Might Russia-Ukraine situation impact international hockey? . . . Another milestone for Habscheid . . . Royals solve Giants again

In light of developments involving Russia and Ukraine, there is a move afoot, started by the British government, to move soccer’s Champions League final out of St. Petersburg. The game is scheduled to be played on May 28 at Gazprom Arena. Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, has sponsored the Champions League for 10 years.

UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, apparently is re-evaluating the situation.

You have to wonder, too, if the Russia-Ukraine situation might have repercussions in the world of hockey. Gord Miller of TSN, who is more than a little familiar with the world of international hockey, posted a series of tweets on this subject on Monday. Here’s a few of them . . .

“Start with the KHL, where the playoffs are set to start next Monday.  One of the top KHL teams is Jokerit, located in Helsinki, but the team and arena are Russian owned. Jokerit is scheduled to play Spartak Moscow, would the Finnish government bar travel to and from Russia?

(Note: It’s worth noting that Chelsea, one of the soccer teams still alive in the Champions League’s round of 16, is owned by Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich.)

“Then there’s the Men’s World Championship set for Finland in May. If the Russians invade Ukraine, would the IIHF bar them from competing? That seems unlikely, but it did strip Belarus of it’s co-hosting of the 2021 WC. And again, would the Finnish government step in?

“This summer, the U.S. will host the Women’s U18 tournament, Canada will host the Hlinka/Gretzky U18 tournament and the World Juniors in August. Since severe travel restrictions to and from Russia are among the sanctions being discussed, would their teams be allowed to play?

“Further out, Russia is scheduled to host the 2023 World Junior Championship in December and the Men’s Worlds in May of 2023. New arenas have been built in Novosibirsk and St. Petersburg to host the two events, which stand to be very lucrative and high-profile for Russia.

“Again, even if the IIHF doesn’t take steps in the event of a Russian invasion, would a boycott of those two events by the other competing nations be possible? It might not even be in the hands of the hockey federations, national governments could make that call.”

Who knows what the future holds, but all of this definitely is food for thought and it all will be worth watching as it plays out.


When the Prince Albert Raiders skated out of Medicine Hat with a 4-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Tigers on Monday afternoon, it marked another milestone for veteran head coach Marc Habscheid.

Unofficially, this was the 572nd regular-season victory of Habscheid’s WHL head-coaching career. (It’s all unofficially because the WHL hasn’t made available a Guide and Record Book since early in the 2019-20 season.)

By my count — and I’m the first to admit that I’ve been wrong before — Habscheid now is tied with Mike Williamson for fifth spot on the all-time list. Habscheid, who will turn 59 on March 1, worked as the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals before taking over the Raiders during the 2015-16 season.

The Raiders are next scheduled to play tonight (Wednesday) against the host Calgary Hitmen. (Habscheid earned his 500th victory on Feb. 9, 2019, in Lethbridge, and celebrated on the way out of town by having the bus stop at a Dairy Queen. He had a large chocolate sundae and treated everyone else. “The boys got whatever they wanted,” he said at the time. “Best $180 I ever spent.” Might there be another DQ stop in the Raiders’ future?)

Williamson had stints as the head coach with the Winterhawks, Hitmen and Tri-City Americans. BTW, a hearty Happy Birthday to Williamson, who turned 50 on Tuesday (Feb. 22).

Here’s the WHL’s top 10 winningest regular-season coaches: Don Hay, 750; Ken Hodge, 742; Don Nachbaur, 692; Lorne Molleken, 626; Williamson and Habscheid, each 572; Ernie McLean, 548; Brent Sutter, 526; Pat Ginnell 518; and Shaun Clouston, 485.


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The WHL has suspended F Matthew Rempe of the Seattle Thunderbirds for two games after he was hit with a kneeing major and game misconduct during a game against the host Portland Winterhawks on Saturday night. Rempe was tossed at 1:55 of the first period for a hit on Portland F Jack O’Brien. Although O’Brien looked to have suffered an injury to his left leg at the time, he was back in the lineup the next night and had two goals and an assist in a 9-1 victory over the visiting Spokane Chiefs. . . . Although things have been quiet of late in terms of COVID-19, don’t think for a moment that it has gone away. The QMJHL has postponed two games involving the Cape Breton Eagles because of what are reported to be several positive tests among players. The games, both against the visiting Charlottetown Islanders, were to have been played on Feb. 25 and 26. The Eagles haven’t played at home since Dec. 15. . . . The WHL’s Victoria Royals (14-30-5), who recently snapped a 17-game losing streak, are tied for eighth in the Western Conference. They have 19 games remaining, with seven of those against the sixth-place Prince George Cougars (19-27-3). The Vancouver Giants (19-25-2) are between those two, one point behind the Cougars and seven ahead of the Royals and Tri-City Americans (14-29-5). . . . Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers (35-13-2) are second in the conference while leading the B.C. Division. The Kelowna Rockets (29-12-4) are fifth in the conference and second in the division, 10 points behind Kamloops. They will play in Kelowna on Friday and in Kamloops on Saturday. Later, from March 11-26, they will play each other six times. That’ll be six straight games for Kamloops, while Kelowna will squeeze in a doubleheader in Victoria during that stretch. . . . The Rockets will come out of the games with Kamloops to play four in a row against Prince George.


MONDAY IN THE WHL: F Reece Vitelli scored twice, giving him 18, as the visiting Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s last four goals and beat the Medicine Hat Tigers, 4-1. Raiders D Trevor Thurston likely should expect a call from the WHL office, if he hasn’t had one already, after picking up two major penalties on the same play with 30 seconds left in the third period. He took a charging major for a hit on F Brayden Boehm. Yes there was a scrum, during which Thurston picked up a cross-checking major. . . . F Karson King (4) and F Josh Davies (15) each scored twice as the Swift Current Broncos beat the Pats, 4-3, in Regina. Davies broke a 3-3 tie at 7:59 of the third period. F Connor Bedard (31) and F Tanner Howe (19) each had a goal and an assist for Regina. . . .

The host Edmonton Oil Kings erased a 2-0 deficit with five straight goals en route to a 6-3 victory over the Winnipeg Ice. F Justin Sourdif (15) and F Josh Williams (25) had two goals each for Edmonton. Sourdif’s second goal, which gave Edmonton a 5-2 lead, was the first shorthanded score surrendered by the Ice this season. F Jake Neighbours of the Oil Kings had an empty-net goal as he ran his point streak to 14 games, the WHL’s longest active streak. . . . G Tyler Palmer blocked 35 shots to lead the Victoria Royals to a 3-0 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. An 18-year-old freshman from Fernie, B.C., Palmer, who is 5-0-0, 1.36, .961 against Vancouver, has two shutouts this season, both against the Giants. The Royals (14-30-5) have won eight of 10 meetings with the Giants (19-25-2) this season. They’ll go home-and-home this weekend to wrap up their season series. . . .

In Kelowna, F Turner McMillen scored twice, giving him nine goals as the Rockets dumped the Tri-City Americans, 5-3. Tri-City G Tomas Suchanek turned aside 51 shots . . . F Logan Stankoven had his points streak stopped at 19 games but did score in the shootout as the Kamloops Blazers clinched a playoff spot by beating the visiting Everett Silvertips, 4-3. Stankoven had 39 points, including 17 goals, in the WHL’s longest points streak to date this season. Kamloops F Daylan Kuefler (25) forced OT at 19:17 of the third period with his second goal of the game. Stankoven and F Luke Toporowski scored for Kamloops in the shootout, while F Jackson Berezowski counted for Everett.

If you didn’t happen to watch the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks playing on Monday night, there was a bizarre few moments when six players scrapped for a puck that wasn’t in the corner where they thought it was. Take a look . . .


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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca


Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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



Or, for more information, visit right here.


Time running out on Cranbrook group hoping to relocate junior B Kelowna Chiefs. . . . Broncos, Pats sign prospects


F Chase Schaber (Calgary, Kamloops, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, in 30 games, he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Michal Hlinka (Moose Jaw, Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had two goals in 12 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) has retired. This season, as an alternate captain with Kometa Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and 14 assists in 18 games. . . .

F Bruno Mráz (Brandon, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five goals and six assists in 42 games. On loan to Havířov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Tomáš Hříčina (Regina, 2008-10) has signed a one-year contract with Dukla Michalovce (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Košice (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had eight goals and seven assists in 49 games. . . .

F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2), he had 14 goals and 29 assists in 34 games. . . .

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has retired, per a press release by his club this season, Sokolov (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games in helping Sokolov win promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11) signed a one-year contract with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with the Linz black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he was pointless in 10 games, while he had one goal and five assists in four games with Tölzer Löwen Bad Tölz (Germany, DEL2). . . .

D Zack FitzGerald (Seattle, 2001-05) has retired from playing and has been named the new head coach for the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Glasgow, he was the team captain and had four goals and 13 assists in 56 games.


If the City of Cranbrook approves things sometime today (Friday), there could be junior B hockey in Western Financial Place when the 2019-20 season gets here.

Taking Note was told on Thursday that a Cranbrook group that is believed to be kijhlcomprised of 10 local investors has an agreement in principle to purchase the Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League from owner Grant Sheridan, who also is the team’s president and general manager.

The relocated Chiefs likely would be renamed the Colts, a salute to a junior B team that played out of Cranbrook in the 1980s, winning six league champ[ionships and four provincial titles.

Western Financial Place was built to house a WHL franchise and was the home of the Kootenay Ice until its 2018-19 season ended and the team moved to Winnipeg. The Ice’s lease with the city runs through the 2022-23 season, and owners Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell have yet to reach a settlement.

But they have agreed on a four-year sublease with the Cranbrook group that would allow the relocated Chiefs to play in Western Financial Place.

Taking Note also was told that the deal on the sublease is contingent on the city accepting it on or before May 31, which is today (Friday). It also is the KIJHL’s deadline for franchise owners to notify it of relocation plans. As of Thursday afternoon, the city had yet to offer a response.

The Cranbrook group, which is believed to include former WHL/NHL D Scott Niedermayer, who is a former co-owner of the Ice, apparently is willing to pay the same rental rates as the Ice did,

According to a Jan. 30 story on the lease by Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Townsman, the Ice “must pay an occupancy fee for each year of the term equal to two per cent of gross game receipts for each hockey season, as well as an additional fee that scales based on attendance.

“For example, the fee would be $20,000 if the average paid attendance exceeds 2,600. If that attendance were to increase to 2,800, the fee also increases to $25,000. Attendance exceeding 3,000 pushes the fee to $30,000, 3,200 to $80,000 and 3,500 to $120,000.

“According to the agreement, net advertising generated at hockey games within the premises is shared 80 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 20 per cent to the City of Cranbrook.

“All occupancy fees for luxury boxes, but not including ticket revenue, is split 70 per cent to the Kootenay Ice and 30 per cent to the city.

“Revenue collected from parking fees and concession sales are also 100 per cent allotted to the city, according to the agreement.”

In its final three seasons, the Ice averaged 1,754, 2,442 and 2,214 fans per game. It isn’t like that a junior B franchise would reach those numbers, but there are other KIJHL teams in the area, in Creston, Fernie, Invermere and Kimberley, so there would be some natural rivalries.

A KIJHL franchise also would mean Cranbrook wouldn’t have to go a year or longer without a tenant in Western Financial Place.

On top of that, Larry Martel, the KIJHL’s president, has told Crawley that a franchise in the city would be a “perfect fit.” (Crawley’s story is right here.)

The KIJHL’s annual meeting is scheduled for June 8 in Sun Peaks, the ski resort located just north of Kamloops.

Earlier, a group looked at bringing in an AJHL franchise, but that attempt was rejected by Hockey BC. There also has been interest in acquiring a BCHL franchise, but that apparently has been stalled by, among other things, a reported $1.2-million expansion fee.

There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.

You may have read about Catherine Pearlman in the last week or two. She recently walked into a Starbucks in the Los Angeles area, saw a flier that had been placed by a woman seeking a kidney donor for her husband, and, within minutes, had put the wheels in motion. . . . On Thursday, Pearlman told her story in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and on their website. . . .

“Over the next four months,” she writes, “I gave 32 vials of blood, had a kidney CAT scan and chest X-ray, met with nephrologists, a social worker and the nurse coordinator, collected urine and had a mammogram and pap smear. By the end of April, I was deemed a healthy match and cleared for surgery.

“During that time, I learned that one kidney can do most of the work of two. Also, kidney donors tend to live longer than those who haven’t donated because someone who is healthy enough to donate is likely someone already in excellent health.

Also, one of the most comforting pieces of information I learned is that if I ever need a transplant (less than 1 per cent chance), I would go to the top of the waiting list. My risk of death during surgery was significantly lower than dying in a fire, drowning or a car accident.”

Pearlman’s story, in her words, is right here.

The Swift Current Broncos have signed F Josh Davies to a WHL contract. From Airdrie, Alta., Davies was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. This season, he had 20 goals and nine assists in 28 games with the bantam prep team at the Edge School in Calgary.


The Regina Pats have signed D Marcus Taylor to a WHL contract. A ninth-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft, Taylor is from Coquitlam, B.C. This season, he had three goals and 14 assists in 35 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s elite 15 team.

Ben Boudreau was named the head coach of the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets on Thursday. . . . He replaces Gary Graham, who had been with the franchise since 2009, first as an assistant coach, then as head coach and, finally, as head coach and director of player personnel for the past six seasons. . . . Boudreau, 34, was an assistant coach with the Komets for the past two seasons. He has never before been a head coach. . . . He also has worked as an assistant with two other ECHL teams, the Bakersfield Condors and Norfolk Admirals. . . . Boudreau is the son of Bruce Boudreau, the head coach of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.


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