Ex-WHLer advocating for improved semi driver training. Again . . . NHL teams jump on NBA train . . . Two teams opt out of junior B league

Once again, Scott Thomas is calling for change in the training of big rig drivers in Canada. Thomas, a former WHL player, has been down this road before, shortly after his son, Evan, died in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, a tragedy that resulted in charges against a semi driver. Afterwards, Scott advocated for more stringent driver trainer. . . . These days, Scott is calling for change after a friend, Jeff Helperl, was involved in an accident in a construction zone near Wakaw, Sask., on Tuesday. . . . In that one, a semi rear-ended one vehicle and that resulted in a five-vehicle mess, the death of a 69-year-old man and other injuries. . . . The semi driver has been charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm. . . . “Our truck drivers should be a skilled trade,” Thomas told Laura Woodward of CTV News. “They should be like plumbers, electricians, chefs. You go through a co-op program, apprenticeship and you work your way through a graduated licencing program before you’re in charge of an 18-wheeler.” . . . That story is right here.



The NHL’s players, at least those on the eight teams still involved in playoffs, jumped on board the NBA train on Thursday, meaning four games were postponed.

By postponing four games — two were to have been played Thursday and two more today — it allowed all eight of the surviving teams to participate in the protest.

With the NHL, NBA and WNBA postponing all of their games, and with NFL teams scrubbing practices and MLB moving some games, you now have to wonder: What’s next?

Do the leagues simply return to play and everybody moves on, or is it different this time? Have we witness the tipping point?

You will recall that there was a hue and cry following after the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of policeman in Minneapolis on May 25.

The athletes’ protests this week stem from the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white policeman in Kenosha, Wis., on Sunday.

As I wonder what comes next, I read an interesting story in the San Francisco Chronicle in which Harry Edwards, a prominent sociologist who is highly respect and happens to be Black, suggested to Ron Kroichick that perhaps leagues/teams could refuse to play in Wisconsin.

“If the stars of the Bucks,” Edwards told Kroichick, “or LeBron James and Steph Curry — if athletes of this magnitude show up at the attorney general’s office in Wisconsin and say, ‘We made it here this time, but we may not make it back to the airport, because we could be stopped and shot. So what we’re asking, what we’re demanding, is change. We’re saying, Stop killing us.’

“If you have that kind of star power, with (NBA Commissioner) Adam Silver and the owners and the rest of the players behind them . . . Even if it comes down to saying, ‘We’re not playing any more games in Wisconsin.’ If they went in there right after breakfast, they’d have action by lunchtime.”

Of course, were that to happen in Wisconsin, there would then have to be a move to another state and another and on and on.

In reality, who knows what the next move will be. It’s just that this time things feel different. When something like this happens and it results in hockey players — Black and White — standing elbow to elbow and singing the same song it signals that something is different.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A sign of the times? Jayden Castle has organized a GoFundMe page in the hopes of helping him meet the cost of playing hockey for his junior B team in 2020-21. The intro the site reads: “Because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic my hockey team has increased its fee to play to $10,000 and with a minimum wage it’s just not gonna cut it!” . . . A 20-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., Castle plays for the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . .

Sources have told Taking Note that the 20-team junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t start on Oct. 2 as it had hoped, and now is aiming for Nov. 13. It also won’t have the same 20 teams which it had last season; in fact, it now is down to 18 with the possibility of more franchises opting to sit out. . . . With the U.S.-Canada border closed for the foreseeable future, the Spokane Braves will take the season off and, in fact, informed their players of the decision on Thursday. The Braves are the KIJHL’s lone American entry. . . . The 100 Mile House Wranglers also are expected to take their leave, at least for one season. . . . There are believed to be other franchises pondering their immediate futures, too. They will have to decide before the KIJHL makes a number of announcements next week. . . .

Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney of The Athletic reported that multiple sources have told them the Chicago Cubs are “slashing their scouting and player development staff . . . (including) scouts on the amateur and professional sides as well as double-digit staffers in player development, according to early estimates.” . . . One week earlier, The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler reported that the New York Yankees began “a wave of layoffs and furloughs” that impacted minor-league coaches and support staff. . . . The Cubs and Yankees aren’t the first MLB teams to do go this route. The Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, Texas Rangers and Washington Nationals also have furloughed employees. . . .

The NHL reported earlier in the week that its teams had spent another week in their bubbles without any positive tests. . . . Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted Wednesday that “it’s taken nearly 25,000 tests and cost nearly $8 million, but the NHL hasn’t had a positive COVID-19 test in almost five weeks. In 2020, that feels like a miracle.” . . .

The 62-team North American Hockey Classic, a minor hockey tournament that was to have been held in Winnipeg this weekend, has been cancelled. Kelly Moore of Global News reported that 61 of the 62 teams were from Manitoba, with the other from Kenora, Ont. The tournament was to be for girls and boys ages seven to 13. . . . Rhys Van Kemenade, the NAHC’s general manager, said in a news release that the decision to cancel was made because of a recent rise in Covid-19 cases in Manitoba that coincide with the impending return to school. . . . The NAHC is owned by 50 Below Sports+Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice and the MJHL’s Manitoba Blues. . . .

The NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles have said there won’t be any fans allowed to attend games at Lincoln Financial Field until further notice. . . . The Eagles are scheduled to open at Washington on Sept. 13, where there won’t be fans at any home games in 2020. . . . Philadelphia is to play at home on Sept. 20 and 27.


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1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on a Tuesday evening while wondering what happened to summer . . .

Scattershooting


A note from old friend Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon: “High school football is a very big deal in the State of Texas. The Prosper, Texas, school district is about 40 miles north of Dallas. Prosper HS sold the naming rights for its new football stadium to Children’s Health — a pediatric health care provider in Dallas. The deal runs for 10 years and the school district will collect $250K per year, making the total value here $2.5M. Children’s Health also will provide medical personnel on the sidelines for the games. The Prosper HS district built the stadium for a total cost of $53M; the stadium has a capacity of 12,000 seats.”


Bigfoot


After my note here the other day about the Victoria HarbourCats leading baseball’s West Coast League in attendance, a reader sent along a note pointing out that the Okotoks Dawgs of the Western Major Baseball League drew “102,368 fans to 26 games for an average of 3,937.” . . . That’s impressive and it’s worth noting that Okotoks, which is 18 km south of Calgary, had a population of 29,002 according to the 2018 census.


Headline at Fark.com: Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire says he understands if he’s Gardenfired.


ParallelParking


I have never been able to understand why the CFL game that had the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina to play the Saskatchewan Roughriders on Sunday is referred to as the Labour Day Classic when it no longer is played on Labour Day. Just sayin’ . . .


Sign.jpg

I took this photo near our home east of Kamloops. A note to the land owner: Its not correct and I hope your not paying for it.


An item from a recent post by Patti Dawn Swansson, the River City Renegade:

“Speaking of indifference, can anyone at Sportsnet explain why they basically ignore the CFL? I realize that Rouge Football is a TSN property, but sports news is sports news is sports news. Call up the CFL on the Sportsnet website and you’ll find three videos: One from July, one from February and one from December 2018. That’s disgraceful.”

She has a point, and the complete post is right here.



Flipped on the TV on Tuesday morning and found the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox playing on five Sportsnet channels. Didn’t recall seeing a day game on the schedule when I checked the previous night. Turned out it was Monday night’s game being replayed. On five channels. Seriously! Is this what happens when the seasons for darts and poker have ended?



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times reports that “former NHL forward Darren McCarty says marijuana ‘saved his life.’ Which probably just clinched him the first Lady Bong Trophy.”



A report released in B.C. the other day pointed out that we’re being gouged to the tune of 13 cents a litre when we gas up. In Burnaby, gas stations will drop the price in the evening, then raise it the following day. I filled up on Saturday evening for $1.36.9; by Sunday morning, the price was $1.54.9. . . . Now I’m wondering if the 13-cent gouge is based on evening or day-time prices?


Outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers had his season come to an end on Tuesday, thanks to a fractured right kneecap. He was injured when he fouled a ball of the knee. . . . With the playoffs less than a month away and the Brewers charging hard for a wild-card spot, that’s crushing news for the Brewers and awful news for any baseball fan. . . . Jayson Stark of The Athletic pointed out that Yelich, in the past calendar year, had 91 extra-base hits, 52 of them home runs, with 120 RBI and 121 runs, to go with a slash line of .338/.445/.700/1.145. Amazing!


 

Rasmussen, Jokiharju sent to AHL . . . Hitmen open Corral series tonight . . . Hay busy learning more in Portland

ThisThat

Two players who could be playing monster minutes in the WHL this season have found themselves playing in the AHL this week.

F Michael Rasmussen, 19, played the past three seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the ninth pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Rasmussen opened this season with the Red Wings and had six goals and seven assists in 41 games when he was assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this week on one of those conditioning assignments. The Red Wings also have him on long-term injured reserve with a hamstring issue that has kept him out since Jan. 4.

Because he’s 19, Rasmussen isn’t eligible to stay in the AHL. The NHL-NHLPA CBA calls for him to play in the NHL or be returned to the Americans.

He scored twice in his AHL debut on Thursday, as the Griffins beat the host Texas Stars, 5-3.

Meanwhile, D Henri Jokiharju has been assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He spent the previous two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Jokiharju, who was the 29th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.

In December, Chicago freed him up to play for Finland in the World Junior Championship, where he had two goals and three assists in seven games as his team won the gold medal.

In his first 32 games with Chicago, Jokiharju was playing 20 minutes per game. Of late, however, he been playing fewer than 15 minutes and had been a healthy scratch three times in eight games.

I haven’t seen any mention of Jokiharju being on a conditioning assignment, so I have a feeling that he is there until further notice. Remember late in the summer of 2018 when there was discussion about whether he would have to play for Chicago or be returned to Portland? There was some chatter then that he had been on loan to the Winterhawks from his club team in Finland, so might not be covered by the same CBA clause as someone like Rasmussen.

Perhaps that’s what’s going on here.


The Calgary Hitmen and visiting Brandon Wheat Kings will open the three-game Corral CalgarySeries tonight. Before it’s over, the Hitmen will have played three games in the Calgary Corral and honoured three teams that used to call it home — the Centennials and Wranglers (WHL) and Cowboys (WHA). . . . The Centennials will be in the spotlight tonight, with the Cowboys to be saluted on Feb. 6 with the Regina Pats in town. The Wranglers will be feted on Feb. 8 when the Hitmen meet the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun has more right here, including lots of memories.


Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL history, says he didn’t like the way things ended Portlandin Kamloops, but now he is really enjoying life as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . “I didn’t like the way it ended in Kamloops,” Hay told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “You want to go out under your own terms. This was a good way to stay active, to stay in the league, to continue educating myself in the game.” . . . Hay, whose 65th birthday is fast approaching, never tires of learning, and that’s what he’s doing as he works alongside Mike Johnston, Portland GM and head coach. Yes, Johnston is learning, too. . . . Eggers’ complete story is right here.


Earlier this week, I posted a link to the impact statement that Scott Thomas read during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who was involved in the accident involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . On Wednesday, Thomas, who lost his son, Eric, in the accident, spent 15 minutes meeting privately with Sidhu. . . . There’s more on that meeting right here.


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Winnipeg Ice owner expects 4,500-seat arena to be full . . . Grrr! Chiefs sign a Bear . . . Battle of Kings goes to Edmonton

ThisThat

For those who are wanting more on the Winnipeg Ice. . . .

“There’s no doubt we’re going to be in a competitive landscape for hockey dollars in Winnipeg,” Greg Fettes, one of the Ice’s owners, told a news conference in Winnipeg on wpgiceTuesday. “We’re building a 4,500-seat arena. We’re expecting it to be full.” . . .

The company that owns the Ice started out as 497840 Manitoba Ltd. It now has been renamed 50 Below Sports and Entertainment. . . . Mike Keane, a Winnipegger who played three seasons (1984-87) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, owns a piece, too. . . .

Ticket prices haven’t been set yet for whenever it is that the Ice will move into a new 4,500-seat arena, but Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, told the news conference that ducats will cost from $15 to $35 apiece. . . .

The NHL’s Winnipeg Jets have yet to offer any kind of comment on the Ice’s move to the Manitoba capital. However, they have shown no inclination to move their AHL franchise, the Manitoba Moose, to another locale. It’s worth noting that the Moose isn’t drawing nearly as many fans today as it did when it first arrived on the scene. . . .

Cockell also told the gathering that the plan is to bid on the Memorial Cup at some point down the road.

There’s all that and more right here in a column by Paul Friesen and a story, all from the Winnipeg Sun.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Bear Hughes to a WHL contract. Hughes, who will turn SpokaneChiefs18 on May 30, is from Post Falls, Idaho, and plays for the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. In fact, he leads all KIJHL freshmen with 59 points, including 39 goals, in 38 games. A list player, he actually is fourth in the KIJHL’s scoring race.


F Logan Stankoven, the fifth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, will be in the Kamloops Blazers’ lineup tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. Stankoven, Kamloops1who is from Kamloops, played two earlier games with the Blazers, earning one assist.

Stankoven will fill a spot in the lineup vacated by F Riley Appelt, who suffered a finger injury during a fight in a 3-2 shootout victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Saturday night.

The Blazers may have D Luke Zazula (shoulder) back in their lineup tonight . Zazula, 18 and in his third season, has missed the past seven games.

However, D Quinn Schmiemann, a 16-year-old freshman, has been in concussion protocol since being injured on Jan. 20, and isn’t yet ready to return.

D Ethan Brandwood, 16, who played two games with the Blazers last weekend, has returned to the South Island Royals, the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League team that he captains. He was a seventh-round pick by the Blazers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


As you likely are aware, a sentencing hearing began on Monday for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, HumboldtBroncosthe driver of the truck that was involved in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . Laurie and Scott Thomas,  whose son, Evan, was killed in the accident, wrote a letter to their son as their victim impact statement. Scott, a former WHL player, read it in court.

You will find it right here.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Mark Kastelic and F Carson Focht each scored twice to help the Calgary Hitmen to a 5-2 Calgaryvictory over the Pats in Regina. . . . Calgary (24-19-4) has won three in a row. . . . Regina (13-34-3) had points in each of its previous two games (1-0-1). . . . The Hitmen held a 17-3 edge in shots in the first period but could only get two pucks behind Regina G Max Paddock, who had missed the previous six games due to illness. . . . Kastelic opened the scoring at 5:03, with Regina F Austin Pratt (19) scoring, on a PP, at 9:22. . . . Kastelic, who has 32 goals, put Calgary back in front at 17:11. . . . F Sergei Akhimov (10) pulled Regina back into a tie, on a PP, at 7:28 of the second period. . . . Focht broke the tie at 15:37, then gave the Hitmen some insurance with his 14th goal, on a PP, at 19:33. . . . Calgary F James Malm (18) added another PP goal, at 13:04 of the third period. . . . Regina was 2-3 on the PP; Calgary was 2-6. . . . Kastelic also had an assist, giving him a three-point outing. . . . The Hitmen got three assists from F Kaden Elder. . . . Paddock finished with 33 saves, 12 more than Calgary’s Jack McNaughton, who made his 22nd consecutive start. . . . Regina lost F Cole Dubinsky to a kneeing major and game misconduct at 15:11 of the second period.


The Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 3-0 deficit and went on to beat the visiting Brandon EdmontonOilKingsWheat Kings, 4-3 in a shootout. . . . Edmonton (27-15-8) has won two in a row. . . . Brandon (20-19-7) has points in two straight (1-0-1). . . . The Wheat Kings took a 3-0 lead on a first-period goal from F Ridly Greig (10), at 1:01, and second-period goals from F Ben McCartney (13), at 1:05, and F Luka Burzan (27), at 6:44. . . . F Vladimir Alistrov (7) started Edmonton’s comeback at 9:51 of the second. . . . F Josh Williams (12) got the Oil Kings to within at goal at 12:53 of the third period, and F Andrew Fyten (12) tied it, on a PP, at 17:38. . . . Brandon D Braydyn Chizen was hit with a headshot major and game misconduct at 14:39 of the third period. Fyten scored on the ensuing PP. . . . Edmonton was 1-4 on the PP; Brandon was 0-1. . . . The Oil Kings won it on a shootout goal by F Trey Fix-Wolansky, who was the first shooter of the third round. . . . Brandon G Ethan Kruger stopped 46 shots through OT, 25 more than Edmonton’s Todd Scott. . . . F Jake Chiasson made his WHL debut with the Wheat Kings. Chiasson, 15, was the 15th-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He plays for the Yale Hockey Academy prep team in his hometown of Abbotsford, B.C.


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