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?

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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?

Let’s all strive to ‘Be Like Scott’ . . . Ice coming out of Pats’ home arena . . . Ex-Hurricanes defenceman dies at 37

It was in 1992 when Gatorade launched its “Be Like Mike” advertising campaign, one that was wrapped around then-NBA star Michael Jordan.

Here we are, almost 30 years later, and all I want is to Be Like Scott.

That would be Scott Thomas.

As hard as it may be to believe, almost three years have slid by since the bus crash involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Thomas and his wife, Laurie, lost their son Evan in the crash. He was one of the 16 people who died as a result of the bus colliding with a big rig while en route to Nipawin for a playoff game.

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck’s driver, is serving an eight-year sentence, and will be eligible to apply for parole in September. He also is waiting for a decision on whether he will be deported.

Not only does Scott Thomas think that shouldn’t happen, he has written a letter in support of Sidhu’s staying in Canada to the Canadian Border Services Agency. Thomas also has been in communication via email with Sidhu and his family.

“I don’t have the energy for hatred, our family just doesn’t,” Thomas told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “For me to go on and function and to be the best father I can be to the one daughter I have left and to leave this place with a positive impact and do something for our son’s legacy . . . for us to move forward, the best thing for us to do is forgive. There are days when I want to scream and there are days I do scream at the world, but for us to move forward, the easiest path to that is forgiveness and compassion.”

Pat McKay of CTV has a story right here, and Campbell’s piece is right here.

Take a few minutes out of your day and read them both. You’ll be a better person for having done it.

Let’s not forget, too, that Scott Thomas continues to advocate for standardized training across Canada for semi-truck drivers. You can bet that we’ll be hearing from him on that subject again and again and again, all the while wondering why politicians don’t sit up and take notice.


Bighorns
This was the scene just a few kilometres east of downtown Kamloops on Friday afternoon as five male bighorn sheep were on the prowl above the South Thompson River.


The Regina Exhibition Association announced Friday that the ice is being taken out of the Brandt Centre, the home of the WHL’s Regina Pats. . . . Under the present public health restrictions in Saskatchewan, the Brandt Centre is closed through Jan. 29. . . . . In making Friday’s announcement, the association suggested to renters that “if the ice is installed for any reason over the next three months, ice may become available to rent.” . . . Should the WHL get to play the 24-game schedule that it has said it is “committed” to, games almost certainly will be played in empty facilities. Without ice in the Brandt Centre, the Pats could play next door in the Co-operators Centre. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Edmonton Oil Kings told season-ticket holders that if they get to play games this spring they’ll be in the Downtown Community Arena rather than Rogers Place, which also is home to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . The Spokane Arena, home of the WHL’s Chiefs, is to be used as a mass vaccination site starting on Wednesday.


In the midst of a global pandemic that is not showing any signs of abating, we take a look at messaging from a pair of under-18 hockey leagues.

In Saskatchewan, the under-18 female and male leagues have postponed their seasons, and it sure sounds as though the boys might be finished for this season.

“Due to the ongoing pandemic and health restrictions, the SU18AAAHL schedule will be postponed effective Jan. 19, 2021,” reads a release on the league’s website. “If public health measures allow for a return to game play at any time, the executive will meet and review game play options for any teams that wish to continue. “

Among the reasons for the decision: “Provide parents the freedom to move their son(s) home for personal reasons. For some parents this will take some pressure off their decision. . . . Provide billets the option to continue hosting players during the COVID-19 19 crisis. This will give them a freedom to evaluate their involvement.”

Meanwhile, next door in Manitoba, the male U18 AAA league has sent what it calls an “open letter” to Premier Brian Pallister, Heather Stefanson, the minister of health and senior services, and Dr. Roussin, the province’s chief health officer. In the letter, signed by Levi A. Taylor, the commissioner, the league makes a case for why it should be allowed to return to play.

At one point, the letter claims that “the continued prohibition of social interaction and limitation of permitted physical activities has caused immeasurable harm to the children of this province.”

Later, there is this: “The Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League calls on you to reopen recreation facilities, gyms, and fitness centres for use by children and youth. It can be done (safely), and it must be done now to curtail the harms inflicted.”

The complete letter is right here.

As of Friday morning, there had been 28,260 cases of COVID-19 recorded in Manitoba, with 795 deaths. . . . Saskatchewan’s totals were 21,643 and 247.



Energy


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News — 173 COVID-19 cases in Manitoba, above the province’s 7-day average of 160. 2 additional deaths are also being reported. On the vaccine front, 23,884 doses have been administered so far.

CBC News — Saskatchewan reported 312 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday along with eight additional deaths.

CBC News — Alberta reports 643 new COVID-19 cases, 12 additional deaths.

CBC News — Nine additional deaths, 508 new COVID-19 cases reported in British Columbia on Friday.

CBC News — Ontario is reporting 2,662 new cases of COVID-19 and 87 new deaths. 779 of the new cases are in Toronto, 542 are in Peel and 228 are in York Region.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,631 new cases of COVID-19 and has added 88 deaths to its tally, 18 of which occurred in the last 24 hours.

CBC News — 30 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. This is the 4th time in a week the number has exceeded 30; the 7-day average for new cases in 29.

CBC News — Full lockdown announced in New Brunswick’s Zone 4 Health Zone. All schools to move to virtual learning, non-essential businesses to close, indoor formal gatherings not allowed. 19 of the 30 new cases on Friday are in Zone 4, which is the province’s northwest and includes Edmundston.

CBC News — Nunavut has its 1st new case of COVID-19 since Dec. 28. The new case is in Arviat. The person is asymptomatic and self-isolating.

KTVZ-TV — Oregon reports 22 more COVID-19 deaths, death toll at 1,865; 877 new cases, total at 136,839. . . . Oregon has now administered a cumulative total of 270,453 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines. All vaccinations were administered by Oregon hospitals, long-term care facilities, emergency medical service (EMS) agencies, urgent care facilities and Local Public Health Authorities (LPHAs).

The Olympian — The Washington State Department of Health on Friday reported 2,162 news confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 49 new deaths. Statewide totals . . . are at 298,249 cases and 4,114 deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Friday, 4 p.m. PT — Total cases: 737,407. . . . Active cases: 65,750. . . . Deaths: 18,828.

CNN, Friday, 4:31 p.m. PT — 413,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Friday, 7:21 p.m. PT — 24.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

The New York Times — Since March of last year, at least 424,000 more Americans have died than would have in a normal year, showing that the true toll of the pandemic may be higher than previously known.

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Former MLB player and manager Davey Johnson is back in his Florida home after spending time in hospital with COVID-19. Johnson, now 77, was the New York Mets’ manager when they last won the World Series, in 1986. He played for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs (1965-78). He managed the Mets, Cincinnati Reds, Baltimore, Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals (1985-2013. . . .

Matt Norlander, CBS Sports: “Multiple conference commissioners and athletic directors told CBS Sports in the past week-plus that there is a growing sense of nervousness over the stability of the college basketball season. . . . With Joe Biden now holding office, high-ranking NCAA officials are in wait-and-see mode about monitoring case counts across the country and bracing for the possibility of federal shutdowns that could impact dozens if not hundreds of schools — prompting a midseason pause in the process.” . . .

After having their first four NHL regular-season games postponed after at least 17 players tested positive, the Dallas Stars were in action on Friday night. They were without F Blake Comeau, who was placed on the COVID-19 list earlier in the day, as they beat the visiting Nashville Predators, 7-0. . . . The Detroit Red Wings added F Filip Zadina to the list on Friday, too. He joined teammates F Robby Fabbri, F Adam Erne and F Sam Gagner, and D Jon Merrill on the list. . . . The Washington Capitals were without F Alex Ovechkin, F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov as they beat the visiting Buffalo Sabres, 4-3 in OT, on Friday night. All four, one of whom reportedly tested positive, will miss three more games as they all are on the COVID-19 list. . . .

The Memphis Grizzlies have had four straight games postponed, bringing the NBA’s total of such games to 20. The Grizzlies were to have met the Trail Blazers in Portland on Wednesday and last night (Friday) and were to have played the Kings in Sacramento on Sunday and Monday. . . .


Glasses


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.


Clay Plume, who spent three seasons in the WHL, died on Tuesday. He was 37. Plume was from Standoff, Alta. . . . Plume, a defenceman, spent two-plus seasons (2001-04) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes before finishing the 2003-04 season with the Prince George Cougars. In 181 regular-season games, he has 22 goals and 43 assists. . . . He went on to play one season in the ECHL and six in the CHL. . . . Plume played 24 games over the past two seasons with the senior AA Fort Macleod Mustangs of the Alberta-based Ranchland Hockey League. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald has more on Plume right here.


JUST NOTES: F Nigel Dawes, who doesn’t get nearly enough plaudits when the conversation turns to great WHLers, picked up the 500th regular-season point of his KHL career in a 4-3 OT loss to host Lokomotiv on Friday. Dawes, 35, is in his 10th KHL season, but his first with Ak Bars Kazan. This season, he has 22 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. He had a goal and an assist on Friday, leaving him with 501 points, including 266 goals, in 536 games. In his WHL career, he put up 272 points, 159 of them goals, in 245 games. He played four seasons (2001-04) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . The QMJHL returned to action with four games on Friday night, its first action since Nov. 29. Playing what it calls a “controlled environment” rather than a bubble, there were games in Shawinigan, Drummondville, Rimouski and Chicoutimi. There will be games in the same venues Saturday and Sunday.


Alarm

Ice’s Savoie joins USHL team; will Geekie follow his lead? . . . ‘Canes lose assistant to AHL . . . Flockhart, former WHLer, dies at 64


F Matt Savoie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice has joined the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. Savoie, 16, was denied exceptional status by Hockey Canada prior to the 2019-20 season, something that would have allowed him play full-time with the Ice. As it was, the Ice still got him into 22 games — he had seven assists. . . . The Ice selected him with the first overall pick of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and three assists in four games with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. . . . From a Fighting Saints news release: “Savoie is expected to join the Saints shortly. The team is in action again on Friday and Saturday in Youngstown as they take on the Phantoms.” . . . Savoie will be eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . Prior to the 2019-20 season, Savoie, who is from St. Albert, Alta., was in training camp with Dubuque, as was his older brother, Carter, who now is a freshman at Denver U. In fact, Carter was named the NCHC’s rookie of the month for December after putting up 12 points, including seven goals, in 11 games. . . . Dubuque is 5-11-0 and in fifth place in the six-team Eastern Conference. . . .

Interestingly, F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers had made plans to join the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede to at least start their season. However, it didn’t work out. Here’s what Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“I’m a dual citizen so that was a decision I had made to go down there in early October. Long story short, my transfer from Hockey Canada to USA Hockey wasn’t accepted. I couldn’t play any games so I had to come home. I was down there for about 2 ½ weeks just skating and practising, which was still very good. I was able to get into a routine and got to be a part of an actual team again.”

Sillinger, the son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, had 53 points, including 22 goals, in 48 games with Medicine Hat last season. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2021 draft.

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Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported that F Conor Geekie of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, the No. 2 pick in the 2019 bantam draft, “is considering offers from USHL and NAHL teams.” . . . Sawatzky quoted Craig Geekie, a former WHLer and Conor’s father: “I’m not going to say that missing a year is going to hurt him but it will, to me, just set him back in a minor way. (It will help) if he can just play, even if it’s for two or three months.”

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The USHL’s Lincoln Stars have four players off the Portland Winterhawks’ roster on their list. However, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ GM and head coach, has told Joshua Critzer that the WHL hasn’t released any of the four players and that won’t happen unless the WHL season is cancelled.

——

Meanwhile, according to a tweet from the Tri-City Americans, D Andrej Golian “has arrived after competing with Slovakia” at the World Junior Championship in Edmonton.

At the same time, Seattle-based hockey writer Andy Eide tweeted that F Simon Kubicek of the Seattle Thunderbirds, who played for Czech Republic at the WJC, has headed home “for the time being.” . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported that D Marko Stacha, who played for Slovakia at the WJC, “is in Vancouver and the Giants say the plan is for him to stay.” . . . And according to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, D Inaki Baragano, who played for Switzerland at the WJC, is in Kamloops in anticipation of playing for the Blazers.


Men


With the three major junior leagues not operating at the moment, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet had an interesting item in his first 31 Thoughts posting of 2021:

“The NHL’s biggest priority right now is starting the season, but, at some point, teams are wondering if there will be any changes to the draft. Selecting 18-year-olds is already a crapshoot. Now it’s going to be even harder with so few opportunities to scout them. Hopefully, the CHL finds a way (more for the kids’ sake than anything), but, if not, I wonder if regional combines featuring scrimmages are created a few months down the road to give everyone an opportunity to see and be seen.” . . . The entire column is right here.




Three of the AHL’s 31 teams have opted out of playing this season, which the league hopes to get started on Feb. 5. The Charlotte Checkers, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville Predators) and Springfield Thunderbirds (St. Louis Blues) won’t participate in a new season. . . . John Greenberg, the Admirals’ president, said: “Right now, we’d be able to have 10 fans at the game watching our teams play, and that’s really no way to run a business.” . . . And here’s Michael Kahn, the Checkers’ owner: “There are several travel, safety and player supply challenges to consider. Those, coupled with the increasing number of new (COVID-19) cases in our area, make it very unlikely that we will be able to host fans at our games in the near future.” . . . As things now stand, the AHL will operate with five divisions of three, four, six, seven and eight teams. The Canadian Division will feature the Belleville Senators, Laval Rocket, Manitoba Moose and Toronto Marlies.


Andrew Doty, an assistant coach with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, has left to join the coaching staff of the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . Doty, 30, was the Hurricanes’ video coach and will fill that same role with the Silver Knights. He had been with the Hurricanes, in one role or another, since the start of the 2014-15 season. In Henderson, Doty will be working with two former WHL coaches — Manny Viveiros is the Silver Knights’ head coach, while Jamie Heward is an assistant coach.



Rob Flockhart, a former WHL player who went on to play 55 NHL games, died on Saturday of an apparent heart attack. He was 64. . . . A native of Sicamous, B.C., he spent three seasons (1973-76) with the Kamloops Chiefs. In his third season, he totalled 51 goals and 47 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 55 NHL games over five seasons, split between the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars. He retired after playing two games with the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks and 14 with that league’s Springfield Indians in 1984-85. . . . The Canucks selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 1976 draft. He also was selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the sixth round of the WHA’s 1976 draft. . . . Rob was the older brother, by four years, of former NHLer Ron Flockhart.


NotAboutYou

THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Quebec gov’t mulling harsher restrictions, including a curfew and extending school closures, amid soaring COVID-19 cases.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Tuesday, 4 p.m. PT: Canada has 78,849 active cases, with 523,564 recoveries. There have been 16,233 deaths.

CNN, Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 356,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Tuesday, 5:20 p.m. PT: 357,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

——

BC Hockey announced Tuesday that it has cancelled the 2021 Cyclone Taylor Cup and 2021 Coy Cup events. . . . The Cyclone Taylor Cup is the junior B provincial championship that features three league champions and a host team. . . . The Coy Cup is the province’s senior men’s AA championship. . . . There is a news release right here. . . .

The Cleveland Browns will be without three coaches, including head coach Kevin Stefanski, and at least two players when they face the host Pittsburgh Steelers in a playoff game on Sunday. . . . Pro Bowl G Joel Bitonio and WR KhaDarel Hodge tested positive, as did defensive backs coach Jeff Howard and tight ends coach Drew Petzing. . . . It meant that the Brown were forced to shut down their facility on Tuesday for the fifth time in 10 days. . . . Cleveland was without six starters and three coaches due to COVID-19 protocols when it beat the Steelers on Sunday.

There are reports that the Ohio State Buckeyes football team is dealing with COVID-19 issues but as of Tuesday evening it didn’t appear that the NCAA championship game was in jeopardy. The Buckeyes are to meet the Alabama Crimson Tide in Miami on Monday. . . .

The 2021 Canadian National Taekwon-Do championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Vernon, B.C., April 24 and 25. . . .

Bentley U, which is located in Waltham, Mass., has paused its hockey program because of positive tests within the program. All team activities have been halted until further notice. . . . Bentley plays in the Atlantic Hockey Association.


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: Of the sporting events I have watched on TV over the past few months, none missed fans as much as the IIHF’s World Junior Championship. Not having flag-waving, hyped-up fans in attendance really cooled off that event. . . . I didn’t watch a lot of the WJC, but Tuesday night’s championship game was a terrific advertisement for the best that hockey has to offer. . . . If you missed it, there are rumours that the NBA will offer up a couple of expansion franchises and use the fees to help overcome losses caused by the pandemic. The whispers have Louisville and Seattle in line, with the price tag somewhere around US$2.5 billion per franchise.


Blizzard

Scattershooting on a Saturday night while wondering if the Canucks would consider Flin Flon . . .

Scattershooting

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With the German and Swedish teams looking at extra time in quarantine 2021WJCbecause of positive tests, the World Junior Championship exhibition schedule in Edmonton has been slashed to four games from 10. And the first games will be on Tuesday, instead of today (Sunday) and Monday.

Here is the new schedule:

Tuesday, Dec. 22: Switzerland-Austria, 3 p.m. PT; Finland-USA, 6:30 p.m. PT

Wednesday, Dec. 23: Canada-Russia, 3 p.m. PT; Slovakia-Czech Republic, 6:30 p.m. PT.

This means that only the eight teams who don’t have anyone in quarantine at the moment each will get to play one exhibition game. Germany and Sweden are out of luck.

The tournament schedule hasn’t been touched, at least not yet, so it all begins on Christmas Day with 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.


Sorry, but I can’t get all worked up about whatever it is that’s going on between B.C. and the NHL over whether a team will be allowed to play out of Vancouver if a new season gets started next month. Fans won’t be allowed to attend so does it really matter where the games are played? If the Canucks really want home-ice advantage maybe they should play out of the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon. . . . Hey, as Dallas Stars owner Tom Gaglardi said on Friday, “There are people dying from this, people that are losing livelihoods, that are struggling to get by.” . . . Can we wait to see the mid-January numbers before we start ranting and raving?


Sissies


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, calls them “rants” and he had an especially good one earlier this week. Here is part of what he wrote:

“The NBA has problems. Those problems are significant but not fatal — unless the NBA decides to make them fatal. The core of the set of problems facing the NBA is demonstrated by diminishing interest in the NBA product. The playoffs in the ‘Orlando Bubble’ were a huge success from the point of view of epidemiology; the playoffs in the ‘Orlando Bubble’ were a disaster in terms of television ratings. Let’s get one thing clear:

“Epidemiology is important to the CDC and medical practitioners; those folks do not care about TV ratings . . . Television ratings are important to the NBA; the basketball mavens have only a passing concern about matters epidemiological.”

The entire piece is right here and I highly recommend it.



Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times writes: “Raiders coach Jon Gruden wore an ‘Oakland Raiders’ cap during the first half of Thursday’s game against the Chargers, then switched to ‘Las Vegas Raiders’ for the second half. Apparently his ‘L.A. Raiders’ cap was still in the wash.”


Here’s Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Minnesota Vikings placekicker Dan Bailey missed all three field goals and an extra point against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Uh, if Vanderbilt classes are over for the year is Sarah Fuller available?”


Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks signed a new contract worth US$228 million over five years. If you’re wondering what that is in Canadian money, the answer is $291,576,620 based on a 78-cent dollar, or enough to buy all of Alberta.


Someone with the Prince George Cougars was having some fun. . . . See if you can figure out what they’re up to here. . . .



Henry Schulman won’t be covering the San Francisco Giants for that city’s chronicle after Jan. 4, having decided to retire from the beat. Here he is the other day with the true meaning of the news release in which the Cleveland baseball club announced it will be changing its nickname, but not until at least 2022: “We are going to keep our racist logo for another year and sell souvenirs featuring this highly offensive stereotype because we have a lot of this crap sitting in storage, but to make ourselves feel better we’re going to give the money to the people we are insulting.”


Army beat Navy, 15-0, in last weekend’s annual football game. Here’s blogger Chad Picasner summing things up: “Army lived up to its training as ground forces, running the ball 53 times and passing only once. . . . Navy was severely handicapped because there was no water on the field, and their battleship wouldn’t fit through the gate.”


Bob


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Canada surpasses 500,240 cases after Saskatchewan adds 252 new infections to national caseload of COVID-19. . . . Latest tally of 500,242 cases includes 14,128 deaths; currently 76,391 active cases across Canada with 409,723 others having recovered.

CBC News: 9 more deaths, 238 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Manitoba Saturday.

CBC News: Alberta’s chief medical officer of health says 1,352 new provincial cases and 26 more deaths from COVID-19. . . . 19,260 active cases.

CBC News: Ontario reports 2,357 new cases of COVID-19 and 27 new deaths on Saturday. Ontario is reporting 27 new deaths related to COVID-19. There are currently 895 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 256 in intensive care. 146 of the patients are on ventilators.

580 CFRA: Ottawa Public Health says there are currently no patients in Ottawa ICUs with COVID-19 complications.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 2,038 new cases of COVID-19 and 44 additional deaths related to the illness. 2 of the deaths occurred within the last 24 hours. . . . There are 1,005 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 142 in intensive care.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 5 new cases of COVID-19. There are 49 known active cases in the province. 3 COVID-19 patients are in hospital, including 1 in intensive care.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 46 known active cases. 1 of the new cases is in the Western Zone and the other is in the Eastern Zone. Both cases are related to travel outside Atlantic Canada.

CBC News: P.E.I. confirms 1 new case of COVID-19 related to travel; woman in 50s self-isolating after arriving in Charlottetown on Dec. 17 from Montreal on Air Canada flight 8302

CBC News: 8 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. All of the new cases are in the Eastern Health Region. There are 31 known active cases in the province, including 1 patient who is in hospital. 

CBC News, 7 a.m. PT: U.S. sets new record of 249,709 coronavirus cases in one day; 2,814 more people have died across U.S., pushing its death toll to more than 314,300: JHU.

——

The New York Giants, already without offensive co-ordinator Jason Garrett because of a positive test, found out Saturday that offensive assistant Stephen Brown also has the virus. On Thursday, the Giants placed starting CB James Bradberry on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Bradberry tested positive, too, but his case isn’t believed related to either of the other two. . . .

The Ohio State Buckeyes played in the Big Ten championship football game on Saturday without 22 players, who were missing for reasons related to COVID-19. Yes, the game went on. . . . The Cal Golden Bears, meanwhile, experienced three positive tests during their season and ended up with four cancelled games. As John Branch of The New York Times tweeted: “I’ll let others decide if playing college football was worth it, but little debate that it was not equal.”


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if we’ll get to watch the WJC . . .

Scattershooting


An early Christmas present . . . Here is for KING & COUNTRY with their version of Little Drummer Boy . . .


Sweden has lost a second player off its national junior team to a positive test. F SwedenKarl Henriksson, who was selected by the New York Rangers in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft, won’t play in the World Junior Championship that opens Dec. 25 in an Edmonton bubble. Henriksson likely would have been the Swede’s first- or second-line centre. . . . On Saturday, it was revealed that Swedish F William Eklund, one of the top prospects for the NHL’s 2021 draft, had tested positive.


Three players from Boston U — G Drew Commesso, F Robert Mastrosimone and D Alex Vlasic — won’t be attending USA Hockey’s national junior team USAhockeyselection camp. Jeff Cox of the New England Hockey Journal broke the news on Sunday, saying that the decision involves COVID-19 protocols. BU had a positive test last week so shut down activities involving the men’s hockey team and postponed its season-opener that was to have been played on Saturday against UConn. . . . Cox also reported that Boston U won’t be playing another game until Jan. 8. . . . Team USA replaced those three on the camp roster with G Logan Stein of Ferris State, D Tyler Kleven of the U of North Dakota and D Hunter Skinner of the OHL’s London Knights. . . . Commesso was a second-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2020 draft; Chicago took Vlasic in the second round in 2019. . . . The Detroit Red Wings picked Mastrosimone in the second round in 2019. . . . Neither Stein nor Skinner has played this season because there teams haven’t been able to get started. Kleven, a second-round pick by the Ottawa Senators in 2020, was playing for UND at a bubble in Omaha. . . . Skinner was a fourth-round pick by the New York Rangers in 2019. . . . Team USA’s camp opened Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich. The roster includes 29 players and the plan is to trim two defencemen and two forwards on Dec. 13.


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “If I was a parent of a junior hockey player or even an agent, I’m not sure I’d want my kid locked in an Alberta hotel room for two weeks, all in the name of quarantine and the apparent upcoming world junior tournament.”



Headline at fark.com: Washington is finally giving Texas a Wall.


Jeff Marek of Sportsnet tweeted early Sunday that the ECHL is expected to echlannounce the loss of three more teams for the upcoming season — the Cincinnati Cyclones, Idaho Steelheads and Kalamazoo Wings. That means 11 of the league’s 26 teams have opted out, the others being Adirondack Thunder, Atlanta Gladiators, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Newfoundland Growlers, Norfolk Admirals, Reading Royals and Worcester Railers. . . . Marek also wrote that he has been “told the Toledo Walleye and Fort Wayne Komets are still undecided.” . . . The ECHL is planning on having some teams being play on Friday.


Insurance


“Heisman Trophy QB Johnny Manziel said on rapper Mike Stud’s YNK Podcast that he received impermissible benefits — i.e., cash — during his playing days at Texas A&M,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, the shock dripping from his keyboard. “Or as Manziel is now known in booster circles, Johnny Windfall.”

——

Perry, again: “Star guard James Harden, who reportedly wants out of Houston, didn’t appear for the Rockets’ individual workouts Thursday as the opening of training camp looms. Harden apologists, fittingly enough, believe he was traveling.”


Bill Littlejohn, who writes from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., suggests that fans of the Cleveland Browns — hello there, Jeff DeDekker — are getting a bit ahead of themselves with their glee over their favourite team going into this weekend with a gaudy 8-3 record. Here’s Littlejohn: “Fans of the Cleveland Browns getting giddy over their team’s being 8-3, of which seven wins came against foes with losing records, should recall the case of Heavyweight contender Duane Bobick. Duane built up a record of 38-0 against a succession of stiffs and tomato cans before being demolished in 57 seconds by Ken Norton, Sr.” . . . The Browns now are 9-3 after beating the host Tennessee Titans, 41-35, on Sunday. Yes, that’s even gaudier than 8-3. Next up? The visiting Baltimore Ravens on MNF on Dec. 14.


“The Houston Texans had two players test positive,” notes Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “and it was just for PEDs. Seems so quaint.”


Mom


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has taken a long look at sports in these pandemic days and that piece is right here. It carries the headline: Sports rolls on in the U.S. while the pandemic rages: Is it worth the risk? . . . It’s a good read.

——

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 383 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 additional deaths related to the virus. 1 of the deaths is a man in his 20s. The province’s 5-day test positivity rate is 13.6%. 2,231 tests were completed Saturday.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 415 new cases of COVID-19 and 4 new deaths. Today’s case count reflects a backlog from Saturday for the Saskatoon region. There are 4,550 known active cases province-wide. 135 people are in hospital, including 26 in intensive care.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: 1,836 new cases of COVID-19 were identified in the last 24 hours by the province. . . . There are also 19 new deaths being reported. . . . Medicine Hat stayed at 94 active cases. The province reported six new cases in the Hat, as well as six new recoveries.

CBC News: Alberta now has 19,484 known active cases, including more than 7,200 in Calgary and over 8,900 in Edmonton. 601 people are in hospital, including 100 in ICU. Alberta’s test positivity rate is 7.8%.

B.C. on weekends: Crickets! . . . Watch for big, big numbers on Monday afternoon.

CBC News: Ontario reports new record high of 1,924 COVID-19 cases. There are 568 new cases in Toronto, 477 in Peel and 249 in York Region.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,691 new cases of COVID-19. The province added 24 deaths to its total, 10 of which occurred in the last 24 hours. 778 people are in hospital, including 102 in intensive care.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19, all in the Central Zone. 3 cases are under investigation; the remaining case is travel-related. There are 88 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital. . . . Nova Scotia is amending today’s COVID-19 case count to add 1 more. Health officials say the latest patient is a student at an elementary school in Dartmouth. That school will now be closed until Dec. 10. The new diagnosis brings the number of new cases in the province today to 5.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19. 2 are in the Saint John region, 1 is in the Moncton region and 1 is in the Edmundston region. There are 82 known active cases in the province. 2 people are in hospital, including 1 in intensive care.

CBC News: P.E.I. is reporting 4 new cases of COVID-19. All are contacts of cases in the cluster reported Saturday. Dr. Heather Morrison says the source of the current outbreak is unknown, and more positive cases are expected. There are now 11 known active cases in the province. . . . P.E.I. is bringing in ‘circuit breaker’ measures for the next 2 weeks. Some of the regulations: In-restaurant dining, gyms and casinos must close. Retail stores can operate at 50% capacity. Organized gatherings like weddings and church services can have a maximum of 10 people.

CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Newfoundland and Labrador. 3 of the cases are travel-related, and the other is a close contact of a previous known case. There are 30 known active cases in the province. No one is in hospital.

CBC News: Nunavut is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19 in Arviat, after 8 new cases were reported there Saturday. There are 51 known active cases in the territory, all in the communities of Arviat and Whale Cove.

CNN: More than 30,000 new Covid-19 cases were reported in California Sunday, the highest number of new daily cases ever recorded in the state. Hospitalizations there are also at an all time high.

——

The Gonzaga Bulldogs, the No. 1 men’s basketball team in the NCAA, has postponed all games through Dec. 14. It was to have played the No. 2 Baylor Bears on Saturday but the game was postponed 90 minutes prior to tipoff after the Bulldogs had a pair of positive tests. . . . Gonzaga U is based in Spokane, Wash. . . .

The U of Texas has shut down all football activities after three players and two staff members tested positive on Sunday. All five are said to have tested negative on Friday, before visiting Texas whupped Kansas State, 69-31, on Saturday and then tested positive on Sunday. . . . Texas is scheduled to play at Kansas, at Lawrence, on Saturday.


——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The Heritage Junior Hockey League, a 14-team junior B league in Alberta, has shut down at least until January. A release from the league states that it “will meet in January to discuss the best way to move forward.” . . . The Vancouver Canucks didn’t have any choice but to rid the organization of that dunderheaded anthem singer. . . . “The Vancouver Canucks have kicked anthem singer Mark Donnelly to the curb because he’s an anti-masker,” writes Patti Dawn Swansson, The River City Renegade. “Guess that rules out an appearance on The Masked Singer.” . . . If you sat down in front of a TV set on a Saturday morning and watched football through Sunday night, how much wine would you drink if you took a sip every time you saw a coach improperly wearing a facemask?


Phone

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if the Christmas lights will work or if I’ll need more extension cords . . .

Scattershooting

If you haven’t already seen this, take a few minutes out of your day to give it a listen/watch. This one will make you think about what not to do if you ever end up with a stinky, rotting whale on your beach. . . .


How did I spend my Sunday? Thanks for asking. The two rather large trees in our front yard got their haircuts on Friday, So on Sunday most of the outdoor Christmas lights and decorations are up and ready to shine. Another hour, hopefully on Monday, and it’ll be all done for another year. . . . Temperature on Sunday afternoon reached 11 C, so it was quite enjoyable out there. . . . Oh yes, we also had our first taste of this festive season’s fruitcake. Merry Christmas!


After the Boston Red Sox brought back Alex Cora as manager, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald wrote: “Adjusted bromide: ‘Cheaters Almost Never Prosper.’ ” . . . Cora served a one-year suspension after being manager of the Houston Astros during their cheating scandal.


Closed


Headline at TheOnion.com: Cora gets another kick at the can in Boston.


The USHL has been having its issues with COVID-19, and has had to postpone/reschedule a number of games. The Waterloo Black Hawks and Tri-City Storm both played on Saturday night and were supposed to face each other on Sunday. But the game, according to the league, “has been declared a No Contest. Per league safety protocols, minimum standards were not met to play (Sunday’s) game.”


A news flash from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: Dateline Washington, D.C.: Donald Trump finally concedes he lost — to the Baltimore Stars in the 1985 USFL playoffs.

——

Perry’s Tweet of the Week came from @Southampton FC, which, upon finding itself atop the Premier League standings for the the first time tweeted: “Stop the count.”


Come April 6, it will be three years since 16 people were killed in a crash HumboldtBroncosinvolving the bus belonging to the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Michelle Straschnitzki and her husband, Tom, are two Broncos parents who aren’t prepared to give up on wanting to have seatbelts declared mandatory on medium and large highway buses and school buses. Bill Graveland of The Canadian Press reports that these parents “are angry at what they see as inaction from the federal and provincial governments on measures that could prevent another tragedy.” . . . Michelle told Graveland: “It’s just disgusting that nothing has changed. It should be legislated as of yesterday. It should be across the board, across Canada. It makes me nuts. This is not OK. We should not be fighting for this 2 1/2 years after the bus crash. It’s not right.” . . . Graveland’s story is right here.


ICYMI, St. Mary’s, Remsen beat Montezuma, 108-94, in an Iowa eight-man football state semifinal the other day. Interestingly, St. Mary’s had only 144 yards through the air, while Montezuma QB Eddie Burgess threw for 744 yards and nine TDs, then told the Cedar Rapids Gazette: “Credit to them. They kept us contained for some of the game.” . . . Blaine Harpeneau, the winning QB, was named player of the game after running for 354 yards on 40 carries. He scored four TDs and threw for four more. The teams combined for 1,497 yards of offence.



RJ Currie at sportsdeke.com: “Vasek Pospisil’s three-set loss in the Sofia Open final made Canadians 0-6 in ATP finals in 2020. You might call it Mission Im-Pospisil.”


A few years ago — actually more years ago than I care to remember — I took a whllook at the first 25 years of the WHL in four lengthy stories. The other day, someone who stops by this space on a regular basis wondered if I might post those pieces again. . . . So I have dug them up and they will appear here over the next while. Keep in mind that they were written more than 20 years ago, and I will post them as they were written. Also please keep in mind that they don’t pretend to be all-inclusive; they include some highlights and some lowlights and hopefully will help keep the past alive.


This is an all-time favourite hockey photo. Never mind the great stuff on the ice, take a look at the faces in the crowd . . .


Burger


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC North: 10 new cases of COVID-19 found in Nunavut, with signs of community spread in Arviat.

Ana Cabrera, CNN: US surpasses 11 million coronavirus cases. It took just 6 days to go from 10 million to 11 million.

Seattle Times: Gov. Inslee orders sweeping restrictions on indoor gatherings, restaurants, bars, gyms as COVID-19 cases surge in Washington state.

CBC News: 2 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. Both are travel-related. The province has 10 known active cases, including 1 person who is in hospital.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 3 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 22 known active cases in the province. The new cases are in the Moncton, Saint John and Fredericton regions. 1 is travel-related and the other 2 are being investigated. All 3 new cases are self-isolating.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,211 new cases of COVID-19. The province also added 15 deaths to its total, 2 of which occurred in the past 24 hours. The province has seen a total of 123,854 cases, including 6,626 deaths and 104,848 recoveries, since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 1,248 new cases of COVID-19, including 364 in Toronto, 308 in Peel and 125 in York Region. Provincial Health Minister Christine Elliott says an additional 1,062 cases have been resolved and more than 42,200 tests were completed.

Global News: Person in 20s dies from COVID-19 as Saskatchewan reports 2 deaths, 181 new cases.

CBC News: Calgary’s emergency management chief says Alberta needs a 28-day lockdown to battle COVID-19 — now.

CTV Edmonton: With 991 new cases, there are more than 9,600 active cases of COVID-19 in Alberta.

Global News: 10 more COVID-19 deaths in Manitoba Sunday, 494 new cases. There are 220 people in hospital with 41 in intensive care, and the number of deaths due to COVID-19 is 162.

——

The eight-team South Coast Women’s Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 season. The league, which features teams from Kamloops to Vancouver Island, had hoped to open in January, but ended up cancelling. . . .

The U of Vermont has delayed the start of its men’s and women’s basketball and hockey seasons until Dec. 18. “Our state is obviously seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 cases and it’s important that our programs are operating in a manner that is consistent with guidance from state officials,” Jeff Schulman, the director of athletics, said in a statement. . . . If you are wondering what former NHL head coach Mike Babcock is doing these days, he’s a volunteer advisor to the coaching staff with Vermont’s men’s hockey team. The Catamounts play in Hockey East, which is scheduled to start up next weekend. . . .

Jim Boeheim, the longtime men’s basketball coach at Syracuse, has tested positive. Boeheim, 75, is asymptomatic and is self-isolating at home. One other person in the program also tested positive, although it’s not known if it’s a player, coach or somebody else. The school also has stopped all basketball-related activities. . . .

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell paused men’s basketball activities last week after two positive tests. Practices are expected to resume on Wednesday.



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.



Remote

COVID-19 playing havoc with MJHL; Free Press: OCN player positive . . . Gogol had quite a season in ’77-78

It didn’t take long for life in the pandemic to take a nasty turn for the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

The 12-team league was cruising along, having gotten in 38 regular-season mjhlgames since opening on Oct. 9, until the province’s numbers started running wild. By Tuesday, the Winnipeg Free Press was suggesting the MJHL’s season might be in doubt.

Let’s recap . . .

On Monday, Hockey Manitoba announced that it had shut down all hockey activity in the Winnipeg metropolitan region effective immediately, with things to be revisited on Nov. 15. As a result, the MJHL postponed weekend games that were to involve the Selkirk Steelers, Winnipeg Blues and Winnipeg Freeze. At the time, the league said the weekend’s other games would go ahead as scheduled, after which it would shut down until Nov. 20.

On Tuesday, the MJHL announced that “this week’s games involving the OCN Blizzard have been postponed due to a public health concern.”

It wasn’t long before Jason Bell and Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press were OCNreporting that “at least one player with the OCN Blizzard has tested positive for COVID-19, putting the club’s season and perhaps even the MJHL’s 2020-21 campaign into doubt.”

The Blizzard was to have played the Kings in Dauphin on Tuesday night, but that game was postponed. The teams played Sunday in Dauphin, with the Blizzard winning, 7-4. The Blizzard player who tested positive played in that game.

OCN’s lineup on Sunday included two players on loan from the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders — F Justin Nachbaur and F Evan Herman — and F Eric Alarie of the Moose Jaw Warriors. Dauphin’s lineup included F Tyson Kozak of the Portland Winterhawks, F Jakob Brook of the Regina Pats and F Kade Runke of the Warriors.

The parent of an OCN player told the Free Press: “All the details haven’t been released yet. I certainly wouldn’t want to provide any misinformation, so the information has to come from the right channels. (The organization said) just that there’s been possible exposure in the division, so we’re following proper health protocols and going into isolation mode until there’s more information.”

The Free Press also reported it had been told by multiple sources that “OCN players from outside The Pas were being told to return home.”

A parent of a player with a different MJHL team told the Free Press: “Almost close to calling that anonymous line for COVID reporting. Something I think MJHL commissioner should answer questions on. Certainly OCN. But sure the league is done until (Christmas) at least after this.”

Taking Note has been told that at least one of the four on-ice officials who worked Sunday’s game has been told he should self-isolate for 14 days.

According to the MJHL’s schedule, weekend games in Winkler, Portage la Prairie, Steinbach and Dauphin will be played before the league breaks until Nov. 20.

The story from the Free Press is right here.


Brent Gogol holds the WHL record for most penalty minutes in one season — 511 in 1977-78. He started the season with the Victoria Cougars, earning 46 minutes in six games. He was dealt to the Billings Bighorns, where he added another 465 minutes in 61 games. . . . Interestingly, Mel Hewitt, who split his 1977-78 season between the Saskatoon Blades and Calgary Wranglers, finished only three minutes behind Gogol in that same season. . . . In 1990-91, Kerry Toporowski of the Spokane Chiefs got to 505 minutes. You have to wonder if he knew how close he was to Gogol’s record at the time.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CB Marlon Humphrey of the Baltimore Ravens has tested positive. He played every defensive snap on Sunday in the Raven’s 28-24 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. . . . The Steelers announced Monday that all of their tests had come back negative. . . . By Tuesday, though, the Ravens had put seven players on the reserve/COVID-19 list — linebackers Tyus Bowser, L.J. Fort, Malik Harrison, Matthew Judon and Patrick Queen, DB DeShon Elliott and practice squad DB Terrell Bonds. Those seven will quarantine for five days but could be activated in time to face the host Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. . . .

RB AJ Dillon of the Green Bay Packers has tested positive and won’t play Thursday against the host San Francisco 49ers. Dillon played on Sunday as the Packers dropped a 28-22 decision to the visiting Minnesota Vikings. He was on the field for 10 offensive snaps and seven plays on special teams. . . . RB Jamaal Williams and LB Kamal Martin, named as high-risk close contacts, also won’t play. . . .

The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals came off their bye week and head coach Cliff Kingsbury revealed a pair of positive tests from the weekend. Kingsbury wouldn’t provide identities of the two players, but LB Devon Kennard later reported on Twitter that he had tested positive. . . . The team also has placed CB Byron Murphy on the reserve/COVID-19 list. . . . The Cardinals are to play the visiting Miami Dolphins on Sunday. . . .

The Denver Broncos revealed Tuesday that team president Joe Ellis and general manager John Elway have tested positive. Meanwhile, assistant coaches Ed Donatell, Curtis Modkins and Mike Munchak are under COVID-19 protocols, as is OL Graham Glasgow. . . . The Broncos are scheduled to visit the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. . . .

QB Andy Dalton of the Dallas Cowboys had been expected to return on Sunday against the host Pittsburgh Steelers. However, he was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday. . . . Dalton missed the Cowboys’ previous game with a concussion. . . .

The U of Wisconsin Badgers have had a second straight football game cancelled. The Badgers were to have played Purdue on Saturday. Wisconsin has had 27 positives since Oct. 24 — 15 players and 12 staff. . . . Interestingly, there isn’t room in the Big Ten schedule to play games that are affected by the virus, so the games are cancelled. . . .

Following one positive test, the junior B Kimberley Dynamiters of the Kootenay DynamitersInternational Junior Hockey League have nine additional members of the organization self-isolating until Nov. 11. This comes after the Interior Health Authority completed contact tracing. The Dynamiters’ last exhibition game, scheduled for Friday against the visiting Fernie Ghostriders has been cancelled. . . . The KIJHL plans on opening its regular season on Nov. 13. The Dynamiters are scheduled to be at home to Fernie that night. . . .

The Chilliwack Minor Hockey Association has paused for at least two weeks. An outbreak at a Chilliwack dance studio — there are at least 30 positives — resulted in meetings between the CMHA and health authorities, and a decision was made to suspend all hockey activities. . . .

The South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League has delayed the start of its regular season to Nov. 26. The seven-team league hopes to play a 12-game regular season. . . . The original plan was to play the regular 18-game season starting on Nov. 6. . . .

The QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs have lost assistant coach Mathieu Turcotte, who has left the team for personal reasons. According to Mikael Lalancette of TVA Sports, Turcotte “has health problems that put him at risk” during these pandemic times. . . . The Voltigeurs are one of the QMJHL teams that has experienced positive tests. . . .

The U of Rhode Island Rams football team has had to put things on hold after a player and a staff member tested positive. All players and staff members have been told to quarantine for two weeks. . . . The Rams have been hold light workouts as they aren’t scheduled to play until Feb. 27 as the Colonial Athletic Association chose not to play in the fall.


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.


WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

——

Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


Leg

Bedard makes Swedish debut with HK71 . . . Blades’ coach really (new) hip guy . . . Beyak ready to get back to work

F Connor Bedard, who turned 15 on July 17, is expected to play for the Regina HV71Pats when/if a WHL season gets started in January. In the meantime, he’s playing for HV71, which is based in Jönköping, in Sweden’s U-20 league. Bedard played his first game in Sweden on Wednesday, going pointless in a 2-1 loss to Färjestad. . . .

Dave Struch, the Pats’ head coach and assistant general manager, told Taking Note that they released Bedard to HV71 “with the understanding that he will be back to us when we get going.”

The WHL has said it will open its regular season on Jan. 8.

“We have been in regular communication with Connor, his agent (Newport Sports Management) and HV71,” Struch said. “We have built a good relationship that we hope will benefit Connor’s development.”

Bedard was granted exceptional status that allows him to play regularly with the Pats at 15 years of age. He is the first WHL player to be given such status. Following that declaration, the Pats selected him with the first overall pick of the 2020 bantam draft, then signed him to a contract.


The break in the WHL schedule couldn’t have come at a better time for at least Saskatoonone head coach. Mitch Love of the Saskatoon Blades is about 14 weeks removed from having a hip replaced. “The hip is coming along. Sure glad I did it this offseason,” Love, 36, told Taking Note on Wednesday night. Love, who is preparing for his third season as the Blades’ head coach, has been on skates once since the surgery. But, as he said, “I’ll be active on it soon enough.” . . . Love also is an assistant coach with Canada’s national junior team, as is Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants. André Tourigny, the head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, is Canada’s head coach.


Playoffs


Dennis Beyak says it will be great to get back to work.

Beyak, one of TSN’s hockey play-by-play voices, will be spending part of JetsTSNDecember and January in an Edmonton bubble working the 2021 World Junior Championship.

The fun gets underway on Dec. 20 as TSN televises two exhibition games to kickoff a 10-game pre-tournament schedule. That will include a pair of Canadian games — versus Sweden on Dec. 21 and Russia on Dec. 23 — and two featuring Team USA — vs. Switzerland on Dec. 20 and Finland on Dec. 22.

The 10-team tournament starts for real on Dec. 25, one day earlier than it normally would. This is because all games will be played on the same ice surface ice surface. In order to accomplish, the schedule includes four days with three games each and two with four, including Jan. 2 when all four quarterfinals will be featured.

Canada opens on Dec. 26 against Germany, then meets Slovakia on Dec. 27, Switzerland on Dec. 29 and Finland on Dec. 31.

There aren’t any games scheduled for New Year’s Day, with quarterfinals on Jan. 2 and semifinals on Jan. 3. The third-place game is on Jan. 5 at 2:30 p.m. PT (5:30 p.m. ET) with the championship game to follow at 6:30 p.m. PT (9:30 p.m. ET). Yes, the good folks in the east will have to stay up past their bedtime to see the title decided.

Beyak and Gord Miller, as usual, will handle play-by-play duties. Miller, of course, gets lots of exposure, but Beyak, who is the TV voice of the Winnipeg Jets, is one of hockey’s best play-by-play secrets. Beyak did 60 TV games for the Jets last season; he hasn’t worked since March 12 when the Jets beat the host Edmonton Oilers, 4-2.

Yes, he’ll be ready to go by Dec. 20.

The complete WJC schedule is right here.

BTW, if you’re a veteran WHL follower you may remember Beyak as the play-by-play voice of the Flin Flon Bombers and later the Saskatoon Blades and Victoria Cougars. He also worked as the Blades’ assistant general manager and even did stints as the general manager of the Seattle Thunderbirds and Tri-City Americans.


F Keegan Kolesar played four seasons (2013-17) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, and now is with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. In fact, he was with them in the Edmonton bubble as they skated in the NHL playoffs, and he signed a one-year, two-way contract earlier this week. . . . But while Kolesar was with the Golden Knights, his father, Charles Peterson, died after a battle with the coronavirus. A former pro baseball player who had turned to scouting, he was 46. . . . Carter Brooks of fullpresshockey.com has that story right here.


Secret


The BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild will scrimmage twice in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, this Wenatcheeweek, on Thursday and Friday, and then again on Nov. 6 and 7, and Nov. 13 and 14. At the moment, at least eight WHLers are scheduled to participate — F Bear Hughes and F Erik Atchison of the Spokane Chiefs; F Mekai Sanders of the Seattle Thunderbirds; G James Porter Jr., who has played with the Kelowna Rockets and Spokane; D Luke Gallagher, who played with the Chiefs but is ticketed to the Wild this season; F Jack Lambert, who played four games with the Everett Silvertips last season; F Sal Collora, who got into five games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season; and Everett G Braden Holt. . . . The Wild are taking their show to Idaho for scrimmages because Washington state health regulations at the moment don’t allow 5-on-5 games with contact.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Some headlines from Wednesday:

Global News: For the first time, B.C. has recorded more than 200 cases of COVID-19 in a single day.

CBC News: Alberta broke two COVID-19 records on Wednesday, for the most new cases in a single day, 406, and for the most active cases.

CBC Saskatchewan: COVID-19 in Sask: 57 new cases reported Wednesday, 3rd largest daily bump of pandemic.

CBC News: Manitoba posts 3rd-highest daily increase in COVID-19 cases, with 135 on Wednesday.

KOMO News: The Washington State Department of Health reported 720 new COVID-19 cases, 25 additional hospitalizations and four more deaths due to the virus.

KOIN News: Oregon reports 331 new COVID cases, 2 deaths.

The school board in Kennewick, Wash., the home of the WHL’s Tri-City Americans, voted 3-2 on Wednesday to delay the start of middle and high school in-person learning until Feb. 2. The original plan was to have had hybrid learning — a mix of online and in class — begin on Nov. 2. The school district has had 16 positives since Aug. 26. . . .

The Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) has cancelled all of its winter championships. From a news release: “The decision was made in response to the sport restrictions that are in place across the country, the variety of provincial health restrictions CCAA hosts were facing and the limitations effecting travel of teams across the country.” . . . The decision impacts badminton, men’s and women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s basketball. . . . The curling championships were cancelled in September, while the CCAA cancelled golf, men’s and women’s soccer and cross-country in June. . . .

Michigan health officials have issued a “stay-at-home” order for the U of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. This order comes after the county in which the school is located experienced hundreds of new cases, including on campus, and contact tracing showed that students are ignoring restrictions. . . . So the students have been told to leave the campus or stay in residence unless they have an essential reason to go outside. . . . You won’t be surprised to learn that none of this applies to the Wolverines football team. . . . As Dustin Foote of Deadspin wrote: “If there is any silver lining to college sports in a pandemic, it’s that COVID-19 has revealed the rot of amateurism. There are different rules for ‘amateur’ athletes who generate money for the university versus the majority of students who do not.” . . . The Big Ten is to return to football action this weekend, and the Wolverines are to play at Minnesota on Saturday night.


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: Cameron Hope, who was the general manager of the WHL’s Victoria Royals for eight seasons (2012-20), has joined BC Hockey as its new chief executive officer. He replaces Barry Petrachenko, who, after 20 years with BC Hockey, was dismissed in April. . . . Enrico Ciccone, an enforcer in his hockey-playing days, now is a Liberal MNA in the Montreal riding of Marquette. As the opposition critic for sports, recreation and healthy lifestyles, he has presented a bill calling for the prohibition of fighting in sports, including hockey, for those under the age of 18. “Of course some people will say ‘look at this guy, he’s a hypocrite. He made a bunch of money and now he wants to change things,’ ” Ciccone told the Montreal Gazette’s Herb Zurkowsky. “Of course I do. And I’m probably the best guy to do it. I’ll raise that flag for the safety of our kids, any time of the day. I don’t care.” Zurkowsky’s story is right here.


Scattershooting on a Saturday night while hoping we all have a Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving . . .

Scattershooting


Oh my, but things just aren’t looking good for the QMJHL. Here’s a recap of the past couple of days. . . .

On Saturday, the Quebec government declared Gatineau to be a red zone, qmjhlnewleaving the immediate future of the Olympiques’ schedule in doubt. . . . The Olympiques held their home-opener without fans on Friday night, beating the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, 3-2, and then won again, 5-4, on Saturday. . . . The Olympiques and Drummondville Voltigeurs, also in a red zone, are expected to be restricted as of Oct. 14. . . .

Earlier in the week, the Quebec Remparts and Blainville-Boisbriand Armada were shut down for the remainder of the month after their areas were named red zones. . . .

According to Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette, “Victoriaville, the home of the Tigres, is currently in an orange zone and has launched a virus awareness campaign in an attempt to avoid being classified as a red zone.” . . .

On Friday, the New Brunswick government declared Moncton to be an orange zone, so the Wildcats game against the visiting Saint John Sea Dogs that was to have been played Saturday night was postponed. . . . That declaration went into place on Saturday at 12:01 a.m., shortly after the Wildcats had beaten the visiting Halifax Mooseheads, 4-2. . . . New Brunswick announced 20 new positives on Friday, 12 of them in Moncton. The province hadn’t seen that number since May. . . .

Meanwhile, two of the officials who worked a game last Sunday are reported to have tested positive. The Armada and Sherbrooke Phoenix have a combined 26 positives and have shut down indefinitely. . . .

Interestingly, there isn’t any mention of any of this on the QMJHL website. There isn’t anything indicating the status of any of these teams, and rather than show some games as having been postponed, they simply have been erased from the schedule.



“Mike Pence inspired a torrent of social-media memes during last week’s vice-presidential debate when a fly shockingly landed on his head,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “ ‘I can certainly feel his pain,’ said Jose Canseco.”

——

One more report from Perry: “Provincial authorities have told the Ontario Hockey League that if it wants to play amid a pandemic this season that it will have to ban bodychecking and fighting. In a related story, Don Cherry’s head just exploded.”


Dogsout


It has been surreal to watch the past couple of days as NHL teams have been signing players to contracts totalling millions of dollars. . . . But, hey, business must go on in some areas of our crazy world, although that isn’t likely to happen in some other places. . . . A Greater Vancouver Board of Trade survey released on Friday shows 25 per cent of businesses there don’t expect to last more than 12 months without change. . . . As well, 40 per cent of businesses aren’t expecting a return to regular operations. . . . And while contemplating all of that the news arrived that Ontario was beginning to lock things down. Again. . . . Meanwhile, the numbers in Manitoba are going the wrong way, too, as the province experienced its highest single-day increase to date on Friday, and then broke that record on Saturday. . . . Saskatchewan added 34 new cases, its highest daily total since July, and things are no hell in Alberta and B.C., either. . . . Oh yes, and the WHO reported a new daily high in global cases on Friday (350,766), breaking the previous record that had been set earlier in the week. . . . There is more on the ugly numbers right here.


After George Springer of the Houston Astros passed Babe Ruth on the postseason home-run list, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post wrote: “Makes sense. Ruth went homeless in wild-card, divisional-championship and league-championship games.”


While flipping among college football games on Saturday afternoon, I started wondering if a portion of the U.S. citizenry has given up and decided that the virus has won so let’s get on with it and, hey, if a few thousand more people die, well, that’s the price we pay. . . . In the midst of my viewing, this headline showed up in my Twitter notifications: The US is reporting over 50,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day for the first time since mid-August. . . . According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, Friday’s number was 57,420, and it was the third straight day topping 50 grand. . . . The number of deaths in the U.S. now has surpassed 213,000. . . . So let’s just keep that border closed for a long, long time. OK?


It really is unfortunate that more people in the sporting world don’t seem to understand the example they could be setting if they would only wear the masks properly. At one point during this game, Jeremy Pruitt of Tennessee, who is in the tweet above, had his mask completely around his neck as he was face-to-face with a masked referee. . . . Tone deaf, or what?



Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Memo to my pal Al Michaels, Derek Carr, Jon Gruden, et al.: When influential, popular sports people wear masks, they legitimize the concept of mask-wearing, thus saving lives.”

Ostler also wrote: “Scientists and medical experts say masks are effective for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, but tinfoil hats are not. Still, many sports figures prefer the hats.”


Hartley Miller, the sports guy for 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George and the analyst on Cougars’ game broadcasts, wonders how the WHL will react to comments by Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack that is right here. . . . If you missed it, Dr. Henry said that she doesn’t “see spectators being a large part of the season this year.” . . . The Hart Attack arrives weekly and it’s painless. Give it a read if you haven’t already.


Marker


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

A Friday morning tweet from the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints . . .

MLS has postponed two Sunday games after Minnesota United, Orlando City and Columbus Crew experienced positive tests. . . . The Crew was to have played at Orlando City, while Minnesota was to play at FC Dallas. . . . Earlier, a scheduled Saturday game between the host Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy was scratched after a Rapids player tested positive. It was the fourth straight Colorado game to be postponed. The Rapids have had 12 staff members and five players test positive since Sept. 24. . . .

The ECHL announced Friday that it has plans to open its regular season on Dec. 11. The league will have 13 teams begin a 72-game season on Dec. 11, with other teams starting a 62-game schedule on Jan. 15, assuming they are able to get what the league calls “jurisdictional approval.” . . . The regular season is to end on June 6. . . . The Atlanta Gladiators won’t play in 2020-21 because of pandemic-related restrictions and their players now are free agents. . . .

The AHL has said that it is aiming to start its regular season on Dec. 4. However, Jim Nill, the Dallas Stars’ general manager, told Sean Shapiro, who covers the team for The Athletic, that the AHL won’t start before the NHL, which is aiming for Jan. 1. . . .

The NFL’s New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans got to Saturday without new positives, however the Chicago Bears, who played Thursday night, had a practice squad player come up positive, while a strength-and-conditioning coach with the Kansas City Chiefs did, too.



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.



ICYMI, politicians in Winnipeg have given restaurants the OK to keep their patios open until March 31. Perhaps they have never heard the song Prairie Town that was written by Randy Bachman, who is from Winnipeg and knows of what he penned:

“Winter nights are long, summer days are gone

“Portage and Main fifty below

“Springtime melts the snow, rivers overflow

“Portage and Main fifty below

“Portage and Main fifty below.”

But, hey, the other side of the coin is that we are going to see a new definition of Winnipeg tough during the winter of COVID-19.


Former WHL D Jason Smith is the new head coach of the junior B Peguis Juniors of the Keystone Junior Hockey League. It plans on beginning its regular season on Nov. 7. . . . Smith, 48, is from The Pas, Man. He spent three-plus seasons (Tri-City, Swift Current, Brandon, 1989-93) in the WHL. . . . With Peguis, Smith takes over from Mike Spence, who remains as an assistant coach. Marty Favel is the other assistant. . . . Smith was the head coach of the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard from November 2014 through 2015-16.


JUST NOTES: If you’re like me, you’re wondering if the layer of sanitizing gel on your hands is permanent. . . . Hey, Sportsnet, you can cut back on those Danielle Michaud spots whenever you feel like it. How about twice every five minutes, rather than three times? Thanks. . . . I thought maybe the ’Rona had gotten the phone scammers but I should have known better. After not having had a call for at least a couple of weeks, the guys in Idaho and Maine found us on Friday. I will always be amazed that we can put a man on the moon but we can’t stop the scammers. . . . If you aren’t aware, the first Hallmark Christmas movie — Jingle Bell Bride — is scheduled for Oct. 24. Y’er welcome. . . . If you missed it, the Taliban — yes, that Taliban — endorsed the ’Rona’s new best buddy on Saturday. Hey, is this a great time to be alive, or what?


HomeAlone