Latest on minimum-wage lawsuit front. . . . Battles of B.C., Saskatchewan open tonight. . . . Other two series begin Saturday

ThisThat

There was news on the minimum-wage battleground between former major junior players and the OHL on Thursday.

“The Ontario Hockey League will be forced to defend allegations of conspiracy, ohlnegligence and breach of contract after a three-judge panel in Ontario reinstated those claims against the league in its legal battle against former players over minimum wage,” writes Rick Westhead of TSN. “The judgment, released late Wednesday by three Ontario Divisional Court judges, comes after an Ontario Superior Court judge dismissed those claims against the OHL in April, 2017. Lawyers for the former players appealed that decision.

“The judges on Wednesday also rejected an OHL appeal that asked for the case to be stripped of class-action status. As a class action, current and former players going back to the 2012-13 season automatically become plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Players will now have the option to opt out of the litigation.

“The judges also ordered the OHL to immediately pay roughly $500,000 worth of legal fees to the plaintiffs, in addition to another $700,000 in legal fees that must be paid if the OHL loses the lawsuit.”

Westhead’s complete story is right here.


F Nick Henry and F Jake Leschyshyn, both of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, have moved on Lethbridgeto pro teams. . . . Henry, who will turn 20 on July 4, has joined the Colorado Eagles, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while Leschyshyn now is with the Chicago Wolves, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. . . . Henry, a fourth-round pick in the NHL’s 2017 draft, has signed with the Avalanche. He had 29 goals and 65 assists in 69 games this season. . . . Leschyshyn, who turned 20 on March 10, was a second-round pick by Vegas in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed an NHL contract. This season, he had 40 goals and 41 assists in 68 games. . . . The Hurricanes acquired Henry and Leschyshyn from the Regina Pats in an early-season trade.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Blake Swetlikoff to a WHL contract. The 15-year-old from Regina was a third-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft after putting up 32 goals and 40 assists in 31 games with the bantam AA Regina Monarchs. . . . This season, he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 40 games for the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians.


Whenever someone writes a WHL-related newspaper column that includes a mention of Bobby (The Brain) Heeney, well, you just know it has to be a good read. Ed Willes of Postmedia has that column right here and, while it’s more to do with Michael Dyck and Jamie Heard of the Vancouver Giants, there is a mention of Heeney. Oh, and Kelly Handy, a football player who once played for the Regina Pats, gets a mention too. Enjoy!


The junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League made it official on Thursday . . . Dean Maynard is their general manager and head coach. Maynard had been interim head coach since the firing of Mark Chase in January. . . . Maynard will be joined by assistant coaches Brandon Watson and David Gordon, while Tyler Liebel is on board doing work on skills instruction player development and video. Mitch Fritz will be involved with player selection and development.



The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have signed Kyle Adams to a two-year contract as general manager and head coach. Adams signed on as an assistant coach prior to this season, then was named interim GM and head coach following the firing of Devin Windle on Nov. 29.


EdChynowethCup

The WHL playoffs resume tonight with second-round series beginning on two fronts. . . . The other two series will open on Saturday night. . . . In each instance, if the outcome of the season series means anything, these all should be short series. . . . But, hey, it’s the playoffs and it’s junior hockey. . . .

The Battle of Saskatchewan opens in Prince Albert as the Raiders meet the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders (54-10-4) won the Scotty Munro Trophy as the WHL’s regular-season champions. . . . The Blades were second to the Raiders in the East Division at 45-15-8. . . . Prince Albert was 6-2-0 in the season series; Saskatoon was 2-5-1. . . . They have only met twice since the trade deadline. The Blades won, 3-2, at home on March 15; the Raiders on, 3-1 in Prince Albert the next night. . . . Saskatoon is in the playoffs for the first time since the spring of 2013. . . . The first three games of this series will be televised by Sportsnet, with host Rob Faulds, play caller RJ Broadhead and analyst Sam Cosentino. . . .

Marc Habscheid, the Raiders’ head coach, played for the Blades back in the day. This season, he recorded his 500th regular-season coaching victory. He also understands that he is in the entertainment business as much as he is in the hockey business. That’s one of the reasons he says things like this:

“They embellish. That’s what they do. They led the league in drawing minors. It’s known around (the league) that they do that. Hopefully, that stops because it’s not a good thing. You look at a guy like Kirby Dach. He’s a good player. I met the young man at the Prospects game. A great kid, awesome kid and really great player. He doesn’t need to embellish. He’s better than that. He’s a good enough player. He doesn’t need to that.”

That was Habscheid chatting with Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. The complete story is right here.

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The Battle of B.C. begins in Langley, B.C., with the Vancouver Giants playing host to the Victoria Royals. . . . Vancouver (48-15-5) finished atop the Western Conference. . . . Victoria (34-30-4) was second in the B.C. Division, 29 points behind the Giants. . . . Vancouver won the season series, 6-2-2; Victoria was 4-4-2. . . . They played each other four times after the trade deadline. Vancouver won at home, 3-2 and 4-0, on Jan. 13 and Feb. 22. Victoria won, 5-4 in a shootout, at home on Feb. 23, then lost 2-1 on Feb. 24. Yes, they played each other three times in as many days. . . .

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The Battle of Alberta will open on Saturday with the Calgary Hitmen in Edmonton to meet the Oil Kings. . . . Edmonton (42-18-8) finished atop the Central Division, with Calgary (36-26-6) 14 points in arrears. . . . The Oil Kings won the season series, 7-0-1; the Hitmen were 1-6-1. . . . They have met four times since the trade deadline, with Edmonton winning all four of them — 3-2 and 6-1 in Edmonton, 5-1 and 3-1 in Calgary. . . . Edmonton G Dylan Myskiw went 6-0-0, 2.00, .935 in six games against Calgary. . . . Steve Hamilton, Calgary’s head coach, was fired by the Oil Kings after last season. He spent eight seasons in Edmonton, the last four as head coach.

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The Battle of Washington also gets started on Saturday as the Everett Silvertips play host to the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Everett (47-16-5) finished second in the Western Conference and first in the U.S. Division, 12 points ahead of Spokane (40-21-7). . . . Everett won the season series, 6-0-2; Spokane was 2-5-1. . . . However, they have played only once since the Jan. 10 trade deadline. The Silvertips skated to a 3-1 victory in Spokane on March 5. . . . If the Chiefs are to win, they are going to have to solve Everett G Dustin Wolf, who went 6-0-1, 1.75, .929 against them.

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NOTES: F Logan Barlage of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has been given a two-game suspension after taking a slashing major and game misconduct at the end of a first-round playoff game against the visiting Calgary Hitmen on Tuesday. Barlage slashed Calgary F Carson Focht right off a faceoff as the Hitmen closed out a 4-2 victory in Game 7. Barlage will have to sit out the first two games of the 2019-20 regular season. . . .

Focht, who scored twice in Calgary’s Game 7 victory, fell to the ice after the slash, clutching an arm. We won’t know whether he is injured until lineups are posted prior to Game 1 in Edmonton on Saturday. . . .

D Bowen Byram, who missed a couple of Vancouver practices this week, is expected to be in the Giants’ lineup tonight for Game 1 with the visiting Victoria Royals.


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‘Canes, Pats make monster deal . . . Savoies to ask for exceptional status . . . Warriors’ veteran goes home


MacBeth

F Marek Viedenský (Prince George, Saskatoon, 2008-11) has been released by mutual agreement by Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He was pointless in four games. In an interview with http://Sport.sk , Viedenský disclosed that he has a lower-body injury, the extent of which has not yet been determined. Viedenský felt it was best to terminate the contract while he and doctors try to determine the proper cause of action for his injury.


ThisThat

Well, it didn’t take long to get an answer to a question that was posed here earlier in the week.

After the Kamloops Blazers made two trades that involved four players and four bantam Lethbridgedraft picks, I speculated as to what impact the WHL’s new trade regulations might have on the marketplace.

“Who knows?” I wrote. “Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ’em, 11 — draft picks.”

We didn’t quite get to 11 on Thursday, but the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Regina Pats did swap four players and a possible seven bantam draft picks.

Here are the details. . . .

Lethbridge acquired Regina’s top two forwards — Nick Henry and Jake Leschyshyn, both of whom are 19.

In return, Regina gets F Jadon Joseph, 19, F Ty Kolle, 18, five bantam draft picks and two conditional picks:

  • Lethbridge’s first-round selection in 2019;
  • Lethbridge’s third-round selection in 2019;
  • Swift Current’s eighth-round selection in 2019;
  • Swift Current’s first-round selection in 2020; and,
  • Lethbridge’s fourth-round selection in 2022
  • Should either Henry or Leschyshyn return for a 20-year-old season, the Pats will receive a conditional bantam draft pick. One of the conditional picks is a third-rounder in the 2021 draft, with the other a third-rounder in 2022.

The Pats, of course, sold the acreage over the previous two seasons in order to load up Patsfor the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament for which they were the host team.

Now they have the WHL’s second-poorest record (8-17-0) and are looking well down the road, thus the hunger for draft picks.

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, are all-in. At the moment, they are 11-8-5 and third in the Central Division, five points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (14-10-4) and six in arrears of the Red Deer Rebels (16-8-1).

A year ago, the Hurricanes were sellers, a move that allowed general manager Peter Anholt to use some of the acquired assets in the deal with the Pats.

One of the interesting things about Anholt’s decision to shove all of his chips into the middle of the table is that the Hurricanes — let’s assume they make the playoffs — are going to have to vacate the 5,479-seat ENMAX Centre for a time early in the playoffs to make room for the 2019 World men’s curling championship. It is scheduled for March 30 through April 7.

Anholt has said that while displaced the Hurricanes will play in the Nicholas Sheran Ice Centre, which, according to the City of Lethbridge website, has a seating capacity of 978. He has yet to lay out plans as to how the Hurricanes will accommodate fans. The City is in the process of opening negotiations with the Hurricanes regarding compensation for their having to vacate their home arena.

It could be, then, that Anholt sees a deep playoff run as vitally important to the community-owned franchise and its financial outlook.

Anholt was one of a number of general managers to at least chat with John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager, about the availability of Henry and Leschyshyn.

Anholt took things one step further and headed west on a scouting trip. He watched the Pats beat the Blazers, 3-2, in Kamloops on Nov. 20. In fact, Anholt and Paddock were seen conversing in a Kamloops restaurant early that afternoon.

Henry, Leschyshyn and D Aaron Hyman, who was traded by Paddock to the Tri-City Americans earlier in the week, were the Pats’ best players in Kamloops.

Anholt also was in Kelowna on Nov. 21 when the Pats lost, 3-2, to the Rockets.

Joseph, from Sherwood Park, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Hurricanes in the 2014 bantam draft. This season, he has 10 goals and nine assists in 23 games. In 144 career games, he has 22 goals and 44 assists.

Kolle, from Kamloops, was acquired by Lethbridge from the Portland Winterhawks on Oct. 4 for a fifth-rounder pick in the 2019 bantam draft. Portland had selected him in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. In 94 career games, he has 14 goals and 15 assists. This season, he put up seven goals and four assists in 17 games with Lethbridge, after recording one assist in four games with Portland.

The two big fish, of course, are Henry and Leschyshyn.

Leschyshyn, the son of former NHLer Curtis Leschyshyn, was the Pats’ captain. Jake was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has signed an NHL contract. The Red Deer Rebels selected him sixth overall in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. On Jan. 5, 2015, he was traded to Regina as part of a deal in which F Connor Gay moved to the Rebels, who were to be the host team for the 2015 Memorial Cup.

This season, Leschyshyn has 16 goals and 16 assists in 32 games. In 213 career regular-season games, all with Regina, he has 61 goals and 70 assists.

Henry, from Portage la Prairie, Man., was selected by the Colorado Avalanche in the fourth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign an NHL deal.

The Everett Silvertips had taken him in the third round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft, but hadn’t signed him; in fact, he had committed to the Western Michigan U Broncos. Henry was the 2015-16 MJHL rookie of the year with the Portage Terriers when he was traded to the Pats, who signed him on Sept. 1, 2016. This season, he has 15 goals and 25 assists in 40 games. In 150 games over three seasons, he has 150 points, including 64 goals.

The Hurricanes will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend, as they entertain Swift Current tonight, then visit Medicine Hat on Saturday, before playing host to Red Deer on Sunday.

The Pats also will play three games in fewer than 48 hours. They are to visit Brandon tonight, then play host to Prince Albert on Saturday and Medicine Hat on Sunday.


I spent 17 years attending Regina Pats’ games and had numerous conversations with Bill White, who died Saturday. He was 90. Condolences to his family and friends.


Hockey Canada  hasn’t had to deal with a player applying for exceptional status in order to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old.

It seems that is about to change.

Scott Savoie, the father of Matt Savoie, who is to turn 15 on Jan. 1, told Dhiren Mahiban of sportingnews.com that “we’ll put in for it and then we’ll go through the draft . . . if it’s a perfect fit for him, then we’ll probably let him go. If it’s not, we might defer for a year and kind of wait and see, and see where that takes us.”

The Savoies are from St. Albert, Alta. Matt, 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds, plays for the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. In 20 games, he’s put up 22 goals and 26 assists. Last season, with the bantam prep team, he finished with 97 points, including 28 goals, in 30 games.

In normal circumstances, a draft-eligible player would go through the WHL bantam draft. If he is selected, he is eligible to play up to five games in the upcoming season so long as his club team still is playing. Once his club team has concluded its season that player would be eligible to join the WHL team.

Exceptional status would allow a player, in this case Savoie, to play regularly as a 15-year-old.

It’s worth noting that exceptional status doesn’t make any allocation for playing junior A; in other words, it’s major junior or back to minor hockey. The Savoies have already applied to Hockey Canada in the hopes that Matt would be cleared to play in the AJHL, but that was denied.

The WHL holds a draft lottery in advance of its annual bantam draft; it includes the six non-playoff teams. At the moment, the six teams outside playoff position are the Swift Current Broncos, Regina Pats, Kootenay Ice, Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Seattle Thunderbirds.

Interestingly, the Prince George Cougars have Swift Current’s first-round 2019 selection, while the Saskatoon Blades have Regina’s.

The deadline to apply to Hockey Canada for exceptional status arrives on Saturday.

In the past, Hockey Canada has granted exceptional status to five players — Joe Veleno in the QMJHL, and Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, John Tavares and Sean Day in the OHL.

Mahiban’s story is right here.


The Calgary Hitmen lost G Carl Stankowski to an ankle injury early in the week, so had Calgaryplanned to recall G Matt Armitage from the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks at least for the weekend. . . . It turns out that Armitage was injured on Wednesday night in a 4-3 OT loss to the visiting Langley Rivermen. Armitage went the distance, stopping 45 shots in 63:34, but apparently was injured at some point. . . . The Hitmen now are bringing in Brayden Peters, 16, from the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. Calgary selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 WHL bantam draft. He is 8-2-0, 1.76, .929 with the Hurricanes. . . . With Stankowski out, the bulk of the goaltending load will fall to Jack McNaughton, a 17-year-old freshman from Calgary. To date, he has made 12 appearances, going 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . The Hitmen will play three games in fewer than 48 hours this weekend. They are in Red Deer tonight before returning home to face Edmonton on Saturday and Moose Jaw on Sunday.


When Moose Jaw beat the Kootenay Ice, 3-1, in Cranbrook on Wednesday night, the Warriors were without one of their leading scorers.

It turns out that F Ryan Peckford, 19, had left the team on Monday.

Peckford, from Stony Plain, Alta., was a second-round selection by the Victoria Royals in MooseJawWarriorsthe WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. On Dec. 11, the Warriors dealt F Noah Gregor and an eighth-round 2018 bantam draft pick to the Royals for Peckford and a fourth-rounder in 2018.

This season, Peckford had eight goals and eight assists in 20 games, his 16 points the fifth-highest on the Moose Jaw roster.

Alan Millar, the Warriors’ general manager, told Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com:

“Ryan came in to meet with me first thing Monday morning and expressed at that time that he wasn’t having fun playing the game any longer, it wasn’t fun to come to the rink and he’d lost some passion for the game.

“He’s a good kid, he’s a talented player, we’re certainly disappointed, but at the end of the day, if your heart’s not in it, these young guys have to make difficult decisions and Ryan has certainly made one, and we’ll see if anything changes with his time at home and away from the game.”

Millar added that while Peckford’s decision caught the Warriors off-guard, “there’s a bit of a of trend . . . our league is dealing with a number of young guys (who), for whatever reason, have decided to move on and leave their teams and I don’t think you can pinpoint any specific reason other than each person is different.”

F Peyton McKenzie, a 16-year-old from Sherwood Park, Alta., has joined the Warriors from the Edmonton-OHA prep team. He is expected to stay with the Warriors through the weekend.

Moose Jaw is to visit the Edmonton Oil Kings tonight for the first of three games in fewer than 48 hours. The Warriors will be in Red Deer on Saturday and in Calgary on Sunday.

Smith’s complete story is right here.




D Sam Huston, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the season, has joined the MJHL’s Portage Terriers.

Huston, 19, is from Brandon. He had one assist in two games with the Terriers in 2015-16, while he was playing with the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. This season, he has a goal and two assists in three games with Portage.

The Ice selected him in the ninth round of the 2014 bantam draft. In 119 regular-season games, he put up four goals and 13 assists.


The story that started when former NHLer Daniel Carrillo detailed life as a first-year ohlplayer with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting continues to grow legs. On Thursday, David Branch, the OHL commissioner, told CBC Sports that his league “failed” Carcillo and “the other players involved.” Branch called Carcillo’s revelations “shocking.” . . . “You know,” Branch said, “I don’t know how else to put it.” . . . This story isn’t likely to go away anytime soon as more and more former junior hockey players are revealing incidents from the past. . . . James Strashin of CBC Sports has the latest story right here.

Meanwhile, John Chidley-Hill of The Canadian Press, who conducted the original interview with Carcillo, has spoken with more former Sarnia players about what went on with the Sting. . . .  That piece is right here.


F Harrison Blaisdell, who committed to North Dakota on April 28, 2016, has signed his letter of intent. Blaisdell, 17, is a native of Regina. His father, Mike, played six games with the Regina Pats in 1977-78, then spent 1978-79 at the U of Wisconsin. He played one game with the Badgers in 1979-80 before returning to the Pats, where he put up 109 points, 71 of them goals, in 63 games. . . . Harrison is in his second season with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. This season, he has 19 goals and 18 assists in 30 games. . . . He was a second-round pick by the Vancouver Giants in the who’s 2016 bantam draft.


D Cam York has committed to the U of Michigan Wolverines in time for next season. York, 17, is from Anaheim Hills, Calif., and plays with the U.S. national U-18 team in USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. . . . The Red Deer Rebels selected him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


F Grant Silianoff has committed to the U of Notre Dame Fighting Irish for next season. Silianoff, 17, is from Edina, Minn. In 19 games with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, he has six goals and five assists. . . . The Saskatoon Blades picked him in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft.


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The SJHL’s Melville Millionaires have fired general manager and head coach Devin Windle. . . . Assistant coach Kyle Adams was named interim GM/head coach. . . . Windle was in his third season with Melville. . . . The Millionaires are 8-16-4, good for a third-place tie with the Weyburn Red Wings in the four-team Viterra Division.


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