Toigo: TV deal “terrible” for WHL. . . . ACC to honour Wheat Kings’ owner. . . . ECHL loses Monarchs


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F Juraj Bezúch (Lethbridge, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Hradec Králove (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and four assists in 30 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had two goals and two assists in three games, and on loan to Dukla Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and two assists in seven games. . . .

F Curtis Valk (Medicine Hat, 2009-14) has signed a two-year contract extension with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 18 assists in 50 games. He averaged 19:17 time on ice, the most of all forwards on the team. . . .

G Juha Metsola (Lethbridge, 2007-09) has signed a three-year contract extension with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia, KHL). This season, in 48 games, he was 25-20-1, 2.02, .934, with four shutouts and one assist. He was the KHL’s goaltender of the month for October and April. He also was the KHL’s goaltender of the week in during the quarterfinals and semifinals. . . .

F Chris Collins (Chilliwack, Saskatoon, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 28 goals and 37 assists in 60 games. He led the Wings in goals and points. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had two goals in nine games. . . . Collins was named the ECHL’s rookie of the year and to the ECHL’s all-rookie team. . . .

D Neil Manning (Vancouver, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the Rockford Ice Hogs (AHL), he was pointless in three games. He had two goals and 15 assists in 30 games with the Indy Fuel (ECHL), and seven assists in 13 games with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). . . . Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08), who will be entering his third season as head coach after three years as an assistant coach with Everett. . . .

F Marcin Kolusz (Vancouver, 2003-04) has signed a one-year contract extension with Podhale Nowy Targ (Poland, PHL). He had three goals and 13 assists in 16 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with Buran Voronezh (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). This season,  with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal and one assist in eight games; two goals and two assists in 17 games with Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga); and no points in three games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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Jeff Pearlman is a prominent writer who has produced some terrific football- and baseball-based books. His most-recent work, Football for a Buck, was subtitled The Crazy Rise and Crazier Demise of the USFL. In a word, it is awesome. If you have ever wondered about the role a guy named Donald Trump played in the death of the USFL, well, Pearlman’s book has it all.

But the best thing Pearlman has ever written appeared Wednesday on his blog and carried this headline: My wife donated one of her kidneys to a stranger this morning.

If you have ever wondered what a person’s thought process is as they begin to think about being a kidney donor, or if you have ever wondered what someone goes through along the way to being a donor, you will want to read this.

Heck, even if you have never wondered about either of those things take the time to give this a read.

In the end, it’s about life and the gift of life.

The story is right here.


If you were wondering why Rogers Sportsnet, which owns the television rights to all CHL games, didn’t show any games in the WHL final, it seems you aren’t alone.

Ron Toigo, the majority owner of the Vancouver Giants, isn’t at all enamoured with VancouverSportsnet, either.

The Giants just finished playing in the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. They took the Prince Albert Raiders to Game 7 before dropping a 3-2 OT decision in the Saskatchewan city on Monday night.

However, Sportsnet, which holds the rights through the 2025-26 season, didn’t televise any games in the final. In fact, Sportsnet didn’t show any games after bringing us the first three games of a second-round series between the Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

On Tuesday, Toigo appeared with Donnie and The Moj on TSN 1040 Radio in Vancouver.

“It was terrible. Absolutely terrible,” Toigo said of Game 7 not being televised. “Sportsnet . . . it’s a terrible deal for the league. We should have gone with TSN.”

At the time Sportsnet landed the CHL rights, it also cut a long-term deal for the NHL rights.

“(Sportsnet) had all that NHL content . . . the capacity to promote our games wasn’t there,” Toigo continued. “We should have realized that.

“TSN didn’t have any NHL content. What they’ve done with the World Juniors, they would have just folded us into that kind of presentation. It would have been a better way to go.

“But it is what it is.”

As for Game 7, Toigo said: “The ratings for Sportsnet to have this game in a market this size would have been off the charts. I don’t know who’s making those decisions but they certainly aren’t very good.”

Bruce Hamilton, the owner of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, wasn’t nearly as critical.

“They make their decisions,” Hamilton told David Trifunov, writing for the Kelowna Daily Courier.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


Kelly McCrimmon, the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, will be presented with an BrandonWKregularhonourary diploma in Business Administration by Assiniboine Community College. The Brandon-based college will make the presentation during its graduation ceremony on June 13. . . . McCrimmon has been a player, coach and general manager with the Wheat Kings, as well as the franchise’s owner. He also spent four years at the U of Michigan — yes, he played hockey for the Wolverines after playing in the WHL — and later, while working with the Wheat Kings, earned an MBA from Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont. . . . He now is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights; he will take over as GM on Sept. 1. . . . McCrimmon also will be inducted into the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame this year.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Jonah Bevington, who will turn 16 on Sept. 7. The Winterhawks selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, Bevington had 13 goals and 13 assists in 29 games with the OHA Edmonton Elite 15s. . . . A native of Yellowknife, NWT, Bevington now is an Edmonton resident.


Former WHLer Giffen Nyren, 30, has been granted bail and has returned to Kelowna from a psychiatric facility in Port Coquitlam. . . . While in Kelowna, doctors will continue to do a mental assessment on Nyren, a defenceman who played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen. . . . Nyren was arrested in Kelowna on April 28 after a baby was grabbed from its mother in a downtown Kelowna park. The man eventually let the baby go, then shed his clothes and jumped into Okanagan Lake. Shortly after, he was arrested. . . . Nyren also has been charged with wilfully resisting or obstructing a police officer. . . . His next court appearance has been scheduled for June 13 in Kelowna.


The AJHL’s Calgary Canucks have signed Brad Moran to a three-year contract extension as general manager and he’d coach. Moran has been the Canucks’ head coach since Nov. 27 when he replaced Darryl Olsen. Moran had been in his first season as an assistant coach when he stepped up to head coach. . . . Moran, 40, is a native of Abbotsford, B.C. He played five seasons (1995-2000) with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, putting up 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games.


The Manchester, N.H., Monarchs, an ECHL team affiliated with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, are finished. The Monarchs had been in Manchester, in the AHL or ECHL, for 18 years. . . . “It’s just clear to us minor league is not viable in Manchester at the ECHL level,” Brian Cheek, the Monarchs’ chief executive, told Mark Hayward of the New Hampshire Union Leader. . . . The Monarchs were the Kings’ AHL affiliate until NHL teams began putting those teams in California. The Kings’ AHL affiliate now is the Ontario Reign. . . . Hayward’s story is right here.

Jon Rosen of lakingsinsider.com has lots more right here.


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This trade deadline bit quieter . . . Chiefs add some truculence . . . Smart, Peckford join junior A teams

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F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Lada Togliatti (Russia, Vysshaya Liga) after being released by mutual agreement by Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga). He had two goals and two assists in 17 games. . . . Kuvayev started this season with Yermak Angarsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had one goal and one assist in eight games when he was released on Sept. 26 by mutual agreement. . . .

D Ty Wishart (Prince George, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had four goals and thee assists in 27 games. He was released on Jan. 2. . . .

D David Turoň (Portland, 2002-03) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Zagłębie Sosnowie (Poland, PHL) after obtaining his release from Polonia Bytom (Poland, PHL). He had five goals and 11 assists in 27 games.

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If you were wondering . . .

A year ago, I began counting down the WHL trade deadline on Nov. 13, 2017, because tradewirethat was when the first major deal was made in the lead-up to Jan. 10.

It was on Nov. 13, 2017, when the Regina Pats, loading up because they were the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, dealt two players — D Jonathan Smart and F Cole Muir — along with two bantam draft picks and a conditional pick to the Kootenay Ice for D Cale Fleury.

By the time the deadline went by, the WHL’s 22 teams had made 58 trades involving 110 players, 77 bantam draft selections and 12 conditional picks.

So . . . how’d it go this time around?

This time, I started counting on Nov. 26. There hadn’t been a trade since Nov. 9; on Nov. 26, there were three trades — involving the Regina Pats and Tri-City Americans, the Kamloops Blazers and Saskatoon Blades, and the Blazers and Spokane Chiefs.

That signalled to me that teams were open for business.

In the end, the 22 teams combined to make 44 trades involving 77 players, 63 bantam draft selections and 15 conditional bantam draft picks.

A year ago, there were 17 transactions made on Jan. 10; this time, there were 11.

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The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Kaden Hanas, who turned 19 on Dec. 18, and added SpokaneChiefshim to they roster. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Hanas, from Strathmore, Alta., had been playing with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. An alternate captain, he had five goals and 12 assists, along with 85 penalty minutes, in 30 games. Last season, in 49 games, he had seven goals, six assists and 168 PiM.

The Chiefs also have released D Mike Ladyman, 17, who is expected to join the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. Ladyman is from Winnipeg.

He was a fifth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. However, the Pats dropped him from their protected list and the Chiefs added him to their list in November 2017.

This season, Ladyman had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs, who will keep on their protected list.

On Tuesday, the Chiefs released D Luke Gallagher, who is expected to join the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. Gallagher, 18, is from Mead, Wash., and was an eighth-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft.

This season, he had two assists in 22 games. Last season, he finished with a goal and three assists in 33 games.

Like Ladyman, Gallagher will remain on Spokane’s protected list.

The Chiefs found themselves overstocked with defenceman as Filip Kral returned from a stint with Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship and 6-foot-5 Matt Leduc, who hadn’t played since Oct. 12, returned for the Chiefs’ 4-2 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Wednesday.

With these moves, Spokane now is carrying seven defencemen.

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D Alec Capstick of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen has made a commitment to attend Miami of Ohio and play for the RedHawks next season. . . . Capstick, 19, made the announcement via Twitter. . . . On Feb. 12, 2015, he had made a verbal commitment to the U of Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish. . . . From Langley, he has three goals and 19 assists in 39 games this season. . . . He was a fourth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.

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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have added F Rylan Thiessen, 17, to their roster. He had been with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. A list player, Thiessen has 11 goals and 17 assists in 25 games with the Wheat Kings. Last season, he finished with eight goals and 24 assists in 48 games. . . . He has played two games with the Hurricanes this season, but has yet to earn a point.

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The BCHL’s Penticton Vees have acquired the junior A rights to D Jonathan Smart, 19, pentictonwho didn’t return to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice after the Christmas break. . . . The Vees acquired his rights from the Alberta Valley Bulldogs for future considerations. . . . Smart, a first-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the 2014 WHL bantam draft, played 216 regular-season WHL games, splitting time between the Rockets, Regina Pats and the Ice. . . . “Jonathan decided to leave the Kootenay Ice to be closer to home for personal reasons,” Fred Harbinson, the Vee’s president, GM and head coach, said in a news release. “At that point we acquired his rights from Alberni who had listed him a few weeks prior. Jonathan has a smooth skill set and adds experience to our backend with over 200 WHL games under his belt.” . . . Smart could make his Penticton debut on Friday against the visiting Powell River Kings.

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G Shane Farkas of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks had his junior A rights move from the West Kelowna Warriors to the Prince George Spruce Kings to the Cowichan Capitals on Thursday. . . . Farkas, 19, is 24-9-5, 2.86, .901 in 39 appearances with the Winterhawks this season. . . . On Wednesday, the Winterhawks sent six WHL bantam draft picks, including two first-rounders, to the Swift Current Broncos for G Joel Hofer, 18.

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F Ryan Peckford, who left the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors in November, is going to be playing for the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. . . . Peckford, 19, left the Warriors on Nov. 26, and went home to Stony Plain, Alta., to contemplate his future. A second-round selection by the Victoria Royals in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, Peckford has 49 goals and 61 assists in 200 regular-season WHL games over four seasons. . . . This season, he had eight goals and eight assists in 20 games with Moose Jaw. . . . Peckford played 140 games with the Royals, who dealt him to the Warriors on Dec. 11, 2017, along with a fourth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, for F Noah Gregor and an eighth-round pick in 2018.

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F Quinton Waitzner, released this week by the Swift Current Broncos, has joined the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Waitzner, an 18-year-old from Victoria, played 82 games with the Broncos. This season, he had two assists in 34 games.

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The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have acquired the rights to F Jesse Mistelbacher, 17, from the Swan Valley Stampeders for a fifth-round pick in that league’s 2019 draft. Mistelbacher, from Ile Des Chenes, Man., had one assist in 15 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors, but has been released and will join Virden. . . . He was a sixth-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. They released him and the Warriors placed him on their protected list in October 2017.

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The midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings made a coaching change earlier this week, with former head coach Ken Schneider returning to take over form the fired Chris Johnston. . . . Chris Jaster of the Brandon Sun reports that the change was made after Tuesday night’s practice. . . . Schneider was the team’s coach from 2010-14. . . . The Wheat Kings were 23-8-0 and in third place in the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League at the time of the change. . . . Jaster reported that Bruce Moar, the team’s president, “wouldn’t say why Johnston was fired.” However, Jaster wrote, “it did come on the heels of a full line brawl at the end of Saturday’s road game against the Winnipeg Thrashers. Brandon also finished a game against Yellowhead in November in fisticuffs.” . . . Schneider played for the WHL’s Wheat Kings (1980-82) and now scouts for the Regina Pats. . . . Johnston spent five seasons (1990-95) in the WHL, playing with the Wheat Kings, Red Deer Rebels and Regina.

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Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.

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WHL scouts on move . . . Calgary scout has good day at Stampede . . . Raiders d-man signs Czech pro deal


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F Zane Jones (Chilliwack/Victoria, Calgary, Everett, Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Visby/Roma (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, in 28 games with Sollentuna (Sweden, Division 1), he had a team-high 16 goals and five assists. . . . Currently, Jones is playing his second season with the Newcastle North Stars (Australia, AIHL). In 12 games, he has eight goals and seven assists. Jones has dual Canadian/Australian citizenship, so doesn’t count as an import in the AIHL. . . .

F Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current, Kelowna, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with the Chiefs Leuven (Belgium, BeNe Liga). Last season, with the Berlin Blues (Germany, Regionalliga), he had 29 goals and 21 assists in 22 games. He led the Blues in goals and points. . . . Presently, Wudrick is playing for the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL). He has 11 goals and 23 assists in 15 games. He leads the Ice Dogs in assists and points, and is second in the league in assists and third in points. This is his fourth season in the AIHL. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) signed a one-year contract with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 13 assists in 44 games. . . .

D Vojtěch Budík (Prince Albert, 2015-18) signed a one-year contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Prince Albert (WHL), he had 14 goals and 27 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Alexander Kuvayev (Lethbridge, Vancouver, 2010-12) has been traded by Spartak Moscow to Admiral Vladivostok (both Russia, KHL) for Vadim Pereskokov. Last season, with Khimik Voskresensk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), Kuvayev had 13 goals and 13 assists in 52 games.


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They are the unsung heroes of the WHL — and all other junior and pro hockey teams — and a few of them are on the move.

This isn’t at all surprising, considering the changes in the player personnel/scouting whldepartments made by a handful of teams.

For starters, Dylan Franson has left the Prince George Cougars to join the scouting staff of the Everett Silvertips, who have brought in Alvin Backus as director of player personnel and Mike Fraser as head scout. Backus had been with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, while Fraser scouted for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Franson had been with the Cougars for two seasons.

Meanwhile, Matt Blair has left the Kamloops Blazers’ scouting staff. He had scouted for the Blazers for 11 seasons. The Blazers have a new general manager in Matt Bardsley, who had been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999. However, they have yet to replace Matt Recchi, who was dropped as director of player personnel on May 10.

There also is speculation that Jamie Porter, who is vacating his post as the Swift Current Broncos’ director of hockey operations at month’s end, will surface with the Tri-City Americans. Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, has an opening after assistant GM Barclay Parneta signed on as GM with the Vancouver Giants.

As well, the buzz is that veteran scout Daryl Anning will be leaving the Broncos for the Vancouver Giants and what one source told me would be “an increased role.” Anning is the father of David Anning, the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

If you are a scout making a move, or if you are aware of anyone switching teams, help me give these folks some recognition by emailing me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


Still with the scouting fraternity, Chad Harden, who works for the Calgary Hitmen, is busy these days at the Calgary Stampede.

A pro chuckwagon driver when he’s not in the rinks, Harden won Heat 3 of the StampedeRangeland Derby at the Stampede on Saturday night.

Harden came off the No. 4 barrel and almost got the rail on Chanse Vigen of Wolseley, Sask., who was driving his father Mike’s team. Vigen got to the finish line first, by about a head, but took a five-second penalty because of a barrel infraction.

That left Harden, who won the 2009 Rangeland Derby, with the Heat 3 victory in the Kubota Dealers of Alberta rig. His time of 1:11.79 was the second-fastest of Day 2.

Harden, 47, is from Mulhurst Bay, Alta. He also has scouted for the Prince George Cougars and Kootenay Ice.


The Colorado Avalanche has signed Czech F Martin Kaut, the 16th overall selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft, to a three-year, two-way contract. The Brandon Wheat Kings hold Kaut’s WHL rights, but he is expected to open the season with the Colorado Eagles, the Avalanche’s AHL affiliate. . . . Kaut has played the past two seasons with HC Dynamo Pardubice of the Czech Extraliga, the country’s top pro league.


D Vojtech Budik won’t be back for a fourth season with the Prince Albert Raiders after signing a one-year deal with Pardubice of Czech Republic’s Extraliga. Had Budik, who is from Holice, Czech Republic, returned, he would have been a two-spotter as a 20-year-old and an import. . . . In 189 regular-season games with the Raiders, he had 18 goals and 65 assists. . . . He was a fifth-round selection by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2016 draft but wasn’t signed.


So . . . LeBron has joined the Los Angeles Lakers, and the way that columnist Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post sees it, LaVar Ball is about done with the that particular NBA team. Her superb column on this situation is right here.