D Rasmus Rissanen (Everett, 2009-11) signed a two-year contract with Örebro (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had three assists in 31 games with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL).
The WHL’s deadline for teams to declare an official interest in bidding to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament was May 31.
The Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals had made no secret of the fact that they were all-in. The Blazers and Rockets made their intentions known at news conferences; Victoria didn’t hold a news conference but general manager Cam Hope said on numerous occasions that his organization would bid.
However, May 31 came and went and there was nary a word from the WHL. June 1 . . . June 2 . . . June 3 . . . nothing.
On the morning of Monday, June 4, Bruce Hamilton broke the silence. Hamilton is the president and general manager of the Rockets; he also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors.
Hamilton told Kelowna radio station AM 1150 that four teams had filed letters of intent with the WHL office and that those four teams were Kamloops, Kelowna Victoria . . . and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Hamilton even went out of his way to point out that the Hurricanes “will have a good opportunity. They will have a real good hockey team.”
Until that moment, there hadn’t been even the smallest of hints that would have indicated the Hurricanes had an interest in bidding on the event.
On Monday, a WHL spokesperson told me that the league “will be issuing a release on this matter at the appropriate time.”
As of Tuesday evening, there hasn’t been anything official from the Hurricanes or from the WHL office.
In fact, the only thing that I have seen from Lethbridge came in the form of a Tuesday tweet from Kaella Carr of CTV-Lethbridge.
So we are left to wonder if Hamilton spoke out of turn, or is there more to this than meets the eye?
One supposes that we will find out whenever it is deemed to be the appropriate time.
One team that apparently didn’t express official interest in bidding on the 2020 Memorial Cup was the Everett Silvertips.
It’s really too bad that American teams seem to be on the outside looking in when it comes to bidding on the Memorial Cup, because it would be interesting to see how fans in the Everett area would respond.
According to figures compiled by the WHL, the Silvertips averaged 5,686 fans through 12 home playoff games this spring, trailing only the Regina Pats (6,484 for three games) and Victoria Royals (5,726 for six games).
In the regular-season, Everett’s announced average attendance was 5,129, good for seventh in the 22-team league. That was up from 4,865 in 2016-17.
This season, the Silvertips finished atop the 10-team Western Conference, then reached the WHL championship final where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.
On Tuesday, Zoran Rajcic, the COO of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips, released a statement that read, in part:
“This last Saturday, we experienced a response and demand in Silvertips hockey from our community like we’ve almost never seen before.
“Our commitment to providing a first-class service to our season-ticket holders resulted in a projected boost of 500 new season tickets, adding to a 92 percent retention from this last season. It’s proof that our region’s thirst for the game has developed into a full passion.”
The Silvertips play in the Angel of the Winds Arena, which, according to the WHL Guide, has a capacity of 8,149.
Apologies to members of the 1980-81 Victoria Cougars, who won the WHL championship. In a piece I posted here Monday night, I made mention of the fact that Victoria had never played in a Memorial Cup tournament. That was in error. . . . The Cougars won a thrilling seven-game championship series from the Calgary Wranglers that spring. . . . Here’s what I wrote as part of an essay on the 1981 Memorial Cup that was played in Windsor:
Jack Shupe, a veteran of the western Canadian coaching wars, was running the Cougars. Shupe had last been to the Memorial Cup tournament in 1973 with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The Cougars actually trailed the Calgary Wranglers 3-1 in the WHL’s best-of-seven final before rallying. They didn’t win the WHL title until Terry Sydoryk broke a 2-2 tie at 18:07 of the third period of Game 7. An empty-netter by Grant Rezansoff made the final score 4-2.
The Cougars had finished on top of the West Division, their 121 points (60-11-1) leaving them eight ahead of the Portland Winter Hawks.
The Cougars’ offensive leader was centre Barry Pederson, whose 147 points left him third in the scoring race, just 13 points off the lead.
Pederson added 36 points in the playoffs, second behind the 43 points put up by Calgary’s Bill Hobbins.
Pederson was supported by Rezansoff, who totalled 27 playoff points after a 97-point regular season, Rich Chernomaz (113 regular-season points), Torrie Robertson 111), Brad Palmer, Paul Cyr, Bud McCarthy and Mark Morrison. This was a team that could score — witness its league-high 462 goals.
But it was Fuhr who dominated this team. He was the primary reason for it surrendering only 217 regular-season goals, 49 fewer than any other team.
The Cougars opened the playoffs by sweeping the Spokane Flyers in four games. They then took apart the Winter Hawks in four straight.
That sent them into the final where they fell behind the Doug Sauter-coached Wranglers, who featured goaltender Mike Vernon, 3-1 in games before roaring back to win their first WHL championship since they entered the league in 1971.
“Fuhr was the difference,” Sauter said. “There’s no doubt he’s an all-star.”
This would also mark the first Memorial Cup appearance for a team from Victoria.
The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Gabe Klassen and G Lochlan Gordon to WHL contracts. . . . Klassen, from Prince Albert, will turn 15 on June 30. He was taken in the first round, 19th overall, of the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had 52 goals and 37 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Prince Albert Mintos. He led the league in goals and points. . . . Gordon, from Edmonton, was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Gordon, 15, played this season with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, going 12-5-0, 2.68, .891, with four shutouts in 18 games.
WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.
2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.
3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.
4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.
5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.
6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.
8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.
11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.
12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.
14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.
15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.
17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.
19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.
20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.
The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.
9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.
10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.
13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.
16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.
18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.
21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.
22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Conner Roulette to a WHL contract. Roulette, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg, was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he played for the bantam AAA Winnipeg Hawks, putting up 52 goals and 49 assists in 34 games. He led his league in goals, assists and points.
Inde Sumal, the president and CEO of a Vancouver-based private equity firm, is leading the charge to build a new arena on B.C.’s Lower Mainland. Sumal sees a facility with about 10,000 seats somewhere in Surrey, which has a population of more than 500,000 people. . . . Kenneth Chan of dailyhive.com has more right here.
Ben Simon is the new head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He takes over from Todd Nelson, who left last week to join the NHL’s Dallas Stars as an assistant coach. . . . Simon, 39, is from Shaker Heights, Ohio. He spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Griffins.
The San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, have signed Drew Bannister as their head coach. He had been the head coach of the OHL’s Soo Greyhounds. Bannister spent three seasons as the Greyhounds’ head coach and is the CHL’s reigning coach of the year. The Greyhounds were 136-50-18 under Bannister, winning two division titles and, this season, the OHL’s regular-season championship. This season, they set franchise records with 55 victories and 116 points.