After calling the home run by Kirk Gibson, Vin Scully was silent for 75 seconds as he allowed the game to breathe and the viewing audience to take it all in. . . . Yes, there is a lesson there somewhere.
The Kamloops Blazers made it official on Tuesday morning — Don Hay is back in the organization as associate coach. Hay, 68, is the winningest head coach in WHL history. He spent the past four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, three as an assistant coach and last season as assistant coach. . . . Of course, if you’re a regular here, you weren’t surprised by the announcement. Because here’s what you read in this space on July 26:
“The Kamloops Blazers . . . have an opening after associate coach Mark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach.”
What is interesting about Hay’s return is that he didn’t leave Kamloops on the best of terms with majority owner Tom Gaglardi. It was on May 10, 2018, when Gaglardi, at a news conference that didn’t include Hay, announced: “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history.” . . . Except that Hay wasn’t retiring. As mentioned, he moved on to work with general manager/head coach Mike Johnston in Portland. . . . And, in fact, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he had agreed to return to Portland for another season. But that was before Clouston asked Johnston for the OK to talk with Hay about a return to Kamloops. . . .
Hay also told Hastings that he and Gaglardi patched things up before making this latest deal. “I talked to Tom through the process,” Hay told Hastings. “That was a concern for me, definitely, and we talked it over. We both talked our way through it and I understood the way he was thinking and he understood my side of it, as well. We both have the ability to move past it. That was a big step in making the decision. It’s funny how situations change.” . . .
When the new season gets here, Hay will be back behind the Blazers bench for a 14th season. A Kamloops native, he was an assistant coach for six seasons (1986-92) and head coach for seven (1992-95, 2014-18). He was a big part of the Blazers’ three Memorial Cup championships — 1992, 1994 and 1995. The Blazers, of course, will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . According to the WHL, Hay has 750 regular-season and 108 playoff victories to his credit, and is the all-time leader in both categories. . . . Clouston, with 498 regular-season victories, is the leader among head coaches still active in the WHL. He is on track to become the 10th head coach in league history to reach 500 regular-season victories. . . .
Also on Tuesday, the Blazers revealed that they and Clouston, 54, have agreed to a contract extension. No, they didn’t reveal the length of the extension. Clouston is preparing for his fourth season as the Blazers’ head coach; he has been the GM for a year. . . . Hastings also reported that former Blazers D Aaron Keller is expected back as an assistant coach, while long-time goaltending coach Dan DePalma also is expected to return. Also from Hastings: “Clouston . . . said the team is still working to hire Chris Murray as full-time assistant. Murray had shoulder replacement surgery last week.”
As I also wrote in this space on July 26, Don Hay’s departure from Portland likely will allow Kyle Gustafson to return to the Winterhawks. Gustafson, who is from Portland, spent 18 seasons with them before signing on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2021-22 season. At the time, Travis Green, also a product of the Winterhawks, was in his fifth season as the Canucks’ head coach. Unfortunately, Green didn’t finish the season, and Gustafson lost his job in a post-season shakeup. . . . Gustafson, 41, started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach; when he left, he was assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . His return as associate coach also would allow the Winterhawks to put into place a plan of succession that could have Gustafson take over the head-coaching reins from Mike Johnston in a season or two. Johnston, 65, also is the vice-president and general manager.
Keaton Ellerby, a former WHL defenceman, is getting into the coaching game. The 33-year-old native of Strathmore, Alta., has signed on with the Prince Albert Raiders as an assistant coach. He fills the spot that opened up when Jeff Truitt was promoted to head coach following the departure of Marc Habscheid. . . . Ellerby played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and finishing up by playing 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . His pro career included 212 NHL games over six seasons, split among the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets. He spent the past seven seasons in Europe, finishing up his playing career with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers in 2021-22.
The Calgary Wranglers are back, just not in the WHL. The NHL’s Calgary Flames announced on Tuesday that their AHL affiliate that will play out of the Saddledome will carry the nickname Wranglers. . . . That AHL franchise had been in Stockton, Calif., where it was the Heat, for seven seasons. . . . The junior Wranglers played in the WHL for 10 seasons, beginning in 1977. . . . The AHL Wranglers, under head coach Mitch Love, will be housed in the Saddledome, along with the Flames, the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . I don’t know . . . can you have the Wranglers in Calgary without Doug Sauter being involved? Maybe he’ll drop the puck on opening night.
THINKING OUT LOUD: It could be worse . . . you could be a fan of the Washington Nationals, who won the 2019 World Series but now haven’t anything left. Over the last while, the Nationals have gotten rid of starter Max Scherzer, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 3B Anthony Rendon and now OF Juan Soto. . . . The Nationals went 26-34 in the 2020 pandemic season, then 65-97 in 2021. Now they are the worst team in baseball and they just traded away the game’s brightest young star. Oh, and the franchise is for sale. . . . Here’s Joe Posnaski: “(Soto) dominates the strike zone in ways that boggle the mind; it’s no coincidence that people constantly compare him to Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.” . . . Posnaski, who writes at Joe Blogs, also wrote: “I guess for me, it comes down to this: Yesterday I could go to a Nationals game and watch one of the best hitters who ever lived. And today I can’t. And, to be honest, today I can’t think of a single other reason to watch the Nationals play.”
Wayne Kartusch, who spent 25 years as the president of the SJHL, died a week ago in Red Deer. He was 82. . . . A complete obituary is right here.
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Living Kidney Donor Program
St. Paul’s Hospital
6A Providence Building
1081 Burrard Street
Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.