Gustafson back with Winterhawks as associate coach . . . Remembering the night Ridley doubled as Kamloops radio voice . . . Sopotyk pushes to bronze medal

As expected, Kyle Gustafson is back with the Portland Winterhawks. The WHL team announced Wednesday that he has signed on as associate coach. . . . PortlandGustafson had been a member of the Portland coaching staff for 18 seasons when he left a year ago to join the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant coach/special assignment coach. At the time, Travis Green, also a former Winterhawks coach, was the Canucks’ head coach. He was fired during the 2021-22 season, however, and Gustafson was released after the season. . . . With the Winterhawks, he fills the spot created when Don Hay left after four seasons to return to the Kamloops Blazers, this time as associate coach. . . . Gustafson, 41, will work alongside Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ senior vice-president, general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brian Pellerin. . . . Some observers also feel that Gustafson’s return sets in motion a succession plan whereby he will take over as head coach from the 65-year-old Johnston in a year or two.


Child


Bob Ridley, the long-time radio voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, announced his retirement on Tuesday, something that sparked a memory for Earl Seitz, a KamChiefsveteran of the airwaves in Kamloops who retired in December.

It seems that hockey fans in Kamloops were treated to Ridley’s play-by-play of a game between the visiting Chiefs and the Tigers on Feb. 26, 1977.

Seitz was in his fourth and final season of calling games for the Chiefs, who  were the Seattle Breakers when the 1977-78 season rolled around. (As Seitz put it, “They moved to Seattle after that fourth season and I stayed here.”

As Seitz remembers: “The Chiefs were playing in Medicine Hat. My sister was getting married that day in Calgary. I arranged with Bob to simulcast his broadcast on CFJC radio. Always grateful to Bob for helping me to be able to attend my sister’s wedding.”

Hmmm! Does Ridley get credit for calling two games that night because he was on the home and away radio stations?

Who won the game? The Tigers, 10-6.


Sopotyk
Kyrell Sopotyk, a former WHL player, has won a bronze medal for Saskatchewan in a 1,500-metre wheelchair race at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Sask. (Photo: Michael Scraper/Team Saskatchewan)

Former Kamloops Blazers F Kyrell Sopotyk of Aberdeen, Sask., won bronze in a 1,500-metre wheelchair race at the Canada Summer Games in St. Catharines, Ont., on Wednesday. Sopotyk was paralyzed from the waist down when he suffered a fractured vertebrae in a snowboarding mishap near North Battleford, Sask., on Jan. 21, 2021. . . . On Wednesday, he finished in four minutes 40.20 seconds, behind the winning time of 4:29.39 that belonged to Leo Sammarelli. . . . Sopotyk, 21, also will compete in 100- and 400-metre events at the Summer Games. . . . He is a member of the Cyclones Track and Field Club, a Saskatoon-based club for para-athletes.


Coke


THE BEST LAID PLANS: When the San Diego Padres’ marketing team scheduled its 2022 promotions, it put a Fernando Tatis Jr. bobblehead game on the calendar for Sept. 7. But then Tatis Jr. tested positive for a PED and drew an 80-game suspension. That took care of the bobblehead promotion. So now that Sept. 7 come-on will involve a Juan Soto City Connect shirt. And that’s what you call a great job of stick-handling around a sticky situation.


COVID-19 SAYS HELLO . . . AGAIN: Health Canada reports that 263 people died from COVID-19 from July 31 through Aug. 6. That brings Canada’s pandemic total to 43,178. . . . Rachel Gilmore of Global News has more right here. . . . And because you were wondering, Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center reports 1,037,935 deaths in the U.S. . . . So why not wear a mask when inside a public facility?


Char


THE COACHING GAME:

Kyle Turris has joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as special advisor to the general manager and player development coach. Turris, 33, played two seasons with the Express (2005-07). From an Express news release: Turris “was drafted third overall by the Phoenix Coyotes (in the NHL’s 2007 draft) and spent 13 seasons in the NHL before retiring this offseason.” . . . Turris, who has been plagued with back issues, had one goal and three assists in 23 games with the Edmonton Oilers last season as he completed a two-year contract. There doesn’t seem to have been an official retirement announcement, at least not yet, and capfriendly.com shows him as an unrestricted free agent. . . .

The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs have added Mark Lee, 37, to their staff as an assistant coach. He had been coaching a U-18 team in Newfoundland before signing to work alongside head coach Travis Crickard with the defending Memorial Cup champions.


Tech


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Doritos

 

Baseball loses its voice as Scully dies at 94 . . . Hay back with Blazers for third time . . . Raiders add assistant coach

After calling the home run by Kirk Gibson, Vin Scully was silent for 75 seconds as he allowed the game to breathe and the viewing audience to take it all in. . . . Yes, there is a lesson there somewhere.


The Kamloops Blazers made it official on Tuesday morning — Don Hay is back in the organization as associate coach. Hay, 68, is the winningest head coach in KamloopsWHL history. He spent the past four seasons with the Portland Winterhawks, three as an assistant coach and last season as assistant coach. . . . Of course, if you’re a regular here, you weren’t surprised by the announcement. Because here’s what you read in this space on July 26:

“The Kamloops Blazers . . . have an opening after associate coach Mark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach.”

What is interesting about Hay’s return is that he didn’t leave Kamloops on the best of terms with majority owner Tom Gaglardi. It was on May 10, 2018, when Gaglardi, at a news conference that didn’t include Hay, announced: “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history.” . . . Except that Hay wasn’t retiring. As mentioned, he moved on to work with general manager/head coach Mike Johnston in Portland. . . . And, in fact, Hay told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week that he had agreed to return to Portland for another season. But that was before Clouston asked Johnston for the OK to talk with Hay about a return to Kamloops. . . .

Hay also told Hastings that he and Gaglardi patched things up before making this latest deal. “I talked to Tom through the process,” Hay told Hastings. “That was a concern for me, definitely, and we talked it over. We both talked our way through it and I understood the way he was thinking and he understood my side of it, as well. We both have the ability to move past it. That was a big step in making the decision. It’s funny how situations change.” . . .

When the new season gets here, Hay will be back behind the Blazers bench for a 14th season. A Kamloops native, he was an assistant coach for six seasons (1986-92) and head coach for seven (1992-95, 2014-18). He was a big part of the Blazers’ three Memorial Cup championships — 1992, 1994 and 1995. The Blazers, of course, will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. . . . According to the WHL, Hay has 750 regular-season and 108 playoff victories to his credit, and is the all-time leader in both categories. . . . Clouston, with 498 regular-season victories, is the leader among head coaches still active in the WHL. He is on track to become the 10th head coach in league history to reach 500 regular-season victories. . . .

Also on Tuesday, the Blazers revealed that they and Clouston, 54, have agreed to a contract extension. No, they didn’t reveal the length of the extension. Clouston is preparing for his fourth season as the Blazers’ head coach; he has been the GM for a year. . . . Hastings also reported that former Blazers D Aaron Keller is expected back as an assistant coach, while long-time goaltending coach Dan DePalma also is expected to return. Also from Hastings: “Clouston . . . said the team is still working to hire Chris Murray as full-time assistant. Murray had shoulder replacement surgery last week.”


Deer
This mother and her two fawns stopped by the Drinnan residence above the South Thompson River on Tuesday evening and feasted on the fallen fruits of our Jon Gold apple tree. It’s interesting, at least to me, that they didn’t gorge themselves; they just ate their fill and then moved along.


As I also wrote in this space on July 26, Don Hay’s departure from Portland likely will allow Kyle Gustafson to return to the Winterhawks. Gustafson, who is from PortlandPortland, spent 18 seasons with them before signing on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2021-22 season. At the time, Travis Green, also a product of the Winterhawks, was in his fifth season as the Canucks’ head coach. Unfortunately, Green didn’t finish the season, and Gustafson lost his job in a post-season shakeup. . . . Gustafson, 41, started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach; when he left, he was assistant general manager and associate coach. . . . His return as associate coach also would allow the Winterhawks to put into place a plan of succession that could have Gustafson take over the head-coaching reins from Mike Johnston in a season or two. Johnston, 65, also is the vice-president and general manager.


Horses


Keaton Ellerby, a former WHL defenceman, is getting into the coaching game. PrinceAlbertThe 33-year-old native of Strathmore, Alta., has signed on with the Prince Albert Raiders as an assistant coach. He fills the spot that opened up when Jeff Truitt was promoted to head coach following the departure of Marc Habscheid. . . . Ellerby played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, three-plus with the Kamloops Blazers and finishing up by playing 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . His pro career included 212 NHL games over six seasons, split among the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Winnipeg Jets. He spent the past seven seasons in Europe, finishing up his playing career with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers in 2021-22.


The Calgary Wranglers are back, just not in the WHL. The NHL’s Calgary Flames Wranglersannounced on Tuesday that their AHL affiliate that will play out of the Saddledome will carry the nickname Wranglers. . . . That AHL franchise had been in Stockton, Calif., where it was the Heat, for seven seasons. . . . The junior Wranglers played in the WHL for 10 seasons, beginning in 1977. . . . The AHL Wranglers, under head coach Mitch Love, will be housed in the Saddledome, along with the Flames,  the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen, and the NLL’s Calgary Roughnecks. . . . I don’t know . . . can you have the Wranglers in Calgary without Doug Sauter being involved? Maybe he’ll drop the puck on opening night.


Homicide


THINKING OUT LOUD: It could be worse . . . you could be a fan of the Washington Nationals, who won the 2019 World Series but now haven’t anything left. Over the last while, the Nationals have gotten rid of starter Max Scherzer, SS Trea Turner, OF Bryce Harper, 3B Anthony Rendon and now OF Juan Soto. . . . The Nationals went 26-34 in the 2020 pandemic season, then 65-97 in 2021. Now they are the worst team in baseball and they just traded away the game’s brightest young star. Oh, and the franchise is for sale. . . . Here’s Joe Posnaski: “(Soto) dominates the strike zone in ways that boggle the mind; it’s no coincidence that people constantly compare him to Ted Williams, the greatest hitter who ever lived.” . . . Posnaski, who writes at Joe Blogs, also wrote: “I guess for me, it comes down to this: Yesterday I could go to a Nationals game and watch one of the best hitters who ever lived. And today I can’t. And, to be honest, today I can’t think of a single other reason to watch the Nationals play.”


Wayne Kartusch, who spent 25 years as the president of the SJHL, died a week ago in Red Deer. He was 82. . . . A complete obituary is right here.


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Dogs

Checking in on WHL coaching game — one signing and some scuttlebutt . . . 2022 WJC “a turd in a punch bowl”? . . . Rockets’ voice moves to The Lizard


Luke Pierce was introduced Monday as the new head coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 38, spent the past four seasons as an assistant Edmontoncoach with head coach Brad Lauer, who has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets as an assistant alongside head coach Rick Bowness. . . . From an Oil Kings’ news release: “In his four seasons behind the Edmonton bench as an assistant coach, Pierce helped guide the club to a record of 154-46-13-10, four straight Central Division championships and the 2022 WHL championship while overseeing the team’s defence and penalty-kill unit.  During his tenure, the Oil Kings have finished in the top 10 in penalty killing each season and had the best penalty kill during both the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.” . . . Pierce has previous WHL head-coaching experience from two seasons (2015-17) with the Kootenay Ice (remember them?). . . . From Merritt, B.C., he was the general manager and head coach for his hometown Centennials of the BCHL for five-plus seasons (2009-15). . . . It also must be pointed out that Pierce has served as vice-president and chairman for Hockey Gives Blood since 2018.


Scam


With the Edmonton Oil Kings and Prince Albert Raiders — Jeff Truitt taking over from Marc Habscheid — having named new head coaches over the past few days, the 22-team WHL doesn’t have any openings for head guys. . . . But there are some teams with vacancies on their coaching staffs. . . .

The Kamloops Blazers, for example, have an opening after associate coach KamloopsMark Holick left the club on June 10, citing personal reasons. Now there are rumblings that Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, is returning to the Blazers to work alongside Shaun Clouston, the general manager and head coach. . . . The Blazers will be the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, and wouldn’t it be fitting for Hay to conclude his long coaching career in his hometown? . . . You may recall that Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, announced Hay’s retirement on May 10, 2018. “Don Hay is a legend and it is only fitting that he is able to retire with his hometown Kamloops Blazers as the winningest coach in WHL history,” Gaglardi said in a news release. . . . Not so fast, though. Hay, it turns out, wasn’t finished. He has spent the past four seasons (2018-22) with the Portland Winterhawks, the first three as assistant coach and last season as associate coach. . . . All told, Hay has spent 13 seasons on the Blazers’ coaching staff — six (1986-92) as an assistant coach and seven (1992-95, 2014-18) as head coach. . . .

So . . . if Hay returns to Kamloops, the Winterhawks would have an opening. PortlandWell, it just so happens that Kyle Gustafson, who spent 18 seasons in their organization, is available. Gustafson, 41, is from Portland. He was an assistant coach with the Winterhawks for 14 seasons (2003-17), the associate coach for one (2017-18), and the assistant general manager and associate coach for three (2018-21). . . . He spent last season as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, but lost his job in the offseason as the NHL team shuffled its coaching staff. . . . A return by Gustafson to Portland also would allow the Winterhawks to put in place a plan of succession that could see him take over the head-coaching duties from Mike Johnston, 65, in a year or two. . . . Johnston, who has been with the Winterhawks for a total of 12 seasons covering two stints, also is the franchise’s vice-president and general manager. . . .

And then there are the Vancouver Giants, who have a vacancy on head coach VancouverMichael Dyck’s staff because associate coach Keith McCambridge, 48, left after two seasons to join the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, as an assistant coach. . . . Don’t be surprised if the Giants sign Adam Maglio, 36, to fill that spot. He joined the Spokane Chiefs as the associate coach for 2019-20, then was promoted to head coach on Aug. 27, 2020, replacing Manny Viveiros, who had moved on to the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. . . . The Chiefs fired Maglio on Feb. 10, and named assistant coach Ryan Smith the interim head coach. Smith has since had the interim tag removed and is preparing for his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach. . . . Maglio, who is from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, the last two as head coach, before signing with the Chiefs.

In digesting all of this buzz just remember that it wasn’t that long ago when Gustafson was rumoured to be ticketed for Spokane as the Chiefs’ head coach.

OK?


Last week, it was the Saskatchewan Roughriders who discovered that COVID-19 COVIDhad made its way into their locker room. This week, it’s the Calgary Stampeders. . . . The Roughriders had at least 11 players, including starting QB Cody Fajardo, test positive and had to push back their game against the visiting Toronto Argonauts from Saturday to Sunday. . . . Now the Stampeders have a problem. Five players, three of them starters, missed Tuesday’s practice. Danny Austin of Postmedia reported that head coach Dave Dickenson “confirmed there was at least one case of pneumonia and several in COVID protocol.” . . . The Stampeders (4-1) are scheduled to entertain the two-time defending Grey Cup-champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers (7-0) on Saturday night.


With the Hockey Canada mess on centre stage in Ottawa and with the warm HockeyCanadasummer weather — on Tuesday, at 8 p.m., it was 32 C in Kamloops — it’s easy to forget that the 2022 World Junior Championship is scheduled to open in Edmonton on Aug. 9. . . . It’s hard to disagree with Dan Barnes of Postmedia who wrote on Tuesday that the tournament “seems much less like a potential money-maker and far more like the proverbial turd in the punch bowl.” . . . Yes, it seems ticket sales for games not involving Team Canada are in the dumper. Because, as Barnes wrote, “it seems the boys of winter are not the same kind of draw in the dog days of summer.” . . . He also wrote: “Two weeks out, the tournament does not have an overt presence in the city. Officials from Hockey Canada and the IIHF have not answered interview requests from Postmedia regarding the tournament.” . . . Could it be that there is some ducking and running going on, what with Hockey Canada neck deep in other things these days? . . . Barnes’ column, which is well worth a read, is right here.



RedBull


Just like the Kelowna Rockets, Regan Bartel, their play-by-play voice, is taking Lizardhis show to The Lizard. . . . Bartel, the Rockets and Kelowna radio station 104.7 FM — aka The Lizard — announced on Monday that he will continue as the play-by-play voice of the local WHL team, a job he has held for 22 years. . . . The Rockets had been with Bell Media’s AM 1150 for more than 20 years, but announced earlier this month that they were making the move to The Lizard, which is owned by Pattison Media. At the time, Gavin Hamilton, the Rockets’ vice-president of business development, said in a news release: “We especially want to recognize Regan Bartell (sic). Regan has an incredible voice and his dedication to our fans to produce a first-class broadcast for all Rockets games will always be appreciated.” . . . In a news release on Monday, The Lizard offered that Bartel’s signing is “all part of a strategy to restore the Rockets profile in the city.”



The BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs have signed former WHL D Ryan Rehill as an assistant coach. Rehill, 26, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (2012-16) with the Kamloops Blazers, before going on to the U of Alberta for four years. . . . Last season, while working as a teacher, Rehill spent time on the ice with the Bulldogs and the junior B Port Alberni Bombers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . With the Bulldogs, Rehill will be working alongside general manager/head coach Joe Martin.


THINKING OUT LOUD: ICYMI, the St. Louis Cardinals, without their two best players, who couldn’t get into Canada because they aren’t vaccinated against COVID-19, dropped a 10-3 decision to the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night. The Cardinals will play in Toronto again tonight and they’ll again be without 1B Paul Goldschmidt and 3B Nolan Arenado, who are back home, presumably doing more research. . . . The Cardinals are clinging to the NL’s last wild-card spot by half-a-game over the Philadelphia Phillies. . . . If you’re a fan of the Boston Red Sox, you have to be wondering what happened! Your Sox now are in the AL East cellar, the first time that has happened in a full season since 2015. Yes, they are trailing the Baltimore Orioles. . . . BTW, Boston’s payroll is at $243,815,233, while Baltimore is at $46,217,169. . . . It was great to see Buck Martinez back in the broadcast booth for the Blue Jays’ game Tuesday night. And wasn’t that a welcome back that he received from the fans!


Bears


And there isn’t any such thing as “first annual.” The first one is the “inaugural;” the second one is the “second annual.” Thank you!


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


GolfBalls

Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sleeping

Bilous, Bruins win Game 7 . . . Ice opens by beating Warriors . . . Bankier streak to 15 as Blazers dump Giants

The host Estevan Bruins won the SJHL championship on Friday night, taking Game 7, 4-0, over the Flin Flon Bombers. G Boston Bilous earned the shutout with 29 saves. . . . Both teams will play in the 10-team Centennial Cup, though, because the Bruins are in as the host team. The national junior A championship tournament runs from May 20 through May 29.


The Brandon Wheat Kings announced Friday that general manager Doug Gasper Brandonhas chosen to leave the organization “for personal reasons.” . . . Gasper joined the Wheat Kings as assistant GM on Aug. 15, 2019, and was named GM on April 16, 2021. . . . Gasper took over from Darren Ritchie, who moved on to the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as an amateur scout. . . . According to the news release, Gasper “will transition out of his current position over the coming weeks and will assist in hiring his replacement.” . . . Kelly McCrimmon was the Wheat Kings’ general manager for 27 seasons before leaving to join the front office of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. Since 2016, Grant Armstrong, who now scouts for the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Ritchie and Gasper have held the position.


With 14 of the WHL’s 22 teams having had their seasons reach the end of the road, you can bet that the coaching carousel is soon to start spinning.

For starters, the Spokane Chiefs introduced Matt Bardsley as their new general Spokanemanager this week, and you have to think there might be a coaching change in the offing there.

Ryan Smith has been the Chiefs’ interim head coach since head coach Adam Maglio was fired on Feb. 10. Smith had been the club’s associate coach.

Should Bardsley choose to hire his ‘own’ coach, you have to think Kyle Gustafson, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, will be in the running. Gustafson had been on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff since 2003 when he chose to join former Winterhawks associate coach Travis Green with the Canucks. Of course, Green was fired as head coach by the Canucks early in the season. Gustafson finished up the season under head coach Bruce Boudreau, who replaced Green.

Bardsley spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ front office, so he and Gustafson are quite familiar with each other. In fact, early in Bardsley’s stint as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, he offered the Blazers’ head-coaching job, and a four-year contract, to Gustafson.

There are expected to be changes in the Canucks organization and the coaching staff likely won’t escape unscathed. Thomas Drance of The Athletic tweeted on Friday that amateur scouts Brandon Benning, Pat Conacher, Tim Lenardon and Derek Richard have been dropped by the Canucks. Patrick Johnston of Postmedia added that Ted Hampson, another amateur scout, also is gone.

With change in the wind, perhaps Gustafson might be interested in making a pre-emptive move by returning to the WHL. Should that happen, expect Smith to stay on with the Chiefs as associate coach.

Meanwhile, the owners of the Regina Pats would seem to have a coaching Reginadecision on their hands, too.

You will recall that John Paddock, already the vice-president of hockey operations and general manager, took over as head coach after the firing of David Struch on Nov. 18. At the time, ownership stated that Paddock would be the head coach through the 2022-23 season. However, assistant coach Brad Herauf ended up the interim head coach from Feb. 11 through season’s end as Paddock was forced to deal with some health concerns.

It will be worth watching to see if Paddock, who will turn 68 in June, will remain the head coach.


Your daily reminder that the pandemic isn’t over, this one from The New York Times: “George Cheeks, the president and chief executive of CBS, tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, just days after sitting beside President Biden at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the network confirmed on Friday.”


Gift


There were two WHL playoff games on Friday night as the Winnipeg Ice and WHLplayoffs2022Kamloops Blazers opened best-of-seven conference semifinal series with victories. . . . The pace will pick up tonight with all eight remaining teams in action. . . . In the Eastern Conference, the No. 1 Ice will again play host to the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors, who fell 6-1 last night, while the No. 3 Red Deer Rebels visit the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who hold a 1-0 edge. . . . In the Western Conference, the No. 2 Blazers and No. 8 Vancouver Giants will meet again in Kamloops, where the home team won, 3-1, last night, while the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds open their series in Kent, Wash.

——

FRIDAY IN THE WHL:

Eastern Conference

In Winnipeg, the No. 1 Ice scored in the first minute of each period en route to a WinnipegIce6-1 victory over the No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Ice leads the conference semifinal, 1-0, with Game 2 set for tonight in Winnipeg. . . . F Owen Pederson (4) gave the Ice a 1-0 lead 18 seconds into the first period. . . . F Jakin Smallwood (4) upped it to 3-0 just 57 seconds into the second period. . . . F Mike Milne (6) made it 6-0 at 0:11 of the third period. . . . Pederson finished with two goals, giving him five in these playoffs, and an assist, while Milne added two assists to his goal. . . . Winnipeg G Daniel Hauser stopped 18 shots. He lost his shutout bid when F Brayden Yager (3) scored at 17:48 of the third period. . . . Winnipeg was 2-for-4 on the PP; Moose Jaw was 0-for-4.

Western Conference

In Kamloops, F Caedan Bankier had a goal and an assist, running his point Kamloopsstreak to 15 games in the process, as the No. 2 Blazers opened with a 3-1 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . Game 2 will be played in Kamloops tonight. . . . Bankier (2) opened the scoring, on a PP, at 18:28 of the first period. . . . Bankier, who put up 60 points in 68 regular-season games, has quietly put together a 15-game point streak. He finished the regular-season on a 10-game tear (five goals, 11 assists) and has put up two goals and six assists in five playoff games. . . . F Reese Belton (1), at 2:43, and F Ethan Rowland (1), at 16:29, gave the Blazers a 3-0 lead with second-period goals. . . . F Adam Hall (8) got the Giants on the board at 7:04 of the third. . . . Kamloops G Dylan Garand stopped 30 shots. In these playoffs, he is 5-0, 0.80, .968. . . . The Blazers lost F Luke Toporowski late in the first period with what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder. F Daylan Kuefler moved into his spot on the team’s top line, alongside Logan Stankoven and Drew Englot. . . . Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week tweeted later that Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ GM/head coach, said the “early feel” is that Toporowoski’s injury isn’t long-term, that he’s “sore,” and that he’ll be re-evaluated Saturday. . . . Toporowski missed the last 12 games of the regular season with a knee injury. . . . On the same stoppage during which Toporowski left, the Giants lost D Mazden Leslie, who left while favouring his right leg.


JUST NOTES: Greg Brown is the new head coach of the Boston College Eagles men’s hockey team. After spending 14 seasons as an assistant coach or associate coach with the Eagles, he now takes over from the retiring Jerry York. Brown also played at BC before going on to a pro career that included 94 games in the NHL and eight seasons in Europe. . . .

Manny Viveiros was back behind the Henderson Silver Knights’ bench for an AHL playoff game on Friday night. Viveiros, a former WHLer, had been away from the team while undergoing treatment for prostate cancer. In his absence, Jamie Heward, another former WHLer, handled the head-coaching duties. . . . Viveiros was the general manager and head coach, and Heward his assistant, with the Swift Current Broncos when they won the 2017-18 WHL championship. . . . Last night, the host Colorado Eagles beat Henderson, 5-2, thus winning the best-of-three first-round series, 2-0.


Donut


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Will

Fraser promoted by Silvertips . . . Gustafson leaves Winterhawks for Canucks . . . Hay returning for fourth season in Portland

So . . . Dorothy got her second shot of Pfizer on Wednesday afternoon. We had soup later in the day. Whenever she tried to lift her spoon towards her mouth, it would hit her in the forehead and stick there. . . . Now I know why. . . . Lucky for her that we had some plastic spoons in our kitchen.


The Everett Silvertips promoted Mike Fraser, a longtime WHL scout, to director Everettof player personnel, effective immediately, on Wednesday. The Edmonton-based Fraser, 42, had been the team’s head scout for three seasons. . . . From a news release: “Fraser will support Silvertips hockey operations with roster management, co-ordinate scouting and recruiting efforts across North America and Europe, and prospect evaluation in conjunction with the WHL draft.” . . . Before joining the Silvertips, Fraser spent six seasons as a scout with the Brandon Wheat Kings. Prior to that, he worked with the Swift Current  Broncos for seven years. . . . The Silvertips’ complete news release is right here. . . .

When the Silvertips hired Fraser as head scout on July 3, 2018, they also named Alvin Backus as their director of player personnel. At the time, Backus, who had spent seven seasons as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, was to assist general manager Garry Davidson “and the Silvertips coaching staff with roster improvements and co-ordinate the Silvertips scouting and recruiting efforts of talent across North America and Europe.” . . . Neither Backus, who has retired, nor Davidson remains with the Silvertips. They announced on May 21 that they wouldn’t be renewing Davidson’s contract. He had been their GM through nine quite successful seasons, but was dropped as part of a restructuring that the organization was going through that it said was “necessitated” by the past two seasons. . . . Head coach Dennis Williams was named acting GM on June 1.


Claus


Kyle Gustafson is moving on from the WHL after 18 seasons with the Portland PortlandAlternateWinterhawks, most recently as assistant general manager and associate coach. Gustafson, a native of Portland, is joining the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks as assistant/special assignment coach. . . . Gustafson and Canucks head coach Travis Green were on Portland’s coaching staff together for five seasons (2008-13). . . . Gustafson started with the Winterhawks as an assistant coach in 2003-04. . . . There was a time two years ago when Gustafson came this () close to signing on as the Kamloops Blazers’ head coach. During the summer of 2019, Gustafson turned down a four-year contract offer from the Blazers, who were preparing for Matt Bardsley’s second season as general manager. They had hired Bardsley away from the Winterhawks on June 1, 2018. He had been working with Portland since 1999 so had some history with Gustafson. . . .

The Canucks also announced that assistant coach Newell Brown wouldn’t be back, while signing Brad Shaw as a new assistant coach, and re-signing assistant coaches Nolan Baumgartner and Jason King, goaltending coach Ian Clark and video coach Darryl Seward. . . . Former WHL G Adam Brown, the Kelowna Rockets’ goaltender coach, is Brown’s son.


Don Hay, the winningest head coach in WHL history, will be back with the Portland Winterhawks in 2021-22 for a fourth season as an assistant coach. Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ vice-president, general manager and head coach, confirmed that with Joshua Critzer of pnwhockeytalk.com earlier this week. You may recall that the Kamloops Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi announced Hay’s retirement following the 2017-18 season. . . .

Johnston also told Critzer that Matt Bardsley, who resigned as the Blazers’ general manager on May 25, “has another exciting opportunity which he will be announcing in the next couple of weeks.” . . . Johnston said that after Bardsley’s Kamloops announcement, he reached out “to Matt originally when it happened in Kamloops and just talked to him about if any openings came in our organization. At the present time, in the area Matt is and was, we already have staff in those positions.”

Critzer’s complete story is right here.



Bone


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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Brad Bakken, who played 53 games over three seasons (2005-08) with the Seattle Thunderbirds, has been named head coach of the junior B Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. He was the Trappers’ GM and assistant coach in 2017-18, before moving up to the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen as assistant GM/associate head coach.


Fear

Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


ThisThat

F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

——

The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

——

The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

——

The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

——

The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

——

The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

——

The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

——

The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

——

The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

——

The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click on the button over there on the right and follow the instructions. Thank you very much.


It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


ThisThat

Gustafson will stay in Portland. . . . Blazers restart coaching search. . . . Warriors, Chiefs sign first-rounders

MacBeth

D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser U (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenseman, and a first-team all-star. . . .

D Cody Carlson (Medicine Hat, Regina, Prince George, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga), he had four goals and 28 assists in 49 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

D Vladimír Mihálik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four goals and 10 assists in 49 games. . . .

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2013-16) signed a two-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), he had two assists in 15 games. He also had two goals and five assists in 16 games with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


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The Kamloops Blazers held a development camp in the city over the weekend.

During the camp, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week asked general manager Matt Kamloops1Bardsley about the team’s search for a head coach to replace one-and-done Serge Lajoie.

Bardsley replied: “We are getting close, but we’re taking our time, double-checking, triple-checking, doing extra interviews with the individuals. We want to make sure we feel really good about it when we walk away from it.”

What Bardsley didn’t say is that the Blazers are pretty much back to Square 1.

Taking Note has been told that the Blazers offered their head-coaching position to Kyle Gustafson. In fact, the offer is believed to have been for four years.

Gustafson, however, withdrew his name from consideration and will be staying in Portland as the Winterhawks’ assistant general manager and associate coach. He has been on Portland’s coaching staff since 2004.

Bardsley, who is preparing for his second season as the Blazers’ general manager, left the Winterhawks to come to Kamloops. He had been with the Winterhawks since 1999, first as a scout and, in the end, as assistant GM. So he is quite familiar with Gustafson.

In fact, Taking Note was told last month, and it was reported in this space, that Gustafson was the leading candidate for the Blazers’ head-coaching job a year ago. However, ownership decided the new man would be Lajoie, who was coming off a national university championship with the Alberta Golden Bears.

With Gustafson out of the picture, where do the Blazers go now?

Malcolm Cameron, who has been in the coaching game since 1998 when he was an assistant coach at Acadia U, is believed to have interviewed with Bardsley. Cameron, 49, spent three seasons (2011-14) with the Regina Pats, the first two as an assistant coach, the last as head coach. He was the head coach of the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder for the past three seasons, until they let him go on April 10.

Cameron made earlier ECHL stops with the Columbia Inferno, Cincinnati Cyclones, Columbus Stars, Corpus Christi Rayz, Long Beach Ice Dogs, Texas Wildcatters, Florida Everglades and Elmira Jackals.

It could be that Jeff Truitt, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders, also is in the picture. The Raiders announced contract extensions for general manager Curtis Hunt and head coach Marc Habscheid on Monday, but neither Truitt nor Dan Gendur, the other assistant, were mentioned.

Truitt also has WHL coaching experience with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kelowna Rockets and Red Deer Rebels. He was Kelowna’s head coach through three seasons (2004-07).

Then there’s Don Nachbaur, who is No. 3 on the WHL’s list of career head-coaching victories, has been out of the game since Nov. 4. He was in his second season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles, when he was dismissed when the team fired head coach John Stevens.

Nachbaur, if he is interested in coaching in the WHL again, might be a better fit in Prince George where the Cougars also need a head coach. Nachbaur, 60, was born in Kitimat, B.C., and was raised in Prince George. He is a member of the city’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Bardsley also is believed to have at least chatted with former Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk, who was near the end of his third season when he was fired in February.

You have to think the Blazers also will have at least inquired as to the availability of Kris Knoblauch and Manny Viveiros.

Knoblauch had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers for two seasons, but lost his job when they hired Alain Vigneault as head coach early in May. He has WHL coaching experience with Prince Albert and the Kootenay Ice, but really came to prominence in four-plus seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters.

The same fate befell Viveiros with the Edmonton Oilers when Dave Tippett signed on as head coach. Viveiros joined the Oilers after guiding the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship a year ago.

One thing seems certain, though — the person who ends up as the Blazers’ head coach will have Darryl Sydor as one of the assistant coaches. Sydor, who officially was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12, is one of the team’s five co-owners. Most observers feel that the day will come when Sydor will be the team’s head coach.


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders have signed general manager Curtis Hunt and PrinceAlberthead coach Marc Habscheid to what a news release says are “multi-year extensions.” . . . The news release adds: “Further terms of the contracts were not disclosed.” . . . Hunt took over as GM prior to the 2015-16 season and is the reigning WHL executive of the year. . . . Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach during the 2014-15 season. The Raiders are 168-134-36 in his time as head coach. . . . This season, he became the eighth head coach in WHL history to get to 500 regular-season victories. . . . Habscheid was name the WHL’s coach of the year for 2018-19, the second time he has been so honoured.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed F Denton Mateychuk to a WHL contract. He was the 11th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Dominion City, Man., Mateychuk had 23 goals and 38 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects this season.

——

The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Ben Thornton to a WHL contract. Thornton, from Abbotsford, B.C., was the 15th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Thornton played this season with the Abbotsford-based Yale Hockey Academy, scoring 13 goals and adding 32 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team.

——

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker

——

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Aidan Brook to a WHL contract. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds selected Brook, who will turn 16 on July 30, in the fourth round of the 2018 bantam draft. The Tigers acquired him on Jan. 4, along with a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a third-round pick in 2020, for F Henry Rybinski. . . . Brook played this season with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s, putting up one goal and 25 assists in 36 games. . . . Brook, from Roblin, Man., is the younger brother to a pair of WHLers — D Josh Brook, who will turn 20 on June 17 and has played four seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and F Jakob Brook, 17, who just finished his freshman season with the Prince Albert Raiders.


Ryan Aasman, a former WHL defenceman, has signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. . . . He has coaching experience as an assistant with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Aasman, 27, is from Medicine Hat. He played in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Medicine Hat Tigers and Edmonton Oil Kings before going on to spend four seasons (2013-17) at the U of Lethbridge.


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Is Lamb ticketed for NHL’s Oilers? . . . Is Gustafson Blazers’ next head coach? . . . They want how much for Memorial Cup tickets?


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All signs are pointing to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers introducing Dave Tippett as their next head coach, perhaps as early as today (Friday).

In fact, it could be that Ken Holland, the Oilers’ new general manager, and Tippett finalized things in Vancouver on Thursday prior to Holland’s induction into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.

Tippett, 57, has been working as senior advisor to the group that owns the NHL expansion franchise in Seattle. He has ample NHL coaching experience, although he hasn’t been behind an NHL bench since 2016-17 when he was with the Arizona Coyotes.

What impact might Tippett’s return to coaching have in the WHL? There is speculation, PrinceGeorgeas you can see from Robin Brownlee’s tweet, that Tippett might bring Mark Lamb on board as an assistant coach in Edmonton.

Lamb is preparing for his second season as the general manager of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars.

Tippett spent six seasons (2002-09) as the head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, and Lamb was an assistant coach for each of those seasons. Also, Lamb was the head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate, in 2016-17 when Tippett was the Coyotes’ head coach.

The Cougars also are one of two WHL teams — the Kamloops Blazers are the other — without a head coach at the present time.

Prince George fired head coach Richard Matvichuk late this season, with Lamb taking over. However, Lamb has said that he isn’t interested in continuing as head coach.

While speculation about a new head coach has been quiet out of Prince George, it is believed that Lamb has been planning to do a lot of work on filling the vacancy during the NHL draft, which is scheduled for Vancouver, June 21 and 22. By then the Cougars might be looking for a general manager, too.

After all, would you rather be the general manager of a WHL team or an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers?

Meanwhile, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week has reported that the Blazers have Kamloops1“about five candidates” on their short list as they look to replace Serge Lajoie, whose stint as head coach lasted one season. Lajoie now is the head coach of the midget prep team at OHA Edmonton.

At the moment, I would suggest that Kyle Gustafson, who has been on the coaching staff of the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04, is the favourite to be the Blazers’ next head coach. Gustafson was in Kamloops last week and, no, he wasn’t here on a shopping trip.

Matt Bardsley, who just completed his first season and his first bantam draft as Kamloops’ general manager, joined the Blazers after a long run with the Winterhawks, so he is quite familiar with Gustafson.

Furthermore, Gustafson came awfully close to getting a contract as the Blazers’ head coach last summer. He lost out when ownership chose to go in a different direction, deciding to go with Lajoie, who hadn’t coached previously in the WHL, over Gustafson, who had all that WHL experience and is especially familiar with the Western Conference.

Obviously, that didn’t work out, but now Gustafson finally may be about to get his first shot at being a WHL head coach. He certainly has paid his dues.

At one time, Darryl Sydor, one of the Blazers’ co-owners and an assistant coach with the team, was believed to be a favourite to be the next head coach. Taking Note has been told that Sydor will remain part of the team’s coaching staff, but that he won’t be the head guy.

If the Blazers haven’t signed Gustafson by mid-June, you have to think that he will visit Vancouver during the NHL draft and look up Lamb, or whomever is conducting the Cougars’ coaching search at that point.


It may be major junior hockey, but that hasn’t kept tickets for Sunday’s Memorial Cup final in Halifax from going into the pricing stratosphere. . . . The host Mooseheads will be in the final, playing either the OHL-champion Guelph Storm or QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who will meet in tonight’s semifinal game. . . . Tickets for the final carried an original price of $50 to $75. On Thursday, in places like StubHub and kijiji, sellers were looking for as much as $1,000 per ticket. Surely, no one is paying those prices, or are they? . . . There is more right here from Jon Tattrie of CBC News.


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The Calgary Hitmen have signed D Grayden Siepmann and F Brandon Whynott to WHL Calgarycontracts. . . . Siepmann is the fourth first-round selection from the May 2 bantam draft to sign a WHL contract. Calgary selected him with the 13th overall pick. . . . From Abbotsford, B.C., Siepmann played this season with the Yale Hockey Academy bantam prep team, scoring eight goals and adding 21 assists in 29 regular-season games. He had two goals and two assists in five playoff games. . . . Whynott, from Langley, B.C., also played for the bantam prep team at Yale Academy, which is in Abbotsford. Whynott had 17 goals and 15 assists in 30 games, and had one goal and one assist in the playoffs. Whynott was taken in the second round of the 2019 bantam draft.


Stephen Whyno, a hockey writer with The Associated Press, has written a piece that carries this headline — Faces of concussions: NHL’s head-on battle with an epidemic. . . . This is devastating stuff, especially when former NHLer Daniel Carcillo says: “I’m going to choose when I’m going to go. I’ll make that decision of how much pain I’m going to put my loved ones through that are around me.” . . . Carcillo is 34 years of age and wonders what the future holds as he tries to live with the after-effects of at least seven concussions. . . . There is more to this story than Carcillo, though, and as you read it you come to the realization, again, that hockey at all levels needs to do everything it can to get rid of headshots. Yes, the WHL absolutely must ban fighting. . . . Whyno’s piece is right here. Give it 10 minutes of your time.


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Mallette staying on Rockets’ staff. . . . Raiders, Oil Kings even after Game 4. . . . Holt everything! Giants have 3-1 edge


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F Lauris Dārziņš (Kelowna, 2004-06) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, in 62 games, he had 18 goals and 26 assists. The team captain, he averaged 18:29 TOI per game. . . .

F Justin Kirsch (Calgary, Moose Jaw, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 52 games.


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The Kelowna Rockets have signed assistant coach Kris Mallette to an extension that runs KelownaRocketsthrough the 2020-21 season. Mallette’s contract was to have expired at the end of this season.

Mallette, 40, has been on the Rockets’ coaching staff since the 2014-15 season.

A defenceman, he played four seasons in the WHL (Kelowna, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1996-2000), before going on to a nine-year pro career. He has been coaching since 2010-11 when he was an assistant coach with the junior B North Okanagan Knights of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

With the Rockets, he works alongside head coach Adam Foote, who is preparing for his first full season with Kelowna.


For what it’s worth, Kris Mallette, who has signed a two-year extension with the Kelowna Rockets, was on my list of the ‘next ones’ — high-end candidates for head-coaching positions in the WHL or elsewhere.

Mallette just finished his fifth season on the Rockets’ coaching staff, and he obviously likes it just fine right where he is. Of course, re-signing with the Rockets means he’ll get whlto coach in the 2020 Memorial Cup, what with Kelowna being the host team.

At the moment, the Kamloops Blazers are the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams not to have a head coach under contract. They and head coach Serge Lajoie went their separate ways on April11, after just one season together.

Many hockey people are assuming that co-owner Darryl Sydor will be the Blazers’ next head coach, and that the feeling will prevail until/unless the team announces otherwise. Sydor was named a full-time assistant coach on Feb. 12.

In the meantime, Mallette is just one of a number of WHL assistant coaches who would seem ready to step up.

Jeff Truitt, 53, is a former Kelowna head coach who now is an assistant under Marc Habscheid with the Prince Albert Raiders. Before moving to the Raiders, he spent five-plus seasons on the Red Deer Rebels’ coaching staff.

Kyle Gustafson, 38, has been on staff with the Portland Winterhawks since 2003-04 and is more than ready to be a head coach. He has been with the Winterhawks in good times (a WHL title in 2013) and bad (11 victories in 2007-08). You can bet that he has learned the business and the game while working with the likes of Ken Hodge, Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Don Hay.

Ryan Marsh, 44, is a former WHL player (Tri-City, 1992-95), who has been in the coaching game since 2003-04 when he signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort Saskatchewan Traders. He later spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alberta Golden Bears and four with the Edmonton Oil Kings. He just completed his first season as the Saskatoon Blades’ associate coach.

Scott Burt, 42, is another former WHL player (Seattle, Swift Current, Edmonton, Red Deer, 1994-98) and now is in his fifth season on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff. He spent the last three seasons of a 13-year pro career as the captain of the ECHL’s Alaska Aces and then began his coaching career by spending two seasons with them.

Luke Pierce, 35, is in his first season as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings, but may be ready for a second stint as a WHL head coach. He spent five-plus seasons in his hometown as general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials before spending two seasons as head coach of the faltering Kootenay Ice. When looking at Pierce’s background, you can’t discount that fact he spent five seasons playing at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ont.

Mark O’Leary, 34, just completed his seventh season as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors. From Owen Sound, Ont., he played in the OHL with the Mississauga IceDogs and Guelph Storm (2003-06), before playing professionally for five seasons.

Brian Pellerin, 49, has been coaching since 2002-03 when he was a playing assistant coach with the CHL’s Amarillo Gorillas. He went on to spend four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Portland Winterhawks and now has been the Tri-City Americans’ associate coach for five seasons. As a player, he spent four seasons (1987-91) with the Prince Albert Raiders.

Of course, let’s not forget that there are some really experienced head coaches who just may be available, too.

Don Hay, 65, the guy with more regular-season and playoff victories than any head coach in WHL history, isn’t retired. He spent this season as an assistant coach in Portland and you can bet that he wants to keep on coaching.

Don Nachbaur, 60, is the third-winningest regular-season head coach in WHL history. He has worked as the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He signed on with the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach after the 2016-17 season. His posting in L.A. lasted a season and a bit; he was fired when the Kings dumped head coach John Stevens on Nov. 4. This spring, Nachbaur provided analysis on broadcasts of Tri-City playoff games.

The Kings also hired Dave Lowry, 54, as an assistant coach prior to the 2017-18 season after he had been the head coach of the Victoria Royals for five seasons. Lowry was dismissed by the Kings on April 17 after Todd McLellan was hired as head coach.

Steve Konowalchuk, 46, was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ head coach for six seasons, guiding them to a WHL title in 2016-17. He was then hired as an assistant coach by the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, a job that lasted one season.  He now is an amateur scout with the New York Rangers. But, hey, maybe he’s got the coaching bug, again.

There also are other men out there with previous WHL playing and/or coaching experience who might be worth another shot, like Mark Ferner, the director of hockey operations and head coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers; Mike Vandekamp, the GM and head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals; Jason Becker, who has completed three seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees; Ryan Papaioannou, the GM and head coach of the AJHL-champion Brooks Bandits; Andrew Milne, the GM and head coach of the AJHL’s Canmore Eagles; Paul Dyck, the general manager, director of hockey operations and head coach of the MJHL’s Steinbach Pistons. . . .

Of course, in this day and age, there also are former WHL coaches like Mark Holick and Enio Sacilotto who now are coaching at hockey academies.

So . . . if your favourite WHL team ends up changing coaches, there are a lot of capable coaches out there.



The Selkirk College Saints, who play in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League out of Castelgar, B.C., are looking for a new head coach. Brent Heaven, the head coach for the past four seasons, “is leaving to pursue other interests,” according to a news release. . . . Under Heaven, the Saints went 62-25-0-10 and won the BCIHL championship in 2016. . . . There’s more on Heaven and the Saints right here.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: The four remaining WHL teams all were in action on Wednesday night, and they’ll be back on the ice Friday night after changing venues. . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders beat the Oil Kings, 2-1, in Edmonton to tie the Eastern Conference final, 2-2. They’ll be in Prince Albert for Game 5 on Friday night, then return to Edmonton and play Game 6 on Sunday afternoon. . . .

This was the 68th playoff victory of Prince Albert head coach Marc Habscheid’s WHL career. He had been tied with Willie Desjardins and Don Nachbaur, but now is seventh on the all-time list. . . . Ahead of Habscheid on the list are Don Hay, 108; Ken Hodge, 101; Ernie (Punch) McLean, 87; Kelly McCrimmon and Pat Ginnell, each 80; and Brent Sutter, 79. . . . (If you don’t recognize him, that’s Ginnell to the left of Medicine Hat Tigers play-by-play voice Bob Ridley in the tweet at the top of this post.) . . .

In Spokane, the Vancouver Giants erased a 2-0 third-period deficit and beat the Chiefs, 4-3 in OT. Vancouver leads the Western Conference final, 3-1, with Game 5 in Langley, B.C., on Friday night.

——

WEDNESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored the game’s first two goals and hung on for a 2-1 victory PrinceAlbertover the Oil Kings in Edmonton. . . . That tied the Eastern Conference final at 2-2 with Game 5 in Prince Albert on Friday night. . . . F Brett Leason (4) gave the Raiders a 1-0 lead with his first goal of the series at 13:01 of the second period. . . . F Noah Gregor (6), off a nifty pass from F Ozzy Wiesblatt, made it 2-0 at 2:13 of the third period. . . . D Wyatt McLeod (4) got the Oil Kings to within a goal at 13:54 of the third period, but they weren’t able to equalize. . . . G Ian Scott stopped 25 shots for the Raiders. In these playoffs, he now is 10-4, 1.96, .924. . . . G Dylan Myskiw stopped 25 shots for Edmonton. . . . To refresh, the Raiders won 1-0 at home in Game 1, with the Oil Kings winning Game 2, 4-3 in OT. In Edmonton, the Oil Kings won 5-1 and then dropped a 2-1 decision last night. . . . Had the Raiders lost Game 4 it would have marked their first three-game losing skid of the season.


F Dawson Holt’s OT goal gave the Vancouver Giants a 4-3 victory over the Chiefs in VancouverSpokane and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference final. . . . The Giants get their first chance to wrap it up on Friday in Langley B.C. . . . Last night, the Chiefs skated to a 2-0 lead on a pair of goals from F Adam Beckman (7, 8), at 18:38 of the first period and 10:06 of the second. . . . The Giants, outshot 26-13 through two periods, began the comeback when F Jadon Joseph (7) scored on a delayed penalty at 4:26 of the third period. . . . D Bowen Byram (6) tied it, on a PP, at 9:11, and F Brayden Watts (4) gave the Giants the lead at 10:04. . . . Chiefs F Riley Woods (7) forced OT when he scored at 16:25. . . . Holt won it with his fifth goal of the playoffs at 7:07 of OT. . . . F Davis Koch and F Milos Roman each had two assists for Vancouver, and Byram added one assist to his goal. Byram and his defence partner, Alex Kannok Leipert, drew the assists on the winner. . . . Vancouver was 1-2 on the PP; Spokane was 0-1. . . . The Giants got 28 saves from G David Tendeck, while Spokane G Bailey Brkin blocked 26 shots. . . . The Chiefs were without F Luc Smith, who hasn’t played since the early moments of Game 1. Last night, he was behind the bench in a coaching role. . . . Spokane also scratched D Filip Kral, who left Game 3 after taking a hit from Giants F Justin Sourdif in the first period. Kral returned in the second period and finished the game, but obviously wasn’t able to play last night. . . . With Kral out, D Egor Arbuzov got into the lineup. . . . Vancouver remains without F Adian Barfoot, who hasn’t played since being injured in Game 4 of a first-round series with the Seattle Thunderbirds.


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