Cozens to have ‘procedure’ on thumb. . . . Hamblin’s knee injury not serious. . . . Saskatchewan all atwitter over new Gainer


MacBeth

F Andrew Clark (Brandon, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Langenthal (Switzerland, Swiss League). Last season, in 52 games with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 49 assists. He led the league in assists and was tied for the lead in points. . . .

D Juraj Valach (Tri-City, Vancouver, Regina, Red Deer, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 44 games with with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and five assists. . . .

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a two-year contract with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 35 games. . . .

F Colton Gillies (Saskatoon, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal and four assists in 35 games. . . .

F Mark McNeill (Prince Albert, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 56 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had eight goals and 17 assists. . . .

F David Rutherford (Vancouver, Spokane, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite), he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 54 games.


ThisThat

F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes suffered an injury to his left thumb during the Buffalo Sabres’ development camp on Saturday. He absorbed a hip check — it was a clean hit — and in trying to soften the landing, he put out his left hand, only to be injured when he landed awkwardly. . . . The above tweet from the Sabres came one day after Cozens was seen by a specialist. . . . While the thumb wasn’t broken in the mishap, it appears to have been dislocated, so he will undergo a ‘procedure’ today. . . . The Sabres selected Cozens with the seventh-overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft.


Guy Flaming, the owner, operator and host of The Pipeline Show (patreon.com/thepipelineshow), asked fans on Twitter the other day: “If there was ONE thing that you could change/add/remove from the Canadian Hockey League, what would it be and why?”

Some responses:

“I’d add another OA player to teams. Improves the overall hockey fans get to watch and puts a player who’s not quite ready for major junior back in midget. Improving the on-ice competition also improves development of all players.”

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“More imports. With the U.S. and Euro junior leagues catching up to the CHL in quality, while also allowing players to keep NCAA eligibility, the CHL needs to cut into that. One way would be increasing imports to 4 or 5 up from 2. Cuts into European junior League talent.”

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“A way better TV deal with regional and national broadcasts.”

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“An online streaming service, where fans across Canada pay $60 a year to get any regular-season game of any team and then $30 for the playoffs, regulate the streams so they are good quality and call it a day.”

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“WHL should change the bantam draft age from 15 to 16. Makes the draft more entertaining for the average fan because there will be a chance for the players to play immediately, and it wouldn’t be as much of a crapshoot for the teams.”

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“Fighting. There is no need for teenagers be fighting in the CHL. Too many are paying the price with their health both now and down the road.  Really can anyone give a valid reason as to why teens are fighting in the CHL? Everyone else is banning it; time for the CHL to get rid of it.”

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“Memorial Cup hosted by a U.S. team.”

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“I’d add a Canadian U-17 team that would play games in all three major junior leagues and be our team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. I love the USA hockey model in the USHL with U-18 and U-17 teams.”

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“Lighten the schedule a little. More time for skills development practice. More time for workouts and recovery. More time for personal time, mental health.”

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Flaming also tweeted that he is preparing to interview Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, for an upcoming show. Perhaps Flaming could ask the WHL commish about a regular-season schedule that has the Portland Winterhawks and Prince George Cougars playing each other four times in six days. Seriously! They will meet Dec. 3 and 4 in Portland, then head north and go at it in Prince George on Dec. 7 and 8. . . . The WHL schedule always seems to have its share of quirks, but methinks it will be tough to top this one.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.


You may have read here about F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers suffering a dislocated kneecap while attending the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp last week. . . . It turns out that the injury isn’t as bad as it originally appeared. . . . He told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that “the pain was horrible.” . . . And then it was over. Just like that. . . . “Once they stretchered me off,” he told McCracken, “just as we got to the room we kind of hit a bump and it popped back in, and it was basically instant relief,” said Hamblin. “It went from an unbearable pain to nothing in an instant.” . . . Hamblin will undergo surgery, albeit minor, to remove a piece of cartilage that was revealed to be loose during an MRI. . . . Hamblin had 33 goals and 44 assists in 67 regular-season games last season. The Tigers’ captain each of the previous two seasons, Hamblin is prepping for his fifth season in Medicine Hat. . . . McCracken’s complete story is right here.


The gang at capfriendly.com reports that Day 1 of NHL free-agent frenzy resulted in the signings of 125 contracts covering 239 years with a total cap hit of $218,986,001. The total contract dollars involved were $704,499,000. . . . On Tuesday, which was Day 2, the totals were 10 signings covering 19 years, with a total cap hit of $8,509,167, and total dollars of $17,525,000. . . .

Meanwhile, the first day of NBA free agency was Sunday. Teams promptly committed more than $3 billion to 45 players.


Geoff Grimwood has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Provincial Court in Kelowna, claiming that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors owe him $29,166, plus interest, after he was fired late last season. . . . You may remember that Grimwood was the team’s interim general manager and head coach when he was fired early in the season, only to be rehired when the players chose not to practice and went on a hike instead. Grimwood was rehired after the boycott, but was fired again on Jan. 28 by owner Kim Dobranski. . . . Wayne Moore of castanet.net has more right here. . . . Grimwood now is the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders.


Matt Samson, the general manager of the junior B North Vancouver Wolf Pack, also will be the head coach in 2019-20. Samson stepped in as an assistant coach during last season and helped the club win the Pacific Junior Hockey League championship. . . . Samson takes over from Bayne Koen, who left after five years and now is the head coach of the bantam prep White team at Delta Hockey Academy. He also is the director of player development with the PJHL’s White Rock Whalers.


ICYMI, the Saskatchewan Roughriders throttled the visiting Toronto Argonauts on Monday evening, improving their CFL record to 1-2. You would think that the Roughriders having won their home-opener would be cause for excitement in Saskatchewan, but you would be wrong. Instead, football fans are confused/angered/upset/dismayed/up in arms (pick one, or insert your own) over the new-look Gainer. It seems that Gainer spent a chunk of his off-season at the Gopher Spa and came back with a brand new look. . . . There’s more right here.


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WHL asks players to opt out of lawsuit. . . . Yes, Matvichuk wants to keep coaching. . . . Blades sign three 2019 draft picks

MacBeth

D Nick Ross (Regina, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and 31 assists in 52 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) has signed a one-year contract with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 21 assists in 54 games. . . .

F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had 20 goals and 25 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Gilbert Brulé (Vancouver, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia, KHL), he had seven goals and 15 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Clint Filbrandt (Tri-City, Kootenay, 2012-14) has signed a one-year contract with DEAC Debrecen (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with U of Lethbridge (USports, Canada West), he had two goals and five assists in 25 games. . . .

F Calder Brooks (Calgary, Prince Albert, Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with St. Mary’s U (USports, Atlantic University Sport), he had six goals and 15 assists in 29 games. He also had three goals and one assist in three games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL). . . .

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has signed a one-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and 23 assists in 48 games. He was third on his team in points. . . .

F Milan Jurík (Prince Albert, 2006-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus). An alternate captain, he had six goals and 17 assists in 42 games this season. . . .

F Brendan Shinnimin (Tri-City, 2007-12) has signed a two-year contract extension with Växjö Lakers (Sweden, SHL). This season, he had 17 goals and 16 assists in 47 games. He tied for the team lead in goals and points. . . .

F Marek Kalus (Spokane, Brandon, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He led the team in goals and points.


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Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, reported Tuesday that the WHL “is asking current and former players to opt out of a class-action minimum-wage lawsuit against the league, suggesting that the future of amateur sports in Canada is at risk. The WHL shared its message in an e-bulletin that was sent Tuesday by email to a distribution list that includes current and former players. The group email was obtained by TSN.” . . . Westhead’s complete story is right here.


It began with a report in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that had Richard Matvichuk, the former head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars, as a candidate for the head-coaching position with the ECHL’s Komets.

Matvichuk wasn’t the favourite, reported Justin A. Cohn, but he was believed to be in the chase.

Then came a rumour that, no, Matvichuk didn’t want to coach, and that he would stay in Prince George and get involved with minor hockey.

Well, it turns out that Matvichuk, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, isn’t through with coaching. At least, he hopes he isn’t.

As he told Taking Note: “Yes, I want to coach.”

And why shouldn’t he?

A defenceman, Matvichuk played three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 796 regular-season NHL games and another 123 in the playoffs. His name is on the Stanley Cup (Dallas Stars, 1998-99).

His coaching career includes two seasons as assistant GM/assistant coach with the Texas-based Allen Americans, who then were in the CHL. He then spent two seasons (2014-16) as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. He was the ECHL’s coach of the year in the second of those seasons.

Matvichuk brought that track record to the Cougars, and he guided them to first place in the B.C. Division with a franchise-record 45 victories in his first season. That marked the first time the franchise had won a WHL banner.

But the Cougars went all-in that season, then were upset in six games by the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the playoffs.

The Cougars spent the past two seasons trying to get back on track, as often happens to teams that try to seize the moment by going all-in.

General manager Mark Lamb, who was nearing the end of his first season with the Cougars, fired Matvichuk with 16 games remaining this season. Matvichuk’s three-year contract was to have expired following the season.

At the time, the Cougars were 16-30-6 and on an 11-game losing skid. Lamb stepped in as head coach and the slump reached a franchise-record 17 games before it finally ended. The Cougars went 3-11-2 under Lamb to finish at 19-41-8 and out of the playoffs.

During the season, the Cougars’ ownership, having surveyed the damage, reached the conclusion that it would never again go all-in, that the price to be paid just isn’t worth it because, as they found out, there aren’t any guarantees.

It also has to be pointed out that the Cougars’ 2018-19 season, at least in terms of grabbing a playoff spot, was done in by perhaps the worst stretch of scheduling in WHL history.

The Cougars were 11-14-3 in December when they headed into an absolutely bizarre 11-game road trip that was broken up by the Christmas break and included three separate treks into the U.S. Division.

Here’s a bit of what I wrote in February:
“If you’re wondering why things went south in Prince George this season, it may have had something to do with the schedule. As bad as 16-30-6 may sound now, the Cougars were 11-14-3 as they began an insane 11-game road trip that was interrupted by the Christmas break and included three separate jaunts into the U.S. Division. They went 3-8-0 on that trip, came home and beat Kelowna twice, and are 0-8-3 since those victories.

“Team management has since gone on the record as saying it will never again accept such goofy scheduling.”

The Cougars split with the visiting Victoria Royals on Dec. 1 and 2, then didn’t play at home again until Jan. 11 and 12 when they swept Kelowna.

It’s no wonder that Matvichuk doesn’t feel that he is done with coaching.


The WHL will have three of its coaches working benches during the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in November. . . . Michael Dyck, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named by Hockey Canada as head coach of Team Canada White. . . . Ryan Marsh, the associate coach with the Saskatoon Blades, will be an assistant coach alongside Dyck. . . . Steve O’Rourke, an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars, is to be an assistant coach on Team Canada Red. . . . The tournament is to be held in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed three 2019 bantam draft selections to WHL contracts. . . . F Brandon Lisowsky, from Coquitlam, B.C., was taken in the first round, ninth overall. He is the eighth of the 22 first-round selections to sign a WHL contract. This season, Lisowsky had 61 goals and 48 assists in 53 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. . . . F Hayden Smith, from Kamloops, was selected in the second round. He had 24 goals and 23 assists in 30 games with the Yale Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . G Ethan Chadwick, from Saskatoon, was a third-round pick. He had a 2.83 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 22 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions.

——

The Regina Pats have signed D Layton Feist to a WHL contract. Feist, from Coldstream, B.C., was selected in the first round, 17th overall, of the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had eight goals and 14 assists in 20 games with the OMAHA (Okanagan Mainline Amateur Hockey Association) North Zone Kings. . . . His older brother, Tyson, is a defenceman with the Pats.

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Brayden Boehm to a WHL contract.  He was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Nanaimo, he had 16 goals and 24 in 30 games with the Delta Hockey Academy’s prep green team this season.

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The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Caleb Wyrostok to a WHL contract. From Medicine Hat, he was a ninth-round selection by the Broncos in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . Wyrostok, 16, played this season for the Northern Alberta X-Treme elite 15 team, putting up 20 goals and 15 assists in 30 games.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have signed Geoff Grimwood as their new general manager and head coach. Grimwood, from Victoria, spent 2018-19 as the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors. Prior to that, he was the GM and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers for three seasons.


Bob Beatty, a veteran junior A coach, has signed on with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons as an associate coach. For the past two seasons, Beatty has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Shawnigan Lake, B.C., School. In Fort McMurray, Beatty will be working alongside Dave Dupas, who is preparing for his first season as general manager and head coach.


Pierre-Paul Lamoureux is the new head coach of the USHL’s Fargo Force. A native of Grand Forks, N.D., he played three seasons (2004-07) with the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels and worked as their associate coach in 2016-17. Lamoureux was the Force’s associate head coach for the past two seasons. . . . Lamoureux, 31, will be the youngest head coach in the league. He takes over from Cary Eades, who stays on as general manager and president of hockey operations.


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Ice situation should be addressed today; news conference scheduled for Cranbrook . . . Brandon adds goalie, forward


MacBeth

F Dominic Zwerger (Spokane, Everett, 2013-17) signed a contract extension with Ambrì-Piotta (Switzerland, NL A) through the 2021-22 season. The contract extension has an NHL exit clause after the 2020-21 season. This season, an alternate captain, he has 16 goals and 20 assists in 38 games.


ThisThat

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, and the owners of the Kootenay Ice are to address the media in Cranbrook this morning at 10:30.

The news conference, which will include Ice owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell, is to be held at the team’s office in Western Financial Place.

At the same time, the Winnipeg Free Press has reported that the Ice’s owners “have Kootenaynewscheduled a Tuesday afternoon news conference to announce they are moving their franchise to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season . . .”

The Free Press didn’t indicate a time or a site for that news conference, but Tuesday is expected to be the coldest day of this winter in Winnipeg, with a high of -29 C.

The news conferences are being held on Day 41 of the Kootenay Kountdown — it has been 41 days since Robison appeared with Dean Millard on Edmonton radio station TSN 1260 and said there would be an announcement regarding the Ice “very soon.”

The Ice, at 10-32-8, has the WHL’s second-poorest record and won’t be in the playoffs for a second straight season under the ownership of Fettes and Cockell, who purchased the franchise from the Chynoweth family prior to the 2017-18 season. This will be the fifth straight season out of the playoffs for the Ice.

Last season, the Ice finished 27-38-7, missing a playoff spot by 16 points.

The Ice began life in 1996 as the Edmonton Ice, but left the Alberta capital for Cranbrook after two seasons. In its 21 seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice won three WHL championships (2011, 2002, 2000) and one Memorial Cup, that in 2002.

The Ice will be first franchise to have won a Memorial Cup to relocate since the QMJHL’s Granby Predateurs. They won the 1996 Memorial Cup and moved to Sydney, N.S., in 1997 where they now are the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

The last WHL relocation occurred following the 2010-11 season when the Chilliwack Bruins moved to Victoria where they now operate as the Royals.

This season, the Ice has the lowest announced average attendance in the 22-team WHL, at 2,218. The Ice has nine home games remaining, starting Friday against the Swift Current Broncos, the only team in the WHL with a poorer record.

Last season, the average for 36 home games was 2,442, up from 1,754 in 2016-17, the final season under the ownership of the Chynoweth family.

The Ice has been playing in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, which opened in 2001. In its first two seasons in Cranbrook, the Ice played in that city’s Memorial Arena.

In its first season in the new arena, the Ice’s announced average attendance was 3,635, which remains the single-season high.

That was one of seven seasons in which that figure was north of 3,000, somewhere it hasn’t been since 2008-09 (3,071).

The relocated Ice is expected to spend a couple of seasons playing in the 1,400-seat Wayne Fleming Arena at the U of Manitoba while it waits for its permanent home to be built. It is expected that some work will be done to freshen up that facility and that some seats will be added.

If you click right here and scroll down to the last two photos, you will see a couple of pictures from the interior of the Wayne Fleming Arena as it now stands.

The expected relocation announcement comes just days before WHL governors and general managers travel to Las Vegas, as they do every year on Super Bowl weekend, for meetings on Monday and Tuesday.

It’s too bad that they couldn’t have moved those meetings to Cranbrook this time . . . you know, just to thank the businesses and fans of the area for 21 seasons of support.


With G Jiri Patera (leg) on the shelf, the Brandon Wheat Kings have added G Connor BrandonWKregularUngar, who turned 17 on Jan. 12, to their roster. He had been with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . Ungar will back up freshman Ethan Kruger, who is 5-6-2, 3.45, .893. . . . Ungar, who began the season with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team, made two earlier appearances with the Wheat Kings, going 0-1-0, 3.09, .892 in 78 minutes. . . . The Wheat Kings open a four-game trip into the Central Division tonight in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. . . .

The Wheat Kings also have added F Jake Chiasson, 15, to their roster. He has been playing at the Yale Hockey Academy in his hometown of Abbotsford, B.C. Chiasson was the 15th overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, with Yale’s prep team, he has 22 goals and 36 assists in 29 games.


The OHL’s Owen Sound Attack fired head coach Todd Gill on Monday. Dale DeGray, the Attack’s general manager, announced that assistant coach Alan Letang has taken over as interim head coach, with Jordan Hill now the lone assistant coach. . . . The Attack was 61-42-12 under Gill, who was in his second season as head coach. . . . This season, the Attack is 23-20-4, and in fifth place in the 10-team Western Conference.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors fired head coach Geoff Grimwood on Monday and WestKelownanamed Brandon West as their general manager and head coach. . . . You may recall that this is the second time this season that Warriors owner Kim Dobranski has fired Grimwood. . . . Grimwood was named interim head coach iafter Rylan Ferster, the veteran GM and head coach, suddenly resigned on Aug. 21. . . . Three weeks later, Dobranski fired Grimwood, but reinstated him after the players rebelled, leaving the ice during one practice and going for a hike, rather than practise, the next day. . . . Grimwood had been hired on July 3 as associate coach and assistant GM. . . . West, who is from Kelowna, is a veteran BCHL coach. He was in his third season as head coach of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks when he was fired on Nov. 9, 2016. He spent last season as the head coach of the Surrey Eagles, but that ended in August through one of those mutual parting of the ways. This season, he had been with the Penticton Vees, as an assistant coach, since Oct. 15. . . . The Warriors are 25-21-1 and in fourth place in the Interior Division. They have clinched a playoff spot.


The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have fired assistant coach Gavin Brandl and replaced him with Devin Windle, a former general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. . . . Windle was in his third season as the Millionaires’ GM and head coach when he was fired on Nov. 29. He spent two seasons (2014-16) as an assistant coach in Nipawin, working with Doug Johnson, the Hawks’ general manager and head coach. . . . Brandl was in his first season with Nipawin.


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Warriors overcome turbulence for OT victory . . .Grandpa Delorme will be all smiles . . . Glen brothers buy BCHL franchise


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You can bet there was happy chatter as the West Kelowna Warriors boarded their bus for the trip back home from Trail on Friday night.

After a week that included a firing, a reinstatement and players choosing not to practice, WestKelownathe Warriors opened the BCHL regular season with a 4-3 OT victory over the Smoke Eaters before an announced crowd of 2,195 in Cominco Arena.

The Warriors scored the game’s last three goals, giving GM/head coach Geoff Grimwood his first victory when D Wyatt Head, a sophomore from Kelowna, scored at 2:29 of extra time.

Grimwood, then the interim GM and head coach, had been dismissed by majority owner Kim Dobranski on Monday night. However, the players rebelled, BCHL commissioner Chris Hebb intervened, and Grimwood was reinstated, without the interim part of his title, on Thursday morning.

The teams will meet again tonight (Saturday) at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna.


I am humbled by the outpouring of support that followed The Happening — this one didn’t feature Mark Wahlberg — in this neighbourhood on Thursday night.

Here is a small sampling . . .

You know, I really am trying to cut back. I have a stack of books here that I want to read, and I have in my mind at least one more book that I want to get written.

But stuff like this keeps getting in the way, and when I see the response to something like this, well, it’s hard to walk away completely. However, as time goes on, you may notice that I take some days off — like Saturdays — from posting here.

In the meantime, keep on coming back and happy reading.



The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Haydn Delorme, 18, to a WHL contract. From Port Moody, B.C., he was a training camp invitee after playing last season with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. He had six goals and 10 assists in 53 games. . . . He is a grandson to former WHLer Ron Delorme, the NHL-Vancouver Canucks’ chief amateur scout who has been with that organization for more than 20 years. He also was inducted in the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame earlier this summer.


The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, a franchise that had been owned and operated for 26 years by VernonDr. Duncan Wray and family, have been sold. Dr. Wray died on Jan. 11; his widow, Libby, made the decision to sell the franchise. . . . The new owners are brothers John and Tom Glen. John, from Edmonton, used to scout for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants; Tom lives in Regina. They own car dealerships in Calgary and Vancouver. . . . “This club was something my husband was very passionate about and we wanted to make the right decision going forward,” Mrs. Wray said in a news release. “The Glens will be excellent owners and very committed to the City of Vernon and the legacy which Duncan created. I truly believe the club is in great hands.” . . . Kevin Mitchell of the Vernon Morning Star has more right here.


The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders announced Thursday that general manager and SwanValleyhead coach Taurean White had “resigned from his position . . . effective immediately.” . . . No reason was provided for his departure. . . . Darren Webster was named interim GM/head coach. Webster, who is from Swan River, had been the club’s assistant coach and head scout. . . . White, who was preparing for his second season with the Stampeders, is from Nepean, Ont. Before joining the Stampeders, he had been the director of hockey operations and head coach with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Kingston Voyageurs. . . . Last season, the Stampeders finished 28-25-7, good for the MJHL’s eighth and final playoff spot. They were swept in the first round by the eventual-champion Steinbach Pistons.


Have you ever watched a trophy presentation and wondered what happens to the carpet on which the participants are standing?

What about the carpet on which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin were standing during the Stanley Cup presentation last spring?

Well, Dickson Liong, a long-time friend of Taking Note, has the answer to the latter question. He owns it. Oh, and he also owns the sweaty t-shirt that Ovechkin wore during that night’s game. Yes, he does!

That story is right here.


Here by request is something that I posted on Taking Note some time in the past; apologies for not thinking of it sooner but better late than never, one supposes. It deals with NCAA eligibility and comes from collegehockeyinc.com.

“NCAA student-athletes are amateurs and cannot have played for a professional sports team prior to enrolment. In hockey, specifically, this means that anyone who signs a contract with or plays for a team in the Canadian Hockey League (OHL, QMJHL or WHL) forfeits their NCAA eligibility.

“The NCAA Eligibility Center will certify each prospective student-athlete’s amateur status prior to clearing them for competition at the Division I level.

“What You Need to Do:

“Do not accept payment or gifts based upon your ability as a hockey player.

“Do not sign a contract or play a game (even an exhibition game) for a professional team, including those in the CHL.

“You may attend a camp with a professional team for up to 48 hours if they are covering expenses or longer if you cover all expenses.

“Junior, prep or high school teams may cover some or all of your costs to play for them, as long as they are actual and necessary expenses.”

There is more on all of this right here.


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 has had to adjust her goal because she has gone over the original one, thanks to many of you — you are able to do so right here.


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BCHL extinguishes fire in West Kelowna . . . Grimwood back as GM/head coach . . . Americans run afoul of WHL sheriff

MacBeth

D Martin Gernát (Edmonton, 2011-13) signed a contract through the end of November with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had two assists in three games with Prešov (Slovakia, 1. Liga), was pointless in two games with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), and had two goals and two assists in 11 games with Lausanne (Switzerland, NL A).


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Here’s hoping that the circus pulled out of West Kelowna on Thursday morning and that the Warriors now are able to get on with their BCHL regular season that is scheduled to open against the Smoke Eaters in Trail tonight (Friday).

Kim Dobranski, the Warriors’ beleaguered majority owner, appeared before the media WestKelownaon Thursday morning, read from a prepared statement and chose not to answer questions.

In brief, Rylan Ferster, who had been the general manager and head coach for six seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had led the Warriors to the national junior A championship in 2016.

In a news release announcing Ferster’s departure, the Warriors revealed that Geoff Grimwood, who had been assistant GM and associate coach, had been named interim GM/head coach.

That lasted until Monday night when Dobranski fired Grimwood. On Tuesday, it became known that Jason Beckett, who had been coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, would be the next head coach.

Except that this is where the players got involved.

First, they skated off the ice during a Tuesday practice and didn’t return.

On Wednesday, they decided not to practise, choosing instead to go on a players-only hike.

By Wednesday night, the BCHL — commissioner Chris Hebb and the board of governors — was involved. A source familiar with the situation told Taking Note on Wednesday that the league had taken over the franchise, at least for now, and that a contract was being drawn up with Grimwood’s name on it.

By Thursday morning, Dobranski said he had seen the light.

In addressing the assembled media, Dobranski read:

“Mr. Grimwood in his short time here had a profound impact on these players. In my search to fill the big shoes of Mr. Ferster, I neglected to realize that Mr. Ferster, in his final act before leaving, not only did he assemble an incredible group of young men, he placed the best person for this job right in front of me.”

That person of course is Grimwood, who will be behind the bench tonight (Friday) in Trail and for the rematch in West Kelowna on Saturday.

Dobranski continued: “I failed both as a partner in this league and as a leader of this organization to consider the emotional turmoil this could cause for these young men. However, the positive in all this is that I discovered that we have something incredibly special here. We have a group of young men that are incredibly tight, bonded like I have never seen before, and have stood together willing to face whatever consequences that this may have caused. They did this for the sole purpose of supporting each other. This was a courageous and a selfless act and I feel we have an incredible group of players here with a foundation for success.”

Dobranski and a silent partner purchased the Warriors from Mark Cheyne in August.

Grimwood also was in attendance on Thursday and, after stating how excited he was to be the general manager and head coach, he offered:

“I think what we’ve done here, with Kim, myself and the B.C. Hockey League, we just made sure everyone’s on the same page going forward. What I want for the team and the players is the same thing that Mr. Dobranski wants. We’re going to work really hard to support those 23 players.”

Hebb, who is in his first year as the BCHL’s commissioner, apparently arrived in West Kelowna sometime on Wednesday.

Doyle Potenteau of Global News reported that the BCHL later issued a statement, “saying it will work alongside Dobranski and his management staff, directing them in the near term, and that the league will remain in a supporting role as the season progresses.”

Global’s coverage is right here.

There is a story right here from castanet.net.

The Kelowna Daily Courier has a story right here.


I wish I could say that the whole mess ended with that news conference. But I’m not able to do that.

Because on Thursday afternoon, I received a tweet from an account that carried the name WarriorsBoss and the address @BossWarriors. However, the account disappeared sometime Thursday evening.

I will leave it to your imagination as to the person behind the short-lived Twitter account. It was set up in “September 2018” — maybe even on Thursday. LOL! When that message arrived, WarriorsBoss (@BossWarriors) was following one account and this was its first tweet.

While I didn’t write down the message, nor did I do a screen capture, the gist of it was that my Wednesday night post on the situation in West Kelowna, in particular the part about the BCHL having “taken over operation” of the franchise, was inaccurate. A source familiar with the situation had informed me of that earlier on Wednesday.

Anyway, I replied to WarriorsBoss:

I usually don’t respond to anonymous messages, but seeing as I am the only account you follow, you should know that someone inside the Warriors organization told me (Wednesday) night that the post was “very accurate.”

A few hours laters, WarriorsBoss fired back, calling me “a liar.”

Again, I didn’t write down the tweet, nor did I do a screen capture. I would assume that was the last tweet to be sent from that account before it disappeared. I actually laughed out loud when that message arrived. In more than 40 years of writing, I can’t recall being called a liar. Lots of other things, for sure. But never a liar.

Anyway . . . sorry to deflate your balloon, WarriorsBoss. But after reading what I posted here on Wednesday night, someone inside the Warriors organization told me, and these are the exact words: “That’s a very accurate article.”

I may be a lot of things, WarriorsBoss, but I am not a liar.

Nor am I anonymous.

Oh, and my Twitter account is very much alive.


Might this be bad news for fans of the Moose Jaw Warriors . . .


Congratulations if you had head coach Kelly Buchberger and the Tri-City Americans in the pool — they were first to run afoul of the WHL’s Department of Discipline this season.

Buchberger, in his first season as head coach, was suspended for one game after a tri-city“multiple fight situation” in a game with the Vancouver Giants on Sunday at an exhibition tournament in Everett.

The Americans also were fined $500, while Tri-City D Mitchell Brown drew a one-game sentence for “fourth fight of game.”

According to the WHL website, no one on the Giants was fined or suspended.

The game featured 142 penalty minutes, including eight fighting majors and eight game misconducts. Of course, a fight carries with it an automatic game misconduct in the exhibition season.

While Brown and seven other players received game misconducts, those penalties don’t show up in their individual statistics. For example, while Brown took 15 penalty minutes in that game — a major (5) and a game misconduct (10) — his individual stats page credits him with only five penalty minutes from that game.

What that means is that the WHL is again refusing to include all penalties in individual totals and that’s a real shame because it bastardizes the penalty statistics.


Of course, this means that Trevor’s twin brother, Darren, who now scouts for the Calgary Flames, also turned 50. Happy birthday to a pair of Memorial Cup champions!


If you’re a regular here, you will know that we’ve been following the progress being made by Stuart Kemp, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club as he Portlandrehabs from three strokes.

Here is his latest update, posted on Wednesday evening . . .

“So people hope I succeed! OK then. I went to a gym first time in ages, and with strokes I can tell you, muscles disappear fast. I was embarrassed at limited stuff before I tired out.

“However, I did 20 mins treadmill 1.5 MPH (Sounds bad but it was moving fast)
“I did 20 mins on cycle level 4
“3 reps of 12 on chest press 20 pounds
“3 reps on Tricep 50 pounds
“3 reps on Tri Extension 50 pounds
“In addition to at home curl @ 20 lbs 3 reps 12 each

“Hope I sleep tonight. But I feel good, working hard so keep positive vibes coming. Let’s get me swallowing again!

“Saw my COBRA for medical today and it’s expensive, lot more than I originally thought by almost $300 a month.

“I know you all saw GoFundMe and FB pleas for help, it’s in Portland Tribune and August Winterhawks Insider, Hoping to prove all wrong and get back to work soon.

“Please help if you can (and) invite those who may be unaware.”

He has speech therapy appointments scheduled for Sept. 7 and 11, and other appointments on Sept. 18, Sept. 19, Sept. 25, Oct. 3 and Oct. 8.

If you are able to help, the GoFundMe page 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).


ThisThat

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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Royals and Rebels make deal . . . Broncos now have brother act . . . Turbulent times for BCHL’s Warriors


MacBeth

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). He was an alternate captain. . . .

F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga), he had nine goals and eight assists in 30 games.


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The Victoria Royals have acquired F Brandon Cutler, 18, and a second-round selection in VictoriaRoyalsthe WHL’s 2019 bantam draft from the Red Deer Rebels for F Dallon Melin, 16, and a fifth-rounder in 2019. . . . Cutler, from Spruce Grove, Alta., was a ninth-round pick by the Rebels in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had six goals and five assists in 68 games with the Rebels. As a freshman, in 2016-17, he had a goal and two assists in 38 games. . . . Melin, from Camrose, Alta., has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . He had six goals and 14 assists in 27 games with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings last season. He also had one assists in three games with the AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks. . . . Victoria selected Melin in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Sam Pouliot, 18, from the Red Deer Rebels SCBroncosfor a conditional 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Pouliot had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels last season. He also got into 16 games with the BCHL’s Powell River Kings, drawing three assists. In 2016-17, he had a goal and 12 assists in 36 games with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants. . . . Pouliot joins his brother, Ryan, 20, on the Broncos’ roster. Ryan, a 20-year-old defenceman, played the previous two-plus seasons with the Kootenay Ice. The Broncos claimed him on waivers during the summer.



Steve Konowalchuk, who coached the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL’s 2017 championship, has joined the NHL’s New York Rangers as an amateur scout. . . . Konowalchuk 45, was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons. After winning the 2017 Ed Chynoweth Cup, he left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks where he spent last season as an assistant coach. . . . With the Rangers, according to a news release, Konowalchuk “will be primarily responsible for scouting amateur players in the Western Hockey League.” . . . That news release is right here.


The BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have undergone another coaching change, with Jason Beckett coming on board as the team’s third head coach since Aug. 21. . . . Rylan WestKelownaFerster, who had been the general manager and head coach for seven seasons, left the organization on Aug. 21. He had helped the Warriors win a national championship in 2016. . . . Geoff Grimwood, the assistant GM and associate head coach, was named the interim head coach on Aug. 21. However, Grimwood was dismissed on Monday night. . . . Assistant coach Matt Miller also is gone, having left on Monday, while athletic therapist Mike Bois, who had been there through four seasons, chose leave, as well. . . . Asked if he was surprised at being fired, Grimwood told Wayne Moore of castanet.net: “No, because I know the situation right now seems unstable. But I was surprised in the sense that I didn’t think they would pull the rug out on you going into the first week of the season. I thought I would have a chance to get out of the gate and see how we did. I respect that’s the owner’s choice and he has to make decisions he thinks are right. I happen to disagree with that because I think the players needed stability, and right now, it’s just not being provided.” . . . As for the players, Taking Note received an anonymous text early Tuesday afternoon, stating that they left the ice during practice and didn’t return. That later was confirmed by Moore. . . . The Warriors are scheduled to open the regular season against the Smoke Eaters in Trail on Friday night. Trail is scheduled to visit West Kelowna on Saturday night. . . . The Warriors are owned by KD Sports Ltd., which purchased the franchise in August. Kim Dobranski is the majority owner and president.

If you check out the above tweet from Bois, the Warriors’ ex-athletic therapist, you will see that a number of West Kelowna players have retweeted it and/or liked it. . . . Hmmm!


The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express have acquired the junior A playing rights to F Ethan O’Rourke, 19, who is on the roster of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos at the moment. . . . The Broncos acquired O’Rourke and a third-round pick in the 2020 WHL bantam draft from the Everett Silvertips for D Sahvan Khaira, 20, on July 30. . . . Last season, O’Rourke had five goals and nine assists in 37 games with the Prince George Cougars, then recorded a goal and three assists in 29 games with Everett. . . . The Express got O’Rourke and future considerations from the Prince George Spruce Kings for F Sam Kozlowski, 20. Kozlowski had eight goals and 22 assists in 55 games with the Express last season.


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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