Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering if the QMJHL will ban fighting . . .

Scattershooting

If you are a baseball fan, you need to be aware of the website Alberta Dugout Stories. You are able to find it at albertadugoutstories.com. As a sampler, check out the story at this link right here, where Ian Wilson writes about a wily right-hander named Leroy (Satchel) Paige and others who toured the Prairies at one time or another. . . . This is really, really good stuff.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, has been giving up some of his time to watch XFL games. A couple of pertinent observations: “I do not like the fact that the XFL has doubled the number of sideline reporters doing the games; sideline reporters are as useful as a trombone player in a duck blind. . . . A big plus for XFL 2.0 is the absence of any cheerleaders.  They add about as much to a telecast as do the sideline reporters.”

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The Sports Curmudgeon also had this observation, one that applies to hockey as well: “There is a broadcasting difference between dead air’ (very bad) and ‘announcers’ silence to let the scene speak for itself’ (usually very good). The announcers on XFL games need to shut up every once in a very long while.”


Chips


G Liam McGarva, 20, who won a Kootenay International Junior Hockey League title with the Revelstoke Grizzlies last season, has been suspended until March 11 by the SJHL. McGarva, who turned 20 on Feb. 17, now is with the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves. He was suspended after using his water bottle to squirt a referee, then, as he was being escorted off the ice after being ejected, shoving a linesman with his blocker. . . . Brady Lang of Saskatoon radio station CKOM has all the bases covered right here.


It used to be that Bruce Hamilton, the owner, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, didn’t fire head coaches. And when one did leave, he always seemed to KelownaRocketshave an assistant coach poised to take over. . . . That changed when Dan Lambert left for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres and Hamilton went outside his organization to hire Brad Ralph, who was gone after a 48-20-4 regular season and a trip to the Western Conference final. . . . Jason Smith, another outsider, was hired on July 6, 2016; his run ended on Oct. 22, 2018, with Hamilton saying that “we need to go in a different direction.” The Rockets were 4-10-0 at the time of the firing; Smith left with a 92-54-12 record in two-plus regular seasons. . . . At that time, Hamilton bypassed assistant coach Kris Mallette, this time hiring another outsider, former NHL defenceman Adam Foote. . . .

On Wednesday, Hamilton, whose team is to play host to the Memorial Cup in May, pulled 2020MCthe plug on Foote, and this time he put Mallette in charge, albeit on an interim basis. Foote leaves with a 48-49-12 record, including 24-26-4 this season. . . .

“The team has struggled since the Christmas break,” Hamilton said in a news release. “With 14 games remaining in the regular season, I felt a change was necessary at this time.” . . . He later told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice: “Part of success is being able to handle adversity and this group hasn’t handled adversity real well. That’s from playing scared to win, or scared not to lose probably is the better line. That’s what’s set in here a little bit. Hopefully, a new voice will change that.” . . . Except that Mallette isn’t a new voice; he is in his sixth season on the Rockets’ staff. . . .

The Rockets hold down the Western Conference’s first wild-card spot, two points ahead of the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Finish in the first wild-card spot and it likely will mean a first-round date with the Kamloops Blazers, who lead the B.C. Division. The second wild-card spot is likely going to get you the Portland Winterhawks in the opening round. . . .

Oh, and did I mention that F Nolan Foote, Adam’s son and the Rockets’ captain, is spending some time with the New Jersey Devils, who want their medical staff to check him over. The Devils acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. Due to injury, Nolan has played in only four games since Nov. 30. He played a bit in a 6-5 OT loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Monday — the Rockets blew a 5-1 lead — but wasn’t able to finish. The Lightning had selected him in the first round, 27th overall, of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . .

The 2020 Memorial Cup opens in Kelowna in 93 days.


Prisons


Still with fired coaches, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers have dumped head coach John Beilein after just 54 games; they were 14-40. He joined the Cavs prior to this season, after spending 12 seasons with the U of Michigan Wolverines. . . . Don’t cry for him, though — he had four years and more than US$16 million left on his contract when he left town.



It is pretty much agreed that CF Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels is the best player in MLB. On Monday, he spoke to reporters about the cheating scandal that is eating up the Houston Astros: “It’s sad for baseball. It’s tough. They cheated. I don’t agree with the punishments, the players not getting anything. It was a player-driven thing. It sucks, too, because guys’ careers have been affected, a lot of people lost jobs. It was tough. Me going up to the plate knowing what was coming — it would be pretty fun up there.” . . . The Angels play seven of their first 10 regular-season games against the Astros, opening with four in Houston, March 26-29. . . .

BTW, word out of Vegas is that the over-under on the number of Houston hitters who will be hit by pitches this season is 83.5. . . . During the 2019 season, only 41 Astros hitters were plunked; the MLB average was 66.


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There are reports that QMJHL governors, who are meeting today (Thursday) may vote to ban fighting. I have no idea what steps the governors might take, but it’s about time. . . . It’s also more than past time for the WHL to follow suit. In this day and age, there simply is something wrong about charging admission for an event in which teenagers are allowed to punch each other in the face with bare knuckles and little in the way of consequences.

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

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One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night while watching Clooney, Pitt and Co. stealing money . . .

Scattershooting


The XFL kicked off its first season on Saturday and you need to know that sportsbettingdime.com has the Dallas Renegades as 3-1 favourites to win the inaugural championship. The New York Guardians are next at 4-1, with the Los Angeles Wildcats and Tampa Bay Vipers at 5-1. . . . You’re wondering about the Seattle Dragons? They’re eighth in the eight-team league, at 10-1. . . . I’m betting on the St. Louis Battlehawks (also 10-1), if only because Missouri seems to be home to titles these days.

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Former WHL coach Rob Daum received a phone call on Tuesday, and he left Wednesday for Europe and his latest head-coaching assignment, this one with EC Panaceo VSV of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. His latest club plays out of Villach, Austria. . . . Daum, 62, agreed to a deal that runs through the end of this season. . . . He replaces Jyrki Aho of Finland, who was fired by the team’s board of directors on Monday. He had been hired in July. . . . VSV is sixth in the 11-team league, at 17-15-8. . . . Daum is quite familiar with the league, having spent six seasons (2011-17) as the head coach of the Black Wings Linz. In fact, he has 237 EBHL victories to his credit, and no one has more. . . . He also spent two seasons (2017-19) with the DEL’s Iserlohn Roosters. . . . In the WHL, Daum has coached with the Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1989-95).


Scarecrow


The WHL playoffs must be getting close. How do I know that? Because, judging from the clip in the tweet below, cross-checking has been removed from the rule book as often seems to happen as spring nears. . . .


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Super Bowl: “The halftime show seems to be trying too hard. I remember the good old simple days when it was just Michael Jackson moonwalking and groping for his car keys.”

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Ostler, looking back at a few days in Miami: “Miami is not a foreign country, it’s a different planet. Back yards are fenced in to keep out mosquitoes the size of bald eagles. Here’s an actual billboard I saw: ‘Got iguanas?’ It was an ad for an iguana-control company. And I thought squirrels in the crawl space were annoying.”


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Twenty-four hours before the Super Bowl, comedy writer Alex Kaseberg had tweeted this gem:


BigBird



Golf


Joe Judge, the new head coach of the NFL’s New York Giants, has filled out his coaching staff. OK, are you ready for this? How many assistant coaches do you think are on the staff? . . . Would you believe 15? No. How about 19? . . . Yes, there are 19 assistants. . . . There are three co-ordinators (offence, defence, special teams). . . . There are nine offensive assistants — quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, assistant offensive line, senior offensive assistant, offensive assistant, offensive quality control. . . . There are seven defensive assistants — defensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers/senior assistant, defensive backs, assistant defensive backs, defensive assistant, defensive quality control. . . . Seriously!



Former WHL star F Emerson Etem is getting into the coaching game in a bigger way. He has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the Missoula, Mont., Jr. Bruins, who play in the NA3HL. . . . Etem, from Long Beach, Calif., will take over from Cliff Cook to begin next season. Cook is moving on to an as-yet-unnamed collegiate team. . . . The NHL’s Anaheim Ducks selected Etem with the 29th pick of the 2010 draft. He spent three seasons (2009-12) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. He spent eight seasons playing professionally before a knee injury took him into retirement. Of late, he has been coaching at the South Alberta Hockey Academy, where he helps out Tigers GM/head coach Willie Desjardins.



Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot: “I guess something’s wrong with me. Otherwise, I’d have a stronger reaction to the Super Bowl halftime show put on by two middle-aged women. But I don’t. For me, it was neither great nor controversial, perhaps because I was barely paying attention. But so many things media and people find spectacular or objectionable just aren’t. It’s tiresome.”


Bored

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while pondering QB Eli Manning’s career earnings . . .

Scattershooting

The Kansas City Chiefs last appeared in a Super Bowl in 1970. Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports with a look back at a few things from January 1970: M*A*S*H” and Patton were the two-highest grossing films; Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, by B.J. Thomas, was in the top spot on the Billboard Top 100; Abbey Road, by The Beatles (ever heard of them?), was the top album; All My Children premiered and The Carol Burnett Show was one of the the top shows on TV; and the average price of gas in the U.S. was 36 cents a gallon.

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BTW, CBS Sports ran a Madden 20 simulation of Sunday’s game. According to Blackburn, the San Francisco 49ers intercepted Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes three times en route to a 20-7 victory.

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NFL security apparently will be using some new-fangled facial recognition software on Sunday in Miami in an attempt to keep bad guys from getting into the Super Bowl. As comedian Argus Hamilton noted: “We’ll be lucky if the NFL can field two teams.”


Hey, Regina, don’t ever change . . .


Podcast


ICYMI, Kevin Sawyer, a former Spokane Chiefs player and assistant coach,  has issued an apology after he made comments in reference to an incident that involved D Jared Spurgeon, who was a 16-year-old freshman with the WHL team at the time. It was during 2005-06 when the Chiefs, according to Sawyer, “Saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air . . . he was tiny. He looked like he was 12.” . . . Sawyer, now an analyst for TSN on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts, apologized late last month, saying that  after “reflecting on my comments,” he was “insensitive in sharing a story that was inaccurate and should never have been told on television in the first place.” . . . Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun has more right here.



Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post, after watching the Harlem Globetrotters eke out a 43-41 victory over the Washington Generals on Tuesday night: “If it’s any consolation to the Generals, they have defeated the Globetrotters more recently than the Toronto Maple Leafs have won the Stanley Cup. Washington last prevailed in 1971, four years after the Leafs’ most-recent title.”



You likely are aware that NFL teams employ an incredible number of coaches. Well, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, lives in the Washington, D.C., area and noted the other day that the Redskins had named Brett Nenaber director of player performance and Jeff Zegonia assistant defensive line coach.” . . . This prompted the curmudgeonly one to write: “I can imagine what the responsibilities of an ‘assistant defensive line coach’ might be for an NFL team; I may not have the full scope of the duties of that position in mind, but I think I have the drift. Such is not nearly the case with the position of ‘director of player performance’. Is he the guy who works with the team on those choreographed TD celebrations that sometimes rise all the way up to the level of ‘SILLY’?

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Here’s The Sports Curmudgeon on Wednesday, discussing the asking price for Super Bowl tickets:

“Super Bowl tickets on the secondary market are very expensive this year.  If you expect to make it to the game in Miami, expect to shell out at least $4,500 per seat at the game and some tickets have an asking price this morning that is just north of $15K per fanny-holder. Perhaps you really want to go to the game but just don’t have access to that sort of cash for you and your main squeeze at this moment. Not to worry. StubHub and its new partner, Affirm, will let you buy the tickets and finance them with a loan directly from Affirm that will let you pay over a period of three months or six months or 12 months at an interest rate of 10-30 per cent.

“I don’t want to go into full ‘Suze Orman Mode’ here, but somehow I doubt that incurring a debt in the $10K range or higher at an interest rate near or above 20 per cent is even marginally sound financial planning.”

You are able to find The Sports Curmudgeon at sportscurmudgeon.com. Be forewarned, though, that reading him daily will quickly become a habit.


Milk


“When it comes to baseball lexicon,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “the Houston Astros’ trash-can antics certainly give ‘bang-bang play’ a whole new meaning.”


In its last four seasons in Cranbrook, the Kootenay Ice won 12, 14, 27 and 13 games, failing to make the playoffs each time. This season, the franchise’s first in Winnipeg after moving east following last season, the Ice is second in the East Division and playoff bound, while playing before hundreds of fans in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena. All of which makes one wonder how many fans a contending team might be playing in front of had it stayed in Cranbrook.


The 22-team WHL has its 16 playoff clubs all but settled, with only some jockeying for position left for the final 20 games or so. There won’t be playoff hockey in Red Deer, Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Prince George or Kennewick, Wash., the home of the Tri-City Americans. . . . As for the Kelowna Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup, they just dropped a home-and-home series with the Spokane Chiefs, who won 7-3 in  the Little Apple on Friday and 6-0 across the line on Saturday. The Rockets appear headed to a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, which could lead to a first-round matchup with, yes, the Kamloops Blazers, who are atop the B.C. Division. And wouldn’t that be something . . . a Battle of B.C., perhaps to match the Battle of Alberta!



The BCHL’s Cranbrook Bucks are to begin play in September. With that in mind, season tickets went on sale Saturday morning. Early-bird prices, through March 13, are $350 for adults, $330 for seniors and $160 for children. And a tip of the fedora to the Bucks for allowing children under 10 to get into games free of charge. . . . If you were wondering, the WHL’s Ice season-ticket prices prior to their final season in Cranbrook were $725 or $630 for adults, $590 or $510 for seniors, and $300 for children and students.


JUST NOTES: “Not only does Andy Reid deserve a Super Bowl title,” writes Bob Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot, “his moustache does as well.” . . . Molinaro is correct, but I’ll still take the San Francisco 49ers, by 10. . . . One more from Molinaro: “This time of year, I like to trot out the memorably perceptive comment of enigmatic Cowboys running back Duane Thomas at Super Bowl VI, won by Dallas. ‘If the Super Bowl is the ultimate game,’ he said, ‘how come there is another one next year?’ Words that have aged well.” . . . QB Eli Manning announced his retirement late last month after spending 16 seasons with the New York Giants. Don’t cry for Eli, though. During his career, he made US$252.3 million, more than any other NFLer in history. Manning brought in $17 million in salary and bonuses for his final season, allowing him to pass his brother, Peyton, who retired having earned $248.7 million. . . . Next on the list, according to cbssports.com, are quarterbacks Drew Bree’s ($244.7 million), Tom Brady ($235.2 million) and Aaron Rodgers ($233.6 million). . . . The first non-QB on the list? WR Larry Fitzgerald, at a mere $175 million, in 10th place. . . . If you are going to live tweet from a hockey game, perhaps you should make a point of mentioning both teams, you know, for those of us who aren’t sure who’s playing.

Scattershooting on a Monday night while wondering how long they’ll be the Houston Asterisks . . .

Scattershooting

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Columnist Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post, on the cheating mess in MLB:

“This scandal is a perfect illustration of why cheating in professional sports is so bad. It ruins everything. There is no way to fix the damage. And that scar across a sport’s visage is permanent, as with the World Series 101 years ago that is still known by just two words: Black Sox.

“That is why it is so important to make every effort to catch cheaters and crush those who get caught with penalties that get the attention of the next person who is tempted to do the same. We never seem to understand the true weight of the phrase ‘integrity of the game’ until some team or player tries to rip it to shreds to win.”

Boswell’s complete column is right here.

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The person who came up with the idea to feature Cam Hope, the president and general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals, in a video as he put together a deal with the Moose Jaw Warriors that brought sniper Brayden Tracey to Vancouver Island deserves a raise in pay. . . . If you haven’t seen the video, it’s about six minutes in length and it’s right here. . . . The script writer got a perfect ending, too, as Tracey scored the OT winner in his first game with the Royals. . . . BTW, I have all kinds of time for Hope, who has never shied away from answering any question that I may have asked him.


Psst! Did you hear about the hockey game that wasn’t able to start on time because one of the referees forgot his pants? No, it wasn’t in the WHL. . . . It was a National Ice Hockey League game in the United Kingdom between the Peterborough Phantoms and Telford Tigers. . . . Officials are required to wear black pants with some padding, and referee Richard Belfitt didn’t have his with him. He ended up finding a pair in the arena’s lost-and-found bin and the game started after a 15-minute delay. . . . That story is right here.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, noted the other day that there was only one winless NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball team at that point of the season — Mississippi Valley State at 0-13. . . . “Twelve of those 13 losses were road games for the Delta Devils,” he wrote. “The NCAA loves to refer to its ‘student-athletes’. Surely those 12 road games enhanced significantly the ‘student’ portion of college life for those ‘student-athletes’. . . . The Delta Devils have since split two games, both on the road, and now are 1-14. Last night, they beat the host Alabama A&M Bulldogs, 72-66. The Bulldogs are 5-10.

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After the Miami Dolphins fired offensive co-ordinator Chad O’Shea, Finarelli confessed: “I could not pick him out of a lineup with the WNBA all-star team.”



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports: “It now has been revealed that New York Mets outfielder Yoenis Cespedes broke an ankle at his Florida ranch last season when he stepped in a hole while trying to elude a wild pig. Or as Mets publicists immediately tried to spin it, he’s been out because of a bad hammy.”

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One more from Perry: “According to a study conducted by four universities in Ireland, the average doctor visit there lasts 14.1 minutes. Or roughly the same as an NFL video replay review.”



While the Battle of Alberta was showing life in Calgary on Saturday night, thanks to the Kamloops1Flames’ Matthew Tkachuk and Zack Kassian of the Edmonton Oilers, the Battle of the Okanagan blew up in Kelowna as the Rockets and the Kamloops Blazers brawled their way to the conclusion of what was a 7-2 victory by the visitors, who had won 4-1 at home on Friday. . . . Saturday’s game included battling goaltenders as Kelowna’s Roman Basran and Dylan Garand of the Blazers gave fight fans across the Internet an orgasmic moment.

“The league’s got to take a hard look at how their refs are letting it get out of control,” Kelowna head coach Adam Foote told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “I talked to a league official before the game. I said, ‘They’ve let three hitting from behinds go, and they let 23 (Kamloops F Jeremy Appelt) board a guy.’ They call the right call there to control the game . . . Our guys, I never promote that stuff, but I think they just got fed up.”

The Rockets were upset about a hit by Appelt on F Liam Kindree at 12:49 of the second period.

Trifunov added: “The coach said he thought that precipitated much of the shenanigans at KelownaRocketsthe end of the game. But he also said after Kelowna’s Pavel Novak was suspended eight games for a check-from-behind on the Blazers’ Kyrell Sopotyk on Nov. 11, the Rockets have watched numerous similar calls go nearly unpunished.”

There are a few other WHL teams, like maybe 21 of them, who will be slapping foreheads and chuckling from behind hands over a Rockets coach complaining about the officiating. After all, everyone knows that the Rockets get all the officiating breaks because their owner, governor, president and general manager, Bruce Hamilton, rules the roost.

Right?

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When Basran and Garand tumbled to the ice as their scrap neared its end, the Kelowna goaltender said something to his Kamloops counterpart and the two quickly separated and got to their feet. Basran, though, was favouring his right arm/shoulder as he skated away. . . . Basran is the Rockets’ No. 1 goaltender, having played in 33 games (1,816 minutes) to Cole Schwebius’s 13 (652 minutes). . . . If Basran is injured, remember that the fight took place slightly more than 24 hours after the passing of the WHL’s trade deadline. And remember that the Rockets are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup that is four months down the road.

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BTW . . . In the end, the goofiness resulted in one suspension — Kelowna D Kaedan Korczak got three games — and fines totalling $4,500, with the Rockets dinged for $3,000 of that. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia pointed out via Twitter that there were “18 fighting majors in the Kamloops-Kelowna game on Saturday night. That’s more fighting majors than all but five teams have incurred this season in the WHL.” . . . Kamloops has won seven of eight meetings with Kelowna this season, having outscored the Rockets 33-14 in the process. They will conclude the season series on March 13 (at Kamloops) and 14 (at Kelowna).

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Meanwhile, in Calgary, there seemed to be a whole lot of consternation from various NHLcorners because Tkachuk refused to fight Kassian when challenged in the third period of what was then a 3-3 game. Those who are up in arms seem to be forgetting one thing — Why do you play the game? As then-New York Jets head coach Herm Edwards so famously explained more than 17 years ago: “You play to win the game.” . . . Well, Kassian ended up in the penalty box and the Flames, with Tkachuk screening in front of the Edmonton net, scored on the power play as they went on to a 4-3 victory. . . . On Monday, Kassian was hit with a two-game suspension. . . . Gotta think Tkachuk won the night. . . . With the all-star break approaching, Kassian will be eligible to return on Jan. 29 when — you guessed it! — the Flames are scheduled to play in Edmonton.

Paul Stewart, a former NHL referee who was a tough cookie as a WHL/NHL player, has his take on Tkachuk vs. Kassian right here.


The AJHL’s Olds Grizzlys announced on Monday that Joe Murphy, their general manager and head coach, had resigned, effective immediately. . . . Pete deGraaf was named interim head coach. . . . The Grizzlys are 9-17-5 and in sixth place in the seven-team South Division. . . . Murphy, a former Olds player, was in his second season as head coach, his first as GM. . . . DeGraaf is in his third season with Olds.



JUST NOTES: Why do I get the feeling that Houston’s American League time will be known as the Asterisks for the next while? . . . And it would seem that the Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora are next up at MLB’s Cheaters’ Waltz. . . . When MLB lowers the boom on the Red Sox, the New York tabloids — the Post and Daily News — should be worth a look. . . . Are the drivers who don’t clean the snow off their vehicles — especially the windows — before leaving home/work the same people who don’t use their turn-signals? . . . All things considered, Boston play-by-play fan Jack Edwards was rather restrained as Bruins F Brad Marchand muffed that shootout attempt last night. Could it be that Edwards simply was in a state of shock? . . . Why do journalists continue to write/report that a team or person has “punched their ticket” to an event? For example, The Canadian men’s volleyball team didn’t punch a ticket to anywhere on Sunday; rather, it qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Summer Games.

Scattershooting on a Friday night while pondering which leftovers to feast on . . .

Scattershooting

Headline at TheOnion.com: 4-year-old convinced father a moron after 45th consecutive hide-and-seek victory.


Shots fired . . . If you’re on Twitter, check the thread . . . 


If you are Canadian and a sports fan, I hope you took advantage of the opportunity to watch RB Chuba Hubbard and his Oklahoma State Cowboys in the Texas Bowl on Friday. Hubbard, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., ran for 149 yards as the Cowboys lost, 24-21, to the Texas A&M Aggies. He finished with 2,094 yards rushing this season, the 18th-best total in NCAA history. He also is just the 32nd player in FBS history to run for at least 2,000 yards in a season. Among those who were quick to offer congratulations to Hubbard, a first-team All-American and Big 12 offensive player of the year, was former NFL great Barry Sanders, who also played at OSU. . . . Hubbard, who completed his sophomore year, has yet to announce whether he will enter the 2020 NFL draft. . . . Oh, he also is the first player in Big 12 history to have 12 100-yard rushing games in a season.


The NCAA football semifinals are to be played today (Saturday); the final is scheduled for Jan. 13. Of the 16 days between dates, Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com, notes: “Players have so much time off they might even have to go to class.”


Affair


If you happen to be in the Kamloops area between now and Jan. 5, you really should consider stopping by the BC Wildlife Park and partaking in its 22nd annual Wildlights Festival. . . . It runs through Jan. 5, with the doors opening at 5 p.m., and the last admission at 8:30. . . . It includes thousands and thousands of lights, and you will want to ride the Wildlife Express miniature train. . . . More info is available right here.


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Hear about the New York fan who found a magic lamp last summer and got his greatest wish for the Knicks granted? Well, sort of. Guess he should’ve told the genie something besides ‘we want to be neck-and-neck with the Warriors next season.’ ”

Earlier this month, Perry marked the 20th anniversary of his writing Sideline Chatter for the Times. He calculated that he has produced almost 3,900 episodes. Great stuff!


Myles Mattila, the founder of MindRight for Athletes Society, continues to do some amazing work when it comes to athletes and their mental health. These days, Mattila, 20, plays for the junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League while studying business at Okanagan College. The other day, MindRight and HeadCheck Health announced a partnership aimed at advancing “athlete health and wellness by making MindRight’s resources and peer-to-peer support available through HeadCheck’s mobile app and web-based software platform.” . . . “I believe we have helpful resources available for youth and need to support them to get help if they need it,” Mattila said in a news release. . . . For more on the partnership, click right here.


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I used to work with a sports columnist who often referred to the Excited States of America. After all the nonsense of Thursday, when Trump and Co. went berserk over CBC-TV having edited him out of that classic movie Home Alone 2, I’m thinking the late Bob Hughes was ahead of his time. . . . I mean, sheesh, at what point does the so-called base realize that the rest of the world is laughing at them and not with them? . . . Do they even get Home Alone 2 in Russia?



Dept. of pet peeves: There isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” . . . The first one is the “inaugural tournament.” . . . The second one is the “second annual.”


You may have heard that the Jacksonville Jaguars have fired Tom Coughlin, their vice-president of football operations whose management style seems to involve having everyone under one of this thumbs. As old friend Jack Finarelli (sportscurmudgeon.com) points out: “Anyone who thinks Coughlin is overbearing likely would curl up into the fetal position if they had to live under Vince Lombardi.”


TreeFalls


CLEANING UP: If you’re a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, do you have that sinking feeling yet again? . . . ICYMI, hockey vagabond Troy Mick’s next stop will be in Philadelphia where he will be the general manager of the Philadelphia Hockey Club’s junior A program and head coach of the U-16 teams. Mick, who was spotted playing shinny at Silver Star Mountain near Vernon, B.C., on Friday, is a former WHL player and coach. He is to start work in Philly in January. . . . F Matt Savoie, 15, played in his 11th game of the season with the Winnipeg Ice on Friday night in Brandon. When will the WHL get around to announcing that its rosters now are open to 15-year-olds as full-time players? . . .

The best part of the World Junior Championship is listening to Dennis Beyak handle play-by-play of some games. I hope fans of the Winnipeg Jets realize how fortunate they are to hear him on a regular basis. . . . You are a real WHL fan if you are able to remember when Beyak was the general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans. You also are old. . . . Might the Memorial Cup-host Kelowna Rockets trade for a veteran goaltender between now and the WHL’s trade deadline of Jan. 10? . . . Have to think Kelowna’s Memorial Cup-organizing committee is hoping for the Kamloops Blazers to win the WHL title, if the Rockets don’t, that is. . . . The worst part of Christmas? Knowing that family is coming for a few days, the time moves so slowly before the arrival. A few days later, you awaken and realize it’s all over. Where did those four days go?

Scattershooting on a Thursday evening while wondering if NHL teams are moving back to dump-and-chase game . . .

Scattershooting

Not in the Christmas spirit? Watch this . . .


In his weekly compilation, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times included an obit of the week for football fan John J. Ford, 86, from the Minneapolis Star Tribune: ”Passed away surrounded by family on December 2nd after the Vikings allowed 17 unanswered points . . .”

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“A Las Vegas hospital billed the parents $2,659 to pull a tiny doll’s shoe from their child’s nostril,” Perry reported. “Imagine what it would cost to extract Antonio Brown’s foot from his mouth.”


Mozart


Congratulations and best wishes to Innes Mackie, who has been around the WHL since the Christmas Wish Book was used for shin pads, or maybe even earlier. . . .

And congrats, too, to Dan O’Connor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants. While Mackie, the Tri-City Americans’ equipment guru, was working Game No. 3,200, O’Connor was calling No. 600.


ICYMI, Part 1: D Nikita Zadorov of the visiting Colorado Avalanche recently took out Montreal Canadiens F Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who was left with a brain injury. There wasn’t a penalty; there wasn’t a suspension. “So how could Zadorov get away with it?” Jack Todd writes in the Montreal Gazette. “Blame hockey’s pervasive knucklehead culture, which has survived well into the 21st century. The loudest of the braying donkeys in the barn may have been shuffled off to the Podcast Porch — but the brutal culture Don Cherry helped foster lives on.” . . . The complete column is right here.

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ICYMI, Part 2: Hockey Canada trimmed a bunch of players from the selection camp for its national junior team on Thursday. Yes, it has to be done. But why make these teenagers walk the media gauntlet after they’ve been chopped from the roster? Come on, Hockey Canada, be better than that.


Puppy


If the Kelowna Rockets continue to unload premium bantam draft picks and perhaps a prospect or two in the hunt for a Memorial Cup title in the spring, when they will be the tournament’s host team, you have to wonder if their aftermath will be more like the Prince Albert Raiders, Regina Pats or Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Raiders are 19-7-4 and atop the East Division after making a deal or three — but not selling out — that helped them win the WHL’s 2018-19 championship. The Pats are 7-18-3 after selling out as the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Broncos are 6-20-3 while still trying to recover after emptying the cupboard as they successfully chased the WHL’s 2017-18 title. . . . Over the past one season-plus, the Pats are 26-63-7 and the Broncos are 17-71-9. Neither team made the playoffs last spring and they won’t be there in 2020.


If you are wanting to attend the 2021 World Junior Championship, with games in Edmonton and Red Deer, you may want to see your banker about a loan. . . . Considering the political/labour situation in Alberta at the moment, it will be interesting to see how tickets sales play out. . . .


The New York Yankees signed P Gerrit Cole to a nine-year deal valued at US$324 million. . . . The Los Angeles Angels got 3B Anthony Rendon for US$245 million over seven seasons. . . . F Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has hockey’s richest deal — US$124 million over 13 years. That was signed in January 2008. . . . According to an entry at Wikipedia, Ovechkin’s contract, the richest in NHL history, is tied for the 79th richest in sports history. . . . That’s what having a hard salary cap does for you.


I didn’t finish Michael Connelly’s latest book — The Night Fire — in time to get it into my Bookshelf series that was posted here earlier in the week. But if you’re a fan of Connelly’s Harry Bosch series, you’ll enjoy this one. It features the retired-but-not-retired Bosch and LAPD Det. Renée Ballard doing their thing on the streets of L.A. and area. Good fun, unless you’re the bad guys.


The Kelowna Rockets were in Prince Albert to play the Raiders a week ago. Hear from both coaches — Marc Habscheid of the Raiders and Adam Foote of the Rockets — after the game, and then decide who won . . .

Habscheid: “I don’t blame referees or anything, but there were three soft calls and they talked to (Foote) all night. I don’t know if they wanted to get his autograph, because he was a Stanley Cup champion or what, but it didn’t look good. They talked to him all night, (and Foote) ran line changes. He did whatever he wanted, and he slowed the game down, and they just let him do it. I don’t know if they wanted his autograph or what the deal was.”

Foote: “The refs were pretty good all night . . .”

Thanks to Darren Steinke for the quotes. His complete blog post is right here.

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One night later, the Rockets visited the Blades in Saskatoon. The Rockets tied the game, 3-3, late in the third period and won it in a shootout, much to the chagrin of at least one Blades fan.

That fan was on social media bemoaning — you guessed it! — the officiating. Someone else asked: “Who were the refs?”

I laughed out loud when I saw the response: “Hamilton and Foote.” That, of course, was in reference to Kelowna owner/president/general manager Bruce Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Adam Foote, the Rockets’ head coach.



SocialMedia


JUST NOTES: Judging by video clips from the Wayne Fleming Arena, there certainly seems to be a lot of room available on the benches for Winnipeg Ice home games. I realize that a lot of people choose to stand during the games, but you have to wonder how the empty seat-look sits with the WHL’s board of governors. . . . And, hey, if anyone has any photos of the Ice’s future home under construction feel free to send them along to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. . . . Was anyone watching Monday Night Football and not pulling for Eli Manning? . . . With the Giants on MNF and the Jets on Thursday night, was it enough to make you feel sorry for the football fans of New York City? . . . A tip of the hat to the Seattle Thunderbirds and Saskatoon Blades for a deal involving F Alex Morozoff. A native of Saskatoon, Morozoff was traded for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 bantam draft. “Alex and his family are currently dealing with a family medical issue,” Seattle GM Bil LaForge said in explaining the deal in a news release. “We have made this trade to help get Alex closer to his family in Saskatoon.”