Pickles’ owners, including Roughriders’ punter, are sweet on Winterhawks . . . AHL pulls plug on its season

A group that includes Saskatchewan Roughriders punter Jon Ryan has expressed interest in purchasing the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Dwight Jaynes of NBC Sports Northwest in Portland reported Monday afternoon that the Picklesowners of baseball’s Portland Pickles are kicking the tires.

The Winterhawks have been owned by Calgary oil man Bill Gallacher since 2008, but now are in receivership after a number of his companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

“They have a broker in Toronto who is running the file on behalf of the finance company,” Alan Miller, one of the Pickles’ owners, told Jaynes. “And a representative of our company has had a conversation with them. I love hockey. Been to Winterhawks games. My partner, Jon Ryan, has had plenty of experience in hockey — he comes from Regina, Saskatchewan, and he tells the story that he was cut from five different teams in that league.”

The Pickles play in the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer league for college players.

Jaynes’ complete story is right here.

At the same time, Merritt Paulson, who owns soccer’s Portland Timbers and the Portland Thorns of the National Women’s Soccer League, has told The Oregonian/OregonLive that he isn’t interested in purchasing the Winterhawks. . . . That story is right here.

Meanwhile, Scott Sepich, a Portland journalist who has covered the Winterhawks, posted a series of tweets on the current situation:

“According to documents I’ve read, Bill Gallacher anticipated defaulting on the loan and Portlandpledged to the lender in November that he would try to sell the Winterhawks by January. That obviously did not happen, nor was there any public statement that the team was for sale.

“Gallacher also seemed to have an agreement to sell a $5 million stake in the Lausanne Swiss hockey team but that seems to have fallen through. He also put a home up for sale in Scottsdale, AZ (that he bought for $11 million) for $26 million in 2018, but it never sold.

“Nearly half of the original $20 million loan in December 2018 was earmarked for arena improvements for the team in Lausanne. Other big chunks were for exercising stock options in two companies. It was a short-term loan, with repayment due in December 2019.

“The WHL had to sign off on the loan since the team was being used to secure the loan. The league approved, acknowledging that the ownership of the team would be at risk if there was a default on the loan.

“Financial statements for the Winterhawks are omitted from the public documents. However, a balance sheet for Audible Capital (the parent company) lists the Winterhawks as an asset of $2,587,166. Not sure where that number comes from (is that what he paid for the team?)

“A study of CHL team values conducted in 2016 (likely inflated as it was part of the labor lawsuit about player compensation) pegged the Hawks as worth more than $36 million. I can’t imagine that’s anywhere near accurate (especially now) but $2.5 million seems way low.”



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


The AHL cancelled the remainder of its regular season and its playoffs on Monday. . . . AHLThe AHL had suspended play on March 12. . . . According to the league, “The standings — sorted by points percentage — and statistics as of March 12 are considered final and official, and will serve as the basis for determining league awards for the 2019-20 season.” . . . When another season gets here, the AHL will have a new commissioner as this was Dave Andrews’ last go-round. A former head coach of the WHL’s Victoria Cougars (1982-84), Andrews has been the AHL’s president and CEO since 1994. . . . This season also marked the end of a franchise in San Antonio, with the Rampage relocating to Henderson, Nev., for 2020-21.


It never hurts to begin your Monday with Peter King’s Football Morning in America — even if I am in Canada. . . . This week, King started off by chatting with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has come to prominence during the pandemic. . . . If you are wondering what leagues are up against in trying to get back on the playing field — or the ice surface — you should give this piece a read. . . . King asked Dr. Fauci what would happen if four players from an NFL team’s 53-man roster tested positive on a Saturday night. The response: “You got a problem there. You know why? Because it is likely that if four of them are positive and they’ve been hanging around together, that the other ones that are negative are really positive. So I mean, if you have one outlier (only one player testing positive), I think you might get away. But once you wind up having a situation where it looks like it’s spread within a team, you got a real problem. You gotta shut it down.” . . . The complete piece is right here, and it is most enlightening. . . . Come for Dr. Fauci and stay for some great anecdotes involving Don Shula, the winningest head coach in NFL history who died on May 4.


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.”


“Veteran musher Lance Mackey’s 21st-place finish in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race was vacated after the veteran musher’s drug test turned up positive for methamphetamine,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “So chalk up another triumph for the sport’s investigative initiative, Operation Yellow Snow.”


Solo

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating the Blue Bombers’ victory and the end of the Legend of Shorts Guy . . .

Scattershooting

A Manitoban by birth, I quite enjoyed watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary. . . . I was most thrilled for Richie Hall, the Bombers’ defensive co-ordinator. There was a time during the season when you might have thought his first name was Much-Maligned. You won’t find a nicer person in all of football, indeed, in all of the sporting world. Yes, this victory looks good on him.

There might be a lesson for a whole lot of sporting fans in the following two tweets . . .


You know it’s the Grey Cup when a guy who hasn’t worn pants, only shorts, for 18 years becomes a big story. It was a story during the week, and it was a bigger story after the game when, yes, he put on a pair of pants.


In light of Don Cherry’s firing by Rogers Sportsnet, you may have been wondering whether the 17 Canadian WHL teams will continue with the third annual promotion that goes by the name RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . Chris Young of The Canadian Press asked the WHL about it on Thursday. He got this email response: “At this time, we continue to review this matter with the stakeholders involved (sponsor, charity, member clubs). We will provide a further update when we are able.” . . . To date, it’s been crickets from the Kidney Foundation of Canada and RE/MAX.

It is hard to comprehend how the WHL will be able to maintain the status quo considering why Cherry was fired and that the league has this statement on its website:

“The WHL is committed to remaining a world leader in the development of players, coaches and officials for the NHL, U Sports and Hockey Canada while continuing to offer the finest player experience and academic opportunities. The WHL also continues to be recognized for a high standard of competition, fair play and integrity while playing an active role in communities, minor hockey programs and local charitable initiatives throughout the region.”

In the first two years of the promotion, the Kidney Foundation has benefitted by more than $460,000. However, the foundation and RE/MAX also should have acted a whole lot quicker than this to sever ties with Cherry.

I know it’s not that easy, not with thousands of Don Cherry/Ron MacLean bobbleheads sitting in a warehouse somewhere and all of those jerseys being produced for the teams to sell at auction. But you can’t continue to talk about inclusivity and diversity and be involved in something like this.

It pains me to write this because of the volunteer work we do in the Kamloops kidney community, but the time has come for all involved to go in a different direction.



A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In the latest MLB cheating update, now there’s reports that Houston players wore realistic-looking electronic bandages that buzzed in real time to relay signs stolen from the opposing catcher. Astros GM Maxwell Smart declined comment.”


The Edmonton Oilers had more than a few fans in Vegas on Saturday night where they dumped the Golden Knights, 4-2. By the look of things, some of those fans went home with some money in their jeans.


Here’s Larry Brooks in the New York Post: “Through Friday, 17 of the NHL’s 31 teams had won nine, 10 or 11 games. While 26 — 26! — teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better. That’s parity, folks, only it is spelled P-A-R-O-D-Y.” . . . There’s more, including Brooks’s thoughts on the Mike Babcock firing, right here.

——

What’s that? You’re wondering about the WHL? Well, including Sunday’s games, nine of the 22 teams had won 11, 12 or 13 games. At the same time, 15 teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better.


There has been a lot of chatter the last while as to just how inclusive hockey is (or isn’t). In the middle of all this, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association has told the midget AA and midget AAA programs at Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation that they are done after this season. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here about the decision, and there is more right here.


Why do we like Patti Dawn Swansson’s musings in these parts? Well, it might have something to do with the River City Renegade’s snark. And, well, she definitely took the snark pills before penning, er, tossing darts in her latest piece, which is right here. If you haven’t already, try it; you’ll like it.



JUST NOTES: You’re wondering: What happened to Mike Babcock with the Toronto Maple Leafs? In short, someone hired an old school head coach then chose to bring in a new school general manager. In the end, the new guy won the battle and in the world of pro sports that isn’t a surprise. Just don’t expect Babcock to surface in Seattle, the expansion franchise having made a huge commitment to the world of analytics. . . . Would someone please get a charger for that woman on the bus. Thank you. . . . F Hendrix Lapierre of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens suffered his second concussion of this season — and his third in eight months — on Thursday when he absorbed an open-ice hit. Lapierre, who had two goals and 15 assists in 19 games when he was injured, has been projected as a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft.