Hughes leaves Hurricanes, cites ‘personal reasons’; Tetachuk starter in Lethbridge . . . Philly writers honour Propp


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The Lethbridge Hurricanes, in a heated race for the Central Division pennant, lost their Lethbridgestarting goaltender on Monday when Liam Hughes left the WHL team.

In a statement released by the team, Hughes, a 19-year-old from Kelowna, said:

“”At this time I have decided to leave hockey for personal reasons. I’m sorry I can’t be more specific, but for me, personally, it is the right time to step away from a game that I love.

“I want to thank all of my family, friends and fans for your support, as I pursued my hockey dreams. I leave with fond memories from the game and I am excited to start the next chapter in my life.”

In the same news release, the Hurricanes said they “respect the decision made by Liam and his family.”

The statement continued: “The entire organization wishes Liam the best moving forward. There will be no further comment from the hockey club.”

This leaves the Hurricanes with Lethbridge native Carl Tetachuk, who turned 18 on Jan. 8, as their starting goaltender. A list player, he moved up through the Lethbridge minor hockey ranks, playing bantam AA and AAA, and midget AA and AAA there.

This season, his first in the WHL, he is 10-5-0, 3.05, .903.

The Hurricanes have added G Bryan Thomson, a 16-year-old from Moose Jaw, to their roster for the remainder of this season. A second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft, Thomson had been playing with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. With the Hounds, Thomson was 6-9-0, 2.94, .890.

Hughes was selected by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the seventh round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.

On Sept. 18, 2017, the Oil Kings dealt Hughes to the Seattle Thunderbirds for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.

The Hurricanes acquired Hughes and an eighth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft from Seattle on Jan. 1 in exchange for veteran F Keltie Jeri-Leon, F Michael Horon and a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. Horon, 17, is from Lethbridge. He has since played one game with the Thunderbirds.

This season, Hughes was 2-3-1, 3.44, .892 in six appearances with the Hurricanes. He had started six of their last eight game. In 29 games with Seattle, he had been 10-16-3, 3.67, .899.

In 78 career regular-season games, Hughes is 29-35-12, 3.38, .903.

Prior to acquiring Hughes, the Hurricanes had been going with Reece Klassen, a 19-year-old sophomore from Cloverdale, B.C., and Tetachuk as their goaltenders. The day after the trade for Hughes, the Hurricanes dealt Klassen to the Spokane Chiefs for a seventh-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft.

The Hurricanes (24-13-8) and Medicine Hat Tigers (26-16-4) are tied for third in the Central Division, two points behind the first-place Oil Kings (25-14-8) and one behind the Red Deer Rebels (27-14-3).

The Hurricanes are next to play on Friday when they meet the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash.


There’s more right here on former Brandon Wheat Kings’ star Brian Propp, this award and all that he has been through of late.


D Egor Zamula of the Calgary Hitmen has been suspended for one game after being hit with a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-1 loss to the visiting Red Deer Rebels on Sunday. . . . Zamula was tossed for a hit on Red Deer F Oleg Zaytsev at 3:47 of the third period. . . . Zamula won’t play Friday against the visiting Prince George Cougars.


The Calgary Hitmen have returned G Brayden Peters and F Sean Tschigerl to their midget AAA teams. . . . Tschigerl, 15, is from Whitecourt, Alta., and was the fourth-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He was pointless in one game with the Hitmen, and now is back with the prep team at OHA Edmonton. . . . Peters, a 17-year-old from Taber, Alta., was brought in to back up starter Jack McNaughton with Carl Stankowski (ankle) out of action. Peters didn’t see any playing time, and now is back with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. The Hitmen selected Peters in the fifth round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Carson Lambos to the Rink Hockey Academy prep team in Winnipeg. . . . Lambos, 15, was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Lambos, who is from Winnipeg, now has played five games with the Ice. He scored his first WHL goal on Saturday night in a 7-5 loss to the Wheat Kings in Brandon. Interestingly, he scored the goal while his brother, Jonny, a freshman defenceman with Brandon, was in the penalty box.


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Ice acknowledges Vopat’s release . . . Two deals as deadline nears . . . Ex-Seattle assistant coach fired


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There is nothing on the Kootenay Ice’s website, nor is there anything on its Twitter account.

But the WHL team apparently has acknowledged that, yes, it did dismiss assistant coach KootenaynewRoman Vopat for “breaches of team policy.”

Jessica Dempsey, the sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, reported Monday afternoon that the team had issued a statement.

According to Dempsey, the statement read:

“Roman was a part-time resource for our coaches on home game days and was released from his consulting agreement based in breaches of team policy, including our social media policy and his consulting agreement,” 

Taking Note was told Sunday morning that Vopat had been dismissed late last week after he was critical of Tim Hunter, the head coach of Canada’s national team at the World Junior Championship, on social media.

If you missed the piece I posted on Sunday about Vopat’s dismissal, just scroll down here until you find it.


tradewire

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Thursday, 3 p.m. MT)

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 2.

Players: 3.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 1.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 30.

Players: 57.

Bantam draft picks: 45.

Conditional draft picks: 11.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

——

The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Brandon Machado, 18, and a fifth-round selection in the Saskatoon2021 WHL bantam draft from the Saskatoon for F Cyle McNabb, 18. . . .

It appears that this trade was sparked because McNabb wanted out.

“While it was certainly not our intention to move Cyle when acquiring him, after conversations with him, this was determined to be in the best interest of the player,” Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, said in a news release. . . .

Machado, from Airdrie, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . This season, he has two goals and an assist in 35 games. In 97 career regular-season games, he has three goals and four assists. . . . The Ice next is scheduled to play on Wednesday against the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . .

McNabb, from Winnipeg, is on the move for the second time in less than a week. The Ice acquired him from the Vancouver Giants on Friday for D Dallas Hines, 20. . . . McNabb had a goal and seven assists in 61 games with Vancouver last season. This season, he had one goal and two assists in 34 games with the Giants. He was Kootenay property long enough to get into three games on the weekend, recording one assist. . . . McNabb and Blades F Tristen Robins were teammates at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg in 2016-17. . . . McNabb is expected to be in Saskatoon’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . .

In the meantime, Saskatoon has added F Braden Plaschewsky, 16, to its roster and he is to make his WHL debut in tonight’s game against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Plaschewsky, from Calgary, was a second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. He has four goals and nine assists in 26 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes.

——

The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Tyler Lees, 18, from the Victoria Royals for a SCBroncosconditional ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Lees has one goal and two assists in 27 games with Victoria. . . . Lees, from Regina, was a fifth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 2016-17, he had one goal in seven games with the Blades. Last season, he had two goals and an assist in 32 games with Saskatoon. . . . The Blades traded him to Victoria on July 19 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . .

Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of hockey operations and head coach, was the Blades’ head coach when Lees was on their roster. So there will be some familiarity there. . . .

As Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, tweeted, Lees played for the 2016-17 Regina Pats Canadians who won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship. F Matthew Culling and F Eric Houk, both of whom are on the Broncos’ roster, also were on that Regina team. . . .

The Broncos are next scheduled to play on Wednesday against the visiting Red Deer Rebels.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Carson Lambos to the midget prep team at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. Lambos, who is from Winnipeg, was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Lambos, who will turn 16 on Jan. 14, was pointless in three games with the Ice. . . . In 12 games with RHA, he has nine goals and eight assist.


G Nick Sanders has decided to retire from hockey. Sanders, 20, was with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . From Calgary, Sanders was a sixth-round pick by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He made 23 appearances with the Americans in 2015-16, then was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders early in 2016-17. He had hip issues with the Raiders and ended up having surgery. The was later dealt to the Calgary Hitmen and was in their training camp prior to this season. . . . He played two games with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats and 15 with the Oilers this season.


The QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats have fired head coach Darren Rumble. He was in his sixth season as their head coach. . . . Rumble, who was in the final season of his contract, was fired despite the Wildcats being 24-13-5 and tied for fifth in the 18-team league. So what happened? They had won only five of their previous 17 games and were 3-4-3 in their past 10, and owner Robert K. Irving had seen enough. . . . The Wildcats were 180-169-33 in regular-season games under Rumble. They got as far as the semifinals in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and reached the second round last season. . . . Josh Hepditch, in his second season as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach. . . . Rumble, 49, spent two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.


If you enjoy what you see here, feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and contribute to the cause. Thank you, in advance, and stay safe out there.


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Giants add veteran Legien . . . More roster moves for Ice . . . Broncos want Moar, Moar, Moar! . . . Pachal’s return keys Raiders’ 32nd victory


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Steve Ewen of Postmedia reported Thursday that the Vancouver Giants have added F VancouverJared Legien, 20, to their roster. He had been playing with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . With D Matt Barberis out since Nov. 18 with an undisclosed injury, the Giants have been utilizing two 20s — F Davis Koch and F Jared Dmytriw. Should Barberis return at some date, they would have to make a decision and get back down to three. . . . Legien, from Pilot Butte, Sask., was selected by the Kootenay Ice with the ninth overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft. . . . In 84 games over three seasons (2014-17) with the Ice, he had four goals and five assists. Last season, he played 36 games with the Victoria Royals (13-20–33) and 25 with the Regina Pats (10-7—17). . . . This season, Legien had 28 goals and 24 assists in 32 games with the Terriers. . . . Legien is expected to be in Vancouver’s lineup tonight when they meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


According to a report out of Cranbrook, D Jonathon Smart, 19, didn’t return to the Ice Kootenaynewfrom the Christmas break. . . . Jeff Bromley (@JeffBromley1), a former newspaper reporter who covered the Ice for 15 years and a long-time season-ticket holder, tweeted that Smart left for “personal and hockey reasons.” . . . Smart, who is from Kelowna, had three goals and eight assists in 36 games this season. . . . The Kelowna Rockets selected him in the first round of the 2014 bantam draft. In 216 regular-season WHL games — 68 with Kelowna, 64 with the Regina Pats and 84 with the Ice — he had 14 goals and 66 assists. . . . Smart is at least the fourth veteran WHLer to leave the Ice this season, following D Sam Huston, F Nick Bowman and F Brendan Semchuk. As well, F Jack Cowell refused to report after being acquired from the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Ice also has traded away four veterans — forwards Brett Davis, Cam Hausinger, Kaeden Taphorn and Keenan Taphorn — since the start of the season. . . .

The Ice has added F Owen Pederson, 16, to its roster for the remainder of this season. He was a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, Pederson, who is from Stony Plain, Alta., had 11 goals and 19 assists in 18 games with the Edmonton-OHA prep team. He also got into eight earlier games with the Ice, scoring twice. . . .

The Ice also has brought in D Carson Lambos, a 15-year-old from Winnipeg who plays for the Rink Hockey Academy’s prep team. Lambos, the second overall pick in the 2018 bantam draft, was pointless in one earlier game with Kootenay. . . .

The Ice is scheduled to visit the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have added G Garin Bjorklund, 16, to their roster. From Calgary, Bjorklund will back up Jordan Hollett with Mads Sogaard playing for Denmark at the World Junior Championship. . . . Bjorklund is in his second season with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He was a first-round pick by the Tigers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


I knew that I likely would miss someone when I listed players with WHL ties who are at the WJC. Sure enough. Thanks to Catherine Nielsen for pointing out that Slovakian F Milos Fafrak was a freshman with the Spokane Chiefs last season — he had nine goals and 10 assists in 66 games — before returning home to play with the two national U-20 sides.


In their first 32 games, the Portland Winterhawks met the Tri-City Americans once; the tri-cityAmericans won 6-5 in a shootout at home on Sept, 28. . . . Those two teams closed out the pre-Christmas schedule with back-to-back games — the host Americans won 3-2 in OT on Dec. 15, then won 4-3 in OT in Portland the next evening. So when those teams resume their schedules tonight it only makes sense that they should meet again. Right? . . . Yes, they’ll clash in Portland. . . . It’s also worth noting that the Americans will have faced the Winterhawks in three straight games with ace F Cody Glass out of the lineup. Glass, of course, is with Team Canada at the WJC. . . .

When this regular season is over, it will be interesting to look back and see how much of SpokaneChiefsan impact the Kootenay Ice will have had on the outcome of the U.S. Division race. Yes, the Everett Silvertips (27-7-2) are well on their way to the division title, what with a 14-point lead over Portland and the Spokane Chiefs, both of whom are 19-11-4. . . . The Winterhawks were scheduled to meet the Ice (8-22-6) once this season — Portland beat the visiting Ice, 10-2, on Dec. 2. . . . The Chiefs, meanwhile, will face the Ice on five occasions. Spokane won 7-4 in Cranbrook on Sept. 28, and then beat the Ice 6-3 at home the next night. The Chiefs also won 4-3 in OT in Spokane on Dec. 8. They’ll meet again Jan. 5 in Cranbrook and Feb. 9 in Cranbrook. . . . Should the Chiefs win the last two meetings, they’ll have picked up 10 points in games with the Ice, while Portland will have claimed two.


The WHL’s Christmas trade moratorium is over, having ended on Thursday at 12:01 a.m.

——

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Jan. 10, 3 p.m. MT)

Thursday’s action:

No. of trades: 0.

Players: 0.

Bantam draft picks: 0.

Conditional draft picks: 0.

——

Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 14.

Players: 30.

Bantam draft picks: 23.

Conditional draft picks:6.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)


Steve Wulf, a senior writer with ESPN, has written a wonderful feature about a team of hockey players that includes a 95-year-old and a few other youngsters. It’s great stuff and it’s right here.


THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

F Sergei Alkhimov scored twice to help the Regina Pats to a 3-2 victory over the Wheat PatsKings in Brandon. . . . Regina improved to 10-24-1, while Brandon slipped to 15-11-6. . . . The Pats took a 2-0 first-period lead on PP goals from F Robbie Holmes (7), at 3:29, and Alkhimov, at 11:30. . . . F Ridly Greig (8) got Brandon on the scoreboard with a PP goal at 5:07 of the second period. . . . Alkhimov gave the Pats a 3-1 lead with his ninth goal at 2:32 of the third period. . . . D Cole Reinhardt (6) scored Brandon’s second goal at 10:56. . . . Each team may have a player suspended before tonight’s rematch in Regina. . . . Brandon F Stelio Mattheos, who leads the Wheat Kings in goals, assists and points, was hit with a  match penalty for attempt to injure at 6:39 of the first period. He apparently reacted after F Linden McCorrister was helped off the ice following a hit. . . . The Pats lost Holmes to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 14:46 of the second period for a hit on F Connor Gutenberg, who went to the dressing room then returned for the third period. . . . G Jiri Patera, Brandon’s go-to guy, is at the WJC with Czech Republic. With him gone, the Wheat Kings will run with Ethan Kruger, 17, and have Connor Ungar, 16, backing up. . . . Ungar, from Calgary, plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. . . . D Braden Schneider was back in Brandon’s lineup after not playing since Nov. 17 because of an undisclosed injury.


D Alex Moar’s first WHL goal gave the Swift Broncos a 4-3 OT victory over the Warriors SCBroncosin Moose Jaw. . . . Swift Current (7-24-2) had lost its previous two games. It now is 2-16-0 on the road. . . . Moose Jaw is 17-8-6. . . . The Warriors will get another shot at the Broncos tonight in Swift Current. . . . Last night’s winner came as Moar successfully completed a 2-on-1 break with F Matthew Culling at 1:58 of OT. . . . Goals from Culling (5) and D Matthew Stanley (1) at 14:29 and 17:07 of the third period had given Swift Current a 3-1 lead. . . . The Warriors scored twice with G Brodan Salmond on the bench for the extra attacker, with F Brayden Tracey (11) making it 3-2 at 18:51 and F Keenan Taphorn (9) tying it at 19:13. . . . Moar, who was acquired from the Everett Silvertips, won it with his first goal in 22 career games, 18 of them with the Broncos. . . . Moose Jaw held a 42-21 edge in shots, including 10-3 in the first period and 20-7 in the second, but Swift Current G Joel Hofer continued his fine season. Despite a 5-19-2 record, and a 4.15 GAA, he has a .900 save percentage. . . . The Warriors were 0-4 on the PP; the Broncos didn’t get even one opportunity. . . . The Broncos scratched both of their 17-year-old Finnish freshmen imports — F Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen — due to travel-related issues on their way back from the break. Both players are expected to be available tonight. . . . The Warriors were without F Luke Ormsby, who completed a two-game WHL-issued suspension. . . . Moose Jaw also is missing head coach Tim Hunter and D Josh Brook, both with Team Canada at the WJC. In Hunter’s absence, associate coach Mark O’Leary is in charge of the bench.


D Brayden Pachal, who sat out the previous two games with a suspension, scored twice, including one in OT, as the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Blades, 4-3, in Saskatoon. . . . PrinceAlbertThe Raiders (32-2-1) have won four in a row. . . . The Blades (21-10-5) have points in six straight (4-0-2). . . . They’ll play the rematch tonight in Prince Albert. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic (2) staked the Blades to a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 12:59 of the first period. . . . The visitors took a 2-1 lead on two goals from F Noah Gregor (21), at 13:37 of the first and 2:52 of the second. . . . Saskatoon went ahead 3-2 on second-period goals from F Eric Florchuk (10), at 4:28, and F Max Gerlach (20), on a PP, at 6:22. . . . Pachal tied it at 6:28 of the third and won it with his ninth goal of the season, banging home a rebound 33 seconds into OT. . . . Pachal has 20 goals in 206 career regular-season games. This was his second career two-goal game. . . . F Cole Fonstad drew three assists for the Raiders, the fourth straight game in which he had at least two points. He has a goal and nine assists in that stretch. . . . Gregor also had an assist for a three-point outing. . . . Gregor has seven goals and three assists in helping the Raiders go 4-0-0 without G Ian Scott and F Brett Leason, both of whom are with Team Canada at the WJC.


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Hansch, Hamilton, Marsh gone from Oil Kings . . . Heponiemi is finished in Swift Current . . . Blades, Ice sign draft picks

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F Josh Holden (Regina, 1994-98) has retired from playing and signed a one-year contract as assistant coach with Zug (Switzerland, NL A). He will also be development coach for Zug Academy (NL B) and Zug U20 (Elite Junior A). This season, he had two goals and three assists in 19 games with Zug, and had nine goals and 19 assists in 31 games with Zug Academy, where he was team captain. . . . According to the Zug news release, Holden “has been living with his family in the canton of Zug for 10 years and is likely to receive the Swiss passport soon.” . . .

F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18) signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Swift Current, he had 28 goals and a WHL-leading 90 assists in 57 games.


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I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

If you haven’t already, please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.com

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


The Edmonton Oil Kings will have at least three new faces in their hockey operations department when another season rolls around.

The Oil Kings will have a new general manager after revealing on Monday that Randy EdmontonOilKingsHansch is joining an as-yet-unnamed NHL team as an amateur scout.

At the same time, the Oil Kings announced that they have fired head coach Steve Hamilton, who had been in the organization for eight seasons, while assistant coach Ryan Marsh’s contract won’t be renewed. Marsh had been in that position through four seasons.

The decisions were announced by Peter Chiarelli, the president of hockey operations and general manager of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who own the WHL franchise.

Hamilton, 44, spent four seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Derek Laxdal, then was head coach for four seasons. Hamilton took over from Hamilton when the latter joined the AHL’s Texas Stars as head coach.

Under Laxdal, the Oil Kings won two WHL titles and a Memorial Cup championship. Under Hamilton, the Oil Kings went 108-152-28, missing the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

This season, the Oil Kings had the WHL’s poorest record — 22-42-8.

Hansch, 52, had been with the Oil Kings since 2007-08, working the past five seasons as general manager. Prior to that, he was the director of player personnel and assistant general manager.

There has been speculation since the WHL bantam draft on May 3 that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent this season as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, will be joining the Oil Kings as director of hockey operations.

Hill played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats (2004-08). He joined the WHL office as manager of player development during the 2013-14 season, then left to work for the Blackhawks prior to this season.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Oil Kings right here in a piece that includes some good quotes from Hansch.


There now are four WHL teams in need of a head coach.

The Oil Kings, of course, need one, having fired Steve Hamilton on Monday after he spent four seasons in that role.

Also needing a head coach are the Kamloops Blazers, Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, who has moved into an advisory role after four seasons as head coach. However, Hay, 64,  has said he wants to continue coaching and you would think he would at least get some consideration in Edmonton. Hay has more regular-season and playoff victories than anyone in WHL history.

Saskatoon needs a head coach after firing Dean Brockman following the end of its season.

Swift Current, which won the WHL championship, has to replace Manny Viveiros, who left the Broncos on Friday and now is an assistant coach with the Oilers.

When it comes to general managers, there are three teams looking to hire.

The Oil Kings are looking for a replacement for Randy Hansch after Monday’s announcement.

Also in the market are the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers announced earlier this month that Stu MacGregor had been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars — Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi is the majority owner of the Blazers — while the Cougars parted company with Todd Harkins after their season ended.

The general manager in Prince George will inherit a head coach, Richard Matvichuk, who is going into the final season of his contract.

The Vancouver Giants already have a new general manager, having hired Barclay Parneta earlier this month. He replaces Glen Hanlon, who left the team after two seasons in that role.


If you aren’t already, you really should be paying attention to TSN where, led by Rick Westhead’s reporting, it is putting a spotlight on the NHL and head injuries. . . . It all has to do with the concussion-related lawsuit filed by a number of players against the NHL in 2013. It is mind-numbing to watch NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at his condescending best, and to read about some NHL owners denying having ever heard of CTE. . . . This is important to junior hockey fans, and owner/operators, too, because sooner or later a connection is going to be made, if it hasn’t already, between former professional players who are showing signs of CTE and head injuries they incurred in junior hockey. . . . The first of TSN’s five-part series is right here. There is video and a story by Westhead.


F Aleksi Heponiemi won’t be back for a third season with the WHL-champion Swift SCBroncosCurrent Broncos. The 19-year-old Finnish sensation has signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu of the top pro league in Finland. . . . This season, Heponiemi had 118 points, including 90 assists, in 57 regular-season games with the Broncos. Last season, as a freshman, he had 28 goals and 58 assists in 72 games. . . . In 2016-17, he was named the WHL’s rookie of the year after leading all freshmen in assists and points. This season, he led the WHL in assists and was named a first-team all-star. He also was named the CHL’s most sportsmanlike player. . . . Heponiemi was selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The Broncos’ other import player is Russian D Artyom Minulin, who is eligible to return for his 20-year-old season.


Back in the day, the Kamloops Blazers were a major junior dynasty, something that was defined by their three Memorial Cup titles in four years (1992, 1994, 1995). The architect of all that was Bob Brown, who was fired as general manager a couple of weeks after the third title as the organization chose to go in a different direction. The Blazers, of course, haven’t come close to that kind of success since then, but what is Brown up to these days? . . . Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader checks in with Brown right here.

Here’s a thought . . . Zillich reports that Brown’s scouting contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers is about to expire. As well, Ken Hitchcock, who had considerable success as the Blazers’ head coach back in the day, doesn’t have a coaching job these days; he has moved into an advisory role with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . So you don’t suppose . . . Nah. Never happen.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Colton Dach, who was the sixth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he is the younger brother of Blades F Kirby Dach, who was the second overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . This season, Colton had 22 goals and 47 assists in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team.


The Kootenay Ice has signed three of its selections from the 2018 WHL bantam draft — D KootenaynewCarson Lambos, D Karter Prosofsky and F Skyler Bruce. . . . Lambos, from Winnipeg, was taken second overall. He had 15 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Nationals bantam prep team. He was named the CSSHL bantam league’s top defenceman. . . . Prosofsky and Bruce were second-round selections. . . . Prosofsky, from Saskatoon, had eight goals and 10 assists in 24 games with the Victoria-based Pacific Coast Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . Bruce, from Winnipeg, also played at the Rink Hockey Academy. He had 21 goals and 19 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team.

The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed nine of the first-round selections from the 2018 bantam draft.

The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Dylan Guenther, the first overall selection, while the Ice (Lambos), Prince Albert Raiders (3. D Nolan Allan), Calgary Hitmen (4. F Sean Tschigerl), Saskatoon Blades (6. F Colton Dach), Lethbridge Hurricanes (8. F Zack Stringer), Tri-City Americans (14. D Marc Lajoie), Spokane Chiefs (17. D Graham Sward), and Edmonton (20. D Keegan Slaney),

The teams that have yet to sign their first-round selections are the Kamloops Blazers (5. F Logan Stankoven), Red Deer Rebels (7. F Jayden Grubbe), Prince George Cougars (9. F Craig Armstrong), Seattle Thunderbirds (10. F Kai Uchacz), Medicine Hat Tigers (11. F Cole Sillinger), Vancouver Giants (12. F Zack Ostapchuk), Victoria Royals (13. D Nolan Bentham), Brandon Wheat Kings (15. F Jake Chiasson), Red Deer (16. D Kyle Masters), Kelowna Rockets (18. F Trevor Wong), Portland Winterhawks (19. F Gabe Klassen), Prince George (21. G Tyler Brennan), and Moose Jaw Warriors (22. F Eric Alarie).


A tip of the Taking Note cap to the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves for hiring Mike Commito to fill the newly created position of team historian. . . . This is great news for a part of the hockey world whose history often is shoved into the shadows and forgotten. . . . “In anticipation of the Wolves 50th anniversary in the 2022 season,” the team noted in a news release, “the organization has created a new role to help capture the stories and memories that shape the rich Wolves’ hockey tradition.  From players and coaches, to fans and billet families, there are amazing stories that weave throughout the decades and who better to capture those stories than the team’s very first historian.” . . . That news release is right here.