Chico to be the (equipment) man in Abbotsford . . . Oil Kings lose Porter to Avs . . . Fond farewell to Cookie Gilchrist

Some WHL-related moves over the past couple of days . . .

The Prince George Cougars are losing one of the most-popular figures in their organization. Ramandeep (Chico) Dhanjal, their equipment manager, has accepted an offer from the Abbotsford Canucks, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. . . . He will be Abbotsford’s head equipment manager after working with the Cougars for 13 years. . . . Shingo Sasaki, who had been with the WHL’s Vancouver Giants for eight seasons as their equipment manager, will be the assistant equipment manager in Abbotsford. . . .

The WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings have lost Jamie Porter, their director of scouting for the past three seasons. He has joined the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche as an amateur scout. Before joining the Oil Kings, Porter spent 15 seasons with the Swift Current Broncos. He started with them as a scout and finished up as director of hockey operations and director of scouting. . . .

The Everett Silvertips have promoted Louis Mass to associate coach. He has been an assistant coach in Everett through three seasons. The Silvertips also said they have signed him to a multi-year contract extension but didn’t provide any details.

Kent (Cookie) Gilchrist, a former sports editor, columnist and writer with the Vancouver Province, died on Wednesday night. He was 72. . . . Gilchrist, a man with a laugh to be remembered, was one of the good ones. I got to know him years ago while on the CFL beat. We both got our start at the Brandon Sun so always had that in common. . . . And we had some fun on the old WFC Skywriters’ Tours, didn’t we, Cookie? . . . RIP. . . . Patrick Johnston of the Province has a whole lot on Cookie right here.


The Olympic Summer Games are scheduled to open on July 23 and some people already are referencing them as the Pandemic Games. (Actually, the opening ceremonies are on July 23; competition actually begins Tuesday evening Canadian time.)

On Friday, Liam Morgan of reported that “an official connected to the delayed Olympic Games has become the first resident of the Olympic Village to test positive for COVID-19.” . . . It was confirmed to Morgan that there “had been 14 more confirmed new infections in Japan linked to the Games since July 1. It brings the total number in that period to 44 . . .”

Morgan reported that four of other 13 cases were from Games connected personnel. There also were seven positive tests among contractors, and two from foreign media.

Morgan added that on Friday,“Tokyo recorded 1,271 new COVID-19 cases, marking the 27th day in a row where the tally is higher than a week prior. It was also the third straight day where the total number of infections topped 1,000.”

Meanwhile, there are experts in the field who believe that these Games are going to serve as a world-wide superspreader.

“I think that bringing people from all around the world together and then dispersing them back around the globe is one of the worst things you can do in the midst of a pandemic,” Dr. John Swartzberg, a UC Berkeley infectious disease expert, told Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle.

Killion wrote:

“The International Olympic Committee has already proclaimed that these ‘will be the Games that conquered COVID.’ That is one more bit of spin from the delusional IOC, the only entity that can cancel the Games and which has steadfastly refused to despite the ravages around the world.”

So . . . let the Games begin!

Team USA and Australia were to have played a pre-Olympic men’s basketball game in Las Vegas on Friday night. But it was cancelled after two of the American players — Bradley Beal and Jerami Grant — were involved in health and safety protocols. Beal apparently tested positive, so won’t be on the American team when it heads for Tokyo.

MLB had planned to come out of its all-star break with one game on Thursday, a nationally televised contest between the Boston Red Sox and the host New York Yankees. But it was postponed when the Yankees had another run in with COVID-19. You will recall that the Yankees had an episode in May that involved 11 members of their travelling party, but only one player — SS Gleyber Torres. . . . This time the Yankees had six players test positive on Thursday, including OF Aaron Judge, who had just returned from the All-Star Game in Denver. That meant that other MLB players involved in the All-Star Game had to undergo testing. Other Yankees reported to have tested positive were 3B Gio Urshela, C Kyla Higashioka and relievers Jonathan Loaisiga, Nestor Cortes Jr., and Wandy Peralta. . . . Loaisiga actually went on the COVID list on Saturday. . . . The Yankees were among the first MLB teams to reach the 85 per cent vaccination threshold, which meant they were able to reduce restrictions involving such things as mask wearing. As of June 25, the last time MLB updated its list publicly, the Red Sox hadn’t reached that threshold.

On Friday night, in New York, the Red Sox blanked the Yankees, 4-0. This season, these teams have met seven times and the Red Sox have won them all. . . . The headline on the back page of the New York Daily News today: NEW YORK BLANKEES.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have signed F Zakhar Polshakov of Belarus to a WHL Brandoncontract. They selected Polshakov, who will turn 18 on Sept. 18, in the CHL’s 2021 import draft. . . . He had nine goals and 17 assists in 38 games with his club team in 2020-21 and also captained his country’s team at the IIHF U-18 World championship in Texas, where he had one assist in three games. . . . His father, Alexander, and grandfather, Valeri, both have been prominent in Belarus’s hockey community. . . . The Wheat Kings hold the WHL rights to two other imports — F Marcus Kallionkieli of Finland and D Yaroslav Busygin of Russia — but both have signed pro contracts. Kallionkieli, 20, has signed with the Vegas Golden Knights, who selected him in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. The Wheat Kings picked Busygin, 18, in the CHL’s 2020 import draft and actually signed him, but he played at home in 2020-21 because of the pandemic and is expected to play there again in 2021-22.

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Americans turn to Buchberger . . . Silvertips add two coaches, lose one . . . Hitmen to introduce their guy today


D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and 12 assists in 67 games with the Idaho Steelheads (ECHL). . . .

F Dalibor Bortňák (Kamloops, 2008-11) signed a tryout contract with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had seven goals and seven assists in 31 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Victor Bartley (Kamloops, Regina, 2003-09) signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with Örebro (Sweden, SHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 44 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Austin Madaisky (Calgary, Kamloops, 2008-12) signed a tryout contract with Kölner Haie (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL), he had five goals and eight assists in 45 games, and also had one goal in six games with Leksand (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . . His tryout deal runs until the Deutschland Cup break (Nov. 5). . . .

D Spencer Humphries (Tri-City, Calgary, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and eight assists in 40 games with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 51 games with Slovan, and three goals and three assists in seven games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga).


Kelly Buchberger is the new head coach of the Tri-City Americans. Buchberger, with no WHL coaching experience, takes over from Mike Williamson, who left the organization tri-citylast month after four years as head coach. . . . Williamson is the fifth-winningest regular-season coach in WHL history. . . . The length of Buchberger’s contract wasn’t disclosed. . . . Buchberger, 51, was an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders last season. However, they chose to clean house following the season. Prior to that, he was with the Edmonton Oilers since 2004, spending six of those seasons as an NHL assistant coach. He also spent three seasons (2014-17) as the Oilers’ director of player personnel. . . . His only head-coaching experience is from 2007-08 when he was with the Springfield Falcons, then the AHL affiliate of the Oilers. . . . From Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger was a ninth-round pick by the Oilers in the NHL’ s 1985 draft. He went on to play 1,182 regular-season NHL games, splitting time with the Oilers, Atlanta Thrashers, Los Angeles Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Pittsburgh Penguins. . . . He played two seasons (1984-86) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, recording 26 goals, 39 assists and 320 penalty minutes. . . .

Brian Pellerin, 48, who has been the team’s associate coach for four seasons, will remain with the club and work alongside Buchberger. Pellerin is believed to have one year left on his contract. . . .

With the Americans having unveiled their head coach, the Calgary Hitmen remain the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams without a head coach. However, they have scheduled a news conference for today (Tuesday) to announce the 10th head coach in franchise history.

The Everett Silvertips have signed Louis Mass and Harry Mahood as assistant coaches to work alongside head coach Dennis Williams. . . . Mass, 41, is from Anchorage and has Everettspent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the U of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. Prior to that, he was an assistant coach through five seasons with the ECHL’s Alaska Aces. . . . Mahood, from Thompson, Man., played four seasons (1979-83) in the WHL, spending time with the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. Yes, that is an amazing quarter of WHL teams. . . . Mahood, who will turn 56 on Aug. 8, has been in the coaching game since 1996 in Germany. Of late, he coached with Williams with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls and USHL’s Bloomington Thunder, both of which were under the umbrella of Consolidated Sports Holdings, which owns the Silvertips. . . . Shane Clifford, who spent a total of 11 seasons, including the last four, as Everett’s goaltending coach, has left to coach goaltenders with the OHL’s Erie Otters. Last season, he also worked with the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers and Youngstown Phantoms. . . . The Silvertips had room on their coaching staff after Mitch Love, the assistant to the GM and assistant coach, signed on as head coach of the Saskatoon Blades.

There haven’t yet been any announcements, but Taking Note has been told by sources familiar with the WHL that Ryan Smith and Jamie Heward, both of whom have left the Swift Current Broncos’ coaching staff, will be joining other WHL teams. . . . Smith, who spent three seasons as the Broncos’ associate coach, is moving to the Medicine Hat Tigers to work with GM/head coach Shawn Clouston and assistant coach Joe Frazer. . . . Heward will be joining the Vancouver Giants where he will work with first-year assistant coach Michael Dyck. Heward had been with the Broncos for six seasons as an assistant coach and director of player development.

The Saskatoon Blades and the Saskatoon Media Group have agreed to a four-year Saskatooncontract extension that involves the broadcast rights to the team’s WHL games. Under the new deal, the broadcasts will move from 92.9 The BULL FM to 98 COOL FM. . . . That’s good because no one is cooler than Les Lazaruk, who is preparing for his 25th season as the radio voice of the Blades. . . . The Blades also announced that “Lazaruk will host a live one-hour pre-game show from the concourse at SaskTel Centre prior to home games. Fans also will get a chance to hear from the players and staff every Thursday morning on 98COOL FM.”

The Portland Winterhawks have signed two import forwards — Dean Schwenninger, 17, who is from Switzerland, and Michal Kvasnica, 18, from Czech Republic. . . . Last season, PortlandSchwenninger had 13 goals and 24 assists in 19 games with Zug U-17 in the Elite Novizen. In 20 games with Zug’s U-20 side, he had five goals and three assists. In 15 games with Switzerland’s U-17 team, he added five goals and four assists. . . . Kvasnica had six goals and 10 assists in 45 games with HC Frydek-Mistek in Czech2. He also played eight games with HC Trinec U-20, putting up five goals and four assits. In seven games at the World U-18 championship, he had two goals and two assists. . . . The Winterhawks finished last season with two imports — Danish F Joachim Blichfeld and Finnish D Henri Jokiharju. . . . Blichfeld, who turns 20 today (Tuesday), is expected to play with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season. . . . Jokiharju has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. If he doesn’t make the Blackhawks, well, here’s what Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote on Sunday: “The Winterhawks are moving on without him, so he likely will end up in Chicago or Rockford this season. It’s also possible Jokiharju will go to the Finnish Elite League for a year. It’s unlikely, but Jokiharju has some history with it. His father, Juha, played for more than a decade in the Liiga.” . . . The Rockford IceHogs are the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. . . . Lazerus’s complete story is right here.Tweetoftheday

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