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.
Canadian pizzeria owner planning civil suit against gov’t officials over tyrannical COVID mandates
All charges dropped against Canadian pizzeria owner who defied COVID vaccine passport mandates
Jesse Johnson – Without Papers Pizza, Calgary
Jesse Johnson, who owned Without Papers Pizza, claimed a ‘bittersweet’ victory in a prolonged legal battle against the City of Calgary
All charges have been dropped against the owner of a popular Canadian pizzeria who kept his restaurant open in direct defiance of COVID-19 health rules and refused to ask customers for vaccine passports so that he could serve “everyone.”
Outside a Calgary courthouse yesterday, Jesse Johnson, who owned Without Papers Pizza, claimed victory in a prolonged legal battle against the City of Calgary after a court dismissed all his COVID-related violation charges.
“Yes, it is a bittersweet irony what happened here today. My restaurant was shut unadjudicated, I was deemed guilty without going to a court of law,” he said when speaking with independent media reporter Mocha Bezirgan outside Calgary’s main courthouse Wednesday.
The Democracy Fund (TDF), which funded lawyers Martin Rejman and Chad Williamson in defense of Johnson, noted in a press release that the once-popular pizzeria was charged in October 2021 with “breaching multiple bylaws after its business license was suspended for not complying with public health orders and after undercover inspectors were permitted to purchase pizza and remain in the restaurant without providing proof of vaccination.”
“Among other things, the allegations against the pizzeria were that it permitted persons to enter and remain on the premises without proof of vaccination and that it did not display prescribed signage, all of which was contrary to bylaws passed by the City of Calgary,” the TDF noted.
Johnson did not hold back his disdain for Calgary officials who targeted his restaurant with COVID fines.
“They tried to break me mentally and they tried to break me spiritually. And they almost came close. If it wasn’t for the good people that joined me here today, the many who I fought with on the streets of Calgary,” he said.
Without Papers Pizza was forced into insolvency due to government COVID dictates.
Johnson said, however, that people need to learn how to “forgive” their oppressors as “Christ” commanded.
“We need to pray to Jesus Christ to offer us forgiveness and to give us the light to fight further into the future,” he said.
The TDF said that Johnson’s lawyers had argued in their constitutional application that the city bylaws in question “were implementing public health orders that were found to be invalid by judges of the Court of King’s Bench.”
“More specifically, the impugned health orders were held to be ultra vires the Public Health Act as they were made by the provincial cabinet as opposed to the Chief Medical Officer of Health, which is what the law required,” the TDF stated.
Johnson’s charges being dropped came in the wake of a recent court ruling that declared certain public health orders effectively null.
At the end of July, Justice Barbara Romaine from Alberta’s Court of Kings Bench ruled that politicians violated the province’s health act by making decisions regarding COVID mandates without authorization.
The decision put into doubt all cases involving those facing non-criminal COVID-related charges in the province.
As a result of July’s court ruling, Alberta Crown Prosecutions Service (ACPS) said Albertans currently facing COVID-related charges will likely not face conviction but will instead have their charges stayed.
Danielle Smith took over from Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP) on October 11, 2022, after winning the leadership of the party. Kenney was ousted due to low approval ratings and for reneging on promises not to lock Alberta down, as well as enacting a vaccine passport.
Under Kenney, thousands of nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and government workers lost their jobs for choosing to not get the jabs, leading Smith to say – only minutes after being sworn in – that over the past year the “unvaccinated” were the “most discriminated against” group of people in her lifetime.
Smith made headlines last October after promising she would look at pardoning Christian pastors who were jailed for violating so-called COVID policies while Kenney was premier.
Unlike her predecessor, Kenney – who imposed vaccine passports, mandates, and lockdowns during COVID – Smith did vow she was not going to “create a segregated society on the basis of a medical choice.”
Thus far, in addition to Johnson, café owner Chris Scott, and Alberta pastors James Coates, Tim Stephens, and Artur Pawlowski, who were all jailed for keeping their churches open under the leadership of Kenney, have had the COVID charges against them dropped due to the court ruling.
Countless others have had smaller charges against them for going against COVID mandates dropped as well. However, there are still some facing charges relating to border blockade protests.
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