Let’s be honest . . . the $64,000 question in WHL circles these days is: Will Brent Sutter be back coaching the Red Deer Rebels when another season gets here?
ICYMI, Steve Konowalchuk, the Rebels’ head coach for the past two seasons, resigned on Thursday, citing personal and family reasons.
The answer to that $64,000 question at this point, it seems, might be “Yes . . . no . . . maybe.”
When Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com asked Sutter if he is interested in going back behind the bench, he replied: “Right now, no. With that being said, if we don’t find the right person I would have to rethink it through. Right now my goal is to find someone different.”
So . . . if you happen to be a bettor, do you take Sutter or the field?
Sutter, the Rebels’ owner and president, was the general manager and head coach from 1999-2007. He then spent two seasons as the head coach of the NHL’s New Jersey Devils and three as head coach of the Calgary Flames.
Sutter returned as the Rebels’ head coach during the 2012-13 season and stayed there until stepping aside after the 2020-21 season, which is when he hired Konowalchuk.
The Rebels went 86-36-6 in two regular seasons under Konowalchuk. This season, they went 43-19-6 and finished atop the Central Division. They got into the second round of playoffs, where they lost a seven-game series to the Saskatoon Blades. The Rebels won the first three games of that series, then lost the next four.
“It’s disappointing to see Steve resign,” Sutter said. “But I also understand when it comes to personal/family reasons. He’s a great coach, and even more so a great man.”
Konowalchuk had one season left on his contract.
The Rebels also announced that assistant coach Ryan Colville has left after five seasons on the staff.
According to a Rebels news release, Colville “plans to pursue other professional opportunities.”
Sutter said that Colville “is looking for a coaching opportunity closer to home in Cincinnati.”
Meachem’s story is right here.
Half of the Memorial Cup field is set with the Seattle Thunderbirds having won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as as WHL champions on Friday night in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds beat the Winnipeg Ice, 3-1, to win the series, 4-1. . . . The Thunderbirds join the host Kamloops Blazers as the two confirmed teams for the four-team Memorial Cup tournament. It is to open on May 25 with the Blazers facing the QMJHL champion. . . . The Thunderbirds’ first game is set for May 27 against the OHL champion. . . . Seattle went 16-3 in its run to the WHL title; two of those losses were to the Blazers. . . .
In the OHL, the London Knights beat the visiting Peterborough Petes, 4-1, on Friday night, a decision that forced a sixth game. Still, the Petes will take a 3-2 series lead into a Sunday game (4 p.m. ET) in Peterborough. A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday in London (4 p.m. ET). . . . Last night, London erased a 1-0 first-period deficit with the game’s last four goals. F Ryan Humphrey (8) broke a 1-1 tie at 4:31 of the second period. . . . Petes F Owen Beck took a match penalty for slew-footing at 19:20 of the third period. That penalty is expected to draw a suspension, perhaps of two games in duration. Beck had 66 points, including 24 goals, in 60 regular-season games, and has 16 points, eight of them goals, in 22 playoff games. . . .
In the QMJHL, the Halifax Mooseheads dumped the Quebec Remparts, 3-2, in Quebec City to stay alive in the best-of-seven championship final. . . . The Remparts hold a 3-2 edge going into Game 6 in Halifax on Sunday (4 p.m. ET). A seventh game, if needed, would be played on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET) in Quebec City. . . . Last night, the Mooseheads got 35 saves from G Mathis Rousseau. . . . F Zachary L’Heureux (10) gave Halifax a 3-1 lead at 6:32 of the second period and it stood up as the winner. . . .
Check out Geoffrey Brandow on Twitter (@GeoffreyBrandow) for even more information after each CHL game. . . .
The Memorial Cup is scheduled to arrive in Kamloops on May 25 with the first game — the QMJHL champion against the host Blazers — set for May 26. . . . The good news is that the smoke that arrived Kamloops in the wee hours of Wednesday had pretty much moved on by Friday morning. Here’s hoping it stays gone.
FRIDAY IN THE WHL PLAYOFFS:
Winnipeg (1) at Seattle (2) — The Seattle Thunderbirds won their second WHL championship, beating the Winnipeg Ice, 3-1, in Kent, Wash. . . . The Thunderbirds won the last four games as they took the series, and the Ed Chynoweth Cup, in five games. . . . This was the first time the Thunderbirds won the title on home ice. In 2017, they beat the Pats in a six-game series that ended in Regina. . . . Last season, Seattle lost the final in six games to the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Seattle G Thomas Milic was named the playoff MVP. He stopped 30 shots last night. He led the playoffs in victories (16), GAA (1.95) and save percentage (.933). . . . The championship-winning goal came off the stick of F Nico Myatovic, an 18-year-old from Prince George, who went into the game with three goals in 18 games in these playoffs. He got his fourth goal on a penalty shot at 2:27 of the third period, a score that gave his guys a 2-0 lead. . . . F Sam Popowich (2) had Seattle’s first goal, at 13:45 of the second period. . . . F Evan Friesen (7) got the Ice within a goal at 5:02 of the third period. . . . F Kyle Crnkovic (6) gave Seattle insurance with the empty-netter at 18:54. . . . Seattle was 0-for-1 on the PP; Winnipeg was 0-for-2. . . . The Ice had a late-game PP, too, as Seattle F Lucas Ciona was hit with a boarding minor at 15:40 of the third period. However, the Ice, despite have good possession in the Seattle zone, passed up a number of shooting opportunities and when skaters did pull the trigger they weren’t able to beat Milic. . . . The Ice got another superb game from G Daniel Hauser, who finished with 35 saves. . . . F Jordan Gustafson played in his first game in the series after being injured on April 30. He played a key role on Seattle’s first goal as he and Popowich provided some net-front presence, with Popowich tipping in D Jeremy Hanzel’s point shot. . . . F Dylan Guenther and D Luke Prokop of the Thunderbirds won their second straight WHL title. Both were with the Oil Kings last season. Guenther suffered a knee injury in last season’s final series and wasn’t able to play in the Memorial Cup. . . . F Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers won the playoff scoring race with 30 points, one more than teammate Olen Zellweger and Winnipeg F Matt Savoie. . . . Guenther had a WHL-leading 16 goals, two more than Ice F Connor McClennon. . . . Winnipeg D Ben Zloty was tops in assists, with 23, three more than Stankoven and Seattle F Brad Lambert.
The Vancouver Giants have acquired D Logan Hammett, 20, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a fourth-round selection in the WHL’s 2024 draft. Hammett, from Regina, had four goals and 33 assists in 144 regular-season games with Brandon. The Wheat Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2018 WHL draft. . . .
F Daylan Kuefler of the Kamloops Blazers has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s New York Islanders. Kuefler, 21, is from Red Deer. He has played four seasons with the Blazers, totalling 144 points, 77 of them goals, in 184 regular-season games. This season, he put up 30 goals and 31 assists in 54 games. . . . The Islanders selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . .
The Brandon Wheat Kings and Swift Current Broncos will have new play-by-play voices next season. . . . Brandon announced on Friday that it and “broadcast partner Q Country 91.5 Radio . . . have parted ways with director of media relations and play-by-play host Chase Johnston.” Johnston was in that position for one season. . . . Craig Beauchemin is leaving the Broncos after four seasons as broadcast and community relations manager. There is speculation that he will surface as the radio voice of another WHL team. . . . The Tri-City Americans also are looking for a new play-by-play voice following the decision by veteran Craig West to leave the organzation last month. . . .
You may recall that F Spencer Smith of the BCHL’s Penticton Vees was taken to hospital in Port Alberni late in the first period of Wednesday’s playoff game. According to the Vees, Smith, 20, “went into medical distress after a high hit. . . . He went to the Port Alberni hospital for further evaluation where he was cleared and later released Wednesday evening.” . . . The Vees won the game, 4-1, to sweep the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and win their second straight championship.
The 2023 Kamloops Kidney Walk is scheduled for June 4, and Dorothy is taking part once again. She will celebrate 10 years as a kidney-transplant recipient in September, so the annual Kidney Walk is a big deal for her. In fact, she is participating for a 10th straight year. Yes, that means she is fund-raising, with all donations going to the Kidney Foundation. . . . If you are interested in helping, you are able to do so on her home page, which 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
Toll free: 1-877-922-9822
Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre
Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street
Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9
604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182
Or, for more information, visit right here.