Will McCrimmon stay, or will he go? . . . Another hall beckons Ridley. . . . Broncos explain broadcast plans

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It seems most likely that Bob Nicholson, the Edmonton Oilers’ CEO who is searching for a general manager, will chat with Kelly McCrimmon one of these days.

McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, is in his third season as the Oilersassistant general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s Robin Brownlee of oilersnation.com: “The bottom line in job interviews has the prospective employer asking candidates — either directly or by nibbling around the edges — ‘Tell me why we should hire you?’ If I was in McCrimmon’s shoes and staring across the table at Nicholson, I’d be asking, ‘So, tell me why I should work for you?’ If it goes like that, and I suspect that it will, Nicholson had better have his fastball ready.” (Brownlee’s latest is right here.)

So, if this scenario plays out, will McCrimmon end up in Edmonton? Or will he move on to the expansion franchise in Seattle? Or will he stay put?

Time, of course, will tell, but history tells me that McCrimmon may just stay in Vegas and continue to work alongside general manager George McPhee.

Why do I lean that way?

Because McCrimmon, now 58, has a history of wanting to see things through. And after the way the Golden Knights’ season ended on Tuesday night, he may just want to stay there and play it out, something he has done a time or two.

As the 1980s turned into the ’90s, McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager and head coach, having taken over as the latter when Doug Sauter took ill during the 1989-90 season.

He later gave up — temporarily, as it turned out — coaching duties to focus on reshaping the organization’s way of doing business. Back then, the Wheat Kings often scrambled just to get into the playoffs, only to be bounced early. By 1992-93, McCrimmon, the GM, owned one-third of the franchise and the reshaping was in high gear. A team that had won only 11 games in 1991-92 put up 43 victories in 1993-94. That was the start of seven straight seasons with at least 39 victories and included three trips to the WHL final and one championship. McCrimmon had surrounded himself with good people and they had turned a once-faltering franchise into one of the best in all of the CHL.

Fast forward to the summer of 2015. The Wheat Kings, with McCrimmon now owner, GM and head coach, were coming off a season in which they went 53-11-8, only to lose out in the WHL final. Then, in May, the Toronto Maple Leafs came calling as they searched for an assistant GM.

By early June there were reports that the Leafs had made an offer to McCrimmon, who had become the Wheat Kings’ sole owner in 2000. As tempted as McCrimmon was to join the Leafs, he chose to stay in Brandon. Why? Because he had overseen the building of the Wheat Kings into a championship contender and he felt he owed it to the players he had drafted and recruited to see it through.

In 2015-16, the Wheat Kings were 48-18-6, and then went on a 16-5 run as they won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champs.

On Aug. 2, 2016, the Golden Knights announced that they had hired McCrimmon as assistant GM. His fingerprints are all over the organization, including the hirings of Vaughn Karpan as director of player personnel, Bob Lowes as assistant director of player personnel and scouts like Kelly Kisio, Bruno Campese and Erin Ginnell.

You can bet that McCrimmon had a lot to do with the February acquisition and subsequent signing of forward Mark Stone, too. He had played four seasons in Brandon after being a fifth-round pick in the WHL’s 2007 bantam draft.

For all of those reasons, then, McCrimmon just may choose to stay with the Golden Knights, who were in the Stanley Cup final as an expansion team just one year ago.

He has had a hand in all of it and just may want to be an active part of wherever it goes.

Or . . . maybe not!


The semifinals are set at the IIHF U-18 World Championship that is being played in CanadaOrnskoldsvik and Umea, Sweden. . . . Team Canada got past Latvia, 3-1, in Umea on Thursday, and now will travel to Ornskoldsvik to play the host Swedes on Saturday. . . . D Braden Schneider (Brandon Wheat Kings) gave Canada a 1-0 first-period lead, with F Peyton Krebs (Winnipeg Ice) being credited with the 2-0 goal after a Latvian defender scored an own goal on an attempted clearance. . . . Krebs later added an empty-netter. . . . Schneider added an assist to his goal, with F Connor Zary (Kamloops Blazers) and F Brayden Tracey (Moose Jaw Warriors) each earning one assist. . . . G Taylor Gauthier (Prince George Cougars) recorded the victory. . . . Sweden advanced with a 4-2 victory over Czech Republic. . . .

On the other side of the draw, Russia blanked Belarus, 6-0, and Team USA, behind three goals from F Jack Hughes and one from F Cole Caufield, dumped Finland, 6-0. Hughes now has eight goals and eight assists, while Caufield has scored 12 times. . . . Team USA and Russia will meet in a semifinal game on Saturday, also in Ornskoldsvik.

In Game 1 of the best-of-three relegation round, Switzerland dumped Slovakia, 4-1.

The tournament is scheduled to end on Sunday.


Just call him Bob (Hall of Fame) Ridley. . . . Ridley, the only play-by-play voice the Medicine Hat Tigers have had, will be inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in Banff on June 6. The WAB made that announcement on Thursday. . . . Earlier, it was announced that Ridley will be going into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony in Canmore on July 21. . . . He already is a member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. . . . Ridley has been with CHAT in Medicine Hat since 1968 and has been the voice of the Tigers since they entered the WHL for the 1970-71 season. . . . In all that time, he has missed only one game; legend has it that he was assigned to cover a women’s curling event in which the boss’s wife was playing. . . . Including regular-season and playoffs, he has called the play of 3,931 games involving the Tigers. . . . Ridley also drove the team’s bus until a couple of seasons ago. For some reason, he hasn’t yet been inducted into a bus drivers’ hall of fame. . . . There is more right here on the WAB honour, including ticket information.


If you have ever wanted to own a hockey team, well, this just might be your lucky day. . . . A tip of the Taking Note fedora to a regular reader for sending this along and, yes, it’s legit. . . . And, no, this isn’t a paid advertisement. . . .

 

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Games involving the Tri-City Americans will be heard on NewsTalk 870 KFLD for two more seasons after the WHL team and Townsquare Media announced a new two-year deal on Thursday. . . . Tri-City’s home-and-away games have been on the station since the 2000-01 season. . . . Craig West, the American’s vice-president of sponsorship sales/broadcasting, is the team’s radio voice.


The Swift Current Broncos revealed earlier this month that they are abandoning the SCBroncostraditional role of having their games on conventional radio, and moving to a model that includes streaming broadcasts. . . . On Thursday, they issued a lengthy news release explaining their new approach. . . . When the news broke earlier in the month, someone familiar with the situation told Taking Note that a “major hang up is broadcast rights/revenue sharing.” In other words, the Broncos were wanting Golden West Radio, the rights holder, to cough up some money, something that apparently wasn’t going to happen. . . . The Broncos’ news release that was issued on Thursday includes this: “The previous model of broadcasting did not provide the Broncos organization with the positive economic impact that sports broadcast rights at our level is expected to provide. By managing our own broadcasting and establishing a business model that leverages our full-time employees’ skill sets and abilities, we will be able to generate a positive financial benefit that will contribute to the long-term financial strength of our organization.” . . . That pretty much explains it all. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades have made some moves on the business side of their organization. Saskatoon. . . Colin Priestner, who just completed his third season as the team’s general manager, now is the president and GM. He will, according to a news release, “oversee all operations . . . in both the hockey and business departments.” . . . Steve Hogle, who had been the president, now is senior advisor. He remains as the Blades’ alternate governor. (Mike Priestner, the team’s owner, is the governor.) . . . Hogle, according to the news release, also “is taking on additional duties with the Blades’ parent company, Go Auto.” . . . Tyler Wawryk, the team’s communications manager for three seasons, has been promoted to director of business operations. . . . Cliff Mapes, who had been vice-president of business, no longer is with the Blades. . . . The complete news release is right here.


George Cochrane has been named the combines manager for the Okanagan Hockey Group, where he will work with Jason Wild, the manager of combines operations. . . . Cochrane had been the head coach of the Kamloops Minor Hockey Association from 2006-17. He left that position to join BC Hockey as manager of programs at their Okanagan Regional Centre. This season, he also was the general manager for the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The Vancouver Giants get their first chance at advancing to the WHL championship final tonight when they entertain the Spokane Chiefs in Langley, B.C. The Giants hold a 3-1 edge in the Western Conference final, after F Dawson Holt scored at 7:07 of OT to give them a 4-3 victory in Spokane on Wednesday night. . . . Holt has three goals and two assists in the four games with the Chiefs. He has five goals and seven assists in 14 playoff games after totalling six goals and 13 assists in 53 regular-season games. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia has more on Holt and this series right here. . . . The Giants haven’t been in the WHL final since the spring of 2007 when they lost a seven-game series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. The Giants were the host team for the Memorial Cup that year and went on to win it all. . . .

The Eastern Conference final also resumes tonight as the Edmonton Oil Kings meet the Raiders in Prince Albert. . . . The series is tied, 2-2, after the Raiders skated to a 2-1 victory in Edmonton on Wednesday night. These teams will return to Edmonton for Game 6 on Sunday afternoon.


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Scattershooting on a doink-doink NFL Sunday . . . ‘Canes move to top of division . . . Miner digging second shutout

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Thanks to friend Jack Finarelli (aka The Sports Curmudgeon) for passing along the link to Gene Collier’s annual Trite Trophy-related column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. . . . This is the 35th annual and Collier starts it with this:

“Some in our cherished audience might find it unfathomable that the Trite Trophy has been around for 35 years, but all I need for confirmation is to Look In The Mirror, where the ravages delivered by three-and-half decades of cliché wrangling are mercilessly evident.

“It’s Not A Good Look.”

It seems that Collier isn’t much of a hockey guy, so “good stick,” “compete level” and “200-foot player” didn’t make the cut.

What did make it is all right here. Enjoy!


“I’m not saying Houston Rockets star James Harden travels a lot,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “He just plays basketball like it’s a good walk spoiled.”

——

One more from Currie: “World Chess champion Magnus Carlsen is reportedly a major celebrity at home in Norway. And good news ladies, he isn’t married — although he has been mated.



When the Kootenay Ice visits Brandon on Jan. 18, the Wheat Kings are holding a promotion involving the CFL’s Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Surely it’s only a coincidence that the Ice, who appear headed to Winnipeg after this season, will provide the opposition on that particular night. . . . World-class marketing, or trolling?


If you haven’t already done it, you need to make Patti Dawn Swansson’s blog — The River City Renegade — a regular part of your Sunday morning.

Here’s a snippet from the latest posting:

“The Lord of Loud, Donald S. Cherry, weighed in on Canada’s demise at the world junior tourney during the Coachless Corner segment of HNIC, suggesting that our guys were beaten as payback for running up the score (14-zip) vs. Denmark. ‘You don’t beat them down like that or you pay the price,’ he said. ‘I’ve said it before, the hockey gods will get you or karma will get you.’ If karma has anything to say about it, Grapes will be wearing nothing but a loin cloth in his next life as punishment for those gawdawful suits he exposes us to on Saturday nights.”

It’s all right here.



A note from Brad Dickson on the topic of social media: “If Albert Einstein posted his brand new Theory of Relativity on Facebook it’d probably receive about 3 or 4 ‘likes’. If he then posted a photo of the Einsteins with the family dog it’d get 400 ‘likes’.”



When I worked at the Winnipeg Tribune in the mid-1970s, Bob Picken was The Voice. . . . These days, writes Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun, “The Voice remains unmistakable, if a little weaker than it was in its prime.” . . . Picken was diagnosed with terminal cancer in September. “I will live out my days as best they are and I will be very grateful for what God has given me,” the man we all know as Pick says. . . . Friesen’s piece is right here. If you read one thing on the Internet today, this should be it. . . . Farewell, Pick!


“Los Angeles Chargers guard Forrest Lamp gave each of his teammates — drum roll, please — lamps for Christmas,” notes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Unfortunately for the Green Bay Packers, teammate Davon House didn’t think of it first.”


shoes


After some people noticed that Kendall Jenner was missing from the Kardashian Christmas photo, comedy writer Alex Kaseberg noted: “And we thought things couldn’t get worse than with the government shutdown.”


If you didn’t notice, things were a big soap opera-ish with the Pittsburgh Steelers down the stretch. As tight end Jesse James told Penn Live: “Ah man, we are — Kardashians.”



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There’s nothing like a good sporting rivalry and it seems that things are very much alive with the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades.

The Raiders, the top-ranked team in the 60-team CHL, beat the visiting Blades, 5-2, on whlSaturday night.

After the game, Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, gave Saskatoon general manager Colin Priestner an assist.

Habscheid said that Priestner, according to Jeff D’Andrea of panow.com, “has gone around saying that the Blades are the superior team over the Raiders, after the Blades’ recent trades.”

Habscheid told D’Andrea: “They added a little bit of motivation to us. It got back to us that their general manager . . . they’ve added some players and now he thinks they’re better than us. That added to our motivation, so thanks for that.”

When contacted by Taking Note, Priestner issued a blanket denial, and said he was shocked when he first heard Habscheid’s comments on the pregame show on Saskatoon radio station 98 COOL FM.

“I have no idea what the hell he is talking about,” the Blades’ GM said. “I’ve never once thought that let alone uttered it. I’ve also never heard a head coach mock another team’s GM on their own radio station out of the blue. It was kind of bizarre when I heard it driving to the game in PA. With the incredible roster his GM (Curtis Hunt) has given him, he really shouldn’t need to make up fake statements from me to get any wins.”

The Raiders (35-4-1) have the WHL’s best record. The Blades (24-12-5) are second in the East Division, 18 points behind the Raiders.

Prince Albert leads the eight-game season series, 5-1-0; the Blades are 1-4-1.

Unfortunately, these teams aren’t scheduled to meet again until March 15 and 16, the final weekend of the regular season, when they will play a home-and-home series.


Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, added Tigers Logo Officialsome clarity to the injury situation involving a couple of his forwards on Sunday.

Clouston told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that F Ryan Chyzowski suffered a skate cut near on knee on will be see a doctor today. Chyzowski was injured during a 4-3 loss to the host Calgary Hitmen on Saturday.

Clouston also told McCracken that F Hayden Ostir, who suffered a knee injury during a 5-3 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on Friday, is likely to be gone longer than Chyzowski.

The Tigers have two home games scheduled for the weekend — Friday against the Regina Pats and Saturday against the Edmonton Oil Kings.


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


SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Lethbridge Hurricanes moved into first place in the Central Division with a 5-2 Lethbridgevictory over the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . Lethbridge (21-10-8) has points in five straight (3-0-2). . . . Edmonton (21-14-7) has lost two in a row. . . . The Hurricanes have a one-point lead over the second-place Oil Kings, with the Red Deer Rebels and Medicine Hat Tigers three points off the pace. . . . Lethbridge won 47 of 69 faceoffs while being outshot, 41-26. . . . F Jalen Luypen (5) gave the Oil Kings a 1-0 lead at 3:25 of the second period. . . . The Hurricanes responded with three goals before the period ended, from F Dylan Cozens (23), on a PP, at 5:57; F Logan Barlage (10), at 8:23; and F Taylor Ross (23), at 16:06. . . . D Conner McDonald (9) pulled the home side to within a goal, on a PP, at 1:10 of the third. . . . Lethbridge responded with two more goals, from F Noah Boyko (4), on a PP, at 12:07, and F Jordy Bellerive (20), at 18:04. . . . Cozens also had two assists. . . . The Hurricanes got a big game out of G Liam Hughes, who finished with 39 stops.


F Andrej Kukuca and F Noah Philp each had two goals as the Seattle Thunderbirds Seattledoubled the host Regina Pats, 6-3. . . . Seattle (12-20-4) had lost its previous seven games (0-6-1), and now is 1-1-0 on a six-game East Division swing. It is five points away from a playoff spot now. . . . Regina (12-27-2) has lost four in a row (0-3-1). . . . The Thunderbirds outshot the Pats, 47-22, including 20-4 in the first period and 16-6 in the third. . . . Kukuca, in his first game since playing for Slovakia at the WJC, opened the scoring at 7:34 of the second period. . . . F Robbie Holmes (9) tied it, on a PP, at 9:04. . . . F Matt Wedman (12) put Seattle back in front at 12:09. . . . Regina tied it, again, when F Sebastian Streu (2) scored, on a PP, at 18:30. . . . Seattle then outscored its hosts 4-1 in the third period. . . . Philp, who also had an assist, made it 3-2 at 1:54, only to have Regina F Riley Krane (8) tie it, on another PP, at 4:16. . . . The Thunderbirds then got two PP goals — from D Jarret Tyszka, at 8:59, and Kukuca (9), at 13:12. . . . Philp, who has 15 goals, completed the scoring at 17:52. . . . Regina got 41 saves from G Dean McNabb. . . . The Pats were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours, having lost 2-1 in OT in Saskatoon on Friday and 1-0 in Swift Current on Saturday. . . . G Roddy Ross, 18, made his first start for Seattle and earned the victory with 19 saves. He had signed with Seattle on Tuesday after playing with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . F Henry Rybinski, who had an assist, and F Michael Horon, both 17, made their Seattle debuts. Rybinski was acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday, while Horon joined the Thunderbirds last week from the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. Seattle acquired him from the WHL’s Hurricanes on Wednesday. . . . Among Seattle’s scratches were D Cade McNelly (suspended), F Sean Richards (suspended), F Dillon Hamaliuk, who won’t play again this season, and D Loeden Schaufler.


The host Saskatoon Blades scored the game’s last three goals and beat the Brandon SaskatoonWheat Kings, 5-2. . . . Saskatoon (25-12-5) is second in the East Division, seven points ahead of the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Brandon (16-15-6) now is four points from a playoff spot. . . . The Blades were playing their third game in fewer than 48 hours. They beat the visiting Regina Pats 2-1 in OT on Friday, then were beaten 5-2 by the Raiders in Prince Albert on Saturday. . . . F Ben McCartney (9) gave the visitors a 1-0 lead 53 seconds into the game. . . . The Blades went ahead 2-1 on goals from F Max Gerlach (24), at 3:52, and D Reece Harsch (3), at 7:30. That was Harsch’s first goal since being acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on Wednesday. This was his third game with the Blades. . . . F Luka Burzan (23) tied it, on a PP, at 19:16. . . . Saskatoon F Josh Paterson (13) broke the tie, on a PP, at 3:27 of the second period. . . . The Blades iced it with two third-period goals from F Zach Huber (8), at 7:45, and D Emil Malysjev (2), into an empty net, at 19:26. . . . The Blades were credited with winning 39 of 55 faceoffs. . . . Brandon lost F Baron Thompson to a headshot major and game misconduct at 13:59 of the second period. Saskatoon D Majid Kaddoura, who took the head, left for repairs but returned to finish the game. . . . Brandon scratched  F Linden McCorrister, meaning the Wheat Kings were without any 20-year-olds. . . . The Blades again were without F Kiby Dach and D Nolan Kneen, both out with undisclosed injuries.


G Trent Miner stopped 24 shots to help the Vancouver Giants to a 6-0 victory over the VancouverKootenay Ice in Cranbrook, B.C. . . . Vancouver (24-12-2) had lost its previous four games. It finished a six-game Central Division trip at 2-4-0, and leads the B.C. Division by nine points over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . Kootenay (8-27-7) has lost seven in a row (0-6-1). . . . The Ice went 0-3-0 in playing three games in fewer than 48 hours. . . . F Milos Roman (17) gave the Giants a 1-0 lead at 4:11 of the first period and that’s all the visitors would need. . . . They also got goals from F Brayden Watts (9), F Jadon Joseph (13), F Dawson Holt (6), F Lukas Svejkovsky (4) and D Dallas Hines (5). . . . Hines, who was acquired from the Ice on Friday, scored the game’s last goal, on a PP, at 19:37 of the third period. . . . Trent posted his second career shutout, both of them coming this season. He is 11-3-1, 1.84, .933, in 16 appearances.


G Max Palaga turned aside 37 shots as the Everett Silvertips defeated the visiting EverettKamloops Blazers, 5-1. . . . Everett (31-8-2) has won two in a row; it also has won 11 straight on home ice. The Silvertips lead the Western Conference by 13 points over the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Kamloops (15-19-3) is fourth in the B.C. Division, five points behind the Kelowna Rockets. The Blazers hold down the Western Conference’s second-wild card spot, four points ahead of the Prince George Cougars. . . . Palaga, who is from Kamloops, spent last season with the Blazers, who released him prior to this season and later dealt him to Everett for a sixth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft. In seven appearances with the Silvertips, Palaga, 18, is 4-0-1, 1.56, .950. . . . The Silvertips scored the game’s first five goals, getting snipes from F Zack Andrusiak (29), D Wyatte Wylie (7), F Connor Dewar (28), F Conrad Mitchell (1) and D Gianni Fairbrother (5). . . . Mitchell’s first WHL goal came in his 26th game. He is a 17-year-old freshman from Thorsby, Alta. . . . F Max Patterson, who also is from Kamloops, had two assists. . . . F Brodi Stuart (12) scored for Kamloops at 13:48 of the third period. . . . The Blazers lost 4-1 to the Chiefs in Spokane on Friday, then beat the visiting Kelowna Rockets 4-1 on Saturday, Kamloops was back on its bus right after that game in order to get to Everett for this game, which started at 4 p.m. . . . Everett also was playing its third game in fewer than 48 hours, having split a home-and-home with the Tri-City Americans on Friday and Saturday nights, losing the first one 3-2 in Kennewick, Wash., and then winning 4-1 at home. . . . Everett swept the season series with Kamloops, outscoring the Blazers, 23-6 in the process. In the four games, Everett was 11-20 on the PP and 11-12 on the penalty kill. . . . The way things are shaping up, these teams could very well meet in the first round of the playoffs.


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Let’s help Hirsche leave his legacy . . . No playoffs so Blades fire Brockman . . . Second season next for WHL

Scattershooting

Scattershooting . . . following the end of another WHL regular season:

I don’t think there is a playoff format out there that would make everyone happy. But you are free to ask about the fairness of the format now being used by the WHL. Under it, eight teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. But the Saskatoon Blades, with the seventh-most points in the 12-team Eastern Conference, didn’t make it.


The Blades also finished with more victories (35) than two Eastern Conference teams that did qualify — the Prince Albert Raiders (32) and Red Deer Rebels (27). So what happened to the Blades? They got bit in the ass by the dreaded loser point. The Blades finished with four of them, while the Raiders and Rebels each finished 13.


The Blades, of course, fired head coach Dean Brockman on Sunday morning. You are free to discuss among yourselves if he lost his job because of the playoff format.


If the WHL playoff format called for the top eight teams in each conference to qualify, the Red Deer Rebels would have been on the outside, instead of preparing for a first-round set-to with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Had the Rebels missed, do you suppose the general manager would have fired the head coach? Hey, just asking.


Perhaps during the off-season the WHL pooh-bahs will take a look at a format that rewards losing in such a grand fashion. . . . Perhaps they also will take a serious look at banning fighting, because the time is long past for adults to stop allowing teenagers to punch each other in the face. There simply is too much evidence that cumulative blows to the head simply aren’t good for the brain. . . . And while they’re at it maybe they’ll get rid of that stupid trapezoid behind each goal and allow the goaltenders to get back to handling the puck.


Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors is the WHL’s 2017-18 scoring champion, thanks to 129 points. The last time one of the Warriors won the WHL scoring title? Troy Brouwer, in 2005-06, with 102 points. Of course, Halbgewachs also led the WHL in goals, with 70. . . . In his past two seasons, Halbgewachs put up 230 points, 120 of them goals, in 143 games.


The Warriors acquired Halbgewachs from the Kamloops Blazers on Dec. 6, 2012. The Blazers had selected him 19th overall in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. They acquired D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Tyler Bell, then, 18, Halbgewachs, who was 15, and a first-round selection in the 2015 draft. . . . That first-rounder turned out to be the fourth-overall pick and the Warriors used it to take D Jett Woo, who might be a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Kamloops later traded the fourth-round pick and a sixth in 2017 to Calgary for F Mike Winther, a 20-year-old who played 39 games with the Blazers before being dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Edmundson played 34 regular-season and 15 playoff games with the Blazers, helping them to the Western Conference final where they lost in five games to the Portland Winterhawks.


Is it fair that Winnipeg is home to Canada’s best football play-by-play man — Bob Irving of CJOB — and a hockey play-by-play voice — TSN’s Dennis Beyak — who is at the top of his field, too?


Thank you to everyone who has stopped by here or at one of the earlier homes of Keeping Score. We have had a good time over the past few years and it’s been a great ride, but I have decided to step back.

I have been writing about the WHL for a long time and it’s time. There is no other reason for this decision than that — it simply is time.

I have been writing for 45 years, so I am sure that I will continue to post on this blog, but not in anything resembling a daily fashion. Nor will I be doing WHL roundups or reporting regularly on WHL-related news.

If you’re looking for me, I’ll be behind the cover of a book. First up, it’s Roy MacGregor’s Original Highways: Travelling the Great Rivers of Canada, then Father Bauer and the Great Experiment, by Greg Oliver, and the just-published A Matter of Confidence: The Inside Story of the Political Battle for B.C., by journalists Rob Shaw and Richard Zussman.

And, of course, the baseball season is about upon us.

So . . . farewell, stay safe and, please, if you haven’t already, take a few minutes and think about signing on as an organ donor.


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Two years ago, Brock Hirsche, the captain of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. That was one year after two other team members had been diagnosed with it. They both were able to beat it.

It looked like Hirsche had beaten it, too, but it wasn’t to be. The cancer is back and has spread. Treatment has been unsuccessful and Hirsche has been told his cancer is terminal.

Hirsche, 26, is from Lethbridge. He played four seasons (2009-13) with the Prince George Cougars, wearing an ‘A’ for two seasons and serving as captain in his final season. Unfortunately, injuries limited him to 26 games over his last two seasons.

He moved on to the U of L and was the Proghorns’ captain in 2015-16, his third season there.

He didn’t play last season and, of course, didn’t play this season.

So what did he do after getting the latest diagnosis? He started a scholarship fund in his name.

“He wants to leave a legacy behind,” Pronghorns head coach Spiros Anastas tells Taking Note. “It’s a testament to the type of person he is. In one night we raised $11,000.”

If you would like to help, the link is right here. The U of Lethbridge will provide tax receipts.


The Saskatoon Blades announced Sunday morning that they had fired head coach Dean Brockman “effective immediately.”

The move came the morning after the Blades ended their season with a 5-4 victory over Saskatoonthe visiting Prince Albert Raiders.

Brockman had two seasons left on a multi-year contract extension that was announced on Aug. 24.

The Blades finished 35-33-4, as they missed the playoffs for a fifth straight season, the last two under Brockman. He spent two seasons on the coaching staff as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach.

“While this was a difficult decision for us to make, we felt our performance over the last month of the season was very disappointing and the team did not meet the expectations we set out for them,” Colin Priestner, the Blades’ general manager, said in a news release. “We have been in a playoff position two years in a row coming down the stretch and just haven’t been able to take that next step, which ultimately led us to this decision.”

The news release didn’t make any mention of the status of assistant coaches Ryan Keller and Bryce Thoma, both of whom also are signed through 2019-20.

The Blades seemed to be comfortably in the conference’s second wild-card spot on Feb. 20, when they led the Raiders by eight points. The Raiders then went on a 9-0-2 rip, while the Blades were going 2-6-1. With everything decided, the Blades closed out the season by beating the Raiders twice.

The Blades were 63-68-13 over the past two seasons. Brockman is credited with 62 of those victories; he missed one while attending a funeral.

Priestner and Steve Hildebrand, the associate general manager, held exit interviews with the players on Sunday. Three players were provided to the media for interviews.

Les Lazaruk, the Blades’ veteran radio voice, reported at dubnetwork.ca that F Chase Wouters, when asked if he was surprised by the firing, “stammered” and said: “I actually can’t comment on that, sorry.”

According to Lazaruk, team captain Evan Fiala responded with: “Sorry, no comment on it.”

F Braylon Shymr said, “Yeah, definitely surprised.” But he quickly added: “No further comments other than that.”

Lazaruk’s story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at Priestner’s media availability and offered up this entry right here.


The U of Alberta Golden Bears, with a roster comprising former WHL players, won their 16th Canadian university men’s hockey championship Sunday, beating the St. Francis Xavier U X-Men, 4-2, in Fredericton, N.B. . . . D Will Tomchuk, who played in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans and Prince George Cougars (2012-15), scored his only goal of the season at 4:18 of the second period and it stood up as the winner. That goal snapped a 2-2 tie as the Golden Bears erased a 2-0 deficit. . . . Alberta’s other goals came from F Stephane Legault (Edmonton Oil Kings, 2009-13), F Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels, 2011-2016) and F Jamie Crooks (Saskatoon Blades, Chilliwack Bruins, Victoria Royals, 2008-13). . . . G Zach Sawchenko, who joined the Golden Bears rather than return for a 20-year-old season with the Warriors this season, earned the victory with 24 saves. . . . Jason Hills of Postmedia has more right here.


The Kamloops Blazers’ season came to an end with a 6-5 shootout victory over the host Prince George Cougars on Saturday night.

The victory snapped a five-game skid for the Blazers and left head coach Don Hay with whl750 career regular-season victories. Earlier in the season, Hay broke the record of 741 that had been held by Ken Hodge since he retired after the 1992-93 season.

Unfortunately for Hay, after he broke Hodge’s record, the Blazers weren’t able to gain traction and they finished 7-14-2, which wasn’t enough to get them into the playoffs.

Here’s a look at the 23 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (following 2017-18):

1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 750

2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 720

3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692

4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626

5. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 572

6. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548

7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518

8. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 468

9. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466

    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466

11. Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465

12. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 456

      Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456

14. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453

15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417

16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411

17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397

18. Shaun Clouston (Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 356

19. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349

20. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340

21. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333

22. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326

23. Mike Johnston (Portland) 315

——

Victory totals of the remaining head coaches who finished the 2017-18 regular season:

John Paddock, Regina 165

Tim Hunter, Moose Jaw 145

Brent Kisio, Lethbridge 121

Steve Hamilton, Edmonton 110

Dan Lambert, Kelowna, Spokane 93

Jason Smith, Kelowna 88

Emanuel Viveiros, Swift Current 85

David Anning, Brandon, 79

Richard Matvichuk, Prince George 69

Dean Brockman, Saskatoon 62

Jason McKee, Vancouver 56

Dennis Williams, Everett 47

Dan Price, Victoria 39

Matt O’Dette, Seattle 33

James Patrick, Kootenay 27

Dallas Ferguson, Calgary 23



JUST NOTES . . .

F Alec Baer, who played out his 20-year-old season with the Kootenay Ice, will be joining the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Baer, who is from St. Louis Park, Minn., finished this season with 30 goals and 31 assists in 72 games. . . . He played 342 regular-season games — he also skated with the Vancouver Giants and Lethbridge Hurricanes — and finished with 187 points, including 86 goals. . . .

Everett’s last goal of the regular season, in an 8-1 victory over the host Victoria Royals on Saturday, was scored by F Matt Fonteyne, with assists to F Patrick Bajkov and D Kevin Davis. They are the club’s three 20-year-old players. . . .

Not to be outdone, the Seattle Thunderbirds got one goal from each of their 20-year-olds — D Austin Strand, D Turner Ottenbreit and F Donovan Neuls — in a 5-1 victory over the visiting Portland Winterhawks on Saturday. . . .

A tweet from Caden Fanshaw (@cfanner4) of Prince George’s front office, points out that Cougars F Jared Bethune “has only missed one regular-season game in the past three seasons, and played every playoff game possible in his career. That’s a combined 230 of 231 possible games.” . . .

Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald points out that the Silvertips won their third U.S. Division title in the last four years “and sixth in the franchise’s 15-year history, but the first without Kevin Constantine as head coach.” . . .

F Cohner Saleski, who is from Saskatoon, made his WHL debut with the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Saturday night. Yes, he had family in attandance. In fact, according to a tweet from Jeff Helperl, Saleski’s father went home with a cool $53,250 in his jeans after winning the 50/50 draw.


Scoreboard

SUNDAY:

At Calgary, the Edmonton Oil Kings scored five PP goals in the first period en route to a 7-3 victory over the Hitmen. . . . Neither Edmonton (22-42-8) nor Calgary (24-37-11) EdmontonOilKingsqualified for the playoffs. . . . Calgary went 3-2-1 in the season series; Edmonton was 3-3-0. . . . F Riley Stotts (19) gave the Hitmen the lead just 49 seconds into the first period. . . . It didn’t last long. . . . F Tomas Soustal got Edmonton’s first PP goal, at 5:47, and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (32) put the Oil Kings ahead at 10:00. . . . Soustal (22) added a second goal at 12:41, and F Brett Kemp (17) made it 4-1 at 13:04. . . . D Matthew Robertson upped it to 5-1 at 17:54. . . . F Cael Zimmerman (7) got the Hitmen to within three goals, on a PP, at 19:38. . . . Robertson’s second goal of the game, and seventh of the season, put Edmonton ahead 6-2 at 16:34 of the second period. . . . Calgary D Egor Zamula (2) struck on a PP at 0:17 of the third period, before Edmonton F Colton Kehler (32) closed out the scoring on, yes, another PP, at 7:57. . . . The Oil Kings got two assists from each of F Jake Neighbours and Kemp, with one each going to Soustal, Robertson, Kehler and Fix-Wolansky. . . . Neighbours, the fourth overall selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, recorded four assists in 11 games with the Oil Kings. . . . Stotts added an assist to his goal for Calgary. . . . Edmonton finished 6-7 on the PP; Calgary was 2-6. . . . The WHL record for PP goals by one team in a single game is 10. The Tri-City Americans set that mark on Sept. 30, 1990, in a 16-3 victory over the visiting Victoria Cougars. . . . The Oil Kings got 34 stops from G Todd Scott, while Nick Schneider blocked 19 for the Hitmen. . . . Announced attendance: 13,075.


At Portland, F Riley McKay scored the only goal of a four-round shootout to give the Spokane Chiefs a 5-4 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . Spokane (41-25-6) finished third SpokaneChiefsin the U.S. Division, five points behind Portland (44-23-5). . . . The Winterhawks won the season series, 5-3-0. . . . These teams will meet in the first round of the playoffs, starting Saturday in Portland. . . . McKay opened the scoring with his fourth goal of the season, at 9:46 of the first period. . . . The Winterhawks scored the next four goals, the first three coming in the second period from F Mason Mannek (10), at 2:48; F Kieffer Bellows (41), at 12:15; and F Skyler McKenzie (47), at 16:07. . . . F Ryan Hughes (17) upped the lead to 4-1 at 2:11 of the third period. . . . The Chiefs got three goals in the last nine minutes of the period. . . . F Jake McGrew (19) scored, on a PP, at 11:43, and F Milos Fafrak (9) moved the visitors to within a goal at 12:20. . . . D Nolan Reid (14) tied it, 4-4, on a PP, at 19:39. . . . McGrew also had an assist. . . . Spokane was 2-3 on the PP; Portland was 0-3. . . . G Donovan Buskey earned the victory with 33 saves, 14 more than Portland’s Shane Farkas. . . . The Winterhawks scratched F Lukus MacKenzie, who is injured, along with F Alex Overhardt and D Brendan De Jong. . . . Among Spokane’s scratches were F Kailer Yamamoto, who missed his third straight game, G Dawson Weatherill, F Zach Fischer (undisclosed injury), D Ty Smith, F Hudson Elynuik and D Dalton Hamaliuk. . . . With all the scratches, the Chiefs had 11 freshmen in their lineup. . . . Announced attendance: 8,170.


At Kennewick, Wash., F Nolan Yaremko and F Parker AuCoin each scored twice to lead the Tri-City Americans to a 5-2 victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Tri-City (38-25-TriCity309) is the Western Conference’s first wild-card team and will open the playoffs in Kelowna on Thursday, against the Rockets, who finished atop the B.C. Division. . . . Seattle (34-28-10) will meet the U.S. Division-winning Everett Silvertips. That seres starts Friday in Everett. . . . Tri-City finished 6-3-1 in the season series with Seattle, which was 4-4-2. . . . On Sunday, Yaremko gave his guys a 1-0 lead at 3:55 of the first period, only to have Seattle F Zack Andrusiak (36) tie it at 5:06. . . . The Americans went ahead 3-1 on second-period goals from D Jake Bean (12), at 13:41, and Yaremko (22), at 19:51. . . . Seattle got to within a goal when F Dillon Hamaliuk (15) scored, shorthanded, at 7:13 of the third period. . . . AuCoin iced it with two PP goals, at 7:57 and 15:10. He finished with 19 goals. . . . The Americans got two assists from D Juuso Valimaki, and one each from Bean and Yaremko. . . . Tri-City was 2-8 on the PP; Seattle was 0-2. . . . G Patrick Dea started for the Americans and stopped nine of 10 shots in 31:26. Beck Warm finished up by allowing one goal on 10 shots in 28:33. . . . G Dorrin Luding blocked 37 shots for the Thunderbirds. . . . F Michael Rasmussen, F Max James and D Dylan Coghlan were among Tri-City’s scratches. . . . Seattle scratched D Turner Ottenbreit, F Noah Philp, who left Saturday’s game with an undisclosed injury, F Donovan Neuls, F Tyler Carpendale and F Nolan Volcan, along with F Blake Bargar (undisclosed injury). . . . Announced attendance: 3,708.


END OF REGULAR SEASON


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