B.C.’s wildfire season gets even more tragic . . . Oil Kings adjust scouting staff . . . Thunderbirds fill out coaching crew

Fire1
Thursday, 2:30 p.m. Looking east down the South Thompson River Valley, with smoke from the White Rock Lake moving to the northeast.
Fire2
Thursday, 4:30 p.m. This was the same view as the above photo, just taken two hours later.

A wild fire that is not too far north of us exploded on Thursday and devoured the community of Monte Lake, which is located about 50 km southeast of Kamloops.

I took the second of the above photos on Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. It apparently was about 30 minutes later when the fire — known as the White Rock Lake fire — burned the townsite of Monte Lake. That was confirmed at about 8 p.m., by Sheldon Jordan, the director-general of wildlife enforcement for Environment Canada.

If you have never driven through a lot of the rural areas in the southern Interior of B.C., there are many homes — belonging to ranchers, farmers and others — scattered throughout a lot of the forested areas. So chances are that there will have been more structures devoured by this fire than the ones at Monte Lake.

And the end of our fire season isn’t anywhere in sight.


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The Edmonton Oil Kings made a handful of moves with their scouting Edmontondepartment on Thursday. They promoted three veteran scouts — Jamie Novakoski, Nels Eckland and Del Reid — from area scouts to travelling scouts. . . . Novakoski, from Saskatoon, has been with the Oil Kings since they joined the league. He has done two stints as an area scout (2007-13, 2017-21) and also worked as director of scouting (2013-17). He also has scouted for the Kamloops Blazers (1995-2007). . . . From Calgary, Eckland also is an Oil Kings original. He was a long-time coach, including a stint (1994-98) as an assistant coach with the Kootenay Ice, before getting involved in the scouting side of the game. . . . Novakoski and Eckland have been contributors to a pair of WHL championships (2012, 2014) and a Memorial Cup title (2014) in Edmonton. . . . Reid, who is from Edmonton, has been a WHL scout for 31 years. He joined the Oil Kings prior to 2014-15 after working with the Regina Pats for seven years. He also spent 18 years with Kamloops, winning four WHL titles and three Memorial Cups with the Blazers. . . .

Kirt Hill, the Oil Kings’ president of hockey operations and general manager, explained that these moves, and the hiring of Michael Chan as director of scouting, were made necessary by the fact that the WHL will have two drafts during the upcoming season. . . . Chan, 29, spent the previous season as the video coach for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Prior to that, he was the Oil Kings’ video coach and hockey operations co-ordinator for three seasons. . . .

These guys don’t get near enough credit for what they do, so here, from the Oil Kings’ news release, is their entire scouting staff:

Director of scouting — Michael Chan

Travelling scouts — Nels Eckland, Jamie Novakoski, Del Reid.

Alberta area scouts — Jason Stewart, Jory Stuparyk, Keith Wilson.

B.C. area scouts — Mike Grant, George Musselwhite, Bruce Taylor, Danny Todosychuk.

Saskatchewan area scouts — Shawn Stieb, Scott Thomas.

Saskatchewan and U.S. area scout — Murray Brookbank.

Manitoba area scout — Scott Coates.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Matt Marquardt to their staff as an Seattleassistant coach, and Brad Guzda has signed on as the new goaltender coach. As well, Jared Crooks has been promoted to assistant general manager. . . . Marquardt, 34, is from North Bay, Ont. He was a player-assistant coach with the EIHL’s Dundee Stars for two seasons (2018-20). Marquardt fills the vacancy created when Castan Sommer left the organization in June after four seasons there. He since has joined Holy Cross U as an assistant coach. . . . Guzda, 48, is from Banff. From the Thunderbirds’ news release: “Guzda played eight seasons of professional hockey and now works with young goalies in Nashville. He has worked with goaltenders at the Hockey Lab for over nine years and is currently the headmaster at Triple V Prep.” . . . Guzda takes over from Ian Gordon, who had been the goaltending coach for eight seasons. Gordon now is with the Red Deer Rebels as director of goaltending/goalie coach. . . . For the past three seasons, Crooks as been Seattle’s skills development and video coach, “as well as host family co-ordinator, player education adviser and travel and logistics director.” . . . The Thunderbirds’ coaching staff also includes head coach Matt O’Dette and assistant Kyle Hagel.



Cody Mapes is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. He had been an assistant coach with the Red Wings since 2019-20. Mapes replaces Rich Pilon. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon wouldn’t be back, but didn’t provide any further information. In fact, team president Brent Stephenson suggested that the situation may end up in court.


Putty


So . . . pro golfer Bryson DeChambeau tested positive, missed the Tokyo Olympics, lost 10 pounds while ill, and now is dealing with allergies that weren’t there before all of this started. . . . And, still, he refuses to get vaccinated, saying that he would “rather give (the vaccine) to people who need it.” . . . He added: “I tried to take all the necessary precautions to not get contracted. I don’t know where I got it, how I got it, I was just home in Dallas and it was in the air.”

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CBC News — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government is considering mandatory vaccines for federal public service employees, as well as for federally regulated industries.

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Gavin Newsom, California’s governor — California will now require workers in healthcare settings to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by September 30th.

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The New York Times — Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey had a blunt rebuke for anti-vaccination demonstrators. “You’ve lost your minds,” Murphy said. “You are the ultimate knuckleheads. And because of what you are saying and standing for, people are losing their life.”

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The New York Times — CNN fired three employees who violated its Covid safety protocols by going to the office unvaccinated, the company said Thursday. It’s one of the first known examples of a major U.S. corporation terminating workers for ignoring a workplace vaccine mandate.

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BNO Newsroom — Hawaii reports 655 new coronavirus cases, the biggest one-day increase on record.

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Katie Rogers, The New York Times: “The Biden administration is developing plans to require all foreign travelers to the United States to be vaccinated against Covid-19, with limited exceptions, according to an administration official with knowledge of the developing policy. . . . The plan, first reported by Reuters, will be part of a new system to be put in place after the current restrictions on travel into the country are lifted, but officials have yet to determine when that might be done. . . . President Biden has been under pressure for months to ease restrictions on people wishing to travel to the United States, particularly as other countries, including England, Scotland and Canada, relax their own measures. . . . But White House officials have said in recent days that there is no plan to lift current restrictions anytime soon, in light of the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.”

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Kyle Griffin, MSNBC — “Microsoft, which employs roughly 100,000 people in the United States, says it will require proof of vaccination for all employees, vendors, and guests to gain access to its offices.”

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Rob DeMello, KHONnews — “Department of Education announces that fall prep sports in Hawaii will be delayed until late Sept. and all athletes, athletic staff, volunteers will need to be fully vaccinated to participate.”

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KATU News — Starting at the end of September, healthcare workers in Oregon will need to submit to weekly COVID-19 testing or show proof of vaccination.


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JUST NOTES: The Red Deer Rebels have named Shaun Sutter as associate general manager. Sutter, 41, has been with the Rebels since 2011 when he signed on as senior scout. He was promoted to assistant GM and director of player personnel in 2013. Sutter’s father, Brian, is a former WHL/NHL player and coach. . . . Gordie Dwyer is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. He replaces Greg Gilbert, who is out after one season but will be staying in the organization in an as-yet undefined role. Dwyer, 43, coached the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes in 2019-20. In 2020-21, he was an assistant coach with the Canadian team that won gold at the IIHF U-18 World championship.


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Cranbrook group working to keep Ice . . . One more father-son head-coaching combo . . . Blades, Tigers swap veteran forwards


MacBeth

F Zdeněk Bahenský (Saskatoon, 2004-06) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had seven goals and 13 assists in 23 games with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). . . .

D Jordan Rowley (Kamloops, Prince Albert, 2005-11) a signed contract for the rest of this season with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had two goals and seven assists in 45 games with the Pelicans Lahti (Finland, Liiga).


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The Green Bay Committee, a group in Cranbrook that is working in support of the Kootenay Ice, held something of a town hall meeting on Thursday night.

With the WHL franchise surrounded by speculation that it will be moved to Winnipeg Kootenaynewbefore another season gets here, the committee would like to sell at least 500 season tickets over the next two weeks through what it calls Reach Out, hoping that will help convince owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell to keep the team in Cranbrook.

All in attendance at the meeting received information packages and order sheets for season-ticket packages. There will be another meeting on Nov. 1.

The Ice, which plays in 4,264-seat Western Financial Place, apparently has sold about 1,700 season tickets, down a couple of hundred from last season. Attendance at the home-opener, on Sept. 22, was 2,862. Since then, the announced attendances have been 2,375, 2,287, 2,133, 2,334, 2,117 and 2,042. That latter figure was from Wednesday night when the Ice scored a 4-3 OT victory over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Lee Pratt, Cranbrook’s mayor, told Bradley Jones of Summit 107:

“The attendance is down and they need more people in the stands. It’s as simple as that, it’s a business. Most businesses operate, they have to get a return on their investment, and obviously with the fan support they’re getting right now, it’s not a viable operation. So they’ve got to look for some long-term sustainability and that’s what they’re doing.”

(Jones’s complete story is right here.)

Pratt also was adamant that the City of Cranbrook is committed to keeping the WHL franchise right where it is.

“We made that commitment a number of years ago and we’re standing by that commitment,” Pratt said. “We’re working with them on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do with them what we can to ensure that they are here.”

Jones also reported that the Ice has a lease that runs to 2023.

“Pratt said the City offered to become a partner and re-negotiate parts of the lease once the Ice was purchased by the new ownership group . . . in 2017,” Jones reported, “but that the re-negotiations never happened.”

According to Jones, Pratt told the meeting that he believes the lease is one of the best in the CHL.

Interestingly, Jones also reported that “the Ice (wasn’t) in attendance . . . and had no official representation at the meeting.” Nor has the Ice had anything to say on the relocation speculation, telling Summit 107 that “no comment will be given.”

Meanwhile, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, told Summit 107 in a statement: ”The WHL commissioner continues to monitor the situation in Kootenay very closely and reports to the board of governors as required on any new developments. The discussions (that) take place on WHL franchises are internal and will remain confidential. With respect to the Kootenay Ice franchise, there is nothing new to report at this time.”

Late last week, Robison told the Winnipeg Free Press that “the WHL is looking forward to the Kootenay Ice continuing to operate this season in Cranbrook.”

That comment came as the Free Press reported that its sources have indicated the WHL’s “long-rumoured return to Winnipeg could be only months away from coming to fruition.”

According to that report, the Ice is likely to play out of a 1,400-seat arena on the U of Manitoba campus as it awaits construction of a 5,000-seat facility.

On Thursday, Mike Sawatzky of the Free Press reported that Gene Muller, the U of Manitoba’s director of athletics and recreation, “was asked what his school’s attitude would be if the Ice (was) to take up residence at the aging 1,400-seat campus arena. Muller politely declined comment.”

I don’t know about you, but this all is starting to have a familiar ring to it, or do you no longer remember the Chilliwack Bruins?


Elliotte Friedman’s always-readable 31 Thoughts was posted on Thursday. He was in Winnipeg this week for Wednesday’s NHL game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Jets, and this is his 30th thought for this week:

“It is not NHL-related, but after being in Winnipeg for a couple of days, it is clear the future of WHL Kootenay and how it relates to Manitoba is a storyline that’s not going away anytime soon.”

Friedman’s complete 31 Thoughts is right here.


Yes, I knew it would happen; in fact, I hoped it would happen.

On the subject of fathers and sons who have coached in the WHL . . .

The inbox on Thursday had another reminder, this one about Mike and Hardy Sauter.

Mike, who is now 70, was the head coach of the Lethbridge Broncos in 1976-77 and then again for the front part of the 1979-80 season.

Hardy, now 47, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings and Spokane Chiefs (1989-92). He spent one season (2007-08) as an assistant coach with the Chiefs, then was the head coach for two seasons (2008-10).

So . . . the Sauters join Kelly and Brent Kisio, along with Danny and Brad Flynn, as father-son combinations who have been WHL head coaches, even if only for one game.


Medicine Hat and Saskatoon have swapped 19-year-old forwards, with Gary Haden Saskatoonmoving to the Blades and Logan Christensen heading to the Tigers. . . . Haden had been at home in Airdrie, Alta., awaiting a trade after asking for a move about two weeks ago. . . . Last season, Haden had 17 goals and 25 assists in 70 games. This season, he had one goal and two assists in nine games before heading home. . . . In 115 career regular-season games, Haden has 25 goals and 28 assists. . . . Haden was a ninth-round selection by the Regina Pats in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. . . . Christensen, from Morden, Man., was a second-round pick by the Blades in the 2014 bantam draft. In 197 career games, he has 21 goals and 37 assists. This season, he put up a goal and two assists in 13 games. . . . The Tigers visit the Regina Pats tonight, while the Blades meet the Rebels in Red Deer.


The Medicine Hat Tigers are expected to have Cole Sillinger, 15, in their lineup tonight Tigers Logo Officialagainst the Pats in Regina. . . . Sillinger is from Regina; his father, Mike, was a star with the Pats before going onto a lengthy NHL career. . . . This season, Cole has five goals and 13 assists in eight games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . The Tigers selected him with the 11th overall pick of the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft.


The 2020 Scotties Tournament of Hearts — the Canadian women’s curling championship MooseJawWarriors— will be played in Moose Jaw’s Mosaic Place, Feb. 14-23. . . . That means the Warriors will have to vacate their home arena for between two and three weeks, including setup and teardown time for the curling gang. . . . The Scotties last was held in Moose Jaw in 2015. That season, the Warriors played at home on Feb. 6 — they lost 3-2 to the Spokane Chiefs — and then were away for three weeks, not playing at home again until Feb. 27. In the interim, they played seven road games, five of them in the B.C. Division. The Warriors went 3-3-1 in those seven games.


F Blake Stevenson of the Tri-City Americans has been suspended for three games after he took a headshot major and game misconduct during a 4-3 shootout victory over the Cougars in Prince George on Wednesday night. That was for a hit on Cougars F Jackson Leppard. . . . Stevenson will miss games in Spokane, Everett and Regina, and will be eligible to return on Nov. 11 when the Americans meet the Wheat Kings in Brandon. . . .

Kevin Acheson, who is in his first season as the WHL’s disciplinarian, now has issued 23 suspensions totalling 54 games since the regular season opened.

Last season, Richard Doerksen handed out 11 suspensions worth 30 games between the start of the season and Oct. 24. In 2016-17, in the same time period, Doerksen had issued nine suspensions for 15 games.

One would hope that WHL players soon will start getting Acheson’s message — if you’re going to do the crime, you’re going to get more time than in recent seasons.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have named Jared Crooks as their skill development and video coach. Crooks, who played five seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, had been an Alberta-based scout for the Thunderbirds.


G Matthew Armitage, who spent last season with the Calgary Hitmen, has been acquired by the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. Armitage, a 19-year-old from Creston, B.C., was 3.55, .890 in 19 games with the Hitmen last season. Salmon Arm acquired his rights from the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


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WHL’s winds of change: Coaches and scouts on the move . . . and more news, too

MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) signed a one-year contract with the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B). Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 50 games with Kamloops (WHL). . . .

F James Wright (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year plus option contract with Linköping (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had two goals and six assists in 26 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), and three goals and two assists in 15 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL).


ThisThat


Luke Pierce has signed on as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 34, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s Paralympic sledge hockey team after working for two seasons as head coach of the Kootenay Ice. . . . He lost his job with the Ice when he got caught up in an ownership change. . . . Prior to that, he was the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials for five-plus seasons. . . .

In Edmonton, Pierce will work alongside head coach Brad Lauer, who is preparing for his first season in that role. Pierce replaces Ryan Marsh, who was fired on May 29, along with head coach Steve Hamilton, and has since joined the Saskatoon Blades as an assistant coach. Hamilton now is the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen.

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings also announced that Jamie Novakoski, their director of scouting, won’t be back. He had been with the Oil Kings since 2007, working as director of scouting for the past five seasons. . . . According to the Oil Kings, he “will assist with the transition to a new director of scouting before leaving to pursue an opportunity outside of hockey.”


The Prince Albert Raiders announced Monday that they have added Jeff Truitt, Dan Gendur and Mike Brodeur to their coaching staff. . . . Truitt, 53, fills the vacancy created when associate coach Dave Manson left to join the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Truitt and Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid know each other well, having worked together with the Kelowna Rockets from 2000-04. When Kelowna won the 2004 Memorial Cup, Habscheid was the Rockets’ head coach and Truitt was associate coach. Truitt spent the past six seasons as the associate coach with the Red Deer Rebels. He also has AHL coaching experience, having worked with the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. . . . Last season, Gendur, 31, was the head coach of the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. He joined the Raiders late in the WHL season and worked with them through the playoffs. He is a former WHL player, having played with the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips (2004-08). . . . Brodeur, 35, is the Raiders’ new goaltending coach. He spent one season  (2003-04) playing with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. With the Raiders, Brodeur takes over from Kelly Guard, now an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


Veteran coach Willie Desjardins has signed on to work with the Prairie Rose School Division in establishing a new hockey academy that will involve three schools in the Medicine Hat Area. The 61-year-old Desjardins, who was the head coach of Canada’s national men’s team last season, continues to live in Medicine Hat, where he coached the Tigers for eight seasons (2002-10). . . . Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News has more right here.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Craig Goebel and Jared Crooks to their scouting staff. . . . Goebel spent the past 10 seasons scouting for the Regina Pats. His main assignment will be pre-scouting Seattle’s opponents. . . . Crooks, who played four seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, is the head instructor at the Mount Carmel Hockey Academy in Edmonton. He will scout for the Thunderbirds in northern Alberta.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have added Mark Sauer and Brennen York to their scouting staff. . . . Earlier this summer, the Wheat Kings lost veteran scout Mike Fraser when he left to sign on as the Everett Silvertips’ head scout. . . . Sauer, from Calgary, had been on the scouting staff at ISS for three years. . . . York is from Edmonton where he founded DraftGeek.


It’s official. The Vancouver Giants have added Jamie Heward to their coaching staff. The team announced Monday morning that Heward has been signed as the associate coach. . Vancouver. . He replaces Dean Chynoweth, who left after one season and has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . As a player, Heward spent parts of nine seasons in the NHL, after playing four seasons (1987-91) with his hometown Regina Pats. . . . Heward, 47, spent the past six seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, as an assistant coach and the director of player development. . . . This means that the Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, have lost three coaches since the season ended. Head coach Manny Viveiros now is an assistant with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, while assistant coach Ryan Smith has joined the Medicine Hat Tigers.

During his playing days in Regina, Heward was a member of what was known as the PUP Line. Its other members also were Regina natives — Frank Kovacs and Mike Sillinger. All three played as 16-year-olds, thus the PUP moniker.

On Monday, while Heward was busy with the Giants, Kovacs was busy, too, as you can see from this tweet . . .


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Robbie Fromm-Delorme, who was a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Richmond, B.C., Fromm-Delorme played last season in Byfield, Mass., at The Governor’s Academy in the USHS-Prep league. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 27 games. . . . He attended the Winterhawks’ training camp prior to the 2017-18 season.


Bill Reddick will chair the committee that will prepare the bid by the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes and the City of Lethbridge for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . Terry Huisman, the Hurricanes’ general manager of business operations, will be the co-chair. . . . Reddick is a partner with Mercer Wilde Group Chartered Accountants in Lethbridge and has long been involved with minor hockey in that city. . . . Huisman has been the general manager of business operations since 2012 and has played an integral role in leading the franchise out of the financial mess it was in not that long ago. . . . The Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals all are preparing bids for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They are scheduled to present those bids at a meeting of the WHL’s board of governors in Calgary on Oct. 3. A host city is expected to be named at the conclusion of that meeting.


The AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs have added Alex Mandolidis, Josh Watson and Richie Hubbell to a coaching staff this is headed up by GM/head coach Tyler Drader. . . . Mandolidis has spent the past five seasons with either the midget AAA Calgary Flames or midget AAA Calgary Northstars, while Watson has worked with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Hubbell has been the goaltending coach with the women’s team at Olds College.


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