Medicine Hat rocked by suicides; mental health awareness takes spotlight . . . KHL game postponed . . . Finnish juniors have positive tests

Being a regular on social media, I was aware that Medicine Hat had been rocked by the sudden deaths of a few young men. However, I had no idea of the depth of the problem until reading this story right here that was written by the CBC’s Robson Fletcher. . . . It is most unfortunate that this story had to be written, but this is outstanding journalism. Please give it a read because this is important in today’s world.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Here is the official KHL news release:

“The Dinamo Riga vs Neftekhimik game, which was scheduled to take place on Friday, Sep. 11, is postponed. On arrival in Riga on Thursday, the Neftekhimik players underwent the obligatory express tests for SARS-CoV-2. Seven players showed positive results.

“The Neftekhimik players and staff are flying to St. Petersburg, where the entire team will prompting undergo additional testing using a combination of PCR and IgG tests. More extensive testing will provide more detailed results and help to determine what happens with the rest of Neftekhimik’s current road games.

“Further details about the rearranged date for the game between Dinamo and Neftekhimik will be announced in due course.” . . .

Jukurit, a U-20 team in Finland, has had 22 positives tests since last weekend, so all players, managers, coaches and staff are quarantining for 14 days. . . . The Jukurit team that plays in Liiga has one positive. Liiga is to open its regular season on Oct. 1. In the meantime, a number of exhibition games have been cancelled. . . . Meanwhile, HPK’s junior team also is in quarantine after three positive tests. . . .

The NCAA’s 11 hockey conferences, men’s and women’s, announced Thursday that their seasons won’t begin in October as originally was scheduled. . . . The earliest possible start date now appears to be Nov. 20. . . . Chris Dilks of sbncollegehockey.com has more right here. . . .

The Winnipeg High School Football League has postponed its 2021 fall season. It hopes to be able to have a spring season. . . . The three Brandon teams that play in the league had said earlier that they wouldn’t take part in a fall season. . . . The last time the WHSFL season was interrupted was in 1953 when a polio epidemic was on a rampage. . . .

Curling Canada has cancelled six more 2021 championships. From a news release: “The Continental Cup in Oakville, Ont., the Canadian Under-18 Championships in Timmins, Ont.; the New Holland Canadian Junior (Under-21) championships in Fort McMurray, Alta.; the Canadian Wheelchair Championship in Moose Jaw, Sask.; the inaugural Canadian Under 15 RockFest, and the U SPORTS/Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association championships have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled for later in the season.” . . . Meanwhile, the 2021 Canadian senior championships still are on the schedule, with dates and host city yet to be announced. . . .

The U of Minnesota is cutting men’s gymnastics, men’s tennis, and men’s indoor and outdoor track and field from its athletic programs. The cuts will take place upon the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year. . . . School officials are projecting a loss of revenue of around US$75 million this fiscal year because of the pandemic and the Big Ten’s postponement of fall sports. . . .

The 2022 Special Olympics Canada Summer Games that were to have been held in Medicine Hat have been cancelled. . . . From a news release: “Due to COVID-19, there will be no regional competitions in 2020 and the majority of Chapters are not planning to host Provincial/Territorial Games in 2021. As a result, our ‘typical’ pathway for athletes to qualify for National Games is not possible.” . . . Brian Varga, a former WHL sniper who now is a city councillor in Medicine Hat, told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News: “We planted a seed that maybe somewhere down the road, when things get back to normal a little bit, that we might have a chance to do it again. But it’s a long ways off. Next one would be 2026, so that’s six years away, but we’re optimistic. We would be ready for it, that’s for sure. Who knows, by that time, what kind of new things and little added features that we might have in the city that would make them think about coming back here again.”


Cookies


The WHL and RE/MAX of Western Canada announced Thursday that they now whlhave raised more than $585,000 for local chapters of the Kidney Foundation of Canada through three seasons of the RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up to Promote Organ Donation program. . . . The program features the auctioning of special jerseys, something that the Calgary Hitmen, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals weren’t able to do after the 2019-20 season was cut short by the pandemic. Those teams’ sweaters will be available for bids at a later date. . . . In 2017-18, the first season of the promotion, kidney foundations benefited by approximately $265,500. That figure was about $196,600 for 2018-19. For the 2019-20 season, with three teams still to auction sweaters, the promotion brought in about $122,900.


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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.


Josh Green, a former WHL player, was introduced Thursday as the general Freezemanager and head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Freeze, a new team that is owned by 50 Below Sports & Entertainment. The company also owns the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues and the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . Green, 42, played five seasons (1993-98) in the WHL, playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers, Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks. He was an assistant coach with the Blues in 2018-19 and filled that same role last season with the Ice. . . . The Freeze website shows Jake Heisinger as the vice-president of hockey operations. He also is the Blues’ v-p of hockey ops and alternate governor, and the Ice’s v-p of hockey operations and assistant GM. . . . Ice head coach James Patrick is shown as a consultant, while Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president, GM and alternate governor, is the Freeze’s president. Cockell also is the Blues’ governor and president. . . . Raylin Kirsch, Cockell’s wife, is the Freeze’s vice-president. She is also the v-p with the Blues and the Ice. . . . The Freeze website also shows Leah Watkins as the director of business operations, Mack Heisinger as manager of communications and digital media, Rylee Andersen as the manager of ticketing and office administration and Blake Eden as the co-ordinator of marketing and content. Those four hold the same positions with the Blues and with the WHL franchise. . . . The Freeze is to begin play with the 2020-21 season, which the MJHL hopes will begin on Oct. 9. The plan is for each team to play 40 games almost exclusively on 22 weekends with the regular season ending on March 13. . . . There is a news release right here.


Pigeon

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while thinking about the weather in Denver . . .

Scattershooting


The MacBeth Report continues to keep both eyes on happenings in Europe and beyond.

Some KHL-related notes from a Friday filing . . .

“Ak Bars Kazan opened the season in Riga against Dinamo Riga. However, one of the referees tested positive for COVID-19, so the start of the game was delayed until a new officiating crew could be found. Per Aivis Kalnins, an all-Latvian crew worked the game.

“Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk head coach Vyacheslav Butsayev told TASS Thursday that they intended to play with a short lineup Friday night at home against SKA St. Petersburg (2-1 loss) but did not say why. Neftekhimik dressed 20+2, the full lineup, but only the two goalies, three defencemen, and five forwards are officially on the Neftekhimik roster. They dressed four defencemen and two forwards from their farm club and one defenceman and five forwards from their junior club. Butsayev himself didn’t coach. It was announced before the game that Butsayev and two assistant coaches would not be coaching tonight ‘in connection to recover from a previous illness.’ The coach was head coach of their junior team, Vyacheslav Kasatkin.

“Amur Khabarovsk also has been hit with an outbreak. Head coach Pavel Torgajev on Wednesday: ‘We have already reported that a number of players have passed the initial positive tests for COVID-19. Over the past few days, there are more of them, some results have been confirmed. Players with positive test results are isolated, under medical supervision. There are players who have already recovered, which is confirmed by the tests done the day before, but in accordance with the league protocols, they need to wait for the second negative test. Only then will they be able to join the team. Therefore, at the start of the season, we will not be able to play with the optimal lineup. We have attracted the players of the youth team, this is a great chance for them. Everyone who goes on the ice will fight, everyone missed hockey, and for the ‘youth’ this is a great opportunity to try themselves at the adult level.’

Amur dressed a full 20+2 line-up Thursday at Cherepovets (6-4 loss to Severstal) but five skaters and the back-up goalie were from their junior team and four skaters and their starting goalie were from their farm club.

Per Amur’s website, the club’s charter flight left Khabarovsk 8 PM local time Wednesday for Cherepovets. 5,292 miles, about 8 hours flying time. There is a seven-hour time difference between the two cities, so when they arrived in Cherepovets, it was around 9 PM Wednesday there, 4 AM Khabarovsk time. Game time in Cherepovets was 7 PM Thursday, which was 2 AM Friday Khabarovsk time.”

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The KHL team Avangard Omsk unveiled its new uniforms the other day. If you haven’t seen it already, you don’t want to miss head coach Bob Hartley — yes, the former NHL coach — as he does the introduction. When he’s done as a coach, he may have a career as a pitchman. . . . It’s all right here.



Manager Gabe Kapler and his San Francisco Giants were leading the Colorado Rockies, 18-2, in the seventh inning the other night when he chose to challenge a play at first base. That got Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times to wonder: “So why isn’t there an unwritten rule about that?”

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One more from Perry: “The entire Alaska-Fairbanks hockey team was placed in quarantine after six partying players tested positive. In other words, COVID-19 just went on the power play.”


Recipes


The MJHL has sold an expansion franchise to Winnipeg-based 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the league’s Winnipeg Blues. This means that the 12-team MJHL has two franchises in the Manitoba capital both of them owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment, which also owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice. . . . Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the team is to be called the Freeze. Josh Green, an assistant coach with the Blues two seasons ago and with the Ice in 2019-20, is expected to be the head coach, with former WHL G Sonny Mignacca as his assistant. . . . According to Sawatzky, Jake Heisinger, the Ice’s assistant GM and vice-president of hockey operations, is expected to be the Freeze’s GM. . . . The MJHL is aiming to start a 40-game regular season on Oct. 9. Training camps can begin on Sept. 18, with rosters limited to 34 players. . . . The Freeze had a protected list of 33 players prior to the MJHL announcing its presence. As well, the Freeze is opening a three-day prospects’ camp today.


Quesadilla


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL said Monday that is has gotten through six weeks of bubble play without a positive test. There were 2,534 tests conducted for the period Aug. 30 through Sept. 5. . . .

The UFC was forced into holding a short card on Saturday night in Las Vegas after two bouts, and perhaps a third, were cancelled because of positive tests. In the end, it was able to hold on seven bouts on the card. . . . There is more right here.

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If you are a junior hockey fan, you may be interested in reading what teams in the KHL will have to go through in order to play in Helsinki, Finland, and what that city’s team, Jokerit, will have to do to play in Russia, all of this thanks to The MacBeth Report . . .

Arrangements have been finalized that will allow Jokerit to play its 2020-21 home games at Hartwall Arena in Helsinki. For a while, it appeared that Jokerit would play its home games somewhere in Russia.

However, according to Jokerit’s website, the team and the KHL have

put together a model that enables foreign teams to travel safely to Finland.

On Sept. 1, the KHL began coronavirus tests for all team members as well as club staff. These are conducted every five days.

Here’s a look at steps that are being taken in order to play these games . . .

Visiting teams arrive in Helsinki on their own charter flights. They are transported from the airport by private bus to the hotel, where they are provided with their own secluded facilities to stay and dine. During their 1-2 day visits to Helsinki, team representatives will not leave the hotel premises, outside the restricted area of ​​Hartwall Arena, or the airport.

The teams move from the hotel by their own bus to the arena, where a so-called clean area is used on ice level. This area can only be accessed by persons subject to KHL corona testing and their identities, as well as a valid negative corona test result is confirmed by displaying a QR code. Without a negative test result, one cannot enter the clean area. After the games, the teams will take their own bus to the airport and leave the country.

Jokerit has the same practices on their own away game trips in both the arenas and the hotels. In the hotels, a separate floor is reserved for the team and meals are also held separately from other hotel guests. Team representatives will not leave the hotel other than by public transportation to the arena or airport. When traveling, protective masks are used both

on the plane and on the fields. When arriving at the arena, a mask must also be worn both in Finland and abroad.

The safety of the public is guaranteed in home matches in accordance with safety regulations.

Jokerit is top play its first home game on Wednesday against against Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.

Here is what goes into ensuring the safety of spectators . . .

  • The hall has a total of nine auditorium blocks upstairs and downstairs, each with its own entrance and its own toilet facilities.
  • A maximum of 500 spectators, up to a maximum of 50 per cent of full capacity, may be accommodated in a single auditorium block.
  • You cannot move between the auditorium blocks.
  • There are no numbered seats on the entrance tickets so that safety distances can be observed in the auditorium. Jokerit will notify each of its season-ticket holders individually how they can redeem their tickets and how they can get a seat as close as possible to the place they purchased.
  • Hand sanitizer is available at the entrances to Hartwall Arena and in all of the arena’s restaurants.
  • Cleaning during the event will be intensified and safety-related issues will be announced on screens and in announcements.
  • The use of a face mask during the event is recommended. Jokerit fabric face masks can be purchased at the Jokerit fan store.
  • In Finland, there are restrictions on indoor public events, and within these, a maximum of 4,500 spectators can currently attend Jokerit home matches at Hartwall Arena. In addition, spectators can be taken to the suites.

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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.


Headline at fark.com: Washington releasing running back Adrian Peterson for fear his off-field reputation might taint an otherwise stellar organization.



Slots

Winterhawks sale would be ninth since 2007 . . . WHL GM tells Ewen ‘lineup’ of shoppers is expected . . . What’s the price tag?

Sooner or later, the Portland Winterhawks likely will be sold.

Why likely? Because never say never, and perhaps owner Bill Gallacher will end up keeping the WHL franchise.

But if the Winterhawks are sold, it will mark the ninth time a WHL franchise has Portlandchanged hands since the Kamloops Blazers went from community to private ownership during the summer of 2007. Of course, it also will be the second time the Winterhawks will have changed hands since 2008.

However, as of Tuesday night, there didn’t appear to be anything new regarding the Winterhawks’ situation, The WHL’s top regular-season team in the shortened 2019-20 regular-season is in receivership after a number of Gallacher-owned companies filed for bankruptcy last week.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia, who covers the Vancouver Giants, writes that “a WHL general manager, who requested anonymity, says he expects a ‘lineup’ of interested buyers for the Winterhawks . . .”

Yes, the vultures will be circling.

The last WHL franchise to have changed hands was the Seattle Thunderbirds.

One source who knows his way around the WHL told Taking Note on Tuesday: “Bet Russ Farwell is patting himself on the back . . .”

Farwell was the Thunderbirds’ governor and general manager, and also owned a piece of the action when that deal went down in 2017.

Here’s Ewen:

“WHL teams don’t change hands often and sale prices are rarely made public, as you’d expect. The Seattle Thunderbirds were sold in October of 2017, going from a group led by longtime Thunderbirds general manager Russ Farwell to brothers Dan and Lindsey Leckelt, who own Silent-Aire, an engineering and data centre equipment manufacturing company based in Edmonton.

“Multiple sources say the Thunderbirds were sold for US$12 million. That’s never been confirmed.”

Ewen’s complete piece is right here.

Six months before the Thunderbirds changed hands, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell. After two winters in Cranbrook, they moved the franchise to Winnipeg immediately after the 2018-19 season.

The Regina Pats were sold in April 2014 with Russ and Diane Parker of Calgary, who had owned the franchise for 19 years, selling to a local group comprising Jason Drummond, Todd Lumbard, Anthony Marquart, Gavin Semple and Shaun Semple. The Regina Leader-Post reported that the sale price “is believed to be in the neighbourhood of Cdn$7.5 million.”

In March of 2014, Rick Brodsky sold the Prince George Cougars to a group that includes local businessmen Ray Fortier, Ernest Ouellet, John Pateman and Greg Pocock, along with two former Cougars defencemen — Eric Brewer and Dan Hamhuis. The sale price was reported by the Prince George Citizen as being close to Cdn$7 million. Brodsky had bowed out of his family’s ownership of the Saskatoon Blades to purchase the Cougars franchise in 1992 when it was playing out of Victoria.

After owning the Saskatoon Blades for 37 years, the Brodsky family sold the franchise to Mike Priestner of Edmonton, who owns Go Auto, on Aug. 27, 2013. The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported the sale price as Cdn$9 million.

On April 4, 2011, the WHL confirmed the sale of the Chilliwack Bruins by owners Jim Bond, Brian Burke, Moray Keith, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather to RG Properties, which was headed up by Graham Lee. He moved the franchise to Victoria where it operates as the Royals.

Bill Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks in August 2008, buying the franchise from John Bryant, Jack Donovan and Jim Goldsmith. The sale price was believed to have been about US$6 million.

The Kamloops Blazers were sold over the summer of 2007, with Tom Gaglardi, the president of Northland Properties and now the owner of the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, partnering with former players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor to purchase the franchise from community shareholders. The sale price was about Cdn$6.1 million.

So what will be the price tag on the Winterhawks?

Well, if this was four or five months ago, one might have guessed it to be somewhere around US$12 million.

However, in these pandemic times — I mean, can anyone guarantee when/if the next season will begin? — and with the franchise in receivership and the vultures circling, it just might go for something less than that.

Or could the WHL step in and purchase the franchise for a healthy price, if for no other reason than to protect the values of its other 21 franchises, and then try to find new ownership once we find out what things will look like when we get to wherever we are going?

These are bizarre times in which we find ourselves living and there are oh, so many questions, aren’t there?


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one a zinger from H.L. Mencken: “The men the American people admire most extravagantly are the most daring liars; the men they detest most violently are those who try to tell them the truth.”

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There have been reports that Vince McMahon, he of grapplin’ fame, is working to sell his football league, the XFL. If you’re interested, The Sports Curmudgeon has a few words of warning: “If you are thinking that it might be a hoot to put in a bid for ‘3 easy payments of only $39.95,’ let me offer a word of caution and suggest that you might wind up as the owner.”

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One more thing regarding The Sports Curmudgeon . . . if you aren’t a regular reader of his work, you should at least consider taking a look at his Tuesday post. He tackled two questions: 1. What might sports be like in a post-COVID-19 world?, and 2. Are sports important with regard to (a) ‘return to normalcy?’ . . . It’s all right here.


Dr. Bonnie Henry, B.C.’s provincial health officer, said Tuesday that there won’t be any special treatment given to the NHL if it wants to use Vancouver as a hub for its proposed return to play. . . . “I’m not going to compromise safety for any organization, whether it’s the NHL or anything else, as much as I love hockey,” Dr. Henry said during her daily briefing. If the NHL is to bring teams into Vancouver, she said, all people involved with the teams and arriving from outside Canada would have to self-isolate for two weeks. . . .

The Canadian National Exhibition, Canada’s largest annual fair, has been cancelled for 2020. It was to have been held from Aug. 21 through Sept. 7 in Toronto. . . .

The California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) announced Tuesday that its schools “have determined that NCAA sport competition will not occur during the fall of 2020.” . . . This news came after the U.S.’s largest four-year college system, the California State University (CSU), announced most classes will be presented online in the fall. CSU has 23 schools. . . .

Doug Ducey, the governor of Arizona, said at a news conference on Tuesday that pro sports can resume in his state, without fans, as of May 16. He said leagues and teams would have to provide public health protections and follow guidelines set down by the Centers for Disease Control. . . .

There are 41 theaters on Broadway in New York City that are part of the Broadway League. They announced Tuesday that they will remain closed through at least Sept. 6, which is Labour Day.


When the Detroit Pistons were winning NBA titles, they were a fearsome aggregation of aggressive players. As Charles Barkley explained on Facebook: “Those guys were out there trying to hurt people. . . . When you were playing the Pistons you had to call home and tell your family you love them just in case you never saw them again.”


Aris Brown, the 18-year-old son of NFL great Jim Brown, who is 84, has committed to play lacrosse at Hampton University. As Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot wrote: “It appears that Jim enjoyed a strong fourth quarter.”


Sheep

CFL commish admits season may not happen . . . Oregon gatherings gone through September . . . WHL salutes Kennedy


The news was anything but good for followers of the CFL and WHL on Thursday.

Randy Ambrosie, the CFL commissioner, was in Ottawa, appearing before a House of Commons standing committee on finance. The CFL is asking for as much as $150 million in financial aid to help it survive the pandemic.

At one point, Ambrosie said the CFL’s future is “very much in jeopardy.” He also said that “our best-case scenario for this year is a drastically truncated season. And our most likely scenario is no season at all.”

Meanwhile, in Oregon, the home state of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks, Gov. Kate Brown announced some guidelines, one of which involves the cancelling of all concerts, sporting events and large gatherings through the end of September.

You have to think chances are pretty good that Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, will issue similar guidelines at some point.

The 22-team WHL has four teams in Washington state.

These guidelines likely refer to teams playing in front of fans. But the WHL is a ticket-driven league and it is hard to imagine its teams playing in empty arenas for any length of time.


Sheldon Kennedy has been honoured by the WHL with its Governors Award. . . . According to a WHL news release, the award “is the highest honour the WHL bestows on whlan an individual who has been associated with the league.” The award “is presented annually to an individual who, through their outstanding hockey and overall contributions to the game, has impacted on the growth and development of the WHL.” . . . Kennedy, now 50, is from Elkhorn, Man. He played three (1986-89) seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, survived a bus accident in which four teammates died, and was a key contributor to the team that won the 1989 Memorial Cup. After Kennedy’s pro career ended, it came to light that he had been sexually abused by general manager/head coach Graham James while with the Broncos. Kennedy moved on from that to found, with Wayne McNeil, the Respect Group Inc., and to campaign endlessly for the safety and empowerment of young people and young athletes. . . . The WHL’s news release is right here.


James Patrick, the head coach of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, is among the U of North Dakota’s Hall of Fame class of 2020. Patrick, a defenceman, played two signs with what was then the Fighting Sioux. As Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald points out: “No former UND player has played more NHL games (1,280) or seasons (21) than Patrick, who suited up for the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres. Patrick wore an ‘A’ for both the Rangers and Sabres.” . . . The Hall of Fame induction is set for Oct.9 as the Fighting Hawks football team meets visiting Missouri State.


Even the geese have had enough . . .


Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from A.J. Liebling: “The country’s present supply of foreign news depends largely on how best a number of dry goods merchants in New York think they can sell underwear.”


Swear


Tennis Australia is looking ahead to the 2021 Australian Open and wondering it it will even take place. “Worst-case scenario is no AO,” Craig Tiley, who heads up Tennis Australia, told the Australian Associated Press. “Our best-case scenario at this point is having an AO with players that we can get in here with quarantining techniques and Australian-only fans.” . . . ICYMI, Wimbledon has been cancelled for 2020, and the French Open, which had been scheduled for May 27 through June 7, now will run from Sept. 27 through Oct. 11. The French Tennis Federation had announced earlier that it would run from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4, but moved it back another week on Tuesday. . . . The U.S. Open is scheduled to open on Aug. 24, but that still is up in the air with an announcement due at some point in June. . . .

NBA teams have the OK from the league to open practice facilities, with some restrictions, of course, but Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, isn’t interested just yet. . . . “The problem obviously is that because we can’t test people, then we can’t assure everybody’s safety, whether they’re basketball players or anybody else,” Cuban told The Athletic’s 77 Minutes in Heaven podcast. “Even though we can try to take all different kids of precautions, it’s just not worth it — particularly when our guys are staying in shape and they’re going outside and shooting on outdoor hoops and working out in various ways. So I just don’t think the risk is worth the reward.”



Jason Tatarnic is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Tatarnic, 47, spent eight seasons (2005-13) as head coach of the Maritime Junior League’s Woodstock Slammers, before moving west as GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs for four seasons (2014-18). . . . The Chiefs dismissed him a few days before the 2018 RBC Cup, the national junior A tournament in which they were the host team. In fact, the Chiefs went on to win the tournament. . . . After that, Tatarnic went to work with Hockey Pathways, which bills itself as a family advisory service whose mission “is to get you to the next level.” . . . In Estevan, Tatarnic takes over a franchise that is to be the host team for the 2022 Centennial Cup. . . . He takes over the Bruins from Chris Lewgood, who was fired on April 15 despite getting the team to the playoffs in each of his seven seasons. That included a seven-game loss in the SJHL final in the spring of 2018.


Call

Ice’s new home on ice for a while yet . . . Happy anniversary to The Quad Town Forum


The WHL’s Winnipeg Ice is going to spend at least two mores seasons playing in the 1,600-seat Wayne Fleming Arena on the campus at the U of Manitoba.

Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reports that “the pandemic fallout is complicating plans by the owners of the Ice to build a new arena. . . . That timing, already affected by the slow pace of obtaining zoning approval for the land, has been further delayed by the pandemic.”

If you’re late to this story, the Chynoweth family sold the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg wpgicebusinessman Greg Fettes, who is the chairman and governor, and Matt Cockell, the president and general manager, near the end of the 2016-17 season. They left the team in Kootenay for two seasons before moving to Winnipeg, having said that they would build a 4,500-seat arena in the Rural Municipality of Macdonald in time for the 2021-22 season.

“If you’re asking about a change in terms of the current circumstance, obviously I’ve been monitoring what’s happening,” Fettes told Sawatzky. “We don’t know what the hockey landscape’s going to look like after this. So are we taking a step back and making sure we understand that? Yes, absolutely.

“We’re going to do that but for all intents and purposes we’re still on the same track we were on. We’re doing our best to push forward but we are going to pay attention to see how are we going to be able to play games and how does that affect the type of building we build.”

The Ice’s owners say they spent $1.3 million on renovations to the Wayne Fleming Arena prior to moving into it, and now Fettes says there will be more renovating done. But they aren’t going to do anything to enlarge the seating capacity.

The bottom line to this story is that more than three years after the Chynoweth family reached an agreement to sell the franchise, Fettes and Co. have yet to start building the promised new arena. And the WHL now is faced with having a team in the Manitoba capital play at least three seasons in a 1,600-seat facility that was opened in 1981.

According to statistics compiled by the WHL, the Ice averaged 1,512 fans for 31 home games last season. In its last two seasons in Cranbrook that average was 2,214 (2018-19) and 2,442 (2017-18). In 2016-17, the last season under the Chynoweth umbrella, that figure was 1,754.

Sawatzky’s complete story is right here.


Comma


Considering the massive hit that the Canadian newspaper industry has taken in the last while, I’d like to tip my hat to Brad and Tracy Brown, the owners of The Quad Town Forum that is, according to its masthead, “devoted exclusively to covering White City, Emerald Park, Balgonie, Pilot Butte, Vibank, Sedley, Francis, Odessa, Montmartre, Kronau & surrounding areas.” . . . That would be in south-eastern Saskatchewan, just a couple of slapshots from Regina. . . . The Forum, which publishes 48 weeks a year, celebrated an anniversary on Thursday — it was No. 5. . . . The Browns went all-in, moving to Sedley and basing the Forum in Vibank, in 2015. You bet they were swimming against the current. . . . Brad has been in the newspaper business since 1999. He spent some time at the Prairie Post in Swift Current and while there covered the Broncos (2012-14). . . . The introduction in that first issue included this: “Newspapers are supposed to be dead. Gone. Extinct. Killed off by TV and the Internet and rock music and teenagers and Conrad Black and the Harlem Shake and SARS and gluten and pretty much anything else you can think of. Yet here we are, excitedly presenting to you the first issue of the Quad Town Forum.” . . . And here they are now, five years later. . . . Well done, and may the press never stop running! . . . Congratulations to the Browns and, yes, I will raise one in their honour at some point this weekend.

If you would like to check out The Forum, it’s all right here. Feel free to travel over there and tour around the site.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “People are getting smarter nowadays; they are letting lawyers, instead of their conscience, be their guide.”


hotdogs


The 10-team Western Canadian Baseball League hopes to open its 2020 season in late June or early July. It had been scheduled to get started in late May. . . . The collegiate league features six teams in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan. . . .

The 2020 Little League World Series has been cancelled, along with 82 qualifying tournaments. Also gone is the MLB Little League Classic that would have seen the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles play in Williamsport, Penn., on Aug. 23. . . . The tournament was to have run from Aug. 20-30.



If you missed it, here’s part of what Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S.’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told The New York Times earlier this week:

“I would love to be able to have all sports back. But as a health official and a physician and a scientist, I have to say, right now, when you look at the country, we’re not ready for that yet.

“Safety, for the players and for the fans, trumps everything. If you can’t guarantee safety, then unfortunately you’re going to have to bite the bullet and say, ‘We may have to go without this sport for this season.’ “


Paintings


Questions, I’ve got questions: If the NHL is able to get up and running, say at some point in June or even July, how excited will you be to watch the end of the regular season? . . . Will it matter to you if there are fans allowed into the games? . . . Will it matter to you if the Stanley Cup is presented in late August or at some point in September, and the 2020-21 regular season begins in December? . . . Does it matter to you when the NHL holds its draft — in June or August? . . . Do you get excited at the thought of the NBA gathering its teams at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Fla., to finish its season?



Whatever happened to Andre Dawson, the Hall of Fame outfielder? He’s a mortician and owner of Paradise Memorial Funeral Home in Miami. These days, he’s having to learn how to deal with a pandemic. . . . Steven Wine of The Associated Press has more right here.


So much winning . . .

Scattershooting on a Sunday night after washing hands, washing hands, washing hands . . .

Scattershooting

MORE DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE PLAY A WAITING GAME . . . 


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that there be no events that draw crowds of 50-plus people for the next two months in the U.S. . . . That would seem to put an end to the NBA and NHL seasons, and would leave Major League Baseball looking at starting sometime in the latter half of May, perhaps with no fans in their stadiums. . . . It just might be that the CDC recommendation spells the end of the NBA and NHL seasons. . . .


Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported Sunday afternoon that “two wpgicemembers of the Winnipeg Ice have been tested for COVID-19.” . . . The Ice now is awaiting the results. . . . According to Sawatzky, “The remainder of the club’s 22-man roster has been cleared to return to their homes. . . . The two Ice players were identified as symptomatic and are the only members of the team or staff to be tested so far.” . . . Ice GM Matt Cockell told Sawatzky: “If those tests are negative, they’ll return home. If they’re not, then we’ll proceed with them with the guidance and advice that we receive. Both players have been in self-isolation for a few days now.” . . . Sawatzky’s story is right here.

——

As of Sunday evening, there had yet to be an announcement from the WHL. But more individual teams revealed that they were allowing players to return to their homes. . . . The Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Prince George Cougars said on Saturday that their players had been given the OK to head for home. . . . On Sunday, the Edmonton Oil Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Warriors, Red Deer Rebels, Regina Pats, Saskatoon Blades and Spokane Chiefs all did the same. . . .



Apparently, plans are for the WHL’s board of governors to chat on Tuesday, after which the league perhaps will provide its fans with some information. The CDC’s recommendation would mean the WHL’s five American-based teams wouldn’t be able to hold home games in front of fans until mid-May at the earliest, so it would seem that the league is that much closer to having to end its season. . . .


In a column in which Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle mentioned a few things he is going to miss for the next while, he included:

Toilet paper. The wheel and sliced bread are way overrated. . . .

Steve Kerr’s news conferences. Honest answers, interesting side trips, always a laugh or two. The anti-Belichick. . . .



The 10-team Southern Professional Hockey League became the second pro league to end its season when it announced Sunday that its board of governors had voted in favour of cancellation. . . . The 26-team ECHL made the same announcement on Saturday. . . .


Anyone with plans to attend any hockey team’s spring camp should check and see if, indeed, the schedule is as it was. When Hockey Canada pulled the plug on all hockey-related activities, I took that to mean spring camps, too. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “The NCAA says it won’t release brackets for 2020 March Madness. While I see their point, wouldn’t letting Americans argue about who was robbed be a welcome distraction about now?”


Steve Simmons, in the Toronto Sun: “Word is (that) former CFL mainstay Chris Jones is staying with the Cleveland Browns in a personnel role. He wasn’t fired when head coach Freddie Kitchens was let go. Jones was moved from a coaching job to more of a scouting position.” . . .

——

A social note from Simmons: “Some guys aren’t this fortunate. The just returning Morgan Rielly gets to spend his time away with girlfriend Tessa Virtue. Is this like the nicest couple ever — nice kid hockey player and the nicest of all-time women figure skaters.” . . .


Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

——

The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

——

One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

——

One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


Scattershooting on a Tuesday night while waiting for Meghan and Harry to arrive for tea . . .

Scattershooting


Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, writing about the MLB sign-stealing scandal and the Houston Astros:

“It was clear the Astros were doing something unusually effective. While power hitters generally strike out frequently — a trade-off for swinging aggressively — the Astros’ lineup has an extraordinary knack for slugging without whiffing. From 1910 through 2016, only two teams — the 1948 Yankees and the 1995 Cleveland Indians — led the majors in slugging percentage while also recording the fewest strikeouts. The Astros did it in both 2017 and 2019.”



G Taran Kozun, who played in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds, now is with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies in Saskatoon. On Saturday night, he posted a shutout as the Huskies beat the host Calgary Dinos, 3-0. Oh, Kozun also scored a goal. . . . That also was Kozun’s second straight shutout, as the Huskies had beaten the Dinos, 4-0, on Friday night.

Kozun is the second goaltender in Canada West to be credited with scoring a goal, but the first to actually shoot the puck into the opposing team’s goal.

On Oct. 26, 2012, Kurtis Mucha of the Alberta Golden Bears

As Neate Sager reported for Yahoo! Sports at the time: “It was the standard opposing-goalie-off-on-a-delayed-penalty, errant-pass-goes-in-the-net scenario. Mucha . . . was credited with the goal since he was the last U of A man to touch the puck after stopping a long shot. The one twist is that the Lethbridge Pronghorns’ off-the-mark pass from out of the corner to the goaltender’s left banked off the boards in the neutral zone and rolled into the net.”

That night, Mucha, like so many snipers before him, was talking about the points that got away. He was quoted in a U of Alberta news release: “The funny thing is, I almost had a couple of assists that night, too. I moved the puck up ice a couple of times and was the third assist on a couple of goals, so I was pretty close to a two- or three-point night.”


There is good news for followers of the Winnipeg Ice. F Matt Savoie, who turned 16 on New Year’s Day, is captaining Team Canada at the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lausanne, Switzerland. . . . Savoie hasn’t played for the Ice since Dec. 28 when he was KO’d on a fierce open-ice hit during a 3-2 victory over the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The first selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft, Savoie has five assists in 12 games with the Ice. When he isn’t with the Ice, he is with the Rink Hockey Academy Prep team in Winnipeg. He’s got 16 goals and 26 assists in 17 games with RHA. . . . Savoie had a shorthanded goal and an assist on Sunday as Canada beat Denmark, 6-0, outshooting the Danes, 44-8, in the process. That left Canada at 1-1 as it earlier had dropped a 6-2 decision to Russia. . . . Canada then lost 2-1 to the U.S. in a semifinal game played on Tuesday.




“Hey,” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “if Clint Eastwood can talk to an empty chair, why not this? Philadelphia’s WTXF-TV ‘interviewed’ T.C., the Astros’ dugout trash can, as part of its coverage of MLB’s sign-stealing scandal. ‘I was beat over and over and over,’ T.C. revealed to the Good Morning Philadelphia show. ‘It took me two years to get all the dents out. It’s the worst job in sports.’ ”

——

Perry spent some time on the NFL crime beat recently . . .

“New Orleans police issued an arrest warrant for Odell Beckham Jr. after the Browns receiver slapped the butt of a Superdome security guard following LSU’s championship-game win. Though he hopes to get the simple-battery charge reduced to illegal use of hands.

New England receiver Julian Edelman jumped on the hood of a car in Beverly Hills, Calif., apparently damaging it and earning himself a police citation for vandalism. Or as Patriots apologists tried to spin it, he got flagged for piling on.”

I would suggest that Perry should be flagged for being offside.



The Kamloops Blazers lit up the visiting Tri-City Americans for a dozen goals in a 12-3 victory on Friday night. . . . If you were wondering — and I know you were — that was Kamloops1the 27th time in franchise history that Kamloops scored at least 12 times in one game. The franchise’s single-game record is 16 — the Jr. Oilers beat the visiting Kelowna Wings, 16-1, on March 11, 1983; the Blazers whipped the visiting Victoria Cougars, 16-4, on Jan. 19, 1990. . . . The last time the Blazers had struck for 12 goals in one game was on March 13, 1994, in a 12-4 victory over the host Americans. . . . Interesting note: The Blazers have scored in double figures twice this season — they beat the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds, 10-1, on Nov. 20. Prior to Nov. 20, Kamloops last scored at least 10 goals in a game on Sept. 20, 2002, in a 10-2 victory over visiting Seattle. . . . Interesting note No. 2: Kamloops once scored 10 goals in a game and lost. On March 6, 1984, the host Seattle Breakers scored an 11-10 victory. . . .

On Saturday night, the Blazers romped to a 9-0 home-ice victory over the Americans behind G Rayce Ramsay, who made 24 saves. . . . On Sunday, the Blazers went into Langley and beat the Vancouver Giants, 4-0, with G Dylan Garand stopping 21 shots. . . . The Blazers have put up six shutouts this season, with Garand and Ramsay each earning three. . . . The last time Kamloops blanked the opposition six times in one season? That would be 2012-13 when the total was seven (Cole Cheveldave, 6; Taran Kozun 1). . . . The franchise record is nine from 2003-04 (Devan Dubnyk, 6; Dustin Slade, 2; Geoff McIntosh, 1). . . .

BTW, Garand now has four shutouts in his WHL career, putting him into a tie with Kenric Exner for 10th on Kamloops’ career list. Ramsay has three and is tied for 12th with Dylan Ferguson, Jeff Bosch and Daryl Reaugh. . . . Dubnyk is the franchise’s career record holder, with 15, one more than Corey Hirsch. . . . Prior to Saturday, the Blazers last won a game by a 9-0 count on Jan. 11, 1995 when they beat the host Thunderbirds behind 21 saves by G Rod Branch. . . . Kamloops now has eight 9-0 victories in its regular-season history.



Scattershooting on a Monday night while awaiting the arrival of 2020 . . . Happy New Year!

Scattershooting

I can count on Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, to come through annually with a link to a column by Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It is the column in which Collier uses a whole bunch of words to examine the triteness of language in sports over the previous year. . . . Well, Jack came through on Monday with the link to Collier’s column in which he, for the 36th time, awards the Annual Trite Trophy. . . .

At one point, Collier writes:

“Pirates play-by-play guy Joe Block must have set the record for earliest use of If The Playoffs Started Today, coming as it did on May 21, when he said that if the playoffs started that day, the Pirates would have been in a wild-card game.

“May 21.

“On the day the playoffs actually started, the Pirates were in last place, 22 games out.”

This is fun stuff — after all, it’s not Collier’s first rodeo — and it’s all right here. Enjoy!


The Fiesta Bowl, in which the Clemson Tigers got past the Ohio State Buckeyes, 29-23, in Phoenix on Saturday night, was all that is great about U.S. college football. We can only hope that the Jan. 13 BCS final, with Clemson meeting LSU in a clash of the Tigers, is as entertaining.


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Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, with some observations from the 49ers’ 26-21 victory over the Seahawks in Seattle on Sunday night:

“Russell Wilson’s greatest scramble this year came after Sunday’s game, as he tried to explain the Seahawks’ delay-of-game penalty. . . .

“While there has been no satisfactory explanation given for the Seahawks’ game-wrecking delay-of-game penalty, scientists have found that mental processes — specifically, quick thinking — may be impaired by overly-vigorous chewing of gum. . . .

“NFL referees and their supervisors have no earthly clue what PI is. Some of them believe it is a guy named Magnum.”


F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice cut into the middle of the ice in the offensive zone during the first period on Saturday night and F Marcus Sekundiak of the visiting Brandon Wheat Kings lowered the boom. Savoie, who will turn 16 on New Year’s Day, is listed at 5-foot-9 and 178 pounds; Sekundiak, 19, is shown at 5-foot-11 and 188 pounds. . . . Sekundiak wasn’t penalized for the hit, but Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote that “Sekundiak . . . was the target of payback afterwards, absorbing a number of punishing hits from Ice players.” . . . As expected, the usual sober reflection occurred on social media, with folks suggesting: (a) it was a clean hit; (b) it was a headshot; (c) the Ice should have responded by gooning Sekundiak; (d) Sekundiak should have stayed in close proximity to the unconscious Savoie; (e) there shouldn’t be a suspension; (f) a 25-game suspension would suffice . . . and on and on it goes.

Anyway, if you haven’t seen the hit . . .

Sekundiak wasn’t suspended and played in Brandon’s 4-1 victory over the visiting Regina Pats on Monday night. . . . Savoie, who I think it’s safe to assume is in concussion protocol, didn’t play in Winnipeg’s 3-2 victory over the host Prince Albert Raiders on Monday night. BTW, the Ice moved atop the East Division with that victory.



With the year’s end upon us, there are more lists and awards out there than there are snowflakes in a blizzard. . . . Patti Dawn Swanson, aka the River City Renegade, has joined the club, but her list is different, a whole lot different, than the norm. Check right here to see who earns The Old Man Shouts and Waves His Fist At Clouds Cup, The Flip Flop And Don’t Tell A Lie Laurel, and The Tranna Maple Beliebers Bauble, among others. It’s all good fun, unless you’re a recipient.


“Antonio Brown is working out for the New Orleans Saints,” Janice Hough, who is at leftcoastsportsbabe.com, wrote last week. “Have to assume head coach Sean Payton is just (toying) with Roger Goodell.”

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One more from Hough: “Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin, who just returned from Mar-A-Lago, says despite being voted by NHL fans as an All-Star Game captain he’ll accept a one-game suspension and miss the game to ‘listen to his body.’ So did he miss the message from his body not to go party for a few days and eat junk food with Donald?”

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Hough, again: “Melting down over a movie cameo cut by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2014? With all due respect I have blueberries in my fridge with thicker skins than Trump.”


Don’t be afraid to click on the link and check out the thread . . .


ICYMI, the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired Brandon West, their general manager and head coach, on Friday night. . . . Simon Ferguson was named interim head coach. He was in his second season as head coach of the major midget Okanagan Rockets. . . . John Murphy and Rod Hume, the Warriors’ new owners, said in a news release: “This decision is about becoming a better hockey club now and in the future.  We are charting a new course and building a new culture.” . . . The Warriors were 7-23-7 and in last place in the seven-team Interior Division at the time of the move. . . . Former owner Kim Dobranski hired West on Jan. 28. Murphy and Hume purchased the franchise in October. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Salmon Arm Silverbacks dumped general manager and head coach Scott Atkinson on Monday. Former WHLer Tyler Shattock, who had been on staff as an assistant coach/assistant GM, has taken over as interim head coach. . . . Brooks Christensen, who had been the operations manager, now is the GM. . . . Atkinson had been with the Silverbacks since June 1, 2017. Salmon Arm was 1-8-1 in its 10 games prior to the axe falling. On the season, it is 21-15-2 and third in the Interior Division.


LemonWedge


JUST NOTES: Old friend Jay Varady, the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, will be the Pacific Division head coach at the AHL’s 2020 All-Star Classic in Ontario, Calif., Jan. 26 and 27. Varady, who coached in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, is in his second season with the Roadrunners. They had the AHL’s best record (23-6-0) through 29 games, with the coaches of division leaders after 29 games named to the Classic. . . . The festive season is almost over. How do I know this? Because the leftovers are almost gone and the fridge is looking terribly bare. . . . Have to wonder if F Kobe Mohr got a bigger suitcase for Christmas? He started the season with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, lost out in the 20-year-old game and went to the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons, made a stop with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, was dealt to the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, lost out, again, in the 20-year-old racket, and now is back with the Dragons. And the trade deadline isn’t even here yet. . . . Pitchers and catchers report in 42 days. . . . Happy New Year, and here’s to a healthy and safe 2020!