No offer, Loewen now free agent. . . . 11 other ex-WHLers don’t get signed. . . . NYT with more on Boogaard, concussions

 

MacBeth

F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had six goals and nine assists in 51 games. He started the season with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), going pointless in five games. He was released by Dynamo on Sept. 26 and signed with Barys on Sept. 27. . . .

F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, he had six goals and 23 assists in 57 games. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with Adendorf (Germany, Regionalliga Nord). This season,  with Harzer Falken Braunlage (Germany, Oberliga), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

G Garret Hughson (Spokane, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Acélbikák Dunaújváros (Hungary, rest Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he got into 25 games, going 8-13-1-0, 3.73, .909, with one shutout and one assist. . . .

F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) has signed a one-year contract with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). This season, in 17 games with Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and eight assists.


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The Dallas Stars selected F Jermaine Loewen from the Kamloops Blazers in the seventh Kamloops1round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and he then attended their development camp.

However, Loewen now is an unrestricted free agent.

Ray Petkau, Loewen’s agent, confirmed to Taking Note on Sunday that the Stars chose not to make an offer to Loewen prior to Saturday’s deadline, thus making him an unrestricted free agent.

“We do have AHL offers,” Petkau told Taking Note. “(There is) interest at the NHL level, but not sure yet where it’ll go.”

Loewen, now 21, has been one of the WHL’s best stories in recent years, having come all the way from a Jamaican orphanage to captain the Blazers.

He played five seasons with the Blazers, scoring 36 goals in 2017-18 and adding 28 more this season.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Loewen grew up in Arborg, Man., after being adopted by Tara and Stan Loewen. He didn’t play organized hockey until he was 10.

A true power forward who loves to drive to the opposition’s net off the left wing, Loewen finished his WHL career with 78 goals in 295 regular-season games, which isn’t bad when you consider that he didn’t get No. 1 until Game No. 85.

After not being selected in the NHL’s 2016 draft, he attended the San Jose Shark’s development camp. He also wasn’t picked in the 2017 draft.

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At least 11 others players with WHL ties weren’t signed prior to June 1 by the NHL teams NHLwho held their rights. . . . Nine of those players were selected in the NHL’s 2017 draft . . .

D Daniel Bukac, a seventh-round pick by the Boston Bruins, played this season with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs. Bukac, 20, spent two seasons (2016-18) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

F Brett Davis of the Red Deer Rebels was a sixth-round pick by the Dallas Stars. Davis also has played with the Lethridge Hurricanes and Kootenay Ice. He turned 20 on Saturday, so is eligible to return to the Rebels.

D Brendan De Jong of the Portland Winterhawks was taken by the Carolina Hurricanes in the sixth round. De Jong, who played five seasons with Portland, completed his junior eligibility this season.

F Zach Fischer, who played with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Spokane Chiefs (2014-18), was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round. Fischer, 21, split this season between the AHL’s Stockton Heat and the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks and Rapid City Rush.

G Jordan Hollett of the Medicine Hat Tigers was a fourth-round pick by the Ottawa Senators. Hollett, 20, is eligible to return for a fourth WHL season. The Tigers acquired him from the Regina Pats prior to the 2017-18 season.

F Kyle Olson of the Tri-City Americans was taken by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round. Olson, 20, is eligible to return to the Americans after finishing with 21 goals and 49 assists in 62 games this season.

D Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round. At 20, he is eligible to return for a fifth season with the Thunderbirds.

D Scott Walford of the Victoria Royals was a third-round selection by Montreal. Walford, 20, has played four seasons with the Royals and is eligible for one more.

F Lane Zablocki was a third-round pick by the Detroit Red Wings. He doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 27, but that means he has used up his junior eligibility. In the WHL, he played with the Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Victoria Royals and Kelowna Rockets. He finished this season, and his junior career, with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

Fischer and Zablocki now are unrestricted free agents; the others will be eligible for the 2019 NHL draft, which is to be held in Vancouver on June 21 and 22.

Two other players, both of whom were drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015, also have gone unsigned. F Radovan Bondra (Vancouver Giants, Prince George Cougars, 2015-18) had been selected in the fifth round, while F John Dahlstrom (Medicine Hat Tigers, 2016-17) was taken in the seventh round.

Bondra and Dahlstrom, both 22, were drafted from clubs outside North American, so Chicago owned their rights for four years. Both players now are unrestricted free agents.


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The Winnipeg Ice has signed G Daniel Hauser to a WHL contract. Hauser, from Chestermere, Alta., was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he got into 23 regular-season games with the bantam prep team at the Calgary-based Edge School. He was 3.00, .911.


The New York Times story, written by John Branch, carries this headline: The N.F.L. Has Been Consumed by the Concussion Issue. Why Hasn’t the N.H.L.? . . . “With the Stanley Cup finals underway,” Branch writes, “Joanne Boogaard and a growing group of former players worry that people have moved on to a stage of acceptance — that the N.H.L. has emerged from its concussion crisis by steadfastly denying that hockey has any responsibility for the brain damage quietly tormenting players and their families.” . . . Boogaard is the mother of the late Derek Boogaard, whose brain was found to contain chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the disease that is caused by head trauma. . . . Branch is the author of the book Boy On Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard. . . . If you haven’t read the book, you should. . . . Branch’s latest piece on the Boogards, the NHL, concussions and all the rest is right here. You should read that, too.


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Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


MacBeth

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


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A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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Time running out on Cranbrook group hoping to relocate junior B Kelowna Chiefs. . . . Broncos, Pats sign prospects


MacBeth

F Chase Schaber (Calgary, Kamloops, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, in 30 games, he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two goals in 12 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) has retired. This season, as an alternate captain with Kometa Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and 14 assists in 18 games. . . .

F Bruno Mráz (Brandon, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and six assists in 42 games. On loan to Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Tomáš Hříčina (Regina, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract with Dukla Michalovce (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had eight goals and seven assists in 49 games. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2), he had 14 goals and 29 assists in 34 games. . . .

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has retired, per a press release by his club this season, Sokolov (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games in helping Sokolov win promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with the Linz black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he was pointless in 10 games, while he had one goal and five assists in four games with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). . . .

D Zack FitzGerald (Seattle, 2001-05) has retired from playing and has been named the new head coach for the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Glasgow, he was the team captain and had four goals and 13 assists in 56 games.


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If the City of Cranbrook approves things sometime today (Friday), there could be junior B hockey in Western Financial Place when the 2019-20 season gets here.

Taking Note was told on Thursday that a Cranbrook group that is believed to be kijhlcomprised of 10 local investors has an agreement in principle to purchase the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League from owner Grant Sheridan, who also is the team’s president and general manager.

The relocated Chiefs likely would be renamed the Colts, a salute to a junior B team that played out of Cranbrook in the 1980s, winning six league champ[ionships and four provincial titles.

Western Financial Place was built to house a WHL franchise and was the home of the Kootenay Ice until its 2018-19 season ended and the team moved to Winnipeg. The Ice’s lease with the city runs through the 2022-23 season, and owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell have yet to reach a settlement.

But they have agreed on a four-year sublease with the Cranbrook group that would allow the relocated Chiefs to play in Western Financial Place.

Taking Note also was told that the deal on the sublease is contingent on the city accepting it on or before May 31, which is today (Friday). It also is the KIJHL’s deadline for franchise owners to notify it of relocation plans. As of Thursday afternoon, the city had yet to offer a response.

The Cranbrook group, which is believed to include former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, who is a former co-owner of the Ice, apparently is willing to pay the same rental rates as the Ice did,

According to a Jan. 30 story on the lease by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, the Ice “must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance.

“For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

“Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

In its final three seasons, the Ice averaged 1,754, 2,442 and 2,214 fans per game. It isn’t like that a junior B franchise would reach those numbers, but there are other KIJHL teams in the area, in Creston, Fernie, Invermere and Kimberley, so there would be some natural rivalries.

A KIJHL franchise also would mean Cranbrook wouldn’t have to go a year or longer without a tenant in Western Financial Place.

On top of that, Larry Martel, the KIJHL’s president, has told Crawley that a franchise in the city would be a “perfect fit.” (Crawley’s story is right here.)

The KIJHL’s annual meeting is scheduled for June 8 in Sun Peaks, the ski resort located just north of Kamloops.

Earlier, a group looked at bringing in an AJHL franchise, but that attempt was rejected by Hockey BC. There also has been interest in acquiring a BCHL franchise, but that apparently has been stalled by, among other things, a reported $1.2-million expansion fee.


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You may have read about Catherine Pearlman in the last week or two. She recently walked into a Starbucks in the Los Angeles area, saw a flier that had been placed by a woman seeking a kidney donor for her husband, and, within minutes, had put the wheels in motion. . . . On Thursday, Pearlman told her story in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and on their website. . . .

“Over the next four months,” she writes, “I gave 32 vials of blood, had a kidney CAT scan and chest X-ray, met with nephrologists, a social worker and the nurse coordinator, collected urine and had a mammogram and pap smear. By the end of April, I was deemed a healthy match and cleared for surgery.

“During that time, I learned that one kidney can do most of the work of two. Also, kidney donors tend to live longer than those who haven’t donated because someone who is healthy enough to donate is likely someone already in excellent health.

Also, one of the most comforting pieces of information I learned is that if I ever need a transplant (less than 1 per cent chance), I would go to the top of the waiting list. My risk of death during surgery was significantly lower than dying in a fire, drowning or a car accident.”

Pearlman’s story, in her words, is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Josh Davies to a WHL contract. From Airdrie, Alta., Davies was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had 20 goals and nine assists in 28 games with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Marcus Taylor to a WHL contract. A ninth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, Taylor is from Coquitlam, B.C. This season, he had three goals and 14 assists in 35 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s elite 15 team.


Ben Boudreau was named the head coach of the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets on Thursday. . . . He replaces Gary Graham, who had been with the franchise since 2009, first as an assistant coach, then as head coach and, finally, as head coach and director of player personnel for the past six seasons. . . . Boudreau, 34, was an assistant coach with the Komets for the past two seasons. He has never before been a head coach. . . . He also has worked as an assistant with two other ECHL teams, the Bakersfield Condors and Norfolk Admirals. . . . Boudreau is the son of Bruce Boudreau, the head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


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Tigers are moving on from Clouston after 16 seasons in organization. . . . Desjardins on way back to Medicine Hat bench

Shaun Clouston had been with the Medicine Hat Tigers for 16 seasons and was the winningest head coach in franchise history.

It all ended Thursday with a terse three-paragraph news release, saying only that the two Tigers Logo Officialparties had “parted ways.”

Shortly after the announcement was made, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to Taking Note that Willie Desjardins would be returning to the Tigers, who have a news conference scheduled for this (Friday) morning.

Desjardins, 62, spent eight seasons (2002-10) with the Tigers, the first three as head coach and the last five as general manager and head coach, before leaving to join the NHL’s Dallas Stars as an assistant coach.

He spent two seasons with Dallas, then worked for two seasons as the head coach of the Stars’ AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars.

The Vancouver Canucks hired him as head coach prior to the 2014-15 season and he spent three seasons with them. In 2017-18, he worked as the head coach of Canada’s national team, including at the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea.

Desjardins finished this season as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings, having been hired on Nov. 4 following the firing of head coach John Stevens just 13 games into the season. The Kings went 27-34-8 under Desjardins and missed the playoffs.

Desjardins also is involved with the South Alberta Hockey Academy that has partnered with the Prairie Rose School Division in Dunmore, just east of Medicine Hat.

When Desjardins left the Tigers, he was the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, with 323 regular-season victories. He also won 10 games as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades in 1997-98, so his career regular-season total is at 333.

Clouston took over from Desjardins as head coach for 2010-11, then posted his 324th regular-season victory on Dec. 30, 2017. When this season ended, Clouston had 391 victories.

On Thursday, according to Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News, Tigers media services manager Adam Jones told a news conference: “I think it really is a case of going a different direction. We’ve been doing the same thing for a lot of years and it’s time to try something new. As far as I know, everything was very mutual both ways.”

Clouston, now 51, played three seasons (1986-89) with the Portland Winterhawks, and was the team captain for the last two of those seasons. He returned to the Winterhawks as an assistant coach for 2001-02, then took over as the Tri-City Americans’ head coach for 2002-03, only to be replaced by general manager Bob Tory in midseason.

Clouston spent the next two seasons as an assistant coach under Desjardins with the Tigers, then was promoted to associate coach. When Desjardins left for Dallas, Clouston took over as head coach. He had been the general manager and head coach since 2012-13.

With Clouston in charge, the Tigers qualified for the playoffs in eight of nine seasons, twice reaching the Eastern Conference final. The one time they missed the postseason (2015-16), they lost a tiebreaker to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

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Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (following 2018-19):

1. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 750

2. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina, Vancouver) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 509

9. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 500

10. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

12. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 465

      Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 391

19. Mike Johnston (Portland) 355

20. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

21. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

22. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

23. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326


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Lowry next GM for Wheat Kings? . . . Pats, Thunderbirds sign prospects. . . . Remembering the NHL’s Saskatoon Blues


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F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, he had 15 goals and 19 assists in 53 games.


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There has been speculation involving Dave Lowry and the Brandon Wheat Kings for a couple of weeks now.

The Wheat Kings announced on May 7 that Grant Armstrong’s contract wouldn’t be BrandonWKregularrenewed after he had spent three seasons there. Armstrong had been the assistant GM with the Victoria Royals before signing with Brandon. Prior to joining the Royals, he had been the Portland Winterhawks’ director of scouting.

A source has told Taking Note that Armstrong was in Penticton on Tuesday. It could be that he is a candidate for an opening with the Okanagan Hockey Group, which is looking for a general manager for its academy in Penticton.

Lowry, 54, has ample WHL coaching experience. He has been on staff with the Calgary Hitmen, Calgary Flames, Victoria Royals and Los Angeles Kings.

He was the Royals’ head coach for five seasons (2012-17) before leaving to join Los Angeles as an assistant coach. He spent two seasons with the Kings before being dismissed on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

David Anning has been the Wheat Kings’ head coach for three seasons, after spending four seasons as an assistant coach. McGillivray has been on staff as an assistant coach through three seasons.

Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, has yet to announce whether the contracts of Anning and McGillivray will be extended.


The CHL import draft is scheduled for June 27 with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos holding the first selection. . . . The complete order of selection for the two-round draft is right here.


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Spencer Penner to a WHL contract. Penner, from Blumenort, Man., was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, Pennder had 14 goals and 26 assists in 35 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects. . . . The Thunderbirds now have signed each of their first three selections from the 2019 bantam draft. D Kevin Korchinski and F Jordan Gustafson, both first-round picks, signed WHL contracts earlier this month.

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The Regina Pats have signed F Zane Rowan to a WHL contract. The Pats held three third-round picks in the 2019 bantam draft, and used the first one to take Rowan, who is from Torrance, Calif. . . . Last season, he had 18 goals and 18 assists in 53 games with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings.



Tyson Ramsey is the new general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Ramsey, 42, spent seven seasons on the coaching staff of the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings, the last four as head coach. He joined the Oil Capitals as an assistant coach prior to this season. . . . Ramsey, who is from Brandon, also has been scouting for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Ramsey replaces Troy Leslie, whose contract wasn’t renewed following the end of this season.


The Lacombe Generals, winners of the 2019 Allan Cup as Canada’s senior AAA champions, have folded. The decision, combined with a similar one by the Rosetown Red Wings, has left Allan Cup Hockey West with two remaining teams — the Innisfail Eagles and Stoney Plain Eagles. . . . Ashli Barrett of the Lacombe Globe has more right here.


It was in 1983 when the NHL’s St. Louis Blues, then owned by Ralston Purina, were sold to a Saskatoon group headed up by Bill Hunter, one of the WHL’s founding fathers. Of course, the whole thing fell apart when the NHL board of governors voted 15-3 against allowing the sale to go through. . . . But the tale of how Hunter worked to pull off the purchase is a great read, and it’s all right here from Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. Enjoy!


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WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

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D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


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Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


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The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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Mondays With Murray: Bart Starr Perfect Name for an Athletic Hero

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 1966, SPORTS

Copyright 1966/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

Bart Starr Perfect Name for an Athletic Hero

  GREEN BAY — If you were going to write a novel about a quarterback, not even if you sat up all night, could you come up with a better moniker for the hero than Bart Starr.

   It’s a name right out of Burt L. Standish or Zane Grey. You see the name on a movie credit, and you know right away he’s the guy with the star on his chest, or the white horse and the white hat. If it’s a gangster movie, he’s the guy played by Robert Stack. If mondaysmurray2it’s a costume drama. Bart Starr is going to be a combination of Lancelot and Sir Galahad rescuing maidens from castle dungeons or saving Richard the Lion Hearted from his wicked brother.

  In the old Frank Merriwell days, a Bart Starr would be the trust-worthy one, always showing up in the nick of time and saying things like “Unhand that girl, you wretch!” or “Zounds, sir, I think he means to kill us all!” but later working out of his bonds and shouting “Aha! So that’s your game, you scoundrel! Well, sirrah, two can play at that game as you shall soon find out!”

  “Bart Starr” is so perfect a name for an athletic hero that I was sure it was a phony. And I was right. “Bart” Starr’s real handle is Bryan Bartlett Starr. The “Bartlett” was tacked on after a beloved family doctor, one of those guys who hitched up a team in the middle of a snow storm to sit up all night with a sick kid or an ailing wife.

  But the point is, Bart Starr LOOKS and ACTS like a Bart Starr. I mean, here he’s 6 feet 2 inches, 200 pounds, blond hair, blue eyes. You just know he’s good to his mother, is loyal, trustworthy, modest, and would never, never bet on football games.

  He is Tom Swift and his Electric Football, the Rover Boy in Green Bay, a Botticelli in shoulder pads. Naturally, he doesn’t drink or smoke, and it should come as no great surprise that he’s a Phi Beta Kappa — and there aren’t many of THOSE who make their living in cleats.

  He looks so choir-boyish, in fact, so much like a boy who could light your cigarette by rubbing two sticks together, that there isn’t a linebacker in the league who didn’t have to learn the hard way that he couldn’t be intimidated. He has had more forearm clouts on the head, more probing fingers in the eye socket, and has come out of pileups with a foot you could take corks out of a bottle with more than almost any other signal-caller in the league. “You can’t get him to flinch,” defensive tackle Merlin Olsen, the third peak from the right in the Rams’ defensive mountain range, told me the other day. “He seems to know what you’re going to do a split second before you do.”

  It’s gray matter that makes Bart Starr, Bart the Star. In a league full of young studs who can throw the ball from one country to another, and 80 yards on the fly with a flick of the wrist, Starr was asked what his range was. “I couldn’t throw the ball 80 yards in three tries,” he laughed. The point is, when he throws the ball it hits somebody. He completes 3 out of every 5 passes he throws for an annual 16 touchdowns and an annual 2,000-yards-plus.

  But the best thing he does is put a bit a Elizabethan or Victorian elegance back in the game. Crack quarterbacks are usually named Caprilowski or Ninowski — or Milt Plum, heaven help us, or Norman Snead or John Unitas, or Charley Johnson. There’s even one named “Smith.”

  “Bart Starr, All-American” has a nice onomatopoeic ring to it. It sounds as if it should belong to the young stalwart who snatches the game out of the hands of the ruffians at the last possible minute and leaves them muttering, “Curses, foiled again by that damnable Starr.” And, when he has pulled another Starr-Spangled Banner game out of the fire, and a happy rooter wants to buy him a drink, he will draw himself up and say resolutely, “Sir, I never touch liquor or gamble with dice, but I will be most happy to toast our stout-hearted team with sarsaparilla and a gum drop.”

Reprinted with the permission of the Los Angeles Times

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

Like us on Facebook, and visit the JMMF website, www.jimmurrayfoundation.org.

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A dozen years ago, Linda McCoy-Murray compiled a book of Jim Murray’s columns on female athletes (1961-1998). While the book is idle waiting for an interested publisher, the JMMF thinks this is an appropriate year to get the book on the shelves, i.e., Jim Murray’s 100th birthday, 1919-2019.  

Our mission is to empower women of all ages to succeed and prosper — in and out of sports — while entertaining the reader with Jim Murray’s wit and hyperbole.  An excellent teaching tool for Women’s Studies.

Proceeds from book sales will benefit the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization providing sports journalism scholarships at universities across the country.