Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the NFL playoffs can top that game . . .

Scattershooting2

The good news is that the Portland Winterhawks played a hockey game on Saturday night. The bad news is that it was the only game played on what was to have been a three-game road swing into B.C., with stops in Kamloops, Kelowna and Langley.

When the Winterhawks left home via bus on Thursday, they were headed for PortlandKamloops and a Friday night date with the Blazers. Halfway to Kamloops, Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, found out that the game had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Blazers. The Winterhawks continued on to Kamloops, practised there Friday morning, then left for Kelowna and Saturday’s assignment against the Rockets.

The Winterhawks beat the Rockets, 3-1. “That would have been a long trip without two points,” Johnston told Taking Note.

Before the game, Johnston was informed that Sunday’s game in Langley had been scrubbed because of COVID-19 protocols involving the Vancouver Giants, who were forced to halt all team activities.

So the Winterhawks put the two points in their pocket and headed for home.

That latest postponement meant that 22 of the 23 games originally scheduled for the weekend didn’t happen.

Also on Saturday, the WHL announced that the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans all were cleared to resume team activities. They went into the weekend as three of 15 teams who were on hold because of having players and/or staff in protocols.

With the addition of the Giants, that list was at 13 as of Sunday night.

The Giants had been scheduled to play three games over the weekend; all three were postponed. They next are scheduled to play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars in a game that is on TSN’s telecast schedule.

Will COVID-19 allow the game to be played?

Stay tuned.

——

BTW, the Portland Winterhawks had F Josh Zakreski, who turned 16 on Dec. 17, in their lineup in Kelowna on Saturday. Zakreski is from Saskatoon and plays for the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Upon seeing his name, I was curious as to whether he was related to Peter Zakreski, who died on Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 80. Peter, a quiet gentleman, was a giant in a lot of areas of life in Saskatoon and was a big push behind the move to bring the 1991 World Junior Championship to Saskatchewan. . . . Anyway, it turns out that Josh and Peter weren’t related, although Josh apparently gets asked that question on a regular basis.


With some Canadian teams in the NHL and WHL facing attendance restrictions in their facilities, a number of games have been postponed in the hopes that they can be rescheduled for when the various governments involved loosen the rules.

However, Dr. Brian Conway, the head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, told Ben Kuzma of Postmedia: “That’s unrealistic.”

As Dr. Conway explained: “Right now as a society, we’re being asked to plan for a situation where on any given day, and in any workplace, one-third will be out with COVID or COVID restrictions.

“Even if you wanted to fill (Vancouver’s) Rogers Arena, you wouldn’t have the staff. And it’s probably going to be the situation at the minimum until the end of February and probably longer — and that’s pretty optimistic. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to stand up and say I’m wrong. But I’m just so not seeing this.

“Modelling is still projecting a worst-case scenario that could dwarf what we have now. It’s based on if things continue the way they are. If they change the modelling can flatten out. But, it brings the issue if we ignore this, it could actually get worse.”

Kuzma’s complete story is right here.

BTW, Dr. Conway is a Canucks’ season-ticket holder and would love nothing more than to be able to sit in a full house and watch his favourite team. He also is a realist.


Jim Riley used to cover the Seattle Thunderbirds for the Seattle Times while also keeping an eye on the other teams in the U.S. Division. That was before the newspaper industry got out the paring knife and went to work. These days, he is in the wine business.

I mention Jim here because he is one of the thousands of people who has a health issue but hasn’t been able to have it dealt with because of a dearth of hospital beds — in Seattle, in his case.

The other day, he posted this on Facebook . . . 

“I don’t post often, but this is raising my blood pressure and perhaps venting will help. I recently underwent a nuclear stress test, designed to check the blood flow in my heart. My cardiologist said results were ‘abnormal’ and immediately scheduled me for an angiogram. That angiogram now has twice been postponed. Why? There are no hospital beds in Seattle because they are almost all filled, mostly with unvaccinated covid patients. I believe in free choice, but people who came to the irresponsible decision to avoid a simple, free and easy vaccination now are imposing their choices on all of us.

“I have yet to hear a rational explanation why people refuse to use the best tool we have (vaccinations) to fight a virus that has already killed 5.47 million people around the world.”

Me, too, Jim. Me, too.


Oh boy, do I ever agree with Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, who writes: “If you grew up during the 1970s, like me, and you’re not already following Super 70s Sports on Twitter, you really should.” I actually grew up in the 1960s — although my wife might debate whether I ever grew up — and I love the tweets that come from Super 70s Sports.


BevHills


If you don’t believe that the NFL is the behemoth of North American sports leagues, you should know that 75 of the most-watched telecasts in 2021 were NFL games. Yes, Super Bowl LV was No. 1. . . . Nine of the top 10 were NFL games. Only the inauguration of Joe Biden as the U.S. president kept the NFL from a Top 10 sweep. . . . No, there weren’t any hockey games in the Top 100. Nor were there any NBA or MLB games. . . . There were 75 NFL games, 11 Olympics telecasts, seven NCAA football games and two NCAA college basketball games, both from March Madness, in the Top 100. . . . Oh, one other thing. You may not like Tom Brady, but he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in 11 of those 75 telecasts.


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Point: Let’s expand the College Football Playoff field.

“Counterpoint: So we can have even more riveting games like Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6 and Georgia 34, Michigan 11.”

——

Perry also scrounged up a couple of quotes from the vault . . .

The late Mickey Mantle, at a roast for the late Billy Martin, on his former Yankee teammate’s proclivity for getting into bar fights: “This is the only man I know in the world who can hear somebody giving him the finger.”

Arkansas coach Lou Holtz, when his team was pelted with oranges after winning a trip to the 1978 Orange Bowl: “I’m glad we’re not going to the Gator Bowl.”



THINKING OUT LOUD: If you watched Sunday night’s NFL game, you saw again why live sporting events are the best of reality TV. . . . Just wondering, but have Jack and Rebecca convinced you to buy whatever it is they are flogging in that TV commercial, or are you going to have to see it another 1,000 times this week before making a decision? . . . Would have been nice if Hockey Night in Canada had picked up the Saturday game that had the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vegas Golden Knights. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Marc-Andre Fleury return to the city that he owned not all that long ago and beat the home team, 2-1?


2022


With Novaxx, err, Novak Djokovic having problems getting into Australia because he isn’t vaccinated, comedy writer Brad Dickson reports that “the news isn’t all bad for Novak. He just signed to be the new backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”

——

BTW, Rafael Nadal, vaccinated and ready to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, had this to say: “From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view. I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.”


Yes, they have COVID-19 issues in the KHL, too. On Sunday, the league revealed that 14 players, one coach and two staffers from Dinamo Riga have tested positive. The league has scrubbed three games through Jan. 17.


After the Kingston Frontenacs were able to dress only 14 skaters for a Friday OHLnight game — they lost, 6-5, to the visiting Peterborough Petes — the OHL announced Saturday that COVID-19 protocols meant their next three games would be postponed. That included a game that had been scheduled for Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, the Chase Heat became the latest team in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League to have games postponed, while the BCHL announced Saturday that it has paused the Nanaimo Clippers for five days.


Snowman


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I love the idea that ESPN now believes that Alex Rodriguez can be part of the kind of ManningCast that we got this season from Peyton and Eli. . . . Right. . . . Got it. . . . One big difference: People like Peyton and Eli.”


It seems that Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has about had enough of MLB using humans to call balls and strikes. As he put it: “Human umps were fine in the old days. So were phone booths and stage coaches.”


Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old junior varsity hockey player with St. Luke’s School in New Caanan, Conn., died on Thursday night after he suffered a skate cut to his neck in a collision with a player from Brunswick School. . . . There is more on this story right here.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Printer

WJC beaten by ‘opponent that was not on the ice’ . . . The Earl of Kamloops strolls off into sunset . . . Royals life just Peachy in Victoria

DeerDec31
Before deciding if/when to return to writing here, I consulted with a few deer friends on Friday.

Well, it’s all over for another year. As always, we wait and wait and wait for Christmas week to get here and then, in the blink of an eye, it’s over. I was outside for a bit on New Year’s Eve afternoon and had a chance to visit with 10 close friends who were looking for dinner.


I hope you were disappointed but not surprised when the IIHF pulled the plug on the 2022 World Junior Championship on Dec. 29. Really, organizers didn’t WJC2022have any choice but to listen to their medical advisors and bring it to an end. That, of course, led to the usual choristers gnashing their teeth and whining about letting the boys play. One columnist even complained that “nobody gave the players a vote.” . . . On the day of the cancellation, there had been four positive tests among three teams. Little was made of the five or six on-ice officials who had tested positive. The following day, officials reported seven more positive tests — six players and one on-ice official — only confirming that the proper decision had been made. . . . But in watching all of this unfold, mostly via social media, on the afternoon/evening of Dec. 29, I was left to wonder how so many people came to lose the plot as COVID-19 continues its march? Whatever happened to trying to protect the vulnerable — the young, the elderly, the thousands who live among us with compromised immune systems — and the healthcare workers? Have we forgotten about the thousands of folks who haven’t been able to get health issues properly cared for because of hospitals not having staff available? . . .

I walked into a small grocery store in Kamloops on Sunday afternoon. It had been a long while since encountering anyone not masked-up, but there were three people — looked like mother, father and son about 12 — headed to the checkout without a mask in sight. Just another reminder that not everyone is on the same team; in other words, we’re in this for a while yet.

——

Here is part of what Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered wrote about the decision to halt the WJC:

“It’s safe to say there was a fair bit of outcry from certain corners when the tournament was scrubbed. Some people couldn’t understand why a handful of positive tests and a few forfeits had to submarine the entire event. Well, it’s because of what Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney referred to as ‘an opponent that was not on the ice, but was bigger than all of us.’

“The Omicron variant is the most highly contagious COVID-19 variant we’ve seen by a wide margin. There is speculation that it is not as severe as the Delta and other variants, but nobody can say that with 100 percent certainty at the moment. And while the athletes are young, fit and double vaccinated and likely would not have severe outcomes, they don’t live in a vacuum. And the logistics around quarantining would have been disruptive.

“One infectious diseases specialist Hockey Unfiltered spoke with said that once even a couple of players from USA, Russia and Czechia tested positive ‘this thing is so contagious, those three teams are done. If you have a positive test on those teams, you can be sure the infection has spread well beyond the individuals who are there. I’d be shocked if that were the actual size of the outbreak.’ ”


Congratulations to Earl Seitz, the venerable sports director from CFJC-TV in Kamloops who called it a career after his New Year’s Eve sportscast. Yes, after more than 50 years in radio and TV, the Earl of Kamloops has retired. . . . Earl and I spent a lot of nights seated beside each other in the press box during Kamloops Blazers games. Yes, we solved a lot of the world’s problems during those times; in fact, it may not be a coincidence that so much has gone downhill since our press box partnership came to an end. Right, Earl!


Clock


We really don’t have any idea how many positive tests or exposures there have been involving WHL players and staff since the Christmas break. The WHLleague announced on Dec. 27 that “36 players or hockey operations staff have been added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list as a result of displaying symptoms for COVID-19 or returning a positive test result for COVID-19 through rapid antigen testing . . .” But, the league noted, “results are pending for Kamloops and Prince George.” The league has yet to update that release. . . .

On Dec. 29, the league announced the postponement of that night’s game that was to have had the Portland Winterhawks visit the Tri-City Americans “due to goaltenders on both clubs entering COVID-19 protocols and/or sustaining injuries.” The WHL noted at the time that it would “provide further information when it is available.” However, it has yet to update either team’s situation. . . .

On Dec. 30, the league shut down the Swift Current Broncos “as a result of four players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . . It is believed the exposure occurred outside the team environment.” . . .

On Jan. 1, the league shut down the Lethbridge Hurricanes “as a result of 14 players being on the COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or having tested positive. . . .”

Add it all up and you’ve got 54 players and/or staff on the protocol list, plus how ever many are involved with Portland and Tri-City.

I am guessing that the Omnicron situation also had something to do with a couple of teams playing without backup goaltenders on the bench. Tri-City did it in Portland on Dec. 28 and fans who were there will tell you that G Nick Avakyan was injured at 7:41 of the second period when he was involved in a goal-mouth collision. . . . As one source told Taking Note: “Avakyan was hurting bad after he was run into.” . . . But he finished the game, one the Winterhawks won, 9-2. With G Tomas Suchanek serving a one-game suspension, the Americans didn’t have any support for Avakyan on their bench. . . . Then, prior to a New Year’s Eve game between the Seattle Thunderbirds and host Portland, Joshua Critzer, who covers the Winterhawks for pnwhockeytalk.com, tweeted: “The Winterhawks have no ‘official’ backup goalie tonight. Either a forward or a defenceman would go back to the locker room and change into the goalie gear should the need arise.” Fortunately, the need didn’t arise.


Odds


F Bailey Peach and the Victoria Royals continue to write one of this hockey season’s best stories. . . . Peach, 20, set a franchise single-game record with Royalsseven points, three of them goals, as the Royals beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 7-3, on Thursday night. That broke the record of six points that had been held by F Ryan Peckford, who had a goal and five assists in a 9-3 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades on Oct. 18, 2016. . . . Peach added two goals in a 5-2 loss to the Rockets in Kelowna on New Year’s Day. That left him with 19 points, including 11 goals, in a six-game point streak. In 30 games with the Royals, he has 44 points, 20 of them goals. . . . Not bad for a guy who was claimed off waivers by the Royals after he was dropped by the QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders. . . . The Royals, meanwhile, opened the season by going 1-11-2, a stretch that included five straight losses to the Prince George Cougars. Today, the Royals are 12-14-4 and are tied for seventh in the Western Conference with those same Cougars (13-17-2). . . .  Back to Peach for a moment, though. It seems his nickname is — wait for it! — Peacher. Come on, Royals. Why not something original like Ty? You know, after Ty Cobb, aka The Georgia Peach? Just asking . . .


“Santa Claus didn’t visit the Jacksonville Jaguars this year,” reported Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times on Dec. 26. “For some reason the reindeer couldn’t touch down.”

——

Perry, with another scoop: “The EasyPost Hawai’i Bowl was canceled after a virus plague swamped the Rainbow Warriors program. Perplexed bowl officials can’t decide whether to declare it a forfeit, a no-contest or COVID-19, Hawai’i 0.”


Amazon


When Baltimore played Green Bay the other day, Wink Martindale, the Ravens’ defensive co-ordinator, made sure to double- and triple-team Packers receiver Davonte Adams. As Martindale explained: “Adams is one of the top two receivers in the league, and he’s not No. 2.”


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, remembering the late John Madden and his famed bus excursions:

“Just after the 9/11 attacks, Madden left his Manhattan apartment and headed to California. He heard that the airline shutdown had stranded famed figure skater Peggy Fleming in Philadelphia, so he detoured through Philly and picked her up.

“In Nebraska, the Cruiser stopped at a store in a small town so Madden could buy some American flags for his bus. Imagine the looks on faces when John Madden and Peggy Fleming strolled into the store.”

——

Ostler also had a few of interesting New Year’s resolutions, among them: “Stay off the list of sports figures who died in 2022.” . . . “Lose 20 pounds in January. Gain ’em all back in February, just to show my body who’s boss.” . . . “Help Aaron Rodgers, Kyrie Irving, Novak Djokovic and other vaccine resisters in sports with their research, by sending them info I have gathered on alternative COVID-fighters, such as blood-letting, leeches and voodoo curses.”


News


JUST NOTES . . .

If you are in B.C., and interested in helping out minor hockey, BC Hockey wants you to know that it is operating a 50/50 draw with all proceeds staying in the province to help grassroots hockey. Jeff Harris, the executive veep of communications, tells Taking Note that “originally, we were doing this in conjunction with Hockey Canada and the WJCs, but with the tournament cancellation we had to call an audible. Luckily, our gaming license enabled us to hold one further draw, which concludes (Monday) night.” . . . So you have until tonight (Monday) at 8 to get your numbers, and you are able to do that right here. . . .

Stacy Pratt, who played three full seasons (1981-84) with the Brandon Wheat BrandonKings, was killed in a car crash on Dec. 31, according to Darryl Wolski (@2112hockey) of Brandon. Pratt was 56. . . . Pratt, from Sioux Valley, Man., played four games with Brandon in 1980-81 before becoming a regular in 1981-82. In his last season, he played alongside Ray Ferraro, who scored a WHL single-season record 104 goals. Pratt finished the season with 34 goals and 64 assists in 55 games. . . . “Stacy was my winger in Brandon,” Ferraro tweeted. “An amazing passer, a great laugh and awesome to play with.” . . .

Curtis Toneff took over as general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s MerrittMerritt Centennials following the Dec. 22 firing of Dave Chyzowski, who had been in his first season there. . . . Toneff was in his third season as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Centennials were 1-20-1 at the time the move was made. . . . Chyzowski was back coaching for a couple of games as he worked with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips during a Dec. 28-29 sweep of the Cougars in Prince George. The Silvertips were short as head coach Dennis Williams was with Canada’s national junior team. . . .

Long-time hockey coach Bob McCammon, who spent a couple of years with the Tri-City Americans, died on Dec. 23. He was 80. . . . McCammon was the Americans’ general manager and head coach in 1992-93, added the president’s title to his portfolio for 1993-94, then resigned during the season. He also coached in the AHL, IHL and NHL during his lengthy career. . . . Patrick Johnston of Postmedia has more on McCammon right here. . . .

Bob Calvert, the father of former WHL G Jeff Calvert and a long-time member of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ board of directors, died on Dec. 22. He was 74. . . . Bob worked at the Regina Leader-Post for a while during my almost 17-year stint there, and he often dropped by my desk for a vociferous discussion on the latest goings-on in the world of hockey. . . . Jeff, now 48, played two seasons (1989-91) with the Warriors and three (1991-94) with the Tacoma Rockets before going on to spend five seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. On Dec. 29, 1992, Jeff came on in relief for the Rockets and scored a goal and added an assist as they erased a 4-0 deficit to beat the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-4. . . . Jeff’s two sons, Atley (Warriors) and Rowan (Saskatoon Blades), both play in the WHL; in fact, Rowan scored his first WHL goal in his debut for the Blades on Dec. 27. Somewhere, Grandpa Bob was smiling and chuckling. . . . An obituary can be found right here. . . .

G Curt Ridley, who played five games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1070-71, Ridleydied on Dec. 19. He was 70. Ridley played almost all of his junior hockey with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers before going on to a pro career that included 104 NHL games — 96 with the Vancouver Canucks, six with the Toronto Maple Leafs and two with the New York Rangers. . . . Ridley perhaps is best remember for the iconic mask he wore while with the Canucks. . . . Dave Stubbs of nhl.com has more on Ridley right here.


FinePrint


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.


Doonesbury

Scattershooting on a Sunday night before taking a Christmas break . . .

Scattershooting2

Merry Christmas . . .


OK, this is it from here for a while folks. I’m taking some time away — Less time here, less time on social media . . . you know, just away . . . more time between some book covers . . . more time doing crosswords . . . 

I have watched for almost two years as we have spun our wheels, like a gerbil on a running wheel, and gotten absolutely nowhere. This pandemic is almost two years old and where are we compared to March or April of 2020?

Restaurants open. Restaurants closed. Restaurants . . . uhh, not sure. . . . Capacity at the local arena is 50 per cent. Capacity is 100 per cent. Capacity is 50 per cent. . . . It just goes on and on and on . . .

Rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat . . . rinse . . . repeat. Over and over and over, again. And here we are, with 2021’s clock ticking down, starting to think about whether this will ever end. And all the while people are dying and healthcare workers are burning out and still we spin our wheels.

Rinse and repeat . . . rinse and repeat . . .

Hey, has there been anything more bizarre than watching the NBA and NHL trying to keep from pausing their seasons?

The answer to that is: Yes, the decision by the NFL to cut back on the testing of asymptomatic players and staff members. That move is right out of the orange guy’s playbook from May 2020. You might remember that proclamation: “If we don’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.”

While you think about that, take a minute to think about this from a thread tweeted by Dr. Katharine Smart (@KatharineSmart), a pediatrician from Whitehorse who is president of the Canadian Medical Association: “We need to get serious about vaccination, the consequences of choosing to be unvaccinated, third doses, proper masks, rapid tests and limiting contacts. I can’t state this strongly enough — our system is breaking and so are the people in it.”

The good doctor is absolutely correct. We are almost two years into this mess and we have people among us who still aren’t taking this serious.

Is it any wonder we’re still treading water?


I also will spend the next while searching for an NHL team for which to cheer. My lifelong love affair with the Detroit Red Wings — it started with Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Roger Crozier, Bill Gadsby et al — is over, broken beyond repair because their roster is home to the only unvaccinated player in the entire NHL. . . . For now, while I may no longer have a favourite team, I do have a favourite player. That would be Mason Geertsen, a product of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.


Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette:

“We are nearly two years into this miserable plague, caught in an ellipse of hope and despair that has left everyone drained and weary and cranky. Just when you thought you were free, it comes back again, like a drunken party guest who missed his cab and decided to spend the night snoring on your couch.

“Once respected people in the world of sports are making public fools of themselves, in such a way you wonder if the pandemic hasn’t affected their judgment.

“Our old friend Richard Pound, once a maverick who didn’t kowtow to anyone, now falls in with the IOC party line despite China’s abysmal record on human rights, calling China’s critics ‘silly.’

“Steve Yzerman, one of the brighter fellows in the NHL, betrays an understanding of this plague on par with an evangelical pastor in the Florida panhandle.”


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, making a point about the NBA schedule, a point that could easily be transferred to the WHL:

“The NBA often promises a more relaxed schedule but never really delivers. Back-to-back games remain far too prevalent in the league, and playing three road games in four nights — the workload the Warriors are facing right now — is simply inexcusable.

“Old-school players scoff at the complaints, recalling the days when the schedule and travel demands were far more taxing than today’s, but the scientists have made themselves known. Fatigue is a serious problem for overworked players, presenting health concerns and a less-than-energetic performances on the court. Owners’ greed will prevail, preventing something sensible — like a 58-game schedule, teams facing each opponent twice. So instead, we sometimes get lacklustre play and some grave disappointments, leaving fans a bit short of what they were expecting.”


Laddie


Old friend Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, is a huge football fan, CFLand he watched last Sunday’s Grey Cup game while comfortably ensconced in his home in the Washington, D.C., area. He actually spent Sunday watching NFL games, of course, while recording the Grey Cup game for Monday viewing. . . . He then took to the keyboard and provided some thoughts on what he had seen. All of that is right here. . . . There is a message for the CFL in his writing, too. He likes a whole lot of what he sees in the Canadian game, so leave it alone. . . . And if you aren’t already checking out his stuff, you should. He normally provides food for thought five days a week.


Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, on Urban Meyer, one day before he was fired by the NFL’s Jacksonville Jaguars: “He’s as close to a legitimate head coach as a grackle is to an attack helicopter.”


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “In a dive bar somewhere, Jon Gruden and Urban Meyer are having a beer and drawing up plays on cocktail napkins, plotting their next gigs.”



Here’s the lede on Kurt Streeter’s Friday Sports of The Times column in The New York Times:

“In the midst of a new wave of coronavirus infections sweeping the globe, sports officials are scrambling to figure out how to keep their seasons going with schedules intact, to maintain the normal churn of competition and revenue.

“They shouldn’t dither with such foolishness.

“It’s time to press pause on games, matches and meets. If we’re genuinely interested in public health, genuinely invested in slowing the virus and saving lives, we need to look at the storm that has gathered and take shelter from it.

Come back in February, or later. By then, if we play this right and we’ve collectively worked to slow the spread and proliferation of variants, we can get back to the games. Only this time with a renewed sense of diligence and tighter restrictions.”

He’s not wrong, but, you know as well as I do that it’s the money. It always is.



Flatearth


Hockey Canada is expected to announce today (Monday) that it has pulled its entry from the Spengler Cup because of the pandemic situation. The Spengler Cup, which is held in Davos, Switzerland, runs from Dec. 26 through Dec. 31. Canada has won the tournament four of the last five times it has been held. . . . Michael Farber (@MichaelFarber3) tweeted Sunday afternoon that Canadian head coach Claude Julien had already returned home. Julien’s staff was to have included Nolan Baumgartner, Jeremy Colliton and Ben Cooper, all of them former WHL players and/or coaches. . . .

If you’re wondering about the World Junior Championship that is to open in Red Deer and Edmonton on Boxing Day, the teams all are in Alberta and there have been only negative tests to date.

The plan is to play all games with capacity crowds in both cities . . . although, as we have seen in so many instances, COVID-19 may have something to say about that.


The junior A Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League revealed Friday that five organizations have had to forfeit 30 games because of “utilizing ineligible players/staff who did not meet the requirements of the GOJHL Vaccination Policy. . . . From a news release: “The sanctions are issued in accordance with the GOJHL’s regulations for ineligible players along with Ontario Hockey Federation regulations.  All games will revert to a 5-0 loss.  In the cases where both teams had ineligible participants, no points will be awarded.” . . . The complete news release is right here.


Meanwhile, minor hockey associations in Brandon and Portage la Prairie say they will be cracking down on unvaccinated parents who manage to sneak into arenas to watch their children play. The associations have said that if an unvaccinated parent is found to be inside an arena, the child will be dropped from that team’s roster and there won’t be a refund issued. . . . I know. I know. You’re shocked to hear that minor hockey parents would act in such a fashion.


Dave Lowry, a former WHL player and coach, will be the head coach of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets at least through the end of this season. He took over on Friday after Paul Maurice stepped down, saying the Jets needed to hear from a new voice. Maurice was in his ninth season as the club’s head coach. Lowry, 56, has been a WHL head coach with the Calgary Hitmen (2008-09), Victoria Royals (2012-17) and Brandon Wheat Kings (2019-20). He is in his third season on the Jets’ staff. . . . The Jets dropped a 5-2 decision to the Washington Capitals in Lowry’s debut as head coach later Friday, but he got his first victory on Sunday, 4-2 over the visiting St. Louis Blues.


The Saskatoon Entertainment Group, owners of the Saskatoon Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, is taking on managing rights for events in the SaskTel Centre via a five-year deal that is effective Jan. 1. SEG, under owners Mike Priestner and his son, Colin, will pay the Saskatchewan Place Association “the greater of either $1.35 million, or a combination of 15 per cent of gross food and beverage profits, $2 from every ticket sold and half of all revenues from sponsorship, naming rights, parking and eligible gaming,” according to the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. According to the newspaper, “SEG will also put a maximum of $1 million into upgrades at the stadium, with SPA to match whatever money they invest.”


CatWins


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.

www.transplant.bc.ca/health-info/organ-donation/living-donation


Merry Christmas . . .

Flyers, host Habs play without fans . . . NHLer suggests season be paused . . . B.C. restrictions coming today?

Merry Christmas . . .


Welcome to the start of the college football bowl season. That’s right. It kicks off today with the Bahamas Bowl in Nassau. . . . It’s the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (6-6) against the Toledo Rockets (7-5), and it’s on TSN at 9 a.m. PT (noon ET). It’ll be the ESPN telecast with Matt Barrie calling the play, Booger McFarland doing the analysis, and Katie George on the sidelines. . . . The Rockets are 10-point faves and the over-under is 50.5. . . . Enjoy!


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The tragedy is that we could have been long-since done with all this pandemic. If everyone masks, everyone gets vaccinated, the coronavirus has no place to go and it dies.

“Sports could have played a bigger role, but a few — too many — athletes decided they were stronger than COVID-19 and smarter than scientists.”


The Montreal Canadiens got past the visiting Philadelphia Flyers, 3-2 in a shootout, in the Bell Centre on Thursday night without any fans in attendance. CovidThe decision to play in an empty building was made late in the afternoon at the request of Quebec public health officials. . . . The Canadiens said they will have clarity regarding their next game — Saturday against the Boston Bruins — sometime this morning. . . . “We have obtained assurances that we will be able to welcome our fans to our January games at 50 per cent capacity.” . . .

The Nashville Predators put F Nick Cousins and assistant coach Dan Hinote into COVID-19 protocol on Thursday before beating the visiting Colorado Avalanche, 5-2. . . . The Predators had seven players and seven staff members in protocol. Hinote was to have run the bench last night, with head coach Dan Hynes and assistants Dan Lambert and Todd Richards also in protocol. Instead, they brought in head coach Karl Taylor and assistant Scott Ford from their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. They were joined by assistant GM Scott Nichol. . . . The Avalanche was without G Darcy Kuemper and D Cole Makar, who went into protocol just prior to game time, as well as F Andre Burakovsky, F J.T. Compher and D Devon Toews, and ended up playing with 11 forwards and five defenceman. . . .

The Calgary Flames added two more players to the list on Thursday. At that point, they had 18 players, three coaches and eight support staff in protocol. The Flames also confirmed that the Omicron variant was present in some of the positive tests. . . . F Dillon Dube and D Oliver Kylington were the latest to join the list. That left only F Matthew Tkachuk, G Dan Vladar, F Blake Coleman, F Michael Stone, and F Mikael Backlund as roster players who hadn’t yet tested positive. . . . Calgary’s games have been postponed through Saturday. . . .

The Edmonton Oilers added F Devin Shore to the list where he joined head coach Dave Tippett and F Ryan McLeod. . . . Edmonton then went out and beat the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2. . . .

The Carolina Hurricanes managed to arrange for a private plane to pick up F Sebastian Aho, F Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff, who had been quarantining in Vancouver, and take them to Minneapolis. There, they pick up four players who were in isolation and then took everyone home to Raleigh. . . . The Hurricanes dressed 10 forwards and six defencemen for Thursday’s game against the visiting Detroit Red Wings, which they won, 5-3. . . .

The Boston Bruins placed F Anton Blidh, F Trent Frederic, G Jeremey Swayman and a staff member into protocol, where they joined F Patrice Bergeron, F Brad Marchand and F Craig Smith. . . . The Bruins dropped a 3-1 decision to the host New York Islanders last night. . . . If you watched the game on TV, did you get the feeling that Boston play-by-play voice Jack Edwards was unhappy about not being in the building? . . .

Before losing, 4-1, to the visiting Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, the Florida Panthers put five players into protocol — F Sam Bennett, D Aaron Ekblad, D Radko Gudas, F Ryan Lomberg, D Brandon Montour, F Frank Vatrano and F Carter Verhaege. . . . The Kings were without D Drew Doughty after he went into protocol earlier Thursday.


Contact


The virus has made its way to the OHL and the QMJHL.

The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack postponed a pair of weekend games “due to COVID protocols.” It seems that the Attack had one player test positive. . . . The Attack is the third OHL team to be forced to postpone games, after the Erie Otters, who had 13 positives, and Sudbury Wolves (12).

On top of all that, Kingston has been found to have the highest COVID-19 rate in Canada, so the OHL has postponed the Frontenacs’ two weekend games. They were to have entertained the Barrie Colts on Friday and visited the Oshawa Generals on Sunday. . . .

The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs had a player come up positive. He was placed in isolation, while all other staff and players were tested twice, with all coming back negative. The situation is being closely monitored.


Adrian Dix, B.C.’s minister of health, and Dr. Bonnie Henry, the province’s health officer, are scheduled to hold a news conference today at 1 p.m. PT. There is speculation that new restrictions could be coming, including a 50 per cent capacity limit to arenas, including NHL and WHL venues. . . . The Vancouver Canucks are scheduled to entertain the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night. . . . The Kamloops Blazers and Victoria Royals are at home Friday night, with the Royals, Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver Giants to play home games on Saturday. . . . The Giants also have a home game scheduled for Sunday. . . . After Sunday, the WHL pauses for the Christmas break, not returning until Dec. 27.



If there aren’t any further developments before Sunday, QB Nick Mullens will start for the Cleveland Browns against the Las Vegas Raiders. That’s because Baker Mayfield and Case Keenum, who are ahead of him on the depth chart, are two of 20 Browns on the COVID-19 list. Both tested positive. Keenum was added on Thursday. . . .

Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) tweeted Thursday afternoon that “over 125 NFL players have been placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list since Monday.” . . . The Los Angeles Rams added nine players on Thursday, including LB Von Miller, raising their total to 25. . . .

All three of the Chicago Bears’ co-ordinators are in COVID-19 protocol. Bill Lazor (offence), Sean Desai (defence) and Chris Tabor (special teams) took part in meetings remotely on Thursday. The Bears, who also have six players on the list, are to play host to the Minnesota Vikings on Monday night. . . .

The Seattle Seahawks, who got through the 2020 season without even one positive test, had two on Thursday as they put WR Tyler Lockett and RB Alex Collins on the list. . . .

The NFL issued a news release on Thursday, stating that it is upping its defence against COVID-19:

“Effective immediately, all clubs will implement preventative measures that have proven effective: masking regardless of vaccination status, remote or outdoor meetings, eliminating in-person meals, and no outside visitors while on team travel. We will continue to strongly encourage boosters shots as the most effective protection. Finally, and based on expert advice, we will adjust the return-to-participation requirements for those who have recovered from COVID-19. All of these changes are grounded in our data and science-backed approach, with safety our No. 1 goal for the entire NFL community.”


In the world of NCAA men’s basketball, the CBS Sports Classic Saturday game was to have featured the No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes and the No. 21 Kentucky Wildcats from Las Vegas. However, there were some positive tests among the Buckeyes and the game was cancelled. . . .

High school wrestling in Clark County, Wash., is on hold until at least Jan. 3. Micah Rice, the sports editor of The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., reports that more than 80 COVID cases were traced to four tournaments that were held on Dec. 4. The events involved wrestlers from 13 counties.



Fourdollar



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.


Cavemen

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while the hockey world mourns . . .

Scattershooting2

Matt Swaby, who spent four seasons playing in the WHL, was killed in what family members say was a farming accident on Friday. . . . Swaby, 34, was a native of Prince Albert. . . . A defenceman, he spent three seasons (2004-07) with the Tri-City Americans and one (2007-08) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Oil Kings were an expansion team that season and management chose to acquire Swaby to serve as their captain in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . AJ Jakubec, who was the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice back then, tweeted: “Heartbreaking. The perfect captain for an expansion team. Humble, hard-working guy with a great sense of humour. Loved this guy.” . . . Swaby went on to play three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . He is survived by his wife Carla and their three boys — Thomas, 6; Blake, 4 and Kody, 2.


THE COACHING GAME:

Shaun Clouston moved into the Top 10 on Saturday night. Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, posted his 467th regular-Kamloopsseason coaching victory and that moved him into 10th place on the WHL’s all-time list. He did in style, too, as the Blazers (17-2-0) won, 3-2, in Everett, handing the Silvertips (16-1-2) their first regulation-time loss of the season. Kamloops G Dylan Garand (14-2-2, 1.76, .935) came up with 41 stops. . . . Everett actually has lost two in a row now, having dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the host Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Clouston’s 467th victory moved him past Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time list that is led by Don Day (750). . . . Clouston has 76 victories with the Blazers after putting up 375 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 16 with the Tri-City Americans. He won’t be moving up the ladder again anytime soon because the next man on the list, Pat Ginnell, is at 518. . . . BTW, the Blazers went 4-0-0 on a swing into the U.S. Division, winning twice in Kent, Wash., and beating the Winterhawks, 4-3, in Portland on Friday night. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the winningest active head coach in the WHL these days, put up No. 561 on Saturday night, his Prince Albert Raiders beating the Wheat RaidersKings, 2-1, in Brandon. It would seem that he didn’t get fined — at least, there isn’t anything noted on the WHL’s discipline page — after getting tossed for whispering Christmas greetings to the on-ice officials prior to the start of the third period of a 4-1 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday. . . . BTW, after D Kaiden Guhle scored twice in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s just a special player.” Guhle, 19, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has signed his first NHL contract.


Tacos


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A pro golfer can still make a decent buck, if he’s willing to travel. While Phil Mickelson pocketed $2.16 million for winning the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm $2.25 mil for winning the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa just cashed a check for $2.97 million for winning some tourney in Dubai. Now you know why gas prices are so high.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): World Chess Championship Forced To Use Salt Shaker After Losing Bishop



Ken Campbell, at Hockey Unfiltered (and he is correct): “Love the New Jersey Devils third sweater. Love it. And even though it has ‘Jersey’ emblazoned across the front, it’s a sweater, not a jersey. Always has been, always will be.”


With eight players on the COVID-19 protocol list, the NHL finally stepped in and nhl2halted the New York Islanders’ season, at least for now. The Isles were to have played the New York Rangers today and then visited the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Those games have been postponed. The Islanders next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . The final straw for the NHL came Saturday when F Casey Cizikas went on the list. He became player No. 8, joining F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene, F Ross Johnston, F Anders Lee and D Adam Pelech. . . . Earlier, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed as they went through a stretch in which 10 players and a coach were impacted. The Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins also have been down this road, but their schedules were left intact.


JUST NOTES: If you’ve been watching NHL games of late, I think you will agree that the crackdown on cross-checking has come to an end. . . . We shouldn’t expect anything different from a league in which one player (F Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers) gets fined $5,000 for throwing a glove at another player (super-pest Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins). As Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that’s the same amount that “Tom Wilson was (fined) for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head while he was laying face down on the ice.” . . .

The Thursday afternoon NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the host Dallas Cowboys drew 38.531 million viewers to CBS (TV and streaming), the highest total for a regular-season game since 1990. Just in case you were wondering why neither the NBA nor the NHL played any games on what was American Thanksgiving. . . .

You may have heard that the City of St. Louis will get US$790 million from the NFL and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to settle a lawsuit stemming from the team’s departure  in 2016. If you were wondering about how much the lawyers get, well, according to the aforementioned Scott Ostler, it seems the firm that represented St. Louis gets a cool 35 per cent, or $276 million.


Mom


The two Canadian sports networks — TSN and Rogers Sportsnet — are so large that I have 14 of their channels available in my home. On Saturday afternoon, TSN’s six channels featured Canadian Olympic curling trials (2), Spanish Primera Division soccer (2), U.S. college football (Penn State at Michigan State) and an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile, Sportsnet was showing Bundesliga on five channels, poker on two and rasslin’ on another. . . . You know what they weren’t showing? Canadian university football. . . . Look, they can be excused for not showing the eastern semifinal because USports has a problem that it chooses not to address. The AUS entry gets an automatic semifinal berth and often gets routed, which is what happened to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday when they went to London, Ont., and got whipped, 61-6, by the host Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl. It was 51-3 at the half. . . . Later, in the game that should have been televised nationally, the Saskatchewan Huskies took the lead for the first time with five seconds left in the fourth quarter and beat the host Montreal Carabins, 14-10, to claim the Uteck Bowl. . . . The Huskies will face Western in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Dec. 4. . . . The Vanier Cup will be televised . . . by CBC.



Does Wilt Chamberlain get the credit he’s due for being a great, great NBA player? Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors enjoyed his 220th career 30-point game on Friday night, in a 118-103 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. That is third on the Warriors’ all-time list. Next up is Rick Barry at 223. Chamberlain is No. 1, at 369. Yes, as prolific a scorer as Curry is, he still is 149 behind Chamberlain.


Hey, Luke, well done! Have to admit I had a lump in my throat and it wasn’t a sugar cube.


Fantasy


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders announced Thursday that Adam Manah, their general manager and head coach, had “departed his position . . . effective immediately.” Adam Sergerie has taken over as the GM, with Jeff Woywitka now the head coach. Manah had been with the Crusaders since signing on as associate coach in 2015. He took over as head coach in 2016. The Crusaders were 9-15-1 — they had lost four in a row — at the time of the announcement, good for seventh place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North.


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Amari Cooper is just the latest chowderhead in sports to help cost his team a game by being unvaccinated. While being paid $21 million a year by Jerry Jones. What a guy. Cooper, that is.”

——

Lupica, again: “You know who’s going to end up with settlement money from the NFL one of these days? Jon Gruden. They’re either going to have to pay him, or they’re going to have to release all of the emails relating to the Washington Football Team.”


Lumber


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.


Airbags

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after watching Canucks ring the pipes in loss to Blackhawks . . .

Scattershooting2

You know what I wish? I wish people would quit talking about wanting things to get back to “normal.”

I mean, what is “normal?” If you are remembering how things were two years ago, forget about it. Well, maybe don’t forget about it, but file those days in your memory bank, preferably in a chamber way in the back.

You may remember the good old days when someone would dial 911 if you walked into a store wearing a mask. When you didn’t use hand sanitizer at least a dozen times a day. When you didn’t have to wear a mask to a hockey game and there weren’t capacity limits on any of the arenas. When vaccination status didn’t matter when you invited friends over for dinner. When some areas of our hospitals weren’t bursting at the seams and when our healthcare workers weren’t burning out quicker than cheap candles.

You may remember them, but those days are gone. They’re not coming back, either, no matter how much you want to see them again.

In a year or two, when enough people have been fully vaccinated, including booster shots, and COVID-19 has been beaten down, perhaps society will be able to develop a new “normal.”

But we are a long way from there these days.

For now, the only Normal in our world is a town in Illinois.

Here in B.C., we have no idea what our normal will look like. We’re almost two years into the pandemic. We’ve had wildfires and all the smoke that came with them. We’ve had the landslides and the flooding.

About all that’s left is the locusts and I hear they’re gathering over the Pacific with a spring invasion in mind.


HELPIN’ OUT THE PACK: I have a dear friend who is a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers. A news release arrived in my inbox on Friday, and I could hardly wait GreenBayto forward it to him. . . . “Green Bay Packers fans in Canada now have the opportunity to purchase shares in the iconic franchise, the organization announced today,” the release reads. “Approximately 174,000 shares remain available for purchase. The team has clarified Canadian regulatory requirements and now is able to proceed with sales in Canada. The offering will continue until Feb. 25, 2022, subject to extension, or until fully subscribed. . . . The cost of a share in Canada is US$300, with a handling fee for each transaction.” . . . You are limited to purchasing a maximum of 200 shares and remember that they don’t appreciate in value. . . . So, for a mere Cdn$379.25 — that was the exchange rate on Friday — you are able to help the Packers pay Aaron Rodgers’ salary. . . . My friend? I would expect him to give himself a Merry Christmas with a share or five.


Liquor


TWO NEW IMPORTS: A pair of WHL franchises added import players late in the week. . . . The Regina Pats claimed Slovakian F Alex Geci, 18, off waivers from the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, which had selected him in the 2020 CHL import draft. He had one goal and two assists in nine games with the Sting this season. . . . Meanwhile, Russian F Alexei Shanaurin, 17, has arrived in Swift Current and is skating with the Broncos. They selected him in the 2021 import draft. . . . Neither Geci nor Shanaurin played on Saturday night. . . . Alan Caldwell, who tracks these things, informs that 21 of the WHL’s 22 teams now have their limit of two imports. The exception? The Red Deer Rebels.



CHANGES, CHANGES: The CFL’s West Division semifinal will feature the Calgary Stampeders and the Saskatchewan Roughriders in Regina on Sunday. CFLThe West final is to be played in Winnipeg on Dec. 5. . . . Between those dates, pandemic-related rules regarding flying will change in Canada, with travellers needing to be fully vaccinated after Nov. 30; negative test results no longer will be enough. . . . Dave Dickenson, the Stampeders’ head coach, admitted on Saturday that should the Stampeders advance they will have a different look in Winnipeg than they will in Regina. In other words, there are a few unvaccinated players in the Calgary locker room. . . . Meanwhile, the Roughriders moved third-string QB Paxton Lynch to the practice squad late last week because he is unvaccinated so is unable to fly. According to Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post, Saskatchewan head coach Craig Dickenson said that Lynch is the lone unvaccinated player on the team’s roster. . . . “We’ve encouraged guys to get vaccinated and given them motives and incentives, which are mainly about the ability to play and travel,” Craig Dickenson said. “If they chose not to, that is their choice. We do the best we can. If someone doesn’t want to get vaccinated, we aren’t going to force them.” . . . With Lynch out of the picture, QB Mason Fine came off the Saskatchewan practice roster and is behind starter Cody Fajardo and Isaac Harker on the depth chart.


Early


PERRY’S CORNER: “House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy spoke for 8½ hours into the early hours Friday morning in futile opposition to President Biden’s social spending bill,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Veteran observers say it was like watching a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader.”

——

More from Perry: “Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Aminata Diallo has been arrested for allegedly setting up an attack on a soccer teammate. Jacques Gillooly immediately proclaimed his innocence.”

——

Perry also had this one: “According to NFL memes, NFL teams with cat names and those with bird names are tied at 209-209-10 all time. The Jaguars and Falcons will break the tie Nov. 28 — we hope.”


STORM WARNING: The junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League were back on home ice Sunday night, beating the North Okanagan Knights, 4-1. The Storm had one game postponed — it was to have entertained the Chase Heat on Nov. 17 — because its home arena is being used as an evacuation centre for Merritt residents who have had to flee a massive flood.


BIG GAME COUNTRY: It you’re a hockey fan, you might be eagerly awaiting WHLSaturday night. That’s when the Kamloops Blazers, now 14-2-0, are scheduled to visit the Everett Silvertips (14-0-1). . . . The Blazers beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 5-1, in Kent, Wash., on Saturday and will be back there on Wednesday. Kamloops then will meet the host Portland Winterhawks on Friday before moving on to Everett. . . . The Silvertips, who dropped the visiting Thunderbirds, 5-2, on Sunday, are at home to the Tri-City Americans on Wednesday and then will visit the Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Kamloops holds an 11-point lead over the second-place Kelowna Rockets (8-4-1) in the B.C. Division. . . . The Silvertips are atop the U.S. Division, eight points ahead of Seattle (11-5-1). . . .

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference-leading Winnipeg Ice (19-1-0) will play their next seven games at home, starting Wednesday against the Swift Current Broncos (6-9-3). Of note are a doubleheader with the Saskatoon Blades (11-7-1) on Dec. 3 and 4, with the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-3-3) there for two on Dec. 8 and 11. . . . When the Ice finishes the homestand it’ll be wrapping up a stretch in which it played 12 of 14 games on home ice.


Map


CHEF’S KISS: Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with a cooking-related anecdote: “Antonio Brown’s former live-in chef outing Brown for allegedly obtaining a fake vax card is the best sports-chef story since 2004. That’s when Gary Sheffield accused Barry Bonds of luring away his live-in chef with a car, a home and repayment of student loans. It was history’s most celebrated case of chefjacking.”


JUST NOTES: After a day of NFL watching, I am left to wonder if the magic has left Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson. You don’t hear Seahawks fans saying the team needs to “Let Russ Cook” these days. . . . Remember when the Pittsburgh Steelers ran the ball, ran the ball and ran the ball some more? . . . Some games you just aren’t destined to win. That’s what the Vancouver Canucks will be telling themselves today after hitting five posts in a 1-0 loss to G Marc-Andre Fleury and the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night. Of course, another loss won’t do anything to keep the vultures from circling Rogers Arena. . . . It won’t happen, but it wouldn’t hurt if MLB added player-of-the-year awards to its trophy case, because that’s what the MVP honours have become. Why not have MVP and POY awards? . . . We can only hope that Sunday’s CFL division semifinals are more entertaining than what we’ve seen down the stretch.


Mental


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.


Igram

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after spending some time with Adele . . .

Scattershooting2


Les Lazaruk, the long-time radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades on CJWW, and I have been friends for more years than either one of us cares to remember.

So . . . I can imagine how excited he was prior to calling the play for the Blades’ game in Winnipeg against the Ice on Saturday night. I mean, you have to know that Les gets excited before every game. But this one was extra special.

That’s because his nephew, Nolan Powell, who is from Winnipeg, was one of the game’s two referees, along with veteran Adam Bloski.

You should know that Nolan makes music with more than his whistle.

Besides being an on-ice hockey official, he is an accomplished classical guitarist.

From a story headlined ‘To hear Nolan Powell play is to believe in perfection’ from the U of Manitoba News in June 2020: “The 2020 Master of Music graduate, who also holds a B.Mus and B.Ed from the University of Manitoba, has a long history of impressing people, and received the Dr. Bonnie Buhler Graduate Scholarship in Music for his master’s degree.”

About the only degree his uncle has involves Strat-O-Matic Baseball.


ICING THE OPPOSITION: It should be pointed out that the Winnipeg Ice swept that weekend series from the Saskatoon Blades, 4-1 and 6-0. . . . The Ice, the WinnipegCHL’s top-ranked team, now is 17-1 and has outscored its opposition, 98-31. Winnipeg leads the Eastern Conference by seven points over the Edmonton Oil Kings (12-3-3) and tops the East Division by 11 points over the Blades (11-6-1). . . . Winnipeg forwards Mikey Milne and Matt Savoie lead the WHL points race, each with 29. Milne and teammate Connor McClennon are No. 1 in goals (14), with Savoie tops in assists (21). . . . If you are a plus-minus fan, Ice players hold down the top five spots — Milne (24), F Jakin Smallwod (22), F Conor Geekie (21), and D Carson Lambos and D Nolan Orzeck each 19. . . . G Daniel Hauser of the Ice leads the league in GAA (1.45) and save percentage (.941).


Antler
I first spotted this guy over a month ago in the field that is at the top of the photo. At that time, his left antler was dangling loosely on the side of his face. I didn’t see him again until he showed up in our yard late Saturday afternoon — the light was fading fast — and it seems that the broken antler has taken root and is solidly entrenched, giving him something of a bizarre look.

THE CENTURY CLUB: G Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades posted his 100th career regular-season victory on Friday, beating the Wheat Kings, 2-1, in Brandon. According to quanthockey.com, he is the 21st goaltender in WHL history to reach 100 victories. The record is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2004-09) and Corey Hirsch (Kamloops, 1988-92), each with 120. Sexsmith did it in 179 games; Hirsch in 181. Maier has played in 170. . . . Next up for Maier is Cam Ward, at 102.


LOVIN’ THE AHL: So . . . you’re wondering how Mitch Love is doing in his first season as a head coach with the AHL’s Stockton Heat? Well . . . you should know that he’s doing just fine after leaving the Saskatoon Blades’ coaching staff for a spot in the Calgary Flames organization. F Justin Kirkland scored the shootout winner on Friday to give the host Heat a 3-2 victory over the Henderson Silver Knights. That was the Heat’s franchise-record ninth straight victory. . . . The Silver Knights bounced back on Saturday and ended that streak with a 4-3 OT victory.


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING: The Calgary Hitmen released D Alexei Garapuchik, 18, earlier this week. He cleared CHL waivers and returned to his home in Belarus. Garapuchik, who was picked in the CHL’s 2020 import draft, was pointless in one game with the Hitmen. . . . The move left the Hitmen with Russian F Maxim Muranov, 17, and F Anton Astashevich, 17, of Belarus as their two import players. Both were selected in the CHL’s 2021 import draft.


EMAILBAG: After a piece appeared here the other day about the owners of the Winnipeg Ice having abandoned, at least for now, plans for a new arena, there was email. Like this one. . . . Re the Winnipeg Ice. The Ice are still being sued by the City of Cranbrook for breaking the lease in Cranbrook. . . . From a former Ice season-ticket holder in Cranbrook, now a season-ticket holder for the Cranbrook Bucks who watches the Bucks games in our little arena of 4,700.


Bears


KINGS OF THE HILL: The Saskatoon Hilltops have won seven consecutive Prairie Football Conference championships after going into Regina, rushing for 386 yards, and beating the Thunder, 29-9, on Sunday. Yes, they’ve got a junior football dynasty going in Toontown. . . . The Thunder had gone into the final with a 9-0 record, including a pair of three-point victories over the Hilltops, who now are 8-2. . . . Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was on hand and posted this report right here. . . . The Hilltops will visit the Langley Rams, the B.C. Football Conference champs, in a CJFL semifinal on Saturday. . . . It’s worth pointing out that the Hilltops’ run of six straight Canadian titles was halted by the pandemic, which refused to allow a 2020 season.


WATER UNDER THE BRIDGEWATER: Matt Harmon (@MattHarmon_BYB) of YahooSports tweeted late last week that “it’s pretty amazing that the current Carolina Panthers regime now is paying Teddy Bridgewater (who they signed to replace Cam Newton) and Sam Darnold (who they traded for to replace Teddy Bridgewater) only to pay Cam Newton to fix their QB problems.”

Or, as Dion Beary (@hashtagdion) put it: “David Tepper is current paying Cam’s replacement, the replacement for Cam’s replacement, and Cam to replace the replacement for his own replacement.”


Bunker


PERRY’S CORNER: “Green Bay Packers backup QB Jordan Love completed just 6 of 17 passes for 30 yards against the blitz, according to ESPN Stats and Information, in losing 13-7 to the Kansas City Chiefs in his starting debut,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Who says you can’t hurry Love?”

——

Perry, again: “The Los Angeles Rams have replaced wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was released after complaining he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Rams, with Odell Beckham Jr., who complained he wasn’t getting enough touches with the Cleveland Browns. Check back in a month or so for any updates.”


TINFOIL MAN: “What if the 49ers had drafted Aaron Rodgers instead of Alex Smith?” writes Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “It might have led to greater glory, maybe Super Bowls. And now San Francisco fans would be stuck with an all-time local hero that they are ashamed of. Maybe Mike Nolan knew what he was doing, after all.”

——

Ostler, again: “This just in: Rodgers has lost another appeal to the NFL. Rodgers, citing personal freedom to make his own health decisions, and extensive research, requested permission to ditch his standard football helmet and wear a tinfoil hat.”


Eyes


HEY, THANKS FOR COMING, PART 2: The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders have dumped their top two selections from the NFL’s 2020 draft because of off-field indiscretions. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “Apparently NFL teams employ psychologists to help them evaluate draft picks’ readiness. . . . Seems like the Raiders need to re-evaluate their evaluator.”



AN IMPERFECT 10: F Drake Batherson had two goals and two assists as the host Ottawa Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 6-3, on Saturday. He didn’t play in Sunday’s game against the visiting Calgary Flames after testing positive and becoming the 10th Ottawa player to be placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. It also marked the ninth straight day on which the Senators have had someone test positive. . . . Batherson joined F Connor Brown, D Josh Brown, F Alex Formenton, F Dylan Gambrell, D Nick Holden, D Victor Mete, G Matt Murray, F Austin Watson and D Nikita Zaitsev on the list, along with associate coach Jack Capuano. . . . Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported Sunday that the Senators have had to make so many recalls from AHL-Belleville that there now are only nine players left with the farm club who are under contract to the NHL team. . . . The NHL hasn’t shown the Senators any mercy, either, as it refuses to postpone games. On Sunday, the Senators lost, 4-0, to the Flames. . . . On Sunday night, the Senators announced they won’t practise on Monday, the fourth straight practice to be cancelled. . . . Ottawa next is scheduled to fly out Monday for a Tuesday night date with the New Jersey Devils.



Storage


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.


TimeTravel

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after it got dark early out here . . .

Scattershooting2


I took some time away from the keyboard to sit back and watch the sporting world go by.

What I witnessed wasn’t at all pretty.

Of course, the situation involving Kyle Beach and the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks gets messier every time an NHL or NHLPA official opens his mouth.

But let’s be honest. As far as the NHL is concerned, it’s all about protecting the shield. If it wasn’t, Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, would have put Sheldon Kennedy on the payroll as a consultant or advisor a long time ago.

But there’s more going on than that . . .

If you Google “Pittsburgh Penguins,” you will find the NHL team is embroiled in a scandal that involves a couple of coaches and one of their wives.

If you Google “Vancouver Whitecaps,” you will find that Major League Soccer has hired a law firm to conduct an investigation into the team’s handling of alleged misconduct by a couple of coaches. Those accusations were levelled more than 10 years ago; the Whitecaps led an investigation into them in 2019.

And then there was the high school boys hockey game in the Pittsburgh area the other day that was marred by the vulgar chants of students from one school towards the other team’s female goaltender. No, adults in the stands didn’t see fit to intervene.

Meanwhile, there were reports that F Nicholas Daigle of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres, who has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor, may — or may not — be going to play in the controversial Ukrainian Hockey League. Daigle is one of two players who was charged following the Tigres’ championship victory last season; the QMJHL subsequently suspended both players. Reports indicated that he would be going overseas to play for HC Rulav Oddr of the Ukrainian Hockey League. The team announced his acquisition with this: “To be found guilty and to be charged is a big difference. Nicholas will be the most famous young player in UHL history . . . and the fact that the guy is sexy, the residents of Kharkiv will like him. ” The UHL is the league that found itself embroiled in a nasty racist incident earlier this season. . . . The QMJHL, however, has said that it won’t be releasing Daigle to play in the UHL or, one can assume, in any other league.

PHEW! Take a breath because there’s more . . .

The NFL launched an investigation into allegations of workplace harassment and more with the Washington Football Team, but won’t release the results, although some emails leaked that resulted in the departure of the Las Vegas Raiders’ head coach.

The NBA is investigating allegations of misogyny and racism involving the owner of the Phoenix Suns, while the Portland Trailblazers are investigating allegations of workplace misconduct against their general manager.

The National Women’s Soccer League had its commissioner resign amid a scandal involving misconduct and sexual misconduct. The league and the players association are launching a wholesale investigation.

As well, Rana Reider, who coaches Canadian sprinting star Andre De Grasse has been accused of sexual misconduct and SafeSport is investigating.

Meanwhile, former WHL/NHL D Bryce Salvador tweeted this on Oct. 31:

“I just spent 10 mins on the ice holding the hand of a 12yr player I coach. He lay there motionless, crying that his back hurt, unable to move at all.

“I ultimately called off the game as we waited until the ambulance came.  (we were winning 4-1 with a 1min left in the semi-final game). . . . With the traumatic toll weighing on my 12-year players about the health of their teammate, I then decided we would forfeit the final game.

“What happened next is unbelievable. The coach of the team that we were scheduled to play in the final couldn’t believe that we were not going to play the final game because I felt it was unethical to put 12yrs back on the ice again that day.

“He insisted that we still had enough players to play . . . ‘. . . what, you are just going leave?’

“YES! I need to see how the player is doing!  Where is empathy anymore?”

Where indeed?

——

BTW, if you think the NHL will be in the market for a new commissioner because of recent happenings, well, it’s not going to happen. Bettman works for the owners and his No. 1 priority is to make money for them. During his reign, the NHL somehow got its players to accept a salary cap, and the last two expansion franchises brought in a total of $1,150,000,000. Yes, that’s more than a billion dollars in US funds.



Brock McGillis came out in 2016. A goaltender, he still was playing pro hockey so it was kind of a big deal. These days, he does a lot of speaking in the world of hockey, work that he hopes will help improve the inclusivity in that particular part of our world. . . . But there are roadblocks. I know, you’re shocked! . . . As he told Matt Larkin of The Hockey News:

“I really do appreciate the teams that bring me in – it matters. But I’ve been begging, pleading with the OHL for four years to do this and make it a mandatory program like they’ve done with so many others. Unfortunately, they haven’t. I’ve stopped pleading. I felt like I was a bother and it wasn’t accomplishing anything. I hope they circle back, because it’s needed but, until they engage that conversation, I can’t plead with them, but I will work with individual teams that see the value and other groups. . . . Frankly, I hope the CHL reaches out, especially considering they do have an out player (Luke Prokop). I’m hoping it’ll be the catalyst to a conversation with the CHL. I’m becoming exhausted with leagues and teams dipping a toe in with Pride nights. I’ve told them all, ‘This is performative.’ Sorry, but it is. Studies have shown that it doesn’t move the needle or impact the locker room or anything.”

Larkin’s complete story is right here.


Milk


Just wondering, but whatever happened to the coaches’ union in junior hockey? There was a time when junior hockey coaches had frequent conversations, oftentimes before or after games. . . . Could it be those in-season communications have gone the way of the mask-free goaltender? . . . In an email conversation with the head coach who took over a junior team prior to this season, I asked if any of the league’s other coaches had “called or emailed or contacted you in any fashion just to welcome you to the league?” . . . His response: “The answer to your question is ‘no.’ If they did reach out and give me some form of welcome, it was only because they had another agenda and/or were trying to screw me somehow!” . . . I guess the days of two coaches sharing a post-game beverage before one boards the bus for the trip home are over.


Seatbelts

DOWNHILL FROM HERE: Who fell further faster — the Chicago Blackhawks or Aaron Rodgers? . . . Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “After Aaron Rodgers reported that he turned in a 500-page research paper to the NFL detailing supposed problems with the COVID vaccines, the world wondered, ‘What kind of college student was Rodgers?’ Well, he didn’t graduate from Cal (‘Thank God,’ sigh a million Cal alums). Rodgers did major in American Studies at Cal, and one of his classes was Food Appreciation. Food Appreciation.” . . . Here’s Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News: “Even if the Packers win the Super Bowl, the people in charge at Lambeau Field will be willing to drive (Rodgers) to the airport next February.”


THE WORLD OF COVID: The Ottawa Senators, fresh off a six-day trip into the U.S., had two players (D Nick Holden and F Austin Watson) and assistant coach Jack Capuano in COVID-19 protocol as of Sunday night. Yes, chances are there will be more in the days ahead. . . . S Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings didn’t play Sunday against the host Baltimore Ravens because he is on the NFL’s COVID-19 list. Smith, who isn’t vaccinated, is a Pro Bowler. The Vikings lost, 34-31 in OT. They also were without C Garrett Bradbury, who is vaccinated and tested positive. G Dakota Dozier, who is on their practice squad, also is on the COVID list. Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis StarTribune blamed the loss on “Smith’s unwillingness to get vaccinated and the offense’s inability to function without a script or a sense of panic.” . . . The San Jose Sharks have games in Calgary and Winnipeg this week, and because of COVID protocols they’re without head coach Bob Boughner, F Matt Nieto, D Erik Karlsson, D Jake Middleton, D Radim Simek, D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, F Kevin Labanc, F Tino Meier, trainer Ray Tufts and equipment manager Mike Aldrich.


Ex


WORK NEWS: It was good to see old friend Travis Crickard’s name in a news release the other day as he joined the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs as an assistant coach. Crickard spent four-plus seasons on staff with the Kelowna Rockets before Bruce Hamilton announced on Dec. 8, 2018, that they had “mutually parted  ways.” (Wink! Wink!!) . . . Crickard had been head coach of the U-18 AAA Waterloo, Ont., Wolves. . . . Once upon a time he was a goaltender for two seasons with the Flin Flon Bombers. He also was the video coach with the Canadian team that won the IIHF U-18 tournament in Texas last spring. . . . Bobby Jo Love, one of the WHL’s regular referees, made his AHL debut in Abbotsford, B.C., last weekend. The 25-year-old from Smithers, B.C., worked the Ontario Reign’s sweep — 5-2 on Oct. 29 and 3-2 in OT on Oct. 30 — of the Canucks. . . . Congrats to Jayson Hajdu, another old friend, on his new position as director of communications for College Hockey Inc. The Regina native worked in the U of North Dakota’s athletic media relations office (1995-2018) and was the primary contact for men’s hockey there from 2008 through 2018. For the past two years, he’s been the marketing and communications strategist for The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures in Kansas City.


A GOOD READ: It seems the reports of the demise of Marc Habscheid’s Prince Albert Raiders were a bit premature. The Raiders are laughing at the critics after sweeping the Saskatoon Blades on the weekend, winning 5-1 at home and 5-2 in Toontown. Once 2-7-0, the Raiders now are 5-7-1. . . . The same holds true for Dave Struch’s Regina Pats. They also were 2-7-0, but now have won four in a row. . . . If you’re looking for an entertaining hockey-related read, you can’t go wrong with Bearcat Murray: From Ol’ Potlicker to Calgary Flames Legend. Murray, the legendary Calgary-based trainer, told his story and George Johnson, whose fingers play on a computer keyboard the way Oscar Peterson’s tickled the ivories, wrote it. Good stuff! . . . While watching the Nashville Predators and host Vancouver Canucks on Friday night I found myself wondering if the NHL’s crackdown on cross-checking had been relaxed.


Teens


JUST WHAT WE NEED: Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Clear evidence that we’re running out of things to investigate: On Nov. 19, FX/Hulu is offering up a probe into Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.” . . . Perry, again: “BASS announced its 2022 high-school bass-fishing schedule, four tournaments scheduled on weekend days called the Bassmaster High School Series. Back in the good old days, fishing took place on a weekday and we just called it hooky.” . . . You know what is really wonderful these days? You turn on the TV and tune into an NFL game. A woman is part of the on-field officiating crew and from the game’s start to its end no one mentions it.


OUR WORLD IS EMPTIER TODAY: Condolences to Verita van Diemen and sons Ryan and Chad and their families following the death of Case, who was a guiding hand for the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society when the WHL franchise, which then was owned by community shareholders, was going through some difficult times. Case, 74, died on Oct. 30. He had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when he was 65. He did a two-year stint as the Blazers’ president and I always enjoyed conversing with him. He always gave an honest answer and/or opinion, which might be why I wasn’t surprised to read in his obituary that “Case was thankful to be able to have the choice to go out on his terms.” . . . I also won’t ever forget Case and Verita’s generosity when I was running the Christmas Cheer Fund for the Kamloops Daily News. They were on board with us from the beginning and I always, always heard from them early in the campaign.


The NHL may not want to speak with Sheldon Kennedy, but the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame certainly did. Kennedy was inducted into the Winnipeg-based Hall of Fame on Thursday night. . . .


Beer


NO TAG DAYS FOR BUSTER: Don’t be concerned about Buster Posey’s financial future now that the San Francisco Giants veteran catcher has announced his retirement. Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Financially, Posey should be OK. He invested heavily in BodyArmor sports drink around 2013. Coca-Cola just bought BodyArmor for $5.6 billion. That sale turned the late Kobe Bryant’s $6-million investment into a net gain for his estate of $400 million.” . . . I don’t know about you but I absolutely despise those computer-generated ads that TSN floats onto the field during CFL games and the ones that Sportsnet plasters on the glass during NHL games. . . . Here’s a for-real headline from FoxNews.com: Monkey belonging to Texas special-teams coach’s stripper girlfriend bites child on Halloween.


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.


Divorce

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after nature’s paintbrush put some white on the hilltops . . .

Scattershooting2


You likely are aware that if a male hockey player joins a major junior team, he almost always loses his NCAA eligibility. Right?

What about a female player?

The QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques recalled Ève Gascon on Saturday and she qmjhlnewwas the backup goaltender for a pair of weekend games against the visiting Val-d’Or Foreurs. The Olympiques brought Gascon, 18, in from the Saint-Laurent Patriotes of the Quebec Collegiate Hockey League.

Gascon attended the Olympiques’ training camp prior to the start of this season and got into two games, going 2-0-0, 1.78, .934.

OK, now comes the NCAA part of the story . . .

Gascon has verbally committed to attend the U of Minnesota-Duluth and play for the Bulldogs in 2023-24. And it turns out that NCAA rules are different for women than for men, and women don’t lose their eligibility for playing major junior hockey.

Here’s Matt Wellens of the Duluth News Tribune from a story he wrote in August:

“The NCAA has separate rules for men’s and women’s hockey as it pertains to trying out and playing for professional teams — the NCAA classifies major junior leagues in Canada as professional.

“While men’s hockey players have strict rules pertaining to tryouts and playing with professionals . . . women’s hockey recruits may try out and play for a professional team prior to full-time enrolment, granted they do not receive ‘more than actual and necessary expenses,’ according to the NCAA Division 1 manual (Page 69, 12.2.2.2.1 and 12.2.3.2.1).”

——

BTW, the only females to have played in the QMJHL are Manon Rhéaume and Charline Labonté. Rhéaume played in one game for the Trois-Rivieres Draveurs in 1991-92. Labonté played in 26 games for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in 1999-2000 and two more in 2000-01.

Old friend Bob Duff of detroithockeynow.com reported Sunday that Rhéaume will be part of the TV team that will be doing Detroit Red Wings games on Bally Sports Detroit.

According to Duff, who once covered the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades for the StarPhoenix, she “is living in the Detroit area. Rhéaume is working as the Girls Program Coordinator for the Little Caesars AAA Hockey Club. As well, she is serving as the head coach of the 12U girls team in Detroit.”

She will make her Detroit TV debut on Wednesday when the Tampa Bay Lightning visit the Red Wings.


Crew


Headline at TheOnion.com: Urban Meyer still adjusting to speed of NFL cover-ups.


It’s safe to say that MLB hitters as a group had an abysmal 2021 regular season. . . . The Associated Press reported: “The major league batting average dropped to .244 this season, its lowest since the year of the pitcher in 1968, though offense picked up markedly following baseball’s midseason crackdown on grip-enhancing substances for pitchers.” . . . The complete statistical story is right here.



If you happen to have an autographed picture of Shoeless Joe Jackson in your collection, you should know that one sold recently for US$1.47 million at Christie’s and Hunt Auctions in New York. That one, from 1911, is believed to be the only one around.


Nobody


There were 11 WHL games over the past two days — three on Sunday and eight WHLon Saturday — but there aren’t any scheduled today (Monday), which is Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. . . . Here’s a look at Sunday’s games . . .

In Calgary, F Riley Fiddler-Schultz had three assists to lead the Hitmen to a 4-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Calgary (1-2-0) scored the game’s first three goals and later added an empty-netter. . . . The Broncos (2-3-0) got 37 stops from G Reid Dyck, a 17-year-old from Winkler, Man., as they lost their third straight game. . . .

In Regina, the Brandon Wheat Kings beat the Pats, 4-2, in a game in which the last three goals were scored in the final 1:36 with two of them into an empty net. . . . D Logen Hammett gave Brandon a 2-1 lead on a PP at 7:56 of the third period. . . . Brandon scored two empty-netters before the Pats got their second goal at 19:50. . . . D Chad Nychuk had two goals and an assist. . . . The Wheat Kings (2-3-0) got 39 stops from G Carson Bjarnason, a 16-year-old freshman from Carberry, Man., who earned his first WHL victory in his first start and fourth appearance. . . . According to the WHL’s online scoresheet, the Wheat Kings didn’t dress a backup goaltender. Ethan Kruger left a Saturday game with an apparent leg injury. . . . The Pats (2-3-0) have lost three in a row. . . .

In Portland, G Dante Giannuzzi stopped 29 shots to lead the Winterhawks (2-2-1) to a 3-0 victory over the Spokane Chiefs (1-3-1). . . . It was Giannuzzi’s first shutout of this season and the second of his career. He was making his 37th appearance, all with Portland. . . . Portland scored three first-period goals, the first from F Jack O’Brien at 2:40. . . . Rich Franklin, who had been with the Winterhawks for 10 years, worked his last game before heading to Palm Springs, Calif., where he will work with the Seattle Kraken’s NHL affiliate.

Some highlights from Saturday’s WHL games . . .

G Lochlan Gordon earned his first WHL victory in his first appearance to lead the Portland Winterhawks to a 4-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds (2-1-0) in Kent, Wash. . . . Gordon, 18, was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 draft. He stopped 28 shots as the Winterhawks won their first game this season. . . . Portland scored the game’s last three goals. . . .

F Bear Hughes scored twice and added an assist as the Spokane Chiefs dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-1, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Spokane was 3-for-6 on the PP. . . . The Americans are 2-1-0. . . .

F Tristen Robins drew three assists — one shorthanded, two on the PP — as his Saskatoon Blades skated to a 6-2 victory over the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . . Saskatoon (2-1-0) was 3-for-4 on the PP. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and an assist, with D Rhett Rhinehart adding a goal and two helpers. . . . Blades F Jayden Wiens was hit with a major penalty and a game misconduct after running into Brandon G Ethan Kruger at 8:33 of the second period. Kruger left the game favouring his left leg. . . .

F Connor McClennon scored three times — he’s got five — to lead the Ice to an 8-0 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Winnipeg. . . . The Ice (4-0-0) got two goals from F Jakin Smallwood and three assists from F Matthew Savoie. . . . Winnipeg was 4-for-7 on the PP. . . . The Raiders are 0-4-0. . . .

D Alex Cotton scored twice, the second in OT, to give the host Lethbridge Hurricanes a 2-1 victory over the Red Deer Rebels. . . . Cotton tied the game at 13:49 of the second period and won it at 2:28 of OT. . . . The Hurricanes improved to 3-1-0; the Rebels are 2-2-1. . . .

F Lukas Svejkovsky scored the only goal of a shootout to give the Medicine Hat Tigers a 3-2 victory over the visiting Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Tigers (2-2-0) got 35 saves through OT from G Garin Bjorklund. . . . Svejkovsky, who scored his sixth goal of the season in the first period, was the first shooter in the second round. . . . The Oil Kings are 3-1-1. . . .

F Logan Stankoven had two goals and two assists as the Kamloops Blazers dumped the visiting Prince George Cougars, 8-3. . . . F Fraser Minten added two Kamloops goals and F Dylan Sydor had three assists. He has five assists in two games after recording five in 15 games in the 2021 development season. . . . Yes, he’s Darryl’s son. . . . F Riley Heidt drew three assists for the Cougars. . . . The Blazers are 2-0-0; the Cougars slipped to 0-3-0. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets (1-1-0) broke a 3-3 tie with two quick goals in the middle of the second period and went on to beat the Royals, 6-4, in Victoria. . . . F Jake Poole broke the tie at 9:31 and D Caden Price made it 5-3 at 12:44. . . . The Royals (1-2-0) got two goals from F Brayden Schuurman — he’s got five — and a goal and two assists from D Gannon Laroque.


Parents


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “New York has gone a full decade without any championships from its NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL teams. ‘Looking for something?’ asked a fan from Boston, which has six.”

——

Perry, again: “Mick Jagger, in Charlotte, N.C., for a Rolling Stones concert, dropped into a small bar for a drink the night before and nobody recognized who he was. ‘Why couldn’t that have been me?’ asked Jags coach Urban Meyer.”


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle hits the nail squarely on the head: “The pro-DH crowd won’t ever acknowledge this, but the game is so much more interesting when the pinch-hit-or-leave-him-in dilemma comes into play. In authentic baseball, there’s a lot more to removing a pitcher than just pointing to the bullpen. Now that it seems likely there will be a universal DH next year, I’d love to see this year’s World Series decided by a pitcher’s two-run triple.”


Toys


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: Hello, Adele, it’s me. Welcome back. Yes, you’ve been gone too long. . . . If you are an unemployed placekicker, you may get a call today. Going into Sunday night’s NFL game, kickers had missed 12 field goals and 12 extra points on the day. In a game between the Green Bay Packers and Cincinnati Bengals, the two kickers combined to miss five field goals in the last 2:12 of the fourth quarter and in OT. . . . If you are a fan of the Detroit Lions, you may be aware that they are the first team in NFL history to lose twice in the same season on field goals of at least 50 yards and no time left on the clock. Yes, it happened to them again on Sunday, this time to the Minnesota Vikings.


Canadians

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after a day full of football and glorious weather . . .

Scattershooting2


Research


So . . . some members of Canada’s goof troop say they again will be protesting whatever it is they don’t like in front of various hospitals today (Monday). . . . There aren’t words anywhere in the English language to describe how despicable these protesters are. We have friends who are doing a stint in Vancouver while John recovers from a kidney transplant. His wife is 61 years of age and as kind and gentle a soul as you would ever hope to meet. The last time the loonies protested in front of Vancouver General Hospital, she had to manoeuvre through the clown show in order to visit her husband and that just shouldn’t be allowed to happen. . . . Come on, people, be better than that. Take your protests somewhere else, like to the nearest landfill.


Another sign that the apocalypse is upon us . . .

Yes, Darren Steinke was in attendance. He’s got a blog entry and photos right here.


One more sign that the apocalypse is upon us . . .

If you watched the visiting Oregon Ducks upset the Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon, you may have noticed that there didn’t appear to be many masks in the crowd of 100,482 fans. That’s because Ohio State doesn’t require fans to provide proof of vaccination or a recent negative test, and masks are only required in indoor spaces — like restrooms, suites and the press box. . . . “We’re leaving it up to our fans to be safe and responsible,” explained athletic director Gene Smith. . . . Yeah, because expecting people to be “safe and responsible” really is working well in this pandemic, isn’t it?


Robber


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, on the NFL’s first Sunday of another season — “Pregame observation: Jimmy Johnson’s hair is in midseason form. And, is that the same Randy Moss who cave-manned the media throughout his career? Some see it as charm, I call it smarm.”

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Ostler, again: “How many pages are there on that flip chart the 49ers’ quarterbacks wear on their left wrists? It looks like they’re getting ready to order off the TGI Fridays menu.”


The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League informed fans on KrakenThursday that “starting Sept. 13, you must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine” in order to attend games. “By Oct. 24, you must be fully vaccinated.” This is, of course, by order of B.C.’s provincial health officer. . . . As the VIJHL pointed out, “These orders apply to everyone in this league: players, team staff, volunteers, executives, etc., and will apply to all spectators at VIJHL games as well.” . . . At the same time, the league has had to postponed the expansion Lake Cowichan Kraken’s first three games. Kevin Rothbauer of the Lake Cowichan Gazette reported that according to the league the decisions were made out of “an abundance of caution” following a decision by its COVID committee. . . . The Kraken was to have played three games by now — at the Westshore Wolves on Wednesday, versus the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Friday, and at the Kerry Park Islanders on Saturday. All three games were postponed.


Lego


By now you will be aware that Montreal’s Leylah Fernandez won over the world after losing the U.S. Open final in New York on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of 9/11. At the ripe old age of 19 — she hit that milestone on Sept. 6 — she took the microphone after the match and told the crowd: “I know on this special day it’s especially hard for New York and everyone around the United States. I just want to say that I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the last 20 years.” . . . Did you know, though, that she also did post-match news conferences in English, French and Spanish?


Once a person learns to relax and take Twitter for what it is, it becomes a tremendous source of humour. . . . Example? . . . On Thursday, Larry Brooks of the New York Post tweeted that the NHL’s Rangers, among other things, were going to need proof of vaccine from fans 12 years of age and over wanting to attend games. . . . “What if my religion prevents me and my children from getting vax?” responded one fan. To which another answered: “Then it prevents you from going to Rangers games, too.” . . . Still another fan tweeted: “Ok and what about those who don’t want the vaccine? We can enjoy going to games?” That drew this response: “Enjoy the couch, get used to it.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “About the idea of banning air travel for the unvaccinated. Strikes me if you don’t believe science could develop a safe vaccine, you wouldn’t believe that science could make 100-plus tons of metal to fly passengers through the air safely either.”


Internet



The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings have two home exhibition games on their Edmontonschedule, and announced on Thursday that fan’s won’t be allowed in Rogers Place for either contest. . . . The Oilers Entertainment Group will use the games, along with the Edmonton Oilers’ rookie game on Sept. 18, “to deliver staff and building operations training related to the updated venue protocols.” . . . The Oil Kings entertained the Red Deer Rebels on Saturday night and will meet the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Sept. 24.


The OHL postponed a Sunday afternoon exhibition game between the Guelph Storm and the host Mississauga Steelheads, but didn’t provide a reason for the decision. The postponement apparently wasn’t COVID-19 related.



The New Zealand Ice Hockey Federation has withdrawn two of its teams from IIHF world championships due to concerns about the pandemic. The U-18 women’s team was to have competed in the Division II Group B event in Turkey in January, while the U-20 men’s team was in the Division III tournament in Mexico, also in January. . . . As well, Iran has pulled out of the IIHF women’s world championship Division III Group B.



Ear


The Boston Red Sox simply can’t shake COVID-19. Now it’s starter Chris Sale who has tested positive. He missed his start on Sunday against the host Chicago White Sox. The Red Sox did get back SS Xander Bogaerts late in the week; he had been quarantining for 10 days in St. Petersburg, Fla. Over the past two weeks, the Red Sox have put 12 players on MLB’s COVID-19 list with 10 of them having tested positive. . . . RHP Nick Pivetta, a native of Victoria, came off the COVID list to make the start on Sunday for Boston. He allowed one unearned run on three hits in 5.1 innings as the Red Sox dropped a 2-1 decision.


JUST NOTES: Isn’t it about time that the Baltimore Orioles were relegated somewhere, like to High A or the Mexican League? . . . The best team in the CFL? Well, here’s Saskatchewan Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson after his club was beaten 33-9 by the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Saturday: “Winnipeg is the class of the league right now. They are better than the rest of us and it’s by quite a bit.” The Bombers had won, 23-8, in Regina on Sept. 5. . . . Did fans of the Cleveland Browns really believe that they were going to beat the Chiefs in Kansas City even with that late lead? How many Pittsburgh Steelers’ fans jumped from the bandwagon when they were trailing the Bills 10-0 in Buffalo? . . . Famed documentarian Ken Burns has been putting together a four-parter on the life of Muhammad Ali for the past seven years. It debuts on PBS on Sept. 19 and continues each night through Sept. 22.. Enjoy!


Mime


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.

——

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Calgary Hitmen have signed former NHL F Matt Stajan as an assistant coach. He replaces Joel Otto, an assistant for 15 years. According to a news release, Otto “is relinquishing his role on the coaching staff due to a hip injury that will not allow him to continue providing on-ice instruction.” . . . Stajan played in 1,003 career NHL games before concluding his playing career with Munich EHC in Germany’s DEL in 2018-19. He spent more than eight seasons with the Calgary Flames, whose parent company owns the Hitmen. . . . Stajan will work alongside head coach Steve Hamilton, assistant Trent Cassan and goaltending coach Brad Kirkwood. . . .

Steve Young, a former WHL player and coach, will spend this season as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Northern Bears, a female U-18 AAA team. Young, 52, was on the Prince Albert Raiders’ coaching staff for five seasons (2008-13). As a player, he split 200 regular-season games over four seasons (1986-90) between the Calgary Wranglers, Lethbridge Hurricanes, New Westminster Bruins, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert and Portland Winterhawks.


Wedding

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