Happy New Year!

I want to extend best wishes to you and your family as we turn the page.

2021 promises to be a better year.

Each and every one of us hopes that will be the case.

2020 will always be remembered for the pandemic and how it dramatically changed lives.

In terms of sports, cancellation after cancellation included the World Women’s Curling Championship that was scheduled for Prince George in March.

The event was called off just two days prior to the scheduled start of the first rock being thrown.

I am sure PG will get its turn to host the best women curlers in the world, perhaps as soon as 2022 or 2023.

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The WHL, BCHL and Canada West were among leagues that were forced to shut down that had a direct effect on Prince George sports teams.

At some point this year, one can assume they will be back but to try and speculate on a date serves no purpose.

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There are some hockey stories from 2020 that have ties to PG that stick out.

Topping the list is Jon Cooper, who grew up in Lakewood (Prince George), winning the Stanley Cup as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

This will be known as the “Bubble” Cup since the Lightning played their first two playoff series in Toronto and the last two in Edmonton.

Cooper was able to achieve his ultimate dream of holding Lord Stanley’s mug over his head just a few weeks before his mother passed away.

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With little fanfare (no news conference) Dan Hamhuis retired in the summer after a brilliant 16-year NHL career that followed four spectacular seasons with the PG Cougars.

Hamhuis will have more time to devote to the Cougars since he is a minority owner of the team.

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Another former Cougar, Zdeno Chara was in the news this week, leaving the Boston Bruins to join the Washington Capitals on a one year deal worth $795,000.

On his way out, Chara was respectful of the Bruins decision to want to give more ice time to younger players.

Chara, who turns 44 in March, says he will always be a Bruin and why not?

He played a key role in helping Boston win the 2011 Stanley Cup (at the Canucks expense) and reaching the final in 2013 and 2019.

Chara won the Norris Trophy in 2009 as the NHL’s best defencemen.

He may not be in his prime anymore but he is a future Hall of Famer and his leadership will be a welcome addition to the Bruins.

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Taylor Gauthier has had his share of ups and downs but the PG Cougars goaltender can be proud to be part of Canada’s World Junior hockey team.

Yes, there is a good chance that Gauthier, (who has been overlooked twice in the NHL Draft) may not play in the tournament since he is Canada’s third goalie, but just to be selected to its roster, is an honour that many teenagers can only dream of.

The Cougars have another player in Edmonton at the World Juniors.

Forward Filip Koffer is playing for the Czech Republic and already has a game-winning goal in a 2-0 victory over Russia.

Canada and the Czech Republic meet on Saturday (4:00 PM PT) in the quarterfinals.

With Cooper, Hamhuis, Chara, Gauthier and Koffer there is a Prince George connection that brought them to some form of the spotlight in 2020.

Many more stories like theirs are in store for 2021 and the years to come.


FROM THE QUOTE RACK:

After Saturday night’s spectacular meltdown and collapse against the Dolphins, one thing can be said about the Raiders——-what happens in Vegas sure didn’t stay in Oakland.

*Contributor Bill Littlejohn of South Lake Tahoe, California

Eight circus acrobats who were injured in a fall when a piece of equipment malfunctioned have settled their lawsuit for $52.5 million. Wow, a number like that is bound to leave their heads spinning.

*Contributor Marc Ragovin of New York

Ohio State University has self-imposed postseason bans for 2020-21…. for its women’s basketball, women’s golf and fencing programs. Yeah, I’m sure those are the programs at OSU that have most abused the NCAA rules.

*Comedy writer Janice Hough of Palo Alto, California www.leftcoastsportsbabe.com

Houston’s NBA opener had to be postponed because James Harden paid a maskless visit to a strip club and got himself DQ’d for violating COVID protocols, dropping the Rockets’ roster below the minimum eight players. In addition, there is no truth to the rumour that Harden has jeopardized his position as the quarterback for the Washington Football Team.

*Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times http://www.seattletimes.com/author/dwight-perry/

IN CASE, YOU MISSED IT

A Toronto couple met at a Maple Leafs game, got engaged right before a home game and recently had a Leafs-themed wedding. I’m thinking it was the first honeymoon where nobody scored.

*Canadian comedy writer RJ Currie www.Sportsdeke.com

Hartley Miller is the news and sports supervisor and morning news anchor for 94.3 the GOAT and Country 97.
He also is the 94.3 the Goat radio colour commentator for P.G. Cougars home games.
His column appears Fridays on myprincegeorgenow.com.
Send along a quote, note, or anecdote to hmiller@thegoatrocks.ca