Scattershooting on a Monday night after KIJHL rocked by Creston Valley hazing incident . . .

Scattershooting2

While Hockey Canada was busy trying to determine whether the mess it finds itself in has been swept far enough under the carpet so as to cut down the glare, CrestonValleythe Kootenay International Junior Hockey League was dealing with a hazing incident.

What’s that? You thought hazing was a thing of the past.

Well, think again.

Following a quick investigation, the KIJHL, a junior B league with 19 teams in the Interior of B.C. and one inactive franchise in Spokane, dropped the hammer on the Creston Valley Thunder Cats.

In a news release, the league said it learned of the incident on Sept. 13 and “immediately suspended team activities, including the cancellation of the team’s exhibition game” on Sept. 14. Creston Valley was to have played host to the Fernie Ghostriders that night.

On Sept. 15, the league sent staff into Creston to “conduct interviews with . . . players and coaches.”

“Throughout this process,” the league said, it “has consulted with its Safe Sport partner, ITP Sport, and with BC Hockey.”

On Monday, the league announced that the Thunder Cats have been fined an undisclosed amount and been “placed on probation for a period of two years.”

“During this time,” the news release continued, “the Thunder Cats must take proactive steps to ensure a positive team culture free from abuse, bullying and harassment. Any occurrence of a similar incident will result in further sanctions.”

Furthermore, members of the Thunder Cats “will be required to complete training designed to identify and eliminate instances of abuse, bullying and harassment.”

The KIJHL also suspended two members of the team’s leadership group — captain Clayton Brown, a 20-year-old defenceman from Beaverlodge, Alta., will sit out 12 games and alternate captain Campbell McLean, who will turn 20 on Nov. 4, is to miss six games, both “for violations of the league’s individual conduct policy.” McLean, a forward, is from Whitecourt, Alta.

“The KIJHL is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our athletes, volunteers, staff and fans,” Jeff Dubois, the KIJHL’s commissioner, said in the news release. “What occurred in Creston was unacceptable, and the discipline imposed against the Thunder Cats’ organization and members of the team reflect our zero-tolerance approach to these types of incidents.

“Our investigation made clear that we have considerable work to do in order to educate our players on the standard of behaviour and leadership expected of them in a team environment. We take this responsibility seriously, and we are taking immediate steps to address this issue.”

The news release concluded with the one sentence that has become standard when leagues are dealing with these kinds of issues:

“The KIJHL will not comment further on this matter.”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Hockey Canada seems to be carrying on as if nothing is wrong and all is well. Somebody from the government, somebody with some kind of power, somebody with sponsorship clout needs to unseat the board of directors and replace the senior executives without much delay. Otherwise, it will just be same old, same old.”


Inn


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Texas A&M, Notre Dame and Nebraska — college football bluebloods — got taken down in Week 2 by supposed cannon fodder Appalachian State, Marshall and Georgia Southern. Even worse, they each had to cough up $1 million-plus in appearance fees to the teams that beat them. Well, as mom always used to say, ‘Don’t play with your food!’ ”

——

Perry, again: “Nebraska has fired its last four football coaches — Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini, Mike Riley and Scott Frost — and paid them a combined $32 million in buyouts, all within a year of awarding them contract extensions. In other words, Groundhog Day I, II, III and IV.”



Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Local consultant not sure what he does, either.

——

Headline at TheOnion.com — Referees call for replay to admire great call.


THINKING OUT LOUD — ICYMI, Arizona State fired head football coach Herm Edwards on Sunday. Yes, he’s the former NFL coach. The Sun Devils are 1-2 this season and the program is under NCAA investigation. ASU could be on the hook for a payout of more than $9 million, though, because Edwards was signed through 2024. That’s still less than the $15 million that Nebraska will be coughing up after dumping head coach Scott Frost after just two games. . . . There are a lot of great stories in this young NFL season, but none will bear watching more than the San Francisco 49ers. I have never really understood how it was that QB Jimmy Garoppolo fell out of favour there, but they weren’t able to move him. Of course, now he’s the starter after Trey Lance broke his right ankle on Sunday and had season-ending surgery on Monday. . . . BTW, Garoppolo pocketed more than $750,000 on Sunday, including a $382,000 game cheque. Grant Marek of sfgate.com has more on Garoppolo’s contract situation right here, and it’s an interesting read. . . . You may have noticed that the New York Mets, Yankees, Jets and Giants all won on Sunday. That’s the first time that has happened since Sept. 27, 2009. So all was well with the Big Apple as another week began.


Ignorance


Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Congratulations to Scottie Pippen for being the latest big sports star to lend his name and fame to the LIV Golf circuit. Pippen filmed a heartfelt commercial welcoming the LIV tour to Chicago. Maybe he figures we’ll all stop calling him basketball’s greatest sidekick, and start calling him the murderin’ Saudis’ goofiest pawn.”

——

Here’s Ostler again, this time with a great idea: “If MLB hitters have walk-up songs, they should also be required to have slink-back songs for when they strike out, songs to be chosen by the opposing team’s pitching staff. Some possibles: ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes,’ ‘I’m Missing You,’ ‘Heat of the Moment,’ ‘Walk Away, Renee,’ and ‘Blue Bayou’ (blew by you).”



Asked how he felt rookie RB Jaylen Warren fared in his first NFL game, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin replied: “He didn’t urinate down his leg, man — that’s a great place to begin.”


Blinker


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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Iron

How to get fans back into WHL arenas? The Insider offers up some suggestions . . .

The good news for the WHL is that there have been some great crowds of late. The Spokane Chiefs had their largest crowd (7,918) since before the pandemic on Saturday night for a visit by the Tri-City Americans. The Moose Jaw Warriors drew a season-high 4,895 that same night with the Regina Pats in town.

But there is a long way to go before things get back to where they once were.

Granted, we are in the middle of a pandemic and teams have had to deal with WHLmandates and restrictions. But this season, using figures compiled by the WHL, its 22 teams have combined to play 642 games through Sunday with an announced average attendance of 3,080 — that’s actually up 34 fans per game in nine days. Hey, baby steps . . .

In 2018-19, the last time the WHL was able to play a complete season, teams played 748 games with the announced average at 4,361.

But the warning signs were there before this season.

In 2019-20, teams got in 694 games before the pandemic brought the season to a close. The announced average for those games was 4,154, which was down 207 from the previous season. Eighteen teams  experienced a decrease in attendance from 2018-19, with only the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Prince Albert Raiders showing an increase.

Last season, a number of teams received government funding due to the pandemic, with six teams in Saskatchewan counting $600,000 apiece among their revenues. The Prince Albert Raiders, for example, received $1,081,179 in government grants and were able to announce a profit of $25,891.

Richard Doerken, the WHL’s vice-president, hockey, told Hartley Miller on his Cat Scan podcast earlier this year that none of the teams has received any government money this season.

We can only imagine how much some of the other teams bled last season and how large the puddle on the floor is this season.

Recently, I asked fans why they no longer attend WHL games, or perhaps are going to fewer games than they once did. A number of Portland fans referenced the hassle of getting into Winterhawks games. The above video, which was posted on Twitter on Sunday evening by Chad Balcom, a regular at Portland games, is an example of to what they were referring.

And it is that kind of thing that WHL teams have to deal with as they work to get fans to return to their games.

They also have to deal with the lifting of so many things pandemic-related that now some of those fans who choose to continue to wear masks are concerned about being around the unmasked and even anti-vaxxers. Back in the day one of the biggest beefs likely had to do with the in-game music. Too loud? Not loud enough?

But as things continue to inch towards some semblance of whatever normal is going to be, we wonder what WHL teams should be looking at in their attempts to get fans back into their buildings.

One person who has been on the front lines in the WHL and maintains a love for the league contacted me and offered up some suggestions. The Insider has been deep inside a team’s front office — on the business and marketing side — so has a feel for what is happening there. As well, The Insider remains in the game; he now is in the front office of a pro team.

In writing to me, the approach was: “I thought I would focus on the ‘what to do about it.’ ”

With that, The Insider approached the situation from three angles — teams needing to show patience, teams needing to take a long, hard look at the fan experience, and teams needing to look at the overall cost of attending games.

“First,” The Insider wrote, “it is going to take time for fans, particularly casual fans, to get back into their pre-pandemic habits, so understand that the further the pandemic and mandates recede into memory (let’s hope there’s not another variant around the corner) the more likely fans are to return . . . Teams should understand that it isn’t going to correct itself overnight so set some realistic timeframes for attendance growth.”

When you think about it, as we go through life a lot of what we do is dictated by habits. There is a reason why your favourite TV show is on at the same time every week. Marketers want to create a habit. Once they are able to do that, they know that should you ever break that habit you may never come back. That is what WHL teams are up against now.

“Second,” The Insider wrote, “teams need to raise their game when it comes to the fan experience, not only in-venue but also with their streaming video production . . . Give kids in particular plenty to do on the concourse, offer fun experiences like Fanboni rides and puck shoots, let them meet the players after games, etc. . . . As for the video production, bad lighting, poor camera work, lousy graphics and unstable streaming platforms aren’t going to help any team/league monetize their video content, and in-home viewing continues to grow and grow.”

One season-ticket holder who emailed me on Sunday seemed to echo The Insider, writing about his favourite team: “It’s also the same thing every season. Same promotions. Same giveaways (first 500 or 1,000 people). Same first- and second-period intermissions. They really need to jazz it up and make changes.”

“And third,” The Insider wrote, “teams and the league need to re-examine their pricing structure/value proposition to bring in new fans to the sport, particularly younger families . . . As gas prices and other ‘basics’ increase in price, junior hockey needs to price the game-night experience (tickets, parking, food, etc.) so that a family can attend a game at a reasonable investment. Otherwise they’ll stay at home and stream Disney+ for the evening . . . cheaper and less hassle.”

From where I sit, WHL teams have to learn to put a whole lot of attention on game operations and presentation. They need to get to a place where even if the home team gets blown out the fans go home feeling that they still received good entertainment value and that not only would they return, but that they would spread the word.

“I don’t know that enough WHL teams are thinking that way,” The Insider wrote. “And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do it.”

In closing, The Insider added:

“It takes creativity. Thinking outside the box. Looking at other sports like minor league baseball and events like music festivals. The sport itself is a great product, but these days fans want more if they are going to pay the prices and fight the traffic and deal with the hassles at the doors. Otherwise you’re right . . . fans will watch from home whether it’s WHL or NHL or Schitt’s Creek or whatever.”

And if the fans are going to stay home, some teams are going to be up the creek without the proverbial paddle. If they aren’t already, that is.

Monday’s With Murray: You Can Teach an Old Horse New Tricks

JimMurray 

  Twenty-two years ago today, the world awakened to the news of Jim Murray’s passing shortly after 11 o’clock the previous night — Aug. 16, 1998. He died of cardiac arrest at his West L.A. home after returning from Del Mar where he had covered the Pacific Classic. He wrote his final column on a horse named Free House ridden by jockey Chris McCarron.

   From the first column to the last column, Jim kept his readers entertained for 37 wonderful years at the Los Angeles Times and before that at the L.A. Examiner, Sports Illustrated, Time Magazine and more. He brought humor to an otherwise statistics heavy section of the paper. He gave us a glimpse into the people (and sometimes animals) who played the sports we loved to watch.

——

Jim aspired to be Eugene O’ Neill. Hemingway, even Tolstoi. But Harry Luce, the publishing giant of Time and Life magazines, the blockbuster journals of their time, made Jim a sportswriter.

To quote Jim. “Harry knew everything there was to know about world politics, the domestic economy, Hollywood, Foggy Bottom, Whitehall and Park Avenue. But he didn’t know any more about sports than Mother Teresa.”

Harry traveled the world over, dinner conversation would invariably switch to sports. Demanding to know why, he was told, “. . . sports, like music, is a universal language. Everyone speaks it.” With that, Harry Luce retorted, “Well, then why don’t we have a sports magazine?”

On that chance remark, Sports Illustrated was born. Jim was a Time magazine cinema correspondent in Hollywood at the time.

Jim got to be a sports writer in his journalistic dotage “which is just the right time for it,” he said.

– Linda Murray Hofmans

——

Some classic Jim Murray quotes:

The Bears aren’t very genteel; some teams tend to remove the football from you, the Bears remove you from the football — it’s much quicker.

For those who know golf, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, no explanation is possible.

(Seattle) Slew was a compassionate horse. He never beat anybody more than he had to. He was like a poker player who lets you keep your watch and carfare home.

A racetrack crowd comprises the greatest floating fund of misinformation this side of the pages of Pravda, the last virgin stand of optimism in our century.

Pete Rose played the game for 24 years with the little boy’s zeal and wonder until, if you closed your eyes, you could picture him with his cap on 

sideways, knickers falling down to his ankles and dragging a taped ball and busted bat behind him, looking for all the world like something that fell off Norman Rockwell’s easel.

Seeing a goal scored in hockey is like picking your mother out of a crowd shot at the Super Bowl.

——
What follows is Jim Murray’s final column, the one he wrote after covering the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. . . . ENJOY!

——

SUNDAY, AUGUST 16, 1998, SPORTS

Copyright 1998/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

You Can Teach an Old Horse New Tricks

   DEL MAR — Well, it was a slam dunk for Free House, a “Where is everybody?” win.

   The Bridesmaid finally caught the bouquet. The best friend got the girl in the Warner Bros. movie for a change. The sidekick saves the fort.

   Free House just won’t fold the hand. Three times last year, in the most publicized races mondaysmurray2in the sport, he chased his competition across the finish line in the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont. In the money in all of them, in the photo in one of them, he was the hard-luck champion of horse racing.

   He was expected to go quietly into the sunset. A game effort but no cigar.

   He got a measure of revenge Saturday in the Pacific Classic here. He ran away from Touch Gold, who beat him in the Belmont. The horse who beat him in all three Triple Crown races, Silver Charm, didn’t make the dance or he might have gotten a different view of Free House, too.

   The Pacific Classic is not your Run for the Roses. No bands play Stephen Foster as the horses come on the track. But it’s not your basic overnight allowance, either. It’s a $1-million race, major on the schedule. It’s a very big win for Free House. He’s not What’s-His-Name anymore. He’s Who’s Who.

   You know, in most sports, the athlete gets a generation to prove himself. A Jack Nicklaus wins his first major at 22 and his last at 46. A George Foreman wins Olympic boxing gold in 1968, and 30 years later he’s still fighting. Babe Ruth hits his first home run in 1915 and his last in 1935.

   But a racehorse has to act like he’s double-parked. He gets only months to prove he has been here.

   And if his prime coincides with that of Man O’War, Citation, Secretariat or even Count Fleet, he might as well have been born a plow horse.

   What did Free House do that turned him into a star? Well, he got older.

   You know, it’s the public’s notion that the racing begins and ends with the Kentucky Derby and its Triple Crown satellites. Everything else is New Haven.

   Trainers know better. Every real horseman knows a colt’s (or a filly’s) 3-year-old season is not indicative of real prowess. I mean, a Kentucky Derby is not only too early in the career, it’s too early in the year.

   It has been won by a lot of horses who are just better than claiming horses. It has been lost by a lot of horses who were too good to have that fate. Native Dancer comes to mind. Gallant Man. Damascus. Bold Ruler.

   Of course, a horse doesn’t know whether he won the Kentucky Derby or not. But his owner does. His rider does. History does.

   But trainers as a class manage to hold back their enthusiasm. There’s even evidence a trainer resents a Triple Crown race.

   That’s where a Pacific Classic comes in. It’s a trainer’s race. A real test of his skill in bringing a horse up to a race. The real business of racing.

   A Kentucky Derby can be a crapshoot. Not a Pacific Classic. You win a Pacific Classic because you’re at the top of your game, not because eight other horses were still wet behind the ears. Many a Derby has been blown by an immature runner jumping shadows, spitting bits, lugging out, horsing around.

   Not a Pacific Classic. Here, the horses are all grown up, professional. These are the true class of the sport, older horses. Dependable, crafty. Consistent. They don’t beat themselves.

   There probably has never been a good older horse who couldn’t beat a good 3-year-old. It’s so taken for granted, they have to give the kids weight. Handicap horses used to be the glamour stars of the track anyway. They made a movie about Seabiscuit, who never ran in the Triple Crown and never got good till he got middle-aged. They wrote poems about John Henry, who never did either, even though he ran in 83 other races. They used to Equipoise “The Chocolate Soldier.” Exterminator, called “Old Bones,” ran 100 races.

   They were the heart and soul of racing.

   Free House bid fair to join them Saturday. He won so easily, jockey Chris McCarron should have brought a book. He rode him like the Wilshire bus. “You could have ridden him today!” he called out to Free House’s co-owner Trudy McCaffery.

   McCarron rode such a confident race, he remembers thinking, “If I were a cocky individual, I would have turned to the other riders and said ‘Shame on you!’ ”

   Added McCarron, “This horse is so generous with his speed, I knew if he ran the way he trained, these guys were beat.”

   He has one holdover from his misspent youth: He tends to kick out sideways and decelerate in the stretch, almost start to tap-dance. “He gets to wondering where everybody went and to want to slow down and wait for them,” McCarron explained. McCarron hustled him across the finish line four lengths ahead of second-place Gentlemen on Saturday and about 16 lengths ahead of Touch Gold.

   Ironically, McCarron rode Touch Gold to victory in the Belmont. 

   So, is he glad the order was reversed Saturday? Is yesterday’s jinx horse today’s king of the handicap division?

   “Arguably,” said McCarron, “a case could be made.”

   Anyway, it’s nice to know getting older has its flip side.

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation P.O. Box 661532, Arcadia, CA 91066

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info@jimmurrayfoundation.org|

www.jimmurrayfoundation.org

‘Just why are we doing this?’ . . . ‘If we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.’



The MLS is Back tournament in Orlando, Fla., continues to stagger along, having lost two teams because of players testing positive, and having to postpone a Sunday morning game for the same reason.

Major League Baseball teams are trying to hold something resembling training camps between positive tests and teams having to cancel workouts for reasons that include delays in receiving results.

The NBA has its teams in bubbles in Orlando, practising and preparing to restart their season. There have been positive tests — CBS Sports has reported “dozens” of them — since late June when players returned to practice facilities.

The NHL has teams opening training camps today (Monday) and later will head for the two bubble cities — Edmonton and Toronto — in hopes of resuming their season. In its last weekly report, the NHL said 35 players have tested positive in the past month, with 23 of those coming since workouts began at team facilities on June 8.

The NHL has placed a gag order on its teams, with the league office taking over the reporting of player absences. The NHL won’t provide illness or injury specifics.

On Sunday, Arpon Basu of The Athletic reported that at least three players with the Montreal Canadiens have tested positive “in recent days.” Neither the NHL nor the Canadiens would comment.

As of Sunday evening, seven players had opted out of returning to play — D Karl Alzner, Montreal; F Sven Baertschi, Vancouver; D Mike Green, Edmonton; D Travis Hamonic, Calgary; D Steven Kampfer, Boston; D Roman Polak, Dallas; and D Zach Trotman, Pittsburgh. I believe all of them made the decision to put their health and that of their families ahead of playing in what is truly a bogus season.

(I admit to having stole ‘bogus season’ from Ann Killion, a columnist with the San Francisco Chronicle.

(After C Buster Posey of the Giants opted not to play in this MLB season, Killion wrote: “Every single one of the roughly 2,500 or so individuals being asked to participate in a bogus, truncated baseball season have their own personal decisions to make.”)

The deadline for NHL players to opt out without penalty is today (Monday) at 5 p.m. ET.

The Canadiens have given F Max Domi an extra seven to 10 days to make a decision on reporting to camp. Domi has Type 1 diabetes and celiac disease.

Keeping the previous paragraphs in mind, I have to ask: Am I the only person wondering what is going here?

Have we as a society gotten to the point where we sit idly by, in some instances applauding and cheering, as billionaire owners march their athletes like so much chattel into what they all seem to be calling a return to play but in which there are so many unknowns?

How is it that we are in a place where a young man like Domi has to make this kind of decision?

With the U.S. government calling for a return to school next month, Canyons School District in Utah is making plans to re-open. Part of its return-to-school protocol includes this, after it touches on things like exposure letter and distance learning plan information:

“Template letter for the death of a student, teacher.”

It’s enough to make one wonder if various leagues and teams have such a thing in their return-to-play protocols.


Bee


In a brilliant piece in The New York Times, John Branch writes:

“On Wednesday, the day that the Ivy League canceled fall sports, nearly 60,000 new cases were reported in the United States, a new high.

“Some of those were college athletes. Through Wednesday, at least 426  had tested positive for the coronavirus among roughly 50 Division I programs, but the number of cases is likely much higher. About half of American universities either did not respond to requests for testing results from The New York Times, or declined to provide numbers, under the auspices of protecting the privacy of student-athletes.

“Ohio State, in suspending its off-season workout programs this week, did not reveal how many students tested positive. It only said that the shutdown impacted seven sports, including football.

“Such news accelerates as the fall sports calendar approaches. And if reasonable people at some of the world’s great universities had not seriously pondered this question before, they are now:

“Just why are we doing this?”

Branch’s piece is right here.


Look, I’m sorry, but COVID-19 is here and it isn’t going anywhere, at least not for the foreseeable future. I want to see live sporting events on my TV set with fans hooting and hollering in the background. I want to see a  return to some kind of normalcy just as badly as anyone, but I have come to realize that in the months ahead we are going to have to get used to a new normal, whatever that might be.

As Dr. Jeff Duchin, the health officer for Public Health in Seattle and King County, told a news conference on Friday:

“It’s just critical that, as a community, we understand the long-term nature of COVID-19. None of us asked for this, none of us wanted this. But it’s with us and we have to deal with it. And if we don’t deal with it, it will deal with us.”


Kevan Smith, a catcher in camp with the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg, Fla., spent the early part of summer working out at home in Pittsburgh.

It seems that he has found Florida to be a bit different.

“Felt like you couldn’t even walk outside without a mask on (at home),” Smith told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “I feel like here you go out with a mask, we have guys getting called names and all the above. Just a totally different feel.

“I heard a story, one of the (guys), I don’t know if I can use this word, he was in a store shopping for food and I guess it was a resident called the player a pansy for wearing his mask.

“I went out briefly to just pick up some takeout food, and I swear I got like a dozen eyeballs on me, looking at me like I’m like the weirdo walking in with a mask. Little do they know what is at stake for my life and for my livelihood. It’s just very immature and just whatever you want to call it. It’s comical. It’s going on all over the world, but we’re seeing it firsthand here.”


Early last week, 2B Scott Kingery of the Philadelphia Phillies, who is back on the field after being out with COVID-19, told Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia: The virus “can creep up on you and get you pretty bad like it did with me.

Kingery now is symptom-free, but he continues to deal with shortness of breath, a month after being diagnosed. . . .

On Saturday, the New York Yankees revealed that Aroldis Chapman, one of MLB’s best relievers, had tested positive. He has some symptoms and is out indefinitely. . . .

Kenley Jansen, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ closer, was late reporting to their camp because he had tested positive. He said he is “doing great and better now.” He told reporters that he had family members who also tested positive, but they have recovered. . . .

C Cam Gallagher of the Kansas City Royals played in an intrasquad game on Friday and tested positive on Saturday. The Royals now have had at least four players test positive. . . .

P Luis Perdomo and SS Luis Urias of the Milwaukee Brewers have tested positive, but are asymptomatic. The Brewers also are without P Eric Lauer, who didn’t get to camp until Friday. He hasn’t tested positive, but was in contact with someone who did.


TV


Jockey Flavien Prat tested positive after riding in Kentucky on Saturday. He was tested in La Jolla, Calif., on Sunday. He had eight rides at Del Mar on Sunday, but had to give them up. . . . Victor Espinoza, a jockey who is in horse racing’s hall of fame, tested positive in La Jolla on Friday. . . . Two other prominent jockeys — Martin Garcia and Luis Saez — also have tested positive.



From Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times . . .

What a difference four months makes:

March 9: Jazz center Rudy Gobert mockingly touches every microphone at a news conference, contracts COVID-19 and shuts down the NBA season.

July 9: 76ers center Joel Embiid, headed to the Disney World bubble for the season restart, shows up in a hazmat suit.


In my world, Tony Kubek is perhaps the most under-rated analyst in MLB broadcast history. How I used to look forward to Saturday afternoons with Kubek and Curt Gowdy . . .


Headline at fark.com: MLB releases 60-day COVID-19 spreading schedule.


Hartley Miller attacks Redundant Rhetoric in his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack blog entry that is right here. Oh my, there are a lot of pet peeves in here, starting with this point about game times: “How about this traditional one-liner — And tonight’s game will start at 7 ‘PM.’ Thanks for the notice; I would have waited until seven the next morning to watch ‘tonight’s’ game.”


An NFL prediction from Tim Hunter of KRKO Radio: “Patrick Mahomes has signed a contract with the Kansas City Chiefs that will definitely last longer than the team’s name.”

On that subject, the Washington NFL team reportedly will announce today that it is changing its nickname. But it won’t yet announce that nickname as it proceeds through the legalities of a change.



Greg Cote, in the Miami Herald: “Cubs pitcher Jose Quintana lacerated a thumb while washing dishes. Jose, you make big-league money. Look into this really neat invention. It’s called a dishwasher!”


Chimes

WHL’s governors next scheduled to discuss things on Tuesday . . . CJHL’s 10 leagues end seasons . . . Four more IIHF cancellations . . . and on it goes!

chart


The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to talk on Tuesday, presumably to discuss 2020MCwhere things are with the suspension of play that was put in place on Thursday in reaction to the COVID-19 virus and also to take a look ahead. . . . “The plan is to pause, not cancel, not do anything other than that and see if the wave slows down a little bit for everybody,” Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board of governors and owner of the Kelowna Rockets, told David Trifunov of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “If we end up with a number of players with it, then it’s a bigger concern. We’ve got a couple of weeks to play with here, because we’ve got two weeks left in our season, really, and then we can make plans from there.” . . . At the same time, preparations are continuing for the Memorial Cup, which is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. Hamilton told the Vancouver Province on Thursday that organizers are checking to see if Prospera Place, the home of the Rockets, might be available in June should the schedule need to be adjusted.


The Canadian Junior Hockey League, the umbrella organization under which 10 junior A leagues operate, made it official on Friday, cancelling the 2019-20 season. “All hockey-related activities, including respective league playoffs, the CJHL’s four regional championship events (Fred Page Cup, Dudley-Hewitt Cup, ANAVET Cup, Doyle Cup) and the Centennial Cup national junior A championship won’t be held. . . . The national final was to have been held in Portage la Prairie, Man.


Scott Wheeler of The Athletic put together a comprehensive look at various junior hockey leagues, what went into the decision to suspend operations, the impact all of his might have, and some ideas on what the future might hold. USHL president Tom Garrity, OJHL commissioner Marty Savoie and CJHL president Brett Ladds all were co-operative and open in their answers. . . . When it came to major junior hockey, though, Wheeler got this: “The statement the league issued this afternoon is our only position and comment at this time.” . . . That story, which is quite insightful, is right here.


John Forslund, the TV play-by-play voice of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes, is self-quarantined in his home. Why? Because he ended up staying in the same Detroit hotel room as Rudy Robert of the NBA’s Utah Jazz. Gobert was the first NBA player to test positive for the coronavirus. . . . The Hurricanes moved into the Detroit Westin Book Cadillac on Sunday, one day after the Jazz left. . . . Luke Decock of the Raleigh News & Observer reported that Forslund has moved into the basement of his home and his wife Natalie “is leaving his meals at the basement door.” . . . “It’s different. It’s a long time,” Forslund told Decock. “Today it doesn’t seem like much. As the days march on here, you’re just hoping nothing happens. That’s different. Every time I sneeze or I cough, you wonder, ‘Where’s this going?’ ”


The International Ice Hockey Federation cancelled four more men’s championships on IIHFFriday — the Division II, Group A event that was to have been held in Zagreg, Croatia; the Division II, Group B event in Reykjavik, Iceland; the Division III, Group A tournament in Kockelscheuer, Luxembourg; and the Division III, Group B event in Cape Town, South Afrida. . . . The first three were to have run from April 19-25, with the one in Cape Town going from April 20-23. . . .

Still on the calendar: Division 1, Group B, Katowice, Poland, April 27 through May 3; Division 1, Group A, Ljubljana, Slovenia, April 27 through May 3; and the big one, the World championship, in Zurich and Lausanne, Switzerland, May 8-24. . . . The IIHF Council is to hold a conference call on Tuesday during which the status of these tournaments will be the main topic of conversation.


The 15-team Finish Ice Hockey League, perhaps better known as the SM-liiga), cancelled the remainder of its season on Friday and announced that it won’t name a champion. It is Finland’s top pro league. . . . The final round of the regular season was to have started today (Saturday) without fans in the arenas. . . . How quickly things change. The regular season was proceeding nicely on Tuesday, with fans in the arenas. On Thursday night, games were played without fans. On Friday, it all came to and end.


What is some of the impact of shutting down March Madness? Here’s a few notes from Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports:

Nevada sportsbooks took $498.7 million in wagers on college basketball and the NBA combined in March 2019 and won $36.5 million. An estimated 70 percent of that handle ($349 million ) was wagered on last year’s NCAA Tournament. . . .

For perspective, Nevada sportsbooks took a combined $154.7 million on last month’s Super Bowl — one of the biggest gambling events of the year — and won $18.8 million. . . .

Sportsbooks will have to refund any futures bets made since the conclusion of last year’s championship game when 2020 futures were posted. . . .

85 percent of the NCAA’s annual operating budget comes via revenue from the NCAA Tournament.

——

“The good news for you and me, though,” Blackburn points out, “is that we’ll probably have a few extra bucks in our pockets this March without the opportunity to lose bets or brackets. That just means more toilet paper we can afford to stock up on, I guess.”



The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials have signed Derek Sweet-Coulter, their general manager and head coach, through the 2020-21 season. Sweet-Coulter took over from Barry Wolff after the team opened this season by going 2-9.

Scattershooting while wondering what happened to the Astros . . . Sports Curmudgeon is unique . . . President Pateman answers questions

Scattershooting

After the New York Giants were drubbed by the visiting Philadelphia Eagles last weekend to fall to 1-5, the New York Post headline: From Bad To Hearse.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with a most valid point:

“Pardon me, but I need to vent here.  We are only about a third of the way through the football season and I have reached my limit on something that TV announcers say far too often.  There is no such thing as a ‘very unique’ offense or defense; in fact, nothing in the universe is ‘very unique.’ Everything and anything are either ‘unique,’ or they are ‘not unique.’ There are no gradations there.”

He finishes up with this:

“Memo to TV announcers —  Please replace ‘very unique’ in your vocabulary with something that makes sense such as ‘highly unusual’ or ‘very different.’ ”

——

Also . . . please look up the definition of “howitzer” before using it to describe a slapshot from the blue line or a high fastball. . . . Oh, and hockey players don’t play “years.” They play seasons. There is a difference.



So . . . what happens to the WHL’s divisional alignment should the Kootenay Ice be the Winnipeg Ice before another season arrives? Obviously, the Ice would have to play in the East Division. That being the case, one would think that the Swift Current Broncos would then shift into the Central Division. That would keep six teams in each of the divisions.


Col1


Headline at TheOnion.com: Manny Machado Denies Playing Dirty After Late Slide into Pitcher’s Mound

——

Headline at Fark.com: Manny Machado called up to the bush leagues.


Yes, MLB has a pace-of-play problem. If you don’t believe it, consider this note that Taking Note received from a Victoria-based reader late Wednesday:

“If anyone wonders why baseball’s TV ratings have declined, here’s what I was able to do tonight:

Watch the first hour of the Red Sox—Astros.

Drive downtown, watch a hockey game, drive home.

Watch the last half hour of the baseball game.

Four hours 40 minutes for nine innings is inexcusable.”

He’s right!

——

Col2


Lee Merkel, a fan of the Buffalo Bills, died recently at the age of 83. His obit in the Utica, N.C., Observer Dispatch included: “Lee has requested six Bufffalo Bills players as pallbearers so they can let him down one last time.”


Gerry James, a former head coach of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, played for the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. He was a tremendous athlete, whose nickname was Kid Dynamite. His son is having some health issues and a GoFundMe page has been set up to help the James family with travel-related costs. . . . You will find that page right here.


Just wondering: Is the United States of America the first country in the world to be governed via Twitter?


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he was pointless in one game with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga). He was released from a tryout contract by Sport on Sept. 26.


ThisThat

John Pateman, one of the Prince George Cougars’ six co-owners, is the franchise’s president and has been for almost a year now. He recently sat down with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat, the analyst on home game broadcasts, and talked all things Cougars for last week’s Cat Scan podcast. . . . If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to own a WHL team, give this a listen. . . . At one point, Pateman offered: “When we got into this, we would hope to not lose money. We managed to lose quite a bit and we’ll lose quite a bit this year. Until we can have a bit of a playoff run, I think we will continue to lose money. . . . we would obviously like to break even but I think we have to hit the second round of the playoffs to do that.” . . . Asked by Miller if the six owners are in it for the long run, Pateman chuckled and replied: “I don’t think we have a choice . . . we’re in. It is what it is.” . . . The podcast runs almost 36 minutes and it’s all right here.


You may recall the schmozzle that arose in January after the final game of the World Junior Championship when three Swedish coaches — Tomas Monten, Nizze Landen and Henrik Stridh — removed their silver medals immediately after receiving them and chose not to wear them for the rest of the post-game ceremony. Shortly thereafter, Monten was hit with a three-game suspension, with Landen and Stridh drawing two-game bans. Those suspensions were to have been served at the beginning of the 2019 event. However, they appealed and won as the Court of Arbitration for Sport tossed out the suspensions. . . . At the same time, the suspensions to the five players who removed their medals are still in place. . . . There is more on this story right here.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

F Jackson Leppard snapped a 1-1 tie at 2:40 of the third period and the Prince George PrinceGeorgeCougars went on to beat the visiting Swift Current Broncos, 3-1. . . . The Cougars (5-5-1) have won three in a row. . . . The Broncos (1-11-0) have lost four in a row, with all losses coming on a B.C. Division tour that wraps up Tuesday in Kelowna. . . . Leppard also had two assists as he figured in all three Prince George goals. It was the third three-point night of his 116-game career. This season, he has two goals and four assists in 11 games. . . . Broncos G Joel Hofer stopped 37 shots. He has started four of the Broncos’ past five games, stopping 192 of 205 shots (.937). . . . The start of the game was delayed 45 minutes as the on-ice officials were late getting to the arena.


The Everett Silvertips scored the game’s last five goals and beat the host Regina Pats, 5-1. Everett. . . Everett (7-4-0) is 1-1-0 on its East Division trek. . . . Regina (3-9-0) has lost three in a row. . . . Everett got F Sean Richards back after he served a five-game suspension, and he scored his club’s first goal, his first of the season. . . . F Reece Vitelli (1) broke the tie at 1:06 of the second period. . . . The Silvertips were without their captain, F Connor Dewar, after he drew a four-game suspension for a cross-checking major and game misconduct in a 5-2 loss in Brandon on Friday night. He also will miss games in Prince Albert (Tuesday), Saskatoon (Wednesday) and Moose Jaw (Friday). He will be eligible to return on Saturday in Swift Current, the last game of the Everett’s East Division swing.


F Trey Fix-Wolansky scored twice and added an assist, leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to EdmontonOilKingsa 6-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice. . . . The Oil Kings (6-7-1) had lost their previous eight games (0-7-1) after opening the season with five straight victories. . . . Kootenay (3-5-3) has lost six in a row (0-3-3). . . . Fix-Wolansky, who has nine goals, broke a 1-1 tie at 17:56 of the first period, on a PP, and the Ice was left to chase the game for its remainder. He now has 23 points in 14 games. . . . F Peyton Krebs (4) got Kootenay to within a goal, at 4-3, at 13:09 of the second period, on a PP. However, Edmonton F Jake Neighbours (3) upped his club’s lead to 5-3, on a PP, at 19:46. . . . Fix-Wolansky iced it at 18:06 of the third period. . . . The Oil Kings also got two goals from F Andrei Pavlenko (4). A sophomore from Belarus, he has four goals and two assists in 14 games; last season, he finished with three goals and one assist in 20 games.


F Owen Hardy scored twice to help the Vancouver Giants to a 3-1 victory over the VancouverKelowna Rockets in Langley, B.C. . . . Vancouver (10-2-2) was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours, having gone 0-1-1 in a home-and-home with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kelowna (4-10-0) also was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It had swept two games in Victoria before travelling to Langley. . . . Hardy gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 15:26 of the first period and provided them with a 3-1 edge at 11:48 of the third period. He’s got four goals this season. . . . D Bowen Byram had two assists for the Giants. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Kelowna gave G Roman Basran his third start of the weekend. He stopped 21 shots. . . . At the other end, Trent Miner blocked 28 shots. His 1.24 GAA and .958 save percentage are the best in the WHL. . . . The Giants were without F James Malm, who suffered an undisclosed injury on Saturday night. . . . The Rockets scratched F Lane Zablocki for a second straight game after he had made his season debut on Friday.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: The Memorial Cup, a flawed playoff format and more

Scattershooting

The tears hadn’t yet dried in Regina on Monday night when the bleating began on social media, with some fans crying for a change in the format of the four-team Memorial Cup tournament.

The Pats, the host team for this year’s tournament, had just dropped a 3-2 decision to the whlhost Swift Current Broncos in Game 7 of an opening-round WHL playoff series.

Of course, that means the Pats are finished until the Memorial Cup begins, something that is more than 40 days away.

A year ago, it was the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, the host team for the 2017 tournament, who got bounced in the first round. They came back, under head coach Rocky Thompson, a former WHL player and coach, to win the whole thing.

But, the social media gurus wanted to know, how is it fair that a team can lose in the first round and still win the national championship?

No, it isn’t right. But it’s time for people to realize that the Memorial Cup stopped being a national championship in 1983, which is when the present format that includes a host team was adopted.

If you ask around the WHL, those who have been involved in championships will tell you that the Memorial Cup doesn’t carry the cachet of a WHL championship. They also will tell you that playing in the round-robin Memorial Cup can be a letdown after taking part in a gritty, competitive best-of-seven championship series.

Now that we have that out of the way . . .

What the WHL needs to do is admit that its present playoff format is flawed, and — if it isn’t just providing lip service about wanting to minimize travel for its players — go back to having the first two rounds within each division. After the first two rounds, the division champions meet for conference titles, and the two survivors play for the Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The WHL likes to think of itself as a mini-NHL, which is why the present format — one that includes two wild-card entries in each conference — is in place. What’s good for the NHL is good for the WHL, or so the thinking goes.

This playoff format proves that isn’t always the case.

Late last month, with the first round unfolding, the WHL sent its commissioner, Ron Robison, on tour. He started in the Pacific Northwest, mostly doing damage control after that debacle in the Oregon State Legislature in Salem involving minimum-wage legislation, but he also addressed the playoff format.

“We really feel like this is the best format and it works really well for our league,” Robison told Brandon Rivers of dubnetwork.ca. “First of all, when you consider the travel demands on our players, we want to really have those games in the first round in the division, because travel is limited. At the same time, it helps with your rivalries. . . .

“If you look throughout our league in each division, we have some great rivalries. Why not get that competition level really up high in the playoffs and see how it goes from there. There’s pros and cons but, generally speaking, this format makes a lot of sense for our league.”

Later, while in Medicine Hat, Robison told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News:

“I think when you look into it, it’s more than just the seeding of teams in a playoff competition, whether it’s conference format or a divisional format. For us, in this particular case it’s about the fact that we can reduce travel from the players’ standpoint, we can take advantage of the great rivalries we have.”

We will assume that Robison said this with a straight face, even though he was in BrandonWKregularMedicine Hat, the home of the Tigers, a team that ended up playing the Brandon Wheat Kings in the first round in two straight years. That also meant travelling to Dauphin, Man., where the Wheat Kings played their first-round home games in both series because their home arena had been taken over by the annual Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.

Had the WHL used a divisional playoff format, the Tigers would have met the Calgary Hitmen in last season’s first round, and the Kootenay Ice this time around. The Ice, of course, didn’t even make the playoffs this season, thanks to the wild-card format.

Using the divisional format, the Wheat Kings would have clashed with the Moose Jaw Warriors in this season’s first round. Instead, Brandon ousted Medicine Hat in six games.

(In the Western Conference, the Tri-City Americans, a wild-card entry, swept the B.C. Division-champion Kelowna Rockets. In a divisional format, Tri-City would have opened against the Everett Silvertips, with Kelowna meeting the Kamloops Blazers, who didn’t qualify under this system.)

The present wild-card format also has other flaws.

For starters, the Saskatoon Blades didn’t make the playoffs despite having more victories and more points than two Eastern Conference teams that did advance.

This format also means that every first round includes four series that feature teams that finished second and third in each division. That means that teams that were awfully good over 72 games exit early. Two more awfully good teams are going to go home after the second round, too.

The biggest flaw, however, is that there now is the perception that the wild-card system can be gamed.

I’m not saying that’s what happened this season, but you may recall that the Wheat Kings were third in the overall standings — and third in the Eastern Conference and East Division — when the trade deadline arrived on Jan. 10. A third-place finish in the division would have meant a first-round meeting with Swift Current.

The Wheat Kings chose to trade away two top-end players — defenceman Kale Clague and forward Tanner Kaspick — for a bundle of future assets.

In the end, Regina moved past Brandon into third place, and, as we saw, lost out to Swift Current in the first round. The Wheat Kings ended up in possession of the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card spot, which sent them into the playoffs against Medicine Hat, which had finished atop the Central Division, albeit with four fewer victories and five fewer points than Brandon.

The Wheat Kings now will open the second round against the host Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday. The Wheat Kings finished the regular season with more victories (40-33) and more points (85-72) than the Hurricanes.

There can be no arguing that the Wheat Kings ended up with an easier route to the conference final than they would have had with a third-place finish in their division. Of course, the Hurricanes may have something to say about that.

There also can be no arguing about the job done by Brandon general manager Grant Armstrong, who added nine assets, including four first-round bantam draft picks, in those two transactions.

Inadvertent or not, he seems to have helped his club improve its playoff odds.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, Tri-City, the first wild-card entry, will meet the TriCity30Victoria Royals in the second round, meaning it avoids a potential clash with Everett or the Portland Winterhawks for another round. Everett and Portland are preparing for a second-round series after the Winterhawks beat the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 3-1, in Game 7 last night.

Who knows how all of this will play out, but it all leaves me with one question:

What will be the reaction by the WHL pooh-bahs should Brandon and Tri-City, a pair of wild-card teams, end up in the championship final?


I recently came into possession of the feature stories written this season by Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun that focus on former Wheat Kings players. This was the second season in which Bergson has written one of these stories each week, and they are most enjoyable. If you can find them, I highly recommend them. I also wonder why more junior hockey writers — assuming that they really love to write — haven’t followed Bergson’s example by producing stories like these.


The fact that none of the numerous Hockey Insiders had the scoop on the retirements of Daniel and Henrik Sedin says a lot about the longtime Vancouver Canucks forwards. Obviously, there aren’t any leaks in the world of the future Hockey Hall of Famers. They were true to themselves right to the end.


Sooner or later, the WHL should be issuing a news release detailing the involvement by its 17 Canadian teams in the organ donor awareness program this season. You may recall that, among other things, the teams wore Don Cherry-tribute sweaters and then made them available via auction. I am guessing that the promotions raised well over $300,000 for the four western branches of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.


On Sept. 9, 1965, left-hander Sandy Koufax of the Los Angeles Dodgers threw a perfect game. Yes, Vin Scully called it. Right here for your reading enjoyment, courtesy salon.com, is that call. It is, as is mentioned here, “pure baseball literature.”

A return to Scattershooting . . . Ice sweep Hitmen . . . Pats’ struggles continue . . . Giants really playing large

Scattershooting

We’re back and we’re scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching the Dallas Cowboys and the Raiders playing in Los Angeles, and what a day it was for whacky NFL happenings:


Thanks to all who contacted me over the past day or two. I especially like the note that referred to Taking Note’s return as a Christmas miracle. Uh, no. But I do live with a miracle.


While I was on hacker-enforced hiatus, the Saskatoon Blades issued an injury report that actually specified the injuries. Yes. Seriously. According to the Blades, G Ryan Kubic (knee), F Gage Ramsay (groin) and F Caleb Fantillo (knee) all were sidelined. . . . Of course, by the time the WHL office posted its weekly roster report, all three were out with “lower body” injuries.


The day may come when the WHL realizes that a renewed emphasis on transparency might translate to more fans in the stands.


According to the WHL standings, the Seattle Thunderbirds have a .515 winning percentage. But their record is 15-14-4, which means they have lost three more games than they have won. Sorry, but that doesn’t compute to a .500 record. Oh, and don’t bother telling me that it has to do with loser points, something that has bastardized standings and the record book unlike anything else in sporting history.


The Regina Pats were one of those bogus .500 clubs going into Sunday’s games. They were 16-16-3, which the WHL claims is .500, before losing 3-1 to the host Saskatoon Blades on Sunday. The Pats now are 16-17-3, which the WHL claims is .486.


The Pats, of course, are the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup. With 36 games remaining in a 72-game schedule, they have lost four more games than they have won. Yes, their fans are in a tizzy. Should they be? No, not yet. They need to relax, enjoy Christmas and check back about Jan. 17. By that time, the trade deadline will have come and gone, meaning general manager/head coach John Paddock will have played out his hand, the World Junior Championship will be over, and there will be few remaining distractions. That’s when what Regina fans see is what they’ll get.


In the meantime, Regina hockey fans will be hoping their bankers all are friendly and that interest rates stay low, what with two outdoor games, an Eagles concert and the Memorial Cup all quickly approaching.



While Regina fans have their hands hovering over the panic button, followers of the Portland Winterhawks are staying away from bridges, and fans of the Red Deer Rebels are wondering what happened to their season.


Brent Sutter’s Rebels snapped an 11-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Friday night. Prior to the start of this season, who saw Red Deer with an 11-game losing streak included in its record? The Rebels are 10-18-6, leaving them seven points out of a playoff spot. They are 1-4-5 in their past 10 games.


Don Hay, the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, goes into the Christmas break with 736 regular-season victories. He needs six more to get to 742, which will move him into a tie with the retired Ken Hodge for the WHL’s career record.


The Blazers will come back from the Christmas break to play 13 games, seven on the road, from Dec. 27 through Jan. 21. That crazy WHL schedule then calls for them to play Portland three times in fewer than 48 hours, meeting in Kamloops on Jan. 26 and 27, and in Portland on Jan. 28. Of course, Hodge put up most of his coaching victories while with the Winterhawks.


You may have noticed that Portland F Cody Glass wasn’t able to crack the roster of Canada’s national junior team. That means that the Canadian team must be pretty darn good. . . . F Matthew Phillips of the Victoria Royals didn’t even get invited to the selection camp. . . . Yes, Canada must be really, really good.


The Vancouver Giants go into Christmas having won six straight games, including home-and-home sweeps of Portland and Victoria. The Giants now are 18-13-4 — that’s a legitimate plus-500 — and only three points out of first place in the B.C. Division. That’s rarified air for a team that won 20 games last season and has made the playoffs once in the past five seasons.


With a new year on the horizon, the WHL’s 2017-18 Official Guide remains, well, unavailable. This is the second season in a row in which the WHL hasn’t been able to make the Guide available in a timely fashion.


ICYMI, the home arena of the Everett Silvertips underwent a name change while I was on hiatus. What once was Xfinity Arena now is . . . wait for it . . . Angel of the Winds Arena. The Angel of the Winds Casino Resort is paying US$3.4 million over a 10-year agreement for the naming rights. The casino is operated by the Stillaguamish Tribe. . . . Apparently, there wasn’t enough support to have the facility renamed The House That Kevin Left.


If you weren’t aware, the WHL now is shut down for Christmas. Most players will return to their teams on Boxing Day (aka Black Tuesday), with all 22 teams scheduled to play on Dec. 27. All 22 teams also will be in action on Dec. 30, after which each team will have returned from the break to play three games in four nights. Six teams — Brandon, Moose Jaw, Portland, Tri-City, Spokane and Seattle — also will play on Dec. 31, meaning those players have four games in five nights to think about while trying to enjoy Christmas.


SUNDAY’S SCOREBOARD:

At Calgary, D Jonathan Smart scored 30 seconds into OT to give the Kootenay Ice a 4-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . The Ice (15-17-2) has points in three straight (2-0-1) and is tied for Kootenaynewsecond with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (15-16-2) in the Central Division. . . . Kootenay won 14 games all of last season and 12 in all of 2015-16. . . . The Hitmen (10-18-5) have lost two in a row (0-1-1), both to the Ice. . . . Calgary is eight points out of a playoff spot. . . . On Sunday, the Hitmen took a 3-1 lead into the second period. . . . F Jakob Stukel (15) gave the home side a 1-0 lead at 5:28. . . . The Ice tied it at 6:09 as F Michael King (6) scored. . . . The Hitmen then got goals from F Andrew Fyten (4), at 9:32, and F Mark Kastelic (8), shorthanded, at 17:36. . . . F Cameron Hausinger (9) pulled the Ice to within a goal, on a PP, at 5:18 of the second period. . . . Kootenay F Alec Baer forced OT with his 13th goal at 16:47 of the third period. . . . Smart, who was acquired from the Regina Pats on Nov. 14, won it with his fourth goal of the season on the only shot of OT by either team. That was his second score in 13 games with the Ice. . . . F Colton Kroeker drew an assist on each of his side’s last two goals. Baer also had an assist on the winner. . . . Kootenay was 1-6 on the PP; Calgary was 1-1. . . . Kootenay got 18 saves from G Duncan McGovern. . . . Calgary G Nick Schneider stopped 17 shots. . . . Announced attendance: 6,269.


At Saskatoon, the Blades scored the game’s first two goals and went on to a 3-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Saskatoon (15-17-3) is tied with the Prince Albert Raiders (13-14-Saskatoon7) for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card playoff spot. . . . The Pats (16-17-3) have lost four straight (0-3-1). The host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup holds down the conference’s first wild-card spot. Regina is fourth in the East Division, 14 points behind the third-place Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . On Sunday, the Blades took a 2-0 lead on first-period goals from F Braylon Shmyr (15), on a PP, at 11:08, and F Chase Wouters (7), at 19:35. . . . F Matt Bradley (22) got the Pats to within one, on a PP, at 4:43 of the second period, only to have Saskatoon F Josh Paterson (12) get it back, on a PP, at 15:42. . . . F Jake Leschyshyn pulled the visitors back to within a goal at 14:40 of the third period. . . . Shmyr also had two assists as he figured in each of Saskatoon’s goals. . . . Saskatoon also got two assists from F Kirby Dach. . . . Saskatoon was 2-4 on the PP; Regina was 1-6. . . . G Nolan Maier stopped 27 shots to earn the victory. . . . Regina got 22 stops from G Tyler Brown. . . . The Pats were without F Sam Steel and D Josh Mahura, both of whom are with Canada’s national junior team. Mahura had been among the players cut from the selection camp, but was recalled to the team on Saturday following an injury to D Dante Fabbro of Boston U. Fabbro suffered an undisclosed injury in an exhibition game against Denmark on Friday. If Fabbro isn’t able to play, Mahura is expected to be named to the 22-man roster on Dec. 25. . . . Announced attendance: 3,534.


At Everett, the Silvertips moved past Portland and into first place in the U.S. Division with a resounding 8-3 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . The Silvertips (21-13-2) have Everettwon two straight and are 9-1-0 in their past 10. They lead the Winterhawks (21-11-1) by one point atop the U.S. Division. They also lead the Western Conference, by one point over Portland, the Kelowna Rockets (20-11-3) and Victoria Royals (20-13-3). . . . The Winterhawks have lost two in a row and are 2-7-1 in their past 10. . . . On Sunday, the teams were 2-2 going into the second period where the hosts exploded for five goals. . . . Portland F Skyler McKenzie, who has 23 goals, scored twice in the opening period, sandwiched around Everett goals from F Bryce Kindopp and F Luke Ormsby (1), who is from Monroe, Wash. That was Ormsby’s first goal since he was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kindopp (11) snapped the 2-2 tie at 5:20 of the second period to start the onslaught. . . . Before the period was over, Everett had goals from F Martin Fasko-Rudas (1), F Akash Bains (2), F Patrick Bajkov (20) and F Riley Sutter (13). . . . F Jake Gracious (5) of Portland and Everett F Brandson Hein (2) exchanged third-period goals. . . . Everett got two assists from each of D Montana Onyebuchi, F Reece Vitelli and F Connor Dewar, with Fasko-Rudas, Ormsby, Sutter and Bains getting one apiece. . . . Everett was 0-3 on the PP; Portland’s PP unit didn’t get on the ice. . . . G Dustin Wolf stopped 26 shots for the Silvertips. . . . Portland starter Shane Farkas allowed five goals on 24 shots in 29:15. Cole Kehler, who turned 20 on Sunday, came on to stop 12 of 15 shots in 30:45. . . . Portland F Ryan Hughes played his second game after returning from surgery to repair a broken leg suffered on Oct. 10. . . . Everett was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours. It went 2-1-0. . . . Announced attendance: 3,817.


At Spokane, F Nikita Malukhin scored his first two WHL goals to help the Thunderbirds to a 10-3 romp over the Chiefs. . . . Seattle (15-14-4), the WHL’s defending champion, has Seattlewon two in a row and holds down the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot, five points behind Spokane (18-13-3), which now is 17-2-1 when scoring at least three goals. . . . Malukhin, a freshman from Kazan, Russia, went into the game with one assist in 18 games. . . . F Blake Bargar, who has seven goals, and F Zack Andrusiak, who has 18, also had two goals each for Seattle. . . . Andrusiak opened the scoring 20 seconds into the game. . . . F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, on a PP, tied it for Spokane at 3:14. . . . The Thunderbirds took control by scoring the next five goals. . . . F Nolan Volcan (13), who drew four assists, and D Austin Strand (12) scored before the first-period ended, and Bargar, Malukhin and Andrusiak added second-period goals. . . . Spokane got to within three goals, at 6-3, as Anderson-Dolan (16) scored, on a PP, at 7:12 of the third period and F Riley Woods (13) counted at 8:37. . . . But the Thunderbirds wrapped it up with the game’s last four goals, from Bargar, F Matthew Wedman (4), D Reece Harsch (6) and Malukhin. . . . Wedman added two assists to his goal, with Strand, Harsch, Bargar and Andrusiak each getting one. . . . D Ty Smith had two assists for the Chiefs. . . . The Thunderbirds were 2-3 on the PP; the Chiefs were 2-4. . . . G Matt Berlin earned the victory with 31 stops. . . . Spokane starter Donovan Buskey was beaten five times on 19 shots in 34:50. . . . G Campbell Arnold, 15, made his WHL debut with the Chiefs, coming on in relief at 14:50 of the second period. He allowed five goals on 10 shots in 25:10. Arnold, from Nanaimo, B.C., was added on Friday after the Chiefs returned G Declan Hobbs, 19, to the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Hobbs, whose rights were acquired from the Kootenay Ice in July, had been with the Chiefs since Dec. 1. Arnold has been playing for the prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. The Chiefs selected him in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Announced attendance: 4,042.


At Langley, B.C., the Vancouver Giants ran their winning streak to six games with a 2-0 victory over the Prince George Cougars. . . . The Giants (18-13-4) are 8-2-0 in their past 10 Vancouvergames. They are third in the B.C. Division, just three points out of first place. . . . The Cougars (12-17-5) are last in the Western Conference. They are four points out of a wild-card spot and 11 points behind Vancouver. . . . D Bowen Byram (2) broke a scoreless tie at 11:31 of the third period. . . . F Ty Ronning scored Vancouver’s second goal, an empty-netter, at 19:00. He has 32 goals in 35 games; last season, he totalled 25 goals in 68 games. In 2015-16, he had 31 scores in 67 outings. In his career, he has 98 regular-season goals in 250 games. . . .  Ronning also drew an assist on Byram’s goal. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 40 shots for his second shutout of the season. He is 12-6-1, 2.90, .913. . . . The Cougars got 31 saves from G Tavin Grant. . . . Vancouver was 2-5 on the PP; Prince George was 0-2. . . . The Giants went 3-0-0 as they played three games in fewer than 48 hours. They swept the Victoria Royals in a home-and-home set. . . . The Cougars went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. They lost 4-0 in Everett on Saturday, meaning they have been blanked in two straight games. . . . The Cougars return from the Christmas break to play four road games — in Victoria on Dec. 27 and 28, and back in Langley on Dec. 30 and Jan. 1. . . . Announced attendance: 4,088.


If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).


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The Book Shelf, Part III

Bookshelf

As most of you will be aware, my original site got hacked late in November and I have been idle since then.

Tonight, I have opened a new site that may be temporary. If the other site is repaired soon, I will move back there.

But I wanted a spot to post these book notes — Parts I, II and III.

I am sorry they are so late but, hey, stuff happens.

In the meantime, enjoy!

What follows is the third of three parts.

Enjoy, and please keep on reading!


Morning Miracle: Inside the Washington Post a Great Newspaper Fights for its Life — Late in 2016 came news that the Washington Post was making money, again, and was soon to hire as many as 60 journalists. Written by Dave Kindred, who is best known as a sports columnist, this is a tremendous look at the inner workings of one of the world’s best newspapers as it fights for its life. Kindred was given access to every nook and cranny, and the book reads like it. Published in 2010, it is as relevant today as it was then. There also is a world of hurt here, as journalists continue to do what they do, while their world collapses around them.


My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance — You may know Harry Belafonte best as a singer — Day-O, Island in the Sun, Man Smart (Woman Smarter), etc. — or perhaps even as an actor. After reading his memoir, written with Michael Schnayerson, you will come to realize that Belafonte, 90, was one of the most important civil rights activists of our time. He was there with Martin Luther King Jr., and with Nelson Mandela and behind the scenes when so much more history was written. This is an amazing book, with Belafonte leaving no stone unturned, personal or otherwise. I was reading this book as January turned into February, which made it that much more relevant.


Night of Thunder: A Bob Lee Swagger Novel — This is the fifth of author Stephen Hunter’s nine (so far) books that detail the fictional exploits of Bob Lee Swagger. Night of Thunder takes place around Bristol Motor Speedway and a NASCAR race, with a family of crooks working to rip off the joint. Unfortunately, they involve Swagger’s daughter, Nikki, who is a reporter for a local newspaper. The rest is gunfire, helicopters and explosions. You’ll have to guess who wins in the end, though.


Night School — This is book No. 21 in the best-selling Jack Reacher series, which is written by Lee Child. The story, which is set in 1996, this time takes Reacher to Europe, mostly Hamburg, Germany, as he works to untangle a mess that involves terrorism and all kinds of federal and foreign agencies, including, yes, the CIA and FBI. Unfortunately, taking Reacher to Europe just doesn’t work. Something is missing here. Perhaps not enough bad guys got their heads banged by Reacher. Or, perhaps, Child simply ran out of Reacher-related ideas. While we hope this was a one-off, we will wait to see what’s next in the adventures of Jack Reacher.


North River — This is a novel about Dr. Jim Delaney, who works in an Irish-dominated neighbourhood in Brooklyn in the latter part of the Great Depression, prior to the Second World War. He comes home one day to find his three-year-old grandson on the doorstep and the child’s mother long gone. But this book is so much more than that because author Pete Hamill, a legend in the world of New York City’s newspapers, brings that city to life like no other writer. What’s that on your tongue? The grit and soot from the streets of New York. . . . Damn, this is a good one. I didn’t want it to end.


One Night Only: Conversations with the NHL’s One-Game Wonders — As of the writing of this book, there were, according to author Ken Reid, “about 350 men, give or take” whose entire NHL careers comprised one game. Reid, an anchor at Sportsnet, talks with 39 of those men in this book. As the title infers, the book features conversations as opposed to story-telling. Reid spoke with many of his subjects via telephone, so there isn’t a lot of up close-and-personal here and, after a while, the stories start to run together. Still, it’s especially interesting to read how these men felt as they realized the dream of playing in the NHL, and then later realized that, just like that, it was over. There is one horrible editing error — the chapter on Dave Chartier, who played with the Brandon Wheat Kings, features a photo of Dave Chartier, a player of the same name who played for the Saskatoon Blades.


The Pride of the Yankees: Lou Gehrig, Gary Cooper, and the Making of a Classic — Author Richard Sandomir, who writes for The New York Times, has written a wonderfully interesting book that chronicles the last days of Gehrig’s career with the Yankees and all that went into making the movie that followed his death. Sandomir details the search for actors to play Gehrig and his wife, Eleanor, and all that went into getting the movie to the big screen in a hurry. Interestingly, MGM boss Samuel Goldwyn wasn’t a baseballer; he wanted a love story. Gary Cooper, who plays Gehrig, wasn’t a baseballer, either. In the end, there was little about baseball in the movie. Still, the movie is a classic and this book tells the story of how it came to be.


Rink Burgers — Author Todd Devonshire was born, raised and played his minor hockey in Big River, Sask. He and his wife, Dawn, go home for a weekend and open boxes and memories, almost all of which are connected to his days as a minor hockey player. This book is rich in reminiscing and will result in a lot of smiles, especially if you have ever been in a small-town arena that was awash in the smells that come with rink burgers and fried onions.


The Sisters Brothers — A weirdly comic western by Patrick deWitt features a pair of bad brothers — Charlie and Eli Sisters — although one is quite a bit badder than the other. They are assassins for hire and their latest job takes them from Oregon City into California in search of their next target. The humour, you should know, is darker than midnight. In the end, though, the Sisters brothers prove that even the bad guys can go home again.


Stick a Fork in Me: A Novel — Pete Wallace is the athletic director at Western Ohio University and he’s closing in on retirement. Author Dan Jenkins uses Wallace’s reminisces and all kinds of characters to skewer the NCAA, professors, coaches, husband/wife relationships (his wife has a serious case of golf) et all. This is a quick read, but it’s Jenkins at his sarcastic and hilarious best.


Testimony — Imagine being a teenager fresh out of Toronto and finding yourself in Arkansas playing the dives and juke joints with Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks? That’s how Robbie Robertson got his start in the music business, and he tells us all about it in Testimony, an amazing memoir. Robertson now is 74 years of age; this book ends with The Last Waltz, the final concert in the volatile run of The Band, on Nov. 25, 1976. All that transpired between Arkansas and The Last Waltz is between the covers of this book and a lot of it isn’t pretty. That includes a European tour as Bob Dylan’s backup band as Dylan was going electric. Robertson packed a lot into the 33 years covered by this book and he introduces the reader to a whole lot of music history.


Time of Departure — I picked this book because the author, Douglas Schofield, is from Kamloops. A crown prosecutor-turned-writer, he now lives in the Cayman Islands, where he writes and practises law. This book is a crime mystery wrapped around Claire Talbot, who works in Florida and has recently been promoted to Felony Division Chief. I can’t reveal too much without ruining it for future readers, but it’s all about the unsolved murders of nine young women, and there is quite a twist in this story.


War Room: The Legacy of Bill Belichick and the Art of Building the Perfect Team — This one of the best football books that I have read. Author Michael Holley delves into the Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in explaining how the organization got to the top of the NFL ladder and how it manages to stay there. Holley also looks at how Scott Pioli and Thomas Dimitroff left the Patriots’ front office to join the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons, respectively. There is lots of inside football stuff between these covers.


The Whistler — Disbarred lawyers. A casino on Native American land in Florida. Organized crime. A crooked judge. What could go wrong? There’s all that and more in the latest work from John Grisham. Maybe it was just me, but this one really didn’t grab me. It’s pretty straight-forward with few surprises.



— This is book No. 21 in the series of books by Michael Connelly that features Harry Bosch. He now is retired from the LAPD but has his private investigator’s ticket and also is freelancing on cold cases for the San Fernando Police Department. That means that in The Wrong Side of Goodbye, Bosch is working two cases — he’s looking for a serial rapist and, at the same time, searching for a possible heir to a fortune — both of which have the usual twists and turns. This is more good reading from Connelly.

(Part 3 of 3)


Here are the top 11 books that I read over the past year, in no particular order (I attempted to limit the list to 10 but I just couldn’t do it):

Indian Horse, by Richard Wagamese

North River, by Pete Hamill

Billy Martin: Baseball’s Flawed Genius, by Bill Pennington

Testimony, by Robbie Robertson

My Song: A Memoir of Art, Race, and Defiance, by Harry Belafonte, with Michael Schnayerson

The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games, by Jason Beck

Killers of the Flower Moon, by David Grann

A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles

Born to Run, by Bruce Springsteen

The Cubs Way: The Zen of Building the Best Team in Baseball and Breaking the Curse, by Tom Verducci

Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador, and the Future of Hockey, by Ken Dryden

The Book Shelf, Part II

Bookshelf

As most of you will be aware, my original site got hacked late in November and I have been idle since then.

Tonight, I have opened a new site that may be temporary. If the other site is repaired soon, I will move back there.

But I wanted a spot to post these book notes — Parts I, II and III.

I am sorry they are so late but, hey, stuff happens.

In the meantime, enjoy!

What follows is the second of three parts.

Enjoy, and please keep on reading!


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis — Author J.D. Vance is a hillbilly and damn proud of it. He also is one of the fortunate sons who was able to escape before the vicious circle consumed him. He got out by joining the U.S. Marines and then going to Ohio State U, and followed that up by earning a law degree at Yale. In this telling book, he bares his family’s soul and, in the process, helps explain today’s political situation in his country.


Hockey Talk: Stories Behind the Voice — Dr. Gordon Hunter of the U of Lethbridge has put together a book in which 49 men tell their stories. Each of them is, or was, the play-by-play voice of a major junior or junior A hockey team. Each of them has a unique story, although almost all of them are at least in part about being in the right place at the right time. Hockey Talk is available from the U of Lethbridge bookstore, with all royalties going to Kid Sport Canada.


The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley and the Unlikely Ascent of Hallelujah — A song that received little exposure when it was first released by Leonard Cohen, Hallelujah has become an anthem of our times. Author Alan Light, a former editor-in-chief of Spin and Vibe magazines, examines the song, modifications and covers, and everything else around it. If you’ve heard the song — and you know you have — this is an engrossing read.


The Hot Line: How the Legendary Trio of Hull, Hedberg and Nilsson Transformed Hockey and Led the Winnipeg Jets to Greatness — Phew! That’s a title. . . . Author Geoff Kirbyson provides a real feel for what Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson went through when they joined the WHA’s Winnipeg Jets. Because of the beauty they brought to the North American game, it’s easy to forget the abuse they absorbed, but it’s all right here. Also here are plenty of well-deserved accolades from all kinds of hockey people. Thankfully, Kirbyson didn’t forget the other terrific Europeans who also were with the Jets, players like Lars-Erik Sjoberg, who quietly may have been the best of them all, Dan Labratten, Willy Lindstrom, Kent Nilsson et all. . . . I read a Kindle edition and it really needed an editor as there were a number of spelling errors, especially when it came to names. I would hope they don’t appear in the print edition.


Indian Horse — Saul Indian Horse, an Ojibway survivor of the residential school system, finds escape from his nightmare on the ice as a hockey player. He is a dynamic player, too, but what happens when what he thinks is his game turns out to be white, just like the ice? Author Richard Wagamese has written a wonderful book, one that will drag you through a gamut of emotions and one that will stay with you for a long time. If you haven’t yet read Indian Horse, get a copy and put it on top of the pile. It is that good; in fact, I would go so far as to say this one is unforgettable. The movie is on its way and if it’s half as good as the book, well, look out.


Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI — Oh boy, did this one stay with me after I finished it! The Osage Indian nation of Oklahoma found itself awash — really, really awash — in oil money in the 1920s, but not one member of the tribe could have envisioned the blood bath that would follow. Author David Grann has investigated what went on and what he discovered is mind-boggling and heart-shattering. Countless members of the tribe were killed — the exact number never will be known — by white men after their fortunes. Most anyone who may have been charged with investigating seems to have been bought off, which brings us to J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI was in its infancy and this case, with a man named Tom White assigned to head it up, did wonders for its reputation. . . . This book is one of the best reads this year, without a doubt.


The Late Show — Michael Connelly, the author who brought us Harry Bosch, uses The Late Show to introduce us to Renée Ballard, a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. Due to an incident with a higher-up, Ballard works the night shift (aka The Late Show) and really doesn’t mind it. Like Bosch, she has an independent mind and doesn’t mind going around the speed bumps in order to get the job done. But while Bosch is a lone wolf trying, and struggling, to keep up with the times, Ballard is up to speed on everything in today’s world. She also sleeps on the beach, surfs and, well, if you like cop books give this one a read.


Leo Durocher: Baseball’s Prodigal Son — In baseball’s long and glorious history there may have been no figure who was more polarizing than Leo Durocher. Here was a manager who during his days with the Chicago Cubs chose to demean Ernie Banks and Ron Santo, perhaps the two most-loved figures in that franchise’s history. If you are like me and love the stories and anecdotes from our sporting history, you will enjoy author Paul Dickson’s in-depth look at Durocher and his life on and off the baseball diamond. Don’t forget that Durocher was great friends with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye and George Raft, and his third wife was Laraine Day, a big-name movie star back in the day. Yes, Dickson had lots to write about and he did it well.


Life — There is a meme kicking around the internet that reads: “We need to start worrying about the kind of world we are going to leave for Keith Richards.” Dig into Life, the memoir written by the Rolling Stones’ guitarist, singer and co-founder, and about halfway through you start to think that meme hits the nail squarely on the head. Richards, now 73, should have been dead a dozen times over, if not more. Oh boy, what a life this man has led, and he chronicles every inch of it between the covers of Life. The drugs, the women and, yes, his relationship with Mick Jagger . . . it’s all there.


The Miracle Mile: Stories of the 1954 British Empire and Commonwealth Games — This truly is an important book, one that should take its place on the shelf with others that dig deeply into events that were important to Canada’s history. Author Jason Beck, who is curator and facility director at the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame in Vancouver, started researching this book in August of 2006; it was published in 2016. The important thing to understand is that this work is about so much more than the Miracle Mile and its two primary participants — Roger Bannister and John Landy. It is full of the history of the 1954 BECG — how did they land in Vancouver, the decision-making process in selecting sites, what being the host city meant, etc. The research is impeccable and the stories about an untold number of athletes are invaluable. It also is the story of a city on the cusp of becoming an international showpiece. This book is, in a word, a masterpiece.


Mississippi Blood — This is book No. 3 in a trilogy that began with Natchez Burning and continued with The Bone Tree. If you read the first two, you won’t want to miss this one. If you like long reads that draw you in and give you a front row seat these are terrific, and Mississippi Blood doesn’t disappoint. Author Greg Iles tells the story of Penn Cage, the mayor of Natchez, Miss., his family — his father, Dr. Tom Cage, is much beloved in Natchez, especially by the black community — and so much more. Believe me when I say it’s all multi-layered and oh, so readable.

(Part 2 of 3)

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