Hockey venues almost ready in Beijing . . . Chow to leave SJHL after season . . . Milestone night ahead for Lazaruk

BeijingNIS
The NIS (National Indoor Stadium) is sparkling in preparation for the start of the men’s and women’s Olympic hockey competitions. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Dan Courneyea, Taking Note’s man in Beijing, reports that folks are hard at work as they put the final touches on venues with the Olympic Winter Games about to get rolling. While organizers refer to Feb. 4 as the opening date, some competitions actually start today (Wednesday).

“Lots of final preparation still being done before the first puck drop,” Courneyea told Taking Note late Monday night Pacific Time. “Everything is coming together.” That missive, with the National Indoor Stadium photo, arrived Monday at 11:15 p.m. PT, which was 3:15 p.m. on Tuesday in Beijing.

The women’s hockey begins with Pool A games today. It’s Switzerland and Canada in the NIS and China against Czechia in the Wukesong. Both games start at 8:10 p.m. PT.

BeijingWukesong
Only some final touches are left before Wukesong Arena is ready for the Olympic hockey competitions in Beijing. (Photo: Dan Courneyea)

Bill Chow announced on Monday that he will be leaving his post as commissioner of the SJHL on May 31. Chow, who has been commissioner for sjhl10-plus years, said that he won’t complete his contract that is set to expire on May 31, 2023. . . . Chow didn’t give a specific reason for his decision, saying in a news release that “there have been many factors that have gone into my final decision.” . . . Chow was named commissioner in the spring of 2011 after having retired at the age of 52 after almost 30 years with the Prince Albert Police Service and leaving as a staff sergeant. . . . In his last few years with the SJHL, he dealt with, among other things, the bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos that took 16 lives and then the first two years of the pandemic. . . . He also spent 25 years as a WHL scout, 10 of them with the Spokane Chiefs.


Chad Leslie was named general manager of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos on ScurrentMonday, more than two months after he stepped in as the interim GM. Leslie, from Elkhorn, Man., had been the club’s assistant GM since the start of the 2020-21 season. He was named interim GM on Oct. 14 when Dean Brockman, who had been GM and head coach, resigned. . . . Before becoming the assistant GM, Leslie spent two seasons as the Broncos’ director of scouting. . . . The complete news release is right here.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: Les Lazaruk, the play-by-play voice of the Saskatoon Blades, will call his 2,000th WHL game tonight (Wednesday) from Regina.“To put 2,000 games under your belt is just an astonishing achievement at any level, in any capacity, in any industry,” Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, told Pat McKay of CTV News. “When you think of Blades hockey, especially when you think of the sound of Blades hockey, it’s Les Lazaruk.” . . . Of course, 2,000 games means a whole lot of bus miles. Here’s Wawryk, again: “He has a knack for sleeping on the bus. It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like and how loud it is and what position he’s in, he can always find a way to grab a couple of Zs on the bus. I have a few videos of him sleeping upright, and he snores like a chainsaw.” . . . The Blades will salute Lazaruk on Friday as they play host to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . McKay’s complete story is right here. . . .

The Thief River Falls, Minn., Norskies of the Superior International Junior Hockey League have shut down for the remainder of this season. A news release from the league stated that “an issue that the Norskies struggled with since the outset of the campaign — a shortage of players — is ultimately what led to the decision.” . . . The departure of the Norskies, who are expected back next season, leaves the SIJHL with six teams as it prepares to resume play on Feb. 4. The league has been shut down since Jan. 5 because of Ontario government restrictions due to COVID-19. . . . A complete news release is right here.


It would seem that you don’t have to be a hockey fighter in order to end up with CTE. Ralph Backstrom, who died on Feb. 7 at the age of 83, played 15 seasons in the NHL and four more in the WHA, totalling 490 penalty minutes in 1,336 games. He was hardly a fighter, but he still was found to have CTE.




The Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team was to have met Switzerland in an exhibition game on Tuesday. However, that game, which was to have been played in Zug, was postponed after Swiss D Christian Marti tested positive. Canada is to open preliminary play in Beijing against Germany on Feb. 10 at 5:10 a.m. PT.


One of the more bizarre happenings of this pandemic occurred in San Francisco on Saturday night as the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets visited the Golden State Warriors. . . . Kyrie Irving of the Nets is unvaccinated and not allowed to play home games because of a New York City regulation that allows only those who are vaccinated in city facilites. The San Francisco Department of Public Health also has such a mandate, however it made an exception for visiting NBAers. That meant that on Saturday night every person in the Chase Center was vaccinated . . . except for one.

Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “If anyone can find a plausible explanation for this exemption, please come forward. It’s reckless and irresponsible, although not terribly surprising in light of so many people, companies, counties and government agencies mistakenly letting their guard down as the pandemic rages on. The local health order states that visiting players ‘are, by definition, present in the venue only occasionally,’ but how does that make sense? You might ‘only occasionally’ stray from your personal safe zone in these difficult times, but that’s when you put yourself most at risk.”



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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

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dads

Brockman resigns from Broncos, says it was his decision . . . Silvertips have new radio voice . . . Rockets drop a goaltender


The winds of change blew through Swift Current on Thursday afternoon as the Broncos announced the resignation of Dean Brockman, who was in his fourth Scurrentseason as the community-owned organization’s general manager and head coach.

Chad Leslie, the Broncos’ assistant general manager, now is the interim GM, with assistant coach Devan Praught stepping in as interim head coach.

Leslie, 44, was the Broncos’ director of scouting each of the past three seasons.

Praught, 34, is from Summerside, P.E.I. He is in his first season with the Broncos after spending eight seasons at the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. He was the head coach of the U-18 Hounds for the past five seasons.

Matt Keillor, also in his first season, now is the lone assistant on the Broncos’ staff.

The Broncos (2-3-0) have lost three straight games after opening the season with a pair of victories — 2-0 and 3-2 — over the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Swift Current is scheduled to play the Wheat Kings in Brandon on Saturday night and the Ice in Winnipeg on Sunday. The Broncos then will meet the Tigers in Medicine Hat on Tuesday, before returning home for a Friday night date with the Calgary Hitmen.

Brockman, 54, didn’t really explain why he was resigning, telling a news conference: “I want to reiterate this was my decision. It’s a personal decision on my behalf. It had nothing to do with the board of directors. In fact, the board of directors have supported me from Day 1. They took a chance and that chance was me.”

Before joining the Broncos, Brockman spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades, under Bob Woods, followed by two seasons as their head coach. The Blades fired him immediately after the conclusion of the 2017-18 regular season.

Brockman had spent 17 seasons with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos, seven as GM/assistant coach and 10 as GM/head coach. Under Brockman, the Broncos won five league championships and two national titles. He was honoured as the SJHL’s coach of the year on four occasions.

Three months after being fired by the Blades, the Broncos hired him to replace Manny Viveiros, who had been named the WHL’s coach of the year after leading Swift Current to the WHL’s 2018 playoff championship. That was the Broncos’ first title since 1993. Viveiros joined the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers two days after the Broncos finished an 0-3 run at the Memorial Cup in Regina.

The Broncos paid a steep price for going all-in to win that championship, especially in trades with the Calgary Hitmen and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Swift Current sent five players — F Conner Chaulk, F Riley Stotts, D Dom Schmiemann, F Josh Prokop and G Ethan Hein — along with a second-round pick in the 2018 draft to the Hitmen, for F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a fifth-rounder in 2018.

Then, at the trade deadline, Swift Current dealt G Logan Flodell, F Logan Barlage, F Owen Blocker, D Matthew Stanley, first- and third-rounders in 2020 and a conditional second-rounder in 2021 to the Hurricanes for G Stuart Skinner, F Giorgio Estephan and F Tanner Nagel.

The rebuild hasn’t been especially rapid, with the Broncos going 11-51-6 and 10-48-5 in the two seasons after the championship. They were 6-16-2 in the 2021 development season.

At the moment, the Broncos hold the sixth and seventh selections in December’s WHL draft.

But just how tough has the rebuild been? The WHL’s final four in the spring of 2018 featured the Broncos, Hurricanes, Everett Silvertips and Tri-City Americans. Brad Brown (@saskawhat) pointed out via Twitter that Everett has won 114 regular-season games since then, with Lethbridge at 89; Tri-City, 60; and Swift Current, 29.

Financially, the team’s board of directors told shareholders that it had made a $561,500 profit in the 2017-18 championship season. However, a $38,196 profit for 2018-19 was followed by a loss of $791,000 for the pandemic-shortened 2019-20 season.

Late last month, at the organization’s annual general meeting, shareholders were told there was a loss of $129,968 — including a $600,000 grant from the provincial government — for that 2021 development season in which the Broncos played 24 games in the Regina hub.



The Everett Silvertips have hired Casey Bryant as their broadcasting and media Everettrelations manager, replacing Mike Benton, who left to join Seattle radio station KJR where he plays host to Seattle Kraken pre-game, intermission and post-game shows. Benton had been with the Silvertips through six seasons. . . . From a Silvertips news release: “Bryant is an award-winning play-by-play broadcaster whose prior credits include the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks (NAHL), Sacred Heart University Pioneers (NCAA D1), Jersey Hitmen (NCDC) and New York Apple Core (EHL). A 2017 graduate of Marist College, Bryant also worked as a production assistant for MSG Networks for four years, editing on-air promotions for the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and other MSG flagship teams.” . . . The Silvertips are scheduled to visit Kent, Wash., for a game with the Seattle Thunderbirds tonight.



Cremation


JUST NOTES: F Patrick Brown of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers wasn’t able to play last night after being placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. . . . The NFL’s Arizona Cardinals have had three positive tests within their organization this week. OLB Chandler Jones is on the COVID list, while two unidentified staff members also have tested positive. The Cardinals have had 18 players on that list since July 23, with three of them landing there twice each. . . . The Atlanta Braves aren’t planning to have OF Jorge Soler on their roster when they play host to Game 1 of the NLCS on Saturday. Soler tested positive earlier this week and didn’t play in Game 4 of the NLDS as the Braves clinched the series with a 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. OF Christian Pache was added to the roster in Soler’s place.


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

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Pedlars


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The junior B Saanich Predators of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League named Cody Carlson, a former WHL player, as general manager and head coach on Thursday. He replaces Brent Polischuk, who was relieved of his duties “effective immediately.” Polischuk had been with Saanich since July 28, 2019. The Predators (5-9-1) are fourth in the five-team South Division. Carlson, 30, had joined the Kerry Park Islanders as assistant GM and associate coach prior in July. He split 305 regular-season WHL games between the Medicine Hat Tigers, Regina Pats and Prince George Cougars (2006-12). He played the past three seasons in Europe, mostly in Romania. . . . The NHL’s Calgary Flames have hired Connor Rankin, who played five seasons in the WHL, on a full-time basis as their video analyst. He had done part-time work for the Flames over the past five years. Rankin played 339 WHL regular-season games (2010-15), split between the Tri-City Americans and Calgary Hitmen. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have released G Cole Schwebius, 20. He has cleared waivers so now is a free agent. He went 17-23-2 in 48 regular-season games split between the Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds over parts of four seasons. . . . D Jackson van de Leest, 20, has returned to the Calgary Hitmen from the camp of the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms. He is expected to be in Calgary’s lineup tonight against the visiting Red Deer Rebels. . . . Ian Furness, who has done his share of play-by-play on Seattle Thunderbirds’ games during his career, was at the KJR radio microphone on Thursday night as the NHL’s Seattle Kraken played the Predators in Nashville. Furness was filling in for Everett Fitzhugh, who remains in Seattle after testing positive.


Day

Broncos sign director of scouting . . . Blades add pair of scouts . . . MJHL’s winningest coach steps aside


MacBeth

F Brett Bulmer (Kelowna, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had 23 goals and 19 assists in 70 games with the Florida Everblades (ECHL).


ThisThat

Chad Leslie, who had been scouting in Manitoba for the Saskatoon Blades, will be joining the Swift Current Broncos as their director of scouting. . . . A source familiar with the SCBroncossituation told Taking Note that the Broncos are expected to announce Leslie’s hiring as training camp opens. . . . Leslie, 40, spent three seasons with the Blades. Prior to that, he spent two seasons with the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals, first as assistant GM/assistant coach, then as assistant GM/director of player personnel. He spent the previous three seasons (2009-12) with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, working as assistant coach, then head coach and finally as a scout. Of late, he also has been scouting for the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. . . . With the Broncos, he will be working with Dean Brockman, the team’s new general manager/head coach, and Gary Aubin, who has been hired as the director of player personnel.

Taking Note also has been told that Craig Anderson of Brandon has joined the Broncos’ scouting staff. Anderson also works as the assistant GM and head scout with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. He also has scouted with the Edmonton Oil Kings.


The Saskatoon Blades officially added Brian Leavold and Derek Serraglio to their Saskatoonscouting staff on Thursday. Both men will scout for the Blades in B.C. . . . Leavold, who is retired from the North Vancouver Fire Department, spent the better part of 20 years with the Swift Current Broncos. . . . Serraglio, who is from Coquitlam, B.C., works for BMO Private Banking. He has remained active in minor hockey since retiring as a player. He is preparing for his first season as a WHL scout. . . . At the same time, the Blades announced that Kerry Gladson, who lives in White Rock, B.C., has left the organization after four seasons as a scout.


Smoke.jpg

How were things in our neck of the woods on Thursday? . . . Well, the above photo shows that things were a little warm and a bit smoky. The thermometer on our deck only goes up to 50 C, but the needle was past that at 4:45 p.m. . . . This is the view looking east along the South Thompson River. There is a mountain — Mount Martin — somewhere through the smoke. . . . The smoke and smokin’ hot temperatures are supposed to move out after one more day. We hope!


The Prince George Cougars have signed Czech F Matej Toman, who was the fifth overall PrinceGeorgeselection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . Toman, 17, played last season in his hometown, for HC Ceske Budejovice. With the U-18 team, he had three goals and 12 assists in 11 regular-season games, and six goals and seven assists in seven playoff games. He also played 25 games with the U-20 team, recording eight goals and six assists. With the men’s team, he had two goals and an assist in 15 games. Toman is playing with the Czech team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Red Deer and Edmonton. . . . The Cougars’ second import player is F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, who will return for a second WHL season. He is from Minsk, Belarus.


D Daniel Bukac, 19, has agreed to join the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs after spending the past two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . The Wheat Kings dropped the Czech native prior to the CHL’s 2018 import draft, and the IceDogs selected him in the second round. . . . The 6-foot-4 Bukac was selected by the Boston Bruins in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . In 111 regular-season games with Brandon, he had two goals and 23 assists.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.


D John Miner played 217 regular-season games (1982-85 ) with the Regina Pats. An offensive defenceman, he could really shoot a puck and excelled on the power play. You might recall that Wayne Gretzky was part of a trade in which Miner ended up going from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. That was 30 years ago. ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has more on Miner right here. . . . A tip of the fedora to Brad Hornung for the link.


Ken Pearson, the winningest regular-season coach in MJHL history, has stepped aside as Winklerhead coach of the Winkler Flyers, but he will stay on as general manager. Pearson has been the Flyers’ GM/head coach for the previous seven seasons. . . . Steve Mullin, an assistant coach with Pearson for six seasons, has taken over as head coach. . . . Mullin played two seasons (2000-02) with the Flyers, then spent four seasons at the U of Maine. In 2009-10, he was the head coach of the midget AAA Pembina Valley Hawks, who won a Manitoba midget championship. . . . Pearson has coached in the MJHL for 16 seasons, going 519-295-62-14. Blake Spiller of the Portage Terriers is second on the victory list, with 487.


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