WHL dumps inter-conference play, changes playoff format . . . Sasakamoose book well worth your time . . . Raiders’ radio voice steps aside

The WHL’s 2021-22 season won’t include any interlocking play between WHL2Eastern and Western conferences, which means, unfortunately, that fans in U.S. and B.C. division centres won’t get to see F Connor Bedard, the most-publicized prospect to enter the league in some time, live and in person. . . . Bedard is the first player to receive exceptional status in order to allow him to claim a full-time WHL roster spot as a 15-year-old. Bedard, who will turn 16 on July 17, has 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games for the Pats in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season. He left the Pats mid-season in order to play for Canada at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, where he had seven goals and seven assists in 14 games. . . . Bedard is eligible for the NHL’s 2023 draft. . . . It also means that those same U.S. and B.C. division fans won’t get to see F Matthew Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice. He was denied exceptional status prior to the 2018-19 season, but still got into 22 games and earned seven assists. He spent 2020-21 with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints, putting up 21 goals and 17 assists in 34 games. . . . Savoie is eligible for the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .

The WHL didn’t offer a reason for dumping inter-conference play in the news release it issued on Tuesday following the conclusion of its annual general meeting. However, I think we can assume that it’s all about trying to save money after not seeing any playoff revenue for two seasons now. . . . The WHL also announced that it plans to open its regular season on Oct. 1, with each team playing a 68-game schedule within its own conference. . . . The WHL added that “with the anticipated lifting of health restrictions in all jurisdictions” it expects to play its games without attendance restrictions. . . . If all goes according to plan, the regular season will end on April 3. . . . That would mean the WHL playoffs would start on April 8. Keep in mind that because of the pandemic the WHL hasn’t featured a playoff game since May 13, 2019, when the host Prince Albert Raiders won the championship with a 3-2 OT victory over the Vancouver Giants. . . . The WHL has changed its playoff format, going back to a conference format that last was used in the spring of 2014. The two division winners will be seeded first and second, with the next six teams slotted three through eight. The first round will have one vs. eight, two vs. seven, etc., with teams reseeded by points after each round. . . . The WHL’s complete news release is right here.


With the Vegas Golden Knights having opened one Stanley Cup semifinal on VegasMonday night with a 4-1 victory over the visiting Montreal Canadiens, it seems the rest of the hockey world is learning what WHL fans have known for a long, long time. Yes, Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights’ general manager, knows what he is doing.

Here’s columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, writing about the Golden Knights prior to the start of the series:

“Just four years into their history, the stunning story of their rookie season is kind of yesterday’s news. Today, they are merely one of the best teams in the NHL. Owned by Bill Foley. The fans are of another level. The presidential work and so much other work done by George McPhee. The GM, McCrimmon, is the most effective in the NHL. Unafraid of making enormous trades. Unafraid of giant-sized signings. Unafraid of drafting players and then sending them packing in exchange for tangible assets. Unafraid of doing what others may think about, but rarely act upon.”

Doesn’t that pretty much describe the way McCrimmon operated when he owned the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings?

Simmons’ complete piece is right here.


SasakamooseIf you are in the market for something to read, may I suggest you take a gander at Call Me Indian, a book that was published last month and tells the story of Fred Sasakamoose. What’s it all about? Well, the subtitle pretty much tells it all — From the Trauma of Residential School to Becoming the NHL’s First Treat Indigenous Player. . . . To think that Sasakamoose went from playing hockey and trying just to survive at a residential school in northern Saskatchewan to the lineup of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks in a few short years almost beggars belief. But he did just that, and a whole lot more. . . . Considering all that is happening these days involving residential schools and their history, both here and in the U.S., this really is a timely read. . . . Sasakamoose, who died of COVID-19 on Nov. 20 so didn’t live to see his book published, doesn’t go easy on himself either. He bares his heart and soul, including his issues with alcohol and parenting. In fact, if there is a hero in this book it isn’t Sasakamoose, rather it’s his long-suffering wife Loretta with whom he had nine children. . . . Give this book a try; I guarantee it’ll stay with you for a long time after you’re finished with it.



ICYMI, the CFL’s board of governors voted Monday to have the league’s nine CFLteams begin a 14-game regular season on Aug. 5. The season is to begin with a rematch of the last Grey Cup game — the Winnipeg Blue Bombers beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary on Nov. 24, 2019. . . . The CFL hasn’t played a game since then because of the pandemic. . . . The 2021 season is to open with that rematch being played in Winnipeg. . . . The 2021 Grey Cup game is to be played in Hamilton on Dec. 12. . . . Training camps are to open on July 10, with players needing to report and go through a quarantine process that will be decided in conjunction with local health officials. . . . There won’t be any exhibition games. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun takes a look at the CFL situation right here. . . . BTW, the Labour Day Classic in Regina is scheduled for Sept. 5, with the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg on Sept. 11. In other words, all is almost right with the world.


Bobcats


Abbotsford Aces? Fraser Valley Falcons? The Vancouver Canucks are asking hockey fans in the Fraser Valley what they should name the AHL franchise that is to begin play in Abbotsford in the fall. The Canucks are moving their AHL affiliate, formerly the Utica Comets, to Abbotsford. . . . Daniel Wagner of vancouverisawesome.com has more right here.


Eric Bélanger has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Trois-TRLionsRivières Lions, an expansion ECHL franchise that will be affiliated with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens. . . . Bélanger, 43, spent the previous two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Chevaliers de Lévis. . . . His playing career included 820 NHL regular-season games split between the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. . . . In 2008-09, he was teammates with Marc-André Bergeron with the Minnesota Wild. Bergeron now is the Lions’ general manager.


Milkyway


The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, a 20-team junior B league, kijhlsaid Monday that it will open its 2021-22 season on Oct. 1 and wrap things up on Feb. 20. . . . “All 20 of the KIJHL’s member clubs will complete a 42-game regular season schedule that includes eight games against divisional opponents and two games each against teams in the opposing division within the same conference,” the league said in a news release. . . . That means that the Spokane Braves will be back after not operating in 2020-21 due to the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential traffic. . . . The KIJHL news release is right here.


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: Trevor Redden, the play-by-play voice of the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders for the past four seasons, is leaving the position, citing wanting to prioritize “a different work-life balance, and being able to spend more time with family and friends.” He made the announcement via social media on Tuesday. Redden said that he will be remaining in Prince Albert where he works with Pattison Media Ltd. . . . Former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Mike Stothers has joined the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks as an assistant coach. He spent the previous five seasons as head coach of the AHL’s Ontario Reign. Stothers, 59, was the Warriors’ head coach for three seasons (2011-14). . . .

The junior B Creston Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Bill Rotheisler, their general manager and head coach, to a one-year deal through 2021-22. Rotheisler is preparing for his second season in Creston, although his first season amounted to only three games because of the pandemic. If you aren’t familiar with Rotheisler’s story, including his battle with lymphatic cancer, Google is your friend. . . . Serge Lajoie, who spent one season (2018-19) as head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, has been named head coach of Alberta’s male U16 team. Lajoie also is the head coach of OHA Edmonton’s U18 prep team.


Backseat

Another big day for COVID-19 . . . WHL doing the virus shuffle as more teams hit . . . Bedard leaves Regina with game to remember


The virus had one of its best days yet. Holy smokes! . . . Positive tests on three teams in the WHL, which was forced to shut down two of the teams. . . . The World men’s curling championship shut down after positive tests in the Calgary bubble. Yes, in the bubble! . . . Warnings from the Vancouver Canucks’ team physician. . . . The virus bit the Colorado Avalanche, one NHL broadcasting team, the Toronto Blue Jays . . . On top of all that, Canada had its worst day since the start of the pandemic — yes, since the start! — with 9,255 new positives. Hey, we’re a mess up here but we’ll be fine because our government and health officials are monitoring things.


The WHL has shut down two more teams, with the Calgary Hitmen and Medicine Hat Tigers having joined the Kelowna Rockets with all team activities suspended.

Calgary’s team activities have been suspended because a player has tested WHL2positive. The Hitmen have been hanging their hats on the Tsuut’ina Nation just southwest of the city, practising and playing games at the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex and living at the Grey Eagle Resort.

The Tigers, who are living with billets, played the Hitmen on Monday and “have been deemed a close contact,” the league said, so their team activities also have been suspended.

The league has suspended six regular-season games that were scheduled for Friday through Monday — Medicine Hat at Lethbridge and Calgary at Red Deer, from Friday; Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, on Saturday; Red Deer at Calgary, on Sunday; and Medicine Hat at Lethbridge and Calgary at Red Deer on Monday.

With Lethbridge and Red Deer having had those games scrubbed, the Hurricanes and Rebels instead will play each other three times this weekend. They played last night in Red Deer and are to meet tonight in Lethbridge and again Monday in Lethbridge.

Meanwhile, there also have been positive tests with the Rockets and Vancouver Giants but they won’t impact either team’s schedule.

The Rockets have been shut down since seven positives — four players, three staff members — were revealed on March 31. The new positive test is a player who was deemed a close contact from those seven positives and he is in isolation.

According to the WHL, all other Kelowna players and staff tested negative this week. They all have been in isolation so the latest positive doesn’t impact their scheduled return to team activities. If all goes well, that should happen on April 15.

The Vancouver player who tested positive was soon to be added to the roster. He was in quarantine before joining the team in Kamloops and, according to the WHL, “has not had contact with any members of the team cohort.”

Everyone else with the Giants tested negative this week, so team activities won’t be impacted.


The Vancouver Canucks still had 19 players on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list Canuckswhen it was released on Friday afternoon. Three players off their taxi squad, three coaches and one other staff member also tested positive.

Before the list came out on Friday, Vancouver general manager Jim Benning and Dr. Jim Bovard, the team’s physician, met virtually with media members.

Here’s some of what was said . . . 

Jim Benning:

“I think we’ll have the majority of our (injured) guys back when we start playing, outside of two or three guys.

“My conversations with the league are that we’re going to continue with our schedule at some point, and that we’re going to play all 56 games.

Dr. Bovard:

“We know the individual had gone to a place within the guidelines. That place was subsequently found to have cases of COVID . . . we’ve made it clear within our group there’s no culprit here aside form the (virus) itself.”

“We’ve had a whole range of what I’ve seen in COVID throughout my practice in the last year. Nothing unusual. Nothing different. There’s been nobody who’s needed to be hospitalized.”

“What we do know is that it is a variant. The process for determining what kind of variant is much more complex.”

“We’re moving out of the infection phase and into the dealing with symptoms and recovery phase. . . . For the most part, players are on the other side of this COVID-19. None were hospitalized, but family members are getting sick now.”

“The virus is tricky. It’s changing, and we need to change with it. If we could anticipate what it’s going to do next, our jobs would be much easier.”

“I can speak absolutely, emphatically to everybody out there . . . you do not want to get this virus, so do everything you can to not get this virus, not just for your sake, so that you’re not potentially passing it on to others.”

“If you’re sick, stay home. Isolate. It doesn’t matter what you’re sick with. Stay home and isolate.”


The NHL’s COVID-19 problems aren’t only in Vancouver. . . . The Colorado nhl2Avalanche cancelled its morning skate on Friday after learning Thursday that one of its players had tested positive. . . . D Bowen Byram was on the NHL’s protocol list when it was released on Friday. . . . The Avalanche went ahead with Friday’s game and beat the host Anaheim Ducks, 2-0. . . .

Meanwhile, F William Nylander of the Toronto Maple Leafs will sit for at least a week after going on the protocol list on Wednesday after being yanked from a game against the Montreal Canadiens. That occurred after he was identified as a close contact with a potential positive case who isn’t involved with the team. . . .

The Pittsburgh Penguins visited the New Jersey Devils on Friday night in a game televised by the MSG Network. However, the network had to cancel its pregame show after hosts Erika Wachter and Bryce Salvador went into COVID-19 protocol.


The Toronto Blue Jays placed OF Teoscar Hernandez on the injured list Friday after he was deemed to be a close contact to someone who tested positive outside of the team. . . . They also put LHP Ryan Borucki on the injured list due to side-effects to his COVID-19 vaccination. Then, during a 7-1 loss to the Anaheim Angels in Dunedin, Fla., Toronto pulled LF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. after two innings because he also was experiencing side-effects from his vaccination.


The biggest story in the WHL this season to date is being written by F Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats. The 15-year-old Bedard, the first overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, scored twice in a 2-1 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings on Friday, just three days after his grandfather, Garth, died in a two-vehicle crash on the Trans-Canada Highway near Sicamous, B.C. . . . “It’s not easy for me, obviously, and my family,” Bedard told reporters via Zoom, while fighting to hold back tears. “He is definitely who I play for now and will for the rest of my life. It’s a really special game and I know he’s watching me.” . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post was at the game and his story is right here.

——

The game signalled the end of Bedard’s first WHL season, as he now will return Patshome to North Vancouver and spend some time with his family before joining Canada’s U18 team for the IIHF World championship in Frisco and Plano, Texas, April 26 through May 6. . . . Last night, he gave the Pats (6-6-3) a 1-0 lead 22 seconds into the second period and won it 49 seconds into OT on a PP. . . . Bedard finished with 12 goals and 16 assists in 15 games. . . . He leads the seven-team Regina hub in points and is tied for the lead in goals. . . . F Jake Chiasson (8) had tied it for Brandon (11-2-2) at 1:20 of the third period. . . . The Wheat Kings had an eight-game winning streak snapped. . . . Brandon has points in nine straight now and has outscored its opponents 42-16 over that stretch. . . . G Roddy Ross stopped 33 shots for Regina.

F Gage Goncalves broke a 3-3 tie at 18:24 of the third period as the Everett Silvertips beat the Seattle Thunderbirds, 4-3, in Kent, Wash. . . . He’s got seven goals. . . . F Cole Fonstad (6) gave Everett a 3-1 lead at 7:16 of the second period. . . . Seattle tied it on third-period goals by F Conner Roulette (6), at 11:46, and F Keltie Jeri-Leon (8), with his second of the game, at 14:42. . . . Everett (9-1-0) has won four straight. . . . Seattle is 5-5-0. . . .

G Mason Beaupit turned aside 35 shots to lead the host Spokane Chiefs to a 3-1 victory over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Beaupit, 17, picked up his first victory of this season and the second of his career. . . . This season, he is 1-2-1, 2.48, .919. . . . F Mason Mannek (5) gave Portland a 1-0 lead at 6:31 of the first period. . . . D Bobby Russell (2) pulled Spokane into a tie 39 seconds into the second period and F Adam Beckman (5) gave the Chiefs the lead at 3:14 on a PP. . . . F Cordel Larson (2), who had two assists, got the empty-netter. . . . The Chiefs (2-4-3) have points in four straight (2-0-2). . . . The Winterhawks (4-4-2) have lost three in a row. . . .

F Ryder Korczak scored twice and added an assist to help the Moose Jaw MooseJawWarriors to a 6-2 victory over the Swift Current Broncos in Regina. . . . Korczak has three goals this season. . . . The Warriors (7-7-1) got a goal and two assists from each of D Daemon Hunt (6) and F Riley Krane (2). . . . Krane broke a 1-1 tie at 8:37 of the second period with the first of five straight Moose Jaw goals. . . . The Broncos (3-11-1) have lost four in a row. . . . This game marked Jason Ripplinger’s first as Moose Jaw’s general manager. He was promoted from AGM on Thursday, replacing Alan Millar, who now is with Hockey Canada. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Victoria KamloopsRoyals, 6-3. . . . Kamloops led 2-0 after one period but couldn’t hold it. F Brayden Tracey (5) gave the Royals (1-5-1) a 3-2 lead 48 seconds into the third period. . . . D Quinn Schmiemann (2) pulled Kamloops (5-1-0) even at 2:00 and F Reese Belton (1) broke the tie at 3:44. . . . F Orin Centazzo (3) had two goals and an assist for the Blazers, with F Connor Zary adding his third goal and two assists. . . . G Dylan Ernst stopped 15 shots to earn his first WHL victory in his first start. Ernst, who turned 17 on Feb. 6, is from Weyburn, Sask. He was a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Victoria G Connor Martin blocked 47 shots. . . .

F Dino Kambeitz had four points to lead the Lethbridge Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the Rebels in Red Deer. . . . Kambeitz scored his third goal and added three assists in enjoying his first career four-point game. It was his 201st regular-season game. . . . The Hurricanes (4-6-2) had lost their previous five games (0-3-2). . . . The Rebels, who have lost seven in a row, are 2-10-2. . . . Lethbridge was 3-for-6 on the PP. . . . D Alex Cotton scored twice — he’s got four goals — and added an assist for the Hurricanes, who led 6-1 in the third period.


Aunts


The World Curling Federation and Curling Canada announced late Friday that they “are aware of positive COVID-19 tests within the Calgary bubble” at the World men’s championship. . . . While the positives tests didn’t involve teams that qualified for the playoffs, the schedule has been placed on hold “until there is more clarity.” . . . That includes a playoff game between the U.S. and Switzerland that was to have been played Saturday morning at 9 MT. . . . The playoff qualifiers are to undergo testing Saturday morning and “until the results are clear and it’s known that the players and event staff are safe, no further games will be played.” . . . Those who tested positive and close contacts are in quarantine, while contact tracing continues. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun tweeted that the “positives came from ‘exit’ testing, conducted so that players could fly home to their countries.”


Dennis (Red) Gendron, the head coach of the U of Maine Black Bears hockey team, died on Friday afternoon while playing golf. Gendron, the head coach there since 2013, was 63. . . . He was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils when the won the 1995 Stanley Cup and also coach in their organization. . . . Gendron also coached the U.S. national junior team on three occasions.


Society


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.


Blood

Restrictions hit some B.C. hockey teams . . . Another football buffet in U.S. . . . Did Red Wings get the wrong Brown?

And so it begins . . .

Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, took action Saturday in an attempt to halt skyrocketing COVID-19 numbers. . . . Restrictions placed on two health districts — Coastal and Fraser Valley — shut down hockey in most of B.C.’s Lower Mainland. . . .

The 12-team Pacific Junior Hockey League, with junior B teams scattered across the region, tweeted that it would be postponing all games after Saturday at 10 p.m. “We are working with BC Hockey, ViaSport and Provincial Health Office to manage through this period,” the PJHL tweeted.

The junior A BCHL has four teams in the restricted area, but the league hadn’t made an announcement of any kind as of late Saturday. . . . However, the Powell River Kings announced on Twitter that their Sunday exhibition game against the Cowichan Valley Capitals has been cancelled “due to recent orders from the Provincial Health Officer.” . . .

While minor hockey teams won’t be allowed to play games in the two health districts, they will be permitted to practice. In fact, BC Hockey said that games are “cancelled/postponed . . . until further notice.” . . .

Dr. Henry said the restrictions mean “no indoor competitions or games for this short period of time. These activities can be replaced with individual exercise or practice and drills, as we did previously before we started the phases of our restart of sports programs. That allows everyone to maintain safe physical distancing when participating in these important physical activities.”

Adrian Dix, the health minister, added: “Indoor sports where physical distancing can’t be maintained are suspended, as are all travel for sports into/out of these regions.”


CBC News: Alberta is reporting 919 new cases of COVID-19, another all-time high for the province. An additional 5 deaths have been reported, for a total of 357 since the pandemic began.

Hockey Canada has as many as 47 players heading to Red Deer for its national junior team selection camp that is to run from Nov. 17 through Dec. 13. . . . Two U.S. college coaches — Mel Pearson of Michigan and Tony Granato of Wisconsin — have expressed reluctance to free up players to attend a Canadian camp that is to be four weeks long and with no guarantees that their guys will make the final roster. . . . So it could be that D Owen Power, a 17-year-old freshman at Michigan, would be in Red Deer. “I wish I didn’t have to make a tough decision like I’m probably going to have to,” Pearson told The Michigan Daily.“But he’s here to go to school and play hockey, not just the hockey.” . . . Tony Granato, the head coach at Wisconsin, has the same thoughts on F Dylan Holloway, a first-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2020 draft. “You’re asking a lot of a young man to leave school for that length of time for an 11-day tournament,” Granato told the Wisconsin State Journal. “I know it’s a unique situation. I know it’s a unique year. It’s a unique year for all of us. That’s why we’re playing a lot of games before Christmas, because we’re squeezed as far as the length of our season.” . . . The Big Ten is to open its season on the Nov. 13 weekend.



Ryan Thorpe, Winnipeg Free Press: Manitoba reports 271 new cases of COVID-19 (Saturday). 156 cases from Winnipeg health region. 39 cases for Southern health region, which goes into level red Monday. There are seven more deaths — a new, grim record high for the province.

Peter Woods, the executive director of Hockey Manitoba, told Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun earlier in the week that there have been some issues with rec leagues. . . . “If you’re irresponsible that could cause our program to shut down and effectively that’s what has happened,” Woods said. “There’s been a spread within hockey, not within our program, but outside our program and we’ve been tarnished, in a sense, because they participate in the same sport but they’re not members of our program and we have no control over them. . . . It’s been reported that people are drinking in the dressing room and congregating outside the dressing room. We all get tarnished with the same brush and it’s a disservice to the people in our programs that are following the proper protocols. We’re forced to pay a penalty for that because we play the same game.” . . .

The MJHL is on a break until Nov. 20, although the Steinbach Pistons and host Winnipeg Freeze may complete a suspended game on Nov. 15. The game at the RINK Training Centre was suspended at 14:40 of the first period because of poor ice conditions.

Other hockey, like the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League, is on hold until further notice.


The QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens have suspended activities after a staff member tested positive. The Sagueneens played the Rimouski Oceanic on Tuesday. . . . On Saturday night, a game between the Oceanic and the Baie-Comeau Drakkar was halted moments after it began. The league said it was making the move as a preventive measure.

CBC News: Quebec reports 1,234 new cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths. The province has seen a total of 113,423 known cases and 6,431 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. 523 people are in hospital and 78 are in intensive care.


CBC News: Ontario’s Peel Region is bringing in stricter COVID-19 measures than ordered by the province. Among them: Banquet halls and event spaces must close. Wedding receptions are not allowed. Residents are asked not to visit another household, even outside.


Ann Killion, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“As darkness and cold set in over the Northern Hemisphere, coronavirus cases spike, deaths continue to mount, previously reopened countries lock down again . . . and American football keeps trying to play games.

“The 49ers and Packers played a game on Thursday that they shouldn’t have. Twelve NFL teams are struggling with positive tests, and five shut down their facilities during the week. The Raiders have thus far been fined a cool million dollars for violations of coronavirus protocol. Ten college football games were canceled or postponed this weekend, including Cal against Washington and another Pac-12 game, Arizona at Utah. That brings the cancellations this season to 47. Three Stanford players were ruled out of the Cardinal’s game against Oregon, hours before kickoff, “due to COVID-19 testing results and contact tracing protocols.” A top-four contest took place between Clemson and Notre Dame, but college’s biggest star, Trevor Lawrence, couldn’t play because of a positive test.

“Everyone in football is walking a tightrope, but no one knows where it ends.”


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

I think it’s fair to say that the coronavirus looks forward to Saturdays, especially with the buffet that NCAA football and the teams that represent institutions of higher learning serves up on a weekly basis. In case you think there is any chance of the numbers coming down soon in football country, I present . . .

Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman, who were calling the game for FOX, had a real chuckle about the Mike Gundy lookalike — he is the Oklahoma State head coach who wears his facemask as a chin diaper all game long every Saturday — and the bodyguards. Brando and Tillman couldn’t be bothered to point out that not one of the five was wearing his facemask the proper way.

In the hours before opening the Pac-12 season against host Oregon, Stanford scratched starting QB Davis Mills, WR Connor Wedington and DE Trey LaBounty, all due to COVID-19 protocols. . . . The game, however, went on. . . . Oregon won, 35-14. . . .

The Chicago Bears placed DB Deon Bush on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Saturday night. He won’t play in Sunday’s game at the Tennessee Titans.


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.


Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun has been writing features on former Wheat Kings and you really should think about checking them out. The latest one is about D Larry Brown, who once was traded by the New York Rangers to the Detroit Red Wings, who may have been thinking they were getting Arnie Brown. Seriously! . . . It was a terrific deal for Larry Brown, though, because he got to room with Gordie Howe. . . . Oh, and the photos with the Larry Brown story are flashes from the past. That’s Rich Bull, long-time pro at the Brandon Golf and Country Club, beside a bespectacled Brown in the middle row of the team photo of the juvenile Brandon Travellers. . . . Bergson’s latest story in what has become a long and entertaining series is right here.


CHL lawsuit settlement rejected by two judges . . . Third QMJHL team has positive test . . . NHL postpones two events

It was May 17 when the CHL announced that it had agreed to a $30-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit that had been brought against it. The lawsuit asked that teams be forced to pay their plays minimum wage.

Under terms of the settlement, the CHL would pay out $30 million by Oct. 20, 2020, with no legal obligation to treat players as employees.CHL

Two WHL teams, the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders, told shareholders at their annual general meetings that they had paid $180,846 and $166,667, respectively, as their parts of the settlement.

Well . . . it turns out that the lawsuit is anything but settled; in fact, it is very much alive.

On Thursday, two judges rejected the settlement.

According to Rick Westhead of TSN, Madam Justice Chantal Corriveau, a Quebec judge, “wrote the settlement terms were overly broad and may give the CHL too much protection from liability for conduct that falls outside the claims alleged in this case.”

Westhead added, via Twitter, that the judge “suggested sides file new settlement with amended terms and noted in her decision the CHL faces at least 3 other legal cases — a proposed class action over concussions, and other cases involving alleged abuse and violation of anti-competition laws.”

Meanwhile, Westhead reported, Ontario Justice Paul Perell “also rejected the minimum-wage lawsuit settlement, saying if it was approved, it might prevent current/former players from suing the CHL in other class actions for compensation for significant injuries.”

Westhead added that “Justice Perell wants a renegotiation of the settlement agreement and seems to take issue with how much money lawyers working on the case were to collect.”

In his decision, Perell wrote: “In the immediate case, Class Counsel had far more to gain ($9M) than the $8,381 net recovery of a class member . . .”


The QMJHL has had a third team hit with a positive test for the coronavirus. qmjhlnewThis time the Drummondville Voltigeurs had a player test positive, so all in-person activities have been halted while other players and staff are tested. . . . The league’s Quebec-based teams have been in a holding pattern since Oct. 14 because of rising numbers in the province. Activities have been halted until at least Oct. 28. . . . Earlier this month, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had 18 positives, with the Sherbrooke Phoenix being hit with eight. The teams had met in a doubleheader on the regular season’s first weekend. Two on-ice officials who worked in those games also tested positive.


Cheese


With the WHL and its teams focussed on opening their regular season on Jan. 8, Saskatoonthe Saskatoon Blades are exploring a number of seating plans for their home games, all of them with the assumption that they will be allowed to have fans in attendance. The unknown, of course, is just how many fans will be at their home-opener, whenever that may come. . . . Ryan Flaherty of Global-TV Saskatoon checked in with Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, and that piece is right here.


Former WHLer JC Lipon is spending this season with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga, meaning his home base is in Latvia. From Regina, Lipon spent four seasons (2010-13) with the Kamloops Blazers before ending up in the Winnipeg Jets’ organization. So how did he end up in Riga? . . . Read all about it, in his own words, right here.


Congrats


The Ukrainian Hockey League began its 2019-20 season on Sept. 14, 2019; it ended it on Tuesday when HK Kremenchuk won the championship, beating Bily Bars, 3-2 in OT, in Game 7 of the final series. When Kremenchuk captain Nikolai Kiselyov scored the winner on a PP, it was the first time his team held the lead in Game 7. . . . As for the 2020-21 season, well, it’s scheduled to get started next week. . . . Andy Potts has more right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL has postponed its 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Game. The Winter Classic had been scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, with the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla., on Jan. 30. . . . The NHL continues to have a target date of Jan. 1 for the start of its next regular season. . . .

In what we used to see as normal times, more than 250,000 people would file through Macy’s store in New York City every Christmas just to visit with Santa Claus. That won’t happen this time because, for the first time in 160 years, Mr. Claus won’t be there. Yes, this grinchy pandemic has claimed another tradition. . . . There is more on that story right here. . . .

Emily Potter, a pro basketball player from Winnipeg, has tested positive in the Czech Republic where she plays for KP Brno. Potter, 25, attend the U of Utah and is involved in the Canadian national women’s team program. She tested positive this week with the league already shut down following a nationwide lockdown. So far, the head coach, a manager and two of her teammates also have tested positive. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun has her story right here. . . .

Massachusetts’ Public Health Department has shut down indoor arenas and skating facilities for two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases. Kaitlin McKlnley Becker of NBC Boston reported that “health officials say the order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments. . . . In Massachusetts, there have been at least 30 clusters of COVID-19 associated with organized ice hockey activities involving residents from more than 60 municipalities. Each of these includes two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, totalling 108 confirmed cases.” . . . The shutdown doesn’t impact collegiate or professional hockey. . . .

In a cost-cutting measure brought on by the pandemic, Michigan State said Thursday that it will drop men’s and women’s swimming and men’s and women’s diving after the 2020-21 season. . . .

The NFL may be on the verge of moving another game. The Las Vegas Raiders have moved two OL to the COVID-19 list, so many not have enough eligible for Sunday’s scheduled game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rules call for teams to dress eight OL per game. At the moment, the Raiders only have seven available. . . . The game already has been moved once. It was to have been played Sunday night, but the NFL moved it to the late afternoon slot the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals to the night game. The NFL wants to guarantee that there is a game for Sunday Night Football.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed D Gianni Fairbrother, 20, who played the past three seasons with the Everett Silvertips. From North Vancouver, B.C., he was a third-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL draft. . . . Mark Readman has joined the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and assistant coach. Readman, 25, spent last season as head coach of the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks of the junior B Northwest Junior Hockey League. In Creston, he will work alongside GM/head coach Bill Rotheisler.


Perfect

Ice acquires Savoie, the elder. . . . WHL firms up a pair of indefinite suspensions. . . . Minor illness keeps Byram off ice


MacBeth

F Travis Ewanyk (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL). This season, he had two goals and five assists in 40 games. . . .

G Ville Kolppanen (Lethbridge, 2009-10) has signed a one-year-plus-option year contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SEL), he was 6-10-1, 2.30, .916 in 18 games as the backup to Just Pogge (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-06). . . .

F Richard Mueller (Brandon, Saskatoon, Calgary, 1998-2003) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). An alternate captain this season he had 26 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. He led the Huskies in goals, assists and points. Next season will be his 16th in Germany. . . .

D Jonathan Harty (Everett, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had five goals and 13 assists in 52 games.


The Winnipeg Ice has acquired the WHL rights to F Carter Savoie, who turned 17 on Jan. 23, from the Regina Pats in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and wpgiceconditional second- and third-round picks — the year or years undisclosed.

Those conditional picks will depend on if/when Savoie should sign with the Ice.

This has led to speculation that the Ice will select F Matt Savoie, Carter’s younger brother, with the first pick of the 2019 draft when it is held in Red Deer on May 2. The Ice also holds the ninth selection in the first round.

The Savoie brothers are from St. Albert, Alta., and both have committed to the U of Denver, Carter for the 2020-21 season and Matt, who turned 15 on Jan. 1, for 2021-22.

The Pats selected Carter in the ninth round of the 2017 bantam draft. He is playing with the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, having put up 31 goals and 42 assists in 58 regular-season games. The Crusaders are alive in the playoffs, and he has two goals and eight assists in 10 games.

Matt played this season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, scoring 31 goals and adding 40 assists in 31 games. In five playoff games, he had three goals and nine assists.

The Savoie family applied to Hockey Canada during the season in the hopes of gaining exceptional status for Matt, something that would allow him to spend 2019-20 on a WHL roster. Under present rules, a 15-year-old player is limited to five games — except under emergency conditions — while his club team’s season is alive. Although there has yet to be an official announcement from Hockey Canada, there have been reports that the family’s request has been denied.


Matt Cockell, the president and general manager of the Winnipeg Ice — formerly the KootenaynewKootenay Ice — did a question-and-answer session with the Winnipeg Sun’s Ted Wyman the other day. . . . Patti Dawn Swansson, who blogs as The River City Renegade, spent a goodly number of years covering junior and pro hockey in Winnipeg so is quite familiar with the puck scene in the Manitoba capital. She responded to one of Cockell’s answers at her blog.

At one point, Cockell told Wyman: “At the end of the day, the passion for hockey is really what’s exciting about Winnipeg. When you look across Canada, there really isn’t another city that embraces hockey the way Winnipeg does. We really believe it’s the hockey capital of Canada.”

To which, Swansson wrote: “Whoa boy. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that Good Ol’ Hometown has already let one NHL franchise get away (no, it wasn’t Gary Bettman’s fault) and two Western Hockey League outfits. Pegtown is the ‘hockey capital of Canada’ like Pierre’s boy Justin is a man of all the people. And that’s coming from someone born and raised in River City, someone who recalls seeing a lot of empty seats in the old barn on Maroons Road. Yes, I realize that Cockell is going to say all the right things in order to sell his freshly minted WHL franchise to the rabble, but I’m not sure that faux flattery is the way to go about it. Peggers are hockey wise, they aren’t rubes.”

Wyman’s complete 21 questions with Cockell is right here.

If you are/were an Ice fan, who lives in the Cranbrook area, you shouldn’t read this. It might be bad for your health, especially the part where Cockell responds to a question about “what do you say to the hockey fans of Cranbrook?”

Cockell’s response: “We’ve had a lot of dialogue with them. I lived there right through to our last game. What our message has been in dialogue is that everybody did everything they possibly could, including the business community in Cranbrook, the fans in that community and our ownership group. We did everything we could to see if there was a sustainable opportunity there. It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to get there, but at the end of the day we made a decision and we tried to be as honest as we could. It’s hard and yet, we need to focus now on what we’re doing moving forward and that’s really exciting.”

Some of that will be news to the Green Bay Committee, won’t it?


Chances are that F Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes will miss a game or two when the 2019-20 season opens, thanks to the slashing major and game misconduct that he was hit with as Tuesday’s game with the visiting Calgary Hitmen came to a close. . . . Barlage slashed Calgary F Carson Focht, who scored twice in Calgary’s 4-2 victory in Game 7 of the first-round series. . . . If you watch the video in the tweet below, you also will see the Lethbridge right winger break the stick of the Calgary left winger with a slash.


F Parker AuCoin, who played out his junior eligibility with the Tri-City Americans this season, has signed on with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. This season, he had 42 goals and 42 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . In 262 regular-season WHL games over four seasons, he has 88 goals and 92 assists. . . . From St. Albert, Alta., he was the 15th-overall pick in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft.


Dave Struch, the head coach of the Regina Pats, will be an assistant coach with the Canadian team that will compete in the 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden, April 18 through 28. . . . Brett Gibson, the head coach at Queen’s U for 13 seasons, will be the U18 team’s head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Serge Aubin, who most recently was the head coach of the ZSC Lions in Switzerland’s NL A. . . . Adam Brown of the Kelowna Rockets will be the U18 team’s goaltending consultant.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Victoria Royals will be without F Kody McDonald for the first four games of their second-round series with the Vancouver Giants. McDonald had been under an indefinite suspension after being hit with a match penalty for a stick-swinging incident during Game 4 of their first-round series against the Blazers in Kamloops on March 27. The WHL announced Wednesday that the suspension has been set at six games. He has four games remaining on it. . . .

The WHL also announced that the indefinite suspension to F Sean Richards of the Seattle Thunderbirds has been set at eight games. He took a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct for a hit on Vancouver F Aidan Barfoot in Game 4 of their first-round series on March 27. Richards, 20, missed the last two games of the series, so has six games remaining. He doesn’t have any junior eligibility remaining. According to the WHL, Richards “will be required to serve the remaining six games of his suspension during the 2019-20 season should he continue his playing career.” . . .

Barfoot hasn’t played since being hit by Richards and isn’t expected back for the early part of the Giants’ second-round series. They open against the Victoria Royals with games in Langley, B.C., on Friday and Saturday. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Wednesday that Vancouver D Bowen Byram didn’t skate for a second straight day. “GM Barclay Parneta says it is minor illness” and that Byram is expected to practice today and play Friday. . . . Giants F Yannik Valenti also didn’t skate Wednesday. . . .

Sportsnet will televise the first three games of the second-round series between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. . . . Games 1 and 2 are set for Friday (7 p.m. CST) and Sunday in Prince Albert (6 p.m. CST), with Game 3 in Saskatoon on Tuesday (7 p.m. CST). . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have added D Luke Gallagher, 18, to their roster as an AP. Gallagher, 18, had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs earlier in the season. From Mead, Wash., he joined the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters in January, and recorded seven assists in 15 regular-season games and one in 12 playoff games.