Blades answer Farren’s request . . . Gulka leaves Spokane . . . Blazers looking for cheerleaders


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Michael Farren made a wish on Monday; it was granted on Thursday.

Farren, 18, was traded by the Saskatoon Blades to the Kelowna Rockets for a third-round KelownaRocketsselection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft.

Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said that Farren left the team on Monday and asked to be dealt.

“Michael texted me . . . to let me know he wasn’t satisfied with his role on the team and would be flying home to await a trade,” Priestner said in a news release. “We are disappointed in Michael’s decision, but this draft pick is an asset that allows to us to improve our team if needed in the future.”

Farren, from Surrey, B.C., was added to the Blades’ protected list in 2015 and signed a WHL contract at 16, following his first training camp. In 133 career regular-season games, he has 20 goals and 37 assists. This season, he had one goal and four assists in eight games.

The Rockets, at 1-8-0, are off to the poorest start in franchise history. They have scored only 21 goals in nine games, so are hoping that Farren will be able to provide a boost for their offence.

Kelowna will go home-and-home with the Tri-City Americans this weekend, playing tonight in Kennewick, Wash., and in the Little Apple on Saturday.

The Blades (6-2-0) are at home to the Red Deer Rebels tonight and the Prince Albert Raiders on Sunday afternoon.


F Sean Gulka, 18, has left the Spokane Chiefs and his rights have reverted to the Victoria SpokaneChiefsRoyals. . . . The Chiefs acquired Gulka from the Royals on Nov. 22, 2017, giving up, according to the WHL website, a sixth-round selection in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. According to a Chiefs’ news release, Gulka’s rights have been returned to the Royals “as per the conditions of the trade agreement.” . . . Gulka, from Langley, B.C., had one assist in four games with the Chiefs last this. This season, he had played in four games, recording one assist. . . . The Royals selected him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft.


In an attempt to add some excitement to the atmosphere in their home arena, the Sandman Centre, the Kamloops Blazers are in the process of building a cheerleader squad. . . . “We’re just trying to find new ways to liven up the energy in the building,” David Hole, the Blazers’ new ticketing and promotions co-ordinator, told Eric Thompson of kamloopsmatters.com. “The Edmonton Oilers do it, granted theirs is a bit different and they’ve been doing it for a lot longer, but it’s just more to get a new aspect of energy in the building, get the people more excited and build more of an atmosphere.” . . . Hole is looking for about a dozen participants, each of whom must be at least 14 years of age. . . . If all goes according to plan, the cheerleaders would be used as part of larger promotions, or about eight games this season. . . . Thompson’s complete story is right here. . . . Might I be so bold as to suggest a trumpet player? If it was good enough for the Montreal Forum . . .


D Ryan Pouliot, who chose not to report to the Vancouver Giants after being claimed on waivers last week, has joined the BCHL’s Powell River Kings. Pouliot, 20, was waived by the Swift Current Broncos. He had been pointless in three games. . . . Pouliot had played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice, recording three goals and 25 assists in 155 games. . . . Pouliot was in the Kings’ lineup Thursday night as they beat the host Prince George Spruce Kings, 5-2. . . . Tyler Kuntz, a former Vancouver assistant coach, is Powell River’s head coach.



Chris Beaudry has left his position as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Beaudry, who was an assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos last season, cited personal reasons in stepping down, but will help the Millionaires in an advisory capacity. . . . Beaudry wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus when it crashed on April 6; as he often did, he was in his own vehicle driving to that night’s scheduled game in Nipawin. . . . Kyle Adams, who has worked with the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder and the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, has moved into the spot vacated by Beaudry.


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Tory, Stasiuk together, again . . . Blazers add assistant coach . . . Rebels sign Russian forward


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F Layne Ulmer (Swift Current, 1997-2001) signed a one-year extension with the Cardiff Devils (Wales, UK Elite). Last season, he had 18 goals and 35 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Joel Broda (Tri-City, Moose Jaw, Calgary, 2004-10) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 27 assists in 54 games. . . . Rick Nasheim (Spokane Flyers 1980-81, Regina, 1982-83) is the assistant coach for Dornbirn. . . . For the curious ones out there, the Spokane Flyers began WHL life as the original Flin Flon Bombers, a charter member of the league in 1966. The franchise transferred to Edmonton for the 1978-79 season as the second version of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The franchise lasted one season in Edmonton, then was sold and moved to Great Falls MT, as the Great Falls Americans. The Americans ceased operations in December 1979 after 28 games. The franchise was re-activated as the Spokane Flyers for the 1980-81 season. The Flyers lasted one season plus a bit, folding 26 games into their second season in December 1981. . . .

F Brodie Dupont (Calgary, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL), he had 21 goals and 47 assists in 68 games. The team captain, he led the Admirals in assists and points. He was pointless in one game while on loan to the Stockton Heat (AHL).


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The Tri-City Americans have hired Roy Stasiuk as their head scout, filling the spot in tri-citytheir front office that was created when Barclay Parneta, who had been the assistant GM, left to join the Vancouver Giants as general manager. . . . Stasiuk, 55, is quite familiar with the WHL, having worked with the Prince Albert Raiders, Red Deer Rebels, Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton/Kootenay Ice. . . . He spent 10 seasons (1995-2005) as the Ice’s head scout. While with the Ice, Stasiuk worked with Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager. . . . Stasiuk also worked as the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ general manager for four seasons (2005-09) and scouted for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs (2009-15).


Dan Kordic, an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears for the past two seasons, has signed on with the Kamloops Blazers as an assistant coach. . . . Serge Lajoie, the Golden Bears’ head coach for the past three seasons, joined the Blazers as their new head coach on June 25. . . . Kordic, 47, played four seasons (1987-91) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers and won a Memorial Cup with them in 1988. He went on to a pro career that included 197 NHL games with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Meanwhile, the Calgary Hitmen and Tri-City Americans remain the only WHL teams without head coaches. Steve Hamilton, who was fired as head coach by the Edmonton Oil Kings on May 28, is believed to be in the mix in Calgary.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Russian F Oleg Zaitsev, 17, who was selected in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . “He’s an elite level player, a stud,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ Red Deerowner, GM and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Right now he’s the best Russian centre iceman in his age group. We’re very excited about adding him to our team. He’s signed a contract. He’s all in.” . . . Meachem reports that the Rebels likely will go with Russian D Alex Alexeyev, the Washington Capitals first-round pick in the NHL’s 2018 draft, and Zaitsev as their two imports. However, F Ivan Drozdov of Belarus, the Rebels’ other 2018 import draft pick, isn’t yet out of the picture.

Meanwhile, the Victoria Royals dropped F Jeff de Wit, 20, from their protected list and the Rebels have added him to their list. De Wit, who is from Red Deer, was a first-round selection by the Rebels in the 2013 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice and Victoria.

Meachem’s complete story is right here.


Chris Beaudry, an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos last season, now is on the coaching staff of the Melville Millionaires. Beaudry wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus when it crashed on April 6. He was driving to that night’s playoff game in Nipawin and was about 20 minutes away when the accident occurred. . . . In Melville, Beaudry fills a vacancy created when Mark Chase left to join the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as general manager and head coach.


Raelene and Russell Herold, and the estate of their son, Adam, who was killed in the crash of the Humboldt Broncos’ bus, have filed a statement of claim in Regina Court of Queen’s Bench. The lawsuit asks for an unspecified amount in damages, expenses, costs and interest, and names the driver of the big rig that was involved, along with the trucking company and the bus manufacturer. . . . Heather Polischuk of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.


“At first,” writes Mike Aiken of drydennow.com, “it seems like he’s living the life of Riley. Joe Murphy works as a labourer, when he needs money, and he sleeps in a tent in a farmer’s field, when he needs shelter.

“During a short chat, he’ll talk about settling down a bit in an apartment. He says he now calls Kenora his home by the water, but finding affordable housing is next to impossible, not just because of the market.”

This would be the same Joe Murphy who was an NHL first-round draft pick and who played in the league for 15 seasons. Yes, his story now is about concussions.

Aiken’s complete story is right here.


John Branch of The New York Times has written a terrific essay that is headlined: Why the N.F.L. and the N.B.A. Are So Far Apart on Social Justice Stances. . . . This is a great look at the NFL and how it has reacted to its players social protests, and the NBA and how it backs its players and promotes its stars. . . . Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this piece right here.


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Scattershooting: The SJHL “will play hockey” . . . Big day for Beaudry . . . Willie helps out

Scattershooting

The SJHL’s board of governors voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to have the league’s playoffs played to a conclusion. The best-of-seven final will open Saturday with SJHLthe Estevan Bruins visiting the Hawks in Nipawin.

The league has been in a holding pattern since Friday when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to Nipawin for a game that night was involved in a crash in which 16 people died. The Hawks led that series, 3-1, at the time.

“We had a gruelling decision to make with respects on how we can pay tribute and honour the Humboldt Broncos,” SJHL president Bill Chow said in a statement. “On behalf of the board of governors, this intensive decision has been made and that decision is to carry through and finish off the 2017-18 season.

“The league will play hockey.”

The winner of the final will win the Canalta Cup and go on to play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion for the ANAVET Cup.

If you’re wonder, the Broncos’ organization is onside with the decision to play the final series.

“In my opinion, I think that hockey is important in our world, and it’s part of the healing process,” Broncos president Kevin Garinger told The Canadian Press. “I think it’s important to recognize that it is part of the healing process for everyone involved in this tragedy.”

Garinger also repeated that the Broncos expect to be one of the SJHL’s 12 teams when the 2018-19 season arrives.

“We know that hockey is critical for our Humboldt Broncos family,” he said. “We know that moving forward it will take time but we fully expect that the Humboldt Broncos organization will be part of the 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League schedule. We will look toward that when the time is right to consider it.”

——

SJHL final (best-of-seven):

Saturday: at Nipawin

Sunday: at Nipawin

Tuesday: at Estevan

Wednesday: at Estevan

If necessary:

Friday, April 20: at Nipawin

Sunday, April 22: at Estevan

Tuesday, April 24: at Nipawin


The Nipawin Hawks began preparations for the SJHL final at practice Wednesday afternoon, and they had a new assistant coach on the ice with them. Humboldt assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus on Friday because he was driving himself to the game, had on his coaching gear and was helping the Hawks.

Later in the day, Beaudry hit send on the following tweet:


If you follow the WHL, you know that the Saskatoon Blades didn’t qualify for the playoffs and, subsequently, head coach Dean Brockman was fired.

If you are one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason, well, before joining the Blades as an assistant coach, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the Broncos, the last 10 as general manager and head coach.

With that in mind, might Brockman end up back there, charged with putting the franchise back together?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, Brockman’s thoughts on the tragedy and what has transpired are right here in a piece from CBC.


On Tuesday afternoon, I posted a piece here — The boys grab some sticks and win a game — and the response has blown me away. On Wednesday morning, Cam Hutchinson, the editor of the Saskatoon Express, asked for permission to print the story in the next issue of that newspaper. Of course, I told him to go ahead. So, if you’re in the Saskatoon area, you can watch for it in print on Monday and online on Tuesday. . . . On Wednesday afternoon, following the death of Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons, I updated the story to include her.



There are stories everywhere involving victims of Friday’s bus accident. Here’s one that I absolutely love. . . . Graysen Cameron is one of the Humboldt players who was hospitalized after the accident. His brother, Bretton, is the captain of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He played three seasons (2007-10) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Willie Desjardins was the general manager and head coach. . . . Bretton badly wanted to get to Saskatoon in order to be with Graysen, but was having visa problems. It just happened that Desjardins called on Saturday to ask about Graysen. During the conversation, Bretton mentioned the visa issues. Well, it seems that Desjardins knows a lawyer through his NHL connections and, well, Bretton was on a plane to Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . These are the kinds of relationships that are forged while buses carry teams across this land.