Rasmussen, Jokiharju sent to AHL . . . Hitmen open Corral series tonight . . . Hay busy learning more in Portland

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Two players who could be playing monster minutes in the WHL this season have found themselves playing in the AHL this week.

F Michael Rasmussen, 19, played the past three seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans. The Detroit Red Wings selected him with the ninth pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

Rasmussen opened this season with the Red Wings and had six goals and seven assists in 41 games when he was assigned to the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins this week on one of those conditioning assignments. The Red Wings also have him on long-term injured reserve with a hamstring issue that has kept him out since Jan. 4.

Because he’s 19, Rasmussen isn’t eligible to stay in the AHL. The NHL-NHLPA CBA calls for him to play in the NHL or be returned to the Americans.

He scored twice in his AHL debut on Thursday, as the Griffins beat the host Texas Stars, 5-3.

Meanwhile, D Henri Jokiharju has been assigned by the Chicago Blackhawks to the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. He spent the previous two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Jokiharju, who was the 29th overall selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft, had 12 assists in 37 games with the Blackhawks.

In December, Chicago freed him up to play for Finland in the World Junior Championship, where he had two goals and three assists in seven games as his team won the gold medal.

In his first 32 games with Chicago, Jokiharju was playing 20 minutes per game. Of late, however, he been playing fewer than 15 minutes and had been a healthy scratch three times in eight games.

I haven’t seen any mention of Jokiharju being on a conditioning assignment, so I have a feeling that he is there until further notice. Remember late in the summer of 2018 when there was discussion about whether he would have to play for Chicago or be returned to Portland? There was some chatter then that he had been on loan to the Winterhawks from his club team in Finland, so might not be covered by the same CBA clause as someone like Rasmussen.

Perhaps that’s what’s going on here.


The Calgary Hitmen and visiting Brandon Wheat Kings will open the three-game Corral CalgarySeries tonight. Before it’s over, the Hitmen will have played three games in the Calgary Corral and honoured three teams that used to call it home — the Centennials and Wranglers (WHL) and Cowboys (WHA). . . . The Centennials will be in the spotlight tonight, with the Cowboys to be saluted on Feb. 6 with the Regina Pats in town. The Wranglers will be feted on Feb. 8 when the Hitmen meet the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Todd Saelhof of the Calgary Sun has more right here, including lots of memories.


Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL history, says he didn’t like the way things ended Portlandin Kamloops, but now he is really enjoying life as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . “I didn’t like the way it ended in Kamloops,” Hay told Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune. “You want to go out under your own terms. This was a good way to stay active, to stay in the league, to continue educating myself in the game.” . . . Hay, whose 65th birthday is fast approaching, never tires of learning, and that’s what he’s doing as he works alongside Mike Johnston, Portland GM and head coach. Yes, Johnston is learning, too. . . . Eggers’ complete story is right here.


Earlier this week, I posted a link to the impact statement that Scott Thomas read during the sentencing hearing for Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, the truck driver who was involved in the accident involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus on April 6. . . . On Wednesday, Thomas, who lost his son, Eric, in the accident, spent 15 minutes meeting privately with Sidhu. . . . There’s more on that meeting right here.


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WJC rosters include 14 WHLers . . . Tourney opens with four games . . . Finland-Sweden in Day 1 spotlight

Mowing
If you didn’t see this photo on Twitter earlier, it was taken on Christmas Day at about 2 p.m. Hey, I was born in Sherridon, Man., and raised in Lynn Lake, Man. — look them up on Google Maps — so I had never before seen grass this green on Dec. 25. LOL! . . . This is at the back of our home; there were nine deer on a field just west of the front yard. Now that I think about it, I didn’t get a really close look, so it may have been Rudolph and some friends.

MacBeth

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2014-16) has signed a two-way contract for the rest of this season with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) after clearing NHL unconditional waivers and having his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) terminated. He had two assists in 15 games with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL).


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The 10-team World Junior Championship opens today in Vancouver and Victoria with two games in each venue.

In Vancouver, it’s Czech Republic versus Switzerland (1 p.m. PT) and Canada versus Denmark (5 p.m.)

In Victoria, it’s U.S.A. versus Slovakia (3:30 p.m.) and Finland versus Sweden (7:30 p.m.).

In other words, Day 1 should bring us three no-contests and one thriller. Don’t forget that 2019wjcas much as we look forward to this tournament, the early-going often is full of lop-sided games. What today’s schedule means is that you will be able to go out and soak up some of those Boxing Day sales before coming home to watch Finland and Sweden do battle.

BTW, make certain that you’re aware of the IIHF’s new late-hit rule because if you aren’t it’s going to make you crazy.

And note that you aren’t going to read a whole lot about the WJC on this site after this report. I’m not there, nor will I pay particular attention through the early part of the tournament. But there will be a whole lot of other places loaded with info from those who are taking in the games in person.

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The 10 teams taking part in the WJC filed their preliminary rosters on Tuesday.

Under IIHF regulations teams had to register at least 15 skaters and two goaltenders. If a team doesn’t file the maximum (20 skaters and three goaltenders), it is allowed to add players to its roster until two hours before games until reaching the maximum.

By my count, there are 14 WHL players on those rosters. Here’s a look:

Canada (6) — G Ian Scott, Prince Albert Raiders; D Josh Brook, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs; F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Spokane; F Cody Glass, Portland Winterhawks; F Brett Leason, Prince Albert. . . . Tim Hunter of Moose Jaw is Canada’s head coach; Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes is one of the assistant coaches. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Czech Republic (3) — G Jiri Patera, Brandon Wheat Kings; D Filip Kral, Spokane; F Krystof Hrabik, Tri-City Americans. . . . The roster also includes former Brandon D Daniel Bukac, now of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, and F Martin Kaut of the AHL’s Colorado Eagles, whose CHL rights belong to Brandon. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Denmark (2) — G Mads Sogaard, Medicine Hat Tigers; F Phillip Schultz, Victoria Royals. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Finland (0) — The roster includes D Henri Jokiharju of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, who played the previous two seasons with Portland; F Aleksi Heponiemi of the Finnish pro team Karpan Oulu, who spent the previous two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos; and F Sami Moilanen of Tappara Tampere, who played the past two seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Kazakhstan (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Russia (1) — D Alex Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels. . . . D Mark Rubinchik, who plays for Toros Neftekamsk of the VHL, was with the Saskatoon Blades for the previous two seasons. . . . Registered 11 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Slovakia (2) — F Andrej Kukuca, Seattle; F Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants. . . . Registered 12 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Sweden (0) — Brandon holds the CHL rights to D Erik Brannstrom of the AHL’s Chicago Wolves. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders.

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Switzerland (0) — F Justin Sigrist of the GCK Lions Zurich played with the Kamloops Blazers in 2017-18. . . . Registered 12 forwards, six defencemen and three goaltenders.

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USA (0) — None. . . . Registered 13 forwards, seven defencemen and three goaltenders.

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Meanwhile, Mason Black, who is on Twitter at @NHL RankKing, went over the WJC rosters and has an easy-to-read NHL team-by-team list of prospects right here.

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If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.

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This piece is four years old, but if you’re a fan of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth your time. It’s from Rolling Stone and it’s a behind-the-scenes look at what went into what has become a movie with an amazing following. . . . The story — it’s an oral history — is right here.


Here is one more great read for you. . . . It’s not that long ago when Austin Murphy was one of the best and most-prolific writers employed by Sports Illustrated. These days, as he writes, “I drive a van for Amazon.” . . . He has written a first-person piece on the adventure of a package deliverer and it’s awesome stuff. You’ll find it right here.


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Jokiharju to WJC, not to Portland; Chicago assigns defenceman to Finnish team . . . Swetlikoff leaves Vipers for Rockets


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On the seventh day of our annual Christmas countdown, with a special Christmas wish to friend Stu Walters, here are The Tenors, with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. . . . It’s right here.


The NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks revealed on Tuesday that they have assigned D Henri Jokiharju to the Finnish national junior team, so he will play for his home country in the 2019wjcWorld Junior Championship that opens Monday in Vancouver and Victoria. . . . Jokiharju, 19, has 11 assists in 32 games with the Blackhawks while averaging 20 minutes of playing time. . . . He played the past two seasons with the Portland Winterhawks and is eligible to be assigned there by Chicago after the WJC. . . . However, it sounds as though Portland fans shouldn’t get too excited. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Taking Note on Tuesday that “from what I understand there is no chance that would happen.” . . . Last season, Jokiharju had 12 goals and 59 assists in 71 regular-season games with Portland. In 2016-17, he had nine goals and 39 assists in 71 games. . . . He also played for Finland at the WJC a year ago, putting up two goals and two assists in five games.


If you feel so inclined, please click on the DONATE button over there on the right. Thanks in advance, and Merry Christmas.


And now for something completely different, it’s the Dropkick Murphys with The Season’s Upon Us, and it’s all right here. Yes, this one is a lot of fun.


The Kelowna Rockets have signed F Alex Swetlikoff, 17, to a WHL contract. The 6-foot-3 KelownaRocketsSwetlikoff, who is from Keolwna, had been playing with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers, where he had eight goals and 12 assists in 27 games. . . . Swetlikoff was a third-round pick by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The Thunderbirds sent Swetlikoff to the Hurricanes on May 3 for D Kirby Proctor, 17, who is with the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers and has committed to the U of Nebraska-Omaha for 2020-21. . . . The Rockets acquired Swetlikoff from Seattle on Dec. 6 for a fourth-round pick in the 2022 bantam draft. . . . Earlier Tuesday, the Canadian Junior Hockey League announced the rosters for its Top Prospects Game and Swetlikoff was on the list. That, of course, won’t happen now. . . . Swetlikoff, who had committed to the U of Denver for 2020-21, should make his WHL debut on Dec. 28 in Kamloops against the Blazers. . . . He is the second highly touted prospect to have left the Vipers after the start of this season. F Josh Prokop, who had a goal and four assists in six games, left to join the Calgary Hitmen on Sept. 26. . . . Since the start of this season, the Vipers also have lost G Max Palaga to the Everett Silvertips, F Kjell Kjemhus to the Moose Jaw Warriors and F Sebastian Streu to the Regina Pats.


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Warriors bank some more money . . . Royals get forward from Blades . . . Ice down to two goalies, four 20s


MacBeth

D/F Curt Gogol (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Chilliwack, 2007-11) has been released by mutual agreement by Fehérvár Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he was pointless in one game with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), and had three goals and three assists in 27 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL). . . .

F Björn Svensson (Saskatoon, Moose Jaw, 2003-06) signed a one-year contract with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and eight assists in 35 games with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). . . .

F Richard Nejezchleb (Brandon, Tri-City, 2012-15) signed a one-year contract with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had five goals and one assist in 22 games with Litvínov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), and had two goals and five assists in 11 games while on loan to České Budějovice (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). . . .

F Chad Bassen (Regina, Vancouver, Medicine Hat, Everett, 2000-04) has  signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had four assists in 37 games.


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The Moose Jaw Warriors held their annual general meeting on Wednesday morning and reported a profit of $704,182 for the 2017-18 season. . . . Of that, $200,000 goes to the fulfillment of their Multiplex pledge; this is Year 7 of a 10-year pledge. The Warriors now have put $1.9 million into that commitment.

A year ago, the Warriors announced a loss of $463,566, but that was after they put $531,197 into Mosaic Place improvements and put $200,000 towards their pledge.

“Even with their profit loss, the Warriors have $1,081,545.01 in the bank and the franchise is as healthy as it has ever been,” Matthew Gourlie of dubnetwork.ca reported a year ago.

Last season, the Warriors announced average regular-season attendance was 3,482. That increased to 4,619 for eight home playoff games.


The WHL and NeuLion, its digital media partner, have announced their pricing for  their viewing package of 2018-19 games.

From the news release, which is right here:

WHL Live Early Bird Pricing

Team Away Pass — $69.99 (reg. $99.99 — save $30)

Team Home & Away Pass — $179.99 (reg. $194.99 — save $15)

All-Access Pass — $279.99 (reg. $299.99 — save $20)

*All prices in Canadian dollars

While the news release reads that early-bird pricing is “available for a limited time only,” it doesn’t indicate a cutoff date.

The announcement from the WHL came a few days after the AHL announced its package, including US$79.99 for a full-season all-access package; US$59.99 for a single-team full-season pass; and US$39.99 for a single-team home or away pass.

The WHL responded to that tweet with: “The WHL has a longstanding partnership with NeuLion that runs through the conclusion of the 2018-19 season.”


The Victoria Royals have acquired F Logan Doust, 17, from the Saskatoon Blades for a ninth-round selection in the 2020 WHL bantam draft and a conditional fifth-round pick in that same draft. . . . From North Vancouver, Doust played last season with the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants, putting up six goals and 10 assists in 20 games. He was pointless in three games with the Blades, who selected him in the ninth round of the 2016 bantam draft.


Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News spent a few days in Traverse City, Mich., where he Portlandwatched an eight-team NHL prospects tournament. Included in the competition was a team entered by the Chicago Blackhawks. . . . Kennedy wrote this on Chicago D Henri Jokiharju: “Great escapability when he’s breaking the puck out of the zone. The 2017 first-rounder is another mobile blueliner who handles the puck and can run the point on the power play. Jokiharju will return to the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks this season.” . . . The 19-year-old Jokiharju was selected by Chicago in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft and he has signed with the Blackhawks. . . . He has played two seasons with the Winterhawks, but there has been speculation that he was on loan to them from a Finnish team, meaning that he could be recalled or that the Blackhawks could assign him to their AHL affiliate. . . . Judging by what Kennedy wrote, however, Jokiharju seems ticketed for a third WHL season. Of course, you can bet that Mike Johnston, Portland’s GM/head coach, won’t be counting on Jokiharju until he sees the whites of his eyes. . . . Kennedy’s complete piece is right here and he’s got takes on a whole lot of prospects.


The Kootenay Ice is down to two goaltenders after releasing veteran Matt Berlin, 20, on KootenaynewTuesday. That leaves it with Duncan McGovern and Jesse Makaj as its goaltenders with the regular-season opener 10 days away. . . . McGovern, 18, is from Winnipeg. Last season, he got into 34 games with the Ice, going 13-13-3, 3.10, .893. He was a fifth-round selection by the Medicine Hat Tigers in the 2015 WHL bantam draft. . . . Makaj, from East Vancouver, was a second-round pick by the Ice in the 2016 bantam draft. He played one game with the Ice last season, going 0-0-1, 1.85, .935. He had a 3.15 GAA last season with the major midget Greater Vancouver Canadians. . . . Berlin, from Edmonton, was a seventh-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the 2013 bantam draft. He has played with the Chiefs, Seattle Thunderbirds and Kootenay. He split last season between Seattle and Kootenay, going 15-15-4. With the Ice, he was 3-8-1, 3.62. .875. . . .

Berlin’s departure leaves the Ice with four 20-year-olds on its roster — F Gunnar Wegleitner, F Jaeger White, D Dallas Hines and Slovakian D Martin Bodak. Wegleitner was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings over the off-season, while White came over from the Medicine Hat Tigers. As an import, Bodak would be a two-spotter should he be on the season-opening roster.



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk — a walk, I should point out, that she is helping to organize — you may do so right here. Thank you!


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Americans turn to Buchberger . . . Silvertips add two coaches, lose one . . . Hitmen to introduce their guy today


MacBeth

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and 12 assists in 67 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). . . .

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

D Victor Bartley (Kamloops, Regina, 2003-09) signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) signed a tryout contract with Kölner Haie (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and eight assists in 45 games, and also had one goal in six games with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . . His tryout deal runs until the Deutschland Cup break (Nov. 5). . . .

D Spencer Humphries (Tri-City, Calgary, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 40 games with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Slovan, and three goals and three assists in seven games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga).


ThisThat

Kelly Buchberger is the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Buchberger, with no WHL coaching experience, takes over from Mike Williamson, who left the organization tri-citylast month after four years as head coach. . . . Williamson is the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history. . . . The length of Buchberger’s contract wasn’t disclosed. . . . Buchberger, 51, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders last season. However, they chose to clean house following the season. Prior to that, he was with the Edmonton Oilers since 2004, spending six of those seasons as an NHL assistant coach. He also spent three seasons (2014-17) as the Oilers’ director of player personnel. . . . His only head-coaching experience is from 2007-08 when he was with the Springfield Falcons, then the AHL affiliate of the Oilers. . . . From Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger was a ninth-round pick by the Oilers in the NHL’ s 1985 draft. He went on to play 1,182 regular-season NHL games, splitting time with the Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He played two seasons (1984-86) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 26 goals, 39 assists and 320 penalty minutes. . . .

Brian Pellerin, 48, who has been the team’s associate coach for four seasons, will remain with the club and work alongside Buchberger. Pellerin is believed to have one year left on his contract. . . .

With the Americans having unveiled their head coach, the Calgary Hitmen remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. However, they have scheduled a news conference for today (Tuesday) to announce the 10th head coach in franchise history.


The Everett Silvertips have signed Louis Mass and Harry Mahood as assistant coaches to work alongside head coach Dennis Williams. . . . Mass, 41, is from Anchorage and has Everettspent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach through five seasons with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. . . . Mahood, from Thompson, Man., played four seasons (1979-83) in the WHL, spending time with the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. Yes, that is an amazing quarter of WHL teams. . . . Mahood, who will turn 56 on Aug. 8, has been in the coaching game since 1996 in Germany. Of late, he coached with Williams with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and USHL’s Bloomington Thunder, both of which were under the umbrella of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips. . . . Shane Clifford, who spent a total of 11 seasons, including the last four, as Everett’s goaltending coach, has left to coach goaltenders with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Last season, he also worked with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and Youngstown Phantoms. . . . The Silvertips had room on their coaching staff after Mitch Love, the assistant to the GM and assistant coach, signed on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.


There haven’t yet been any announcements, but Taking Note has been told by sources familiar with the WHL that Ryan Smith and Jamie Heward, both of whom have left the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff, will be joining other WHL teams. . . . Smith, who spent three seasons as the Broncos’ associate coach, is moving to the Medicine Hat Tigers to work with GM/head coach Shawn Clouston and assistant coach Joe Frazer. . . . Heward will be joining the Vancouver Giants where he will work with first-year assistant coach Michael Dyck. Heward had been with the Broncos for six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development.


The Saskatoon Blades and the Saskatoon Media Group have agreed to a four-year Saskatooncontract extension that involves the broadcast rights to the team’s WHL games. Under the new deal, the broadcasts will move from 92.9 The BULL FM to 98 COOL FM. . . . That’s good because no one is cooler than Les Lazaruk, who is preparing for his 25th season as the radio voice of the Blades. . . . The Blades also announced that “Lazaruk will host a live one-hour pre-game show from the concourse at SaskTel Centre prior to home games. Fans also will get a chance to hear from the players and staff every Thursday morning on 98COOL FM.”


The Portland Winterhawks have signed two import forwards — Dean Schwenninger, 17, who is from Switzerland, and Michal Kvasnica, 18, from Czech Republic. . . . Last season, PortlandSchwenninger had 13 goals and 24 assists in 19 games with Zug U-17 in the Elite Novizen. In 20 games with Zug’s U-20 side, he had five goals and three assists. In 15 games with Switzerland’s U-17 team, he added five goals and four assists. . . . Kvasnica had six goals and 10 assists in 45 games with HC Frydek-Mistek in Czech2. He also played eight games with HC Trinec U-20, putting up five goals and four assits. In seven games at the World U-18 championship, he had two goals and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks finished last season with two imports — Danish F Joachim Blichfeld and Finnish D Henri Jokiharju. . . . Blichfeld, who turns 20 today (Tuesday), is expected to play with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season. . . . Jokiharju has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. If he doesn’t make the Blackhawks, well, here’s what Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on Sunday: “The Winterhawks are moving on without him, so he likely will end up in Chicago or Rockford this season. It’s also possible Jokiharju will go to the Finnish Elite League for a year. It’s unlikely, but Jokiharju has some history with it. His father, Juha, played for more than a decade in the Liiga.” . . . The Rockford IceHogs are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Lazerus’s complete story is right here.Tweetoftheday

Will WHL team hire Parker? . . . BCHL has new commissioner . . . Rebels, Cougars sign goaltending coaches

MacBeth

F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) signed a one-week ‘introductory’ contract with Lukko Rauma (Finland, Liiga). Lukko has a one-week camp starting Monday (June 11) with practices, off-ice activities, and an inter-squad scrimmage. If both the team and Vincour are happy with each other after the camp, the contract rolls into a one-year deal. Last season, with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), Vincour had 10 goals and 10 assists in 39 games. . . . Lukko has started doing this with new players. It gives each party a chance to feel each other out and for the new player to see what the team and city are like. Club management feels this process leads to a higher success rate for both the team and the player. . . .

D Justin Hamonic (Tri-City, 2011-15) signed a one-year contract with Angers (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Worcester Railers (ECHL), he had one goal and eight assists in 69 games. He also was pointless in one game while on loan to the Utica Comets (AHL). . . .  Angers’ head coach is Brennan Sonne (Everett, Red Deer, Edmonton, 2005-08; assistant coach Everett 2014-17). . . .

F Jack Walker (Victoria, 2012-17) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Iowa Wild (AHL), and had 11 goals and 18 assists in 40 games with the Rapid City Rush (ECHL). . . .

F Quinton Howden (Moose Jaw, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 56 games, he had 17 goals and 15 assists, averaging 18:43 TOI per game. He led his team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) signed a one-year contract extension with the Odense Bulldogs (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). He started last season with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga), going pointless in two games, and was released on Sept. 28. He signed with Odense on Jan. 22, then had five goals and five assists in 10 games. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, in 38 games, he had 27 goals and 12 assists, then was selected as Fife’s forward of the year. . . .

F Robin Kovář (Vancouver, Regina, 2001-04) signed a one-year contract with the Blackburn Hawks (England, National League). Last season, with Ertis Pavlodar (Kazakhstan, Kazakh Vysshaya), he had five goals and eight assists in 28 games.


ThisThat

Yes, I have returned. It’s grad season, so Dorothy and I had a party to attend in Airdrie. Yes, it rained. (Is there anything more frustrating than the drive between Revelstoke and Golden?) Then it was on to Edmonton to spend some time with a transplant friend. It didn’t rain, at least not much, but it certainly was windy. And there was more rain on Thursday for the drive home through Jasper. If you’re wondering, the wildlife count was one deer (one kilometre from our home in Kamloops), two bighorn sheep (east of Jasper townsite), and one mama black bear with a cub (south of Valemount).

For kicks, we also kept track of the price of gas — one litre of regular — on the trek that began Saturday morning. Here’s what we found:

Saturday

Kamloops $1.37.9

Salmon Arm $1.43.9

Sicamous $1.43.9

Revelstoke $1.49.9

Golden $1.46.9

Canmore $1.26.9

Sunday

Airdrie $1.21.4

Tuesday

Edmonton $1.18.9

Thursday

Edmonton $1.32.9

Edson $1.30.3

Hinton $1.32.9

Valemount $1.39.9

Blue River $1.42.9

Clearwater $1.40.9

Kamloops $1.36.9

One other note of interest: We sure did see a lot of big rigs hauling pipe as we made our way back to Kamloops on the Yellowhead on Thursday. Don’t know what that means, but . . .


OK. Let’s clean out the notebook . . .

While I was away, the WHL released its 2018-19 exhibition schedule. It also held its annual meeting in Vancouver. That meeting wrapped up on Wednesday; the WHL issued a news release on Thursday. . . . The schedule and that news release are on the WHL’s website.


I am hearing rumblings that Brent Parker, the former president, governor and general manager of the Regina Pats, would love to get back into the WHL in a front-office position. You would have to think that he might be a good fit for the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Tri-City Americans or Vancouver Giants, teams that are looking to fill player personnel-related vacancies. . . . Parker has been keeping busy, at least in part, as the head scout in Western Canada for ISS Hockey. . . . You have to think that the man who had more to do than anyone else with remaking the Pats organization into one that is high on professionalism would be a good fit for any one of those teams.


The City of Kennewick will spend at least US$350,000 per year as it upgrades the 30-year-old Toyota Center, the home of the Tri-City Americans. Meanwhile, Tacoma City Council is investing at least US$30 million in renovations to the 35-year-old Tacoma Dome, which once was home to the now-Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Americans’ lease is set to expire in 2020. . . . You don’t suppose . . . nah!


The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks and Troy Mick, their president, parted company on June 8. According to a news release from the team, it was a mutual decision. Mick, 49, had been with the Silverbacks since taking over as head coach for the 2012-13 season. The team had signed Mick to a five-year extension on May 9, 2016. He was then the team’s president and general manager. The extension came shortly after the Silverbacks started the Steamboat Wranglers, a team that plays out of Steamboat Springs, Colo. They played in the Tier 3 junior A Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League. However, that league folded earlier this month after three years. . . . The Wranglers, who won the 2017-18 RMJHL playoff title, have since been sold to a local group and have moved to the Tier 2 Western States Hockey League. . . . Mick played three seasons (1985-88) with the Portland Winter Hawks and one (1989-90) with the Regina Pats, totalling 466 points, including 204 goals, in 267 games. His pro career was ended by knee injuries. . . . He has coached in the WHL with the Winter Hawks, Tri-City Americans and Kamloops Blazers.


Congratulations to Phil Varney, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ athletic trainer. Check the times on the following two tweets!


The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Logan Bairos to a WHL contract. From Saskatoon, Kamloops1he was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he had 15 goals and 27 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Stallions. Bairos is expected to spend the 2018-19 season with the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts. . . .The Blazers also have signed F Caedan Bankier, who was a third-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. From Surrey, B.C., he had 16 goals and 12 assists in 30 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. He will spend 2018-19 with the BWC’s midget prep team. . . . Kamloops now has signed its first three 2018 bantam draft selections. F Logan Stankoven, its first-round pick, also has signed.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Kurtis Smythe, 16, who was acquired from the Saskatoon Blades on May 3 for a fourth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. Smythe was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2017 bantam draft. . . . Last season, the native of Cloverdale, B.C., had four goals and nine assists in 33 games with the Delta Hockey Academy midget prep team. He is expected to play with that midget team again in 2018-19.


D Henri Jokiharju of the Portland Winterhawks has signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. Jokiharju, who will turn 19 on June 17, is from Finland. He has played two seasons with Portland. . . . Last season, he had 12 goals and 59 assists in 63 games, and was named to the Western Conference’s second all-star team.



The Vancouver Giants have signed G Drew Sims to a WHL contract. Sims, from Tees, Alta., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Last season, he was 13-0-1, 2.05, .916, with three shutouts, in 16 regular-season games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. He helped his club to the playoff title by going 4-0, 1.00, .966, with one shutout.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed their first four selections from the WHL’s 2018 bantam Red Deerdraft. . . . F Jayden Grubbe, the seventh overall selection, had 29 goals and 37 assists with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . D Kyle Masters, the 16th overall pick, had seven goals and 17 assists in 29 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team. . . . D Trey Patterson, a second-round pick, had one goal and 24 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . F Josh Medernac, from Lloydminster, Alta., had 16 goals and 20 assists in 30 games with the OHA-Edmonton bantam prep team.

——

WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


Roger Millions, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades, has chosen to leave Sportsnet to enter the world of politics. Millions, who was born in Deloraine, Man., spent 39 years in the sports broadcasting game. He had been with Sportsnet since 2002, mostly calling and covering the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Millions, 59, joined the staff at CFQC, an AM radio station in Saskatoon, and called Blades’ games for seven seasons.


Chris Hebb has succeeded John Grisdale as the commissioner of the junior A B.C. Hockey League. . . . Grisdale, who joined the BCHL in 2003, retired following the 2017-18 season. . . . Hebb has been president of Starting Five Media Consulting Ltd., and has worked at advising such organizations as Hockey Canada, Canada Soccer, the Oilers Entertainment Group and Curling Canada. . . . He also has worked for Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, as well as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment. . . . Harrison Mooney of Postmedia has more right here.


TheCoachingGame

Mitch Love, who is preparing for his first season as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, has been named to the coaching staff of the U-18 Canadian team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 6-11. . . . Gilles Bouchard, the general manager and head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, will be the head coach. . . . The other assistant coach will be Ryan Oulahen, the head coach of the OHL’s Flint Firebirds. . . . Love spent the past seven seasons as an assistant coach with the Everett Silvertips.


The Red Deer Rebels have signed Kraymer Barnstable as their goaltending coach. The move came after they let Taylor Dakers out of his contract, a move that allowed him to join the Prince George Cougars as their goaltending coach. . . . Barnstable, 28, is from Kelowna. He played two seasons in the WHL — with th the Vancouver Giants in 2007-08 and with the Rebels in 2009-10. . . . Dakers, 31, is from Langley, B.C. He becomes the first full-time goaltending coach in the history of the Prince George franchise. Sean Murray was the goaltending coach on a part-time basis for the past two seasons. . . . Dakers spent five seasons on the Rebels’ coaching staff after being on staff with the Everett Silvertips for two. He played four seasons (2003-07) with the Kootenay Ice.


The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars have signed Brayden Klimosko as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Brandon Heck, who parted ways with the team after a semifinal loss to the Estevan Bruins. The North Stars were 43-14-2 during the regular season. . . . Klimosko was an assistant GM/assistant coach with the Humboldt Broncos for four seasons (2013-17). He also was the Broncos’ marketing manager. . . . Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . Klimosko is the North Stars’ third GM/head coach in as many seasons.


Greg Walters is the new head coach of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals. Walters, 47, had been the head coach of the OJHL’s Georgetown Raiders for the past eight seasons. He twice was named the OHL’s coach of the year, including in 2017 after the Raiders won their first championship. Prior to joining the Raiders, he spent eight seasons as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. . . . In Oshawa, Walters replaces Bob Jones, who missed the 2017-18 season with what has been reported as a life-threatening illness. His contract was to expire during the off-season, and he left the club on April 25 when the two parties weren’t able to reach agreement on an extension. . . . Brian McNair of Oshawa This Week has more right here.


Doug Christiansen is the new general manager and head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. He spent the previous four seasons with the USHL, as the director of player development and recruitment. Prior to that, he coached in the Elite Ice Hockey League for seven seasons. . . . With Manchester, Christiansen replaces Richard Seeley, who now is the GM of the Ontario Reign, the Kings’ AHL affiliate. Seeley, 39, spent three seasons as the Monarch’s head coach. He played three seasons (1996-99) in the WHL — three games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and 144 with the Prince Albert Raiders. He is from Powell River, B.C.


Tweetoftheday

Scattershooting: The Logan Effect . . . Jokiharju done in Portland? . . . Whistle in goal for Great Britain

Scattershooting


So many Canadians have registered as organ donors since April 6 that some people are calling it the Logan Effect. Logan Boulet was a player with the Humboldt Broncos who died in the crash of their bus on April 6. Boulet had registered as a donor upon turning 21 on March 2, and some of his organs went to recipients following the accident. . . . André Picard of The Globe and Mail has more right here.



The SJHL’s championship final is 2-2 after the host Estevan Bruins beat the Nipawin Hawks, 5-3, on Wednesday night. They will meet again Friday in Nipawin and Sunday in Estevan, with both games to start at 7:30 p.m. If needed, Game 7 will be played Tuesday in Nipawin.

The winner of the SJHL final will meet the MJHL champion for the ANAVET Cup. The Steinbach Pistons and Virden Oil Capitals are tied, 2-2, going into Game 5 tonight (Thursday) in Steinbach. Game 6 will be played Saturday at Virden, with Game 7, if needed, in Steinbach on Monday. All games start at 7:30 p.m.

In the AJHL, the Spruce Grove Saints hold a 3-1 edge on the Okotoks Oilers as they play Game 5 in Okotoks on Friday. . . . The BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild has a 3-1 lead on the Prince George Spruce Kings going into Game 5 in Wenatchee tonight (Thursday).


The WHL’s conference finals will get started on Friday with the Tri-City Americans visiting the Everett Silvertips, and the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Swift Current to meet the Broncos. They also will play in those same venues on Saturday night.


Scott Powers, who covers the Chicago Blackhawks for The Athletic, reported this week that D Henri Jokiharju may not be back with the Portland Winterhawks for a third Portlandseason. Jokiharju has been on loan to the Winterhawks from his Finnish team, Tappara, so is eligible to play next season in the AHL. The Blackhawks, who have yet to sign Jokiharju, selected him in the first round, 29th overall, of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The last time something like this happened involving a WHL team it was in the fall of 2014 and the Swift Current Broncos lost D Julius Honka. He had been loaned to them by his Finnish team, JYP, so moved onto the AHL after one season with the Broncos. The Dallas Stars picked him 14th overall in the NHL’s 2014 draft and he played the next three seasons with their AHL affiliate, the Texas Stars. He got into 16 games with Dallas in 2016-17 and had a goal and three assists in 42 games there this season.


G Jackson Whistle, who played five seasons in the WHL, is on Great Britain’s roster for the IIHF World Championship (Division 1, Group A) that opens Sunday in Budapesdt, Hungary. Whistle played with the Vancouver Giants (2011-12) and Kelowna Rockets (2012-16). This season, he played with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants. His father, Dave, coached in Great Britain, and Jackson has dual citizenship.


F Cole Shepard of West Vancouver has committed to attend Harvard U and play for the Crimson, starting in 2020-21. Shepard, 16, had 53 points, including 34 assists in 34 games with Delta Hockey Academy’s prep team in the CSSHL this season. A second-round selection by the Vancouver Giants in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, he is likely to play next season with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees.


Here’s some baseball culinary news from Brad Rock of Salt Lake City’s Deseret News:

“The Salt Lake Bees are upping their food game with a new sandwich that is half ham, turkey, roast beef and cheddar cheese with a basil aioli; the other half consisting of salami, capicola, pepperoni, provolone cheese and green chili aioli.

“Both halves are topped with jack cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and carrots mixed with Italian dressing.

“The $24 sandwich, sized the same as a regulation base, is called the ‘6-4-3 Double Play.’ Also known as ‘Gwyneth Paltrow’s Revenge’.”


Living in the U.S. as he does, Jack Finarelli, aka the Sports Curmudgeon, has regular access to ESPN, which is why he writes:

“According to reports, Pope Francis said that there is no Hell. Most assuredly, I do not wish to challenge His Holiness on religious matters. I know when I am in over my head.  Nonetheless, I wonder what the Pope would call viewing First Take and/or Undisputed day after day after day after . . .”

The curmudgeonly one then added: “I guess they don’t get those programs in Vatican City . . .”


Headline at SportsPickle.com: Report: Patriots stockpiling draft picks in hopes of taking a quarterback who can catch.


Fran O’Hanlon, the men’s basketball coach at Lafayette College in Easton, Penn., no longer has his team use a matchup-zone defence. Why not? He explains to CBSsportsradio.com: “The key to the matchup is being able to communicate with one another on the floor. Today’s players can’t communicate unless they text. They can type really fast on their cellphones, but not quite fast enough during a game.”


Attendance at a recent game between the Tampa Bay Rays and White Sox in Chicago totalled 974. As Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., noted: “All the fans bought a hot dog and beer, so the team still made $3 million from the concession stands.”