F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games. . . .
F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite, he had eight goals and seven assists in 15 games, and he had nine goals and 13 assists in 31 games with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was tied for second on the Slovakian team in assists. . . .
F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 56 games. . . .
F Justin Hickman (Seattle, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had five goals and three assists in 32 games. . . . Hickman is Lillehammer’s ‘Public Player’ for the coming season. The club pays the salary of the team’s public player in part from funds raised from fans. As of Monday morning, the club had raised NOK 186,837 (Cdn$30,662.00, US$23,026.00) from 499 donors since May 7. That was 110 per cent of the team’s goal. The donations ranged from NOK 1 (16 cents Cdn, or 12 cents U.S.) up to one donation of NOK 10,000 (Cdn$1,640.00, US$1,232.00). Donors are eligible to win prizes such as game-worn sweaters, game-worn warmup jerseys and free ice time at the team’s arena.
F Tomáš Karpov (Mosse Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with the Bracknell Bees (England, National). Last season, with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National), he had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals and points. . . .
F Karel Hromas (Everett, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Montpellier (France, Division 1). Last season, with Annecy (France, Division 1), he had eight goals and 11 assists in 26 games. He was second on his team in points. . . .
F Mads Eller (Edmonton, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). In 38 games, he had 15 goals and 12 assists. He was second on the club in goals.
With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having filled head-coaching vacancies (see below), there now are three WHL teams with empty offices.
The Tri-City Americans have joined the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants on that list. The Americans started their search on Monday after announcing that head coach Mike Williamson won’t be returning.
According to the Americans’ news release, “Mike has decided to pursue other opportunities” after four seasons with them.
Later in the day, Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager, told Taking Note that “Mike has being doing this since he was 20; he just wants to do something else.”
Williamson, 44, played three seasons (1991-94) with the Portland Winter Hawks, then began his coaching career as an assistant with them in 1995-96. He later worked as Portland’s head coach, then spent five seasons as the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen, guiding them to a WHL championship in his first season (2009-10).
Williamson is the fifth-winningest head coach in WHL history, his 572 victories trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).
With Hay and Williamson no longer active, Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels is the winningest active WHL head coach, with 468 regular-season victories.
Williamson was only Tory’s third hire as a head coach, following Don Nachbaur (2003-09) and Jim Hiller (2009-14). Nachbaur now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, while Hiller is with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tory told Taking Note that he had received about 300 resumes by late Monday afternoon. He added that he plans to narrow it to “five or six for interviews” and that he is working on an Aug. 1 timeline, although that isn’t written in stone.
Brian Pellerin, who has spent the past four seasons as the Americans’ associate coach, will be one of those interviewed by Tory.
The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have yet to name a replacement for general manager Randy Hansch, head coach Steve Hamilton or assistant coach Ryan Marsh, all of whom no longer are with the club.
It is widely believed that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent last season as a scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, has been hired as director of hockey operations, but an announcement has yet to be made.
According to the Oil Kings’ Twitter account, they also are looking to hire a manager, game presentation and digital media, and a manager, communications.
The Giants will be replacing Jason McKee, who was fired on June 15 after two seasons with them. Barclay Parneta, who was hired as GM on May 23, made the announcement, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that “for me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”
Parneta had been Tri-City’s assistant GM and there has been speculation that he might be interesting in Pellerin as head coach.
As expected, the Kamloops Blazers have signed Serge Lajoie as their newest head coach.
Lajoie takes over from Don Hay, 64, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any coach in WHL history. Hay remains with the Blazers in an advisory role.
On June 21, you read here that “Lajoie is expected to sign on as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, if he hasn’t already.”
Here’s what I wrote about Lajoie on June 18:
“Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.
“Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.
“Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.
“Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.
“Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.
“Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.”
Lajoie is the first hire by Matt Bardsley, who was named the Blazers’ general manager on June 1. He replaced Stu MacGregor, who was moved to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi is the Stars’ owner and the Blazers’ majority owner.
The Blazers still are without a lead assistant coach and a director of player personnel. Mike Needham, the club’s lead assistant, and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel, were dismissed when the Blazers moved Hay and MacGregor aside.
The Blazers announced Lajoie’s signing via a news release that is right here. The news release doesn’t give any indication as to length of contract.
The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s reigning champions, are expected to introduce Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon.
Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, whose title was
Here’s what I wrote here on June 21:
“Taking Note has been told that Dean Brockman will be joining the Swift Current Broncos . . .
“Brockman, 51, spent the previous four seasons on the staff of the Saskatoon Blades, the past two as head coach. He was fired following the 2017-18 season.
“Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Many observers thought he would end up back in Humboldt, where he would have taken over from the late Darcy Haugan, the team’s general manager and head coach who was killed in the crash involving the Broncos’ bus on April 6.
Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Jamie Porter, who had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel, has left the organization. Porter has been with the Broncos through 15 seasons.
F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is out of a medically induced coma and has been visited by teammates in Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.
Vandervlis and two other players suffered burns when something went wrong as they sat around a fire at a home near Cochrane, Alta., on June 15.
F Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos was released from hospital on Thursday, while F Jordy Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, may be released today (Tuesday).
Peter Anholt, Lethbridge’s general manager, told Vanessa Hrvatin of the Calgary Herald that Vandervlis, who isn’t yet able to speak, has been “responding well” to visitors.
Hrvatin reported that Vandervlis, 20, is expected to “remain in the ICU for some time before moving to the burn unit of a hospital in Calgary for extensive skin grafting.”
Hrvatin’s story is right here.
The Spokane Chiefs have acquired D Bobby Russell, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. . . . Russell, from Surrey, B.C., was a sixth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 41 games. He played most of the previous season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, but got into five games with the Ice, going pointless.
F Yegor Zudilov won’t be back for a second season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, which will allow them to pick twice in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . . . Zudilov, who will turn 18 on Sept. 10, is from Russia. Last season, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 23 games with the Hurricanes.
“The growth of European talent is immensely significant for the growth of the game (of hockey); however, it is not widely known that European players are treated differently under the Collective Bargaining Agreement from their North American counterpart,” writes Ryan Lake at forbes.com, referring to the NHL-NHLPA CBA. “Teams that draft a player from a European club have exclusive rights to sign the player to a contract for four years. However, if the player is from a North American club, the NHL team has only two years of exclusive rights.”
Lake’s complete story is right here. It explains the ins and outs of the CBA and its impact on European draft choices.