Blades move goalie to Silvertips . . . Oil Kings add two 2003-born skaters . . . WHL final on tap tonight in Winnipeg

There were three trades made involving veteran players on Thursday during the WHL’s annual draft. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades dealt G Ethan Chadwick, 19, to the Everett Silvertips for Saskatoontwo draft picks — a 2023 second-round pick that originally belong to the Kamloops Blazers and Everett’s fourth-rounder in 2025. . . . From Saskatoon, Chadwick was selected by the Blades in the third round of the 2019 draft. In 46 games with the Blades, he was 29-12-2, ???, .895. . . . In this season’s playoffs, he was 5-4, including victories in Games 3, 4 and 5 against the Regina Pats. He also won back-to-back games in the second round as the Blades came back from a 0-3 deficit to oust the Red Deer Rebels in seven games. . . . Chadwick and Austin Elliott, also 19, shared the Blades’ goaltending duties this season. . . . “This was not an easy situation to navigate with two great goalies who each played a pivotal role in our success this year,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “With two 19-year-old starting goalies who are both deserving of being starters in the league, we made this move to give Ethan the opportunity he deserves with a great franchise in Everett.” . . . The Blades used the 2023 second-round selection to take G Ryley Budd from the Calgary Northstars. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks traded F Aidan Litke, 20, to the Edmonton Oil Kings Portlandfor a third-round selection in Thursday’s draft. That pick originated with the Prince George Cougars. . . . Litke, from Winnipeg, was one of five potential 20-year-olds on the Portland roster, the others being F Gabe Klassen, D Ryan McCleary, F Jack O’Brien and F James Stefan. . . . In 123 games with the Winterhawks, Litke had 31 goals and 36 assists. This season, he put up 13 goals and 23 assists in 50 games. . . . Portland selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 draft. . . . The Winterhawks’ used the third-round pick to take F Owen Chapman of Saskatoon, who played with the Northern Alberta Xtreme U15 prep team. . . .

The Oil Kings also acquired D Marc Lajoie, another 20-year-old, from the Tri-EdmontonCity Americans for two draft picks — a 2025 second-rounder that originally belonged to the Americans and a fifth-rounder in 2026. . . . The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Lajoie, who will turn 20 on May 21, is from St. Albert, Alta. He was the Americans’ captain this season. . . . “We have an abundance of quality (2003-born) players returning,” Bob Tory, Tri-City’s general manager, said in a news release, “which forces us to make some hard decisions. Recouping quality draft capital was a priority as we can only carry three (20-year-old) players each season.” . . . Lajoie played four seasons with the Americans after being the 14th overall selection in the 2018 draft. He had 26 goals and 67 assists in 215 regular-season games. This season, he had five goals and 32 assists in 65 games. . . . His father, Serge, works with the Oil Kings as an assistant coach and the manager of player development.


When the Winnipeg Ice plays host to the Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 1 of the WHL’s championship final tonight, Canada Life Centre’s upper bowl won’t be open. The lower bowl has a capacity of about 8,800. . . . Carter Brooks (@CBrooksie84) reported Tuesday that tickets for Games 1 and 2 “range in price from $31 to $62.” . . .

The Ice and Thunderbirds each is 12-2 in these playoffs, including 8-2 in their past 10 games. . . . Winnipeg finished with a 57-10-1 regular-season record; Seattle was 54-11-3. . . . There are a combined 17 players on the two rosters who already have been selected in the NHL draft. Of those, 10 play for the Thunderbirds. . . .

Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow), after the Seattle Thunderbirds won the Western Conference title in Kamloops on Monday: “Blazers F Logan Stankoven is held off the scoresheet for sixth time in 62 games this season (and a minus player for just the 13th). Finishes playoffs with 30 points to become one of three players with consecutive 30+ point outputs in a postseason.

“Players to Record 30+ points in 2 WHL playoffs:

Chuck Arnason, Flin Flon (32 in 1970; 37 in 1971)

Ty Rattie, Portland (33 in 2012; 36 in 2013)

Logan Stankoven, Kamloops (31 in 2022; 30 in 2023)

Dale Derkatch, Regina, had non-consecutive years of 34 points in 1982 and 53 in 1984.”

Thunderbirds radio voice Thom Beuning (@ThomBeuning): “Jared Davidson now sits alone in career playoff goals as a Thunderbird with 23 and is third in career playoff points (50), trailing only Ethan Bear (55) and Mat Barzal (65). From undrafted to unbelievable!” . . .

Games 3 and 4 of the WHL final are to be played in Kent, Wash., on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They will be televised in the Seattle area by Fox 13+. . . . Meanwhile, TSN has announced that it will show Games 3-7 from the OHL, QMJHL and WHL finals. . . .

The OHL final opened Thursday night as G Zach Bowen stopped 24 shots to lead the London Knights to a 3-0 victory over the visiting Peterborough Petes. F Ryan Winterton had a goal and an assist; he has goals in seven straight playoff games. . . . Game 2 is scheduled for London on Saturday night. . . . Games 3 and 4, both of which are to be televised by TSN, are to be played in Peterborough on Monday and Wednesday nights. . . .

Games 1 and 2 of the QMJHL final, featuring the Quebec Remparts and Halifax Mooseheads, are scheduled for Quebec City tonight and Saturday night. . . . Games 3 and 4 in Halifax, both of which are to be shown by TSN, are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.


The 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for June 4, and Dorothy is taking part once again. She will celebrate 10 years as a kidney-transplant recipient in September, so the annual Kidney Walk is a big deal for her. In fact, she is participating for a 10th straight year. Yes, that means she is fund-raising, with all donations going to the Kidney Foundation. . . . If you are interested in helping, like maybe pushing her past $4,000, you are able to do so on her home page, which is right here.



The Victoria Royals will be sharing their facility, the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre, with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks for a few days in September. The Canucks announced Thursday that they will hold their five-day training camp there from Sept. 21-25. . . . This will be first time since 2019 that the Canucks have trained in Victoria.


Mike Kelly, a former WHL coach, has lost his job as the NHL’s New York Rangers continue to make changes. Kelly joined the Rangers as an assistant coach after Gerard Gallant signed on as head coach. Gallant was fired a few days ago; Kelly was released on Tuesday. . . . Kelly had worked with Gallant with the Florida Panthers and Vegas Golden Knights, and with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Kelly coached the Rangers’ PP, which finished fourth in the NHL at 24.6 per cent over the past two seasons. . . . Kelly was the head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings for one season (2003-04).

THINKING OUT LOUD — Bob Huggins, the men’s basketball coach at the U of West Virginia, had an annual salary of US$4.2 million that made him the state’s highest-paid employee. But then he had a radio rant that included homophobic slurs so the school knocked $1 million off his salary. Now he’s No. 2 on the state payroll. Who’s No. 1? That would be Neal Brown, the school’s football coach. What? You thought it would be doctor? . . . D Radek Gudas played without a conscience when he was with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. And he shows even less of one now that he is with the Florida Panthers. But I really want him on my team. . . . RCMP on the Coquihalla Highway near Merritt, B.C., stopped a Washington state driver behind the wheel of an Alfa Romeo on Wednesday. The speed limit is 120 km-h; he was clocked at 262. Yes, 262! Had to have been a Seattle Thunderbirds fan still celebrating from the previous night. . . . If you are watching the NHL series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Edmonton Oilers, I have to ask if you are more tired of the stick work or the WAH? . . . It became apparent on Wednesday night that Vegas D Shea Theodore missed the NHL memo legalizing cross-checking. Edmonton F Klim Kostin gave him three hard unpenalized shots before Theodore responded with a spear to the groin for which he was given a minor penalty. Surely he wouldn’t have retaliated had he known that cross-checking now is a legal ploy. Right?


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873



Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182


Or, for more information, visit right here.



Kamloops gets 2023 Memorial Cup . . . Building “deficiencies” prevent Kelowna bid . . . Oil Kings take out Ice; Blazers beat T-Birds in OT

The Canadian Hockey League and the Kamloops Blazers announced Friday CHLevening that they will be the host team for the four-team 2023 Memorial Cup tournament.

The big reveal was done prior to Game 5 of the Blazers’ WHL Western Conference final series with the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds.

Dates for the 2023 event weren’t announced.

This will be the second time that a Memorial Cup champion will be decided in Kamloops. Playing at home in 1995, the Blazers, who were the host team but also had won the WHL championship, beat the OHL-champion Detroit Jr. Red Wings, 8-2, in the championship game on May 21.

That tournament also featured the QMJHL-champion Hull Olympiques and the Brandon Wheat Kings, who were in as the other WHL finalist.

That was the Blazers’ second straight Memorial Cup title and third in four seasons.

You may recall that the Blazers fired general manager Bob Brown just 15 days after having won that Memorial Cup on home ice, with then-president Colin Day saying it was time for the franchise to go in a different direction.

The 2023 tournament will be the first time the Memorial Cup will be presented in a WHL city since the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, the QMJHL champions, beat the host Regina Pats, 3-0, on May 27, 2018.

The 2020 tournament was to have been held in Kelowna with the WHL’s Rockets as the host team. Preparations were well underway before everything was scrubbed because of the pandemic.

The 2021 tournament also was cancelled. The 2022 Memorial Cup is to be played in Saint John, N.B., June 20-29.

In recent years, teams interested in playing host to the tournament would make bid presentations in front of a league’s board of governors. A vote would be held and a winner declared. Such was the case prior to Kelowna being awarded the 2020 event over bids from Kamloops and the Lethbridge Hurricanes.

Now, however, the CHL has taken control of the process and it’s all done behind closed doors, so we don’t know what other WHL teams made bid presentations.

In July 2020, Doug Nicholas, the City of Kelowna’s sport and events services manager, told councillors that “decisions are already underway regarding the possibility of Kelowna getting their opportunity to host the Memorial Cup (in 2023),” Castanet reported. “Preliminary discussions have been positive to date with the WHL and the CHL.”

According to Castanet, Nicholas told councillors that the Rockets, who had made a handful of trades to add to the team they had thought would play in the 2020 event, would have time to “rebuild a strong cup-winning team” for 2023. He also pointed out, Wayne Moore of Castanet wrote, that “club owner and president Bruce Hamilton has committed to a 10th two-year term as chairman of the board of directors of the WHL.”



While the Kamloops Blazers were informing their fans of their good news, the Kelowna Rockets were issuing an open letter addressed to “Season Ticket Holders, Sponsors and Rocket Fans” in which they attempted to explain why the 2023 Memorial Cup won’t be held in their city.

In the letter, the Rockets pointed the finger squarely at the GSL Group, which “owns, operates and manages” their home arena, Prospera Place. The GSL Group also owns, among other things, the WHL’s Victoria Royals and their home arena, Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre.

According to the Rockets, they submitted their intent to bid after which an audit of Prospera Place “found that there were significant deficiencies that needed to be upgraded for the facility to meet the CHL standards for hosting the Memorial Cup.”

The open letter continues: “Ultimately, an agreement with the Rockets, City of Kelowna and the GSL Group could not be reached to make the necessary capital improvements to the building. As a result, the building did not meet the minimum standards required to host the event by the CHL and, consequently, the Rockets could not proceed with our bid to host the 2023 Memorial Cup.”

The Rockets didn’t explain exactly what those “significant deficiencies” are, nor did they explain how the building became so deficient in only three years. After all, it must have met the CHL standards to have been declared the home arena for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

“Our hope,” the letter concludes, “as we look toward the future is that the GSL Group will work to complete the necessary improvements the audit identified so that we can once again bring a Memorial Cup back to Kelowna.”

The letter was signed “Your Kelowna Rockets.”



Eastern Conference

In Edmonton, the No. 2 Oil Kings dismantled the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice, 7-1, to Edmontonadvance to the WHL final for the first time since 2014. . . . The Oil Kings won the best-of-seven conference final, 4-1, and now are 12-1 in the playoffs. . . . The series, which opened in Winnipeg, followed a 2-3-2 format because of the travel distance between the cities. The Oil Kings got a split in Winnipeg and then swept their home games. Edmonton outscored Winnipeg, 15-6, in those three games and 21-15 in the series. . . . Last night, the Oil Kings struck for four first-period goals and added three more in the second as they built a 7-0 lead. . . . They got two goals and two assists from F Carter Souch (9), with F Dylan Guenther drawing four assists. D Kaiden Guhle (6) had two goals and an assist, F Jakub Demek (3) added a goal and two assists, and F Jake Neighbours (3) scored twice. . . . Neighbours counted at 4:52 and 5:00 of the first period to give his guys a 3-0 lead. . . . Those two goals eight seconds apart were one second off the WHL playoff record that is shared by Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, April 9, 1978, 1:02 and 1:09 of third period in 9-6 victory over the visiting Flin Flon Bombers); F Ron Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 19:21 and 19:28 of second period in 7-4 victory over the host Portland Winterhawks); and F Joachim Blichfeld (Portland, March 29, 2018, 13:38 and 13:45 of third period in 4-3 victory over the host Spokane Chiefs). . . . Edmonton G Sebastian Cossa stopped 19 shots, losing his shutout bid at 17:20 of the third period when F Connor McClennon (8) scored. . . . Ice G Gage Alexander gave up four goals on nine shots. Daniel Hauser came on in relief at 910:18 of the first period and was beaten three times on 28 shots. . . . Edmonton F Jaxsen Wiebe, returning from a two-game suspension, finished with zero points but did earn 29 penalty minutes — two misconducts, one major and two minors. . . . The Ice was again without F Matt Savoie, who was injured in Game 2. . . . The Oil Kings won the WHL title in 2014, the last time they were in the final. They went on to win the Memorial Cup, the last WHL team to do so.


Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Daylan Kuefler scored in OT to give the No. 2 Blazers a 4-3 Kamloopsvictory over the No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds in Game 5 of the conference final. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-2 edge in the best-of-seven series with Game 6 scheduled for Kent, Wash., on Sunday. . . . A seventh game, if necessary, would be played in Kamloops on Tuesday. . . . Last night, the teams went to OT for the second straight game, the Thunderbirds having won, 2-1, at home on Wednesday. . . . F Conner Roulette (3) put Seattle out front at 1:51 of the first period, only to have F Matthew Seminoff (6) tie it at 6:44. . . . F Lukas Svejkovsky (8), back after missing a game with an undisclosed injury, gave Seattle a 2-1 lead at 2:32 of the second period. . . . The Blazers tied it at 8:24 when F Daylan Kuefler (8) scored. . . . Kamloops went ahead 3-2 at 4:58 of the third period after F Connor Levis (3) knocked in a puck out of mid-air. The call on the ice was “no goal,” but that was overturned after about a six-minute video review. . . . Seattle got that one back less than six minutes later when D Kevin Korchinski (6) corned at 10:27. . . . Kuefler, a 38-goal man in the regular season, won it with his ninth goal at 5:39 of extra time. . . . Kuefler also had an assist, for a three-point outing. He’s got 15 points in 15 playoff games. . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 34 shots for Kamloops, six more than Seattle’s Thomas Milic. . . . Each team was 0-for-2 on the PP. . . . F Henrik Rybinski also returned to Seattle’s lineup. He hadn’t played since Game 1 because of an undisclosed injury. . . . Earlier in the day, the Thunderbirds were fined $750 for “warmup violations” prior to Game 4 in Kent on Wednesday.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Sylvain Couturier has resigned as the general manager of the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan after 20 seasons with the organization. He chose not to expound on the reasons for his resignation, but did suggest that there may be litigation down the road. . . . 

The OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs won the Eastern Conference playoff title on Friday night, beating the host North Bay Battalion, 6-0, to sweep the best-of-seven final. The Bulldogs, who will meet either the Flint Firebirds or Windsor Spitfires in the final, are 12-0 in the playoffs. The Firebirds and Windsor are 2-2 after the Spitfires won, 4-2, in Flint on Friday. . . .

Ryan Tobler has signed on with the AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs as their associate coach. Tobler, 46, played three seasons in the WHL (Saskatoon Blades, Calgary Hitmen, Swift Current Broncos, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1994-97). He was the head coach of the Chinook Hockey League’s Bentley Generals for four seasons (2012-16), then spent four-plus seasons on the coaching staff of the Colorado Eagles, the first two in the ECHL and the rest in the AHL. . . . In Blackfalds, he’ll work alongside Doug Quinn, the owner, president and head coach.


My wife, Dorothy, a kidney transplant recipient in 2013, will take part in the 2022 #kamloops Kidney Walk for a ninth straight year on June 5. Yes, it’s virtual again. But she will be there, and you are able to sponsor her right here.

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873



Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182


Or, for more information, visit right here.


CHL hires lobbyists in hopes of landing federal aid . . . Some NCAA teams adjusting schedules. . . . Saskatchewan hockey league done

The Canadian Hockey League, which last week announced it had agreed to pay $30 million to settle a minimum wage-related class-action lawsuit, is lobbying Canada’s CHLfederal government for financial aid to help it and its 52 Canadian teams through these trying pandemic times.

Marco Vigliotti of reports that “Susan Smith, Raphael Brass and Tim Barber of Bluesky Strategy registered” as lobbyists on behalf of the CHL.

According to its website, the Ottawa-based Bluesky Strategy Group delivers “public affairs, strategic communications, government relations, and media relations advice and execution.”

Smith and Barber are co-founders of Bluesky; Brass is a senior consultant.

On Friday, the CHL brought an end to a lawsuit that had been filed against it in 2014 by agreeing to pay $30 million. In that lawsuit, former players were asking for major junior hockey players to be declared employees, rather than student-athletes, and as such fall under various employment standard regulations including minimum wage and overtime pay.

In its statement on Friday, the CHL stated: “This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs. It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.”

From the other side, Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The CHL and the three leagues that operate under its umbrella — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — aren’t strangers to lobbying governments.

In the early years of the lawsuit, they all worked to get provincial and state governments to provide exemptions from minimum-wage legislation.

Exemptions were provided by the governments of Alberta, B.C., Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Washington state, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Michigan. Oregon legislators refused to provide an exemption.

David Branch, the OHL commissioner and at the time the CHL’s president, registered as a lobbyist with the Ontario government on Sept. 11, 2018. Two months later, the government announced that it was excluding OHL players from employment standards legislation.

That came two years after B.C’s cabinet, then under Liberal control, had done the same thing for the WHL.

Vaughn Palmer, a political columnist with the Vancouver Sun, wrote on Oct. 22, 2016:

“The Liberals made the change after extensive lobbying from the league, which was facing a court challenge on the failure to pay minimum wage and concerned about economic pressures on its teams were they obliged to pay up.

“The Liberals bought the argument but did so in the quietest fashion. The waiver was approved by cabinet order on Feb. 15, with no followup press release nor much else to draw attention to what they’d done.”

Five days after Palmer’s column appeared, The Sun’s Ian Mulgrew reported that the WHL “did not register as a lobbyist before leaning on B.C.’s cabinet to exempt major junior players from the minimum wager law . . .”

According to Mulgrew, Erin Beatty, communications director for the B.C. Office of the Registrar of Lobbyists, said the regulator was “acting on the potential incident of non-compliance in this case.”

It would seem that whatever investigation was held didn’t go anywhere, and The Sun never followed up.

The $30-million settlement revealed on Friday won’t become official until it is approved by the court, which should happen later this summer. It’s believed that $15 million of that sum will be covered by insurance, leaving the CHL’s 52 Canadian teams each to pay about $288,000.

On April 17, Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault announced that the government was committing $500 million to arts, culture and sports sectors.

The CHL joins other sports groups including the CFL, soccer’s Canadian Premier League, the Canadian Elite Basketball League and various hockey leagues in working to get financial aid from government.

Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, announced Tuesday that the U.S.-Canada border will remain closed to non-essential travel for another month, taking it to around June 21. In April, the closure had been extended to May 21. . . . The border has been closed to non-essential travel since March 18. . . . Adrian Dix, B.C.’s health minister, said later in the day that he believes the closure will be needed long past June 21. . . . “I’m not convinced there is much chance that it will clear sufficiently in the next month to change at least my mind about whether we should open the border,” Dix said. “I think it’s going to be significantly longer than that for visitors.”

Some NCAA hockey teams are beginning to make adjustments to their schedules brought on by budget cuts implemented because of the pandemic. . . . Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reports that “college hockey teams are already starting to call of non-conference road trips that require airplane flights because of anticipated budget crunches due to the coronavirus pandemic.” . . . His complete story is right here.


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

The Triangle Hockey League, long a fixture on the Saskatchewan winter sports scene, is no more. According to the league, the decision was made at a meeting on Saturday. . . . The league had five teams last season — the Bredenbury Cougars, Esterhazy Flyers, Hudson Bay Hunters, Ochapowace Thunder and Theodore Buffalos. The Rocanville Tigers were a league member although they sat out last season. . . . The THL had been without an executive board since February; it also looked like there may be issues getting on-ice officials for a 2020-21 season.

Here is Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken: “Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”


Soccer’s English Premier League, idle since March, is slowly resuming training in the hopes of resuming its season. On Tuesday, the results were announced from the 748 people who were tested for the coronavirus on Monday and Tuesday. Six people were found to be positive and will be self-isolated for a week. More test results are expected to be announced on Tuesday. . . .

The Belmont Stakes, normally the third event in thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown, now will be the first leg. It is scheduled for June 20 and will be run without spectators. . . . The Kentucky Derby, usually the first leg, was postponed to Sept. 5 and the Preakness, normally No. 2, is scheduled for Oct. 3. . . .

The Western Lacrosse Association and the Major Series Lacrosse have both cancelled their 2020 seasons. The WLA is based in B.C.; MSL is an Ontario-based league. . . . That means that the Mann Cup, which goes annually to Canada’s top senior men’s lacrosse team, won’t be contested. . . .

The Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame has cancelled its 2020 induction dinner and ceremony that had been scheduled for Sept. 26. According to a news release, “The 2020 induction class will be carried forward as the Class of 2021.” It will take place at some point in September 2021.

CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.


“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.




It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.

Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.

The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.

Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.

The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


Hey, WHL, fans are waiting on 18 rosters. . . . Nine WHLers on Team Canada. . . . Hitmen sign two import forwards


F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .

F Chase Clayton (Calgary, Saskatoon, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Blue Devils Weiden (Germany, Oberliga Süd). Last season, in 27 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West), he had eight goals and four assists.


Guy Flaming, the host of The Pipeline Show, chatted with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, on July 4. Part of that conversation — a partial transcript of which is right here — included this:

Flaming: One of the questions that came in from a listener was about the updated roster pages on the WHL website. It’s something I’ve mentioned over the last couple of years as well. Right now, if I go to the QMJHL website, I can pull up a roster for a respective team, Halifax, whatever, and see every player that that team holds the rights to. If I go to the WHL website and I look at the Calgary Hitmen, Jett Woo isn’t even listed on their roster and, in fact, the roster page is blank for the 2019 pre-season. Why is that and how can we fix that moving forward because, I think you’d agree, that it would be advantageous for the fans at least to generate interest by seeing all the players that a team holds the rights to?

Robison: Well, I think that that is a very good question and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ll certainly look into that. I think it’s important that we keep current rosters. Not quite sure why that would be the case but I will certainly look into it and would suggest to you that as long as there’s the ability to do that, that we would certainly have that information posted.


Well . . . July is about to end, meaning it has been almost four weeks since Flaming and Robison had that conversation.

I checked for pre-season rosters on the WHL website on Monday evening and here is what I found — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats and Victoria Royals have rosters available.

As for the other 18 teams . . . crickets!

So the next time you hear the commissioner of all things WHL talking about how important fans are, well . . .

I mean, sheesh, we’re talking about pre-season rosters here. Not the contract terms of all 22 head coaches, or how much players are being paid, or how much the WHL is paying in legal fees these days.


BTW, Robison’s response to Flaming’s first question — he asked for two or three highlights from the past 12 months — had me spitting out my coffee. I’m thinking the good folks of Prince Albert would have done the same. . . . One of Robison’s highlights was the Raiders having won the 2018-19 WHL championship:

“What a good news story that is,” Robison said, “and it really helped solidify that franchise moving forward, because as you’re well aware, in the smaller markets, there’s challenges and certainly in Prince Albert we need a new facility and the timing couldn’t have been better for their run in the WHL playoffs and winning the championship.”

Hey, Prince Albert, you have been forewarned. Time to start saving your pennies for a new arena.

Quit snickering, Swift Current, because you’ll be up next.

There are nine WHLers on the 22-man roster for the Canadian team that will play in the CanadaHlinka Gretzky Cup that runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The roster was revealed Tuesday after a five-day selection camp in Calgary. . . . Here are the WHL players named to the team: F Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders; F Justin Sourdif, Vancouver Giants; F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings; F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg Ice; F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings; F Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert; and G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers. . . . WHLers who were in camp but weren’t selected: F Jakob Brook, Prince Albert; F Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon Blades; F Jack Finley, Spokane Chiefs; F Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw; D Tyrel Bauer, Seattle Thunderbirds; D Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen; and D Ronan Seeley, Everett Silvertips. . . . Canada will open against Finland on Monday in Breclav. . . . Michael Dyck, Vancouver’s head coach, is the head coach of Canada’s team, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, one of the assistant coaches.

The Calgary Hitmen have signed Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, Calgary17, both of whom were picked in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Peterek had two goals and seven assists in nine games with HC Ocelari Trinec’s U-19 team last season, then added two goals and nine assists in 41 games on loan to HC Frydek-Mistek (Czech2). He also had five goals and eight assists in 29 games with his country’s U-18 side. . . . Krajc had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-18 team, and also had 11 goals and eight assists in 27 games with the U-20 side. In seven games with Slovakia’s U-18 team, he had two goals and an assist.

Leland Mack has joined the Prince George Cougars has their head scout in the Pacific PrinceGeorgeRegion. He is the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. Mack had been scouting for the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars also have added Tim Mills, David Reekie, Rob Rogers and Trevor Sprague to their scouting staff. . . . Mills moves over from the Swift Current Broncos and will be the Cougars’ Okanagan scout. . . . Reekie, a goaltender in his playing days who suited up with the Regina Pats and Everett Silvertips (2004-07), will work Regina and southern Saskatchewan for the Cougars. . . . Rogers, who had been working with the Spokane Chiefs, will focus on B.C. . . . Sprague, the general manager of the major midget Cariboo Cougars, will keep an eye on the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and northern B.C.

Taking Note has been told that F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, won’t be playing in 2019-20 because of concussion issues. A Winnipegger, he has played four seasons in the ECHL, with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators, Indy Fuel and Norfolk Admirals. Last season, he had seven goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . In 2017-18, he had 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk.

Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has taken an in-depth look at the NHL and its fighting numbers. NHL. . . “In 1,271 regular-season games in 2018-19,” he writes, “there were 224 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. That’s down from 280 fights in 2017-18.” . . . Also: ”The rate for 2018-19 was 0.18 fights per game, which marks the first time that the average fights per game has dropped below 0.20.” . . . And: “In 2018-19, 15.3% of regular-season games had a fight. In 2008-09, that number was 41.4%.” . . . Let’s compare a couple of those numbers to the WHL’s 2018-19 season, using numbers available at In 748 regular-season WHL games, there were 272 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. (That number was 345 in 2017-18, when each team played 72 games; last season, each team played 68 games.) The rate for 2018-19 was 0.36 fights per game, down from 0.44 in 2017-18. . . . Yes, there are more fights in the WHL than in the NHL these days. . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.


Dan MacKenzie has signed on as the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate. . . . MacKenzie, who spent the past eight years as the managing director of NBA Canada, will report to the CHL executive council which comprises the three commissioners of the aforementioned leagues — David Branch (OHL), Gilles Courteau (QMJHL) and Ron Robison (WHL). As well as being the OHL commissioner, Branch had been the CHL president since 1996. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . .

F Sebastian Streu, who will turn 20 on Nov. 22, has signed a tryout agreement with Eisbären  Berlin (Germany, DEL), meaning that he won’t be returning to the Regina Pats. Streu, who has German/Canadian citizenship, had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games with Regina last season. . . . Streu’s father, Craig, is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Eisbären  Berlin. . . . The Pats are left with three 20s on their roster — F Robbie Holmes, F Dawson Holt and F Austin Pratt.


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