Regular seasons all done for WHL, OHL, QMJHL . . . Will there be playoffs? . . . The waiting game continues . . .


The WHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled what remains of its regular season. When the WHL suspended play on March 12, the 22 teams had a total of 54 games remaining before the season was to wind up on March 22. . . . The 22-team WHL still is hoping to get its playoffs in “at a later date,” according to a statement. . . . The WHL’s final standings have been “determined by using win percentage” for its teams, reads a statement from the league. Actually, as TBird Tidbits pointed out in the above tweet, the standings were determined using points percentage. That’s how the Kamloops Blazers ended up ahead of Spokane, even though the Chiefs have one more point, and how the Vancouver Giants are ahead of Victoria, even thought the Royals finished with one more point. . . . No matter. The Portland Winterhawks finished atop the heap, so are the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy champions. . . . Even though the Everett Silvertips finished with one more regulation victory.

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About those playoffs. . . . Last season, the WHL began its playoffs on March 22. They played four rounds, all best-of-seven, and finished on May 13. . . . In total, they played 80 games in about seven weeks. . . . Let’s be honest. That’s not going to happen this time around. . . . You can bet that the WHL is tossing around all kinds of playoff options, likely incorporating best-of-three and best-of-five series. . . . But in the end it’s going to come down to how much time there will be for playoffs. It could be that in Washington state and B.C., for starters, games with more than 50 people on hand will be taboo until mid-May. . . . And don’t forget that the Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. That is highly unlikely to happen, so how far can it be pushed back? And what about Sportsnet, the CHL’s television partner? How much room will Sportsnet have on its schedule whenever the time comes? . . . And don’t forget that if the CHL is into playoffs, the NHL will be, too. So how does all that figure into this? . . . With all that is going on, and not going on, perhaps it’s best to take a day-to-day or even a week-to-week approach. Just to help maintain sanity. . . . OK? . . .

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Next up for the WHL is the inaugural U.S. prospects draft that is scheduled for March 25, and is to be run from the league office in Calgary. It’s a two-round draft featuring 44 selections, if each team uses its two picks. . . . The 2020 WHL bantam draft is scheduled for Red Deer on May 7. . . .

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The OHL also cancelled its regular season on Wednesday, and announced that its 2020 draft will be held online on April 4. . . . The OHL’s regular season was to have ended on March 22. . . . Like the WHL and QMJHL, the OHL is monitoring the situation.“When it is safe and we may resume play, we will advise on the status of the 2020 playoffs,” a statement from the league reads. . . .

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The QMJHL, which cancelled the remainder of its regular season on Tuesday, has taken its annual entry draft online. It was to have been held on June 6 in Sherbrooke. It still will go ahead on June 6, but now it all will be online. . . . As well, the QMJHL has cancelled its annual session that was scheduled for June 3-5. It features “meetings between its members along with hockey and administrative staffs.” . . .


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The 16-team USHL announced on Wednesday that it has cancelled the remainder of its season. The league’s board of directors made a unanimous decision to end the season, including the playoffs. . . . The regular season, which was suspended on March 12, was to have ended on March 29. . . .


Sean Fitz-Gerald of The Athletic reported Wednesday that The Hockey News has laid off eight full-time employees. “The layoffs affected longtime editor-in-chief Jason Kay,” Fitz-Gerald reported, “senior editor Brian Costello, managing editor Edward Fraser, senior writers Ken Campbell, Ryan Kennedy and Matt Larkin, features editor Sam McCaig and art director Shea Berencsi. Two contract workers are still producing content for THN’s website.” . . . THN publisher and owner Graeme Roustan told Fitz-Gerald that all will be rehired in an instant if/when the NHL resumes play. . . .



Philip Rivers is taking his arm to the Indianapolis Colts for one year and something like US$25 million. I wonder who will pay the moving expenses to get his wife and their nine children to Indy? . . . Rivers, 38, told us all a while back that he wasn’t interested in returning to the San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers with whom he had spent his entire career. . . .


There was good news from South Korea on Wednesday as its top basketball league, the KBL, which hasn’t played in four weeks, announced that it has games scheduled for month’s end. . . . In the beginning, games will be played without fans in attendance. . . . If you’re curious about all of this, Jonathan Givony of ESPN has more right here. . . .


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The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings announced the re-signing of assistant coach Jason Garneau, who spent eight seasons with the club a few years ago. . . . At the same time, assistant coach Colin Minardi, who joined the club in October, won’t be returning to the coaching staff. . . .


Cody Reynolds is the new head coach of the U-18 Red Deer Optimist Chiefs. He has spent the past seven seasons as associate coach with the Red Deer College Kings. . . .


RE/MAX, WHL back with Don Cherry on organ donation promotion . . . WHL has 17 Canadian teams involved

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(Photo: whl.ca)

A tip of the Taking Note chapeau to the WHL and RE/MAX of Western Canada for their decision to once again show such terrific support for the Kidney Foundation of Canada.

For a third straight season, they are backing the promotion that they call — take a deep breath — RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.”

To date, the promotion has raised more than $460,000 for the Kidney Foundation.

From a news release:

“From January to March 2020, all 17 WHL (teams) in Canadian markets will host a theme game complete with special-edition Hockey Night in Canada-themed sweaters, crested with the fan-favourite powder-blue logo that represented Hockey Night in Canada until 1998. Representing a picture long stamped in the memories of Canadians, this (season’s) collectible bobblehead welcomes Cherry alongside his affable Hockey Night in Canada co-host Ron MacLean, wearing his signature powder-blue Hockey Night in Canada blazer. . . .

“Fans will have a chance to get their hands on the limited-edition Hockey Night in Canada-themed WHL sweaters through local auctions with (each team). The Kidney Foundation of Canada will again be the benefactor, with 100 per cent of the proceeds going towards local chapters of the foundation. In addition to game-worn uniforms, fans will have the chance to bid on a Don Cherry-autographed theme jersey in each participating WHL market.”

If you are wondering why Cherry is involved in this promotion — and has been since Day 1 — it’s because his daughter, Cindy, gave a kidney to her brother, Tim, more than 40 years ago.

Representatives of the Kidney Foundation will be on hand at each of the 17 games to answer questions and provide information regarding organ donation. If you are interested in registering as a donor, there is more info at CanadaDonates.ca.

Here is the WHL’s schedule of organ donor awareness games:

Friday, Jan. 17 — Edmonton Oil Kings

Friday, Jan. 24 — Regina Pats

Saturday, Jan. 25 — Prince Albert Raiders

Friday, Jan. — Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince George Cougars, Red Deer Rebels

Friday, Feb. 7 — Brandon Wheat Kings

Saturday, Feb. 8 — Vancouver Giants

Friday, Feb. 21 — Lethbridge Hurricanes

Saturday, Feb. 29 — Swift Current Broncos

Friday, March 6 — Kamloops Blazers, Saskatoon Blades

Saturday, March 7 — Medicine Hat Tigers, Winnipeg Ice

Friday, March 13 — Victoria Royals

Saturday, March 14 — Kelowna Rockets

Sunday, March 15 — Calgary Hitmen.


Facing The Facts About Organ Donation 2019

RE/MAX, WHL partner again to help Kidney Foundation. . . . Raised more than $460,000 in two seasons

RE/MAX of Western Canada and the WHL are once again getting behind WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation, the annual promotion that benefits the whlKidney Foundation of Canada and its provincial  branches.

If you aren’t familiar with this promotion, it involves the WHL’s 17 Canadian-based teams, each of whom uses one game each season to help promote organ donation and transplantation.

I don’t have dates for all teams but the B.C. Division games will go like this: Prince George Cougars, Jan. 31; Vancouver Giants, Feb. 8; Kamloops Blazers, March 6; Victoria Royals, March 13; and Kelowna Rockets, March 14.

During the 2017-18 season, the promotion in WHL cities raised more than $265,500, making it the largest public awareness and fundraising campaign in the history of the Kidney Foundation. Last season, the final total raised was $196,600.

In two seasons then, RE/MAX of Western Canada and the WHL have helped raise more than $460,000.


The 10th annual Kidney Walk Kamloops is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 22, at McDonald Park on the North Shore.

Registration will open at 10 a.m., with the walk to start at 11. And we will walk in the KWlogo2rain if the forecast holds true.

If you would like to join us, you are able to walk all or part of the approximately 2.5-km pathway between McDonald Park and McArthur Island. Or you don’t have to walk at all; you might want to just sit and enjoy the company and festivities, then have breakfast. The Brock Central Lions Club will be on hand to provide breakfast — pancakes, sausages and coffee — by donation.

The Kidney Walk helps the Kidney Foundation raise awareness about kidney disease and raises funds for important programs and services to help kidney patients in this community and others across BC and the Yukon.

My wife, Dorothy, will be celebrating the sixth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in her sixth straight Kidney Walk. In her six walks, she has raised more than $15,000. If you would like to support her — she reached the $3,000 mark on Thursday — you may do so right here.


A note from the Kidney E-News letter of the BC and Yukon Branch of the Kidney Foundation of Canada:

“The BC & Yukon Branch and the Children’s Organ Transplant Society (COTS) were excited to have 43 youth from across BC attend Camp Latona on Gambier Island in August.

“The kids got to enjoy the camp experience with other young people at various stages in their kidney disease/organ transplant journeys. The weather was fantastic and some of highlights included tubing, campfires, extraordinary food, swimming and, of course, making new friends! 

“A huge thank you to all of the gracious donors who made it possible for the kids to attend a cost-free, worry-free camp. We appreciate you!”






It’s time for WHL to do the right thing . . . Decision-makers must act . . . Fighting, headshots have to go

 


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Included in a WHL news release that was issued on June 14 following the league’s annual meeting in Vancouver was this sentence:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

The news release didn’t provide any further details, but it says here that anything short of a complete ban on fighting and all contact with an opponent’s head, including incidental contact, is a complete failure.

If the WHL really — really, really, really — cares about the health and safety of its players it is time to make these moves. In fact, it’s well past time.

Why?

Well, let’s start with this Ken Dryden piece from the op-ed pages of the Washington Post.

And then there’s this piece right here from The Players Tribune. Written by Nick Boynton, a former major junior player who went to skate in the NHL, it isn’t pretty.

At one point, Boynton writes of his three-year-old son: “But I cannot, in good conscience, let him play the game of ice hockey until something changes and we start looking out for our players by taking the problems of head hits and concussions — and their potential impact on mental health — more seriously.”

Boynton also writes:

“Yes, ours is a physical, violent sport. And it may be the case that we cannot rid hockey of that violence and danger altogether. But at the very least let’s deal with the issues that arise as a result of that. Deal with the head trauma. Deal with the concussions. And deal with all of the ramifications that those things bring about.

“Stop telling people the world is flat and just do the right thing. Instead of ignoring the damage that occurs to the brain when you get your bell rung out on the ice, let’s own up to it and get guys the help they need. Not just after they retire, but while they’re playing the game.

“Let’s start addressing the problem. Let’s look closely at the brain — and how our sport as we currently play it might be harmful to the brain — and begin making things right.”

In a recent conversation with Brandon Rivers of dubnetwork.ca, WHL commissioner Ron Robison was asked about the fact that the OHL has fighting restrictions — Rivers pointed out that “If a player fights more than three times in a season, that player will be subjected to a two-game suspension for each fight over the number allowed” — while the WHL has no such thing.

Robison replied:

“I think that is another example. Each in our own way we are looking to reduce or eliminate fighting or what we would call . . . unnecessary fighting in the game. In our case, we have a WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan, which has been in place for several seasons. We review that annually and make recommendations and we will be reviewing that actually with our general managers . . . It is an ongoing process. We each approach things a little differently but for the most part we are on the same page as far as what we are trying to accomplish.”

Robison, if you haven’t noticed, has got commissioner-speak down to a fine art where he uses many words to really say, well, not much. What he should have said is this:

“There is more and more scientific evidence linking CTE to blows to the head. Whether or not CTE is a direct result of blows to the head and/or concussions/traumatic brain injury, we are well aware that blows to the head aren’t good and may cause irreparable damage.

“As a result, the WHL is moving to the forefront of this issue by banning fighting. When a player has one fight, he will receive a warning. A second fight will carry with it a two-game suspension, with three games for a third, four for a fourth, etc.

“This is just another case of our wanting to protect the health of our players now and in the future.”

It would be easy for the WHL to adopt the IIHF’s rule that deals with checking to the head or neck. It’s Rule 124 in the IIHF rule book that is readily available at iihf.com.

Dryden, the former NHL goaltender whose latest book is Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey, spoke for 40 minutes at the See The Line symposium in London, Ont., on Thursday.

“Six years ago the process began (with See The Line),” he said. “Injuries happen, sometimes career-diminishing, sometimes career-ending, some that change a person’s life; and change them and make them not them anymore. In six years we are now more aware of that too.

“But after six years we still have this immense problem with brain injury in sports. Why? What can we do now? Our response to it is we need better science; we need to understand it better and that becomes our focus . . . to get better technology and the focus becomes on science. The problem is when it becomes so much of the focus; science takes time and games are played tomorrow.”

Later, he told Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press, whose piece is right here:

“If you don’t force decision-makers to do something, things will remain the same. We have to move beyond just awareness and science. As I said in the end it is up to the decision-makers to take all this awareness that’s been raised and apply it. They have every right to simply carry on and that’s the problem; they are the roadblock. Why do we let them off the hook? Put it into the hands of those whose hands it should be in. Say to them ‘you are not custodians of the game; but custodians of the people playing the game.’ What are you doing for them?”



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.



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