Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while watching Shohei Ohtani weave his magic . . .

scattershooting

A lot of junior hockey teams have signed assistant coaches during my 50-plus years around the game. But I can’t recall an announcement like the one the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades made on Monday.

The Blades welcomed back Wacey Rabbit, this time as an assistant coach, but they also brought his wife, Ashley Callingbull, into their organization as an ambassador.

From a Blades’ news release: “Ashley is a Cree First Nations woman from the Enoch Cree Nation on Treaty Six territory in Alberta. Ashley has many passions that include dance, and she is professionally trained in jazz, ballet, pointe and tap. She also has developed a career in acting, starring in many commercials and television shows.”

These days, she also can be found in Edmonton where she is the in-game host at Commonwealth Stadium for games involving the CFL’s Elks.

But she is making her biggest mark working with First Nations people and in these days of reconciliation the Sask Entertainment Group, which owns the Blades and lacrosse’s Saskatchewan Rush, has done well be bringing her aboard.

“I work with a lot of women and children around the communities and within Saskatoon so I am here quite often and now it will be easier for me to be more accessible to these communities,” she said in that news release.

Her position with the Blades and Rush will allow her a large platform to continue her work in the Saskatoon area and in Saskatchewan.

“I’m hoping to create more programs for not only the youth but indigenous peoples,” she said. “I can’t wait so I will be at every game.”

Sorry, Wacey, but I think your wife’s inclusion in this deal has overshadowed your return.

——

With the Blades, Wacey Rabbit, 35, fills the vacancy created when associate Saskatooncoach Ryan Marsh left after four seasons to join the DEL’s Schwenninger Wild Wings in Germany as an assistant coach. . . . Rabbit, who is from the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, played four seasons (2002-06) with the Blades and 30 games with the Vancouver Giants in 2006-07. He ended his pro career by playing three seasons (2018-21) with the ECHL’s Jacksonville Icemen, while also playing in Czechi and Romania. . . . In 2021-22, he was an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . From a Blades’ news release: Rabbit “will join head coach Brennan Sonne, assistant coach Dan DaSilva, goaltending coach Jeff Harvey, video coach Karter Parisloff and assistant Jerome Engele on the staff.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Has the reputation of one organization taken a beating in recent days and weeks as much as Hockey Canada’s has? (It) should never get another cent of government money, which won’t begin to undo anything close to all that’s gone wrong here.”

He’s not wrong.


The good folks of Imperial, Sask., got it right. Well done, folks!


Giraffe


THINKING OUT LOUD: I learned a few days ago that Johnny Rivers isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. That’s just wrong, wrong, wrong. . . . It’s also wrong, wrong, wrong that Leo Cahill isn’t in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. . . . And while we’re on the subject, it’s embarrassing that Paul Henderson isn’t in the Hockey Hall of Fame. . . . Is there a better race track in B.C. than the highway between Vernon and Kelowna? If you haven’t been on it, it’s one of those tracks where the speed limit seems to be whatever you want it to be. . . . Look, 3-on-3 overtime is fine for a hockey league’s regular-season games. But in the Memorial Cup? How embarrassing to see the CHL decide meaningful games in this fashion. . . . There was news the other day of thieves breaking into the Atlanta home of former NBA star Vince Carter and making off with about $100,000 in cash. So I asked my wife: “How much cash do we have in our home?” We stopped counting at $70. . . . Hope you feel at home here despite the absence of gambling ads.


Have to wonder if any junior hockey teams might try this in an attempt to attract fans and keep them coming back?



With all that is going on in our world these days, you may have missed this story, from The Associated Press:

“ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Happy the elephant may be intelligent and deserving of compassion, but she cannot be considered a person being illegally confined to the Bronx Zoo, New York’s top court ruled Tuesday.

“The 5-2 decision by the state Court of Appeals comes in a closely watched case that tested the boundaries of applying human rights to animals.”

The complete story is right here.

As Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, put it: “I guess I should be happy in these days of hyper-political correctness that the NY State Court of Appeals ruled that an elephant is not a person and that an elephant in the Bronx Zoo cannot be released under habeus corpus. . . . However, before I get too carried away in my euphoria, let me point out that the vote of the judges was only 5-2.  Two judges wanted the elephant released via habeus corpus.” 


Stupid


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League held its annual general meeting recently, the details of which are included in the link in the above tweet. I’m disappointed that the news release didn’t include anything about the part of the gathering in which the commissioner was kind enough to give me some free publicity. . . . BTW, the Canadian government has extended pandemic-related border restrictions at least through Sept. 19. I’m told, Mr. Commissioner, that this means the Spokane Braves will be sitting out another KIJHL season. They last played in 2019-20.



THE COACHING GAME:

I’ve been coasting for the last couple of weeks, recharging the batteries, making certain that the mask supply is up to date, and watching to see if the quicksand completely envelops Hockey Canada before the Hlinka Gretzky Cup opens in Red Deer on July 31. So a lot of what follows is a bit dated . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have removed the ‘interim’ from Ryan Smith’s title and Spokanesigned him to “a multi-year contract” as head coach. The precise length of the deal wasn’t revealed. . . . Smith was in his second season as the WHL team’s associate coach when head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith was named interim head coach and guided the Chiefs into the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Smith spent two seasons on the Medicine Hat Tigers’ coaching staff and was with the Swift Current Broncos for three seasons. . . . The Chiefs also signed Dustin Donaghy as an assistant coach for 2022-23. A part-time assistant when last season began, he assumed a full-time role when Maglio was fired. As a player, Donaghy, now 33, helped the Chiefs to the 2008 Memorial Cup title. . . . Of course, the Chiefs’ decision to stay with Smith throws a wet blanket on the speculation that the job would be going to Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 years with the Portland Winterhawks but now is a free agent after being released by the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers have signed Blake Spiller, their general manager and head coach, to another contract. The Terriers, who do things right, revealed that it is a three-year deal. . . . Spiller has been with the Terriers since 2001 and has been head coach since 2006. . . . The Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. . . . From a news release: “Spiller won the CJHL coach-of-the-year award in 2015, 2016 and 2019. He holds the MJHL record for league championships (8) and ANAVET Cups (2). He also won the RBC Cup in 2015. Spiller holds all Terriers coaching records, and has 604 career wins. He is 67 regular-season victories away from breaking Doug Stokes’ all-time MJHL record.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and coach, now is the general manager and head coach of the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. He signed on as the Rush’s head coach and director of hockey operations in July 2021, then got the club into the second round of the playoffs. Burt was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs for six seasons (2013-19). As a player, he split four seasons (1994-98) between the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. . . .

The BCHL has announced the sale of the Nanaimo Clippers to Northern Lights bchlHockey Canada, “an investment group headed by Brad Kwong, a Western Canadian-born investment professional with a long history in the sport of hockey as a player, executive and team owner,” according to a news release. . . . That news release is right here. Interestingly, it doesn’t mention from whom Kwong and Co. purchased the franchise. . . .

Darren Naylor is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . You may recall that Naylor, then the general manager and head coach of the Nanaimo Clippers, was placed on administrative leave by the BCHL in February due to what the league said was “allegations of code of conduct breaches.” At the time, the BCHL said that Naylor would remain on administrative leave until at least May 31. At the time, Naylor was under contract to the Clippers through the 2022-23 season. . . . The BCHL said at the time that it had appointed an independent investigator to look into the allegations, but it has never updated Naylor’s status. . . . Colin Birkas, the Clippers’ associate coach at the time, also was placed on administrative leave when Naylor was, but shortly after was reinstated. On May 24, Birkas was named the Clippers’ general manager and head coach. . . . With the Blizzard, Naylor replaces Billy Keane, whose contract wasn’t renewed after the 2021-22 season. . . .

Barret Kropf has chosen to leave the Trinity Western Spartans of the BCIHL. He had been the head coach since 2013, but is moving on to the Moose Jaw-based Prairie Hockey Academy as general manager and U15 prep head coach. Kropf is from Estevan. A three-time coach of the year, he led the Spartans to BCIHL titles in 2018 and 2019, then led them into Canada West in 2020. . . .

Eric Thurston has signed on as head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. He spent the past four seasons as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder. There had been speculation a few weeks ago that Bill Peters, a former NHL, KHL and WHL coach, was going to sign with the Storm.


Wifi


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: F Petr Moravec, 19, has left the Tri-City Americans to sign a junior contract with his hometown team, Hradec Králove of the Czechia, Extraliga, as reported by the MacBeth Report (@MacBethReport). Moravec put up 16 goals and 19 assists 68 games in 2021-22, his only WHL season. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told me that he wasn’t surprised that Moravec wouldn’t be back. “He’s a good kid,” Tory said. “This is a good opportunity for him.” Tory was pleased to have a decision before the CHL’s 2022 import draft that is scheduled for Friday. . . . The Americans expect to make one pick, what with Czech G Tomas Suchanek, 19, back for a second season. As a freshman, he was 12-24-4, 3.87, .901 in 42 games for a non-playoff team. . . . Don’t forget that the CHL won’t permit the selection of Russian or Belarusian players in this year’s import draft. . . .

The Everett Silvertips have promoted Mike Fraser to assistant general manager — he had been director of player personnel — and signed him to a multi-year contract extension. The exact length of the extension wasn’t revealed. Fraser has been with Everett through four seasons — three as head scout and one as director of player personnel. He is a veteran WHL scout, having also worked with the Swift Current Broncos and Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Silvertips also have added veteran scout Brian Leavold to their staff as a senior scout. He has worked for the Broncos (1999-2018) and Saskatoon Blades (2018-22). . . .

Dan O’Connor announced via Twitter recently that he is moving on from the Vancouver Giants. O’Connor will be joining the U of British Columbia as a sports information co-ordinator. O’Connor spent the past 11 seasons doing WHL play-by-play — six with the Prince George Cougars and five with the Giants.


Elevator


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.


KidDraw

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while pondering the mystery of the Prospera Place deficiencies . . .

scattershooting

Perhaps you are wondering about the “significant deficiencies” in Prospera Place, the home of the Kelowna Rockets, that prevented the WHL team from Kelownabidding to be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup.

That honour, of course, has gone to Kamloops, with the Canadian Hockey League having announced on Friday that the Blazers would be the host team for the four-team tournament in 2023.

The 2020 tournament had been scheduled for Kelowna before the pandemic got in the way. Because of that cancellation and because preparations were well underway at the time, a lot of observers had expected the 2023 event to go to Kelowna.

Not so fast.

As the announcement was being made in Kamloops prior to a playoff game on Friday night, the Rockets issued an open letter in which they pointed a finger at the GSL Group.

“When we submitted our intent to bid,” the letter stated, “there was an audit conducted of Prospera Place, commissioned by the Rockets, the City of Kelowna, and the GSL Group, who own, operate and manage the arena.

“This audit found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

An agreement couldn’t be reached to “make the necessary capital improvements to the building,” thus the Rockets weren’t able to enter a bid.

At this point, no one in the know has explained what those deficiencies might be.

So let’s turn to Doyle Potenteau of Global News in Kelowna. He covered the Rockets for a number of years while with the Kelowna Daily Courier, including the 2004 Memorial Cup that was held there. Yes, he is more than a little familiar with the arena. Anyway, he filed a story for Global that may have shed some light on the subject.

“It’s not known what the issues are,” Potenteau reported, “but one concern is dressing rooms for the players. While the Rockets have a large room, visiting (WHL) teams to Prospera Place are usually squeezed into two smaller rooms.

“Further, when Kelowna hosted the 2004 Memorial Cup, which the Rockets won, two portable dressing rooms had to be built outside the rink for the third and fourth teams, which happened to be the OHL and QMJHL champions.”

Whatever the deficiencies are, they obviously weren’t an issue on Oct. 3, 2018, when the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup to Kelowna over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Since then, however, it would seem that issues have come to the fore involving the Rockets’ home arena.

Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that the WHL board of governors no longer selects the host team. That decision now is made at the CHL level.


Glass


The stage has yet to be set for the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, the WHLplayoffs2022winner of which will be awarded the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings, the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 seed, now has to wait until Tuesday to find out whether the Kamloops Blazers or Seattle Thunderbirds will open the final in the Alberta capital on Friday night. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for Edmonton on June 5. . . . TSN is to begin televising the championship series with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash., on June 7. . . .

On Sunday night in Kent, the Thunderbirds beat the Blazers, 2-1, in Game 6 of the Western Conference final. It’s even, 3-3, so they’ll decide it all in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The last time that Kamloops was the site of Game 7 in a WHL playoff series? That would be May 10, 1994. The Blazers beat the visiting Saskatoon Blades, 8-1, in Game 7 of the WHL final, behind three goals from F Ryan Huska and two from F Jarome Iginla, then went on to win the Memorial Cup in Laval, Que.

——

SUNDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Kent, Wash., the Seattle Thunderbirds scored the last two goals to beat the SeattleKamloops Blazers, 2-1. . . . The best-of-seven conference final is tied, 3-3, with Game 7 scheduled for Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . The Blazers had taken a 3-2 lead by beating the Thunderbirds, 4-3 in OT, in Kamloops on Friday. . . . The Blazers won Game 1 of this series at home, 5-2, with Seattle taking Game 2 on the road, 4-1. . . . Seattle, which came back to oust the Portland Winterhawks after trailing 3-1, is 4-0 in elimination games this spring. . . . Last night, F Kobe Verbicky’s first WHL playoff goal gave Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 12:53 of the first period. . . . Seattle tied it at 4:42 of the second period when F Jared Davidson scored his ninth goal of these playoffs. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (9), who drew the primary assist on Davidson’s goal, broke the tie at 3:28 of the third period. Davidson returned the favour, too, as he got the primary assist on the winner. . . . Seattle was 0-for-2 on the PP; Kamloops was 0-for-3. . . . G Thomas Milic stopped 34 shots to earn the victory over G Dylan Garand, who made 32 saves.


Masks

Just when you thought the pandemic was over you find out that Mike Breen tested positive so wasn’t able to call the play for Game 7 of the NBA conference final that had the Boston Celtics meeting the Heat in Miami on Sunday night. With Breen out of action, Mark Jones was given the assignment. . . . Jones recently signed a contract extension with ESPN; he’s been there for 32 years. Are you old enough to remember when he was at TSN. . . .

Pandemic over? Johns Hopkins University of Medicine’s Coronavirus Resource Center shows 2,576 deaths and 716,435 new cases in the U.S. in the past week. . . . Those figures for Canada are 305 and 18.292. . . . Over? No, not yet.



Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “The headline said that Rick Bowness had stepped down as coach of the Stars. The truth: He was pushed out. Owner Tom Gaglardi wanted the change. Good-guy Bowness is now contemplating between retirement, family time, grandchildren visits, and continuing to coach in the NHL.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): Congress Placed on Lockdown after Deranged Man Enters Senate with Gun Control Measures.

——

Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton): “Electricity” added to “policing” for services no longer provided by the City of Ottawa.


So . . . I’m watching the Toronto Blue Jays and the host Los Angeles Angels on Saturday night. . . . There is a small sign to the left of home plate that reads: $44 — 4 tickets, hot dogs, & sodas — $44. . . . In the eighth inning, Matt Devlin, who is calling the play, reads a Blue Jays’ promo about what the team calls its “value combo.” Devlin informs us that we can get four tickets to the 200 level, four food items and four drinks for $30 per person. . . . You do the math. . . . Hmmmmm!


A puzzler from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “Most bitter rivalry on display this month — Edmonton-Calgary in hockey or Johnny Depp-Amber Heard in a courtroom?”


Asked by Detroit radio station WXYT-FM about today’s NBA players, former Los Angeles Lakers star James Worthy replied: “All they do is practise threes, lift weights, get tattoos, tweet and go on social media.”


America


So . . . it has come to this in the WHL where this t-shirt is available in adult and youth sizes on the Portland Winterhawks’ website. . . .

Portlandtee


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Somehow I missed it a few days ago when the junior A Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League signed Sierra Costa as their general manager. She is the OJHL’s first female GM, and I’m thinking she just might be the first one in all of Canadian junior A hockey. . . . Costa graduated from Humber College’s sports management program. . . . The Tigers are owned by former NHL player Jim Thomson. . . . The fact that this story doesn’t seem to have been a big deal just might signal that a woman in a hockey team’s front office isn’t out of the ordinary any more. . . . And that’s a positive, for sure. . . .

The MJHL’s Portage Terriers will be the host team for the 2023 Centennial Cup tournament. The AJHL’s Brooks Bandits won the 2022 junior A tournament in Estevan on Sunday, beating OJHL’s Pickering Panthers, 4-1, in the final. The 2023 tournament will be held in May with the dates yet to be finalized. Portage la Prairie was to have been the host city for the 2020 tournament but it was cancelled because of the pandemic.


Farm


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on Sunday. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.


THINKING OUT LOUD — Yes, the annual Kamloops Kidney Walk is set for Sunday, and we’ll be taking part over here in our little corner of the world. If you want to be part of Dorothy’s team, please think about sponsoring her. . . . If you missed it, TSN is going to start showing the WHL’s championship final with Game 3 from Kamloops or Kent, Wash. Can’t imagine why it won’t show us Games 1 and 2 from Edmonton on Friday and June 5, but it does make one yearn for the days when Shaw-TV had a relationship with the WHL. . . . Actually, when Sportsnet handed off the CHL deal to TSN early this season, for some reason I thought we would see quite a few more major junior games, but that hasn’t happened. In fact, when’s the last time a WHL game was shown by TSN? . . . In the days ahead, TSN is going to show the OHL, QMJHL and WHL finals starting with the third game of each. They no doubt will use those telecasts to promote their coverage of the Memorial Cup that opens in Saint John, N.B., on June 20. . . . There isn’t much better than a good cup of coffee on a Sunday morning while listening to Jon Miller call a Major League Baseball game. . . . Coming to a bookstore near you on June 7 — Rickey: The Life and Legend of an American Original, by Howard Bryant. Can’t wait to dig into this one. . . . And speaking of books, Dan Russell, who spent 30 years as the host of the radio show Sportstalk, didn’t pull any punches in his memoir that is just out. Pleasant Good Evening — A Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk is available through Amazon (soft cover and Kindle) and Indigo (Kobo).


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.


Peanuts

Does Minten have WHL’s best hands? . . . Wheat Kings, Ice preparing for return to home ice . . . Hey, KIJHL, it’s about those coaches


F Fraser Minten, 17, is in his second season with the Kamloops Blazers. After scoring four goals and adding 14 assists in the developmental season of 2021, he has 27 points, including 16 assists, in 39 games this season. From Vancouver, he was a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Whenever the pandemic loosens enough that the WHL will able to hold an awards luncheon, Minten will tickle the ivories in providing the pre-game entertainment. Hey, talk about good hands . . . 


The Brandon Wheat Kings will play a home game on Tuesday night for the first Brandontime since Dec. 30 when they dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to the Edmonton Oil Kings. The Manitoba government has had restrictions in place that limit teams in that province to 250 fans. That restriction will change to 50 per cent of capacity as of Tuesday. The Red Deer Rebels were to have played in Brandon on Jan. 1, but that was postponed to Feb. 7. That game now will be played on Tuesday. . . . The Winnipeg Ice last played a home game on Dec. 18 when it was beaten 4-2 by Brandon. The Ice is scheduled to entertain the Wheat Kings on Feb. 10.


Parachute


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, had some interesting numbers in his Wednesday musings . . .

“For the 2021 MLB season, teams paid out $$871,443,647 to 852 players who missed a total of 48,029 games due to placement on the Injured List. I believe my observation at the time was something like ‘that’s a lot of cheese. . . .’

“For the NBA season to date, there are similar staggering numbers. Spotrac.com makes a distinction in the case of the NBA that was not present in its MLB compilation — there are three lists: one is for players who are injured, another is for players who don’t play so they can ‘rest,’ and the third is for players who have missed games for ‘personal reasons’.

For games missed due to injury, 464 players have missed 4,631 games and have received $568,370,291 in salary. The NBA regular season is about 65% over so that salary number projects to be about $874M.

“For games missed due to ‘resting,’ 25 players have missed a total of 50 games and earned $4,010,706 while ‘resting.’ If that keeps on the same pace, that money projection is another $6.2M.

“For the ‘personal’ list, 27 players have missed 274 games while earning $81,809,966. That figure projects to be $126M at season’s end.

“So, the total amount of money paid to NBA players while not playing so far this year is $654,190,963. Using a crude linear extrapolation, the end of the regular season will see that total rise to $1.0B. Indeed, it looks as if the NBA teams will pay out more than the MLB teams did last year to non-performing players.”

The Sports Curmudgeon’s complete piece is right here.



“The NFL fined Kansas City Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill for using a cheerleader’s pom-poms to celebrate a touchdown,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “League bean-counter, penciling out the unsportsmanlike-conduct tally: “Two bits, four bits, six bits . . . $12,875.”

——

Perry, again: “The Beijing Winter Olympics have cut down on ticket sales because of the pandemic, NBC and ESPN are calling the action remotely from Connecticut and organizers have to import man-made snow because the real stuff is a no-show. Other than that, let the Games begin!”

——

And thanks to Perry for this one, which I had forgotten: “New York Islanders Hall of Famer Clark Gillies, who died at 67 on Jan. 21, when once asked where his native Moose Jaw was located: ‘Six feet from the moose’s ass.’ ”


Ignorance


If you’ve watched the NHL’s Minnesota Wild over the last while, you may have wondered about head coach Dean Evason’s complexion. Well, Wild GM Bill Guerin answered the question. Here’s what Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts: “Guerin did answer one mystery: how does Evason have a tan wintering in Minnesota? ‘He plays 250 rounds of golf a year. It’s permanent.’ ” . . . Friedman’s latest good read is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Dale Woodard, who among other things has covered the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes for the Lethbridge Herald, tweeted on Thursday: “An upcoming change at the Lethbridge Herald. After 13.5 great years, I will be stepping down. My last day is March 4. To my co-workers, colleagues/friends and all you amazing people I’ve been able to talk to: thank you all so much. You guys are the reason I love this city so much.” . . .

The Everett Silvertips have signed assistant coach Dean DeSilva to a two-year contract extension. He is in his first season working alongside head coach Dennis Williams and associate coach Louis Mass. From a news release: “DeSilva is primarily tasked with working with the Silvertips’ forward group, focusing on skill development, face-offs, individual video breakdown and pre-scout of opponents.” . . .

Congrats of some kind must be in order for the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Is there another junior league that can boast of having had seven head coaches suspended since Jan. 1? . . . Travers Rebman of the Kelowna Chiefs sat out two games for “harrassment of officials,” Chuck Wight of the Golden Rockets, Ty Valin of the Fernie Ghostriders and Derek Stuart of the Kimberley Dynamiters drew two games each for “failing to control the bench at the end of a period,” and Terry Jones of the Beaver Valley Nighthawks, Geoff Grimwood of the Kamloops Storm and Dave Hnatiuk of the Grand Forks Border Bruins drew three apiece for harassment of officials. . . . And that doesn’t even include Mason Spear, an assistant coach with Beaver Valley, who got five games for harassment of officials. He got game and gross misconducts at the time. . . . Might be time for the 19-team league to start giving its on-ice officials danger pay.


Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun listed his all-time favourite Penguins the other day: “Sidney Crosby, Mario Lemieux, Burgess Meredith, Jaromir Jagr, Bob Johnson and Danny DeVito.”


Elevator


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

Scattershooting on Sunday night while wondering if summer has left us for another year . . .

Scattershooting2


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Swift Current Broncos. They opened their ScurrentWHL exhibition schedule on Friday night and admittance was $5 “or free with food donation.” The Broncos also had a vaccine clinic on site. Anyone getting a vaccination was given free entry to the game. Well done!


It would seem that the Boston Bruins have all but decided to send Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, their first selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft, to the WHL’s VancouverVancouver Giants. Don Sweeney, the Bruins’ general manager, told reporters at a prospects tournament in Buffalo on Sunday that “in all likelihood” Lysell will play in Vancouver.

What kind of player is Lysell?

“He’s got some areas, in traffic, and some things that he’s going to have to be aware of, and defensively,” Sweeney added. “All are things we believe we can teach those young players as long as they are willing and receptive to learn. But he’s got the skill set that’s pretty unique for us to be adding to our group and to be excited about.

“It will be important for him to play against kids in his peer group. We’re excited that he’s going to play over here. We do believe the transition to the smaller ice surface, especially with young guys, they have to play in the hard areas of the ice in order to be successful. He’s more than willing to do that but he’s got to find his space.’’

For more, check out Rinkside Rhode Island with Mark Divver, who pays particular attention to the AHL’s Providence Bruins. His latest file is right here.

Via Twitter, Steve Ewen of Postmedia explained the Giants’ import situation:

“Assuming Swedish goalie Jesper Vikman is re-assigned to the Giants,  Vancouver would have three Euros (Vikman, Lysell and Slovak D Marko Stacha). They can only keep two. They’d have two weeks from the start of the WHL regular season to pick.

“Stacha and Lysell are both trade eligible, since Stacha played with the  Giants last season and Lysell was on their roster all season. Vikman, who was Vancouver’s import pick this off-season, is not trade eligible.”

Vikman, 19, was a fifth-round pick by Vegas in 2020, but has yet to sign with the Golden Knights.



SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART I:

After the NFL’s Buffalo Bills announced that you will need to be fully vaccinated in order to attend home games, some fans said they’ll start going on the road. After all, at this point in time the Bills, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks are the only NFL teams that are implementing such a restriction. . . . So now the likes of receiver Cole Beasley, the Bills’ vocal anti-vaxxer, and centre Reid Ferguson are offering to buy tickets for those fans to some road games. . . . One of those fans, who won’t get vaccinated, told Jason Wolf of the Buffalo News: “I’ve had Covid, so in my opinion, I’ve already got the antibodies. I think they’re just as good as the vaccine. The vaccine came out pretty rushed. I don’t really know all the information. In my opinion, there’s so little information out there and it all seems to be one-sided. And then, personally, my religious beliefs. I think God created me for a purpose. He has a plan for my life. And whether I have the vaccine or not, I’m taken care of.” . . . That particular fan is 39 years of age and has five children.

——

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART II:

The Blackfalds Bulldogs made their AJHL debut on the road on Friday night. The Brooks Bandits welcomed them to the league by dropping them, 17-0. Yes, 17-0. . . . (On Saturday, the Bulldogs went into Olds and beat the Grizzlys, 5-4.)

——

SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE, PART III:

Sask


So . . . the Minnesota Vikings had the opportunity to beat the host Arizona Cardinals with a last-play field goal on Sunday. The kick was wide right, but Paul Allen, the radio voice of the Vikings, thought, well, give it a listen . . .



OF Eddie Rosario of the Atlanta Braves hit for the cycle Sunday afternoon in a 3-0 victory over the host San Francisco Giants. Yes, hitting for the cycle is a big deal in baseball. But think about this for a moment — in those four at-bats, Rosario saw a total of five pitches.


Dodgeball


A note from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “Jim Hughson, one of Canada’s premier sports broadcasters, is telling people that he has retired. Most recently, Hughson was the No. 1 play-by-play voice at Hockey Night In Canada, and long before that was the voice of the Blue Jays on TSN. He won’t be easily replaced. Rogers Sportsnet, as is their custom, has made no official announcement on his future of the Hall of Fame broadcaster.” . . .  Retirement? Already? Sheesh, it’s only been 43 years since we both were on the Brandon Wheat Kings’ beat, Jim with CKLQ radio and me with the Brandon Sun!



The OHL’s board of governors has approved the sale of the Guelph Storm. The franchise now is owned by Joel Feldberg and Jeffrey Bly, a pair of Toronto businessmen, who purchased it from Rick Gaetz, John Heeley, Rick Hoyle and Scott Walker. . . . Feldberg is the president/CEO of The Global Furniture Group of companies; Bly is the senior vice-president.


JunkDrawer


The best part of waking up today (Monday) will be knowing that it’s election day in Canada, which means all those attack ads on TV will be a thing of the past, at least until next time. And all those signs that are such a horrible blight around our intersections and on our hillsides will be gone.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “SF Giants starter Alex Wood, out nearly 3 weeks with COVID-19,“politely declined again to disclose his vaccination status.” Translation: He hasn’t been vaccinated. Sigh.”


Velcros


JUST NOTES: I spent part of Saturday night watching the CFL game in which the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat Edmonton, 37-22, and when it was over I was left thinking that the Elks just may be on to something with quarterback Taylor Cornelius, who made his first appearance. He’s a 6-foot-5 product of Oklahoma State and he can fling it. . . . Trevor Harris (neck), the Elks’ starting QB, is on the six-game injured list. . . . The Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the visiting Toronto Argos, 30-16, on Friday night before an announced crowd of 25,883. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post pointed out that it was the Roughriders’ “lowest crowd since July 8, 2007 (25,862); ’Riders beat Calgary 49-8. . . . When we last heard from Andrew Milne, the general manager and head coach of the Canmore Eagles, the AJHL had fined him $1,000 and hit him with a 15-game suspension for the dastardly sin of discussing with the media a COVID-19 outbreak that had hit his team and community. He has served two games of that sentence and the Eagles won both games. With Milne in AJHL jail, the Eagles’ bench will be run by a three-headed monster featuring assistant coach Bryan Arneson; Mike Glawson, an Eagles’ scout who is the head coach of the U-18 AAA Calgary Flames; and Kyle McLaughlin, who was on the Eagles’ staff last season.


PineCone


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.


Voodoo

Scattershooting on a Sunday as a rare smoke-free Kamloops sky begins its fade to dark . . .

Scattershooting2


The Tri-City Americans introduced co-owner Stu Barnes as their new head coach on Saturday. Barnes, 50, had been on staff with the Seattle Kraken, the AmericansNHL expansion franchise, as a pro scout. . . . Barnes began his three-season WHL playing career with the New Westminster Bruins in 1987-88 and made the journey south when the franchise relocated to Kennewick, Wash. His pro career included 1,136 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons, the last four with the Dallas Stars. . . . He later spent six seasons (2008-12, 2017-19) as an assistant coach with the Stars. He joined the Kraken’s scouting staff in 2019. . . . Barnes has owned a piece of the Americans since April 2005, along with Bob Tory, the governor and general manager, Olaf Kolzig and Dennis Loman. . . . Barnes replaces Kelly Buchberger, whose contract wasn’t renewed after three seasons. He now is an assistant coach with the Laval Rocket, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . The Americans’ announcement on Saturday didn’t include any other pieces of their coaching staff. Don Nachbaur’s name remains on the team’s website as associate coach. Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL regular-season history, joined the Americans in February. . . .

It was late in September 1986 when Barnes was involved in what turned into Patsone of the most lop-sided trades in WHL history. . . . The New Westminster Bruins had loaned G Mike Gibson to the Regina Pats and he was in training camp with them when general manager/head coach Doug Sauter acquired his rights for, as the Regina Leader-Post reported, “16-year-old forward Steve Barnes of Edmonton.” . . . Yes, it was Stu Barnes, who was playing with the AJHL’s St. Albert Saints at the time. He put up 41 goals and 34 assists in 75 games in 1986-87, and was named the league’s rookie of the year. . . . In 1987-88, he had 101 points, including 37 goals, in 71 games with the Bruins, and was the WHL’s rookie of the year. He then totalled 285 points, 111 of them goals, in 133 regular-season games over two seasons with the Americans. In 1988-89, Barnes was saluted as the winner of the Four Broncos Trophy as the WHL’s player of the year. . . . Add it all up and you get 386 points, including 148 goals, in 204 games with the Bruins/Americans. . . . He also won gold with Canada at the 1990 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Gibson, in his 18-year-old season at the time of the trade, went 5-5-0, 4.91, .839 with the Pats. The following season, he made 24 appearances with the Portland Winterhawks, going 9-12-0, 5.97, .868.



It was good to have football back with us, thanks to the CFL and TSN, but if you were watching it was also a reminder that on these pandemic days no one knows how not to wear facemasks like football coaches.


J.R. Richard, a 6-foot-8 fireballing right-hander in his time with the Houston Astros, died this week at 71 of complications related to COVID-19. . . . Dusty Baker, now the Astros’ manager, had to get in the batter’s box and face Richard during their playing days. Baker remembers some teammates who discovered aches and pains — something like the Flin Flon Flu in junior hockey back in the day — rather than face Richard. As Baker put it: “There was something called J.R.-itis, which was an incurable disease when you’re scared of J.R. Richard. He was the toughest guy I ever faced. It was like J.R. was only throwing from about 50 feet.”


Is this photo of Olympic decathlon champion Damian Warner the sports photo of year, or what? The photo credit goes to Javier Soriano / AFP via Getty Images.


Sturgis


Kirk Cousins, the starting quarterback for the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings, is from Holland, Mich. He has served as a spokesperson for Holland Hospital and has helped its sports medicine program since 2017. However, that relationship has come to an end with Cousins having refused to get vaccinated. . . . “While we acknowledge that each person is entitled to their own viewpoints,” the hospital said in a statement, “those who speak on our behalf must support messages that align with the hospital’s position on matters of vital importance to individual and community health. For this reason, Holland Hospital will discontinue using Kirk Cousins as our spokesperson for now.” . . . Mike Zimmer of the Vikings is one of the NFL head coaches who has spoken out vehemently against players who haven’t gotten vaccinated. This relationship will be worth watching as the NFL season moves along. . . . Cousins was on the NFL’s COVID-19 list for a few days after being identified as a close contact of a teammate who tested positive. No matter. He still won’t get vaccinated.


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun — “I keep looking this up but I can’t find where Kirk Cousins or Carson Wentz got their medical degrees.”

——

Here’s Simmons, again — “At 37, the Canadian treasure named Joey Votto has an OPS of .915 in Cincinnati — his best in years — with 22 home runs, the most he’s hit in four years. Fifteen years in the big leagues and Votto’s career OPS is .936 with a career on-base percentage of .417, which is a few points better than what Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is doing this season.”


Titanic


The Beaverton — Dr. Hinshaw says Alberta is going to have to live with COVID-19 by dying of COVID-19.


Kyle Griffin, MSNBC, Saturday, 9:30 a.m. — The U.S. is now averaging more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases a day for the first time since February.


CBC News — COVID-19 outbreak continues in Tokyo as Olympics draw to a close.



The New York Yankees put 1B Anthony Rizzo on the MLB COVID-19 list on Sunday morning, the 12th of their players to end up on that list this season. Pitchers Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery, along with C Gary Sanchez, were placed on the list last week. . . . Rizzo had been acquired from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline. His vaccination status isn’t known, although while with the Cubs in June he said he wasn’t vaccinated and that he was “taking some more time to see the data.” . . . Here’s Sam Fels of Deadspin: “Rizzo’s appearance on the COVID list certainly raises eyebrows, if not cause a couple of nodding heads. Rizzo was one of the more outspoken non-gassed players when he was with the Cubs. His positive test certainly puts all of his arguments about not getting vaxxed then — putting his health first, protecting his family, research — in an even dumber light than it looked at the time.”



Rolling Stone — “Lynyrd Skynyrd cancel tour dates after Rickey Medlocke tests positive for Covid-19. . . . Lynyrd Skynyrd were scheduled to headline Monday’s Concert for Legends at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, sharing a bill with Brad Paisley and Jimmie Allen at the high-profile gig. However, that date — and three more shows on their itinerary — was canceled due to Medlocke’s positive test.”

——

Rolling Stone — “Following their triumphant performance at Lollapalooza, Limp Bizkit have canceled the remainder of their August concerts due to safety concerns related to Covid-19. . . . The cancellation impacts the remaining eight shows on the band’s Limited Last Minute Post Pandemic Popup Party, which was scheduled to conclude August 24th in Los Angeles.”

——

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival — “As a result of the current exponential growth of new COVID cases in New Orleans and the region and the ongoing public health emergency, we must sadly announce that the 2021 edition of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival scheduled to take place Oct. 8-17 won’t occur as planned. . . . Next year’s dates are April 29-May 8.”


Tan


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: Nathan Deck has joined the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings as an assistant coach. Deck, 31, played 277 WHL regular-season games over six seasons (2005-11) with the Vancouver Giants (six) and Prince Albert Raiders (271).


Credit

WHL dumps inter-conference play, changes playoff format . . . Sasakamoose book well worth your time . . . Raiders’ radio voice steps aside

The WHL’s 2021-22 season won’t include any interlocking play between WHL2Eastern and Western conferences, which means, unfortunately, that fans in U.S. and B.C. division centres won’t get to see F Connor Bedard, the most-publicized prospect to enter the league in some time, live and in person. . . . Bedard is the first player to receive exceptional status in order to allow him to claim a full-time WHL roster spot as a 15-year-old. Bedard, who will turn 16 on July 17, has 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games for the Pats in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. He left the Pats mid-season in order to play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, where he had seven goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Bedard is eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . It also means that those same U.S. and B.C. division fans won’t get to see F Matthew Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice. He was denied exceptional status prior to the 2018-19 season, but still got into 22 games and earned seven assists. He spent 2020-21 with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, putting up 21 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. . . . Savoie is eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .

The WHL didn’t offer a reason for dumping inter-conference play in the news release it issued on Tuesday following the conclusion of its annual general meeting. However, I think we can assume that it’s all about trying to save money after not seeing any playoff revenue for two seasons now. . . . The WHL also announced that it plans to open its regular season on Oct. 1, with each team playing a 68-game schedule within its own conference. . . . The WHL added that “with the anticipated lifting of health restrictions in all jurisdictions” it expects to play its games without attendance restrictions. . . . If all goes according to plan, the regular season will end on April 3. . . . That would mean the WHL playoffs would start on April 8. Keep in mind that because of the pandemic the WHL hasn’t featured a playoff game since May 13, 2019, when the host Prince Albert Raiders won the championship with a 3-2 OT victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The WHL has changed its playoff format, going back to a conference format that last was used in the spring of 2014. The two division winners will be seeded first and second, with the next six teams slotted three through eight. The first round will have one vs. eight, two vs. seven, etc., with teams reseeded by points after each round. . . . The WHL’s complete news release is right here.


With the Vegas Golden Knights having opened one Stanley Cup semifinal on VegasMonday night with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens, it seems the rest of the hockey world is learning what WHL fans have known for a long, long time. Yes, Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ general manager, knows what he is doing.

Here’s columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, writing about the Golden Knights prior to the start of the series:

“Just four years into their history, the stunning story of their rookie season is kind of yesterday’s news. Today, they are merely one of the best teams in the NHL. Owned by Bill Foley. The fans are of another level. The presidential work and so much other work done by George McPhee. The GM, McCrimmon, is the most effective in the NHL. Unafraid of making enormous trades. Unafraid of giant-sized signings. Unafraid of drafting players and then sending them packing in exchange for tangible assets. Unafraid of doing what others may think about, but rarely act upon.”

Doesn’t that pretty much describe the way McCrimmon operated when he owned the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings?

Simmons’ complete piece is right here.


SasakamooseIf you are in the market for something to read, may I suggest you take a gander at Call Me Indian, a book that was published last month and tells the story of Fred Sasakamoose. What’s it all about? Well, the subtitle pretty much tells it all — From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treat Indigenous Player. . . . To think that Sasakamoose went from playing hockey and trying just to survive at a residential school in northern Saskatchewan to the lineup of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in a few short years almost beggars belief. But he did just that, and a whole lot more. . . . Considering all that is happening these days involving residential schools and their history, both here and in the U.S., this really is a timely read. . . . Sasakamoose, who died of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 so didn’t live to see his book published, doesn’t go easy on himself either. He bares his heart and soul, including his issues with alcohol and parenting. In fact, if there is a hero in this book it isn’t Sasakamoose, rather it’s his long-suffering wife Loretta with whom he had nine children. . . . Give this book a try; I guarantee it’ll stay with you for a long time after you’re finished with it.



ICYMI, the CFL’s board of governors voted Monday to have the league’s nine CFLteams begin a 14-game regular season on Aug. 5. The season is to begin with a rematch of the last Grey Cup game — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary on Nov. 24, 2019. . . . The CFL hasn’t played a game since then because of the pandemic. . . . The 2021 season is to open with that rematch being played in Winnipeg. . . . The 2021 Grey Cup game is to be played in Hamilton on Dec. 12. . . . Training camps are to open on July 10, with players needing to report and go through a quarantine process that will be decided in conjunction with local health officials. . . . There won’t be any exhibition games. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun takes a look at the CFL situation right here. . . . BTW, the Labour Day Classic in Regina is scheduled for Sept. 5, with the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg on Sept. 11. In other words, all is almost right with the world.


Bobcats


Abbotsford Aces? Fraser Valley Falcons? The Vancouver Canucks are asking hockey fans in the Fraser Valley what they should name the AHL franchise that is to begin play in Abbotsford in the fall. The Canucks are moving their AHL affiliate, formerly the Utica Comets, to Abbotsford. . . . Daniel Wagner of vancouverisawesome.com has more right here.


Eric Bélanger has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Trois-TRLionsRivières Lions, an expansion ECHL franchise that will be affiliated with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . Bélanger, 43, spent the previous two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Chevaliers de Lévis. . . . His playing career included 820 NHL regular-season games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. . . . In 2008-09, he was teammates with Marc-André Bergeron with the Minnesota Wild. Bergeron now is the Lions’ general manager.


Milkyway


The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, a 20-team junior B league, kijhlsaid Monday that it will open its 2021-22 season on Oct. 1 and wrap things up on Feb. 20. . . . “All 20 of the KIJHL’s member clubs will complete a 42-game regular season schedule that includes eight games against divisional opponents and two games each against teams in the opposing division within the same conference,” the league said in a news release. . . . That means that the Spokane Braves will be back after not operating in 2020-21 due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential traffic. . . . The KIJHL news release is right here.


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: Trevor Redden, the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders for the past four seasons, is leaving the position, citing wanting to prioritize “a different work-life balance, and being able to spend more time with family and friends.” He made the announcement via social media on Tuesday. Redden said that he will be remaining in Prince Albert where he works with Pattison Media Ltd. . . . Former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers has joined the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach. He spent the previous five seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Stothers, 59, was the Warriors’ head coach for three seasons (2011-14). . . .

The junior B Creston Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Bill Rotheisler, their general manager and head coach, to a one-year deal through 2021-22. Rotheisler is preparing for his second season in Creston, although his first season amounted to only three games because of the pandemic. If you aren’t familiar with Rotheisler’s story, including his battle with lymphatic cancer, Google is your friend. . . . Serge Lajoie, who spent one season (2018-19) as head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, has been named head coach of Alberta’s male U16 team. Lajoie also is the head coach of OHA Edmonton’s U18 prep team.


Backseat

Scattershooting on Sunday while mourning the death of a dear friend . . .

Cory

For most of our 17 years in Regina, Dorothy and I lived across Grosvenor Street from Marilyn and Bill Morrison and their three children — Tracy, Cindy and Cory. . . . All of us quickly became friends and then best friends. . . . To say that Cory was a sports fan would be something of an understatement. As a youngster, Cory never met a sports question he didn’t want to know the answer to, and having a guy living across the street who worked in The Leader-Post’s sports department and just might have some of the inside info, well, our conversations started with 20 questions and quickly grew from there. . . . He never did lose his love for sports as he journeyed through a life that would include diabetes and kidney disease. We spent an evening with him late in the summer of 2019, trying to answer any questions he might have about a potential kidney transplant and to offer him comfort. . . . Yes, there also were sports-related questions and lots of conversation. . . . We were heart-broken to wake up Saturday to learn that Cory won’t ever get to have that transplant because he died on Friday. He was 47. . . .

His sister, Tracy Morrison Johnson, who is responsible for the collage above, wrote this:

“Dad. Son. Brother. Uncle. Coach. Friend. Dog Lover. Comedian. Como. This is my brother. And it is with a most heavy heart that I write to say he lost his battle with Diabetes and Kidney Disease. He was 47. He was also passionate, stubborn, goofy, feisty, wicked smart and loving. He never forgot a sports stat in his life. And he made a unique and lasting impression on anyone he met. We will miss him and his loving heart and bad jokes terribly.”

Cory was all of that and more. I only hope that wherever he is he is able to find someone who will answer the questions and chuckle at his giggle.


Santa


The QMJHL has had to do some juggling of its playoff schedule after what it qmjhlnewsays is a “possible positive COVID-19 test within the Rimouski Océanic organization.” . . . The Océanic and Val-d’Or Foreurs and officials who worked the first two games of their series on Friday and Saturday are in “precautionary isolation.” . . . The Océanic and Foreurs were to have played tonight (Monday), but that game has been postponed. They also are scheduled to play on Wednesday. . . . A game between the Victoriaville Tigres and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada that was to have been played Sunday now will be played this afternoon. . . . All four teams are playing in Quebec City.


Meanwhile, there were three games in the WHL on Sunday night, with two of the teams completing their seasons. . . . There now are only three nights — and five games — remaining in this developmental season. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Portland Winterhawks struck for five second-period PortlandAlternategoals and then coasted to a 9-1 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . The Winterhawks, who have won two in a row, are 11-8-3. . . . The Americans, who have lost three straight, slipped to 7-11-0. . . . These two teams will wrap things up in Portland on Tuesday. . . . F Robbie Fromm-Delorme (2) and F Cross Hanas gave the Winterhawks a 2-0 first-period lead. . . . They followed that with five more goals before the second period was 14 minutes old — from F Seth Jarvis (15), F Simon Knak, Hanas (2), F Jaydon Dureau (9) and D Nick Cicek (4). . . . D Luke Zazula (4) scored for the Americans before the period ended. . . . Knak (16) and F Marcus Nguyen (1) finished Portland’s scoring in the third period. Nguyen, an 11th-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, scored his first WHL goal in his 16th game. . . . Dureau and Jarvis each had two assists, with Knak adding one, giving them three-point outings, and D Clay Hanus drew three assists. . . . Portland got 31 stops from G Brock Gould. . . . The Americans had only one goaltender dressed, so Mason Dunsford went the distance, stopping 28 shots. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds unleashed a 58-shot attack as they skated to a 3-0 Seattlevictory over the Spokane Chiefs in Kent, Wash. . . . It was the final game of the season for both teams. Seattle finished 10-12-1; Spokane wound up at 6-9-5 after losing its last four games (0-2-2). . . . Interestingly, Seattle G Jackson Berry stopped 21 shots and would have recorded his first WHL shutout had he not become embroiled in a fight with Spokane G Mason Beaupit at 19:29 of the third period. Scott Ratzlaff took over for the last 31 seconds but didn’t face any shots. Geoffrey Brandow (@Geoffrey Brandow) reports that it’s the “club’s first two goalie shutout in Internet Era.” . . . Beaupit had made 55 saves by the time he left, with Campbell Arnold finishing up. . . . F Keltie Jeri-Leon, playing his final WHL game and the 250th regular-season game of his career, had a goal and an assist. His 17th goal of the season, on a PP just 33 seconds into the second period, stood up as the winner. He finished the season with 27 points in 23 games. . . . F Mekai Sanders (1) and F Sam Oremba (2) also scored second-period goals. . . .

In Kamloops, the Kelowna Rockets scored a pair of first-period goals and went Rocketson to a 2-1 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . Kelowna (9-4-1) had lost its previous three games (0-2-1). . . . Prince George (9-9-3) has lost two straight. . . . F Alex Swetlikoff (4) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 9:24 of the first period, with F David Kope (6) making it 2-0 at 13:15. . . . F Trevor Wong drew an assist on each Kelowna goal. . . . D Majid Kaddoura (2) scored for the Cougars, on a PP, at 6:37 of the third period. . . . The Rockets got 30 saves from G Cole Schwebius, with Taylor Gauthier stopping 23 for the Cougars.


Fat


When you’re looking for the top sports columnist these days, Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post is in the discussion. Here she is starting a column earlier this week:

“Somewhere along the line Baron Von Ripper-off and the other gold-plated pretenders at the International Olympic Committee decided to treat Japan as their footstool. But Japan didn’t surrender its sovereignty when it agreed to host the Olympics. If the Tokyo Summer Games have become a threat to the national interest, Japan’s leaders should tell the IOC to go find another duchy to plunder. A cancellation would be hard — but it would also be a cure.”


Still with the Washington Post, I subscribed because of one writer — Thomas Boswell, a hall-of-fame baseball writer and a wonderful wordsmith on any other subject he chooses to tackle. . . . I once attended a gathering of sports editors in Reston, Va., and Boswell led a session on column writing. Later, around a lunch table, I asked him how he reacted when a copy editor would want to change his copy. He replied: “I want a phone call.” . . . “No matter the time of day or night?” I asked. . . . “Definitely,” he replied. . . . From that point on, I never objected to being called at home about anything. . . . Boswell is retiring as of June 30. Oh boy, will I miss his words, especially on baseball. If you don’t know of Boswell, find a copy of Why Time Begins on Opening Day or How Life Imitates the World Series. You’ll be glad you did.


Hey, you . . . yeah, you. The guy who struggles to get off the couch on a lot of days . . . this one’s for you.


“The Atlanta Falcons signed undrafted Jack Batho IV, a 6-foot-7, 315-pound tackle from South Dakota School of the Mines,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Hey, if a guy from there can’t open a hole, who can?”

——

One more report from Perry: “Ian Nepomniachtchchi can’t play under the Russian flag in his upcoming world-championship match because of his country’s ban from international sporting competitions by the World Anti-Doping Agency. For the record, Nepomniachtchchi plays chess.”


An interesting note from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: “How often has this been true? There are three Canadian men in the top 20 of the ATP Tour — Denis Shapovalov, Milos Raonic and Felix Auger-Aliassime — and no Americans in the Top 30.”

—— 

One more note from Simmons: “Marc-Andre Fleury has moved into third place all-time in wins for a goaltender. That’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s also skewed somewhat over time. There are no ties anymore in the NHL. Terry Sawchuk played in 171 tie games. Glenn Hall had 163. To place Fleury and Roberto Luongo ahead of Sawchuk and Hall in wins is true just not necessarily accurate.”


Rod Carew — now there’s a man who could hit! — remembers facing the great Bob Gibson one time: “When I was 20, I faced Gibby at an exhibition (game) in Florida. I tried to fill in a hole in the batter’s box and he told me, ‘Get in the box. I’m double parked!’ He knocked me down four times and walked me. As I walked to first base, he said, ‘Don’t even try to steal.’ I didn’t.”


YardSale


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.

——

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.


SocialMedia

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if this is the week when summer arrives . . .

Scattershooting2

The Vancouver Canucks had hoped to re-open team facilities on Sunday, but the Canucksvirus apparently wasn’t consulted before those plans were made.

Now, if all goes well, those facilities may re-open today.

On Sunday, the Canucks removed F Adam Gaudette from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list, but F Jay Beagle was added to it. Beagle had been on injured reserve. Adding Beagle to the list left 19 Vancouver players on it.

The NHL announced Sunday afternoon that “although the Player has not been around the team during the relevant time period (since March 31), the League’s, NHLPA’s and Club’s medical groups determined that the prudent decision was to keep the facilities closed for an additional day.”

Gaudette was the first of the Canucks to test positive. He was removed from a practice session on March 30 after the Canucks received his test result. D Travis Hamonic went on the list on March 31. The Canucks also have had three coaches, one member of the support staff and three players from the taxi squad test positive. There also are an undisclosed number of family members who have tested positive.

The Canucks, who last played a game on March 24, still are scheduled to return to game action on Friday against the visiting Edmonton Oilers with the Toronto Maple Leafs to visit on Saturday.

The NHL is expecting the Canucks to begin with six games in nine nights. Their first nine games are to be played in 14 nights. Yikes!


Vaccine


There aren’t words in any language to describe how much I despise the MLB extra-inning rule under which a team starts with a runner on second base. It’s a gimmick, nothing more and nothing less, and MLB should be embarrassed by stooping so low as to use it.


Old friend Neate Sager, who doesn’t mind the MLB gimmickry, is writing at neatefreatsports these days, and it’s worth it for you to pay a visit, especially if you like your current events mixed with humour and just a dash of snark.

Here he is leading into a bit on the Vancouver Canucks’ recent travails:

“You might end up on injured reserve with strained credulity if you believe the Vancouver Canucks, who have only four players who are ‘not on the National Hockey League’s COVID-19 protocol list,’ are going to complete their schedule.

“Deadspin, which can say it since it has no client relationship with the NHL like those of the telcos in Canada, pointed out the timeline makes it impossible. The league’s best-case scenario is for Vancouver to return to play around April 16, but that seems too optimistic by half, and half again.”

I highly recommend that you check him out right here.


Hey, ESPN, I tried to watch your telecast — the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the Braves in Atlanta on Sunday night. I really did. In the end, I did watch it, but with no sound. You’re drowning a game that needs to breathe in order to be enjoyed. And the numbers . . . so many numbers as to give a baseball fan vertigo.


So . . . I mentioned this Expos-Padres discrepancy to Dorothy on Friday night. “Yeah,” she replied, “but the Padres lasted longer than the Expos, so there you go!”



Information that you need to know. . . . According to Forbes magazine, Terry Pegula, who owns among other things the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, has improved his net worth from US$5 billion to $5.4 billion over the past year. The rich people, of course, keep score by dollar bills. On Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, $5.4 billion puts you in 520th place. . . . Who’s No. 1? Jeff Bezos, Mr. Amazon, tops the list for the fourth straight year, this time at $177 billion. . . . Forbes’ numbers show the world contains 2,775 billionaires, up 660 from a year ago.


On the subject of dollars, here’s a note from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “A baseball bat — a 34-inch, 36-ounce Bill Dickey model Louisville Slugger used by Lou Gehrig in 1938, his final full MLB season — drew 26 bids at SCP Auctions and sold this month for $715,120. Or 23 times the $31,000 the Yankees paid Gehrig to play that year.”

——

“A fan in Anaheim threw an inflatable trash can onto the field during an Astros-Angels game,” reports Perry. “Three players on the Houston bench immediately yelled, ‘Pitch-out!’ ”



With MLB having yanked its All-Star Game out of Atlanta because of Georgia’s new restrictive voting legislation, there were mutterings that the Masters should follow suit and move. To which Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune wrote: “If you’re waiting in line for golfers to boycott, bring some bottled water.”



Ferguson Jenkins is 78 now, but it’s never too late for a statue. Yes, the Chicago Cubs are going to honour Jenkins with a statue outside Wrigley Field. . . . Here’s Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Of course, times have changed and the way in which starting pitchers are utilized has changed but in his day, and for 19 seasons, Jenkins stood alone among Canadian ballplayers and Canadian athletes — and sometimes we seem to forget all that.” . . . As Simmons points out, Jenkins once had six straight seasons with at least 20 victories. He once started 42 games in a season. He threw more than 300 innings in four different seasons. He threw 30 complete games in 1971 when he won the Cy Young Award. In one seven-season stretch, Jenkins threw 272 complete games. . . . And, no, his arm never fell off.


Here’s a memo from Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe: “Dear Media. It’s called ‘The Masters.’ Not ‘The Masters Without Tiger Woods.’ Thank you.”


Castle


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

The Seattle Thunderbirds scored the game’s last two goals to beat the host Tri-SeattleCity Americans, 3-2. . . . The Americans (5-6-0) held a 2-1 lead after getting two late first-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (4), at 18:04, and D Mitchell Brown (2), at 18:54. . . . F Henri Rybinski’s second goal of the season, on a PP, tied it at 4:21 of the second period. . . . F Jordan Gustafson (4) scored the game’s final goal, on another PP, at 5:33. . . . Seattle (6-5-0) was 3-for-9 on the PP; Tri-City was 1-for-4. . . . The Thunderbirds won’t have F Conner Roulette again this WHL season. He now joins Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship that opens in Texas on April 26. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders scored three times in the third period to beat the RaidersSwift Current Broncos, 4-2, in Regina. . . . F Cole Nagy (3) scored on a PP at 6:58 of the third period to get the Broncos into a 1-1 tie. . . . D Landon Kosior (2), on a PP, put the Raiders back out front and F Evan Herman (5) stretched the lead at 12:03. . . . F Mathew Ward (4) got the Broncos back to within a goal at 14:11, but F Eric Pearce (6) put it away with the empty-netter. . . . G Max Paddock stopped 35 shots for the Raiders, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by F Michael Farren. . . . The Broncos got 33 saves from G Reid Dyck, including a second-period penalty shot attempt by Herman. . . . The Raiders (5-8-3) had lost their previous three games (0-2-1). . . . The Broncos (3-12-1) have lost five straight. . . . Raiders D Nolan Allan played his final WHL game of this season. He is going into isolation and then will join Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas. It opens on April 26. . . .

G Nolan Maier turned aside 42 shots to lead the Saskatoon Blades to a 3-2 Bladesvictory over the Brandon Wheat Kings in Regina. . . . The victory lifted the Blades (12-2-2) into first place in the Regina hub, two points ahead of the Wheat Kings (12-3-2). The Wheat Kings had points in each of their previous nine games (8-0-1). . . . Saskatoon now has points in four straight (3-0-1). . . . The Blades took a 2-0 lead on PP goals from F Chase Wouters (6) at 18:56 of the first period and F Kyle Crnkovic (7) at 4:50 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (8) pulled Brandon to within a goal on a PP at 10:16. . . . Saskatoon F Brandon Lisowsky (6) stretched the lead to two at 16:44 of the third. . . . Brandon got back to within a goal when F Ridly Greig (6) counted at 19:54. . . . Saskatoon was 2-for-5 on the PP; Brandon was 1-for-6. . . . G Ethan Kruger stopped 19 shots for Brandon. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers unleashed a 60-shot attack and got four assists from F KamloopsConnor Zary in beating the Victoria Royals, 4-3, in Kelowna. . . . At one point in the third period, the Royals led 3-2 as they were being outshot, 51-12. . . . The Royals erased a 2-1 deficit on goals from F Alex Bolshakov (3), his second of the game, at 6:33 of the third period and F Ty Yoder (2), at 9:16. . . . F Josh Pillar (3) pulled Kamloops into a tie at 13:16 and D Inaki Baragano (1) got the winner at 16:04. . . . Zary has 14 points, including 11 assists, in seven games. . . . Victoria G Adam Evanoff finished with 56 saves, 40 more than Dylan Garand of the Blazers. . . . The Blazers now are 6-1-0. . . . The Royals are 1-6-1 and have lost three in a row. . . . Victoria was without F Keanu Derungs, F Tarun Fizer, F Riley Gannon, F Matthew Hodson and D Noah Lamb, and was able to dress only 10 forwards. . . . The Royals are adding F Ryan Spizawka, a seventh-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft, to their roster. His twin brother, Jason, the 19th overall pick in 2019, already is on the roster. They are from Victoria. . . . The WHL season is over for Kamloops F Logan Stankoven, who will play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas later this month. He put up 10 points, including seven goals, in six games this season.


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.

——

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.


Random

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while remembering Frank Orr and a cold, cold night . . .

Scattershooting2

Back in his day, Frank Orr was as large in his field as Bobby Orr was in his. No, they weren’t related.

Frank Orr, who died Saturday at 84, was a hockey writer with the Toronto Star when I met him. It was at the 1991 IIHF World Junior Championship that was held in Saskatchewan. I was the Regina Leader-Post’s sports editor, and spent most of the tournament in Saskatoon.

By that time, Orr was a legendary hockey writer; I was a scribbler from Lynn Lake, Man., who was 20 years into his career. Within an hour of meeting Orr, it was like we were best buddies and had been for a long time.

That is how personable he was. He was a master of the one-liner and had travelled extensively — so what if most of it was on expense account — so had tasted the food in many tremendous eateries. Now here he was in Saskatoon, where the weather was miserably cold, and he was loving every minute of it. Well, almost every minute of it . . .

On Dec. 30, Orr and three others drove to Regina to watch Canada play Sweden, choosing to return to Saskatoon after the game. About 30 minutes outside Saskatoon, a red light lit up the dash of their rental car. They limped into the city, finding out later that the PCV valve had frozen open and the car’s oil had blown out all over the engine compartment.

Later, Orr admitted that he had broken out in a cold sweat at the thought of meeting his maker on the frozen prairie.

“I always thought it would end with someone’s husband chasing me down a street,” he said with a laugh.

Sleep well, old friend.

Mark Zwolinski of The Star has more on Frank Orr right here.


ICYMI, the Edmonton Football Team has a shortlist of seven possibles for its new nickname — Elk, Evergreens, Evergolds, Eclipse, Elkhounds, Eagles and Elements all are in the chase. . . . We are left to wonder what happened to Editors, Elaters, Elephants, Ernies, Eroughriders, Eskers. . . . Having lived in the north where there are eskers, I would be inclined to lean that way. . . . Edmonton Eskers. Yes!


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “If the Lord’s Prayer can be inscribed on the head of a pin, engravers can certainly fit the full name of Tampa Bay Bucs run-stuffer Vita Vea — Tevita Tuli’aki’ono Tuipulotu Mosese Va’hae Fehoko Faletau Vea — onto a Super Bowl ring, right?”

——

Perry, again: “Players for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels will live at the team’s rink in Alberta this season to reduce the COVID-19 risk. ‘Fine with us,’ said every stay-at-home defenceman.”


Congrats to Gilles Courteau, the commissioner of the QMJHL, who celebrated his 35th anniversary in office on Saturday. Stephane Leroux of RDS points out that Courteau spent 15 years as president and now has been commissioner for 20 years. Leroux also points out that Courteau was hired on an interim basis in 1986.



Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The NFL patted itself on the back with a spot bragging that the league is donating $250 million ‘to combat systemic racism.’ And that doesn’t even count the millions it paid to Colin Kaepernick and Eric Reid for keeping them unemployed.

“If you don’t think it’s racism that’s keeping Kaepernick out of The League, tell me what you think would have happened to (Tom) Brady had he taken a knee in protest.

“Kaepernick and Reid sat out this season, but Tyreek Hill and Antonio Brown suited up and were covered in glory in the National Football League of Second Chances.

“And the 49ers announced they have re-signed Josh Rosen, whose resume now includes this: 1,000th washed-up quarterback to sign an NFL contract since Kaepernick ‘retired’.”



Here’s Ostler, again: “It’s sad to see Pebble Beach get squeezed out of golf relevance by Saudi Arabia and Los Angeles. Pebble’s famed annual AT&T National Pro-Am got snubbed by the world’s top golfers, partly because they want a rest between last week’s big-payoff Saudi International and next week’s Genesis Invitational in L.A. The AT&T has become the great little family diner you speed past on your way from IHOP to McDonald’s.”

——

A digital subscription to the San Francisco Chronicle is well worth it to read the likes of Ostler, Ann Killion, Eric Branch, Bruce Jenkins et al. . . . And with pitchers and catchers about to report, you may want to subscribe to the Washington Post just for the musings of Thomas Boswell.


When Major League Baseball revealed the details of the shakeup heard ’round the minor leagues, the Pacific Coast League was nowhere to be found. The league that sent so many players to the big leagues — like Joe DiMaggio and Willie McCovey — now is Triple-A West. . . . The California League is gone, too. It’s Low-A West. . . . Here’s hoping saner heads will prevail and that when it does there aren’t corporate names involved. . . . With MLB’s reorganization now complete, there are 120 minor-league teams left. Forty others are nowhere to be seen.



With all that we’ve been through over the past year, who had ‘Earthquake strikes near Banff’ on their 2020-21 Bingo card?

——


Someone figured out that starter Trevor Bauer’s deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers will pay him somewhere around $10,000 per pitch. Keep in mind, too, that he only performs every fifth day. Can you imagine being a carpenter and getting paid $10,000 for every nail you hammered or every screw you turned? No, neither can I.


It could be that the best feud in hockey features Brian Burke, the new president of hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun. . . . This goes back a few years and is far from being over. . . . In his book that came out last fall, Burke sniped at Simmons a time or three. . . . On Sunday, in his weekly notes column, Simmons wondered about Burke’s recent hockey accomplishments, or lack of same:

“Which makes the hiring of Burke in Pittsburgh as president of hockey operations more than a little surprising, although you won’t hear anything like that from all his media pals who laugh along with every word he speaks. It is the hiring of yesterday’s man, who won in Anaheim more than a decade ago, who made the Sedin deals (his signature NHL moves) 22 years ago. What has Burke done lately in hockey, except write a best-selling book and become valued entertainment in between periods? Truth is, it’s a lot of sound and fury, in reality, signifying nothing.”

The puck now is in Burke’s end of the ice.


JUST NOTES: You watch the Daytona 500 and you just know the last lap is going to turn into a demolition derby. . . . Had to chuckle at the WHL fan on social media last week who was debating with a guy named Brent Parker about the role of tutors with teams. Don’t think the fan realized that Parker is a former general manager of the Regina Pats. . . . If you’re wondering how we’re doing over here, well, there aren’t any bodies buried in the back yard so I guess that means we’re still getting along. . . . The St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes will meet today for a seventh straight time. Tell me again how this NHL season won’t warrant an asterisk when it’s all over. . . . On the subject of this NHL season, if you watch enough games it really becomes apparent just how much emotion and passion fans bring to the games. Yes, the players are trying hard, but it just isn’t the same, is it?

WJC exhibition games start today . . . WHL moves draft to December . . . Former Pats owner has died



After having eight German players and two Swedish team managers test 2021WJCpositive last week at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton, the IIHF announced Monday that it has had only one positive test since then. One German staff member has tested positive and will remain in quarantine until Dec. 30. . . . The two Swedes who tested positive will remain quarantined until Sunday, with all players now having been cleared to return to the ice. . . . The WJC’s exhibition schedule begins today (Tuesday) with two games — Switzerland-Austria, 3 p.m. PT, and Finland-U.S., 6:30 p.m. PT . . . The exhibition schedule wraps up Wednesday with two more games — Canada-Russia, 3 p.m. PT, and Slovakia-Czech Republic, 6:30 p.m. PT. . . .  The tournament opens with three games on Friday — Slovakia-Switzerland, 11 a.m. PT; Finland-Germany, 3 p.m. PT; and U.S.-Russia, 6:30 p.m. PT. Canada plays its first game on Saturday when it meets Germany at 3 p.m. PT.


Fir


There had been a school of thought that the WHL might change the age of players eligible for its annual bantam draft, taking it from a player’s 15-year-old season to 16. But that isn’t going to happen. . . . While the WHL has changed the event’s name — the WHL bantam draft now is the WHL draft — it has only moved it from its normal date in May to an undisclosed date in December 2021. . . . “Moving the 2021 WHL draft from May to December allows additional time for players in the 2006 age group to be evaluated following a challenging season due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, said in a news release. “We anticipate minor hockey leagues and tournaments will be fully operational in the fall, which will allow players to compete at a high level once again.”



The QMJHL’s 12 Quebec-based team are planning to resume play on Jan. 22 in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. They won’t be in bubbles; rather, the QMJHL is referring to them as protected environment events. Each host team will be joined by two other teams Jan. 22-24. . . . Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski also will play host to similar events, from Jan. 29-Feb. 6, with four teams in each venue.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Headline from The Onion — Arizona: Tumbleweeds must quarantine for 14 days after rolling in from out of state.

CBC News: As of 6:30 p.m. ET on Monday, there were 515,314 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Canada, with 423,621 of those considered recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial reports, regional health information and CBC’s reporting stood at 14,332.

Brittany Greenslade, Global News: It’s been weeks but Manitoba’s numbers are way down Monday. 167 new COVID cases today and 4 deaths. 5,736 active cases. 16,717 recovered. 572 total deaths. 310 hospitalized, 42 in ICU. Test positivity rate 11.5%. Test positivity rate 10.5% in Winnipeg.

Bob Holliday, Winnipeg: “WOW!!! For those who refuse to believe that social distancing and masks don’t prevent the spread of COVID-19, check out the latests stats from Manitoba Health. On Dec. 6, 380 new cases were reported n the province, with 272 in Winnipeg. Well, folks, on Dec. 21 the provincial new cases dropped to 166, while Winnipeg’s dropped to 83. Both are the lowest since Nov. 25 when there were 349 new cases provincially and 213 in the city. Keep wearing the masks and stay two metres apart in crowds, and we’ll all have a Happy New Year.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 206 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the province’s 7-day average down to 217. The province is also reporting 4 additional deaths.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,240 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths. The province has a test positivity rate of 6.8%.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat sits at 78 active COVID-19 cases. There are six new cases and seven new recoveries. . . . Other numbers: Cypress County, 10 active; Forty Mile, one; Lethbridge, 155; Taber, 19; Brooks, 42; Calgary, 5,836; Edmonton, 7,367.

rednewsNOW: Red Deer with 415 active COVID-19 cases as of Monday.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 1667 new cases of COVID-19 in BC. There were 652 cases from Fri to Sat, 486 cases from Sat to Sun and 529 cases from Sun to Mon. There have been 47,067 total cases. . . . There are 341 people in hospital, this is down 15. There are 80 in ICU, down 12. So far 35,455 people have recovered. There are 9,718 active cases of the virus. . . . There have been 41 COVID deaths over the last  3 days in BC.

CBC News: 2,123 new COVID-19 cases in Ontario, 7th straight day above 2,000. There are 17 additional deaths. 915 people are in hospital, with 265 in ICU and 152 on ventilators. 54,505 people tested; positivity rate 4.7%. Comes ahead of lockdown announcement.

CBC News: All of Ontario will move into a lockdown on Boxing Day in a bid to curb climbing COVID-19 case numbers and spare hospitals and their intensive care units from being inundated in January, Premier Doug Ford announced on Monday. The lockdown will begin at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26 and remain in place until at least Jan. 23, 2021, in the 27 public health units that comprise southern Ontario. In the seven public health units in Ontario’s north, where daily case numbers have been significantly lower, the lockdown is set to expire on Jan. 9.

CBC News: Quebec reports 2,108 new COVID-19 cases. The province’s 7-day average now tops 1,935 cases. There are 30 additional deaths attributed to the virus. Quebec has 1,852 new recoveries and 1,048 COVID-19 patients in hospital.

——

The 2021 Saskatchewan Summer Games that were to have been held in Lloydminster have been cancelled. Originally, the 2020 Games were to have been held July 26 through Aug. 1, but they were postponed to 2021. A decision also was made to return the Summer Games to a quadrennial cycle, meaning the next ones will be held in 2024. Lloydminster has been given the first right of refusal to act as host city. . . .

If you’re into football bowl games, you should know that the Independence Bowl was cancelled on Sunday. It was to have featured Army (9-2) but an opponent couldn’t be found. Seriously. . . . Later Monday, Army accepted an invitation to the Liberty Bowl where it will face West Virginia (5-4). That game is set for Dec. 31 in Philadelphia. . . . Army got in only because Tennessee (3-6) pulled out because of COVID-19 issues. ESPN reports that head coach Jeremy Pruitt, some assistants and a bunch of players all tested positive. . . . So far, 16 bowl games have been cancelled and at least 22 teams have opted out. . . . The Independence Bowl was to have been played Saturday at Shreveport, La. . . . Also cancelled on the weekend: The Guaranteed Rate Bowl that was to have been played Saturday in Phoenix and the Birmingham Bowl that would have gone on New Year’s Day. . . . Also on Sunday, Boise State joined the list of teams opting out of playing in bowl games.

The Baltimore Ravens once had 23 — yes, 23! — players on their reserve/COVID-19 list. On Monday, they activated DB Geno Stone on the list, leaving that list empty. Finally. . . .

Manitoba and Ontario curling officials announced Monday that they have cancelled their women’s, men’s and mixed doubles curling championships for 2021. . . . The Northern Ontario Curling Association made the same decision earlier this month. . . . B.C. officials have said they will announce a decision on Jan. 8.


Dogs


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.


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