Border closure forces WHL schedule changes . . . Blazers cancel two home exhibition games . . . Brandon honours Don Dietrich

If you weren’t aware that Larry Walker was in camp with the Regina Pats — actually, he was in camp with the Pats on two occasions — there’s a piece right here that Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post wrote on Jan. 22, 2020.


If it wasn’t apparent before, it is now — the WHL’s 2021-22 regular-season WHL2schedule is as fluid as the South Thompson River and it likely will continue that way for a while yet. . . . From a WHL news release that was issued on Wednesday: “Due to ongoing border restrictions preventing non-essential bus travel from Canada to the U.S., WHL clubs in the U.S. Division will compete exclusively against U.S. Division opponents, while WHL clubs in the B.C. Division will compete exclusively against B.C. Division opponents during the month of October.” . . . The original plan was to have teams in each conference playing only within their conferences in 2021-22. That plan remains in place for the 12 Eastern Conference teams. . . . As things now stand, the U.S. and B.C. division teams will play within their divisions until Nov. 3 when the Kamloops Blazers are scheduled to visit the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Unless COVID-19 decides otherwise, of course. . . . Fans of the 10 Western Conference teams are advised to consult online schedules for changes that have been made. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that the changes mean the Vancouver Giants, who were to have opened against the host Victoria Royals on Oct. 2, now will start their season in Kelowna against the Rockets on Oct. 1. But the Giants still are to play in Victoria on Oct. 2. No, they aren’t likely to fly from the Little Apple to B.C.’s capital. . . .

Another result of these changes is that the Royals and Prince George Cougars will play six straight games against each other. They are to meet Oct. 16 and 17 in Prince George, Oct. 22 and 23 in Victoria, and Oct. 26 and 27 back in Prince George.


Genetics


The Kamloops Blazers cancelled a pair of home-ice exhibition games, while Kamloopsscheduling another one in Prince George against the Cougars. . . . Interior Health, which covers Kamloops, won’t allow more than 50 fans to attend indoor events. Northern Health, which governs Prince George, will allow teams to play in front of crowds that are 50 per cent of capacity. . . . Why the difference? How do they get the caramel in the Caramilk bar? . . . Anyway, Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, told Radio NL in Kamloops that “this is why we’re bringing in the vaccine card. So that if we’re going to Blazer games — and there will be people going to Blazer games this year — will be able to do so safely. Knowing that everyone in the rink is vaccinated . . . vaccine cards don’t stop people from doing things, they enable people to do things.” . . . It all means that the Victoria Royals won’t play in Kamloops on Sept. 15, and the Cougars won’t visit on Sept. 17. . . . The Blazers, however, will play in Prince George on Sept. 15. Kamloops also will play in Prince George on Sept. 18 in a game that was on the original exhibition schedule.


Bugs


The BCHL also has had to adjust its schedule in the hopes of having the bchlWenatchee, Wash., Wild play a complete season after sitting out what there was of a 2020-21 regular season. . . . The Wild is the BCHL’s only American franchise. . . . The league announced Wednesday that because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel going north, the Wild will play only road games “in the early part of the season.” That means its four scheduled October home games have been dropped, hopefully to be rescheduled later in the season. . . . The Wild will open the season on Oct. 9 in Penticton against the Vees. It then will play five more road games from Oct. 16 through Oct. 30 and two in Vernon against the Vipers on Nov. 5 and 6. The Wild now is scheduled to play its home-opener on Nov. 12 against the West Kelowna Warriors. . . . “The BCHL’s Return to Play Task Force continues to investigate solutions if the land border remains closed beyond October,” the league said in a news release.


It was precisely the issue with the border that resulted in the junior B Spokane kijhlBraves pulling out of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League for a second straight season. . . . If you’re a regular here, you will recall a piece I posted here on Aug. 29 that included snippets of a conversation between Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, and Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Rockets. In that conversation, Hamilton said that having teams cross the U.S.-Canada border remains “in question.” He added: “To have our team travel (to the U.S.), we would have to take a rapid test going down and a PCR test coming home, so you are looking at $5,000 to $6,000 each time for every trip you make across the border.” . . . Taking Note was told that KIJHL teams weren’t about to pay that kind of money to go south, and that contributed in large part to the Braves’ decision. . . . You can bet that expense will impact WHL and BCHL teams, too, if the U.S. chooses not to open the border to Canadians for non-essential travel over the next two or three months.


FiveGuys


Former Brandon Wheat Kings D Don Dietrich, who died earlier this year at 59, is Brandonto have a street in the Wheat City named after him. City Council has voted unanimously to honour Dietrich by naming a street in the Bellafield development after him. . . . Dietrich was from Deloraine, a community south of Brandon. He spent three seasons with the Wheat Kings (1978-81), playing on a WHL championship team in 1978-79 and captaining the club in 1980-81. . . . According to the Brandon Sun, Coun. Shawn Berry said: “This was a man who through his life battled cancer twice and Parkinson’s disease most of his life from 30 on, and never once felt pity or sorry for himself. He went back to his hometown, gave back to the community, started a breakfast program for kids to come out and learn hockey before school started on his own time. . . . He left us way too young, but even through he wasn’t a Brandon boy, Don’s legacy in Westman is well known and I know the short time he was in Brandon here he was very well respected.” . . . Brandon also is home to other streets named after former Wheat Kings, including forwards Ray Allison, Laurie Boschman, Ron Chipperfield, Bill Fairbairn and Ray Ferraro, and G Glen Hanlon. . . . Interestingly, there doesn’t appear to be a street named after the late Brad McCrimmon. Perhaps the City of Brandon is preparing to name its next new development after the McCrimmon brothers, Brad and Kelly.


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Señor Froggy Restaurant, which has two FroggyKamloops locations. . . . Ownership is closing both restaurants from Sept. 13 through Sept. 20 for “a mental health break.”

“We’re all exhausted. Staff and owners alike,” management posted on social media. “Something critically important to our local business is putting our people first. So as we ease into fall and before the rush of school fundraiser lunches begins, we are practising what we believe in and will be closing for a one-week ‘mental health break.’

“This decision was made with the input and support of our team. (Don’t worry — we are taking care of our staff to thank them and ensure time off doesn’t impact their ability to pay their bills.)

“We know this temporary closure may inconvenience some and for that, we apologize and hope you’ll come back when we re-open.”

No apology necessary, and we’ll see y’all when you get back.




JUST NOTES — With the NFL regular season scheduled to open tonight (Thursday), I believe that only three teams — the Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks — have told fans they will have to have proof of vaccination or a recent negative test in order to be admitted to games. . . . It’s Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the visiting Dallas Cowboys in the NFL opener. Are you aware that Brady is 44 years of age? . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia reports that Swedish G Jesper Vikman, 19, has arrived in Vancouver and will be with the Giants until Tuesday when he heads to camp with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He is expected back with the Giants before Oct. 1, however. According to Ewen, the Giants still expect to see Swedish F Fabian Lysell, 18, and Slovak D Marko Stacha, 19, who was with them last season, in camp. Yes, WHL teams may keep only two imports. . . .

According to Rick Dhaliwal of The Donnie and Dhali Show, D Viktor Persson, a draft pick of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks who will be 20 this season, “will be flying into Kamloops next week.” . . . The Kelowna Rockets have added to their staff by signing Quintin Laing as an assistant coach. Laing, now 42, played 260 regular-season games over four seasons (1996-2000) with the Rockets. Of late, he has been coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, something he will continue to do. With the Rockets, Laing will work with head coach Kris Mallette, assistant Josh MacNevin and goaltending coach Adam Brown.


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.


Unvaxxed

WHL teams start trimming 2001-born players . . . Oil Kings add d-man . . . ‘Quick lube guy’ doesn’t make Blazers’ short list

Milkyway2


The Tri-City Americans have released three 2001-born players, turning F AmericansBooker Daniel, F Edge Lambert and D Bryan McAndrews into free agents. . . . Daniel, from Vanderhoof, B.C., had four goals and five assists in 19 games this season. In 69 games over three seasons, he has 11 goals and 11 assists. . . . Lambert, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was a seventh-round selection by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He had two goals and five assists in 18 games with the Americans this season. In 77 games over two seasons with Tri-City, he put up 19 goals and 14 assists. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews, from Edmonton, was picked by Tri-City in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. In 117 games over three seasons with the Americans, he had two goals and four assists. This season, he had one assist in 11 games. . . . The Americans still have five 2001-born players on the roster with which they finished this season — D Mitchell Brown, F Connor Bouchard, F Samuel Huo, F Sasha Mutala and Slovakian D Andrej Golian. . . .

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars have released F Brendan Boyle, another PG2001-born skater. . . . From Lake Country, B.C., Boyle had one assist in 12 games with the Cougars this season. In 132 games over four seasons, he totalled three goals and four assists. . . . Boyle’s departure leaves the Cougars with six 2001-born players on their roster — F Connor Bowie, F Ethan Browne, G Taylor Gauthier, F Jonny Hooker, D Majid Kaddoura and F Tyson Upper. . . .

And the Saskatoon Blades have released 2001-born F Alex Morozoff. . . . From BladesSaskatoon, he started his WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels. After 94 games with the Rebels, he played 22 with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with his hometown Blades. . . . In 172 regular-season games, he put up 27 goals and 18 assists. . . . Saskatoon still has five 2001-born players on its roster — G Nolan Maier, F Evan Patrician, D Rhett Rhinehart, F Tristen Robins and F Blake Stevenson.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Carson Golder (2002) from the EdmontonVictoria Royals for a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft. . . . The pick originally belonged to the Saskatoon Blades, who surrendered it when they acquired D Wyatt McLeod from Edmonton on Jan. 25. . . . Golder, from Smithers, B.C., had two assists in 50 games with the Royals in 2019-20. This season, he was with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters, putting up two goals and one assist in 15 games.


After Matt Bardsley announced that he was leaving his job as general manager Kamloopsof the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, did you think about applying for the position? . . . No. . . . Why not? . . . Don Moores, the team’s president, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he has received “some really good resumes from the outside. We’ve had lots of great resumes.” Moores also allowed that “we’ve had some unusual resumes.” . . . He added: “I did have a guy from Brampton, Ont., who works for quick lube who felt he would be perfect for the position.” . . . As Seitz reported: “The Blazers have short-listed five, according to Moores, and the quick lube guy isn’t one of them.”

Meanwhile, Moores told Jon Keen, the Blazers’ play-by-play voice, that Swedish F Viktor Persson is “committed to the organization.” Persson was a seventh-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2020 draft. If not for the pandemic, it’s believed he would have been in Kamloops for the 2020-21 season. Persson, who turns 20 on Nov. 7, will be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Blazers. . . . Swiss D Inako Baragano, the Blazers’ lone import this season, won’t be returning. Baragano, another 2001-born skater, has signed with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of Switzerland’s National League.


Children


Kevin Draper, writing in The New York Times:

“N.F.L. players who aren’t vaccinated will face severe restrictions next football season. The league has made vaccinations mandatory for coaches and other essential team personnel, but cannot do so for players. Still, teams can make the trade-off quite clear.”

Draper quoted Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, as saying: “If you get vaccinated, you can go back to 2019 rules. If you don’t, you’ll have to follow 2020 protocols,” a strict regimen of testing, masking and social distancing guidance.


If you have been following the NBA playoffs, you will be aware that injuries to star players are turning into a huge story. . . . On top of that guard Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns now has tested positive. He was a key performer as the Suns ousted the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers and then the Denver Nuggets, but now will miss the start of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz. . . . Apparently, Paul has received at least one vaccination. . . . The Suns aren’t expected to update his situation before Saturday.

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Meanwhile, the number of positive tests involving people who are connect with the Copa America soccer tournament in Brazil has reached at least 65, up from 53 on Wednesday. . . . Of those 65, 19 are players and 46 are staff members or officials. . . . Teams from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — that’s half the field — have confirmed positive tests. . . . Brazil, one of the world’s COVID-19 hotspots, stepped is as the tournament host only a short time before the games were to begin.


Germany has replaced Canada in the schedule for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Aug. 2-7 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . Canada cancelled its U18 selection camp for pandemic-released reasons so has bowed out of this year’s tournament. The 2020 event, you will recall, was to have been held in Edmonton and Red Deer but was cancelled due to the pandemic. . . . There is a news release that includes a schedule right here.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner for 21 seasons, has been given a three-year contract running through 2023-24 by the board of governors. Robison, 66, took over the position prior to the 2000-01 season. In a news release, Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board, said the governors “voted unanimously to extend” Robison’s contract. . . . The WHL also announced Yvonne Bergmann’s retirement. The vice-president, business, Bergmann has been in the WHL office for 20 years. The league has hired Marco De Iaco as vice-president, business development. He had been president and CEO of JMI Sport & Entertainment Projects in Calgary. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels have signed Mike Egener as an assistant coach to work alongside recently signed head coach Steve Konowalchuk. Egener played four seasons (2000-04) as a defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen. He retired from playing in 2015 after spending three seasons with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. He has been coaching at the OHA Academy since 2017. With the Rebels, he fills the spot left when the Rebels chose not to renew Brad Flynn’s contract. . . .

Former WHLer James Henry has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s Binghamton Black Bears. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville Marksmen. Henry, 30, is from Winnipeg. He played five seasons (2007-12) in the WHL, getting into 281 games with the Vancouver Giants and 28 with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He finished with 72 goals and 142 assists, adding 15 goals and 22 assists in 59 playoff games. . . .

According to Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff), there won’t be a Young Stars exhibition tournament in Penticton in 2021. Paterson tweeted that the Vancouver Canucks “have confirmed no Young Stars in Penticton this season due to scheduling uncertainty. Team is working with city and South Okanagan Events Centre on long-term plan to ensure prospect tournament returns.”


Eyes

WHL governors to meet Friday . . . QMJHL not impacted by curfew . . . Former CAHA president dies at 85

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The WHL’s board of governors is scheduled to confer on Friday, but in these WHL2uncertain times it isn’t known what might happen. Remember that the WHL, which halted its 2019-20 season after games of March 11, originally said it hoped to begin a new season on Oct. 2 . . . then Dec. 4 . . . then Jan. 8, which is Friday’s date. The WHL chose to dump the Jan. 8 startup on Dec. 15, saying at that time that the governors “will meet in January to consider potential start dates.” . . . WHL pooh-bahs have said that once a decision is made to start, teams will need about three weeks to prepare. So I would suggest that, given the OK from the various health authorities, something that is hardly a sure thing, the earliest the WHL could start up — and that would be without fans in all likelihood — would be the first week in February. But you and I both know that isn’t likely to happen . . . not with the numbers that we are seeing in the four provinces and two states that are home to WHL franchises. . . .

BTW, who scored the last goal of the WHL’s 2019-20 regular season? That would be F Brayden Tracey of the Victoria Royals, who broke a 2-2 tie at 11:22 of the third period in a 3-2 victory over the host Kelowna Rockets. . . . A better trivia question: Who scored the Spokane Chiefs’ final goal of the 2019-20 regular season? That would be G Lukas Parik, who notched the empty-netter and record the shutout in a 3-0 victory over the visiting Kamloops Blazers on March 10.

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One of the things the pandemic has deprived WHL fans of, especially those in the Kamloops area, is F Logan Stankoven’s 17-year-old season. A Kamloops native, Stankoven scored 29 times and added 19 assists in 59 games as a rookie last season. There were times last season when the personable Stankoven showed that he just might be one of those players with the ability bring fans out of their seats on a regular basis. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia talked with Stankoven and more on how he is preparing for a season that may never happen, and it’s all right here.


The Quebec government announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a qmjhlnewdaily curfew that will begin on Saturday and run until Feb. 8. The curfew will be in play from 8 p.m. until 5 a.m. . . . The QMJHL, which last played games on Nov. 29 and plans to resume play on Jan. 22, won’t be impacted by the curfew because its Quebec-based teams are going to play in bubbles, or what they are calling protected environments. . . . The QMJHL has said it wants to resume play on Jan. 22 with 12 Quebec-based teams playing in bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville, Rimouski and Shawinigan. The plan is to have three teams play in each of those cities Jan. 22-24, and then have four-team bubbles in Chicoutimi, Drummondville and Rimouski, Jan. 29 to Feb. 6. . . . The QMJHL can afford to play in bubbles because it was given a reported $12 million in government money earlier in the season. . . . The QMJHL’s schedule has the six Maritimes-based teams returning to play with games in Moncton, Charlottetown and Saint John on Jan. 22, as well. However, I’m not certain that those teams have been given the OK by health officials to return to play. Those teams haven’t been given any government money so having them play in a bubble, or bubbles, really isn’t feasible. But the Maritime teams were able to have some revenue flowing as the three provincial governments allowed limited attendance at their games. . . .

Meanwhile, the restrictions under which Manitobans have been living since mid-November are due to expire on Friday, but most, if not all, are expected to be renewed. . . . “I don’t think there’s going to be any significant change, to be frank,” Brian Pallister, Manitoba’s premier, said on Wednesday. . . . Those restrictions include a ban on public gatherings of more than five people.





THE COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 10 more COVID-19 deaths and 176 new cases on Wednesday, and officials are also seeing a spike from the Christmas holidays. . . . Nearly 60 cases and more than 400 contacts have been definitively linked to holiday gatherings, said acting deputy chief provincial public health officer Dr. Jazz Atwal.

CBC News: 9 more COVID 19 deaths in Saskatchewan including person in 20s, 277 new cases.

CBC News: Alberta is reporting 25 new deaths related to COVID-19 and 1,123 new cases.

CBC News: B.C. reports 625 new COVID-19 cases, 8 more deaths.

CBC News: Quebec’s premier has announced a curfew amid rising COVID-19 cases. Residents will have to stay inside their homes between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. The new measure starts Saturday and will be in effect until at least Feb. 8.

CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting a record 31 new cases of COVID-19. The province’s previous single-day record was 27 cases. N.B. Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Jennifer Russell says there will be more cases as a result of holiday gatherings.

KOMO News: Washington state’s total COVID-19 cases eclipsed 260,000 and the death toll from the virus reached 3,600 Wednesday, according to the latest reporting from the Washington Department of Health. . . . State health officials reported 1,985 new coronavirus cases, 88 additional hospitalizations and 64 more deaths in the past 24 hours.

KATU News: Eight more people have died from COVID-19 and 764 more have tested positive for the disease, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday. . . . The state now has lost 1,558 people to COVID-19 and 120,223 have tested positive for it since the pandemic began.

CBC News: Global cases of COVID-19 top 87M: Johns Hopkins University.

CNN, Wednesday, 8:13 p.m. PT: The United States reported at least 3,805 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, the highest number of new deaths in a single day since the pandemic began.

CNN, Wednesday, 7:50 p.m. PT: 361,000 people in the United States have died from coronavirus.

NBC News, Wednesday, 8:52 p.m. PT: US sets daily records for coronavirus cases and coronavirus deaths on Wednesday . . . 268,840 cases . . . 3,920 deaths. . . . In 2021, the US has reported 1,345,873 coronavirus cases and 15,120 coronavirus deaths.

Public Health Agency of Canada, Wednesday, 4 p.m. PT: Tested: 14,243,625 . . . Total cases: 626,799 . . . Active cases: 79,203 . . . Recovered: 531,227 . . . Deaths: 16,369.

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The Washington Interscholastic Activities Association announced Wednesday that it will begin its traditional fall sports season on Feb. 1. It will be a seven-week season, with practices to start on Feb. 1 and the season to end on March 20. Sports that will be scheduled include cross-country, football, slow pitch, girls and boys soccer and volleyball.


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.