Last season, according to the WHL website, the Department of Discipline handed out 75 different suspensions. One of those was for six games; none were for more.
D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats began serving a six-game suspension on Friday night after he took a checking-to-the-head major and game misconduct late in a 3-2 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. Gavlas also will miss the first five games of the regular season.
It could be that players in the WHL need to sit up and pay attention to this suspension.
Because there’s a new sheriff in town and perhaps — just perhaps — this was his way of sending a message.
During the off-season, the WHL named Kevin Acheson its director of player safety, moving him from assistant director of officiating. Acheson, from Edmonton, was a long-time referee before moving into the off-ice position.
As the director of player safety, he will handle all on-ice and supplemental discipline, taking on that responsibility from Richard Doerksen, the WHL’s vice-president of hockey, who had handled discipline for a long, long time.
After its annual meeting in June, when the WHL revealed that Acheson would be handling discipline, the WHL also announced that it had taken “further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”
Unfortunately, the WHL has yet to enlighten its fans with any specifics as to the new regulations and standards. So we don’t know if this suspension was in answer to that, or if it really was a message from Acheson to the players.
On the hit in question, Gavlas appeared to strike Saskatoon F Josh Paterson on the back of his head with an elbow.
Paterson was scratched from the Blades’ final exhibition game against the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. (The Blades finished with a 6-1-0 record after losing 5-2 in Prince Albert.)
If Paterson isn’t able to play in the Blades’ regular-season opener against the Broncos in Swift Current on Friday, it will end a stretch of 145 consecutive regular-season games for the 19-year-old from Edmonton. Last season, he had career highs of 31 goals and 22 assists in 72 games.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have released F Holden Katzalay, 18, who had two assists in 59 games as a freshman last season. Katzalay is from Vancouver, B.C. . . .
The Swift Current Broncos have released F Logan Foster, who had two goals and one assist in 23 games last season. Foster, 19, is from Kamsack, Sask. He also played 21 games with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires last season, recording eight goals and 11 assists.
If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!
Wade MacLeod isn’t playing hockey this season; instead, he’s preparing for what will be the fourth brain surgery in five years.
MacLeod, 31, is from Coquitlam, B.C. He played two seasons (2005-07) with the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials, then went on to spend four seasons at Northeastern U. He played last season in Germany, with Lowen Frankfurt of the DEL2.
MacLeod also is the son of Scott MacLeod, who played two seasons (1977-79) in the WHL, splitting 138 regular-season games between the Brandon Wheat Kings, Calgary Wranglers and New Westminster Bruins.
I received an email from a friend of Wade’s, all of which you also can read on a GoFundMe site . . .
“Wade has spent his entire life dreaming of being a husband and father while playing in the NHL. This dream almost came true five years ago, but while playing for the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, Wade suffered a grand mal seizure on the ice, which led to the discovery of the first tumour.
“Wade returned to the game a year later, after undergoing brain surgery to remove the tumour. Following surgery, Wade lost the ability of speech and spent three months undergoing speech therapy.
“His dream of being a husband and father has come true with a beautiful wife, Karly, and their 11-month-old baby girl, sweet Ava James. Wade’s courage and unwavering determination to be a loving husband and father and still play the game he loves so much has been an inspiration to us all.
“Since then, Wade’s tumour has relentlessly grown back three times. Each time, Wade returned to the game but his dream of playing in the NHL was over.
“Wade was going to return to playing hockey in Dresden, Germany, last month, but that dream was dashed as he now is preparing for his fourth brain surgery in less than five years. He has a Grade 3 Glioblastoma tumour and it has come back, once again, with a vengeance, this after he went through surgery only two months ago.
“What this means for Wade and his family is that they have to incur all prescription costs that he will have to take his entire lifetime as well as any treatments outside of his basic medical services plan, which is weighing heavily on their finances. They won’t be able to sustain the strain with no income.
“Wade’s recovery would be so much easier without the financial strain as he no longer is able to provide for his family.
“Thank you for taking time to read this and consider funding to this cause.”
Friends have started a GoFundMe page that is right here.
Shots fired . . .