Hockey venues almost ready in Beijing . . . Chow to leave SJHL after season . . . Milestone night ahead for Lazaruk

BeijingNIS
The NIS (National Indoor Stadium) is sparkling in preparation for the start of the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey competitions. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Dan Courneyea, Taking Note’s man in Beijing, reports that folks are hard at work as they put the final touches on venues with the Olympic Winter Games about to get rolling. While organizers refer to Feb. 4 as the opening date, some competitions actually start today (Wednesday).

“Lots of final preparation still being done before the first puck drop,” Courneyea told Taking Note late Monday night Pacific Time. “Everything is coming together.” That missive, with the National Indoor Stadium photo, arrived Monday at 11:15 p.m. PT, which was 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday in Beijing.

The women’s hockey begins with Pool A games today. It’s Switzerland and Canada in the NIS and China against Czechia in the Wukesong. Both games start at 8:10 p.m. PT.

BeijingWukesong
Only some final touches are left before Wukesong Arena is ready for the Olympic hockey competitions in Beijing. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Bill Chow announced on Monday that he will be leaving his post as commissioner of the SJHL on May 31. Chow, who has been commissioner for sjhl10-plus years, said that he won’t complete his contract that is set to expire on May 31, 2023. . . . Chow didn’t give a specific reason for his decision, saying in a news release that “there have been many factors that have gone into my final decision.” . . . Chow was named commissioner in the spring of 2011 after having retired at the age of 52 after almost 30 years with the Prince Albert Police Service and leaving as a staff sergeant. . . . In his last few years with the SJHL, he dealt with, among other things, the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that took 16 lives and then the first two years of the pandemic. . . . He also spent 25 years as a WHL scout, 10 of them with the Spokane Chiefs.


Chad Leslie was named general manager of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos on ScurrentMonday, more than two months after he stepped in as the interim GM. Leslie, from Elkhorn, Man., had been the club’s assistant GM since the start of the 2020-21 season. He was named interim GM on Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman, who had been GM and head coach, resigned. . . . Before becoming the assistant GM, Leslie spent two seasons as the Broncos’ director of scouting. . . . The complete news release is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades, will call his 2,000th WHL game tonight (Wednesday) from Regina.“To put 2,000 games under your belt is just an astonishing achievement at any level, in any capacity, in any industry,” Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, told Pat McKay of CTV News. “When you think of Blades hockey, especially when you think of the sound of Blades hockey, it’s Les Lazaruk.” . . . Of course, 2,000 games means a whole lot of bus miles. Here’s Wawryk, again: “He has a knack for sleeping on the bus. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like and how loud it is and what position he’s in, he can always find a way to grab a couple of Zs on the bus. I have a few videos of him sleeping upright, and he snores like a chainsaw.” . . . The Blades will salute Lazaruk on Friday as they play host to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . McKay’s complete story is right here. . . .

The Thief River Falls, Minn., Norskies of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have shut down for the remainder of this season. A news release from the league stated that “an issue that the Norskies struggled with since the outset of the campaign — a shortage of players — is ultimately what led to the decision.” . . . The departure of the Norskies, who are expected back next season, leaves the SIJHL with six teams as it prepares to resume play on Feb. 4. The league has been shut down since Jan. 5 because of Ontario government restrictions due to COVID-19. . . . A complete news release is right here.


It would seem that you don’t have to be a hockey fighter in order to end up with CTE. Ralph Backstrom, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 83, played 15 seasons in the NHL and four more in the WHA, totalling 490 penalty minutes in 1,336 games. He was hardly a fighter, but he still was found to have CTE.




The Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was to have met Switzerland in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, that game, which was to have been played in Zug, was postponed after Swiss D Christian Marti tested positive. Canada is to open preliminary play in Beijing against Germany on Feb. 10 at 5:10 a.m. PT.


One of the more bizarre happenings of this pandemic occurred in San Francisco on Saturday night as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets visited the Golden State Warriors. . . . Kyrie Irving of the Nets is unvaccinated and not allowed to play home games because of a New York City regulation that allows only those who are vaccinated in city facilites. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also has such a mandate, however it made an exception for visiting NBAers. That meant that on Saturday night every person in the Chase Center was vaccinated . . . except for one.

Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If anyone can find a plausible explanation for this exemption, please come forward. It’s reckless and irresponsible, although not terribly surprising in light of so many people, companies, counties and government agencies mistakenly letting their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The local health order states that visiting players ‘are, by definition, present in the venue only occasionally,’ but how does that make sense? You might ‘only occasionally’ stray from your personal safe zone in these difficult times, but that’s when you put yourself most at risk.”



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Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


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WHL’s B.C. teams closer to playing . . . Oilers new goalie had myocarditis . . . Junior A league cancels season

Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told media on Monday afternoon that the WHL2WHL’s return-to-play protocol for its five B.C. Division teams has been approved. Richard Zussman of Global BC tweeted that Dix said he “expects the season to go ahead. Says there are some health authority issues still being worked out, but the season will be played.” . . . Postmedia’s Steve Ewen reported: “Through the negotiations, there had been some suggestion from the health authority about a one-city hub. There’s been talk as well through the process of a 24-game season spread over six weeks. WHL officials weren’t sure Monday what exactly had been approved.” . . . Ron Toigo, the Vancouver Giants’ majority owner, told Ewen: “We’re definitely going in the right direction.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here. . . .

Wondering why the WHL apparently has received clearance to play, while the BCHL continues to wait? It might have to do with the WHL hubs in Kamloops and Kelowna both being in the Interior Health Authority, while the BCHL wants to play in five hubs which means it will be dealing with more than one health authority. . . . Also, WHL teams are to stay in hotels; the BCHL plan apparently calls for the use of billets. . . .

The WHL reported on Friday that it hadn’t received any positives from 481 tests done on its five Alberta teams. The schedule involving those teams began on Friday. The five Saskatchewan-based teams and two from Manitoba have gathered in Regina and will begin play on March 12. The five U.S. Divisions are scheduled to start up on March 18. . . .

B.C. health officials don’t report COVID-19 numbers during weekends — it is the only jurisdiction in Canada that chooses not to — and on Monday it was announced that the province experienced 1,478 news cases over the previous three days. Eight weekend deaths brought B.C.’s total to 1,363.



Selfish


The Edmonton Oilers claimed G Alex Stalock on waivers from the Minnesota Wild on Monday, despite the fact that he hasn’t played all season. Stalock was diagnosed with COVID-19 in November, then was listed by the Wild as being out with an upper-body injury. . . . Stalock told Michael Russo of The Athletic that he was found to have myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle that can come along with COVID-19. Upon being diagnosed, he was told to rest for six weeks. . . . Here’s what he told Russo: “Those first couple weeks were scary. You go on the internet and read stuff and you’re like, ‘Holy shit.’ I was completely asymptomatic, but they think because I had no symptoms and had it in my system that because it was right at the time where we were ramping things up with skating and working out and ramping up for the season that my heart was working and working and working and started to get stressed and swell because of the virus in my system.” . . . Stalock also said: “It was mentally draining and very frustrating. Every doctor you talk to, they’re like, ‘This is so new, we don’t know what can happen.’ And you’re like, ‘Well, that doesn’t help.’ “


The seven-team junior A Superior International Junior Hockey League’s board of governors announced on Monday that it has “discontinued its effort to resume play in 2020-21 . . . effective immediately.” . . . From a news release:

“Throughout the entire return-to-play process, the league has never sought exemptions from public health guidelines and recommendations. The stark reality is that the Thunder Bay District and Northwestern region is currently amongst the hardest hit in the province — perhaps even the country — with virus activity and trending in the wrong direction.

“The SIJHL is confident that its strict safety protocols mitigated risk and ensured the league has not contributed to the spread of the virus, it is simply no longer reasonable to hold out hopes that the region will revert to an environment that permits return to play in time to resume any sort of meaningful competition this season.”


Speed


In the world of NCAA men’s hockey, a series between visiting Denver U and Colorado College that was to have been played Thursday and Saturday has been cancelled. Why? Positive tests, contact tracing and quarantining in the Colorado College program. The NCHC playoffs are scheduled for March 12-16 in Grand Forks. The cancellations meant teams haven’t played the same number of games, so playoff seedings were determined by points percentage. Colorado College’s status — it is the No. 7 seed — will be monitored over the next few days.


The Toronto Raptors and Detroit Pistons were to have played an NBA game in Tampa tonight, but it was postponed and now it’s hoped that they will be available to play on Wednesday night. According to the NBA, the move was made because of “positive test results and ongoing contact tracing within the Raptors organization.” . . . A game between the Raptors and Chicago Bulls that was to have been played Sunday also was postponed, and Toronto played without F Pascal Siakam, head coach Nick Nurse and five members of his staff on Friday,


Tim McCarver, a former MLB catcher, opted out of his job as an analyst on Fox Sports Midwest’s telecasts of St. Louis Cardinals games last season. McCarver, 79, likely won’t be taking part in telecasts again this season. “Everything is fine with me, I’m very healthy — and plan on keeping it that way,” McCarver told Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I just have to use common sense.”


James Bradshaw, The Globe and Mail — CIBC has pushed back its return-to-office plans again, telling employees currently working remotely that most of them shouldn’t expect to come back until the end of June, at the earliest.


The AJHL will resume its season on March 12 with its 13 remaining teams playing in five cohorts. The Canmore Eagles and Lloydminster Bobcats have opted out. . . . Teams will play on weekends through April 14, without fans, then pause, change groups and start up again. . . . The first round of COVID-19 testing didn’t return any positives from 367 players and staff.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


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