Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the NFL playoffs can top that game . . .

Scattershooting2

The good news is that the Portland Winterhawks played a hockey game on Saturday night. The bad news is that it was the only game played on what was to have been a three-game road swing into B.C., with stops in Kamloops, Kelowna and Langley.

When the Winterhawks left home via bus on Thursday, they were headed for PortlandKamloops and a Friday night date with the Blazers. Halfway to Kamloops, Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, general manager and head coach, found out that the game had been postponed because of COVID-19 issues with the Blazers. The Winterhawks continued on to Kamloops, practised there Friday morning, then left for Kelowna and Saturday’s assignment against the Rockets.

The Winterhawks beat the Rockets, 3-1. “That would have been a long trip without two points,” Johnston told Taking Note.

Before the game, Johnston was informed that Sunday’s game in Langley had been scrubbed because of COVID-19 protocols involving the Vancouver Giants, who were forced to halt all team activities.

So the Winterhawks put the two points in their pocket and headed for home.

That latest postponement meant that 22 of the 23 games originally scheduled for the weekend didn’t happen.

Also on Saturday, the WHL announced that the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans all were cleared to resume team activities. They went into the weekend as three of 15 teams who were on hold because of having players and/or staff in protocols.

With the addition of the Giants, that list was at 13 as of Sunday night.

The Giants had been scheduled to play three games over the weekend; all three were postponed. They next are scheduled to play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars in a game that is on TSN’s telecast schedule.

Will COVID-19 allow the game to be played?

Stay tuned.

——

BTW, the Portland Winterhawks had F Josh Zakreski, who turned 16 on Dec. 17, in their lineup in Kelowna on Saturday. Zakreski is from Saskatoon and plays for the U-18 Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Upon seeing his name, I was curious as to whether he was related to Peter Zakreski, who died on Feb. 5, 2020, at the age of 80. Peter, a quiet gentleman, was a giant in a lot of areas of life in Saskatoon and was a big push behind the move to bring the 1991 World Junior Championship to Saskatchewan. . . . Anyway, it turns out that Josh and Peter weren’t related, although Josh apparently gets asked that question on a regular basis.


With some Canadian teams in the NHL and WHL facing attendance restrictions in their facilities, a number of games have been postponed in the hopes that they can be rescheduled for when the various governments involved loosen the rules.

However, Dr. Brian Conway, the head of the Vancouver Infectious Diseases Centre, told Ben Kuzma of Postmedia: “That’s unrealistic.”

As Dr. Conway explained: “Right now as a society, we’re being asked to plan for a situation where on any given day, and in any workplace, one-third will be out with COVID or COVID restrictions.

“Even if you wanted to fill (Vancouver’s) Rogers Arena, you wouldn’t have the staff. And it’s probably going to be the situation at the minimum until the end of February and probably longer — and that’s pretty optimistic. If I’m wrong, I’ll be the first to stand up and say I’m wrong. But I’m just so not seeing this.

“Modelling is still projecting a worst-case scenario that could dwarf what we have now. It’s based on if things continue the way they are. If they change the modelling can flatten out. But, it brings the issue if we ignore this, it could actually get worse.”

Kuzma’s complete story is right here.

BTW, Dr. Conway is a Canucks’ season-ticket holder and would love nothing more than to be able to sit in a full house and watch his favourite team. He also is a realist.


Jim Riley used to cover the Seattle Thunderbirds for the Seattle Times while also keeping an eye on the other teams in the U.S. Division. That was before the newspaper industry got out the paring knife and went to work. These days, he is in the wine business.

I mention Jim here because he is one of the thousands of people who has a health issue but hasn’t been able to have it dealt with because of a dearth of hospital beds — in Seattle, in his case.

The other day, he posted this on Facebook . . . 

“I don’t post often, but this is raising my blood pressure and perhaps venting will help. I recently underwent a nuclear stress test, designed to check the blood flow in my heart. My cardiologist said results were ‘abnormal’ and immediately scheduled me for an angiogram. That angiogram now has twice been postponed. Why? There are no hospital beds in Seattle because they are almost all filled, mostly with unvaccinated covid patients. I believe in free choice, but people who came to the irresponsible decision to avoid a simple, free and easy vaccination now are imposing their choices on all of us.

“I have yet to hear a rational explanation why people refuse to use the best tool we have (vaccinations) to fight a virus that has already killed 5.47 million people around the world.”

Me, too, Jim. Me, too.


Oh boy, do I ever agree with Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette, who writes: “If you grew up during the 1970s, like me, and you’re not already following Super 70s Sports on Twitter, you really should.” I actually grew up in the 1960s — although my wife might debate whether I ever grew up — and I love the tweets that come from Super 70s Sports.


BevHills


If you don’t believe that the NFL is the behemoth of North American sports leagues, you should know that 75 of the most-watched telecasts in 2021 were NFL games. Yes, Super Bowl LV was No. 1. . . . Nine of the top 10 were NFL games. Only the inauguration of Joe Biden as the U.S. president kept the NFL from a Top 10 sweep. . . . No, there weren’t any hockey games in the Top 100. Nor were there any NBA or MLB games. . . . There were 75 NFL games, 11 Olympics telecasts, seven NCAA football games and two NCAA college basketball games, both from March Madness, in the Top 100. . . . Oh, one other thing. You may not like Tom Brady, but he and his Tampa Bay Buccaneers were involved in 11 of those 75 telecasts.


From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:

“Point: Let’s expand the College Football Playoff field.

“Counterpoint: So we can have even more riveting games like Alabama 27, Cincinnati 6 and Georgia 34, Michigan 11.”

——

Perry also scrounged up a couple of quotes from the vault . . .

The late Mickey Mantle, at a roast for the late Billy Martin, on his former Yankee teammate’s proclivity for getting into bar fights: “This is the only man I know in the world who can hear somebody giving him the finger.”

Arkansas coach Lou Holtz, when his team was pelted with oranges after winning a trip to the 1978 Orange Bowl: “I’m glad we’re not going to the Gator Bowl.”



THINKING OUT LOUD: If you watched Sunday night’s NFL game, you saw again why live sporting events are the best of reality TV. . . . Just wondering, but have Jack and Rebecca convinced you to buy whatever it is they are flogging in that TV commercial, or are you going to have to see it another 1,000 times this week before making a decision? . . . Would have been nice if Hockey Night in Canada had picked up the Saturday game that had the Chicago Blackhawks visiting the Vegas Golden Knights. Who wouldn’t have enjoyed watching Marc-Andre Fleury return to the city that he owned not all that long ago and beat the home team, 2-1?


2022


With Novaxx, err, Novak Djokovic having problems getting into Australia because he isn’t vaccinated, comedy writer Brad Dickson reports that “the news isn’t all bad for Novak. He just signed to be the new backup quarterback for the Green Bay Packers.”

——

BTW, Rafael Nadal, vaccinated and ready to play in the Australian Open in Melbourne, had this to say: “From my point of view, that’s the only thing that I can say is I believe in what the people who know about medicine say, and if the people say that we need to get vaccinated, we need to get the vaccine. That’s my point of view. I went through the COVID. I have been vaccinated twice. If you do this, you don’t have any problem to play here.”


Yes, they have COVID-19 issues in the KHL, too. On Sunday, the league revealed that 14 players, one coach and two staffers from Dinamo Riga have tested positive. The league has scrubbed three games through Jan. 17.


After the Kingston Frontenacs were able to dress only 14 skaters for a Friday OHLnight game — they lost, 6-5, to the visiting Peterborough Petes — the OHL announced Saturday that COVID-19 protocols meant their next three games would be postponed. That included a game that had been scheduled for Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, the Chase Heat became the latest team in the junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League to have games postponed, while the BCHL announced Saturday that it has paused the Nanaimo Clippers for five days.


Snowman


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “I love the idea that ESPN now believes that Alex Rodriguez can be part of the kind of ManningCast that we got this season from Peyton and Eli. . . . Right. . . . Got it. . . . One big difference: People like Peyton and Eli.”


It seems that Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has about had enough of MLB using humans to call balls and strikes. As he put it: “Human umps were fine in the old days. So were phone booths and stage coaches.”


Teddy Balkind, a 16-year-old junior varsity hockey player with St. Luke’s School in New Caanan, Conn., died on Thursday night after he suffered a skate cut to his neck in a collision with a player from Brunswick School. . . . There is more on this story 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.


Printer

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while the hockey world mourns . . .

Scattershooting2

Matt Swaby, who spent four seasons playing in the WHL, was killed in what family members say was a farming accident on Friday. . . . Swaby, 34, was a native of Prince Albert. . . . A defenceman, he spent three seasons (2004-07) with the Tri-City Americans and one (2007-08) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . The Oil Kings were an expansion team that season and management chose to acquire Swaby to serve as their captain in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . AJ Jakubec, who was the Oil Kings’ play-by-play voice back then, tweeted: “Heartbreaking. The perfect captain for an expansion team. Humble, hard-working guy with a great sense of humour. Loved this guy.” . . . Swaby went on to play three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. . . . He is survived by his wife Carla and their three boys — Thomas, 6; Blake, 4 and Kody, 2.


THE COACHING GAME:

Shaun Clouston moved into the Top 10 on Saturday night. Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, posted his 467th regular-Kamloopsseason coaching victory and that moved him into 10th place on the WHL’s all-time list. He did in style, too, as the Blazers (17-2-0) won, 3-2, in Everett, handing the Silvertips (16-1-2) their first regulation-time loss of the season. Kamloops G Dylan Garand (14-2-2, 1.76, .935) came up with 41 stops. . . . Everett actually has lost two in a row now, having dropped a 4-3 OT decision to the host Victoria Royals on Friday. . . . Clouston’s 467th victory moved him past Peter Anholt and Jack Shupe and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time list that is led by Don Day (750). . . . Clouston has 76 victories with the Blazers after putting up 375 with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 16 with the Tri-City Americans. He won’t be moving up the ladder again anytime soon because the next man on the list, Pat Ginnell, is at 518. . . . BTW, the Blazers went 4-0-0 on a swing into the U.S. Division, winning twice in Kent, Wash., and beating the Winterhawks, 4-3, in Portland on Friday night. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the winningest active head coach in the WHL these days, put up No. 561 on Saturday night, his Prince Albert Raiders beating the Wheat RaidersKings, 2-1, in Brandon. It would seem that he didn’t get fined — at least, there isn’t anything noted on the WHL’s discipline page — after getting tossed for whispering Christmas greetings to the on-ice officials prior to the start of the third period of a 4-1 loss to the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors on Wednesday. . . . BTW, after D Kaiden Guhle scored twice in the Raiders’ 2-1 victory over the host Brandon Wheat Kings on Saturday night, Habscheid told Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald that Guhle “might be, for his age, the best player in the world. He’s just a special player.” Guhle, 19, was selected by the Montreal Canadiens with the 16th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. He has signed his first NHL contract.


Tacos


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “A pro golfer can still make a decent buck, if he’s willing to travel. While Phil Mickelson pocketed $2.16 million for winning the PGA Championship and Jon Rahm $2.25 mil for winning the U.S. Open, Collin Morikawa just cashed a check for $2.97 million for winning some tourney in Dubai. Now you know why gas prices are so high.”


Headline at The Onion (@TheOnion): World Chess Championship Forced To Use Salt Shaker After Losing Bishop



Ken Campbell, at Hockey Unfiltered (and he is correct): “Love the New Jersey Devils third sweater. Love it. And even though it has ‘Jersey’ emblazoned across the front, it’s a sweater, not a jersey. Always has been, always will be.”


With eight players on the COVID-19 protocol list, the NHL finally stepped in and nhl2halted the New York Islanders’ season, at least for now. The Isles were to have played the New York Rangers today and then visited the Flyers in Philadelphia on Tuesday. Those games have been postponed. The Islanders next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the visiting San Jose Sharks. . . . The final straw for the NHL came Saturday when F Casey Cizikas went on the list. He became player No. 8, joining F Josh Bailey, F Kieffer Bellows, D Zdeno Chara, D Andy Greene, F Ross Johnston, F Anders Lee and D Adam Pelech. . . . Earlier, the Ottawa Senators had three games postponed as they went through a stretch in which 10 players and a coach were impacted. The Sharks and Pittsburgh Penguins also have been down this road, but their schedules were left intact.


JUST NOTES: If you’ve been watching NHL games of late, I think you will agree that the crackdown on cross-checking has come to an end. . . . We shouldn’t expect anything different from a league in which one player (F Artemi Panarin of the New York Rangers) gets fined $5,000 for throwing a glove at another player (super-pest Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins). As Larry Brooks of the New York Post points out that’s the same amount that “Tom Wilson was (fined) for punching Pavel Buchnevich in the head while he was laying face down on the ice.” . . .

The Thursday afternoon NFL game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the host Dallas Cowboys drew 38.531 million viewers to CBS (TV and streaming), the highest total for a regular-season game since 1990. Just in case you were wondering why neither the NBA nor the NHL played any games on what was American Thanksgiving. . . .

You may have heard that the City of St. Louis will get US$790 million from the NFL and Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to settle a lawsuit stemming from the team’s departure  in 2016. If you were wondering about how much the lawyers get, well, according to the aforementioned Scott Ostler, it seems the firm that represented St. Louis gets a cool 35 per cent, or $276 million.


Mom


The two Canadian sports networks — TSN and Rogers Sportsnet — are so large that I have 14 of their channels available in my home. On Saturday afternoon, TSN’s six channels featured Canadian Olympic curling trials (2), Spanish Primera Division soccer (2), U.S. college football (Penn State at Michigan State) and an AHL game between the Cleveland Monsters and Toronto Marlies. Meanwhile, Sportsnet was showing Bundesliga on five channels, poker on two and rasslin’ on another. . . . You know what they weren’t showing? Canadian university football. . . . Look, they can be excused for not showing the eastern semifinal because USports has a problem that it chooses not to address. The AUS entry gets an automatic semifinal berth and often gets routed, which is what happened to the St. Francis Xavier X-Men on Saturday when they went to London, Ont., and got whipped, 61-6, by the host Mustangs in the Mitchell Bowl. It was 51-3 at the half. . . . Later, in the game that should have been televised nationally, the Saskatchewan Huskies took the lead for the first time with five seconds left in the fourth quarter and beat the host Montreal Carabins, 14-10, to claim the Uteck Bowl. . . . The Huskies will face Western in the Vanier Cup in Quebec City on Dec. 4. . . . The Vanier Cup will be televised . . . by CBC.



Does Wilt Chamberlain get the credit he’s due for being a great, great NBA player? Steph Curry of the Golden State Warriors enjoyed his 220th career 30-point game on Friday night, in a 118-103 victory over the visiting Portland Trail Blazers. That is third on the Warriors’ all-time list. Next up is Rick Barry at 223. Chamberlain is No. 1, at 369. Yes, as prolific a scorer as Curry is, he still is 149 behind Chamberlain.


Hey, Luke, well done! Have to admit I had a lump in my throat and it wasn’t a sugar cube.


Fantasy


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders announced Thursday that Adam Manah, their general manager and head coach, had “departed his position . . . effective immediately.” Adam Sergerie has taken over as the GM, with Jeff Woywitka now the head coach. Manah had been with the Crusaders since signing on as associate coach in 2015. He took over as head coach in 2016. The Crusaders were 9-15-1 — they had lost four in a row — at the time of the announcement, good for seventh place in the eight-team Viterra AJHL North.


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Amari Cooper is just the latest chowderhead in sports to help cost his team a game by being unvaccinated. While being paid $21 million a year by Jerry Jones. What a guy. Cooper, that is.”

——

Lupica, again: “You know who’s going to end up with settlement money from the NFL one of these days? Jon Gruden. They’re either going to have to pay him, or they’re going to have to release all of the emails relating to the Washington Football Team.”


Lumber


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.


Airbags

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Monday will be a good day to rake . . .

Scattershooting

I haven’t watched Coach’s Corner in a long time. I stopped when the show became more of a noisy rant-and-rave affair than one that provided some insight into the NHL or even hockey in general.

But it is hard to ignore what happened on Saturday night, what with social media losing its mind over it for a lot of Sunday.

The surprising thing to me — although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised considering the times in which we live — is the number of people who maintain there was nothing wrong with what went on with Don Cherry and his acquiescent sidekick, Ron MacLean.

After all, MacLean has apologized, writing in a tweet that what Cherry said was “hurtful and prejudiced . . .”

Also, the brass at Rogers Sportsnet has apologized, using “discriminatory,” “offensive” and “divisive” to describe the commentary.

As well, Hockey Canada condemned what was said: “The hockey community does not stand for the comments made (Saturday) night. Hockey is Canada’s game because it brings our country together, be it around the television or in local arenas. Belonging and inclusivity are an integral part of our game.”

And the NHL also issued a statement of condemnation: “Hockey is at its best when it brings people together. The comments made (Saturday) night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”

Let’s agree, then, that what was said was all of those things.

Let’s also agree that this is a case of someone staying — or being allowed to stay — too long at the dance.

If you want more on Cherry, check out this column right here from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

Or try this one right here by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette.


Whether it’s the economy, the influence of TV and/or Netflix and the PVR, or whatever, there are a lot of sports teams out there that aren’t attracting as many fans as they once did and nowhere near as many as they would like to have in their home buildings.

One thing that often is cited as a reason for staying home is the prices at the concession stands. That being the case, perhaps it’s time more teams and facility operators took a look at happenings in Atlanta.

Prior to the 2017 NFL season, the concession prices at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the home of the Atlanta Falcons, were slashed by 50 per cent. The result was a 16 per cent increase in average spending per fan over the 2016 season.

On top of that, according to a news release, the concessions also received “an NFL voice of the fan rating of No. 1 across all food and beverage categories.”

In 2018, the fans “spent on average the same amount as they did in 2017 and fans again rated the Falcons No. 1 in all food and beverage categories for the second consecutive year . . .”

In March, prior to the start of Major League Soccer’s 2019 season for Atlanta United, MBS cut the prices of five “top items” by 50 cents each:

Hot Dog: $1.50 (was $2)

Pretzel Bites: $4.50 (was $5)

ATL Bud Burger: $7.50 (was $8)

Ice Cream Waffle Cone: $4.50 (was $5)

Chips and Salsa: $2.50 (was $3)

Falconsmenu
A menu from one of the concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post has more on the Atlanta situation right here.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if just one NHL team, or even one WHL team, cut ticket prices in conjunction with a trimming of concession prices?


The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a casino, “is suing San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, claiming he failed to pay back $500,000 in gambling markers from April,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Possible penalties range from a huge fine and restitution to two minutes for charging.”



Bob Calvert never played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but there was a time when he was on the WHL team’s board of directors. His son, Jeff, was a goaltender of note with the Warriors (1989-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-94). On Friday night, Jeff’s son, Atley, made his WHL debut against the visiting Winnipeg Ice. . . . In other words, Friday was a big night for the Calvert family.


ANOTHER PET PEEVE: The Regina Pats were to have played the visiting Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre on Friday night. However, a problem with the ice resulted in . . . Well, the Pats and Broncos, along with a few others, including some purporting to be members of the media, announced that the game had been cancelled. Actually, it had been postponed and will be rescheduled. . . . Please, people, there is a difference between cancelled and postponed.



Kevin Shaw is an avid follower of the Regina Pats, who has taken to tweeting stories from the team’s past. This included the story in the below tweet that involves the long-gone Spokane Flyers losing 9-4 to the host Pats on Nov. 8, 1981. One night earlier, the Flyers had been beaten 11-3 by the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . Yes, Spokane played one night at home and 24 hours later in Regina. Oh, and the Flyers bus driver took a wrong turn somewhere that extended the trek to Regina by a couple of hours. . . . BTW, one night before losing to Victoria, the Flyers were to have played in Kamloops. However, that game wasn’t played because, as Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post wrote: “Their bus was about to be repossessed and there was no money for gasoline or meals. And, the team’s payroll has not been met for two weeks.” . . . Ahh, those were the days.




JUST NOTES: Watching the Vancouver Canucks and host Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. The visitors lose D Chris Tanev and D Tyler Myers on back-to-back shifts in the second period. What happened? Both players limped off after blocking shots (luckily for the Canucks, both soon were back in action). I have never understood the emphasis on blocking shots that goaltenders are equipped, trained and paid to stop. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL’s West Division final. Yeah, I’ll take that for a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. But will it be cold and snowy? . . . Did the Edmonton Eskimos save head coach Jason Maas’s job with their victory over the Alouettes in Montreal on Sunday. . . . The NFL and video review aren’t a match made in heaven. . . . As a sporting spectacle is there anything better than a big-time NCAA football matchup like Saturday’s game featuring LSU and Alabama?

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