Pats to select first, plan on taking Bedard . . . NHL postpones draft . . . Opening of CFL season in doubt?

The Regina Pats will have the first selection in the WHL’s bantam draft. That was determined in the annual draft lottery that as held in the WHL’s Calgary office on Wednesday morning. . . . The draft is scheduled to be held online on April 22. . . .

And what will the Pats do with that selection? Here’s Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:

“Shortly after Regina was awarded the top pick via Wednesday’s lottery, GM John PatsPaddock revealed to the Regina Leader-Post that his team will indeed select blue-chip forward Connor Bedard, who has been granted exceptional player status by Hockey Canada.”

Paddock told Harder: “We will be selecting him first. I would have said this regardless but the exceptional status made it even more obvious to everybody. There’s no secret with this. He’ll be a Regina Pat, that’s for sure.”

Harder’s complete story is right here.

So . . . you’re wondering how the Pats ended up with the first pick that actually originated with the Swift Current Broncos? Here’s how it happened . . . 

It all began on Jan. 9, 2018, when the Hurricanes traded G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel to the Broncos for G Logan Flodell, F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, D Matthew Stanley, first- and third-round picks in the 2020 bantam draft and a conditional second-rounder in 2021.

On Nov. 29, 2018, the Pats dealt F Jake Leschyshyn and F Nick Henry to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for F Jadon Joseph, F Ty Kolle, five bantam draft selections — including a 2020 first-rounder that had been Swift Current’s — and two conditional bantam draft picks.

That turned into an early selection when the Broncos, who won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship, finished with the league’s poorest record in 2019-20.

When the lottery was held yesterday, a Prince George Cougars’ ball fell, allowing them to move up from fourth to second — that is the maximum advancement permitted under draft rules. . . . The Cougars also hold the 11th and 17th picks, from the Saskatoon Blades and Medicine Hat Tigers, respectively.

The first-round order:

1. Regina Pats (from Swift Current Broncos via Lethbridge)

2. Prince George Cougars

3. Moose Jaw Warriors

4. Tri-City Americans

5. Saskatoon Blades (from Regina Pats)

6. Red Deer Rebels

7. Seattle Thunderbirds

8. Kelowna Rockets

9. Victoria Royals

10. Vancouver Giants

11. Medicine Hat Tigers (from Saskatoon)

12. Calgary Hitmen

13. Brandon Wheat Kings

14. Winnipeg Ice

15. Prince Albert Raiders

16. Lethbridge Hurricanes

17. Prince George Cougars (from Medicine Hat)

18. Spokane Chiefs

19. Kamloops Blazers

20. Edmonton Oil Kings

21. Swift Current Broncos (from Everett Silvertips)

22. Prince George Cougars (from Portland Winterhawks)

For the second and all ensuing rounds, the draft order follows the inverse order of the 2019-20 standings.

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The WHL held its inaugural two-round draft of U.S. prospects on Wednesday afternoon. . . . All of the selections are listed right here.


Dinos


The NHL has postponed its annual draft, but hasn’t provided a new date. It was to have been held at the Bell Centre in Montreal, June 26 and 27. . . . The NHL also postponed its scouting combine and awards ceremony. The combine would have taken place in Buffalo, from June 1-6, with the awards ceremony in Las Vegas on June 18. . . .


Bob McKenzie, the godfather of hockey insiders, reported on TSN on Tuesday that the NHL has asked teams to look into the availability of their home arenas through the end NHLof August.

Emily Kaplan of ESPN later chatted with Nick Foligno, the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Here is part of their conversation:

“I don’t know if I should be saying this, but I will. I don’t know if it makes a ton of sense for us to play into August. I think that’s pretty dangerous coming into another season. You want to have a great season the following season, and I don’t know if that gives guys enough time to rest and recover.

“If you think of the amount of games some guys would play, you’re adding on another 20 games, plus a full season, then playoffs again. That’s dangerous for some players, especially star players — the guys fans want to see — they’re usually playing deep into the playoffs, so we have to be cognizant of their health and safety. We want to make our league as great as it could be going into this big TV deal that everybody knows about. There’s so much that goes into it.”

The complete conversation is right here.


The 2020 North American Indigenous Games have been postponed until some point in 2021. The Games had been scheduled for K’jipuktuk/Halifax, N.S., July 12-18. . . . There isn’t a date set for next year but organizers are hoping for some time during the summer. . . . The 2020 B.C. Summer Games that had been scheduled for Maple Ridge have been cancelled. They were to have been held July 23-26. Maple Ridge will play host to the Games in 2024. . . . The 2020 Canada 55+ Games that were to have been held in Kamloops have been postponed to 2021. They had been scheduled for Aug. 25-28. . . . These Games are held every two years in late August. They have been held in even-numbered years, but that rotation will be broken in 2021. . . .


The Russia-based KHL has cancelled the remainder of its season. The KHL was into its playoffs and had hoped to be able to finish in time, but now has given up on that happening. . . .


The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes told full-time employees on Wednesday that they won’t be getting paid after the end of this week. . . . The Super League’s Toronto Wolfpack has laid off its Canadian staff, putting 12 full-time employees out of work until play resumes. . . .


The B.C. Lions are scheduled to hold training camp in Kamloops from May 13 through June 3. I’m thinking that is about seven weeks away. I’m also thinking that isn’t going to happen. . . . So it may not be long before the CFL announces Plan B. . . .


If you feel like clicking on that DONATE button over there on the right and making a contribution, please go ahead. . . .


The below tweet shows the price of gas in Walsh, Alta., just east of Medicine Hat, on Tuesday:


The Thought for the Day, from Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, courtesy of Mark Twain: “How lucky Adam was. He knew when he said a good thing, nobody had said it before.” . . .


Clown


With the French Open already having been rescheduled, it now seems that Wimbledon could get the same treatment. It is scheduled for June 29 through July 12 but the All England Lawn Tennis Club now is saying the event could be postponed or, yes, even cancelled. . . . The French Open, originally scheduled for May 24 through June 7 at Stade Roland Garros in Paris, now is to be held from Sept. 20 through Oct. 4. It is to start one week after the conclusion of the U.S. Open. . . .


Terry Jones of Postmedia reports that Edmonton is likely to lose the Volleyball Super Nationals that were scheduled for May 13-19, and also the Triathlon World Series Grand Final and World Championships, Aug. 17-23. . . . While the triathlon event is expected to be moved to 2021, the next Volleyball Super Nationals isn’t scheduled until 2022. . . .



Beans

Scattershooting on a Tuesday evening after spending time on Monday with Sabrina . . .

Scattershooting

If you’re wondering, Dave Ayres and his wife, Sarah, are expected back in the Toronto area today (Wednesday) after being feted in Raleigh, N.C., on Tuesday. You will recall that Ayres, who had a kidney transplant in 2004, is the EBUG (emergency backup goaltender) who helped the Carolina Hurricanes beat the host Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-3, on Saturday night. . . . They are expected to be back in Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night where he again will be the EBUG, this time with the Vancouver Canucks in to play the Maple Leafs. . . . You don’t suppose that he might . . . nah, never happen.


BoardingPass


Congrats to Trevor Weisgerber, the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Weisgerber, 40, who underwent a kidney transplant in St. Paul’s Hospital in Saskatoon on Jan. 26, has been named winner of the Joe Bloski Award as the league’s coach of the year. . . . The Warriors went 30-13-1 and tied for fourth place in the 12-team league, one point out of third and seven short of first. They will open a first-round playoff series against the visiting Notre Dame Hounds on Thursday. . . . Weisgerber told me on Tuesday that “I am feeling pretty good . . . the fun begins on Thursday!” . . . If you aren’t familiar with Weisgerber’s story, you will find it all right here.



Grant Rezansoff, who played two seasons (1979-81) with the WHL’s Victoria Cougars, died on Saturday at his home in Red Wing, Minn. A native of Surrey, B.C., he was 58. . . . In his second season with the Cougars, he scored 40 goals and added 57 assists. . . . After moving on from the WHL, Rezansoff played in the International and Central leagues before spending two seasons in Europe. . . . There is a complete obituary right here.


Disneyland


The New York Mets are paying Bobby Bonilla, who last played in 2001, a total of $1,193, 248.20 a year until 2035. Now we are free to wonder if the NHL is headed into the same territory. . . . At the NHL trade deadline, it was pointed out that the Buffalo Sabres are paying D Christian Ehrhoff the nice sum of $857,143 per year until 2028. He last played with the Sabres in 2013-14 and was last in the NHL in 2015-16 with the Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Meanwhile, F Ilya Kovalchuk, who has gone from the Los Angeles Kings to the Montreal Canadiens to the Washington Capitals in the past few weeks, is taking up cap space on four different NHL teams, with the New Jersey Devils also in the Payin’ Ilya Club.


GiftCard


Until reading a book titled Major Misconduct: The Human Cost of Fighting in Hockey, by Jeremy Allingham, I wasn’t aware that former Seattle Thunderbirds/Kelowna Rockets enforcer James McEwan had filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada.

It turns out that the lawsuit now is more encompassing that that, as Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out here:

“Already facing a class-action lawsuit over not paying its players a minimum wage, the three major junior leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League could soon find themselves facing a concussion lawsuit that could include hundreds, if not thousands, of former frequent fighters in junior hockey.

“What started as a lawsuit launched against the CHL, the WHL and Hockey Canada by former WHL player James McEwan in January 2019 was recently re-filed with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include both the OHL and QMJHL. Six days after the lawsuit was re-filed, the QMJHL postponed a vote on whether or not to ban fighting, a vote that was scheduled for that day, but was moved to August.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.



JUST NOTES: Having heard about Sabrina Ionescu in recent days, I got a chance to watch her on a TSN channel on Monday night as her Oregon Ducks beat the host Stanford Cardinal. Earlier in the day, Ionescu had spoken at the memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gigi — Ionescu was close with both of them. She also was fighting a flu bug and apparently was sick to her stomach before the game. The 5-foot-11 point guard then went out and led the Ducks to victory, in the process becoming the first player, male or female, in NCAA Division 1 history to have career totals of at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Yes, she is quite a player. Try to tune in if the Ducks are on TV again. . . . How goofy has the NHL’s trade deadline day become? Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports, singling out one incident from Monday: “The best moment of the day came when Johnny Gaudreau inexplicably left the ice at the Calgary Flames practice, leading everyone to freak out and speculate. It turns out he just had to pee. Trade deadline day is the best.”

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while realizing Dave Ayres is getting more than 15 minutes . . .

Scattershooting

The sporting world was still abuzz on Sunday, the day after the night when goaltender Dave Ayres, 42, came on in relief in his NHL debut and helped the Carolina Hurricanes to a 6-3 victory over the host Toronto Maple Leafs.

What I find most interesting in Ayres’ post-game world is that so many writers have made a bigger deal about his being a Zamboni driver than the fact that he underwent a kidney transplant.

Time after time, you will read something like this: “Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver . . .” And, later, you’ll see this: “Ayres, who underwent a kidney transplant . . .”

This is why the renal community continues to work hard on educating people on things like this — yes, Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004, but he still has kidney disease. There isn’t a cure for kidney disease. Once you’ve got it, there’s no divorce. Dialysis is a treatment. A transplant is a treatment.

Ayres, whose transplanted kidney came from his mother, will be on anti-rejection medications for the rest of his life.

In the meantime, I look forward to someone doing a story on how Ayres dealt with kidney disease, dialysis and the early days after his transplant.

Ayres flew into New York City on Sunday evening. On Monday, the Hurricanes have Ayres lined up for media hits with the likes of NBC’s Today Show, Golic & Wingo on ESPN Radio/ESPN 2, Fox & Friends, CBS Sports Radio, Dan Patrick Show, Dan Le Batard Show and CNN World Sport.

Later Monday, Ayres will head for Raleigh, N.C., where the Hurricanes are to meet the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night. Besides being saluted by the team and its fans, Ayres will serve as the pre-game Siren Sounder.

On top of that, Mary-Ann Baldwin, the mayor of Raleigh, as proclaimed Tuesday as David Ayres Day.

Immediately after the game, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with their logo on the front and Ayres’ name and number (90) on the back were for sale — at US$28 a pop. At one point on Sunday, sales went over 4,000. A portion of the proceeds are to go to a kidney foundation of his choosing.

——

Once a year, I join a few friends for an evening of sports trivia. As luck would have it, our 2020 gathering took place on Friday night.

One of the questions asked was this: “Who is the oldest rookie in NHL regular-season history?” . . . The answer was D Connie (Mad Dog) Madigan, who played his first NHL game with the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6, 1973. He was 38 years and four months old when he played in a 3-3 tie with the Montreal Canadiens.

While that was the correct answer on Friday, it wouldn’t have been just 24 hours later. The answer now is G Dave Ayres, who made his NHL debut with the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night at the age of 42 years 194 days. Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004.

BTW, the record-holder before Madigan came along was F Bob Barlow, who made his NHL debut with the Minnesota North Stars at the age of 34 on Oct. 12, 1969.

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If you are at all into hockey history, you will want to read this piece right here from puckstruck.com. It chronicles the NHL career of Morrie Roberts, who like Dave Ayres also served as an EBUG. However, that was in 1928.


Road


A couple of questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “With the spectre of opposing pitchers plunking Houston Astros hitters at a record rate over the team’s sign-stealing scandal, just have to ask: Will Houston’s promotional giveaways include Astros Replica Jersey Night, sponsored by Target? By season’s end, will Houston — not Boston — be laying claim to the title of ‘Bean Town’?”


Mike Lupica, in the New York Daily News: “It is interesting that the same people who thought drug cheating in baseball was just the cost of doing business now seem to think that sign-stealing cheating is the crime of the century. At least we might have a possible new baseball novel come out of this whole mess: ‘Bang the Can Slowly’.”


Turkey


Greg Robinson, an offensive lineman who played last season with the NFL’s Cleveland Browns, was arrested earlier in the week near the U.S.-Mexico border. Among other things, he had 157 pounds of week in his vehicle. As Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports noted: “(Police) also found 23 mason jars, a can sealing machine, an electronic scale and over $3,000 in cash. It would seem that either there was some entrepreneurship going on or Robinson was on his way to the greatest party ever.” . . . WR Quan Bray, last of the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes, was with Robinson at the time. Whoops! . . . As the afore-mentioned Perry put it about Bray: “So much for trying to shake his reputation as just a possession receiver.”


There had been reports that the QMJHL’s board of governors would vote during a Thursday meeting on whether to ban fighting. Stephane Leroux of RDS reported Thursday afternoon that the vote wouldn’t take place.

Michael Roy of Radio-Canada reported that “there was no vote, but a lot of discussion.” Roy also tweeted that “the file will be on the menu . . . at a meeting in August.”

A story carrying a Canadian Press byline included this quote from Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner: “My main goal is to implement new rules to improve player safety. That’s the focal point of this discussion. Whether it’s fighting, blind-side hits, head shots, we’re carefully looking at all of that.”

It also included this from Sherbrooke Phoenix general manager Ronald Thibault: “It may sound strange, but what we’re trying to do is keep our players safe. There are divergent opinions on how to protect players. That’s it.”

Of course, if they really were that concerned about player safety, you would ban fighting. So would the other two major junior leagues— the WHL and the OHL.

The complete CP story is right here.

——

On the topic of fighting in major junior hockey, here is part of a blog entry by Ken Campbell of The Hockey News:

“Junior hockey does not believe the debate is at all nuanced when it comes to paying its players a living wage. All three major junior leagues are very clear on that one. But when it comes to their ‘student athletes’ giving and receiving bareknuckle punches to the head it suddenly becomes a vexing dilemma for them?

“Like any other league, the QMJHL could have easily increased the penalties for fighting. Actually, it’s a lot easier for one of Canada’s three junior leagues to do it because none of them has to deal with a players’ association or go through the approval of a rules committee. The omnipotent rule they hold over these young men is astounding, so perhaps it’s time they used it for something good.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Marriage


Have I mentioned how much I love The Sports Curmudgeon, aka Jack Finarelli? After the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers moved on from head coach John Beilein just 54 games into his stay, the curmudgeonly one pointed out that the Cavs have a 130-318 record (.290) in recent times without LeBron James. TSC then came up with three possible explanations as to why things are so rotten in Cleveland, which, you may recall, also is home to the NFL’s Browns: “Something in the Cleveland water supply causes coaches to fail . . . An ancient civilization hexed the land there for eternity. . . . Ownership for the two franchises is well short of competency.” . . . As he put it: “You make the call . . .”


The Oakland A’s won’t have any of their games available on a Bay Area radio station this season, as they become the first team in Major League Baseball to make such a move. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, team president Dave Kaval has said, among other things, “we’re excited” and “we’re trying to be innovative” and “we’re . . . trying to attract younger fans” and “I think this is the direction of the future.” . . . If you live in the San Francisco/Oakland area, games will be available via streaming and they will be on some radio stations outside the area. . . . “It’s a big win,” Kaval said. . . . “No,” wrote Chronicle columnist Bruce Jenkins. “Try two other words: colossal failure.”



JUST NOTES: Is there a better anthem singer anywhere in the sporting world than Lauren Hart of the Philadelphia Flyers? All she does is sing, without any of the extras. . . . Chris Speier, a flash from the past for followers of the Montreal Expos, is on manager Dusty Baker’s staff with the Houston Astros. Speier has signed on as a “quality control coach.” With the mess surrounding the Astros, Speier is likely to have lots on his plate. . . . The Toronto Blue Jays opened their spring training schedule with games on Saturday, against the New York Yankees, and Sunday (Minnesota Twins). Both games were on Sportsnet, which picked up the feeds from the Yankees and Twins rather than have their own crew in place. Interesting?

Years after kidney transplant, Ayres gets first NHL win in debut . . . Helps Hurricanes beat Maple Leafs on night to remember



If you are part of the organ transplant community, the Saturday night NHL game that had the Carolina Hurricanes meeting the Maple Leafs in Toronto really was one to remember.

You can bet that the NHL pooh-bahs won’t have found it overly entertaining, but it was . . . it really was!

After all, it’s not every night when you get to watch a 42-year-old Zamboni driver who has had a kidney transplant play goal in an NHL game. Not only did Dave Ayres, at the age of 42 years 194 days, tend goal, but he ended up with the victory, stopping eight of 10 shots as the Hurricanes won, 6-3.

Ayres became the second-oldest goaltender in NHL history to win in his NHL debut. The first? Lester Patrick, then the general manager and head coach of the New York Rangers, was in goal for a 2-1 OT victory over the Montreal Maroons in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup final on March 20, 1927. Patrick was 44 years and 99 days old. For the record, Patrick stopped 18 of 19 shots.

Ayres did set one NHL record as the oldest goaltender to win his regular-season debut. Hugh (Old Eagle Eyes) Lehman of the Chicago Black Hawks was 41 years 21 days when he won his first game in 1926-27.

——

In our home, it all began when I saw the above tweet and words “kidney transplant” jumped off my computer screen.

I hadn’t yet flipped over to the NHL game in Toronto. However, after seeing this tweet, I immediately changed the channel. I was just in time to see Carolina G Petr Mrázek go down in a collision with Toronto F Kyle Clifford at 11:19 of the second period. The Hurricanes had lost G James Reimer at 3:07 of the opening period in a collision that resulted in Mrázek entering and Ayres having to get into his goaltending gear.

But now Mrázek was hurt and the rest, as they say, became history.

If you didn’t see the game, the Hurricanes held a 3-1 lead when Ayres entered, and they quickly made it 4-1. But the Maple Leafs scored goals on their first two shots on Ayres as the Hurricanes struggled to get to the intermission with a lead.

They were able to do that, then scored two early third-period goals to stretch their 4-3 lead to 6-3 and give Ayres some breathing room. Ayres was steady in the third period, while his new teammates really shut down the home side, much to the dismay of the crowd.

During the second intermission, I headed for the Internet to find out what I could about Ayres. I didn’t care about his hockey-playing background; I wanted to know about his kidney issues.

I found this from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, from the Nov. 18, 2019, edition of The Globe and Mail:

“Like many kids growing up in Canada, Dave Ayres wanted to play hockey in the NHL.

“He was 25 and at a hockey training camp when his feet became so swollen he couldn’t put on his skates. Then one day while driving, he became so dizzy he nearly hit someone.

“It was Thanksgiving weekend when he ended up in the ER. His kidneys were working at 15 per cent capacity and he had to start dialysis immediately. Three days a week, four hours at a time, for the next seven months.

“Then in May, he came to St. Michael’s Hospital’s Kidney Transplant and Care Centre, where he received a new kidney, courtesy of his mom.”

A native of Whitby, Ont., Ayres underwent a kidney transplant in 2004. After donning gear for an outdoor practice with the Maple Leafs just last month, he told Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun about those days:

“I told the doctor at St. Michael’s Hospital I needed to get back because I was supposed to go to the (Central Hockey League’s) Laredo Bucks. They said ‘we’ll try our best’ and my Mom (Mary) was a match. They ended up moving me along pretty quick (for the operation), about a year after I got sick.”

In his other life, Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Coca-Cola Coliseum, the home of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. He also has been on the ice with the Marlies and Maple Leafs on occasion, as he was for the outdoor practice.

In yet another twist to this story, Ayres told media after Saturday’s game that he is scheduled to practice with the Maple Leafs on Monday. I am thinking that practice session just might draw a bit of press coverage.

——

Here’s more from St. Michael’s Hospital:

“Dave’s case is not unusual, but he was one of the lucky ones. In Canada, one in 10 people has kidney disease — that’s the population of Vancouver and Calgary combined. It’s a chronic disease with no chance of remission. And it’s considered a silent killer because there are few symptoms — apart from the swelling and dizziness, like in Dave’s case, there can be fatigue, chills, back pain, itching — but it’s still difficult to detect. With an aging population, increas­ing rates of obesity and high blood pressure, and an epidemic of diabetes (the leading cause of kidney disease), the numbers are only going up.

“Some people can live with kidney disease for years, and many do — when it’s caught early enough and treated properly. But in too many cases, the kidneys fail, leaving only two options: dialysis or a kidney transplant. “Dialysis can take over a person’s life. And it’s not a life saver: half of patients 65 years of age and older starting dialysis today will not be alive in five years. And while transplant is by far the best solution, 3,600 Canadians are on the waiting list. It’s not a permanent fix either: a kidney from a deceased donor will last on average 10 to 15 years, and from a living donor 15 to 20 years.”

——

Shortly after game’s end, the Hurricanes announced that t-shirts with Ayres’ name and number (90) already were available via their online shop and that a portion of the proceeds will be going to a kidney foundation.

As I have written about here previously, kidney disease isn’t going away. There isn’t a cure — a transplant really is just a form of treatment. But what is needed more than anything is more education. People from all walks of life need to understand that while there isn’t a cure, you can have kidney disease and get on with your life; if you are fortunate enough to have a transplant, you don’t have to forget about your dreams.

Dave Ayres is proof of that.


Roy Cooper is the governor of North Carolina:

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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

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

Happy retirement to Ferguson and Marshall. . . . Nickolet leaves Blades for NHL. . . . Leason gets pro deal. . . . Chiefs sign Czech goaltender

MacBeth

F Alexander Delnov (Seattle, 2012-14) has signed a tryout contract with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). Last season, with Molot-Prikamie Perm (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 52 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Andrei Pavlenko (Edmonton, 2017-19) has signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 58 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL), he had nine goals and 17 assists.


ThisThat

The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes have lost two veterans of their scouting staff to retirement, both of them with ties to the WHL. . . . Sheldon Ferguson, who had been Carolina’s head North American scout, and Bert Marshall, a long-time amateur scout, both have headed off into retirement. . . .

Going back to 1977-78, Ferguson owned the WHL’s Billing Bighorns (actually, it was the WCHL then) and the AJHL’s Red Deer Rustlers. He spent part of 1978-79 as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, before scouting with the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques for six seasons. From 1985-88, he was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ GM and head coach. He also worked for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos’ assistant GM. For 18 of the past 20 seasons, Ferguson has been on Carolina’s scouting staff. . . .

Marshall has been an NHL scout since 1983-84. He spent 13 seasons with the New York Islanders and one with the Hartford Whalers. He has been with the Hurricanes since 1997-98. As a player, he came off two seasons (1962-64) with the Edmonton Oil Kings to play 868 regular-season and 72 playoff games, split between the Detroit Red Wings, California/Oakland Seals, New York Rangers, and the Islanders. . . . Think about this for a minute: Marshall has been a part of the NHL for 54 years — since 1965-66 when he played 61 games with the Red Wings. . . . A defenceman in his playing days, Marshall scouted the way he played — quietly efficient. . . .

At the same time, the Hurricanes have added Cody Nickolet and Eric Fink to their scouting staff. . . . Nickolet has been a scout with the Saskatoon Blades, and also was their director of analytics for four seasons. . . . Fink spent the past six seasons scouting for the Portland Winterhawks.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.


F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Leason was selected in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the Raiders for his 20-year-old season but, if he doesn’t crack the Capitals’ roster, is more likely to open with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . From Calgary, he opened last season with a 30-game point streak, putting up 28 goals and 36 assists. He finished the regular season with 36 goals and 53 assists in 55 games. Leason added 10 goals and 15 assists in 22 playoff games in helping the Raiders to the WHL championship. . . . Leason may have been the best individual story of the 2018-19 regular season, considering that he went in with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 games. He played his first 81 games with the Tri-City Americans before being dealt to the Raiders early in 2017-18.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed Czech G Lukas Parik to a WHL contract. Parik, 18, was selected by the Chiefs in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Parik was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Chiefs haven’t posted their pre-season roster on the WHL website, but barring any unreported moves they have four goaltenders on their depth chart. Parik joins veterans Bailey Brkin and Reece Klassen, both 20, and Campbell Arnold, 17, who was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


Whoops! Chad Harden was hit with 30 seconds in penalties on Day 7 of the Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede. Harden finished second in the heat, but the penalties dropped him to fourth. . . . By night’s end, Harden, who scouts for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen when he’s not racing chuckwagons, had fallen from third to 33rd in the aggregate standings. . . . Harden was penalized, fined $10,000 and given a two-performance suspension after it was ruled that he cut off Evan Salmond, whose chuckwagon went into the inside rail. . . . Harden has won $22,300.


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A few odds, ends and numbers as WHL playoffs arrive. . . . Road to Ed Chynoweth Cup starts tonight. . . . Hofer, Mattheos get NHL deals


MacBeth

F James Wright (Vancouver, 2005-10) and Linköping (Sweden, SHL) have mutually agreed not to pick up the option year on his contract for next season. This season, he had five goals and six assists in 44 games.


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EdChynowethCupSome odds and ends as we prepare for the opening of the run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup . . .

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Red Deer Rebels vs. Prince Albert Raiders — This one features the two most-recent members of the WHL’s 500 Club. Brent Sutter, the head coach of the Rebels, and Raiders’ head coach Marc Habscheid both reached the 500-victory mark this season. . . . Red Deer (33-29-6) will be without D Alex Alexeyev. With him in the lineup, the Rebels would be facing a tough task in the Raiders (54-10-4). Without him, Sutter will feel as though he has one hand tied behind his back. . . . These teams have faced each other once since the trade deadline, with the host Raiders winning 2-1 in a shootout on March 1. . . . They open with games in Prince Albert tonight and Saturday.

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Medicine Hat Tigers vs. Edmonton Oil Kings — In four games since the trade deadline, Edmonton (42-18-8) is 3-0-1 against the Tigers. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw is 5-0-1, 1.79, .940 against Medicine Hat this season. . . . Medicine Hat (35-27-6) will need a gigantic effort from 6-foot-7 G Mads Søgaard, who is 0-2-2, 3.47, .909 in games against the Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton put a bow on the regular season by winning its final 11 games. . . . They’ll play Saturday and Sunday in Edmonton.

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Moose Jaw Warriors vs. Saskatoon Blades — The Blades (45-15-8) last appeared in the playoffs in 2013, the season in which they went all-in as the host team for the Memorial Cup. Since then, they have undergone an ownership change and a massive rebuilding operation, and now, having clinched a playoff spot, the energy seems to be back in the city. . . . The Blades are 3-0-0 against the Warriors — including 4-2 and 5-3 victories this month — since the trade deadline, with a 15-6 edge in goals. . . . Saskatoon G Nolan Maier is 3-1-0, 2.26, .907 against Moose Jaw. . . . The Warriors (40-20-8) are the only team with two 100-point men — F Tristin Langan had 113, and F Justin Almeida 111. . . . The Blades outscored the Warriors, 259-234. . . . Games 1 and 2 are scheduled for Saskatoon tonight and Saturday.

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Calgary Hitmen vs. Lethbridge Hurricanes — These teams have met twice since the trade deadline, with the Hurricanes posting 7-4 and 6-2 home-ice victories. . . . Lethbridge (40-18-10) closed in a rush, winning nine of its last 10 games, and opens the playoffs on an eight-game winning streak. Calgary (36-26-6), which has lost four in a row, went 6-4-0 down the stretch. . . . The Hitmen need to find an answer for Lethbridge F Jordy Bellerive, who lit them up for seven goals and six assists in six games. . . . Lethbridge G Carl Tetachuk (24-9-2, 2.88, .909) took the reins and ran with them after G Liam Hughes left the club. . . . Only Prince Albert (307) scored more goals than Lethbridge (268). . . . Games 1 and 2 will be played in Lethbridge tonight and Saturday.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE

Seattle Thunderbirds vs. Vancouver Giants — They split the season series, 2-2-0, but have only met once since Jan. 10 — the visiting Giants won 5-1 on March 12. . . . The Giants (48-15-5) had the WHL’s second-best record; the Thunderbirds (31-29-8) were 17th. . . . Both teams closed well, the Giants going 8-1-1, the Thunderbirds 7-1-2. . . . No one WHL player had a bigger impact after Jan. 10 than Seattle G Roddy Ross, who went 16-5-3, 2.76, .919 after moving up from the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . As for the Giants, the doubters want to see how much they benefited from playing in a weak B.C. Division. . . . This series opens with games in Langley, B.C., tonight and Saturday.

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Tri-City Americans vs. Everett Silvertips — Is this the battle of the goaltenders? Dustin Wolf of the Silvertips went 41-15-4, 1.69, .936. The Americans’ Beck Warm was 32-23-5, 2.94, .916. Wolf played one more minute than Warm — 3,615-3,614 — but faced 607 fewer shots. That’s a huge disparity on a per-game basis. . . . These teams have met five times since the trade deadline, with Everett going 4-1-0, but the victories were by scores of 4-1, 2-0, 2-1 and 3-0. . . . The Silvertips (47-16-5) remain without F Riley Sutter, one of the league’s top faceoff men. . . . The Americans (34-28-6) are without freshman F Blake Stevenson, whose season was ended by an undisclosed injury. . . . They’ll play tonight and Saturday in Everett.

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Portland Winterhawks vs. Spokane Chiefs — Down the stretch, the Winterhawks missed D John Ludvig and F Cody Glass, both of whom were injured. Glass was limited to 38 games this season, missing a bunch because of a knee injury, finished with 15 goals and 54 assists. He and WHL scoring champion Joachim Blichfeld (68-53-61—114) form a deadly combination when they’re together. . . . Portland needs Ludvig and Glass back if it is to make a deep run. . . . Spokane has firepower with F Riley Woods, D Ty Smith, F Eli Zummack and F Jaret Anderson-Dolan all scoring at better than a point per game. Freshman F Adam Beckman put up 32 goals and 30 assists in playing all 68 games. . . . Spokane (40-21-7) finished second in the U.S. Division, one point ahead of Portland (40-22-6). Should we read anything into the fact that Portland was 1-0-0 against Kootenay, while Spokane was 5-0-0 against the Ice? . . . In three games since the trade deadline, Spokane went 2-1-0, outscoring Portland, 17-10. . . . They open with games tonight and Saturday in Spokane.

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Kamloops Blazers vs. Victoria Royals — The Blazers (28-32-8) are in because they beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker on Tuesday. . . . The Royals (34-30-4) ran into injuries and rested players down the stretch. F Kaid Oliver, who led them in goals (27) and points (49), had his season ended by a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald (concussion) hasn’t played since March 2. . . . A lot of fans thought the Blazers were done when G Dylan Ferguson, 20, went down during a 5-0 loss to visiting Vancouver on March 6. But freshman Dylan Garand, a 16-year-old from Vancouver, stepped in and went 6-0-1, 1.54, .943. He has given up 11 goals in those seven starts, with five of them coming in a 5-4 OT loss to the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . . Ferguson, who is from Lantzville, which is on Vancouver Island, has been cleared to play again. . . . Victoria G Griffen Outhouse is 5-0-0, 2-10, .936 against Kamloops this season. . . . They’ve met four times since the trade deadline, with Kamloops going 3-1-0. The Blazers won the last three games, including an 8-0 home-ice victory on March 13 in which the Royals scratched nine players. . . . This series opens with games in Victoria tonight and Saturday.


Two more WHLers, both from Winnipeg, have signed three-year entry-level NHL NHLcontracts — G Joel Hofer of the Portland Winterhawks with the St. Louis Blues and F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings with the Carolina Hurricanes. . . .

The Blues selected Hofer in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . The Winterhawks acquired Hofer, 18, from the Swift Current Broncos on Jan. 9, giving up six bantam draft picks, including first-rounders in 2019 and 2021. With Portland, he is 9-8-0, .318, .911, with two shutouts, in 18 appearances. . . . In 30 games with the rebuilding Broncos, he was 6-21-3, 4.02, .904, with one shutout. . . . In 67 career regular-season games, Hofer is 23-32-5, 3.45, .908, with four shutouts. . . . The Winterhawks, who finished third in the U.S. Division, open a first-round playoff series against the second-place Chiefs in Spokane tonight. . . .

Mattheos, 19, was a third-round pick by Carolina in the 2017 NHL draft. This season, he had 44 goals and 52 assists in ?? games. In 253 career regular-season games, he has 278 points, including 127 goals. . . . The Wheat Kings selected Mattheos with the first-overall pick of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . With Brandon out of the WHL’s playoff picture, Mattheos, the Wheat Kings’ captain, had reported to the Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers.


The Calgary Hitmen have added F Sean Tschigerl to their roster. Tschigerl, who will turn 16 on April 11, spent the season with the prep team at OHA Edmonton. He had 21 goals and 26 assists in 28 games, and also had one goal in eight games with the Hitmen. . . . Calgary selected him with the fourth-overall pick of the 2018 bantam draft.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have added Cole Sillinger to their roster for the playoffs. He spent this season with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians, whose season came to an end this week. . . . Sillinger was saluted as the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League’s top forward, rookie of the year and most valuable player. Oh, he also led the league in scoring with 76 points, including 31 goals, in 39 games. . . . A son of former WHL/NHL F Mike Sillinger, Cole was selected with the 11th-overall pick of the 2018 bantam draft. He has two assists in four games with the Tigers.


The Spokane Chiefs have added D Michael Ladyman, 17, to their roster. The Regina Pats selected him in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. . . . He already has played 22 games with the Chiefs this season, recording two assists. In 26 games with the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, he put up four goals and 24 assists.


If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that the OHL has disciplined the Niagara ohlIceDogs for being in violation of recruitment regulations. The IceDogs have been fined $150,000 and lost a first-round draft pick. . . . This comes a few years after the Windsor Spitfires were fined $400,000 and lost five draft picks for, yes, being in violation of recruitment regulations. . . .

“Well, now, isn’t that interesting?” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News. “The OHL, along with its partners in the QMJHL and WHL, have been spending the past couple of years convincing the public that many of their teams are mom-and-pop operations that would not survive without the help of ‘student-athletes’ and that to pay them any more than poverty wages would put some of their teams in peril. They’re fighting a class action lawsuit with everything they have and in many cases have successfully lobbied lawmakers to accommodate their needs when it comes to rewriting labor laws. All the while, they’re waving the flag that this beautiful Canadian institution of junior hockey is threatened if its owners are forced to pay players.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.


Shawn Martin has signed on as general manager and head coach of the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines. For the past two seasons, Martin, who is from Wainwright, Alta., has been the Wolverines’ assistant GM and assistant coach. . . . He also has worked with three other AJHL teams — the St. Albert Steel, Grande Prairie Storm and Sherwood Park Crusaders. He also spent four seasons as GM and head coach of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves. . . . Martin had been the Wolverines’ interim GM/head coach since Feb. 8 when Gord Thibodeau left after three years with the organization.


Danton Danielson is the new head coach of the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. Danielson takes over from long-time coach Ken Morrison, who left the position after this season ended. . . . Danielson is coaching the bantam AA Saskatoon Outlaws, who are involved in playoffs at the moment.


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Hamilton plays big in Calgary . . . Ex-WHL player commits to U of North Dakota . . . Psst! Wanna win a funeral?


MacBeth

F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), he had 13 goals and 21 assists in 63 games. . . .

F Edgars Kulda (Edmonton, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL), he had one goal in 31 games. . . .

F Kyle Chipchura (Prince Albert, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL), he had five goals and six assists in 56 games. . . .

F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) signed a one-year plus option contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, with Kloten (Switzerland, NL A), he had seven goals and five assists in 44 games.


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Steve Hamilton is back in the WHL, less than two months after leaving, this time as head coach of the Calgary Hitmen. The former Edmonton Oil Kings coach was introduced as Calgarythe 10th head coach in Calgary’s history on Tuesday morning.

The length of Hamilton’s contract wasn’t revealed, although it is a multi-year deal.

Hamilton replaces Dallas Ferguson, who left the Hitmen on June 26 after one season on staff. Ferguson cited family reasons in leaving Calgary. He has since surfaced as an assistant coach with the U of Denver Pioneers.

Hamilton, 44, spent the previous eight seasons with the Oil Kings, four as an assistant coach and the last four as head coach. He helped the Oil Kings twice win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions (2012, 2014) and to a Memorial Cup title in 2014.

Hamilton and assistant coach Ryan Marsh were fired by the Oil Kings on May 29. Marsh has since signed on as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades.


With the Calgary Hitmen having hired Steve Hamilton as head coach, it means that eight of the WHL’s 22 teams will open the new season with head coaches who weren’t there when last season began.

To refresh your memory, here’s a look at the new guys, with the former head coaches in parentheses:

Calgary Hitmen — Steve Hamilton (Dallas Ferguson, assistant coach, U of Denver Pioneers).

Edmonton Oil Kings — Brad Lauer (Steve Hamilton, head coach, Calgary Hitmen).

Kamloops Blazers — Serge Lajoie (Don Hay, now an advisor with the Blazers).

Regina Pats — Dave Struch (John Paddock, remains general manager).

Saskatoon Blades — Mitch Love (Dean Brockman, director of hockey operations and head coach, Swift Current Broncos).

Swift Current Broncos — Dean Brockman (Manny Viveiros, assistant coach, Edmonton Oilers).

Tri-City Americans — Kelly Buchberger (Mike Williamson).

Vancouver Giants — Michael Dyck (Jason McKee).

Of those eight coaches, four — Hamilton, Struch, Love and Brockman — were working in the WHL last season.


The Medicine Hat Tigers made official Tuesday what you’ve been reading about here for RyanSmitha couple of days — they have added Ryan Smith to their coaching staff. . . . Smith, 44, spent the past three seasons as associate coach with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions last season. He left the Broncos after Dean Brockman was named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . With the Tigers, Smith fills the void created when assistant coach Bobby Fox was named director of player personnel to replace Carter Sears.


After one season with the Vancouver Giants, Dean Chynoweth has signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . Chynoweth, 49, was the associate coach with the Giants last season, after not coaching in 2016-17. . . . Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche affiliates in Cleveland and San Antonio for four seasons (2012-16). . . . He was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders for three seasons (2009-12). . . . He has other WHL experience, having coached the Seattle Thunderbirds (2000-04) and Swift Current Broncos (2004-09). He was also the general manager in Swift Current. . . . In Carolina, Chynoweth will be working with head coach Rod Brind’Amour and assistant coach Jeff Daniels.


F Murphy Stratton, who played 45 games with the Calgary Hitmen in 2016-17, has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . Stratton, from Los Angeles, will turn 19 on Oct. 3. Last season, he had 16 goals and 37 assists in 54 games with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. . . . But, wait, doesn’t he lose his NCAA eligibility after playing in the WHL? . . . “NCAA bylaws mandate that playing a single game in the WHL will lead to, at a minimum, a loss of one full year of eligibility,” writes Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald. . . . According to Schlossman, Stratton now has committed to UND and been told by the NCAA that the penalty for those 45 WHL games will be “one year and seven games.” . . . The plan is to spend another season with Wenatchee and then join UND for 2019-20, although he won’t be able to play until the eight game of the 2020-21 season. . . . Stratton was selected by the Hitmen in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He had one goal and three assists in those 45 WHL games. . . . Schlossman’s story is right here.


The Victoria HarbourCats of baseball’s West Coast League are at home to the Corvallis Knights tonight (Wednesday). But the game almost will be secondary to the promotion, harbourcatsand isn’t that often the case in minor league baseball, which is something to which major junior hockey teams should be paying more attention. . . . You see, they are giving away a funeral package at tonight’s game. Yes, they are. . . . Jim Swanson, the former sports editor of the Prince George Citizen, now is the HarbourCats’ managing partner. . . . “He’s the one who came up with the idea of holding a prize draw for a funeral package,” writes Jack Knox, the Victoria Times Colonist’s terrific columnist. “Actually, he borrowed the notion (or, more accurately, stole it like Ricky Henderson) after googling weird and wonderful promotions when he became the team’s general manager in 2014.” . . . As Knox points out, though, there also is a serious side to Swanson’s idea. “When Swanson’s uncle drowned off Salt Spring Island a year and a half ago, the grieving family had the additional burden of figuring out what to do in the absence of a will or other arrangements. “He did not have his affairs in order,” Swanson says. So, the draw (fans just have to fill out an entry form at the game) is a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder to prepare for what, ready or not, awaits us all.” . . . Still, this is a promotion that fits right in what all the wonderful and whacky things that go on in minor league baseball. . . . Knox’s column is right here.



I was fortunate enough to get into the newspaper business when there really were ink-stained wretches on the job. I worked two years at the Brandon Sun before the computer-age came along. By the time computers arrived, I was at the Winnipeg Tribune. Yes, there were veteran newspaper people there who thought computers were just a passing fad. . . . Anyway, back in the day it really was a different era, one that was full of characters. . . . The Los Angeles Times is in the process of moving its offices and Bryan Curtis of The Ringer recently took a tour of the old place and offers up some memories of what used to be. It’s all right here.


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