BCHL extinguishes fire in West Kelowna . . . Grimwood back as GM/head coach . . . Americans run afoul of WHL sheriff

MacBeth

D Martin Gernát (Edmonton, 2011-13) signed a contract through the end of November with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had two assists in three games with Prešov (Slovakia, 1. Liga), was pointless in two games with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), and had two goals and two assists in 11 games with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL A).


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Here’s hoping that the circus pulled out of West Kelowna on Thursday morning and that the Warriors now are able to get on with their BCHL regular season that is scheduled to open against the Smoke Eaters in Trail tonight (Friday).

Kim Dobranski, the Warriors’ beleaguered majority owner, appeared before the media WestKelownaon Thursday morning, read from a prepared statement and chose not to answer questions.

In brief, Rylan Ferster, who had been the general manager and head coach for six seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had led the Warriors to the national junior A championship in 2016.

In a news release announcing Ferster’s departure, the Warriors revealed that Geoff Grimwood, who had been assistant GM and associate coach, had been named interim GM/head coach.

That lasted until Monday night when Dobranski fired Grimwood. On Tuesday, it became known that Jason Beckett, who had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, would be the next head coach.

Except that this is where the players got involved.

First, they skated off the ice during a Tuesday practice and didn’t return.

On Wednesday, they decided not to practise, choosing instead to go on a players-only hike.

By Wednesday night, the BCHL — commissioner Chris Hebb and the board of governors — was involved. A source familiar with the situation told Taking Note on Wednesday that the league had taken over the franchise, at least for now, and that a contract was being drawn up with Grimwood’s name on it.

By Thursday morning, Dobranski said he had seen the light.

In addressing the assembled media, Dobranski read:

“Mr. Grimwood in his short time here had a profound impact on these players. In my search to fill the big shoes of Mr. Ferster, I neglected to realize that Mr. Ferster, in his final act before leaving, not only did he assemble an incredible group of young men, he placed the best person for this job right in front of me.”

That person of course is Grimwood, who will be behind the bench tonight (Friday) in Trail and for the rematch in West Kelowna on Saturday.

Dobranski continued: “I failed both as a partner in this league and as a leader of this organization to consider the emotional turmoil this could cause for these young men. However, the positive in all this is that I discovered that we have something incredibly special here. We have a group of young men that are incredibly tight, bonded like I have never seen before, and have stood together willing to face whatever consequences that this may have caused. They did this for the sole purpose of supporting each other. This was a courageous and a selfless act and I feel we have an incredible group of players here with a foundation for success.”

Dobranski and a silent partner purchased the Warriors from Mark Cheyne in August.

Grimwood also was in attendance on Thursday and, after stating how excited he was to be the general manager and head coach, he offered:

“I think what we’ve done here, with Kim, myself and the B.C. Hockey League, we just made sure everyone’s on the same page going forward. What I want for the team and the players is the same thing that Mr. Dobranski wants. We’re going to work really hard to support those 23 players.”

Hebb, who is in his first year as the BCHL’s commissioner, apparently arrived in West Kelowna sometime on Wednesday.

Doyle Potenteau of Global News reported that the BCHL later issued a statement, “saying it will work alongside Dobranski and his management staff, directing them in the near term, and that the league will remain in a supporting role as the season progresses.”

Global’s coverage is right here.

There is a story right here from castanet.net.

The Kelowna Daily Courier has a story right here.


I wish I could say that the whole mess ended with that news conference. But I’m not able to do that.

Because on Thursday afternoon, I received a tweet from an account that carried the name WarriorsBoss and the address @BossWarriors. However, the account disappeared sometime Thursday evening.

I will leave it to your imagination as to the person behind the short-lived Twitter account. It was set up in “September 2018” — maybe even on Thursday. LOL! When that message arrived, WarriorsBoss (@BossWarriors) was following one account and this was its first tweet.

While I didn’t write down the message, nor did I do a screen capture, the gist of it was that my Wednesday night post on the situation in West Kelowna, in particular the part about the BCHL having “taken over operation” of the franchise, was inaccurate. A source familiar with the situation had informed me of that earlier on Wednesday.

Anyway, I replied to WarriorsBoss:

I usually don’t respond to anonymous messages, but seeing as I am the only account you follow, you should know that someone inside the Warriors organization told me (Wednesday) night that the post was “very accurate.”

A few hours laters, WarriorsBoss fired back, calling me “a liar.”

Again, I didn’t write down the tweet, nor did I do a screen capture. I would assume that was the last tweet to be sent from that account before it disappeared. I actually laughed out loud when that message arrived. In more than 40 years of writing, I can’t recall being called a liar. Lots of other things, for sure. But never a liar.

Anyway . . . sorry to deflate your balloon, WarriorsBoss. But after reading what I posted here on Wednesday night, someone inside the Warriors organization told me, and these are the exact words: “That’s a very accurate article.”

I may be a lot of things, WarriorsBoss, but I am not a liar.

Nor am I anonymous.

Oh, and my Twitter account is very much alive.


Might this be bad news for fans of the Moose Jaw Warriors . . .


Congratulations if you had head coach Kelly Buchberger and the Tri-City Americans in the pool — they were first to run afoul of the WHL’s Department of Discipline this season.

Buchberger, in his first season as head coach, was suspended for one game after a tri-city“multiple fight situation” in a game with the Vancouver Giants on Sunday at an exhibition tournament in Everett.

The Americans also were fined $500, while Tri-City D Mitchell Brown drew a one-game sentence for “fourth fight of game.”

According to the WHL website, no one on the Giants was fined or suspended.

The game featured 142 penalty minutes, including eight fighting majors and eight game misconducts. Of course, a fight carries with it an automatic game misconduct in the exhibition season.

While Brown and seven other players received game misconducts, those penalties don’t show up in their individual statistics. For example, while Brown took 15 penalty minutes in that game — a major (5) and a game misconduct (10) — his individual stats page credits him with only five penalty minutes from that game.

What that means is that the WHL is again refusing to include all penalties in individual totals and that’s a real shame because it bastardizes the penalty statistics.


Of course, this means that Trevor’s twin brother, Darren, who now scouts for the Calgary Flames, also turned 50. Happy birthday to a pair of Memorial Cup champions!


If you’re a regular here, you will know that we’ve been following the progress being made by Stuart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club as he Portlandrehabs from three strokes.

Here is his latest update, posted on Wednesday evening . . .

“So people hope I succeed! OK then. I went to a gym first time in ages, and with strokes I can tell you, muscles disappear fast. I was embarrassed at limited stuff before I tired out.

“However, I did 20 mins treadmill 1.5 MPH (Sounds bad but it was moving fast)
“I did 20 mins on cycle level 4
“3 reps of 12 on chest press 20 pounds
“3 reps on Tricep 50 pounds
“3 reps on Tri Extension 50 pounds
“In addition to at home curl @ 20 lbs 3 reps 12 each

“Hope I sleep tonight. But I feel good, working hard so keep positive vibes coming. Let’s get me swallowing again!

“Saw my COBRA for medical today and it’s expensive, lot more than I originally thought by almost $300 a month.

“I know you all saw GoFundMe and FB pleas for help, it’s in Portland Tribune and August Winterhawks Insider, Hoping to prove all wrong and get back to work soon.

“Please help if you can (and) invite those who may be unaware.”

He has speech therapy appointments scheduled for Sept. 7 and 11, and other appointments on Sept. 18, Sept. 19, Sept. 25, Oct. 3 and Oct. 8.

If you are able to help, the GoFundMe page is right here.


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Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

——

WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


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