Ridley rocks broadcast No. 4,000; WHL’s first Ridley Award goes to broadcast legend . . . BCHL to gov’t: Let us play or we’re done

There isn’t any doubt but that the highlight of the opening weekend of WHL play occurred in Medicine Hat on Saturday night when Bob Ridley, the radio voice of the Tigers on CHAT, called his 4,000th game. . . . The hometown Tigers beat the Red Deer Rebels, 7-2, giving Ridley lots of goals to call. . . . Congratulations, Bob. The only thing missing was the fans, but had the house been packed the standing ovation would have delayed the start of the game by, oh, about an hour. . . . Ridley, 76, is the only play-by-play man the Tigers and their fans have known since they entered the league in time for the 1970-71 season. . . . Prior to Saturday’s game, the WHL introduced the Bob Ridley Award for Media Excellence and named Ridley as its first recipient. There is a news release right here. . . . I would suggest that Ridley should have been named the only recipient. I mean, how high is the bar? Don’t forget that Ridley also drove the team bus for 45 seasons. Who else has done that? . . . It’s only surprising that Ridley isn’t in the Coffee Drinkers Hall of Fame, assuming there is such an honour. . . . I used to wonder why there wasn’t a country tune about a bus-driving play-by-play man. . . . Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News has more on Ridley right here.


For quite a while during this pandemic, I would post a lot of virus-related statistics. But I stopped in recent times because it is apparent that the numbers don’t mean anything to so many people. . . . I came to the realization a few weeks ago that people had become numb or desensitized to them. Does it matter to anyone that as of Saturday at 4 p.m. PT, Canada had 30,864 active cases and had experienced 21,960 deaths? Or that, as of 9 p.m. PT, there had been 2,524,413 deaths worldwide, with the United States’ total at 524,669? . . . Perhaps you have to have a personal connection to COVID-19 before the scope of all the numbers really hits you. Maybe you have to have lost a friend to it, or maybe you need to known a kidney transplant recipient whose donor died of COVID-19. Maybe you need to have a granddaughter whose daycare was impacted by community transmission that began at a trivia night in a big city bar before you realize — really realize — what’s going on here. . . . BTW, that trivia night has been linked to at least 300 cases.

“On March 17, 2020, Ontario and Alberta declared states of emergency,” writes Brooke Taylor of CTVNews.ca. “By March 20, when B.C., Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Manitoba also declared states of emergency, Canada had a total of 215 new cases of COVID-19, with a seven-day average of 127 cases. Eleven months later, on Feb. 25, 2021, Canada added 3,094 cases with a seven-day average of 2,961.”

Taylor’s story on how Canadians have become desensitized to the numbers is right here and it’s well worth a read.


NBC News — New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, goes into lockdown after 1 new COVID-19 case found. . . . The lockdown will allow people to leave home only for essential shopping and essential work. . . . New Zealand, one of the most successful developed nations in controlling the spread of the pandemic, has seen just over 2,000 cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.



Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “The (Los Angeles) Dodgers did well to re-sign 36-year-old third baseman Justin Turner, described as ‘the heart and soul of this team’ by catcher Austin Barnes and many teammates. Turner wasn’t punished for his reckless display in the World Series — yanked from Game 6 after testing positive for the coronavirus, he showed up without a mask for much of the on-field celebration — but what’s the point? That is today’s America, jam-packed with folks who ridicule the pandemic and feel they’re quite above it all.”

——

One more note from Jenkins: “Heed these words from old friend Dusty Baker, who got his second vaccination shot Feb. 5: ‘I’m still pretending like I didn’t get my shots. You just can’t let your guard down, because there’s still so much about it that we don’t know.’ ”


Brush


Government and medical officials in Nova Scotia have shut down sports games in the province for four weeks. The order went into effect on Saturday. At the same time, practices are allowed for groups up to 25. The move follows the announcement of eight new cases on Thursday and 10 on Friday. . . . The 12-team Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, which played four games on Friday night, cancelled its season as of Saturday, 8 a.m., “due to the uncertainty of the future decisions of the N.S. government.”


Meanwhile, the QMJHL’s three New Brunswick-based teams — the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Moncton Wildcats and Saint John Sea Dogs — have received clearance from health officials to return to play on March 8. According to a QMJHL news release, the three teams “will only play against each other in March with fans in the buildings.” . . . Those teams last played in late November. Moncton has played 13 games, with the other two each having played 15.


Bob Mackin of theBreaker.news reported Saturday that the 17-team BCHL “is on the cusp of cancelling its season” if provincial officials “do not approve an amended season proposal by March 3.” . . . That, of course, would be Wednesday. . . . In a Feb. 26 letter to officials, which was obtained by theBreaker.news, Chris Hebb, the league’s commissioner, wrote: “We are simply out of time and can’t make our players and their parents wait any longer. The clock has run out.” . . . Mackin reported: “If the BCHL does not get the go-ahead by March 3 for its return-to-play plan, Hebb wrote that a motion will be prepared for team owners to vote March 4 to cancel the season.” . . . The BCHL’s return-to-play plan includes having teams play in five hub communities. . . . Mackin’s story is right here.


Danton Danielson no longer is the head coach of the U18 AAA Prince Albert Mintos. He been in the position for two seasons. In making the announcement via Twitter, Danielson said that his decision was “based on family considerations. My wife and I will be moving our family back to Saskatoon so that she can return to her job . . . and so that we can be close to our family support system.”


ICYMI, Taran Kozun, a former WHL goaltender, has joined his sixth team of this season, the ECHL’s Allen Americans. . . . Before heading to Allen, Kozun, the WHL’s top goaltender in 2014-15 with the Seattle Thunderbirds, had gotten into one game with each of the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush and Orlando Solar Bears, and the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. . . . He already has played in four games with the Americans. . . . Kozun, 26, was the goaltender of the year in Canadian university hockey in each of the previous two seasons while with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies.


Stars


——

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.


Kid

Dietrich leaves quite a legacy; ex-Wheat Kings captain dies at 59 . . . Byram fitting right in with Avalanche

Don Dietrich, a former defenceman with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings (1978-81) who went on to a pro career, died on Tuesday morning. From Deloraine, Man., and proud of it, he was 59.

He is survived by his wife Nadine and three sons — Tristan, Jake and Nick. The latter two, like their Dad, played in the WHL.

Tristan posted Tuesday morning on the Facebook tribute page that they recently started to honour their husband and father:

“We are sad to announce that Don, Dad, Dins, Beaker passed away this morning peacefully. He fought hard til the end. The ‘I Can’ in him stayed true right til the end.

“If ever having a hard day, remember it can always be worse. A bad day doing something you love is still better than a good day doing something you don’t. Keep your toes up ice! The golden rule must always be followed. Get the most out of life by finding out what you can do for others. Take a second to look at the man in the mirror. Be true to your self. Take ownership. Find a way to win.

“Don made sure he passed on lessons so he could live on in all of us. We love him. Will see him on the other side . . . just not yet . . . not yet.”

It has been almost five years since Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote a terrific piece about Don after a Molson Canadian promotion resulted in his being part of a group that got to play hockey on a frozen lake in the mountains near Invermere.

Dietrich, who was battling Parkinson’s disease and then was diagnosed with cancer, later told Turner: “I’ll put it to you this way. If there’s a heaven on Earth, I’ve been there.”

Turner’s story is right here.

If you paid any attention to the Don Dietrich tribute page over the past couple of weeks, it became readily apparent that Don had a positive impact on the lives of a whole lot of people.

There can be no doubt that he left this world a much better place today than it was when he first made his presence heard.

Sleep well, old friend. You were one of a kind. Finally, the pain is gone.


Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times has taken a look at the WHL’s plans to get WHL2players back on the ice, with a particular focus on the five teams in the U.S. Division. . . . Those five teams are scheduled to begin games on March 19, with all games in Everett or Kent, and with the Portland Winterhawks practising in Vancouver, Wash. . . . At one point, Baker writes: “I’m told not all U.S. Division teams favored playing, which isn’t surprising given risks to players, aged 16-20, paid only nominal ‘stipends.’ There’s no TV revenue at stake and gate-driven WHL squads will lose a bundle by taking the ice.” . . . Officials with the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds told Baker that “their motivation is showcasing and developing players for NHL careers.” That, of course, is what everyone is saying. . . . According to Baker, the Silvertips will have their players in a bubble — “most likely in currently empty dormitories at Everett Community College.” The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, will have their players with billets. . . . As Baker writes, “We’ll see how effective one ‘bubble’ team is when playing others mingling daily with nonquarantined people.” . . . Baker’s complete story is right here.

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Meanwhile, Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, held an in-person briefing on Tuesday. Asked when the WHL’s B.C. Division will be able to get its five teams playing again, according to Liza Yuzda of News 1130, she said that health officials “haven’t received an updated proposal in the last few weeks,” adding that they would be “happy to look at it.” . . . She also said that if the province continues on its present trajectory, she would hope for games in March or April.


The NHL announced a number of schedule changes on Tuesday, but also had another postponement on its hands. For the second night in a row, it had to postpone a game between the Nashville Predators and host Dallas Stars because of power-related issues in Texas all due to the inclement weather. . . . Former Lethbridge Hurricanes D Calen Addison made his NHL debut on Tuesday night as the Minnesota Wild played its first game since Feb. 2 because of protocols. The Wild dropped a 4-0 decision to the Kings in Los Angeles. . . .

The NHL had 22 players on its COVID-19 protocol list on Tuesday, with seven of them from the Philadelphia Flyers, who last played on Feb. 7 and are scheduled to play the visiting New York Rangers on Thursday. The Flyers, with seven players on the protocol list, practised on Tuesday after being off for a week. However, they had only 14 skaters, four of them from the taxi squad, and two goaltenders available.


News


The NBA’s San Antonio Spurs have had four players test positive and now have had four games postponed, including Tuesday game against the host Detroit Pistons. . . . The Spurs remain in quarantine in Charlotte, N.C., since playing the Hornets there on Sunday. . . . The Spurs were to have played road games against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday, the New York Knicks on Saturday and the Indiana Pacers on Monday. . . .

Due to contact tracing, the Hornets’ next two games have been scrubbed. They were to have played at home against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday and the Denver Nuggets on Friday. . . . The NBA now has postponed 29 games for virus-related issues.


I have received a query from a WHL fan who has in his possession a black New Westminster Bruins sweater (No.22) from 1977-78 or 1978-79. He doesn’t know who wore it, although he wonders if it may have been Don Werbeniuk. . . . If you are able to help with some ID, please email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Dear hockey gods: We really, really need a best-of-seven series — a best-of- nine would be better — between the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights. Their game in Vegas on Tuesday, especially the third period, was hockey as art, even without fans. . . . D Bowen Byram, 19, made the play that led to Colorado’s winning goal late in the third period of a 3-2 victory. The former Vancouver Giants star played 25:03 last night, after going 23:07 in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over the Golden Knights. The Avalanche is without three defencemen — Cale Makar, Erik Johnson and Samuel Girard — but hasn’t missed a beat with Byram back there.


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,298 have died from coronavirus; 832,375 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — Canada: 21,395 have died from coronavirus; 836,594 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Monday, 10:44 p.m. PT — United States: 486,321 have died from coronavirus . . . 27,692,967 have tested positive.

Johns Hopkins University of Medicine, Tuesday, 9:48 p.m. PT — United States: 487,927 people have died. . . . 27,753,824 have tested positive.

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NBC Montana — State Medical Officer Dr. Greg Holzman announced his resignation from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services Thursday in a letter to new Director Adam Meier. . . . The announcement came one day after Gov. Greg Gianforte announced plans to lift the state’s mask mandate, which went into effect Friday.


Panel


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Troy Gillard will be the interim play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels for the approaching 24-game developmental season. He takes over from Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Gillard, a familiar media face in Red Deer since 2006, has been the host of Rebels broadcasts since 2011. He will be joined on home games by veteran analyst Mike Moller. . . . You may recall reading there last week about the travels of former WHL star goaltender Taran Kozun. Well, add another chapter because he was released by the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears on Tuesday.


Diet

How close is OHL to playing? . . . NHL adjusts its COVID protocols . . . Eyes of Texas will be on U18 Worlds


On a day when COVID-19 found the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL announced nhl2adjustments to its protocols. . . . The Oilers were without F Jesse Puljujarvi in a 3-0 victory over the Canadiens in Montreal after he tested positive. Edmonton also scratched G Mikko Koskinen for precautionary reasons. There is speculation that Koskinen was held out as a close contact. . . . The Ottawa Senators held D Artem Zub out of a 5-1 loss to the host Winnipeg Jets for precautionary reasons; however a COVID-19 test came back negative so he will be OK to play on Saturday. . . . Meanwhile, with five teams having experienced outbreaks and a total of 35 games having been postponed, the NHL has added to its protocols. One of the changes involves more game-day testing. The NHL also has moved to limit the outside activities of team members and their families. Here’s ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski: “All players, coaches, training staff, equipment staff and other members of the traveling party ‘will be required to remain at home and not leave their place of residence except to attend practices and games, to exercise outdoors on an individual basis, to perform essential activities (e.g., go to the doctor), or to deal with family or other emergencies and other extraordinary circumstances.’ The NHL also is ‘strongly recommending’ that household members limit their activities outside the home as well, and is encouraging teams to provide ways for household members to be tested for COVID-19 regularly.” . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.



The IIHF’s U18 World Championship will be held in Frisco and Plano, Texas, DallasStarsfrom April 26 through May 6. Frisco is home to the Dallas Stars’ practice arena — the Comerica Center — and offices. The Stars and USA Hockey are partnering on the production. . . . The host team, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany and Russia will play out of Frisco. . . . Canada will be in Plano, along with Belarus, Latvia, Sweden and Switzerland. . . . The U-18 world event hasn’t ever been held so late into a year. . . . It will be interesting to watch team construction prior to this event, because all 60 major junior teams could still be playing. . . . The 2020 event was to have been held in Ann Arbor and Plymouth, Mich., from April 16-26, but was cancelled by the pandemic. Originally, the 2021 event also was scheduled for Ann Arbor and Plymouth, but it obviously has been shifted to Texas.


As you can see from the above tweet, Bob Kaser is in hospital after having undergone heart surgery. Kaser is a veteran hockey play-by-play voice, who did a stint with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1984-89). . . . He’s a hockey guy, so somehow I expect him back before season’s end. . . . Best wishes, Bob.


Plumber


So you want to be a pro hockey player, do you? Well, let’s take a look at how G Taran Kozun’s career is going. . . . He played in the WHL (Kamloops, Seattle, 2011-15) and was named to the Western Conference’s first all-star team and also was saluted as the league’s top goaltender for 2014-15. . . . He spent the 2015-16 season playing pro, making stops with three ECHL teams — the Missouri Mavericks, Utah Grizzlies and Manchester Monarchs — and the AHL’s Ontario Reign. He only got into games (nine of them) with Utah, though. . . . Kozun then spent a season with the Chinook Hockey League’s Rosetown, Sask., Red Wings, before going on to three seasons with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. He was 37-6-2 over the last two seasons with the Huskies and was USports’ top goaltender each season. He was the Canadian university game’s player of year for 2019-20. . . . This season, he’s back playing pro, having made stops with four ECHL teams — the Kansas City Mavericks, Indy Fuel, Rapid City Rush and Orlando Solar Bears — and the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers. . . . The Solar Bears picked him up in a deal with the Rush this week. . . . Kozun’s older brother, Tad, is a forward with Orlando.



THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

If you haven’t seen any of the short videos that the WHL has made available featuring some goaltenders, here’s one of them. . . . Well done

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CBC News — Ontario’s COVID-19 case numbers are steadily declining, but more infectious novel coronavirus variants of concern pose a threat significant enough that health experts are warning a third lockdown could be required to contain them.

CBC News — Alberta reports 351 new COVID-19 cases, 16 more deaths. Starting Monday, the province is changing rules requiring negative COVID-19 tests at border crossings.

CBC News — Newfoundland and Labrador reports 100 new COVID-19 cases, nearly double Wednesday’s all-time record of 53. Of them, 74 are in people under the age of 20. Health authorities also say there is 1 additional presumptive case.

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Prince McJunkins, a quarterback during two seasons (1983-84) with the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders, died of complications from COVID-19 in a Tulsa, Okla., hospital on Tuesday. His home was in Muskogee, Okla. He was 59 and is survived by his wife and four children. . . . While playing at Wichita State (1979-82), McJunkins was the first player in NCAA history to rush for more than 2,000 yards and pass for more than 4,000 in a career. . . .

The Australian Open, which is underway in Melbourne, has banned fans for five days following a COVID outbreak at a local hotel. While the state of Victoria will go into a lockdown, the tournament will continue. . . .

The NBA’s Toronto Raptors announced on Thursday that they will spend the remainder of this season at Tampa’s Amalie Arena. After starting the season there, they had hoped things would improve and border restrictions would loosen so they could return to Toronto, but that hasn’t happened so they’ll stay put. . . .

Penn State’s men’s hockey team last played on Jan. 29. It was to have played on Feb. 20 and 21 against Arizona State. But that won’t happen after Penn State got hit by some positive tests this week. If all goes well, Penn State will get to play again on Feb. 27. . . .

Hockey Brandon, which governs minor hockey in the Wheat City, announced Thursday that it had cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season effective immediately. . . . Curtis Storey, the organization’s president, said that “the continued restrictions on indoor facilities unfortunately forced the decision.” . . .

The junior B Heritage Junior Hockey League has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The decision was made after a announcement earlier in the week from Hockey Alberta. Here’s the HJHL’s Scott Fisher, from okotoksonline.com: “We were at that time where we had to come to a decision. Hockey Alberta has made the decision to cancel all regular season and playoff games for junior B, junior C, female and senior men’s leagues.” . . . Hockey Alberta’s announcement didn’t include the junior A Alberta Junior Hockey League.


Giraffe


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.


Team Canada has roster set for WJC . . . QMJHL looking at more bubbles . . . Canada extends border restrictions


With the 10 teams that are to compete in the 2021 World Junior Championship to move into the Edmonton bubble on Sunday, Team Canada made its final 2021WJCseven cuts on Friday at its selection camp in Red Deer, getting its roster down to 25. . . . The roster includes six players who won gold at the 2020 World Junior Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic: F Quinton Byfield (Sudbury Wolves), D Bowen Byram (Vancouver Giants), F Dylan Cozens (Lethbridge Hurricanes), D Jamie Drysdale (Erie Otters), F Connor McMichael (London Knights) and F Dawson Mercer (Chicoutimi Sagueneens). . . .

The roster includes nine players from WHL teams: G Dylan Garand (Kamloops Blazers), G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars), Byram, D Kaiden Guhle (Prince Albert Raiders), D Kaedan Korczak (Kelowna Rockets), D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings), Cozens, F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) and F Connor Zary (Kamloops). . . . F Kirby Dach played for the Saskatoon Blades before cracking the roster of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks as an 18-year-old prior to last season. . . . Of Team Canada’s 22 skaters, only two aren’t NHL first-round selections. Korczak was taken by the Vegas Golden Knights in the second round in 2019, and D Jordan Spence of the Moncton Wildcats was taken by the Los Angeles Kings in that draft’s fourth round. . . .

Players dropped by Team Canada on Friday: F Mavrik Bourque (Shawinigan Cataractes), F Graeme Clarke (Ottawa 67’s), D Lukas Cormier (Charlottetown Islanders), F Greg Goncalves (Everett Silvertips), F Seth Jarvis (Portland Winterhawks), D Ryan O’Rourke (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), F Samuel Poulin (Sherbrooke Phoenix), F Jamieson Rees (Sarnia Sting) and D Donovan Sebrango (Kitchener Rangers). . . .

The tournament is scheduled to open with a Christmas Day triple header —  Slovakia-Switzerland, 11 a.m. Pacific; Finland-Germany, 3 p.m.; U.S.-Russia, 6:30 p.m. Canada is to open its schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany at 3 p.m. Pacific. . . . There is a complete schedule right here. . . .

TSN also will show 10 pre-tournament games, starting with two on Dec. 20 — U.S.-Switzerland, 5 p.m. Pacific, and Finland-Czech Republic, 8:30 p.m. . . . Canada will play Sweden on Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. Pacific. . . . TSN’s pre-tournament schedule is right here.


Jonathan Habashi of the Drummondville Express reports that the city’s Marcel-qmjhlnewDionne Center, home to the Voltigeurs, “could be the scene of a bubble in the QMJHL” after the regular season resumes following the pandemic-forced break that now is in place. . . . According to Habashi, one scenario has five teams playing 12 games over a nine-day stretch. . . . Last month, seven teams spent 11 days playing in a Quebec City bubble. . . . More from Habashi, via Google Translate: “Other organizations, including the Saguenéens de Chicoutimi, have already expressed their interest in hosting a bubble. According to the plan established by the QMJHL, the 18 teams on the circuit will return to action, each playing two games in three days, from January 22 to 24, in six different cities, including four in Quebec. Subsequently, the QMJHL intends to create three bubbles of four Quebec teams who would each play six games in nine days, from January 30 to February 7.” . . . Habashi’s complete story is right here.


The ECHL has created what it is calling the Commissioner’s Exempt List. It is, echlaccording to the league, “for players who have been deemed ineligible to play due to ECHL Covid-19 and Return-to-Play protocols.” . . . The league explains that “being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List does NOT necessarily mean a player has tested positive. It could also mean the player has had close contact with someone who tested positive or is awaiting testing because of virus symptoms.” . . . Some ECHL teams opened the regular season on Friday night. The Kansas City Mavericks had to sign G Sean Bonar to a PTO on an emergency basis earlier in the day, because both of their goaltenders — Taran Kozun and Andrew Shortridge — are on the exempt list. Bonar had been released by the Jacksonville Icemen on Wednesday. The host Indy Fuel beat the Mavericks, 4-3 in a shootout. Kansas City didn’t list a backup goaltender on the game sheet.


Stock


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: 6,768 new cases of COVID-19 were reported across Canada today. Nationwide, there have been a total of 448,841 cases and 13,251 deaths. There have been 362,293 recoveries, and 73,297 cases are currently active.

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 447 new cases of COVID-19 and 14 new deaths related to the illness. There are 297 COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals, including 40 in intensive care. Manitoba’s 5-day test positivity rate is 13.8%. 2,723 tests were completed Thursday.

680 CJOB Winnipeg: Manitoba’s chief public health officer says the province’s COVID-19 death rate has increased by more than nine times since Thanksgiving.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 246 new cases of COVID-19. There are 133 COVID-19 patients in Saskatchewan hospitals, including 27 people in intensive care.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 1,738 new cases of COVID-19 and 18 additional deaths related to the illness. The province’s test positivity rate is 8.3%.

CBC News: B.C. is reporting 737 new cases of COVID-19, for a total of 9,589 known active cases There have been 11 new COVID-19 related deaths in the province. There are 342 COVID-19 patients in B.C. hospitals, including 87 in intensive care.

CBC News: Ontario reports 45 additional COVID-19 deaths, the highest daily toll since October 2. There are 1,848 new cases; 469 in Toronto, 386 in Peel Region, and 205 in York Region. Ontario processed 63,051 tests (highest so far); test positivity rate is 3.2%. . . . Clarification: A previous tweet said the 45 lives claimed by COVID-19 in Ontario yesterday is the highest daily total since Oct. 2. In fact, that total reflected a data correction including previously unreported fatalities. The last day Ontario had 45 or more deaths was June 4.

Global Montreal: Quebec is reporting 1,713 new COVID-19 cases and 53 additional deaths as hospitalizations jumped Friday.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 78 known active cases. There has been a new COVID-19 related death in the province, the 8th since the start of the pandemic.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 9 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 65 known active cases in the province. 5 cases are in the Central Zone, 3 in the Western Zone and 1 in the Northern Zone. There are currently no COVID-19 patients in the province’s hospitals.

CBC News: 1 new COVID-19 case has been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. The new case is in the Western health region and is being investigated. The province’s known active caseload remains at 20, as 1 new recovery was also announced Friday.

CBC News: 16 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut. There are 56 known active cases in the territory, all in the community of Arviat.

Tom Tapp, deadline.com: The number of daily new Covid-19 cases in California jumped 20% in the past 24 hours to a new all-time high of 35,468. It’s the third record number of new cases in the past week. The state has also seen records fall in terms of deaths — that was 220 yesterday — and hospitalizations — at 12,940 on Friday — and ICU capacity — with just 9% left statewide.

The New York Times: More than 6,600 college athletes, coaches and staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus, a New York Times analysis found. The actual tally is assuredly far larger, with dozens of schools releasing limited or no data for their athletic programs. . . . The Times was able to gather complete data for just 78 of the 130 universities in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Football Bowl Subdivision, the top level of college football. Some of those schools released the pandemic statistics only in response to requests filed under public records laws.

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The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is on hold until at least Jan. 10. In a brief statement, the league said it “will be evaluating our ‘go-forward’ plan at that time. . . .

The Regina High Schools Athletic Association has continued its hold on all winter sports until at least February. . . .

Eli Gold, who has called 409 straight Alabama Crimson Tide football games, will have the streak end today (Saturday) because he and his wife have tested positive. Gold, 66, hasn’t missed a game since 1987. . . . Alabama (9-0) is scheduled to visit Arkansas (3-6) today. . . .

The U of Alaska-Fairbanks has opted out of the 2021 NCAA hockey season. From a statement: “The announcement on hockey was made in conjunction with a decision to suspend competition in men’s and women’s basketball at the school as well due to health and safety concerns.” . . . The U of Alaska-Anchorage shut down its program earlier this year. . . . This means that the WCHA will have eight teams when it begins conference play in January. . . . There now have been 10 NCAA Division I hockey teams opt out of this season.


The 2021 Kamloops Kidney Walk will be held virtually, as it was in June. Yes, Dorothy will be taking part, as she has since 2014. . . . She already has registered and her granddaughters, Averi and Kara, have joined her team. If you are interested in making a donation — perhaps you are looking for a tax receipt for this year’s filing — you are able to do so right here.

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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

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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.


Drawer

Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while waiting for Meghan and Harry to arrive for tea . . .

Scattershooting


Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, writing about the MLB sign-stealing scandal and the Houston Astros:

“It was clear the Astros were doing something unusually effective. While power hitters generally strike out frequently — a trade-off for swinging aggressively — the Astros’ lineup has an extraordinary knack for slugging without whiffing. From 1910 through 2016, only two teams — the 1948 Yankees and the 1995 Cleveland Indians — led the majors in slugging percentage while also recording the fewest strikeouts. The Astros did it in both 2017 and 2019.”



G Taran Kozun, who played in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds, now is with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon. On Saturday night, he posted a shutout as the Huskies beat the host Calgary Dinos, 3-0. Oh, Kozun also scored a goal. . . . That also was Kozun’s second straight shutout, as the Huskies had beaten the Dinos, 4-0, on Friday night.

Kozun is the second goaltender in Canada West to be credited with scoring a goal, but the first to actually shoot the puck into the opposing team’s goal.

On Oct. 26, 2012, Kurtis Mucha of the Alberta Golden Bears

As Neate Sager reported for Yahoo! Sports at the time: “It was the standard opposing-goalie-off-on-a-delayed-penalty, errant-pass-goes-in-the-net scenario. Mucha . . . was credited with the goal since he was the last U of A man to touch the puck after stopping a long shot. The one twist is that the Lethbridge Pronghorns’ off-the-mark pass from out of the corner to the goaltender’s left banked off the boards in the neutral zone and rolled into the net.”

That night, Mucha, like so many snipers before him, was talking about the points that got away. He was quoted in a U of Alberta news release: “The funny thing is, I almost had a couple of assists that night, too. I moved the puck up ice a couple of times and was the third assist on a couple of goals, so I was pretty close to a two- or three-point night.”


There is good news for followers of the Winnipeg Ice. F Matt Savoie, who turned 16 on New Year’s Day, is captaining Team Canada at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland. . . . Savoie hasn’t played for the Ice since Dec. 28 when he was KO’d on a fierce open-ice hit during a 3-2 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The first selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, Savoie has five assists in 12 games with the Ice. When he isn’t with the Ice, he is with the Rink Hockey Academy Prep team in Winnipeg. He’s got 16 goals and 26 assists in 17 games with RHA. . . . Savoie had a shorthanded goal and an assist on Sunday as Canada beat Denmark, 6-0, outshooting the Danes, 44-8, in the process. That left Canada at 1-1 as it earlier had dropped a 6-2 decision to Russia. . . . Canada then lost 2-1 to the U.S. in a semifinal game played on Tuesday.




“Hey,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Clint Eastwood can talk to an empty chair, why not this? Philadelphia’s WTXF-TV ‘interviewed’ T.C., the Astros’ dugout trash can, as part of its coverage of MLB’s sign-stealing scandal. ‘I was beat over and over and over,’ T.C. revealed to the Good Morning Philadelphia show. ‘It took me two years to get all the dents out. It’s the worst job in sports.’ ”

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Perry spent some time on the NFL crime beat recently . . .

“New Orleans police issued an arrest warrant for Odell Beckham Jr. after the Browns receiver slapped the butt of a Superdome security guard following LSU’s championship-game win. Though he hopes to get the simple-battery charge reduced to illegal use of hands.

New England receiver Julian Edelman jumped on the hood of a car in Beverly Hills, Calif., apparently damaging it and earning himself a police citation for vandalism. Or as Patriots apologists tried to spin it, he got flagged for piling on.”

I would suggest that Perry should be flagged for being offside.



The Kamloops Blazers lit up the visiting Tri-City Americans for a dozen goals in a 12-3 victory on Friday night. . . . If you were wondering — and I know you were — that was Kamloops1the 27th time in franchise history that Kamloops scored at least 12 times in one game. The franchise’s single-game record is 16 — the Jr. Oilers beat the visiting Kelowna Wings, 16-1, on March 11, 1983; the Blazers whipped the visiting Victoria Cougars, 16-4, on Jan. 19, 1990. . . . The last time the Blazers had struck for 12 goals in one game was on March 13, 1994, in a 12-4 victory over the host Americans. . . . Interesting note: The Blazers have scored in double figures twice this season — they beat the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 10-1, on Nov. 20. Prior to Nov. 20, Kamloops last scored at least 10 goals in a game on Sept. 20, 2002, in a 10-2 victory over visiting Seattle. . . . Interesting note No. 2: Kamloops once scored 10 goals in a game and lost. On March 6, 1984, the host Seattle Breakers scored an 11-10 victory. . . .

On Saturday night, the Blazers romped to a 9-0 home-ice victory over the Americans behind G Rayce Ramsay, who made 24 saves. . . . On Sunday, the Blazers went into Langley and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-0, with G Dylan Garand stopping 21 shots. . . . The Blazers have put up six shutouts this season, with Garand and Ramsay each earning three. . . . The last time Kamloops blanked the opposition six times in one season? That would be 2012-13 when the total was seven (Cole Cheveldave, 6; Taran Kozun 1). . . . The franchise record is nine from 2003-04 (Devan Dubnyk, 6; Dustin Slade, 2; Geoff McIntosh, 1). . . .

BTW, Garand now has four shutouts in his WHL career, putting him into a tie with Kenric Exner for 10th on Kamloops’ career list. Ramsay has three and is tied for 12th with Dylan Ferguson, Jeff Bosch and Daryl Reaugh. . . . Dubnyk is the franchise’s career record holder, with 15, one more than Corey Hirsch. . . . Prior to Saturday, the Blazers last won a game by a 9-0 count on Jan. 11, 1995 when they beat the host Thunderbirds behind 21 saves by G Rod Branch. . . . Kamloops now has eight 9-0 victories in its regular-season history.