WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

——

Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


Leg

Nicknames: To change, or not to change, that is the question . . . Top NASCAR driver tests positive . . . Hockey Canada cancels U-17 WHC

In a recent editorial, the Washington Post called for Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to change the NFL team’s nickname.

Asked by USA Today in 2013 if he would change the name, Snyder replied: “NEVER — you can use caps.”

But now, with Black Lives Matter front and centre, the pressure is on again.

From The Post’s View:

“Already, institutions across the board have been forced to take stock of how their practices and policies and — yes — even the names and symbols of their products have contributed to racial misunderstanding and prejudice. Quaker Oats announced it was getting rid of Aunt Jemima from its syrup and pancake mixes, and Uncle Ben and Mrs. Butterworth seem sure to follow. . . . Events DC, which manages RFK Stadium in Washington, removed a statue of George Preston Marshall, who as owner of the local football team refused to allow black players for as long as he possibly could. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell recently admitted to — and apologized for — not listening to players about systemic racism and police brutality against African Americans. He also must know it is wrong for a team to have a name that the dictionary defines as a racial slur and that no one would ever use to address a person who is a Native American.

“This should be an easy call. Mr. Snyder — or, if Mr. Snyder refuses to back down from his declaration of ‘NEVER,’ the NFL — should take advantage of this singular moment in history to get on the right side of history. Change the name. NOW.”

It seems that a name change is imminent, what with various sponsors and other businesses with ties to the NFL team now applying pressure.

FedEx, which agreed to a naming rights deal for the stadium in which the team plays, has asked Snyder to change the name. Frederick W. Smith, FedEx’s CEO and chairman, is a minority owner of the team.

Nike has taken the team’s merchandise from its online store, but has yet to offer an explanation.

Officials with Pepsi and Bank of America also have indicated that they want to see a name change.

“It’s not hard to change the name,” Tony Dungy, who is well-respected in NFL circles, told William C. Rhoden of The Undefeated.

Meanwhile, you can add Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream to the list of name-changers, too, because management told Reuters the other day that it will change the brand name of its Eskimo Pie ice cream stick.

Yes, the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos are facing pressure — again — to come up with a new nickname.

Simon Fraser University, which is located in Burnaby, almost surely will be changing its nickname — Clan — at some point in the coming months after 97 per cent of student-athletes voted to get rid of it. The athletes, it seems, are tired of being asked about the nickname, especially when they journey south to play against U.S. schools.

And the Cleveland Indians say they are ready to discuss a change. They issued a release on Friday that read, in part: “We are committed to engaging our community and appropriate stakeholders to determine the best path forward with regard to our team name.”

——

Here’s Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, on the nickname situation involving the Washington NFLers: “It’s been theorized that a fan boycott might convince Snyder to change the team’s name. But judging from attendance at FedEx Field the last few years, how could anybody tell if there was a boycott?”

——

With all of that, allow me to place this on the table . . .

There are four WHL teams with nicknames and logos that refer in one way or another to Native American or Canadian First Nations peoples — the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Seattle Thunderbirds and Spokane Chiefs.

In November 2014, the Prince Albert Raiders received some heat when they unveiled a new mascot — Boston Raider — that was sponsored by a pizza joint. But, as Adam Proteau wrote in The Hockey News, “The new mascot’s appearance does not sit well with a number of people who believe it stereotypes those of Middle Eastern heritage.”

The mascot, which also paid tribute to the Raiders’ original logo, quickly and quietly disappeared, with the club apologizing to anyone who may have been been offended.

The Raiders really didn’t mean anything with what they felt was a simple marketing move.

The WHL franchises in Moose Jaw, Portland, Seattle and Spokane aren’t trying to be offensive with their nicknames, either.

But with all that’s going on right now, should they be changing their nicknames to, as the Washington Post editorial read, “get on the right side of history,” or is it OK to maintain the status quo?

Maybe the WHL and one, two three or all of those franchises should take action now and, in doing so, get in front of things . . . instead of having to react at a later date.

——


Prescrip


Jimmie Johnson, with seven NASCAR titles under his belt, has tested positive and will miss this weekend’s races at Indy. He will have to have two negative tests within a 24-hour period before being allowed to return to racing. . . . Going into this weekend, Johnson had made 663 consecutive starts. In fact, he has never missed a start in his career. . . . According to Jeff Gluck, who covers NASCAR like a blanket for The Athletic, Johnson “got tested (Friday) after learning wife Chani tested positive.” . . . Justin Allgaier will drive the No. 48 in Sunday’s Brickyard 400. . . .

Jeremy Rutherford and Scott Burnside of The Athletic reported Friday evening that, according to sources, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues have cancelled practices at their facility because of “multiple” positive tests. . . . The Blues skated on Thursday at the facility, but not on Friday. . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled the 2020 World U-17 Hockey Challenge that was to have been played in Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7. . . . The 2021 event will be held in those communities. . . . Hockey Canada also said that its remaining 2020 schedule remains unchanged, including the National Women’s U-18 Championship, Nov. 2-8, in Dawson Creek, B.C.; the Para Hockey Cup, Dec. 6-12, in Bridgewater, N.S.; the World Junior A Challenge, Dec. 13-20, in Cornwall, Ont.; and the 2021 World Junior Championship, Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer. . . .


MLB and the MLBPA announced Friday that positive tests total 31 players and seven staff members with teams having opened workouts to prepare for a July 23 opening day. . . . Identities of those testing positive aren’t being released, although OF Delino DeShields Jr. of the Cleveland Indians gave the team permission to reveal that he tested positive. . . . The Minnesota Twins said they have had four players test positive, including C Willians Astudillo, P Edwar Colina and INF Nick Gordon. The identity of the fourth player wasn’t released. . . .

The 2020 All-Star Game that was to have been played at Dodgers Stadium has been cancelled. The game had been scheduled for July 14. . . . This will be the first year since 1945 that an all-star game hasn’t been played. . . . The 2021 game is scheduled for Atlanta, and the 2022 game now is to be played in Los Angeles.


Psychic


“As organized sports attempt to return during the COVID-19 pandemic, athletes, coaches, spectators and bystanders will all be expected to sign liability waivers,” writes Michael McCann of Sportico. “Everyone associated with the games will have to accept, in so many words, that he or she (1) assumes the risk of contracting COVID-19 through their participation and (2) agrees that the organizer—be it a league, team, venue, college or even high school—would not be liable for any COVID-19 related harms.

“This is not just true of players, coaches and referees. According to The Athletic, the NFL is weighing the possibility of mandating that ticket-holders sign COVID-19 waivers as a condition of stadium entry.”

McCann is an attorney and law professor who writes on sports and law. In this piece right here, he writes on the potential legality of these waivers in the U.S.



Had to go to a small grocery store on Friday afternoon. Might have been two dozen people in it. I saw one mask. I was wearing it. . . . Come on people. Be better. . . .

If you’re wondering what we’re dealing with here, go to Twitter and check out the thread accompanying the tweet below . . .


Cat

Winterhawks sale would be ninth since 2007 . . . WHL GM tells Ewen ‘lineup’ of shoppers is expected . . . What’s the price tag?

Sooner or later, the Portland Winterhawks likely will be sold.

Why likely? Because never say never, and perhaps owner Bill Gallacher will end up keeping the WHL franchise.

But if the Winterhawks are sold, it will mark the ninth time a WHL franchise has Portlandchanged hands since the Kamloops Blazers went from community to private ownership during the summer of 2007. Of course, it also will be the second time the Winterhawks will have changed hands since 2008.

However, as of Tuesday night, there didn’t appear to be anything new regarding the Winterhawks’ situation, The WHL’s top regular-season team in the shortened 2019-20 regular-season is in receivership after a number of Gallacher-owned companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia, who covers the Vancouver Giants, writes that “a WHL general manager, who requested anonymity, says he expects a ‘lineup’ of interested buyers for the Winterhawks . . .”

Yes, the vultures will be circling.

The last WHL franchise to have changed hands was the Seattle Thunderbirds.

One source who knows his way around the WHL told Taking Note on Tuesday: “Bet Russ Farwell is patting himself on the back . . .”

Farwell was the Thunderbirds’ governor and general manager, and also owned a piece of the action when that deal went down in 2017.

Here’s Ewen:

“WHL teams don’t change hands often and sale prices are rarely made public, as you’d expect. The Seattle Thunderbirds were sold in October of 2017, going from a group led by longtime Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell to brothers Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, who own Silent-Aire, an engineering and data centre equipment manufacturing company based in Edmonton.

“Multiple sources say the Thunderbirds were sold for US$12 million. That’s never been confirmed.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Six months before the Thunderbirds changed hands, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. After two winters in Cranbrook, they moved the franchise to Winnipeg immediately after the 2018-19 season.

The Regina Pats were sold in April 2014 with Russ and Diane Parker of Calgary, who had owned the franchise for 19 years, selling to a local group comprising Jason Drummond, Todd Lumbard, Anthony Marquart, Gavin Semple and Shaun Semple. The Regina Leader-Post reported that the sale price “is believed to be in the neighbourhood of Cdn$7.5 million.”

In March of 2014, Rick Brodsky sold the Prince George Cougars to a group that includes local businessmen Ray Fortier, Ernest Ouellet, John Pateman and Greg Pocock, along with two former Cougars defencemen — Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis. The sale price was reported by the Prince George Citizen as being close to Cdn$7 million. Brodsky had bowed out of his family’s ownership of the Saskatoon Blades to purchase the Cougars franchise in 1992 when it was playing out of Victoria.

After owning the Saskatoon Blades for 37 years, the Brodsky family sold the franchise to Mike Priestner of Edmonton, who owns Go Auto, on Aug. 27, 2013. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported the sale price as Cdn$9 million.

On April 4, 2011, the WHL confirmed the sale of the Chilliwack Bruins by owners Jim Bond, Brian Burke, Moray Keith, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather to RG Properties, which was headed up by Graham Lee. He moved the franchise to Victoria where it operates as the Royals.

Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in August 2008, buying the franchise from John Bryant, Jack Donovan and Jim Goldsmith. The sale price was believed to have been about US$6 million.

The Kamloops Blazers were sold over the summer of 2007, with Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland Properties and now the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, partnering with former players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor to purchase the franchise from community shareholders. The sale price was about Cdn$6.1 million.

So what will be the price tag on the Winterhawks?

Well, if this was four or five months ago, one might have guessed it to be somewhere around US$12 million.

However, in these pandemic times — I mean, can anyone guarantee when/if the next season will begin? — and with the franchise in receivership and the vultures circling, it just might go for something less than that.

Or could the WHL step in and purchase the franchise for a healthy price, if for no other reason than to protect the values of its other 21 franchises, and then try to find new ownership once we find out what things will look like when we get to wherever we are going?

These are bizarre times in which we find ourselves living and there are oh, so many questions, aren’t there?


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. . . . Thank you.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one a zinger from H.L. Mencken: “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

——

There have been reports that Vince McMahon, he of grapplin’ fame, is working to sell his football league, the XFL. If you’re interested, The Sports Curmudgeon has a few words of warning: “If you are thinking that it might be a hoot to put in a bid for ‘3 easy payments of only $39.95,’ let me offer a word of caution and suggest that you might wind up as the owner.”

——

One more thing regarding The Sports Curmudgeon . . . if you aren’t a regular reader of his work, you should at least consider taking a look at his Tuesday post. He tackled two questions: 1. What might sports be like in a post-COVID-19 world?, and 2. Are sports important with regard to (a) ‘return to normalcy?’ . . . It’s all right here.


Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Tuesday that there won’t be any special treatment given to the NHL if it wants to use Vancouver as a hub for its proposed return to play. . . . “I’m not going to compromise safety for any organization, whether it’s the NHL or anything else, as much as I love hockey,” Dr. Henry said during her daily briefing. If the NHL is to bring teams into Vancouver, she said, all people involved with the teams and arriving from outside Canada would have to self-isolate for two weeks. . . .

The Canadian National Exhibition, Canada’s largest annual fair, has been cancelled for 2020. It was to have been held from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 in Toronto. . . .

The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced Tuesday that its schools “have determined that NCAA sport competition will not occur during the fall of 2020.” . . . This news came after the U.S.’s largest four-year college system, the California State University (CSU), announced most classes will be presented online in the fall. CSU has 23 schools. . . .

Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, said at a news conference on Tuesday that pro sports can resume in his state, without fans, as of May 16. He said leagues and teams would have to provide public health protections and follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control. . . .

There are 41 theaters on Broadway in New York City that are part of the Broadway League. They announced Tuesday that they will remain closed through at least Sept. 6, which is Labour Day.


When the Detroit Pistons were winning NBA titles, they were a fearsome aggregation of aggressive players. As Charles Barkley explained on Facebook: “Those guys were out there trying to hurt people. . . . When you were playing the Pistons you had to call home and tell your family you love them just in case you never saw them again.”


Aris Brown, the 18-year-old son of NFL great Jim Brown, who is 84, has committed to play lacrosse at Hampton University. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot wrote: “It appears that Jim enjoyed a strong fourth quarter.”


Sheep

NBA season suspended . . . NHL pondering immediate future . . . Maybe all leagues should shut down?


The NBA has indefinitely suspended its season after a player with the Utah Jazz tested positive for the coronavirus.

With a number of NBA teams sharing facilities with NHL teams, it is hard to see how the NHL season will be allowed to continue. In fact, the NHL said Wednesday night that it “is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options.”

The NHL said it expects “to have a further update (Thursday).”

With the NBA having suspended its season and if the NHL follows suit, you have to wonder what the WHL will do.

Maybe it’s time for all sports leagues to suspend operations indefinitely, just to cut down on large gatherings, and see where all of this goes.

We obviously have to do something, because this has to change before we are forced to go through many more days like Wednesday when nothing got touched more than refresh buttons.

And every time you hit refresh so much had changed.


If the WHL season continues, it could end up with an entire first-round playoff series being played without any fans in attendance.

Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington announced Wednesday morning that public gatherings of more than 250 people are being banned through the end of March as part of the fight against the COVID-19 virus.

The Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds then let it be known that they would complete the home portions of their regular-season schedules by playing in empty arenas.

The Silvertips are second in the Western Conference, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. Each team has five games remaining.

The Thunderbirds are destined to finish in eighth spot and will meet the first-place finisher in the opening round of the playoffs.

So if Everett was to get into that top spot and if the season continues . . .

If, if, if . . .

——

The first WHL game to be played in an arena without fans in attendance is scheduled for Saturday in Kent, Wash., with the host Seattle Thunderbirds meeting the Vancouver Giants.

The Thunderbirds also are scheduled to play at home against the Spokane Chiefs on March 17. That game, too, will be played without fans.

There had been speculation on Tuesday night in Spokane, as the Chiefs were beating the Kamloops Blazers, 3-0, that the March 17 game would be moved to Wenatchee, Wash.

Seattle’s final home game of the regular season, against the Winterhawks, is scheduled for March 21. Chances are that game, too, will be played without fans but a firm determination has yet to be announced.

The Silvertips’ final home game, against the Victoria Royals on March 20, will be closed to the general public.

The Silvertips will finish first or second in the Western Conference, so will open the playoffs with home games on March 27 and 28. Should that happen, and with no end to this crisis in sight, it would seem that those games would be closed to the public.

——

Meanwhile, the Thunderbirds are scheduled to visit the Giants at the Langley Events Centre on Friday. The Giants said they “will continue to welcome fans” to the LEC, but also said they are “continually monitoring the COVID-19 situation.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, there had been 46 positive tests in B.C., almost all of them on the Lower Mainland. B.C. announced seven new cases on Wednesday, including the first on Vancouver Island.

In Alberta, the total of positives tests reached 19 on Wednesday — 11 in the Calgary Zone, seven in the Edmonton Zone and one in the Central Zone. All cases to date have been travel-related.


The IIHF men’s world U-18 championship is scheduled to be held in Plymouth, Mich., from April 16-26. But it’s hard to see that tournament being held after U.S. President Trump announced Wednesday night that some travel from Europe is being prohibited.


If the NHL season continues . . .

The San Jose Sharks will play their next three homes games without any fans in the SAP Center. The Montreal Canadiens are to play there on March 19, with the Boston Bruins there two days later and the Arizona Coyotes on March 29. . . . The Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, also plays in the SAP Center and will play home games on March 17 and 22 without fans in attendance. . . .

In Ohio, the Columbus Blue Jackets will play their final five home games without fans. The Pittsburgh Penguins are scheduled to play in Columbus tonight (Thursday).


Daniele Rugani, a defender with the Italian soccer team Juventus, has tested positive for coronavirus, the team announced Wednesday. Rugani, 25, now is in isolation and all who have been in contact with him are being checked. . . . Play in the Italian Serie A had been suspended with the country all but shut down. . . .

The world figure skating championships that were to have been held in Montreal, from March 18 through March 22, were cancelled on Wednesday. . . .

The NCAA announced that March Madness, the annual men’s basketball championship tournament, will be played, but that fans won’t be allowed to attend any of the games. The NCAA said that only players, essential staff and family members will be allowed in the buildings. . . . NCAA president Mark Emmert also said that the Final Four is likely to be moved from the 71,000-seat Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta to a smaller venue. It is scheduled for April 4 and April 6. . . .

The Big Ten, Big 12, American, ACC and Pac-12 announced that their men’s basketball tournaments, all of which start on Thursday, will be closed to fans. . . .

The U of Michigan has cancelled its annual spring football game that was scheduled for April 18 in Ann Arbor. The school also cancelled all events scheduled for any of its athletic facilities through April 21. . . . Ohio State cancelled its spring football game that was to have been played on April 11, while announcing that attendance at any intercollegiate events played host to by the school will be limited. . . .

USA Hockey has cancelled its national championships — high school, youth, girls, adult and sled — and its Disabled Hockey Festival. . . . The national tournaments were to being March 26 in various locations; the Festival was to be held in Pittsburgh (March 26-29, April 2-5).


If you are from Regina, this is big, big, big . . .


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have signed Simon Ferguson to a two-year contract as head coach. Ferguson took over as interim head coach on Jan. 1 after the firing of Brandon West. . . . With Ferguson in control, the Warriors went 9-10-2 and earned a playoff berth. . . . They lost a first-round series to the Penticton Vees. . . .

The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats have signed Nick Redding, their general manager and head coach, to a three-year contract. Redding, who is from Spokane, just completed his second season with Creston. . . . Before joining the Thunder Cats, he had been the hockey operations co-ordinator with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Washington governor expected to ban large gatherings . . . Would impact two WHL teams . . . Junior B series opener postponed


Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday at 10:15 a.m., at which, according to the Everett Herald, he is expected to “announce a ban on events and social gatherings attended by more than 250 people” as the area continues to battle COVID-19.

It is believed that an initial ban would impact Snohomish, King and Pierce counties.

Everett, the home of the WHL’s Silvertips, is the county seat and the largest city in EverettSnohomish County. The WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds play out of SeattleKent, Wash., which is located in King County.

It will also affect the MSL’s Seattle Sounders, Major League Rugby’s Seattle Seawolves and XFL’s Seattle Dragons.

The Thunderbirds have three home games remaining — on Saturday (Vancouver), Tuesday (Spokane) and March 21 (Portland).

The Silvertips have one home game remaining, on March 20 against the Victoria Royals.

Later Tuesday, the Silvertips announced the cancellation of the Silvertips Radio Show “until further notice.” It was broadcast live from Sporty’s Beef & Brew, featuring play-by-play voice Mike Benton and appearances by players. Last night’s show was available via the Internet.

On Tuesday, Inslee said the banning of large gatherings, including sporting events, is under consideration.

“I would not be shocked if we have some more news on that in the next few days,” he said. “If we’re going to stop this epidemic, we need to look at what’s coming, not just what’s here today.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the death toll in the state from COVID-19 had reached at least 23, with more than 190 confirmed cases. Inslee said he expects that number to grow rapidly.

On Monday evening, Patty Hayes, director of Public Health — Seattle & King County, had displayed a chart that features five levels of actions. Washington state already has moved through Level 2 and, Hayes said, “We are at the ready to institute the third level. Level 3 includes “involuntary isolation of those sick” and “involuntary quarantine of those who have interacted with those sick.”

Hayes added: “We haven’t had to do this because our public has been extremely compliant . . . But the health officer does have the authority to involuntarily isolate or quarantine individuals.”

Level 4 involves ordering the “cancellation of major public and large private gatherings,” which would appear to be where at least three counties now find themselves.


With less than two weeks remaining in its regular season and the playoffs scheduled to open on March 27, the WHL has announced a handful of operational changes in response to COVID-19.

It has ordered the “elimination of handshakes between teammates, opponents and whlofficials,” while also impressing upon teams that players not share water bottles or towels.

The WHL also has asked all teams to “avoid direct contact with fans, including high-fives, handshakes, and autographing of items.”

The WHL’s statement didn’t make mention of whether it has looked at other options, such as playing games in empty arenas or even postponing/cancelling games.

While the Edmonton Oil Kings and Medicine Hat Tigers, for two, have said they will abide by the WHL’s request, Saskatoon radio station CKOM reported that the Blades “aren’t putting limitations on fans.”

The station reported that “Tyler Wawryk, director of business operations with the Blades, told 650 CKOM the team isn’t planning on following the recommendations, and autograph sessions will continue as scheduled.”



In Everett, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced that its men’s and women’s basketball championships are moving from Everett Community College to Clackamas CC in Oregon City, Ore., and Linn-Benton CC in Albany, Ore. . . . The tournaments were to have been played last weekend at Everett CC and, in fact, three women’s games were played on Thursday before the campus was shut down because of coronavirus concerns. A student from Everett CC later tested positive. The campus received a thorough cleaning and reopened on Monday.

——

Meanwhile, on Vancouver Island, the start of a junior B playoff series between the Oceanside Generals and Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League has been postponed. The North Division final was to have started Tuesday night in Parksville, but BC Hockey said several Campbell River players are self-isolating with flu-like symptoms. . . . Gerry Bickerton, the Generals’ president, told Nanaimo NewsNOW that his team is healthy. “Hockey-wise it’s frustrating but public safety-wise this has to be done,” Bickerton said. “With what’s happening right now, BC Hockey went and did their questioning and they’ve made their decision.” . . . It is hoped that the series now will begin Saturday in Parksville. . . . Alex Rawnsley’s story is right here. . . . As of Tuesday night, there hadn’t yet been a positive test for coronavirus on Vancouver Island.


Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported via Twitter on Tuesday that the Los Angeles Kings “have banned their scouts from plane travel because of the COVID-19 virus. If they can’t drive to the game, they’re not to go.” . . . Campbell followed that up with: “Buffalo Sabres scouts are still flying, but not to Europe. They’ve also told their scouts that if they feel uncomfortable about flying, they don’t have to fly.”


——

Some of Tuesday’s other developments . . .

The NBA’s Golden State Warriors played a home game in front of fans on Tuesday night, despite an aggressive recommendation from the City of San Francisco on Friday that all large, non-essential events be cancelled. . . . This isn’t sitting well with city officials. “I have expressed my desire that they do this voluntarily before, in the days ahead, we do it as an emergency public health order,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin told the online news site Mission Local. “It’s not a matter of if. It’s a matter of when. I hope they come to that conclusion before we make them come to that conclusion.” . . . The Warriors have said that they don’t plan any changes before their next home game, either. That game is scheduled for Thursday. . . .

The NBA will hold a conference call involving team owners on Wednesday afternoon during which they will discuss possible moves. According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, each franchise was required to have “several contingency plans in place” by Tuesday, including “an arrangement with an infectious disease specialist, the identifying of a specific facility to test for coronavirus and a plan to limit the number of team and arena staff members that would interact with players.” . . . On Wednesday, the owners are expected to discuss the possibility of playing games in empty arenas. . . .

The Austrian EBEL (Erste Bank Ice Hockey League) cancelled the remainder of its season, with the German DEL quick to follow suit. . . . The EBEL features teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary and Italy. A statement from the league stated that “no championship title will be awarded in the 2019-20 season.” . . . The DEL statement read, in part: “The DEL is forced to end the current season. . . . The reason for this is the banning by federal states of events such as DEL games with more than 1,000 spectators. . . . Due to the premature end of the season, there is no German champion this year. As the main round winner, the EHC Red Bull Munich, together with the Adler Mannheim, the Straubing Tigers and the Eisbären Berlin, represent the DEL in the Champions Hockey League (CHL 2020-21).” . . .

Igor Eronko, a Sport-Express hockey writer and KHL-TV commentator, tweeted that “Moscow plans to cancel all the sports events with more than 5,000 spectators. . . . It will definitely affect the KHL playoffs.” . . .

For an in-depth look at postponements, cancellations and more from the hockey world, check out this right here from Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog. There is a whole lot of information here. . . .

The Ivy League shut down all spring football practices, effective Tuesday morning and running through at least April 5. . . .

The Ivy League also cancelled its Division I men’s and women’s basketball tournaments that were to have been played this weekend in Cambridge, Mass. The Princeton women and Yale men were awarded the league’s NCAA tournament bids. . . . The Ivy League also made the decision to limit attendance at all sporting events through the end of its spring season. . . .

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference cancelled the rest of its state boys and girls basketball, boys ice hockey and boys swimming tournaments. . . . The Connecticut High School Girls Hockey Association has also cancelled its playoffs. . . .

Mike DeWine, the governor of Ohio, has recommended all indoor games be played without spectators. That would include the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, who are at home to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, whose next home game is scheduled for March 24. . . . DeWine tweeted that “for indoor events, we are asking for no events with spectators other than the athletes, parents and others essential to the game.” . . . The Blue Jackets later issued a statement, saying that they have been in contact with the NHL and “it has been determined that our scheduled games, including Thursday vs. Pittsburgh and Saturday vs. Nashville, will go on as scheduled and be open to ticket fans that wish to attend.” . . . The Mid-American Conference men’s and women’s basketball tournaments will be played at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland starting on Thursday, but with a restricted attendance policy. Thus, they won’t be open to the public. . . .

The Big West Conference will play its conference tournaments without fans in the buildings. The men are to play this week at the Honda Center in Anaheim; the women will play at the Walter Pyramid at Long Beach State. . . .

The Zac Brown Band has postponed a spring tour. . . . BMI, a music rights management company, has postponed its Latin Awards that had been scheduled for Los Angeles on March 31. A new date hasn’t yet been chosen. . . . The Coaches Valley Music and Arts Festival, which was to have run April 10-12 and April 17-19, has been postponed to Oct. 9-11 and Oct. 16-18. It annually draws more than 200,000 people to the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. . . . Stagecoach, a country music festival, also has been postponed. It, too, is held at the Empire Polo Club. Originally scheduled for April 24-26, it now is to be held Oct. 23-25.



I have spent the past couple of days cleaning out a filing cabinet. Of course, it never gets done as quickly as it should because, well, there are all of those old stories to read.

Like the one about when the WHL officially stopped referring to 20-year-old players as overage. The decision was made at a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary on April 2, 1985, when it also was decided to allow teams to dress three such players, up from two.

“I’m pleased about the move to three 20-year-olds,” WHL president Ed Chynoweth said. “We also decided to eliminate the word ‘overage’. From now on, those players will be referred to as 20-year-olds.”

At the same meeting, the WHL made 12-year-olds ineligible to be placed on teams’ protected lists. Prior to that decision, a 12-year-old took up two spots on a team’s list.

The WHL, at the time, continued to allow the listing of 13- and 14-year-old players without any restrictions.


WHL: Weekend games to proceed ‘at this time’ . . . Baseball’s WCL lands in Nanaimo for 2021

The WHL said Thursday afternoon that “at this time” weekend games scheduled for the Pacific Northwest will proceed.

As of early Thursday evening, 70 people in Washington state had been diagnosed with whlCOVID-19. That includes 11 people who have died. Fifty-one of those cases, and 10 of the deaths, have occurred in King County whose county seat is Seattle.

The Everett Silvertips are to play host to the Tri-City Americans tonight (Friday) and the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday.

On Sunday, the Silvertips are to visit the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash.

The Silvertips are second in the U.S. Division, one point behind the Portland Winterhawks. The Thunderbirds, who are to visit the Kelowna Rockets tonight, are in possession of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.

On Thursday, Cassie Franklin, the mayor of Everett, took part in a news conference that also involved the Snohomish Health District. Among the recommendations announced was to avoid “non-essential gatherings/large groups of 50+ people and postponing/cancelling events if possible.”

Later, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was quoted in a statement as saying the league, the Silvertips and Thunderbirds “are closely monitoring the public health developments” in the Pacific Northwest.”

He added that “at this time,” weekend games in Everett and Kent, Wash., the home of the Thunderbirds, will go ahead.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the immediate health risk to the United States public is low,” Robison said in the statement. “We will continue to monitor this situation closely and will adopt additional health and safety measures as recommended by local health authorities.”

The Seattle Times has a look right here at other sporting events scheduled for that area, including Major League Soccer’s Seattle Sounders, who are planning to go ahead with a Saturday night home game.

——

Meanwhile, officials in B.C. announced eight new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, all on the Lower Mainland, bringing the province’s total positives to 21. That includes four patients who have recovered.

The Vancouver Giants, who play out of the Langley Events Centre, are next scheduled to play at home on March 13 against Seattle. The Giants will visit the Thunderbirds on March 14, then play host to the Prince George Cougars on March 15.



ICYMI, baseball’s West Coast League will have a franchise in Nanaimo, B.C., beginning with the 2021 season. The team, which doesn’t yet have a name, will be the WCL’s 13th team and will be owned by the group that operates the Victoria HarbourCats. That group includes former Prince George Citizen sports editor Jim Swanson, who is the managing partner and will oversee operations with both franchises. . . . The wood-bat league features teams in B.C., Washington and Oregon. . . . There is a news release on Thursday’s announcement right here.



If the Brandon Wheat Kings finish third or fourth in the WHL’s East Division, they will get bumped from Westoba Place for the first round and will play their home games in Virden. . . . The Wheat Kings go into weekend play in second place in the East Division, five points ahead of the Winnipeg Ice and seven up on the Saskatoon Blades.


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

Scattershooting

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


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

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

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

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

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

It was after the game when things really heated up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Annoying


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


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


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



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

——

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


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


Baseball


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


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



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


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

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

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


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

Scattershooting

Not in the Christmas spirit? Watch this . . .


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

——

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


Mozart


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

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


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

——

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


Puppy


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

——

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

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

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



SocialMedia


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

WHL teams select 30 imports in draft. . . . Broncos open by taking another Finn. . . . Warriors, T-birds aim high

The WHL’s 22 teams combined to select 30 players in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . whl. . Each team is allowed to have two import players on its roster during the season. . . . As you read this team-by-team look, keep in mind that a team with an import on its roster who was a first-round NHL draft pick, or one who has signed with an NHL team, or one who is prepping for his 20-year-old season is allowed to add a player in the draft. Some teams, then, could end up with three imports on their roster, but eventually will have to get down to two. . . . I believe a team has until two weeks after the third import arrives to trim its roster.

——

BRANDON WHEAT KINGS — They selected a pair of 18-year-old forwards, both of BrandonWKregularwhom played last season in the USHL. . . . Finnish F Marcus Kallionkieli played last season with the Sioux City Musketeers, putting up 29 goals and 54 assists in 58 games. He was a fifth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in last weekend’s NHL draft. Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, is the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager; he takes over as GM on Sept. 1. . . . Russian F Vladislav Firstov was picked by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft. Last season, he had 26 goals and 32 assists with the Waterloo Blackhawks. Firstov has committed to play with the Huskies at the U of Connecticut in the fall. . . . The Wheat Kings’ roster also includes Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, who was a sixth-round pick by the Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. The Wheat Kings’ No. 1 goaltender as a freshman last season, he has yet to sign a pro contract.

——

CALGARY HITMEN — The Hitmen have three imports on their roster after picking Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, 17. . . . Peterek played for his country in last summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup and also in the IIHF U-18 world championship earlier this year. . . . Krajc played for Slovakia at the U-18 worlds after putting up 11 goals and nine assists in 27 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-20 team. He also had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with the U-18 side. . . . They join veteran Russian D Egor Zamula, 19, on Calgary’s roster. He has played two WHL seasons and has signed with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . The Hitmen expect all three players in Calgary when training camp opens in late August.

——

EDMONTON OIL KINGS — They made one pick, taking Finnish F Jesse Seppala, 17, who had 17 goals and 31 assists in 42 games with Tappara’s U-18 team. . . . Among other international games, he played for Finland at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . He joins Belarusian F Vladimir Alistrov, 18, as Edmonton’s imports. . . . Belarusian F Andrei Pavlenko, 19, was released prior to the draft.

——

EVERETT SILVERTIPS — With Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas expected back for a third season, the Silvertips took Czech F Michal Gut, who will turn 17 on Aug. 16. . . . He had 14 goals and 20 assists in 33 games with Pirati Chomutov’s U-19 team last season. Gut also played at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, Everett’s other import at last season’s end, has used up his junior eligibility.

——

KAMLOOPS BLAZERS — They dropped one defenceman and selected another in the draft. . . . The Blazers released Finnish D Joonas Sillanpää, 18, after one season, and filled that spot on their roster by picking Swiss D Inaki Baragano, who will turn 18 on Sept. 4. . . . As a 17-year-old, he had six goals and 16 assists in 39 games with Lausanne’s U-20 team last season. . . . He is expected in Kamloops in time for training camp to open on Aug. 21. . . . The Blazers’ other import is Czech F Martin Lang, who will be 18 on Sept. 15, and is heading into his second WHL season.

——

KELOWNA ROCKETS — With D Lassi Thomson having been a first-round selection by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL’s 2019 draft, the Rockets made two import picks — Czech F Pavel Novak and Russian F Daniil Gutik. . . . Novak, 17, had 29 goals and 16 assists in 31 games with Motor Ceske Budejovice’s U-19 team. He also played 20 games with Motor Ceske Budejovice in Czech 2, recording three assists, and was expected to play there in 2019-20. He also played in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Gutik will turn 18 on Aug. 31. He had five goals and eight assists in 13 games with Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL, a Russian junior league. He also had four assists in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

——

LETHBRIDGE HURRICANES — They had one selection and used it to take Slovakian F Oliver Okuliar, 19, who played last season with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix. In 66 games as a freshman, he had 14 goals and 28 assists. . . . He also had four goals and four assists in five games at the U-18 IIHF Worlds. . . . Sophomore Belarusian D Danila Palivko, who will turn 18 on Nov. 30, is the Hurricanes’ other import. . . . D Igor Merezhko, from Ukraine, used up his junior eligibility last season.

——

MEDICINE HAT TIGERS — Danish F Jonathan Brinkman Andersen, who turns 18 on July 4, was the Tigers’ lone selection. Last season, he had one goal and five assists in 32 games with the Aalborg Pirates in the Metal Ligaen. He was the pro team’s youngest player. . . . The Tigers’ other import is G Mads Søgaard, who turns 19 on Dec. 13 and is preparing for his second WHL season. Søgaard, who was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft, also is from Aalborg.

——

MOOSE JAW WARRIORS — The Warriors had one selection and used it on Swedish G MooseJawWarriorsJesper Wallstedt, who has been hyped by some observers as perhaps the best in the world in his age group. . . . He will turn 17 on Nov. 14, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021. . . . Last season, the 6-foot-3 Wallstedt played in 21 games with Luleå HF J20 of the SuperElit league, going 2.65, .901. He is expected to return to the team for the 2019-20 season, so the Warriors have some work ahead of them. . . . The Warriors have two other imports on their roster — Belarusian D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen on May 2, and F Danill Stepanov, 18, who also is from Belarus. Yeryomenko was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville Predators in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but he has yet to sign a pro contract.

——

PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS — With two selections, the Winterhawks added Swiss F Simon Knak, 17, and Danish D Jonas Brøndberg, 18. . . . Last season, Knak had 14 goals and 11 assists in 37 games with Kloten EHC’s U-20 team. Prior to the import draft, he was expected to split the 2019-20 season between that club and EHC Kloten of the NLB. He had one assist in three games with the pro team last season. . . . Brøndberg played with three Växjö Lakers U-18 and U-20 sides last season, totalling three goals and seven assists in 48 games between them. . . . Prior to the draft, the Winterhawks released Czech F Michal Kasnica, 19, after one season. Portland’s other import from last season, Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, won the WHL scoring title as a 20-year-old.

——

PRINCE ALBERT RAIDERS — They picked F Ivan Kechkin, marking the first time the Raiders have selected a Russian in this draft. Kechkin is a smallish centre who totalled 12 goals and 21 assists in 38 games last season, which he split between 17- and 18-year-old teams in Moscow. . . . Of course, he may never play in Prince Albert because the WHL’s reigning champions have two Belarusians on their roster in F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2019 NHL draft. . . . This week, Sapego is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp.

——

PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS — With their one selection, the Cougars took Czech F Filip Koffer, 18, who had 10 goals and 28 assists in 34 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice’s U-19 side last season. He also had one assist in 12 games with Dynamo Parubice’s men’s side in the Extraliga. Prior to the import draft, he was expected to return to the pro team. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, said in a news release that Koffer “is committed to playing in the WHL.” . . . F Matej Toman, a teammate of Koffer’s on the Czech U-18 team, is the Cougars’ other import.

——

RED DEER REBELS — The Rebels say they are waiting to hear from sophomore Russian F Oleg Red DeerZaytsev as to his immediate future, but, in the meantime, they are keeping him on their roster. . . . With one pick in the draft, then, they took Finnish D Christoffer Sedoff, 17, out of the HIFK organization. . . . Last season, he had three assists in 32 games with HIFK’s U-20 team. . . . He also played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . “From everything we know, he’s coming,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Unless some unforeseen thing comes about, as far as we know he’ll be here.” . . . Russian D Alex Alexeyev, 20, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and is expected to start his pro career in the fall.

——

REGINA PATS — Regina used its lone selection to take Russian F Daniil Gushchin, 17, who played last season with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, putting up 16 goals and 20 assists in 51 games. . . . He also played for Russia at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, the U-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . The Pats’ other import is sophomore Russian D Nikita Sedov, 18. . . . Regina traded Russian F Sergei Alkhimov, 18, to the Vancouver Giants this week, getting back F Dawson Holt, 20.

——

SASKATOON BLADES — Prior to the draft, the Blades released both of their imports Saskatoonfrom last season — Swedish D Emil Malysjev, 18, who will play at home, and Norwegian F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, 20, who apparently is planning on beginning his pro career. He was a seventh-round pick by the NHL’s Washington Capitals in 2017 but hasn’t signed. . . . The Blades then grabbed a pair of Czech defencemen — Libor Zabransky, 19, who has played 107 WHL games with the Kelowna Rockets, and Radek Kucerik, who is to turn 18 on Dec. 21. . . . Last season, Zabransky had two goals and seven assists in 35 games with the Rockets, before finishing up with the USHL’s Fargo Force. He had four goals and 12 assists in 30 games with Fargo. In 2017-18, He had two goals and 17 assists in 72 games with Kelowna. . . . Kucerik won’t turn 18 until Dec. 17. He captained HC Kometa Brno’s U1-9 squad last season and, if he doesn’t show up in Saskatoon, he could play with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Extraliga in 2019-20.

——

SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS — With a pair of solid imports expected to return, the Thunderbirds aimed high in selecting German F Tim Stutzle, 17. Last season, he had 23 goals and 32 assists in 21 games with Jungadler Mannheim, a U-20 side. He has signed to play professionally with Addler Mannheim of the DEL, Germany’s top league. Some observers have him ranked as a top 10 selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Czech D Simon Kubicek, who turns 18 on Dec. 19, and Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, who turns 20 on Nov. 14, are coming off terrific freshman seasons and both are likely to be back. . . . If Stutzle were to be assigned to Seattle by Addler Mannheim, it could be that the Thunderbirds hit a home run. If not, they’ve still got a pair of pretty good imports.

——

SPOKANE CHIEFS — With two returning 20-year-old goalies in Bailey Brkin and Reece SpokaneChiefsKlassen, the Chiefs picked Czech G Lukas Parik, 18, who was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft. This was the first time Spokane has picked a goaltender in the import draft. . . . The 6-foot-4 Parik attended the Kings’s development camp this week. . . . Campbell Arnold, 17, also is in the Chiefs’ picture after being a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Nanaimo, B.C., he played last season for the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Spokane also selected Russian D Matvei Startsev, who will turn 17 on Sept. 4. He is listed at 5-foot-8 and 132 pounds, but the Chiefs indicated in a news release that “scouting reports indicate Startsev has grown significantly above his listed height and weight over the past year.” . . . Veteran Czech D Filip Kral, who turns 20 on Oct. 20, remains on Spokane’s roster and could return for a third season. He was a fifth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign a pro deal.

——

SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS — With the draft’s first overall selection, the Broncos took SCBroncosFinnish D Kasper Puutio, a 17-year-old from Vaasa. . . . Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 31 games with Kärpät’s U-20 team, and had four goals and eight assists in 10 games with the U-18 side. . . . He also had four assists in six games at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Puutio is the fourth straight selection from Finland for Swift Current, after F Aleksi Heponiemi (2016), and F Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen (2018). . . . Kiviniemi is returning for a second season, but Pynnonen was released prior to this draft. . . . Puutio is “a 2002 that fits into our mold,” Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach, said on the team’s website. “He’s a right-handed shot who’s projected to go in next year’s NHL draft. He’s got all the checkmarks we needed. The biggest thing is he wants to be here.”

——

TRI-CITY AMERICANS — With a 20-year-old import on the roster in the person of Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the Americans were able to make two selections. They took a pair of Czech players — F Jan Cikhart, 17, and D David Homola, who will turn 18 on Oct. 4. . . . Last season, Cikhart had 18 goals and 13 assists in 40 games for Bili Tygri Liberec’s U-19 team, which is where Hrabik played before joining the Americans. Cikhart also played in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Homola had four goals and 14 assists in 47 games with U-19 Ocelari Trinec. He also played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . According to Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, Cikhart and Homola both will be at training camp in August.

——

VANCOUVER GIANTS — With their only pick, the Giants took Slovakian D Samuel Knazko, who will be 17 on Aug. 7. . . . Last season, he had two goals and 15 assists in 49 games with U-20 TPS of the Jr. A SM-liiga. . . . Knazko played for his country at the IIHF U-18 Worlds. . . . The Giants’ roster also includes Slovakian F Milos Roman, 20, and Russian F Sergei Alkhimov, 18, who was acquired this week from the Regina Pats in exchange for F Dawson Holt, 20. . . . Roman was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL draft, but hasn’t yet signed a pro contract.

——

VICTORIA ROYALS — With their only selection, the Royals took Swiss F Keanu Derungs, 17, who played last season in his country’s top junior league. He has played four seasons in the Kloten organization, splitting last season between the U-17 and U-20 sides. . . . His brother Ian, who will turn 20 on Dec. 31, played last season with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . The Royals have one other import on their roster — Danish F Phillip Schultz, who turns 19 on July 24. He had 19 goals and 17 assists in 60 games as a freshman. . . . Belarusian F Igor Martynov, 20, won’t be back for a third season as he plans to play professionally at home.

——

WINNIPEG ICE — In its first import draft since relocating from Cranbrook, the Ice wpgicepicked two players — Czech F Michal Teply, 18, and German F Nino Kinder, 18. . . . Teply was a fourth-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2019 draft. Last season, he had four goals and six assists in 23 games on loan to HC Benatky nad Jizerou in the Czech2 league. He had been loaned by Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Extraliga, the country’s top pro league. Teply had played 15 games with them, putting up two assists. He also played at the IIHF U-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Kinder had 17 goals and 24 assists in 33 games with the U-20 Eisbaren Juniors Berlin. He was pointless in five games with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. Kinder is spending this week at the Los Angeles Kings’ development camp. . . . The Ice finished last season with two import defencemen on its roster. Martin Bodak of Czech Republic has used up his junior eliibility, while Valtteri Kakkonen, 19, of Finland has signed with JYP of Liiga, that country’s top pro league.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.

Lowry next GM for Wheat Kings? . . . Pats, Thunderbirds sign prospects. . . . Remembering the NHL’s Saskatoon Blues


MacBeth

F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 53 games.


ThisThat

There has been speculation involving Dave Lowry and the Brandon Wheat Kings for a couple of weeks now.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7 that Grant Armstrong’s contract wouldn’t be BrandonWKregularrenewed after he had spent three seasons there. Armstrong had been the assistant GM with the Victoria Royals before signing with Brandon. Prior to joining the Royals, he had been the Portland Winterhawks’ director of scouting.

A source has told Taking Note that Armstrong was in Penticton on Tuesday. It could be that he is a candidate for an opening with the Okanagan Hockey Group, which is looking for a general manager for its academy in Penticton.

Lowry, 54, has ample WHL coaching experience. He has been on staff with the Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Flames, Victoria Royals and Los Angeles Kings.

He was the Royals’ head coach for five seasons (2012-17) before leaving to join Los Angeles as an assistant coach. He spent two seasons with the Kings before being dismissed on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

David Anning has been the Wheat Kings’ head coach for three seasons, after spending four seasons as an assistant coach. McGillivray has been on staff as an assistant coach through three seasons.

Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, has yet to announce whether the contracts of Anning and McGillivray will be extended.


The CHL import draft is scheduled for June 27 with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos holding the first selection. . . . The complete order of selection for the two-round draft is right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Spencer Penner to a WHL contract. Penner, from Blumenort, Man., was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, Pennder had 14 goals and 26 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects. . . . The Thunderbirds now have signed each of their first three selections from the 2019 bantam draft. D Kevin Korchinski and F Jordan Gustafson, both first-round picks, signed WHL contracts earlier this month.

——

The Regina Pats have signed F Zane Rowan to a WHL contract. The Pats held three third-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, and used the first one to take Rowan, who is from Torrance, Calif. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 18 assists in 53 games with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.



Tyson Ramsey is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Ramsey, 42, spent seven seasons on the coaching staff of the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, the last four as head coach. He joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to this season. . . . Ramsey, who is from Brandon, also has been scouting for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Ramsey replaces Troy Leslie, whose contract wasn’t renewed following the end of this season.


The Lacombe Generals, winners of the 2019 Allan Cup as Canada’s senior AAA champions, have folded. The decision, combined with a similar one by the Rosetown Red Wings, has left Allan Cup Hockey West with two remaining teams — the Innisfail Eagles and Stoney Plain Eagles. . . . Ashli Barrett of the Lacombe Globe has more right here.


It was in 1983 when the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, then owned by Ralston Purina, were sold to a Saskatoon group headed up by Bill Hunter, one of the WHL’s founding fathers. Of course, the whole thing fell apart when the NHL board of governors voted 15-3 against allowing the sale to go through. . . . But the tale of how Hunter worked to pull off the purchase is a great read, and it’s all right here from Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Enjoy!


Tweetoftheday