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Calgary

It’s starting to feel like a real old-fashioned NHL playoff

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Hard to believe, but this is starting to feel like a real, old-fashioned NHL playoff. The Stanley Cup will not be awarded for months.

Yet, here we are, two weeks away from the official lid-lifters in the opening round of what will become a five-series marathon for two teams and the internet universe is full of hopes and doubts, fears and prayers — almost as if this was April, not mid-July.

The shocking news that a $600-million edifice like Rogers Place is as susceptible to flooding as a mere million-dollar structure did nothing to delay this outbreak of opinions. No further proof is needed that hockey, for large groups of us, stands at least equal to COVID-19 in daily interest.

In Edmonton, for example, there is growing hope that the Oilers will cruise through their first series with Chicago, largely because proven goaltender Corey Crawford has been declared “unfit to play” and any available backup for the Blackhawks is far less competent.

Having Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid available will also help, and there were signs late last season that the depth pieces at forward and on the blue line are more than just place-holders until the superstars take control.

In Calgary, optimism is quieter, maybe because the Flames have won only a single playoff round in six years. And maybe because talented Johnny Gaudreau was separated from familiar linemates in early workouts while other holdovers have been — like Crawford — handed the unique “unfit to play” designation.

General manager Brad Treliving went online quickly to defend Gaudreau against suggestions that he is not in game shape and has struggled in the early going. Gaudreau himself labeled the criticism “just one of those things.”

Other potential issues have not been widely discussed. Coronavirus infection for Derek Ryan and others who have stayed off the ice? Chances are fans will never know.

At least one presumed expert on Friday went so far as to say in print that the Oilers “have a real chance to win the Stanley Cup.” Pre-playoff season is the time to dream big in any sport.

In a normal NHL season — if there is ever such a thing as normalcy in sports — the focus for most fans goes to player signings, free-agent talk and the like, including inevitable calls by so-called supporters for one or several coaches and general managers to be dismissed.

A big difference now is fan interest in winners of individual honours: Ted Lindsay Award for best player, Lady Byng for most gentlemanly, Masterton Trophy for dedication to the sport and others for top rookie, top defenceman and the like.

Automatically, Calgary fans insist, for example, that Mike Giordano is the league’s top defender. Oilers fans and several media types, always convinced their opinions lack bias, have gone on record with demands that Daisaitl must win the Lindsay award and that McDavid, who used the entire 2020 pre-season to battle a career-threatening knee injury, should have no challengers for the Masterton Trophy, which this old reporter believes should go to Bobby Ryan of the Ottawa Senators.

So far, it seems, the biggest difference between Edmonton’s observers and the similar group in Calgary is positive versus negative. Some Oilers-watchers honestly hint that their two superstars might portend the beginning of a magical run like Edmonton’s domination in the 1980s.

In Calgary, there are fresh complaints about Treliving’s performance and the sad recent finishes by a team that figures to be seriously challenged by the Winnipeg Jets in their first-round match.

Is it too soon to be talking about a Flames rebuild. Several voices in Calgary insist it is not.

Clear Answers Required

 

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Alberta

Protecting the right to vote for Canadian citizens: Minister McIver

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Minister of Municipal Affairs Ric McIver issued the following statement in response to Calgary City Council’s vote to extend the right to vote to permanent residents:

“Yesterday, Calgary city council passed a motion advocating for permanent residents to be extended the right to vote in civic elections. Alberta’s government has been clear since the beginning: only Canadian citizens are able to vote in civic elections. That will not be changing.

“The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms affirms the right of every Canadian citizen to vote and to run as a candidate. This right extends to voters in municipal, provincial and federal elections.

“Protecting our democracy is of the utmost importance. Our provincial election legislation, like the Local Authorities Elections Act, has also been clear since its inception that voting is a right of Canadian citizens.

“Alberta’s government is also ensuring that voting is accessible for more Albertans. The Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act proposes to enable special ballot access for any voter who requests it, without having to provide any specific reason such as physical disability, absence from the municipality or working for the municipal election. The ministries of Seniors, Community and Social Services and Service Alberta and Red Tape Reduction are also making it easier for individuals to obtain the identification Albertans need for a variety of services, including the ability to cast a ballot.

“Our government will continue to protect the integrity of our elections and make sure voting is accessible for all Albertans who are Canadian citizens.”

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Alberta

Three Calgary massage parlours linked to human trafficking investigation

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News release from the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

ALERT’s Human Trafficking unit has searched and closed three Calgary massage parlours. A year-long investigation has linked the businesses and its owner to suspected human trafficking.

ALERT arrested Hai (Anna) Yan Ye on April 16, 2024 and charged the 48-year-old with advertising sexual services, drug offences and firearms offences. The investigation remains ongoing and further charges are being contemplated.

Ye was linked to three commercial properties and two homes that were allegedly being used for illegal sexual activities and services. The massage parlours were closed following search warrant executions carried out by ALERT, the Calgary Police Service, and the RCMP:

  • Seagull Massage at 1034 8 Avenue SW;
  • 128 Massage at 1935 37 Street SW; and
  • The One Massage Centre at 1919 31 Street SE.
  • 1100-block of Hidden Valley Drive; and
  • 3100-block of 12 Avenue SW.

As result of the search warrants, ALERT also seized:

  • $15,000 in suspected proceeds of crime;
  • Shotgun with ammunition; and
  • Various amounts of drugs.

“We believe that these were immigrants being exploited into the sex trade. This has been a common trend that takes advantage of their unfamiliarity and vulnerability,” said Staff Sergeant Gord MacDonald, ALERT Human Trafficking.

Four suspected victims were identified and provided resources by ALERT’s Safety Network Coordinators.

ALERT’s investigation dates back to February 2023 when a tip was received about suspicious activity taking place at the since-closed Moonlight Massage. That location was closed during the investigation, in December 2023, when the landlord identified illegal suites on the premises.

The investigation involved the close cooperation with City of Calgary Emergency Management and Community Safety, Alberta’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) team, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), and the RCMP.

Ye was released from custody on a number of court-imposed conditions.

Anyone with information about this investigation, or any case involving suspected human trafficking offences, is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

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