Hockey, academia mourn loss of Kevin Ginnell at 58 . . . Left game to become success in world of political science

Kevin Ginnell was raised in a world of hockey. But when his mother, Wanda, was battling cancer, he promised that if she beat it he would leave the ice and go back to school.

Wanda recovered and Kevin, who died Saturday morning in Vancouver at the age of 58, resumed his education. Dr. Ginnell went on to leave an indelible impression in the world of academia as a professor at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College.

The eldest son of the legendary Pat Ginnell, a longtime player, owner, general manager and head coach, Kevin experienced some health issues over the past year and was in care in Vancouver when he died.

KevinGinnell
KEVIN GINNELL (Photo: sfu.ca)

Ginnell was born in Omaha, Neb., in 1961, while his father, who died on Nov. 17, 2003, was playing for the International league’s Omaha Knights.

Kevin played four seasons (1978-82) in the WHL, the first with the Lethbridge Broncos, then two with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He finished up by playing 17 games with the Calgary Wranglers in 1981-82. In 220 regular-season games, he had 168 points, including 70 goals.

Ginnell was a fifth-round selection, 99th overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 1980 draft, but he ended his playing career after 1981-82, choosing to jump into the coaching waters.

His coaching career included a stint with the AJHL’s Calgary Spurs and 12 seasons in Saskatchewan. He coached in the SJHL with the Minot Americans, Estevan Bruins, Yorkton Terriers and Saskatoon Titans, moving to Kindersley with the Saskatoon franchise after the 1992-93 season. He was the SJHL’s coach of the year in 1991-92 while with the Titans.

After the 1994-95 season, at the age of 33, he left coaching in order to attend university, thus fulfilling the promise he had made to his mother. He was 37 when he graduated from Simon Fraser U with a Bachelor of Arts with Honours. He achieved his Master of Arts in Political Science in 2001 and his Doctorate in 2013. His dissertation was titled: Who Really Governs Vancouver? Community Power and Urban Regime Theory Revisited.

According to hockeydraftcentral.com, Ginnell was “vice-president of Simon Fraser University’s political-science students association and was nominated for a community service award in 1999 for efforts to get the campus community to help low-income residents of Vancouver. . . . Became a voice in Vancouver politics as a result of academic work on political issues, including published papers on Vancouver’s public transportation system and impact of the Habitat for Humanity program.”

His younger brothers, Erin and Dan, continue to work in hockey. Erin, 51, is a scout with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights; he played for two seasons in Minot with Kevin as the GM and head coach. Dan, 53, scouts for the St. Louis Blues.

Erin has two sons playing in the WHL — Brad, 19, finished last season with the Spokane Chiefs, while Riley, 17, is with the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Dan’s son Derek, 29, just completed his first season as a scout with the New York Rangers after being with the Columbus Blue Jackets for five seasons.



Taking Note has been told that Geoff Grimwood will be the next general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals. . . . He will succeed Mike Vandekamp, who left last month to become the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. . . . Grimwood spent three seasons (2015-18) as the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers, then was with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors in 2018-19. . . . Grimwood, who is from Victoria, began last season as the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, but he resigned on Dec. 6, saying in a news release that he was “choosing to step away from coaching and take some time away from the game.” At the time, the Stampeders were 17-10-2.


Clayton Stoner, who played in the WHL and NHL, has joined the Victoria-based South Island Royals program as a coach. According to the organization, Stoner “will be joining our U15, U16 and U18 teams for the 2020-21 season as an associate coach and advisor of player development.” . . . Stoner was a third-round selection by the Minnesota Wild in the NHL’s 2004 draft. He played with the Wild and Anaheim Ducks before injuries forced his retirement. . . . He played three seasons (2002-05) with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans.


Inquiring minds are wondering at what “other leagues” the dart is aimed . . . LOL!



Beer

May 8, 1957, belonged to Flin Flon . . . Frey to step back after today’s draft . . . Pats sign top prospect Bedard

Bombers
The 1957 Memorial Cup-champion Flin Flon Bombers. (Photo: reminder.ca)

OK. It’s obvious that you need a hockey fix. Well, you’ve come to the right place . . .

It’s May 8, 1957. The Ottawa Canadiens and Flin Flon Bombers are playing Game 7 of the Memorial Cup final in Regina’s Exhibition Stadium.

The Bombers will take a 2-1 lead into the third period. . . .

Flin Flon is led by the line of Ted Hampson between Paddy Ginnell and Mel Pearson. Ginnell got the game’s first goal at 17:23 of the FlinFlonfirst period, with Pearson counting at 18:14. Mike Legace got Ottawa to within a goal at 19:43 of the second period.

The goaltenders are George Wood for Flin Flon and Ottawa’s Claude Dufour.

Sam Pollock is running Ottawa’s bench, with Bobby Kirk the Bombers’ coach.

We now take you to Regina’s Exhibition Stadium and the play-by-play voice of Lyle Armitage, all thanks to Flin Flon radio station CFAR. All you have to do is click right here and scroll down a couple of items.

While you’re listening, you may want to read about the series and the hijinks that went on. . . . That’s all right here in a history I wrote a few years ago.

Hampson, now 83, went on to play 676 regular-season NHL games, putting up 108 goals and 245 assists. He has been an NHL scout since 1983-84, the last eight seasons with the Vancouver Canucks.

When CFAR first aired a replay of Game 7’s third period earlier this month, Hampson was listening and, at the same time, texting with Erin Ginnell, 51, one of Paddy’s sons. Erin scouts for the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

“It was pretty special,” Erin told me via email.



Bob McKenzie of TSN tweeted on Tuesday afternoon that “the 2020 Ivan Hlinka-Wayne Gretzky U-18 tourney scheduled for August” in Edmonton and Red Deer “is going to be cancelled.” . . . As he pointed out, it is the “first big event for the 2021 NHL draft class and 2003-born players.” . . . He also suggested that Hockey Canada is looking at what to do with its U-17 and World Junior Summer Showcase camps and series. The U-17 event is scheduled for July, with the Summer Showcase in August. . . . “No one is optimistic, obviously, but decisions on those still to come,” McKenzie tweeted. . . . Don’t forget, too, that the 2019 U-17 World Hockey Challenge is scheduled for Charlottetown and Summerside, P.E.I., from Oct. 31 through Nov. 7.



The Regina Pats will select F Connor Bedard of North Vancouver with the first selection Patsin the WHL’s bantam draft today (Wednesday). The Pats signed Bedard, 15, to a contract on Tuesday. . . . Bedard has been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada, something that allows him to play full-time in the WHL as a 15-year-old. It used to be that a player in that age group was limited to five games with a WHL team until his club team had its season end. However, F Matt Savoie of the Winnipeg Ice, who wasn’t granted exceptional status prior to last season, got into 22 games in 2019-20 and would have played even more had he not suffered a concussion in December. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more on the Bedard signing right here.


Tea


Baseball’s independent American Association, which includes the Winnipeg Goldeyes, has postponed the start of its season that was to have opened on May 19. The 12-team league now is hoping to get rolling at some point in July. . . . “We will not jeopardize the safety of our fans, staff, players, umpires or vendors and will abide by all national and local restrictions when determining if we can open in early July,” commissioner Joshua Schaub said in a statement. . . . The U.S.-Canada border will have to re-open before play starts; the Goldeyes are the only Canadian-based team. . . .

The 12-team West Coast League, which includes teams in Kelowna and Victoria, is scheduled to open on June 5. In a statement posted on its website on March 25, it said it “continues to monitor” the situation . . . “while preparing for the upcoming season.” . . . The league’s other 10 teams are in Oregon and Washington state. . . .

Andy Dunn, the president of the Vancouver Canadians, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that their season is “in a holding pattern.” The Canadians, who play in the eight-team single-A Northwest League, are an affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays. Vancouver’s season is scheduled to open on June 17. Dunn also told Ewen that the Canadians have plans in place for a “full season, a half season or no season.” . . . Ewen’s story is right here.


The Thought for the Day, thanks to Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with this one from Will Rogers: “Things will get better — despite our efforts to improve them.”


Barry Petrachenko’s run as the chief executive officer of BC Hockey is over. The organization has revealed that he was done on Monday. . . . A new CEO is expected to be named before the next hockey season starts. In the meantime, Jeremy Ainsworth, the chief program officer, and CFO Jen Cheeseman are in charge. . . . Petrachenko had been the CEO since March 2000.


Hands


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings have added Lukáš Lomicky as their associate coach. He spent the past three seasons with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, moving from assistant coach to associate coach to head coach. He also has worked as video coach for the Czech team at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . In Prince George, he will work with general manager Mike Hawes and head coach Alex Evin.

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Ryan Hollweg has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as the associate coach. He will work alongside Dan Cioffi, who signed on as assistant general manager and head coach earlier this month. . . . Hollweg, 36, is from Downey, Calif. He is a former BCHL player who went on to play for the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers (1999-2004). He also got into 228 NHL games, playing with the New York Rangers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes, before concluding his playing career with HC Skoda Plzen in the Czech Extraliga in 2018. . . . He has been an associate coach with the North West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. . . . The Express has been rebuilding its coaching staff since losing Jason Fortier, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, when they couldn’t agree on a new contract.



The Summerland Steam of the junior B Kootenay International Junior B Hockey League announced Tuesday that Ken Karpuk won’t be returning as head coach. . . . Karpuk was the head coach for one season, having replaced John DePourcq, who resigned on May 6, 2019. . . .


Bacon

Vegas franchise has WHL off-ice flavour . . . WHLers brought golden touch to Golden Knights . . . Next up: Stanley Cup final

If you’ve stopped off at this site, it means you are a hockey fan. That being the case, I hope you are enjoying the story being written by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights.

On May 28, the Golden Knights, who are finishing up their first season, will begin play in the best-of-seven Stanley Cup final.

We all know that the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup since 1967, and that the Columbus Blue Jackets, who have been with us since 2000-01, have yet to win a VegasGKplayoff series. We could go on and on, but you get the point.

Yes, this is quite a story. In fact, it just may be the greatest story in team sports in my lifetime.

I often wonder how many professional athletes haven’t been able to enjoy much in the way of success because they never were able to get themselves into the right place at the time. Now I wonder how much of the Golden Knights’ success is due to so many players being able to be in the right place at the right time.

And who is responsible for putting those players into this situation?

When the final chapter is written on the Golden Knights’ first season, there definitely will be a WHL slant to it. Yes, there are a number of men with WHL ties working off the ice with Vegas, mostly in areas of player personnel and scouting.

What follows is a look at some of those with WHL ties, and you know they’re enjoying this run:

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Kelly McCrimmon, executive vice-president and assistant GM — McCrimmon, 57, knows hockey and he knows business, that’s why he’s such a good fit with Vegas. Under his ownership, the Brandon Wheat Kings became one of the CHL’s most-respected franchises. . . . While running the Wheat Kings, McCrimmon earned an MBA from Queen’s U in Kingston, Ont. . . . He came awfully close to joining the Toronto Maple Leafs as an assistant GM over the summer of 2015, but stayed with his Wheat Kings because he had put together a roster aiming at the WHL’s 2016 championship, which Brandon won. . . . He joined Vegas that summer. . . . Did you know: After playing two seasons (1978-80) with the Wheat Kings, McCrimmon went on to the U of Michigan, where he played four seasons and was the Wolverines’ captain in the last one (1983-84).

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Murray Craven, senior vice-president — Craven, 53, played four seasons (1980-84) with his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers. He then went on to play 1,071 NHL games, spending time with Detroit, Philadelphia, Hartford, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose. . . . Craven was named the Golden Knights’ senior vice-president on Aug. 18, 2016, after spending two years as an advisor to owner Bill Foley. . . . Craven and Foley were neighbours on Whitefish Lake in Montana and played golf together. . . . Craven oversaw such things as designing the dressing rooms in T-Mobile Arena and the building of the Golden Knights’ practice facility, and he also has done some pro scouting. . . . Did you know: Vegas GM George McPhee was an assistant GM in Vancouver when Craven played for the Canucks.

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Vaughn Karpan, director of player personnel — Karpan, 56, played 26 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings in 1979-80 — Kelly McCrimmon was a teammate — but is best known for playing four seasons with Canada’s national team. These days, he is widely respected as one of the premier talent evaluators in the game. . . . He scouted for Winnipeg/Phoenix/Arizona for 13 seasons (1992-2005), and was the director of amateur scouting for the last six of those. Karpan then spent 11 seasons with Montreal, working as an amateur scout (2005-10) before transitioning to pro scout (2010-15) and then director of professional scouting (2015-16). . . . He signed on with the Golden Knights and spent the past two seasons scouting the professional ranks. . . . This is the man with the golden eyes and an incredible feel for the game. Yes, you can bet that he had a whole lot to do with putting together the roster that is about to play for the Stanley Cup. . . . Did you know: Karpan represented Canada at two Olympic Winter Games — 1984 and 1988.

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Bob Lowes, assistant director of player personnel — Lowes, 55, played with the Prince Albert Raiders and Regina Pats (1982-84), captaining the Pats in his final season. He spent nine seasons (1992-2001) as the head coach of Kelly McCrimmon’s Brandon Wheat Kings and three with the Pats (2001-04). . . . From 2006-16, he scouted for the NHL’s Ottawa Senators, serving as director of amateur scouting for the last two of those. . . . Like Karpan, Lowes spent 2016-17 doing pro scouting for Vegas. . . . Did you know: When Lowes was inducted into the U of Manitoba Bisons Hockey Hall of Fame in February, he was introduced by McCrimmon.

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Erin Ginnell, amateur scout — Ginnell, 49, played for five teams over two WHL seasons (1985-87). He skated for the New Westminster Bruins, Calgary Wranglers, Seattle Thunderbirds, Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos. . . . He has been an NHL amateur scout since 2000-01, starting with the Columbus Blue Jackets for two seasons and one with the Colorado Avalanche. He was with the Florida Panthers for 13 seasons (2003-16), the last five as director of amateur scouting. He lost his job when the tall foreheads in Florida chose to clean house. (The Panthers, who haven’t won a playoff series since the spring of 1996, also fired Scott Luce, who had been the director of amateur scouting for eight seasons, the director of scouting for five and the director of player personnel for one. He now is the Golden Knights’ director of amateur scouting.) . . . Ginnell is the son of the late Pat Ginnell, who was a legendary coach, and the father of Kootenay Ice F Brad Ginnell. . . . Did you know: Following the crash of the Swift Current Broncos’ bus on Dec. 30, 1986, in which four players died, Erin was one of the players acquired by the Broncos to help get them through that season.

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Bruno Campese, amateur scout — Campese, 54, was a goaltender who played one season (1982-83) with the Portland Winter Hawks, who won the 1983 Memorial Cup. However, the Winter Hawks added G Mike Vernon from the Calgary Wranglers — teams could add a goaltender from another team back in the day — and Campese saw only 40 minutes of playing time. . . . He also played one season (1983-84) with the Kelowna Wings. . . . Campese spent one-plus seasons as the GM/head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, before stepping aside as coach. He then spent three seasons (2012-15) as the GM. . . . This is his first NHL scouting gig. . . . Did you know: Campese played in the 1994 Olympic Winter Games, as well as the 1993, 1994 and 1995 IIHF World Championship tournaments, with the Italian national team. He has dual Canadian/Italian citizenship.

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Kelly Kisio, pro scout — Kisio, 58, played two seasons with the Calgary Wranglers (1978-80) before going on to a lengthy pro career that ended after two seasons (1993-95) with the Calgary Flames. . . . He then spent 21 more seasons in the Flames’ organization, the last 18 of those with the Hitmen. At various times, he was the general manager, head coach, executive vice-president of hockey operations and, for the last three of those seasons, the president of hockey operations. Yes, it was a surprise to some that the Flames didn’t move him to the NHL side of things before losing him to Vegas. . . . His son, Brent, is the head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Did you know: Kelly played for the Swiss club HC Davos in 1982-83. In his second-last game there, Kisio recorded eight goals and two assists in a 19-7 victory over HC Lugano. Three days later, he joined the Detroit Red Wings.

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Jim McKenzie, pro scout — McKenzie, 48, played two WHL seasons (1986-88) with the Moose Jaw Warriors and one with the Victoria Cougars. He totalled 21 goals in 197 regular-season games before going on to an NHL career that featured 880 games, 48 goals and 1,739 penalty minutes. . . . He has a Stanley Cup ring from the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils. . . . In the NHL, he played for Hartford, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Winnipeg, Phoenix, Anaheim, Washington, New Jersey and Nashville. . . . He joined the NHL’s Florida Panthers as a pro scout in 2013-14 and spent three seasons there. . . .  Did you know: McKenzie’s hometown is Gull Lake, Sask., which also is the hometown of Roger Aldag, perhaps the greatest offensive lineman in the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ history.

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Ryan McGill, assistant coach — McGill, 49, played in the WHL with the Lethbridge Broncos, Swift Current Broncos and Medicine Hat Tigers (1985-89). . . . He won a Memorial Cup with the 1987-88 Tigers. . . . McGill’s playing career included 151 NHL games but was cut short by an eye injury. . . . He coached in the WHL with the Edmonton Ice and Kootenay Ice. McGill guided Kootenay to the 2002 Memorial Cup title. . . . He also has coached in the AHL and was on the Calgary Flames’ staff for two seasons (2009-11). . . . Before joining Vegas, McGill spent two seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He was the OHL and CHL coach of the year for 2016-17. . . . Did you know: McGill has previous Knights coaching experience, having spent two seasons (2005-07) as the head coach of the AHL’s Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights.

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Mike Kelly, assistant coach — Kelly, 58, spent one season (2003-04) in the WHL, as the Brandon Wheat Kings’ head coach. He was fired by Kelly McCrimmon on March 1, 2004, and McCrimmon, the general manager, took over as head coach. . . . Kelly also has coached in the OHL, QMJHL and the Canadian university ranks. He also worked as an assistant coach in the NHL, with the Vancouver Canucks (2006-08) and Florida Panthers. He was in his third season with the Panthers when he was fired on Nov. 27, 2016. At the same time, the Panthers dumped head coach Gerard Gallant, who now is the Golden Knights’ head coach. . . . Did you know: Kelly worked as an assistant coach under Gallant with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs (2010-12). They won the 2011 Memorial Cup.

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Ryan Craig, assistant coach — Craig, 36, played five seasons (1998-03) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and was the captain for the last two of those seasons. Obviously, he is well-connected with Kelly McCrimmon. . . . Craig’s pro career included 198 NHL games and 711 in the AHL, where he won a championship with the 2015-16 Lake Erie Monsters. . . . He retired after the 2016-17 season and was hired by the Golden Knights. . . . Did you know: Craig captained four AHL franchises — the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Norfolk Admirals, Springfield Falcons, and Lake Erie/Cleveland Monsters.

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Shane Hnidy, TV analyst — Hnidy, 42, split five WHL seasons — and 327 games — between the Swift Current Broncos and Prince Albert Raiders. A defenceman, he went on to a pro career that included 550 regular-season NHL games, along with stints in the ECHL, AHL and IHL. . . . Hnidy had been part of the Winnipeg Jets’ broadcast crew for six seasons before moving to Vegas. . . . Did you know: Hnidy won a Stanley Cup with the 2010-11 Boston Bruins, getting into three regular-season games and three more in the playoffs. He retired following that season.