Checking in on WHL coaching game — one signing and some scuttlebutt . . . 2022 WJC “a turd in a punch bowl”? . . . Rockets’ voice moves to The Lizard

Luke Pierce was introduced Monday as the new head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 38, spent the past four seasons as an assistant Edmontoncoach with head coach Brad Lauer, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant alongside head coach Rick Bowness. . . . From an Oil Kings’ news release: “In his four seasons behind the Edmonton bench as an assistant coach, Pierce helped guide the club to a record of 154-46-13-10, four straight Central Division championships and the 2022 WHL championship while overseeing the team’s defence and penalty-kill unit.  During his tenure, the Oil Kings have finished in the top 10 in penalty killing each season and had the best penalty kill during both the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.” . . . Pierce has previous WHL head-coaching experience from two seasons (2015-17) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . From Merritt, B.C., he was the general manager and head coach for his hometown Centennials of the BCHL for five-plus seasons (2009-15). . . . It also must be pointed out that Pierce has served as vice-president and chairman for Hockey Gives Blood since 2018.


With the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders — Jeff Truitt taking over from Marc Habscheid — having named new head coaches over the past few days, the 22-team WHL doesn’t have any openings for head guys. . . . But there are some teams with vacancies on their coaching staffs. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, for example, have an opening after associate coach KamloopsMark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach. . . . The Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, and wouldn’t it be fitting for Hay to conclude his long coaching career in his hometown? . . . You may recall that Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced Hay’s retirement on May 10, 2018. “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. . . . Not so fast, though. Hay, it turns out, wasn’t finished. He has spent the past four seasons (2018-22) with the Portland Winterhawks, the first three as assistant coach and last season as associate coach. . . . All told, Hay has spent 13 seasons on the Blazers’ coaching staff — six (1986-92) as an assistant coach and seven (1992-95, 2014-18) as head coach. . . .

So . . . if Hay returns to Kamloops, the Winterhawks would have an opening. PortlandWell, it just so happens that Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 seasons in their organization, is available. Gustafson, 41, is from Portland. He was an assistant coach with the Winterhawks for 14 seasons (2003-17), the associate coach for one (2017-18), and the assistant general manager and associate coach for three (2018-21). . . . He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, but lost his job in the offseason as the NHL team shuffled its coaching staff. . . . A return by Gustafson to Portland also would allow the Winterhawks to put in place a plan of succession that could see him take over the head-coaching duties from Mike Johnston, 65, in a year or two. . . . Johnston, who has been with the Winterhawks for a total of 12 seasons covering two stints, also is the franchise’s vice-president and general manager. . . .

And then there are the Vancouver Giants, who have a vacancy on head coach VancouverMichael Dyck’s staff because associate coach Keith McCambridge, 48, left after two seasons to join the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, as an assistant coach. . . . Don’t be surprised if the Giants sign Adam Maglio, 36, to fill that spot. He joined the Spokane Chiefs as the associate coach for 2019-20, then was promoted to head coach on Aug. 27, 2020, replacing Manny Viveiros, who had moved on to the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . The Chiefs fired Maglio on Feb. 10, and named assistant coach Ryan Smith the interim head coach. Smith has since had the interim tag removed and is preparing for his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach. . . . Maglio, who is from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, the last two as head coach, before signing with the Chiefs.

In digesting all of this buzz just remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Gustafson was rumoured to be ticketed for Spokane as the Chiefs’ head coach.


Last week, it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who discovered that COVID-19 COVIDhad made its way into their locker room. This week, it’s the Calgary Stampeders. . . . The Roughriders had at least 11 players, including starting QB Cody Fajardo, test positive and had to push back their game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts from Saturday to Sunday. . . . Now the Stampeders have a problem. Five players, three of them starters, missed Tuesday’s practice. Danny Austin of Postmedia reported that head coach Dave Dickenson “confirmed there was at least one case of pneumonia and several in COVID protocol.” . . . The Stampeders (4-1) are scheduled to entertain the two-time defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-0) on Saturday night.

With the Hockey Canada mess on centre stage in Ottawa and with the warm HockeyCanadasummer weather — on Tuesday, at 8 p.m., it was 32 C in Kamloops — it’s easy to forget that the 2022 World Junior Championship is scheduled to open in Edmonton on Aug. 9. . . . It’s hard to disagree with Dan Barnes of Postmedia who wrote on Tuesday that the tournament “seems much less like a potential money-maker and far more like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.” . . . Yes, it seems ticket sales for games not involving Team Canada are in the dumper. Because, as Barnes wrote, “it seems the boys of winter are not the same kind of draw in the dog days of summer.” . . . He also wrote: “Two weeks out, the tournament does not have an overt presence in the city. Officials from Hockey Canada and the IIHF have not answered interview requests from Postmedia regarding the tournament.” . . . Could it be that there is some ducking and running going on, what with Hockey Canada neck deep in other things these days? . . . Barnes’ column, which is well worth a read, is right here.


Just like the Kelowna Rockets, Regan Bartel, their play-by-play voice, is taking Lizardhis show to The Lizard. . . . Bartel, the Rockets and Kelowna radio station 104.7 FM — aka The Lizard — announced on Monday that he will continue as the play-by-play voice of the local WHL team, a job he has held for 22 years. . . . The Rockets had been with Bell Media’s AM 1150 for more than 20 years, but announced earlier this month that they were making the move to The Lizard, which is owned by Pattison Media. At the time, Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a news release: “We especially want to recognize Regan Bartell (sic). Regan has an incredible voice and his dedication to our fans to produce a first-class broadcast for all Rockets games will always be appreciated.” . . . In a news release on Monday, The Lizard offered that Bartel’s signing is “all part of a strategy to restore the Rockets profile in the city.”

The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHL D Ryan Rehill as an assistant coach. Rehill, 26, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (2012-16) with the Kamloops Blazers, before going on to the U of Alberta for four years. . . . Last season, while working as a teacher, Rehill spent time on the ice with the Bulldogs and the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Bulldogs, Rehill will be working alongside general manager/head coach Joe Martin.

THINKING OUT LOUD: ICYMI, the St. Louis Cardinals, without their two best players, who couldn’t get into Canada because they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, dropped a 10-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Cardinals will play in Toronto again tonight and they’ll again be without 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado, who are back home, presumably doing more research. . . . The Cardinals are clinging to the NL’s last wild-card spot by half-a-game over the Philadelphia Phillies. . . . If you’re a fan of the Boston Red Sox, you have to be wondering what happened! Your Sox now are in the AL East cellar, the first time that has happened in a full season since 2015. Yes, they are trailing the Baltimore Orioles. . . . BTW, Boston’s payroll is at $243,815,233, while Baltimore is at $46,217,169. . . . It was great to see Buck Martinez back in the broadcast booth for the Blue Jays’ game Tuesday night. And wasn’t that a welcome back that he received from the fans!


And there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the “inaugural;” the second one is the “second annual.” Thank you!

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6A Providence Building

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

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