At ‘going rate’ is Memorial Cup out of reach for teams? . . . Broncos in hiring mode . . . Viveiros now works for Oilers

MacBeth

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), he had one goal and 18 assists in 43 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .  Blum was released for financial reasons and signed by Sochi (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 27. He had three assists in 10 games with Sochi.


ThisThat

Has the CHL jumped the shark with the Memorial Cup? You are free to ask that question after a story by Josh Brown in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record.

“At the going rate,” Brown writes, “hosting the Memorial Cup is out of reach for the Kitchener Rangers.

“Chief operating officer Steve Bienkowski says the club, which is considered one of the Canadian Hockey League’s most stable franchises, could not afford to put on the annual junior hockey showcase at its current bidding price of $3.65 million.”

Bienkowski told Brown: “There is no way we could bid if that was the number. If it’s that dollar type of guarantee than we’re priced out. I’m not sure there is an Ontario market that is priced in.”

With the 2018 Memorial Cup ongoing in Regina, it was reported during the week that the Pats paid the CHL a total of $3.65 million — $3 million plus $650,000 for expenses — for hosting rights to what is the trophy’s 100th anniversary tournament. This also is the Pats’ 100th anniversary season.

The Pats owners expect to lose $2 million by the time all the bills are paid.

According to Brown:

“Kitchener guaranteed a profit of $1.8 million when it bid for — and won — the right to host the Memorial Cup in 2008.

“More than 53,000 fans attended games at the Aud and the club produced a tidy $1.95 million profit, which was the highest in CHL history at the time.”

Brown’s story, which is full of all kinds of nuggets, is right here.


As expected, the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers announced Friday that they have added Manny Viveiros as an assistant coach. Viveiros spent the past two seasons as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.

The announcement came two days after the WHL-champion Broncos were eliminated from the Memorial Cup tournament in Regina after going 0-3. En route to the WHL title, the Broncos played a league-record 26 playoff games; they won two six-game series and two seven-game affairs. (The 1984 Regina Pats, 1986 Medicine Hat Tigers and 1979 Portland Winterhawks both played 25 games.)

Viveiros, 52, is a native of St. Albert, Alta. He coached for nine seasons in Europe before signing with the Broncos. A former defenceman with the Prince Albert Raiders, Viveiros also played in Europe for 16 seasons. Most of his European time was spent in Austria.

In Edmonton, he joins Oilers head coach Todd McLellan, who is a former GM/head coach of the Broncos, along with assistant coaches Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney, whose signings also were announced Friday.

McLellan (Saskatoon, 1982-87), Gulutzan (Brandon, Saskatoon, 1989-92), Yawney (Saskatoon, 1982-85) and Viveiros (Prince Albert, 1982-86) all played in the WHL. Considering that McLelland and Yawney were teammates who played against Viveiros, who played for the Blades’ arch-rivals in Prince Albert, there just might be some interesting conversations in the Oilers’ coaches’ room next season.

The Broncos announced Viveiros’s departure at a Friday morning news conference. At the same time, they announced that Dianne Sletten, their director of business operations, also is leaving the club.

If could be that the Broncos’ front office will have a completely new look come a new season.

They had been operating without a general manager, with Jamie Porter the director of hockey operations, and Viveiros holding the title of director of player personnel and head coach.

Porter has been rumoured as a possible candidate for openings with the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars, both of whom need a general manager. Also rumoured to be in the mix in Kamloops is Matt Bardsley, presently an assistant general manager with the Portland Winterhawks. Bardsley has been with the Winterhawks since 1999.


With Emanuel Viveiros leaving the Swift Current Broncos, it means that the past six WHL champions have lost their head coaches to the professional ranks. . . . Steve Konowalchuk SCBroncoswon the title with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2017, then signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. . . . In 2016, the Brandon Wheat Kings, under GM/head coach Kelly McCrimmon, won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. McCrimmon then joined the Vegas Golden Knights as assistant general manager. . . . In 2015, head coach Dan Lambert helped the Kelowna Rockets win the WHL, then signed with the Buffalo Sabres as an assistant coach. . . . Derek Laxdal was the Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach when they won the WHL in 2014. He then signed on with the NHL’s Dallas Stars as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. . . . In 2013, Travis Green was the head coach as the Portland Winterhawks won the WHL title. He later joined the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

So, you’re wondering, who was the last WHL head coach win a championship and stay put? Well, Laxdal was the head coach of the Oil Kings when they won the 2012 title, and he hung around for two more seasons. Before that it was Kris Knoblauch, who helped the Kootenay Ice to the 2011 championship and coached in Cranbrook for one more season.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday, May 18 – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday, May 19 – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina 4, Hamilton 2 (6,484)

Saturday — No Game Scheduled.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst vs. Regina, 5 p.m.


Mike Pelino, a former assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs, has signed on as an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. Pelino, 58, spent the past four seasons as an assistant coach with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL. He was with the Chiefs for two seasons (1997-99).

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Parneta moves into GM’s office in Vancouver . . . Rockets release an import . . . Season ends for WHL champions

MacBeth

F Vladimír Sičák (Medicine Hat, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had four goals and 18 assists in 49 games. Karlovy Vary was in 1. Liga this season and won promotion to Extraliga for next season. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he was pointless in 20 games. He had six assists in 41 games while on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants introduced Barclay Parneta as their general manager on Wednesday morning. Parneta, 47, takes over from Glen Hanlon, who left the Giants earlier this month after two seasons as GM. . . . The Giants’ news release is right here. . . . Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for Postmedia, has a piece right here.


The Kelowna Rockets have released Czech F Marek Skrvne, who turns 19 on Aug. 6, after KelownaRocketsjust one season. He had four goals and nine assists in 69 games as a freshman last season. . . . The Rockets will make one selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft, as Czech D Libor Zabransky, 18, will return for a second season. . . . “Marek did nothing to cause the direction we are headed except for the fact that I think we need a defenceman back there as we are trying to build a team for 2020,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president and general manager, told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice. . . . The Rockets are preparing to bid on the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . According to the WHL Guide, the import draft will be held on June 26 or 27.


The men who own the Regina Pats are going to take at least a $2-million bath on the 2018 ReginaPats100Memorial Cup, which is being played in their city. Not only that, but they aren’t at all surprised; in fact, they expected it. . . . They ended up handing the CHL a $3-million hosting fee and another $650,000 to cover some expenses. . . . “If every seat had been sold for the Eagles concert — part of the gala opening ceremony at Mosaic Stadium — and for every game of the tournament, the owners would still have been staring at a seven-figure shortfall,” writes Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . You have to wonder what’s going on in the world of major junior hockey when one of the CHL’s partners is forced into taking this kind of bath? . . . Vanstone’s piece is right here and it more than adequately explains the financial situation surrounding this Memorial Cup.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst vs. Regina/Hamilton winner, 5 p.m.


Speculation has been running wild in Edmonton regarding the likelihood that the NHL’s Oilers will add Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney to head coach Todd McLellan’s coaching staff. . . . Gulutzan was fired as head coach of the Calgary Flames after the season, while Yawney was let go by the Anaheim Ducks. . . . The Oilers have room for one more assistant coach and those same speculators are betting on Manny Viveiros, the director of hockey operations and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos won the WHL’s playoff championship, but went 0-3 at the Memorial Cup, bowing out Wednesday night with a 6-5 loss to the host Regina Pats.


TheCoachingGame

Clint Mylymok has signed on with the NAHL’s Maryland Black Bears as the first general manager and head coach in the franchise’s history. He had been the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds for the previous four seasons. The Hounds play out of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Black Bears will play out of Odenton, Maryland, using the Piney Orchard Ice Arena as their home base. It once was a training centre for the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Geoff Grimwood has resigned as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. Grimwood spent three seasons with the Klippers. He had been an assistant coach with the WHL’s Victoria Royals for three seasons (2012-15) before signing on with Kindersley.

Hanlon leaving Giants . . . Blazers’ top pick gives them the word . . . Thunderbirds’ import will stay home

MacBeth

F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) a signed one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with the U of Calgary (Canada West), he had two goals and eight assists in 28 games. . . .

F Dominik Uher (Spokane, 2009-12) signed a two-year contract with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). This season, with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and three assists in 48 games. . . .

F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). He had three goals and seven assists in 19 games. . . .

D Tomáš Kundrátek (Medicine Hat, 2008-10) signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL), he had two goals and 11 assists in 53 games. . . .

D Zack Yuen (Tri-City, 2008-13) signed a one-year two-way contract extension with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). He had two goals and one assist in 21 games this season. He also was pointless in eight games with KRS Heilongjiang Harbin (China, Russia Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants became the third B.C. Division team searching for a general manager when they revealed on Monday that Glen Hanlon is leaving after two seasons in that role. . . . The Prince George Cougars, who didn’t bring back Todd Harkins, and Kamloops Blazers, who dumped Stu MacGregor, also are looking to hire general managers. . . . According to a Giants news release, Hanlon “has decided to pursue other opportunities.” . . . Hanlon, 61, spent two seasons (2011-13) with the Giants as an assistant coach under Don Hay before spending a couple of seasons coaching in Belarus and Switzerland. . . . Dean Chynoweth, the Giants’ associate coach, may be the leading candidate to replace Hanlon. Chynoweth, 49, spent five seasons (2004-09) as the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos. He just completed his first season with the Giants, working alongside head coach Jason McKee.


The Hamilton Bulldogs won the OHL championship on Sunday night. Here are a few paragraphs written earlier in the week by Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator:

When the Canadian Hockey League awarded the Memorial Cup to Regina, it cited the failings of FirstOntario Centre as the main reason why.

“At the end of the day, it was the facility that would not allow Hamilton to stay in the race,” CHL president David Branch said back then.

That may be true. Then again, the yellow-T-shirt-wearing, noise-making, atmosphere-creating, lower-bowl-filling crowd — which was 2,100 people bigger than will be at any of the Memorial Cup games at the Brandt Centre (capacity 6,500) — sure looked good and suggested the tournament really should’ve been here.

Not to mention the fact that Hamilton has a championship-calibre team that’s playing the country’s best outfit to a standstill right now. The host Regina Pats? They were eliminated from their playoffs 40 days ago.”


Here’s more from Radley:

Sure, most teams’ TV and radio announcers are homers to one degree or another. Many are employees of the team, so it’s hardly a surprise. Most keep it reasonably in check, however.

That said, is there any call in sports more finger-nails-on-a-chalkboard grating than Buck Martinez yelling “Get up, ball!” every time a Blue Jay hits a home run? It’s just one step short of running onto the field and hugging the guy as he rounds third base.


It seems that Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, didn’t give us all of the organization’s bad news when he announced the departure of four people from Kamloops1the front office on Thursday.

Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, reported Tuesday that the Blazers were told before the May 3 bantam draft that F Massimo Rizzo is “pursuing an NCAA scholarship and will not be coming to training camp in the fall.”

The Blazers selected Rizzo with the 15th overall selection of the 2016 bantam draft. This season, Rizzo had 13 goals and 25 assists in 50 games with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. He will be back with the Vees in 2018-19.

On Thursday, Gaglardi announced the departures of general manager Stu MacGregor, head coach Don Hay, assistant coach Mike Needham and director of player personnel Matt Recchi.


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed G Stuart Skinner of the Swift Current Broncos to a three-year entry-level contract on Monday. Skinner, who is from Edmonton, was a third-round selection by the Oilers in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . He posted a record-tying six shutouts in helping the Broncos to the WHL championship.


So . . . if you’re Eli Manning, the New York Giants’ starting quarterback, what’s it like playing in Philadelphia?

“Philly, you just gotta get used to,” Manning tells Steiner Sports. “. . . because you’re not used to seeing a nine-year-old cursing at you and talking about my mom and stuff. Once you get used to it, it’s fine. It just takes a year or two. Now (15 years later) he’s 24 and training his four-year-old to curse at me.”


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed D Nolan Allan, the third overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Allan, from Davidson, Sask., had 12 goals and 32 assists in 26 games with the bantam AA Humboldt Broncos.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times notes that Kiyaunta Goodwin of Louisville, Ky., “is six-feet-seven, weighs 370 pounds, wears size-18 shoes, leg presses 1,000 pounds, bench presses 315, displays uncanny agility, likes art music and robotics, and has a football offer from Georgia in his pocket, according to Bleacher Report.” . . . Perry then adds: “Oh and did we mention that he’s only 14 years old and an eighth-grader?”


It appears that F Sami Moilanen won’t be back with the Seattle Thunderbirds for what Seattlewould have been his 19-year-old season. From Sipoo, Finland, Moilanen played two seasons with Seattle. He had 43 points, including 21 goals, in 70 games as a freshman, adding 16 points, seven of them goals, in 20 playoff games as the Thunderbirds won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. This season, he had 22 goals and 23 assists in 50 games as he was hampered by injuries. . . . Seattle’s second import, Russian F Nikita Malukhin, had five goals and four assists in 52 games as a freshman this season.


Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, is a hockey fan, and as he writes: “A difference between Canadian and U.S. hockey fans — at least Canadian fans can find Winnipeg on a map?”


“Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning should both do well with playoff ticket sales,” Hough notes. “As we get into mid- May, I’m guessing people in both cities will pay well for a chance to spend three hours inside out of 30-plus degree weather.”


“So the Leafs are bounced in the first round,” pens Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette, “the Raptors pull an epic choke after Drake makes an ass of himself, and the Jays get no-hit the night Stroman pitches. This Toronto 24/7 thing is entertaining.”


A note from RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com: “Reuters reports a Paris museum is offering special viewing hours to ‘naturists.’ Nudes taking in nudes? Busts before busts? Art-wise I’m not sure how to frame it.”


Currie, again: “The Toronto Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey two days after he was named NBA coach of the year.  It’s the fastest fall from grace for a Casey since the Mudville nine.”

Mohr back from facial injury . . . Young Stars tourney is on . . . Adding two more sets of twins

MacBeth

D Richie Regehr (Kelowna, Portland, 1998-2004) has been released by mutual agreement by Klagenfurt (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). According to the club, Regehr suffered a “serious upper body injury” at the end of September and had a setback when he returned to practice. He had one goal and one assist in six games. . . .

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-05) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan) after his release by mutual agreement by Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL). He had two goals and two assists in 24 games. . . .

D Alex Roach (Calgary, 2010-14) has been assigned on loan by Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL) to Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2) for the duration of the DEL Olympics break. He had three assists in 25 games. . . . The DEL breaks after games on Feb 2 until Feb 28. The DEL2 doesn’t have a break.


A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

On Dec. 3, with Edmonton playing against the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, Oil Kings F Kobe Mohr was struck by a puck just below his left eye.

The 18-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., now has three plates in his face. As he told EdmontonOilKingsDerek Van Diest of Postmedia, he ended up with a broken orbital bone, broken tear duct and broken nose.

“Right away, I soaked the ice up pretty good in blood and I couldn’t see, I couldn’t breathe and I knew my nose was broken for sure and something was wrong with my eye because I couldn’t see,” Mohr told Van Diest. “But I wasn’t sure exactly what was wrong. The first thing was just the pain. I was squirming out there, I couldn’t really control it and the trainer came out and got me off the ice as fast as I could and got me stitched up and took me straight to the hospital, so it was a pretty quick process, which was pretty good.”

He was back in the lineup on Jan. 9, meaning he missed only 13 games.

Van Diest’s story, complete with a post-injury selfie, is right here.


On Thursday, Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow) tweeted a list of the top 10 WHL teams in terms of regular-season victories from September 2003 through last night. I have added to his list by including WHL championships won during that time in parentheses:

  1. Kelowna 639 (3)
  2. Medicine Hat 623 (2)
  3. Calgary 602 (1)
  4. Tri-City 575 (0)
  5. Brandon 573 (1)
  6. Spokane 548 (1)
  7. Portland 547 (1)
  8. Everett 543 (0)
  9. Kootenay 533 (1)
  10. Vancouver 529 (1)

NOTE: Edmonton (2) and Seattle (1) aren’t in the top 10 in victories in that time period, but have won championships.


It seems that there will be Young Stars tournament in Penticton this year, but if you read between the lines it sounds like there may be changes in store.

Trevor Linden, the Vancouver Canucks’ president of hockey operations, has told Kristi Patton of the Penticton Western News that his team is committed to playing in the preseason rookie tournament this year.

“While the format and number of participating teams may change,” Linden said, “we’ve confirmed our continued participation this year. We’ll have more details to share in the near future.”

Andrew Jakubeit, Penticton’s mayor and the event’s chairman, told Patton: “Right now, I’m confident there will be an event this fall. Whatthe shape, size or scope of teams is, I can’t confirm or deny yet.”

In recent years, the Canucks team has faced teams from the Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets. The tournament is held in the first half of September, although this year’s dates have yet to be announced.


Attention WHL franchise owners . . .

Darren Rovell, a senior writer with ESPN, filed a piece Thursday explaining what happened when the the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons cut concession prices.

“Steve Cannon, CEO of the AMB Group . . . told ESPN that although food and beverage prices were 50 percent lower in its new Mercedes-Benz Stadium than the prices in the Georgia Dome the previous year, fans spent 16 percent more,” Rovell writes.

Rovell’s story is right here.


If you’re a regular here, you will be aware that organ donation is a big deal in our home.

On Thursday, I stumbled on a truly interesting story involving a 60-year-old single father of five who was in dire need of a kidney. So on a trip to Disney World, he wore a special t-shirt.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His story is right here.


If you like what you get here, please consider clicking on the DONATE button over there to the right and helping the cause.

If you have a tip or just want to chat, email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com. You are able to follow me on Twitter at @gdrinnan.

And don’t forget that the domain name here is greggdrinnan.com.

Enjoy!


We are adding two more sets of twins to our WHL Twins Wall of Fame, both brought to our attention via readers of this blog.

We start today with Brent and Kyle Howarth, forwards from St. Andrews, Man. Brent whlplayed three seasons (2003-06) with the Kelowna Rockets, while Kyle was with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Spokane Chiefs and Prince Albert Raiders. Now 31, they did play together with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers in 2002-03 and 2006-07. In fact, they helped the Keith Cassidy-coached Steelers win the 2006-07 MJHL title. Kyle put up 141 points, including 103 assists, in 58 games, while Brent had 131 points, 49 of them goals, in 59 games.

We also have been reminded about Taylor and Travis Sanheim, the pride of Elkhorn, Man., which is also the hometown of Sheldon Kennedy. Taylor and Travis, now 21, played together with the Calgary Hitmen.

Taylor, a forward, played two-plus seasons (2014-17) with the Hitmen; Travis was there for three seasons (2013-16).

Now 21, Taylor is playing senior hockey in Saskatchewan, while Travis is in the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers.

——

Twins who played together . . .

Darren and Trevor Kruger, Swift Current (1987-89)

Bob and Ted McAneeley, Edmonton (Calgary Buffaloes, 1966-67; Edmonton Oil Kings, 1968-69)

Trevor and Troy Pohl, Portland (1986-88)

Taylor and Travis Sanheim, Calgary (2014-16)

Jeremy and Joshua Schappert, Seattle (2005-08)

Rich and Ron Sutter, Lethbridge Broncos (1980-83)

Kaeden and Keenan Taphorn, Kootenay (active)

——

Twins who played but not together . . .

Connor and Curtis Honey, Seattle, Brandon (2011-14)

Brent and Kyle Howarth, Kelowna, Medicine Hat/Spokane/Prince Albert Raiders (2003-06)

Kris and Ryan Russell, Medicine Hat and Kootenay (2003-07)

Beck and Will Warm, Tri-City and Edmonton (active)

——

Officials who are twins and work together . . .

Chad and Cody Huseby, linesmen from Red Deer (active)


Scoreboard

THURSDAY:

No Games Scheduled.


FRIDAY (all times local):

Prince George at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.

Edmonton at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.

Moose Jaw at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.

Brandon vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.

Portland at Kamloops, 7 p.m.

Victoria vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7:30 p.m.

Seattle at Everett, 7:35 p.m.


TWEET OF THE DAY

Three WHLers a step closer to NHL . . . Hebig, Blichfeld and Halbgewachs sign contracts

Hebig
Cam Hebig (9) of the Saskatoon Blades flies through the air with the greatest of ease in this terrific photo by Steve Hiscock. Hebig signed with the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

Only Cam Hebig knows what he went through as he sat out all of the 2016-17 WHL season while trying to recover from what originally was believed to be a concussion suffered in training camp.

Recover he did, though, and now he is in the middle of a career season with the Saskatoon Blades. He leads his club in goals (28) and points (51) in 35 games.

On Thursday, Hebig, 20, got something of a reward as the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers signed him to a three-year entry-level contract.

According to capfriendly.com, Hebig’s contract calls for base salaries in the NHL of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000, with a salary in the minors of $70,000 each season. Each of the first two seasons carries $182,500 in performance bonuses, with $132,500 in the third season. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.

This season, 2017-18, covers the first year of the contract, with a junior salary of $10,500.

 As the Blades started training camp in August, Hebig told Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix that he really isn’t sure what had been wrong.

 “I’ve had that question a lot and I don’t know how to explain it,” Hebig said. “I went to a lot of doctors and went to see a lot of people. I never did get a clear diagnosis. It was always weird symptoms.

“I worked hard at the physio that they gave me and I think that helped me. We can put that now behind me.”

Hebig added that his patience was stretched to the maximum when he wasn’t able to get on the ice last season.

“Patience is right,” he told Zary. “It was definitely a long year. I learned a lot from that. Facing that adversity helped make me stronger. I feel confident now and I’m definitely glad I can put that behind me.”

When Zary asked what he learned, Hebig replied: “Just a lot about training, the body and how I can better myself. I learned to never quit and, when things get tough, just keep pushing and things are going to turn around for you.”

There can be no doubting that Hebig, who is from Saskatoon, is the Blades’ leader. They have won six of their last seven games, during which time he has five goals and five assists.

The surge has helped the Blades get into a playoff spot for the first time this season.

In doing that StarPhoenix story, Zary asked Hebig about goals for this season.

Hebig replied: “I want to come in and have fun. It’s my last (season). I’m going to give it my all every game and just stay positive. Going out, working hard every night and trying to be consistent and, I think if I do that, things will fall into place.”

The Blades selected Hebig in the third round of the 2012 WHL bantam draft. Now, in 233 career regular-season games, he has 186 points, including 85 goals.

Oh, yes, he also has an NHL contract in his hip pocket.

On Thursday, he told Zary:

“I worked so hard for it. It’s great. It’s very exciting for me and my family. To see it pay off is definitely a great feeling and it’s pretty cool to be signed by the Oilers.”


Two other WHLers signed NHL deals on Thursday, as F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks and F Jayden Halbgewachs of the Moose Jaw Warriors got three-year entry-level deals from the San Jose Sharks.

Blichfeld’s deal was announced shortly after he and the Danish national junior team had been beaten, 4-1, by Finland at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo.

This season, Blichfeld, 19, has 13 goals and 17 assists in 26 games with Portland. In 89 career games, he has 41 goals and 47 assists.

Although he is from Denmark, he played for Malmo’s junior team in Sweden before joining the Winterhawks.

The Sharks selected Blichfeld, who is from Frederikshavn, Denmark, in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft.

Halbgewachs, who is from Emerald Park, Sask., signed as a free agent.

Halbgewachs’ contract, according to capfriendly.com, calls for NHL salaries of US$650,000, $650,000 and $700,000. The minor-league salary in each of the three seasons would be $70,000. There are performance bonuses of $182,500, $182,500 and $132,500. There also are three signing bonuses of $92,500.

As in Hebig’s case, this season, 2017-18, covers the first season of the deal, and there is a junior salary of $10,500.

This season, the 20-year-old Halbgewachs leads the CHL with 37 goals. In 37 games, he has put up 64 points.

Halbgewachs was selected by Kamloops in the first round of the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft, but never played for the Blazers. He was traded to Moose Jaw on Dec. 6, 2012, with D Tyler Bell and a first-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft for D Joel Edmundson and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.

Last season, Halbgewachs exploded for 101 points, including 50 goals, in 71 games. In 241 career games, all with the Warriors, he has 106 goals and 109 assists.