Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


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D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


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It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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

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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.


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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).