Scattershooting on a Sunday night while watching ChiSox and Angels in a good one . . .

Scattershooting2


The Vancouver Canucks have 22 players on their active roster. As of Sunday afternoon, 16 of them were on Canucksthe NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. . . . When we went to bed on Saturday, that number was 14. On Sunday, D Jalen Chatfield and F Marc Michaelis were added to the list. . . .

To date, four Vancouver games have been postponed. The Canucks are scheduled to play the Flames in Calgary on Thursday and Saturday nights, but you have to think it’s a reach to expect that game to take place. . . .

Later Sunday night, Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted: “One more Canucks player tested positive today.” . . . That would take the number on the protocol list to 17.

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Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported on Sunday:

“One Canucks player told ESPN he hadn’t heard from a team representative about any players going to the hospital, but he had heard of teammates receiving IV treatments for severe dehydration, presumably at their homes. A source told ESPN that at least three Canucks coaches have tested positive for the virus as well. In addition, many family members of players have tested positive and are experiencing symptoms, according to sources.”

She quoted an agent of a Canucks player as saying: “Fatigue, dehydration, the symptoms are intense. It’s knocked a lot of guys out. Some can’t even get out of bed.”

Kaplan’s piece is right here.

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Hockey leagues and teams hate transparency the way a snowman despises warm weather. Throw in privacy issues related to healthcare and you can bet that information on what is going on with the Canucks’ coaches, players and families will be hard to come by.

That’s how we came to have Darren Dreger of TSN and Postmedia’s Ben Kuzma entertaining the Twitterverse with a brief exchange on Sunday.

Dreger had tweeted this at 9:19 a.m. PT: “Number of positive cases climbing within the Vancouver Canucks. More than 20 players/coaches combined have tested positive. Variant symptoms include vomiting, cramping and dehydration. Family members are getting it. Scary situation. Next 5-7 days will determine scheduling.”

Kuzma came back with this at 10:16 a.m.: “Been told reported number of positive COVID-19 cases with Canucks isn’t entirely accurate. The number is under 20. There haven’t been severe symptoms. Most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy. No reports of vomiting, few with worse symptoms better.”

Dreger responded at 10:50 a.m.: “18 players and 3 coaches is what a source said this morning.  As for the symptoms . . . provided by the same source and confirmed by an NHL source.”


Rick Bowness, the head coach of the Dallas Stars, left their Sunday night game after the second period and didn’t return. You guessed it . . . COVID-19 protocols. Bowness has been fully vaccinated, however, and the team is convinced that it’s a false positive. . . . The Stars, you may recall, had a nightmarish run-in with the virus just before this season got started. Here’s hoping they aren’t in for a repeat.


Dinner


“So who ratted them out? An opposing line coach? Some largemouth?” wondered Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Auburn University’s bass-fishing team — originally suspended for the rest of the year for repeatedly violating school COVID-19 travel policies — has been reinstated upon appeal and can resume angling on April 22. Great — just in time for preseason two-a-days.”


The AJHL, with four teams already shut down for 14 days due to positive tests, announced Sunday that it had postponed that night’s game between the Camrose Kodiak and Olds Grizzlys “to allow for the analysis of a COVID-19 test as per the AJHL return-to-play protocols.” . . . The Drayton Valley Thunder, Grande Prairie Storm, Okotoks Oilers and Whitecourt Wolverines were put on hold during the week.


This is what loser points have done to statistics. . . . The Dallas Stars have played 36 games; they have 36 points. So the Stars are playing .500 hockey, or so some people claim. Not so fast, grasshopper. The Stars have won only 13 of those games. Yes, they actually have 23 losses, 10 of them in OT. . . . So please allow me ask: If you win 13 of 36 games are you really at .500?



The Washington Nationals, who are having issues with the virus, had their opening home series with the New York Mets scrubbed. And now their Monday game against the visiting Atlanta Braves has been dumped. . . . Later Sunday, MLB announced that the Nationals have been cleared to open in Atlanta on Tuesday. . . . As of Sunday, the Nationals had had four players test positive, and seven other players and two coaches who were deemed close contacts. All told, 13 people were in quarantine.


RedSea


In the WHL on Sunday . . .

The Brandon Wheat Kings scored the last three goals to run their winning streak to six games with a 3-1 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Regina. . . . F Caiden Daley (5) gave the Blades (9-2-1) a 1-0 lead at 8:20 of the first period. . . . F Lynden McCallum (10) tied it for the Wheat Kings (9-2-1) at 9:08 of the second. . . . F Ben McCartney (7) broke the tie at 3:20 of the third and F Reid Perepeluk (3) got the empty-netter. . . . Saskatoon has lost two straight after going 10 games without a regulation loss. . . .

F Conner Roulette’s fifth goal, at 4:47 of OT, gave the Seattle Thunderbirds a 5-4 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Chiefs (0-4-3) took a 3-2 lead into the third period. . . . Seattle (5-3-0) moved out front on goals by D Tyrel Bauer (1) and F Jared Davidson (2). . . . F Adam Beckman (3) pulled the Chiefs even, on a PP, at 10:40. . . . F Henri Rybinski had three assists and was plus-4 for the winners. . . . F Erik Atchison (2) had a goal and two assists for Spokane, which was 3-for-5 on the PP. . . . The Chiefs and Victoria Royals (0-3-1) are the only WHL teams without at least one regulation victory. . . . The Chiefs are without D Mac Gross and D Graham Sward, both week-to-week with undisclosed injuries. . . . Seattle F Matt Rempe left in the first period with an undisclosed injury. He didn’t return. . . .

F Tristen Nielsen scored the game’s only goal, in the shootout, as the Vancouver Giants beat the Prince George Cougars, 1-0, in Kamloops. . . . G Trent Miner of the Giants (3-1-0) stopped 14 shots to record his second straight shutout. Miner, who has six career shutouts, had beaten the Kelowna Rockets, 6-0, a week earlier. . . . The Cougars (1-2-1), who were outshot 43-14, got 43 saves from Tyler Brennan, who recorded his first career shutout.



In the top of the first inning of a Sunday night game, Shohei Ohtani, the Los Angeles Angels’ starting pitcher, threw one pitch at 101 mph. In the bottom half of the inning, hitting second, he hammered a fastball 451 feet into the right-field bleachers. . . . He is the first starting pitcher to homer in an American League game since the DH came into play in 1973. He also became the first pitcher since 1903 to hit in the No. 2 spot. . . . Before the game, Greg Beacham of The Associated Press reported: “Ohtani is just the third pitcher over the last 45 seasons to hit for himself in a game with the designated hitter available. He’s also the first pitcher to bat second for a team since Jack Dunleavy did it for the St. Louis Cardinals on Sept. 7, 1903.” . . . One more for you: The last AL pitcher to homer from one of the top seven spots in the batting order was Babe Ruth in a 1933 game from the three hole.

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Yermin Mercedes of the Chicago White Sox had five hits in the first start of his MLB career on Friday. No big deal, right? Until I heard Tim Kurkjian of ESPN say that neither Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott nor Edgar Martinez — each of them a pretty good hitter — ever had a five-hit game. . . . Ahh, you have to love baseball.



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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

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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.


Eggs

WHL: Kootenay Ice, R.I.P; Long Live the Winnipeg Ice . . . Ice has nine games left in Cranbrook . . . Off to Manitoba capital after this season

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, was in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning to provide the last rites to the Kootenay Ice.

The WHL’s Cranbrook-based franchise is dead after 21 seasons. It will be reborn in wpgiceWinnipeg after it plays nine more home games in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place.

In Winnipeg, the franchise will continue to be known as the Ice and will play out of the WHL’s East Division, something that will result in the Swift Current Broncos moving to the Central Division. That allows each division to remain at six teams.

The Winnipeg Ice began taking $50 non-refundable deposits this morning, noting that the team will spend a couple of seasons in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena and that seating will be limited. That deposit will get you on “a priority list for season-seat membership,” according to a news release at winnipegice.ca.

As for ticket prices, the news release stated: “Season-seat pricing will be communicated

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Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, arrives at Western Financial Place in Cranbrook on Tuesday morning to announce the relocation of the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg.

prior to the seat-selection period. At this time, no decision has been made on whether fans can choose a multi-year season-seat commitment option.”

Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, who purchased the Ice from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season, joined Robison at the news conference that was held in WFP and lasted about 30 minutes.

They had met with members of the business community earlier in the morning in an event that one observer told Taking Note appeared to be by “invite only to friendly business people.”

That observer said the message was that “we are apologetic that it didn’t work . . . and we had to make a business decision,” and that the situation was looked at from a league point of view “for several years and we came to the conclusion that it wasn’t going to work.”

When the scene shifted to the arena for the news conference, there were a few fans present who had hoped to be allowed in. However, they were told that it was for media only. Someone did stream it on Facebook, so there were people elsewhere in the building who were able to watch.

According to two Taking Note correspondents who were in attendance, Robison began by acknowledging that losing the franchise is difficult for Cranbrook fans. He also thanked the fans for their support over the team’s 21 seasons in their city.

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Taylor Rocca (left), the WHL’s senior manager, communications, wraps up the news conference at which the Kootenay Ice’s move to Winnipeg was made official. Seated, from left, are WHL commissioner Ron Robison, and Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell.

Robison pointed out that the previous owners — the Chynoweth family — attempted to increase fan support but that it has continued to slide over the past number of years.

In Robison’s estimation, the Chynoweths, as well as Fettes and Cockell, did everything they could to get things turned around.

Robison tried to take some of the heat off the franchise’s owners by claiming that “this was a Western Hockey League decision ultimately — not the ownership decision — to transfer this franchise. It was a decision made over an eight- or nine-year period of assessment of this market and the ability of this franchise to be sustainable over a long period of time.”

It turns out that the WHL’s board of governors voted on the move in December; Robinson refused to say whether the vote was unanimous.

Asked what this announcement means for other small-market WHL teams, Robison responded that those teams, some of which are community-owned, have to work hard to maintain a balance. He added that moving the Ice isn’t a reflection on the Cranbrook community.

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The Winnipeg Ice will spend two seasons playing in the U of Manitoba’s Wayne Fleming Arena, which, at the moment, has a capacity of 1,400. (U of Manitoba photo)

Asked what went wrong in Cranbrook, Robison referred to the WHL playoffs in the spring of 2011, pointing to poor attendance at Ice games, and adding that the attendance has been declining since then.

The Ice won the WHL championship that season, but the announced average attendance for nine home playoff games was only 3,049. Kootenay beat the Portland Winterhawks in the final, winning in five games, but the arena wasn’t sold out. Of course, it didn’t help attendance that a lot of WHL games, including all games in the final, were televised.

Robison also admitted that attendance league-wide has been declining, saying that it has changed overall for most teams, and stating again that the Ice’s owners, past and present, did all they could to boost attendance.

When Fettes was asked how long he has been looking at the Winnipeg market, he said he had been wanting to buy into the WHL long before purchasing the Ice. He added that the Ice’s owners have been studying the attendance situation and began working on moving plans last summer.

As for the chances of another team moving to Cranbrook, Robison told the news conference that there aren’t any teams interested in moving at this time.

The Ice is the first WHL team to change locations since the Chilliwack Bruins were sold and moved to Victoria after the 2010-11 season.

Prior to the start of this season, the Ice launched a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — with a goal of selling 2,500 season tickets, which would have marked an increase of about 600 from the previous season. Instead of an increase, however, the drive resulted in about 1,700 season tickets.

In 2017-18, the first season under new ownership, the team had an announced average attendance of 2,442, up from 1,754 the previous season.

This season, attendance has slipped to an average of 2,218.

In November, a group comprised mainly of local businessmen — the Green Bay Committee — began work to sell tickets and sponsorships on behalf of the Ice. After raising what members said was more than $50,000, the committee ceased operations due to an “absence of active engagement” from the Ice owners, who chose not to attend GBC meetings or provide anything in the way of support.

At the time, John Hudak, the GBC’s marketing director, told the Cranbrook Townsman that “it’s extremely disappointing that we have had to terminate our campaign at this particular time, but it is what it is.”

On Tuesday, Hudak told Taking Note: “I have never ever heard of successful business people turning down business.”

Asked if 2,500 season tickets would have kept the franchise in Cranbrook, Cockell admitted the community had reacted well in Year 1, but ticket sales didn’t show well prior to this season and reflected a reduction in management’s benchmark goal.

But, Cockell added, management had to acknowledge that people in the community have worked hard in support of the team.

Robison, Fettes and Cockell also spent time with Mayor Lee Pratt and some city councillors, but the franchise’s exit from its lease has yet to be negotiated.

It’s believed that the Ice players were given the spiel earlier in the morning. They then were taken to Kimberley for a team outing, so there weren’t any players around the arena to speak with the media following the news conference.

Robison, Fettes and Cockell departed via a side door, so didn’t have any interaction with fans who were waiting in the arena’s foyer.

“Leaving town and throwing the fans under the bus” is how Hudak put it.

With 18 games left, the Ice is 10-32-8. It is ninth in the 10-team Eastern Conference and won’t make the playoffs for a fourth straight season, the second in a row under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell.

Last season, the Ice went 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points. This season, it is 22 points from a wild-card spot.

The franchise began as the Edmonton Ice, an expansion franchise that was owned by longtime WHL president Ed Chynoweth. Unable to gain any traction in two seasons (1996-98) in that marketplace, he moved the franchise to Cranbrook where it now is in its 21st season.

The Ice has won three WHL championships (2000, 2002 and 2011) and the 2002 Memorial Cup.

The Ice will play its final game in Cranbrook on March 17 against the Red Deer Rebels.

The Winnipeg Ice’s next game is scheduled for Friday against the Swift Current Broncos in Cranbrook.

JUST NOTES: Taylor Rocca, the WHL’s senior manager, communications, was on hand to do the introductions at the news conference in Cranbrook. Before going to work for the WHL, he was a sports writer at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman and, yes, he covered the Ice. . . . Fettes confirmed at the afternoon news conference in Winnipeg that he has reached agreement to purchase the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. The Blues are the only Winnipeg-based franchise left in the MJHL, which once also included the West Kildonan North Stars, St. Boniface Saints and St. James Canadians. . . . If you have been following this story, you will recall that Fettes purchased two domain names — WinnipegIce.com and WinnipegIce.ca — in April 2017. Asked about that, Fettes said that through his business (24-7 Intouch, a global call centre), he has hundreds of domain names. On this occasion, he claimed he and his eight-year-old son were playing around and just made up some more. . . . The website winnipegice.ca was up and running on Tuesday. . . . Robison has long wanted to have a WHL franchise in the capital city of each of the four Western Canadian provinces. Under his watch, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers were awarded an expansion franchise that began play in 2007-08 in Edmonton, Alberta’s capital; the Chilliwack franchise relocated to Victoria, the capital of B.C.; and now Winnipeg, Manitoba’s capital, has a franchise. Regina, Saskatchewan’s capital, has long been home to the Pats.