It’s expensive on WHL highways . . . Cougars in middle of $90,000 road trip . . . Broncos sign Aubin; Raiders return three

On the sixth day of our annual Christmas countdown, here is the great Harry Belafonte, who was my late father’s favourite, with Mary’s Boy Child. It’s right here.


MacBeth

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has been released by the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen) by mutual agreement. He had four goals and three assists in 19 games.


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The Prince George Cougars posted a 5-3 victory over the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 2.

Three days later, the Cougars left on a road trip. They won’t play at home again until Jan. PrinceGeorge11 when the Kelowna Rockets will pay a visit.

In between, the Cougars will play 11 games, seven in the U.S. where the exchange rate will take a big bite out of any team’s budget.

Here’s a day-by-day look at the Cougars travels (or is it travails?) . . .

Dec. 5 — Load bus and leave for Portland.

Dec. 6 — Off day in Portland.

Dec. 7 — Game in Portland.

Dec. 8 — Game in Portland.

Dec. 9 — Off day.

Dec. 10 — Off day.

Dec. 11 — Game in Kent, Wash.

Dec. 12 — Off day.

Dec. 13 — Off day.

Dec. 14 — Game in Victoria.

Dec. 15 — Off day.

Dec. 16 — Game in Vancouver.

Christmas break.

Dec. 27 — Off day.

Dec. 28 — Game in Kent, Wash.

Dec. 29 — Game in Everett.

Dec. 30 — Game in Kamloops; head home after game.

Dec. 31 — Off day.

Jan. 1 — Off day.

Jan. 2 — Off day.

Jan. 3 — Load bus and drive to Kelowna.

Jan. 4 — Game in Kelowna.

Jan. 5 — Off day in Kelowna.

Jan. 6 — Off day in Kelowna.

Jan. 7 — Load bus and head for Kennewick, Wash.

Jan. 8 — Game in Kennewick.

Jan. 9 — Game in Spokane; head home after game.

By my count, by the time the Cougars arrive home on Jan. 10, they will have spent about 25 days on the road, with at least nine of those days having been spent in the U.S.

I asked the general manager of one WHL team what it costs to keep a team on the road, and his response was between $3,000 and $4,000 per day, depending on how many are in the travelling party and where you are. He also added that it’s even more expensive in the U.S. “at a $1.35 exchange rate.”

Another GM told me that the cost per day is $3,000 to $3,500 for rooms and meals, with the bus expenses on top of that.

Understanding that all of these are ballpark figures . . .

Let’s say that it costs the Cougars $3,500 per day when they’re on the road, and that includes the return ferry trip to Victoria.

If they total 15 days in Canada, that’s $52,500.

Nine days in the U.S., with a $1.35 exchange rate, would cost $41,425.

Add it all up and playing 11 games on the road will have cost the Cougars more than $90,000.

This is a franchise that has played 17 of a scheduled 34 home games and has an announced average attendance of 2,668 fans, which is 19th in the 22-team league.

You can bet that Mark Lamb, who is in his first season as the Cougars’ general manager, is having some sleepless nights these days, and it isn’t because he can’t wait for Christmas to get here.

——

Late in October, John Pateman, one of the Cougars’ six co-owners, took time to chat with Hartley Miller of 94.3 The Goat for the latter’s Cat Scan podcast. Pateman, who is the team president, talked about the money factor:

“When we got into this, we would hope to not lose money. We managed to lose quite a bit and we’ll lose quite a bit this (season). Until we can have a bit of a playoff run, I think we will continue to lose money. . . . we would obviously like to break even but I think we have to hit the second round of the playoffs to do that.”

The Cougars lost the first five games of the afore-mentioned road trip. They are 11-19-3 and in fifth place in the five-team B.C. Division. While a playoff run does seem unlikely this season, they are only two points out of the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot.

Asked by Miller if the owners are in it for the long run, Pateman chuckled and replied: “I don’t think we have a choice . . . we’re in. It is what it is.”


D Bobby Russell of the Spokane Chiefs will miss his club’s first two games after the Christmas break as he sits out a two-game suspension that was handed down on Monday. . . . Russell took a cross-checking major and game misconduct during Sunday’s 6-5 victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He will miss two home games — Dec. 28 against the Everett Silvertips and Dec. 29 against the Tri-City Americans.


The Swift Current Broncos have signed D Devin Aubin, 15, to a WHL contract. Aubin, from Falher, Alta., has two goals and one assist in 23 games with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm. . . . The Spokane Chiefs selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . The Broncos acquired Aubin, F Carter Chorney and F Kye Buchanan from the Chiefs on Dec. 4, giving up D Noah King, G Matthew Davis and a conditional fifth-round 2021 bantam pick in the exchange.


The Prince Albert Raiders have returned D Braydon Clark, 16, D Nolan Allan, 15, and F Tyson Laventure, 15, to their club teams. . . . Clark, from the the Valley West Giants of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, is pointless in six games with the Raiders this season. He was a third-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft. . . . Allan, from the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers, has one assist in seven games. He was the third overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Laventure, from the Edmonton-OHL prep team, is pointless in three games. He was a third-rounder in 2018. . . . They helped the Raiders get through a stretch where they had four players away with international duties, and also had a couple of injuries.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


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Winds of change blow through Kelowna . . . Foote set to replace Smith . . . Taphorn twins are on the move


MacBeth

D Michael Fora (Kamloops, 2014-15) has rejoined Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland, NL A) after clearing unconditional NHL waivers on Saturday. This season, he was pointless in one game with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL). Last season, he was an alternate captain with Ambrì-Piotta and put up six goals and 21 assists in 50 games. . . . Fora signed a three-year extension through 2020-21 with Ambrì-Piotta in December with an out-clause allowing him to sign with an NHL team. He exercised the clause to sign with Carolina Hurricanes (NHL) in June. . . . Carolina wanted to assign Fora from Charlotte to the Florida Everblades (ECHL), but Fora wanted to return to Switzerland instead of reporting to Florida. Carolina and Fora mutually agreed to terminate his contract.


With Jason Smith having been fired as the head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, you likely are wondering who’s up next?

John Shannon of Sportsnet, who is friends with Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, tweeted Monday night that it will be Adam Foote. He will be the franchise’s fifth head coach in six seasons.

In all likelihood, Foote will be the Rockets’ head coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, an event that will be played in Kelowna.

KelownaRockets

Earlier Monday, Hamilton told a media scrum in Kelowna that he had “a couple of guys that I’ve zeroed in on and I’ll probably have a good idea by (Tuesday). I’m dealing with a couple people and hopefully by (Tuesday) we’ll have somebody in place. Whether they’ll be here or not by then, time will tell.”

A new head coach, Hamilton said, doesn’t necessarily have to have junior experience.

“I think that’s really important but I don’t think that’s everything,” he said. “At the end of the day it’s all about communication with these guys today. If you can’t communicate with them, then you’re not going to get them to play for you.”

If Foote doesn’t get to Kelowna before tonight, assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Kris Mallette will run the bench against the visiting Swift Current Broncos.

Foote, 47, played three seasons with the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds — he was a rugged defenceman — before going on to an NHL career that included 1,154 regular season games and 170 more in the playoffs.

However, Foote doesn’t have any coaching experience, although he has been a development consultant with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He also was the director of player development a year ago with Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup.

Foote’s son Nolan, a defenceman who will turn 20 on Dec. 13, played three seasons with the Rockets and now is a first-year pro with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. The Tampa Bay Lightning selected him 14th overall in the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Cal’s younger brother, Nolan, who turns 18 on Nov. 29, is in his third season with the Rockets. A forward, he has seven goals and five assists in 12 games. Last season, he finished with 13 goals and 27 assists in 50 games. He is eligible for the NHL’s 2019 draft and it is anticipated that he will be an early selection.

——

Despite winning 88 games in his first two regular seasons as the head coach of the Kelowna Rockets, Jason Smith was fired on Monday.

The Rockets, who were 45-22-5 two seasons ago and 43-22-7 last season, are 4-10-0 after going 2-1-0 on a three-game weekend swing in which they twice beat the Victoria Royals (8-2 and 5-1) before losing to the Vancouver Giants (3-1).

The Rockets reached the third round of post-season play in Smith’s first season, but were swept by the Tri-City Americans in the first round last spring.

Smith was in the final season of a three-year contract. Assistant coaches Travis Crickard and Kris Mallette also are in the final seasons of their contracts.

“Any time that you are doing something like this, there’s no fun attached to it at all,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, told the media on Monday afternoon, “and yet, at the end of the day, how this hockey club does sits on my shoulders and this isn’t a decision, nor something that I just thought of this morning. It’s been on my mind now for a few weeks. I just felt that we were getting to a point where a decision needed to be made. . . .”

Hamilton admitted that he had been thinking about making a change for some time, but because the Rockets will be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup he wanted to make sure he does the right thing.

“I didn’t just make my mind up on Friday night,” he said. “I made my mind up a while ago, but it’s working to find somebody that is going to be the replacement.

“If you’re going to make a change, we’re better off making the change now than waiting until the end of the (season) and starting over. Whoever is going to coach the team from here on in, I’ve got to believe is going to be the coach next (season) and that’s probably a good thing from our perspective. . . .”

Smith’s replacement will be charged with changing things in the dressing room and making sure that the Rockets become harder to play against, especially at home.

“One of the things that has concerned me now, for a while,” Hamilton explained, “has been we . . . had a culture in our dressing room for many years here through the Ryan Huska era, that everybody coming into Kelowna to play us knew that they were going to have their hands full.

“I just have sensed the last couple of years for sure . . . probably more than that, that it started to leave the room. . . . that a lot of the time is based on the characters you have in the room and that’s on me, that’s not on the coach. It’s my job to get the players here.

“I really hope the person that we bring in is going to bring a little bit of character back in there somehow.”

Hamilton also wants to see more discipline from his team, which has been at the top of the penalty tables in recent times.

“We’re not a tough team,” Hamilton said. “We’re just taking a lot of foolish, lazy penalties and that’s got to change.”

This is only the second time in franchise history that Kelowna has changed coaches in mid-season. In 1999-2000, Hamilton moved out Garth Malarchuk on Nov. 14, 1999, and brought in Marc Habscheid.

Habscheid stayed through 2003-04, finishing his run when the Rockets won the Memorial Cup as the host team.

Jeff Truitt, who had been on Habscheid’s staff, was promoted to head coach and lasted three seasons.

Ryan Huska, who had been a Kelowna assistant coach, was up next. He stayed for seven seasons, before joining the Calgary Flames’ organization and turning things over to assistant coach Dan Lambert.

The Rockets won the WHL title under Lambert in 2014-15, but he joined the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres after that season, at which point Hamilton hired Brad Ralph. That was the first time since Hamilton brought in Habscheid that someone from outside the organization was hired as head coach.

Ralph lasted just one season, despite going 48-20-4 and getting into the third round of the playoffs.

Smith was hired to replace Ralph, lost in the third round in the spring of 2017, and was ousted in the first round last spring. There won’t be another go-round for him in Kelowna.

Late last week, Smith was named as an assistant coach with the WHL team that will play in the CIBC Canada-Russia series on Nov. 5 and 6.

What is apparent through Hamilton’s move is that he didn’t feel comfortable having Smith take the Rockets into a Memorial Cup season. Doing that would have meant signing Smith to a new contract, likely for another two or three seasons.

“I want to be real fair to Jason here,” Hamilton said. “The talent is part of it. He was doing the best he could with what he had.

“And yet when I’m looking forward to the Memorial Cup next (season), whoever coaches this team, I need to get them to get the group together and we need to decide who’s going to be here and who’s not going to be here when we finish this season.”

Hamilton was adamant that the firing of Smith didn’t have anything to do with the Rockets’ attendance, which after six home games is down 494 per game from the same point last season.

“The move today has got nothing to do with that,” Hamilton said. “Trust me.”


The Moose Jaw Warriors have acquired the Taphorn twins — Kaedan and Keenan — MooseJawWarriorsfrom the Kootenay Ice. In return for the Taphorns, 18, the Ice got F Nick Bowman, 18, and a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . The Taphorn brothers are from Yorkton, Sask., so this deal gets them closer to home. Keenan was a second-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft, with Kaedan going to the Vancouver Giants in the third round. . . . Kaedan has 11 goals and 13 assists in 123 career games, while Keenan has 11 goals and 21 assists in 142 games. This season, Kaedan has a goal and two assists in 11 games, while Keenan has one of each in 11 games. . . . Bowman, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a sixth-round pick by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015 bantam draft. He has 13 goals and 14 assists in 127 career regular-season games. Last season, he had six goals and six assists in 56 games with Edmonton. This season, he had one assist in 10 games with the Warriors. . . . The Warriors acquired him from Edmonton, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, in exchange for F Vince Loschiavo, 20, on May 3. . . .

The Warriors are at home to the Prince Albert Raiders on Wednesday night. That same evening, the Ice will play host to the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Tri-City Americans have acquired F Wil Kushniryk, 18, from the Kelowna Rockets tri-cityfor a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. . . . The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Kushniryk is from Chilliwack, B.C. . . . Last season, as a freshman, Kushniryk had two goals and three assists in 51 games with the Rockets. This season, he was pointless in four games. . . . “Wil is a big guy with WHL experience,” Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, said in a news release. “He skates very well and will add depth to our forward group. With the long-term injury to Paycen Bjorklund we felt it was necessary to add a veteran forward.”


MONDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The U of Lethbridge Pronghorns will retire the late Brock Hirsche’s number (10) on Friday night, prior to a Canada West game against the visiting Calgary Dinos. Hirsche, a former captain of the Pronghorns, died on April 8 after a battle with testicular cancer. From Lethbridge, Hirsche returned to his hometown to play for the Pronghorns after spending four seasons with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . The news release announcing this is right here.


F Jaret Anderson-Dolan has been returned to the Spokane Chiefs by the NHL’s Los SpokaneChiefsAngeles Kings. Anderson-Dolan, a second-round pick by the Kings in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had one assist in five games with the Kings. In 212 regular-season games with the Chiefs, he has 93 goals and 100 assists. Last season, he had 40 goals and 51 assists, and was named to the Western Conference’s first all-star team. . . . Anderson-Dolan already has been added to Team WHL for its two-game part of the CIBC Canada-Russia series. Game 1 is scheduled for Nov. 5 in Kamloops, with Game 2 the next night in Langley, B.C. . . . Anderson-Dolan is expected to be in the Chiefs’ lineup on Friday when they entertain the Portland Winterhawks.


D Bobby Russell of the Spokane Chiefs has been suspended for one game after taking a cross-checking major and game misconduct in an 8-2 loss to the host Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. He won’t play Friday against the visiting Portland Winterhawks.


The Prince Albert Raiders have brought in D Nolan Allan, the third-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He could make his WHL debut tonight against the visiting Everett Silvertips. From Davidson, Sask., Allan has six goals and five assists in 12 games with the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have dropped F Hayden Clayton, 18, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. He was pointless in four games with the Hurricanes this season. The same thing happened a year, as he went pointless in four games before being dropped and joining the Wolverines.


D Jayden Lee, a 17-year-old from North Vancouver, has committed to Quinnipiac U for the 2020-21 season. Last season, he had one goal and four assists in 29 games with the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen. This season, with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, he had a goal and five assists in 15 games. . . . Lee was a 10th-round pick by the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


Mitchell Kirkup has returned to the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders as their director of scouting. Kirkup, who is a former Stampeders player and scout, also is a longtime scout with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.


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Americans looking for head coach . . . Lajoie hopes to make hay with Kamloops . . . Broncos are poised to introduce their man

MacBeth

F Levko Koper (Spokane, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had four goals and eight assists in 45 games. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with  Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Russia Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite, he had eight goals and seven assists in 15 games, and he had nine goals and 13 assists in 31 games with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was tied for second on the Slovakian team in assists. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL), he had 18 goals and 19 assists in 56 games. . . .

F Justin Hickman (Seattle, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had five goals and three assists in 32 games. . . . Hickman is Lillehammer’s ‘Public Player’ for the coming season. The club pays the salary of the team’s public player in part from funds raised from fans. As of Monday morning, the club had raised NOK 186,837 (Cdn$30,662.00, US$23,026.00) from 499 donors since May 7. That was 110 per cent of the team’s goal. The donations ranged from NOK 1 (16 cents Cdn, or 12 cents U.S.) up to one donation of NOK 10,000 (Cdn$1,640.00, US$1,232.00). Donors are eligible to win prizes such as game-worn sweaters, game-worn warmup jerseys and free ice time at the team’s arena.

F Tomáš Karpov (Mosse Jaw, Calgary, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with the Bracknell Bees (England, National). Last season, with the Basingstoke Bison (England, National), he had 29 goals and 38 assists in 32 games. An alternate captain, he led the team in goals and points. . . .

F Karel Hromas (Everett, 2004-06) signed a one-year contract with Montpellier (France, Division 1). Last season, with Annecy (France, Division 1), he had eight goals and 11 assists in 26 games. He was second on his team in points. . . .

F Mads Eller (Edmonton, 2013-15) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Rødovre Mighty Bulls (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). In 38 games, he had 15 goals and 12 assists. He was second on the club in goals.


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With the Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos having filled head-coaching vacancies (see below), there now are three WHL teams with empty offices.

The Tri-City Americans have joined the Edmonton Oil Kings and Vancouver Giants on that list. The Americans started their search on Monday after announcing that head tri-citycoach Mike Williamson won’t be returning.

According to the Americans’ news release, “Mike has decided to pursue other opportunities” after four seasons with them.

Later in the day, Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager, told Taking Note that “Mike has being doing this since he was 20; he just wants to do something else.”

Williamson, 44, played three seasons (1991-94) with the Portland Winter Hawks, then began his coaching career as an assistant with them in 1995-96. He later worked as Portland’s head coach, then spent five seasons as the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen, guiding them to a WHL championship in his first season (2009-10).

Williamson is the fifth-winningest head coach in WHL history, his 572 victories trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).

With Hay and Williamson no longer active, Brent Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels is the winningest active WHL head coach, with 468 regular-season victories.

Williamson was only Tory’s third hire as a head coach, following Don Nachbaur (2003-09) and Jim Hiller (2009-14). Nachbaur now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, while Hiller is with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tory told Taking Note that he had received about 300 resumes by late Monday afternoon. He added that he plans to narrow it to “five or six for interviews” and that he is working on an Aug. 1 timeline, although that isn’t written in stone.

Brian Pellerin, who has spent the past four seasons as the Americans’ associate coach, will be one of those interviewed by Tory.

The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have yet to name a replacement for general manager Randy Hansch, head coach Steve Hamilton or assistant coach Ryan Marsh, all of whom no longer are with the club.

It is widely believed that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent last season as a scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, has been hired as director of hockey operations, but an announcement has yet to be made.

According to the Oil Kings’ Twitter account, they also are looking to hire a manager, game presentation and digital media, and a manager, communications.

The Giants will be replacing Jason McKee, who was fired on June 15 after two seasons with them. Barclay Parneta, who was hired as GM on May 23, made the announcement, telling Steve Ewen of Postmedia that “for me, I’d like someone I’m more familiar with. I don’t want to be starting a (season) with someone I’m just getting to know.”

Parneta had been Tri-City’s assistant GM and there has been speculation that he might be interesting in Pellerin as head coach.


As expected, the Kamloops  Blazers have signed Serge Lajoie as their newest head coach.

Lajoie takes over from Don Hay, 64, who has more regular-season and playoff victories than any coach in WHL history. Hay remains with the Blazers in an advisory role.

On June 21, you read here that “Lajoie is expected to sign on as head coach of the Kamloops1Kamloops Blazers, if he hasn’t already.”

Here’s what I wrote about Lajoie on June 18:

“Lajoie, now 49, is from Bonnyville, Alta. He played for five seasons with the Golden Bears, then spent four seasons playing in Germany. He returned to the U of Alberta and was an assistant coach for five seasons (2005-10). Lajoie was the head coach at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) for five seasons before stepping in as the Golden Bears’ head coach for the 2015-16 season.

“Lajoie took over the Golden Bears after Ian Herbers, who had been the head coach, joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers as an assistant coach. Herbers, who was on a three-year sabbatical, returned to the Golden Bears after last season.

“Lajoie has a tie to the Blazers through Don Moores, the WHL franchise’s president and COO. Moores’ brother, Billy, was on the U of Alberta coaching staff for 17 seasons (1976-85, 1986-94) before going on to work with the NHL’s New York Rangers and the Oilers.

“Billy Moores was the head coach of the Golden Bears in 1992 when they won the Canadian university championship. Herbers and Lajoie were defencemen on that team.

“Last season, the Golden Bears won another Canadian university title, this one with Lajoie as the head coach.

“Lajoie also is a former Blazers player. He had two assists in seven games with Kamloops in 1986-87. Ken Hitchcock was the head coach of that team, with Hay and Don Moores on staff as assistant coaches.”

Lajoie is the first hire by Matt Bardsley, who was named the Blazers’ general manager on June 1. He replaced Stu MacGregor, who was moved to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. Tom Gaglardi is the Stars’ owner and the Blazers’ majority owner.

The Blazers still are without a lead assistant coach and a director of player personnel. Mike Needham, the club’s lead assistant, and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel, were dismissed when the Blazers moved Hay and MacGregor aside.

The Blazers announced Lajoie’s signing via a news release that is right here. The news release doesn’t give any indication as to length of contract.


The Swift Current Broncos, who are the WHL’s reigning champions, are expected to introduce Dean Brockman as their director of hockey operations and head coach at a SCBroncosnews conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Brockman takes over from Manny Viveiros, whose title was

Here’s what I wrote here on June 21:

“Taking Note has been told that Dean Brockman will be joining the Swift Current Broncos . . .

“Brockman, 51, spent the previous four seasons on the staff of the Saskatoon Blades, the past two as head coach. He was fired following the 2017-18 season.

“Before joining the Blades, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. Many observers thought he would end up back in Humboldt, where he would have taken over from the late Darcy Haugan, the team’s general manager and head coach who was killed in the crash involving the Broncos’ bus on April 6.

Meanwhile, there are rumblings that Jamie Porter, who had been the Broncos’ director of player personnel, has left the organization. Porter has been with the Broncos through 15 seasons.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is out of a medically induced coma and has been visited by teammates in Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre.

Vandervlis and two other players suffered burns when something went wrong as they Lethbridgesat around a fire at a home near Cochrane, Alta., on June 15.

F Matt Alfaro of the U of Calgary Dinos was released from hospital on Thursday, while F Jordy Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, may be released today (Tuesday).

Peter Anholt, Lethbridge’s general manager, told Vanessa Hrvatin of the Calgary Herald that Vandervlis, who isn’t yet able to speak, has been “responding well” to visitors.

Hrvatin reported that Vandervlis, 20, is expected to “remain in the ICU for some time before moving to the burn unit of a hospital in Calgary for extensive skin grafting.”

Hrvatin’s story is right here.


The Spokane Chiefs have acquired D Bobby Russell, 18, from the Kootenay Ice for a SpokaneChiefsconditional fifth-round selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft. . . . Russell, from Surrey, B.C., was a sixth-round pick by the Ice in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 41 games. He played most of the previous season with the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League, but got into five games with the Ice, going pointless.


F Yegor Zudilov won’t be back for a second season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, which will allow them to pick twice in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . . . Zudilov, who will turn 18 on Sept. 10, is from Russia. Last season, he had seven goals and 16 assists in 23 games with the Hurricanes.


“The growth of European talent is immensely significant for the growth of the game (of hockey); however, it is not widely known that European players are treated differently under the Collective Bargaining Agreement from their North American counterpart,” writes Ryan Lake at forbes.com, referring to the NHL-NHLPA CBA. “Teams that draft a player from a European club have exclusive rights to sign the player to a contract for four years. However, if the player is from a North American club, the NHL team has only two years of exclusive rights.”

Lake’s complete story is right here. It explains the ins and outs of the CBA and its impact on European draft choices.


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