CFL players back to practice fields as strike ends . . . WHL conference finals on tap . . . Two veteran goalies change teams

Thankfully (mercifully?), the CFL and the CFLPA moved out of the media spotlight earlier this week, went quietly in behind closed doors and emerged with a seven-year agreement.

The CFL’s nine teams were on their respective practice fields on Thursday, with CFLlogoplayers and the board of governors expected to ratify the agreement in the days to come.

The players, it seems, made what TSN’s Dave Naylor referred to as “significant gains” in this agreement. But that doesn’t mean it was one of those deals with winners and losers.

Yes, Virginia, these labour disputes can have winners and winners. At first glance, this looks to be one of those deals.

In this instance, a league that has long talked about having its players as partners may actually have taken giant steps in that direction.

For example, while we don’t have access to numbers, the deal is said to include a decent increase in the salary cap and, more importantly for the players, the inclusion of all revenues, including from the Grey Cup game, as football-related revenues. And, it’s said, the players will have access to the books so will be able to have them independently audited.

Players also will be able to have some guaranteed money if they sign for a third year with the same team. Football, of course, is famous for having contracts that don’t feature guaranteed money.

The guaranteed money is all part of an attempt to keep players with teams for more than a year or two. While this CBA doesn’t directly tinker with the ratio and all that goes into that — teams must have seven Canadian starters — but it does allow players who have been with one team for three years or five in the league to, as Naylor put it, “play as Canadians in some circumstances.”

On top of all that, the players will get improved medical benefits from teams that want more padded practices. There will be 12 such practices permitted this season.

While this is a seven-year agreement, there is a clause that could end it after five years, which is when the current TV deal with TSN is to expire. If you aren’t aware the TSN deal is the CFL’s meat and potatoes. Without it, the CFL would starve to death.

One other key part is that this agreement is to end 30 days before the start of training camp. Past deals, including the one that just expired, were up the day before training camps opened, something that meant players had all travelled to sites and then had to sit around and wait. In the future, those extra 30 days could prove most important to those same players.

The exhibition season was to have started on Monday with the defending-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers to travel to Regina for a game with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. That game now will be played on May 31.

The first exhibition games now will be played on Friday, with the Toronto Argonauts in Ottawa to face the Redblacks, and the Edmonton Eskimos in Winnipeg.

The regular season is scheduled to open on June 9 with the Montreal Alouettes visiting the Calgary Stampeders.

Naylor’s piece for TSN is right here.

F Kris Foucault, who spent four seasons (2007-11) in the WHL, ran and swam to the rescue on May 10 in Nassau, Bahamas, when a six-year-old girl found herself in trouble at a beach. . . . “As I got through the wave, I saw her lifeless body floating on the top about 50 feet in front of me,” he told Lauren Merola of “I actually thought I was just recovering a body.” . . . The little girl was alive, but in great danger, and you can credit Foucault with saving her life. . . . Foucault, 31, has played the past six seasons in the DEL, Germany’s top league. This season, he had 12 goals and 16 assists in 24 games and now is coming off shoulder surgery. . . . Merola’s story is right here.


The WHL’s conference finals open tonight in Winnipeg and Kamloops. The last WHLplayoffs2022four standing are the teams with the first-, second-, fourth- and seventh-best regular-season records. Yes, that’s comparing apples and oranges because teams didn’t play outside their conferences this season, but it does show the quality of the remaining teams. . . . In Winnipeg, the Ice, who finished atop the overall standings, will play host to the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings. The Ice are 8-2 in the playoffs; the Oil Kings are 8-0. . . . In Kamloops, the Blazers, the No. 2 team in the Western Conference, will entertain the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds. The Blazers are 8-2; the Thunderbirds are 8-4, with four of those victories coming on the road. . . . Each of the two series will continue Saturday with games in Winnipeg and Kamloops.

The WHL held its annual draft on Thursday and you are able to find all the WHLdetails at . . . There also were a couple of trades involving veteran goaltenders, who could be impact players next season.

The Moose Jaw Warriors acquired G Connor Ungar, G Justen Maric and a fourth-round pick in 2026 from the Red Deer Rebels for G Kyle Kelsey, a fourth-rounder in yesterday’s draft and a sixth in 2026. With that fourth-round pick, which originally belonged to the Victoria Royals, the Rebels took D Tate Dolinsky of Winnipeg.

Ungar, a 20-year-old Calgarian, was acquired by Red Deer from the Brandon Wheat Kings prior to this season. He went 21-9-1, 2.43, .911 with the Rebels. . . . Maric, 18, is from Edmonton, and played this season with the U18 AAA CAC Canadians. The Rebels selected him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft. . . . Kelsey, 18, is from Maple Ridge, B.C. He was 14-12-0, 2.83, .913 with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies this season. The Warriors had picked him in the fifth round of the 2019 draft.

Ungar joins F Calder Anderson, D Daemon Hunt, D Cole Jordan and F Ryder Korczak as the 2002-born players on Moose Jaw’s roster.

As things now sit, the Rebels have Chase Coward, 19, and Kelsey atop their goaltending depth chart, with Chase Wutzke, who turns 16 on July 26, in the third slot. Coward was 22-10-2, 2.51, .906 in 35 games this season.

The Rebels still have six 2002-born players on their roster — D Blake Gustafson, F Jace Isley, F Ben King, F Dallon Melin, D Christoffer Sedoff and D Joel Sexsmith.

In the other  deal involving a veteran goaltender, the Regina Pats got Koen MacInnes from the Everett Silvertips for two draft picks — a sixth yesterday (130) and a conditional seventh in 2024. . . . MacInnes, 20, is from Burnaby, B.C. He played with the Saskatoon Blades in 2019-20 and the 2021 development season. This season, with Everett, he went 21-7-5, 2.60, .909. . . . The Pats were lacking in experience in the goaltending department this season and are hoping MacInnes will solve that problem for 2022-23. . . . The Silvertips used that sixth-round pick to take F Lukas Kaplan of Spruce Grove, Alta.

In the only other draft-day trade the involved a player as opposed to picks, the Prince George Cougars got F Noah Boyko from the Saskatoon Blades for a fourth-round pick yesterday. . . . The Blades had acquired Boyko, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes in late December. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he totalled 30 points, 16 of them goals, in 47 games. . . . Boyko and D Aiden Reeves are the lone 2002-born players on Prince George’s roster. . . . Saskatoon used that fourth-round pick to take F Maxx Hamelin of Winnipeg. . . . Boyko’s departure leaves the Blades with four 2002-born players on their roster — F Kyle Crnkovic, D Aidan De La Gorgendiere, F Josh Paulhus and F Josh Pillar.

From Wednesday’s New York Times: Federal health officials warned on COVIDWednesday that a third of Americans live in areas where the threat of Covid-19 is now so high that they should consider wearing a mask in indoor public settings. They cited new data showing a substantial jump in both the spread of the coronavirus and hospitalizations over the past week. . . . Dr. Rochelle P. Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that the seven-day average of hospital admissions from Covid rose 19 percent over the previous week. About 3,000 people a day were being admitted with Covid, she said, although death rates, a lagging indicator, remained low.

One more from The New York Times: More than 70 New York City judges descended on a Long Island resort last week to enjoy an annual three-night retreat. In the days after, 20 tested positive for the coronavirus. . . . Lucian Chalfen, a spokesman for New York’s courts, confirmed Wednesday that the judges had tested positive. He said that, to his knowledge, none of the judges were seriously ill, and that those who were symptomatic had not reported to work.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Penticton Vees completed a BCHL championship series sweep of the host Nanaimo Clippers with an 8-2 victory on Wednesday night. Penticton lost its first game of this spring’s playoffs, then won 16 straight. . . . The Vees held a 58-23 edge in shots, including 21-1 in the third period. . . . F Bradly Nadeau, a Penticton native, led the Vees with three goals and an assist. Nadeau, who turned 17 on May 5, is committed to the U of Maine. His brother, Josh, who also is headed for Maine, added a goal and two assists. . . . The announced attendance was 2,069. . . . While the 10-team national junior A championship for the Centennial Cup opened Thursday in Estevan, Sask., the Vees weren’t there. You will recall that the BCHL pulled out of the CJHL, which oversees junior A hockey in Canada, prior to the start of this season. . . .

The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHLer Wacey Rabbit to a two-year contract extension as assistant coach. He just completed his first season as an assistant alongside Joe Martin, the general manager and head coach. . . . Rabbit, 35, played five seasons (2002-07) in the WHL, enjoying stints with the Saskatoon Blades and Vancouver Giants. He finished his pro career with three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen. . . .

Jake Grimes, who stepped down as head coach of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles during this season, is joining the U of Waterloo Warriors as an associate coach. Grimes also has worked in junior hockey with the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, Peterborough Petes and Guelph Storm. With the Warriors, he will be working alongside head coach Brian Bourque, who was a minor hockey teammate in Nova Scotia back in the day. . . .

The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have added Sam Waterfield and Tyler Steel to their coaching staff. Waterfield, who had been with the Cowichan Valley Capitals, will be the assistant general manager and associate coach, while Steel, a former Centennials goaltender, is the new goaltending coach.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


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



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


Or, for more information, visit right here.


A summer without Wimbledon seems likely . . . And what about the CFL season? . . . BCHL coach of year unemployed

Make sure you watch the video because that will explain the second tweet . . .

Here is why we love Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. His Monday posting contained a considerable amount of writing about the chances of the pro leagues and/or college football resuming/starting their seasons. As he pointed out, it’s awfully hard to practise physical distancing in a sporting facility that contains 106,572 fans.

He finished with this:

“Baseball has had some experience dealing with crowds where social distancing can be maintained:

“Spread out the attendees at a typical Miami Marlins home game and social distancing is not a challenge.

“Look at the fans sitting behind home plate in Yankee Stadium. The cost of those seats has effected social distancing by economic measures and not medical ones.”

Look him up at for more fun.


BTW, here’s Jack’s Thought of the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Our public men are speaking every day on something, but they ain’t saying anything.”


The Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames announced cutbacks on Monday. . . . Edmonton has reduced its staff by 139 employees with all others taking a “compensation rollback,” which is fancy-speak for a pay cut. . . . As well, senior hockey and business executives are taking a 50-100 per cent cut. . . . The Flames cut their workforce by 150 employees, or 50 per cent, hitting them with a 60-day temporary layoff. The rest of the staff will see 10-25 per cent cuts in pay. . . .


The CFL has postponed the start of training camps that were to begin in May. In some instances, rookie camps were to start on May 11 and main camps on May 17. . . . The B.C. Lions were to train in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. . . . The CFL’s regular season is scheduled to begin on June 11, but that obviously is in doubt. . . . There already is speculation out there about whether the CFL will be able to get in a 12- or even an eight-game regular-season schedule. . . .

Farhan Lalji of TSN tweeted that sources have told him everyone in the Calgary Stampeders “organization, including all football ops/coaches, have been told by ownership that they will be taking pay cuts. Range is 10-25 per cent and will be re-evaluated in three months.” . . . That would take them to July 1. . . .

Sky Sports reported that German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordoff told it that Wimbledon organizers will announce the cancellation of the tournament this week. The tournament’s scheduled dates are July 29 through July 12. . . . While the French Open has been postponed from May until late September, Wimbledon would be cancelled because it has just two covered courts and it isn’t possible to play on the grass courts that late in the season. . . . Mark Masters of TSN has more on the Wimbledon situation right here with an interesting interview with Grant Cantin of Stony Plain, Alta., who was on the grounds crew for 17 years. . . .

Organizers of the Tokyo Olympics have rescheduled the Summer Games and now they are to open on July 23, 2021, and run through Aug. 8. They had been scheduled to open on July 24, 2020, and go through Aug. 9. . . . The Paralympics now are scheduled to run from Aug. 24 through Sept. 5, 2021. . . .

In golf, the Irish Open, set for May 28-31, has been postponed, meaning the next scheduled European Tour men’s event is the Trophee Hassan II in Morocco, June 4-7. . . .

The seven-team Western Women’s Canadian Football League has cancelled its 2020 season, which would have been No. 10. The league’s teams: Calgary Rage, Edmonton Storm, Lethbridge Steel, Manitoba Fearless, Regina Riot, Saskatoon Valkyries and the Winnipeg Wolfpack. . . .

The 2020 Saskatchewan Marathon has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Saskatoon on May 31. . . .


The International Boxing Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 Hall of Fame weekend. . . . What should have been this year’s inductees will be part of the celebrations in 2021. . . . The Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Canastota, N.Y. The big weekend had been scheduled for June 11-14. . . . From “This class makes history, featuring the first enshrined females in the Hall of Fame’s 31 years of existence. The women’s Trailblazer category gains Barbara Buttrick, while the Modern category adds ‘The Coal Miner’s Daughter’ Christy Martin, and ‘The Dutch Destroyer’ Lucia Rijker. Other inducted boxers include lightweight champion Frank Erne in the Old Timer category, and Paddy Ryan to the Pioneer category.”

While there have been lots of postponements and cancellations, the NFL is going ahead with its annual draft. . . . That has irked Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle, who points out that a lot of people have learned a lot over the last while, “everyone except, apparently, Roger Goodell.”

Killion continued:

“Commissioner Tone Deaf now has turned into Dictator Obtuse. In announcing that the NFL draft would take place as planned April 23-25, Goodell also sent a memo warning teams not to criticize his decision.

“The memo, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, said in part ‘public discussion of issues relating to the Draft serves no useful purpose and is grounds for disciplinary action.’

“We know how hard the hammer can fall in the NFL. Just ask old friend Colin Kaepernick.

“There’s no place for personal opinion or free speech in the No Freedoms League.”

Killion’s complete column is right here.

This one actually had me chuckling out loud, while watching The Pride of the Yankees on Sunday night . . .

The Tri-City Americans announced the departure of associate coach Brian Pellerin in a terse two-sentence news release on Monday afternoon. . . . Pellerin, the pride of Hinton, Alta., which is just west of Old Drinnan Town, spent six seasons with the Americans, one as assistant coach and the last five as associate. . . . The 50-year-old Pellerin played four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . He also worked four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks.

The Philadelphia Hockey Club has signed Rylan Ferster as one of its head coaches for 2020-21. Ferster will be involved with the Tier-2 team in the National Collegiate Development Conference. . . . Ferster is a veteran of the junior A ranks, especially in the BCHL where he recently spent seven seasons with the Westside/West Kelowna Warriors, guiding them to a national championship in 2015-16. . . . In December, the PHC hired Troy Mick, another former BCHL coach, as the general manager of the Tier-2 program and the head coach of the U-16 teams. . . .

The BCHL’s reigning coach of the year no longer is with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. . . . Jason Fortier had signed a three-year contract in November 2017 when he replaced Barry Wolff. . . . Veteran BCHL observer Brian Wiebe (@Brian_Wiebe) first tweeted the news on Monday, adding later in the day that “Express assistant coaches Jamie Jackson and Sam Waterfield are no longer with the team either. Jackson was brought on board in November 2017, while Waterfield was with Coquitlam since June 2019.”

Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins


F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.

As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.

The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.


The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .



1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth



2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker

It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.

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.

Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.

The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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