Who knew the WHL had different eras? Live-puck and dead-puck? . . . Tigers bring back 14-year-old for a look . . . Ex-WHLer getting a look in QMJHL

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The fall colours are glorious along the South Thompson River, about 14 kilometres east of Kamloops.

The WHL’s latest available Official Guide includes a category — it’s on Page 273 — with the header: LONGEST WINNING STREAK.

It shows that the Victoria Cougars hold that record, having won 24 straight games from Feb. 6, 1981, through Oct. 9, 1981. That streak obviously overlapped two seasons.

It has the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins next, with 22 straight victories, from Oct. 6, 1967, through Dec. 12, 1967. That was a season-opening streak.

In third spot are the 2013-14 Portland Winterhawks, who won 21 in a row from Jan. 11, 2014, through Feb. 28, 2014.

There is nothing in this particular entry to indicate that Victoria and Portland were playing in “modern WHL history,” while Estevan was playing in some other era. In fact, there is nothing anywhere in the WHL records to indicate that the league differentiates between records set prior to 1978 and after.

In fact, prior to Sunday night I had never heard anyone involved with the WHL refer to “modern WHL history” or “modern WHL mark” or anything else of that ilk.

And yet there was the WHL on Sunday night, tweeting that the Red Deer Rebels “improved their season-opening win streak, becoming the first team in modern WHL history (1978-present) to start a season with 13 consecutive victories.”

No, the WHL didn’t use the word ‘record,’ as in “the Rebels have set a modern WHL (1978-present) record for the longest season-opening win streak.”

However, Chris Wahl the WHL’s senior manager, communications, wrote a piece that was posted on the league’s website on Sunday. It included:

“Over the past 44 years, no Western Hockey League team had ever started a season with 13 consecutive wins.

“Until Sunday.

“The Red Deer Rebels dispatched the Edmonton Oil Kings 7-2 at Rogers Place, earning their 13th win in as many tries, setting a new, modern WHL mark in the process. . . .

“The Rebels streak unseats the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos 12-game run as the longest season-opening winning streak since the WHL adopted its current name in 1978. . . .

“The all-time League record for consecutive wins to begin a season is 22, set by the WCHL’s Estevan Bruins in 1967.”

(In its first season, it was the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (CMJHL). Prior to its second season, 1967-68, it changed its name to Western Canada Junior Hockey League (WCJHL). Before a third season got started, there had been another name change, this time to the Western Canada Hockey League (WCHL). That name lasted through the 1977-78 season, after which it was changed to Western Hockey League.)

It would seem, then, that the WHL has decided to split its record book into two sections — 1966-67 through 1977-78, and 1978-19 through the present.

If that’s the case, it really is too bad because this league has a whole lot of interesting history, some of it from before 1978. For example, the New Westminster Bruins won a record four straight WHL championships — 1975, 1976, 1977 and 1978. Does that now become the olden day record? If that’s the case, it would leave the Kamloops Blazers (1994, 1995) and Medicine Hat Tigers (1987, 1988) to share the ‘modern’ WHL record of two straight.

Wouldn’t it have been easier just to point out that the Rebels have the second-longest season-opening winning streak (13 games) in league history, and that the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins hold the record (22)? This doesn’t diminish what the Rebels are doing this season. Not at all. And, who knows, maybe they’ll get to 22 before they’re done.

And wouldn’t it be a terrific move for the WHL to hire a historian, provide that person with a desk, a computer and a subscription to newspapers.com, and turn her/him loose?


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The trumpeter swans are back on the South Thompson River, which means winter won’t be far behind. This was one of about 30 of the noisy birds that had gathered on the river’s south shore 20 kilometres east of Kamloops on Monday.

The Red Deer Rebels got to 13-0-0 with a 7-2 victory over the host Edmonton Oil Kings on Sunday. . . . The Rebels, who scored the game’s last six goals, got a RedDeergoal and two assists from F Kai Uchacz, who has 11 goals and three assists in 13 games. . . . The defending-champion Oil Kings went 1-11 on the PP as their record slipped to 1-12-1. . . . Troy Gillard, the Rebels’ director of broadcasts and media, tweeted on Monday that the Rebels’ winning streak “is the second-longest in team history.” In 2001-02, the Rebels put together a 14-game streak. They got it started on Jan. 6 with a 4-2 victory over the host Saskatoon Blades. On Feb. 9, Red Deer won its 14th in a row, 6-2 over the visiting Portland Winterhawks. The streak ended on Feb. 13 when the Rebels, playing at home, lost, 5-4 in OT, to the Prince Albert Raiders. Interestingly, the Rebels went on to win their next three games. . . . The Rebels take their 13-0-0 mark into Swift Current on Friday, so could equal the franchise record for longest victory streak in any era while stretching their ‘modern’ era record for longest victory streak to open a season. . . .

In Regina, F Connor Bedard scored twice and added three assists on Sunday in leading the Pats to a 7-3 victory over the Tri-City Americans, who had won four Reginain a row. . . . The Pats had lost their previous four games. . . . Bedard, who is on a 14-game point streak, enjoyed the third five-point game of his career. . . . He leads the league in goals (13), assists (16) and points (29), all in 15 games. . . . Regina D Corbin Vaughan drew a major and game misconduct for a headshot at 12:23 of the first period. He was playing in his second game after serving a four-game suspension that was issued under supplemental discipline following a game against Prince Albert on Oct. 12. . . .

In Sunday’s other game, F Riley Fiddler-Schultz gave host Calgary a 3-1 lead Calgaryover the Vancouver Giants and the Hitmen held on for a 3-2 victory. . . . Fiddler-Schultz has seven goals this season, including a five-goal outing. . . . Calgary now has won three straight. . . . The Hitmen will play their next two homes games — Wednesday against the Victoria Royals and Friday against the Medicine Hat Tigers — at the 2,000-seat Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina Nation. The Hitmen bill the facility as “our home away from the Dome.”


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This guy was in a field in front of hoodoos along Shuswap Road east of Kamloops on Monday afternoon. He was slowly walking east . . .

JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Gavin McKenna, a 14-year-old who earned four assists in the only WHL game he has played, will be in the Medicine Hat Tigers’ lineup tonight against the visiting Vancouver Giants. . . . F Cayden Lindstrom has been added to the Team White roster for the U17 World Hockey Challenge that is to run in Langley, B.C., from Thursday through Nov. 12. . . . Lindstrom got the call after F Ollie Josephson of the Red Deer Rebels was ruled out because of an undisclosed injury. . . . McKenna, who will turn 15 on Dec. 20, was the first overall selection in the WHL’s 2022 draft. From Whitehorse, he made his WHL debut by setting up four goals in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes on Sept. 24. . . .

D Trevor Thurston, 20, has joined the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles. He has totalled 107 WHL regular-season games, spending time with the Kamloops Blazers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Prince Albert Raiders. He started this season with the Raiders, getting into three games before going on to the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. . . . A fourth-round pick by Kamloops in the 2017 WHL draft, he put up 13 goals and 14 assists in those 107 games. . . . Brent Thurston, Trevor’s father, played in the WHL with the Victoria Cougars and Spokane Chiefs. He was with the Chiefs when they won the 1991 Memorial Cup in Quebec City. . . . The Thurstons are from Delta, B.C. . . .

F Lucas Ciona of the Seattle Thunderbirds has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Calgary Flames, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2021 NHL draft. This season, he has seven goals and 10 assists through nine games for the Thunderbirds. . . . Seattle took him in the second round of the WHL’s 2018 draft. In total, he has 92 points, including 38 goals, in 165 regular-season and playoff games with the Thunderbirds. . . . The 9-1-0 Thunderbirds, who play out of Kent, Wash., are at home to the Prince George Cougars tonight. . . .

The OHL’s Sudbury Wolves, who started 3-7-1, fired head coach Craig Duncanson on Monday, with assistant general manager Ken MacKenzie taking over on an interim basis. . . . Duncanson played three seasons (1983-86) with the Wolves. He had been the head coach since July 2021. . . . He is a former NHLer, having been a first-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1985 draft. . . . The Wolves open a seven-game homestead on Wednesday.


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And here’s the fellow from the earlier photo, having quickly moved from a slow walk to a trot. Why? Because the ladies were a couple of hundred metres to the east. (BTW, a photographer I worked with in Regina told me that some blur in a photo denotes speed.)

THINKING OUT LOUD — If this World Series goes deep, Game 6 would be played on Thursday, which is Nov. 5. A seventh game would be played on Nov. 6. Until now, the latest ever date for a World Series game was in 2001 and 2009 when they played on Nov. 4. . . . Might be time to move the entire series to a neutral site with a dome. Just kidding. I think. . . . And let’s not forget that Thursday is going to feature the Houston Astros and the host Philadelphia Phillies in Game 5 of the World Series, while Thursday Night Football will have the Houston Texans against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. . . . The Estevan Bruins hold the WHL record for the longest winning streak to open a season, at 22. Case closed. Unless the league wants to split its history into four eras — CMJHL, WCJHL, WCHL, WHL — and declare record-holders for each, that is. . . . Sheesh! It wasn’t that long ago that the WHL was making a big deal, and rightfully so, about its 50th anniversary season. There wasn’t any talk then about live-puck and dead-puck eras.


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.


Darlene3
This lady stopped by one afternoon last week to dine on leaves from a peach tree from which I had trimmed a few branches. She and some friends cleaned up that pile of leaves in about two days.
Advertisement

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while continuing to wonder what hit the Blue Jays . . .

Scattershooting2

You are able to find Randy’s Vinyl Tap on a Corus radio station near you for two hours every Sunday evening. Check it out!


While watching the Toronto Blue Jays implode on Saturday, I kept seeing Vladimir Guerrero Jr. beating the visiting New York Yankees with a walk-off home run a few weeks ago and screaming something about it being “my house” as he trotted from third to home. . . . Of course, the Yankees won in Toronto the next night to clinch the AL East. And then along came Friday-Saturday and the Seattle Mariners. . . . Let’s not forget that Aaron Judge hit No. 61 there, too. . . . All of that means that the Yankees and Mariners have done a lot of celebrating in Vladdy’s house. . . . Maybe he and the rest of Toronto’s young guns will learn something about humility and the baseball gods from how this season ended . . . Oh, and get rid of that gawdawful jacket thing, too.



Amazon


Joe Posnanski, who writes baseball as well as anyone, had this after Saturday’s marathon between the visiting Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians: “For almost five hours, under the heat of playoff baseball, we watched two teams fail to score a single run. They failed to score a single run off FIFTEEN different pitchers. Until the last batter, Cleveland hit .090 and struck out 20 times. Tampa Bay hit a stouter .122 and struck out only 19 times.”

——

And here’s Posnanski on a key point in the Seattle-Toronto game: “And Blue Jays manager John Schneider, the one who did not play in ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’ went to the mound, pulled (Kevin) Gausman, and brought in lefty Tim Mayza. It didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense when he did it, since Gausman clearly was not gassed and (switch-hitter Carlos) Santana has, throughout his career, been a better hitter against lefties. This year, he hit just .178 and slugged .366 against righties — he hit almost 90 points better and had 150 more OPS points against lefties.

“But, he was 0-for-3 against Mayza, so maybe that’s what Schneider saw. I don’t know.”

Of course, the bases were loaded, Mayza threw a wild pitch and then Santana drilled a three-run homer. The rest, as they say, is history.


Here’s Matt Rhule, the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, after losing, 37-15, to the visiting San Francisco 49ers on Sunday: “We’re not going to win unless we score more points. I’m not going to lie to you.”


Corndogs


“Minnesota Twins pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson made major-league history by having the longest last name on the back of his jersey, supplanting ex-catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The team seamstress is now on the 10-day injured list with RSI.”

——

Perry also passed along this gem from Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune after Tampa Bay QB Tom Brady threw a tantrum: “Brady broke two tablets vs. the Saints, tying the cherished 3,500-year-old world record set by Moses.”


Here’s Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “Herschel Walker isn’t the one who belongs in a concussion tent. No. Anybody who’s still thinking of voting for this guy belongs in the blue tent.”

——

Lupica, again: “One more thing about Herschel. I’m really starting to worry about just the sheer logistics of what next Father’s Day are going to be like for this guy. The more you read, the more you think he hooked up with everybody except Stormy Daniels.”


There are some parts of the world of hockey that really do need to pay more attention to history and, in particular, to the people who put so much into the building of leagues and franchises. So . . . here’s hoping the decision to remove banners from the Regina Pats’ home arena is a temporary measure to accommodate the removal of dust from the rafters or some other house-cleaning item. . . . And here’s hoping, too, that there is a plan in Regina to hang more banners representing names from the Pats’ glorious past to those rafters.


Keith


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Logan Stankoven, the CHL’s player of the year for 2021-22, has been returned to the Kamloops Blazers by the Dallas Stars, who selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. He has signed a three-year deal with the Stars. Last season, Stankoven had 104 points, including 45 goals, in 59 regular-season games, then added 17 goals and 14 assists in 17 playoff games. . . . Remember that the Blazers are to be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . Stankoven, 19, is expected to be in the Kamloops lineup on Friday night against the host Tri-City Americans. . . . While returning Stankoven to his hometown team, the Stars kept F Wyatt Johnston, 19, who was their first pick in that 2021 NHL draft. He played the past two seasons with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, putting up 124 points, 46 of them goals, in 68 games last season. . . .

Meawhile, the Vancouver Giants got back F Zack Ostapchuk, their captain, from the Ottawa Senators. Ostapchuk, 19, was a second-round pick in the NHL’s 2021 draft. Last season, he had 26 goals and 17 assists in 60 regular-season games, then added 23 points, 16 of them assists, in 12 playoff games. . . . The Giants next are scheduled to play on Friday against the Brandon Wheat Kings in Langley, B.C. . . .

The Tri-City Americans, playing their home-opener, got two goals and two assists from F Jordan Gavin in beating the Edmonton Oil Kings, 7-1, on Saturday night. Gavin, from Surrey, B.C., was the second overall selection in the WHL’s 2021 draft, and has two goals and five assists in five games. He won’t turn 16 until Nov. 13. . . .

When host Kamloops dropped Victoria, 3-1, on Saturday night, it was the Blazers’ 23rd consecutive victory over the Royals. . . . Seriously! . . . The loss also left the Royals at 0-7-0, not quite the start the franchise needed. . . . Victoria is the only one of the league’s 22 teams without a victory. . . .

At the other end of the spectrum, the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds remain unbeaten — the former at 5-0-0, the latter 4-0-0. They’ll go home-and-home on Nov. 4 and 5, opening in Portland and closing the series in Kent, Wash. . . . Before then, the Winterhawks are home to the Edmonton Oil Kings on Tuesday, the same night the Thunderbirds entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . According to TBird Tidbits (@TBirdTidbits), this is the first time in franchise history that the Thunderbirds have opened with four straight victories. . . . The Red Deer Rebels, meanwhile, are 5-0-0, the first time that has happened since 2000-01, according to Troy Gillard, their director of broadcasts and media.


Commas


THINKING OUT LOUD — In getting swept from a best-of-three series, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t get even one pitch out of Jose Berrios or Yusei Kikuchi. Berrios has an average salary of US$18,714,286, while Kikuchi’s annual average is $12 million. . . . Hockey Canada didn’t make a big news dump late Friday afternoon, but Andrea Skinner, the interim chair of the board of directors, did resign on Saturday. Hey, it’s a start. . . . How come I didn’t know before Saturday evening that the Okanagan Sun has a hotshot KR/WR named Mike O’Shea, who just happens to be the son of Mike O’Shea, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ head coach? . . . BTW, the Sun just finished off a 10-0 regular season. . . . ICYMI, the Cincinnati Bengals left three points on the field Sunday night in Baltimore and lost by two to the Ravens. Could it be some of those coaches are spending too much time listening to the analytics people? Sheesh, kick the field goal!


I wish I had seen this trick on Twitter about 50 years ago. . . .


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.


Store

Ousted in Everett, Davidson lands in Calgary . . . Hurricanes swing pair of deals . . . Rebels, Wheat Kings add to front offices

Garry Davidson has joined the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen as their director of player Calgarypersonnel. . . . Davidson has been a free agent since May 21 when the Everett Silvertips announced that his contract wouldn’t be renewed after nine mostly successful seasons. . . . In Calgary, Davidson replaces long-time WHL player, scout and executive Dallas Thompson, who had been Calgary’s director of player personnel since July 11, 2017. The Hitmen announced on May 26 that “Thompson will not be returning next season.” . . . Prior to signing with Everett, Davidson spent four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, serving as director of player personnel and head scout. . . . “With the number of drafts in the WHL this year,” Hitmen general manager Jeff Chynoweth said in a news release, “scouting is more important than ever and we are thrilled to add Garry Davidson to our organization. He has a tremendous amount of experience, a winning pedigree and a diverse background with a proven track record of not only identifying but also recruiting players.” . . . The Hitmen also announced that Gary Michalick will be back for a five season. He is the organization’s travelling scout. . . . Thompson, 47, played three seasons (1992-95) with the WHL’s Tacoma Rockets. He later spent 16 seasons with the Prince George Cougars, 10 as general manager. He spent two seasons (2015-17) as Calgary’s director of scouting before being named director of player personnel.


TV


The Victoria Royals and Lethbridge Hurricanes got together on a trade on LethThursday, one in which the rights to F Chase LaPinta, an unsigned prospect from Frisco, Texas, moved to Vancouver Island. . . . The Royals got LaPinta and a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft, an eighth-round pick in 2022 and a second-rounder in 2024. The eighth-rounder originated with Victoria, so the Royals actually got back a pick that they had traded away. . . . In exchange, the Hurricanes acquired D Nolan Bentham (2003). . . . Bentham, from Victoria, was the 13th overall pick in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. As a freshman, he had one goal and two assists in 52 games with the Royals in 2019-20. He didn’t play with them in 2020-21. . . . LaPinta, a 2004-born skater, had six goals and six assists in 12 games with the 16U AAA Dallas Stars elite team this season. Lethbridge had selected him in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . However, on Oct. 5, LaPinta announced his commitment to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Arizona State for 2022-23. He also is an affiliate with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. . . .

Meanwhile, the Hurricanes also dealt G Carl Tetachuk, 20, to the Moose Jaw Warriors for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2024 prospects draft. Tetachuk, who is from Lethbridge, went 50-28-11, 3.06, .901 in 95 regular-season appearances over the past three seasons with the Hurricanes. . . . He tweeted on Thursday evening that he is “excited to be a part of the Moose Jaw Warriors and look forward to playing for such a great organization.” . . . The Warriors finished 2020-21 with Boston Bilous and Brett Mirwald as their goaltenders. Bilous is heading into his 20-year-old season, while Mirwald will turn 18 on Sept. 13. . . . Lethbridge has two goaltenders on its roster — Jared Picklyk, 18, and Bryan Thomson, 19. . . . Randy Palmer of moosejawtoday.com reported that that Warriors also regained the WHL rights to G Brock Gould, 20, whom they had dealt to the Portland Winterhawks for the 2020-21 season. Palmer wrote that the Warriors “have since chosen to waive him.” . . . Palmer’s story is right here.


Brad Larsen has signed a three-year contract as head coach of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. He replaces John Tortorella, who had been in the position for six seasons. . . . Larsen, who will be 44 on June 28, was an assistant coach in Columbus for seven seasons. . . . He also spent two seasons (2012-14) as the head coach of the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate. . . . A native of Nakusp, B.C., Larsen played four seasons (1993-97) with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. His 12 season pro career included 294 NHL regular-season games, split among the Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers.


Bard


The Red Deer Rebels announced Thursday that Troy Gillard has joined the RedDeerorganization as the director of broadcasts and media. He had been filling the role on an interim basis following the departure of Cam Moon, who now is with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Gillard was the play-by-play voice for the Rebels’ 23 games in the 2020-21 season. . . . He has been the news and sports director for Jim Pattison Media in Red Deer since 2012, during which time he also served as the host of the Rebels’ broadcasts. . . . Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com has more on Gillard’s move right here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings beefed up their front office on Thursday by making Brandonfour additions. . . . Branden Crowe steps in as director of social sales and strategic marketing. He also is the team’s play-by-play voice and will remain in that role. . . . Grady Manson, a former WHL player, now is the Wheat Kings’ director of corporate sales. He spent four seasons in the WHL (Moose Jaw Warriors, Tri-City Americans, 1992-96). He has spent the past 24 years in the golf and hospitality industry, most recently with the Wheat City Golf Course. He also has worked with the Clear Lake Golf Course in Onanole, Man., Bel Acres Golf Course in Winnipeg and the Elkhorn Resort, which also is in Onanole. . . . Wyatt Garden and Jordan Kaspick, both with ties to the Wheat Kings, have signed on with the Wheat Kings as account executives. Garden is the son of former Wheat Kings F Graham Garden. Of late, Wyatt has been in real estate and also owns The Media Garden, a video marketing frm. . . . Kaspick’s older brother, Tanner, is a former Wheat Kings captain and has been working in sales and marketing with the Wheat City Golf Course. . . . The complete 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.


Bar

Wickenheiser, Goyette teammates again . . . Another Hextall headed to The Show . . . Rebels’ Sutter wheeling, dealing

Hopefully the day is right around the corner when the promoting and hiring of women in hockey’s workplace won’t be headline news. But we’re not there yet, although Monday’s happenings certainly have us going in the right direction. . . .

ICYMI, the Toronto Maple Leafs promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to senior director of player development, and also hired Danielle Goyette as director of player development, a position that also will cover the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. . . . Goyette and Wickenheiser, both Hockey Hall of Famers, were long-time teammates on Canada’s national women’s team; they won two Olympic golds and six world championships together. . . . Goyette has been the head coach of the U of Calgary Dinos women’s team for 14 years, or since she retired from the national team in 2007. . . . Dr. Wickenheiser got her MD’s licence last week and is starting a residency at a hospital in Toronto. . . .

Meanwhile, ESPN, which is putting together broadcast crews after signing a deal with the NHL that starts next season, has hired Leah Hextall. As Andrew Marchand of the New York Post reported: “While the exact number of games she will broadcast is not yet know, she will be the first woman play-by-player to be a regular part of a national NHL TV package.” . . . She did one NHL game this season on Sportsnet, but gained more fame for calling an NCAA playoff game between Minnesota-Duluth and North Dakota that went into a fifth OT period. . . . If you were to let Google be your friend, you would learn that Hextall has more than paid her dues for a lot of years, so she has earned this opportunity. . . . She is a cousin to former WHL/NHL G Ron Hextall, who now is the Pittsburgh Penguins’ general manager. Two uncles, Bryan Jr. and Dennis, are former NHLers. Her grandfather, the late Bryan Sr., is in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Bryan Sr. led the NHL in goals in 1939-40 with the New York Rangers and scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal in OT of Game 6 to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Leah’s father, Randy, was in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp in the late 1960s — and I may have spent a shift or two on a line with him — and later played for the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, a team that once was coached by Bryan Sr. Randy, who won a Canadian junior A title (Centennial Cup) with the 1972-73 Terriers, passed away on July 12, 2019.


Bears


The Red Deer Rebels don’t have a head coach at the moment, but that didn’t RedDeerstop the previous one from making a couple of trades on Monday. Of course, Brent Sutter, that former coach, also is the franchise’s owner and general manager so if he’s going to make a trade, well, he can do just that. . . . On Monday, he started by doing a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings that involved a pair of 19-year-olds. . . . The Rebels get G Connor Ungar in exchange for D Mason Ward. . . . Ward, 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds, has 19 points in 83 games with the Rebels over the past two seasons. He is the son of former Rebels BrandonD Lance Ward. Obviously, the Wheat Kings are looking for someone to bring some size and a physical game to their back end. . . . Ungar was 5-2-1, 2.87, .904 for the Wheat Kings in the Regina hub this season. In 15 career regular-season appearances, he is 6-4-1, 2.92, .905. . . . The Wheat Kings are left with Ethan Kruger, 20, and Nick Jones, 16, as the goaltenders on their roster now. Jones, from Calgary, was a fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and has signed a WHL contract. . . . At this moment, the Rebels will be looking at keeping two of Ungar, Byron Fancy, 20, and Chase Coward, 18, on their roster. . . . “We just felt we had lots of depth, that we were working from (a position of) strength,” Sutter told Troy Gillard of rdnewsNOW. “They wanted Mason and we wanted the goaltender, so it made sense to do a one-for-one deal.” . . . (Gillard’s story is right here.) . . . Later in the day, Sutter Edmontondealt F Jaxsen Wiebe, 19, to the Edmonton Oil Kings for F Liam Keeler, 20. Keeler, who is from Edmonton, was the 22nd overall pick in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. In 214 regular-season games with the Oil Kings, he had 26 goals and 48 assists. Wiebe, a seventh-round selection in 2017, had nine goals and 11 assists in 73 games with Red Deer. . . . As of now, the Rebels have four 20-year-olds to choose from — Fancy, Keeler, F Arshdeep Bains and F Zak Smith. . . . The Oil Kings have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Matthew Robertson, F Carter Souch and F Josh Williams. That number would grow to four should D Simon Kubicek report to training camp. Kubicek was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Jan. 25. After playing two seasons (2018-20) with Seattle, he spent 2020-21 in Czech Republic where he played 21 games with Motor Deske Budejovice in the Czech ELH. He also got into games with HC Stadion Litomerice in Czech2 and his country’s U20 side. Of course, should he earn a spot with the Oil Kings out of camp, he would be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old and an import.


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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.


Longhairs

WHL exempt from Alberta gov’t restrictions . . . AJHL has another team on virus leave . . . Rebels’ Sexsmith opens up about the season


If you’re paying attention, you already know that COVID-19 had another good day on Thursday.

In fact, you have to wonder if behind closed doors junior hockey operators are WHL2starting to wonder if the 2021-22 season is going to start anywhere close to on time, at least in Western Canada. Because — and let’s be honest here — we aren’t anywhere close to seeing the end of this.

When Alberta released its Thursday numbers, they were the worst the province has seen since the pandemic began in the early days of 2020.

So, from the Department of Better Late Than Never, the Alberta government responded with restrictions that cover various cities with particularly horrendous numbers, like Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge and Red Deer, each of them home to a WHL franchise.

Part of those restrictions included this:

“All indoor fitness activities are prohibited. This includes: all group physical activities, such as team sports, fitness classes and training sessions; all one-on-one lessons and training activities; all practices, training and games.”

But never fear WHL fans because it seems your favourite teams are exempt from these restrictions. With Red Deer playing on Thursday night, Rebels interim radio voice Troy Gillard tweeted that a “team official tells me the WHL does indeed remain exempt and games will continue as scheduled.”

Other areas under the restrictions are Airdrie, Fort McMurray, Grande Prairie and Strathcona County, which includes Sherwood Park.

It would appear that the AJHL, like the WHL, is exempt from the restrictions because the Grande Prairie Storm is at home to the Sherwood Park Crusaders tonight (Friday) and Saturday, with the teams to play next weekend in Sherwood Park.


Plague


The AJHL has suspended the team activities of another team — the Calgary Canucks — after a positive COVID-19 test result was identified within the ajhlteam’s cohort. As per the league’s return-to-play protocols, the Canucks are on hold for at least 14 days. They were scheduled to play the Drayton Valley Thunder in Calgary tonight (Friday), on the road Sunday and May 7, and May 9 in Calgary, but those games all have been cancelled. . . .

On Tuesday, the AJHL halted team activities for the Whitecourt Wolverines and Bonnyville Pontiacs for 14 days because of a positive test in the Wolverines’ group. Those two teams had played each other on Saturday and Sunday. . . .

On Sunday, the Okotoks Oilers were put on hold for 14 days because of a positive test in their cohort. . . .

On April 23, the Drumheller Dragons experienced a positive test and they, too, were shut down for 14 days. . . .

On Wednesday, the Fort McMurray Oil Barons announced that they were ending their season out of an abundance of concern for the safety of players, billets and their community, which is under a local state of emergency. . . .

The league has seven teams up and running — Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie Storm, Sherwood Park Crusaders and Spruce Grove Saints in the North Division, and Brooks Bandits, Camrose Kodiaks and Olds Grizzlys in the South Division.

With seven teams and three two-team cohorts, the Spruce Grove Saints were left without a partner. That problem went away with the news regarding the Canucks. So the Saints are to play the Thunder tonight (Friday) in Spruce Grove and Saturday in Drayton Valley.

The AJHL schedule is to conclude on May 8.


File this under The Best Laid Plans: The Los Angeles Rams rented and outfitted a 9,000-square-foot beach house in Malibu from which their personnel was to set up shop and conduct the NFL draft. . . . On Thursday, general manager Les Snead announced that he has tested positive so will isolate at home and conduct the draft from there.


Retire


Mark Brennan, the Portland Winterhawks’ equipment manager, announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this season. He has been the club’s equipment manager since 2012, after also working with, among others, the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers. When Portland’s season ends on May 11, Brennan will have worked 2,251 games. The Winterhawks’ news release is right here.

Brennan wasn’t behind a bench on Thursday night — he’ll be there tonight with Portland playing host to the Everett Silvertips — but there were three other WHL games . . .

In Lethbridge, the Medicine Hat Tigers broke a 1-1 tie with two shorthanded Tigersgoals and went on to beat the Hurricanes, 6-2. . . . Medicine Hat (13-6-1) had lost its previous three games. . . . Lethbridge is 8-11-2. . . . F Brett Kemp gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead at 6:44 of the first period, with F Jett Jones (5) getting the Hurricanes even at 12:07. . . . D Cole Clayton (9) sent the Tigers out front with the first shorthanded goal, at 3:51 of the second period, with F Nick McCarry (7) adding the second one at 10:48. . . . Medicine Hat put it away with the next three goals, too — Kemp’s second and 12th of the season, and two from F Lukas Svejkovsky, who also has 12. . . . F Ty Nash (2) got Lethbridge’s second goal on a late PP. . . .

F Cael Zimmerman’s OT goal gave the visiting Calgary Hitmen a 4-3 victory Calgaryover the Red Deer Rebels. . . . The Hitmen improved to 9-7-2. . . . The Rebels (2-15-3) have lost 13 in a row (0-12-1). . . . F Josh Prokop (9) put Calgary out front, while shorthanded, at 2:39 of the first period and the teams exchanged goals through game’s end. . . . F Carter Anderson (2) got Red Deer even at 13:19, with D Jackson van de Least (3) replying for Calgary at 17:40. . . . Red Deer tied it on D Jace Weir’s second goal at 19:52. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (5) put the Hitmen back out front, 3-2, at 10:18 of the second period. . . . F Chris Douglas (6) forced OT with a Red Deer score at 12:48 of the third. . . . Zimmerman won it with his sixth goal of the season, at 4:19 of extra time. . . . Calgary F Sean Tschigel had two assists, giving him 18 points, including 10 goals, in 18 games. He went into this season with five goals and nine assists in 64 games. . . .

BTW, if you are interested in a good story about what life’s been like with the RedDeerstruggling Rebels who have been living in the arena since this season began, here’s a taste from D Joel Sexsmith:

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t really tough,” the 19-year-old told Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate. “It hasn’t been easy here. It certainly hasn’t been easy when you’re losing, too. I think the dynamic would shift if we’d been winning all the time and we haven’t been, that’s just the reality.

“We live here, we look at the rink every day and it kind of serves as a reminder that we are where we are in the standings. I think that’s really tough mentally. I would say I’m really grateful that I’m able to go through this with this group of guys. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I love this group of guys on this team.” . . . Hackett’s complete piece is right here and it’s well worth a read. . . .

F Alex Swetlikoff broke a 3-3 tie at 18:27 of the third period as the Kelowna RocketsRockets beat the visiting Vancouver Giants, 4-3. . . . The Rockets (7-2-0) have won four in a row. . . . The Giants (9-7-0) have lost four straight. . . . Swetlikoff’s fourth goal of the season stood up as the winner. . . . Kelowna D Jake Lee (2) had tied the game at 14:29 of the third. . . . Vancouver led this one 2-0 on two first-period goals from F Zack Ostapchuk, at 9:03 and 9:40. . . . Ostapchuk, who has six goals in 16 games this  season, finished last season with five in 44 games as a freshman. . . . F Dillon Hamaliuk (4) got Kelowna’s first goal, on a PP, at 13:21. . . . The Rockets tied it on F Turner McMillen’s first WHL goal, shorthanded, at 4:19 of the second. That was Kelowna’s fifth shorthanded score in nine games. . . . McMillen was a ninth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. He played two games last season and this was No. 9 this season. . . . Vancouver went back out front when F Bryce Bader (4) scored at 7:40. . . . Watching the replay of the winning goal, it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s changed to F Mark Liwiski, who appeared to score off a Swetlikoff rebound.


Belarus (2-1-0) secured a quarter-final berth in the IIHF U18 World U18Championship in Texas on Thursday, with a 6-2 victory over Latvia (0-3-0) in Group A. . . . Sweden (2-1-0) beat Switzerland (1-2-0), 3-1, in the other Group A game. . . . In Group B, G Kaidan Mbereko stopped five shooters in the shootout as Team USA beat Czech Republic, 2-1. . . . In the other Group B game, Russia (2-0-1) skated past Germany (0-3-0), 6-1. . . . There are two games scheduled for today — Canada (2-0-0) meets Switzerland in Group A, while Finland (2-0-0) plays Germany in Group B.


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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.


Monkees

WHL’s wait is almost over; two games set for tonight . . . Second team opts out of AJHL restart . . . Beast prexy with good dope on folderoo

It was March 11. The Victoria Royals and host Kelowna Rockets were tied, 2-2, in the third period of a WHL game.

F Brayden Tracey of the Royals broke the tie, banking a shot off G Roman Basran and into the Kelowna net. The goal would give the Royals a 3-2 victory and would be the last score of the WHL’s 2019-20 season.

The last goal of the CHL’s 2019-20 season was to have been scored in Kelowna, but it should have happened in the Memorial Cup in May. That tournament, like so many other things, was cancelled.

With the world in the early stages of what has turned into a full-blown pandemic, the WHL put things on hold after March 11, a pause that will end tonight (Friday) with two games featuring four Alberta teams.

In Red Deer, the Rebels will play the Medicine Hat Tigers, while the Lethbridge Hurricanes meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. The same teams will play again Saturday, only they will switch venues. The Calgary Hitmen, the fifth of the league’s five Alberta teams, have the bye.

In Red Deer, Troy Gillard will make his debut as the interim play-by-play voice of the Rebels, replacing Cam Moon, now the radio voice of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. Down the way from Gillard, Bob Ridley will be calling his 3,999th game as the only voice the Tigers have known.

If the excitement of tonight’s game doesn’t get to him, Ridley will do No. 4,000 in Medicine Hat on Saturday night. If you haven’t heard, he has called every game in Tigers history — except for one. It’s an oft-told story, but back in the day — way, way back — his then-boss’s wife was playing in the Canadian women’s curling championship in Saskatoon and, well, Ridley missed a Tigers game while covering curling. Yes, that’s a true story!

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings game won’t be heard on an Edmonton radio station, but will be available, with Andrew Peard on the call, on the team’s website.

(I had written here that G Lukáš Pařík of the Spokane Chiefs had scored the last goal of the season. That was in error.)

——

JUST NOTES: You may not have been aware of it, but the WHL’s trade deadline came and went on Thursday at 1 p.m. PT. For the first time in league history, there wasn’t even one trade. . . . The league released a U.S. Division schedule this week. The five American teams will open their season on March 18 with the Portland Winterhawks and Tri-City Americans meeting in Kennewick, Wash. With the Winterhawks not having clearance to play in Oregon, they will play their two March home games at the accesso ShoWare Centre in Kent, Wash. (aka the home of the Seattle Thunderbirds). The Portland home games April 2 through May 7 have TBD as the home arena. . . .

A schedule hasn’t yet been announced, but the seven-team Regina hub is expected to begin play on March 12. The hub will feature the five Saskatchewan-based teams, along with the two from Manitoba. . . . The five B.C. Division teams have yet to receive clearance to return to play from government and health officials. . . . Earlier this week, on the subject of 15-year-olds, the afore-mentioned Gillard tweeted: “So I confirmed that Alberta players are good to go since the U18AAA season here is cancelled, but Sask players are limited to 5 WHL games for now as they’ve yet to officially cancel league play in that province.” . . .

The Oil Kings have added three people to their front office — Shaun Mahe as video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator, the afore-mentioned Andrew Peard to handle hockey broadcasting and media, and Erin Klatt in charge of game-day operations. Mahe has been with the Oilers Entertainment Group for eight years, most recently in statistical analysis with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Peard’s duties include play-by-play, taking over from Corey Graham who somehow lost his job during recent Bell Media cuts. Klatt has been with OEG for two years, working as a hockey engagement co-ordinator. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers have added Brodi Stuart, 20, to their coaching staff. Stuart, from Langley, B.C., played three seasons with the Blazers. His WHL career came to an end when he had knee surgery on Jan. 20. In 204 regular-season games, he had 115 points, including 45 goals. . . . The Prince Albert Raiders have added Ryan McDonald as an assistant coach. He will work with the team during its time in the Regina hub. A Prince Albert native, McDonald, 33, played four plus seasons in the WHL (Regina Pats, Raiders, 2004-09). He was the head coach for the U18 AAA Warman Wildcats in 2020-21. . . .

Josh Green, the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, has moved to the Winnipeg Ice as an assistant coach. The Ice and Freeze are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment Inc. Green, who played five WHL seasons in the WHL (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, Portland, 1993-98), was an assistant coach with the Ice in 2019-20. . . . Ryan Guenter, who had been on the Ice’s scouting staff, also will be on the team’s coaching staff in the Regina hub. When that stint is over, he will step in as the Ice’s manager of scouting and hockey operations. . . . The Ice also has added Byron Spriggs as goaltending consultant. He has been the U of Manitoba Bisons’ goaltending coach for the past two seasons and is expected to work with both clubs. . . . Cole Hillier, a former head equipment manager with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, now is in that role with the Ice. Darcy Ewanchuk, who made the move to Winnipeg from Cranbrook with the franchise, now is on staff as a consultant.


Questions, there are questions . . .

We have been hearing for a while now that the WHL’s return to play is all about giving players development opportunities. If that’s the case, and considering the special circumstances, why not allow teams to carry five or six 20-year-olds, even if they only are allowed to dress three per game? Had the league done that, teams wouldn’t have had to cut 20-year-olds over the past few days. . . .

F Seth Jarvis of the Chicago Wolves is tied for the AHL lead in goals (6) and points (9). He has played seven games. Jarvis, who turned 19 on Feb. 1, was selected by the Carolina Hurricanes with the 13th pick of the NHL’s 2020 draft. The rules call for him to be returned to the Portland Winterhawks, but if this odd-ball season, with no fans allowed, is all about development why not leave him in the AHL? . . .

If you are a hockey fan who lives in Canada, does your NHL include only your country’s seven teams? And would you be content with a seven-team NHL and having those teams play an 84-game regular season? . . .

If you get vaccinated in the next month or six are you going to want to go back into an arena next fall not knowing how many unvaccinated people are in the same facility? Is that same thing going to be an issue in some work places? . . .

If you are paying attention to the coronavirus-related numbers in B.C., with variants showing up in schools and teachers in at least one city having marched in protest, will you be surprised if the province’s five WHL teams have to wait a while longer before getting the OK to return to play? . . .

What’s wrong with this picture? . . . On March  21, B.C. announced 76 new positives, raising the number of confirmed cases to 424. There were 27 people in hospital and 12 in intensive care. There was one new death, for a total of 10. So health officials closed all personal service establishments — remember when you couldn’t get a haircut? — and ordered all restaurants to go to takeout and delivery only. . . . On Feb. 25, B.C. reported 395 new cases — down from 559 two days earlier — for a confirmed total of 78,673, with 4,489 of those active. Ten new deaths raised the grim total to 1,348. But, hey, you can get a haircut and eat in a restaurant.


On Feb. 12, Brendan Batchelor, the play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Canucks on Sportsnet 650, revealed via Twitter that he had been “exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19” and was going into self-isolation. . . . All is well and Batchelor, whose resume includes calling Vancouver Giants games, returned to action on Thursday night as the Canucks lost, 3-0, to the visiting Edmonton Oilers.


The Lloydminster Bobcats are the second team to opt out of the AJHL’s return Bobcatsto play. According to a news release from the team, it was “denied participation . . . due to public health restrictions of the Saskatchewan government.” . . . More from that news release: “The organization exhausted all efforts to resolve barriers to meet the requirements of the Saskatchewan government. So far the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has also been unable to meet requirements, while the Western Hockey League has been approved by forming a bubble in Regina, SK. Attempts were made to establish a bubble in Lloydminster, but the team was shut out by circumstance.” . . . While they play in the AJHL, the Bobcats’ home arena, the Centennial Civic Centre, is in Lloydminster, Sask. . . . Earlier, the Canmore Eagles announced that they were opting out of a return to play. 


For the last while we regularly have heard from junior hockey pooh-bahs about Beasthow some teams may not survive the pandemic. To date, they’re all still alive, but that’s more than can be said for the Brampton Beast, a seven-year-old ECHL franchise.

The Beast called it quits last week, another victim of COVID-19, but one that won’t show up in death totals.

Cary Kaplan, the Beast’s president, general manager and minority owner of Brampton Beast, said that the pandemic simply made the hurdles too huge to continue.

Here’s part of what he told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, and all of this will be applicable to junior hockey teams, as well . . .

“What we realized recently is that next season is compromised. Normally at this time of year, you sell a lot of season tickets, you renew your season tickets, you make group sales, you do a lot of sponsorship. There’s so much nervousness out there, we realized for the upcoming season . . . that revenues would be greatly depleted. You’re losing revenues in three distinct hockey seasons. As a business, it’s not sustainable. We came to that realization probably since Christmas, (and) for us that was just too much.”

And now we wait to see if more teams meet the same fate.

If you haven’t already seen it, Friedman’s weekly 31 Thoughts is right here.


Sauce


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The City of Toronto has cancelled outdoor events and parades through July 1. That includes Canada Day celebrations and its Pride Parade. . . .

The Prince Albert Minor Hockey Association has cancelled any games for the remainder of its 2020-21 season. The provincial government has extended restrictions until at least March 19, so the association decided it was time to move on from this season. Teams are still able to practice with eight mask-wearing, social-distancing players on the ice at a time. . . .

The San Jose Sharks had F Thomas Hertl enter COVID-19 protocol on Wednesday, so their Thursday game against the visiting Vegas Golden Knights has been postponed. The Sharks didn’t hold any practice or training sessions on Wednesday. . . . San Jose next is scheduled to play on Saturday against the visiting St. Louis Blues. . . . Also on Wednesday, the New York Rangers placed F K’Andre Miller on the COVID-19 protocol list, but they still played that night, losing 4-3 to the Flyers in Philly. . . .

Dan Ralph of The Canadian Press reports that the CFL, which didn’t play in 2020, is looking at holding training camps in May with the first exhibition game on May 23. He also writes that an 18-game regular season would open on June 10 without fans in the stands. . . . That story is right here. . . .

The 10-team Winnipeg-based Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League announced on Tuesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its 2020-21 season. “These are unprecedented times,” Kerry Lines, the league president, said in a news release, “and the events around COVID have impacted so many lives and families. Our priority as a league is to be compliant with the health orders and respect and support the decisions that are made to keep our communities safe and reduce the risk.” . . . The MMJHL last played on Oct. 29.


Warranty


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.


Kids

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turner’s story is right here.

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

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

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


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

——

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


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

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


News


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

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


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


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


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

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

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

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

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

——

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


Panel


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


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


Diet

WHL: Unanswered questions; maybe no playoffs . . . Moon to shine bright in Edmonton as veteran radio voice moves from Rebels to Oilers

A number of WHL management types made themselves available to media on Monday to expound upon the brief news release issued by the league on Friday afternoon.

The league, at that time, said it was “committed” to playing a 24-game WHL2schedule, but that it didn’t have a starting date, something that won’t be established until health officials in various jurisdiction give the OK.

“It is anticipated the approvals will be received soon,” the WHL news release read, hinting that perhaps it had received some inside information.

Three things are readily apparent: 1. There won’t be any fans in attendance at games; 2. Teams will play geographical/divisional rivals in weekend double- or tripleheaders in one venue; 3. The league hasn’t completely moved away from using some kind of bubble format.

Oh, and there likely won’t be anything resembling a championship playoff.

“There could be a divisional playoff,” Collin Priestner, the Saskatoon Blades’ president and general manager, told Pat McKay of CTV Saskatoon, “but I don’t think we have the ability to have a league championship at this point, given that we’ve got teams in different countries and the travel is going to be severely restricted.”

If the WHL is able to get a season started, then, it all will be about giving its players a chance to strut their stuff for the scouts.

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Radio NL in Kamloops: “We are going to bring our players in at the appropriate time. They will be part of a program to develop, which really is our mandate. We’ll figure it out based on what health authorities allow us to do.

“We are a development hockey league. We are the elite hockey development program in the world. That’s what our responsibility is.”

But, as Priestner pointed out to McKay, there remain many unanswered questions.

“From protocols, safety, insurance, logistics,” Priestner said. “How big rosters can be, or how do we bring in players if there’s injuries? How do we get a season in? What do we do if things get shut down in the provinces?”

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars, the most remotely located of the WHL’s 22 teams, doesn’t even know where it will be playing.

“I think it’s wide open to see if we will be playing games here or on the road or in a bubble format,” Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager and head coach, told local reporters in a Zoom call. “We don’t have an exact date yet as to when we are going to start playing so that is still up in the air, but we do have a commitment from the league that we do have a 24-game schedule.”

And if you’re wondering who will be footing the bill for a return to play, Andy Beesley, the Cougars’ vice-president of business, had the answer.

“(The owners) are shouldering the entire cost,” he said. “For sure, when the players come to Prince George they will be put up with billet families, which we pay for, there is a tremendous amount of PPE and testing that we are on the hook for and, assuming that we are going into a bubble-type concept, wherever that may be, there will likely be hotel rooms, meal costs, player equipment, and staffing.”

Multiply that by 22 teams and, well, red ink is going to flowing like the South Thompson River in spring time.

So . . . what’s next?

Willie Desjardins, the general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, told Scott Roblin of CHAT-TV that there will be an update coming from the WHL on Jan. 22.

McKay’s complete story is right here.

Brendan Pawliw of myprincegeorgenow.com took part in a Zoom call in that city and his story is right here.


CamMoon

Who says you can’t go home again?

Cam Moon, a native of Edmonton, is leaving Red Deer after 22 years as the radio voice of the WHL’s Rebels, to handle play-by-play duties on Edmonton Oilers’ regional broadcasts.

Moon had been with the Rebels since 1998, through 1,753 consecutive games — regular-season, playoff and Memorial Cup. He joined the Rebels after spending three seasons with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers.

“Central Alberta hockey fans have had the pleasure of listening to his energetic spirit for 22 seasons,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, said in a news release, “and we’re honoured we’ll continue to hear him on Alberta’s airwaves. This truly is a dream come true for Mooner.”

Moon, an immensely popular figure on the WHL media circuit, told Troy Gillard of rdnewsNOW: “It’s overwhelming, for sure. It’s a team I grew up watching in my hometown so I very much look forward to the opportunity, the challenge. I never thought this day would come, I really didn’t, nor was I really looking for it, but here it is . . .

“It’s exciting and I look forward to the next chapter, but it’s also a little sad in that one chapter’s closing. It’s definitely a dream job. If I had the ability to pick a radio play-by-play job with any of the National Hockey League teams, this would be my No. 1 choice.” 

With the Oilers, Moon moves into the seat vacated by Jack Michaels, who now will call the play of Edmonton regional TV games for Sportsnet, replacing Kevin Quinn. Michaels will return to radio for Oilers games that are national and for Edmonton playoff games.

Louie DeBrusk is the analyst on TV games, with Bob Stauffer doing the same on radio.

Quinn and Drew Remenda no longer are part of Oilers’ telecasts or broadcasts.

You are able to tune into 630 CHED in Edmonton to hear Moon call his first Oilers game on Wednesday night as they play host to the Vancouver Canucks.



Twins


THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba announces 133 new cases of COVID-19. That’s the lowest total in 6 days but still pushes the province’s 7-day average up slightly to 172. Health authorities are also reporting 3 more deaths.

CBC News: A big jump in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases in Saskatchewan with 412. The previous day’s total, which hadn’t been reported, was 307. The average for the 7 previous days was 290. The province is also reporting 8 additional deaths and hospitalizations are at an all-time high.

CTV Regina: Saskatchewan’s 7-day average for daily COVID-19 has doubled over the past 13 days. The weekly average dropped to 152 on Dec. 30, but it has increased each day since, hitting an all-time high of 307 Monday.

CBC News: Alberta reports 639 new COVID-19 cases and 23 more deaths. Across the province there were 13,917 active cases, with 811 people are being treated in hospitals for the illness, including 130 in ICU beds.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: There are 1,475 new cases of COVID-19, from Fri to Sat 538 new cases, Sat to Sun 507 new cases, Sun to Mon 430 new cases. There are now a total of 58,107 positive cases in BC. . . . There are 5,220 active cases of COVID in BC. There are 358 people in hospital with COVID, of whom 72 are in ICU. There are 7,313 people in active monitoring. . . . There have been 22 new COVID deaths over the weekend. There have been 1,010 COVID deaths in BC in total.

CBC News: Ontario is reporting 3,338 new cases of COVID-19, the 8th straight day above 3,000. The hot spots are Toronto (931), Peel Region (531) and York Region (241). The province is expected to announce new restrictions tomorrow to help curtail the spread.

CBC News: 21 new COVID-19 cases today in New Brunswick. The province has experienced a significant surge over the past week with 164 new cases, for a daily average of 23. For the previous 7 days, the total number of cases was 26, with a daily average of 3.7.

CNN, Monday, 2 p.m. PT: 375,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 376,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 1:30 p.m. PT: 22.5 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

CNN, Monday, 7 p.m. PT: 22.6 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

Anna Cabrera, CNN: At least two gorillas at San Diego Zoo test positive for COVID-19, first known cases among great apes. The zoo says three animals are currently showing symptoms and it is suspected that the primates were infected by an asymptomatic staff member.

——

The Vancouver Canucks, who cancelled all Sunday team activities because of COVID-19 protocols, were back on the ice on Monday morning. It seems that Sunday’s episode was the result of a false positive. . . . The Canucks are scheduled to open their regular season with games against the host Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday and Thursday. . . . The Dallas Stars, who shut things down last week after eight positive tests — six players and two staffers — are to return to the practice ice Tuesday. They also announced that practices will be closed to the media until further notice. . . . The Stars’ first three scheduled regular-season games have postponed, leaving them to open at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jan. 19. . . .

The NBA’s coronavirus nightmare continues. Having postponed one game on Sunday, it had to do the same to a Monday night game and another scheduled for Tuesday. . . . There now have been a total of four games postponed. . . . The Miami Heat-Boston Celtics game scheduled for Sunday didn’t come off; neither did Monday’s game between the New Orleans Pelicans and host Dallas Mavericks. The visiting Celtics and Chicago Bulls won’t play tonight (Tuesday). . . . Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The NBA started its season in the worst part of the pandemic, as post-Thanksgiving numbers surged, deaths spiked, and hospitals and frontline health care workers were absolutely overwhelmed. What we have seen in recent weeks makes last summer seem calm.” . . . We now wait to see if the same fate awaits the NHL. . . .

The Air Force Falcons have shut down their hockey program for at least two weeks after five players tested positive following a road trip during which the team played five games in seven days on the East Coast. Their home games for the next two weekends are off the schedule. . . .

Skate Canada has cancelled the 2021 National Skating Championships because of the “evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada.” . . . The Canadians were scheduled for Vancouver, Feb. 8-14. . . .


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.


Answers

Kaminski: Let’s shut it down and let’s do this right . . . SJHL coaches vent frustrations . . . BCIHL cancels season

During Kevin Kaminski’s playing career, his nickname was ‘Killer’ and he didn’t take any prisoners. Yes, he was tough and he played hard.

These days, Kaminski is the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s La larongeRonge Ice Wolves and he hasn’t changed — he still shoots from the hip, and good for him.

With the SJHL about to shut down until after Christmas because of restrictions being implemented by the Saskatchewan government and health officials, Kaminski didn’t tiptoe around the issue.

“I don’t understand how casinos and bingos, and everything else can stay open,” Kaminski told MBC Radio’s Braden Malsbury, who does the play-by-play of Ice Wolves’ games. “If you’re going to shut it down, let’s shut it down and let’s do this right. Let’s just don’t put a Band-Aid on for two weeks and then it’s going to come back again after we get a little break from it.

“I don’t understand — it would be probably pretty easy to be a health official and just make up your own rules as you go along.”

Kaminski has hit the nail squarely on the head. By not shutting things down at the first sign of trouble a couple of months ago, we find ourselves where we are today. And the way these things have been handled since March, you can almost bet that we will get to a stage where restrictions will be loosened . . . and we will end up going through all of this again.

As Kaminski said, “If you’re going to shut it down, let’s shut it down . . .”

Kaminski has every right to be disappointed, too. His Ice Wolves are playing well, having won four straight after a season-opening setback.

“I’m very disappointed, saddened for the players,” Kaminski told Malsbury.

Malsbury’s story is right here.

Doug Johnson, the general manager and head coach of the Nipawin Hawks, also is sounding frustrated.

“In March, we didn’t know . . . everything was uncertain,” Johnson told Aaron NipawinSchulze of northeastNOW, referring to the 2019-20 season’s premature end. “Right now, with all the restrictions in place and protocols we followed, we were told we did nothing wrong. There’s not one case from hockey transmission within the SJHL. We have our guys following all the protocols, basically putting their social life on hold, just to get through this and make it work, and we get shut down even when we’ve done everything right. Yet, other things are able to stay open.

“It’s a double standard, 100 per cent. It has nothing to do with us not taking COVID-19 serious. We have 27 guys for three months and there’s not been one case within our locker room. Within the league, 12 teams, there’s been one case. We’ve done things right and proven it can work, but we’re getting throttled right now.

“Government makes money off their bars and casinos, the liquor and gambling. They’re not making a ton of money off the SJHL or hockey. Yet, our communities . . . the Nipawin Hawks bring in roughly $1.5 to $1.8 million into Nipawin and that’s on hold right now. The mental health of our young people . . . the outing, just a little sense of normalcy for our fans . . . the pride that the players’ parents can have watching their kids play and do what they love. We’re not lumped in the same.”

Schulze’s story is right here.

EstevanMeanwhile, Jason Tatarnic, the general manager and head coach of the Estevan Bruins, was on The Rod Pedersen Show on Thursday, and he was pretty much echoing Johnson, wondering why junior hockey gets shut down while people are still allowed to go to casinos and stores.

“”It’s definitely disappointed and very sad for our players,” Tatarnic told Pedersen. “It’s heartbreaking for them.”

Tatarnic also touched on the financial side of things, saying that these teams have a “big economic impact on all the communities. Our operating budget for each team between is between $500,000 to $1 million, probably more so in the middle of that for each team. . . . tremendous economic impact on our communities.”

As for the Bruins, Tatarnic said the organization is “probably projected to lose anywhere betwen $300,000 and $400,000 this (season) already. That’s a huge loss for anybody . . . you look at our organization . . . that’s tremendous. We have six full-time staff. You look at 12 teams . . . that’s a big impact.”

You can watch the Tatarnic interview right here.


With Canada’s national junior team dealing with three positive tests at its selection camp in Red Deer, the question has to be asked: Is the 2021 World Junior Championship at risk? . . . Ilan Schwartz, an associate professor in the division of infectious diseases at the University of Alberta, has told Donna Spencer of The Canadian Press that he isn’t sure bring 10 teams into an Edmonton bubble at this point in time is such a good idea. . . . “The NHL showed that it can be done, but the stops that were pulled out in order to create and maintain a bubble for the NHL playoffs were enormous,” Schwartz said. “It’s not safe for the players to be coming into a place where there’s a surge in infections. While the players themselves are going to be young and healthy and low risk of serious complications from the virus, they are still very much able to transmit it to those people around them.” . . . The tournament is scheduled to open on Dec. 25 and run through Jan. 5. . . . Infections rates now are 10 times higher in Alberta than when the NHL was concluding its playoff run in Edmonton. . . . Spencer’s story is right here.

——

What’s happening with Canada’s national junior team as the players at the selection camp in Red Deer are early in 14-day quarantine sessions? Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News takes a look at the situation right here.


The five-team B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League has cancelled its 2020-21 BCIHLseason. Earlier, the league had said that it hoped to begin on Jan. 15. . . . From a news release: “League organizers worked closely with BC Hockey and member schools in pursuing a shortened season, but with recent restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the BCIHL made the decision to cancel official competition until the start of the 2021-22 season.” . . . Chris Munshaw, the BCIHL president, said: “It’s not a decision we took lightly. Many of our coaches, staff, and volunteers have been with the league since it began in 2005. More importantly, this has a big impact on the lives of our student-athletes.” . . . Also from the release: “The BCIHL’s decision does not prevent member teams from pursuing exhibition games or tournaments within the guidelines allowed by their institutions, facilities and the provincial government.” . . . The last paragraph of the release indicated that the BCIHL is continuing to prepare for a “full” 2021-22 season, “including the pursuit of league expansion.”

——

COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: 383 new COVID-19 cases have been diagnosed in Manitoba, virtually unchanged from the previous 7-day average of 386. The province is also reporting 10 additional deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 299 new COVID-19 cases, which is significantly more than the province’s previous 7-day average of 209. 3 deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Saskatchewan jail reports 72 new COVID-19 cases, including 68 offenders and 4 staff. There are now 85 active cases at the Saskatoon Correctional Centre, which normally houses about 450 inmates. Authorities say any new admissions to the facility will be redirected.

650 CKOM Saskatoon: ICU capacity is at nearly 100 per cent in Saskatchewan, with just three available beds in Saskatoon as of today.

Jason Herring, Postmedia, Alberta: 1,077 new cases (total now 51,878); 10 new deaths (total now 510); 383 currently in hospital, 84 in ICU (yesterday: 355 in hospital, 71 in ICU); 14,052 active cases (up from 13,719 yesterday); 15,644 tests conducted (~6.9% positive); since yesterday, hospitalizations rose by eight per cent in Alberta, and ICU admissions rose by 18 per cent.

Troy Gillard, rdnewNOW: Red Deer now with 158 active cases of COVID-19.

Christopher Foulds, Kamloops This Week: COVID-19 claims another 13 lives as province announces 887 new cases, including 65 in Interior; outbreak at The Hamlets long-term care home in Kamloops declared over.

James Peters, CFJC-TV Kamloops: Interior Health says there are 374 active cases of COVID-19 in the region, with nine people in hospital including two in intensive care.

Castanet Kamloops: Assault at Dawson Creek Walmart over wearing face mask.

INFOnews Kamloops: Walmart employee in Dawson Creek assaulted by man who refused to wear mask.

INFOnews Kamloops: Police identify woman alleged to have spit on Penticton liquor store employee in mask-wearing dispute.

CBC News: Ontario reports 21 additional COVID-19 deaths and 1,478 new cases. That’s higher than the previous 7-day average of 1,389. Of the new cases, 572 are in Peel Region, 356 are in Toronto and 111 are in York Region.

CBC Quebec: Quebec is reporting 32 additional COVID-19 deaths and has diagnosed 1,464 new cases. That appears to be the largest daily number of new reported cases since May 3, and a significant jump from the province’s previous 7-day average of 1,171.

CBC News: 12 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick. That’s higher than the average of 9 for the previous 7 days.

Alexander Quon, Global Halifax: Premier Blaine Higgs say that as off midnight anyone entering New Brunswick from another province, including Atlantic Canada, must now self isolate for 14 days. The Atlantic bubble is officially over.

CNN: 263,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus. . . . 12.8 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus.

——

The NFL has a problem. With the Baltimore Ravens in the middle of an outbreak, the NFL moved their game with the host Pittsburgh Steelers from Thursday night to Sunday afternoon. On Thursday, it seems that the Ravens had four more players, including QB Lamar Jackson, and one staffer test positive. The Ravens have shut down their facility until at least Monday, so you have to think Sunday’s game won’t happen. . . . The Ravens really are up against it, too, because they are scheduled to face the Cowboys in Dallas in next week’s Thursday game. . . . Meanwhile, WR Larry Fitzgerald of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals tested positive and won’t play Sunday against the host New England Patriots. . . . The Cleveland Browns closed their facility on Thursday after getting their fifth positive in less than two weeks.


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.


Like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, it seems that the Swift Current SCBroncosBroncos and Golden West Radio learned that they couldn’t live without each other. . . . The Broncos and Golden West have announced a deal that will put the play-by-play of the “majority” of the team’s games in the approaching season on the Eagle 94.1. . . . Craig Beauchemin will handle the play-by-play. . . . The parties weren’t able to reach an agreement prior to the 2019-20 season so the Broncos took their broadcasts online. . . . The WHL is hoping to start its next season on Jan. 8.

BCHL now hoping to open Dec. 8 . . . SJHL’s Bombers done until 2021 . . . Wheat Kings lose Lowry to Jets

The BCHL had been hoping to open its regular season on Dec. 2. But those plans BCHLhave changed and now the junior A league is aiming for Dec. 8. The change, according to a news release, “is to accommodate the new orders against team travel” as ordered by the Province Health Office (PHO). . . . The BCHL also has cancelled the remainder of its exhibition season. . . . The league also is looking at perhaps having to wait until the new year to get started. ““If the PHO extends their current restrictions beyond Dec. 7, we have the option of moving the start date to after the holidays, but it is our intention to begin play once the current order expires,” Chris Hebb, the BCHL’s commissioner, said. . . . According to Steven Cocker, the BCHL’s executive director, “Should the season start be delayed past Dec. 8, the players (who) choose to go home for the holidays will be required to adhere to travel guidelines, including going into isolation for 14 days prior to joining their team.”


The SJHL has postponed weekend games in which the Melfort Mustangs and SJHLBattlefords North Stars were to have played a home-and-home series. The decision was made due to a “COVID-19 exposure,” according to a Mustangs’ news release. “The player in question has been isolated and the organization is following all direct protocols from the health authorities.” . . . They were to have played in Melfort on Friday and North Battleford on Saturday. . . . The Mustangs, who also had a player test positive late in September, should be able to resume activities on Nov. 29. . . . Earlier, the SJHL had postponed a game that was to have been played on Saturday (Nov. 21) between the visiting La Ronge Ice Wolves and Melfort. The teams had played Friday in La Ronge. . . .

At the same time, the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers have put their season on hold FlinFlonuntil the new year. The Bombers play out of Manitoba but the province is in a lockdown. The Bombers, who last played on Nov. 10, had been negotiating with health officials in two provinces and with the Manitoba government in the hopes of being allowed to practice in Creighton, Sask., and play all of their games on the road. The team announced Monday that it was unable to reach an agreement so has decided to put things on hold. . . . The Bombers are 0-2-0 and will have had 14 games postponed by the end of Decemberr. They are next scheduled to play on Jan. 1 against the visiting La Ronge Ice Wolves. . . . Carter Brooks of gameonhockey.ca has more on the Bombers right here.


As you may be aware, the QMJHL has seven teams playing in a bubble in Quebec City and, to date, there haven’t been any positive tests. But what has it cost to find out whether people in the bubble are positive or negative? . . . Well, Stéphane Turcot of TVA tweeted on Monday that “in total more than a thousand tests were carried out for a sum of more than $200,000.” . . . Yes, that’s more than $200 per test.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

CBC News: Manitoba announces a record 543 new cases of COVID-19, the first time the number has exceeded 500. That compares to the province’s previous 7-day average of 371. Manitoba also reports 7 more deaths.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 4 additional deaths and 235 new COVID-19 cases. That’s virtually the same number of cases as yesterday (236) but above the province’s 7-day average of 210.

CBC News: Sask. Premier Scott Moe self-isolating after potential COVID-19 exposure. Potential exposure happened at Original Joe’s restaurant in Prince Albert, says government release.

CBC News: 5 more deaths and 1,549 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, down slightly from yesterday’s all-time high of 1,584 cases. It’s the 5th day in a row the province has seen at least 1,000 cases; Alberta’s average for the previous 7-day is 963.

Troy Gillard, rdnewsNOW: Alberta added 1,549 COVID-19 cases on Nov. 22, just shy of the previous day’s record total of 1,584. . . . RedDeer now with 141 active cases, an increase of 15.

Mo Cranker, Medicine Hat News: Medicine Hat is up to 101 active cases of COVID-19. There are 116 recoveries in the Hat. . . . There are 39 active cases in Cypress County. There are 23 active cases of COVID-19 in Forty Mile. . . . There are 176 active cases in Lethbridge. Taber is up to 106 active cases.

Richard Zussman, Global BC: Over the last three days there have been 1,933 new cases of COVID-19. This includes 713 cases from Fri to Sat, 626 new cases from Sat to Sun and 594 new cases from Sun to Mon. There have been 27,407 total cases of COVID-19 in BC. . . . Hospitalizations are surging. There are 277 (up 50) people in hospital with COVID. 58 people in ICU and 17 people have died from the virus. There have been 348 deaths in BC from the virus. . . . Right now there are 7,360 active cases of the virus (nearly 1,000 of these cases are linked to LTC), 19,069 people have recovered and 10,200 people are in self-isolation.

CBC News: Ontario sets new high for coronavirus cases with 1,589 in the past 24 hours as Toronto and Peel move into a second lockdown. It’s the 18th straight day with more than 1,000 cases; the 7-day average is now 1,401, up from 1,385. 19 more deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Ontario data shows 37,500 more tests completed. 507 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in the province, with 156 in ICU. Toronto and Peel Region entered the most restrictive tier of Ontario’s pandemic protection plan today.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,164 new COVID-19 cases, virtually unchanged from the province’s 7-day average of 1,163. Quebec health authorities are also attributing 13 additional deaths to the virus.

CBC News: 15 new COVID-19 cases in New Brunswick, just the 2nd time the number has been in double digits since October 10; the other time was 2 days ago with 23 cases. The province also says there has been 1 more death due to the virus.

CBC News: Both Newfoundland and Labrador and P.E.I. are exiting the Atlantic bubble for at least two weeks as COVID-19 cases rise in parts of the region. The Atlantic bubble was lauded as a success throughout the summer and fall when virus  case numbers were low. . . . Effective Wednesday, anyone entering N.L. from the Maritimes will have to self-isolate for 14 days. Pulling out of Atlantic bubble for 2 weeks.

CBC News: P.E.I. is putting travel restrictions in place for 2 weeks. Premier Dennis King says the Island is temporarily suspending all unnecessary travel to and from P.E.I. a minimum of two weeks starting at midnight.

CBC News: Nunavurt reports 4 more COVID-19 cases. That brings the territory’s total to 132; the 1st case was diagnosed November 6. 3 of the new cases are in Rankin Inlet, bringing its total to 18. 1 is in Whale Cove, bringing its total to 16. 

CBC News: Global COVID-19 cases top 59M, with over 1.39M deaths; Johns Hopkins University.

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Radio station CKOM Saskatoon reported on Monday that the Balcarres Broncs, a senior hockey team, has had “at least two cases of COVID-19, following the protocols of Saskatchewan Health.” . . . CKOM also reported that “outbreaks were declared in Prince Albert in the U-19 P.A. Bruins hockey team and the Global Sport Academy.” . . . That story is right here. . . . The Broncs play in the Qu’Appelle Valley Hockey League. . . . Another QVHL game — the Balgonie Bisons at the Odessa/Vibank Bruins— wasn’t played on Saturday. Taking Note was told that players weren’t sure what had happened, but “rumour had it the exposure pertained to a Balcarres player from the weekend before.” . . . The Milestone Flyers were to have visited Balcarres on Saturday, but that game also wasn’t played. . . .

The NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights issued a news release on Monday evening stating that four of their players “recently tested positive. . . . Those individual players have been self-isolating and are all recovering well.” The team has shut down all off-ice player areas through the Thanksgiving weekend. . . .

The 10-team New England Hockey Conference (NEHC), which is NCAA Div. III, cancelled its 2020-21 season and championship tournament on Monday. It had announced a delay to the start of the season in July. . . . From a statement: “The NEHC had remained optimistic that a season could safely take place this winter. However, with a surge in cases both nationally and regionally, state-to-state travel amongst the membership has proved insurmountable. The NEHC membership hails from six different states that each have a variety of travel restrictions in place as it pertains to crossing state lines during the pandemic.” . . .

A Monday afternoon hockey game between the visiting Minnesota State Mavericks and Bemidji State Beavers was postponed “due to positive COVID-19 tests within the Minnesota State program,” according to a news release from the WCHA. . . . The teams played Sunday night — Minnesota State won, 5-0 — with no positive tests reported prior to that game. . . . The Mavericks’ season is on hold “pending outcomes related to full contact tracing yet to be completed.” . . . The Beavers are scheduled to visit the Maverics on Friday and Saturday nights. . . .

Northern Michigan’s men’s hockey team has experienced some positive tests so has postponed or cancelled its first six games. The Wildcats’ first games now are scheduled for Dec. 11-12 against Minnesota State in Mankato. Of course, the Mavericks are on hold right now because of positive tests in their program. NMU is located in Marquette. . . . St. Lawrence U has shut down its hockey program at least through Dec. 19 because of an outbreak on campus in Canton, N.Y. The Saints, who play in the ECAC, now don’t have any games scheduled until January. . . .

The Seattle Sounders had a player test positive on Monday, but he “was not a close contact of other members of the roster or technical staff,” according to the team . . . The Sounders are scheduled to play host LAFC on Tuesday in a Round 1 playoff match. A victory would put the Sounders through to the Western Conference semfinal against FC Dallas. . . .

The NFL’s Baltimore Ravens shut down their facility on Monday after experiencing multiple positive tests. The Ravens, who lost 30-24 to the host Tennessee Titans on Sunday, are scheduled to visit the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thursday. . . . The Minnesota Vikings placed WR Adam Thielen on the reserve/COVID-19 list after he tested positive. He will have to test negative during the week if he is to play against the visiting Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Thielen leads the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns. He caught 11 passes for 123 yards and two TDs in Sunday’s 31-28 loss to the visiting Dallas Cowboys. . . . LT Trent Williams of the San Francisco 49ers tested positive last week and may miss another game this weekend. He is a cancer survivor and is considered high risk.



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.


Dave Lowry has left the Brandon Wheat Kings after one season as head coach to join the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant coach. The Wheat Kings went 35-22-6 under Lowry in the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season. . . . Lowry, 55, also has been a WHL head coach with the Victoria Royals and Calgary Hitmen. . . . He joined the Wheat Kings after two seasons as an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings. . . . With the Jets, he fills the spot created when Todd Woodcroft left in April to become the head coach at the U of Vermont. . . . Lowry’s son, Adam, 27, who played with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos (2009-13), is preparing for his seventh season with the Jets. . . .

Meanwhile, the Henderson Silver Knights, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, made official one of hockey’s worst kept secrets on Monday — they have hired Jamie Heward, 49, as an assistant coach. Heward spent the past two seasons as the Vancouver Giants’ associate coach. The Giants have signed signed Keith McCambridge as associate coach. . . . Heward and Manny Viveiros, the AHL expansion team’s head coach, worked together with the Swift Current Broncos, winning the WHL’s 2017-18 championship. . . . The Silver Knights also have signed Joel Ward, 39, as an assistant coach. A veteran of 726 regular-season NHL games, Ward announced his retirement in April.


The NHL’s Florida Panthers have named former WHLer Shane Churla, 55, their director of amateur scouting. He spent the previous seven seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, the last four as director of amateur scouting. Churla, who also has scouted for the Dallas Stars and Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes, played for the Medicine Hat Tigers (1983-85).

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