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Bruce Dowbiggin

Vaccine Coercion: But Everyone Wears The Ribbon!


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“Despite being double vaccinated, wearing a mask, and taking all the precautions I could…  I tested positive for COVID.  I don’t have any symptoms, but am staying in until I get the green light from the Docs.  I will be ready to go for @49ers on 9/12 @Lions @NFL .” Barry Sanders greatest NFL running back ever

“Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) has announced they will require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result in order to enter any of their arenas, stadiums or restaurants.”

From the bureau of WTF?: You can take the juice, wear the mask, not really feel sick— but still test positive for Covid-19? Barry Sanders is sadly unique. Yet the company owning the Raptors, Maple Leafs, Toronto FC etc (and now the Blue Jays) won’t let you in their building if you don’t show that you’ve taken the same jab?

Anyone reading these stories two years ago would have been shocked to learn that Sanders’ story doesn’t disqualify the overreach by MLSE. Or that Sanders’ story doesn’t at least lend some credibility to people with doubts about the various vaccines being pumped into people on pain of social ostracization.

But to today’s vaccine virtue squad, it’s more important to stigmatize people than to develop a coherent response to Covid, its origins and treatments (other than vaccines) to stop this social catastrophe. Wear the ribbon!

Pop quiz: Have you seen anyone in leadership— from PM to local doctors— come out and talk about preventive steps to avoid the worst of #COVID19? Lose weight. Be exercising outdoors. Take vitamin D3. Consult about early treatment cocktail options. Me neither. Instead it’s all death, lockdown and gagging with masks as if you can eradicate a virus.

People in 2019 would also be shocked to learn that this draconian banning of fellow citizens comes when the seven-day moving average of deaths from Covid in Canada the past month is in single digits per day. Saturday there was just one death reported— in a nation of 36 million. (Sunday there were 2) Heads to the bunkers, everyone! Variants are a-coming.

In addition 1.4 million Canadians who caught the virus and recovered have antibodies as strong— or stronger— than the vaccines. Millions more have immunity from exposure and don’t know it because we don’t test for antibodies. Only the PCR’s random strands of virus that can neither make us sick nor be transmitted.  But we insist they need to “wear the ribbon”.

Yes, yes… the vaunted PCR cases are exploding again. (For how worthless they are read here and here and here .) After shutting down the hospitals and clinics in 2020 the system is now overflowing with Covid and many other urgent patients. You can lie on a gurney for three days to get a room. (When two people die of Covid in a day in Canada.)

Politicians are reaching for hyperbole to distract from the utter mess they’ve fashioned.  They call those rejecting the same vaccine that Barry Sanders received social pariahs, death-bringers, a menace to the healthcare system.  Note that in all this blame game no Panic Porn purveyor has thought to bring similar sanctions against others who are wilfully putting healthcare in peril. Morbidly obese COVID-19 patients are 60 percent more likely to die or require intubation, compared with people of normal weight. In many cases their condition is a lifestyle choice.

You going to deny them services and freedom of movement till they lose weight? I mean, they’re a drag on health system, right? Smokers too. Why not a passport to stigmatize smokers and drug abusers? Or people with hepatitis, herpes, STDs, AIDS and a raft of other infectious conditions that the healthcare system treats no-questions-asked? Why not a passport for mental patients? They all cost healthcare a fortune.

Why stigmatize only non-vaxxers who’ve seen the Barry Sanders story and gone, “Hmm?” Because sweeping up the obese and people with co-morbidities would involve sweeping up friends of the Church Ladies. That might stigmatize their pals who can’t get control one or many conditions, diseases or habits. Can’t have that. Better target people we don’t know.

Plus, snitching on the skeptical allows those in control to pretend their policies still have a shred of credibility left. Passports and banning are about erasing the failed WHO/ CDC/ HealthCanada promises of the past.

  1. Nothing to worry about

  2. 15 days to flatten curve w/ lockdown

  3. Masks, hand sanitizers mandatory

  4. 6-foot distance mandatory

  5. PCR tests/ tracing will find the virus

  6. Defeat Trump

  7. More lockdowns.

  8. Vaccine will stop virus

  9. 2 Vaccines will stop virus

  10. 2 Vaccines w/ mask will stop virus

  11. First booster 8 months later will stop virus

  12. Vaccine passport option

  13. Vaccine passport mandatory

  14. Snitch on your neighbours

  15. Lockdowns again

All of which citizens complied with, sacrificing family life, career and mental stress to make their wish list come true. But now, thanks to the Barry Sanders and others, the gullible are saying the PM who called an election in the midst if this has no vaccine clothes. That makes them subversives who need to be punished.

So go all-out against the people who defy authority. Who question your brilliance and insight. They must be denied their rights to satisfy our cloying fear that the virus might strike us in our prime (although this never occurred to you in previous pandemics) . So if you are unvaccinated, you will soon not be able to:

Have a federal job

Be employed in a federally regulated industry

Travel by plane or train

Go to a restaurant or bar

Go to the gym

Go to a concert or sports event

The scolds have a ready answer for all this overreach. As one Twitter voice said, “I’m good with that list. But then, I believe that your “freedom” stops when you can infect me, old people, children who can’t get vaccinated yet, and immunocompromised. #VaccinesSaveLives

You see. My freedom extends to the world. Yours is killing people. It’s all about me in my masked, locked-down safe space. Believing masks work (Not really ). Believing vaccines are the solution. Believing my neighbour is a quasi-killer. Believing children are spreaders. Believing Theresa Tam and the provincial health poobahs. Slopping up the agitprop of CBC and the Toronto Star as truth. Barry Sanders? Who he?

The election of a Conservative government might apply a gentle tap on the brakes, but Erin O’Toole still loves him some Ottawa approval. So expect him to go the route of Doug Ford and Jason Kenney, not Ron DeSantis, if he’s elected. Wetting himself at his own shadow if CBC hammers him.

The real question, one we’ve asked since April of 2022, is how does this all end ? Does it end? With the flu season coming in about six weeks are we about to do hourly play-by-play on another virus— something we never did before Covid-19? Scare the bejabbers out of everyone again? Extrapolate every full ICU into a national crisis? Promote unicorn cases into coming trends? Urge masks, lockdowns and vaccines for all?

It would appear hard for the people in government, media and healthcare now proposing fatwas on the vaccine skeptical to take a backward step. Their power over the sheeple has been reinforced. Why give it up?  Those who submitted willingly since April 2020 will soon discover that reining in their betters is about as difficult as tackling Barry Sanders in the open field.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster ( The best-selling author of Cap In Hand is also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, his new book Personal Account with Tony Comper is now available on

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Your Trash, My Treasure: Playing The GM Shuffle

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“One man’s treasure is another man’s trash/ One man’s landing is another man’s crash”—Guy Clark

At the end of a season that saw his Calgary Flames fall from Pacific Division champions in 2022 to out of the playoffs in 2023, general manager Brad Treliving went to ownership of the club. Tired of seeing each Darryl Sutter ignore the products of Calgary’s development system in favour of aging veterans, Treliving wanted a fundamental change of direction for 2023-24. Get younger.

The problem for Treliving is that he had no contract past 2023 while Sutter had two years left at $4M per year on the extension Flames ownership had given him for the 2021-22 performance fuelled by Matthew Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau. For the parsimonious Flames the answer was obvious about the coach who’d once led the teams to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004. Sutter and his contract won out.

While the choice of retaining Sutter might have satisfied ownership, it was a non-starter for Treliving, a number of core players on the roster and the fan base— who were bitterly watching Tkachuk lead Florida to the 2023 Final. Treliving was gone from the team he’d run for nine seasons and five playoff appearances. With the implicit defection of some key players, ownership then had president Don Maloney fire Sutter.

Was Treliving the best GM in the league? Maybe not, but his work in turning the departure of Tkachuk into real assets (ones Sutter seemed to waste) was indicative of skill. In the end the Flames had made a choice that cost them both their options. Now they’re left with former hero Craig Conroy making his maiden appearance as an NHL GM. And possibly their AHL coach being promoted. Did we say the Flames are cheap?

Meanwhile in Toronto, wunderkind GM Kyle Dubas had gone from youngest genius in the NHL to shopworn object of scorn to Toronto’s roiling fan base. After seeing his heralded teams win just one playoff series (2023) since 2017, Dubas became the scapegoat for frustrations that go back to 1967. Loaded with costly, flashy stars such as Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner, Toronto seemed to have peaked.

So after some aborted contract talks, Maple Leafs ownership and president Brendan Shanahan said buh-bye Dubas. A hiring committee went in search of a new GM to handle the thorny contract issues Toronto faces under the current CBA. (Namely, would Matthews sign an extension this summer or would he do a Gaudreau and bet on himself in a contract year.)

Meanwhile, the 40-year-old Dubas said he was going to take some time off to consider his options. As holidays go it was a short one. No sooner had the Leafs decided that Calgary’s trash was their treasure, inking Treliving as their new GM, Dubas’ rumination ended with his being named as GM in Pittsburgh on a seven-year deal. What? Next thing you’re going to tell us is that Mike Babcock is coming back after his paid holiday from the Leafs (where Dubas and Shanahan had fired him).

You guessed it. The two-time Stanley Cup winning coach— the winningest coach in Red Wings history— once thought too mean by all the young dudes in the T-Dot was named head coach in Columbus, where he’ll try to motivate Gaudreau— who once found Sutter too abrasive. Go figure.

Fans hoping that new GMs and coaches making bold moves will bring sunny days in 2023-24 will be sorely disappointed as the crunch from Gary Bettman’s vaunted Escrow System will mean a meagre $1M bump in the salary cap for next season. Because of money lost by owners during the Covid Bubble seasons, players are working off an estimated $1.1B debt they owe owners under the terms of the glorious salary-cap capitulation by shutting down the 2004-05 season.

Of course, part of that loss in revenues can be attributed to Bettman’s Folly, aka the Arizona Coyotes, who’ve been a drag on the NHL’s revenue streams even as other clubs make out like bandits. (See: small-market Ottawa Senators estimated to be going for a billion dollars.)  In addition there is probably as much as $70M in “dead” money from ill-fated contracts stuck in the works. BTW, not one player in the socialist republic of Bettman made a max salary in 2022-23 under this scheme accepted by players who cratered in 2004 and fired Bob Goodenow.

With an estimated $6M bump in the cap on July 1, 2024, there will be a lot of kicking the can down the road this summer should Treliving and the Leafs pony up the max salary to keep Matthews. They might also be able to tread water on a few other costly contracts if they trade Matthews south to a U.S. destination.

As we’ve written lately , trying to keep American stars in cold Canadian cities where they’re in a fish bowl 24/7 is becoming an issue. Many will look at Tkachuk appearing as a guest on the NBA Playoffs broadcast as indicative of what can happen if they move to a tax-free state like Texas, Tennessee, Nevada, Florida and yes, Arizona.

So the GM faces may be new in Calgary, Toronto and Pittsburgh, but the problems are same old/ same old in Gary Bettman Land. Cap gymnastics, TV cord-cutting, market disparities and the collapse off international play, among many. Expect a replay of the GM shuffle this time next year.

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Inherit The Wins: Hockey Has Its Privileges

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It might not have exactly been Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon, but Florida Panthers glitter boy Matthew Tkachuk sitting in with the TNT NBA panel of Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith might have been close that magnitude of collision between cultures.

Tkachuk has become the NHL poster boy in the U.S. by leading the sad-sack Panthers to the Final. In his casual Elbo Room T-shirt he was the epitome of the Fort Lauderdale hip cross-over star as he met the panel. While Barkley has become a hockey-fan-of-the-moment, Shaq professed total, wilful ignorance of the sport beyond its fighting. Smith was not much more puck savvy.

The highlight of the chat was Sir Charles suggesting he’d like to play hockey just once because he could only get a two-minute penalty for slugging Shaq. The two men did a little faux-theatre for the cameras to promote TNT’s coverage of the NHL Final.

The other nugget from the chat was the revelation that Tkachuk went to high school in St. Louis with Celtics star Jason Tatum, whose team was about to force Game 7 against the local Heat. Talk about a sports hothouse. Host Ernie Smith also showed pictures of Tkachuk with his legendary father Keith and his brother Brady of the Senators, marvelling at the genes involved in a 527-goal scorer siring two NHLers..

It’s both a wonder— and a concern— for the NHL, as we wrote in August of 2021. Because the brothers Tkachuk are part of a trend away from random selection and more to expensive grooming of elite athletes in the sport. Is equal outcome a lost cause?

“The NHL faces a question of opportunity at the moment. But this is not a racial or gender issue. The question facing a league renowned for its blue-collar roots is ‘has hockey become a rich person’s sport, a league where being an insider has extra clout?’ 

Are today’s superstars a product of more than talent? Are they also the products of an expensive, exclusive grooming process that leaves the Gordie Howe farm boy archetype in the dust? 

One hint of the benefits of having access to resources and people within the hockey industry is the annual spate of sons of former NHLers now being drafted each summer. In the recent draft, there was a plethora of progeny selected, many at the very top of the draft. No other league has such a high percentage of sons being selected. 

There have always been a few NHL father/ son duos. Gordie Howe’s boys and Bobby and Brett Hull spring to mind. But they were not as pervasive in the league as they are today. Witness the just-passed (2021) Draft that saw a host of familiar family names getting new surnames. 

Cole Sillinger (Mike), Tyler Boucher (Brian), Josh Doan (Shane), Redmond Savage (Brian), Ryan St. Louis (Martin); Shane Lachance (Scott); Nick Malik, Marek), Justin Robidas, (Stephane), Jackson Blake (Jason) and Chase Stillman (Cory) were among the sons of famous fathers drafted. Others were signed as free agents. 

It was no fluke. A glance around the NHL shows many sons of former stars getting steady work. Matthew and Brady Tkachuk (Keith), Kasperi Kapanen (Sami), Brandon Sutter (Brent), William and Alex Nylander (Michael), Sam Reinhart (Paul), Max Domi (Tie), Samuel Poulin (Patrick), Tag Bertuzzi (Todd), Ryan Johnson (Craig), Tyson Barrie (Len), Landon Ferraro (Ray), Marcus and Nick Foligno (Mike), Nolan Foote (Cal), Ryan MacInnis (Al)  Brendan Lemieux (Claude),  Ryan Donato (Ted),  Daniel Audette (Donald) and Dominic Turgeon, (Pierre) are just a sampling of the direct relationship between father and sons..

The hockey pipeline is full of young men whose fathers could give them a hockey education but who also knew many of right people to tap into. The sophisticated training and arduous diet regimes are getting more like Tom Brady and less like Gump Worsley. And they’re expensive— even in Howe’s home nation of Canada which honours its roots.

This discipline and access is reflected in the United States where the boom in hockey participation is resulting not in farm boys and rink rats but in privileged sons and daughters of highly paid NHL stars getting an inside track on make the league or the Olympics. 

NHL veterans in both the U.S., Europe and Canada know the inner workings of agents, independent training academies and skill trainers to help their sons past some of the highest hurdles in development. If they handled their millions properly they also have the funds to open doors for young stars.”

Author Malcolm Gladwell popularized the notion of taking 10,000 hours to translate talent into the finished product of a genius. It takes money to allow a young person that time, money that only a select number of families can provide.  If you are a child in a single-income home or in a remote part of the country away from facilities, equipping and training a young prospect quickly gets out of the reach of parents of modest means.

Perhaps the most telling development story was that of Montreal goalie Carey Price, whose father bought a $13,000 four-seat Piper Cherokee plane to fly young Carey back and forth 320 kilometres to hockey practices all winter in northern B.C.

Where the NHL was predominantly players from blue-collar backgrounds till the Euros arrived in the 1970s, today it is often constituted of young  men from families of means and education. Often, like Tkachuk, they’re in training academies with future stars in other sports. The idea of the farming

In that way, through no fault of Walter Gretzky, the super coach, hockey has become a sport for families of means or friends with means. He taught parents that the proper training and equipment was imperative. And that doesn’t mean simply the rink in your backyard. With a new pair of skates costs $500, a stick costs $125  or a set of goalie equipment runs into a few thousand dollars you are losing a segment of the population to financial costs. And so Walter’s legacy of training development is forever tied to a big price tag.

To say nothing of the progeny of NHL stars like Keith Tkachuk helping give their kids a hand-up in making it to the league and its vast piggy bank.  

Sign up today for Not The Public Broadcaster newsletters. Hot takes/ cool slants on sports and current affairs. Have the latest columns delivered to your mail box. Tell your friends to join, too. Always provocative, always independent.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via

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