Virus offers up reminder to NHL that it’s still around . . . NHL tells scouts to follow protocols . . . WHL deal includes 2025 draft pick

COVID-19 chose to rear its ugly head as the NHL regular season opened. . . . The Krakenexpansion Seattle Kraken played its first game on Tuesday night — it lost 4-3 to the host Vegas Golden Knights — with one player on the COVID-19 list after having five on there. F Cale Jarnkrok didn’t play, while F Joonas Donskoi, F Marcus Johansson, F Jared McCann and D Jamie Oleksiak, all of whom had been on the list, were cleared in time to play. . . . Seattle head coach Dave Hakstol had said during the morning skate that Donskoi, McCann and Oleksiak wouldn’t be available, but they were cleared in time to fly to Las Vegas and play. . . . As well, Everett Fitzhugh, the team’s play-by-play voice, was missing in action after he, too, tested positive. He is in the protocol and wasn’t able to travel to Las Vegas. . . . According to general manager Ron Francis, everyone on the roster is fully vaccinated. . . .

Meanwhile, F Nathan McKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, one of the NHL’s best players, has tested positive, although he is asymptomatic. He won’t play tonight (Wednesday) against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. The Avalanche is hoping for negative tests so that McKinnon can play Saturday night when the St. Louis Blues visit Denver. . . . The Vancouver Canucks will be without F Brandon Sutter indefinitely as he deals with the long-term impact of having had COVID-19 when four coaches and 21 players tested positive in late March. There are reports that Sutter is dealing with fatigue-related issues. Sutter is the son of Brent Sutter, the owner and general manager of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels.


Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet posted his latest 32 Thoughts on Tuesday and it included this:

“There was a COVID breakout among scouts who attended the USHL Fall Classic Sept. 23-27 in Pittsburgh. Since then, the NHL has warned scouts there is a ‘zero tolerance policy with respect to the protocols in all partner leagues being respected and followed.’ Those leagues are being asked to make it known if anyone ignores protocols, with potential punishment of losing their ability to attend games — at the very least.” . . . The latest 32 Thoughts is right here.


Introverts


With the NHL’s 2021-22 regular season now rolling, there are three 18- and 19-WHLyear-old WHLers still in the big league. F Seth Jarvis of the Portland Winterhawks remains with the Carolina Hurricanes, while F Jake Neighbours of the Edmonton Oil Kings is with the St. Louis Blues and F Cole Sillinger of the Medicine Hat Tigers is on the Columbus Blue Jackets’ roster. . . . Jarvis, 19, was the 13th selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft and has signed, but has to be returned to Portland if he doesn’t stick with the Hurricanes. . . . Neighbours, 19, was the 26th pick in that 2020 NHL draft. He, too, has signed but has to play in the WHL if he doesn’t hang on with the Blues. . . . Sillinger, 18, was the 12th selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. He played with the Tigers in 2019-20, then spent last season with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. Because Columbus drafted him off the Stampede’s roster, he is eligible to play this season in the AHL. Aaron Portzline of The Athletic explains: “If Sillinger had been drafted out of Medicine Hat (or any other CHL club), the Blue Jackets would have had only two options this fall: either keep him on the NHL roster or send him back to junior. Per the CHL’s agreement with the NHL, its players are not allowed to play in the American Hockey League until they’re 20 years old. The USHL has no such age restriction with the AHL, mostly because it’s a feeder program for U.S. colleges.” . . .

Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers learned Tuesday that D Quinn Schmiemann, 20, will rejoin them later this week after being with the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. . . . Three other 20-year-olds remain unsigned in AHL camps — Portland F Jaydon Dureau is with the Syracuse Crunch, F Tarun Fizer of the Victoria Royals is with the Colorado Eagles, and D Jackson van de Leest of the Calgary Hitmen is with Lehigh Valley.

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JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed six members of their hockey operations side to contract extensions. Head coach Mark O’Leary, assistant coaches Scott King and Gord Burnett, goaltender coach Matt Weninger, athletic therapist Brooke Kosolofski and equipment manager Tanner Arnold all signed extensions. The lengths of the deals weren’t announced. . . . It’s early and there are various kinds of restrictions in place at WHL arenas. Still, it’s worth noting that the Seattle Thunderbirds had their smallest opening-night crowd since 1996-97 on Saturday when the announced attendance was 3,246 for a 4-2 loss to the Portland Winterhawks. The other two crowds in the bottom three: 4,010 (2009-10) and 4,659 (2019-20). . . . Why only back to 1996-97? That covers all the games available via the WHL website. . . .

All signs point to important news coming in the days ahead for WHL teams, especially those in the Western Conference. In B.C., it’s expected that health officials will clear arenas 100 per cent capacity in the immediate future. B.C. facilities are allowed 50 per cent capacity at the moment. As well, there were numerous reports on Tuesday night that the U.S. government is expected to open its border for southbound fully vaccinated travellers early in November. What restrictions will be involved for re-entry into Canada aren’t yet known. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have acquired G Colby Knight from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2025 draft. Alan Caldwell (@smallatlarge) noted via Twitter that this “is the first traded pick from the 2025 WHL draft. That draft will be 2010-born players. The kid the Oil Kings will get for Colby Knight is 10 or 11 years old today.” . . .

There was one game in the WHL on Tuesday night. . . . In Victoria, the Kamloops Blazers opened up a 3-0 lead and went on to beat the Royals, 3-2. G Dylan Garand earned the victory with 16 saves. He was beaten twice in the third period. The Blazers (3-0-0) and Royals (1-3-0) will play again tonight in Victoria.



You will recall that the OHL and WHL announced recently the additions of one female to their on-ice officiating staffs. Well, the AHL announced Monday that its “roster of on-ice officials . . . includes female referees and linespeople for the first time.” . . . Not one. . . . Not two. . . . But 10 of them, including seven referees. . . . And one of the three women who will work the lines is Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., the same Alex Clarke who is the first female on-ice official in WHL history. . . . Katie Guay will become the first woman to referee an AHL game on Saturday night when she works a game between the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the host Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins. . . . Amalie Benjamin of nhl.com has more on this story right here.


Monsters


The NBA’s Brooklyn Nets have cut ties with G Kyrie Irving “until he is eligible to be a full participant” in practices and games, general manager Sean Marks said in a statement. . . . Irving has chosen not to get vaccinated, at least to this point. . . . “Kyrie has made a personal choice, and we respect his individual right to choose,” Marks said. “Currently the choice restricts his ability to be a full-time member of the team, and we will not permit any member of our team to participate with part-time availability.” . . . Marks later told reporters that the decision to exclude Irving was made by himself and owner Joe Tsai. . . . The Nets are scheduled to open the regular season in Milwaukee against the Bucks on Oct. 19.


There was a positive test in MLB with the Atlanta Braves revealing that OF Jorge Soler is out of action. The Braves were allowed a roster replacement so added OF Cristian Pache and he got into Tuesday’s game in the late going. . . . The Braves beat the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, 5-4, to win the best-of-five series, 3-1.


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.


Ass

Gov’t money helps Hurricanes show profit . . . Veteran Ridley on health-related break . . . Gaume moves into broadcast booth in Red Deer


Despite not being able to have fans attend any of their 12 home games in the LethWHL’s 2021 developmental season, the Lethbridge Hurricanes showed a profit of $72,250 for 2020-21. The team, which is publicly owned, revealed its financial statement at its annual general meeting on Monday night. . . . At its previous AGM, delayed by the pandemic and held virtually on Jan. 18, the shareholders had been told that in a worst-case scenario, there could be a $1.3-million loss for 2021. That was based on projected expenses of $1.7 million and revenues of $383,000. Obviously, the worst-case scenario didn’t happen. . . . A big part of being able to show a profit was government grant funding that came in at $668,000. . . . Terry Huisman, the team’s general manager of business operations, said that it cost the Hurricanes $850,000 to prepare for and play in 2021’s abbreviated schedule. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald quoted Huisman as saying: “Had we not gotten that money we would have been probably right back to where we were when I started six years ago and we all know that wasn’t fun. So for me, I sit here and I’m happy about it, but there is a tremendous amount of work that went in behind the scenes. Not only just to secure that money, but also to make sure we ran as lean as possible and we capitalized on every opportunity to increase revenue.” . . . In the period from 2011-15, the Hurricanes lost more than $1.25 million. Starting with 2015-16 and running through 2018-19, the Hurricanes showed profits of $197,000, $737,710, $422,443 and $282,168. . . . With the 2019-20 season halted in March by the pandemic, the Hurricanes announced a loss of $1,030 at their 2020 AGM. . . . Woodard’s complete story is right here.


A familiar voice — and face — will be missing on Friday night when the Medicine Hat Tigers open their 2021-22 regular season against the Broncos in Swift Current. The teams will meet again Saturday night, this time in Medicine Hat.

This will be the Tigers’ 52nd season in the WHL, but Bob Ridley, the play-by-play voice of the Tigers for the first 51, won’t be on the air.

Ridley, who reached the 4,000-game mark during the WHL’s developmental season last spring, tweeted on Monday that he will be in Lethbridge undergoing radiation treatments.

In Ridley’s absence, Scott Roblin will be calling the play of Tigers games.

As amazing as it sounds, Ridley has called the play of every single Tigers’ game over those first 51 seasons — with one exception. In the spring of 1973, he was sent to Saskatoon to cover a curling event in which — yes! — his boss’s wife was playing.


Sleep


Hockey Canada announced on Monday that has cancelled the 2021 national women’s U-18 championship, the 2021 Para Hockey Cup, and the 2021 World Junior A Challenge. . . . The women’s tournament was to have been held in Dawson Creek, B.C., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 6. . . . The Para Hockey Cup was going to be decided in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 5-12. . . . The Junior A event was scheduled for Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 12-19.



The NHL’s New York Islanders have found a place to play for their one unvaccinated player — D Bode Wilde. He will join Västerviks IK of HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second tier pro league. The Islanders announced on Tuesday that they have loaned Wilde, 21, to Västerviks IK. A second-round pick by the Islanders in the NHL’s 2018 draft, he had three goals and three assists in 22 games with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season.


G Mackenzie Blackwood of the New Jersey Devils, who missed some games last season while ill with COVID-19, admitted Tuesday that he has yet to get vaccinated. “I’ve not decided one way or the other . . . I’m taking a little bit of extra time,” Blackwood, 24, said. . . . Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has a whole lot more on that story right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, closed his Tuesday entry with this — “With all the sturm und drang surrounding which NBA players have been vaccinated and which have not, I believe this observation by Oscar Wilde is relevant: ‘Thinking is the most unhealthy thing in the world, and people die of it just as they die of any other disease.’ ”


The Tampa Bay Rays may be without LHR Adam Conley when the MLB playoffs start after he tested positive on Monday. Although he is asymptomatic, he is in quarantine for 10 days, so likely will be missing when the postseason begins.


When the Rolling Stones’ No Filter Tour stops in Atlanta on Nov. 11, the Zac Brown Band is scheduled as the opening act. Uhh, not so fast, says COVID-19. . . . The Zac Brown Band has its own tour on the go — Comeback Tour — but that has been put on hold after Zac tested positive. For starters, the band has had to cancel four shows through Oct. 3. . . . Time will tell whether Zac and his gang can keep their date with Mick and the boys.


Hiring


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.

www.transplant.bc.ca/health-info/organ-donation/living-donation


Steve


JUST NOTES: Former WHL F Nick Drazenovic has joined The Sports Corporation as its director of player development. TSC is an Edmonton-based sports agency. Drazenovic, 34, played four-plus seasons (2002-07) with his hometown Prince George Cougars. He retired as a player after the 2015-16 season. He then spent three seasons with the Cougars as director of player development and one on the coaching staff of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . Dallas Gaume is taking over from Mike Moller as the analyst on broadcasts of Red Deer Rebels’ games. Moller, who had filled the role for 23 years, told the team after last season that he wouldn’t return. “Cam (Moon) and I were buddies and I always said to Cam that ‘when you leave, I leave,’ and of course he went up to Edmonton earlier this year.” Moon, the long-time voice of the Rebels, now works Edmonton Oilers’ games. Gaume, a former Rebels assistant coach (1999-2010), now manages the Red Deer Minor Hockey Association. Gaume will work alongside Troy Gillard, who took over from Moon. Greg Meachem of the Rebels has more right here.


Shot

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering about winter tires . . .

Scattershooting2


On Feb. 26, 1986, as the Regina Pats were beating the Warriors, 4-2, at the Crushed Can in Moose Jaw, no one was thinking about that day more than 30 years down the road when Kevin Gallant’s oldest son would score two goals and set up another in one game . . . for the Warriors.

In 1986, Kevin was the radio voice of the Pats. After a Jan. 11 game, in which the Warriors beat the Pats, 4-2, there were whispers that during the post-game show Gallant might have referred to the Moose Jaw organization as — gasp! — Mickey Mouse.

On Feb. 26, then, it was Mickey Mouse Night in Moose Jaw and Gallant did his part by showing up to another game in what then was the league’s hottest rivalry in a Donald Duck outfit.

Yes, stuff like that used to happen in the WHL. It really did.

Fast forward to 2021 and we find Matthew Gallant, 17, in the Warriors’ training camp, hoping to earn a spot on their roster as a defenceman. He had been listed by the Warriors a while back and, lo and behold, he had a terrific camp and the Warriors signed him to a WHL contract.

On Saturday night, he had three points — the goals came 16 seconds apart and gave his guys a 4-1 lead — as the Warriors won, 5-2, in Regina.

And don’t you know that young Matthew was named the game’s first star.

Yes, it was only an exhibition game, but still . . . the Brandt Centre in Regina once was the Agridome and it was then when the echo of Matthew’s father’s voice owned the rafters of that building.

Kevin now lives on the Lower Mainland of B.C., with his wife, Eva, and their other son, Michael, who also is a defenceman.

“Well,” Kevin told me, “I must tell you the irony of my son playing at the Agridome or Brandt Centre and scoring two goals and getting one assist for Moose Jaw over the Pats and then being named first star is quite a moment and one that I will never forget. Sitting in my living room and watching on WHL Live was surreal and quite a proud Dad moment.”

The Warriors’ regular-season home-opener is scheduled for Friday against the Saskatoon Blades. Eva and Kevin plan to be there. I don’t think he’ll be hauling the Donald Duck suit out of the closet for this one.

But maybe the Warriors will ask Kevin to drop the ceremonial first puck. Just for old time’s sake, you know.


Antimaskers


In his weekly Last Call column, Charles P. Pierce of Esquire began:

“We have become numb to the numbers. The pandemic continues to sicken people, and to make them die, and gradually, we’ve worked this situation into the habits of our daily being. The butcher’s bill is now as regular a part of the evening news as cold fronts and box scores. The stories even sort themselves now into iron categories: the Exhausted Nurses story, the No Beds Available story, and, most maddening of all, the Radio Talk Show Host Who Railed Against Vaccines and Masks and Died of COVID story.”


Dr. Ilan Schwartz is an infectious disease specialist at the U of Alberta in Edmonton. He told Dean Bennett of The Canadian Press that more restrictions and a vaccine card were needed in Alberta at least a month ago. Dr. Schwartz also noted:

“It’s absurd that we have (hospital) morgues that are full, we are cancelling cancer surgeries, we’re calling for the military, we’re talking about transporting patients 3,000 kilometres in order for them to find an ICU bed and we still have society going on as if nothing is the matter.”


Judging by a couple of tweets from Postmedia’s Steve Ewen, the Vancouver VancouverGiants won’t have their head coach at their bench when the WHL season opens:

“The WHL discipline page shows Giants coach Michael Dyck and Fs Kyle Bochek and Colton Langkow will miss the season opener Saturday on the road vs. Victoria Royals with one-game suspensions from the line brawl vs. the Prince George Cougars in preseason action on Friday in Maple Ridge.

“There were eight fighting majors, nine game misconducts and a cross-checking major assessed to Bochek at 19:03 mark of the third in Vancouver’s 3-1 win over PG. Giants have also been given a $1,000 fine. There’s no list of supplementary discipline for the Cougars.”

Keith McCambridge is the Giants’ associate coach. The team doesn’t list another assistant coach on its website.

If you’re wondering when the last time a WHL coach drew a suspension, well, according to the WHL website you have to go back more than three years. Kelly Buchberger, then the head coach of the Tri-City Americans, was suspended for one game after his team got involved in a “multiple-fight situation” with the Giants. That was on Sept. 2, 2018.



David Beard, the starting centre for the CFL’s Edmonton Elks, didn’t practise on Sunday because he was put into COVID-19 protocol. He is the 17th Edmonton player to be in protocol since this season began. The list is for those who have either tested positive or have been in close contact with someone who did. . . . Beard isn’t likely to play Tuesday against the host Ottawa Redblacks.


Job


Here’s Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, to Rolling Stone:

“The NBA should insist that all players and staff are vaccinated or remove them from the team. There is no room for players who are willing to risk the health and lives of their teammates, the staff and the fans simply because they are unable to grasp the seriousness of the situation or do the necessary research. What I find especially disingenuous about the vaccine deniers is their arrogance at disbelieving immunology and other medical experts. Yet, if their child was sick or they themselves needed emergency medical treatment, how quickly would they do exactly what those same experts told them to do?”


The really good news is that Dwight Perry, he of Sideline Chatter fame at the Seattle Times, is back in the saddle, and he didn’t lose it while he was away. “Warriors swingman Andrew Wiggins is reportedly unvaccinated, putting his availability for some games into question,” Perry notes. “Making him the first NBA player this season to be criticized for his shot selection.”

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After that dustup between the Blue Jays and Tampa Bay, Perry wrote: “Toronto plunked the Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch, two days after he swiped Toronto catcher Alejandro Kirk’s data card. Flummoxed scorekeepers couldn’t decide how to score it — hit by pitch or caught stealing?”


Rootbeer


The Prairie Junior Hockey League, a 12-team junior B league based in Saskatchewan, revealed on Saturday that “team governors have voted to implement a mandatory vaccination policy. The players will be informed of the details and timeline by their individual teams.” . . . When the Heritage Junior B Hockey League in Alberta made the same decision it lost two of its 15 teams.



This one had me laughing . . .


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.


Shakespeare