F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Davos (Switzerland, NL A) after a successful tryout. Last season with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had 16 goals and 32 assists in 53 games. He was an alternate captain, and led the team in assists and points.
With WHL teams preparing to open training camps, these are interesting times, especially from the outside looking in on the media that covers the league and its teams.
It’s no secret that the times, they are a changin’ . . .
A sports reporter who isn’t a stranger to covering a WHL team phoned a veteran player the other day for an interview.
Things were fine until shortly after the chat ended. That’s when the reporter received an email from a team informing him that “they want me going through them before talking to anyone in the future.”
The reporter points out that “I had the kid’s number from when he was 14 years old and had nothing to do with the (team in question).”
As well, the reporter was told that “they say it’s a league policy.”
Except that . . .
Another reporter who covers a different team noted that “I haven’t had any trouble with getting through to the players,” adding that he hasn’t had any problems getting cell numbers.
“On the few occasions I have to get those phone numbers through other channels,” he added, he hasn’t heard any repercussions.
As he pointed out, it could be that this particular team sees the logic in not putting clamps on media.”
And yet another reporter informs that he has the cell number “of every kid” on the team he now covers “in my phone, and if something comes up after hours or during the summer, I contact them directly.
“I know they would prefer I go through the team in those circumstances, but they don’t grumble too much because (my paper) covers the team more than anyone else in the market. Since it’s also up to me to find my guys after practice, it would be a bit rich to get too angry in other circumstances.
“My major frustration remains head coaches from visiting teams who consider it below themselves to speak to local media.”
One other veteran of the WHL beat interjected that times are changing in the media world, and not just when it comes to print.
The team that he has covered had a good season in 2017-18, he noted, but “there were nights when there was no media in the press box. TV came far less often than usual, plus no local daily and very sporadic coverage from the weekly. Coverage is stretched incredibly thin and seems to only be trending downward league-wide. If they want to put up barriers to coverage that’s their prerogative, but it’s beyond asinine in my book.”
Mine, too. But it seems that the WHL is turning more and more to its own social media team for coverage, perhaps because it then is able to control the message.
The Kelowna Rockets will get things going on Monday when they open rookie camp. F Trevor Wong, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is expected to be there, and is expected to stay for the opening of main camp.
Wong, from Vancouver, had 43 goals and 70 assists in 113 games with Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam A1-T1 club two seasons ago. Last season, he put up 64 goals and 77 assists in 30 games with the bantam varsity team at St. George’s School in Vancouver.
However, Wong has made a verbal commitment to attend the U of Denver and play for the Pioneers, starting in 2021-22. Wong made that commitment at the age of 14. He turned 15 on May 4, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021.
Meanwhile, the Regina Pats have veteran G Kyle Dumba, 20, on their training camp roster. He is one of three goaltenders and one of six 20-year-olds on the Pats’ main camp roster. . . . G Max Paddock, 18, is atop the depth chart, with Dumba, who has had stints with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, on there, along with Matthew Pesenti, 17, of Saskatoon. Pesenti played the past two seasons with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. . . . Last season, Dumba made stops in Kamloops and Everett, got into 30 games with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, then was with Regina at season’s end. . . . G Jacob Wassermann, 18, was in the Pats’ plans, but the Humboldt native won’t play after being injured in the Broncos’ bus crash. . . .
The other 20s on the Pats’ main camp roster are D Cale Fleury, D Aaron Hyman, F Bryce Platt, D Brady Pouteau and D Liam Schioler.
Dennis Ulmer is the lone returnee to the scouting staff of the Swift Current Broncos, the team announced on Friday. . . . The remainder of the scouting staff left the organization following the hiring of Dean Brockman as director of hockey operations and head coach on June 27 and the subsequent departure of Jamie Porter, who had been director of hockey operations. . . . For the past 33 years, Ulmer, from Wilcox, Sask., has been a student, teacher, principal, administrator and coach at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox. . . . Those joining the Broncos’ scouting staff for the first time are Dean Moisan of Lloydminster, Alta., who is the director of player personnel for the AJHL’s Bonnyville Pontiacs; Craig Anderson of Brandon, who scouted for the Edmonton Oil Kings for the past nine seasons, and is the head scout and assistant GM with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers; Chad Leslie of Virden, Man., who had been scouting with the Saskatoon Blades (2015-18) and also scouts for Winkler; Kerry Gladson of Surrey, B.C., who spent the past four seasons with the Blades; Blaine Shackleton of Medicine Hat, who spent the past four seasons scouting for the junior B Chase Heat of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League and 14 seasons with the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Chris Olson of Saskatoon, who has coached in that city’s minor hockey system for 16 years; Steve March of St. Albert, Alta., the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Elite 15s for the past three seasons; Matt Green of Edmonton, who had been an intern with the International Scouting Services; Tyler Oswald of Calgary, a former player with Saskatoon and the Red Deer Rebels, who is an assistant coach with the midget AAA Calgary Northstars while taking sport management at Mount Royal U; and Dan Ruggiero of Kelowna, who has scouted for the BCHL’s Langley Hornets and Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Check out scbroncos.com for the complete news release.
F Gage Ramsay has chosen to retire from the Saskatoon Blades and go to school, rather than return for his 20-year-old season. Ramsay was acquired by the Blades from the Vancouver Giants on Oct. 19, 2016, in exchange for F Josh Bruce, another 1998-born player. . . . Ramsay, who is from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by Vancouver in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. He had 15 goals and 18 assists in 123 games with the Blades. In 166 career WHL games, he put up 18 goals and 18 assists. . . . From a Blades’ news release: “Ramsay plans to use his WHL scholarship as he begins his pursuit of a career in business, starting with classes at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in September and the University of Saskatchewan in the new year.”
Ramsay is the second Saskatoon forward to retire this summer. Caleb Fantillo announced on July 19 that he was retiring ahead of what would have been his 20-year-old season.
The Blades now have three 20-year-olds on their roster — D Dawson Davidson, F Max Gerlach and F Bradly Goethals.
Danny Flynn’s time as a WHL assistant coach is over after one season. The veteran major junior coach is leaving the Portland Winterhawks to work as an eastern amateur scout for the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Flynn is from Dartmouth, N.S., and joined long-time friend Mike Johnson, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, prior to the 2017-18 season. . . . Flynn had spent the previous two seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, guiding them to the league championship in 2016-17. . . . In major hockey alone, Flynn also has coached with the London Knights, Belleville Bulls, Soo Greyhounds and Moncton Wildcats. He also has coached in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders. . . . The Winterhawks are expected to name a replacement within days.
F Jared Legien isn’t returning to the WHL for his 20-year-old season. Instead, he is returning to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, where he put up 30 goals and 26 assists in 51 games in 2014-15. . . . From Pilot Butte, Sask., he was a first-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. In 2012-13, he put up 40 goals and 26 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Prairie Storm. . . . He went on to play 145 regular-season WHL games, split among the Ice, Victoria Royals and Regina Pats. Last season, he had 13 goals and 20 assists in 36 games with the Royals, then added 10 goals and seven assists in 25 games with the Pats. His career totals show 27 goals and 32 assists.
Jody Hull has signed on as the associate coach with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. He will work alongside head coach Billy Burke. . . . Hull, 49, is a veteran of 831 regular-season NHL games over 16 seasons. He spent the past 12 seasons with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, the last six-plus as head coach. He was fired by the Petes on Jan. 5, 2018.
The SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos have hired former NHLer Scott Barney as their new assistant coach, while adding Tyrol (Skip) Deeg as athletic therapist and equipment manager. . . . The Broncos open training camp on Thursday, Aug. 24. . . . Barney, 39, is from Ennismore, Ont. His pro playing career included 24 games with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings and three with the Atlanta Thrashers. He retired as a player after spending the past two seasons in the Asia League. . . . Deeg, 37, is from Wynyard, Sask. He joins the Broncos from the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. . . . Mark Cross, the assistant coach last season, and therapist Dayna Brons died in the April 6 crash involving the Broncos’ bus. . . . The Broncos also have added Rhett Blackmur, a former player with them, as a volunteer assistant coach. He is the service manager at Discover Ford in Humboldt, and has experience in minor hockey in the community.
Former WHL F Dustin Cameron has joined the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League as an assistant coach. Cameron, a 29-year-old from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2004 WHL bantam draft. He went on to play 87 regular-season games with the Blades before being dealt to the Prince Albert Raiders. He spent three seasons in Prince Albert and was team captain for the last two. In 284 WHL games, he totalled 86 goals and 84 assists. He retired from playing after spending one season in Great Britain and three in Germany. . . . In Delisle, he’ll work with head coach Eric Ditto and assistant coach David Richard. Ditto, from Saskatoon, returns for a fourth full season, while Richard, also from Saskatoon, is back for a second season. Richard played four seasons (2005-09) with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds, putting up 42 goals and 60 assists in 256 regular-season games.