Broncos sign assistant coaches . . . Warriors have imports in fold . . . Hitmen add ex-talking head to front office

MacBeth

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) requested and was granted his release for personal reasons by the Blackburn Hawks (England, National). He had signed a one-year contract in June. . . . Kovář, on the Hawks’ website: “I was really looking forward to playing for the Hawks next season and moving to the Altrincham area to continue my work as (a) personal trainer. Unfortunately, due to a family illness, I will now be staying in Kazakhstan for the foreseeable future.” . . . Kovář played for Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya Liga) last season, putting up five goals and eight assists in 28 games. He had played the previous four seasons in England.


ThisThat

The Swift Current Broncos have announced the hiring of two assistant coaches — SCBroncosBrandin Cote and Scott Dutertre. . . . Cote, who is from Swift Current, was the associate coach at Red Deer College last season. Prior to that, he spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders and two seasons as the head coach of the midget AAA Red Deer Chiefs. He played five seasons (1997-2002) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Dutertre, from Dinsmore, Sask., has been an assistant coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies, both men’s and women’s teams, for four seasons. He also is the national skating and skills coach for Ice Hockey Australia. . . . Cote and Dutertre fill the voids created by the departures of Ryan Smith, who now is with the Medicine Hat Tigers, and Jamie Heward, who has joined the Vancouver Giants.


Bil La Forge, who is into his first year as the general manager of the Seattle SeattleThunderbirds, has more than a bit of hockey in his background. And, yes, he paid his dues before signing on as the Thunderbirds’ GM. . . . Jason Gregor of oilersnation.com has more right here in a good read on La Forge and the road he travelled to get to where he is today.



The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed their two selections from the 2018 CHL import MooseJawWarriorsdraft — Daniil Stepanov and Yegor Buyalsky, both 17-year-old forwards from Belarus. . . . Stepanov had three goals and 17 assists in 31 games with the U-18 Team Belarus. . . . Buyalsky had 19 goals and 29 assists in 49 games with the U-17 Team Belarus. He played at the 2018 Mac’s tournament in Calgary, putting up five goals and an assist in six games. . . . Both players already are in Moose Jaw as they prepare for the opening of training camp on Aug. 22. . . . The Warriors finished last season with two import defenceman — Oleg Sosunov and Dmitri Zaitsev. Neither is expected back as a 20-year-old. Sosunov will play in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization; Zaitsev signed with Melallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.


Rob Kerr has been named assistant general manager, business operations by the Calgary Hitmen. He takes over from Melissa Blades, who now is manager, business operations with lacrosse’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . Both organizations are owned by the Calgary Sports and Entertainment Corporation, which also owns the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Kerr spent the past 15 years at Sportsnet and for 12 of those was an on-air host at Calgary radio station Sportsnet 960—The Fan.


Alex Dixon is the Seattle Thunderbirds’ new equipment manager, replacing Trevor Heinzerling, who left to sign on the assistant equipment manager with the AHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Dixon spent last season as the equipment manager with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. . . . Prior to that, he was with the USA National Team Development Program for two seasons and, before that, spent two seasons with the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers.


Todd Harkins has joined the West Van Hockey Academy as the director of program development and head coach of the bantam varsity side. Harkins spent the previous six seasons with the Prince George Cougars, the last four as general manager. Prior to that, he was the hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club for 12 years. . . . At the same time, the West Van academy revealed that Yashar Farmanara is leaving “operational and ownership rules” in order to pursue “interests outside of hockey.” A co-founder of the academy, he coached the Elite 15 team for the past two seasons. . . . Farmanara split five WHL seasons (2003-08) among the Seattle Thunderbirds, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Medicine Hat Tigers.


We in the Kamloops area have been well aware of F Jermaine Loewen of the Blazers and his startlingly good story for a few years now. But now that he has been selected by the Dallas Stars in the NHL draft, more people are being introduced to Loewen, a 20-year-old power forward with the perpetual smile. Jeff Miller of nhl.com has a piece on Loewen right here.


Mitch Topinka has signed on as an assistant coach with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings. Last season, he was on staff with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. Doug Hedley, who was the general manager and head coach with the Blizzard last season, now fills both those roles with the Kings. . . . Topinka, who is from Whitewood, Sask., also scouted for the Blizzard while coaching a junior B team in Regina. . . . According to a Kings’ news release, Topinka was a stick boy with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks when Hedley was coaching there “in the early 2000s.”


The junior B Fernie Ghostriders of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have added Jered Neufeld as an assistant coach. He spent the past two seasons as coach/assistant general manager with the Esterhazy Flyers of the Triangle Hockey League. . . . Neufeld also spent time on the coaching staff of the Heritage Junior Hockey League’s Red Deer Vipers. . . . Neufeld now is the general manager of Legacy Ford Fernie.


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Hitmen lose their head coach . . . Porter leaving Broncos . . . A team-by-team look at what’s been happening


MacBeth

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), he had 18 goals and 33 assists in 54 games. He was second on the Panthers in goals, assists and points. . . . Derlago played for Esbjerg in 2014-15, when he finished third in league scoring. Mark Pederson (Medicine Hat, 1983-88) is Esbjerg’s GM and head coach. . . .

D Jesse Dudas (Lethbridge, Prince George, Swift Current, Regina, 2003-09) signed a one-year extension with MAC Budapest (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, he had five goals and 15 assists in 30 games with Budapest in Erste Bank Liga. The club is moving to Slovakia’s Extraliga for this season. . . .

D Dylan Yeo (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had 11 goals and 12 assists in 51 games. An alternate captain, he led DEL defencemen in goals.


ThisThat

There were two more — that we know of — departures from the front offices of WHL teams on Tuesday.

The Calgary Hitmen announced that head coach Dallas Ferguson has resigned after one season “due to family reasons.”

General manager Jeff Chynoweth is quoted in a news release saying: “Dallas approached Calgaryme last week, stating his wife is unable to continue to work her current job in Alaska while moving to Calgary as originally planned. As a father to two young girls he does not want to live apart from his family again this (season). We respect this decision, supporting that family comes first and wish Dallas all the best in the future.”

Ferguson joined the Hitmen last summer after 13 seasons with the U of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, the last nine as head coach.

In his lone season in Calgary, the Hitmen, who were in rebuilding mode, went 24-37-11, finished fifth in the six-team Central Division and missed the playoffs.

Chynoweth, the former long-time GM of the Kootenay Ice, just completed his first season with the Hitmen, and now he’ll have to hire his second Calgary head coach.

When Chynoweth starts sorting through resumes, assistant coaches Jason LaBarbera, Trent Cassan and Joel Otto will get consideration.

“If one of these guys is the best candidate,” Chynoweth told Calgary freelancer Rita Mingo, who covered the story for Postmedia, “we’ll definitely look at him. In my past in Kootenay, we promoted a couple of assistant coaches.”

As for when a replacement might be named, Chynoweth told Mingo: “No timeline. I remember one year in Cranbrook, we didn’t hire someone until I think Aug. 6, three weeks before training camp. Ideally, the sooner the better for everyone involved. We’ve had a lot of resumes already and we’ll get more. It’s something that will play out, we’ll get lots of good candidates and we’ll definitely hire the right guy.”

Mingo’s story is right here.

Meanwhile, the Swift Current Broncos announced that Jamie Porter, their director of SCBroncoshockey operations, is leaving the organization “at the end of July.”

Porter had been with the Broncos since 2002 and had been the top dog in the scouting department since 2005.

The terse three-paragraph news release from the Broncos concluded with: “There will be no further comments from the organization.”

That leads one to believe that, in this instance, perhaps parting won’t be such sweet sorrow.


With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having introduced, or about to introduce, new head coaches this week, let’s take a team-by-team look at what has been happening . . .

EASTERN CONFERENCE

East Division

Brandon Wheat Kings — All is quiet on the WHL’s eastern front.

Moose Jaw Warriors — Things are quiet in Moose Jaw, too.

Prince Albert Raiders — Associate coach Dave Manson now is an assistant coach with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. General manager Curtis Hunt and head coach Marc Habscheid will be looking for a replacement.

Regina Pats — There is speculation that general manager/head coach John Paddock will leave the bench, turning the head-coaching duties over to Dave Struch, the assistant GM and assistant coach. That move is expected to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.

Saskatoon Blades — They have hired Mitch Love as head coach to replace Dean Brockman, who was fired when last season ended. Brockman had been with the Blades for four seasons, the last two as head coach. Love joins the Blades from the Everett Silvertips, where he was an assistant coach for seven seasons. . . . The Blades also hired Ryan Marsh as an assistant coach, to replace Bryce Thoma, who was dismissed shortly after Brockman. Marsh was fired by the Edmonton Oil Kings following the season. He had been there for four seasons.

Swift Current — The Broncos have hired Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach, replacing Manny Viveiros, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Jamie Porter, who had been the director of hockey operations, will leave the organization at the end of July.

——

Central Division

Calgary Hitmen — Head coach Dallas Ferguson is leaving after one season, citing family reasons for his departure. Ferguson had taken over from Mark French, who spent three seasons with the Hitmen before leaving to become head coach of HC Fribourg-Gottéron in the Swiss National League.

Edmonton Oil Kings — They need a head coach, having fired Steve Hamilton, and an assistant after dismissing Ryan Marsh, who landed on his feet with the Saskatoon Blades. The Oil Kings also need a general manager after they and Randy Hansch chose to go in different directions. It has been speculated for almost two months that former WHLer Kirt Hill will be named director of hockey operations.

Kootenay Ice — Things have been quiet in Cranbrook, although the Ice did add Tyler MacDonald of Winnipeg to its scouting staff. According to the team website, he is the organization’s lone scout so it could be that more additions are soon to be made.

Lethbridge Hurricanes — The winds of change have left the Hurricanes alone.

Medicine Hat Tigers — They parted company with Carter Sears after one season as director of player personnel. Bobby Fox has moved from behind the bench as an assistant coach to replace Sears. Shaun Clouston, the GM and head coach, says he will hire an assistant coach if he finds a good fit.

Red Deer Rebels — The Rebels and Jeff Truitt, their veteran associate coach, went in separate directions after last season. Red Deer later hired Brad Flynn and Ryan Colville as assistant coaches, and is quietly looking for another assistant. Flynn had been the director of hockey operations and head coach for the NAHL’s Corpus Christi IceRays. Most recently, Colville was the president, GM and head coach of the NAHL’s Cincinnati Thunder. . . . The Rebels also hired former WHL G Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach after Taylor Dakers left for the Prince George Cougars.

——

WESTERN CONFERENCE

B.C. Division

Kamloops Blazers — They moved out general manager Stu MacGregor, head coach Don Hay, assistant coach Mike Needham and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel. . . . Matt Bardsley is the new GM, after being in the Portland Winterhawks’ front office since 1999. He has hired Serge Lajoie as head coach. Lajoie is fresh off three seasons as head coach of the U of Alberta Golden Bears — they won the Canadian university title last season. . . . Still to come — at least one assistant coach and a move atop the scouting department.

Kelowna Rockets — All quiet, although assistant coach Travis Crickard has been keeping busy in New Zealand, which is a long way from Flin Flon.

Prince George Cougars — The Cougars hired Mark Lamb as their general manager, replacing Todd Harkins, who was dismissed at season’s end. They also have added their first full-time goaltending coach, that being Taylor Dakers.

Vancouver Giants — Glen Hanlon left the club after two seasons as general manager, and that spot has been filled by Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM with the Tri-City Americans. Parneta then dismissed head coach Jason McKee, who had been there for two seasons. There is speculation that former WHL D Michael Dyck could be the next head coach. . . . Dyck is a former WHL player and coach, who has worked with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Giants. He spent three seasons (2002-05) as an assistant coach with Vancouver and was Lethbridge’s head coach for four seasons (2005-09). Of late, he has been coaching minor hockey in Lethbridge. He was the head coach of the midget AAA Hurricanes last season.

Victoria Royals — Things are quiet on Vancouver Island.

——

U.S. Division

Everett Silvertips — They lost Bil La Forge, their director of player personnel, to the Seattle Thunderbirds, who hired him as general manager, so will be looking to fill that spot.

Portland Winterhawks — Matt Bardsley, who had been in the Portland front office since 1999, signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as general manager. He had been the Winterhawks’ since 1999.

Seattle Thunderbirds — Russ Farwell, the Thunderbirds’ general manager for 23 seasons, now is the vice president of hockey operations. Bil La Forge, who had been Everett’s director of player personnel, is the Thunderbirds’ new GM.

Spokane Chiefs — Things are quiet here, too.

Tri-City Americans — Bob Tory, the co-owner and general manager, needs to find an assistant GM to replace Barclay Parneta, now the GM with the Vancouver Giants. As well, head coach Mike Williamson is leaving after four seasons. Brian Pellerin, the associate coach for the past four seasons, may be the favourite to replace Williamson.


TheCoachingGame

Gilles Bouchard has left the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to join the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, as an assistant coach. Bouchard, 47, had been the Huskies’ general manager and head coach. . . . In Syracuse, he’ll work alongside head coach Benoit Groulx. . . . Bouchard also was the head coach of the Canadian U-18 entry for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. Obviously, he will have to be replaced by Hockey Canada. . . . Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, and Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds, are the assistant coaches.


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La Forge takes over from Farwell in Seattle . . . Bragin gets new deal . . . U of R honours Hornung, Kennedy

MacBeth

D Bohdan Višňák (Saskatoon, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Montpellier (France, Division 1). This season, he had three goals and 12 assists in 18 games in Division 2. Montpellier won promotion to Division 1 for next season. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with University of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he was 16-7-0, 2.29, .920 with three shutouts in 23 games. . . . Cooke was named Canada West goaltender of the year for the third straight season. He also was a first team Canada West all-star and a second team All-Canadian.


Scattershooting

Russ Farwell, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ general manager through 23 seasons, has moved upstairs, with Bil La Forge moving over from the Everett Silvertips to take over as the Seattlenew GM. . . . Seattle owners Dan and Lindsey Leckelt made the announcement on Wednesday. . . . Farwell, 62, now is the vice president of hockey operations. Farwell took over as the general manager in time for the 1988-89 season, after six seasons as GM of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who won two Memorial Cups during his time there. . . . He spent two seasons in Seattle before leaving for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers with whom he spent four seasons as GM. He returned to Seattle for the 1995-96 season. He was part of a group that purchased the franchise in 2002; the Leckelt brothers bought it last summer. . . . La Forge, 44, joined the Silvertips as a scout in 2008, was named head scout prior to 2011-12, and has been the director of player personnel through for seasons. He also has scouted with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Tri-City Americans.


Headline in the New York Post after Game 1 of the NBA final: Who shot? Not J.R. . . . Headline at BorowitzReport.com: NFL adds First Amendment to list of banned substances. . . . A note from comedian Argus Hamilton: “The NFL just slapped a 15-yard penalty on players who don’t watch Fox News in their hotel rooms.”


What do hockey coaches do in the off-season? If you’re Enio Sacilotto, you keep busy by playing host to The Mental Edge Training Seminars. Sacilotto, a former WHL assistant coach with the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals, has seminars scheduled for June 16 at Delta Planet Ice and Aug. 17 at Hollyburn Country Club. . . . He also runs all kinds of hockey camps for players of all ages in such places as Coquitlam Planet Ice, Nanaimo, Hollyburn CC, Burnaby Winter Club and Victoria. . . . For more info on any of this, visit www.coachenio.com. . . . These days, Sacilotto is coaching at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, and also is the head coach of the Croatian national men’s team. He also is the mental skills coach with the Simon Fraser U men’s team. . . . During his 35-year coaching career, he has worked in five countries. . . . With his experience and with at least three WHL teams looking for a head coach, you might think Sacilotto could be a prime candidate for a bench job.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times wonders: “With Brewers infielder Travis Shaw lighting up Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova to the tune of a .786 batting average, eight RBI and three homers in just 17 career at-bats, does that make him the Bossa Nova?”



Valeri Bragin has had his contract with the Russian Hockey Federation extended for two seasons, with the federation holding an option on two additional seasons. . . . Bragin, 62, has been the head coach of the Russian national junior team since 2010-11. . . . Bragin will be behind the bench of the Russian team that is scheduled to play Team WHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia series in Kamloops on Nov. 5 and Vancouver on Nov. 6. . . . Bragin will be back in B.C. for the 2019 World Junior Championship that is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


A recent tweet from reliever John Axford of the Toronto Blue Jays: “Dear couple that clearly broke up while standing near our bullpen in the 5th inning today: Lovely entertainment for a few minutes, but we hope you’re OK. Feel free to come back tomorrow and discuss with us. We can provide the third-party point of view! Love, the Jays bullpen!”


With soccer’s World Cup about to start in Russia, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald notes: “Vladimir Putin has already decided who’ll join Russia in the final, but he isn’t saying.”


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