WHL teams getting clearance to return . . . Three games on tap tonight . . . Giants’ owner admits to seven-figure loss last season

Sheep011022
This guy, apparently having gotten over Sunday’s loss to the 49ers, was looking for salt on Shuswap Road near Kamloops on Tuesday afternoon.


The WHL, which postponed 22 of 23 games it had scheduled for last weekend, had three games on its schedule for last night (Tuesday). However, they also were postponed.

But now, with teams starting to return to the ice after being put on pause by WHLCOVID-19 protocols, there are three games scheduled to be played tonight (Wednesday), with the Swift Current Broncos to visit the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the Brandon Wheat Kings at the Medicine Hat Tigers and the Tri-City Americans in Everett for a game with the Silvertips. Two other games — Kelowna Rockets at Prince George Cougars, Spokane Chiefs at Victoria Royals — were postponed.

On Monday, the Edmonton Oil Kings, Everett, Medicine Hat, Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Saskatoon Blades, Spokane and Winnipeg Ice all were cleared to resume team activities. Earlier, Lethbridge, the Moose Jaw Warriors, Portland Winterhawks, Regina Pats, Swift Current and Tri-City also were cleared.

The WHL has begun rescheduling the games that have been postponed, so check your favourite team’s website for that information.

With the Manitoba government continuing to restrict attendance in some facilities, including arenas in Brandon and Winnipeg, two doubleheaders, both involving Regina as the visiting team, have been postponed. The Pats were to have played at Winnipeg, Jan. 15 and 16, and Brandon, Jan. 21 and 22. Those games will be rescheduled.


In a pre-Christmas appearance on Donnie and Dhali — The Team, Ron Toigo, Vancouverthe majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, said his WHL team’s losses reached seven figures for 2020-21.

The show, featuring Don Taylor and Rick Dhaliwal as hosts, is on Victoria TV station CHEK. Toigo was a guest on Dec. 22, five days before COVID-19 became a real issue with this WHL season.

Asked about the economics involved in operating a team in these trying times, Toigo replied:

“There is no economics to it. Last year, we lost north of a million dollars. We’re probably going to be maybe not that bad this year but we’re certainly going to be in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands. Just our team . . . when you spread it across the league it is significant and material.”

Based on attendance figures compiled by the WHL, the Giants, who play out of the 5,276-seat Langley Events Centre, have an average attendance this season of 2,937 after 15 home games. At present, their crowds are restricted to 50 per cent of capacity by provincial government restrictions.

The Giants played 11 home games last season when fans weren’t allowed.

In 2019-20, the Giants got in 30 home games, averaging 3,920 fans, before the season was halted by the pandemic.

In 2018-19, the last season prior to the pandemic, their 34-game average was 3,826.

The league-wide average in 2018-19, for 748 games, was 4,361. That number was 4,154 for 694 games in 2019-20. This season, after 348 games, the number is 3,051. However, 13 of the 22 teams are averaging fewer than 3,002 fans per game.

“Our goal all along,” Toigo continued, “is to make sure the players can play to get through this cycle of their development and by all accounts I think we’ve done a pretty good job of it.

“But there is no economics . . . to this sports business or probably any level of sports business while this is going on. . . . Sports business is not a good business to be in these days.”

As for the pandemic and all that comes with it, Toigo said: “It is what it is. We’re certainly a lot better off than we were a year ago with all the vaccines. . . . but we still have a long way to go.

“A lot of this we’re doing is because of all the unvaccinated issues we’ve got. If everybody was vaccinated I think we’d be a lot further ahead than we are now.”

At present, the Giants are on hold because of COVID-19 protocols. They hope to be cleared in time to face the visiting Prince George Cougars on Friday in a game that is scheduled to be televised by TSN.


Warranty


As of Tuesday, the KHL had 97 players and 29 staff members out after having tested positive for COVID-19. All told, 14 games involving Avtomobilist, Salavat Ulaev, CSKA, Dinamo Riga and Torpedo have been postponed. All this came out of an emergency meeting involving the KHL and team executives that was held on Tuesday. . . . Later in the day, it was revealed that Moscow Spartak had gone into quarantine after 10 positive tests, while Metallurg Magnitogorsk had nine players and two staffers test positive. . . . Following the meeting, the KHL confirmed its desire to complete the regular season by playing all games. That may result in playing games during the approaching Olympic break or extending the season, thus delaying the start of playoffs. A final decision is to be made after Jan. 23, which is when the KHL’s Olympic break is to begin.


Tyler Moore is the new general manager of the junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, with Nick Deschenes signing on as head coach. They take over from Ron Sleeman and Gerald Bouchard, who no longer are with the organization. In December, Sleeman was suspended by the KIJHL for 45 days and Bouchard for eight games after the Eagles were sanctioned for violations of the the league’s COVID-19 policy. . . . Deschenes began this season as the GM and head coach of the KIJHL’s Summerland Steam, but left five games into the season in one of those mutual partings. . . . Moore had been the director of scouting with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors.


Plan


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Drummer

Scattershooting on a Friday night while awaiting the arrival of snow squalls . . .

Scattershooting2
Merry Christmas . . .


Rick Westhead (@rwesthead) of TSN reports that the WHL has contacted former players to inform them that they will be receiving a survey that is related to a potential class-action lawsuit that the WHL, as a member of the CHL, is facing. . . . According to Westhead, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has confirmed that the survey will ask the former players “if they attended rookie parties, were hazed, etc.”

The letter, the legitimacy of which Westhead reports Robison has confirmed . . .

Letter


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League has dropped the kijhlhammer on the Sicamous Eagles “for violations under (its) COVID-19 vaccination policy.” The league explained in a news release: “The sanctions stem from the participation of an Eagles player in team activities, including KIJHL regular-season games, at a time when they did not meet the KIJHL’s requirement of being fully vaccinated.” . . . The team has been fined an undisclosed amount, while general manager Ron Sleeman was suspended for 45 days and head coach Gerald Bouchard drew an eight-game sentence. . . . Sleeman is out until Jan. 23; Bouchard can return to the bench on Jan. 14. . . . The Eagles went into Friday’s action with a 5-13-1 record, good for sixth place in the six-team Doug Birks Division. . . . Here’s Sheila Devost, the Eagle’s president: “The KIJHL has policies and rules for teams to follow . . . when they are not adhered to, there are consequences. We broke the rules and now must respect we have to face the consequences.” . . .

This was the second time the KIJHL has had to take this kind of action. The Beaver Valley Nitehawks were fined $2,500 and GM/head coach Terry Jones got an eight-game suspension after two players got into regular-season games despite not being fully vaccinated. Jones, who hasn’t coached since Nov. 15, is eligible to return tonight (Saturday).


As if hockey leagues in B.C. haven’t had enough scheduling issues because of weather-related road closures, the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League had to postpone a Friday night game because of a power outage. It seems that there was an issue with a substation in the area late on Thursday afternoon. . . . The problem hadn’t been fixed by late Friday afternoon and a lot of people were preparing to spend a second night without power. . . . The game against the visiting Kimberley Dynamiters will be rescheduled.


Check


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with some NFL-related thoughts:

“Antonio Brown — along with teammate Mike Edwards — has been suspended for three games by the NFL for acquiring and presenting a false vaccination record to the team and the league. The players are not going to appeal the suspensions and the NFLPA was part of the investigation/adjudication processes. I read one report that said that a forgery of a record that included the seal of the CDC was a Federal crime; I have no idea if that is correct, but it does seem reasonable.  On the assumption that is correct:

“Antonio Brown and Mike Edwards get three games off (without pay) for endangering the health of others, lying to league officials and possibly violating Federal law; and

“Tom Brady got four games off (without pay) for allegedly underinflating a football.

Got that?”


With head coach Michael Dyck having left to join Canada’s national junior team Vancouver— he’s an assistant coach — associate coach Keith McCambridge ran the Vancouver bench on Wednesday night as the Giants dropped a 7-1 decision to the Blazers in Kamloops. It was a homecoming of sorts for McCambridge, who was acquired by the Blazers from the Swift Current Broncos during 1994-95. He played 21 regular-season and 21 playoff games for the Blazers as they won the WHL title and the Memorial Cup. . . . McCambridge was joined behind the bench by former WHL/NHL D Brent Seabrook, who is helping out as a volunteer assistant in Dyck’s absence. . . . BTW, McCambridge is from Thompson, Man., the hometown of former WHL coach-of-the-year Jack Sangster and also F Glen Goodall, who holds the WHL record for most regular-season career games played.


Wings


The AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced on Wednesday that they and FortMcMurraygeneral manager/head coach Gord Thibodeau had “mutually agreed to part ways.” According to a two-paragraph news release, Thibodeau, 58, the winningest regular-season coach in AJHL history, resigned for “personal reasons.” . . . At the time of Thibodeau’s departure, the Oil Barons were 26-6-0 and atop the Viterra North Division. . . . “The team is doing well this year and we positioned ourselves at the top of the North Division here,” David Fitzgerald, the team president, told Laura Beamish of Fort McMurray Today, “and he’s a big part of that. So from that perspective we were moving in the right direction. We had to look at things outside of the ice and he’s had to make a decision from a personal perspective and we respect that.” . . . Beamish’s story is right here. . . .

On Friday, the Oil Barons hired Adam Manah as their new GM/head coach. Manah, 34, had been dismissed by the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders on Nov. 26. He had spent the previous six seasons with the Crusaders. He was the head coach for four of those seasons and the assistant GM/head coach last season. Then he added the GM’s duties in March. Manah is familiar with Fort McMurray, having spent three seasons (2005-08) playing with the Oil Barons.


When Saskatchewan Roughriders QB Cody Fajardo met with the Regina media for one of those season-ending gabfests on Monday, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post asked what it meant for him to be the CFL team’s quarterback. . . . Vanstone later wrote: “Fajardo broke down in front of the cameras and a room full of reporters. The words and images were summarily disseminated far and wide. Fajardo spoke of the ills of social media, and about ‘disgusting’ comments that were often made about himself, and even his family. He paused once or twice to compose himself, while ultimately delivering an impassioned two-minute response — more than a hint of what it is like to reside in the football fishbowl that is Saskatchewan.” . . . That was part of a column that Vanstone wrote in which he took dead aim at the keyboard idiots who ride a horse named Anonymous through social media. “In a supposedly enlightened age, when so much is said and written about the importance of mental health, there are nonetheless people who will simplistically suggest that Fajardo needs to ‘toughen up’ or ‘get a thicker skin’,” Vanstone wrote. “The detractors’ heads, it seems, are considerably thicker.” . . . The complete column is right here.


Whiskey


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Ken Campbell of Hockey Unfiltered notes that “Tij Iginla, whose father, Jarome, was recently inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, was drafted ninth overall by the Seattle Thunderbirds in its Prospects Draft. So the son already has one over on his dad because Jarome was never drafted by a WHL team.” . . .

The Lethbridge Hurricanes used the 10th overall pick in Thursday’s draft to take F Miguel Marques, a 15-year-old from Prince George who plays at the Delta Hockey Academy. In 16 games, he has 64 points, including 27 goals. Marques signed a WHL contract on Friday and made his debut that night as the Hurricanes dropped a 3-2 OT decision against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The Victoria Royals went into Friday’s WHL action having played in five straight OT games. They went 4-0-1 in those games. . . . Wait! There’s more. Six of the Royals’ last seven games went to extra time (4-0-2), and to go deeper, it’s seven of nine (4-0-3). . . . Last night, they went into Langley, B.C., and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-3. This time, they didn’t need OT. . .  .

F Cole Shepard, 19, played his first game with the Giants since March 7, 2020, on Friday night. Shepard had been out since undergoing hip surgery. Shepard had an assist and was plus-2 in a 4-3 loss to visiting Victoria. . . . BTW, Michael Bublé, who owns a piece of the Giants, and his family took part in the ceremonial faceoff. . . .

Nolan Maier of the Saskatoon Blades set a franchise record for goaltenders on Friday when he made his 178th career regular-season appearance in a 4-2 loss to the visiting Calgary Hitmen. Maier, who is in his fifth season with the Blades, had been tied with Braden Holtby, who made one appearance in 2005-06, then played in 51, 64 and 61 games in the next three seasons. . . .

In Regina on Friday night, F Tanner Howe, who is from Prince Albert, scored the Teddy Bear goal for the Pats, who went on to dump his hometown Raiders, 5-2. . . . Howe, who turned 16 on Nov. 28, has 17 points, including nine goals, in 21 games this season. . . .

In Portland on Friday night, the Winterhawks beat the Spokane Chiefs, 4-1. . . . The Chiefs’ next three games also will be against the Winterhawks — tonight in Portland and Dec. 17 and 18 in Spokane. The Winterhawks will interrupt the four-game series for a Tuesday night engagement with the visiting Everett Silvertips.


Shatner


If you were in attendance at the Toronto Raptors’ game on Sunday against the visiting Washington Wizards, Toronto Public Health wants you to self-monitor for 10 days because you may have been exposed to COVID-19. TPH has added the event to the list of exposures on its website. . . . TPH also is telling people to get tested if they demonstrate any symptoms. . . . That warning came Friday, after Masai Ujiri, the Raptors’ vice-chairman and president, revealed on Thursday that he had tested positive. That test followed his attendance at a Giants of Africa in-person event before Sunday’s game. Some other guests have since come up positive, as well. . . . Nav Bhatia was at the Giants of Africa event, so the Raptors’ superfan wasn’t able to attend Friday’s game. He had been at every home game since the franchise entered the NBA in 1995.


JUST NOTES: As of Friday evening, the Vancouver Canucks’ change in direction had cost six men their jobs. So if you’re part of the organization at this moment how are you feeling about job security? . . . The Canucks are 3-0, all at home, under new head coach Bruce Boudreau with two of the victories coming in shootouts. They also have had some co-operation from the schedule-maker. Vancouver beat the Los Angeles Kings, 4-0, on Monday. The Kings had played in Edmonton the previous night, while the Canucks were off. On Friday, Vancouver got past Winnipeg, 4-3 in a shootout. The Canucks had enjoyed Thursday off, while the Jets were beating the Kraken in Seattle. . . . The Canucks next are scheduled to play on Sunday against the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, who are in Edmonton tonight (Saturday). . . . The best part of the World Junior Championship that is quickly approaching? It means that we’ll get to spend some time listening to hockey’s best play-by-play man — Dennis Beyak, who is TSN’s man on Winnipeg Jets’ telecasts. Hey, Sportsnet, throw a gob of money his way, toss in the personal use of a company jet, and make him your national voice. . . . Sunday’s Grey Cup game? Winnipeg Blue Bombers 26, Hamilton Tiger-Cats 18. Winnipeg LB Adam Bighill will be the best player on the field.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Jogging

Warriors absorb loss; president optimistic but admits ‘if we don’t have those fans back we’ll take staggering losses’ . . . Stevenson sparks Rebels . . . Ex-WHL goalie heads to OHL

With little fanfare, the Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting on Thursday.

The Warriors are one of four community-owned teams in the WHL — along MooseJawwith the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos — and, as such, must hold AGMs for their shareholders.

The Warriors didn’t post a news release on their website. But the team did put up a brief video interview with Chad Taylor, the organization’s president.

Taylor said the Warriors showed a loss and warned that, at the moment, things aren’t looking good for the 2021-22 season.

“If it wasn’t for the provincial government our balance sheet . . . would look a lot different than it is today,” Taylor said, referring to the fact that the Saskatchewan government gave each of that province’s five WHL franchises $600,000. “We are still showing a loss. You can’t just recover . . . With no revenues it’s impossible to try and pull a profit out of an organization like this.

“I have to give tremendous credit to the staff. Unfortunately, there were numerous layoffs, pay cuts . . . some people did lose their jobs. It’s heart-wrenching to go through something like this. I think at the end of the day, we did what we could do to play another day . . .”

The Warriors lost $391,299 for 2019-20, after losses of $165,145 for 2018-19 and $463,566 for 2016-17. In 2017-18, the Warriors declared a profit of $704,182.

These days, the Warriors are looking to the future.

“There’s tons of challenges,” Taylor said. “I think it’s important to let Warriors fans know that we need your support, we need you back in the rink. I understand the challenges with some of that with certain people. But if we don’t have those fans back we’ll take staggering losses this (season). It’s trending to look like that today, but I’m optimistic that will work its way out.

“Our corporate sponsorships have been fantastic, given what we’ve been through. I think everybody in their business are re-evaluating certain things and we understand that. It’s going to take us a while to get our revenues back to (pre-pandemic) times and we understand that. We’re trying to make sure that we can manage our expenses properly. We need the revenues to support this club.”

The complete interview is right here.

The Warriors, like the other six Manitoba and Saskatchewan teams, played 24 games in a hub situation in Regina as part of the WHL’s 2021 development season.

The Broncos were part of that hub and told shareholders at their AGM that they had lost $129,968. It stands to reason, then, that the Warriors’ losses may have been in that same neighbourhood.

The Hurricanes, who played games without fans against the other four Alberta teams at home and away, told their shareholders that they had made $72,250.


There was only one game in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

In Red Deer, the Rebels opened up a 5-0 lead and cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Swift Current Broncos. . . . The Rebels had a 41-19 edge in shots, including 20-5 in the second period. . . . F Blake Stevenson had a goal and two assists.

——


Nicolas Daigle and Massimo Siciliano, both 19, of the QMJHL’s Victoriaville qmjhlnewTigres appeared in a Quebec City courtroom on Tuesday, charged with sexual assault. . . . They also have been charged with recording the incident; Daigle also has been charged with sharing images of the alleged victim. . . . The charges arose after an incident that is alleged to have occurred in a hotel in Lac-Beauport after the Tigres’ won the QMJHL championship in June. . . . Both players remain with the Tigres, although the QMJHL has said it will “analyze the content of the charges and the file presented to the court. A decision will then be communicated within the next 48 hours regarding the status of the players in the QMJHL.” . . . There is more on this story right here.



Shortstop


This week’s best news? That’s easy. . . . MLB’s regular season is over. So is the experiment with the runner on second base in extra innings. Thankfully. . . . No, it won’t be used in the playoffs. No, it won’t be back next season.



Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, kept an eye on MLB’s injured list during the season. Here’s what he posted on Monday:

I went to check the “almost final” numbers for the number of MLB players who spent time on the Injured List this year and how much money they earned while in that status.  As of October 1st, here are the data:

In total, 823 players spent time on the IL;

Of those players, 481 were pitchers (58.4% of the total);

The number of man-days missed by players on the IL was 46,910; Those players earned a total of $817,313,884 — that’s a lot of cheese;

Justin Verlander missed the entire season and earned the most money of any player on the IL — $32M and change; and

Ten players — including Verlander — collected $10M or more while on the IL.


Some tweets that followed on the thread . . .

“ ‘I am going to potentially ‘sneak’ infect you.’ What a mind-boggling action.”

“Same thing happened at the grand opening of the new Poco Rec Centre. More than one unvaxxed person went around and snuck in through the parkade. Then had the gall to boast about it.”

“We’ve got a big tourney at our rink this weekend. A security company has been hired to guard doors and scan passports and passes. (Same as two weeks ago).  Everything ran so smooth.”

“Our association says anyone unvaxxed, causing a scene, unwilling to present proof of vax or sneaking in will have their child suspended and/or kicked off the team.”

“Hockey parents acting up, hard to believe!”



Story


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: G Roman Basran, 20, has joined the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads after clearing WHL waivers. A native of Delta, B.C., he played in 119 regular-season games with the Kelowna Rockets — 52-40-11, 2.89, .905 — before being waived in July. He later joined the Everett Silvertips, but things didn’t work out there, so now he’s in the OHL.


Socrates

Blazers’ owner: It’s disappointing, but people are dying from this . . . German junior team hit with eight positives; Sweden has two more


The Kamloops Blazers were 41-18-4 and enjoying a 14-point lead atop the WHL’s B.C. Division when the pandemic brought a premature end to the season in March.

They were poised to have their best regular season since 2012-13, when they Kamloops1finished 47-20-5. (In 2016-17, they went 42-24-6, for 90 points, a number last season’s team was within easy reach of with five games remaining.)

The point is that no one has more reason to be upset with how things went down in March than fans of the Blazers, who had waited a long time for a team that could bring them out of their seats. The same could be said for the players and, yes, ownership, too. But, as majority owner Tom Gaglardi points out, this situation really is all about perspective.

“It’s super disappointing, but you have to let go of what you can’t control,” Gaglardi told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “There are people dying from this, people that are losing livelihoods, that are struggling to get by. The Blazers’ winning window, it’s super discouraging, but you have to look at the things that really matter. We’re all frustrated, but the leagues that rushed out and tried to play have all failed.”

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, added: “It’s challenging, but boy, oh boy, is this a league that is determined to find a way. We are trying everything, but we’re not getting a lot of help. We’re not getting help from the public, in terms of managing the virus. It’s growing. The governments are not blessing our plans, but we’re trying.

“I think we will have a season. I really do. I’m a guy that believes we’ll find a way.”

At one point in the interview, Hastings asked about lost revenue and the state of the franchise.

“If the club didn’t have solid sponsorship, in terms of its ownership,” Gaglardi replied, “it would be in a lot worse shape. The business is in terrible shape, obviously, having lost all that revenue and continuing to lose revenue and carry costs. Fortunately, the Blazers are going to survive COVID-19. I think all the clubs around the league will survive it, too.

“This will easily jump into seven figures of damages and bills to pay when we get going again, so it’s devastating.”

While Gaglardi is the franchise’s majority owner, former NHLers Shane Doan, Jerome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor are the other co-owners.

“It wasn’t exactly a real solid business in the first place,” Gaglardi added, “but it’s going to mean some tough decisions. It’s already meant tough decisions. We’ve had to thin down our staff. We’re just trying to stay around. Luckily, bankers have been supportive and done whatever they can to help us through. We’ll survive, but it’s devastating.”

Hasting’s interview with Gaglardi is right here.



It seems that the virus has found the teams that are holed up in Edmonton awaiting the start of the 2021 World Junior Championship. Eight players off the 2021WJCGerman team have tested positive, as have two management people with Team Sweden.

The 10 teams all were to have come out of quarantine on Friday to begin on-ice preparations. However, the Germans now will quarantine until Thursday. Most of the Swedes will stay in quarantine until Monday. Those who had previous positive tests don’t have to because those infections, according to Hockey Canada, “provide a personal immunity and no threat of infection to others.”

Ryan Allenby, a Team Sweden doctor, ran practice on Friday for the seven players who were cleared to skate. Don’t forget that before even leaving for Canada on Sunday, the Swedes had to drop four players and four coaches, including head coach Tomas Monten, because of positive tests.

Canada and Sweden are scheduled to play an exhibition game on Monday.

The Germans are scheduled to open the tournament against Finland on Dec. 25 and then play Team Canada on Dec. 26. Having to quarantine until Thursday means the Germans will have to scrub exhibition games against Austria and Czech Republic.

Chris Peters of ESPN, who follows this tournament closely, tweeted Friday: “Germany and Sweden shared planes with other countries. Team sources indicated they were concerned with the travel set-up after they saw size of the planes. Sweden was on same flight with Finland and Russia and it looked pretty crowded based on social media posts.”

As near as I can tell, the Germans flew over with the Swiss team. The third flight carried Austria, Czech Republic and Slovakia.

Mark Masters of TSN has more WJC news right here.



Christmas2020

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News, 11:36 a.m. PT: Canada’s total COVID-19 death toll has passed 14,000. Nationally, there have been 493,308 confirmed cases.

CBC News: Number of new COVID-19 cases in Manitoba jumps to 350 after 6 straight days of recording less than 300. The province is also reporting 10 additional deaths.

Anya Nazeravich, CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba has 350 new cases of COVID-19. . . . Deaths: 547. . . . Hospitalizations: 305. . . . ICU: 43. . . . TP: 13.6% . . . TP in Winnipeg: 13.1%. . . . Active: 5,602. . . . Tests on Thursday: 2,167.

650 CKOM: Saskatchewan reported two more deaths related to COVID-19 on Friday. The province also reported 245 new cases and 485 recoveries, dropping the active caseload to 3,736.

Marc Smith, CTV Regina: With 485 more recoveries Friday, the province’s active case number is 3,736, which is the lowest it’s been since Nov. 29.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,413 new cases of COVID-19 and 25 new deaths related to the illness. There are 19,607 known active cases in the province. 759 COVID-19 patients are in Alberta hospitals, including 141 in ICU. The province has a 7.4% positivity rate.

Dave White, CBC: Two of Friday’s 25 reported deaths involve a woman in her 20s from the Calgary zone and a man in his 40s from the Edmonton zone with no known co-morbidities.

CBC News: B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced 624 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths on Friday.

CBC News: 2,290 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, the 4th day in a row above 2,000 and the 2nd-highest daily number of the pandemic. There are 40 more deaths, with 877 people in hospital and 261 in intensive care. 68,246 tests were completed; 3.9% were positive. 

CBC News: Quebec reports 1,773 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 1,825. Health authorities say there have also been 36 additional deaths.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 17.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, 5 p.m. PT: 313,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

The New York Times: Officials in New York State announced 12,606 new cases on Friday, The Times found, a single-day record that exceeds a previous high of 12,274 cases recorded on April 4, when testing was less widely available and significantly fewer tests were being conducted. But there was also a rare bit of good news: The number of people hospitalized with the virus in the state decreased on Thursday for the first time since late October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said on Friday.

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The 14-team Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association has cancelled its 2020-21 season. It had hoped to begin a delayed season in the spring. . . .

While I have mostly ignored NCAA basketball, it would seem that it has served up quite a buffet for the virus. On Thursday, Kelvin Sampson, the men’s coach at the U of Houston, said his entire roster has tested positive. According to the Washington Post, the team has had 15 players and some coaches test positive so far this season. Take a break? Pause the season? Are you kidding! While a Saturday game with Alabama won’t happen, Sampson hopes to have eight or nine players back in time to play Alcorn State on Sunday. . . . Meanwhile, Louisville head coach Chris Mack says 90 per cent of his team has had the virus and has recovered. . . .

If you haven’t already, search out Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski and read up on his views of this NCAA basketball season. . . .

Al Michaels won’t be calling an NFL games this weekend — he was to have done Cleveland-New York Giants — after NBC pulled him “in accordance with NBCUniversal COVID-19 safety protocols.” . . . That means we’ll get Mike Tirico calling the play of that game on Sunday night, alongside Cris Collinsworth and with Michele Tafoya on the sidelines. . . . Tirico was to have handled Carolina-Green Bay, but has been replaced by Joe Davis, who will work with Kurt Warner. . . . BTW, Michaels reports that he feels fine. . . .

Santa Clara County has extended its ban on contact sports that was to have ended on Monday, meaning the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers will continue to play ‘home games’ at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. That includes their final regular-season game on Jan. 3 against the Seattle Seahawks. . . .

All participants in the Australian Open (Feb. 8-21) are going to have to spend two weeks in quarantine in Melbourne before the tournament opens. They will be allowed to train for up to five hours at Melbourne Park during the quarantine. . . .

The Heritage Junior Hockey League, with 14 junior B teams in Alberta, announced Friday that it has “decided all January games will be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.” . . . From a release: “After the Alberta government and Hockey Alberta have given further instruction, team officials will once again meet virtually to map out the first few months of 2021.”


Peephole


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: D Nathan Paetsch, who played four seasons in the WHL (Moose Jaw, 1999-2003), announced his retirement Thursday, ending a pro career that began in 2003-04 with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and included 167 NHL games over five seasons. Paetsch, 37, is a native of Humboldt. He got into 258 regular-season and 34 playoff games with Moose Jaw. . . . The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have hired former WHL G Mackenzie Skapski as their goaltending coach. Skapski, 26, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He played three seasons (2011-14) with the Kootenay Ice (hey, remember them?). His pro career included two games with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Skapski last played in 2018-19 with the Slovakian team HKM Zvolen. You may recall that Skapski reached the NHL just five years after suffering broken bones in the left side of his face and assorted other injuries after the bus carrying he and his U-18 Fraser Valley Bruins to Williams Lake hit black ice and ended up on its side in a ditch. . . .

Former WHL D David Wilkie picked up his 100th regular-season victory as the head coach of the USHL’s Omaha Lancers on Friday night. According to a tweet from the team, the only Omaha coach to have gotten there quicker was Bliss Littler. Wilkie played four seasons in the WHL (Seattle, Kamloops, Regina, 1990-94). . . . The junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have shuffled the chairs, with Ron Sleeman coming in as general manager, replacing Wayne March, who has been with the club since its inception. Gerald Bouchard is the team’s new head coach, replacing Tyler Gunn, who joined the team on May 8, 2019. The Eagles, who went 15-32-1-1 last season, were 1-1 when this season was put on hold.


Bobsled

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if the Dodgers will sleep tonight . . .

Scattershooting

Aware early on that they weren’t going to have enough billets for a new season, Sicamousthe junior B Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League put the wheels in motion. Last weekend, they moved into The Eagles’ Nest — a dormitory that was built on the grounds of the Sicamous and District Rec Centre. . . . Wayne March, the Eagles’ general manager, told Jim Elliot of the Eagle Valley News that he looks at this as a pilot project that other teams may be interested in checking out. . . . Elliot reported that the District of Sicamous paid for the construction and the team pays rent, which “is covered by fees paid by the players who would usually fund a stipend given to billet families.” . . . This is an interesting story, and you wonder if this is soon to become part of our new normal. . . . Elliot’s complete story is right here.


The BCHL postponed a pair of Saturday exhibition games after a player with the BCHLSurrey Eagles tested positive. . . . According to the league, as of Saturday afternoon, “The athlete has been placed in a 14-day quarantine and all other players and team personnel have been tested and we are awaiting results.” . . . The BCHL postponed an afternoon game between the Eagles and Langley Rivermen. Also postponed was a game scheduled for last night between the Coquitlam Express and Chilliwack Chiefs. . . . On Friday night, Surrey and Chilliwack played the sixth of six straight exhibition games against each other. . . . The BCHL said it is awaiting “further direction from Fraser Health.” . . . Earlier in the week, the Eagles had said they were desperately in need of billet families. “We’re in desperate need for one but I could really use four,” Jim Turton, the team’s billet co-ordinator, told the Peace Arch News.


Meanwhile, in the QMJHL, Jonathan Habashi, the sports editor of the qmjhlnewDrummondville Journal Express, tweeted Saturday that he was told the Voltigeurs now have five positives. The Voltigeurs had suspended all in-person activities on Thursday after one player tested positive. At that point, other players and staff members were isolated and were being tested. . . . The QMJHL had shut down its 12 Quebec-based teams on Oct. 14 with the number of positives rising in the province. The league said things would be on hold until at least Oct. 28.


Perishable


I don’t know how your week was, but let’s take a moment to think about Andrew Burke of Calmar, Alta. If you haven’t heard his story, well, he accidentally purchased two Lotto 6-49 tickets with the same numbers for the same draw. Later, he was getting the tickets checked at the gas station in which he had bought them when the clerk told him: “You’ve won $2.5 million.” Burke told The Canadian Press: “I said she better check the other ticket because it’s the same number.” . . . Poor guy. Had to share the $5-million jackpot. With himself! LOL!!



With the WHL now allowing players to transfer to junior A teams, at least until Dec. 20, the Chicago Steel of the USHL has let it be know that it isn’t interested in adding any CHL players. . . . Ryan Hardy, the Steel’s general manager, tweeted: “We are empathetic to any player without a place to play but we will not be adding players on loan from the CHL. We are committed to the development of our current players and will not sacrifice their growth for a perceive short-term gain.”


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “COVID-19 was listed among those ‘also receiving votes’ in the latest AP football poll. Or did we just wake up from a bad dream?”

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“The Japan Swimming Federation has stripped Daiya Seto, the reigning world champion in two individual-medley events, of his team captaincy for the Tokyo Olympics after he was caught cheating on his wife,” Perry reports. “In other words, he got DQ’d for not staying in his own lane.”


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “If you were watching Monday Night Football and were unaware, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is one of Donald Trump’s biggest NFL supporters. Who knew karma might be a football fan? Carry on.”

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Hough also pointed out this headline from si.com: Nick Saban Adds to His Legacy With Victories Over No. 3 Georgia, and COVID-19 in Same Week.



Roast


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

In spending a chilly Saturday afternoon watching U.S. college football, it dawned on me that the mostly leaderless United States of America has decided that if it has to sacrifice a few hundred thousand people before a vaccine arrives, so be it. . . . The number of college football coaches who should have their facemasks stapled to their faces is off the charts. For example, every time Fox-TV’s cameras showed Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, his facemask was serving as a chin diaper. . . . Hey, Mike, why even bother? . . . Oklahoma State was playing Iowa State and the Cyclones’ head coach, Mike Campbell, wasn’t much better. . . . No, neither announcer, Tim Brando nor Spencer Tillman, uttered a discouraging word. . . . However, Tillman did use the occasion to introduce a new term into the football lexicon — intentionality. As in, when a linebacker is closing on a running back, he needs to arrive with some “intentionality.”

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Here’s Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“Something to consider: The pandemic dead in America would fill the Bay Area’s six professional sports venues (Chase Center, Oracle Park, Oakland Coliseum, Levi’s Stadium, SAP Center, Avaya Stadium) with only about 2,700 seats to spare.

“We’re days away from full capacity.”

——

Ostler also related a story involving former San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Fred Dean, who died the other day of coronavirus-related causes. Ostler said he heard the story years ago “from a former 49ers’ exec. Dean sat down with the 49ers to hammer out a contract, in the days before agents. The two sides were close to an agreement, so the 49ers threw in a sweetener. ‘We’ll give you $500 for every sack.’ Dean said, ‘OK, but does my wife have to know?’ ”


Plumber


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.



JUST NOTES: Every autumn, tundra and Arctic swans arrive on the South Thompson River and spend the winter here. We have come to recognize their arrival as the start of winter. Uhh, the advance scouts showed up on Wednesday afternoon. The first snow in the river valley, which is where we live, fell overnight Thursday. While the swans will hang around, the snow won’t. I hope. . . . Dorothy was chatting with a longtime married friend from Regina the other day. When she asked the friend how things were going in these pandemic times, the response was: “Well, there’s nobody buried in the back yard yet.” . . . Ron St. Clair, a former radio voice of the Prince George Cougars, will be one of 15 inductees into the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame this year. In an earlier life, St. Clair was the official announcer at the Delaware Speedway in Delaware, Ont. He also was the voice of CASCAR. Catherine Garrett of MYPGNOW has more right here.


Kidney Walk: Of grandparents, grandchildren, good friends and transplants

A couple of former sports writers were walking on Rivers Trail, taking part in Kamloops’ 10th annual Kidney Walk on Sunday, when they were joined by Hugh McLennan.

Just minutes earlier, McLennan had been saluted by organizers, participants and volunteers as one of two honourees for this edition of the Kidney Walk. He had undergone a kidney transplant on Nov. 22, 2019, at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver. His long-time friend, Louis (Big Rig) McIvor, the other honouree on Sunday, had given McLennan one of his kidneys.

McLennan, the host of the Spirit of the West radio show, is well-known in the ranching community in B.C. — he and wife Billie run cattle near Pinantan Lake, northeast of Kamloops. He also is easily recognizable, what with the 10-gallon hat, walrus moustache and cowboy boots.

By now, though, the cowboy boots were gone, replaced by a pair of sneakers.

TammyLouis2
Tammy Mathieu and Louis (Big Rig) McIvor give grandchildren a ride alongside Hugh McLennan on Sunday during the Kidney Walk along Rivers Trail near McDonald Park. (Photo: Murray Mitchell/Murray Mitchell Photography)

It had been apparent early on that McLennan was thrilled to have been selected as an honouree. While doing hemo-dialysis, he had always been more than willing to help out by taking a turn at the microphone and also supplying musical entertainment at past Kidney Walks. He and McIvor also have been quick to promote organ donation and transplantation when given the opportunity.

As thrilled as McLennan was with that honour, though, he wore an even bigger smile as he told the story of a phone call he and Billie had received the previous day.

Their grandson, Reed, who will turn 16 on Nov. 20, is playing midget hockey in Winfield, B.C., which is located between Vernon and Kelowna on Highway 97.

Hugh’s voice was bursting with pride as he talked about the phone call.

A goaltender, Reed’s junior B rights belong to the Sicamous Eagles of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. It seems that the Eagles were scheduled to play the host Spokane Braves on Friday and found themselves short a goaltender, thanks to an issue involving a passport.

So . . . a call went out to Reed, who joined the Eagles in time to ride the bus to Spokane. He was looking forward to what he was looking at as a learning experience and expecting to take in the game from the cozy confines of the bench.

Except that the Eagles found themselves trailing, 3-0, just 3:49 into the game. Shortly after, the call came from head coach Ty Gunn: “McLennan . . . let’s go!”

With Reed in goal, the Braves added two more goals and took a 5-0 lead into the third period. It was 6-1 just 1:02 into the final period.

In the end, I’m sure the Eagles will tell you that they simply ran out of time. They lost the game, 6-5, scoring their fifth goal late in the third period.

Reed more than did his job, though, turning aside 39 of 41 shots in 54 minutes 20 seconds, in his junior B debut.

While Hugh was relating the story of a grandfather and his grandson, McIvor and fiancée Tammy Mathieu also were on Rivers Trail. They weren’t alone as they had two grandchildren in tow — or was it the other way around?

Regardless, with grandchildren in the conversation and on Rivers Trail, I couldn’t help but think about what it must mean to Hugh to be able to be part of his grandson’s life. After all, had Louis not given Hugh a kidney almost two years ago, well, who knows?

My wife, Dorothy, received a kidney six years ago Monday — Sept. 23, 2013. Our only grandchild, Kara, turned three in July. Dorothy had done peritoneal dialysis for almost four years before having her transplant. Again, without that kidney, who knows?

When we got home after Sunday’s Kidney Walk, we spent some time on a video chat with Kara.

Grateful doesn’t begin to explain what that kidney means to our family. You can bet it’s the same with the McLennans and anyone else who has needed a kidney and been fortunate enough to get one.

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If you are thinking about being a donor, feel free to call the donor nurse co-ordinator at St. Paul’s Hospital (604-806-9027 or 1-877-922-9822), or email donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca.



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