F Ryan Harrison (Prince Albert, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2007-13) signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). Last season, with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), he had 13 goals and 21 assists in 63 games. . . .
F Edgars Kulda (Edmonton, 2012-15) signed a tryout contract with Zlín (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL), he had one goal in 31 games. . . .
F Kyle Chipchura (Prince Albert, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL), he had five goals and six assists in 56 games. . . .
F Tim Bozon (Kamloops, Kootenay, 2011-15) signed a one-year plus option contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, with Kloten (Switzerland, NL A), he had seven goals and five assists in 44 games.
Steve Hamilton is back in the WHL, less than two months after leaving, this time as head coach of the Calgary Hitmen. The former Edmonton Oil Kings coach was introduced as the 10th head coach in Calgary’s history on Tuesday morning.
The length of Hamilton’s contract wasn’t revealed, although it is a multi-year deal.
Hamilton replaces Dallas Ferguson, who left the Hitmen on June 26 after one season on staff. Ferguson cited family reasons in leaving Calgary. He has since surfaced as an assistant coach with the U of Denver Pioneers.
Hamilton, 44, spent the previous eight seasons with the Oil Kings, four as an assistant coach and the last four as head coach. He helped the Oil Kings twice win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions (2012, 2014) and to a Memorial Cup title in 2014.
Hamilton and assistant coach Ryan Marsh were fired by the Oil Kings on May 29. Marsh has since signed on as an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades.
With the Calgary Hitmen having hired Steve Hamilton as head coach, it means that eight of the WHL’s 22 teams will open the new season with head coaches who weren’t there when last season began.
To refresh your memory, here’s a look at the new guys, with the former head coaches in parentheses:
Calgary Hitmen — Steve Hamilton (Dallas Ferguson, assistant coach, U of Denver Pioneers).
Edmonton Oil Kings — Brad Lauer (Steve Hamilton, head coach, Calgary Hitmen).
Kamloops Blazers — Serge Lajoie (Don Hay, now an advisor with the Blazers).
Regina Pats — Dave Struch (John Paddock, remains general manager).
Saskatoon Blades — Mitch Love (Dean Brockman, director of hockey operations and head coach, Swift Current Broncos).
Swift Current Broncos — Dean Brockman (Manny Viveiros, assistant coach, Edmonton Oilers).
Tri-City Americans — Kelly Buchberger (Mike Williamson).
Vancouver Giants — Michael Dyck (Jason McKee).
Of those eight coaches, four — Hamilton, Struch, Love and Brockman — were working in the WHL last season.
The Medicine Hat Tigers made official Tuesday what you’ve been reading about here for a couple of days — they have added Ryan Smith to their coaching staff. . . . Smith, 44, spent the past three seasons as associate coach with the Swift Current Broncos, helping them win the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions last season. He left the Broncos after Dean Brockman was named director of hockey operations and head coach. . . . With the Tigers, Smith fills the void created when assistant coach Bobby Fox was named director of player personnel to replace Carter Sears.
After one season with the Vancouver Giants, Dean Chynoweth has signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . Chynoweth, 49, was the associate coach with the Giants last season, after not coaching in 2016-17. . . . Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche affiliates in Cleveland and San Antonio for four seasons (2012-16). . . . He was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders for three seasons (2009-12). . . . He has other WHL experience, having coached the Seattle Thunderbirds (2000-04) and Swift Current Broncos (2004-09). He was also the general manager in Swift Current. . . . In Carolina, Chynoweth will be working with head coach Rod Brind’Amour and assistant coach Jeff Daniels.
F Murphy Stratton, who played 45 games with the Calgary Hitmen in 2016-17, has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . Stratton, from Los Angeles, will turn 19 on Oct. 3. Last season, he had 16 goals and 37 assists in 54 games with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild. . . . But, wait, doesn’t he lose his NCAA eligibility after playing in the WHL? . . . “NCAA bylaws mandate that playing a single game in the WHL will lead to, at a minimum, a loss of one full year of eligibility,” writes Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks, N.D., Herald. . . . According to Schlossman, Stratton now has committed to UND and been told by the NCAA that the penalty for those 45 WHL games will be “one year and seven games.” . . . The plan is to spend another season with Wenatchee and then join UND for 2019-20, although he won’t be able to play until the eight game of the 2020-21 season. . . . Stratton was selected by the Hitmen in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. He had one goal and three assists in those 45 WHL games. . . . Schlossman’s story is right here.
The Victoria HarbourCats of baseball’s West Coast League are at home to the Corvallis Knights tonight (Wednesday). But the game almost will be secondary to the promotion, and isn’t that often the case in minor league baseball, which is something to which major junior hockey teams should be paying more attention. . . . You see, they are giving away a funeral package at tonight’s game. Yes, they are. . . . Jim Swanson, the former sports editor of the Prince George Citizen, now is the HarbourCats’ managing partner. . . . “He’s the one who came up with the idea of holding a prize draw for a funeral package,” writes Jack Knox, the Victoria Times Colonist’s terrific columnist. “Actually, he borrowed the notion (or, more accurately, stole it like Ricky Henderson) after googling weird and wonderful promotions when he became the team’s general manager in 2014.” . . . As Knox points out, though, there also is a serious side to Swanson’s idea. “When Swanson’s uncle drowned off Salt Spring Island a year and a half ago, the grieving family had the additional burden of figuring out what to do in the absence of a will or other arrangements. “He did not have his affairs in order,” Swanson says. So, the draw (fans just have to fill out an entry form at the game) is a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder to prepare for what, ready or not, awaits us all.” . . . Still, this is a promotion that fits right in what all the wonderful and whacky things that go on in minor league baseball. . . . Knox’s column is right here.
I was fortunate enough to get into the newspaper business when there really were ink-stained wretches on the job. I worked two years at the Brandon Sun before the computer-age came along. By the time computers arrived, I was at the Winnipeg Tribune. Yes, there were veteran newspaper people there who thought computers were just a passing fad. . . . Anyway, back in the day it really was a different era, one that was full of characters. . . . The Los Angeles Times is in the process of moving its offices and Bryan Curtis of The Ringer recently took a tour of the old place and offers up some memories of what used to be. It’s all right here.