WHL teams start trimming 2001-born players . . . Oil Kings add d-man . . . ‘Quick lube guy’ doesn’t make Blazers’ short list

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The Tri-City Americans have released three 2001-born players, turning F AmericansBooker Daniel, F Edge Lambert and D Bryan McAndrews into free agents. . . . Daniel, from Vanderhoof, B.C., had four goals and five assists in 19 games this season. In 69 games over three seasons, he has 11 goals and 11 assists. . . . Lambert, from Grande Prairie, Alta., was a seventh-round selection by the Prince George Cougars in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He had two goals and five assists in 18 games with the Americans this season. In 77 games over two seasons with Tri-City, he put up 19 goals and 14 assists. . . . The 6-foot-5 McAndrews, from Edmonton, was picked by Tri-City in the fifth round of the 2016 bantam draft. In 117 games over three seasons with the Americans, he had two goals and four assists. This season, he had one assist in 11 games. . . . The Americans still have five 2001-born players on the roster with which they finished this season — D Mitchell Brown, F Connor Bouchard, F Samuel Huo, F Sasha Mutala and Slovakian D Andrej Golian. . . .

Meanwhile, the Prince George Cougars have released F Brendan Boyle, another PG2001-born skater. . . . From Lake Country, B.C., Boyle had one assist in 12 games with the Cougars this season. In 132 games over four seasons, he totalled three goals and four assists. . . . Boyle’s departure leaves the Cougars with six 2001-born players on their roster — F Connor Bowie, F Ethan Browne, G Taylor Gauthier, F Jonny Hooker, D Majid Kaddoura and F Tyson Upper. . . .

And the Saskatoon Blades have released 2001-born F Alex Morozoff. . . . From BladesSaskatoon, he started his WHL career with the Red Deer Rebels. After 94 games with the Rebels, he played 22 with the Seattle Thunderbirds before finishing up with his hometown Blades. . . . In 172 regular-season games, he put up 27 goals and 18 assists. . . . Saskatoon still has five 2001-born players on its roster — G Nolan Maier, F Evan Patrician, D Rhett Rhinehart, F Tristen Robins and F Blake Stevenson.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have acquired D Carson Golder (2002) from the EdmontonVictoria Royals for a ninth-round pick in the WHL’s 2022 prospects draft. . . . The pick originally belonged to the Saskatoon Blades, who surrendered it when they acquired D Wyatt McLeod from Edmonton on Jan. 25. . . . Golder, from Smithers, B.C., had two assists in 50 games with the Royals in 2019-20. This season, he was with the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters, putting up two goals and one assist in 15 games.


After Matt Bardsley announced that he was leaving his job as general manager Kamloopsof the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, did you think about applying for the position? . . . No. . . . Why not? . . . Don Moores, the team’s president, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV that he has received “some really good resumes from the outside. We’ve had lots of great resumes.” Moores also allowed that “we’ve had some unusual resumes.” . . . He added: “I did have a guy from Brampton, Ont., who works for quick lube who felt he would be perfect for the position.” . . . As Seitz reported: “The Blazers have short-listed five, according to Moores, and the quick lube guy isn’t one of them.”

Meanwhile, Moores told Jon Keen, the Blazers’ play-by-play voice, that Swedish F Viktor Persson is “committed to the organization.” Persson was a seventh-round pick by the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL’s 2020 draft. If not for the pandemic, it’s believed he would have been in Kamloops for the 2020-21 season. Persson, who turns 20 on Nov. 7, will be a two-spotter — a 20-year-old import — with the Blazers. . . . Swiss D Inako Baragano, the Blazers’ lone import this season, won’t be returning. Baragano, another 2001-born skater, has signed with the Rapperswil-Jona Lakers of Switzerland’s National League.


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Kevin Draper, writing in The New York Times:

“N.F.L. players who aren’t vaccinated will face severe restrictions next football season. The league has made vaccinations mandatory for coaches and other essential team personnel, but cannot do so for players. Still, teams can make the trade-off quite clear.”

Draper quoted Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, as saying: “If you get vaccinated, you can go back to 2019 rules. If you don’t, you’ll have to follow 2020 protocols,” a strict regimen of testing, masking and social distancing guidance.


If you have been following the NBA playoffs, you will be aware that injuries to star players are turning into a huge story. . . . On top of that guard Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns now has tested positive. He was a key performer as the Suns ousted the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers and then the Denver Nuggets, but now will miss the start of the Western Conference final against the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz. . . . Apparently, Paul has received at least one vaccination. . . . The Suns aren’t expected to update his situation before Saturday.

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Meanwhile, the number of positive tests involving people who are connect with the Copa America soccer tournament in Brazil has reached at least 65, up from 53 on Wednesday. . . . Of those 65, 19 are players and 46 are staff members or officials. . . . Teams from Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia — that’s half the field — have confirmed positive tests. . . . Brazil, one of the world’s COVID-19 hotspots, stepped is as the tournament host only a short time before the games were to begin.


Germany has replaced Canada in the schedule for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled for Aug. 2-7 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . Canada cancelled its U18 selection camp for pandemic-released reasons so has bowed out of this year’s tournament. The 2020 event, you will recall, was to have been held in Edmonton and Red Deer but was cancelled due to the pandemic. . . . There is a news release that includes a schedule right here.


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JUST NOTES: Ron Robison, the WHL’s commissioner for 21 seasons, has been given a three-year contract running through 2023-24 by the board of governors. Robison, 66, took over the position prior to the 2000-01 season. In a news release, Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board, said the governors “voted unanimously to extend” Robison’s contract. . . . The WHL also announced Yvonne Bergmann’s retirement. The vice-president, business, Bergmann has been in the WHL office for 20 years. The league has hired Marco De Iaco as vice-president, business development. He had been president and CEO of JMI Sport & Entertainment Projects in Calgary. . . .

The Red Deer Rebels have signed Mike Egener as an assistant coach to work alongside recently signed head coach Steve Konowalchuk. Egener played four seasons (2000-04) as a defenceman with the Calgary Hitmen. He retired from playing in 2015 after spending three seasons with the Coventry Blaze of the Elite Ice Hockey League. He has been coaching at the OHA Academy since 2017. With the Rebels, he fills the spot left when the Rebels chose not to renew Brad Flynn’s contract. . . .

Former WHLer James Henry has signed on as the first head coach in the history of the Federal Prospects Hockey League’s Binghamton Black Bears. Most recently, he was an assistant coach with the Southern Professional Hockey League’s Fayetteville Marksmen. Henry, 30, is from Winnipeg. He played five seasons (2007-12) in the WHL, getting into 281 games with the Vancouver Giants and 28 with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He finished with 72 goals and 142 assists, adding 15 goals and 22 assists in 59 playoff games. . . .

According to Jeff Paterson (@patersonjeff), there won’t be a Young Stars exhibition tournament in Penticton in 2021. Paterson tweeted that the Vancouver Canucks “have confirmed no Young Stars in Penticton this season due to scheduling uncertainty. Team is working with city and South Okanagan Events Centre on long-term plan to ensure prospect tournament returns.”


Eyes

BCHL commish sounds warning . . . City to take over Canalta Centre . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup on bubble?


DrKara
Allow me to introduce you to our granddaughter, Kara, who will turn four in July. . . . I don’t know what your grandchildren have been doing during this predicament in which we find ourselves, but Kara was in her lab on Tuesday, working to find a vaccine. . . . She isn’t funded by Bill Gates and doesn’t know 5G from Grade 5; she just has mankind’s best interests at heart. . . . She knows the experts say a vaccine is, at best, a year away, but she is working hard to squeeze that window. Judging by the top she is wearing, she is hoping to have success before Christmas. . . . Kara also says: Stay safe and have a great day!

Chris Hebb, the commissioner of the 18-team BCHL, has told Steve Ewen of Postmedia that the junior A league “could lose teams” because of the pandemic. Ewen (@SteveEwen) tweeted that “many of those clubs rely heavily on the cash they bring in from spring camps and those camps have been cancelled.” . . . More from Ewen: “Hebb says the (BCHL) will approach the government looking for some sort of financial assistance. The league has gathered letters from the mayors of 18 cities that have teams . . . that state what the clubs mean to those regions.”


Another indication that the 2020-21 junior hockey season may be looking at a delayed start comes from the City of Medicine Hat. . . . The City announced Monday that “in Tigers Logo Officialresponse to the COVID-19 pandemic and the dynamic economic challenges ahead,” it will be taking over operations of the Canalta Centre from ASM Global, a venue management company, starting in August. . . . The news release announcing the change included this: “Current provincial and federal restrictions have limited the operational capabilities for the Canalta Centre venue, and the current outlook from Alberta Health and Canada Health authorities indicates that public restrictions can be expected for the remainder of 2020 in an effort to mitigate virus transmission.” . . . The 7,000-seat facility is home to the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Since opening in time for the 2015-16 season, the Tigers, according to figures compiled by the WHL, have averaged 4,248, 3,586, 3,295, 3,121 and, in 2019-20, 2,947 fans per game. . . . Brian Mastel, the City’s commissioner of public services, said: “Challenges related to market support and attendance were occurring prior to the COVID-19 crisis. When the current situation is considered in context of these broader challenges, it underscores the need to re-examine the operational and cost structure for future sustainability.” . . . You have to wonder what is in store for the start of the next hockey season if, as this news release indicates, all signs in Alberta point to “public restrictions” through the end of 2020. The WHL has five franchises based in Alberta.



One of the events on the bubble because of the pandemic would appear to be the 2020 Hlinka Gretzky Cup that is scheduled to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . Bob Nicholson, the chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group, told reporters on Tuesday that he thinks a decision on the U-18 tournament will be made in the next 10 days. Teams from Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland are scheduled to attend. . . . Nicholson also said that the NHL is “really determined to finalize this season,” adding that it could return to play in “July or August,” which would mean the 2020-21 season would begin in November. . . . Of course, having the NHL restart its season in July or August likely would mean the cancellation of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. “Everyone would like to see the Hlinka Gretzky tournament happen,” Nicholson said, “but, in fairness, I’d rather see the Edmonton Oilers be in the playoffs in the month of August.”


Bruce Jenkins, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle:

“The New York Times recently staged a panel discussion including Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who advised the Obama administration on health policy and the Affordable Care Act. His words were stark and foreboding.

“ ‘Larger gatherings — conferences, concerts, sporting events — when people say they’re going to reschedule this conference or graduation event for October 2020, I have no idea how they think that’s a plausible possibility. I think those things will be the last to return. Realistically, we’re talking fall 2021 at the earliest.’ ”

Jenkins’ column, which carries the headline California Gov. Newsom’s coronavirus plan has grim implications for sports in 2020, is right here.


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According to Golf Digest, the PGA Tour is preparing to return to play with the Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, June 11-14. An announcement is expected this week and, no, fans won’t be allowed to attend the event. . . . The tournament had been scheduled for May 21-24. . . . The story also indicates that the RBC Canadian Open, scheduled for June 11-14, won’t be played. . . .

The Asian Football Confederation, which features 32 Asian Champions League teams, has shut down through the end of June. . . .

The Senior British Open golf tournament that was to scheduled for July 23-26 at Sunningdale has been postponed. Organizers are hoping to hold the tournament later in the year. . . .

The Tour de France that was to have started on June 27 in Nice has been postponed, although possible future dates weren’t announced. France has cancelled all large public gatherings through at least mid-July. . . . The Tour de France has been held every year since 1946 when it was cancelled due to the Second World War that had recently ended. . . .

The MLS, which was a couple of weeks into its season when it suspended play on March 12, had hoped to resume in mid-May, but now says that is “extremely unlikely.” It is following guidelines established by federal and public health officials. . . .

The Chinese Basketball Association, on hold since Jan. 24, had planned on resuming play on Wednesday (April 15). Now, however, it seems the CBA has been forced to delay a possible return until at least sometime in July. . . .

The Canadian U-15 and U-17 basketball championships, scheduled for Aug. 2-9, have been cancelled. The women were to have played in Charlottetown, the men in Kingston.


Here’s our man Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from Will Rogers: “And the thing about my jokes is, they don’t hurt anybody. You can take ’em or leave ’em — you can say they’re funny or they’re terrible or they’re good, or whatever, but you can just pass ’em by. But with Congress, every time they make a joke, it’s a law! And every time they make a law, it’s a joke!”


A few things I’ve learned while sitting out this pandemic: Rob Manfred, the MLB commissioner, apparently is paid somewhere around US$11 million per year. He and other baseball officials are said to be taking a 35 per cent cut in pay. I’m sure he will be able to survive on $7 million. . . . Everything that goes wrong in Canada, from the pothole at the base of your driveway to the divot that your golf ball landed in on the second fairway, is Justin Trudeau’s fault. . . . Nothing is more valuable these days than hand sanitizer. That fact was borne out on Saturday when fistfights broke out at Forbidden Spirits Distilling near Kelowna as folks arrived in vehicles hoping to score some free sanitizer. Rumour has it that Lorne Frey, the Kelowna Rockets’ super scout, was on hand looking for some muscle for next season. . . . Hockey continues to have a nickname problem. Koletrane Wilson, who played out his WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, had one of the league’s best names, and his nickname is Willy. Seriously? . . . The United States of America has fallen a long, long way since this thing started and it is looking more and more like it can’t get up.


Hey, WHL, fans are waiting on 18 rosters. . . . Nine WHLers on Team Canada. . . . Hitmen sign two import forwards

MacBeth

F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year contract with the Oji Eagles Tomakomai (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had nine goals and nine assists in 50 games. . . .

F Chase Clayton (Calgary, Saskatoon, 2010-15) signed a one-year contract with Blue Devils Weiden (Germany, Oberliga Süd). Last season, in 27 games with U of British Columbia (USports, Canada West), he had eight goals and four assists.


ThisThat

Guy Flaming, the host of The Pipeline Show, chatted with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, on July 4. Part of that conversation — a partial transcript of which is right here — included this:

Flaming: One of the questions that came in from a listener was about the updated roster pages on the WHL website. It’s something I’ve mentioned over the last couple of years as well. Right now, if I go to the QMJHL website, I can pull up a roster for a respective team, Halifax, whatever, and see every player that that team holds the rights to. If I go to the WHL website and I look at the Calgary Hitmen, Jett Woo isn’t even listed on their roster and, in fact, the roster page is blank for the 2019 pre-season. Why is that and how can we fix that moving forward because, I think you’d agree, that it would be advantageous for the fans at least to generate interest by seeing all the players that a team holds the rights to?

Robison: Well, I think that that is a very good question and I’m glad you brought it to my attention. I’ll certainly look into that. I think it’s important that we keep current rosters. Not quite sure why that would be the case but I will certainly look into it and would suggest to you that as long as there’s the ability to do that, that we would certainly have that information posted.

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Well . . . July is about to end, meaning it has been almost four weeks since Flaming and Robison had that conversation.

I checked for pre-season rosters on the WHL website on Monday evening and here is what I found — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats and Victoria Royals have rosters available.

As for the other 18 teams . . . crickets!

So the next time you hear the commissioner of all things WHL talking about how important fans are, well . . .

I mean, sheesh, we’re talking about pre-season rosters here. Not the contract terms of all 22 head coaches, or how much players are being paid, or how much the WHL is paying in legal fees these days.

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BTW, Robison’s response to Flaming’s first question — he asked for two or three highlights from the past 12 months — had me spitting out my coffee. I’m thinking the good folks of Prince Albert would have done the same. . . . One of Robison’s highlights was the Raiders having won the 2018-19 WHL championship:

“What a good news story that is,” Robison said, “and it really helped solidify that franchise moving forward, because as you’re well aware, in the smaller markets, there’s challenges and certainly in Prince Albert we need a new facility and the timing couldn’t have been better for their run in the WHL playoffs and winning the championship.”

Hey, Prince Albert, you have been forewarned. Time to start saving your pennies for a new arena.

Quit snickering, Swift Current, because you’ll be up next.


There are nine WHLers on the 22-man roster for the Canadian team that will play in the CanadaHlinka Gretzky Cup that runs from Aug. 5-10 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia. . . . The roster was revealed Tuesday after a five-day selection camp in Calgary. . . . Here are the WHL players named to the team: F Ozzy Wiesblatt, Prince Albert Raiders; F Justin Sourdif, Vancouver Giants; F Ridly Greig, Brandon Wheat Kings; F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg Ice; F Jake Neighbours, Edmonton Oil Kings; F Seth Jarvis, Portland Winterhawks; D Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw Warriors; D Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert; and G Dylan Garand, Kamloops Blazers. . . . WHLers who were in camp but weren’t selected: F Jakob Brook, Prince Albert; F Kyle Crnkovic, Saskatoon Blades; F Jack Finley, Spokane Chiefs; F Ryder Korczak, Moose Jaw; D Tyrel Bauer, Seattle Thunderbirds; D Luke Prokop, Calgary Hitmen; and D Ronan Seeley, Everett Silvertips. . . . Canada will open against Finland on Monday in Breclav. . . . Michael Dyck, Vancouver’s head coach, is the head coach of Canada’s team, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, one of the assistant coaches.


The Calgary Hitmen have signed Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, Calgary17, both of whom were picked in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Peterek had two goals and seven assists in nine games with HC Ocelari Trinec’s U-19 team last season, then added two goals and nine assists in 41 games on loan to HC Frydek-Mistek (Czech2). He also had five goals and eight assists in 29 games with his country’s U-18 side. . . . Krajc had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-18 team, and also had 11 goals and eight assists in 27 games with the U-20 side. In seven games with Slovakia’s U-18 team, he had two goals and an assist.


Leland Mack has joined the Prince George Cougars has their head scout in the Pacific PrinceGeorgeRegion. He is the head coach of the Burnaby Winter Club’s bantam prep team. Mack had been scouting for the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Cougars also have added Tim Mills, David Reekie, Rob Rogers and Trevor Sprague to their scouting staff. . . . Mills moves over from the Swift Current Broncos and will be the Cougars’ Okanagan scout. . . . Reekie, a goaltender in his playing days who suited up with the Regina Pats and Everett Silvertips (2004-07), will work Regina and southern Saskatchewan for the Cougars. . . . Rogers, who had been working with the Spokane Chiefs, will focus on B.C. . . . Sprague, the general manager of the major midget Cariboo Cougars, will keep an eye on the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League and northern B.C.


Taking Note has been told that F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, won’t be playing in 2019-20 because of concussion issues. A Winnipegger, he has played four seasons in the ECHL, with the Colorado Eagles, Atlanta Gladiators, Indy Fuel and Norfolk Admirals. Last season, he had seven goals and 10 assists in 28 games. . . . In 2017-18, he had 10 goals and 23 assists in 55 games with Norfolk.


Greg Wyshynski of ESPN has taken an in-depth look at the NHL and its fighting numbers. NHL. . . “In 1,271 regular-season games in 2018-19,” he writes, “there were 224 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. That’s down from 280 fights in 2017-18.” . . . Also: ”The rate for 2018-19 was 0.18 fights per game, which marks the first time that the average fights per game has dropped below 0.20.” . . . And: “In 2018-19, 15.3% of regular-season games had a fight. In 2008-09, that number was 41.4%.” . . . Let’s compare a couple of those numbers to the WHL’s 2018-19 season, using numbers available at hockeyfights.com. In 748 regular-season WHL games, there were 272 fights in which at least one player received a fighting major. (That number was 345 in 2017-18, when each team played 72 games; last season, each team played 68 games.) The rate for 2018-19 was 0.36 fights per game, down from 0.44 in 2017-18. . . . Yes, there are more fights in the WHL than in the NHL these days. . . . Wyshynski’s complete story is right here.


JUST NOTES:

Dan MacKenzie has signed on as the first full-time president of the Canadian Hockey League, the umbrella under which the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League operate. . . . MacKenzie, who spent the past eight years as the managing director of NBA Canada, will report to the CHL executive council which comprises the three commissioners of the aforementioned leagues — David Branch (OHL), Gilles Courteau (QMJHL) and Ron Robison (WHL). As well as being the OHL commissioner, Branch had been the CHL president since 1996. . . . There is a complete news release right here. . . .

F Sebastian Streu, who will turn 20 on Nov. 22, has signed a tryout agreement with Eisbären  Berlin (Germany, DEL), meaning that he won’t be returning to the Regina Pats. Streu, who has German/Canadian citizenship, had seven goals and 15 assists in 36 games with Regina last season. . . . Streu’s father, Craig, is preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with Eisbären  Berlin. . . . The Pats are left with three 20s on their roster — F Robbie Holmes, F Dawson Holt and F Austin Pratt.


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