Remembering my days at The Trib . . . Like the time I was given Earl Lunsford’s suite . . .

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By Aug. 27, 1980, I had been back at the Brandon Sun for almost two years. So, no I wasn’t at The Trib when Southam folded it on the same day that Thompson buried the Ottawa Journal.

That left Thompson with a monopoly in Winnipeg with the Free Press, while Southam now owned Ottawa with the Citizen. But none of this was underhanded or in violation of any laws. Wink! Wink!!

Even though I had left Winnipeg, that day still stung. You bet it did. And it still does.

I had started what turned into an almost-43-year newspaper career at The Sun in the summer of 1971, catching on as the sports department was expanded from two writers (Bill Davidson and Bruce Penton) to three. In time, after I had done what seemed like a million rewrites and answered a gazillion phone calls and done a whole lot of learning, I got to cover the Manitoba Senior Baseball League. If this was heaven, I loved it.

Two years later, Matty came calling. Jack Matheson, the legendary sports editor at the Winnipeg Tribune, wanted me. If memory serves, he offered me $125 a week, up from the $75 I was making at The Sun.

Truth be told, I would have gone for a whole lot less.

A few years earlier, while growing up in Lynn Lake, Man., I had delivered The Trib. The papers came in via rail three times a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I would load my wagon at the post office and head out in the dark of night. During the summer, on occasion, I would visit a garden, grab a few carrots and find a street light. There I would sit on the paper and read The Trib’s sports section.

One summer, maybe even two of them, Uncle Vince Leah, who was almost as much a legend as was Matty, brought a bunch of Winnipeg boys to Lynn Lake. They were there to fish and play a little baseball and soccer. Uncle Vince always wrote a column or two while there, and I would hop on my bike and take his copy to the CN station so that it could be sent via telegraph to Winnipeg.

Now here I was, all those years later, heading to the Manitoba capital to work for Matty and be in the same office as Uncle Vince.

SteelersHockyGods
The 1973-74 Selkirk Steelers, winners of the Centennial Cup.

I spent a lot of time covering the MJHL, which, in those days, meant spending springs with George Dorman’s Selkirk Steelers, who always seemed to meet up with Terry Simpson’s Prince Albert Raiders along the playoff trail.

It was in my first year at The Trib that I saw one of the two best hockey games of my writing career.

The Steelers won the 1974 Centennial Cup by beating the Smiths Falls Bears, 1-0 in OT, on a goal by Gord Kaluzniak in Nepean, Ont. (There wasn’t ice in the Smiths Falls rink, so the best-of-seven series was played in the Nepean Sportsplex.) In those days, under Canadian Amateur Hockey Association rules, teams played a 10-minute OT session before going into sudden-death. Kaluzniak scored with two minutes left in that first OT period and the Steelers were able to hold the lead.

I also learned an important lesson during that series. With the Steelers leading the series, 3-1, I wrote that the Bears were done like dinner. LOL! Lesson learned.

(BTW, the other best game that I witnessed was the final of the 1979 Memorial Cup with the Brandon Wheat Kings losing 2-1 in OT to the Peterborough Petes in Verdun, Que.)

Back then, The Trib didn’t have copy editors who laid out the sports pages. Rather, the writers shared the layout duties; if you weren’t writing, chances are Trib2you were laying out pages. It wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t want to spend summers in the office, so I decided to turn motorsports into a beat, even though I wouldn’t know how to put air in a tire. So I ended up spending time at Bison Dragways, an NHRA-sanctioned strip located 29 miles east of Winnipeg, and Winnipeg Speedway, where the stock cars ran on a short track south of the city. I point this out because it’s how I picked up the nickname Greaser, which is what Matty started calling me after my first motorsport-related byline.

In time, I ended up covering the Blue Bombers, spending time at training camp at St. John’s-Ravenscourt and travelling to the odd regular-season game whenever Matty wanted to stay home.

That’s how I got to be in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on June 22, 1978, when a limousine pulled onto the field and Tom Jones — yes, that Tom Jones — climbed out to handle the ceremonial opening kickoff before a CFL exhibition game.

“The ball,” I wrote, “went off the side of his shoe and travelled about 12 yards.”

A week later I was in Calgary with the Blue Bombers when I ended up the beneficiary of something of a mistake by the front desk at the hotel in which we would stay. I picked up the key to my room and headed upstairs, with Bob Irving, (Cactus) Jack Wells and Ken Ploen, all of radio station CJOB, who were on the same floor. I opened the door to my room, took a look and suggested that the three might want to take a look. I had been given the suite that was to have gone to general manager Earl Lunsford. Yes, it was well-stocked with booze and snacks.

Before I could close the door, the wrapping was removed from sandwiches and drinks were poured. I spent the next day and game night avoiding Lunsford.

Upon returning to Winnipeg, I filed my expenses and then made sure to steer clear of Matty. There was a news conference prior to the next Bombers’ home game, which I was to cover. I knew that Matty would be there, meaning there no longer would be a way to avoid him.

And here he came, strolling into the room with a glint in his eyes.

“Hey, Okie,” he said in Lunsford’s direction, “do my guys travel first class, or what?”

I never heard another word, nor did I ever again end up in Lunsford’s suite.

Later that year, with The Sun looking for someone to cover the 1978-79 Wheat Kings, perhaps the best team in WHL history, I left The Trib and returned to Brandon.

Patti Dawn Swansson was one of the other sports writers at The Trib when I was there, and wrote a wonderful piece last week on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the newspaper’s closing.

If you wonder what it was like working there, give this a read right here. Yes, I got a little misty-eyed while reading it. But, damn, those were great times!

The stories about sitting around late at night and arguing about the chances of hitting a home run off Nolan Ryan or surviving a jump from a fifth-floor window are accurate. Those are the conversations that were important in the mid-’70s.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if QMJHL really is going to play without fans . . .

Scattershooting

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The St. Louis Cardinals left for Chicago on Friday, but they weren’t in an airplane or even two or three chartered buses. Instead, the team used 41 rental cars to get them to the site of Saturday’s doubleheader with the White Sox. . . . St. Louis, which had played only five games this season and hadn’t played since July 29, went on to sweep the White Sox, 5-1 and 6-3, to improve its record to 4-3. . . . Remember that in these pandemic times doubleheaders feature two seven-inning games. . . . The Cardinals, who slipped to 4-4 with a 7-2 loss on Sunday, don’t have C Yadier Molina or SS Paul DeJong, who were among the 10 players on the roster who tested positive. . . . They also don’t have assistant coach Willie McGee with them. McGee, 61, who has high blood pressure, has opted out of the remainder of the season. . . .

Meanwhile, an unidentified player with the Cincinnati Reds has tested positive, resulting in the postponement of two weekend games against the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates. The teams had split the first two games of the series before Saturday and Sunday games were called off. . . . The Reds are awaiting news on their latest test results, which are due sometime today, before figuring out where to go now. They had been scheduled to open a series with the Royals in Kansas City on Tuesday. . . .

The 18 players off the Miami Marlins’ roster who tested positive during their outbreak have reported to Jupiter, Fla., the site of the NL team’s spring-training site. . . .


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “A number of NHL general managers are expecting to play next season without fans in the stands and that will create some kind of chaos at the ownership level.” . . . The NHL has plans to open its 2020-21 season on Dec. 1.


Turkeys


Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “Michael Jordan, after becoming president of the Wizards, traded Laron Profit in retaliation for Profit trash-talking Jordan in practice during their days as Washington teammates. In a related story, rumor has it that Jordan’s TV set still has rabbit ears.”


Another report from Perry: “Seattle cut Kemah Siverand after the rookie cornerback was caught on video trying to sneak a woman — dressed in Seahawks players’ gear — into the NFL team’s hotel. That’s what you call disguising your coverage.”


The 18-team QMJHL says it will return to play on Oct. 1 but that there won’t be any fans qmjhlnewin attendance, at least at games in Quebec. . . . “Following our conversations with both the Provincial Governments and Public Health Agencies, it has been determined that the 2020-21 season will be played behind closed doors in Quebec, while details are currently still being discussed for the Maritimes,” the league said in a news release. . . . Training camps are to open on Aug. 30 with teams allowed to bring in 34 players. . . . With the league split into three divisions, each team will play 60 games without leaving its own division. . . . The league said it will release its playoff format in December. . . . Interestingly, the QMJHL operates under the CHL umbrella with the OHL and WHL. The OHL is aiming to start its regular season on Dec. 1, while the WHL is hoping to open on Dec. 4. . . . The WHL, however, is adamant that it won’t be playing without fans in the pews. . . . Keep in mind that the QMJHL season, including the dates of its open trading sessions, has close ties to the province’s education system. . . . The QMJHL’s news release is right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “Always drink upstream from the herd.”


The AJHL, which had hoped to begin its regular season on Sept. 18, announced Friday ajhlthat it is postponing things. But it didn’t announce another proposed opening date. . . . Instead, it says it will “commence the 2020-21 campaign with a development season beginning Aug. 31.” . . . From the AJHL’s news release: “Within the current boundaries of Hockey Alberta’s Return to Hockey Plan and Stage 2 of Alberta’s Relaunch, the AJHL is unable to enter regular season competition at this time.” . . . More from the news release: “The Development Season will meet the needs of both the League and its athletes by allowing teams to actively prepare for the upcoming season while providing players an opportunity for high-calibre training and development.  Training Camps will be permitted to begin as early as August 31st in all 15 AJHL communities and will run until the AJHL embarks on regular season play.” . . . The complete release is right here.


Aliens


With the Big 12 continuing to plan to play football this fall, nine players at the U of Oklahoma were revealed to have tested positive. Lincoln Riley, the Sooners’ head coach, made the revelation on Saturday. Riley said a couple of others players are in quarantine “due to contract tracing.” . . . The players had been tested after returning following a one-week break. . . . “We’ve done such a tremendous job this entire time,” Riley told reporters during a video conference call. “You know when (you) give players time, there is risk in that. This isn’t the NBA, we don’t have a bubble. We all have to continue to work to do a better job by all accounts. We’re still confident in the plan that we have.” . . . The Sooners are scheduled to open against visiting Missouri State on Sept. 12. . . .

Eli Johnson, Ole Miss’s starting centre, has opted out of the 2020 college football season. His father, David, contracted the virus in March and ended up on a ventilator before recovering. . . . The Rebels are to begin practising today as they aim for a Sept. 26 opener.


From Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hey, Lou Holtz: I’m no historian, but I’m pretty sure that when our brave soldiers stormed the beach at Normandy, they didn’t do it so you could have a job on TV spouting nonsense.”


The Buffalo News reported on Friday that Seth Appert will be the next head coach of the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Appert, 46, was the head coach of the RPI Engineers for 11 seasons before being fired in 2017. Since then, he has been USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program head coach. . . . In Rochester, Appert replaces Chris Taylor, who was 116-65-33 in three seasons with Rochester. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reported that Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill was negotiating a new contract with Taylor earlier this summer. However, Botterill was fired in June and Taylor was among 22 employees who were swept out of the organization shortly thereafter.


Zach16

 

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, click right here.


If you’re a CFL fan, you will want to check out the work being turned in by Ed Tait, a veteran football writer, at bluebombers.com. . . . Tait, a longtime keyboard warrior with the Winnipeg Free Press, works for the Blue Bombers now and provides their website with a lot of great reads. Don’t believe me? Check out First & 10: The CFL’s U.S. Expansion right here.


With the Cleveland Indians thinking about changing their nickname, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald offered this tip: “I hear ‘Cleveland Baseball Team’ is still available.”


Avocado

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while contemplating the Blue Bombers’ victory and the end of the Legend of Shorts Guy . . .

Scattershooting

A Manitoban by birth, I quite enjoyed watching the Winnipeg Blue Bombers win the Grey Cup on Sunday, beating the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, 33-12, in Calgary. . . . I was most thrilled for Richie Hall, the Bombers’ defensive co-ordinator. There was a time during the season when you might have thought his first name was Much-Maligned. You won’t find a nicer person in all of football, indeed, in all of the sporting world. Yes, this victory looks good on him.

There might be a lesson for a whole lot of sporting fans in the following two tweets . . .


You know it’s the Grey Cup when a guy who hasn’t worn pants, only shorts, for 18 years becomes a big story. It was a story during the week, and it was a bigger story after the game when, yes, he put on a pair of pants.


In light of Don Cherry’s firing by Rogers Sportsnet, you may have been wondering whether the 17 Canadian WHL teams will continue with the third annual promotion that goes by the name RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation. . . . Chris Young of The Canadian Press asked the WHL about it on Thursday. He got this email response: “At this time, we continue to review this matter with the stakeholders involved (sponsor, charity, member clubs). We will provide a further update when we are able.” . . . To date, it’s been crickets from the Kidney Foundation of Canada and RE/MAX.

It is hard to comprehend how the WHL will be able to maintain the status quo considering why Cherry was fired and that the league has this statement on its website:

“The WHL is committed to remaining a world leader in the development of players, coaches and officials for the NHL, U Sports and Hockey Canada while continuing to offer the finest player experience and academic opportunities. The WHL also continues to be recognized for a high standard of competition, fair play and integrity while playing an active role in communities, minor hockey programs and local charitable initiatives throughout the region.”

In the first two years of the promotion, the Kidney Foundation has benefitted by more than $460,000. However, the foundation and RE/MAX also should have acted a whole lot quicker than this to sever ties with Cherry.

I know it’s not that easy, not with thousands of Don Cherry/Ron MacLean bobbleheads sitting in a warehouse somewhere and all of those jerseys being produced for the teams to sell at auction. But you can’t continue to talk about inclusivity and diversity and be involved in something like this.

It pains me to write this because of the volunteer work we do in the Kamloops kidney community, but the time has come for all involved to go in a different direction.



A report from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “In the latest MLB cheating update, now there’s reports that Houston players wore realistic-looking electronic bandages that buzzed in real time to relay signs stolen from the opposing catcher. Astros GM Maxwell Smart declined comment.”


The Edmonton Oilers had more than a few fans in Vegas on Saturday night where they dumped the Golden Knights, 4-2. By the look of things, some of those fans went home with some money in their jeans.


Here’s Larry Brooks in the New York Post: “Through Friday, 17 of the NHL’s 31 teams had won nine, 10 or 11 games. While 26 — 26! — teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better. That’s parity, folks, only it is spelled P-A-R-O-D-Y.” . . . There’s more, including Brooks’s thoughts on the Mike Babcock firing, right here.

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What’s that? You’re wondering about the WHL? Well, including Sunday’s games, nine of the 22 teams had won 11, 12 or 13 games. At the same time, 15 teams somehow could claim records of .500 or better.


There has been a lot of chatter the last while as to just how inclusive hockey is (or isn’t). In the middle of all this, the Saskatchewan Hockey Association has told the midget AA and midget AAA programs at Beardy’s and Okemasis Cree Nation that they are done after this season. . . . Alex MacPherson of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix writes right here about the decision, and there is more right here.


Why do we like Patti Dawn Swansson’s musings in these parts? Well, it might have something to do with the River City Renegade’s snark. And, well, she definitely took the snark pills before penning, er, tossing darts in her latest piece, which is right here. If you haven’t already, try it; you’ll like it.



JUST NOTES: You’re wondering: What happened to Mike Babcock with the Toronto Maple Leafs? In short, someone hired an old school head coach then chose to bring in a new school general manager. In the end, the new guy won the battle and in the world of pro sports that isn’t a surprise. Just don’t expect Babcock to surface in Seattle, the expansion franchise having made a huge commitment to the world of analytics. . . . Would someone please get a charger for that woman on the bus. Thank you. . . . F Hendrix Lapierre of the QMJHL’s Chicoutimi Sagueneens suffered his second concussion of this season — and his third in eight months — on Thursday when he absorbed an open-ice hit. Lapierre, who had two goals and 15 assists in 19 games when he was injured, has been projected as a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft.


Scattershooting on a Wednesday night while wondering from where Hogan and his Heroes got their clothes . . .

Scattershooting

Sorry for all the hockey content in this episode of Scattershooting, but, hey, stuff happens. And, no, don’t be looking for any Don Cherry content here. I don’t know about you, but I am Cherryed out. . . .



ICYMI, Don Nachbaur, a former WHL player and head coach, is back in the coaching game. He had Andrej Podkonicky, also a former WHL player, now are co-head coaches of HKM Zvolen, a Slovakian team in the Extraliga. . . . Podkonicky and Michal Kobezda had been coaching the club; Kobezda remains as an assistant coach. . . . Nachbaur, who spent seven seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs after also working with the Tri-City Americans and Seattle Thunderbirds, was an assistant with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings for 2017-18, but was dismissed 13 games into last season when head coach John Stevens was fired. . . . Podkonicky played two seasons (1996-98) with the Portland Winterhawks.


If you’re a WHL fan, you should know that the 2019-20 WHL Guide is available for download at whl.ca. . . . Just go to the tab slugged The WHL and click on WHL Guide and Record Book.


SpiderMan


When the Vancouver Canucks entertained the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night, there was at least one celebrity in the stands. . . . Yes, Bill Murray had his 50/50 numbers; no, he didn’t seem to win. He also appeared to be wearing a Chicago Blackhawks sweater, which wasn’t a surprise as he is from Evanston, Ill.


Yes, Monday night’s NFL game between the visiting Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers — who, by the way, don’t play in San Francisco — was messy and sloppy and all of those things. But, hey, was it exciting, or what? . . . If you weren’t aware, the 49ers visit the Seahawks on Dec. 29. Happy New Year a few days early!


In his story after the host Kamloops Blazers beat the Kelowna Rockets, 5-2, on Monday, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week included this: “Rockets’ head coach Adam Foote refused a post-game interview request from KTW.”

Included in the WHL Guide is this, under Media Access to Players and other Team Personnel: “A member of the coaching staff of each team must be available to the media for interviews within 15 minutes following the game.”

Hmm, gotta wonder if the WHL will stick a hand into Foote’s wallet for this indiscretion?

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That loss on Monday was the Rockets’ fourth straight. The Rockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament, have allowed 25 goals in those four losses. That also was Kelowna’s 10th loss in 19 games this season. As well, veteran F Kyle Topping, 20, has had surgery to repair a broken ankle suffered during a 1-0 victory over the Royals in Victoria on Oct. 30, so he won’t play for a long time.

We now are left to wait and see how much of the winery the Rockets will sell in an attempt to bolster their roster for the tournament.

The Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats sold their farms in order to make title runs in 2017-18 when both played in the Memorial Cup tournament, the Broncos as WHL champions and the Pats as the host team.

They since have fallen on hard times. Last season, they combined for 24 victories in 136 games and neither team made the playoffs. This season, they have totalled five victories — yes, five — in 33 games and, again, aren’t likely to appear in the playoffs.

The Rockets’ management, it would seem, has some big decisions ahead of it.

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When the WHL’s board of governors awarded the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament to Kelowna, it also heard presentations from the Kamloops Blazers and Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Blazers are 13-6-0 and riding high atop the B.C. Division; the Hurricanes are 13-5-3 and second in the Central Division, one point out of first.

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This was ugly . . . big-time nasty . . . and it drew an eight-game suspension from the WHL early Wednesday evening.

(I would have started at 20 games, but then I was in the building the night that Brad Hornung was injured, so I’m a little sensitive about hits like this.)

That’s F Pavel Novak of the visiting Kelowna Rockets drilling Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk from behind during a Monday afternoon game. Sopotyk (shoulder) is expected to sit for up to two months.

The Blazers will open a six-game East Division trek against the Brandon Wheat Kings on Dec. 6 and Sopotyk, who is from Aberdeen, Sask., won’t make the trip.

That means he has been robbed of the opportunity to play in front of family and friends in his home province — Aberdeen is a few slapshots northeast of Saskatoon. He’s 18 so, due to the way the WHL works its schedule, will have to wait until the 2021-22 season for the next opportunity, in his 20-year-old season.

When the Blazers wrap up their East Division trip on Dec. 14, against the Prince Albert Raiders, Sopotyk will have missed 14 games.



I can’t remember anything like what is about to happen in the CFL’s West Division final in Regina on Sunday. I mean, the Saskatchewan Roughriders acquired quarterback Zach Collaros for the 2018 season, then signed him over the off-season thinking he would be their guy. But he got mugged three plays into this season and, once recovered from the concussion, was traded to the Toronto Argonauts. Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers lost their starter, Matt Nichols, and dealt for Collaros. On Sunday, then, Collaros will lead the Bombers into Regina with a berth in the Grey Cup on the line. . . . Wait, there’s more. . . . Cody Fajardo, who took over the Roughriders when Collaros was hurt, went on to have a fabulous season. But now there’s this problem with an oblique muscle, meaning Fajardo may not be able play on Sunday, which would give Isaac Harker his second career CFL start. . . . A year ago, you may recall, the Roughriders and Bombers played a West Division semifinal in Winnipeg. Collaros was concussed and wasn’t able to start for the Roughriders, who, after days of intrigue, trotted out Brandon Bridge. . . . The Blue Bombers won that one, 23-18.


Superman


In case you missed it, and I did, Team WHL played a touring Russian side in Saskatoon on Wednesday night. It was Game 5 of the annual CIBC-sponsored funfest. While the first four games — two each versus the QMJHL and OHL — got great exposure from the CHL’s broadcast partner, Rogers Sportsnet, last night’s game started on something called OLN and then was joined in progress on some Sportsnet channels. . . . I wanted to watch, but I couldn’t find OLN and, no, I don’t stream. . . . But, hey, it was the Toronto Maple Leafs at New York Islanders on five channels on my setup, with the Ottawa Senators at New Jersey Devils on another. Oh, and two channels had on something called Gotta See It, leading eventually into the Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames. . . . And by the time the WHL/Russian game was joined in progress, I had moved on to a couple of PVR’d episodes of Hogan’s Heroes. (Was a men’s wear store part of Stalag 13? If not, how is it that Hogan and Co. always seem to be wearing such well-fitting clothes?) . . . Anyway, I seem to recall a dearth of CHL playoff games on Sportsnet last spring and there was no sign of the outdoor game last month between the Calgary Hitmen and host Regina Pats. . . . Seriously, CHL, if this is the best your broadcast partner is able to do for you, it might be time to move on.

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BTW, I went to Google hoping to find out something about OLN. This is from Wikipedia: “OLN is a Canadian English-language Category A specialty channel. OLN primarily broadcasts factual-based adventure-related programming and reality television series primarily aimed at male audiences.”


You have to love the big story in Major League Baseball these days about the Houston Astros and cheating. Only in baseball is their ‘honest’ cheating — having a runner on second base stealing an opponent’s signs — and ‘dishonest’ cheating — doing it with a camera from centre field and banging a garbage can in a tunnel to let the hitter know that he’s about to see an off-speed pitch. . . . And we won’t even get into the fact that the Astros are investigating themselves on this one.


Gotta run. Time to dig into Ken Dryden’s latest work . . . Scotty: A Hockey Life Like No Other. You’re right. I couldn’t wait until Christmas.


DogVoice

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering if Monday will be a good day to rake . . .

Scattershooting

I haven’t watched Coach’s Corner in a long time. I stopped when the show became more of a noisy rant-and-rave affair than one that provided some insight into the NHL or even hockey in general.

But it is hard to ignore what happened on Saturday night, what with social media losing its mind over it for a lot of Sunday.

The surprising thing to me — although perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised considering the times in which we live — is the number of people who maintain there was nothing wrong with what went on with Don Cherry and his acquiescent sidekick, Ron MacLean.

After all, MacLean has apologized, writing in a tweet that what Cherry said was “hurtful and prejudiced . . .”

Also, the brass at Rogers Sportsnet has apologized, using “discriminatory,” “offensive” and “divisive” to describe the commentary.

As well, Hockey Canada condemned what was said: “The hockey community does not stand for the comments made (Saturday) night. Hockey is Canada’s game because it brings our country together, be it around the television or in local arenas. Belonging and inclusivity are an integral part of our game.”

And the NHL also issued a statement of condemnation: “Hockey is at its best when it brings people together. The comments made (Saturday) night were offensive and contrary to the values we believe in.”

Let’s agree, then, that what was said was all of those things.

Let’s also agree that this is a case of someone staying — or being allowed to stay — too long at the dance.

If you want more on Cherry, check out this column right here from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star.

Or try this one right here by Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette.


Whether it’s the economy, the influence of TV and/or Netflix and the PVR, or whatever, there are a lot of sports teams out there that aren’t attracting as many fans as they once did and nowhere near as many as they would like to have in their home buildings.

One thing that often is cited as a reason for staying home is the prices at the concession stands. That being the case, perhaps it’s time more teams and facility operators took a look at happenings in Atlanta.

Prior to the 2017 NFL season, the concession prices at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS), the home of the Atlanta Falcons, were slashed by 50 per cent. The result was a 16 per cent increase in average spending per fan over the 2016 season.

On top of that, according to a news release, the concessions also received “an NFL voice of the fan rating of No. 1 across all food and beverage categories.”

In 2018, the fans “spent on average the same amount as they did in 2017 and fans again rated the Falcons No. 1 in all food and beverage categories for the second consecutive year . . .”

In March, prior to the start of Major League Soccer’s 2019 season for Atlanta United, MBS cut the prices of five “top items” by 50 cents each:

Hot Dog: $1.50 (was $2)

Pretzel Bites: $4.50 (was $5)

ATL Bud Burger: $7.50 (was $8)

Ice Cream Waffle Cone: $4.50 (was $5)

Chips and Salsa: $2.50 (was $3)

Falconsmenu
A menu from one of the concessions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Jacob Bogage of The Washington Post has more on the Atlanta situation right here.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if just one NHL team, or even one WHL team, cut ticket prices in conjunction with a trimming of concession prices?


The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a casino, “is suing San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane, claiming he failed to pay back $500,000 in gambling markers from April,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Possible penalties range from a huge fine and restitution to two minutes for charging.”



Bob Calvert never played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but there was a time when he was on the WHL team’s board of directors. His son, Jeff, was a goaltender of note with the Warriors (1989-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-94). On Friday night, Jeff’s son, Atley, made his WHL debut against the visiting Winnipeg Ice. . . . In other words, Friday was a big night for the Calvert family.


ANOTHER PET PEEVE: The Regina Pats were to have played the visiting Swift Current Broncos at the Brandt Centre on Friday night. However, a problem with the ice resulted in . . . Well, the Pats and Broncos, along with a few others, including some purporting to be members of the media, announced that the game had been cancelled. Actually, it had been postponed and will be rescheduled. . . . Please, people, there is a difference between cancelled and postponed.



Kevin Shaw is an avid follower of the Regina Pats, who has taken to tweeting stories from the team’s past. This included the story in the below tweet that involves the long-gone Spokane Flyers losing 9-4 to the host Pats on Nov. 8, 1981. One night earlier, the Flyers had been beaten 11-3 by the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . Yes, Spokane played one night at home and 24 hours later in Regina. Oh, and the Flyers bus driver took a wrong turn somewhere that extended the trek to Regina by a couple of hours. . . . BTW, one night before losing to Victoria, the Flyers were to have played in Kamloops. However, that game wasn’t played because, as Dave Senick of the Regina Leader-Post wrote: “Their bus was about to be repossessed and there was no money for gasoline or meals. And, the team’s payroll has not been met for two weeks.” . . . Ahh, those were the days.




JUST NOTES: Watching the Vancouver Canucks and host Winnipeg Jets on Friday night. The visitors lose D Chris Tanev and D Tyler Myers on back-to-back shifts in the second period. What happened? Both players limped off after blocking shots (luckily for the Canucks, both soon were back in action). I have never understood the emphasis on blocking shots that goaltenders are equipped, trained and paid to stop. . . . The Winnipeg Blue Bombers at the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the CFL’s West Division final. Yeah, I’ll take that for a Sunday afternoon’s entertainment. But will it be cold and snowy? . . . Did the Edmonton Eskimos save head coach Jason Maas’s job with their victory over the Alouettes in Montreal on Sunday. . . . The NFL and video review aren’t a match made in heaven. . . . As a sporting spectacle is there anything better than a big-time NCAA football matchup like Saturday’s game featuring LSU and Alabama?