtitled The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. In a word, it is awesome. If you have ever wondered about the role a guy named Donald Trump played in the death of the USFL, well, Pearlman’s book has it all.

But the best thing Pearlman has ever written appeared Wednesday on his blog and carried this headline: My wife donated one of her kidneys to a stranger this morning.

If you have ever wondered what a person’s thought process is as they begin to think about being a kidney donor, or if you have ever wondered what someone goes through along the way to being a donor, you will want to read this.

Heck, even if you have never wondered about either of those things take the time to give this a read.

In the end, it’s about life and the gift of life.

The story is right here.


If you were wondering why Rogers Sportsnet, which owns the television rights to all CHL games, didn’t show any games in the WHL final, it seems you aren’t alone.

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, isn’t at all enamoured with VancouverSportsnet, either.

The Giants just finished playing in the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. They took the Prince Albert Raiders to Game 7 before dropping a 3-2 OT decision in the Saskatchewan city on Monday night.

However, Sportsnet, which holds the rights through the 2025-26 season, didn’t televise any games in the final. In fact, Sportsnet didn’t show any games after bringing us the first three games of a second-round series between the Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

On Tuesday, Toigo appeared with Donnie and The Moj on TSN 1040 Radio in Vancouver.

“It was terrible. Absolutely terrible,” Toigo said of Game 7 not being televised. “Sportsnet . . . it’s a terrible deal for the league. We should have gone with TSN.”

At the time Sportsnet landed the CHL rights, it also cut a long-term deal for the NHL rights.

“(Sportsnet) had all that NHL content . . . the capacity to promote our games wasn’t there,” Toigo continued. “We should have realized that.

“TSN didn’t have any NHL content. What they’ve done with the World Juniors, they would have just folded us into that kind of presentation. It would have been a better way to go.

“But it is what it is.”

As for Game 7, Toigo said: “The ratings for Sportsnet to have this game in a market this size would have been off the charts. I don’t know who’s making those decisions but they certainly aren’t very good.”

Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, wasn’t nearly as critical.

“They make their decisions,” Hamilton told David Trifunov, writing for the Kelowna Daily Courier.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


Kelly McCrimmon, the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, will be presented with an BrandonWKregularhonourary diploma in Business Administration by Assiniboine Community College. The Brandon-based college will make the presentation during its graduation ceremony on June 13. . . . McCrimmon has been a player, coach and general manager with the Wheat Kings, as well as the franchise’s owner. He also spent four years at the U of Michigan — yes, he played hockey for the Wolverines after playing in the WHL — and later, while working with the Wheat Kings, earned an MBA from Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont. . . . He now is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights; he will take over as GM on Sept. 1. . . . McCrimmon also will be inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame this year.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Jonah Bevington, who will turn 16 on Sept. 7. The Winterhawks selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Bevington had 13 goals and 13 assists in 29 games with the OHA Edmonton Elite 15s. . . . A native of Yellowknife, NWT, Bevington now is an Edmonton resident.


Former WHLer Giffen Nyren, 30, has been granted bail and has returned to Kelowna from a psychiatric facility in Port Coquitlam. . . . While in Kelowna, doctors will continue to do a mental assessment on Nyren, a defenceman who played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. . . . Nyren was arrested in Kelowna on April 28 after a baby was grabbed from its mother in a downtown Kelowna park. The man eventually let the baby go, then shed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. Shortly after, he was arrested. . . . Nyren also has been charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a police officer. . . . His next court appearance has been scheduled for June 13 in Kelowna.


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have signed Brad Moran to a three-year contract extension as general manager and he’d coach. Moran has been the Canucks’ head coach since Nov. 27 when he replaced Darryl Olsen. Moran had been in his first season as an assistant coach when he stepped up to head coach. . . . Moran, 40, is a native of Abbotsford, B.C. He played five seasons (1995-2000) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, putting up 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games.


The Manchester, N.H., Monarchs, an ECHL team affiliated with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, are finished. The Monarchs had been in Manchester, in the AHL or ECHL, for 18 years. . . . “It’s just clear to us minor league is not viable in Manchester at the ECHL level,” Brian Cheek, the Monarchs’ chief executive, told Mark Hayward of the New Hampshire Union Leader. . . . The Monarchs were the Kings’ AHL affiliate until NHL teams began putting those teams in California. The Kings’ AHL affiliate now is the Ontario Reign. . . . Hayward’s story is right here.

Jon Rosen of lakingsinsider.com has lots more right here.


Tweetoftheday

All quiet on the Kootenay front . . . Raiders roll to another victory . . . ‘Tips win battle of U.S. Division leaders


MacBeth

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, as an alternate captain with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), he had one goal and 10 assists in 43 games. He also had three assists in 10 games with Sochi (Russia, KHL). . . .

F Zach Boychuk (Lethbridge, 2005-09) has been released by mutual agreement by Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 25 games. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of the season with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite). He had been released by Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL) after the end of a tryout contract on Nov. 11. He had three goals and three assists in six games. . . . Tvrdoň started the season with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga), scoring once in four games.


ThisThat

As readers stopped by here late Tuesday night and on through Wednesday, they learned that the Green Bay Committee had shut it down in Cranbrook, B.C., having started to whlbelieve that the Kootenay Ice, the WHL franchise its members had been working to save, is in its final season there.

The committee had been selling tickets and raising money through sponsorships for the Ice in the hopes of keeping the team in the 4,264-seat Western Financial Place.

With all signs pointing to a departure at season’s end, readers started to suggest possible landing spots, other than Winnipeg. Among those mentioned, in no particular order, were New Westminster, Billings, Chilliwack, Anchorage, Wenatchee, Penticton and Vernon.

None of those will be a destination, of course, as it seems the Ice is destined to end up in Winnipeg playing out of the East Division, while the Swift Current Broncos would slide back into the Central Division.

When that happens, Cranbrook will be home to an arena that meets WHL standards — including new lighting, boards and glass, and with plans for a new scoreboard with video boards to be installed in time for 2019-20.

Perhaps the one thing missing would be a team.

But there already are people in Cranbrook who are wondering if there might be another WHL team interested in relocating.

For starters, you can forget about the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos. These are the four remaining community-owned franchises and they aren’t going anywhere.

But . . .

New owners took over the Prince George Cougars in time for the 2014-15 season and admit that they have been bleeding money. This season, the announced average attendance in Prince George is 2,521 through 11 games. Last season, the final figure was 3,024.

Might the Cougars’ ownership be interested in at least kicking some tires?

Meanwhile, the Tri-City Americans averaged 3,053 fans for seven playoff games last spring after a regular season in which that figure was 3,649. But the Toyota Center, which opened in 1988, needs help

A year ago, the Tri-City Herald published a story that centred on the needed improvements and included this:

“Neither (WHL commissioner Ron) Robison nor (Americans general manager Bob) Tory suggested the Americans might leave Kennewick. But they didn’t deny the possibility either.

“Tory said team expenses have doubled under current ownership while revenue has been flat.

“ ‘There comes a time when that doesn’t make sense any more,’ Tory said.”

Voters in Kennewick, Wash., have twice rejected a sales tax that would have had money directed to Toyota Center improvements.

A year ago, there really wasn’t another option for teams like the Cougars or Americans. That changes if/when the Ice heads for the Manitoba capital.

Interestingly, Tory is quite familiar with Cranbrook, having worked as Kootenay’s general manager for two seasons (1998-2000).


All was quiet on the Kootenay Ice front on Wednesday, the day after a local committee that was working towards ensuring that the WHL franchise stays in Cranbrook, B.C., chose to cease operations.

In a letter to Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, as well as one of its Kootenaynewtwo owners, the Green Bay Committee cited a lack of support from the Ice’s owners, Greg Fettes and Cockell, in its decision.

Fettes and Cockell, both with ties to Winnipeg, purchased the franchise prior to last season. This season has been loaded with speculation that the franchise will be relocated to Winnipeg before another season arrives.

Of late, however, there has only been silence from the Ice.

“The silence is deafening,” John Hudak, the committee’s marketing director, told the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. “I can’t speak for the owners of the team, I’m not a mind-reader and I don’t know what they are planning on doing, but it’s just highly unusual that people who have been in town for a very short period of time are not making that comment. If they have attendance problems (and) then they aren’t making any comments here to us and (aren’t) willing to engage with us . . . It’s disturbing.”

Hudak’s committee had invited Cockell to attend meetings. Hudak told Taking Note on Wednesday that Cockell’s refusal to attend “surprised” the committee.

Hudak said there was a “representative of the Ice, but not a decision-maker” at the committee’s first meeting on Oct. 25.

Hudak told Global News-Winnipeg on Wednesday that the Ice’s lack of engagement is “probably the single biggest thing that has impacted our ability to lock up some ticket sales.

“Why should we support this if these people aren’t going to remain in the community.

“(We) haven’t heard from the Ice ownership if it will remain . . . their silence on the subject has become deafening.”

Global News reported that “Fettes has also partnered with Brad Rice, who opened Winnipeg’s The Rink Training Facility in 2009, and is building a new facility south of the city. Sources have told Global News a new 5,000-seat arena is planned to be developed on the site to accommodate the WHL team.”

In September, Fettes told Global: “As a fan, parent, and owner, I am passionate about hockey development in Winnipeg and across Canada. Because of this passion, I am involved with The Rink Player Development and their new facility at McGillivray and Loudon, including their expansion and development in the surrounding area.”

Kootenay’s next home game is scheduled for Friday night when the Calgary Hitmen are in town. Jeff Chynoweth is Calgary’s general manager. Fettes and Cockell purchased the Ice from Chynoweth, his brother, Dean, and their mother, Linda.


The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame revealed Wednesday that Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, will received the 2019 W.A.C. Bennett Award for contribution to sport in the province. . . . The award will be presented during the Hall of Fame’s induction gala on May 23 in Vancouver. . . . Toigo has owned the Giants since purchasing an expansion franchise that began play in the 2000-01 season. He has been instrumental in having the 2006 and 2019 World Junior Championships played in Vancouver, as well as the 2007 Memorial Cup. . . . Toigo already is in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame and the Delta, B.C., Sports Hall of Fame.


G Gavin McHale, who made 45 WHL appearances over two seasons (2004-06), got to watch an NHL game while wearing the uniform of the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night. With starter Braden Holtby a late scratch due to an undisclosed injury that is believed to be minor, the Capitals started Pheonix Copley against the host Winnipeg Jets and brought in McHale, a 31-year-old from Winnipeg, as the emergency backup. . . . The Jets won the game, 3-1. . . . McHale, who made 33 appearances with the Seattle Thunderbirds and 12 with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is the goaltender coach for the women’s hockey team at the U of Manitoba. . . . The 6-foot-7 McHale had been in the backup role once before. In February, he spent the third period on the Colorado Avalanche’s bench in support of Semyon Varlamov, who went in to replace the injured Jonathan Bernier.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have signed Alex Evin, their director of player personnel and associate coach, to a two-year extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. . . . Evin is in his second season with the Spruce Kings. . . . Adam Maglio, the Spruce Kings’ head coach, also is signed through 2020-21, as is general manager Mike Hawes.


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WEDNESDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS:

G Ian Scott blocked 43 shots to lead the host Prince Albert Raiders to their 11th straight PrinceAlbertvictory, this time beating the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. . . . The Raiders (18-1-0) now lead the overall standings by six points over the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Tigers (9-10-3) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Scott even took a shot at an empty-net goal, only to have the scoreboard in the Art Hauser Centre get in the way. “He thought he was Marty Brodeur at the end there with the shot,” Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid told Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com. “I thought it had a pretty good chance. He got some good weight on it and she was going. But then the clock obviously got in the way. That was the end of that.” . . . F Brett Leason (18) scored the game’s first goal, while shorthanded, at 8:58 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (9) added insurance at 11:16 of the third. . . . Leason has at least one point in all 19 Prince Albert games this season. He and F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings are tied for the WHL lead in goals. . . . Scott has three shutouts this season and six in his career. On the season, he is 15-1-0, 1.50, .946. . . . BTW, the Raiders now have scored 11 times while shorthanded; their WHL-leading penalty-killers have surrendered only seven goals. . . . D’Andrea’s story is right here.

G Beck Warm turned aside 24 shots to help the Tri-City Americans to a 3-0 victory over tri-citythe Broncos in Swift Current. . . . The Americans now are 12-6-0. This was Game 9 of an 11-game road trip on which they are 7-2-0, including 2-2-0 in the East Division. . . . The Broncos (4-16-2) have lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . Warm had one shutout this season and two in his career. . . . F Kyle Olson (4) opened the scoring at 4:20 of the first period, with F Krystof Hrabik (5) made it 2-0 at 19:15. . . . F Isaac Johnson scored his seventh goal into an empty net at 19:56 of the third period. . . . The Broncos remain without D Matthew Stanley, while F Eric Houk now has missed two games since being injured in a fight with F Carter Massier during a 2-0 loss to the Pats in Regina on Saturday.


F Josh Maser scored the winner in OT and also had two assists to lead the Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Kelowna Rockets. . . . Prince George (9-8-3) has won two in a row. . . . Kelowna (8-12-1) has lost three straight (0-2-1). . . . F Matej Toman (3) gave the Cougars a 2-1 lead, on a PP, at 10:05 of the second period. . . . Kelowna took a 3-2 lead on third-period goals from F Lane Zablocki (2), at 0:55, and F Kyle Topping (9), shorthanded, at 12:07. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (4) pulled the Cougars even at 19:43. . . . Maser won it with his sixth goal of the season with six seconds left in extra time.


F Riley Sutter’s shootout goal gave the host Everett Silvertips a 3-2 victory over the EverettPortland Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (15-6-0) have won five straight. . . . The Winterhawks (12-6-2) had their five-game winning streak snapped. . . . Everett leads the U.S. Division, by four points over Portland, which holds a game in hand. . . . The Silvertips led this one 2-0 in the first period on PP goals from F Connor Dewar (16), at 2:27, and F Bryce Kindopp (8), at 12:25. . . . The Winterhawks got third-period goals from F Reece Newkirk (13), at 3:14, and F Ryan Hughes (7), at 3:55. . . . Dewar and Portland F Joachim Blichfeld each scored in the first round of the shootout. Sutter, the first shooter in the third round, got the winner. . . . The Silvertips got 39 saves from G Dustin Wolf, while Portland’s Shane Farkas blocked 41.


Tweetoftheday

Pats have opening for 20-year-old . . . Might Silvertips bring back Tuulola? . . . Toigo says 2019 WJC tickets 60 per cent sold

MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a tryout contract with Stjernen Fredrikstad (Norway, GET-Ligaen). He is due to arrive in Fredrikstad on Jan. 3. This season, with Újpesti TE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Lisa), he was pointless in two games. He was released from a tryout contract on Sept. 28.


Pats looking to trade Sloboshan

The Regina Pats have an opening for a 20-year-old following the departure of F Wyatt Sloboshan. A native of Vanscoy, Sask., Sloboshan didn’t return to the Pats after the ReginaPats100Christmas break and his name no longer appears on Regina’s roster.

“He’s perfectly fine with it,” John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “He knew the inevitable was probably going to happen. Wyatt has been a trouper. He has played super hard for us. I won’t say he was on pins and needles but I just thought this was the better way to treat him. He wants to keep playing in the league. I have some interest in him from a couple, three places. I’m hopeful that works out.”

Each WHL team is allowed to keep three 20s on its roster. Regina also is carrying G Tyler Brown and F Matt Bradley.

This season, Sloboshan had four goals and 11 assists in 36 games. Last season, he put up four goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Saskatoon Blades, who traded him to the Spokane Chiefs on Dec. 15. He was pointless in one game with the Chiefs, before choosing not to return after Christmas.

Spokane traded him to Regina on Jan. 3, and he had seven goals and eight assists in 37 regular-season games with the Pats.

All told, he has 44 goals and 77 assists in 219 regular-season WHL games.

Sloboshan was a third-round selection by Swift Current in the 2012 WHL bantam draft, but never played for the Broncos, who dealt him to the Blades on Jan. 1, 2014.


Tuulola to return to Everett?

The Everett Silvertips may be working to get Finnish F Eetu Tuulola back in their lineup for the 2018-19 season.

Tuulola played for Everett in 2016-17, putting up 18 goals and 13 assists in 62 games. A Everettsixth-round selection by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL draft, Tuulola was loaned to Everett while under contract with HPK in Finland.

Because he was drafted off the roster of a European club, the Flames hold Tuulola’s right for four years, or until June 2020.

The Flames didn’t sign Tuulola last summer and he returned to play for HPK in Finland’s Liiga this season. A right-hand shot who can really shoot a puck, the 6-foot-2, 225-pounder has eight goals and four assists in 28 games. However, in his last six games, before joining Finland’s national team for the World Junior Championship, he had two goals and four assists and has been playing about 20 minutes per game.

That three-year contract with HPK expires following this season, at which time he would be free to sign with the Flames and perhaps rejoin the Silver-tips.

Of course, were that to happen, he would be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Silvertips, who have him on their protected list.


Toigo says empty seats won’t be problem in 2019

The 2018 World Junior Championship is through three days in Buffalo now and the empty seats in the KeyBank Center have become a big story.

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, says that won’t happen when the VanViclogo2019 tournament is shared between Vancouver and Victoria.

Here are three Thursday tweets from Vancouver sportscaster Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 and Sportsnet 650:

“Ron Toigo tells me the empty-seat problem in Buffalo won’t be a problem for Vancouver and Victoria at the World Juniors next year.”

“Toigo says ticket sales for Vancouver and Victoria next year (are) ‘well over 60 per cent sold.’ ”

“Toigo says Rogers Arena gave him a great deal. ‘It makes the ticket prices very affordable. Trevor Linden played a big role in helping out.”

The games scheduled for Vancouver, including both semifinals and the final, will be played in Rogers Arena, the home of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Linden, who won gold with Canada at the 1988 tournament in Moscow, is the president of hockey operations with the Canucks.

Later in the day, Toigo told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that comparing this year’s tournament to next year’s is “apples and oranges.”

Ewen’s story, which also includes some ticket prices for the 2019 event, is right here.


In the OHL last night, the Son Greyhounds won their 21st consecutive game, beating the Spirit, 4-1, in Saginaw. . . . The Greyhounds are 30-3-2 and lead the West Division by 10 points over the Sarnia Sting (25-9-2), who also are second in the overall standings. . . . The Greyhounds next are scheduled to play on Friday when they are to entertain the Flint Firebirds (11-20-3).


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

At Prince Albert, F Josh Paterson had three goals and an assist to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 6-4 victory over the Raiders. . . . The Blades (17-17-3) have won three straight Saskatoongames, including a 4-2 victory over the visiting Raiders on Wednesday night. . . . Prince Albert (13-16-7) has lost three in a row. . . . Saskatoon is tied with Regina for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card playoff spots. They are four points ahead of the Raiders. . . . The Blades won after overcoming a 3-1 first-period deficit. . . . F Parker Kelly (15) gave the home side a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 6:33 of the first period. . . . Paterson tied it, on a PP, at 9:56. . . . F Eric Pearce (3) gave the Raiders a 2-1 lead at 16:27 and F Carson Miller (1) upped it to 3-1 at 18:46. That was Miller’s first goal since Jan. 14, when he scored twice in a 7-6 OT loss in Regina. He played only nine more games last season thanks to shoulder problems that would require surgery. . . . F Chase Wouters (8) got the Blades to within a goal at 4:12 of the second period. . . . Paterson broke the tie at 17:53, then completed his first WHL hat trick with his 16th goal of this season at 3:28 of the third period. . . . The Blades took a 5-3 lead as F Braylon Shmyr scored at 14:01. . . . F Brett Season (6) got the home team back to within a goal at 18:18, but Shmyr (17) wrapped it up with an empty-netter at 19:14. . . . Shmyr also had two assists for a four-point night, earning his 200th career regular-season point, while Wouters also had four points, including three assists. . . . Shmyr has 200 points, including 91 goals, in 265 games. . . . The Blades were 1-1 on the PP; the Raiders were 1-3. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 38 shots for the Blades in recording his sixth straight victory, while the Raiders’ Ian Scott made 33 saves. . . . F Justin Nachbaur of the Raiders left at 8:39 of the first period with a cross-checking major and game misconduct after he drilled Saskatoon D Mark Rubinchik in the face. . . . In the third period, the Blades lost D Evan Fiala, the team captain, after he took a puck in the face. The Blades later tweeted: “The captain is OK! Quite a few stitches but no broken bones and all chiclets accounted for.” . . . Saskatoon will be without F Kirby Dach (undisclosed injury) on a week-to-week basis. He left Wednesday’s game in the first period and didn’t return. . . . Announced attendance: 2,312. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in attendance and posted this piece right here.


At Regina, F Matt Bradley broke a 4-4 tie at 13:21 of the third period as the Pats ended a five-game losing streak with a 5-4 victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Regina (17-ReginaPats10018-3) had been 0-4-1 in its previous five games. . . . The Wheat Kings (25-9-1) had beaten the visiting Pats, 5-3, on Wednesday night. . . . Brandon is third in the overall standings, three points behind Swift Current. . . . Regina is tied with Saskatoon for the Eastern Conference’s two wild-card spots. . . . Last night, Brandon took a 2-0 lead on goals from F Ty Lewis (19), at 16:18 of the first period, and F Evan Weinger (16), at 1:30 of the second. . . . Regina took the lead with three goals in a span of 2:23 early in the second. . . . F Logan Nijhoff (2) got it started at 4:14. Nijhoff, 16, also scored Wednesday. An eighth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he has two goals and an assist in eight games. . . . D Cale Fleury (8) tied it, 2-2, at 5:08, on a PP, picking up his 100th career point in the process. . . . F Bryan Lockner (5) gave the Pats the lead, on another PP, at 6:37. . . . D Zach Wytinck (2) got Brandon even at 11:11, only to have F Nick Henry (5) give the home boys the lead at 17:13. . . . F Stelio Mattheos (27) got Brandon back into another tie, at 8:57 of the third period. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn and D Dawson Davidson each had two assists for Regina, with Nijhoff and Bradley each getting one. . . . Brandon got two assists from Weinger and one from Lewis. . . . Regina was 2-8 on the PP; Brandon was 0-3. . . . G Tyler Brown earned the victory with 24 saves, while Dylan Myskiw stopped 31 for Brandon. . . . The Pats had G Jacob Wasserman on the bench backing up Brown. G Max Paddock, who went the distance in Brandon on Wednesday, was scratched as he is in the concussion protocol. Wasserman was brought in from the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . Regina also had F Cole Dubinsky, who turned 15 on Dec. 4, in its lineup. From Androssan, Alta., Dubinsky plays for the CSSHL’s Delta Hockey Academy prep team. Regina selected him in the fourth round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . F Jared Legien, acquired Wednesday from the Victoria Royals, had an assist in his Regina debut. . . . The Pats were without D Josh Mahura for a second straight game after he was released Monday by the Canadian national junior team in Buffalo. Mahura is expected to play on Monday night against visiting Prince Albert. . . . Announced attendance: 6,238.


At Moose Jaw, F Jayden Halbgewachs, who signed an NHL contract with the San Jose Sharks earlier in the day, had two goals and an assist to help the Warriors to an 8-2 MooseJawWarriorsvictory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Warriors (28-6-3) have points in three straight (2-0-1) and are atop the overall standings, five points ahead of the Broncos (26-8-2). The Broncos had won their previous six games. . . . The Broncos had beaten the visiting Warriors 5-4 in a shootout on Wednesday. . . . Last night, the Warriors took control with three goals before the game was nine minutes old. . . . F Justin Almeida (22) made it 1-0 at 5:47, with D Dmitri Zaitsev (2) scoring at 6:36, and Halbgewachs counting at 8:49. . . . F Beck Malenstyn (1) got the Broncos on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 11:03 of the second period. . . . F Luka Burzan (5) restored Moose Jaw’s three-goal lead at 16:22. . . . The visitors got to within two goals at18:25 when F Kole Gable (3) scored. . . . The Warriors put it away with four third-period goals, from Halbgewachs, who leads all of the CHL with 37 goals, F Tristin Langan (5), D Oleg Sosunov (7) and F Vince Loschiavo (11). . . . The Warriors got two assists from each of F Tanner Jeannot and D Josh Brook, and one each from Almeida, Langan, Burzan and Zaitsev. . . . F Glenn Gawdin had two assists for the Broncos. . . . Swift Current was 1-1 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-4. . . . G Brody Willms stopped 28 shots for the Warriors. . . . The Broncos started G Logan Flodell, who gave up three goals on 12 shots in 8:49. Joel Hofer then came on to stop one shot in 2:38. Flodell was sent back out and finished up. In all, he stopped 37 of 45 shots. . . .Swift Current F Matteo Gennaro left in the third period after taking a hit from Moose Jaw F Barrett Sheen. . . . Announced attendance: 3,657.


At Calgary, F Brett Davis broke a 3-3 tie with a shorthanded breakaway goal at 18:10 of the third period to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Ice (17-17-Kootenaynew2) has won four in a row and has points in five straight (4-0-1). It is second in the Central Division four points behind Medicine Hat. . . . The Hitmen (10-19-6) have lost four in a row (0-2-2) and are 11 points out of a playoff spot. . . . These teams have met in four straight games, with the Ice winning all four of them — 5-1 at Cranbrook on Dec. 16, 4-3 in OT in Calgary on Dec. 17, 4-3 in OT on Wednesday in Cranbrook and 4-3 last night. . . . When this season began, the Hitmen had taken 16 straight victories from the Ice. . . . Kootenay now is 5-1-0 in the season series; the Hitmen are 1-3-2. . . . Last night, F Orca Wiesblatt (5) gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 5:36 of the second period. . . . The Ice tied it when F Alec Baer (14) scored at 11:40. . . . The Hitmen went back out front when F Mark Kastelic (9) scored at 12:09. . . . The Ice tied it again, this time when F Colton Veloso scored, on a PP, at 1:53 of the third period. . . . F Luke Coleman (7) gave Calgary a 3-2 lead with a shorthanded goal at 4:27. . . . Veloso (12) tied it, on a PP, at 12:55. . . . Davis then won it with his ninth goal. . . . F Cameron Hausinger drew assists on each the Ice’s last two goals. . . . F Peyton Krebs also had two assists for the winners. . . . Kastelic added an assist to his goal. . . . Kootenay was 2-8 on the PP; Calgary was 0-4. . . . The Ice held a 38-13 edge in shots on goal. . . . Kootenay G Duncan McGovern stopped 10 shots. . . . Calgary got 34 stops from G Nick Schneider. . . . G Bailey Brkin, who missed Wednesday’s game with the flu, was backing up McGovern. . . . The game was 45 minutes late starting after the Ice encountered some travel difficulties thanks to road conditions en route to Calgary. . . . F Brad Ginnell, acquired Wednesday from the Portland Winterhawks, made his Kootenay debut in his hometown. . . . The Ice is in a stretch of eight games, two of them at home, in 11 nights. It will play in Edmonton on Saturday, to complete a run of three games in four nights. On Monday, Kootenay will entertain Medicine Hat to start a stretch of five games in six nights — yes, five in six! — that is to include stops in Lethbridge, Swift Current, Prince Albert and Saskatoon. . . . Seriously, how does someone involved in the WHL not step in and stop something like this? . . . Announced attendance: 9,034.


At Edmonton, F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored at 4:48 of OT to give the Oil Kings a 4-3 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Edmonton (9-22-4) has points in three straight games (2-0-EdmontonOilKings1). It is last in the Eastern Conference, four points behind Calgary. . . . The Rebels (10-19-7) have lost three in a row (0-1-2) and are 10 points out of a playoff spot. . . . The Oil Kings had gone into Red Deer and won 3-1 on Wednesday night. . . . Last night, F Brian Harris gave Edmonton a 1-0 lead at 2:31 of the first period. . . . F Grayson Pawlenchuk (13) tied it at 14:01. . . . F David Kope (4) put Edmonton back out front at 11:59 of the second period. . . . D Dawson Barteux (1), on a PP, tied it, again, at 6:02 of the third period. His first career goal came in his 71st career game. . . . The Rebels took a 3-2 lead as F Mason McCarty (17) scored at 7:32. . . . Edmonton D Conner McDonald (3), who had three assists on Wednesday, forced OT at 11:10. . . . Fix-Wolansky won it with his 14th goal of the season. . . . McDonald and Fix-Wolansky each added an assist. . . . The Rebels got two assists from D Alex Alexeyev and one from Barteaux. . . . The Rebels were 1-4 on the PP; the Oil Kings were 0-4. . . . G Josh Dechaine earned the victory with 23 stops, one more than Red Deer’s Ethan Anders. Dechaine’s night included an OT stop on Red Deer D Brandon Schuldaus on a breakaway. . . . The Oil Kings have added D Aidan Lawson, 16, to their roster. A list player, he is from Providence, Utah, and has a goal and eight assists in 26 games with the Colorado Thunderbirds, a Tier 1 Elite team. . . . Edmonton also has added F Raphael Pelletier, 15, who was a third-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., he is playing for the CSSHL’s Northern Alberta Elite 15s. . . . Neither played last night. . . . Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com reported after the game that F Arshdeep Bains is staying with the Rebels for the remainder of the season. He was leading the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League in scoring with 56 points in 22 games with the Valley West Hawks. . . . Announced attendance: 8,057.


At Victoria, the Royals scored twice in the game’s first six minutes en route to a 7-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Royals (21-14-3) had lost their previous VictoriaRoyalsfour games. They now are tied with Kelowna atop the B.C. Division. . . . One night earlier, the Cougars (13-18-5) had beaten the host Royals, 5-3. Prince George is fifth in the B.C. Division, three points behind Kamloops. . . . F Dino Kambeitz (8) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 5:28, and F Matthew Phillips made it 2-0 just 29 seconds later. . . . F Josh Maser (15) got the Cougars to within a goal, on a PP, at 6:50, but it was all Royals after that. . . . Phillips got his 27th goal, on a PP, before the first period ended. . . . F Spencer Gerth (3) and F Tyler Soy (15), on a PP, added second-period goals, with F Jeff de Wit (4) and D Jeremy Masella (3) scoring in the third period. . . . The Royals had de Wit, who was acquired Wednesday from Kootenay, and F Braydon Buziak, who came over from Regina, in the lineup for the first time. De Wit had a goal and an assist, with Buziak recording an assist. . . . The Royals got three assists from D Chaz Reddekopp and two each from F Dante Hannoun and D Scott Walford. . . . Victoria was 3-6 on the PP; Prince George was 1-6. . . . G Griffen Outhouse earned the victory by stopping 23 of 24 shots in 52:27. Dean McNabb played the final 7:33, stopping four shots. . . . Cougars starter Taylor Gauthier was beaten seven times on 24 shots in 46:08. Isaiah DiLaura finished up by stopping all six shots he faced in 13:52. . . . Announced attendance: 5,936.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Portland vs. Tri-City, at Kennewick, Wash., 7:05 p.m.

Spokane vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.

Vancouver at Everett, 7:35 p.m.

Still no timeline for Seattle goalie . . . Ex-enforcer reaches out to Peat . . . Jette on comeback trail from concussion . . . Toigos involved in mammoth real-estate deal

Scattershooting

A little bit of snow, exactly as was called for by forecasters, and Kamloops turns into smashville. It’s as predictable as the POTUS waking up every day and entertaining us with a tweet or six. Hey, it snowed here on Tuesday and again Thursday, and it was a travelling road show both days.


Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post:

“What is the point of fighting? It is purposeless. On (Dec. 15), for example, the Pats’ Bryce Platt and the Saskatoon Blades’ Evan Fiala squared off. It was a fight for the sake of a fight — a needless spasm of pugilism that was then replayed on the Brandt Centre’s centre-ice scoreboard. Player safety is such an obvious priority that fighting is showcased via the in-house video system. The wrong message is being transmitted.”


Derek Boogaard. Rick Rypien. Wade Belak. Matt Johnson. Steve Montador. Rudy Poeschek. Stephen Peat. Dale Purinton. . . . All were major junior hockey enforcers. All later experienced, or are experiencing, health and lifestyle issues. . . . Yes, it’s time for the WHL to outlaw fighting. Period.


On a different subject, have you flipped through the TV listings lately? Have you noticed all the Christmas moves that are available? No, I’m not referring to Home Alone, Die Hard, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street or any of those. I’m referring to the dozens of movies like Finding Santa, Christmas at Holly Lodge, Switched for Christmas, Christmas in Mississippi, etc. Hey, they’re everywhere. When did the making of such movies become such a large industry?


There’s a WHL angle here, too, because my wife, who knows such things, tells me that Candace Cameron Bure is a big star in the Christmas movie game. Yes, she is married to former WHL star Valeri Bure (Spokane Chiefs, 1991-94).


It’s college football bowl season and that’s always a fun time. Did you get to watch the Cheribundi Tart Cherry Boca Raton Bowl on Tuesday? What about the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl on Thursday? I’m old enough to remember when the Holiday Bowl was, well, the Holiday Bowl. Now it’s the San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl. . . . Someone has a lot of fun playing name that bowl game during the offseason.


Former WHLer Peter Soberlak (Kamloops, Swift Current, 1985-89) is in the running to be the next athletic director at Thompson Rivers U in Kamloops. He has been at TRU for 14 years and now is in the school’s phys-ed department. . . . It’s likely that either Soberlak or Curtis Atkinson will be tabbed to replace the retiring Ken Olynyk. Atkinson, the associate director of sport for Canada West, was the interim AD at the U of Regina for about 18 months starting in December 2014. His wife, Heather, is a TRU professor.


Just wondering . . . who had more failures . . . the original Steve McGarrett or Perry Mason?



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MacBeth

F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Ravensburg Towerstars (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had two assists in 20 games with the Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). He was released from a tryout contract on Dec. 19. . . .

G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has been assigned by Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SHL) to Södertälje (Sweden, Allsvenskan) on a one-game conditioning loan. Kolppanen has been out since just before the start of the season with an injury and only recently resumed training. . . .

D Sebastian Owuya (Medicine Hat, 2010-11) has been assigned on loan by Södertälje (Sweden, Allsvenskan) to Kallinge/Ronneby (Sweden, Division 1) for the remainder of this season. He was pointless in 14 games with Södertälje, and had one assist in three games while on loan to Nyköping Grypen (Sweden, Division 1).


A LITTLE OF THIS . . . SOME OF THAT . . .

Andy Eide, who follows the Seattle Thunderbirds for 710 ESPN Seattle, chatted with general manager Russ Farwell and posted a story on Thursday. . . . In the story, Farwell Seattleaddresses the situation regarding G Carl Stankowski, who, at 16, led them to a WHL championship last spring but has yet to play this season. “He’s had some complications,” Farwell told Eide. “They’re looking, he’s maybe got some other health problems. They think they’ve got it figured out. They’re hoping this week to set the treatment and then we are thinking he’s going to play, which I wasn’t sure about at one point. It’s still up in the air, we don’t know for sure so that’s part of the frustration.” . . . The one thing that is certain is that the Thunderbirds have no idea when Stankowski might return to game action. . . . Farwell also addressed the impending arrival of the NHL in Seattle: “The cost for two people to go to an NHL game you can just about have a season ticket for us. We’re talking two different price points and I think the growth in the sport will be phenomenal. As people get excited about the game, communities start to build rinks and more kids get involved. That’s the key point for us and I think we’ll see the spin off from that.” . . . Eide’s complete story is right here.


Dale Purinton has been on the same road that Stephen Peat now is travelling. Both are former WHL enforcers, with a long history of fights both there and later in the NHL. These days, Peat is believed to be living on the streets of B.C.’s Fraser Valley, and Purinton would like to help him. . . . After the CBC did a story on Peat, Purinton got in touch with folks at the broadcaster. . . . Jeremy Allingham of CBC News has more right here.


In 2015-16, D Tyler Jette of Farmington, Minn., was one of 10 finalists for Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey Award, which goes to the state’s top high school player. He also was nominated for the Reed Larson Award, which goes to the state’s top high school defenceman. On Sept. 26, 2016, Jette, then 18, signed with the Tri-City Americans. . . . He never played even one game with the Americans. So . . . what happened? . . . Jette suffered a concussion in training camp prior to last season and sat out the entire season. In fact, he didn’t play again until earlier this month when he joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. He now has played in three games and has one assist. . . . “The only thing that was hampering him at all was his conditioning,” Sherwood Park head coach Adam Manah told Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News, “which is to be expected after not playing for so long and only skating with us three or four times. He sees the ice well and moves the puck crisp and hard. All we need from him is to be a good shut-down guy. We can see there is some offensive instincts there too, but that will come in due time once he gets comfortable and gets his game rolling again.” . . . Jette no longer is listed among the prospects on the Americans’ website. . . . Jones’ story is right here.


The Kootenay Ice has signed G Gage Alexander, 15, who is from Okotoks, Alta. Alexander Kootenaynewwas a seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. This season, he is 7-0-1, 1.75, .929 with the minor midget AAA Rockyview Raiders. . . . The Ice now has signed six of its 10 selections in the 2017 bantam draft — F Connor McClennon, who was taken second overall, D Anson McMaster, F James Form, G Will Gurski, F Owen Pederson and Alexander. . . . Left unsigned are D Jake Sanderson, a fourth-round pick from Calgary; D Brett Fogg of Humboldt, Sask., who was taken in the fifth round; D Benjamin Zloty, a sixth-rounder from Calgary; and F Michael Milne, who was taken in the eighth round out of the Yale Hockey Academy.


D Jake Harrison of West Kelowna, B.C., has committed to Michigan Tech for the 2019-20 season. Harrison, who is in his third season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors, was a fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . In 143 regular-season BCHL games, he has 16 goals and 56 assists. This season, he has four goals and 19 assists in 35 games.


A piece of property in downtown Vancouver that is owned by Shato Holdings Ltd., which is run by brothers Peter and Ron Toigo, has sold for “a reported $245 million,” according to the Vancouver Sun. . . . The site is located on West Georgia Street and is presently home to a White Spot restaurant. . . . The property, which also includes a parking lot, was purchased by Carnival International Holdings Ltd., which, the Sun reports, “trades on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.” . . . The Toigos also are the majority owners of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The Sun’s complete story is right here.


Scoreboard

Dec. 18-Dec. 26:

No Games Scheduled.


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