Interesting look at King County’s road to cancelling large gatherings . . . U of Lethbridge drops axe on hockey programs

Some reaction after Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, held her daily pandemic-related briefing on Monday . . .


Meanwhile, there is speculation in the east, too . . . Larry Mellott is the radio voice of the OHL’s Guelph Storm on 1460 CJOY . . .


The story by Ken Armstrong of ProPublica and the Seattle Times’ David Gutman and Lewis Kamb is headlined: Health Officials Recommended Canceling Events with 10-50 People. Then 33,000 Fans Attended a Major League Soccer Game. . . . It is a terrific story and looks at the early days of the pandemic in Seattle and King County, in Washington state, and how, despite warnings, the Seattle Sounders played a home game at CenturyLink Field on March 8. . . . The story begins: “On March 6, at 2:43 p.m., the health officer for Public Health — Seattle & King County, the hardest-hit region in the first state to be slammed by COVID-19, sent an email to a half-dozen colleagues, saying, ‘I want to cancel large group gatherings now.’ ” . . . They write: “Two days after the public health department wrote on Facebook, ‘We are making a recommendation to postpone or cancel events greater than 10-50 people,’ officials in King County allowed a soccer match to be held with 33,000 fans, squeezed together.” . . . That story is right here. . . . The WHL isn’t mentioned in this story, but it’s interesting that it went ahead with games in Everett on March 6 and 7, and in Kent on March 8. . . . All told, the WHL played eight games in the U.S. Division — including one in Spokane, two in Kennewick, Wash., and two in Portland — from March 6 until the season was suspended on March 12.


The U of Lethbridge brought an end to its men’s and women’s varsity hockey programs on Monday, saying it was “facing three successive years of significant reductions to its operating grant.” . . . From a news release: “The elimination of the hockey programs is one of a number of budget reduction strategies in response to unprecedented cuts from the provincial government.” . . . The Pronghorns men’s team had been around since 1984-85 and won a national championship in 1994 under head coach Mike Babcock. . . . The women’s program began in 1997-98. . . . Without the two U of Lethbridge teams there will be seven teams in each of the Canada West leagues. . . . The men’s team is full of players who played in the WHL. You can check out the 2019-20 roster right here. . . . The university’s news release is right here.

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You know there are concerns at a lot of Canadian universities, such as the U of Alberta. Gerry Moddejonge of Postmedia wrote late last week about a letter sent by Dr. Ian Reade, the school’s athletic director, to coaches, sponsors, donors, volunteers and alumni. . . . That story is right here, and it isn’t pretty.



“It’s a small point,” points out Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “but is every single person in the White House terrified to tell Trump that the Spanish Flu was 1918, not 1917?” . . . Uhh, yes. Yes, they are. In fact, they are petrified, as is every Republican in the country.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with the Thought of the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “The worst government is often the most moral. One composed of cynics is often very tolerant and humane. But when fanatics are on top there is no limit to oppression.”


Nick Sinclair announced his resignation as general manager of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting on Saturday. He had been with the organization for 11 seasons, the last six as GM, before deciding to leave. . . . According to a Sting news release, Sinclair has “elected to pursue other career opportunities.” . . . Sinclair left just two weeks after taking the club through the annual OHL draft. . . . Interestingly, Mark Malone of the London Free Press reported that “a Sting spokesman said Saturday no team officials were giving interviews.” . . . That would include co-owners David Legwand and Derian Hatcher, who also is the head coach.


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Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


MacBeth

F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


ThisThat

Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


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The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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Hitmen get goalie from T-birds . . . Seattle playoff hero off to Calgary . . . Rockets sign Finnish defender


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) signed a one-year extension with Csíkszereda (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had 22 goals and 27 assists in 32 games. He led his team in goals, assists and points, and was third in the league’s points race.


ThisThat

The Seattle Thunderbirds have traded G Carl Stankowski, who shone as they won the 2016-17 WHL championship but then didn’t play in 2017-18, to the Calgary Hitmen.

In return for Stankowski, an 18-year-old who played minor hockey in Calgary, and a Seattleconditional fourth-round selection, year undisclosed, in the WHL’s bantam draft, the Thunderbirds acquired D Mike Koster, 17, an eighth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft and a conditional pick in the 2019 or 2020 bantam draft.

“Carl’s medical needs have become very significant and we felt that being close to his home in Calgary would allow his family to more closely monitor his needs,” Seattle GM Bil La Forge said in a news release.

Stankowski, then in his 16-year-old season, took over from injured starter Rylan Toth late in the 2016-17 regular season and sparkled as Seattle won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. CalgaryStankowski, a second-round pick by Seattle in the 2014 bantam draft, was 3-0-0, 2.18, .910 in seven regular-season appearances, then went 16-4, 2.50, .911 in the playoffs. However, hip problems and health issues kept Stankowski from playing last season.

Andy Side of 710 ESPN Seattle detailed Stankowski’s issues in a February story that is right here. . . .

Koster, from Chaska, Minn., has committed to the U of Minnesota for 2020-21. Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 21 games with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. He also captained the Chaska High Team, and put up 14 goals and 41 assists in 25 games. Koster is playing for Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup this week.

“Koster is an elite defenseman who is NCAA committed,” La Forge said. “We feel that we will provide him with a very viable option going forward. We look forward to opening the lines of communication with him.”

In Seattle, the trade means that G Liam Hughes, 19, is alone atop the depth chart. Last season, after being acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings, he was 16-12-6, 3.15, .909. It is likely that Cole Schwebius, 17, and Eric Ward, 17, will battle for the No. 2 spot. Schwebius, from Kelowna, was a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft; Ward is a list player from Edmonton.

In Calgary, the Hitmen, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are looking to replace Nick Schneider, who completed his eligibility by making 61 appearances.

The Hitmen acquired G Nick Sanders, 20, who was limited by injuries to four games with the Prince Albert Raiders last season. Interestingly, Sanders, like Stankowski, has had hip-related problems. Also in the hunt will be Matthew Armitage, who turns 19 on Oct. 30. A fourth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2014 bantam draft, he got into 19 games with Calgary last season (4-7-1, 3.55, .890).


There wasn’t anything on the Kelowna Rockets’ website as of Tuesday night, but if Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice, says they have signed Finnish D Lassi Thomson, well, that’s good enough for me. . . . Thomson will turn 18 on Sept. 24. . . . He is from Tampere. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 15 assists in 49 games with Ives U-20 in the Jr. A SM-liiga. He also played six games with the Ives U-18 team, putting up four goals and three assists. On top of that, he played 20 games with the U-18 national team, scoring three goals and adding seven assists. . . . The Rockets selected him in the CHL’s 2018 import draft.



The Calgary Hitmen are looking for an athletic therapist with the news that Kyle Vouriot has signed on with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose as assistant athletic trainer and assistant strength and conditioning trainer. . . . The Winnipeg-based Moose is the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets. . . . Vouriot, who is from Winnipeg, was with the Hitmen for three seasons.


Spiros Anastas is the new head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays. He spent the previous four seasons as head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns. . . . With the Stingrays, Anastas, 33, takes over from Ryan Warsofsky, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers. . . . The Stingrays are coming of the best regular season (48-16-7-1) in franchise history. . . . Anastas was 36-68-8 with the Pronghorns. The school’s athletic department announced his departure on Friday, and now is searching for a replacement.


Matt Thomas is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones. Thomas, a 42-year-old native of Maple Ridge, B.C., spent 11 seasons (2002-13) coaching in the ECHL, with the Atlantic Boardwalk Bullies, Fresno Falcons and Stockton Thunder. . . . From a news release: “He enters the 2018-19 campaign as the ECHL’s sixth-winningest coach with a career record of 342-225-80, just one win back of fifth place all time. He is also the all-time leader in playoff games coached with 97, and ranks third with 49 playoff wins.” . . . Thomas spent the past five seasons as the head coach of the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. . . . In Cincinnati, Thomas replaces Matt Macdonald, who left after four seasons to join the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins as an assistant coach.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


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Scattershooting on Sunday: Here’s to Manitoba . . . Carter and Owens together? Here’s hoping . . . U of Lethbridge has an opening

Scattershooting

Here’s a reminder that Manitoba got it right: The first Monday in August is Terry Fox Day, as it should be, but isn’t, everywhere in Canada.


Headline at BorowitzReport.com: Trump demands that NFL players stand during Russian national anthem.


If you were to look up stubborn in a dictionary, you just might find a picture of a football coach. No one with any power in the sporting world is more stubborn than a man in that position. However, I think it’s safe to say that Chris Jones, who is the vice-president of football operations, general manager and head coach with the Saskatchewan Roughriders, has raised that bar even higher.

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ICYMI, Jones worked out former NFL receiver Terrell Owens on Sunday in South Pittsburg, Tenn. Here’s hoping that the Roughriders, who are on a bye week, sign Owens, if only for the entertainment that would be provided by having Owens and Duron Carter on the field at the same time.

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A question: Is Regina big enough for Carter and Owens at the same time? . . . Is Saskatchewan?


“San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt and his wife named their newborn son August, in honor of Brandon’s college coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido,” writes Dwight Perry of the SeattleTimes. “Just be thankful the Longhorns hired Garrido instead of Oil Can Boyd.”



If you spend much time watching the New York Yankees, you also spend a lot of time asking yourself: “How is it that the Yankees jettisoned Joe Girardi and then ended up with Aaron Boone?”


While musing about attempts by Chinese basketball teams to sign aging NBAers, Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, writes: “The reigning champions of the Chinese Basketball Association are the Liaoning Flying Leopards.  Liaoning is the Chinese province that borders North Korea; I have never been there; and if they have flying leopards there, I do not think I would want to visit.”


“What’s better?” asks Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “To be through the roof or off the charts? Off the grid or under the radar? Underrated or overserved? Over-exposed or half-baked?”

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Here’s Ostler, again: “If you’re wondering: Yes, it is a law that every sports interview be conducted in front of ‘wallpaper,’ those huge backdrops with a rep pattern of the team logo and a key sponsor. And, yes, a wallpaper backdrop can cause hypnotic trance. And, yes, when a coach or manager gets home and his wife asks how his day went, before answering he hauls out a wallpaper.”


“It’s staggering how much airtime TSN and ESPN devoted to Tiger Woods not winning the British Open,” notes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “As for the actual winner, what’s the Italian term for chopped liver?”

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Currie again: “Toronto dealt veteran southpaw JA Happ to the Yankees. Which makes the Jays even more Happ-less.”


Two of ESPN’s baseball crews feature three voices in the booth — Jon (Boog) Sciambi with David Ross and Rick Sutcliffe, and Matt Vasgersian with Jessica Mendoza and Alex Rodriguez. I can guarantee that no one involved with either crew has ever heard Simon and Garfunkel’s hit ‘The Sounds of Silence’ or The Tremeloes’ ‘Silence is Golden.’


After quarterback Johnny Manziel was traded by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to the Alouettes, Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, wrote: “And we thought poutine was Montreal’s biggest hot mess.”


It recently was National Intern Day in the U.S., which caused Hough to note: “I miss the days when that would have been the No. 1 source of jokes about a current U.S. president.”


Your good read for today has Robert Klemko of si.com writing about the bubble in which former NFL linebacker Ray Lewis was placed, something that has allowed him to avoid dealing publicly with a particularly nasty incident from his past. It’s all right here and this is really, really good stuff.


MacBeth

F Tyler Fiddler (Calgary, 2007-11) signed a one-year contract with Rungsted (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had 13 goals and 25 assists in 48 games with SønderjyskE Vojens (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Brody Sutter (Saskatoon, Lethbridge, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had eight goals and 10 assists in 58 games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL). . . .

F Dwight King (Lethbridge, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had six goals and eight assists in 49 games with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (Russia, KHL). . . .

F Michal Šiška (Kamloops, 2008-09) signed one-year contract with Olofström (Sweden, Division 2). Last season, he was pointless in two games with Nové Zámky B (Slovakia, 1, Liga), and had three goals and eight assists in 15 games with Topoľčany (Slovakia, 1. Liga).


ThisThat

Head coach Spiros Anastas is leaving the U of Lethbridge after four seasons as the head coach of the Pronghorns. According to a news release from the athletic department, Anastas “tendered his resignation to pursue another coaching opportunity.” . . . The Pronghorns were 36-68-8 under Anastas. The Pronghorns are to be the host team for the Canadian university men’s championship in 2019 for the first time in the program’s history. . . . Anastas had joined the Pronghorns after working as an assistant coach with the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings.



Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


The Everett Silvertips and hockey fans in the Pacific Northwest have been fortunate over the last while as the Everett Herald had Nick Patterson and then Jesse Geleynse on the beat, While Patterson remains on staff as sports columnist, Geleynse is on the move. Perhaps he’ll end up on the Penguins beat.


F Patrick D’Amico is returning for a second go-round with the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. . . . D’Amico, 23, is from Winnipeg. He played 160 WHL games over three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, putting up 27 goals and 48 assists. . . . Last season, he had two goals and an assist in 10 games with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators, then added 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk. He also has played in the ECHL with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators and Indy Fuel.


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