A few notes, thoughts on WHL, marijuana . . . Rasmussen staying in NHL . . . Everett gets goalie from Kamloops


MacBeth

F Roberts Lipsbergs (Seattle, 2012-15) has been assigned on loan by Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) to Liepaja (Latvia, Optibet Liga). This season, with Dinamo, he was pointless in nine games, while averaging 8:36 TOI per game.


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A few thoughts on the WHL and cannabis, with recreational marijuana having become legal in Canada a couple of weeks ago . . .

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The CHL, the umbrella under which the three major junior leagues operate, works under the anti-doping policy established by the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport (CCES). Cannabis remains a banned substance under that policy, as it has been since the CHL adopted the policy in 2008.

The CCES uses a list of banned substances that originates with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

Interestingly, while WADA has cannabis listed as a performance-enhancing drug, the CCES doesn’t agree that it should be there.

“The CCES, to be completely frank, has always argued that marijuana should not be on the list,” CCES president Paul Melia told CBC In June. “We don’t believe there is sufficient scientific evidence supporting its performance-enhancing benefits.”

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No matter, because it is a banned substance as far as the CHL is concerned, and you are going to hear the word ‘education’ over and over again.

“That policy is very clear for the players — they cannot participate in any use of cannabis or other performance-enhancing drugs,” Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has said. “Consequently, it is incumbent on us to make sure we have a very effective education program to make sure the players are aware of that, first of all, and to really help promote a healthy lifestyle.”

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There is an online course for WHL players, that includes video and a test based on comprehension. There also is a code of ethics that must be signed by players and coaches.

The CHL also has partnered with Health Canada on what is called #FocusedOn, a program that aims to educate players, coaches, management people, parents and others about cannabis.

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If you are wondering, a first positive test will draw a warning. Suspensions will accompany further positive tests. Testing is conducted, without warning, after regular-season games, playoff games or any of the special events such as the Top Prospects game, a Canada-Russia game, or a Memorial Cup game.

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Gare Joyce wrote an interesting piece for sportsnet.ca on the subject of the NHL and marijuana. The bulk of the story involved Joyce’s speaking with a former NHL player who now works in an NHL team’s front office.

Among other things, the ex-player told him: “I’d say right now, 60 to 70 per cent of the players in the league smoke marijuana. No doubt there are more players now using marijuana regularly than when I first came into the league. And I think there’ll be a greater awareness and understanding and acceptance (of marijuana use).”

That story is right here.

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It stands to reason that there are WHL players using recreational marijuana. With it now being legal in Canada, chances are good that there will be more players at least experimenting with it.

One former WHL insider, when asked about marijuana use on today’s teams, told Taking Note that it “would not surprise me at all if it was in the 40-50 per cent range.”

(Recreational marijuana also is legal in the states of Oregon and Washington, but you must be 21 years of age in order to use it. That age is 19 in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and B.C., and 18 in Alberta.)

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Some figures from Health Canada, all which are from prior to legalization . . . “12 per cent of Canadians reported using it at least once in 2015, according to the latest Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey. That rate is even higher for young people, with usage as high as 21 per cent among youth, aged 15 to 19, and 30 per cent among young adults, aged 20 to 24.”

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The area that may end up causing the most headaches for the WHL involves medical marijuana and especially cannabis-based products.

One parent with a son in minor hockey has told Taking Note that at least some midget-aged players are using cannabis-based creams — likely cannabidiol (CBD) without tetrahydrocannabinol (TTC) — in a search for pain relief, usually on joints like knees and hips.

The parent said this especially occurs when these teams play multiple games in compressed time periods on weekends. The parent also said that this is happening, at least in some instances, with parental approval and encouragement from coaches.

Defenceman Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals talked to the Washington Post’s Samantha Pell about a a memo that went from the NHL to its teams on legalization.

“I think they were nervous about guys bringing it across the border,” Orpik said, “because it’s still illegal (in the U.S.) and CBD oil, without the THC in it, is getting big, especially among athletes for pain management and sleep and stuff.”

As Pell explained, “CBD . . . is a cannabis extract. Unlike THC, another marijuana compound, it doesn’t make you high or intoxicated.”

The parent who spoke with Taking Note also admitted to having concerns about how long cannabis-based cream might stay in a player’s system, and also about, as Orpik noted, it being illegal in the U.S.

“What happens,” the parent wondered, “if a (young player) eligible for an NCAA scholarship gets caught taking cream across the border into the U.S.?”

For that matter, what would happen were a WHL player to find himself in that situation?

But you should know that the WHL says it is well aware of the medical side of all this.

“There is a medicinal application to the product,” Robison told Andrew McCormack of discovermoosejaw.com, “we’re very aware of that, as our medical staffs and training staffs are aware of that, and there is an ability within our national anti-doping program to get a therapeutic exemption should a player require that. It has to be accompanied by clear evidence from their doctor that this is something that’s required as opposed to something that might be used on a more recreational basis or casual basis from time to time.”


MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

It appears that F Michael Rasmussen won’t be back with the Tri-City Americans. The tri-cityDetroit Red Wings have told Rasmussen that he will be staying in the NHL and, in fact, he is scheduled to play his 10th regular-season game tonight against the host Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . When a junior-eligible player gets into his 10th game it means the first year of his entry-level contract begins, something that’s important down the road when it comes to qualifying for free agency. . . . Rasmussen, the ninth overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, has one assist in his first nine games, while averaging 12 minutes 39 seconds of ice time per game. . . . Rasmussen had 31 goals and 28 assists in 47 regular-season games with the Americans last season, then added 33 points, 16 of them goals, in 14 playoff games. In 161 career regular-season games, he put up 157 points, including 81 goals.


The Everett Silvertips have acquired G Max Palaga, 18, from the Kamloops Blazers, Everettgiving up a sixth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft in the exchange. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, got into 17 games with the Blazers last season, going 5-7-1, 3.71, .875. . . . The Blazers released him earlier this season and he has been with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. He was 2-2-1, 1.77, .943 in five games with Vernon. . . . In Everett, Palaga will back up Dustin Wolf, 17. . . . Blake Lyda, who had been backing up, suffered an undisclosed injury during a morning skate on Oct. 12 and is expected to be sideline for at least another month. . . . With Lyda out, the Silvertips added Danton Belluk to their roster for their East Division trip that concluded Saturday. Belluk has since returned to the midget AAA Eastman Selects. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers have added G Rayce Ramsay, 17, to their roster where he will back up Dylan Ferguson, while Dylan Garand, 16, is at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Quispamsis and Saint John, N.B. . . . Ramsay, from Saskatoon, has been playing with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, going 4-2-0, 3.03, .923.


The Kootenay Ice has returned G Will Gurski to the Shawnigan Lake School’s midget prep team. Gurski, 16, was brought in prior to the weekend. He practised with the Ice and backed up Duncan McGovern in one game with Jesse Makaj scratched. . . . Gurski, from Duncan, B.C., was a fourth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


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WHL teams now allowed to trade first-year imports? . . . Gorda doesn’t report; deal is off . . . Did your team sign anyone on Tuesday?


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F Tomáš Karpov (Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) has announced his retirement through the Bracknell Bees (England, National). According to the club, he has accepted a position as CEO of an unnamed company in the Czech Republic. Karpov had signed with Bracknell in June. . . . Last season, Karpov, an alternate captain, had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National). He led the team in goals and points. . . . Karpov completed his Master of Science in marketing innovation from the University of Winchester earlier this year.


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Could it be that there has been another rule change made involving trades in the WHL, this one concerning the moving of players who are first-round selections in the CHL import draft?

Andrew McCormack of swiftcurrentonline.com wrote a training camp-related story whlinvolving the Swift Current Broncos on Aug. 2. In the story, he checked in with Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ new director of hockey operations and head coach. Here’s an excerpt:

The Broncos also now have signed both their CHL import draft picks from this year and will be bringing F Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen to camp. Both should start the season with the Broncos as they wait for (D Artyom) Minulin to recover from post-season shoulder surgery.

“We know (Minulin) is out for quite some time,” Brockman said. “Plan A is to bring both guys in and make sure they were everything we were told. We know that (Minulin) is available to us; we know what kind of a player he is. We just have to see what the other guys bring to the table and see if they’re going to fit in the way we want them to.

“You can move your first-year Euros after Dec. 1. We may not get to that point, but it gives us more options.”

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Prior to this season, there has been a one-season moratorium on the trading of players selected in the import draft.

Using the Broncos’ situation as an example, under what now appears to be the old rule, should a healthy Minulin be ready to return to the roster, the team would have had two options: (a) trade or release Minulin; (b) release Kiviniemi or Pynnonen, both of whom are freshmen. Teams WERE NOT allowed to trade import players who were in their first season.

Now, judging by Brockman’s comment, if/when Minulin returns, the Broncos would be able to trade him, or wait until Dec. 1 and then trade either of the other two.

We await word from the WHL to enlighten us one way or the other on this situation.


D Brayden Gorda hasn’t reported to training camp with the Victoria Royals and it would seem his playing career, at least in the WHL, is over.

The Royals acquired the rights to Gorda, 19, from the Edmonton Oil Kings on July 25, VictoriaRoyalsgiving up a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in return.

Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, confirmed to Taking Note that Gorda won’t be reporting.

“At the time of the trade,” Hope told Taking Note, “both clubs were aware that he was considering whether or not to continue his WHL career. It seems that he has now made that decision. The trade becomes nullified as a result. . . . We wish Brayden the best in his next steps.”

Gorda, who is from Edmonton, was a third-round selection by the Oil Kings in the 2014 bantam draft. In 151 regular-season games, all with Edmonton, he had six goals and 26 assists. Last season, he was late reporting following the death of a close friend over the summer. Gorda ended up playing 30 games and finished with a goal and three assists.

After returning to the Oil Kings, he told Derek Van Diest of Postmedia:

“Now that I’m here and reconnected with the boys, it feels pretty good to see everyone and see a lot of smiles. I started thinking about coming back about a month ago, maybe a little over a month ago. I was doing a lot working out and stuff and getting dedicated and I just wanted to get back into it.”



The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Emil Malysjev, 17, whose rights were selected in the SaskatoonCHL’s 2018 import draft. The 6-foot-3 Malysjev, who has dual Swedish/Russian citizenship, played last season with HV71’s J18 and J20 teams, putting up two goals and five assists in 15 games with the former and four assists in 29 games with the latter. . . . Malysjev’s parents are from Russia, but he was born in Sweden — thus the dual citizenship. Interestingly, he has never lived in Russia. . . . Malysjev, who is fluent in English, was to arrive in Saskatoon late Tuesday. He could make his WHL debut in Regina at an exhibition tournament this weekend. . . . Earlier this week, the Blades signed their other 2018 import draft selection — Norwegian F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, 19, whose NHL rights belong to the Washington Capitals, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft.


The Prince George Cougars have signed G Tyler Brennan of Winnipeg, who was the 21st PrinceGeorgeoverall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Brennan, who will turn 15 on Sept. 27, played at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy last season, going 11-3-1, 1.52, .947 with the bantam prep team. He led the Canadian Sport School Hockey League’s bantam prep division in GAA, save percentage and shutouts (5). . . . With Brennan signed, it means that 21 of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections in the 2018 bantam draft are under contract. The only unsigned first-round pick is F Trevor Wong, who was taken 18th overall by the Kelowna Rockets. He has been in Kelowna’s camp, but has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver for 2021-22.



The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Joe Arntsen, F Nick Dorrington and F Jett Jones Lethbridgeto WHL contracts. . . . Arntsen, 15, is from Swift Current and was a second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 19 goals and 31 assists in 31 gams with the bantam AA Swift Current Raiders. He added two goals and six assists in six playoff games, and was pointless in six games with the midget AAA Swift Current Legionnaires. . . . Dorrington, a list player, is from Langley, B.C. Last season, he played for the Yale Hockey Academy Elite 15s in Abbotsford, B.C., scoring 17 goals and adding 15 assists in 33 games. He then had two goals and five assists in four playoff games. . . . Jones, 16, was placed on the Hurricanes’ protected list last year. From Olds, Alta., he played last season with the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons, putting up 16 goals and six assists in 33 games. . . . All three players remain with the Hurricanes, who open the exhibition season on Friday against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers.


The Victoria Royals have signed G Keegan Maddocks, 15, to a WHL contract. Maddocks, from Langley, B.C., was an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Maddocks played last season with the bantam prep team at the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Langley, B.C. In 19 games, he was 9-7-0, 3.60, .896, with one shutout. . . . This summer, at the BC Hockey U-16 camp at Shawnigan Lake, he put up five shutouts in as many games.


The Everett Silvertips have signed D Olen Zellweger, a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, to a contract. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he spent last season with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team, putting up 10 goals and 22 assists in 30 games. He added three goals and two assists in five playoff games as his team won the league title. . . . Zellweger will turn 15 on Oct. 9.


The Moose Jaw Warriors, who signed two players on Monday, signed three more skaters MooseJawWarriorsto WHL contracts on Tuesday. . . . D Braden Miller, 16, is a list player who was added after attending the 2017 training camp. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he had four goals and nine assists in 28 games last season with the minor midget Sherwood Park Squires. . . . F Cade Hayes of Leader, Sask., was an eighth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. Hayes, 16, had 19 goals and 17 assists in 44 games with the midget AAA Tisdale Trojans. While he led the Trojans in scoring, he was tied for second in freshman scoring in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. . . . F Jesse Mistelbacher of Île-des-Chênes, Man., was placed on the Warriors’ protected list in October. Last season, with the midget AAA Eastman Selects, the 17-year-old had 15 goals and 32 assists in 48 games. He led the Selects in points.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed G Thomas Milic, who was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Coquitlam, B.C., he was 13-7-0, 2.06, .925 in 22 games with the bantam prep team at the Burnaby Winter Club.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Erik Atchison, 16, who was a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. Originally from Las Vegas, Atchison had eight goals and six assists in 13 games with the Arizona Bobcats U-16 team in the North American Prospects Hockey League last season. . . . Atchison is the fourth American-born player on the Chiefs’ roster at the moment, joining F Luke Gallagher of Spokane, F Jake McGrew of Orange, Calif., and F Luke Toporowski of Bettendorf, Iowa.


Taking Note has been told that the WHL has hired Michael Z. Morrissey as a video co-ordinator. . . . This is an interesting story. . . . Morrissey worked as an intern with the Saskatoon Blades during the 2017-18 WHL season. Then, unable to find anything in hockey, he hired on with the CFL’s B.C. Lions as a digital and video associate. . . . Now he is moving to the WHL office in Calgary and is to start there next month. . . . Why is this an interesting story? Because he is from Australia and came to Canada simply to pursue his passion for hockey.



A note from Stuart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club:

“Had 3 strokes, 2 in a span of 8 days. Am no longer able to get medical from work, now PortlandI’ll be on Cobra which is expensive. I have had writeups in Portland Tribune and GoFundMe and still have a huge need,.

If you can help, great; if you can’t, please share. I am wanting to go back to work and I can’t, at least not yet. Hoping I can keep ahead of bill collectors. Hospital stay was close to 500K and then there is supplies, more medical stuff that tears you up financially.

I never wanted this, I am worrried can you help?

Stuart

The GoFundMe page is right here.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you are able to do so right here.


The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, who begin the regular season on Sept. 7, are going through a SurreyEaglescoaching change. According to a news release, Peter Schaefer, 41, has taken over as head coach after the Eagles and Brandon West “mutually agreed to part ways.” . . . West, the news release reads, “will be stepping away from the organization because of personal reasons.” . . . The Eagles went 26-22-8 last season, West’s first in Surrey, and got into the second round of the playoffs. . . . Schaefer, the WHL’s player of the year with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1996-97, was the Eagles’ head coach in 2013-14. They had brought him back as an assistant coach for this season. With his promotion, the Eagles now are looking for an assistant coach. . . . One BCHL insider tells me there now have been 14 coaching changes in the BCHL over the past 18 months.


The 2020 national junior A championship will be decided in Portage la Prairie, Man., the home of the MJHL’s Terriers. . . . Portage last played host to the tournament in 2015 when the Terriers won it all. . . . The 2019 tournament is scheduled to be held in Brooks, Alta., home of the AJHL’s Bandits. . . . The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs were the host team for the 2018 RBC Cup and, yes, they won it.


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