COVID-19 takes beloved Regina sportscaster . . . Darby Mills loses her father, ex-General, to virus . . . Remember MacTavish vs. Harvey?

I spent 17 years in the Regina Leader-Post’s sports department and had the good fortune of spending time in Warren Woods’ company on more than one occasion. He really was one of those people who had the ability to lift a room. His smile. His laugh. His demeanour. He didn’t work at it; he was just Woodsy.

When you hear the name ‘Woodsy,’ you don’t picture some miserable SOB who prefers the clouds to the sunshine. You think of someone with a lifelong smile and an infectious laugh — well, Woodsy had the smile but his laugh was more of a cackle.

When I was told in early December that Woodsy was in a Regina hospital after having contracted COVID-19, I just knew that he would laugh/cackle and the virus would run for the hills. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

Woodsy, 66, died in a Regina hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

The Regina sporting community — indeed, all of Saskatchewan — will be a long time getting over this loss.

Now . . . if you think this pandemic is a hoax, I’ve got news for you. It’s real and we’re in it for a while yet. So wear a mask. Keep your distance. Wash your hands. Again and again and again. Just do your part.

Woodsy’s memory and those of so many others deserve nothing less.

If you didn’t know Woodsy, Rob Vanstone will introduce you to him via the tweet below.

Back in the day, Stan Mills played junior hockey with the Oshawa Generals, alongside the likes of Harry Sinden, Alex Delvecchio and Lou Jankowski. But you perhaps know more about Stan’s daughter, Darby, a Canadian rocker who came to fame with the Headpins. . . . These days, Darby is mourning the loss of her father. Stan, 90, who had dementia, died on Jan. 14 in a long-term care home in Vernon, B.C. He was a COVID-19 victim, gone five days after being diagnosed. . . . “He was a great man and he worked his whole life to supply his four children with everything he and mom possibly could,” Darby told Megan Turcato of Global News. “(He was) just a wonderful guy that we are all going to miss greatly, for sure.” . . . Having lost her father, Darby wants people to know that this pandemic is real. “Before you lose someone to this . . . wash your hands, throw on a mask,” she said. . . . Turcato’s story is right here, and there is a great photo at the bottom of it that shows Stan moments after scoring a goal against Guelph during the 1950-51 OHA season.

One of the great moments in NHL history occurred 18 years ago — on Jan. 20, 2003. That was the night when Craig MacTavish, then the head coach of the Edmonton Oilers, reached up and . . . well, you should watch the video. . . . As a point of interest, the coach to MacTavish’s left, the gentleman wearing the headset, is Billy Moores, one of hockey’s truly good guys. Moores spent 17 seasons on staff with the U of Alberta Golden Bears, but left for one season (1985-86) to work as general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Regina Pats.




CBC News — The Dutch government has proposed the first countrywide curfew since the Second World War and a ban on flights from South Africa and the U.K.

Skylar Peters, CJOB Winnipeg — Manitoba is reporting 154 new cases of COVID-19, and 6 new deaths Wednesday. . . . Totals — Cases: 27,893 . . . Active: 3,137 . . . Deaths: 788 . . . Hospitalized (infectious/total): 129/273 . . . ICU: 25/36 . . . Winnipeg test positivity rate: 6.7% . . . Provincial test positivity rate: 9.5%.

CBC News — Saskatchewan is reporting 234 new cases of COVID-19 and  4 additional deaths. . . . Superspreader event at Saskatoon karaoke bar now linked to over 80 COVID-19 cases. Crackers Restaurant was closed after an outbreak linked to the establishment was declared Jan. 10.

CBC News — Alberta reported 21 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday and 669 new cases of the illness. Laboratories conducted about 14,900 tests over the past 24 hours putting the positivity rate at about 4.5 per cent.

Richard Zussman, Global BC — There are 500 new cases of COVID-19 in BC, for a total of 62,412 cases in British Columbia. There have been 14 new COVID-19 related deaths, for a total of 1,104 deaths. There are 4,345 active cases of COVID-19 in B.C. There are 320 individuals currently hospitalized with COVID-19, 66 of whom are in intensive care.

Daily Hive Vancouver — British Columbians petition government to close provincial border. . . . The petition asks Premier John Horgan to ban recreational travel into the province for one month to curb COVID-19 transmission at a time when officials believe new variants could be circulating in the community. . . . It has more than 5,000 signatures so far, and many of the supporters say they’re tired of seeing people from places like Ontario come to BC for vacation at a time when locals are adhering to public health restrictions.

CBC News — Ontario reports another 2,655 cases of COVID-19 and 89 deaths. 54,307 tests completed, 4.9% positivity rate.

CBC News — Quebec is reporting 1,502 new COVID-19 cases and 66 more deaths.

CBC News — The British diplomat whose kidnapping in 1970 by radical Quebec separatists triggered the October Crisis has died. James Richard Cross was 99. His death, from COVID-19 on Jan. 6, was confirmed Wednesday by his son-in-law, John Stringer. Cross spent 59 days in captivity after armed members of the Front de libération du Québec barged into his Montreal home on Oct. 5, 1970.

CBC news — New Brunswick Public Health reports 21 new COVID-19 cases, with new cases in five of the province’s seven zones, and declares an outbreak at a special care home in Edmundston.

CNN, Wednesday, 2:56 p.m. PT — 405,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:27 p.m. PT — 406,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:02 p.m. PT — The United States reported at least 4,229 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the second highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.


The NHL has postponed the Carolina Hurricanes’ games through Saturday as the team deals with COVID-19 and protocols. The Hurricanes, who beat host Nashville, 4-2, on Monday, were to have played the Predators again on Tuesday but that game was postponed. Now two games against the visiting Florida Panthers that had been scheduled for Thursday and Saturday have been scratched and Carolina’s training facility has been closed. The Hurricanes next are scheduled play on Tuesday and Thursday nights when they are to entertain the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

Later Wednesday, the NHL added four players from the Washington Capitals, including F Alex Ovechkin, to the COVID-19 list and fined the team $100,000 for violating protocols. F Evgeny Kuznetsov, D Dmitry Orlov and G Ilya Samsonov also went on the list. The Capitals were fined for “social interactions among team members who were in close contact and who were not wearing face coverings.” . . . The players reportedly gathered in a hotel room during a recent road trip and that isn’t allowed under the NHL’s protocols. According to those protocols, each player is “required to stay in a single occupancy room, and no individual shall permit guests or other personnel in their room.” . . . Washington is next scheduled to play on Friday against the visiting Buffalo Sabres. As of Wednesday night it wasn’t clear if the four players would be able to play. . . . The Capitals share their playing facility with the NBA’s Washington Wizards, who were back at practice Wednesday after going through an outbreak that resulted in five postponements. . . .

The number of NBA postponements reached 16 on Wednesday when the league postponed that night’s game between the Memphis Grizzlies and host Portland Trail Blazers. . . . The Grizzlies were involved in contact tracing and didn’t have eight healthy players for the game. . . . Fifteen of the postponements have come since Jan. 10. . . . Whoops! Make that 17 total postponements. Late Wednesday night word came that Friday’s game between the Washington Wizards and Milwaukee Bucks has been scrubbed. The Wizards, who had six straight games postponed, have six players out because of protocols.


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Rasmussen, Jokiharju sent to AHL . . . Hitmen open Corral series tonight . . . Hay busy learning more in Portland


Two players who could be playing monster minutes in the WHL this season have found themselves playing in the AHL this week.

F Michael Rasmussen, 19, played the past three seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the ninth pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Rasmussen opened this season with the Red Wings and had six goals and seven assists in 41 games when he was assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this week on one of those conditioning assignments. The Red Wings also have him on long-term injured reserve with a hamstring issue that has kept him out since Jan. 4.

Because he’s 19, Rasmussen isn’t eligible to stay in the AHL. The NHL-NHLPA CBA calls for him to play in the NHL or be returned to the Americans.

He scored twice in his AHL debut on Thursday, as the Griffins beat the host Texas Stars, 5-3.

Meanwhile, D Henri Jokiharju has been assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He spent the previous two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Jokiharju, who was the 29th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.

In December, Chicago freed him up to play for Finland in the World Junior Championship, where he had two goals and three assists in seven games as his team won the gold medal.

In his first 32 games with Chicago, Jokiharju was playing 20 minutes per game. Of late, however, he been playing fewer than 15 minutes and had been a healthy scratch three times in eight games.

I haven’t seen any mention of Jokiharju being on a conditioning assignment, so I have a feeling that he is there until further notice. Remember late in the summer of 2018 when there was discussion about whether he would have to play for Chicago or be returned to Portland? There was some chatter then that he had been on loan to the Winterhawks from his club team in Finland, so might not be covered by the same CBA clause as someone like Rasmussen.

Perhaps that’s what’s going on here.

The Calgary Hitmen and visiting Brandon Wheat Kings will open the three-game Corral CalgarySeries tonight. Before it’s over, the Hitmen will have played three games in the Calgary Corral and honoured three teams that used to call it home — the Centennials and Wranglers (WHL) and Cowboys (WHA). . . . The Centennials will be in the spotlight tonight, with the Cowboys to be saluted on Feb. 6 with the Regina Pats in town. The Wranglers will be feted on Feb. 8 when the Hitmen meet the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun has more right here, including lots of memories.

Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL history, says he didn’t like the way things ended Portlandin Kamloops, but now he is really enjoying life as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . “I didn’t like the way it ended in Kamloops,” Hay told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “You want to go out under your own terms. This was a good way to stay active, to stay in the league, to continue educating myself in the game.” . . . Hay, whose 65th birthday is fast approaching, never tires of learning, and that’s what he’s doing as he works alongside Mike Johnston, Portland GM and head coach. Yes, Johnston is learning, too. . . . Eggers’ complete story is right here.

Earlier this week, I posted a link to the impact statement that Scott Thomas read during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who was involved in the accident involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . On Wednesday, Thomas, who lost his son, Eric, in the accident, spent 15 minutes meeting privately with Sidhu. . . . There’s more on that meeting right here.


Rockets deal for 20-year-old from Royals . . . Oil Kings win again . . . Brandon’s Burzan fills the net


The Kelowna Rockets have acquired F Lane Zablocki, who is to turn 20 on Dec. 27, from the Victoria Royals. In exchange, the Royals got a conditional seventh-round selection in KelownaRocketsthe 2019 WHL bantam draft and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . The Royals’ news release indicated that both draft picks were conditional; the Rockets’ news release didn’t use the word ‘conditional.’ . . . The Royals got Zablocki from the Lethbridge Hurricanes at last season’s trade deadline, giving up a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, a conditional third-rounder in 2019 and a sixth-rounder in 2018. . . . He recorded one goal and five assists in 25 regular-season games with the Royals, then added two goals and an assist in 10 playoff games. . . . Zablocki also has played with the Regina Pats and Red Deer Rebels. In 201 regular-season games, he has 58 goals and 64 assists. . . . Zablocki, from Wetaskiwin, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the 2013 bantam draft. The Detroit Red Wings selected him in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . .

The Rockets were down to one 20-year-old for two weekend games in Prince George. They have been carrying two, but F Ryan Bowen was ill and didn’t play on the weekend. That left D Braydyn Chizen as the team’s lone 20-year-old. . . .

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, said that Zablocki isn’t expected to play “for another two weeks” as he recovers from an undisclosed injury. “He is just arriving back home to Regina from Detroit’s training camp where he was all summer,” Hamilton added, “and he will report to us on Monday.”

The Royals, meanwhile, have settled on F Dante Hannoun, D Ralph Jarratt and G Griffen Outhouse as their three 20s.

The Rockets snapped their season-opening four-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Saturday night. Kelowna went into this game having lost 12 straight — four playoff games, four exhibition games and the first four games of this regular season.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Friday night that D Bailey Dhaliwal had one arm in a sling after injuring a shoulder during a 3-1 loss to the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Dhaliwal, 19, left the game in the first period. . . . He has a history of shoulder woes. He was limited to six games last season because of surgery. In 2016-17, he was able to play in only 29 games. . . . “We’re going to see where he’s at . . . but obviously I’m concerned,” Michael Dyck, the Giants’ head coach, told Ewen. “Anytime that shoulder is injured there’s a concern.” . . . Ewen has more on the Giants’ situation right here.

G Carl Stankowski is back in action after sitting out all of last season. You’ll recall that Stankowski, as a 16-year-old, was the story of the 2016-17 playoffs as he backstopped the Seattle Thunderbirds to the Ed Chynoweth Cup. But he didn’t play at all last season due to injury and illness. Now he’s back and playing with the Calgary Hitmen. . . . Todd Saelhof of Postmedia has more right here.


The Washington Capitals have signed F Riley Sutter of the Everett Silvertips to a three-year entry-level NHL deal. He is to turn 19 on Oct. 25. Sutter, who is back with the Silvertips, was a third-round pick by the Capitals in the NHL’s 2018 draft. His father, Ron, played 19 seasons in the NHL. . . . Last night, Sutter scored twice and added an assist to lead the visiting Silvertips to a 3-2 victory over the Tri-City Americans. . . . Each team scored twice via the PP. . . .

D Igor Merezhko of the Lethbridge Hurricanes was given a two-game suspension after he got tossed from Friday’s 8-4 victory over the Pats in Regina. Merezhko didn’t play in Lethbridge’s 8-4 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon and won’t play Friday against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders. . . . The Wheat Kings got four goals and an assist from F Luka Burzan as they built up a 7-0 second-period lead; he later added an empty-netter for a five-goal night, the first in the WHL this season. . . .

F Riley McKay scored in the 10th round of a shootout to give the host Saskatoon Blades a 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Blades are 3-0-0 for the first time since 2011-12. Danish G Mads Søgaard, who stands 6-foot-7, made his first WHL start for the Tigers by stopping 39 shots. . . . The Blades had F Josh Paterson back in the lineup after he missed two games last weekend after taking a high hit from D Parker Gavlas of the visiting Regina Pats in an exhibition game on Sept. 13. When Paterson sat out the first game, it ended a streak of 145 straight regular-season games played. Gavlas was hit with a six-game suspension for the hit. . . . Paterson had two assists and was chosen the game’s first star. . . .

D Jared Freadrich, playing in his 200th regular-season game, had a goal and three assists as the Portland Winterhawks scored three PP goals and won their home-opener, 4-2, over the Seattle Thunderbirds. The Winterhawks got three assists from F Cody Glass, with linemate  Joachim Blichfeld getting a goal and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks next play on Wednesday (and Friday) when they visit the Blazers in Kamloops. This will be the return of Portland assistant coach Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history who spent the previous four seasons with the Blazers. . . .

F Parker Kelly scored the game’s last two goals as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders erased a 5-2 deficit late in the third period and beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-5. Moose Jaw D Brandon Schuldaus completed a three-game suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in a playoff game against Swift Current on April 16. . . . F Brayden Tracey, the 21st overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, scored his first two WHL goals for the Warriors. Tracey, 17, is from Calgary. He had two assists in five games last season. This season, he had been pointless in two games. . . .

The host Victoria Royals erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits, the latter in the second period, en route to a 6-3 victory over the Kamloops Blazers. The Royals had beaten the Blazers, 3-2, on Friday night. Victoria G Griffen Outhouse stopped 71 of 76 shots (.934) in the two victories. . . . Kamloops scratched sophomore F Connor Zary (ill) last night. . . . The Royals went 4-0-0 on a season-opening four-game homestand. . . .

The Swift Current Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, avoided a third straight shutout as they slipped to 0-4-0 by losing 5-2 to the Rebels in Red Deer. The Broncos have been outscored, 20-3. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs won their home-opener, getting two goals and an assist from Riley Woods in a 6-3 victory over the Kootenay Ice. One night earlier, the Chiefs came out of Cranbrook with a 7-4 victory over the Ice. . . . D Ty Smith had one assist and was plus-3 in his first game with the Chiefs since returning from the camp of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils with a three-year entry-level deal in his hip pocket. . . .

The visiting Edmonton Oil Kings skated to a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Hitmen, improving to 5-0-0 in the process. This is the first time in the franchise’s modern history, starting in 2007-08, that the Oil Kings have opened with five straight victories. . . . The Hitmen, who were 6-0-0 in the exhibition season, are 0-3-0. . . . This was the first meeting between these teams this season. During the offseason, the Oil Kings fired head coach Steve Hamilton and the Hitmen hired him.

If you are a WHL fan and are on Twitter, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). He regularly tweets interesting notes and stats involving WHL teams and players.