Hey, Kelowna, have you heard? Blazers want 2023 Memorial Cup . . . Thunderbirds’ home getting new scoreboard . . . QMJHL to retire Lafleur’s number


You will recall that the Kelowna Rockets were to have played host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. However, the virus had other ideas and the four-team tournament was cancelled. Later, the 2021 event, which was to have been played in an OHL centre, also was cancelled. The 2022 tournament belongs to the QMJHL with a host city yet to be declared.

That brings us to the 2023 Memorial Cup, with the rights belonging to the WHL. KamloopsOne would think that it might be a fait accompli to return hosting rights to Kelowna. In fact, Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner and general manager, has agreed to another two-year stint as the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors. So you might think things are in place for the Rockets to get another chance to be the host team.

Not so fast, my friends.

Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, has let it be known that his franchise is interested . . . very interested.

“If that’s the right thing to do, then that could be the right thing to do,” Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week. “I haven’t been involved in any formal conversation around that, but if that happens, we’ll deal with it as it comes. Just because you have the market size and ability financially to host a Memorial Cup, I don’t think is enough, so if Kelowna is going to want the Cup again in 2023, they’re going to need to have a competitive team, and so we’ll see if they do.”

Don’t forget that Gaglardi wasn’t happy with the decision to award the 2020 Memorial Cup to Kelowna. No, not at all!

Here’s what he told Hastings in February 2020: “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. It’s the 25th anniversary (of the Blazers’ 1995 Memorial Cup victory, right in Kamloops), we were judged to have probably the best team of the host bids and it was our turn. We put together a heck of an offer and we didn’t win. Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.”

The bidding for the 2020 tournament also included the community-owned Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Hastings’ latest story on Gaglardi and the Memorial Cup is right here.


Toeprints


The accesso ShoWare Center, the Kent, Wash., home of the WHL’s Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, lost US$1.14 million in 2020, a year in which it was only open for the first two months. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes that “the 6,200-seat arena had expenses of $2.45 million and revenue of $1.3 million, according to the ShoWare Center income statement released last week by SMG, which operates the $84.5 million facility.” . . . All told, the facility had 58 events cancelled. It also has lost $162,635 in the first quarter of 2021. . . . Still, Hunter reports, the arena will have a new $500,000 scoreboard in place when the Thunderbirds open the 2021-22 season in October. . . . Hunter’s story is right here.


The UBC Thunderbirds revealed the names of four members of their newest recruiting class on Tuesday, and each of them is a former WHL player. . . . F Scott Atkinson played the past four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings and is coming off two seasons as the team’s captain. . . . F Liam Kindree split four-plus WHL seasons between the Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . F Chris Douglas spent his entire WHL career, all four-plus seasons of it, with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . G Ethan Anders played the past four seasons with the Rebels. . . . The Thunderbirds’ head coach is Sven Butenschon, a former WHLer (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1993-96). He has been UBC’s head coach since 2016-17. . . . UBC’s news release is right here.


Hockey Canada has announced the sites for three 2022 championship Canadatournaments, each of which was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. . . . The Esso Cup, the women’s U18 club championship, is scheduled for the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert, April 17-23. . . . The Telus Cup, the U18 men’s club championship, is to be played in Cape Breton, N.S., at Sydney’s Membertou Sport and Wellness Centre, April 18-24. . . . The Centennial Cup, the national junior A men’s championship, is scheduled for Estevan’s Affinity Place, May 20-29. . . . Previously announced sites and dates for 2021 championships: National women’s U18, Dawson Creek, B.C., Oct. 31 through Nov. 6; Para Hockey Cup, Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 5-11; and World Junior A Challenge, Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 12-18.


It wasn’t a good day for the lacrosse world as the Major Series Lacrosse (MSL) in Ontario and B.C.’s Western Lacrosse Association (WLA) cancelled their 2021 seasons, including the Mann Cup senior men’s box lacrosse championship. . . . Both organizations had been forced by the pandemic to cancel their 2020 regular seasons and the national championship, too. The Peterborough Lakers are the last team to win the Mann Cup, in 2019. . . . A news release is right here.


OT


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

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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.


Lafleur

JUST NOTES: The QMJHL announced Tuesday that it is taking No. 4 out of use across the league in honour of Guy Lafleur. He played two seasons (1969-71) with the Quebec Remparts, putting up 233 goals and 146 assists in 118 regular-season games. He helped the Remparts to the 1971 Memorial Cup championship, the first won by a QMJHL team. This will be the second number to have been taken out of circulation by the QMJHL, which retired Sidney Crosby’s No. 87 in September 2019. . . . Tim Green is the new head coach of the Augustana Vikings men’s hockey team that plays in the Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference. Green, the 14th-overall selection in the WHL’s 1996 bantam draft by Tri-City, split four seasons (1998-2002) between the Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes. He also spent two seasons as a player with the Vikings. He grew up in Camrose, which is home to Augustana, and played minor hockey there. He also played with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. He has coached minor hockey in Camrose and with Hockey Alberta. Green takes over from Blaine Gusdal, the Vikings’ head coach for the previous 13 seasons.


Stupid

A fond farewell to the Swamp Dog . . . Sopotyk family says ‘Thank You’ . . . Canmore opts out of AJHL return to play

Let’s start with a couple of stories involving old friends.

Andy Murray and I go back a long way . . . when I was getting started at the Brandon Sun, he was the starting QB for the Brandon U Bobcats, a ragtag football team full of guys who sure had a lot of fun. He also was a star forward on the Bobcats hockey team.

AndyMurray
ANDY MURRAY

Murray, of course, went on to a lengthy coaching career and now is the head coach of the Western Michigan U Mustangs. On Monday, Bods (@Bods27) posted three tweets involving Murray, and the story is just too good not to share.

“Since it’s the anniversary of Miracle on Ice, I’ll share a story about it.

“We were on a road trip to Miami several years ago and watching Miracle on the way down. We get to Goggin (the arena in Oxford, Ohio) with about 20 minutes or so left in the movie.

“The guys on the bus want to finish it since we were just going to unload the bus, not practice or anything like that. Coach Murray stands up and abruptly shuts off the DVD player. The guys all boo him.

“Murray simply looks down the aisle of the bus and says ‘In Canada, we don’t need to make movies about things that happen every four years,’ and then walks off the bus.”

O Canada . . .

And that brings us to old friend Murray Rauw, who died in Calgary on Sunday night after a long illness. We were part of the fun bunch in the sports department at the Winnipeg Tribune in the mid-1970s. Swamp Dog, as we called him, was one of those special people with a big, big heart and a laugh I’ll never forget.

Here’s a story from Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, who was then writing out of Edmonton while Murray was covering the Stampeders for the Calgary Herald. . . .

“One of my favourite sports writing stories involved Murray Rauw, and then Stampeders head coach Wally Buono.

“I was down in Calgary for a game, and walked into Buono’s office after practice for his daily gab with the media. Murray, the Herald beat guy, was ill, and on leave.

“When I arrived, all the seats were taken but for a chair right in front of Wally’s desk. I hesitated in the doorway, wondering why that prime seat would be open.

“Wally noticed, quietly put up his hand as a stop sign, and said: ‘We’re saving Murray’s seat for when he comes back.’

“No scribe sat in that chair for weeks.

“I’m not sure if that story says more about Wally or Rauwser, but I consider myself lucky to have known both.”

Condolences to Maureen and family. Be safe.


It almost has been a month since F Kyrell Sopotyk of the Kamloops Blazers suffered a devastating injury while snowboarding near North Battleford, Sask. He was left paralyzed below the waist and remains in a Saskatoon hospital. . . . A GoFundMe effort had raised $195,868 as of Monday evening, with the money ticketed to his family to use for expenses, including whatever home renovations may be required.

On Monday, Lori Sopotyk, Kyrell’s mother, posted this update:

“Our family would like to express the immense gratitude and thanks for the overwhelming support and kindness during this tough time. Kyrell is working towards months of recovery with his medical and rehab team at Saskatoon City Hospital.

“We ask that you please continue to keep him in your thoughts and prayers on his long journey ahead. The incredible support of family, friends and the community makes a huge difference in Kyrell’s road to recovery and maintaining a positive attitude.

“Thank you to everyone for your support and generosity whether it be through cards, calls, texts, donations, food or the purchase of decals.”

If you haven’t donated and would like to, the page is right here.



The 15-team AJHL announced on Friday that it has been given the OK to return Canmoreto play, although it didn’t reveal a schedule or a start date. On Sunday, the Canmore Eagles announced that they are opting out “due to challenges in meeting the requirements of the approved Return-to-Play Plan and of existing restrictions due to COVID-19.” . . . A news release on the AJHL website added: “We have worked tirelessly through several options not only within the town of Canmore, but also exploring possible solutions to work with other communities. Regrettably, we have not been able to arrive at a workable solution.” . . . The Eagles were hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 in late November, one that resulted in at least 16 positive tests within the organization and some community transmission. Andrew Milne, the Eagles’ general manager and head coach, did some resulting media interviews in which he candidly discussed what the team had gone through. The AJHL followed by hitting him with a 15-game suspension and a $1,000 fine for “bringing discredit to the league.”



Bigfoot


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The New York Times — President Biden honored the “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone” of 500,000 lives lost to the coronavirus at the White House on Monday. “The people we lost were extraordinary,” Biden said.

The New York Times — The United States reached a staggering milestone on Monday, surpassing 500,000 known coronavirus-related deaths in a pandemic that has lasted almost a year. The nation’s total virus toll is higher than in any other country in the world. It has far surpassed early predictions of loss by some federal experts. . . . The United States accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s known Covid deaths, but makes up just 4.25 percent of the global population.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 9:37 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,720 have died from coronavirus; 854,190 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 9:37 p.m. PT — United States: 500,236 people have died. . . . 28,188,311 have tested positive.

CBC News — Manitoba announced 97 new cases of COVID-19, up slightly from the province’s 7-day average of 92. The test positivity rate for the last week is 5.4%. The province has also had 2 additional deaths.

CBC News — B.C. has confirmed 1,428 new cases of COVID-19 and eight more deaths from the disease over the last three days. There are 223 people in hospital with the disease, 63 of whom are in intensive care.

CBC News — Alberta reports 273 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths from illness. Variant cases account for about 3.5% new infections in the province this month, Dr. Hinshaw says.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reports 177 new COVID-19 cases, up from the province’s 7-day average of 158. Announcement comes after province says it has reached agreement with pharmacists to help administer vaccines for the virus.

CBC News — Newfoundland and Labrador announces 14 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest total in 6 days and well below the 7-day average of 34. The number of recoveries is exceeding the number of new cases, a development the chief medical officer calls ‘encouraging.’

CBC News — Nunavut has 12 more confirmed cases of COVID-19, all in the small fly-in community of Arviat on the west coast of Hudson’s Bay. It’s the 1st time the territory has seen a double-digit daily increase since January 24.

CBC News — 805 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec as number stays below 1,000 for 9th straight day while 7-day average rises slightly to 773. Authorities are also attributing 11 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News — Ontario reports 1,058 new COVID-19 cases, 5th day in a row number has exceeded 1,000. 7-day average up slightly to 1,045. Authorities also say there have been 11 more deaths. However, the number of hospitalizations and ICU patients continues to fall.

KTVZ NewsChannel 21 — Gov. Kate Brown today ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Friday in memory of the more than 500,000 Americans who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. This includes 2,155 Oregonians.

National Geographic — In 2020, the U.S. saw a more than 15 percent increase in deaths over the prior year, the highest year-on-year rise in deaths across the U.S. since 1918, which experienced both a global flu epidemic and the First World War

KOMO News — Washington State health officials reported almost 1,200 more COVID-19 cases, 77 hospitalizations and 35 deaths in the past two days as the United States reached a grim COVID-19 milestone. State officials have reported 334,962 cases, 19,110 hospitalizations and 4,857 deaths since the pandemic began.

The New York Times — More Americans have died from Covid-19 than did on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

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Sooner or later, our lives are going to be able to return to some sense of normalcy, which will include being able to go back into arenas to enjoy hockey games, concerts and other shows. But what will the interior of those arenas look like? Well, the City of Kent is spending about $545,000 on the accesso ShoWare Centre to make it a “safer environment for fans,” as Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes right here. . . .

It was in November when Iona men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino pleaded with the NCAA to move the start of the season to March “and then have May Madness” because of the pandemic. The NCAA wasn’t listening. On Monday, Iona announced that the men’s team won’t be able to play its last five regular-season MAAC games because it doesn’t have enough healthy players. The Gaels (8-5) hope to play in the MAAC tournament that begins on March 8. . . . Earlier, Iona had a 51-day layoff, between Dec. 23 and Feb. 12, because of COVID-19.


Carpet


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 Moose Jaw Warriors are in the market for a general manager after Alan Millar announced that he is leaving to join Hockey Canada as director of player personnel. Millar joined the Warriors as director of hockey operations in 2010, then was named GM in 2012. Millar isn’t a stranger to Hockey Canada, having worked with the U-18 program for two years and then the U-20 team last year.


Ship

Habscheid eighth WHL coach to 500 wins . . . Celebrates with chocolate sundae . . . Sutter should be next to milestone

MacBeth

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a contract for the rest of this season with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had eight goals and 31 assists in 44 games with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2).


ThisThat

Marc Habscheid, the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, became the eighth coach in WHL history with 500 regular-season victories as his club beat the Hurricanes, 6-5, in Lethbridge PrinceAlberton Saturday night.

Habscheid, a 55-year-old native of Swift Current, went into this season with 456 victories. The Raiders, who have the WHL’s best record, now are 45-7-2. Habscheid missed a Jan. 22 game — the Raiders beat the Royals, 4-1, in Victoria — while at the Top Prospects Game in Red Deer.

How did Habscheid celebrate last night? The Hurricanes stopped at a Dairy Queen. “I had a large chocolate sundae,” Habscheid told Taking Note. “The boys got whatever they wanted. Best $180 I ever spent.”

As for the picture in the above tweet, Habscheid said: “The picture with my boys will be with me forever.” If you look at the photo, that’s Habscheid wearing the top hat that is awarded to the team’s player of the game.

Habscheid coached in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets, Chilliwack Bruins and Victoria Royals before signing on with the Raiders as a midseason replacement for Cory Clouston in 2014-15.

On Saturday, Habscheid coached in his 995th regular-season game. He is en route to becoming the eighth head coach in WHL history to reach the 1,000-game mark.

The Raiders next are to play on Wednesday when they visit the Swift Current Broncos.

Don Hay, now an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks, is No. 1 in victories (750), while former Portland head coach Ken Hodge is tops in games coached (1,364).

This season, on his way to No. 500, Habscheid has passed Dean Clark, Kelly McCrimmon, Jack Shupe and Peter Anholt, all former coaches, as well as Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels.

Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Rebels, will be the next to 500. With the Rebels at 28-19-4, Sutter now has 495 regular-season victories.

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THE WHL’S 500 CLUB

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 500


With G Jack McNaughton having been injured on Friday night, the Calgary Hitmen have Calgaryagain added G Brayden Peters to their roster. . . . McNaughton was hurt when he ventured out to the hashmarks after a loose puck and was involved in a first-period collision with F Brett Leason of the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. Both players left the game, which the Raiders won, 8-2, and didn’t return. . . . Peters plays for the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes and had been up with the Hitmen previously to backup McNaughton with Carl Stankowski injured. . . . Stankowski is back now and will carry the load with McNaughton out, starting today against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors.

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Meanwhile, F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders, who was involved in that collision with Calgary Hitmen G Jack McNaughton, sat out Saturday night’s game in Lethbridge against the Hurricanes.

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, told play-by-play man Trevor Redden that Leason is “nicked up . . . but it’s nothing earth-shattering and we’ll provide him with a bit of rest.”

The Raiders also scratched G Ian Scott, giving him a night off, and had Brett Balas up from the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks to back up Boston Bilous. . . . Balas, who turned 18 on Jan. 31, was a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He got into two games with the Raiders earlier in the season, going 2-0-0, 2.56, .871.

This may have been the first time in WHL history that a team had a B.B. in goal and a B.B. on the bench.


F Conner Bruggen-Cate was welcomed with open mouths, as opposed to open arms, on Saturday night when his Kelowna Rockets met the Blazers in Kamloops.

These two teams played in Kelowna on Feb. 2 and, yes, something happened. Whatever it was it resulted in two-game suspensions to Bruggen-Cate and Kamloops D Montana Onyebuchi.

Bruggen-Cate was suspended for what the WHL said were his “actions.” Those “actions” appeared to set off Oyebuchi, who tried to get at Bruggen-Cate, who chose not to engage. Onyebuchi was suspended for a one-man fight.

Had the WHL suspended each player for three games, neither would have been eligible to play on Saturday night.

As it was, Onyebuchi completed his sentence, while Bruggen-Cate was in the Rockets’ lineup.

The announced crowd of 3,365 didn’t seem too aware of Bruggen-Cate’s presence until early in the second period when he was booed while on an early power play. The boos turned to cheers less than two minutes later when he was penalized for interference.

From that point on, he was booed most times he touched the puck, but he turned the boos to cheers, again with another interference penalty late in the period.

The 19-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., got the last laugh, however, as the Rockets won the game, 4-1.

As for what happened on the ice on Feb. 2, well, no one’s talking. It’s almost as though the WHL implemented a gag rule.

On Friday night, Jo Hendricks, a frequent anthem singer at Blazers games, performed while wearing an Onyebuchi sweater. Without the rugged defenceman, the Blazers dropped a 3-1 decision to the Vancouver Giants.


The visiting WHL teams at the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds, will notice a new look in their dressing room next season. The KeyArena in Seattle will be undergoing huge renovations in anticipation of the arrival of an NHL expansion team, so the Seattle University Redhawks men’s basketball team is expected to play a handful of games in Kent. University officials have asked that the visitors’ dressing room be painted in the team colours, and the arena operators have agreed. . . . Meanwhile, the WNBA’s Seattle Storm, which also plays in KeyArena, will play five home games in Everett’s Angel of the Winds Arena, the home of the Silvertips. But the Storm season doesn’t begin until May, so the Silvertips shouldn’t be affected. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter has those tidbits and more in a story detailing the ShoWare Center’s 2018 finances, and it’s all right here.


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