T-Birds trade for Rockets’ captain . . . Leafs’ coach resigns after being hit with suspension . . . How about those North Stars?

The WHL’s trade deadline arrives on Tuesday. Here are the trade numbers since Oct. 25:

No. of trades — 29.

No. of players traded — 48.

No. of WHL draft picks traded — 49.

No. of WHL conditional draft picks traded — 11.

Teams involved in trades — 8: Edmonton; 6: Victoria; 5: Winnipeg, Seattle; 4: Kamloops, Lethbridge, Prince George, Regina; 3: Kelowna, Spokane; 2: Everett, Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, Red Deer; 1: Brandon, Saskatoon, Swift Current, Tri-City; 0: Calgary, Medicine Hat, Portland, Vancouver.

Why did I start with Oct. 25? Because that was the day that the Seattle Thunderbirds acquired D Luke Prokop from the Edmonton Oil Kings, signalling to me that the countdown to deadline day had started.

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Less than 48 hours after celebrating Team Canada’s gold medal-winning effort at the World Junior Championship in Halifax, F Colton Dach, the captain of the SeattleKelowna Rockets, was traded to the Seattle Thunderbirds on Saturday morning. . . . Dach, who suffered an injury to his right shoulder in a game against Sweden on Dec. 31, won’t play for Seattle for perhaps eight weeks. The good news is that it doesn’t appear that he will need surgery to repair the damage. . . . The Rockets also gave up a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2024 draft, while getting back F Ty Hurley, D Ethan Mittelsteadt, a first-rounder in 2024 — it originated with the Regina Pats — two conditional picks, a second-rounder in 2025 and a fourth-rounder in 2023. The latter originally belonged to the Everett Silvertips. . . .

Dach, who turned 20 on Wednesday, is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. The KelownaSaskatoon Blades selected him in the first round, sixth overall, of the WHL’s 2018 draft. He had 22 goals and 27 assists in 82 games over two seasons with the Blades. . . . The Rockets acquired him from the Blades on Sept. 28, 2021, in exchange for F Trevor Wong. Last season, Dach put up 29 goals and 50 assists in 61 games with Kelowna. This season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 14 games. . . . He missed time early in the season because of two concussions, one incurred in training camp with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Chicago picked him in the second round of the 2021 NHL draft. These days, the Blackhawks’ medical staff will be keeping close tabs on Dach and his shoulder. . . .

Hurley, an 18-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., now has been traded twice this season. The Thunderbirds had acquired him from the Swift Current Broncos, who picked him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. He had one assist in 16 games with the Broncos, and recorded one assist in 15 games with Seattle. . . . Last season, he had a goal and two assists in 31 games with Swift Current. . . .

Mittelsteadt, who turned 17 on Dec. 18, is from Victoria. Seattle selected him in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2020 draft. He had two goals in 16 games with the Thunderbirds last season; this season, he had a goal and an assist in 24 games. . . .

Hurley and Mittelsteadt both played for Kelowna on Saturday night as the Rockets dropped a 5-1 decision to the host Kamloops Blazers, who had Team Canada forwards Caedan Bankier and Logan Stankoven back in their lineup. . . .

When Dach finally gets into the Thunderbirds’ lineup, he will join four teammates from Team Canada — D Nolan Allan, D Kevin Korchinski, Thomas Milic and F Reid Schaefer. (By coincidence, the Blackhawks also hold the NHL rights to Allan and Korchinski.) Earlier in the season, the Thunderbirds acquired Allan from the Prince Albert Raiders. They also added Luke Prokop, a high-end defenceman, in a deal with the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . .

Since Oct. 25, the Thunderbirds have made five trades, acquiring five players and four WHL draft picks, while giving up six players, eight draft picks and six conditional picks. . . .

The Thunderbirds (28-5-2) lead the U.S Division, the Western Conference and the overall standings. They presently are on a six-game East Division trip that opened with a 6-0 victory over the Regina Pats on Friday and continued Saturday with a 6-2 loss to the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Thunderbirds will face the Brandon Wheat Kings on Tuesday and then be in Winnipeg on Wednesday to meet the Ice (28-5-0) in a game that some observers see as a likely preview of the WHL’s championship final.

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In another Saturday swap, the Winnipeg Ice acquired F Easton Armstrong, who is to turn 20 on Jan. 24, from the Regina Pats for D Omen Harmacy, 17. . . . Armstrong, 19, has 13 goals and nine assists in 39 games this season, his third with the Pats. From Los Angeles, he was a 10th-round pick by the Pats in the WHL’s 2018 draft. He has 20 goals and 14 assists in 121 regular-season WHL games. . . . Harmacy, from Winnipeg, was an eighth-round pick by the Ice in the 2020 draft. A sophomore, he has three assists in 30 games after recording six assists in 32 games last season.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced on Friday that Adam DiBella, the head coach of the Nelson Leafs, has been kijhlsuspended for the remainder of the 2022-23 regular season and the playoffs. . . . The suspension amounts to the regular-season’s final 15 games and whatever playoff games the Leafs end up playing. . . . The move followed a New Year’s Eve line brawl between the host Leafs and Beaver Valley Nitehawks. . . . Earlier in the week, the KIJHL issued 35 games in suspension to Nelson players and eight to the Nitehawks. . . . Later Friday, the Leafs, who won’t appeal any of the disciplinary decisions, announced that they had accepted DiBella’s resignation. . . . “Our investigation determined that the incident in Saturday’s game was instigated by the Leafs at Mr. DiBella’s direction,” Jeff Dubois, the KIJHL commissioner, said in a news release. “The KIJHL has zero tolerance for these types of actions by any team staff member, and the severity of Mr. DiBella’s suspension reflects the seriousness that we place on leadership and player safety.” . . . Should DiBella want to coach in the KIJHL in the future, he will have to apply to the Nelsoncommissioner for reinstatement. . . . The KIJHL also ruled that DiBella won’t be allowed in “any KIJHL facility for a period beginning one hour before and ending one hour after any Nelson Leafs game. He may not travel on the team bus and he may not be present on the ice, players’ bench, dressing room or office immediately before, during or after team practices. He is not to conduct any official business as a representative of the Nelson Leafs, such as player meetings, trade negotiations and athlete recruitment.” . . . As well, the Leafs were fined $5,000 “and instructed to take proactive steps to ensure all team staff are sufficiently trained and educated in the standards of conduct required under KIJHL regulations. A written report outlining steps taken by the organization in these areas must be submitted to the Commissioner no later than June 1, 2023.” . . .

In announcing DiBella’s resignation, the Leafs also issued an apology to the “Beaver Valley Nitehawks, all Nelson Leafs fans, hockey fans in general and all member clubs of the KIJHL. . . . As a proud member of the KIJHL, the Nelson Leafs failed to abide by league principles to encourage participation in hockey in a manner so as to foster clean play and good sportsmanship. As an organization the Nelson Leafs intend to ensure that our club is seen as a healthy, competitive and respectable recreational activity for our players and fans and as a club that promotes hockey, education and life skills.” . . .

The Leafs (17-9-5) opened a three-game road swing Friday night in Chase with a 4-3 victory over the Heat, then were beaten, 3-2, by the 100 Mile House Wranglers on Saturday night. The Leafs will finish the trip against the Kamloops Storm on Sunday. General manager Lance Morey and assistant coach Tyson Soobotin are running things while the board of directors makes “a decision concerning the head-coaching position in the days to come.”

The KIJHL’s news release is right here.

The Leafs’ news release is right here.


Swing


Here is Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered on Friday:

“The Regina Pats have been very clear to this point that they have no intention of trading World Junior hero and future NHL superstar Connor Bedard, despite the fact that they currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference of the Western Hockey League and are likely first-round fodder. In fact, they’re not even a lock at this point to make the playoffs.

“This comes despite the fact that the Seattle Thunderbirds . . . are apparently prepared to offer an enormous package of players and picks to the Pats in exchange for Bedard. ‘I don’t know how you don’t do it,’ one scout said. ‘Regina could get 10 assets for this guy. And if Seattle were to get Bedard, you might as well just give them the Memorial Cup right now.’ ”

——

Meanwhile, there have been reports that the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets will assign F Brad Lambert, who turned 19 on Dec. 19, to Seattle. Lambert is fresh off playing for Finland at the World Junior Championship; he had one goal in five games. . . . The 30th overall selection in the NHL’s 2022 draft, Lambert has two goals and one assist in 14 games with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. The Thunderbirds acquired his WHL rights from the Saskatoon Blades on June 30, giving up two conditional draft picks — fourth- and sixth-rounders in 2023 — in the exchange.


F Ben King, who led the WHL with 52 goals during the 2021-22 regular season, RedDeerhasn’t played for the Red Deer Rebels since Oct. 22 due to an undisclosed injury. Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner and general manager, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com this week that King might return in two weeks. “We’re getting a hell of a player back in a couple of weeks who’s been out of our lineup for a long time,” Sutter said. “We’re looking forward to that.” . . . Sutter admitted that knowing King is close to returning will impact his thinking at Tuesday’s trade deadline. “If something comes up we’ll look at it, but we like our team the way it is,” Sutter said. . . . King, who started this season in camp with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, had five goals and five assists in five games when he was injured.


Bags


THINKING OUT LOUD: It always amazes me that major junior teams are in such a rush to get their World Junior Championship players back into the lineup. Why not send them home for a few days, if possible, allowing them to get some rest — mentally and physically — and getting them as far away from the coaches as possible? . . . Just because I know you’re wondering, it looks like pitchers and catchers will report on Feb. 14 and spring training games are to start on Feb. 24. . . . The U of Calgary Dinos men’s hockey team ran its winning streak to 15 on Saturday with a 4-1 victory over the host MacEwan Griffins. The Dinos, who put it away with two empty-net goals, now are 17-3-0. . . . Nothing ruins a day like having the power go out just as the lasagna is going in the oven. So guess what’s on the menu for Sunday evening? . . . QB Nathan Rourke of the CFL’s B.C. Lions is able to sign an NFL deal starting Monday, but he still has more team visits on his schedule. Unfortunately for CFL fans, I have to think NFL money will be awfully hard for him to leave on the table.


Becky Sullivan of npr.org reports that the faculty of Lake Superior State University has issued its “annual list of words that is says deserve to be ‘banished’ from our vocabularies over ‘misuse, overuse, and uselessness.’ ” . . . And it’s hard to argue with any of them, from GOAT to ‘it is what it is.’ ” . . . Irregardless of all that, and moving forward, Sullivan’s story is absolutely right here.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Single-use plastic bags to be replaced by reusable bags you will use a single time.

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Headline at The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) — Pigeon with meth backpack caught in B.C. prison yard, says officers’ union president.


Mummy


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars won their 31st game of the season on Saturday, beating the host Kindersley Klippers, 5-1. Why is that worth noting? Because the North Stars have yet to lose in regulation time this season. They now are 31-0-3. . . . Battlefords had beaten visiting Kindersley, 5-1, on Friday. . . . The North Stars next are scheduled to play on Thursday against the Notre Dame Hounds in Wilcox, Sask. . . .

The Chilliwack Chiefs announced that they set a BCHL attendance record on Saturday night when their announced attendance was 5,008 for a 4-3 victory over the Cranbrook Bucks. . . . The Chilliwack Coliseum, which once was home to a WHL franchise, lists its capacity as 5,000 for hockey. . . . Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anything about the previous BCHL single-game attendance record. . . .

ColoradoGritThe NAHL has approved a franchise for Greeley, Colo. The Colorado Grit will begin play in the Greeley Ice Haus in time for the 2023-24 season. The Grit will play out of the South Division. One of the team’s three owners is former NHLer David Clarkson. . . . There’s more right here.


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

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.


Muppet

Taking Note’s pick as sportsmen of the year . . . Come on, folks, mask up . . . Rockets, Giants stung by WJC injuries

As another old year gives way to a new one, numerous organizations hand out end-of-year awards. That doesn’t happen at Taking Note, but if it did I would Brandonbe quick to salute Calder Anderson, Jake Chiasson, Nolan Ritchie and Ben Thornton of the Brandon Wheat Kings as this site’s sportsmen of the year. . . . In case you missed it, in the words of the Brandon Sun’s Perry Bergson, they “successfully interceded to help a distressed man who was contemplating suicide on the First Street Bridge” on the evening of Nov. 29. . . . “We’re very happy that we were able to save him and get him some help,” Thornton told Bergson, who added: “They also learned another lesson when 30 or 40 vehicles drove by without stopping in the short span they were trying to help the man. Yet they never considered leaving until the man was safe.” . . . Gentlemen, I salute you. . . . Bergson’s complete story is right here.


Let’s be honest. We are part of a society that is putting together an absolutely Covidabysmal record unless being selfish and uncaring is the objective. Really, had you told me four years ago that the time was coming when our children would by dying, when our children would be unable to get much-needed surgical procedures, when our hospital’s emergency rooms would be over-run and that society would refuse to help by doing something as simple as masking up, well, I would have told you that you were crazy. . . . But, well, here we are.

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After avoiding COVID-19 for almost three years, it caught up with me almost five weeks ago. Ironically, I tested positive on a day when I was to have visited a pharmacy for my fifth shot. Thankfully, the boosters did what they were supposed to, leaving me with a bit of a cough and some fatigue. The strangest thing is that there have been good days followed by bad. Just when you think you’re over the rough road, it reappears. Kind of like city streets, if you know what I mean. . . . As for that fifth shot, well, it’ll have to wait until May. . . . In the meantime, I will be here as fatigue’s curtain allows.

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André Picard wrote this in The Globe and Mail last week:

“In some ways, these more recent viral challenges have distracted us from the main event: COVID-19. While we largely returned to ‘pre-pandemic’ normalcy this year, this has actually been the deadliest year yet for COVID-19; in 2022, Canada will surpass 17,000 deaths, more than the 14,642 deaths we recorded in 2020 or the 16,489 in 2021. A fifth wave of Omicron is just beginning.

“We still don’t know if SARS-CoV-2 will mutate further. We do not know if it will become seasonal, like most respiratory viruses. And we definitely do not yet have a handle on what it will mean if we suffer repeated COVID-19 infections — but it certainly won’t be good news.

“Viruses are ubiquitous, and will continue to pose new threats. We can’t live a virus-free existence, nor can we place our children and seniors in a protective bubble.

“But we also cannot hang them out to dry on a viral firing range, without any protection. We need to use the mitigation tools (vaccinations and masks) we have while we develop new ones. That’s what ‘living with COVID’ really needs to mean, moving ahead into a new year.”

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The Angus Reid Institute released results of an online survey early in December that showed of 5,013 participants 54 per cent would be prepared to mask up if it was made mandatory if COVID-19 levels increase. But only 31 per cent are wearing masks more than half the time when they are in indoor public places. Sheesh, people, that just doesn’t make any sense.

Get vaccinated and wear a mask when appropriate, like when shopping or anywhere in a crowded area. . . . Just because the politicians and health officers won’t do their part by mandating masks doesn’t mean you can’t do the right thing and be part of the solution.



Look, F Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is not the greatest goal scorer nhl2in NHL history. So stop trying to tell me that he is. He’s still 88 behind Wayne Gretzky. Have people already forgotten just how great Gretzky was? . . . Allow me to point out that Gretzky also scored 92 goals in the WHA, which was a better league than many of those same people seem to recall. As for Gordie Howe, well he scored 801 NHL goals and another 174 in the WHA. . . . But when Ovechkin puts in No. 895, then you can call him the greatest goal scorer in NHL history. OK?

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While some hockey fans celebrate Ovechkin’s scoring accomplishments, there are those who don’t and never will go that way. Why? Because of Ovechkin’s long-time support of Russian ruler Vladimir Putin, who, of course, is responsible for the ongoing war on Ukraine. Luke Fox of Sportsnet took a look at the Ovechkin-Putin situation the other day and it really is an interesting read. That piece is right here.

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BTW, did Gretzky really have to throw mud on his legacy by jumping on the gambling gravy train?


It is every general manager’s worst nightmare . . . a top player leaves for an international assignment and then suffers a serious injury. . . . That is what has happened with the Kelowna Rockets and Vancouver Giants, each team having had a player seriously injured at the 2023 World Junior Championship. Those injuries may well have an impact on the WHL’s Western Conference playoff race from which eight teams will qualify. . . .

F Colton Dach, the Rockets’ captain, initiated a hit during a Saturday game — KelownaCanada beat Sweden, 5-1 — and left the game in obvious discomfort thanks to an injury to his right shoulder area. Dach, who turns 20 on Wednesday, has 17 points, nine of them goals, in 14 games with the Rockets this season. Earlier, he missed some time with a concussion. . . . The Rockets (12-18-3), who have lost five in a row, are eighth in the conference, seven points ahead of the Victoria Royals (8-24-4). . . .

Meanwhile, freshman F Samuel Honzek, the Vancouver Giants’ leading scorer, Vancouversuffered a skate cut to the back of his left leg on Wednesday as his Slovakian side beat the U.S., 6-3. The 18-year-old Honzek, who is expected to be out as long as six weeks, leads the Giants in assists (26) and points (43) in 31 games. . . . Vancouver (14-16-6) is tied for fourth in the conference with the Tri-City Americans, who hold two games in hand. They are one point ahead of the Everett Silvertips. . . .

The WHL’s trade deadline arrives on Jan. 10.


The Everett Silvertips and Victoria Royals swapped 19-year-old goaltenders on Dec. 28. Tyler Palmer, who had left the Royals for what the team said was WHLpersonal reasons, was dealt to Everett in exchange for Braden Holt. . . . Palmer, from Fernie, B.C., was in his second season with Victoria. He left the Royals sometime after a 7-4 loss to the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Nov. 12. . . . Holt, from Bozeman, Mont., was in his fourth season with Everett. In his first start with Victoria, he stopped 35 shots in a 3-0 victory over the host Vancouver Giants. . . . Having acquired Holt, the Royals then traded G Logan Cunningham, a 17-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a fifth-round pick in the 2025 WHL draft. . . . After adding Cunningham to their roster, the Oil Kings dropped G Ronin Geraghty, 18. From Burnaby, B.C., he was 0-5-0, 6.48, .819 in seven games with Edmonton. . . .

Still with goaltending, the Swift Current Broncos lost starter Gage Alexander on Dec. 30 when the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks signed him to an entry-level deal and assigned him to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. Alexander, 20, had played in 15 games for the Broncos this season, two more than Reid Dyck. Alexander was 8-5-1, 3.47, .898. . . . The Ducks had selected Alexander in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Broncos had acquired him from the Winnipeg Ice on July 28, giving up a third-round pick in the WHL’s 2025 draft in the exchange. . . . The move left the Broncos with Dyck, an 18-year-old from Winkler, Man., and Joey Rocha, 17, from Nanaimo, B.C., as their goaltenders. . . . Dyck, in his third season, was 4-10-0, 4.07, .880 at the time of the deal; Rocha, a freshman, had been in four games. . . .

And while we’re on the subject of goaltending, how about the run Scott Ratzlaff is on with the Seattle Thunderbirds while starter Thomas Milic is with Team Canada at the WJC? Thom Beuning, the veteran radio voice of the Thunderbirds, points out that Ratzlaff’s December looked like this: 8-0-1, 1.65, .941, with two shutouts. . . . Ratzlaff, 17, is from Irma, Alta. He was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 draft. This season, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder is 14-2-1, 2.04, .925. In 42 career appearances, he is 32-4-2, 2.31, .912. . . .

And let’s not forget about Daniel Hauser of the Winnipeg Ice. An 18-year-old from Chestermere, Alta., Hauser recorded his 20th victory of the season the other night. This season, in 22 games, he is 20-2-0, 2.36, .912. He has made 70 regular-season appearances over three seasons, going 61-5-2, 2.24, .911. Not at all shabby, eh?


The junior B Nelson Leafs and the visiting Beaver Valley Nitehawks of the kijhlKootenay International Junior Hockey League took time out from chasing a puck to exchange Happy New Year greetings as they began the second period on Saturday evening. . . . The Leafs are the team in white in the above video, and the video evidence would seem to indicate that they were first off the mark. . . . The puck now has been passed to Jeff Dubois, the KIJHL commissioner. . . . Happy New Year, Mr. Dubois.


MyWay


THINKING OUT LOUD — The best part of the World Junior Championship? That’s easy. Having the opportunity to listen to Dennis Beyak do play-by-play again. It says here that he is the best in his field even if he is semi-retired. . . . The other day, the choice was Beyak calling Slovakia and Switzerland from the WJC on TSN or Jack Edwards handling the Buffalo Sabres against his beloved Boston Bruins on Sportsnet. Sorry, Sportsnet. . . . The most annoying commercial on TV these days (pick one) — Clay Matthews for Tide, Rogers’ Wrapped in Red spots, the Subway ads featuring the Toronto Raptors’ Scottie Barnes, or the Sobeys’ family of four. . . . If you enjoy your time on this site, and even if you don’t, you may want to consider clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right side. Thanks in advance. . . . Dan Russell, the now-retired host of the long-running Vancouver-based radio show Sportstalk, release his memoir — Pleasant Good Evening: A Memoir — My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportsnet — in 2022 and now is thinking of spinning off a podcast. “My plans,” he writes on his blog, “now are to add more content to this site, especially in the audio vault. And I will update this blog from time to time. I’m also considering a podcast as my 2023 project. One that will combine what is happening today with the large archive of Sportstalk audio I have saved over the years.” If you haven’t seen his blog, it’s right here.


Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, after the final game in soccer’s World Cup: “If you watched this game and came away from it with the idea that it was not a good expenditure of your time, then you simply do not like soccer and should make a note to yourself not to waste any more time trying to appreciate the sport.” . . . Hey, he is correct!


How many WHLers do you know of, past or present, who have put together and released an album? Yes, an album of their own music. . . . F London Hoilett of the Calgary Hitmen is quite a story, having made the team prior to this season despite never having been drafted. He also is something of a musician and has his first album — Can’t Sit Still — ready for release on Jan. 10. . . . Cami Kepke of Global Calgary has more right here.


Mitts


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

A few things of note that popped up while I was away from here . . .

D Ethan Samson, the captain of the Prince George Cougars, has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, who selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. Samson, 19, is from Delta, B.C. He had two goals and an assist as the Cougars beat the visiting Kamloops Blazers, 10-6, on Saturday night. This season, Samson has 11 goals and 16 assists in 28 games. . . .

The Kelowna Rockets have added former player Curtis Hamilton, 31, to their front office as assistant general manager. Yes, his father, Bruce, is the Rockets’ owner, president and general manager. There is a news release right here. . . .

Gilles Courteau, who took over as the QMJHL’s president during the 1985-86 season, will retire at the end of this season. A replacement is expected to be named in May, with Courteau staying on into 2024 to help with the transition. . . . The league has changed the name of its championship trophy from the President’s Cup to the Gilles Courteau Trophy. . . . Courteau first worked in the QMJHL office in 1977 as a statistician. . . .

The junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League announced that they will ice a team for the 2023-24 season. The Braves have sat out the past two KIJHL seasons for reasons related to the pandemic. . . .

Another high-end WHL forward changed teams on Dec. 31 when the Winnipeg Ice acquired Carson Latimer, 19, from the Prince Albert Raiders for F Aiden Quiring, 17, and third-round selections in the 2024 and 2025 WHL drafts. . . . Latimer, a fourth-round selection by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL’s 2021 draft, had 22 goals and 38 assists in 75 regular-season games with the Raiders. This season, he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 31 games when he was dealt. . . . Quiring, a freshman who was a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL draft, had five goals and three assists in 26 games at the time of the trade. . . .

The Tri-City Americans revealed on Dec. 30 that D Ben Feenan “has left the team for personal reasons and will join the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs.” . . . Feenan, 18, is from Surrey, B.C. He had three assists in 22 games this season, after recording six helpers in 48 games in 2021-22. . . . The Americans selected him in the sixth round of the WHL’s 2019 draft. . . .

The Americans got past the visiting Spokane Chiefs, 7-6 in OT, on New Year’s Eve. And wouldn’t you know it . . . Americans D Lukas Dragicevic didn’t pick up so much as one point, thus ending his 27-game point streak. He put up seven goals and 30 assists during that stretch.


Grinch


Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press recently wrote a piece in a newsletter about things he would change if he ruled the hockey world for a day. Here’s one item with which I completely agree:

“Severely limit betting/gambling advertisements. Heck, I might just consider an outright ban. I could tolerate them when they first began, in small doses. But it’s to the point now of being completely obnoxious. Seemingly every second commercial is for some website, and now even hosts such as Ron MacLean are routinely shilling for these services. To be clear, I’ve got absolutely nothing against gambling. If you have the means and can do it responsibly, knock your socks off. It’s the idea of having it shoved down my throat everywhere I turn that I find so offensive.”


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.


Dinner

Scattershooting on a Monday night while trying to figure out what it was that the Denver Broncos just did . . .

Scattershooting2


The Prince Albert Raiders won a WHL exhibition game on Saturday night, beating the Pats, 3-2, in Regina on a goal at 18:23 of the third period by 15-PrinceAlbertyear-old F Dayce Derkatch. “It’s what you always dream of,” Derkatch told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. “It’s so special. I’m so honoured and so proud.” . . . He was a third-round selection by the Pats in the 2022 WHL draft. . . . His father, Dale, is in the books as one of the best and most-exciting players in WHL history. Playing with the Pats, he put up 491 points, including 222 goals, in 204 regular-season games. In 54 playoff games, he scored 30 goals and added 73 assists. Add it up — 252 goals, 342 assists, 594 points, all accomplished in 258 games. . . . Vanstone wrote: “Dayce’s ground-breaking goal was scored nearly 41 years after his father registered his first pre-season tally. In his exhibition debut with Regina, Dale had a goal — and two fights — in a 9-4 loss to the host Saskatoon Blades on Sept. 15, 1981. He went on to enjoy a 62-goal, 142-point rookie season.” . . . Dayce signed with the Raiders on Monday and is expected to spend this season with his hometown Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchewan Male AAA Hockey League. . . . Vanstone’s story is right here.


Sale


If it hadn’t before now, I would suggest that baseball statistics have jumped the shark. Officially. . . . I saw this on Twitter on Saturday morning: “Bo Bichette’s HR last night came on a pitch 16″ off the ground. It was the second-lowest pitch hit for a HR in Bichette’s career & the lowest by a #BlueJays hitter this season.” . . . Seriously! . . . Perhaps the MLB player who homers off the closest pitch to the ground each season gets a lifetime supply of tees?


If you hang out regularly in these parts, you may remember the five-part WHL history that I posted here a while back. Well, a short time ago, I received an email asking where it could be found. . . . If you’re new here and you haven’t seen them, you may enjoy these pieces . . .

Part 1: https://greggdrinnan.com/2020/11/18/the-whl-in-the-beginning/

Part 2: https://greggdrinnan.com/2020/11/20/the-whl-part-2-changes-of-scenery-battles-on-and-off-the-ice-and-uhh-a-toupee/

Part 3: https://greggdrinnan.com/2020/11/23/the-whl-part-3-bruins-dynasty-ends-franchises-on-the-move-and-more-mayhem/

Part 4: https://greggdrinnan.com/2020/11/26/the-whl-part-4-winds-of-change-ferraro-lights-it-up-and-yes-a-player-for-a-bus/

Part 5: https://greggdrinnan.com/2020/11/28/the-whl-part-5-there-was-tragedy-lots-of-movement-and-marshmallow-punches/


Texas


Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times with a look ahead to a major sporting event that is quickly approaching: “Another prestigious sporting event will return to the global stage after being mothballed two years by COVID: the 37th World Ploughing Championships in Ratheniska, Ireland, on Sept. 21-22. The winner — the Marquis de Sod? — will undoubtedly be decided by the turnover advantage.”



Island


IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART I — Under the subhead ‘Pot, meet Kettle,’ Perry writes: “Clemson football coach Dabo Swinney — the same guy who once said, ‘As far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me . . . there’s enough entitlement in this world as there is’ — has just agreed to a record 10-year, $115-million contract.”

BTW, a national championship would be worth an extra $1 million to Swinney. His average annual salary — $11.5 million — is behind only Nick Saban at Alabama, who is at $11.7 million. No. 3 on the list is Kirby Smart of Georgia, at $11.25 million. . . . The Athletic’s Grace Raynor notes that only one coach (Saban) made at least $9.5 million in 2021. Now there are at least six of them, the other three being Mel Tucker of Michigan State, Ryan Day of Ohio State and Bryan Kelly of LSU. . . . For coaching football. College football.

——

IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART II — The Nebraska Cornhuskers lost, 45-42, to visiting Georgia Southern on Saturday and promptly fired head coach Scott Frost, never mind that the season is only three games old. Nebraska will pay him US$15 million not to coach, a figure that would have been $7.5 million had it waited until Oct. 1 to make the move. Frost, in his fifth season with Nebraska, watched his guys lose 10-straight one-score decisions. . . . You may recall that Frost was the biggest thing in college football since Knute Rockne when he led Central Florida to a 13-0 record in 2018. Well, he left Nebraska with a 16-31 mark, including 10-16 in the Big Ten. Oh yes, he left with a whack of cash, too. . . . From Shehan Jeyarajah of CBS Sports: “It’s hard to contextualize how badly Nebraska wanted this hire to work. Frost was a beloved son and the apparent chosen one for this program. Unfortunately, his winning percentage goes down as the worst by any full-time Nebraska coach since the Eisenhower administration.”

——

IT’S ONLY MONEY, PART III — The Tampa Bay Rays are again in Toronto with without reliever Brooks Raley, who isn’t vaccinated and will miss the five-game set with the Blue Jays. The Rays put him on the restricted list, meaning it will cost him US$93,407 in salary. . . . He wasn’t allowed into Canada earlier in the season and that also cost him four days’ pay. . . . What it means is that his decision not to get vaccinated has cost him $186,814. No biggie, though, because the Rays are paying him $4.25 million this season. . . . BTW, when the Rays were in Toronto earlier, reliever Ryan Thompson also wasn’t on the trip because he isn’t vaccinated. But he’s on the injured list this time. . . . The Blue Jays opened with a 3-2 victory on Monday night. They’ll play two today.


Beers


It is hard to mis-state the size of the mess in which MLB finds itself these days. It’s hard to argue against outlawing the shift and the pitch clock and the larger bases, but, sheesh, when you are bringing in rule changes that legislate against strategy you really have some issues. Especially when there is — or at least used to be — so much strategy involved in baseball. . . . But, hey, if you really want to improve the offensive side of the game, why not limit pitchers to throwing no harder than 90 mph? Just make any pitch faster than 90 a ball. . . . Hello, Bud Segal, are you interested in being commissioner, again? Please.

——

Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has a couple of rule changes that he would like to see MLB implement:

“No more check swings. A check swing, no matter how far the bat goes around, is no swing. These are garbage strikeouts, pure umpire guesswork and satisfying to nobody. Result: Fewer strikeouts, more action.

“If there are five or more people in line at a beer stand, everyone in line gets free beer. Hire more damn vendors. If we want to stand in line, we’ll go to Disneyland or the DMV.”


Witches


THE COACHING GAME:

Carter Rigby has joined the Prince George Cougars as an assistant coach. He had been the head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Hockey League, who actually announced the signing on Thursday night. The Cougars made their own announcement on Saturday. . . . Rigby played in the WHL, spending time with three teams — the Cougars, Kelowna Rockets and Swift Current Broncos — through 2015. He had been with the Coyotes for the past three seasons. . . . Ken Law has been named the Coyotes’ new head coach. . . .

Eric Williams, a former WHL goaltender, has joined the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs as their goaltending coach. He also works with the BCEHL’s West Valley Giants and the CSSHL’s West Vancouver Academy. . . . Williams, 29, played four seasons (2010-14) in the WHL, spending time with the Prince Albert Raiders and Spokane Chiefs. . . . In Chilliwack, he takes over from Mackenzie Skapski, another former WHL goaltender, who now is the development goaltending coach for the AHL’s Calgary Wranglers.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Chase Johnston is the new radio voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings. He joins them after calling games for the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors for the past four seasons. In Brandon, he takes over from Brandon Crowe, who left the position late last season to join Hockey Canada. . . . The Wheat Kings also announced that their broadcasts are returning to 91.5 FM (Q Country) and 880 AM, both of which recently were purchased by the Jim Pattison Group. . . . It was only a year ago that the Wheat Kings had announced an agreement with Bell Media that put games on Bounce 96.1. Prior to that, the games had been heard on CKLQ from 1992-2021.


Chummy


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.


Costume

Chiefs welcome Viveiros back to WHL. . . . One team left without head coach. . . . Cougars prospect commits to Chilliwack

ThisThat

The Spokane Chiefs made it official on Tuesday — Manny Viveiros is their new head SpokaneChiefscoach. He takes over from Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to sign on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. . . . Viveiros, 53, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers, but was released when Dave Tippett was hired as the NHL team’s new head coach. . . . Prior to that, Viveiros spent two seasons as the director of player personnel and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, who won the WHL championship in 2017-18. . . . Viveiros will be introduced to Spokane at a news conference today.


With the Spokane Chiefs having hired Manny Viveiros as their head coach, it leaves the BrandonWKregularBrandon Wheat Kings as the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams still looking for one. The Wheat Kings chose not to renew head coach David Anning’s contract after last season. . . . Anning had been with the Wheat Kings though seven seasons — four as an assistant coach and three as head coach. . . .

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager after having dropped Grant Armstrong after three seasons. Armstrong wasn’t out of work long as the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has added him to its scouting staff. He will work as an amateur scout under Darryl Plandowski, the team’s head amateur scout.


JUST NOTES:

J.J. Daigneault is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He takes over from Eric Veilleux, who signed on as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch after one season in Halifax. Daigneault, 53, was an assistant coach with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage last season, after spending six seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. . . .

D Hudson Thornton has agreed to play for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs in 2019-20. Thornton, who won’t turn 16 until Nov. 4, was a second-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Winnipeg, he played last season with the Rink Hockey Academy’s prep team.


Tweetoftheday

Blazers, Lajoie go their separate ways. . . . Broncos taking games to the Internet. . . . Giants sweep way into conference final

MacBeth

D Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had 11 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL). This season, with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL), he had 12 goals and 17 assists in 40 games. Almond is a dual Swiss-Canadian citizen, and has played the past seven seasons in Geneva.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers announced late Thursday afternoon that they and head coach Serge Lajoie “have mutually parted ways.” Lajoie had replaced Don Hay as the team’s head coach prior to this season.

The four-paragraph news release didn’t mention assistant coach Dan Kordic, who came Kamloops1to the Blazers from the U of Alberta Golden Bears with Lajoie. They had helped the Golden Bears win the U Sports national title for 2017-18.

Jon Keen, the Blazers’ broadcaster, later tweeted that Kordic “has been retained.”

Lajoie, a defenceman in his playing days, got into seven games with the Blazers in 1986-87. He went on to play five seasons (1988-93) with the Golden Bears, where he played under head coach Billy Moores for four of those seasons. Interestingly, Moores is a former WHL coach, having spent one season (1985-86) as the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats. Moores is the older brother of Don Moores, who has been the Blazers’ president and chief operating officer for almost three years.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season as the Blazers’ general manager, explained things this way to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, who shared all of it on his Twitter account (@MarTheReporter):

“We had some reviews, discussing with Serge, talked about some things, both sides, and we came to the conclusion that I think a little bit was the fit. Might not have been the right fit for us and maybe for him.

“I think, even for Serge, being away from family played possibly a part of it. It’s tough for coaches, for anybody, when you’re away from family all year long.”

Lajoie’s family — wife Kelly and children Isabella and Marc — stayed in the Edmonton area. Isabella is finishing up Grade 12, while Marc, a first-round selection by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, spent this season playing for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team.

“I missed out on so much, in terms of my daughter’s accomplishments, my son’s accomplishments,” Lajoie told Hastings. “I would have loved to have been able to see his first WHL game. You sit down with your family and think — is this really worth it? It would not have been fair to the Blazers.”

In explaining his side of the decision, Lajoie said:

“I’m very comfortable with it. Both the Blazers and myself, totally on the same page. It was an evaluation that I made at the end of the year. I wanted to make sure I took some time at the end of the season to see if really this is something I could continue and commit the time and effort necessary to help continue to push the Blazers forward. Family was a big part in this decision. We came to an understanding, the Blazers and myself. Now is the right time to part ways and move on to the next opportunity.”

This season, the Blazers went 28-32-8, good enough for a third-place tie with the Kelowna Rockets in the B.C. Division. The Blazers then beat the visiting Rockets, 5-1, in a tiebreaker that propelled them into the first round of the playoffs, where they were beaten in six games by the Victoria Royals.

The writing may have been on the wall for the Blazers as early as Feb. 12 when they added co-owner Darryl Sydor as a full-time assistant coach. Sydor, who had moved back to Kamloops prior to this season, had been at most of the team’s home games, watching from the press box. After Feb. 12, he was behind the bench for all but a couple of games.

In a season-ending interview with Hastings, majority owner Tom Gaglardi said that Lajoie had a long-term contract. Asked if Lajoie would be back as head coach, Gaglardi told Hastings: “I suspect so. He’s got a long-term contract and we haven’t had any conversation about anything other than that.”

Gaglardi went on to praise Sydor’s contribution to the team and to the coaching staff. Asked if Sydor has “what it takes to be a head coach,” Gaglardi replied: “I’ve got to think so, if that’s what he wants to do.”

On Thursday, when Hastings asked Bardsley if Sydor would be the next head coach, the GM responded:

“We talked to Darryl and I think we’re comfortable Darryl is going to come back as a coach, At what capacity, we have to discuss that. Is it the head coach? We haven’t even discussed that. We’d like to have Darryl back as a coach.”

Despite the optics, Lajoie told Hastings that he didn’t see Sydor’s presence as any kind of threat. I recommend that you check out Hastings’ timeline on Twitter (@MarTheReporter) for more comments from Bardsley and Lajoie, along with a few quotes from Gaglardi.

The Blazers have completed 12 seasons under the ownership of Gaglardi, Sydor, Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Mark Recchi. The next hire will be the 11th full-time or interim head coach since they purchased the franchise.

In those 12 seasons, the Blazers have missed the playoffs four times, reached the Western Conference final once, gotten into the second round on one other occasion, and been bounced in the first round six times.

BlazersCoaches

The above chart is from the Blazers’ website. One asterisk indicates that he was replaced in mid-season; two asterisks indicates an interim head coach.


There are some nasty allegations being made by followers of the Prince Albert Raiders who journeyed to Saskatoon on Wednesday for Game 4 between their favourite club and PrinceAlbertthe Blades. Fans are claiming they had beer and macaroni thrown at them in the SaskTel Centre. . . . “I could feel something on the back of my neck, something really hard,” Raiders fan Matt Herbert told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW.com. “We discovered it was macaroni later, but they were just pelting it down on us. Next thing you know, I could feel some beer coming down my back. The guy beside me was soaked.” . . . The macaroni had been given to fans as part of a promotion. . . . D’Andrea wrote: “The Blades did not wish to comment on the record. The SaskTel Centre did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The Raiders issued a response. . . . In it, they confirm that they’ve been told the occurrence is being examined by SaskTel Centre, and they hope nothing like this repeats itself for Game 5 Friday at the Art Hauser Centre.” . . . D’Andrea’s complete story is right here. . . . The Blades won Game 4, 4-1, to tie the series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Saskatoon on Sunday.


The Swift Current Broncos are taking their game broadcasts to the Internet. After being SCBroncoson The Eagle 94.1 since the late 1980s, the Broncos announced on Thursday that they are beginning “a new era of audio content production and distribution.” . . . According to the news release, “This will include streaming game-day broadcasts, podcasts and interviews that will provide Broncos Nation with leading in-depth coverage and access that we believe our fans will truly appreciate. . . . Further details are set to be released at a future date that is considerate of the parties involved and after a proper process has been completed.”


The Red Deer Rebels have signed D Blake Gustafson to a WHL contract. Gustafson, who will turn 17 on May 21, played this season with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings. He had four goals and one assists in 38 regular-season and playoff games. Gustafson was a 10th-round pick by the Rebels in the 2017 bantam draft.


There is an interesting story developing in the OHL where the Windsor Spitfires seem ohlabout to be sold, perhaps for as much as $12.8 million. According to reports, Dr. Azim Parekh is negotiating a deal that will end with him buying the Spitfires from a group that includes Warren Rychel and Bob Boughner. On Saturday, the Spitfires selected D Isa Parekh in the fifth round of the OHL draft. On Wednesday, the OHL held its U-18 draft, and the Spitfires, with the fifth overall pick, took D Aydin Parekh. . . . Yes, they both are sons of Dr. Parekh. . . . Dave Jewell of The Hockey Writers has a whole lot more on this story right here.


The SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers have signed Mat Hehr, their general manager and head coach, to a two-year contract extension. Hehr, 30, joined the Terriers as an assistant coach for 2016-17, then took over as head coach on Nov. 15, 2017. So he just completed his first season as the full-time head coach.


The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs have promoted Brad Rihela to assistant general manager and associate coach. Rihela, 29, spent last season as their director of player personnel and assistant coach. . . . Before joining the Chiefs, Rihela spent three seasons at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., coach in the bantam prep program. . . . In Chilliwack, Rihela will be working with Brian Maloney, the general manager of hockey and building operations and head coach.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants advanced to the Western Conference final by beating the host Victoria Royals, 6-1, in Thursday’s only WHL playoff game. The Giants, last in the conference final in 2010, swept the series, 4-0, and now await the winner of the series between the Everett Silvertips and Spokane Chiefs. . . . That series will open in Langley, B.C., with games on April 19 and 20. . . .

The Chiefs lead that series, 3-0, and have a chance to wrap it up at home tonight. . . .

The other series also resumes tonight, with the Saskatoon Blades in Prince Albert to meet the Raiders. The Blades won, 4-1, on Wednesday night in Saskatoon to tie that series, 2-2. . . . Game 6 will be played Sunday in Saskatoon and, as of late Thursday afternoon, the lower bowl in the SaskTel Centre, with 6,000 seats, was sold out. . . . The winner of that series will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the Eastern Conference final. They completed a sweep of the Hitmen with a 6-0 victory in Calgary on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Vancouver Giants are into the Western Conference final after beating the Royals, 6-1, Vancouverin Victoria. . . . The Giants swept the series and will meet either the Everett Silvertips or Spokane Chiefs in the conference final. The Giants, who finished atop the conference standings, will have the home-ice advantage, so the series will begin with two games in Langley, B.C., on April 19 and 20. . . . Last night, the Giants took control with three first-period goals, from F Lukas Svejkovsky (3), at 10:04; D Bowen Byram (4), at 16:19; and D Dallas Hines (3), at 16:37. . . . F Owen Hardy (3) made it 4-0 at 9:39 of the second period, before F D-Jay Jerome (2) got Victoria’s lone goal at 11:58. . . . F Brayden Watts (3) and F Jared Dmytriw (4) had the Giants’ other goals, both in the third period. . . . Dmytriw, who played the first three seasons (2014-17) with the Royals, also had two assists. He also is Vancouver’s captain. . . . Vancouver was 1-1 on the PP; Victoria was 0-1. . . . G David Tendeck stopped 17 shots for Vancouver, while G Griffen Outhouse completed his WHL career with a 27-save effort. . . . The Giants held a 157-63 edge in shots in the series, but, because of Outhouse’s superb play, needed OT to win Games 3 and 4. . . . Victoria D Ralph Jarratt, who missed Game 3, was back in the lineup. Royals F Phillip Schultz, who left Game 3 in OT with an apparent injury to his left arm, also was in the lineup. . . . F Kaid Oliver, the Royals’ leading scorer in the regular season, missed all of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. F Kody McDonald, who has used up his junior eligibility, completed a six-game suspension by sitting last night, while D Jake Kustra sat out the second of a two-game suspension. F Tanner Sidaway missed all of this series with a hand injury.


Tweetoftheday

Myth of junior hockey and national champions . . . Rizzo commits to UND . . . Hitmen sign two picks

It is time for hockey fans and the media alike to come to the realization, if they haven’t already, that events like the Memorial Cup and Royal Bank Cup don’t decide national championships.

They are entertainment vehicles and social gatherings and nothing more, and should be enjoyed as such.

They also are showcases for the players who are fortunate enough to get to participate in MemCupRegthe tournaments. Fans also are guaranteed to see some of the best teams in major junior and junior A hockey, so the games mostly are competitive and, as such, entertaining.

But so long as the formats include host teams and round-robin play, these events don’t culminate with the crowning of national champions.

The 2018 Memorial Cup, the 100th anniversary of the trophy, was played in Regina over the past few days. It concluded Sunday with the QMJHL-champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan beat the host Pats, 3-0.

To reach the final, the Pats, who had lost out in the first round of the WHL playoffs, eliminated two league champions — the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

The Pats didn’t have it on Sunday and were beaten by a superior team in the Titan.

After losing to the Pats in the final game of the round-robin and falling to 0-3, the Broncos talked of injuries and fatigue, their 26-game run to the Ed Chynoweth Cup apparently having taking a toll.

But are the Pats the better team because they won one particular game in a round-robin tournament?

Regina and Swift Current met six times in the regular season — the Broncos were 5-0-1, the Pats were 1-4-1. The Broncos wound up at 48-17-7, while the Pats finished 40-25-7.

In the playoffs, the Broncos took out the Pats in a first-round series that went seven games.

In 14 meetings between the teams this season, then, the Broncos were 9-4-1.

But on one night in May, the Pats won, 6-5. Does that mean Regina was the better team? No. It means that on any given day . . .

Meanwhile, in the world of junior A hockey, the host Chilliwack Chiefs won the Royal Bank Cup, which is a five-team tournament. Does that mean the Chiefs won the national championship and are junior A’s best team?

Consider that they finished the BCHL’s regular season at 26-26-3, with three ties. That left them fourth in the Mainland Division, 16 points out of first place. They then lost a seven-game first-round series to the Prince George Spruce Kings.

Meanwhile, the Wenatchee Wild was 37-16-4, with one tie, and third in the Interior Division, seven points out of first place. The Wild then went 16-4 to win the BCHL playoff championship. Wenatchee followed that with a five game Doyle Cup victory over the AJHL-champion Spruce Grove Saints.

At the RBC, Wenatchee won its four round-robin games, two in OT, including a 2-1 victory over Chilliwack. The Chiefs won three times, once in OT, and had the one OT loss.

During the round-robin, the Wild beat the Wellington Dukes, 7-1. But in a semifinal game, the Dukes posted a 2-1 victory, despite having been outshot 51-14.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Ottawa Jr. Senators, 3-2, in the other semifinal, then doubled the Dukes, 4-2, in the final.

Does all of this mean that Chilliwack is a better team than Wenatchee. No. It means that during one week in May things went the Chiefs’ way, just like things didn’t go Swift Current’s way the following week.

So, as long as there are host teams and round-robin formats, let’s stop concerning ourselves with national championships and just enjoy the proceedings.

OK?


The Memorial Cup final was nearing the end of the second period on Sunday when I heard from a long-time reader of this blog.

The message: “If I hear Mastercard one more time I’m gonna lose my (crap).”

If you are a regular visitor here, you will be well aware that this is one of my all-time pet peeves.

There are some things in life that should never have price tags placed on them, and the Memorial Cup is one of them.

Would the NHL sell naming rights to the Stanley Cup to, say, Visa? The Visa Stanley Cup?

How about the NBA? Would it turn its major trophy into the American Express Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy?

The winner of the NFL’s Super Bowl is awarded the Vince Lombardi Trophy. The team that wins MLB’s World Series gets the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Win the WHL title and you get the Ed Chynoweth Cup, not the Nike Ed Chynoweth Cup.

The Memorial Cup has been in competition since 1919, and if you understand its origin I think you will agree that naming rights to it never should have been on the table.

Here’s William J. Walshe, writing in the Kingston Whig-Standard on Jan. 6, 1939:

“The (Memorial) cup, coveted prize of Canadian junior hockey, was the brainchild of Capt. Jim (Sutherland) when he was overseas in the Great War (1914–18) and at the time, President of the Ontario Hockey Association (1915–17). He wrote suggesting the trophy in memory of the boys who were killed in the war and no doubt a big part of the idea was instigated by his devotion to his beloved (Alan) Scotty Davidson, who fell (June 6, 1915) with many other hockey players in the world conflict . . .”

Peter Robinson has more on the origin of the Memorial Cup right here.

Robinson writes, in part: “As the generation that it was originally meant to honour has passed on with the last surviving First World War veteran John Babcock’s death in 2010, the trophy now serves as a commemoration for all the country’s war dead and others that served.”


The 2018 Memorial Cup, held at the Brandt Centre in Regina:

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday, May 20 – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday, May 21 – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst 3, Regina 0 (6,484)


MacBeth

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Thurgau (Switzerland, NL B), he had 25 goals and 22 assists in 45 games. He was second on the team in goals and points.


SThisThat

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

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.ca

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

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


F Massimo Rizzo, who was a first-round selection, 14th overall, in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, told the Kamloops Blazers prior to the 2018 bantam draft that he wouldn’t be playing for them. On Saturday afternoon, Rizzo tweeted that he will attend the U of North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, likely starting with the 2019-20 season.

Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played last season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees, putting up 38 points, including 13 goals, in his 16-year-old season. He was named the Vees’ captain earlier this month.

“It was a hard decision, especially being from Western Canada,” Rizzo told Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. “Just seeing the success of players going through college and to the NHL, and feeling that I needed a bit more time to develop and grow and get stronger, and talking to people who went that route and the experience they had, that’s kind of why I decided to do it.”

According to Schlossman, Rizzo “chose UND over Denver, Wisconsin and Michigan.”

Rizzo will be the fourth recent Penticton captain to attend UND, following D Troy Stecher, F Tyson Jost and F Nick Jones.

Rizzo is the only one of the 21 first-round selections from the 2016 bantam draft not to sign with a WHL team.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Sean Tschigerl and D Tyson Galloway to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Tschigerl, from Whitecourt, Alta., was the fourth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. He had 70 points, including 31 goals, in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . Galloway, from Kamloops, played for the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. He had three goals and 11 assists in 29 games. Galloway was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft.


Clayton Jardine, 27, is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He takes over from Geoff Grimwood, who left the club earlier this month. . . . Jardine, a native of Lacombe, Alta., was an assistant coach under Grimwood in 2015-16. Jardine spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at New England College, an NCAA Division III school. . . . The Klippers also announced that Larry Wintoneak will be returning as an assistant coach. Wintoneak has been with the Klippers for four seasons in what is his second go-round in Kindersley.

Dewar goal gives Silvertips win in Game 1 . . . Wild goes home with Doyle Cup . . . Pistons push Hawks to the brink . . . Lots of coaching news

MacBeth

D Kirill Vorobyov (Portland, 2012-13) was traded by Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL) to CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL) for cash compensation. This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk, he had four assists in 43 games while averaging 17:10 TOI per game. . . .

F Linden Vey (Medicine Hat, 2006-11) signed a two-year contract with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). This season, in 50 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), he had 17 goals and 35 assists while averaging 21:52 TOI. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in the points race. . . . Vey finished the season with the ZSC Zurich Lions (Switzerland, NL A), recording two goals and four assists in 10 games. . . .

D Dmitri Sinitsyn (Regina, 2013-14) signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). He had signed with Spartak Moscow (Russia, KHL) for this season but missed the entire season due to injury. In 2016-17, he had nine assists in 42 games with Lada Togliatti (Russia, KHL), and one assist in nine games with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). . . .

F Lukáš Vantuch (Calgary, Lethbridge, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had two assists in 29 games with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He also had a goal and two assists in three games on loan to Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), and one goal and one assists in five games on loan to Piráti Chomutov. . . .

D Micki DuPont (Kamloops, 1996-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL). He had seven goals and 16 assists in 52 games. . . .

D/F Sena Acolatse (Seattle, Saskatoon, Prince George, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, he had one goal and seven assists in 30 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL).


ThisThat

The Everett Silvertips drew first blood in the WHL’s best-of-seven championship final, for Everettthe Ed Chynoweth Cup, beating the host Swift Current Broncos, 2-1, on Friday night. . . . Everett F Connor Dewar (10) broke a 1-1 tie at 1:49 of the third period. . . . F Patrick Bajkov (14) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead, on a PP, at 14:43 of the first period. . . . The Broncos tied it at 11:26 of the second period on a goal by F Aleksi Heponiemi (4). . . . F Garrett Pilon had two assists for the winners, who got 34 saves from G Carter Hart. . . . G Stuart Skinner blocked 23 shots for Swift Current. . . . The referees were Chris Crich and Steve Papp. . . . The Broncos took three of the game’s five minors. . . . Everett was 1-2 on the PP; Swift Current was 0-1. . . . Announced attendance: 2,890. . . . They’ll play Game 2 in Swift Current tonight (Saturday). . . . Everett now is 8-0 on the road in these playoffs.


The BCHL-champion Wenatchee Wild scored the game’s last five goals en route to a 7-2 Wenatcheevictory over the host Spruce Grove Saints, the AJHL champions, on Friday night. . . . The Wild won the best-of-seven Doyle Cup series, 4-1, and now advance to the Royal Bank Cup that opens in Chilliwack on May 12. . . . F Logan Ganie’s second goal of the game, at 1:00 of the second period, pulled the Saints into a 2-2 tie. . . . Wild F August Von Ungern broke the tie at 1:57 and the Wild never looked back. . . . Wenatchee will be the second U.S.-based team to play in the Royal Bank Cup; the Minnesota Wilderness of the Superior International Junior Hockey League got there in 2013.


In Nipawin, Sask., the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons scored twice in the third period Steinbachand took a 2-1 victory over the SJHL-champion Hawks on Friday night. . . . The Pistons hold a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series for the ANAVET Cup and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup. . . . The teams now head back to Steinbach for Game 6 on Monday and, if needed, Game 7 on Tuesday. . . . Last night, F Brandan Arnold gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead at 17:05 of the first period. That was his sixth goal — and 11th point — of the series. . . . The Pistons pulled even on F Drew Worrad’s goal at 3:58 of the third period. . . . F Jack Johnson broke the tie at 12:22 with his first goal of the series. . . . Steinbach G Matthew Thiessen stopped 24 shots, while Nipawin’s Declan Hobbs turned aside 34.


TheCoachingGame

The BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs are to be the host team for the Royal Bank Cup tournament that runs from May 12 through May 20 at Prospera Centre. On Thursday, the Chiefs fired general manager/head coach Jason Tatarnic, replacing him with Brian Maloney, who had been the associate GM and associate head coach. . . . Tatarnic was in his fourth season with the Chiefs. This season, they finished 26-26-3-3, good for fourth place in the five-team Mainland Division. They went on to lose a first-round series to the division-winning Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . The change was announced with a three-sentence paragraph that was posted on the Chiefs’ website. The announcement didn’t mention Tatarnic. It ended with this: “President Glen Ringdal said the decision to elevate Maloney was made by Chiefs’ ownership (Thursday).” . . . The Chiefs are owned by Moray Keith, Jim Bond and Heinz Hasselmann, all successful Lower Mainland-based businessmen.

Steve Ewen of Postmedia takes a look right here at the Tatarnic firing and a few other strange moves that have occurred of late in the world of junior hockey and the impact they could have.


Brad Berry, the head coach of the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, has signed a five-year deal that funs through 2022-23. Berry just completed his third season as the UND head coach and had one year left on his original four-year contract. . . . Major junior coaches will be interested in learning that the new contract gives Berry a base salary of US$400,000 per year. . . . College Hockey News has more right here.


Rob Wilson is the new head coach of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes. He spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Nuremberg Ice Tigers of Germany’s DEL. . . . Wilson played part of one season (1988-89) with the Petes before going on to a pro career that included stops in North America and Europe. . . . Wilson replaces Andrew Verner, who had been the interim head coach since Jody Hull was fired in January.


Eric Veilleux is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads, who will be the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup tournament. Veilleux, 46, has been an assistant coach with the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, for the past two seasons. He has previous QMJHL head-coaching experience with the Shawinigan Cataractes, helping them win the 2012 Memorial Cup as the host team. He also spent two seasons as head coach of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. . . . In Halifax, Veilleux replaces Jim Midgley, who was fired on April 25 after one season as head coach. The Mooseheads went 43-18-6-1 and finished fourth overall under Midgley, then lost a second-round playoff series to the ninth-place Charlottetown Islanders. He had been an assistant coach for five seasons with the Mooseheads.


Casey O’Brien has signed on as the head coach of the Melville Prairie Fire, a team in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League. O’Brien was fired this season as the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers.


Kelly Guard, a former WHL goaltender, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats as an assistant coach. Guard, 34, had been working as the Prince Albert Raiders’ goaltender coach. . . . Guard played two seasons (2002-04) with the Kelowna Rockets, helping them win the 2004 Memorial Cup.


The junior B Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have fired general manager and head coach Bill Rotheisler, who had one year left on his contract. . . . He just completed his second season with the Rebels. . . . “I don’t know what happened, to be honest with you,” Rotheisler told John Boivin of the Castlegar News. “I’m still waiting for my official papers that would explain the reason. I would love to provide you with an answer.” . . . Mike Johnstone, the team president, told Boivin that the board of directors “decided to go in a different direction.” . . . The Rebels finished this season in second place in their division, winning 30 of 47 games. They got past the defending-champion Beaver Valley Nitehawks in the first round of the playoffs, then lost a five-game series to the Nelson Leafs. . . . Boivin’s story is right here.

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