The Vancouver Canucks have 22 players on their active roster. As of Sunday afternoon, 16 of them were on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . . When we went to bed on Saturday, that number was 14. On Sunday, D Jalen Chatfield and F Marc Michaelis were added to the list. . . .
To date, four Vancouver games have been postponed. The Canucks are scheduled to play the Flames in Calgary on Thursday and Saturday nights, but you have to think it’s a reach to expect that game to take place. . . .
Later Sunday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted: “One more Canucks player tested positive today.” . . . That would take the number on the protocol list to 17.
Source close to the Canucks situation – “This is the first wave of it where I’ve heard guys really question whether it’s worth playing or not.”
“One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.”
She quoted an agent of a Canucks player as saying: “Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense. It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”
Hockey leagues and teams hate transparency the way a snowman despises warm weather. Throw in privacy issues related to healthcare and you can bet that information on what is going on with the Canucks’ coaches, players and families will be hard to come by.
That’s how we came to have Darren Dreger of TSN and Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma entertaining the Twitterverse with a brief exchange on Sunday.
Dreger had tweeted this at 9:19 a.m. PT: “Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.”
Kuzma came back with this at 10:16 a.m.: “Been told reported number of positive COVID-19 cases with Canucks isn’t entirely accurate. The number is under 20. There haven’t been severe symptoms. Most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy. No reports of vomiting, few with worse symptoms better.”
Dreger responded at 10:50 a.m.: “18 players and 3 coaches is what a source said this morning.As for the symptoms . . . provided by the same source and confirmed by an NHL source.”
Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Dallas Stars, left their Sunday night game after the second period and didn’t return. You guessed it . . . COVID-19 protocols. Bowness has been fully vaccinated, however, and the team is convinced that it’s a false positive. . . . The Stars, you may recall, had a nightmarish run-in with the virus just before this season got started. Here’s hoping they aren’t in for a repeat.
“So who ratted them out? An opposing line coach? Some largemouth?” wondered Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Auburn University’s bass-fishing team — originally suspended for the rest of the year for repeatedly violating school COVID-19 travel policies — has been reinstated upon appeal and can resume angling on April 22. Great — just in time for preseason two-a-days.”
The AJHL, with four teams already shut down for 14 days due to positive tests, announced Sunday that it had postponed that night’s game between the Camrose Kodiak and Olds Grizzlys “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test as per the AJHL return-to-play protocols.” . . . The Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm, Okotoks Oilers and Whitecourt Wolverines were put on hold during the week.
This is what loser points have done to statistics. . . . The Dallas Stars have played 36 games; they have 36 points. So the Stars are playing .500 hockey, or so some people claim. Not so fast, grasshopper. The Stars have won only 13 of those games. Yes, they actually have 23 losses, 10 of them in OT. . . . So please allow me ask: If you win 13 of 36 games are you really at .500?
The Washington Nationals, who are having issues with the virus, had their opening home series with the New York Mets scrubbed. And now their Monday game against the visiting Atlanta Braves has been dumped. . . . Later Sunday, MLB announced that the Nationals have been cleared to open in Atlanta on Tuesday. . . . As of Sunday, the Nationals had had four players test positive, and seven other players and two coaches who were deemed close contacts. All told, 13 people were in quarantine.
In the WHL on Sunday . . .
The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the last three goals to run their winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Regina. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) gave the Blades (9-2-1) a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (10) tied it for the Wheat Kings (9-2-1) at 9:08 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (7) broke the tie at 3:20 of the third and F Reid Perepeluk (3) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon has lost two straight after going 10 games without a regulation loss. . . .
F Conner Roulette’s fifth goal, at 4:47 of OT, gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Chiefs (0-4-3) took a 3-2 lead into the third period. . . . Seattle (5-3-0) moved out front on goals by D Tyrel Bauer (1) and F Jared Davidson (2). . . . F Adam Beckman (3) pulled the Chiefs even, on a PP, at 10:40. . . . F Henri Rybinski had three assists and was plus-4 for the winners. . . . F Erik Atchison (2) had a goal and two assists for Spokane, which was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Chiefs and Victoria Royals (0-3-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one regulation victory. . . . The Chiefs are without D Mac Gross and D Graham Sward, both week-to-week with undisclosed injuries. . . . Seattle F Matt Rempe left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t return. . . .
F Tristen Nielsen scored the game’s only goal, in the shootout, as the Vancouver Giants beat the Prince George Cougars, 1-0, in Kamloops. . . . G Trent Miner of the Giants (3-1-0) stopped 14 shots to record his second straight shutout. Miner, who has six career shutouts, had beaten the Kelowna Rockets, 6-0, a week earlier. . . . The Cougars (1-2-1), who were outshot 43-14, got 43 saves from Tyler Brennan, who recorded his first career shutout.
Tonight's game between the @WHLGiants & @PGCougars represents the ninth time a WHL game has ended 1-0 in a shootout.
The shootout was introduced for the 2005-06 season.
When I played for @BladesHockey 30 yrs ago, I billeted with the Anderson's, a family with 4 boys, in Saskatoon. Today, on Easter Sunday, I was Baptized by Pastor Lindsay Anderson, the oldest of the family. "Be Strong and courageous for I am with you." Joshua 1:9 pic.twitter.com/HWHtZpA6Hz
In the top of the first inning of a Sunday night game, Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher, threw one pitch at 101 mph. In the bottom half of the inning, hitting second, he hammered a fastball 451 feet into the right-field bleachers. . . . He is the first starting pitcher to homer in an American League game since the DH came into play in 1973. He also became the first pitcher since 1903 to hit in the No. 2 spot. . . . Before the game, Greg Beacham of The Associated Press reported: “Ohtani is just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.” . . . One more for you: The last AL pitcher to homer from one of the top seven spots in the batting order was Babe Ruth in a 1933 game from the three hole.
Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox had five hits in the first start of his MLB career on Friday. No big deal, right? Until I heard Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say that neither Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott nor Edgar Martinez — each of them a pretty good hitter — ever had a five-hit game. . . . Ahh, you have to love baseball.
It was a record day in B.C. on Wednesday with the announcement of 1,013 new positive tests, the highest one-day number since the pandemic began over a year ago.
Unfortunately for the WHL and the Kelowna Rockets, they were part of the day’s tally.
The WHL announced late in the day that the Rockets have been shut down for at least 14 days because of a total of seven positive tests within the organization. That includes one staff member from Tuesday and six more people — two staff members and four players — from Wednesday.
As a result, all Rockets team activities have been suspended at least through April 14.
According to the WHL, all test results from the four other B.C. Division teams came back negative.
While the Rockets have been staying with their billets in Kelowna, the Victoria Royals are in a hotel there. In Kamloops, the Blazers with billets, while the Prince George Cougars and Vancouver Giants are in a hotel.
The WHL also announced the postponement of 10 games, including Kamloops at Kelowna on Tuesday and a Wednesday game that was to have had Vancouver and Prince George meet in Kamloops. It was scrubbed out of an abundance of caution.
All told, nine games involving Kelowna have been postponed.
The Rockets last played on Sunday when they lost, 6-0, to the Giants in Kamloops. Kelowna next is scheduled to play on April 17 against the Cougars in Kamloops.
The Rockets also had someone in their organization test positive earlier in March, just prior to the start of this developmental season. That individual and someone deemed a close contact had to self-isolate but the Rockets’ schedule wasn’t impacted because it was deemed not to be in-season.
The NHL postponed a game between the visiting Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks just 90 minutes before it was to have started on Wednesday. . . . Vancouver F Adam Gaudette tested positive on Tuesday and was taken off the ice during practice. Another player whose identity wasn’t known last night has joined Gaudette on the COVID-19 protocol list, while a member of the Canucks’ coaching staff also has gone into protocol. . . . Both teams had skated and held media availabilities earlier in the day. . . . This was the 42nd game postponed by the NHL because of COVID-19. . . . Calgary’s next game is scheduled for Friday against the Oilers in Edmonton. . . . The Canucks, who just had six days off, are to play Saturday in Edmonton.
The QMJHL has put the Sherbrooke Phoenix into what it calls “preventative isolation” following a positive test to a staff member on Wednesday. The Phoenix had been playing in one of the QMJHL’s “protected environment” events, this one in Sherbrooke. Because of the positive test, the Phoenix isn’t able to compete, leaving the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and the Olympiques to play each other on Thursday and again on Friday. . . . The Phoenix was to have played the Armada on Wednesday night, but that game was cancelled.
It was earlier in March when Lisa MacLeod, Ontario’s minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, suggested that there was room for optimism concerning a return to play for the OHL by month’s end. . . . Well, the final day of March came and went without any kind of announcement. And with Ontario apparently heading into some kind of a lockdown that likely will last at least 28 days it would seem that the OHL’s chances of having any kind of season may be in jeopardy.
If you stop off here regularly, or even on occasion, and if you like what you see here, or even if you don’t, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and help out the Taking Note coffee fund. Thank you in advance.
IN THE WHL ON WEDNESDAY . . .
The Saskatoon Blades ran their point streak to 10 games with a 3-2 victory over the Winnipeg Ice in Regina. . . . The Blades (9-0-1) are off to the best start in franchise history, and now have won seven in a row. . . . Winnipeg slipped to 6-4-0. . . . G Nolan Maier earned the victory with 29 saves. He now has 86 career regular-season victories and that’s a franchise record. Maier, who is from Yorkton, now has one more victory than Tim Cheveldae (1985-88), who is from Melville. Cheveldae also was the Blades goaltending coach for seven seasons (2013-20). He tutored Maier for three of those seasons. . . . “I knew it was going to be broken and the fact that Nolan should break it, I couldn’t be more happy,” Cheveldae told Saskatoon radio station CKOM. . . . The Blades erased a 1-0 deficit on goals from F Brandon Lisowsky (4), F Kyle Crnkovic (4) and F Colton Dash (7). . . . F Connor McClennon (5) pulled the Ice to within one at 7:14 of the third period. . . . Saskatoon was without F Chase Wouters, who is serving a three-game suspension, and D Rhett Rhinehart, who is sitting out a two-game sentence. . . .
D Jeremy Hanzel broke a 1-1 tie in the third period to give the Seattle Thunderbirds a 2-1 victory over the Everett Silvertips in Kent, Wash. . . . Hanzel, a freshman from Coquitlam, B.C., has two goals and an assist in six games. . . . When Hanzel scored at 10:18, it was the first time Everett (5-1-0) had trailed to this point in the season. . . . F Ethan Regnier (3) gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 18:10 of the second period. . . . F Conner Roulette (4) got Seattle (4-2-0) even at 3:27 of the third via the PP. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 32 shots to earn the victory. . . . Everett G Dustin Wolf turned aside 36 shots.
Ron Robison, the commissioner of the WHL, says the league has established a diversity and inclusion committee that has been tasked with reviewing policies. Robison told Sammy Hudes of Postmedia that the committee was struck recently, presumably before the hockey world was rocked on Thursday by the news that the Seattle Thunderbirds had dropped two players — one 17, the other 18 — from their roster because of racist incidents involving a teammate. Hudes wrote that Robison “said the WHL is working to build ‘additional programming in this area,’ but didn’t specify what that might look like.” Robison also didn’t indicate who is on the committee. . . . Robison told Hudes: “We’re dealing with players who are of young age. They need further education, more training. They need to understand the sensitivities to all this and how it resonates with not only their teammates, but their opponents.” . . . One of the key issues involving incidents like these is that a victim often doesn’t have anywhere to turn outside of his team or the league. Hudes spoke with Courtney Szto, who is assistant professor at Queen’s University’s School of Kinesiology and Health Studies. She co-authored a 2020 policy paper, Hudes wrote, “advocating for anti-racism policies in hockey. Among its calls to action, the paper identified ways for governing bodies like Hockey Canada to proactively work to eliminate racism in the sport. . . . The policy paper also called on the federal government to create an external oversight body to receive and investigate incidents of discrimination. Szto said victims have nowhere to report such incidents, other than through their own teams and leagues.” . . . Hudes’ complete story is right here.
Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, moved into a tie for sixth spot on the WHL’s list of all-time winningest regular-season coaches with a 5-2 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina on Saturday. . . . Habscheid now has 548 victories, tying him with Ernie (Punch) McLean. . . . The Raiders (3-3-2) broke a 2-2 tie with the game’s last three goals, starting with one from F Eric Pearce, who is from Regina, at 1:53 of the third period. . . . F Justin Nachbaur, playing his 200th regular-season game with the Raiders, gave his guys a 2-1 lead with a shorthanded goal at 12:46 of the first period. . . . D Logan Linklater picked up his first two points, both assists, for the Raiders in his seventh game. . . .Prince Albert scored its last two goals, from F Ozzy Wiesblatt and F Reece Vitelli, into empty nets. . . . The Warriors now are 4-4-0. . . . The game took 2 hours 8 minutes to play, the quickest game in the WHL this season. . . . Moose Jaw lost D Daemon Hunt to an elbowing major at 13:20 of the third period for a hit on Vitelli, who later scored an empty-netter. . . . The Raiders were without F Spencer Moe with an undisclosed injury, while D Kaiden Guhle missed his sixth straight game. . . . The Raiders dressed just one goaltender — Carter Serhyenko — with starter Max Paddock sidelined with an undisclosed injury. Serhyenko stopped 16 shots. . . .
The Edmonton Oil Kings won again on Saturday afternoon, running their record to 9-0-0 with a 5-2 victory over the Hitmen in Calgary. . . . Edmonton got two goals and an assist from F Jake Neighbours and a goal and two assists from F Dylan Guenther. He’s got nine goals and nine assists in eight games. . . . Neighbours has 16 points, 12 of them assists, in a nine-game point streak. . . . G Sebastian Cossa, who is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft, stopped 29 shots. He’s 8-0-0, 1.50, .945 this season. . . . The Hitmen slipped to 4-5-1. . . . Edmonton D Matthew Robertson didn’t play in Friday’s 4-3 victory over visiting Calgary, but was back on the ice Saturday. . . . The Hitmen were without D Tyson Galloway, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Friday, then lost D Luke Prokop in the second period on Saturday. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds erased a 2-1 deficit with two goals in the last two minutes of the second period as they defeated the visiting Portland Winterhawks, 3-2. . . . F Simon Knak gave Portland (2-1-2) a 2-1 lead with his third goal in as many games at 11:34 of the second. . . . F Payton Mount pulled Seattle (3-1-) even at 18:18 and F Jordan Gustafson snapped the tie at 19:07 with his first WHL goal. . . . The first period featured one goal, by Portland F Seth Jarvis, and 31 shots on goal, 16 by Seattle. . . . G Jackson Berry stopped 28 shots to record his first WHL victory in his first appearance with Seattle. He got into five games with the Moose Jaw Warriors last season, going 0-2-0 before being released. . . .
G Talyn Boyko put up his first WHL shutout as the host Tri-City Americans beat the Spokane Chiefs, 3-0. . . . The 6-foot-8 Boyko stopped 26 shots as the Americans improved to 2-2-0. . . . The Chiefs fell to 0-4-1; they have been blanked three times including twice in two nights. They lost 5-0 to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds on Friday night. . . . Boyko’s first career clean sheet came in his 38th appearance over three seasons. . . . F Samuel Huo scored twice, but it was F Connor Bouchard’s goal, at 6:47 of the second period, that stood up as the winner. . . .
The Medicine Hat Tigers broke open a 2-2 game with three second-period goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the host Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Corson Hopwo snapped the tie with his sixth goal at 4:40, with F Lukas Svejkovsky scoring his sixth at 14:16, and F Brett Kemp getting No. 4 at 19:17. . . . Kemp’s drew an assist on Hopwo’s goal, giving him 200 career regular-season points. He now has 201 points, 88 of them goals, in 241 career games. . . . While the Tigers improved to 6-3-0, the Hurricanes now are 3-6-1. . . . Lethbridge scored all three of its goals on the PP. . . . G Beckett Langkow stopped 38 shots for the Tigers to record his second WHL victory in his second start. . . . Langkow’s father, Scott, played three seasons (1992-95) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 20 NHL games and 11 seasons in Europe. . . .
F Logan Stankoven’s second goal of the game, at 10:09 of the third period, broke a 4-4 tie and gave the Kamloops Blazers a 5-4 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers were designated as the visitors even with the game being played in Kamloops. . . . The Cougars, the last of the WHL’s 22 teams to get into game action in this truncated developmental season, struck for three first-period goals to take a 3-1 lead into the second. . . . The Blazers (2-0-0) tied it on second-period goals by F Caedan Banker and F Josh PIllar. . . . F Koehn Ziemmer put the Cougars back out front at 15:03. . . . Kamloops F Connor Zary tied it shorthanded at 5:25 of the third. . . . F Peyton McKenzie had two assists in his second game with Kamloops. He went into the game with two assists in 24 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . One of the referees was Matthew Hicketts of Kamloops, whose brother, Joe, spent five seasons playing defence for the Victoria Royals. . . . Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV tweeted that there were “over 20 scouts” in attendance. . . .
March 27, 1981: end of season tie-breaker held in Trail, BC.
Spokane Flyers advance to the #WHL playoffs by defeating the New Westminster Bruins 10-9 in overtime. Bruins goaltender @MikeZanier faces 79 shots.
F Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins was added to the COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday and sat out the team’s 3-2 victory over the visiting Buffalo Sabres. Marchand, 32, has 34 points, including 12 goals, in 29 games this season. . . . The Bruins, who had two games postponed last week due to protocols, are scheduled to play host to the New Jersey Devils today (Sunday) and Tuesday night. . . . The Sabres now have lost 17 straight games.
In the Swiss National League, EHC Biel-Bienne is in quarantine after two positive tests so a Saturday game with Lausanne HC was cancelled. With the playoffs approaching, the final standing are to be decided by points percentage, a decision that had been made at a Jan. 4 meeting.
Luke Mylymok had played in 10 game so far this season. Had not dressed for a game in a month. His second career NCAA goal ends the longest game in tournament history.
F Luke Mylymok’s goal at 2:33 of the fifth OT period gave the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs a 3-2 victory over the North Dakota Fighting Hawks in the NCAA men’s hockey Midwest Region final in Fargo, N.D., on Saturday night. . . . Mylymok, 19, is from Wilcox, Sask. This is his first season with the Bulldogs; he split last season between the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers and the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. The Victoria Royals selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . The goal sent the Bulldogs, the two-time defending national champions, back to the Frozen Four. There wasn’t a champion in 2020 due to the pandemic. . . . At 142:33, it was the longest game in the history of the NCAA men’s or women’s hockey tournaments, surpassing a women’s game between Wisconsin and Harvard in 2007. . . . The men’s tournament is in its 74th year. . . . Zach Stejskal, the Bulldogs’ starting goaltender, left at 4:37 of the fourth OT when he began cramping up. He had stopped 57 shots when he was relieved by Ryan Fanti. . . . Leah Hextall — yes, of the hockey Hextalls — handled the play-by-play for ESPN.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
For the first time since March, 11, 2020, the WHL had teams from each of its four divisions cleared to play on Friday night. . . . The longest of the night’s eight games took 2 hours 31 minutes to play (Everett beat Portland 2-1 in OT). Victoria and Kelowna finished in 2:10. The other game times were 2:15, 2:16, 2:17, 2:18 (twice) and 2:25. . . . Three of the games ended in shutouts, while G Dustin Wolf and the Everett Silvertips surrendered their first goal in four games. . . . If you’re on Twitter and interested in WHL numbers, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). . . . Some highlights and tidbits from Friday. . . .
D Aidan De La Gorgendiere drew four assists to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 7-3 victory over the Regina Pats on Friday. . . . F Chase Wouters had two goals and an assist for the Blades. The assist was the 100th of his career. He has 169 points in 267 regular-season games. . . . F Colton Dach also scored twice for Saskatoon. . . . The Blades (7-0-1) scored the game’s first three goals and never looked back. . . . Despite playing in their home arena, the Pats (2-4-2) are 0-2-2 in games when they have been designated the home team. . . . Spencer Welke, one of three goaltenders on the Pats’ roster, made his WHL debut with 40 saves. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard, 15, scored once, giving him at least a point in each of his first eight career games. . . .
In the other game in Regina, F Mathew Ward had four assists in helping the Swift Current Broncos to a 7-4 triumph over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Broncos, who scored the game’s first three goals, got two goals from F Aidan Bulych and a goal and two assists from F Michael Farren. . . . Ward, 17, is from Kamloops and has nine assists in eight games to start his first season. . . . F Peyton Krebs had a goal and two helpers for the Ice as he went over the 200-point mark for his career. Krebs has five goals and nine assists in eight games in the Regina hub. In 183 career regular-season games, he’s got 202 points, including 148 assists. . . . The Broncos (2-5-1) have points in three straight games (2-0-1), while the Ice (5-3-0) has lost two in a row. . . . The Ice has lost D Carson Lambos, 18, for the remainder of this season. He left Regina on March 17 and returned to Winnipeg in order to “meet with doctors at home in the Manitoba capital to deal with an unspecified medical condition,” the Winnipeg Free Press reported. This situation also takes Lambos out of consideration for the Canadian team that will play at the U18 IIHF world championship in Dallas, April 26 through May 6. Lambos is projected as a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .
The Edmonton Oil Kings stayed perfect as they dropped the visiting Calgary Hitmen, 4-3. . . . F Jalen Luypen had two goals and an assist for the Oil Kings (8-0-0), who got 26 saves from G Sebastian Cossa. . . . Goals by Luypen and F Josh Williams, each of whom has six, gave the Oil Kings a 4-1 lead by the middle of the second period. . . . Luypen has 10 points in eight games. . . . Edmonton has outscored its opponents, 38-12, in eight games. . . . The Hitmen slipped to 4-4-1. . . . Bob Stauffer, the host of Oilers Now on 630 CHED and the analyst on Oilers’ broadcasts, tweeted that there were 27 NHL scouts, including four assistant GM/head scouts, at the game. . . .
G Garin Bjorklund stopped 22 shots to help the Medicine Hat Tigers to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . The Tigers (5-3-0) got two goals from F Lukas Svejkovsky. . . . Bjorklund’s first shutout of this season was the second of his career. Geoffrey Brandow reports that Bjorklund is 5-0-0, 1.94, .929 against Lethbridge in his career. . . . The Hurricanes (3-5-1) have lost three in a row. . . . F Corson Hopwo’s fifth goal, shorthanded at 3:41 of the first period, was all the Tigers needed. . . . Svejkovsky now has five goals this season. . . . Lethbridge G Carl Tetachuk stopped 44 shots. . . .
Missing Kamloops and the guys a little extra today. Best of luck today heading into the home opener. Will be cheering you on loud and proud. ❤️🔥 @blazerhockey
F Matthew Seminoff scored twice and added an assist in leading the Kamloops Blazers to a 7-3 victory over the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers, who got three assists from F Connor Zary, led 4-1 after the first period. . . . F Connor Levis, 16, also scored twice for Kamloops. It was his first WHL game. . . . The Giants got a goal and an assist from F Tristen Nielsen. . . . Earlier Friday, the Giants announced that “due to off season surgery, Cole Shepard will miss the 2020-2021 season.” The Giants didn’t release any particulars on the surgery. . . . From West Vancouver, he first had surgery on a hip in May 2019. . . . Shepard, who turned 19 on Jan. 2, had 11 goals and 18 assists in 50 games in 2019-20. He played the previous season for the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and was ticketed for Harvard before joining the Giants. . . .
In Kelowna, G Cole Schwebius stopped 19 shots to help the Rockets to a 5-0 victory over the Victoria Royals. . . . He’s got two career shutouts. . . . The Rockets got two goals from F Alex Swetlikoff and a goal and and assist from each of F Elias Carmichael and D Jake Lee. . . . F Andrew Cristall, 15, had two assists in his first WHL game. . . . Kelowna held a 35-19 edge in shots. . . .
F Cole Fonstad scored at 4:17 of OT to give the visiting Everett Silvertips a 2-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (4-0-0) got 35 saves from G Dustin Wolf, who had his shutout streak end at 16:32 of the second period. He had posted a shutout in each of his first three starts this season, and finished with a club-record shutout streak of 216:27. The previous record (195:12) belong to Carter Hart, who now is with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . F Gage Concalves gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 3:42 of the second period. . . . F Simon Knak pulled Portland even at 13:16 of the second. That was the third shorthanded goal — two of them from Knak — in two games for Portland (2-0-2). . . . Going back to last season, the Silvertips are 24-2-1 in their past 27 games. . . . Joe Mahon, who played in the WHL with the Winterhawks (2012-13) and Calgary Hitmen (2013-14), was one of the linesmen. It was his first WHL game as an on-ice official. . . . Jackson Kozari was one of the referees. His father, Steve, is a former WHL referee who now works in the NHL. . . .
G Thomas Milic turned aside 35 shots to lead the Seattle Thunderbirds to a 5-0 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . Milic, a 17-year-old from Coquitlam, B.C., put up his first career shutout in his fifth appearance, three of them this season. He is 2-1-0, 1.95, .938 this season. . . . The Thunderbirds (2-1-0) got two goals and an assist from F Conner Roulette, two goals from F Keltie Jeri-Leon, and a goal and two helpers from F Jared Davidson. . . . The Chiefs fell to 0-3-1. . . . Former WHL/NHL referee Dennis (Lash) LaRue worked the game as an analyst on the broadcast crew. He mentioned that one of the linesmen was Rance Hughes, whose brother, Bear, has played for the Chiefs.
The WHL announced Friday that it had 1,002 tests administered in its seventh week back and didn’t have any positive tests. Between Feb. 12 and March 26, it has received one positive test from 4,094 tests. . . . That news release is right here.
The virus took a third team out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey championship on Friday when the Michigan Wolverines had to withdraw from the regional in Fargo, N.D., because of positive tests. That allowed the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to advance to the regional final where they will meet the North Dakota Fighting Hawks, who beat the American International Yellow Jackets, 5-1, on Friday night. . . . Earlier in the week, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were knocked out of a regional in Albany, N.Y., by positive tests, while St. Lawrence University Saints withdrew after their head coach, Brent Brekke, tested positive.
The junior B Prairie Junior Hockey League, an 11-team Saskatchewan-based league, announced Friday that its 2020-21 season is over. “With the current Sask Health rules in place,” it tweeted, “the PJHL will be unable to return to play, therefore the remainder of the 2020-2021 season has been cancelled.The league would like to thank the players, officials, fans, and sponsors for their commitment and support during these times.” . . . The league hadn’t played games since Nov. 26.
The Greater Toronto Hockey League announced on Friday that it has cancelled the balance of the 2020-21 season “after conducting an evaluation of the current situation in Toronto, Peel and York Regions and consulting with health experts from Toronto Public Health.” . . . The GTHL is the largest minor hockey organization in the world with more than 40,000 annual participants.
Hey, how are we doing in Canada? Thanks for asking, but the numbers are depressing. And with a long weekend just a week away . . . ahhh, I don’t even want to think about it. . . . While you’re partying on, Garth, just think about this lasting for another year. OK? Thanks. . . .
CBC News — Canada closes in on 1 million COVID-19 cases as mounting daily case loads are projected to reach as many as 12,000 a day. Canada’s top doctors urge more vigilance, saying that vaccinations can’t keep up to the spread of the virus.
Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 908 new cases of COVID-19 in BC, for a total of 95,677 cases in British Columbia. This one of the highest days in the pandemic for new cases. The 7 day average has jumped around 100 cases per day over the last week. . . . There are 294 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 81 of whom are in intensive care. The remaining people are recovering at home in self-isolation. The hospital number down 12, ICU up 2. . . . There have been three new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,449 deaths in British Columbia. . . . There are 6,245 active cases of COVID-19 in the province, with 9,996 people under public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases. A further 87,866 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been 140 new confirmed COVID-19 cases that are variants of concern in our province, for a total of 1,912 cases. Of the total cases, 258 are active and the remaining people have recovered. . . . This includes 1,666 cases of the B.1.1.7 (U.K.) variant, 47 cases of the B.1.351 (South Africa) variant and 199 cases of the P.1 (Brazil) variant.
CTV Edmonton — Alberta reported more than 700 new cases of COVID-19 for a second straight day as the province’s active and variant case counts continue their upward trends. . . . The province reported 717 new cases Friday, a day after adding 764 new cases on Thursday. . . . Alberta’s active case count surpassed 7,000 for the time since late January, and is now at 7,077. . . . A total of 1,976 Albertans have now died due to COVID-19 after three new deaths were reported Friday.
CBC News — 8 additional deaths in Saskatchewan and 213 new cases of COVID-19. That’s the province’s highest daily case total since February 13; the province’s 7-day average is now 186.
CBC News — Manitoba is reporting 116 new COVID-19 cases, the 2nd day in a row above 100 and the highest daily total since February 18. There are also 3 new deaths.
CBC News — For the second day in a row, Ontario is reporting more than 2,000 new cases of COVID-19. The province announced 2,169 new cases today, well above the 7-day average of 1,849. The province is also reporting 12 additional deaths. . . . 401 COVID-19 patients in intensive care, Ontario Hospitals Association says. Marks one of the highest totals since the pandemic began.
CBC News — New Brunswick is reporting 13 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Edmundston region. There are 99 known active cases in the province, including 4 hospitalized patients.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Earlier this week, Geoff Baker, a reporter with the Seattle Times, was writing about Brendan Lee, a forward with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips who was born in Seattle and is of Chinese heritage.
Baker wrote about how Lee was “jolted” by last week’s mass shooting in Atlanta in which six women of Asian descent were killed, something that brought stories of anti-Asian harassment to the forefront.
Baker wrote: “Lee said neither he nor his immediate family have felt targeted, though he’s aware of fears within the broader Asian community. He hopes there’s some role he can play, through hockey, in projecting a positive image of Asian Americans — within that diverse community and beyond.”
Lee told Baker: “It’s horrible what happened. And with the platform I have, I think I can be an influencer. Maybe have somebody look up to me that’s a kid, who can see an American Asian playing hockey — and that it’s a kid from Seattle.”
Let’s move ahead to Thursday now, when Baker was writing this:
“Two teenage forwards with the Seattle Thunderbirds major junior hockey team have been released for the remainder of the season for a racial-taunting incident in which the squad’s lone Black player alleged he was called a racial slur and had a banana waved in front of him.
“The players, age 17 and 18, had been suspended the Thunderbirds’ first two Western Hockey League games last weekend after team officials investigated a complaint of racial harassment against a 17-year-old teammate.
“On Thursday the team informed the suspended players they were no longer on the team and would be flown back home to Canada shortly, and removed their names from the roster.”
Baker reported that the Thunderbirds have said neither player will be back next season, although the team will maintain their rights and could trade them.
“Both are awaiting further instructions on when they can return to Canada due to tightened border restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he wrote. “The 17-year-old is from Alberta, the 18-year-old from British Columbia.”
The victim texted Baker: “I am very disappointed with what happened, but I appreciate and respect the way my organization has handled this situation. That’s all I am going to say, and now I just want to focus on our season at hand.”
Baker’s story involving the Thunderbirds is right here.
Oh boy, is the general manager of the Ottawa Senators going to be sorry about losing his cool in this age of social media, or what? This was Pierre Dorion after his club lost in OT to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night . . .
The Regina Pats broke a 1-1 tie with four straight goals en route to a 5-3 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in the Regina hub on Thursday. . . . F Carson Denomie, who went into this developmental season with 35 goals in 198 regular-season games, scored his seventh goal in as many games for the Pats (2-3-2). He also had an assist. . . . Regina F Connor Bedard had two assists, giving the 15-year-old 12 points as he has started his WHL career on a seven-game point streak. . . . F Cole Carrier also had a goal and an assist for Regina, with D Ryker Evans adding two assists. . . . The Raiders (2-3-2) are winless in four games (0-3-1) after opening this developmental season by earning five points in their first three games. . . . Regina lost its captain, F Logan Nijhoff, to a kneeing major at 5:24 of the third period. . . . Prince Albert was without its captain, D Kaiden Guhle, for a fifth straight game due to a hand injury. . . . The Raiders dressed only one goaltender, Carter Serhyenko, because Cam Paddock is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. . . . Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW that “we had a goalie from another team (WInnipeg Ice) in the stands, so if something (had) happened to Carter, he would have dressed. It’s part of the bubble. It’s the way it is.” . . .
In the night’s other game, F Ridly Greig’s first goal of the season, shorthanded at 4:11 of the third period, broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Brandon Wheat Kings a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . F Connor Geekie gave the Ice a 1-0 lead in the first period, but Brandon scored three times — F Nate Danielson, F Rylen Roersma and F Jake Chiasson — in a span of 2:17 before the period ended. . . . F Peyton Krebs and F Owen Pederson pulled the Ice (5-2-0) even, the latter scoring on a PP at 2:09 of the third. . . . Winnipeg had won five straight since opening with a 3-2 loss to Brandon on March 13. . . . The Wheat Kings (5-2-1) were without D Braden Schneider for a second straight game. He is listed as day-to-day with what is believed to be an injury to his right knee.
It was a big day for COVID-19 on the sporting front Thursday. First, it took the Notre Dame Fighting Irish right out of the chase for the NCAA men’s hockey title. And then it took big chunks out of two summer baseball leagues that used to feature lots of U.S. college players. Oh, and it got into the coach staff of the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres for the second time this season . . .
The Fighting Irish were to have taken part in the NCAA Northeast Regional hockey tournament in Albany, N.Y., this weekend. But they have had to withdraw due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . According to head coach Jeff Jackson, “With multiple positives and contact tracing it became clear that for the safety of our team and others in the tournament we could not proceed.” . . . Notre Dame was to have played the Boston College Eagles on Saturday. That game has been declared no-contest and the Eagles moved directly into Sunday’s regional final against either St. Cloud State or Boston U. . . . Interestingly, Notre Dame was in the tournament as a late invitee after St. Lawrence U had to withdraw because of COVID-19 protocols. Notre Dame couldn’t be replaced because the NCAA had set a Monday night deadline for replacements to be made.
The pandemic has forced quite a shuffling of the deck with the Western Canadian Baseball League. . . . The Edmonton Prospects, Lethbridge Bulls, Okotoks Dawgs (two teams) and Sylvan Lake Gulls have said that they will play the 2021 season using only Canadian players. . . . According to the league, the Fort McMurray Giants and Medicine Hat Mavericks continue to discuss their options. . . . At the same time, “due to the COVID-19 restrictions, border issues and the uncertainty of any changes,” five other teams — the Brooks Bombers, Moose Jaw Miller Express, Regina Red Sox, Swift Current 57’s and Weyburn Beavers — have decided to sit out the 2021 season. . . . At the same time, Taylor Shire of Global Regina tweeted that the “Yorkton Carinals and Melville Millionaires have left the WCBL and, according to WCBL president Kevin Kvame they both ceased operations.” . . .
From a news release issued by the Red Sox:
“Player and staff testing protocols will need to be in place at an estimated cost of $40,000 per team, as well as quarantine costs amounting to $2,000 per player. Interprovincial travel continues to be restricted, and the US/Canada border remains closed at this time. The WCBL is exploring options for an ‘All Canadian League’ in Alberta, which would also be subject to quarantine, testing, and border restrictions, presenting a challenge for the league. The Saskatchewan franchises have made the decision to defer the resumption of operations until 2022.”
The West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, has revised its 2021 schedule in order to remove international travel from its regular season, but it is leaving open the possibility of a playoff format involving teams from both Canada and the U.S. . . . The WCL, which features 15 teams, didn’t play in 2020. . . . In Canada, the Kelowna Falcons have opted out of the 2021 season, leaving the Victoria HarbourCats to play against three first-year teams — the Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws and Nanaimo NightOwls. . . . American teams in the league are the Bend Elks, Corvallis Knights, Cowlitz Black Bears, Portland Pickles, Ridgefield Raptors, Walla Walla Sweets, Bellingham Bells, Port Angeles Lefties, Wenatchee Apple Sox and Yakima Valley Pippins.
Kevyn Adams, the Buffalo Sabres’ general manager, served as head coach on Thursday night as the team lost 4-0 to the Penguins in Pittsburgh. That’s because Don Granato, who was named interim head coach last week after Ralph Krueger was fired, and interim assistant coach Matt Ellis were in self-isolation. . . . This is the second time this season that the Sabres’ coaching staff was impacted by the virus. Earlier, Krueger tested positive and missed some time. . . . The Sabres have six victories this season; they have been shut out seven times. . . .
Meanwhile, the New York Rangers had assistants Jacques Martin and Greg Brown back behind the bench for last night’s 8-3 victory over the host Philadelphia Flyers. But head coach David Quinn has yet to be cleared to return from COVID-19 protocol, so former WHL player/coach Kris Knoblauch continues to work as head coach. Under normal conditions, Knoblauch is the head coach of the Hartford Wolf Pack, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. . . . Knoblauch will stay with the Rangers at least through Saturday’s game in Philly. . . .
Marc Bergevin, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, expects his club to return to the ice next week. He said Thursday that one player had tested positive — forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi — and that it was a variant. . . . So far, the Canadiens have had four games postponed — three against the Edmonton Oilers and one with the Ottawa Senators. . . . If all goes well, the Canadiens will return to practice on Monday and play in Ottawa on Tuesday. . . . The NHL now has postponed 41 games because of COVID-19.
And how are things going out west? Hey, thanks for asking . . .
Justin McElroy, CBC Vancouver — 800 new cases of COVID-19 in B.C., the highest number since the very height of the second wave, as the province’s trendline is going up VERY sharply now. . . . Active cases jump by almost 300, now the highest since January 8. . . . Five new deaths and hospitalizations up.
Oh, hey, things are going great in Alberta, too . . .
CBC News — Alberta reports 764 new cases of COVID-19 and 3 more deaths. The province confirms 191 variants of concern cases. 294 people are in hospital, 55 in ICU. . . . Variant cases now make up more than 20 per cent of the total.
Party on, Garth!
“I went from healthy teenager to being told I had a rare genetic kidney condition in a month.”
Thanks to Sasha, whose period pain turned out to be kidney disease, for sharing her story to help other young people going through kidney disease. Read more 👇https://t.co/jPOJZDM5Wf
JUST NOTES: The Spokane Chiefs have promoted Chris Baird to director of hockey operations. He had been assistant director of hockey operations since 2017. He first was hired by the Chiefs in 2006-07 as a part-time video co-ordinator. . . . The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders have named Adam Manah as general manager — he will continue as head coach — and Jeff Woywitka as assistant GM. Manah has been with the Crusaders since 2015 when he was associate coach. He took over as assistant GM and head coach in 2016. Woywitka has been associate coach since 2016. The moves were necessitated by the firing of general manager Kyle Chase on March 19. Chase, who had been part of the organization since 2004, had been GM since 2016. Shane Jones of the Sherwood Park News has more on Chase’s dismissal right here.
F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .
Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:
“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”
Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.
Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”
The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.
Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.
At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.
With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:
“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.
IIHF Rene Fasel says it is still the goal to have a U18 Mens World Championship in April in Michigan. Hockey Canada says they have started to discuss with USA Hockey on how the bubble process was implemented at the World Junior.
Normally, 18 and 19-year-olds like Jakob Pelletier, Connor Zary and Dustin Wolf only have two options — NHL or CHL. But Brad Treliving confirms that until QMJHL/WHL starts up, Flames will be able to assign them to the AHL. The GM notes they will have a place for everyone to play.
Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.
Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.
Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.
THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.
Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.
CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.
CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.
BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .
The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.
There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .
The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .
Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
JUST NOTES: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.
Here is the fifth and final piece on the WHL’s first 25 years. The five stories were written in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I have done just that over the past couple of weeks. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here, then, is Part 5 of 5. Thanks for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed these stories, and thank you for all of the positive feedback. . . .
The fifth five-year segment was easily the best of the WHL’s first 25 years.
There was success in the stands, particularly in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, and in Saskatoon where the Blades welcomed a new facility.
There was stability, too. Recent additions, like the Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes, settled in for what appeared to be long stays.
But the greatest success came on the ice where the WHL won four Memorial Cup championships during the five seasons, opening with three in a row and closing with a victory by the Spokane Chiefs.
The 1986-87 season actually started on something of a strange note. The Regina Pats signed Doug Sauter, who was under contract to the Medicine Hat Tigers, to a two-year deal as general manager/head coach. The result was that the Pats agreed to compensate the Tigers.
The compensation turned into two veteran players — defenceman Kevin Ekdahl and forward Kevin Clemens. It was the first time in WHL history that a coach had, in effect, been traded.
The Pats also welcomed back another familiar face with Dennis Sobchuk, the greatest and most-popular player in franchise history, signing on as assistant coach/assistant manager.
This was a time of great change in the front offices and behind the benches. Barry Trapp left the Moose Jaw Warriors, saying, “I wasn’t fired. It was just a mutual agreement. It was a very friendly parting.”
Medicine Hat signed Bryan Maxwell to replace Sauter, while Peter Esdale was the new coach in Spokane and Wayne Naka took over the Cougars in Victoria. In New Westminster, John Olver was the GM, with Ernie McLean the coach. Harvey Roy was out as the Bruins’ director of marketing, but he would surface in Moose Jaw as the GM and would hire Greg Kvisle to coach the Warriors. In Prince Albert, GM/head coach Terry Simpson left to coach the NHL’s New York Islanders and Rick Wilson took over.
Perhaps the biggest news in the summer of 1986 came on June 2 when the WHL announced it was doing away with round-robin playoff series in the East Division. Instead, the top two teams would get first- round byes.
In the WHL office, Richard Doerksen’s title was upgraded from executive assistant/referee-in-chief to vice-president.
There was trouble in Brandon, where the Bank of Nova Scotia called in a $77,000 demand loan, asking for payment on July 31. This resulted in the Wheat Kings’ board recommending to shareholders that the franchise be sold.
In August, shareholders voted 1,411-404 in favour of selling the Wheat Kings. Offers were received from two groups — one in Edmonton headed by Vic Mah, the other comprising Brandon businessmen Bob Cornell and Stuart Craig, and Winnipeg businessman Dave Laing.
Cornell’s group purchased the Wheat Kings for more than $300,000 and then added a unique twist to the situation by signing a 10-year working agreement with the Keystone Centre. The Keystone took over operation of the club, and hired Bill Shinske to run the front office. Shinske hired Marc Pezzin as coach.
The WHL also welcomed the Swift Current Broncos to the fold. Behind the bench was Graham James, who had recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the Warriors over a lawsuit he had started the previous year.
“If we continue to average close to 2,000, we’ll have a real successful year and we’ll show a profit of about $80,000,” Gary Bollinger, the Broncos’ vice-president and alternate governor, said. “That doesn’t include playoff revenue. We were budgeting for an average of 1,600. If we averaged that, we’d still make a bit of a profit.”
The first coaching change of the 1986-87 season took place on Dec. 8 in Seattle when Sheldon Ferguson gave up the Thunderbirds’ coaching reins, but stayed on as GM. Dan McDonald was the new head coach, with former Portland Winter Hawks star Jim Dobson as the assistant.
Disaster struck on Dec. 30 when the Broncos, en route to Regina to play the Pats, were involved in a bus accident. Four players — Scott Kruger, Trent Kresse, Brent Ruff and Chris Mantyka — were killed.
“There has never been anything more devastating that has happened to me personally,” Ed Chynoweth, the WHL president, said. “The question I keep asking myself is ‘Why?’ My heart goes out to all the parents and the people involved. I wish someone would call and say this is all a mistake.”
John Foster, the Broncos’ publicity director, said: “This team will band together and win it for those guys who died. The (survivors) were absolutely professional under stress. If the people of Swift Current could have seen them, they would have been proud.”
There was never any thought of the team not continuing. As team president John Rittinger said: “It’s up to the players and the fans now. We aren’t ready to throw in the towel.”
Defenceman Ed Brost, talking about the club’s next game, stated: “It will be difficult. To go right back out on the ice would be cheating ourselves emotionally and physically. Right now people have to remember athletes are human beings, not robots.”
Moose Jaw centre Theoren Fleury was in Czechoslovakia with Canada’s national junior team at the time of the accident.
“I just can’t believe it,” Fleury said. “I just sat on the bus all the way to practice today thinking about what’s going on with all those guys on that team right now. It just blows me away. I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing we can do about it and I think being helpless is the most frustrating thing about it.”
As if losing four players in the accident wasn’t enough, Herman Kruger, 67, suffered a fatal heart attack as he entered the church for his great-grandson’s funeral.
And later the same day, Sauter and Regina trainer Stan Szumlak came to the rescue of Keith Giles, a member of the Prince Albert executive, who was choking on some food.
Donations in memory of the players poured into the Broncos’ office and an education fund was set up in their memory. Another fund was started to raise money that would go towards the cost of replacing the bus.
On Feb. 2, a longtime veteran of the WHL’s coaching wars returned for one last fling when John Chapman replaced Wally Kozak behind the bench of the Calgary Wranglers. Chapman also was the Calgary GM.
On Feb. 15, Portland won a game in Spokane and Ken Hodge took over as the winningest coach in WHL history. His 547 victories were one more than Ernie McLean.
Tragedy struck the WHL again on March 1 when Regina centre Brad Hornung was checked into the end boards at the Agridome and suffered a broken neck.
Dr. Chris Ekong, a neurosurgeon, said Hornung suffered a burst fracture of the third cervical vertebrae and a crushed spinal cord. “Brad has no feelings in his arms and legs,” Dr. Ekong said. “He is completely paralysed from the neck down.”
Hornung would never regain the use of his arms and legs, but that didn’t stop him from going on with his life.
As the WHL completed its 25th season, Hornung was continuing with his education, taking courses at the University of Regina.
Despite the bus accident, Swift Current made the playoffs in its first season. But there wouldn’t be a Cinderella story as the Broncos dropped a best-of-five series to Prince Albert, 3-1.
April was highlighted by three coaching changes — Esdale’s contract wasn’t renewed by Spokane, Kvisle resigned in Moose Jaw and McLean stepped aside in New Westminster.
And Medicine Hat won the WHL championship. The Tigers faced elimination twice in each of their last two series, and dumped visiting Portland 7-2 in the seventh game of the championship final.
The Tigers would win their first of two consecutive Memorial Cup championships, the first under Maxwell, the second under Barry Melrose. Both came with Russ Farwell as general manager.
John Van Horlick took over as coach in New Westminster for 1987-88, with
Butch Goring the coach in Spokane. Jim Harrison was the new head coach in Moose Jaw, with Ed Staniowski his assistant. Harrison and Roy, the GM, were friends from their days in Estevan, while Staniowski was a former all-star goaltender with Regina.
And the WHL was returning to Lethbridge. The Tier One Junior Hockey Club of Lethbridge purchased the Wranglers for about $350,000 from Brian Ekstrom. The Lethbridge franchise would be called the Hurricanes, causing Lethbridge Herald columnist Pat Sullivan to wonder if the logo would be an overturned mobile home.
The sale also meant that there wouldn’t be a franchise in the city in which the WHL office was located. But the office wasn’t about to be moved.
“It was decided that it was certainly the most central location for our league,” Chynoweth said.
Going into the new season, the WHL passed a rule cracking down on checking from behind.
“We do use (NHL) rules and the NHL doesn’t have hitting from behind instituted in its rule book,” Chynoweth said, “but I predict that within two years the NHL will have the same rule.”
That is exactly what happened.
There was change in the WHL’s boardroom, too, as Portland’s Brian Shaw stepped down as chairman of the board and was replaced by Saskatoon’s Rick Brodsky.
On June 5, Swift Current celebrated its first birthday by revealing the franchise was no longer in debt.
Rittinger said: “We bought the franchise and we borrowed money to buy the franchise. So we took the season-ticket money to pay the bank loan off. The bank loan is paid off. We don’t owe the bank anything. And that’s incredible because we just got the franchise last year.”
Maxwell left Medicine Hat, joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Lethbridge named Glen Hawker as its first GM/head coach. Before the season started, Lethbridge reorganized, with Wayne Simpson taking over as GM.
On July 6, Hornung, in his first interview since being injured, told the Regina Leader-Post: “You have to accept it. Life goes on and you do the best with what you have. At first, it was a time of change, shock really, but right now, it’s actually gotten easier because you get used to the adjustments. Like everybody else, I have my good days and bad days. But I don’t have many bad days.”
Separate pregame warmups came to the WHL on Sept. 28.
With Seattle off to a 2-15-0 start, owner Earl Hale told Ferguson, the GM, to take a leave of absence. On Nov. 16, Ferguson was fired. A couple of weeks later, Hawker was fired in Lethbridge, where Blaine Galbraith took over. And on Dec. 8, Moose Jaw fired Harrison and hired Gerry James, the only person to have played in a Grey Cup game and Stanley Cup final in the same season.
On Feb. 2, Saskatoon beat Regina 7-2 before 3,308 fans in the final game at the Saskatoon Arena. Regina coach Doug Sauter, for one, was glad to see the end of the old barn: “I get screwed every time I come in here and I haven’t been kissed yet.”
One week later, on Feb. 9, Saskatoon beat Brandon 4-3 in front of 9,343 fans at Saskatchewan Place. Chynoweth announced prior to the game that the 1989 Memorial Cup would be played in Saskatoon.
On March 11, amidst rumours that the Warriors were on the verge of major financial problems, it was announced that Roy’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.
WHL attendance figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that Swift Current drew 82,080 fans to 36 home games, which was 99 per cent of capacity. Portland led in total attendance — 200,911. The league drew 1,405,874 fans, an increase of almost 80,000 over the previous season.
For the first time in league history, the scoring race ended in a dead heat.
Two centres — Fleury and Swift Current’s Joe Sakic — finished the regular season with 160 points. Sakic had 78 goals, Fleury 68. But there was nothing in the WHL bylaws to deal with the situation so the scoring race was ruled a tie.
The rumours were true — there were financial problems in Moose Jaw. The Warriors began sorting things out by separating the hockey side of things from the business side. With an accumulated debt of $234,000, Joe Celentano, a former referee with basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters, was hired as business manager.
On April 17, Medicine Hat beat visiting Saskatoon 3-0 to win its third straight East Division title. The only other team to win three consecutive East titles was the Flin Flon Bombers, beginning in 1968-69.
On May 3, the Tigers beat visiting Kamloops 5-2 to win their second straight WHL title, this one in six games.
The very next day, Bob Vranckaert, who was in the construction business in Alaska, said he would like to put an expansion franchise in Anchorage in time for the 1990-91 season. Born in Drumheller, Alta., and raised in Burnaby, B.C., Vranckaert spent more than 20 years in general commercial construction 800 miles north of Anchorage.
The WHL said it would play two exhibition and four regular-season games in Anchorage and use that, plus the 1989 world junior championship, which was to be held in Anchorage, as a barometer.
On May 8, the Pats announced that Sauter’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.
A week later, Sauter’s old team, the Tigers, beat the Windsor Spitfires 7-6 in Chicoutimi to become the sixth team in the 70-year history of the Memorial Cup to win back-to-back championships.
The board in Moose Jaw put H.J. (Toby) Tobias in charge and then resigned en masse. Tobias was empowered to chair a committee whose immediate responsibility was to carry on a fund-raising campaign aimed at erasing the club’s debt. The immediate goal was to raise $150,000.
Tobias said he would look into the team’s accounting procedures, recommend constitutional changes and appoint an auditor to present a year-end statement at the club’s annual meeting.
“To me it’s a four-stage project,” Tobias said. “Stage 1: Solve the immediate debt crisis and give us some breathing room. Step 2: Have a look at the front office and see if there are some things we can tighten up. Stage 3: Come up with a budget we can live with in years to come. Stage 4: Make sure fund-raising becomes a year-round effort.”
In mid-May, Pezzin resigned as coach in Brandon. He would be replaced by Sauter, who was reunited with Shinske. The two were old friends, going back to the Estevan and New Westminster Bruins. Sobchuk replaced Sauter in Regina.
Celentano resigned in Moose Jaw, saying: “By my staying I become just another liability, one of those accounts payable that they have to make every day, and they don’t have the money.”
On May 31, Tobias announced that the Warriors had reached their goal of $151,800. That figure covered debts accrued up until March 31. Tobias said: “The phoenix has risen from the ashes. The financial health of the club remains fragile . . . but it’s business as usual from here on in.”
Indications were that New Westminster owner Ron Dixon would move the franchise to the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. He just happened to be building an arena, the Tri-Cities Coliseum, there.
In July, Farwell and Melrose resigned in Medicine Hat. Shortly after, they signed in Seattle. Wes Phillips was named GM in Medicine Hat and hired Ron Kennedy, a former Estevan player, as coach. Before the season started, Phillips quit, citing business and family pressures, and Tim Speltz replaced him.
Peter Anholt was named head coach in Prince Albert, where Wilson quit to join the L.A. Kings as an assistant coach. Brad Tippett was the GM in Prince Albert.
The WHL arrived in Anchorage on the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25, 1988.
Kamloops and Portland played two exhibition games in Anchorage, drawing 2,100 to the first game and 1,750 the next night.
A shakeup occurred in Spokane. It started on Oct. 14 when Spokane GM Bob Strumm acquired six players while giving up four others in trades that involved three other teams. The Chiefs were 1-4-0 and had given up 33 goals in those five games.
Twelve days later, with the Chiefs 2-9-0, Strumm relieved Goring of his duties. Strumm, with a three-year contract extension that would take him through the 1991-92 season, went behind the bench, went 2-4-0 and immediately installed Gary Braun as coach.
On Nov. 11, Moose Jaw dumped Gerry James and installed Kvisle as head coach/director of hockey operations.
Three days later, Regina shook up things. Sobchuk moved from coach to GM, with Bernie Lynch moving up from assistant coach to head coach.
It was announced on Nov. 17 that Vranckaert had purchased the Victoria Cougars from Fraser McColl. Ownership actually had changed hands 10 days after the end of the season.
“Bob has been after me for a long time,” McColl said. “He wants to get into the business with a passion. And, perhaps, that’s the type of enthusiasm this team needs right now.”
On Nov. 20, the Tri-City Americans, having played their first 17 games on the road because the Coliseum wasn’t ready, opened at home with a 4-3 overtime victory over Seattle in front of a sellout crowd of 6,004.
Swift Current started the season with 12 straight victories, and went into the Christmas break at 28-5-0 and on a 10-game winning streak. Referring to the bus accident of two years previous, James said: “I think the bus accident galvanized the spirit of the community. I think that was a catalyst. Since then we’ve had to provide a product that’s been worthy of fans coming, but I think that incident certainly rallied the community.”
Added centre Tim Tisdale: “That’s all anybody in town talks about. It’s hard to believe. You go downtown and you’re eating in a restaurant and everybody at the next table is talking about the Broncos. It definitely helps your hockey.”
There was big news out of Calgary on Jan. 3, 1989, when Petr Nedved, a centre with a midget team from Litvinov, Czechoslovakia, defected after a midget tournament. His WHL rights belonged to Moose Jaw, but the Warriors would deal them to Seattle.
The season wasn’t over when Spokane owner Vic Fitzgerald said that Braun wouldn’t be returning.
On March 14, Chynoweth revealed that the WHL “had an inquiry from Terry Simpson about putting a team in Red Deer. They would have to get a new building.” A conditional franchise was sold to Simpson on Aug. 12, 1991. The Rebels would begin play in the fall of 1992.
Attendance figures compiled by The Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance was up 232,951 over 1987-88. Most of that was attributable to the first-year Americans who attracted 203,532 fans, which was 156,149 more than they drew the previous season in New Westminster.
There was a change in Seattle on April 11 when Medicine Hat businessman Bill Yuill bought the Thunderbirds from Earl Hale of Calgary.
The usual spate of front-office changes began in earnest with the news that: 1. Galbraith would not be back in Lethbridge; 2. Al Patterson, who quit in Victoria after the season ended, had signed as Tri-City’s GM; 3. Ron Byrne had signed as the GM in Victoria; 4. Sobchuk had resigned as GM in Regina; 5. Shinske had resigned in Brandon; and, 6. Tippett had quit in P.A.
Swift Current won 4-1 in Portland on April 30 to sweep the Winter Hawks in the championship final. The Broncos became the first team to sweep its way to the WHL championship — they also got past Moose Jaw and Saskatoon in four games each. The Broncos, just a season and a half after having four players killed in a bus accident, went 55-16-1, the best record in the CHL.
“This is a great accomplishment for our franchise,” James said. “But I don’t want the Memorial Cup to decide if we had a great year.”
Tisdale added: “We have the team to do it this year. If we can’t get up for four games, we don’t belong there. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the Memorial Cup.”
On May 14, Tisdale’s goal at 3:25 of the first sudden-death overtime period gave the Broncos a 4-3 victory over Saskatoon in the final game of the Memorial Cup. The game was played in front of 9.078 fans in Saskatchewan Place and brought to an end the most successful Memorial Cup tournament ever played.
Shortly after the Memorial Cup, the changes continued: 1. Lynch found out his contract in Regina wouldn’t be renewed; 2. Rick Kozuback signed a two-year contract as coach with Tri-City; 3. Simpson returned to Prince Albert as GM/head coach; 4. Bill Hicke was named GM in Regina; 5. Tippett signed as Regina’s head coach; 5. Maxwell returned from L.A. to sign as co-coach and director of hockey operations in Spokane; 6. Braun was Spokane’s co-coach and assistant director of hockey operations; 7. Melrose left Seattle to become head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings; 8. Marcel Comeau signed a two-year deal in Saskatoon but shortly after resigned to become head coach of the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks; 9. Anholt quit in P.A. to join Seattle as head coach; 10. Rob Daum signed as assistant coach/assistant manager in P.A.; and, 11. Terry Ruskowski signed to coach the Blades.
On June 14, 1989, Moose Jaw, so close to financial ruin just one year earlier, revealed at its annual meeting that there was a paper profit of $119,722 and that the Warriors had about $40,000 in the bank.
At its annual meeting, the WHL had two major announcements. It had decided for the first time to use full-time referees. “We’re hoping it leads to more consistent, professional refereeing,” Regina governor Ted Knight said. By the time all was said and done, the WHL had hired eight full-time and four part-time referees.
The WHL also said it would no longer allow teams to list 13-year-old players. From that point on, 14-year-olds would count for two spots on a list, players 15 and older for one.
Seattle set a single-game attendance record on Oct. 7 when 12,173 fans showed up to watch the Thunderbirds edge Portland, 4-3. “We could have sold 2,000 more tickets,” Seth Landau, the club’s director of marketing and public relations, said. “We were sold out the day before the game.” The previous attendance record belonged to Portland, which had attracted capacity crowds of 10,437 to Memorial Coliseum on numerous occasions.
The first coaching change came on Oct. 15 when Naka resigned in Victoria. Lyle Moffat replaced him.
On Nov. 1, Ken Hitchcock, 36 years of age and in the neighbourhood of 400 pounds, went public with the news that he was going on a serious diet.
“There comes a time in life when it becomes a case of now or never,” said the popular coach of the Kamloops Blazers. “I look down the road four or five years from now, what do I want to be doing? If that’s what I have to do to move up the ladder, that’s what I have to do.”
Victoria made another coaching change on Nov. 13 with Garry Cunningham becoming the Cougars’ third coach of the season. Moffat stayed on as marketing director.
A lawsuit launched by Hornung was settled out of court in November. Thirteen defendants, including the WHL, were named in the suit launched in July of 1987. Details of the settlement weren’t made public.
At a WHL board of governors’ meeting on Nov. 20, the chair switched bodies again. It was a case of deja vu, with Shaw taking over from Brodsky.
On Dec. 17, Sauter was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder that strikes at the central nervous system. He would not return to coaching until late in the 1990-91 season when he finished the winter with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Brandon GM Kelly McCrimmon moved in behind Brandon’s bench.
There was a player revolt in Tri-City when Dixon named Bill LaForge director of player personnel. LaForge said he had a five-year contract.
On Dec. 31, with Portland scheduled to play in Tri-City, the Americans players refused. A statement signed by 19 players read in part: “We will definitely not participate in any further games without the termination of Mr. Bill LaForge from the Americans organization.”
The players ended their holdout the next day, winning 8-4 in Portland. Dixon had contacted players earlier in the day and said LaForge would no longer have any contact with them.
Defenceman Colin Ruck later explained the Tri-City deal: “He came into the dressing room screaming and cutting guys down. To get to us, he said we had to call him Coach. He had (coach) Rick Kozuback picking up pucks during practice. That really upset us. Bill came out and ran a really brutal practice. We felt we had to do something.”
Byrne was gone as Victoria’s GM before January ended, while Cunningham was out as coach on Feb. 5. Moffat went back behind the bench. The Cougars would set a CHL record, losing 29 in a row.
On Feb. 7, Seattle centre Glen Goodall had an assist in a 5-3 victory over visiting Tri-City to break the WHL record for most points in a career. That lifted his point total to 530, one more than Craig Endean, who had played with Seattle and Regina.
Two nights later, Seattle broke the WHL single-game attendance record as 12,253 fans watched a 5-3 victory over Spokane.
Figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance totalled 1,678,651, up about 40,000 over the previous season. Tri-City, which sold out every home game, led the way with total attendance of 216,360. Saskatoon, in its first full season in Saskatchewan Place, played in front of 209,542 fans. Seattle, which finished with its best-ever record (52-17-3; the best previous was 32-28-12 in 1977-78), drew 181,211 fans, up 66,189 from a year previous.
On March 28, Chynoweth admitted that two groups had applied for an expansion franchise for Tacoma, Wash.
The Spokane franchise changed hands on April 10, with Fitzgerald selling to the Brett brothers — Bobby, George and Ken — for more than $600,000. Bob Brett wouldn’t say what they paid, other than to say it was “too much.”
The postseason changes started in April when Speltz and Kennedy learned that Medicine Hat wouldn’t renew their contracts, and Rick Hopper was named head coach/director of hockey operations in Victoria. Jack Shupe, the Tigers’ first GM/head coach in 1970-71, was the new GM in Medicine Hat. He hired Tim Bothwell as coach.
On April 29, Kamloops scored a 6-5 overtime victory in Lethbridge to win the WHL final in five games. Kamloops lost the opener and then won four straight. The Blazers struck out at the Memorial Cup, though, as the Oshawa Generals, with Eric Lindros, won it all in Hamilton.
There was much expansion talk in the WHL, resulting in this comment from Brodsky: “It’s sort of like being in love. If you have to ask yourself whether you’re in love, you’re probably not. If we’re wondering why we should expand, then maybe we’re forcing the issue a bit. If expansion is right, we’ll know it.”
Farwell left Seattle to become GM of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Anholt added the GM’s nameplate to his door, and hired assistant GM Dennis Beyak from Saskatoon. Beyak had been in Saskatoon since 1981 and was the person deemed most responsible for the success of the 1989 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.
Simpson left Prince Albert again, this time to become an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. Daum was promoted to replace him.
There were shockwaves in Kamloops when Hitchcock resigned after six seasons with the Blazers. He signed as an assistant coach with Philadelphia. Tom Renney replaced Hitchcock, who left with a 291-125-15 regular-season record over six seasons, his .693 winning percentage the highest of any coach in WHL history.
Leaving wasn’t easy for Hitchcock, who said: “I got cold feet a couple of times. I almost went into (GM) Bob Brown’s office and said, ‘Call the whole thing off, I don’t want to go.’ ”
On Sept. 30, Chynoweth chatted about expansion: “There are what I like to call tire-kickers in Boise, Idaho; Eugene, Oregon; and, Tacoma, Washington. The WHL is in good shape and we’re aggressive to expand by one, possibly two teams in the West Division sometime soon. We are coming off our second record-setting attendance season. We’re also proud of the fact that this is the third year in a row we aren’t opening a new site. Believe it or not, but we’re stable.”
Bruce Hamilton, a former player and scout with the Blades, headed a group of Saskatoon and Tacoma investors who were eventually granted a franchise for Tacoma to start with the 1991-92 season.
On Oct. 30, with the 1990-91 season one month old, one night before Halloween, James went wild in Swift Current. Upset with referee Kevin Muench after the Broncos turned a 7-3 second-period lead into a 9-8 loss to visiting Medicine Hat, James went on to the ice in pursuit of Muench, then returned to the bench and threw sticks and water bottles onto the ice. James then removed his jacket, tie, shirt and one shoe and threw them onto the ice before his players escorted him to the dressing room.
Bothwell summed it up: “All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ I don’t know what words can describe what happened out there, from a lot of different aspects.”
James was suspended for six games and fined $2,000. “At least they didn’t ask me for the shirt off my back,” he said. The incident would show up on video on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and the David Letterman Show among others.
There was some silliness in Spokane, too. On Dec. 6, with Tri-City visiting Spokane, Maxwell and Americans assistant Gerry Johannson got into it after first period.
Here’s Maxwell: “He was waiting for me. He was yapping at me. He challenged me and I accepted the challenge.” Maxwell was said to have out-punched his opponent, 4-0.
Here’s Johansson: “He throws punches like marshmallows.”
Maxwell was suspended for three games and fined $500. Johansson got hit for $1,000 and four games.
Remember that $1 parking fee in Regina? Well, on Dec. 17, Regina Exhibition Park announced it was doubling it to $2. “I don’t think our fans will take very kindly to it if it does happen,” said co-owner/GM Bill Hicke. “If that’s the case it’ll drive another nail in the coffin.”
The Pats’ lease would expire after the 1990-91 season and Hicke had already made at least one trip into the Pacific Northwest to scout buildings.
A change in Prince Albert had Dale Engel move in as GM, with Rob Daum giving up that title but staying on as coach. It was no surprise when Daum left P.A. for Swift Current at season’s end.
On Feb. 4, Saskatoon fired head coach Terry Ruskowski, replacing him with former Blades defenceman Bob Hoffmeyer.
On March 17, Seattle was awarded the 1992 Memorial Cup.
The Leader-Post’s attendance figures showed that Tri-City, with 36 sellouts, again topped the WHL with 216,360 fans. Seattle was next at 215,248, up 34,037 from the season previous. But overall attendance was down 22,861 to 1,655,790.
On April 17, Marcel Comeau was named the first head coach of the Tacoma Rockets. Hamilton would be the GM, with Lorne Frey, most recently with Swift Current, as director of player personnel.
Spokane scored a 7-2 victory over home-town Lethbridge to sweep the WHL final. The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup, with goaltender Trevor Kidd and right-winger Pat Falloon wrapping up dream seasons. Both played for the Canadian junior team that won the gold medal in Saskatoon.
One thing more than any other summed up the WHL as it headed into its second 25 years. When the 1991-92 season opened, the league not only had the same 14 teams for the fourth consecutive season, but it had welcomed the Tacoma Rockets to the fold.
Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual gathering 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:
Certain teams will now have a significant advantage because they have several legit WHL players born in their region. This creates an extremely uneven playing field. (2/4)
Hearing some Ontario Hockey League teams are telling players they don’t expect to open training camps until mid-January at the earliest. Even that’s far from a certainty. OHL has publicly said it hopes to start season Dec. 1.
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.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
NHL teams have been told they will not be allowed to scout live at the upcoming World Juniors similar to the bubble the NHL had in Edmonton.
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.” . . .
Hearing rumblings that some NE prep schools are looking at going rogue & playing outside their leagues if leagues pull plug (as Founders League has already done). Also hearing talk of top midget programs — think Mid-Fairfield, Jr. Eagles, Whalers — extending seasons. Stay tuned
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. . . .
a source close to slava kozlov's family tells me he is out of the hospital and did have a difficult case of COVID-19.#RedWings@georgemalik
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:
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.
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.
It’s about time pro sports teams got rid of their racist names, logos and caricatures. Hopefully the CHL follows suit.
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.
“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.
Mexico has closed its border with the United States because we can't gain control of Covid. If this doesn't put it into perspective for the people who still don't get it I give up.
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 . . .
Hey, so, I got #Covid19 in March. I’ve been sick for over 3 months w/ severe respiratory, cardiovascular & neurological symptoms. I still have a fever. I’ve been incapacitated for nearly a season of my life. It's not enough to not die. You don’t want to live thru this, either. 1/
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 changed 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.
“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.”
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.
Schools are going to reopen in Nebraska in August. But no science classes will be taught. The governor is calling for the arrest of anybody caught teaching science, which he doesn't believe in.
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.”