Canucks’ Miller says team needs more recovery time . . . Rockets out of quarantine and back on ice . . . Maier, Garand pitch shutouts

F J.T. Miller of the Vancouver Canucks always has worn his emotions on his sleeve and spoken his mind.

So you have to think the team’s management wasn’t at all surprised when he Canuckstook the NHL to task on Wednesday.

“This is nothing to do with hockey,” Miller said during a virtual media availability. “To be brutally honest, we’re going to need more time than this to come back and play hockey. Even the guys that didn’t get it aren’t ready.”

The Canucks are scheduled to play host to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night. Thanks to a COVID-19 outbreak that impacted players, coaches, staff members and family members that would be the Canucks’ first game since March 24. All told, there were 22 players, three coaches and one staffer who tested positive.

When the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list was released on Wednesday is still contained seven Vancouver players — D Jalen Chatfield, D Alex Edler, F Jayce Hawryluk, F Nils Höglander, F Zack MacEwen, D Nate Schmidt and F Jake Virtanen.

“I don’t feel ready if I’m being honest . . . It’s kind of crazy,” Miller said. “I know everyone has a job to do but to expect our entire team to be ready to play in one practice and a pre-game skate is a bit hard to comprehend.”

Now the NHL wants the Canucks (16-18-3) to play their last 19 games over a 30-day span. They are sixth in the North Division and not likely to qualify for the playoffs.

“I hope people don’t take this the wrong way,” Miller continued, “I’m a super competitive guy . . . but this isn’t about hockey for our team. This is about the health and safety of our players, their family and their children. This isn’t about making the playoffs.

“What we’re being asked to do is not going to be too safe, if you’re asking me.”

The Canucks are scheduled to practice this morning at 11:15, and it’s to be open to the media.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, Blackhawks head coach said that F Adam Gaudette, who was acquired Monday from the Canucks, will be given some time before he dresses for a game. Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from the ice during a practice on March 30.


The Colorado Avalanche cancelled their Wednesday morning skate in St. Louis “due to one positive test from (Tuesday’s) COVID-19 testing.” That person went into isolation; all others tested negative. . . . G Philipp Grubauer was added to Colorado’s COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. . . . G Devan Dubnyk, acquired Monday from the San Jose Sharks, made his first start for the Avalanche last night, stopping 31 shots in a 4-3 victory in St. Louis. . . . After last night’s victory, Colorado head coach Jared Bender said that Grubauer will be out for “more than 14 days.” . . .

The AHL’s Toronto Marlies are on hold through Wednesday because of the league’s COVID-19 protocol. They have had three games postponed. . . . The Toronto Maple Leafs added F Nick Robertson to the COVID-19 protocol list on Wednesday. He had been with the Marlies so this move quite likely was precautionary. . . . The AHL also has the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who are affiliated with the Philadelphia Flyers, shut down through Sunday. The league postponed the Phantoms game last night against the host Hershey Bears, and also scrubbed Friday and Sunday games.

The Houston Astros put five players, four of them starters, on the injured list on Wednesday. Catcher Martin Maldonado, infielders Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, DH Yordan Alvarez and utility player Robel Garcia all went on the list. James Click, the Astros’ general manager, later said all five were placed on the list “as a result of health and safety protocols.” . . . The Astros dropped a 6-4 decision to the visiting Detroit Tigers last night.


Xrays


This is interesting because Sportsnet announced on Feb. 18, 2014, a 12-year “partnership extension” with the CHL that was to run through the end of the 2025-26 season. That made Sportsnet the exclusive broadcaster of the CHL and the Memorial Cup. . . . Makes one wonder if Sportsnet will pay TSN to take the contract off its hands?


The four Canadian teams that were to have been part of the West Coast League, a wood-bat summer baseball league, have chosen not to play in 2021. The Edmonton Riverhawks, Kamloops NorthPaws, Nanaimo NightOwls and Victoria HarbourCats had announced that they would play a schedule of games among themselves. The Edmonton, Kamloops and Nanaimo franchises are expansion teams. . . . The Kelowna Falcons announced in March that they wouldn’t take part this season. . . . The WCL’s 10 Oregon- and Washington-based teams are going ahead with a 2021 season.


If you have ever been close to a hockey team you will know that it is people like the equipment manager and athletic therapist/trainer who really keep things going. . . . But what’s it like for the people in those positions with a WHL team in these pandemic times? What’s it like behind the scenes in the Regina hub? . . . Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun checked in with the three men who fill these roles with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He came out of it with a terrific long read that is right here.


The Kelowna Rockets were back on the ice at Prospera Place on Wednesday Rocketsmorning, the first time they have skated since they went into a 14-day quarantine after seven positive tests within the organization. An eighth positive was discovered during the quarantine period, but because it happened to someone already in isolation it didn’t impact the 14 days off.

Head coach Kris Mallette was one who tested positive.

“What’s crazy,” he told Global News, “is how it affects everybody differently, that’s the scariest aspect. I was fortunate that for me it was headaches, aches and a cough but it wasn’t anything that wasn’t manageable without taking some sort of medication.”

The Rockets, who had eight games postponed, have only played twice in what is supposed to be a 24-game season. They are scheduled to return to game action on Saturday against the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops.

Meanwhile, there were four WHL games on Wednesday . . .

G Nolan Maier recorded his ninth career shutout as the Saskatoon Blades beat Bladesthe Swift Current Broncos, 3-0, in Regina. . . . The Blades (13-2-2) have points in five straight (4-0-1). . . . The Broncos (3-13-1) have lost six in a row. . . . Maier now shares the Saskatoon franchise record for career shutouts with Andrei Makarov (115 games, 2011-13). . . . Maier, who has made 151 appearances in three-plus seasons, stopped 27 shots in posting his second shutout of this season. . . . F Blake Stevenson scored twice, at 10:35 and 12:21 of the first period for a 2-0 lead. He’s got seven goals. . . . F Chase Wouters also scored his seventh goal of the season. . . .

F Ben McCartney scored Brandon’s last three goals as the Wheat Kings beat the BrandonWinnipeg Ice, 5-3, in Regina. . . . McCartney, who has 11 goals, completed his evening with the empty-netter. . . . The Wheat Kings (13-3-2) opened an early 2-0 lead on goals from F Riley Ginnell (4) and F Brett Hyland (2). . . . The Ice halved the deficit at 4:55 of the second period on F Connor McClennon’s 11th goal, but McCartney got that one back at 9:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (7) got Winnipeg back to within at goal at 13:36, but McCartney counted again at 7:18 of the third. . . . F Owen Pederson (8) again pulled the Ice to within a goal, this time at 14:47, but McCartney put it away at 19:51. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs had an assist to run his point streak to 16 games, while McClennon has points in 10 straight. . . . The Wheat Kings were handed all six of the game’s minor penalties and gave up two PP goals. . . . The Ice (12-5-0) had won its previous six games. . . . Brandon G Connor Ungar stopped 38 shots. He is 5-1-1, 2.57, .915 in the Regina hub. . . . Brandon is 3-0-0 against Winnipeg this season — 3-2, 4-3 and 5-3 — with one meeting left. . . .

F Eli Zummack scored the game’s last two goals to give the Spokane Chiefs a 4-Spokane3 OT victory over the host Portland Winterhawks. . . . Zummack, who has five goals, tied the game on a PP at 19:29 of the third period, then won it at 3:27 of OT. . . . Zummack is on a real roll at the moment. He scored a shorthanded goal and added an assist in Portland’s 7-6 victory on Saturday, then had a goal and three assists in a 4-3 victory over the host Everett Silvertips on Tuesday. . . . F Simon Knak (8) and F Kyle Chyzowski (3) gave the Winterhawks a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . The Chiefs tied it on goals from F Blake Swetlikoff (3), at 6:17 of the second, and F Adam Beckman (9), at 5:35 of the third. Beckman has goals in six straight games. . . . F Tyson Kozak’s first goal gave Portland a 3-2 lead at 9:10. . . . D Bobby Russell assisted on each of Zummack’s goals. . . . G Mason Beaupit was outstanding for the Chiefs, making 48 saves, 25 more than Portland’s Dante Giannuzzi. . . . The Chiefs now are 4-5-3; the Winterhawks are 5-4-3. . . . These teams played each other three times since Friday with Spokane winning twice. . . . D Sage Weinstein, a 15-year-old from Edmonton who was the 18th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs. . . .

In Kamloops, G Dylan Garand posted a 16-save shutout as the Blazers beat the KamloopsPrince George Cougars, 5-0. . . . That was Garand’s first shutout this season and the sixth of his career. . . . F Josh Pillar scored the game’s first goal, at 8:06 of the first period. He finished with two goals, giving him five, and an assist. . . . F Caedan Bankier had a goal, his fourth, and an assist, with F Connor Zary and F Orrin Centazzo each recording two assists. . . . The Blazers (7-1-0) have won three in a row. . . . The Cougars (3-3-2) had picked up at least a point in each of their previous four games (2-0-2). . . . Kamloops held a 40-16 edge in shots, including 20-2 in the third period.


Lady


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . And a huge thank you to those who have already responded to this. Love seeing her smile every time she gets a notification of a new donor.

——

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: The AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats are looking for an assistant coach following the departure of Brady Bakke. He joined the Bobcats prior to the 2019-20 season. From a news release: “A search for a new assistant coach has begun and any candidates looking to put their name forward are asked to send a cover letter and resume to nigel@lloydminsterbobcats.com.” . . . The SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves also are in the market for an assistant coach. From a news release: “To apply, please submit a cover letter, resume and references electronically to head coach/general manager Kevin Kaminski at coach.icewolves@sasktel.net.”


Sign

Only the vaccinated will be allowed at Bills, Sabres games . . . Memorial Cup tournament cancelled . . . Rockets, Tigers cleared to return

On March 30, Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, said that he expects the stadiums in which his league’s teams play to be open to full capacity when the next season begins.

On Tuesday, it was announced at a news conference in Buffalo that fans will have to have been vaccinated in order to attend games involving the NFL’s Bills and the NHL’s Sabres next season.

Mark Poloncarz, an Erie County executive, said: “You want to go to a Bills game later this year? Get vaccinated with your first dose of the Moderna vaccine today. You get your second dose of the Moderna vaccine in four weeks. Two weeks later, you’ll be able to fill out the pass, and in the fall, you’ll be cheering on Josh Allen at the stadium.

Poloncarz also said that religious and medical exemptions won’t be taken into consideration.

“Some people are like, ‘Well that’s unfair,’ but there’s no God-given right to attend a football game,” he said. 

In this instance, Erie County is able to set the rules for games in the home facilities for the Bills and Sabres because it owns both of them. According to Poloncarz, the country doesn’t need state approval either.

Needless to say, there was a lot of reaction on social media to the announcement, but Erie County officials don’t seem likely to budge on this.

“You have no guaranteed rights in the Constitution to inflict illness on other people, just like you have no guaranteed right in the Constitution to attend a Buffalo Bills football game,” Poloncarz said. “You can be removed at anytime. Our goal is to ensure that everyone in there is safe.”

Sandra Tan of the Buffalo News has more right here.

——

Meanwhile, there are people doing the research to try and find out whether having fans attend sporting events in these pandemic times results in increased rates of infection in the areas in which the games were played. . . . One study, which hasn’t yet been peer reviewed, found definitive increases. . . . There’s more on that right here.


It was hardly a surprise when the CHL announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Memorial Cup because of the pandemic.

While a host city/team for 2021 hadn’t been announced, the tournament was to have been played in Oshawa or Sault Ste. Marie. The 2020 tournament that was to have been held in Kelowna also was cancelled.

The Memorial Cup first was presented in 1919. It had been awarded every year since then . . . until 2020.

“Regrettably, we do not see a path in which we will be able to produce champions in our three member leagues due to border restrictions and quarantining requirements,” the CHL said in a statement. “The Memorial Cup is steeped in tradition and is one of the most difficult trophies to win in all of sport. The CHL looks forward to presenting it next season to the championship club that has earned the right to hoist it.”

While the QMJHL continues to plan on starting its playoffs on April 23 — it has at least three Quebec-based teams with positive tests, one of them with 24 — one has to think that the OHL will get around to announcing one of these days that its season has been cancelled without getting started.

The WHL has all of its 22 teams playing games within their geographic areas, but hasn’t yet announced a plan for playoffs of any sort. Of course, there really is no need for any sort of playoffs without the Memorial Cup at the end of the rainbow.

The last team to win the Memorial Cup? That would be the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who beat the host Halifax Mooseheads, 4-2, in the final of the 2019 tournament. The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm also took part.

The CHL said in its statement that “further decisions” regarding a 2022 host team/city and schedule would be announced at a later date.



DannyBoy


The Oil Kings don’t play until the weekend, but there were four games played in the WHL on Tuesday night . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored four times in the first period, the first two by BrandonF Ty Thorpe, en route to an 8-3 victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors in Regina. . . . The Warriors (7-9-1) got to within a pair, at 5-3, late in the second period but the Wheat Kings (12-3-2) scored the last three goals. . . . Thorpe has three goals this season. . . . The Wheat Kings got a goal, his seventh, and two assists from F Nolan Ritchie and three assists from D Braden Schneider. . . . F Lynden McCallum added his 11th goal for Brandon. . . . F Brayden Yager, the third overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, scored his fifth and sixth goals and added an assist for the Warriors. He has 13 points in 17 games. . . . Yager came up short on a first-period penalty shot, with G Connor Ungar making the save. He finished with 37 stops. . . .

In the nightcap in Regina, the Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first four Raidersgoals and went on to beat the Pats, 4-2. . . . The Raiders (6-8-3) struck four times in a span of 6:36 in the second period. . . . F Tyson Laventure (2), F Justin Nachbaur (6), F Evan Herman (6) and F Logan Linklater (1) had the goals. Herman has goals in three straight games. . . . The Raiders have points in three straight (2-0-1). . . . The Pats (6-8-3) got back in it on late third-period goals from F Logan Nijhoff (8) and F Ryker Evans (3). . . . For what it’s worth, the Pats are 2-3-3 as the home team and 4-5-0 as the visitor. They were the home team for this one. . . . F Tanner Howe, 15, made his WHL debut with the Pats. Howe, who is from Prince Albert, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 28. He was a fourth-round pick by the Pats in the 2020 bantam draft. . . .

F Nico Myatovic scored his first two WHL goals in his first game to help the host SeattleSeattle Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Myatovic, a 16-year-old from Prince George, was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. He gave Seattle a 1-0 lead on his first shift, at 2:25 of the first period, then made it 2-1 at 4:56 of the second period. He actually scored his first two goals on his first two shots. . . . F Jake Sloan (3) got the Americans to within one, at 3-2, at 17:42 of the third period, but Seattle F Henry Rybinski (3) got the empty-netter at 18:48. . . . Seattle improved to 7-5-0, while Tri-City slid to 5-7-0. . . . There was concern for Seattle F Payton Mount at game’s end. The 18-year-old from Victoria, who is in his third season with Seattle, was wearing a neck brace when he was placed on a backboard and then taken away from the bench area on a stretcher following the final buzzer. . . . Andy Eide of 710 ESPN tweeted afterwards that Seattle head coach Matt O’Dette said “Mount was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure. He was talking and alert. Puck skidded off the wall of the bench and hit him in base of the skull.” . . .

The Spokane Chiefs scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Silvertips, Spokane4-3, in Everett. . . . F Eli Zummack had a goal, his third, and three assists for the Chiefs. His second shorthanded goal in as many games broke a 3-3 tie at 7:31 of the third period. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman’s second goal of the game, and eighth of the season, had tied the game at 2:51. . . . F Brendan Lee (2) and F Cole Fonstad (8) put Everett out front 2-0 in the first period. . . . Beckman got Spokane’s first goal 31 seconds into the second. He has goals in five straight games. . . . F Austin Roest’s first WHL goal restored Everett’s two-goal lead just 34 seconds later. . . . F Copeland Ricker got Spokane’s comeback started with his first goal at 4:41 of the second. . . . Spokane now is 3-5-3, while Everett slipped to 9-3-0.



The WHL announced Tuesday night that the Kelowna Rockets will resume team activities today (Wednesday) after everyone in their cohort tested negative. The Rockets had been on hold for 14 days after experiencing seven positive tests. They are scheduled to face the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops on Saturday night. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have been cleared to return to play after having been shut down after having been deemed close contacts of the Calgary Hitmen, who had one positive test. The Hitmen remain on hold, but the Tigers will return with three weekend games against the Red Deer Rebels. They’ll play Friday in Medicine Hat, Saturday in Red Deer and Monday in Medicine Hat. On the original schedule, Red Deer was to have played a tripleheader with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

The WHL news release on schedule adjustments impacting the five Alberta teams is right here.


FlinFlonThe SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers owe the City some money. But the City isn’t in a hurry to collect the $27,500. In fact, council has put the debt into abeyance, at least for now. . . . Should the Bombers show a profit of $100,000 in one season, they will pay the debt. Should someone purchase the team, the debut will have to be paid out of the proceeds. Councillor Tim Babcock explained things this way to Eric Westhaver of the Flin Flon Reminder: “The way it works is that they owe us money from two seasons ago now, because their playoffs were cut short and they didn’t get the money they were counting on from a deep playoff run. Then, they weren’t able to have a season this year, so they’re a little bit behind in their bills.” . . . Westhaver has more right here.


The 22-team Ontario Junior Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. “With the Province of Ontario currently under a 28-day Stay-at-Home order, and the official 2020-21 Hockey Canada season ending on May 31, the league has declared an end to its season.” . . . In the 2020-21 season, six OJHL teams were able to play a total of 56 exhibition games.


Wake


Please don’t forget that Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant more than seven years ago, is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. Unfortunately, it will be a virtual walk for a second straight year, but that won’t keep her from fund-raising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation. If you would like to help her out, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . And a huge thank you to those who have already responded to this. Love seeing her smile every time she gets a notification of a new donor.

——

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.


Scholl

Another big day for COVID-19 . . . WHL doing the virus shuffle as more teams hit . . . Bedard leaves Regina with game to remember


The virus had one of its best days yet. Holy smokes! . . . Positive tests on three teams in the WHL, which was forced to shut down two of the teams. . . . The World men’s curling championship shut down after positive tests in the Calgary bubble. Yes, in the bubble! . . . Warnings from the Vancouver Canucks’ team physician. . . . The virus bit the Colorado Avalanche, one NHL broadcasting team, the Toronto Blue Jays . . . On top of all that, Canada had its worst day since the start of the pandemic — yes, since the start! — with 9,255 new positives. Hey, we’re a mess up here but we’ll be fine because our government and health officials are monitoring things.


The WHL has shut down two more teams, with the Calgary Hitmen and Medicine Hat Tigers having joined the Kelowna Rockets with all team activities suspended.

Calgary’s team activities have been suspended because a player has tested WHL2positive. The Hitmen have been hanging their hats on the Tsuut’ina Nation just southwest of the city, practising and playing games at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex and living at the Grey Eagle Resort.

The Tigers, who are living with billets, played the Hitmen on Monday and “have been deemed a close contact,” the league said, so their team activities also have been suspended.

The league has suspended six regular-season games that were scheduled for Friday through Monday — Medicine Hat at Lethbridge and Calgary at Red Deer, from Friday; Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, on Saturday; Red Deer at Calgary, on Sunday; and Medicine Hat at Lethbridge and Calgary at Red Deer on Monday.

With Lethbridge and Red Deer having had those games scrubbed, the Hurricanes and Rebels instead will play each other three times this weekend. They played last night in Red Deer and are to meet tonight in Lethbridge and again Monday in Lethbridge.

Meanwhile, there also have been positive tests with the Rockets and Vancouver Giants but they won’t impact either team’s schedule.

The Rockets have been shut down since seven positives — four players, three staff members — were revealed on March 31. The new positive test is a player who was deemed a close contact from those seven positives and he is in isolation.

According to the WHL, all other Kelowna players and staff tested negative this week. They all have been in isolation so the latest positive doesn’t impact their scheduled return to team activities. If all goes well, that should happen on April 15.

The Vancouver player who tested positive was soon to be added to the roster. He was in quarantine before joining the team in Kamloops and, according to the WHL, “has not had contact with any members of the team cohort.”

Everyone else with the Giants tested negative this week, so team activities won’t be impacted.


The Vancouver Canucks still had 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Canuckswhen it was released on Friday afternoon. Three players off their taxi squad, three coaches and one other staff member also tested positive.

Before the list came out on Friday, Vancouver general manager Jim Benning and Dr. Jim Bovard, the team’s physician, met virtually with media members.

Here’s some of what was said . . . 

Jim Benning:

“I think we’ll have the majority of our (injured) guys back when we start playing, outside of two or three guys.

“My conversations with the league are that we’re going to continue with our schedule at some point, and that we’re going to play all 56 games.

Dr. Bovard:

“We know the individual had gone to a place within the guidelines. That place was subsequently found to have cases of COVID . . . we’ve made it clear within our group there’s no culprit here aside form the (virus) itself.”

“We’ve had a whole range of what I’ve seen in COVID throughout my practice in the last year. Nothing unusual. Nothing different. There’s been nobody who’s needed to be hospitalized.”

“What we do know is that it is a variant. The process for determining what kind of variant is much more complex.”

“We’re moving out of the infection phase and into the dealing with symptoms and recovery phase. . . . For the most part, players are on the other side of this COVID-19. None were hospitalized, but family members are getting sick now.”

“The virus is tricky. It’s changing, and we need to change with it. If we could anticipate what it’s going to do next, our jobs would be much easier.”

“I can speak absolutely, emphatically to everybody out there . . . you do not want to get this virus, so do everything you can to not get this virus, not just for your sake, so that you’re not potentially passing it on to others.”

“If you’re sick, stay home. Isolate. It doesn’t matter what you’re sick with. Stay home and isolate.”


The NHL’s COVID-19 problems aren’t only in Vancouver. . . . The Colorado nhl2Avalanche cancelled its morning skate on Friday after learning Thursday that one of its players had tested positive. . . . D Bowen Byram was on the NHL’s protocol list when it was released on Friday. . . . The Avalanche went ahead with Friday’s game and beat the host Anaheim Ducks, 2-0. . . .

Meanwhile, F William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs will sit for at least a week after going on the protocol list on Wednesday after being yanked from a game against the Montreal Canadiens. That occurred after he was identified as a close contact with a potential positive case who isn’t involved with the team. . . .

The Pittsburgh Penguins visited the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in a game televised by the MSG Network. However, the network had to cancel its pregame show after hosts Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador went into COVID-19 protocol.


The Toronto Blue Jays placed OF Teoscar Hernandez on the injured list Friday after he was deemed to be a close contact to someone who tested positive outside of the team. . . . They also put LHP Ryan Borucki on the injured list due to side-effects to his COVID-19 vaccination. Then, during a 7-1 loss to the Anaheim Angels in Dunedin, Fla., Toronto pulled LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. after two innings because he also was experiencing side-effects from his vaccination.


The biggest story in the WHL this season to date is being written by F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats. The 15-year-old Bedard, the first overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, scored twice in a 2-1 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday, just three days after his grandfather, Garth, died in a two-vehicle crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Sicamous, B.C. . . . “It’s not easy for me, obviously, and my family,” Bedard told reporters via Zoom, while fighting to hold back tears. “He is definitely who I play for now and will for the rest of my life. It’s a really special game and I know he’s watching me.” . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post was at the game and his story is right here.

——

The game signalled the end of Bedard’s first WHL season, as he now will return Patshome to North Vancouver and spend some time with his family before joining Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, April 26 through May 6. . . . Last night, he gave the Pats (6-6-3) a 1-0 lead 22 seconds into the second period and won it 49 seconds into OT on a PP. . . . Bedard finished with 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games. . . . He leads the seven-team Regina hub in points and is tied for the lead in goals. . . . F Jake Chiasson (8) had tied it for Brandon (11-2-2) at 1:20 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings had an eight-game winning streak snapped. . . . Brandon has points in nine straight now and has outscored its opponents 42-16 over that stretch. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 33 shots for Regina.

F Gage Goncalves broke a 3-3 tie at 18:24 of the third period as the Everett Silvertips beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . He’s got seven goals. . . . F Cole Fonstad (6) gave Everett a 3-1 lead at 7:16 of the second period. . . . Seattle tied it on third-period goals by F Conner Roulette (6), at 11:46, and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (8), with his second of the game, at 14:42. . . . Everett (9-1-0) has won four straight. . . . Seattle is 5-5-0. . . .

G Mason Beaupit turned aside 35 shots to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Beaupit, 17, picked up his first victory of this season and the second of his career. . . . This season, he is 1-2-1, 2.48, .919. . . . F Mason Mannek (5) gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 6:31 of the first period. . . . D Bobby Russell (2) pulled Spokane into a tie 39 seconds into the second period and F Adam Beckman (5) gave the Chiefs the lead at 3:14 on a PP. . . . F Cordel Larson (2), who had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . The Chiefs (2-4-3) have points in four straight (2-0-2). . . . The Winterhawks (4-4-2) have lost three in a row. . . .

F Ryder Korczak scored twice and added an assist to help the Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriors to a 6-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos in Regina. . . . Korczak has three goals this season. . . . The Warriors (7-7-1) got a goal and two assists from each of D Daemon Hunt (6) and F Riley Krane (2). . . . Krane broke a 1-1 tie at 8:37 of the second period with the first of five straight Moose Jaw goals. . . . The Broncos (3-11-1) have lost four in a row. . . . This game marked Jason Ripplinger’s first as Moose Jaw’s general manager. He was promoted from AGM on Thursday, replacing Alan Millar, who now is with Hockey Canada. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Victoria KamloopsRoyals, 6-3. . . . Kamloops led 2-0 after one period but couldn’t hold it. F Brayden Tracey (5) gave the Royals (1-5-1) a 3-2 lead 48 seconds into the third period. . . . D Quinn Schmiemann (2) pulled Kamloops (5-1-0) even at 2:00 and F Reese Belton (1) broke the tie at 3:44. . . . F Orin Centazzo (3) had two goals and an assist for the Blazers, with F Connor Zary adding his third goal and two assists. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped 15 shots to earn his first WHL victory in his first start. Ernst, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Weyburn, Sask. He was a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Victoria G Connor Martin blocked 47 shots. . . .

F Dino Kambeitz had four points to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . Kambeitz scored his third goal and added three assists in enjoying his first career four-point game. It was his 201st regular-season game. . . . The Hurricanes (4-6-2) had lost their previous five games (0-3-2). . . . The Rebels, who have lost seven in a row, are 2-10-2. . . . Lethbridge was 3-for-6 on the PP. . . . D Alex Cotton scored twice — he’s got four goals — and added an assist for the Hurricanes, who led 6-1 in the third period.


Aunts


The World Curling Federation and Curling Canada announced late Friday that they “are aware of positive COVID-19 tests within the Calgary bubble” at the World men’s championship. . . . While the positives tests didn’t involve teams that qualified for the playoffs, the schedule has been placed on hold “until there is more clarity.” . . . That includes a playoff game between the U.S. and Switzerland that was to have been played Saturday morning at 9 MT. . . . The playoff qualifiers are to undergo testing Saturday morning and “until the results are clear and it’s known that the players and event staff are safe, no further games will be played.” . . . Those who tested positive and close contacts are in quarantine, while contact tracing continues. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun tweeted that the “positives came from ‘exit’ testing, conducted so that players could fly home to their countries.”


Dennis (Red) Gendron, the head coach of the U of Maine Black Bears hockey team, died on Friday afternoon while playing golf. Gendron, the head coach there since 2013, was 63. . . . He was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils when the won the 1995 Stanley Cup and also coach in their organization. . . . Gendron also coached the U.S. national junior team on three occasions.


Society


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.


Blood

Why can’t we have Green Shirt Day every month? . . . Tragedy strikes Bedard family . . . Canucks confirm variant involved in positive tests

It really was awe-inspiring to cruise social media on Wednesday — Green Shirt Day — and bathe in the impact that the Logan Boulet Effect has had in so many different places and in so many different corners.

Employees from a million business have bought in, as have so many cities and towns and villages, and schools and leagues and teams.

Dorothy
Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant in 2013, is a big fan of Green Shirt Day and the Logan Boulet Effect.

As I sit here in my recliner, my laptop in front of me — that’s why it’s called a laptop — I can only marvel at how much has transpired involving organ donor registration since Logan Boulet’s death three years ago.

Logan was killed in the accident that involved the bus that was carrying the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos to a playoff game in Nipawin, Sask. As it turned out, Logan had signed an organ donor card on his 21st birthday just five weeks prior to the accident, and he had informed his family. As a result, his organs — including heart and kidneys — and his corneas were taken for transplant.

As Logan’s father, Toby, told Karen Pauls of CBC News: “Logan was able to make six people’s lives better. He basically saved six lives.”

Since then, Logan has helped save an untold number of lives and make so many lives a whole lot better. Since the Logan Boulet Effect began to take off, it is estimated that 300,000 Canadians have registered as organ donors.

Figures compiled by the Canadian Transplant Association show that 90 per cent of Canadians support organ donation. However, only 23 per cent of that group actually have registered as donors.

Furthermore, CTA figures reveal that about 4,500 Canadians are waiting for organs.

As someone who has benefitted firsthand from organ donation — if you’re not aware, my wife, Dorothy, is a kidney transplant recipient, having gotten one through the Living Kidney Donor Program at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver — I can tell you that there aren’t words to express exactly what the Logan Boulet Effect means to us.

And a mere “Thank you” to Logan’s parents, Bernadine and Toby, really doesn’t seem enough considering all that they do, especially the countless interviews, to keep this movement in the spotlight.

So while April 7 has come to be recognized as Green Shirt Day, let’s not limit organ donor registration to one day a year. What’s wrong with reminding folks of the Logan Boulet Effect on the seventh day of every month?

Did you wear green for Green Shirt Day on Wednesday? Why not wear green on May 7 and June 7 and July 7 and . . .?

Why not?


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, in the 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk, you may do so right here. She launched her eighth straight fund-raising campaign on Wednesday — Green Shirt Day!


F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has started his WHL career like a house on fire, despite being only 15 years of age. But, unfortunately, the hurt that sometimes accompanies life touched him and his family on Tuesday when his grandfather, Garth Bedard, 73, was killed in a car accident near his home in Sicamous, B.C.

According to RCMP, a westbound pickup truck and an eastbound sedan, driven by a 46-year-old woman from Salmon Arm, collided head-on on the Trans-Canada Highway, seven kilometres east of Sicamous after 1 p.m.

Garth Bedard was the owner of Bedard logging in Sicamous.

Kevin Gallant, a former radio voice of the Pats, posted on social media:

“This is absolutely devastating. I watched so many games with Garth and his wife Lynn. My deepest sympathies to the entire Bedard family, and this is an extremely close family. Thoughts and prayers for Lynn. Also to Tom, Melanie, Maddie and Connor. I can’t imagine what the Bedard family is going through, but my heart aches.”

“We know how close Connor was with his grandfather, who was one of Connor’s biggest fans,” the Pats said in a statement. “Garth was incredibly proud of Connor and took great joy in his grandson’s passion for hockey and even more so in the person he has become.”

According to the Pats, Bedard will play against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday and then return to the family home in North Vancouver on Saturday. Soon after that, he is scheduled to join Canada’s U18 team to play in the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, from April 26 through May 6.

Bedard, the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, has 10 goals and 16 assists in 14 games. He had two goals and two assists on Tuesday night as the Pats beat the Swift Current Broncos, 6-1.



Help


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks issued a statement on Wednesday, revealing that they have had 25 people, including 21 players, test positive for COVID-19. CanucksThat includes four staff members, three of them believed to be coaches, and three players off the taxi squad.

The Canucks hadn’t spoken publicly about the situation in more than a week, since F Adam Gaudette was removed from a March 30 practice due to having tested positive.

The statement that was issued on Wednesday came from Dr. Jim Bovard, the team’s physician, and Dr. Josh Douglas, an infectious disease physician.

The 18 players off the Canucks’ roster who are on the COVID-19 protocol list all tested positive; none of them are on the list because of being deemed a close contact.

What isn’t know is how many family members have tested positive.

The Canucks statement also confirmed that a variant of COVID-19 is involved in the outbreak, although it didn’t state which one. There have been reports that the P.1 variant that originated in Brazil is part of the outbreak.

According to the statement, “Full genome sequencing by BCCDC will be required to determine which specific type.”

The statement also cleared up the origin of the outbreak:

“An ongoing investigation by Vancouver Coastal Health and club contact tracing staff attributes the source infection to a single individual obtained in a community setting, which has since been identified by public health as a public exposure location. Rapid spread of infection throughout the team indicates a link between contacts and the primary case.”

So the virus was picked up by one person in the community and it spread like wildfire through the organization. Iain MacIntyre of Sportsnet reported that “the community setting is believed to have been a Vancouver restaurant.”

MacIntyre’s thorough Wednesday report is right here.

After the press release was issued, D Nate Schmidt was added to the protocol list, showing that this situation is far from being over. If you’re wondering, D Jordie Benn, F Brock Boeser, F J.T. Miller and F Jimmy Vesey are the only players on the Canucks’ roster who haven’t been on the list.

Officially, the NHL has postponed four Vancouver games. However, the Canucks won’t be playing the Oilers in Edmonton on Monday and Wednesday. After that, the Canucks aren’t scheduled to play until April 17 and 19 when they are to play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted on Wednesday that “the NHL is targeting the end of next week for the Vancouver Canucks to return to game action. Still a fluid situation.”

The Canucks, who have 19 games remaining on their 56-game regular-season schedule, last played on March 24.


The AJHL announced Wednesday night that the Drumheller Dragons have ajhlexperienced a positive COVID-19 test. The team had been shut down since  Monday because of a positive test on the Camrose Kodiaks, who had been playing in the same cohort. So the league said Wednesday that Drumheller “will continue its isolation period.” . . . Besides Camrose and Drumheller, the Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm, Okotoks Oilers and Whitecourt Wolverines have all paused their activities.


Dick


There were four games in the WHL on Wednesday night. Some highlights and tidbits . . .

F Peyton Krebs had a goal and three assists as the Winnipeg Ice doubled the WinnipegMoose Jaw Warriors, 6-3, in Regina. . . . Krebs (8) scored the game’s first goal, at 9:01 of the first period, and the Ice (10-4-0) added three more over the next 4:10. . . . Krebs, who has points in 13 straight games, now has eight goals and 19 assists after being blanked in his first outing. His 27 points now leads the Regina hub. F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats has 26. . . . The Ice has won four in a row. . . . The Warriors (6-7-1) got to within a goal, at 4-3, when F Atley Calvert (2) scored at 18:18 of the second period. . . . But Winnipeg F Jakin Smallwood (10) scored on a PP at 15:59 of the third, and F Connor McClennon (8) added the empty-netter. . . . McClennon finished with two goals and an assist. . . . The Ice was 3-for-3 on the PP. . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings ran their winning streak to eight games with a 4-1 Brandonvictory over the Swift Current Broncos in Regina. . . . While the Wheat Kings improved to 11-2-1, the Broncos’ third straight loss dropped them to 3-10-1. . . . Brandon enjoyed a 37-21 edge in shots, including 15-4 in the third period. . . . F Nate Danielson (3) gave Brandon a 1-0 lead at 14:55 of the first period with his third PP goal of the season, and F Jake Chiasson (7) upped it to 2-0 at 9:40 of the second. . . . The Broncos got close at 16:39 when F Aiden Bulych (5) scored. . . . F Tyson Zimmer (2) restored Brandon’s two-goal lead at 16:39, and D Chad Nychuk (2) got the empty-netter. . . . The game was played in 2:04, the quickest one in the WHL this season. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs rode three second-period goals to a 5-2 victory over the visiting Tri-City Americans. . . . Spokane head coach Adam Maglio recorded his first victory as a WHL head coach. . . . The Chiefs (1-4-3) had been the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a victory. . . . D Luke Zazula (3) scored twice for the Americans (4-5-0), the first one giving them the lead in the first period. . . . D Bobby Russell (1) tied it at 3:40 of the second and F Reed Jacobson gave the Chiefs the lead at 3:40. Jacobson, who has four goals in eight games, scored twice and added an assist. It was his first career four-point game. Last season, Jacobson finished with four goals in 50 games. . . . Zazula’s second goal, at 16:15 of the second, got Tri-City to within a goal, but Jacobson restored the two-goal margin at 15:18 of the third. . . . D Lukas Dragicevic, the fourth-overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, made his WHL debut with the Americans. His father, Milan, is a former WHL player (Regina, New Westminster, Tri-City, Spokane, Victoria Cougars, 1986-90) and coach with Tri-City and the Vancouver Giants. He was the Giants’ first head coach (2000-02). He now is the U18 prep coach at Delta Academy. . . .

The Vancouver Giants scored the last four goals and beat the Victoria Royals, 6-Vancouver4, in Kelowna. . . . The Royals (1-4-1) erased a 2-1 deficit on three early second-period goals in 3:25 — from F Brandon Cutler (3), F Brayden Schuurman (3) and F Alex Bolshakov (1). . . . After Bolshakov’s goal at 4:30, the Giants made a goaltending change — Drew Sim out, Trent Miner in. . . . F Tristen Nielsen (6) scored for Vancouver 37 seconds later and F Justin Sourdif tied it at 7:47. . . . F Bryce Bader (3) broke the tie at 18:45 of the second and Sourdif (3) added insurance at 10:42 of the third. . . . The Giants (5-1-0) have won five in a row. . . . Miner was perfect over 35:30, stopping all nine shots he faced. Miner went into the game having put up three straight shutouts; he came out with the franchise record for consecutive shutout minutes (225:48) going back to last season, breaking the record of 207 minutes that had belonged to Ryan Kubic from the 2015-16 season. Chris Worthy of the Flin Flon Bombers holds the WHL record (265:13) from the 1967-68 season. . . . Miner also has the longest shutout streak in the WHL this season (215:30), having surpassed the run of 213:16 put up by Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips. . . . This season, Miner has a 0.00 GAA, having stopped all 73 shots he has faced.


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.


Eggs

Rockets hit with another positive test; will this one cost them 14 days? . . . Virus may have found Canucks, too

The Kamloops Blazers were to have visited the Kelowna Rockets on Tuesday night. However, that game didn’t happen after the Rockets were forced to put WHL2all team activities on hold after the organization experienced a positive test. . . . According to the WHL, “The positive COVID-19 test results belong to a hockey staff member . . . within the team cohort. No players within the team cohort have tested positive at this time.” . . . The WHL also said that it would provide further information “pending determination of close contacts and further test results.” . . . Upon its return to play, the WHL stated: “If a WHL club has one or more players or staff test positive for COVID-19 at any point in the season, the club will be required to suspend its club activities for a minimum of 14 days.” . . . It would seem, then, that the Rockets are done until at least April 13 unless this turns out to be a false positive. The Rockets are scheduled to play eight games from March 30 through April 13. . . . This is the second positive in the Kelowna organization. The WHL said on March 19 that a positive test had been found during the return-to-play testing phase. That individual and someone who was identified as a close contact had to self-isolate for 14 days, but it was business as usual for the rest of the team because it was determined not to have occurred during the season. . . .

The Rockets have played two games to this point — they beat the Victoria Royals 5-0 in Kelowna on Friday and lost 6-0 to the Vancouver Giants in Kamloops on Sunday. They next are scheduled to play on Friday against the Prince George Cougars in Kamloops. . . . The Rockets also announced on Tuesday that F Ethan Ernst is out indefinitely after having surgery to repair a scaphoid fracture. The scaphoid is a small bone in an area of the wrist that has poor blood supply, so the healing time may be longer than normal. Ernst, who turned 19 on Jan. 26, was pointless in two games this season. He was injured in Sunday’s loss to Vancouver.


Prison


Meanwhile, the QMJHL has scrubbed a Wednesday game that was to have had qmjhlnewthe Cape Breton Eagles play host to the Charlottetown Islanders. According to the Eagles, “Even though all Eagles players and staff have tested negative to COVID-19, the league is postponing the game as a precaution due to a few players experiencing flu-like symptoms.” . . . This move follows the cancellation of a game between the Eagles and Islanders that was to have been played on Sunday. That morning, the league said that “a few players from the Eagles experienced flu-liked symptoms and as a precaution, the QMJHL has cancelled the game. In the current context and as per QMJHL protocols, all Eagles’ players and staff will be tested for COVID-19 and put in preventive isolation prior to returning to regular team activities.”


These pandemic times can call for interesting manoeuvring to get players on the ice. Such was the case on Tuesday when the Spokane Chiefs announced that PGthey have acquired F Mitchell Kohner from the Prince George Cougars “on a one-year loan agreement.” . . . The Chiefs have lost veteran F Jack Finley, who will be out at least six months once he has surgery to repair a should injury, so had room to add Kohner. “This is a unique situation where an American player wasn’t able to rejoin his team due to COVID restrictions . . .,” Scott Carter, the Chiefs’ general manager, explained in a news release. . . . Kohner, from Rosemount, Minn., turned 19 on Feb. 11. A 10th-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft, he had two assists in 49 games with the Cougars in 2018-19, then put up eight goals and six assists in 59 games in 2019-20. . . . Kohner is expected to being practising with the Chiefs in about a week, after clearing WHL protocols. . . . His playing rights will revert to the Cougars after this season. . . .

The Cougars also announced that F Ilijah Colina, who turned 21 on Feb. 18, “is no longer with the team due to personal reasons.” . . . He has played 200 regular-season games — 117 with the Cougars, 83 with the Portland Winterhawks — over five seasons with 27 goals and 52 assists. . . . Prince George has added D Hudson Thornton, 17, to its roster. He will complete his quarantine period and then join the team. From Winnipeg, Thornton had two goals and two assists in 23 games with the USHL’s Fargo Force this season. He was a second-round pick by the Cougars in the 2018 bantam draft.


Valet


The Brandon Wheat Kings got goals from seven different players en route to a Brandon7-1 victory over the Prince Albert Raiders in Regina on Tuesday night. . . . F Ridly Greig (3), F Ben McCartney (6) and F Reid Perepeluk (2) each had a goal and an assist. . . . Greig scored 22 seconds into the game and the Wheat Kings (7-2-1) built a 4-0 lead in the second period. . . .  Brandon, which was 4-for-7 on the PP, has won four in a row. . . .  Even with F Dallyn Peekeekoot making his WHL debut, the Raiders (3-5-2) were able to dress only 17 skaters, including 10 forwards. Peekeekoot, from Ahtahkakoop First Nation, Sask., was a 10th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. The Raiders announced his signing earlier Tuesday. . . . The Raiders had G Max Paddock back on the bench in support of Carter Serhyenko, who went the distance. . . . Raiders D Kaiden Guhle remains out with an undisclosed injury, while F Ozzy Wiesblatt, who has 11 points in nine games, also sat out this one. . . . F Kyle Crosbie, who turned 21 on Feb. 18, no longer is shown on the Raiders’ roster and apparently has left the team for personal reasons. He was pointless in six games. . . .

D Layton Feist scored at 4:33 of OT to give the Regina Pats a 3-2 victory over the PatsMoose Jaw Warriors. The game was played in Regina with the Warriors designated as the home team. . . . Feist, who has three goals, had tied the game 2-2 at 12:34 of the third period. . . . The game’s first two goals came from 15-year-old skaters. F Connor Bedard (8), the first overall pick in the 2020 bantam draft, got Regina on the board at 10:29 of the second period. F Brayden Yager (3), the third-overall selection, tied the score at 1:59 of the third. . . . Bedard, who drew the lone assist on the winner, now has 19 points in 10 games; Yager, who turned 16 on Jan. 3, has seven points in 10 games. . . . F Eric Alarie (7) had Moose Jaw’s other goal. He scored seven goals in 61 games as a freshman in 2019-20. . . . The Pats improved to 4-4-2; the Warriors, who have lost five straight, are 4-5-1. . . . So just to go over that again — the Pats won on the road, while the Warriors won a home game that was played in Regina. Try explaining that to someone 10 years from now. . . .

F Eric Florchuk, who had a goal and two helpers, broke a 4-4 tie at 18:03 of the Vancouverthird period as the Vancouver Giants beat the Victoria Royals, 5-4, in Kamloops. . . . Flochuk, who has two goals, had drawn an assist on F Tristen Nielsen’s fifth goal in three games, this one on a PP, at 16:51 of the third. . . . The Royals (0-3-0) erased a 2-0 first-period deficit to hold leads of 3-2 and 4-3. . . . Nielsen also had an assist, giving him nine points in three games. . . . F Adam Hall (3) had two goals for the Giants (2-1-0), with F Justin Sourdif earning three assists. . . . F Brayden Tracey and F Taran Fizun each had a goal and an assist for the Royals (0-3-0). . . .D Alex Kannok Leipert, the Giants’ captain, played his 200th regular-season game.


Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post had a birthday on Tuesday. How did he celebrate? The same way he did a year ago. Well, not quite. This time, he wrote about what has changed over the past year, which, as he discovered, wasn’t much. . . . In fact, as he laments in this column right here, there isn’t much evidence to show that we the people are prepared to rid ourselves of this virus and that means that he may well be writing the same column a year from now, too. Unfortunately, he is correct.


F Adam Gaudette of the Vancouver Canucks left Tuesday’s practice after being informed that he had tested positive for COVID-19. The Canucks are scheduled to play the visiting Calgary Flames tonight (Wednesday). The Flames flew into Vancouver on Tuesday evening. . . . There will be more testing and contact tracing before a decision is made on tonight’s game. . . . F Jake Virtanen didn’t practise on Tuesday; the Canucks said he was ill, but didn’t indicate that it was virus-related. . . .

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens played their first game since March 20 on Tuesday night, beating the visiting Edmonton Oilers, 4-0. F Jesper Kotkaniemi, who had been on the COVID-19 protocol list, scored one of the goals. F Joel Armia didn’t play as he remains on the protocol list.


Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., announced on Tuesday that Kevin Dickie has retired as its executive director of athletics. He spent 13 years at Acadia. That included three years as head coach of the Axemen hockey team for three seasons. . . . Before moving into administration, Dickie was a coach in the SJHL and WHL. He was the head coach of the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs for five seasons, then spent three seasons with the Axemen before joining the Saskatoon Blades as an assistant coach for 1999-2000. He took over as head coach the next season, a position he held for three seasons. . . . According to a news release, Dickie will leave his position after the USports annual general meeting in June. . . . That news release is right here.


If you missed it, the Texas Rangers opened up their home park — Globe Life Park  — to fans on Monday night for an exhibition game with the Milwaukee Brewers. The park has a capacity of 40,300 and a big crowd was anticipated; attendance was announced at 12,911. . . . “Plenty of fans sat shoulder-to-shoulder, but large portions of the stadium were empty as the Rangers lost to the Brewers, 4-0,” reported Jonathan Zizzo in The New York Times. . . . Texas announced 3,484 new cases and 41 more deaths on Tuesday, increasing the seven-day totals to 28,667 and 688. . . . On Tuesday night, with the Brewers beating the Rangers, 6-3, attendance was announced as 10,859.


Masks


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.


Arrow

Thunderbirds drop two after racist incident . . . COVID-19 takes chunks out of Fighting Irish, two baseball leagues, NHL


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 Everettin 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 Seattleteam 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 wonderful story on Lee is right here.

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 WHL2Denomie, 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.


Scarecrow


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.”

——

Marker

——

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 nhl2because 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!


——

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: 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.


Anger

WHL’s wait is almost over; two games set for tonight . . . Second team opts out of AJHL restart . . . Beast prexy with good dope on folderoo

It was March 11. The Victoria Royals and host Kelowna Rockets were tied, 2-2, in the third period of a WHL game.

F Brayden Tracey of the Royals broke the tie, banking a shot off G Roman Basran and into the Kelowna net. The goal would give the Royals a 3-2 victory and would be the last score of the WHL’s 2019-20 season.

The last goal of the CHL’s 2019-20 season was to have been scored in Kelowna, but it should have happened in the Memorial Cup in May. That tournament, like so many other things, was cancelled.

With the world in the early stages of what has turned into a full-blown pandemic, the WHL put things on hold after March 11, a pause that will end tonight (Friday) with two games featuring four Alberta teams.

In Red Deer, the Rebels will play the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. The same teams will play again Saturday, only they will switch venues. The Calgary Hitmen, the fifth of the league’s five Alberta teams, have the bye.

In Red Deer, Troy Gillard will make his debut as the interim play-by-play voice of the Rebels, replacing Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Down the way from Gillard, Bob Ridley will be calling his 3,999th game as the only voice the Tigers have known.

If the excitement of tonight’s game doesn’t get to him, Ridley will do No. 4,000 in Medicine Hat on Saturday night. If you haven’t heard, he has called every game in Tigers history — except for one. It’s an oft-told story, but back in the day — way, way back — his then-boss’s wife was playing in the Canadian women’s curling championship in Saskatoon and, well, Ridley missed a Tigers game while covering curling. Yes, that’s a true story!

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings game won’t be heard on an Edmonton radio station, but will be available, with Andrew Peard on the call, on the team’s website.

(I had written here that G Lukáš Pařík of the Spokane Chiefs had scored the last goal of the season. That was in error.)

——

JUST NOTES: You may not have been aware of it, but the WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT. For the first time in league history, there wasn’t even one trade. . . . The league released a U.S. Division schedule this week. The five American teams will open their season on March 18 with the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans meeting in Kennewick, Wash. With the Winterhawks not having clearance to play in Oregon, they will play their two March home games at the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. (aka the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds). The Portland home games April 2 through May 7 have TBD as the home arena. . . .

A schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but the seven-team Regina hub is expected to begin play on March 12. The hub will feature the five Saskatchewan-based teams, along with the two from Manitoba. . . . The five B.C. Division teams have yet to receive clearance to return to play from government and health officials. . . . Earlier this week, on the subject of 15-year-olds, the afore-mentioned Gillard tweeted: “So I confirmed that Alberta players are good to go since the U18AAA season here is cancelled, but Sask players are limited to 5 WHL games for now as they’ve yet to officially cancel league play in that province.” . . .

The Oil Kings have added three people to their front office — Shaun Mahe as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator, the afore-mentioned Andrew Peard to handle hockey broadcasting and media, and Erin Klatt in charge of game-day operations. Mahe has been with the Oilers Entertainment Group for eight years, most recently in statistical analysis with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Peard’s duties include play-by-play, taking over from Corey Graham who somehow lost his job during recent Bell Media cuts. Klatt has been with OEG for two years, working as a hockey engagement co-ordinator. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have added Brodi Stuart, 20, to their coaching staff. Stuart, from Langley, B.C., played three seasons with the Blazers. His WHL career came to an end when he had knee surgery on Jan. 20. In 204 regular-season games, he had 115 points, including 45 goals. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders have added Ryan McDonald as an assistant coach. He will work with the team during its time in the Regina hub. A Prince Albert native, McDonald, 33, played four plus seasons in the WHL (Regina Pats, Raiders, 2004-09). He was the head coach for the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats in 2020-21. . . .

Josh Green, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, has moved to the Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. The Ice and Freeze are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. Green, who played five WHL seasons in the WHL (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98), was an assistant coach with the Ice in 2019-20. . . . Ryan Guenter, who had been on the Ice’s scouting staff, also will be on the team’s coaching staff in the Regina hub. When that stint is over, he will step in as the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations. . . . The Ice also has added Byron Spriggs as goaltending consultant. He has been the U of Manitoba Bisons’ goaltending coach for the past two seasons and is expected to work with both clubs. . . . Cole Hillier, a former head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, now is in that role with the Ice. Darcy Ewanchuk, who made the move to Winnipeg from Cranbrook with the franchise, now is on staff as a consultant.


Questions, there are questions . . .

We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days. . . .

F Seth Jarvis of the Chicago Wolves is tied for the AHL lead in goals (6) and points (9). He has played seven games. Jarvis, who turned 19 on Feb. 1, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. The rules call for him to be returned to the Portland Winterhawks, but if this odd-ball season, with no fans allowed, is all about development why not leave him in the AHL? . . .

If you are a hockey fan who lives in Canada, does your NHL include only your country’s seven teams? And would you be content with a seven-team NHL and having those teams play an 84-game regular season? . . .

If you get vaccinated in the next month or six are you going to want to go back into an arena next fall not knowing how many unvaccinated people are in the same facility? Is that same thing going to be an issue in some work places? . . .

If you are paying attention to the coronavirus-related numbers in B.C., with variants showing up in schools and teachers in at least one city having marched in protest, will you be surprised if the province’s five WHL teams have to wait a while longer before getting the OK to return to play? . . .

What’s wrong with this picture? . . . On March  21, B.C. announced 76 new positives, raising the number of confirmed cases to 424. There were 27 people in hospital and 12 in intensive care. There was one new death, for a total of 10. So health officials closed all personal service establishments — remember when you couldn’t get a haircut? — and ordered all restaurants to go to takeout and delivery only. . . . On Feb. 25, B.C. reported 395 new cases — down from 559 two days earlier — for a confirmed total of 78,673, with 4,489 of those active. Ten new deaths raised the grim total to 1,348. But, hey, you can get a haircut and eat in a restaurant.


On Feb. 12, Brendan Batchelor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Sportsnet 650, revealed via Twitter that he had been “exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” and was going into self-isolation. . . . All is well and Batchelor, whose resume includes calling Vancouver Giants games, returned to action on Thursday night as the Canucks lost, 3-0, to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


The Lloydminster Bobcats are the second team to opt out of the AJHL’s return Bobcatsto play. According to a news release from the team, it was “denied participation . . . due to public health restrictions of the Saskatchewan government.” . . . More from that news release: “The organization exhausted all efforts to resolve barriers to meet the requirements of the Saskatchewan government. So far the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has also been unable to meet requirements, while the Western Hockey League has been approved by forming a bubble in Regina, SK. Attempts were made to establish a bubble in Lloydminster, but the team was shut out by circumstance.” . . . While they play in the AJHL, the Bobcats’ home arena, the Centennial Civic Centre, is in Lloydminster, Sask. . . . Earlier, the Canmore Eagles announced that they were opting out of a return to play. 


For the last while we regularly have heard from junior hockey pooh-bahs about Beasthow some teams may not survive the pandemic. To date, they’re all still alive, but that’s more than can be said for the Brampton Beast, a seven-year-old ECHL franchise.

The Beast called it quits last week, another victim of COVID-19, but one that won’t show up in death totals.

Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president, general manager and minority owner of Brampton Beast, said that the pandemic simply made the hurdles too huge to continue.

Here’s part of what he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and all of this will be applicable to junior hockey teams, as well . . .

“What we realized recently is that next season is compromised. Normally at this time of year, you sell a lot of season tickets, you renew your season tickets, you make group sales, you do a lot of sponsorship. There’s so much nervousness out there, we realized for the upcoming season . . . that revenues would be greatly depleted. You’re losing revenues in three distinct hockey seasons. As a business, it’s not sustainable. We came to that realization probably since Christmas, (and) for us that was just too much.”

And now we wait to see if more teams meet the same fate.

If you haven’t already seen it, Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts is right here.


Sauce


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The City of Toronto has cancelled outdoor events and parades through July 1. That includes Canada Day celebrations and its Pride Parade. . . .

The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association has cancelled any games for the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The provincial government has extended restrictions until at least March 19, so the association decided it was time to move on from this season. Teams are still able to practice with eight mask-wearing, social-distancing players on the ice at a time. . . .

The San Jose Sharks had F Thomas Hertl enter COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, so their Thursday game against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights has been postponed. The Sharks didn’t hold any practice or training sessions on Wednesday. . . . San Jose next is scheduled to play on Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . Also on Wednesday, the New York Rangers placed F K’Andre Miller on the COVID-19 protocol list, but they still played that night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Philly. . . .

Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reports that the CFL, which didn’t play in 2020, is looking at holding training camps in May with the first exhibition game on May 23. He also writes that an 18-game regular season would open on June 10 without fans in the stands. . . . That story is right here. . . .

The 10-team Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. “These are unprecedented times,” Kerry Lines, the league president, said in a news release, “and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.” . . . The MMJHL last played on Oct. 29.


Warranty


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.


Kids

How close is OHL to playing? . . . NHL adjusts its COVID protocols . . . Eyes of Texas will be on U18 Worlds


On a day when COVID-19 found the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL announced nhl2adjustments to its protocols. . . . The Oilers were without F Jesse Puljujarvi in a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal after he tested positive. Edmonton also scratched G Mikko Koskinen for precautionary reasons. There is speculation that Koskinen was held out as a close contact. . . . The Ottawa Senators held D Artem Zub out of a 5-1 loss to the host Winnipeg Jets for precautionary reasons; however a COVID-19 test came back negative so he will be OK to play on Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, with five teams having experienced outbreaks and a total of 35 games having been postponed, the NHL has added to its protocols. One of the changes involves more game-day testing. The NHL also has moved to limit the outside activities of team members and their families. Here’s ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski: “All players, coaches, training staff, equipment staff and other members of the traveling party ‘will be required to remain at home and not leave their place of residence except to attend practices and games, to exercise outdoors on an individual basis, to perform essential activities (e.g., go to the doctor), or to deal with family or other emergencies and other extraordinary circumstances.’ The NHL also is ‘strongly recommending’ that household members limit their activities outside the home as well, and is encouraging teams to provide ways for household members to be tested for COVID-19 regularly.” . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.



The IIHF’s U18 World Championship will be held in Frisco and Plano, Texas, DallasStarsfrom April 26 through May 6. Frisco is home to the Dallas Stars’ practice arena — the Comerica Center — and offices. The Stars and USA Hockey are partnering on the production. . . . The host team, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Russia will play out of Frisco. . . . Canada will be in Plano, along with Belarus, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . The U-18 world event hasn’t ever been held so late into a year. . . . It will be interesting to watch team construction prior to this event, because all 60 major junior teams could still be playing. . . . The 2020 event was to have been held in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, Mich., from April 16-26, but was cancelled by the pandemic. Originally, the 2021 event also was scheduled for Ann Arbor and Plymouth, but it obviously has been shifted to Texas.


As you can see from the above tweet, Bob Kaser is in hospital after having undergone heart surgery. Kaser is a veteran hockey play-by-play voice, who did a stint with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1984-89). . . . He’s a hockey guy, so somehow I expect him back before season’s end. . . . Best wishes, Bob.


Plumber


So you want to be a pro hockey player, do you? Well, let’s take a look at how G Taran Kozun’s career is going. . . . He played in the WHL (Kamloops, Seattle, 2011-15) and was named to the Western Conference’s first all-star team and also was saluted as the league’s top goaltender for 2014-15. . . . He spent the 2015-16 season playing pro, making stops with three ECHL teams — the Missouri Mavericks, Utah Grizzlies and Manchester Monarchs — and the AHL’s Ontario Reign. He only got into games (nine of them) with Utah, though. . . . Kozun then spent a season with the Chinook Hockey League’s Rosetown, Sask., Red Wings, before going on to three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. He was 37-6-2 over the last two seasons with the Huskies and was USports’ top goaltender each season. He was the Canadian university game’s player of year for 2019-20. . . . This season, he’s back playing pro, having made stops with four ECHL teams — the Kansas City Mavericks, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush and Orlando Solar Bears — and the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. . . . The Solar Bears picked him up in a deal with the Rush this week. . . . Kozun’s older brother, Tad, is a forward with Orlando.



THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

If you haven’t seen any of the short videos that the WHL has made available featuring some goaltenders, here’s one of them. . . . Well done

——

CBC News — Ontario’s COVID-19 case numbers are steadily declining, but more infectious novel coronavirus variants of concern pose a threat significant enough that health experts are warning a third lockdown could be required to contain them.

CBC News — Alberta reports 351 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths. Starting Monday, the province is changing rules requiring negative COVID-19 tests at border crossings.

CBC News — Newfoundland and Labrador reports 100 new COVID-19 cases, nearly double Wednesday’s all-time record of 53. Of them, 74 are in people under the age of 20. Health authorities also say there is 1 additional presumptive case.

——

Prince McJunkins, a quarterback during two seasons (1983-84) with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders, died of complications from COVID-19 in a Tulsa, Okla., hospital on Tuesday. His home was in Muskogee, Okla. He was 59 and is survived by his wife and four children. . . . While playing at Wichita State (1979-82), McJunkins was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards and pass for more than 4,000 in a career. . . .

The Australian Open, which is underway in Melbourne, has banned fans for five days following a COVID outbreak at a local hotel. While the state of Victoria will go into a lockdown, the tournament will continue. . . .

The NBA’s Toronto Raptors announced on Thursday that they will spend the remainder of this season at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. After starting the season there, they had hoped things would improve and border restrictions would loosen so they could return to Toronto, but that hasn’t happened so they’ll stay put. . . .

Penn State’s men’s hockey team last played on Jan. 29. It was to have played on Feb. 20 and 21 against Arizona State. But that won’t happen after Penn State got hit by some positive tests this week. If all goes well, Penn State will get to play again on Feb. 27. . . .

Hockey Brandon, which governs minor hockey in the Wheat City, announced Thursday that it had cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season effective immediately. . . . Curtis Storey, the organization’s president, said that “the continued restrictions on indoor facilities unfortunately forced the decision.” . . .

The junior B Heritage Junior Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The decision was made after a announcement earlier in the week from Hockey Alberta. Here’s the HJHL’s Scott Fisher, from okotoksonline.com: “We were at that time where we had to come to a decision. Hockey Alberta has made the decision to cancel all regular season and playoff games for junior B, junior C, female and senior men’s leagues.” . . . Hockey Alberta’s announcement didn’t include the junior A Alberta Junior Hockey League.


Giraffe


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.


Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while thinking about how much I don’t miss Prairie blizzards . . .

Scattershooting2


As you likely are aware, the City of Cranbrook has filed a lawsuit against the wpgiceWHL and the owners of the Winnipeg Ice, claiming that a lease was broken when the franchise, then the Kootenay Ice, picked up and moved to the Manitoba capital after the 2018-19 season. . . . A Winnipeg-based company, 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is headed up by chairman Greg Fettes, had purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family in 2017. . . . It turns out that the lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court on Dec. 24. Merry Christmas! . . . “The lawsuit,” writes Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, “. . . seeks a few different types of financial relief stemming from lost income due to the relocation of the Kootenay Ice from Cranbrook to Winnipeg, a move (that) broke a license of occupation agreement with Western Financial Place that had four additional years left in the terms of the contract.” . . . Crawley’s complete story is right here. . . .

Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com writes: “As per their claim, the City of Cranbrook is seeking general damages, damages for lost income for the remainder of the License Agreement to 2023, special damages of the $15,167 one-time expense, pre-judgment interest on damages, costs, and any other relief the court deems justifiable.” . . . His complete story is right here.


Sleep


Apologies to members of the Cam Moon Fan Club. I mentioned here the other day that he would be making his NHL play-calling debut on Wednesday when the Edmonton Oilers played host to the Vancouver Canucks. That actually was a national telecast for Sportsnet — Harnaryan Singh made his Hockey Night in Canada national debut — which meant that Jack Michaels was back doing the Oilers’ play-by-play on radio. . . . The Oilers’ game on Thursday will be a regional telecast, so Moon will be at the radio microphone as he calls an NHL game for the first time. Game time against those same Canucks on 630 CHED will be 7 p.m. MT.



The Medicine Hat Tigers have released F Cole Sillinger to play for the USHL’s ushlSioux Falls Stampede. Sillinger, the 17-year-old son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, is a potential first-round selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . Sillinger, who has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, will be joined in Sioux Falls by F Luke Toporowski, 19, who was released by the Spokane Chiefs on Wednesday and will be playing with the Stampede. Toporowski is a native of Bettendorf, Iowa. . . . On Tuesday, the Chiefs freed up F Bear Hughes to join the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho, . . . “Our league and USA Hockey reached a unique agreement regarding American players from (WHL) U.S. Division clubs,” Scott Carter, the Chiefs’ general manager, said in a news release. “Despite the WHL’s commitment to play this season, there are still uncertainties, and this opportunity will provide Luke and Bear the chance to play right away.” . . . WHL players who are moving to the USHL will stay with those teams until their seasons end, after which their playing rights will revert back to their WHL teams.


The NHL began is 2021 regular season with five games on Wednesday night. If all goes well, it was the first of 116 straight days when at least one NHL game will be played. . . . The tweet below is the first of a series in what is sure to garner nightly interest . . .


Eating


In the period from Jan. 6-12, the NBA ran 497 COVID-19 tests and had 16 players come up positive. . . . It postponed three games that had been scheduled for Wednesday — Utah Jazz at Washington Wizards, Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, and Atlanta Hawks at Phoenix Suns. . . . With the Suns and Washington Wizards having contact tracing issues, the NBA also has postponed a pair of games scheduled for Friday — Washington at the Detroit Pistons and the Golden State Warriors at Phoenix. . . . The NBA now has had to postpone nine games, eight of them since Jan. 10.

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Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“At a time when a complete shutdown seemed appropriate, even for a month or less, the NBA has chosen the fast lane, the one labeled Take the Money, once again. Whether it’s stay-at-home orders, eliminating visitors to hotel rooms or the clampdown on simple things, like dropping into a bar, Tuesday’s mandate suggests a player nightmare over the next two weeks — and probably beyond.

“No, this cruel new world hardly resembles a military boot camp, but some serious change is at hand. The NBA now expects a complete halt on lengthy pregame meetings, postgame hugs with opposing players and the comically reckless usage of masks, among other highly detailed restrictions. (Somehow, coaches worldwide have come to believe that when you really need to shout at somebody — thus putting yourself at the highest pandemic risk — that’s when you take off the mask.)



Taxes


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.


WHL board chairman suggests late February or early March for start . . . Five WHL players off to USHL . . . City of Cranbrook suing WHL, Ice owners

How does the Prince George Cougars of Kamloops sound? Or how about the Victoria Royals of Kelowna?

The WHL announced on Friday that it has a “commitment” to play a 24-game WHL22021 schedule. The league didn’t announce any other particulars, other than pointing out that “he start date for the season will be determined once final approval has been received from the health authorities in each provincial and state jurisdiction, and it is anticipated the approvals will be received soon.”

Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors and the owner/general manager of the Kelowna Rockets, told Travis Lowe of CHBC-TV in Kelowna that the people running the show “thought that it was important that we let our players know that we’re going to do everything we can to get some kind of a season in for them,”

Taking Note was told Tuesday afternoon that one plan the WHL has looked at would have players reporting to teams on Jan. 22 in the hopes of starting a season on Feb. 8. However, that seems awfully far-fetched if only because, for example, the restrictions that presently are in place in B.C. are there until at least Feb. 5.

Hamilton told Lowe that a new season “probably” wouldn’t get started “until the end of February, early March.”

Lowe also reported: “According to Hamilton, the 24-game season will probably take about 60 days to complete. Teams would have a 21-day or 28-day training camp that would include a quarantine period for all players.”

Hamilton also told Lowe that “we may look at some kind of a setup where we would move one or two teams into Kamloops and one team into (Kelowna) and then limit the travel.”

A source told Taking Note that one option that has been discussed would have the Cougars spend the season playing out of Kamloops, with the Royals doing the same out of Kelowna.


Last week, the USHL’s Lincoln Stars added four players to their protected list, PortlandAlternateall of them American-born skaters off the roster of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. On Tuesday, the Winterhawks released those four to play for the Stars. F Cross Hanas, 19, who is from Highland Village, Tex.; F Clay Hanus, 19, from Excelsior, Minn.; F Jack O’Brien, 17, from Denver; and F James Stefan, 17, from Laguna Beach, Calif., will stay with Lincoln until the Stars’ season ends. . . . “With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up,” Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, said in a news release. . . .

Meanwhile, F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs has been given his release to play for the USHL’s Fargo Force. Hughes, 19, is from Post Falls, Idaho. . . .

On Jan. 5, the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints announced that they were adding F Matt Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 1, of the Winnipeg Ice to their roster. However, Savoie’s name has yet to appear on that roster. He is from St. Alberta, Alta. Savoie played six games this season with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, putting up three goals and three assists.


If you have been holding out hope that fans will be allowed into arenas to watch games when/if the WHL gets a season started, it really doesn’t seem likely to happen.

For proof, here’s part of message from the Lethbridge Hurricanes to their fans: “The Lethbridge Hurricanes Hockey Club has been working with the Ticket Centre and our ticket provider to begin the process of issuing full refunds to everyone who purchased 2020-21 season tickets.”


The WHL and the Winnipeg Ice are being sued by the City of Cranbrook. . . . Karin Larsen of CBC News reports that “a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court says both the Winnipeg Ice (formerly Kootenay Ice) and WHL are responsible for breaking an arena deal that was supposed to run through June 2023. The claim says the city is out approximately $178,000 per year as a result.” . . . The Kootenay Ice franchise was purchased by 50 Below Sports and Entertainment, which is based in Winnipeg, from the Chynoweth family. The Ice played two seasons in Cranbrook under new ownership before moving to Winnipeg following the 2018-19 season. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Carlin


With its 2021 regular season to start Wednesday night, the NHL revealed NHLTuesday that 27 players, 17 of them from the Dallas Stars, tested positive during the training camp period from Dec. 30 to Monday. . . . According to the NHL, about 12,000 tests were conducted on more than 1,200 players. . . . The other 10 positives tests involve players from eight other teams. . . . The NHL has said it will provide “regular updates on the results of tests administered to players, including the identities of the players” with the start of the new season. . . . The Stars have returned to the practice ice, although more than a dozen players were unavailable on Tuesday, but their first three games have been postponed. They also have had an undisclosed number of staffers test positive. . . .

D Jordie Benn and F J.T. Miller won’t play for the Vancouver Canucks when they open their NHL season Wednesday night against the host Edmonton Oilers. The Canucks aren’t saying why, but Matt Sekeres of TSN 1040 AM in Vancouver tweeted that the two are out “due to COVID-19 concerns” and that they will be out “for a couple of weeks.” Sekeres added: “Both players are quarantining. Miller had been staying at Benn’s Vancouver residence.” . . . Richard Zussman of Global BC reported via Twitter that he has been told either Benn or Miller “tested positive for COVID, then negative, then positive again and when tested a fourth time tested negative. The other is a close contact.”


Spidey


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Justin Trudeau, Canadian prime minister — Update on the Canada-US border: We’ve extended the current border measures by another 30 days. Non-essential travel between our two countries remains restricted until at least February 21st. We’ll continue to do whatever is necessary to keep Canadians safe.

680 CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba health officials reported 92 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday and said eight more Manitobans with the virus have died. It’s the first time the province’s list of new daily infections has dropped below 100 since Oct. 19.

CBC News — 248 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Saskatchewan. It’s the 1st time in a week the province has recorded fewer than 300 new daily cases. Health authorities also report 5 additional deaths from the virus. . . . The provincial government has extended current COVID-19-related public health orders until at least Jan. 29, due to current transmission rates.

CBC News — Alberta again breaks COVID-19 record with 38 deaths reported in single day. The province reported 652 new cases, 819 hospitalizations and 132 patients in ICUs. . . . Deaths from the illness are reported as Alberta Health compiles data, meaning not all 38 happened on the same day. The latest report includes deaths reported to the province from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12. But provincial numbers released over the last two days show that at least 21 people died from COVID-19 on Sunday alone. The total number of deaths since the pandemic began in March now stands at 1,345.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 446 new cases of COVID-19, including 10 epi-linked cases, for a total of 58,553 cases in British Columbia. . . . There are 5,045 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. There are 368 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 72 of whom are in intensive care. . . . There are 7,238 people under active public health monitoring as a result of identified exposure to known cases and a further 51,144 people who tested positive have recovered. . . . There have been nine new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,019 deaths in British Columbia.

CBC News — Ontario reports 41 more deaths and 2,903 new COVID-19 cases. That’s the 1st time the number has fallen below 3,000 since January 3.

CBC News — Quebec reports 1,934 new COVID-19 cases and 47 additional deaths. It’s the 2nd day in a row where the number of new cases is below 2,000; it was above 2,000 for the previous 8 days.

Keith Baldrey, Global BC — No surprise the Canada/US border will remain closed. Here are the latest weekly (Jan. 4-11) COVID-19 stats for Washington state: 217 deaths. 20,251 cases. 818 hospitalizations.

CNN, Tuesday, 7 p.m. PT — So far today, Johns Hopkins University has reported 212,766 new cases and 4,212 new deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 22.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 6:30 p.m. PT — 380,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

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The number of postponements in this young NBA season has reached six, with the latest casualty a Wednesday night game between the Utah Jazz and Washington Wizards. Due to protocols, the Wizards don’t have the necessary eight players able to play. . . . Three of the postponed games have involved the Boston Celtics, including one that had been scheduled for Chicago on Tuesday night. . . . Five of the NBA’s six postponements have occurred since Sunday. . . .

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association also have come up with some new rules aimed at keeping numbers down. From The Associated Press: “For ‘at least the next two weeks,’ the league and union said, players and team staff will have to remain at their residence when in their home markets and are prohibited from leaving their hotels when on the road — with exceptions primarily for practices and games. . . . Players also no longer will be allowed to have guests in their hotel rooms on the road. . . . Also from The AP: “Players have been told to limit on-court interactions with fellow players to elbow or fist bumps, with no extended socializing. And when a player is subbed out of a game, he can sit in a ‘cool down chair’ without a mask — but must put a mask on when he returns to the bench and sits in his assigned seat.” . . .

As if the NBA doesn’t have enough on its plate, Brian Windthorst and Zach Lowe of ESPN reported Tuesday that sources have told them “multiple players who previously tested positive for the coronavirus have recently tested positive a second time. That story is right here. . . .

Pro golfer Jhonattan Vegas has tested positive so has withdrawn from the Sony Open that is to open in Honolulu on Thursday. . . .

The Czech Republic pulled out of the world handball championship after 13 of its 21 players and a number of coaches tested positive. The event was scheduled for Egypt, Jan. 13-31.


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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The ECHL has sold two expansion franchises to Deacon Sports and Entertainment, which is owned by Dean MacDonald. The new teams will begin play in 2021-21 in Coralville, Iowa and Trois-Rivières, Que.  Deacon Sports and Entertainment also owns the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers. From an ECHL news release: “Coralville will play out of Xtreme Arena, a 5,100-seat venue which was completed in September 2020, while Trois-Rivières will play out of Le Nouveau Colisée, a new construction that will host 4,390 fans.”


John