Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sleeping

Blazers and Ice one victory from conference finals . . . Stankoven powers Kamloops past Giants . . . Memorial Cup host team ousted


The WHL’s best regular-season team in 2021-22 looks to move on to the WHLplayoffs2022Eastern Conference final when it plays host to a Friday night playoff game. Yes, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against the visiting No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Warriors will be without F Robert Baco, whose suspension for a charging major in Game 3 had been set at two games. . . . A Winnipeg victory would send the Ice into a series against the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who are 8-0 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . .

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Kamloops Blazers hold a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants and they’ll play Game 5 in Kamloops tonight. . . . At the same time, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks have a 2-1 edge on the Seattle Thunderbirds as they meet in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 5-0 victory in Game 3 in Portland on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., F Logan Stankoven broke a 2-2 tie on a late third-period PP as Kamloopsthe No. 2 Kamloops Blazers skated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-1 lead in the series, and they’re right back at it tonight as they meet in Game 5, this time in Kamloops. . . . The teams exchanged goals in this one, with F Luke Toporowski (6) giving Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 13:54 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (4) got the Giants even at 17:42. . . . The Blazers went back in front at 12:59 of the second period on a goal by F Caedan Bankier (4). . . . Ostapchuk (5) tied it again, this time at 6:21 of the third. . . . Stankoven’s eighth goal, at 17:23, was the game-winner. . . . The Giants were hit with a minor for too many men just 46 seconds after Stankoven’s goal. . . . Stankoven followed that with his ninth goal in eight games into an empty net with 7.9 seconds remaining. . . . Ostapchuk and linemate Fabian Lysell, who had two assists, lead the WHL playoff scoring race, each with 19 points, one more than Stankoven. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-1. . . . The Blazers got 18 stops from G Dylan Garand, while G Jesper Vikman blocked 34 for the Giants. . . . F Cole Shephard, who last played on March 16, was back in Vancouver’s lineup.


In all my years of covering junior hockey, I don’t know that I encountered a player with a bigger personality than Brandon Underwood. . . . He played five seasons (Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, 2008-13) in the WHL before going on to spend four seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . He now is a Vancouver firefighter. . . . On Thursday night, after former Moose Jaw Warriors F Brayden Point scored in OT to give the host Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Underwood won Twitter . . . 


Music


We had a goalie goal on Thursday night. . . . Former WHLer Joel Hofer, now with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, lit the lamp in a 6-2 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . In his Calder Cup playoffs debut, he made 34 stops as the Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal. . . . Hofer, 21, is from Winnipeg. He played three seasons (2017-20) in the WHL, making stops with the Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks.


Julie Stewart-Binks had to cancel out of being part of ESPN’s coverage of Game COVID6 of the NHL playoffs series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night because she tested positive for COVID-19. “Thankfully through contract tracing everyone else is negative,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have been extremely diligent with safety protocols the entire pandemic. I am devastated not to work this game.” . . .

The Cleveland Guardians have at least seven members of their coaching staff in COVID-19 protocol after they tested positive — manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, hitting coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres, first-base coach Sandy Alomar, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and hitting analyst Justin Toole.


Eye


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Saint John Sea Dogs, the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament, were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs on Thursday night when they lost, 4-3 in OT, to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. F Alexander Gaudio scored 30 seconds into extra time to give the Oceanic the series victory. The QMJHL is playing best-of-fives this time around and this was Game 5. . . . The Sea Dogs are next scheduled to play on June 20 when they get the Memorial Cup started with a game against the OHL champions. . . .

Three of the last four Memorial Cup host teams have lost out in the first round of playoffs — in 2017, the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires lost in seven games to the London Knights; in 2018, the Regina Pats were ousted by the Swift Current Broncos in seven games; and now the Sea Dogs are gone. . . . Windsor went on to win the Memorial Cup at home, while Regina lost out in the tournament final. . . . The Halifax Mooseheads were the host team in 2019; they reached the QMJHL final where they were swept by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. . . .

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Halifax Mooseheads were to have played the fifth game in their best-of-five series on Thursday night. But, with Wednesday’s fourth game having gone into the third OT period, the league chose to move Game 5 to Friday night. Because of the length of Game 4 in Halifax and the fact the teams would have had to travel about five hours to Bathurst, N.B., for Game 5 “the league judged it prudent for the well-being and security of the players to postpone the game to Friday.” A tip of the fedora to the QMJHL for making such a decision. . . .

The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks have signed Nick Prkusic as the organization’s first full-time assistant coach. He will be working alongside head coach Clayton Jardine. . . . Prkusic, who played in the AJHL with the Brooks Bandits, has been working as the head coach of the Caronport, Sask.-based Prairie Academy’s U-17 team.


Wallet


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Golden State Warriors were whipped, 134-95, by the host Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA playoff game: “If Wednesday’s Game 5 box score was a report card, the Warriors would be grounded for a year. If the Warriors don’t respond in Game 6 Friday, that box score will become an autopsy report.”


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Shoe

Morgan Gobeil progressing, but needs your help . . . COVID-19 showing up all over . . . Finland WJC team loses key player to quarantine

Merry Christmas . . .


Morgan Gobeil survived the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6, 2018, and the young man continues to work on his recovery. . . . The facility in which he does so much of his rehab work is in need of a Smith Machine. With that in mind, Last Man Back, which was started by family and references Morgan’s having been the last survivor to be released from hospital, is selling clothing. His brother, Ryan, tweets that “all money is going directly to First Steps to purchase much need equipment for Morgan and others. . . . Check out the above tweet and then send a DM to Ryan to place an order. . . . I have a Last Man Back hat that I really like, and it has become my go-to lid.


It was March 11, 2020. Rudy Gobert and the New Orleans Jazz were in Oklahoma CovidCity for an NBA game with the Thunder. Officials and players were on the floor preparing for the game to start when word came that Gobert had tested positive for COVID-19. It wasn’t long before the NBA season was indefinitely suspended. One positive test . . .

Keep that in mind as you read what follows . . .

The coronavirus has dominated the news from the sporting world through the first two days of this week. And it doesn’t show any sign of slowing down.

Rick Westhead of TSN tweeted Monday afternoon: “Spoke to infectious disease Dr. Andrew Morris (@ASPphysician) about pro sports events & Omicron. He says Omicron cases doubling in Ont. every 2-3 days. Estimates 10K daily cases by Dec. 31. Predicts Ont. govt will soon have to close NHL/NBA games to fans. ‘Govt has no choice.’ ”

On Tuesday, the NHL postponed a game between Carolina and the host Minnesota Wild that was to have been played that night. The Hurricanes have eight players in protocol.

On Monday, the Calgary Flames had six players and a member of their training staff enter protocol, so the NHL postponed three games. The Flames added three more players on Tuesday.

Here’s a brief look at the last two days in the NHL . . .

BOSTON BRUINS: F Brad Marchand and F Craig Smith went into protocol on Tuesday, before the Bruins were beaten, 4-1, by the visiting Vegas Golden Knights. . . . The Bruins were awfully flat in this one; in fact, only Boston play-by-play voice Jack Edwards was flatter. In fact, he almost sounded bored, which may have been because of the score.

CALGARY FLAMES: They shut things down on Monday after six players and a member of their training staff entered protocol. By Tuesday, there were nine players on the list. . . . The NHL postponed Calgary’s next three games, including a scheduled Monday date against the Blackhawks in Chicago. Also postponed was the Flames game in Nashville against the Predators on Tuesday and a game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday. . . . The NHL said in a Monday news release that it was postponing the games because of the “likelihood of additional positive cases in the coming days.” . . . Eric Francis of Sportsnet wrote on Monday: “With (Andrew) Mangiapane, Elias Lindholm, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Adam Ruzicka and Brad Richardson joining the list no one wants to be on, there now have been 123 NHL players in COVID protocol this season, which is roughly 17 per cent.” . . . On Tuesday, the Flames added F Milan Lucic, F Sean Monahan and D Noel Hanifin to the list. . . . If all goes well, the Flames will return to practice on Friday and face the visiting Blue Jackets on Saturday.

CAROLINA HURRICANES: The Hurricanes put F Sebastian Aho, F Seth Jarvis and a member of the training staff on the COVID-19 list on Monday. As per Canadian regulations, all three are to remain in Vancouver while in quarantine, a stretch that will take them past Christmas Day unless the team is able to get clearance for a medical flight to get them home. While Aho didn’t play on Sunday in Vancouver — the team said he was ill but didn’t provide specifics — he and Jarvis had played against Calgary and Edmonton. D Tony DeAngelo and D Brett Pesce of the Hurricanes have been in protocol since Nov. 28. . . . On Tuesday, the Hurricanes added D Ian Cole, F Steven Lorentz, F Jordan Staal and F Andrei Svechnikov to the list.

COLORADO AVALANCHE: Colorado moved D Devon Toews into protocol.

DETROIT RED WINGS: Detroit F Tyler Bertuzzi, the NHL’s only unvaccinated player, is out of quarantine and returned to the lineup last night (Tuesday) against the visiting New York Islanders. Despite having missed eight games so far — he isn’t allowed to travel into Canada — he said he isn’t about to get vaccinated, claiming that he has “natural immunity now.” Of course, immunity didn’t help D Danny DeKeyser of the Red Wings, who is back after a second go-round with the virus. . . . The Red Wings are 2-6 without Bertuzzi, who missed five games while in quarantine and three in Canada. . . . Detroit beat the Islanders, 2-1.

EDMONTON OILERS: The Oilers placed F Ryan McLeod into protocol on Tuesday, while head coach Brad Tippett wasn’t on the bench for that night’s 5-1 loss to the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs. The Oilers said Tippett was kept away for precautionary reasons. With Tippett out, assistant coach Glen Gulutzan was in charge of the bench. . . . After the game, Edmonton assistant coach Jim Playfair said that Tippett had gone into protocol. The earliest Tippett could return is for a Dec. 27 game at Calgary.

FLORIDA PANTHERS: F Ryan Lomberg went into protocol on Tuesday before the Panthers were beaten 8-2 by the visiting Ottawa Senators.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS: There were reports that the Nashville Predators had a “handful” of positives, the specifics of which had yet to be released as of Tuesday night. F Ryan Johansen went on the COVID-19 list on Sunday.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS: The Islanders put F Mat Barzal on the list on Tuesday before playing the host Detroit Red Wings. Barzal stayed in quarantine in Detroit as the Islanders went home where they are to face the Bruins on Thursday.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS: F Morgan Frost was pulled from a 6-1 victory over the visiting New Jersey Devils as he entered protocol. Frost played three shifts totalling 2:12 early in the first period before leaving the game.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS: Vancouver, which had such a miserable time with an outbreak in May, put D Luke Schenn and F Juho Lammikko into protocol. So those two were missing from Tuesday’s 4-3 victory over the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets. Just prior to game time, Vancouver D Brad Hunt also went into protocol. . . . During the game, the Canucks lost D Tucker Poolman when he was pulled late in the first period after being informed of a positive test. Poolman also tested positive while with the Winnipeg Jets in January.

MEANWHILE, Emily Kaplan of ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that “as of now, there’s been no discussions about pausing the season due to COVID cases. NHL and NHLPA have a regularly scheduled call (will happen tonight or tomorrow) where they will discuss if there’s a need to enhance protocols.” . . . TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted Tuesday night that a medical conference took place Tuesday night. He added that “it’s likely enhanced protocols will be implemented on a league-wide basis for a period of time. Final details being worked out.” Later, he added: “Basically, it would be a return to last season’s protocols.”

——

In the NBA, the Brooklyn Nets added four players, including James Harden, to what the league refers to as health and safety protocols on Tuesday, shortly before playing the Raptors in Toronto. . . . That left the Nets with eight healthy players after they upgraded Kevin Durant from questionable. An NBA team needs eight players in order to play a game. . . . According to head coach Steve Nash, the Nets also placed two coaches and two staff members on the list. . . . The shorthanded Nets still beat the Raptors, 131-129 in OT. . . .

On Monday, the NBA postponed two games involving the Chicago Bulls thanks to outbreak on their roster. They have 10 players and some staff members in protocols.

——

The NFL added 37 players — yes, 37 players! — to their COVID-19 list, the most in any single day since this pandemic got started. According to the NFL, all 37 of those players tested positive. Things weren’t much better on Tuesday, with at least another 31 players added, including nine from the Los Angeles Rams and eight from the Cleveland Browns.

On Oct. 22, WR Odell Beckham Jr., then with the Browns, stated that he wouldn’t get COVID-19 because “its a mutual respect.” Now with the Rams, he tested positive on Tuesday.

On Monday, ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out on Twitter: “Worth noting that 86 percent of NFL player and staff COVID positives this season originated away from team facilities. Community-spread has been the issue.”

——

Also on Monday, the English Premier League postponed a game for the second time in three days. Manchester United at Brentford, scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed on Monday. Tottenham was to have played at Brighton on Sunday but came up with eight positives and that game was postponed.

There also have been reports that Aston Villa and Norwich have had positive tests among their players.

The number of positive tests in the league through Sunday had jumped to 42 from 12 the previous week.

——

One more from Monday . . . the New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island U18 Hockey League announced that “as a result of the latest New Brunswick COVID restrictions all games involving New Brunswick Major U18 teams will be postponed until further notice.”


Toads


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

F Brandon Lisowsky scored three goals in 6:42 of the second period to help the visiting Saskatoon Blades to a 5-4 OT victory over the Moose Jaw Warriors on Tuesday. F Tristen Robins scored the winner 35 seconds into extra time. . . . Robins had scored three goals in 6:16 of the second period in a 6-2 victory over the Warriors on Oct. 27. . . .

In Prince Albert, F Evan Herman’s three goals helped the Raiders to a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. . . . The Ice is 23-4-1 this season, having lost twice to the Raiders (11-13-2) and the Edmonton Oil Kings (19-6-3). . . .

The Vancouver Giants dropped a 5-3 decision to the Cougars in Prince George on Tuesday night. . . . Vancouver F Cole Shepard scored Vancouver’s second goal, 50 seconds into the third period. It was his first goal since Feb 19, 2020, when he counted in a 6-2 victory over the host Victoria Royals. Shepard played his first game since March 7, 2020, on Dec. 10 as he completed a recovery from hip surgery. . . .

The Victoria Royals outshot the host Kelowna Rockets, 19-3, in the third period but gave up the frame’s only goal and ended up dropping a 5-4 decision in OT. That ended Victoria’s five-game winning streak. Still, the Royals are 7-1-4 since starting the season 1-10-0. Victoria is 7-0-3 in its last 10 outings.



WJC NOTES: Finland’s entry in the World Junior Championship took a hit with the news that F Aatu Räty, a draft pick of the NHL’s New York Islanders, is off the roster because of having to quarantine. Räty was seen as perhaps Finland’s No. 1 centre. . . . The Finns are to fly into Edmonton today (Wednesday). . . . Chris Peters (@chrismpeters), who is an excellent follow for all kinds of hockey news, tweets that the Slovakian team “is bussing to Munich to hop on a charter with Austria, Germany and the Czechs. Fly to stopover in Iceland, then on to Edmonton, then a bus to Red Deer. Then 2-day quarantine.” . . . If you are at all interested in the WJC, Peters has a really thorough look at Tuesday’s news right here. . . .

Russia’s roster doesn’t include three NHL draft picks — D Daniil Chayka (Vegas Golden Knights), D Yan Kuznetsov (Calgary Flames) and F Matvey Petrov (Edmonton Oil Kings). All three left Russia to play junior in North America, Chayka with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Kuznetsov with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs and Petrov with the OHL’s North Bay Battalion.


Cat


JUST NOTES: Two former WHL players and a former WHL coach have been added to the coaching staff of Canada’s entry in the Spengler Cup, replacing Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker, who now are on the Vancouver Canucks’ coaching staff. Nolan Baumgartner, a defenceman with the Kamloops Blazers (1992-96), had been an assistant coach with the Canucks before losing his job in last week’s purge. Jeremy Colliton (Prince Albert Raiders, 2001-05) had been the Chicago Blackhawks’ head coach before being fired on Nov. 6. Ben Cooper also will be with Team Canada. He was on the Victoria Royals’ coaching staff for two seasons (2011-13). Cooper now is an assistant coach with EC Salzburg of the ICEHL. . . .

The Acadie-Bathurst Titan and host Halifax Mooseheads were scheduled to play on Friday night. That game — it is a Teddy Bear night — has been moved to Thursday due to, according to a post on the Mooseheads’ Facebook page, “the recent restrictions announced by the Nova Scotia government.” Global-TV explained: “spectators will be placed into groups of 150 people. There can be multiple groups, so long as each group has a separate entrance, exit and washrooms. Within those groups of 150 people, masking and physical distancing will be maintained, unless people are with their own household or a consistent group of 20. Eating and drinking will no longer be allowed in the stands or seats, and can only happen in separate designated seating areas.” Tim Houston, Nova Scotia’s premier, wasn’t pleased, saying in a statement that “the time between the announcement and the implementation was to give businesses, organizations and individuals time to prepare . . . not to give organizations an opportunity to reschedule events and get in front of the changes.”


Fifi


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Cooking

Seattle dive-bar doesn’t want to be hockey bar . . . You get a shutout, and you get a shutout, and you get a shutout . . . Coach gone in Halifax

The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks have been hooked up with the AHL’s Utica AHLComets since 2013-14. Now there is ample speculation that the Canucks will be moving their AHL franchise, with the New Jersey Devils taking their AHL affiliate from Binghamton, N.Y., to Utica.

Granted, this is all speculation, but you know what they say about smoke. . . .

So, of course, people are wondering where the Canucks would place their AHL team should they decide to move it. One of the places high on anyone’s list is Abbotsford, where the Calgary Flames’ AHL team played for five seasons once upon a time.

So . . . I got to thinking about this and I actually had a thought: Why couldn’t the Canucks operate an AHL team out of Kamloops or Kelowna? Is either city large enough to be home to two teams — one in the AHL and the other in the WHL? . . . Likely not, mainly because there wouldn’t be enough sponsorship and fan dollars to keep both franchises happy. So forget it.

Besides, teams owned by Francesco Aquilini (Vancouver) and Tom Gaglardi (Kamloops Blazers) could never operate out of the same building, which would be the case in Kamloops. In case you have forgotten, they once were going to partner in buying the Canucks. How did that go? It ended up in the Supreme Court of Canada.

As for Kelowna, well, why not? Before COVID-19 became the decision-maker that it now is, there was all kinds of speculation in the hockey community that Rockets owner Bruce Hamilton was planning to sell the WHL franchise after playing host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. Of course, that didn’t happen. Now what’s to stop him from selling the franchise to someone who would want to move it, and then partnering with the Canucks to bring the AHL to Kelowna?

Hey, I’m only thinking out loud . . . maybe it’s the isolation from the pandemic. Know what I mean?


So . . . you may be aware that Seattle as an NHL team — the Kraken. But did you Krakenknow that Seattle also is home to the Kraken Bar & Lounge and has been since 2011? . . . Now, Kraken, the bar, has served up a high, hard one to Kraken, the team. . . . As Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times writes: “A University District punk-rock bar is suing the Kraken for $3.5 million, alleging the NHL expansion team’s name choice and plans to open a Northgate Mall practice facility restaurant risks irreparably harming its brand.” . . . The lawsuit was filed on Thursday. . . . Baker added: ”The lawsuit claims the punk bar’s owners didn’t know what to do last summer when the better-resourced NHL team announced its name and new patrons began showing up wanting to turn their establishment into a hockey bar.” . . . From the lawsuit: “That The Kraken Bar would or should become a ‘hockey bar’ or a sports bar of any kind was anathema to The Kraken Bar and its regular patrons. The Kraken Bar’s regular patrons frequented the bar precisely because it was a dive-bar . . .” . . . Baker’s complete story is right here.


Phoenix


There were five games in the WHL on Thursday night and three of them ended in shutouts. One of the goaltenders with a clean sheet was Dustin Wolf of the Everett Silvertips. It was the 24th of his career, two off the WHL record. With time winding down on this developmental season, will Wolf be able to post two more? . . . Stay tuned. . . .

G Max Paddock stopped 20 shots to lead the Prince Albert Raiders to a 4-0 Raidersvictory over the Saskatoon Blades in the Regina hub. . . . Paddock has two shutouts this season and nine in his career. . . . This season, Paddock, 20, is 7-6-0, 2.65, .909. . . . The Raiders got first-period goals from F Ozzy Wiesblatt (5) and D Terrell Goldsmith (1), a second-period score from F Landon Kosior (3) and a third-period goal from F Justin Nachbaur (7). . . . Goldsmith, the 15th overall selection in the 2020 bantam draft, got his first goal — and first point — in his 11th game. The native of Fort St. James, B.C., turns 16 on May 13. . . . The Raiders (8-10-3) had lost their previous two games. . . . The Blades (14-4-3) have lost three in a row (0-2-1). . . .

F Caleb Wyrostok broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Swift Current ScurrentBroncos skated to a 4-2 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Wyrostok’s winner, at 8:04, was his fifth goal of the season. . . . F Aiden Bulych (6) got the empty-netter, with his brother, Kaleb, getting the lone assist. . . . F Michael Farren gave the Broncos a 1-0 lead at 18:41 of the first period. . . . The Pats took a 2-1 lead on second-period goals from F Logan Nijhoff (10) and F Carson Denomie (14), both via the PP. . . . Farren’s second goal of the game and ninth of the season, also on the PP, tied it at 18:18. . . . The Broncos got 31 saves from G Reid Dyck. . . . D Ryker Evans had one assist for the Pats as he ran his point streak to 11 games. . . . Swift Current (5-16-1) had lost its previous two games. . . . Regina (8-10-3) had won its previous two games. . . .

G Sebastian Cossa earned the shutout, F Jake Neighbours scored twice and F EdmontonJosh Williams had a goal and two assists as the Edmonton Oil Kings beat the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers, 3-0. . . . Cossa turned aside 30 shots in recording his third shutout in 14 appearances this season and the seventh of his career. He is 13-0-1, 1.49, .944 and almost certainly will be a first-round selection in the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . . The Oil Kings (15-1-1) have points in seven straight (6-0-1). . . . The Tigers (12-4-1) had points in each of their previous nine games (8-0-1). . . . Edmonton held a 52-30 edge in shots. . . . The Tigers got 49 saves from G Garin Bjorklund. . . . Neighbours, who has eight goals, opened the scoring at 5:18 of the first period and Williams (10) made it 2-0 at 13:21. . . . Neighbours got his second goal at 1:46 of the third. . . . Williams, who turned 20 on March 8, has 21 points in 16 games. . . . Neighbours, who turned 19 on March 29, has 28 points in 16 games. . . .

G Dustin Wolf earned his fourth shutout of the season as the Everett Silvertips Everettdumped the host Spokane Chiefs, 5-0. . . . Wolf, who stopped 32 shots, has 24 shutouts in his career, two off the WHL record that is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 2013-18). . . . If nothing disrupts Everett’s schedule, it has eight games remaining. . . . In 14 games this season, Wolf is 11-2-0, 1.69, .944. . . . F Hunter Campbell, who has seven goals, gave Everett a 1-0 lead at 2:27 of the first period and made it 3-0, on a PP, at 14:11 of the second. . . . In between F Ryan Hofer scored his fourth goal. . . . F Jacob Wright (6) and F Ethan Regnier (7) also scored. . . . Spokane F Adam Beckman had his goal-scoring streak end at six games. He came close by hitting a post with Everett leading 2-0 in the second period. . . . The Silvertips (12-3-0) have won three straight. . . . The Chiefs (4-6-3) had won their previous two games. . . . Spokane hadn’t played in eight days after losing two games due to a positive test in the Tri-City Americans’ camp. . . . The same two teams will do it all over again tonight in Spokane. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers rode three third-period goals to a 4-1 victory over the KamloopsPrince George Cougars. . . . The Blazers (9-2-0) were the visiting team despite the game being played in Kamloops. . . . The Cougars (4-6-2) have lost three straight. . . . F Connor Bowie (5) gave the Cougars a 1-0 lead at 19:30 of the first period. . . . D Inaki Baragano (4) got the Blazers into a tie at 19:19 of the second. . . . The Blazers got third-period goals from F Matthew Seminoff (5), F Reese Belton (2) and F Connor Zary (4). . . . G Dylan Garand stopped 43 shots for Kamloops, 16 more than Prince George’s Taylor Gauthier. . . . The two goaltenders were teammates on Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championship. . . . BTW, Kamloops F Connor Levis had his four-goal game on Tuesday night become a three-goal effort on Thursday. The goal that originally was Levis’s third of the game has been changed to F Caedan Bankier, with Levis getting the primary assist. According to Jon Keen, the radio voice of the Blazers, the puck “went off (Bankier’s) backside.” . . . It gave the Blazers a 5-1 lead over the Kelowna Rockets in what became a 6-2 victory. Bankier also had two assists.


The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped head coach J.J. Daigneault on HalifaxThursday just days after he had completed his second season in the position. The Mooseheads were 15-19-9 this season, leaving Daigneault with a two-season record of 35-67-14. . . . In a news release, majority owner Bobby Smith said: “The past two years have been rebuilding seasons for our club after playing in the 2019 Memorial Cup final and this past season we had the youngest team in the QMJHL. Over the course of a trying 2020-21 season our young players developed tremendously and for this Coach Daigneault deserves much credit.” . . . That may be so, but it obviously wasn’t enough to save the man’s job. . . . Daigneault, 55, a longtime NHL defenceman in his playing days, spent six seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens and one with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage before taking over as head coach in Halifax. . . . While searching for a new head coach, the Mooseheads also announced that assistant coaches Jon Greenwood and Sylvain Favreau, and goaltender coach Joey Perricone have been retained. Perricone is a former WHL goaltender (Moose Jaw Warriors, 2003-08).


Science


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Taxes

Two coaches in isolation after COVID-19 finds Team Canada . . . QMJHL’s Mooseheads hit pause button . . . Hockey Alberta honours Bartlett

Michael Dyck and Jason Labarbera, two of Team Canada’s assistant coaches, Canadahave been put into isolation for 14 days at the national junior team’s selection camp in Red Deer after being in close contact with someone who is infected with COVID-19. . . . Dyck is the head coach of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants, while Labarbera is the goaltending coach for the Calgary Hitmen. . . . According to a statement from Hockey Canada, a “non-core member” of the team’s staff tested positive on Saturday morning. “The staff member who tested positive, as well as a number of colleagues who have been in close contact with that person, were placed in quarantine at the team hotel in Red Deer,” the statement read. . . . The scheduled Red vs. White game went ahead as scheduled, with Team White putting up a 4-2 victory. . . . The camp opened in Red Deer on Monday and will run through Dec. 13 when the team will move into a bubble in Edmonton.


The QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads revealed Saturday that they had “recorded a qmjhlnewpositive COVID-19 test among the staff and are suspending in-person activities.” . . . According to the team, “the infected person didn’t have any contact with players or hockey staff.” However, players and staff have been “preventively isolated” and anyone in the organization who may have had contact with the infected person will be tested. . . . The Mooseheads were to have played host to the Charlottetown Islanders on Saturday night, but the game was postponed. . . . The Mooseheads’ Wednesday game against the visiting Cape Breton Eagles also has been postponed.


The SJHL posted a one-sentence news release on its website Saturday morning. This is it: “The La Ronge Ice Wolves at Melfort Mustangs game scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 21 has been postponed.” . . . The teams played Friday night in La Ronge with the Ice Wolves winning, 3-1. . . . If the Mustangs have been hit with a positive test, or tests, it will mark the second time in two months. They had a player test positive late in September.


Coffee


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Ken Squier, 85, is best known for his work as an announcer on NASCAR coverage with CBS (1979-97) and TBS (1983-99). If you watched NASCAR in those days, you appreciated Squier.

——

CBC News: 387 new COVID-19 cases, 10 more deaths announced in Manitoba Saturday.

CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 439 new cases of COVID-19 for a new daily case record. The province says today’s numbers reflect the single-day high of 4,580 tests that were processed Friday. The province has 2,537 active cases, including 93 people in hospital.

CBC News: (Saturday) marks the 4th time Alberta has reported more than 1,000 cases in a single day. 320 people are currently in hospital and 56 are in intensive care. A woman in her 20s was among the 9 deaths reported today. . . . Alberta is reporting a record 1,336 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 9 new deaths related to the virus. This is the 3rd day in a row that the province has seen a record number of new cases.

CTV News Edmonton: Arrest at Edmonton Costco after man refuses to wear mask.

In B.C., government and health officials, unlike in other jurisdictions in Canada, don’t supply updates on Saturdays or Sunday. Unfortunately, the virus doesn’t take the weekend off, so we’ll get some huge and ugly numbers on Monday afternoon.

CBC News: Ontario reports 1,588 COVID-19 cases and 21 deaths, breaking previous record for daily case count. . . . Ontario’s daily case counts on Saturday are the highest seen in the pandemic so far.

CBC News: Quebec is reporting 1,189 new cases of COVID-19. The province has added 32 deaths to its total, 5 of which occurred in the past 24 hours. . . . 646 people are in hospital, including 99 in intensive care. The latest major outbreak in the province is at a Quebec City convent, where 39 nuns and 43 workers have tested positive.

CBC News: 23 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in New Brunswick. It’s the province’s largest single-day case count since the start of the pandemic. 16 of the new cases are in the Saint John region. There are now 71 active cases in the province, including 1 person in hospital.

CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 33 known active cases. All 8 new cases are in the Central Zone. 2 are linked to previously reported cases; the other 6 cases are being investigated. No one is currently in hospital.

CBC News: 5 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. All 5 are linked to previously reported cases. There are now 18 known active cases in the province, including 1 person in hospital. 58,601 people have been tested in N.L. to date.

CBC News: 25 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Nunavut. 22 of the cases are in Arviat and 3 are in Whale Cove. There are now 107 known active cases in the territory.

——

So in this year of pandemic, it has come to this. . . . Florida State and visiting Clemson were to have played a football game on Saturday but, according to the ACC, it was postponed because the teams’ medical personnel couldn’t mutually agree on moving forward. . . . Andrea Adelson of ESPN reported: “Multiple sources told ESPN that a Clemson player tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday after practising with the Tigers during the week. That player was symptomatic but had tested negative twice during the week, according to sources. That led Florida State to say it was not comfortable playing Saturday’s game, the source said.” . . . The postponement came after the Tigers had flown into Tallahassee on Friday.

The season-opening series between the men’s hockey teams from Boston College and New Hampshire was postponed. The teams were to have played Friday and Saturday at BC. The decision was reached after a UNH player tested positive. . . . 

The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that “more than 200 people” who live or work at Golden Gate Fields, a horse racing facility in the Bay Area, have become infected with COVID-19. The track was closed on Nov. 13 after 24 positive tests on track workers.


If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League is on hold until further notice. The nine-team league had shut down its North Division on Nov. 10 after a positive test at Dover Bay Secondary School in Nanaimo, which is attended by some players. Then B.C. health officials implemented further restrictions on Nov. 19 that are to last until at least Dec. 7. . . . Bob Bartlett, a former WHL executive, has been honoured with a life membership from Hockey Alberta. Bartlett, now 79, was the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ general manager for five seasons (1990-95). He later spent five seasons working with the Moose Jaw Warriors before returning to the Hurricanes with whom he now is senior scout.


Redbull

Silvertips sign Czech prospect. . . . Ice inks pair of import forwards. . . . Warriors’ record-holder now with Mooseheads

MacBeth

F Michal Kvasnica (Portland, 2018-19) has signed a one-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 66 games with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), he had eight goals and 12 assists. . . .

D Travis Ehrhardt (Moose Jaw, Portland, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had five goals and 26 assists in 55 games.


ThisThat

The Everett Silvertips have signed Czech F Michal Gut, who will turn 17 on Aug. 16. He Everettwas their lone selection in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Last season, with Pirati Chomutiov’s U-19 team, he had 14 goals and 20 assists in 34 games. . . . He also had five goals and 13 assists in 25 games with the Czech U-17 side. . . . Gut is in camp with the Czech Republic’s U-18 team this week as it prepares for next month’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup (Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10). As you can see from the above tweet, he scored the winning goal in a 4-1 victory over host Switzerland in Romanshorn on Wednesday. Gut also had an assist. . . . Everett’s second import is veteran F Martin Fasko-Rudas. A Slovakian, Fasko-Rudas, who turns 19 on Aug. 10, is preparing for his third WHL season. He had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 games last season.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed its two selections from the CHL’s 2019 import draft — Czech wpgiceF Michal Teplý, 18, and German F Nino Kinder, 18. . . . Teplý, the fourth-overall selection, was a fourth-round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2019 draft. He had four goals and six assists in 23 games with HC Benatky and Jizerou (Czech2) last season. He also had four goals and seven assists in 23 games split between two Billy Tygri Liberec sides. On top of that, he played 38 international games, with U-18, U-19 and U-20 sides, totalling 13 goals and 22 assists. . . . Kinder had 17 goals and 24 assists in 33 games with the U-20 Eisbären Juniors in his hometown of Berlin. He was pointless in five games with the DEL’s Eisbären. He also had seven goals and 11 assists in 16 games with German’s U-18 team. . . . Last season, the Ice used Swiss F Gillian Kohler (one game), D Valtteri Kakkonen and Slovakian D Martin Bodak as imports. . . . Kakkonen, from Finland, had one goal and nine assists in 52 games as a freshman. The 19-year-old has signed with JYP of Finland’s Liiga. . . . Bodak, in his second season, had 11 goals and 14 assists in 58 games as he played out his junior eligibility. Bodak has signed with HC Vitkovice of Czech Republic’s top pro league.


F Michal Kvasnica won’t be back for a second season with the Portland Winterhawks. PortlandKvasnica, 19, is from Ostrava, Czech Republic, and has signed a one-year deal with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season with Portland Winterhawks (WHL) 66 GP, 8+12. . . .  Kvasnica went part of June in a tryout camp with the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampeders. . . . The Winterhawks knew that Kvasnica wouldn’t be returning, so released him prior to the CHL’s 2019 import draft. They then selected Swiss F Simon Knak, 17, and Danish D Jonas Brondberg, 18, in the draft. . . . Knak has played in the EHC Kloten organization. Last season, he had 14 goals and 11 assists in 37 games with the U-20 team. He also had five goals and eight assists in five games with the U-17 side, and had one assist in three games with the Kloten team in the NLB. Knak also played 26 games with the U-18 national team. He was the captain, and put up 10 goals and six assists. . . . Brondberg played in Sweden last season, splitting 28 games between two U-18 teams (Växjö Lakers), totalling three goals and six assists. He also had one assist in 21 games with a U-20 team. In 14 international games, he had four assists. Brondberg captained Denmark’s U-18 team at the U-18 IIHF World championship tournament.


Joey Perricone, who holds some of the Moose Jaw Warriors’ career goaltending records, qmjhlhas signed on with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads as their goaltending/video coach. . . . He replaces Marco Raimondo, who left after one season in order to return to Montreal where he will be closer to family. . . . Perricone, 32, worked with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2014-17) and Moncton Wildcats (2017-19). . . . Perricone, from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., played five seasons (2003-08) with the Warriors. He holds their career records for victories (93), shutouts (10) and games played (211).


Tweetoftheday

Chiefs welcome Viveiros back to WHL. . . . One team left without head coach. . . . Cougars prospect commits to Chilliwack

ThisThat

The Spokane Chiefs made it official on Tuesday — Manny Viveiros is their new head SpokaneChiefscoach. He takes over from Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to sign on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. . . . Viveiros, 53, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers, but was released when Dave Tippett was hired as the NHL team’s new head coach. . . . Prior to that, Viveiros spent two seasons as the director of player personnel and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, who won the WHL championship in 2017-18. . . . Viveiros will be introduced to Spokane at a news conference today.


With the Spokane Chiefs having hired Manny Viveiros as their head coach, it leaves the BrandonWKregularBrandon Wheat Kings as the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams still looking for one. The Wheat Kings chose not to renew head coach David Anning’s contract after last season. . . . Anning had been with the Wheat Kings though seven seasons — four as an assistant coach and three as head coach. . . .

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager after having dropped Grant Armstrong after three seasons. Armstrong wasn’t out of work long as the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning has added him to its scouting staff. He will work as an amateur scout under Darryl Plandowski, the team’s head amateur scout.


JUST NOTES:

J.J. Daigneault is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He takes over from Eric Veilleux, who signed on as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch after one season in Halifax. Daigneault, 53, was an assistant coach with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage last season, after spending six seasons as an assistant coach with the Montreal Canadiens. . . .

D Hudson Thornton has agreed to play for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs in 2019-20. Thornton, who won’t turn 16 until Nov. 4, was a second-round pick by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . From Winnipeg, he played last season with the Rink Hockey Academy’s prep team.


Tweetoftheday

Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


ThisThat

F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

——

The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

——

The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

——

The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

——

The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

——

The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

——

The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

——

The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

——

The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click on the button over there on the right and follow the instructions. Thank you very much.


It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


ThisThat

Giants get forward from Hurricanes. . . . Seattle signs second first-round pick. . . . QMJHL teams to meet in Memorial Cup final for only second time

MacBeth

F Taylor Vause (Swift Current, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, in 49 games, he had 16 goals and 29 assists. In the playoffs, he added six goals and 14 assists in 18 games. He led the league in playoff assists and points. . . .

F Ty Morris (Swift Current, Vancouver, Red Deer, 2003-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Peiting (Germany, Oberliga). This season, he had 19 goals and 53 assists in 47 games. He is preparing to play his 14th season in Germany.


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants have acquired F Jackson Shepard from the Lethbridge Hurricanes Vancouverin exchange for a third-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . Shepard, 19, is from North Vancouver. . . . The Kamloops Blazers selected him with the 22nd pick in the 2015 bantam draft. The Blazers dealt him to Lethbridge on July 31, getting back F Zane Franklin, 19 at the time, and a fourth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. . . . This season, Shepard had five goals and 17 assists in 66 games. In 181 regular-season games, he has 17 goals and 39 assists. . . . F Cole Shepard, Jackson’s younger brother, was selected by the Giants in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. Cole, 17, just completed his first season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. He has committed to attend Harvard and play for the Crimson in 2021-22.


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.


Two more first-round picks from the 2019 bantam draft have signed WHL contracts. . . .

The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Kevin Korchinski, who was the 10th-overall selection. From Saskatoon, he had 10 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Generals, then added five goals and five assists in five playoff games. . . . Korchinski was the second of two first-round picks by the Thunderbirds. They selected F Jordan Gustafson of Ardrossan, Alta., with the eighth pick and signed him on Wednesday. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Oasiz Wiesblatt, who is from Calgary. He was the 12th-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Wiesblatt had 19 goals and 36 assists in 28 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons this season. He added six goals and seven assists in seven playoff games. . . .

Six of the 22 first-round selections now have signed WHL contracts.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Grady Lane, 16, to a WHL contract. . . . Lane, from Virden, Man., was an eighth-round selection by the Chiefs in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had five goals and seven assists in 32 games with the midget AAA Southwest Cougars. . . . Lane will attend the Chiefs’ 2019 training camp after sitting out the 2018 camp due to injury.


The two QMJHL entries — the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Halifax Mooseheads — will 2019MCmeet in the final of the four-team Memorial Cup tournament on Sunday in Halifax. . . . The QMJHL-champion Huskies advanced to the final with a 6-4 victory over the OHL-champion Guelph Storm on Friday night. . . . The Mooseheads received a bye to the final following a 5-4 loss to the Huskies on Wednesday night. Those three teams all were 2-1 in the round-robin and the Mooseheads advanced via the tiebreaker formula. . . . The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders went home early after going 0-3. . . . It is perhaps only fitting that the Huskies and Mooseheads are in the final as the QMJHL is celebrating its 50th anniversary season. . . . This will be the second time in the Memorial Cup’s history that two QMJHL teams have met in the final. In 2006, the Quebec Remparts beat the host Moncton Wildcats, 6-2. . . . Last night, the Huskies and Storm were tied, 3-3, after the second period. F Felix Bibeau broke the tie, giving the Huskies a 4-3 lead at 5:20 of the third period, then made it 5-3 at 12:33. . . . Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press has a game story right here.


Carter Zalluski, a bantam draft pick of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, died on Sunday. He was 24. According to an obituary, he “passed away suddenly.” . . . The Oil Kings selected Zalluski in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2010 bantam draft. He never did play in the WHL. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


Tweetoftheday

Mooseheads celebrate loss, advance to Memorial Cup final. . . . Huskies, Storm in semifinal. . . . Thunderbirds sign first pick

MacBeth

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has signed a one-year contract extension with Sokolov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games. . . . Sokolov played in 2. Liga this season and won promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with SC Csíkszereda Miercurea-Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). This season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games. He also had six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . . Láday is spending this summer playing for the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). He has two assists in two games. The NIHL regular season started on May 18, ends on July 28, and playoffs end no later than Aug. 18. . . .

F Max Brandl (Prince Albert, Portland, 2007-09) has signed a two-year contract with Landshut (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), he had five goals and 17 assists in 52 games. He was the team captain. . . .

F Colin Long (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Lustenau (Austria, Alps HL). This season, with Gherdëina Selva Val Gardena (Italy, Alps HL), he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 39 games. He was second on the team in goals, assists and points.


ThisThat

The Prince Albert Raiders arrived back home on Wednesday afternoon, where they were greeted by appreciative supporters.

In Halifax, the host Mooseheads lost the last game of the round-robin portion of the 2019MCMemorial Cup and they celebrated.

Seriously!

As one WHL observer wrote in a note to Taking Note: “The fact that Halifax celebrates like that after losing against a huge rival is another example of why the Memorial Cup is stupid.

“I’m sorry. I have all the respect in the world for that trophy and its history, but that tournament is just completely pointless and dumb.”

It’s hard to disagree with that kind of logic, especially after last night’s circus in Halifax.

The QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored with 54 seconds left in the third period to beat the Mooseheads, 4-3, last night.

The Huskies beat the Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL’s championship final, meaning that Rouyn-Noranda has beaten Halifax in five of their past seven meetings.

But it’s the Mooseheads who have advanced to Sunday’s Memorial Cup final. The Huskies and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm will meet in Friday’s semifinal game. The Raiders went 0-3 and were eliminated on Tuesday.

Here is how Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press described the silliness:

“Any one of Halifax, Rouyn-Noranda or Guelph could have earned a berth in Sunday’s tournament final based on Wednesday’s outcome. All three clubs finished with 2-1 records, but the Mooseheads got the tiebreaker through a drawn-out mathematical formula.

“All Halifax needed to do to advance was win outright or lose by one goal up to 4-3. Rouyn-Noranda had to win 4-0, or by five or more goals to move on, while the Storm still had a chance if the game finished by any other score.”

Here’s Halifax head coach Eric Veilleux: “Knowing what everybody knows, obviously I hope I never have to go through that again. It’s really not easy.”

Perhaps Halifax defenceman Patrick Kyte summed it all up with this: “Even though we didn’t win, we got the job done.”

(Cicerella’s game story is right here.)

Of course, this is the risk you run with any kind of round-robin situation, and the CHL’s four-team format, including a host team, isn’t going away anytime soon.

As the afore-quoted WHL observer put it: “(It’s a) cash grab in the second-ugliest form in junior hockey . . . the highest-ugliest form being World Juniors.”

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, they will celebrate the Raiders’ season with a party at the Art Hauser Centre tonight. A good time will be had by all.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in Prince Albert when the Raiders arrived on Wednesday. His blog post is right here.


By now you will be well aware that the last four WHL champions to play in the Memorial Cup tournament are a combined 0-12. The Brandon Wheat Kings (2016), Seattle whlThunderbirds (2017), Swift Current Broncos (2018) and the Raiders all failed to win even one game at the CHL’s championship tournament.

So, you’re wondering, what’s going on?

Here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Different years, different teams, different situations. Logically, this is just a screwy numbers thing, like the fact a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 (Montreal), or that a franchise with a predominantly blue jersey hasn’t won the Cup since 1994 (New York Rangers).”

In the overall scheme of things, there likely isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.

But the one thing I don’t feel can be discounted is the travel factor. Because of the WHL’s geography, the championship final is almost always going to feature some killer travel.

In 2016, it was Brandon and Seattle in the final. The next year, Seattle and the Regina Pats met in the final. A year ago, it was Swift Current and the Everett Silvertips. This season, it was the Raiders and the Vancouver Giants, and they went seven games. They played on a Friday in Langley, B.C., then finished the series in Prince Albert with games on Sunday and Monday. The Raiders travelled to Halifax — three time zones to the east — on the Wednesday and played their first game on Friday.

The travel almost invariably leads to injuries, and by the time a team leaves for the Memorial Cup it is banged up and emotionally drained. And, in a four-team round-robin, you are up against it if you lose that first game.

One WHL fan suggested to Taking Note that the WHL needs to “eliminate the killer travel schedule, which is possibly going to get worse for many Eastern Conference teams. And, of course, save $$$ for smaller Eastern Conference franchises.”

The only way the “killer travel schedule” is eliminated is for the WHL to revamp its regular-season schedule and keep teams playing only in their own conferences. That isn’t likely to happen.

One solution — and it’s only a pipe dream — would be to split the WHL into two leagues, with the B.C. and U.S. teams in one league, and the East and Central division teams in another. There wouldn’t be any interlocking play; these would be two separate leagues.

Each league would hold its playoffs, with the two winners meeting in a western final. Meanwhile, the OHL and QMJHL winners also would go into a best-of-seven final.

The Memorial Cup final, then, would go back to being a true East vs. West best-of-seven series.

Of course, that won’t ever happen because the present format — with a host team as part of a four-team round-robin — is great for the host city and it helps fill the coffers for the host league and its teams.

The present tournament format allows for a celebration of major junior hockey for 10 days every May. It’s time to accept it for what it is, and if the WHL champion never wins another game, so be it.

It could be that Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) hit the nail on the head earlier in the week when he tweeted: “It’s more impressive to me to outplay and outlast 15 other teams to win your own league. The Memorial Cup is like dessert after a great meal — not for everyone and it never replaces the meal.”


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 Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Jordan Gustafson to a WHL contract. The SeattleThunderbirds selected him with the eighth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Gustafson had 31 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers this season. . . .

Gustafson is the third of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections from the May 2 bantam draft to sign contracts. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer, the 18th selection, while the Prince Albert Raiders signed F Niall Crocker, who was taken with the 22nd pick.

%d bloggers like this: