WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


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Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


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The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

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The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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Royals and Rebels make deal . . . Broncos now have brother act . . . Turbulent times for BCHL’s Warriors


MacBeth

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was an alternate captain. . . .

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and eight assists in 30 games.


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The Victoria Royals have acquired F Brandon Cutler, 18, and a second-round selection in VictoriaRoyalsthe WHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Red Deer Rebels for F Dallon Melin, 16, and a fifth-rounder in 2019. . . . Cutler, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a ninth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 68 games with the Rebels. As a freshman, in 2016-17, he had a goal and two assists in 38 games. . . . Melin, from Camrose, Alta., has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . He had six goals and 14 assists in 27 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings last season. He also had one assists in three games with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Victoria selected Melin in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Sam Pouliot, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels SCBroncosfor a conditional 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Pouliot had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels last season. He also got into 16 games with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, drawing three assists. In 2016-17, he had a goal and 12 assists in 36 games with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . Pouliot joins his brother, Ryan, 20, on the Broncos’ roster. Ryan, a 20-year-old defenceman, played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice. The Broncos claimed him on waivers during the summer.



Steve Konowalchuk, who coached the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2017 championship, has joined the NHL’s New York Rangers as an amateur scout. . . . Konowalchuk 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons. After winning the 2017 Ed Chynoweth Cup, he left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks where he spent last season as an assistant coach. . . . With the Rangers, according to a news release, Konowalchuk “will be primarily responsible for scouting amateur players in the Western Hockey League.” . . . That news release is right here.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have undergone another coaching change, with Jason Beckett coming on board as the team’s third head coach since Aug. 21. . . . Rylan WestKelownaFerster, who had been the general manager and head coach for seven seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had helped the Warriors win a national championship in 2016. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, was named the interim head coach on Aug. 21. However, Grimwood was dismissed on Monday night. . . . Assistant coach Matt Miller also is gone, having left on Monday, while athletic therapist Mike Bois, who had been there through four seasons, chose leave, as well. . . . Asked if he was surprised at being fired, Grimwood told Wayne Moore of castanet.net: “No, because I know the situation right now seems unstable. But I was surprised in the sense that I didn’t think they would pull the rug out on you going into the first week of the season. I thought I would have a chance to get out of the gate and see how we did. I respect that’s the owner’s choice and he has to make decisions he thinks are right. I happen to disagree with that because I think the players needed stability, and right now, it’s just not being provided.” . . . As for the players, Taking Note received an anonymous text early Tuesday afternoon, stating that they left the ice during practice and didn’t return. That later was confirmed by Moore. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night. Trail is scheduled to visit West Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . The Warriors are owned by KD Sports Ltd., which purchased the franchise in August. Kim Dobranski is the majority owner and president.

If you check out the above tweet from Bois, the Warriors’ ex-athletic therapist, you will see that a number of West Kelowna players have retweeted it and/or liked it. . . . Hmmm!


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express have acquired the junior A playing rights to F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, who is on the roster of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos at the moment. . . . The Broncos acquired O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips for D Sahvan Khaira, 20, on July 30. . . . Last season, O’Rourke had five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Prince George Cougars, then recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with Everett. . . . The Express got O’Rourke and future considerations from the Prince George Spruce Kings for F Sam Kozlowski, 20. Kozlowski had eight goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Express last season.


Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


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Americans turn to Buchberger . . . Silvertips add two coaches, lose one . . . Hitmen to introduce their guy today


MacBeth

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and 12 assists in 67 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Victor Bartley (Kamloops, Regina, 2003-09) signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) signed a tryout contract with Kölner Haie (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and eight assists in 45 games, and also had one goal in six games with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . . His tryout deal runs until the Deutschland Cup break (Nov. 5). . . .

D Spencer Humphries (Tri-City, Calgary, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 40 games with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Slovan, and three goals and three assists in seven games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga).


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Kelly Buchberger is the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Buchberger, with no WHL coaching experience, takes over from Mike Williamson, who left the organization tri-citylast month after four years as head coach. . . . Williamson is the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history. . . . The length of Buchberger’s contract wasn’t disclosed. . . . Buchberger, 51, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders last season. However, they chose to clean house following the season. Prior to that, he was with the Edmonton Oilers since 2004, spending six of those seasons as an NHL assistant coach. He also spent three seasons (2014-17) as the Oilers’ director of player personnel. . . . His only head-coaching experience is from 2007-08 when he was with the Springfield Falcons, then the AHL affiliate of the Oilers. . . . From Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger was a ninth-round pick by the Oilers in the NHL’ s 1985 draft. He went on to play 1,182 regular-season NHL games, splitting time with the Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He played two seasons (1984-86) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 26 goals, 39 assists and 320 penalty minutes. . . .

Brian Pellerin, 48, who has been the team’s associate coach for four seasons, will remain with the club and work alongside Buchberger. Pellerin is believed to have one year left on his contract. . . .

With the Americans having unveiled their head coach, the Calgary Hitmen remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. However, they have scheduled a news conference for today (Tuesday) to announce the 10th head coach in franchise history.


The Everett Silvertips have signed Louis Mass and Harry Mahood as assistant coaches to work alongside head coach Dennis Williams. . . . Mass, 41, is from Anchorage and has Everettspent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach through five seasons with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. . . . Mahood, from Thompson, Man., played four seasons (1979-83) in the WHL, spending time with the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. Yes, that is an amazing quarter of WHL teams. . . . Mahood, who will turn 56 on Aug. 8, has been in the coaching game since 1996 in Germany. Of late, he coached with Williams with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and USHL’s Bloomington Thunder, both of which were under the umbrella of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips. . . . Shane Clifford, who spent a total of 11 seasons, including the last four, as Everett’s goaltending coach, has left to coach goaltenders with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Last season, he also worked with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and Youngstown Phantoms. . . . The Silvertips had room on their coaching staff after Mitch Love, the assistant to the GM and assistant coach, signed on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.


There haven’t yet been any announcements, but Taking Note has been told by sources familiar with the WHL that Ryan Smith and Jamie Heward, both of whom have left the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff, will be joining other WHL teams. . . . Smith, who spent three seasons as the Broncos’ associate coach, is moving to the Medicine Hat Tigers to work with GM/head coach Shawn Clouston and assistant coach Joe Frazer. . . . Heward will be joining the Vancouver Giants where he will work with first-year assistant coach Michael Dyck. Heward had been with the Broncos for six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development.


The Saskatoon Blades and the Saskatoon Media Group have agreed to a four-year Saskatooncontract extension that involves the broadcast rights to the team’s WHL games. Under the new deal, the broadcasts will move from 92.9 The BULL FM to 98 COOL FM. . . . That’s good because no one is cooler than Les Lazaruk, who is preparing for his 25th season as the radio voice of the Blades. . . . The Blades also announced that “Lazaruk will host a live one-hour pre-game show from the concourse at SaskTel Centre prior to home games. Fans also will get a chance to hear from the players and staff every Thursday morning on 98COOL FM.”


The Portland Winterhawks have signed two import forwards — Dean Schwenninger, 17, who is from Switzerland, and Michal Kvasnica, 18, from Czech Republic. . . . Last season, PortlandSchwenninger had 13 goals and 24 assists in 19 games with Zug U-17 in the Elite Novizen. In 20 games with Zug’s U-20 side, he had five goals and three assists. In 15 games with Switzerland’s U-17 team, he added five goals and four assists. . . . Kvasnica had six goals and 10 assists in 45 games with HC Frydek-Mistek in Czech2. He also played eight games with HC Trinec U-20, putting up five goals and four assits. In seven games at the World U-18 championship, he had two goals and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks finished last season with two imports — Danish F Joachim Blichfeld and Finnish D Henri Jokiharju. . . . Blichfeld, who turns 20 today (Tuesday), is expected to play with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season. . . . Jokiharju has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. If he doesn’t make the Blackhawks, well, here’s what Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on Sunday: “The Winterhawks are moving on without him, so he likely will end up in Chicago or Rockford this season. It’s also possible Jokiharju will go to the Finnish Elite League for a year. It’s unlikely, but Jokiharju has some history with it. His father, Juha, played for more than a decade in the Liiga.” . . . The Rockford IceHogs are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Lazerus’s complete story is right here.Tweetoftheday