Hamilton: No plans “right now” to sell Rockets. . . . Hitmen take out Hurricanes. . . . Calgary, Edmonton to open on Saturday


MacBeth

F Peter Lorentzen (Tri-City, 2001-03) has retired. This season, with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had two goals and seven assists in 31 games. He announced on Feb. 27 that he would retire at the end of this season. . . . Stavanger lost Game 6 of a best-of-seven semifinal to Storhamar, 3-1, on Monday night. . . .

F Jaroslav Vlach (Prince George, 2009-11) has signed a three-year plus option year extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec, he had seven goals and seven assists in 43 games. He also had four goals and five assists in six games while on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga).


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The rumours have been strong enough that Bruce Hamilton felt a need to issue a public denial.

Hamilton is the majority owner, president and general manager of the WHL’s Kelowna KelownaRocketsRockets, the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

For the last while there have been rumours circulating throughout the hockey community that the Rockets either are for sale, or that Hamilton will guide the organization through the 2020 Memorial Cup and then sell the franchise.

On Tuesday, he told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice, that the Rockets aren’t for sale.

“To purchase this thing (franchise) won’t be a small operation, put it that way. It will have to be something big,” Hamilton said. “Someday it will happen, but I have no plans right now to do that. I am enjoying what I am doing. . . .

“It would be news to me if it was sold. I have the most shares, so I don’t think it is going to be sold under my watch right now anyway. I think it is too bad that there is a group of people, I will call ‘agents,’ that phone around and ask questions and then spread rumours which is unfortunate.”

Hamilton, who also is the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, made the point that he still is enjoying his hockey life.

“If my passion wasn’t here, we wouldn’t have bid for the Memorial Cup,” Hamilton said.


If you were following along on Monday night, you will be aware that the WHL playoff game between the visiting Victoria Royals and the Kamloops Blazers was delayed twice Kamloops1due to broken panes of glass.

That glass was due to be replaced anyway, and it all will be gone before another season gets here.

A couple of years ago, the WHL established new standards for boards and glass, and Kamloops’ city council has agreed to fund the necessary changes. Hockey Canada also has been pushing for improvements.

Following Monday’s game, Jeff Putnam, Kamloops’ parks and civic facilities manager, tweeted: “And before next season there will be a brand new board and glass system that is equivalent to NHL standards as well as other facility improvements. The new glass will be ‘acrylic’ which is almost impossible to shatter and much easier to handle for our crew.”

It is believed that the replacement cost will be around $1 million.


The Tri-City Americans have signed G Mason Dunsford to a WHL contract. Dunsford, a 15-year-old from New Westminster, B.C., was a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He played this season with the Elite 15 team at the Burnaby Winter Club, and helped his club with the CSSHL championship. . . . He was 2.60, .911 in 23 regular-season games, then went 2.25, .931 in four playoff appearances.


The ECHL’s Fort Wayne Comets have added G Jiri Patera of the Brandon Wheat Kings and D Dalton Hamaliuk of the Moose Jaw Warriors to their roster. . . . Patera, who turned 20 on Feb. 24, was a sixth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. This season, Patera, who is from Praha, Czech Republic, was 22-20-2, 3.31, .906 with the Wheat Kings. . . . Hamaliuk played out his junior eligibility with Moose Jaw, putting of four goals and 19 assists in 66 games this season.


F Noah Philp of the Seattle Thunderbirds has joined the AHL’s Stockton Heat on an ATO. Philp, who doesn’t have any junior eligibility remaining, had 26 goals and 49 assists in 56 games with Seattle this season.


D Dylan MacPherson of the Medicine Hat Tigers has signed an ATO with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds. MacPherson, who played out his junior eligibility this season, spent three seasons with the Tigers. This season, he had two goals and 10 assists in 62 games.


In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads, the host team for the 2019 Memorial Cup qmjhltournament, beat the visiting Quebec Remparts, 3-1, on Tuesday night in Game 7 of a first-round series. . . . The Remparts went into Game 6 in Halifax on Monday with a 3-2 lead in the series. The Mooseheads tied the series with a 6-1 victory. . . . The Mooseheads (49-15-4) had finished first in the Eastern Conference; the Remparts (27-28-13) were eighth. . . . Next up for the Mooseheads will be the Moncton Wildcats, who beat the Baie-Comeau Drakkars, 3-2, in Game 7 last night.


A former WHL linesman worked his final NHL game on Tuesday night . . .


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The only first-round WHL playoff series to go to Game 7 was decided Tuesday night in Lethbridge’s Nicholas Sheran Arena as the Calgary Hitmen beat the Hurricanes, 4-2. . . . The Hitmen will meet the Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round. That series will open with games in Edmonton on Saturday and Sunday. . . . The Oil Kings (42-18-8) finished atop the Central Division; the Hitmen (36-26-6) were third. . . . Edmonton was 7-0-1 in the season series; Calgary was 1-6-1. . . . They have met four times since the trade deadline, with Edmonton winning all four — 3-2, 5-1, 6-1 and 3-1. . . . Among the story lines: Steve Hamilton, in his first season as Calgary’s head coach, spent the previous eight seasons with the Oil Kings, the last four as head coach. . . .

There aren’t any WHL playoff games scheduled until Friday night when two series are to open. . . . The Saskatoon Blades will face the Raiders in Prince Albert, while the Victoria Royals and Vancouver Giants will open in Langley, B.C. . . . The other second-round series will open Saturday night with the Spokane Chiefs visiting the Everett Silvertips. . . .

Steve Ewen of Postmedia — that’s him hard at work in the above tweet — filed a neat story about the Vancouver Giants on Tuesday. It involves head coach Michael Dyck and associate coach Jamie Heward and how they helped unload the team bus in Kent, Wash., the other night, a move that allowed their players to get a bit more rest. . . . That story is right here. . . . Ewen also reported that Giants F Justin Sourdif was in a regular sweater for Tuesday’s practice. Sourdif missed the last five games of the Giants’ six-game first-round victory over the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Vancouver will open the second round in Langley, B.C., against the Victoria Royals on Friday night. . . .

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TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The visiting Calgary Hitmen scored three first-period goals, two of them by F Carson CalgaryFocht, en route to a 4-2 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Calgary won the series, 4-3. It was the only one of the eight first-round series to go the distance. . . . The Hitmen will move on to play the Edmonton Oil Kings in the second round. That series is to open in Edmonton on Saturday. . . . Focht (3) got the Hitmen on the scoreboard, on a PP, at 3:30. . . . F Riley Fiddler-Schultz (1) made it 2-0 at 15:23. . . . Focht (4) upped it to 3-0 at 16:19. . . . The Hurricanes cut into the deficit at 2:49 of the second period as F Zachary Cox (2) scored, then got to within a goal at 12:52 on a goal from D Alex Cotton (1). . . . Calgary wasn’t able to put it away until F Mark Kastelic (5) scored an empty-netter at 19:41 of the third period. . . . Calgary was 1-4 on the PP; Lethbridge was 0-2. . . . G Jack McNaughton stopped 25 shots for the Hitmen, two more than Lethbridge’s Carl Tetachuk. . . . Lethbridge F Logan Barlage was given a slashing major and game misconduct after he hacked Focht off a game-ending faceoff. Should Barlage be suspended, he will serve it at the beginning of the 2019-20 regular season. . . .

The Hurricanes won the first two games of the series — 3-2 and 4-1 (OT) — in the Enmax Centre, before announced crowds of 3,566 and 3,788. . . . With the world men’s curling championship then taking over that arena, the Hurricanes were forced to move to the Nicholas Sheran Arena, the home of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorn women’s and men’s hockey teams. The Hitmen won Game 5 there, 6-5, before 1,200 fans, and clinched the series last night in front of 1,151 fans.


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Hamilton talks a bit about lawsuit . . . Are Chiefs all-in on this season? . . . Pats player draws six-game suspension

Deer

We had some visitors to our backyard on Friday afternoon. Two does — one with two offspring, the other with one — stopped by to say hello and see how the hedge tasted. Oh, and the two moms also sampled what’s in the bird feeders. It’s amazing how their tongues fit perfectly in the slots in the feeders.



MacBeth

G Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, 2011-13) has been placed on waivers by Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Russia, KHL). In one game, he was 5.36, .786.


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Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets and the chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, was in attendance earlier this week when the Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting.

Among other things, the Warriors, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, MooseJawWarriorsrevealed a profit of $704,182 for the 2017-18 season and a bank balance of $1,157,466. As Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com reported, that bank balance is “after the team spent $233,648 on new boards and glass at Mosaic Place.” (Smith’s story on the annual meeting is right here.)

After the formal part of the meeting, Hamilton took part in an open session that also included Warriors general manager Alan Millar and head coach Tim Hunter.

According to Smith, Hamilton provided an update on the minimum-wage lawsuit that some of the CHL’s teams are facing. If you’ve tuned in late, some past and present players are involved in a class-action lawsuit asking, among other things, that teams pay minimum wage to players. The leagues/teams are fighting the lawsuit.

“We have legislation in every province now except Alberta and Ontario,” Hamilton said, referring to legislation to exempt teams from minimum-wage laws in some jurisdictions. “We anticipate Ontario when the new premier can find time to work towards that . . . we feel confident that it will go through; Alberta, we may need to wait until there’s an election there.”

Of the possibility that the teams could lose the lawsuit, Hamilton said: “It’s sad because if it came to be, it would really impact a lot of other sports and amateur athletics in Canada.”

According to Smith, Hamilton also said: “We’re confident that in the end, we’ll succeed, but how long it takes is the thing that probably wears people out a bit. But we can only do what we’re asked to by the courts and in the end our plan is to be successful and save the amateur status for the players.”

What I don’t understand is this . . . major junior players aren’t amateurs. They just aren’t.

Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines amateur as “one who engages in a pursuit, study, science or sport as a pastime rather than as a profession.”

Over at dictionary.com, it’s “an athlete who has never competed for payment or for a monetary prize.”

Another online definition: “A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.”

By those definitions, there are few, if any, true amateurs left in our sporting world.

Major junior players already receive a stipend of some kind so they aren’t amateurs, something with which the NCAA obviously agrees.

So why not bring an end to all of this by negotiating a settlement, making certain that players receive, if not minimum wage, at least something from merchandise sales and cash cows like the World Junior Championship and Memorial Cup tournament?

If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of the book written by former NCAA and NBA basketball player Ed O’Bannon. It’s title is Court Justice: The Inside Story of My Battle Against the NCAA.

Yes, comparing the CHL and its teams to the NCAA is in a lot of ways comparing apples and oranges. But O’Bannon’s book is all about the rights of a player to control his likeness — including in computer games — and there are similarities, for sure.

By the way, Smith’s piece on the hot-stove session is right here.


The WHL’s three other community-owned teams are the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos.

The Raiders held their AGM on Aug. 21 and declared a loss of $168,430 for 2017-18, after losing $250,850 in 2016-17. The Raiders made the playoffs last spring, but lost a seven-game first-round series to the Moose Jaw Warriors.

The Hurricanes’ AGM is scheduled for Sept. 17, with the Broncos’ on Sept. 25.

A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for the 2016-17 season. In 2017-18, they reached the Eastern Conference final for a second straight season.

For 2016-17, the Broncos announced a profit of $135,922. That came after reaching Game 7 of a second-round playoff series. In 2017-18, the Broncos won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as playoff champions, so it will be most interesting to see what that has meant to the franchise’s bottom line.


If early indications mean anything, it would appear that the Spokane Chiefs are all-in on SpokaneChiefsthe 2018-19 WHL season. . . . It isn’t often that a WHL team keeps two 19-year-old goaltenders on its roster, but that’s the position in which the Chiefs find themselves after dropping Campbell Arnold, 16, from their roster. . . . The move left the Chiefs with a pair of 19-year-olds — Dawson Weatherill, who has rejoined the team after being in camp with the NHL’s Boston Bruins, and Bailey Brkin. . . . Weatherill made 46 appearances with the Chiefs last season, going 26-12-6, 3.09, .893. . . . Brkin got into 23 games with the Kootenay Ice (7-12-2, 4.51, .874) before being acquired by the Chiefs. In Spokane, he was 4-2-0, 2.59, .913 in seven games. . . . Arnold, a second-round selection in the 2017 WHL bantam draft, will remain on the Chiefs’ protected list. He played last season at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . .

Last season, the Chiefs, under head coach Dan Lambert, who was in his first season in Spokane, went 41-25-6 to finish third in the U.S. Division. They lost a seven-game first-round playoff series to the Portland Winterhawks.


F Brian Harris has joined the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Harris, 19, is from Wawanesa, Man. . . . Last season, he had two goals and one assist in 49 games with the Oil Kings. In 2016-17, he had one goal in five games with Edmonton. He also played with Swan Valley that season, putting up 15 goals and 11 assists in 60 games. . . . He was an 11th-round selection by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . .

G Nick Sanders, 20, who was released by the Calgary Hitmen, has joined the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. Sanders missed a lot of last season due to hip problems, but he did get into 13 games with the Bobcats and four with the Prince Albert Raiders, who dealt him to the Hitmen. . . .

F Blake Bargar, 20, who played the past four seasons in the WHL, has joined the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. Bargar, from Torrance, Calif., spent two seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one each with the Victoria Royals and Seattle Thunderbirds. In 238 regular-season games, he put up 19 goals and 23 assists.


The Moose Jaw Warriors now have four 20-year-olds on their roster after bringing in D Dalton Hamaliuk, who had been released by the Spokane Chiefs. Hamaliuk was in the Warriors’ lineup on Friday night for an exhibition game in Brandon against the Wheat Kings. He scored once in a 3-2 loss to the Wheat Kings. . . . From Leduc, Alta., Hamaliuk has six goals and 31 assists in 213 regular-season games, all with the Chiefs. . . . In Moose Jaw, he joins G Brodan Salmond, D Brandon Schuldhaus and F Tristin Langan in the competition for the three 20-year-old spots. . . . By the way, Schuldhaus will sit out the first three games of the regular season with a suspension left over from last season. He was suspended after taking a match penalty in Game 7 of a second-round playoff series with the visiting Swift Current Broncos on April 16.


D Parker Gavlas of the Regina Pats has been hit with a six-game suspension after taking a Patschecking-to-the-head major and game misconduct during an exhibition game against the host Saskatoon Blades on Thursday night. . . . Gavlas, 19, is from Saskatoon. He was pointless in eight games with the Pats last season. He had one goal and 11 assists in 35 games with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . The Blades won Thursday’s game, 3-2, to run their exhibition record to 6-0-0. . . . Gavlas sat out Regina’s final exhibition game — a 5-2 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders on Friday night — and will miss the first five games of the regular season.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


There was an interesting development in the camp of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks on Friday. They announced that, effective immediately, they will be much more specific when it comes to reporting player injuries. In other words, there won’t be any more lower-body and upper-body injuries in the Blackhawks’ injury reports.

They were as good as their word on Friday, too, with goaltender Corey Crawford speaking with reporters about a concussion he suffered last season. He admitted that he still has symptoms, so hasn’t yet been cleared to take part in training camp.


Riley Cote played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Prince Albert Raiders before going on to a pro career that included 156 regular-season NHL games. He was an enforcer with the Philadelphia Flyers, totalling one goal, six assists in 411 penalty minutes. . . . These days, the 36-year-old native of Winnipeg is “preaching the gospel of medicinal marijuana,” writes David Shoalts of The Globe and Mail. . . . Canada will legalize marijuana in October, and Shoalts also spoke with CHL president Dave Branch, who said that his organization is educating itself about what remains a banned substance. . . . Shoalts’s complete story is right here.


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Source: BCHL takes over Warriors; Grimwood back as head coach . . . Chiefs trim two veterans from roster


MacBeth

D Nick Walters (Everett, Brandon, Lethbridge, 2010-15) had his tryout contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2) converted to a one-year contract after being granted German citizenship this week. Walters signed the tryout contract with conversion clause in July. . . . Last season, he had five goals and 14 assists in 50 games with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, he had 17 goals and 17 assists in 42 games with Épinal (France, Ligue Magnus), and was pointless in one game with Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2). . . .

D Cody Franson (Vancouver, 2003-07) signed a two-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal and six assists in 23 games with the Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), and nine goals and 19 assist in 37 games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).


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With the regular season set to open with seven games on Friday night, the BCHL has taken over operation of the West Kelowna Warriors, a source familiar with the situation told Taking Note on Wednesday night.

At this point, it isn’t known how long this will be in place, but Warriors majority owner WestKelownaKim Dobranski isn’t pulling the strings, at least for now,

As well, Geoff Grimwood, who was dismissed as the general manager and head coach on Monday night, will be behind the bench when the Warriors open against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday. Taking Note was told that a new contract for Grimwood was being drawn up on Wednesday.

This is the first real test for Chris Hebb, who is in his first season as the BCHL commissioner after taking over from the retiring John Grisdale. Hebb’s past includes a stint (2006-13) as the senior vice-president of content and communications with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. Prior to that, he spent 11 years with Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Vancouver Canucks. He was heavily involved in media in both stops, so will have known the importance of acting quickly in this situation.

You can bet that that he and the board of governors also were aware that player agents already were calling other BCHL teams as they prepared to start requesting trades for clients on the Warriors’ roster.

It would appear that the BCHL also imposed a gag rule on the Warriors’ players. One player contacted on Wednesday told Taking Note: “I cannot comment on this matter at this time. . . . Thank you.”

All of this may explain why Dobranski didn’t introduce Jason Beckett as his new head coach on Wednesday.

Grimwood was named the interim general manager and head coach in a news release from the team on Aug. 21, which is when Rylan Ferster, the GM/head coach for the previous six seasons, left the organization. Under Ferster’s guidance, the Warriors won the national junior A championship in 2016.

It became known on Tuesday that Beckett, who had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, was to take over as head coach. However, an announcement never was made.

On the ice, the Warriors players left the ice during Tuesday’s practice and didn’t return in protesting Grimwood’s dismissal. The players didn’t skate on Wednesday, instead going on a hike, which is where the photo that appears in the above tweet was taken. Cavin Tilsley, who tweeted that photo, is a 20-year-old forward from Delta, B.C., who was an alternate captain with the team last season.

Dobranski also dropped a Facebook post sometime on Wednesday in which he was critical of Wayne Moore, a former public address announcer with the Warriors who works for castanet.net. Moore wrote a story about the situation on Tuesday in which he revealed that Beckett was to be the new head coach. (As of Wednesday evening, Moore’s story had received more than 12,900 views, by far the most of any recent sports story on the site.)

The Facebook post disappeared sometime on Wednesday, but, as often happens, it lives somewhere on social media.


The Spokane Chiefs moved two veterans off their roster on Wednesday, as they placed F SpokaneChiefsCedric Chenier, 18, on their suspended list and released D Dalton Hamaliuk, 20. . . . Chenier, who had two goals and four assists in 37 games as a freshman last season, has left the team and returned home. “We are disappointed in his decision but wish him the best moving forward,” said Chiefs’ general manager Scott Carter in a news release. Chenier, from Winnipeg, was a ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. . . . Hamaliuk, from Leduc, Alta., played 213 regular-season games over three seasons with the Chiefs. He had six goals and 31 assists in 37 points. He was a second-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Without Hamaliuk, the Chiefs are down to three 20-year-olds — F Jeff Faith, D Nolan Reid and F Riley Woods.


The Howard Johnson Harbourside Hotel in Nanaimo will close its doors for the last time on Oct. 31. The hotel is located in the downtown area and the property on which it sits once was suggested as a possible site for a 5,000-seat arena that would be home to a WHL franchise. . . . As Dominic Abassi of nanaimonewsnow.com writes: “In 2015, the hotel’s owner went public with intentions to build a new hotel and 5,000-seat arena on the land at the corner of Comox Rd. and Terminal Ave. But after an initial splash in local media, the plan was never seriously mentioned again.” . . . Abassi’s complete story is right here.


The American Hockey League released the prices for its AHL-TV package on Wednesday. A full-season all-access pass will set you back US$79.99, with monthly all-access going for $19.99, a daily all-access at $6.99. . . . A full season single team pass is going for $59.99, with home or away at $39.99.

As you can see from the above tweet, the AHL has cut its price by about 66 per cent over last season.

I couldn’t find WHL prices for its 2018-19 packages, but I believe last season’s all-access price was Cdn$319.95 for 792 regular-season games. This season, with teams’ schedules having been reduced from 72 to 68 games, that total would be 748 games.


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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