Americans make coaching change . . . Love leaves Blades for Heat . . . Winterhawks dumping logo


You need a head coach . . . and you need a head coach . . . you don’t need a general manager . . . you do need a GM . . . sounds like you have a new logo. Oh, and your arena has a new name . . .

Such was life in the WHL on a busy Monday.

Bob Tory, the part-owner, governor and general manager of the Tri-City AmericansAmericans, got the day started by announcing that head coach Kelly Buchberger’s contract isn’t being renewed.

Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted what some people no doubt were thinking: “The arrival of Don Nachbaur was a sure sign a move was imminent.”

Buchberger, 54, was named the Americans’ head coach in July 2018. He replaced Mike Williamson, who had left the organization the previous month after four seasons as head coach. Buchberger had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders before joining the Americans.

Nachbaur, 62, was the Americans’ head coach for six seasons (2003-09). After spending one season and five games of another coaching in Europe, Nachbaur returned to the Americans on Feb. 18 as associate coach under Buchberger.

Nachbaur began his WHL coaching career with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1994-95. All told, he has spent 19 seasons as a WHL head coach, splitting time with the Thunderbirds, Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He is a three-time winner of the Dunc McCallum Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s coach of the year, winning once in each of his stops.

Nachbaur is the WHL’s third-winningest head coach, with 692 regular-season victories, second only to Don Hay (750) and Ken Hodge (742).

Tory has been the Americans’ GM since 2000-01 and also owns part of the franchise, along with former players Stu Barnes and Olaf Kozig, and area businessman Dennis Loman. They purchased the team from Brian Burke, Darryl Porter and Glen Sather in April 2005.

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Meanwhile, in Saskatoon, the Blades are looking for a head coach after Mitch BladesLove joined the NHL’s Calgary Flames as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Stockton Heat.

Love, 37, spent the past three seasons as the Blades’ head coach, putting up a 95-44-16 regular-season record.

Love also was an assistant coach with Canada’s last two entries in the IIHF World Junior Championship, winning gold and silver, and with Canada’s U18 team at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Love was an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips for seven seasons (2011-18) before joining the Blades as head coach.

In Stockton, Love takes over from Cail MacLean, who was added to the Flames’ coaching staff over the summer. MacLean had taken over the Heat from former Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska, who has been on the Flames’ staff for three seasons now.

The Blades reported that associate coach Ryan Marsh and goaltender coach Jeff Harvey will remain with the team, “as will all support staff.” The Blades also are looking to hire one more assistant coach.

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Also on Monday morning, Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reported that Everett“sources confirm that Dennis Williams will become the Silvertips’ full-time general manager.” Williams, who also is Everett’s head coach, had been serving as interim GM since the club parted ways with Garry Davidson.

The Silvertips made Williams’ promotion official later in the day.

Davidson had been the GM for nine seasons when the club announced on May 20 that his contract wouldn’t be renewed, citing an ongoing restructuring of hockey operations necessitated by the past two seasons.

Davidson was introduced by the Calgary Hitmen as their new director of player personnel on June 10. He replaced Dallas Thompson, who left the organization on May 26.

Williams, 41, is preparing for his fifth season as Everett’s head coach. On Feb. 12, 2020, the Silvertips signed him to an extension that runs through the 2022-23 season. On Monday, the team announced that it had signed him to a “multi-year contract extension.”

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Meanwhile, in Kamloops, the Blazers remain without a general manager Kamloopsfollowing the departure of Matt Bardsley, whose last day with them was June 30. He left the Blazers after three seasons as GM and with three years left on his contract. Bardsley and his family have returned to Portland. He now is an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers.

All signs seem to point to head coach Shaun Clouston taking on the dual role of GM/head coach in Kamloops. He spent seven seasons doing both jobs with the Medicine Hat Tigers before being replaced by Willie Desjardins prior to the 2019-20 season. Clouston, 53, then signed with the Blazers.

The process in Kamloops will have been slowed by the death of Don Moores, the organization’s president and chief operating officer. Moores, 65, died of an apparent heart attack while golfing on June 30. A celebration of life is to be held today (Tuesday), 1 p.m., at the Sandman Centre with capacity limited to 2,500.

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In Portland, the Winterhawks will hold a news conference on Wednesday morning at which they will announce the beginning of a rebrand that is going to mean a new logo.

“Portland’s hockey franchise needed a set of jerseys in 1976,” writes The Oregonian coumnist John Canzano. “The Chicago Blackhawks had a pile of used ones. Don’t know if you know this, but the Winterhawks’ biggest acquisition in that inaugural season was to accept the donation of an old set of Blackhawks’ jerseys.

The iconic Illinois Sauk Nation figure made the trip to Portland on the chest, where it’s been squatting for 45 years.”

The Winterhawks, of course, now have new owners, so things are about to change in a big, big way.

Canzano’s column is right here.

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And that brings us to Red Deer where the Rebels’ home has a new name. That RedDeerarena, which is located in Westerner Park, was named the Peavey Mart Centrium on Monday. The two parties have agreed on a five-year sponsorship deal. No financial terms were revealed. . . . The Peavey Mart Centrium is to be home to, among other things, part of the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . Peavey Industries, which has its head office in Red Deer, also becomes an “official agricultural supply partner” to Westerner Park. . . . The Centrium hadn’t had a name sponsor since a contract with Enmax expired a few years ago.


Moon


Zach Johnson tested positive before getting on a charter flight that was carrying golfers to the British Open that is to open on Thursday at Royal St. George’s. Johnson, who won the Open in 2015, will end a run of having started in 69 consecutive majors. . . . Interestingly, Johnson played in the John Deer Classic that wrapped up Sunday in Illinois. . . . Louis de Jager of South Africa, a local qualifier, also has tested positive and was forced to withdraw from the Open. . . . Among others who will be missing are Masters champ Hideki Matsuyama, who tested positive on July 2 and again since then, and two-time Masters champ Bubba Watson, who withdrew after being in close contact with someone who tested positive.


Bianca Andreescu of Canada announced on social media Monday that she won’t play tennis at the Olympic Summer Games in Tokyo. The Games are scheduled to open on July 23. . . . “I have been dreaming of representing Canada at the Olympics since I was a little girl,” she wrote, “but with all the challenges we are facing as it relates to the pandemic, I know that deep in my heart, this is the right decision to make for myself. I look forward to representing Canada in future Fed Cup ties, and competing at the 2024 Olympics in Paris.”


Island


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JUST NOTES: Dean Chynoweth, a former WHL player, GM and coach, has signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Chynoweth, 52, replaces Dave Hakstol, who left Toronto to become the first head coach of the expansion Seattle Kraken. Chynoweth had been with the Carolina Hurricanes for the previous three seasons after a season as an associate coach with the Vancouver Giants.


User

Have Rockets lost key d-man to Iles? . . . Kelowna, Seattle cut major trade. . . . Hitmen acquire Woo from Warriors. . . . Ice makes big noise in bantam draft


MacBeth

F Dylan Stanley (Tri-City, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). This season, he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 40 games. He led the team in assists and was second in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in points. . . . Stanley also was the team’s skills coach and director of player development for the Feldkirch minor hockey program this season and will continue in those roles next season. . . .

F Brett Breitkreuz (Kelowna, Edmonton, Vancouver, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Bietigheim Steelers (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had 16 goals and 17 assists in 42 games. Next season will be his 10th in Germany. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

G Chet Pickard (Tri-City, 2005-09) signed a two-year contract with Grizzlys Wolfsburg (Germany, DEL). This season, with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he was 19-4-0, 1.96, .914, with three shutouts, in 24 games. He was second in the league in GAA and sixth in save percentage. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship.


ThisThat

Part I: Some trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

I would suggest that the biggest news came from the camp of the Kelowna Rockets, and it didn’t have anything to do with a deal that was struck with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

Rather, it involved Finnish D Lassi Thomson.

In fact, there are reports that Ilves of Finland’s top pro league has a deal with Thomson that includes an option for him to stay through the 2021-22 season.

Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, had this to say in a news KelownaRocketsrelease: “We’re aware of the report that was released today. We were somewhat surprised; however, Lassi has always been under contract to Ilves as they had to release him to play for us this season. We look forward to the NHL draft (in) June. We are hopeful that whichever NHL team drafts him and his club team Ilves decides that playing for the Rockets is in his best interest.”

Hamilton also told Regan Bartel, the Rockets’ radio voice: “Once he is picked, the NHL team will have input on where he goes anyways. I think the NHL team will want to see him play in North America so they see him as much as they want. They can have their developmental people with him and have him playing on a North American ice sheet.”

Thomson, who had a one-year contract to play over here, was the Western Conference nominee as rookie of the year after a season in which he put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 games. You can bet the Rockets were looking to him to run their first PP unit as they prepare to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.

From Tampere, Finland, Thomson won’t turn 19 until Sept. 24.

At home, he played in the Ilves system for four seasons — U-16, U-18 and U-20 — before joining the Rockets.

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Meanwhile, the Rockets made a splash on draft day by cutting a major trade with the Thunderbirds. . . . Kelowna acquired D Jake Lee, F Dillon Hamaliuk and G Cole SeattleSchwebius, giving up F Conner Bruggen-Cate, the 10th-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft — the Rockets had acquired it earlier in the day from the Brandon Wheat Kings — a second-round pick in 2021 and Kelowna’s first-rounder in 2022. . . . The Rockets didn’t make the playoffs this season and are in the early days of a massive rebuild as they attempt to get competitive for a season that will end with them as the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . .

Lee, who is to turn 18 on July 13, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was the 18th-overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. This season, his second in Seattle, he put up three goals and 21 assists in 67 games. . . . Hamaliuk, who will turn 19 on Oct. 30, is from Leduc, Alta. He was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. His season was ended by injury after 31 games, as he finished with 11 goals and 15 assists. . . . Schwebius, a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is from Kelowna. This season, he was 5-8-2, 3.89, .886 in 17 games with Seattle. . . .

Schwebius, 18, leaves the Rockets with three goaltenders on their roster, joining Roman Basran, who is to turn 18 on July 26, and James Porter, 19. This season, Basra was 20-19-4, 2.79, .906 in 51 games; Porter went 8-13-4, 3.32, .899 in 30 appearances.

Bruggen-Cate, who is heading into his 20-year-old season, is from Langley, B.C. He has played three seasons in Kelowna, totalling 26 goals and 46 assists in 200 games. Kelowna selected him in the sixth round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Seattle’s 20-year-old group now includes Bruggen-Cate, F Jaxan Kaluski, Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, D Jarret Tyszka and F Matthew Wedman,


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Seattle, having dealt Schwebius to Kelowna, turned around and acquired G Blake Lyda of Edmonton from the Everett Silvertips for a third-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft. . . . That selection had originated with Everett, moving to Seattle in a Jan. 1 deal that had F Zack Andrusiak move to the Silvertips. . . . Lyda, who will turn 17 on May 21, was a fourth-round pick by Everett in the 2017 bantam draft. He was with the midget AAA Edmonton CAC Canadians, although he missed much of the season due to injury. . . . Right now, Lyda and Roddy Ross, who is to turn 19 on July 4, are the top two goaltenders on Seattle’s depth chart.


Kelowna acquired the 10th-overall pick, along with the WHL rights to D Sean Comrie, BrandonWKregularfrom Brandon for the fifth-overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Comrie, 19, is from Edmonton. The Wheat Kings selected him in the second round of the 2015 bantam draft. Comrie was a freshman this season with the U of Denver Pioneers, after playing two seasons with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints. This season, he had seven goals and 27 assists in 34 games. . . . The deal left Brandon with the fifth and sixth selections, the first time it held two top six picks since 2013 when it took F Nolan Patrick fourth overall and D Kale Clague with the sixth pick. . . . This time, the Wheat Kings took F Nate Danielson of Red Deer with the fifth selection and F Tyson Zimmer of Russell, Man., in the six hole. . . . Danielson had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Rebels this season, while Zimmer had 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games with a bantam team at the OHA in Penticton.


The Winnipeg Ice acquired the third-overall selection and D Reece Harsch, 20, from the wpgiceSaskatoon Blades for four draft picks — the ninth- and 24th-overall picks in the 2019 bantam draft, as well as a 2020 second-round pick and a fifth in 2021. . . . That ninth-overall pick and the second-round selection in 2020 originated with the Red Deer Rebels; the fifth started with the Blades and was dealt to the Ice for F Cyle McNabb in January. . . . The Ice then cut a deal with the Prince George Cougars, giving up the third-overall pick and a third in 2020 that originated with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the second-overall selection in 2019. . . . Winnipeg selected F Matt Savoie of St. Albert, Alta., with the first pick, and then took F Conor Geekie of Strathclair, Man., with the second selection. . . . Savoie has made a verbal commitment to the U of Denver Pioneers starting with the 2021-22 season. His brother, Carter, was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has committed to the Pioneers for the 2020-21 season. . . . Interestingly, the Ice recently acquired Carter’s WHL rights from the Regina Pats. . . . The Ice brought the Savoies to Winnipeg in mid-April to show them around and seriously begin their sales pitch. . . . Geekie’s father, Craig, played in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1991-94). Conor’s brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans, while another brother, Noah, was a second-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in 2015 but has chosen to pursue a career in baseball. . . . Harsch, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was acquired by the Blades from the Seattle Thunderbirds this season. He totalled four goals and 16 assists in 57 regular-season games. In three full WHL seasons he has 17 goals and 40 assists in 178 games. He was a part of the Seattle team that won the Ed Chynoweth Cup two years ago.

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In the fourth round, Winnipeg grabbed F Rieger Lorenz of Calgary. He had 11 goals and 25 assists with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary this season. . . . Lorenz has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for the 2022-23 season.

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Winnipeg also made a deal with the Tri-City Americans in which the Ice acquired F Isaac Johnson, 20. . . . Winnipeg gave up a fourth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft in the exchange. That pick originated with Spokane, moving to the Ice in a deal made in June in which D Bobby Russell went to the Chiefs. . . . From Andover, Minn., Johnson had 12 goals and 20 assists in 31 games with the Americans this season when he left the team and apparently retired. At the time, Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, told Taking Note that Johnson had retired for personal reasons. . . . In 2017-18, Johnson had 17 goals and 31 assists in 68 games with the Americans. . . . The Ice roster now includes three 20-year-olds — Johnson, F Davis Murray and D Chase Hartje.


The Kamloops Blazers had two first-round selections for the first time in franchise  Kamloops1history. They took D Mats Lindgren out of the Burnaby Winter Club with the seventh-overall selection, then picked F Connor Levis of the St. George’s Academy in Vancouver with the 20th pick. . . . Both players have committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines for 2022-23. . . . Lindgren’s father, Mats, is a former NHLer. . . . In 2016, the Blazers used the 15th-overall pick on F Massimo Rizzo, who just completed his second season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks. . . . In 2017, the Blazers took F Josh Pillar with the 14th selection. In 2018, they grabbed F Logan Stankoven with the fifth pick. . . . Pillar showed dramatic improvement with the Blazers as this season wore on, while Stankoven lit up the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League with the Kamloops-based Thompson Blazers and will be a big part of the Kamloops scene over the next few seasons.


Before the draft got started, the Calgary Hitmen made a huge splash by acquiring Jett CalgaryWoo, one of the WHL top defencemen, from the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for D Vladislav Yeryomenko, F Ryder Korczak, the 11th-overall pick in the 2019 draft and a second-rounder in 2021. . . . Woo, the fourth-overall pick in the 2015 draft, was a second-round selection by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2018 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level deal with Vancouver. . . . From Winnipeg, Woo is to turn 19 on July 27. He just completed his third season with Moose Jaw, and has 114 points, including 26 goals, in 178 games. This season, he finished with 12 goals and 54 assists in 62 games. . . .

“This was our No. 1 priority in getting a puck moving defenceman,” Jeff Chynoweth, Calgary’s general manager, said in a news release. “To add a player of his calibre, one of the top scoring defencemen in the WHL, a player who plays hard at both ends, is huge for our club.

“He’s a legitimate No. 1 defender and to get him for a whole season instead of after the trade deadline is an added bonus.”

The deal also signals that the Hitmen have their eyes on the prize for 2019-20 and won’t be content just being one of the players.

Yeryomenko, 20, is from Mishutki, Belarus. He was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville MooseJawWarriorsPredators in the NHL’s 2018 draft but has yet to sign a pro deal. This season, his third with Calgary, he had seven goals and 26 assists in 33 games. In 188 regular-season games, he has 26 goals and 72 assists.

The Warriors have two other Belarusians on their roster — F Yegor Buyalski, 18, and F Daniil Stepanov, 18.

There have been rumblings that the rule involving 20-year-old import players may be about to change, perhaps with the removal of the two-spot designation. It could be that a team will be allowed to have three imports on its roster, if one of them is a 20-year-old. This deal may signal that Moose Jaw general manager Alan Millar is expecting that rule to be changed.

Korczak, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 23, is from Yorkton, Sask. The younger brother of Kelowna Rockets D Kaedan Korczak, he had eight goals and seven assists in 50 games as a freshman with the Hitmen.


The Vancouver Giants didn’t have a first-round pick, and took D Joshua Niedermayer, a Vancouverson of former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, with the 30th overall selection. A native of Newport Beach, Calif., Joshua had 10 goals and 12 assists in 27 games with the bantam prep team at OHA in Penticton, B.C. . . . His brother, Jackson, 18, is a forward with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees and has committed to Arizona State U and the Sun Devils for 2021-22. . . . Jackson was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the 2016 bantam draft. . . .

The Giants used their second pick in the draft, No. 43, to take F Bowden Singleton of Calgary. He had 42 goals and 24 assists in 29 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team, but has committed to the U of North Dakota Fighting Hawks for 2022-23. . . .

In the fifth round, the Giants took F Colton Langkow of Scottsdale, Ariz. His father, Daymond, played four seasons (1992-96) with the Tri-City Americans while an uncle, Scott, spent three seasons (1992-95) tending goal for the Portland Winterhawks.


JUST NOTES: Kamloops took G Dylan Ernst from the Weyburn, Sask., bantam AA Red Wings with the 28th overall pick. He was the first goaltender taken in the draft. Dylan’s brother Ethan, 17, just finished his freshman season with the Kelowna Rockets. After Dylan was drafted, their mother, Bonnie, tweeted: “It’s hard enough to watch him in net, let alone playing against his brother. And that many times.” . . .

The Blazers used a seventh-round pick to take F Nash Bamford of Lacombe, Alta. He had eight goals and 12 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels. His father is country music star Gord Bamford, who was born in Australia and raised in Canada. He has 26 CCMA awards to his credit. . . .

The Everett Silvertips took F Austin Roest of Vernon, B.C., in the third round. His father, Stacy, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers and now is the director of player development with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. . . .

The Moose Jaw Warriors selected D Carson Brisson of Edmonton in the fifth round. He had 18 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with the minor midget Leduc Oil Kings this season. He has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers for 2023-24. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds used an eighth-round pick to take F Cruz Lucius of Grant, Minn. He played this season with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy, putting up nine goals and 32 assists in 13 games. He has committed to the U of Minnesota Gophers for 2022-23. . . . His brother, Chaz, was taken in the fourth round a year ago by the Portland Winterhawks. Chaz is poised to enter the U.S. National Team Development Program after putting up 39 goals and 23 assists in 13 games with the U-15 team at Gentry Academy. He is committed to Minnesota for 2021-22.

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.