Wheat Kings have their GM . . . Blazers deal top-end defenceman after he asks out . . . Ex-WHL goalie moves west to play volleyball

Marty Murray is the new general manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Murray, 47, takes over from Doug Gasper, who resigned on May 6, citing personal reasons in leaving after one season as GM. Gasper spent the two seasons before that as the club’s assistant general manager. . . . Kelly McCrimmon had been the Wheat Kings’ general manager for 27 seasons (1989-2016) before joining the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. McCrimmon sold the franchise to the J&G Group of Companies, headed up by president and CEO Jared Jacobson, on Sept. 8, 2020. Murray is the Wheat Kings’ third general manager since then, following Darren Ritchie (2019-21) and Gasper. . . .

Murray was the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede for the past two seasons. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons with the NAHL’s Minot Minotaurus, the first five as head coach and the last four as GM and head coach. . . . From Lyleton, Man., Murray is a former Wheat Kings star, having totalled 132 goals and 260 assists in 264 regular-season games over four seasons (1991-95). He twice played for Canada at the World Junior Championship, winning gold twice and leading the 1995 tournament in scoring. . . . There is a complete news release right here.


The Kamloops Blazers have traded D Mats Lindgren, 18, to the Red Deer Rebels RedDeerfor D Kyle Masters, 19, and a lottery-protected first-round selection in the 2025 WHL draft. . . . Lindgren, the son of former NHL F Mats Lindgren, had asked for a trade after being a fourth-round pick by the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2022 draft. . . . The Blazers, the host team for the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament, had selected Lindgren, a North Vancouver native, with the seventh pick of the first round in the WHL’s 2019 draft. He had five goals and 39 assists in 68 regular-season games in 2021-22, then added seven assists in 17 playoff games. . . .

The Minnesota Wild selected Masters, who is from Edmonton, in the fourth round of the 2021 NHL draft. Last season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 65 regular-season games with the Rebels. In 109 games over three seasons, he has five goals and 22 assists. Red Deer selected him 16th overall in the 2018 WHL draft. . . .

Under the conditions of the trade, the first-round pick acquired by Kamloops will move to 2026 if the Rebels are part of the draft lottery prior to the 2025 draft. The draft lottery includes the six non-playoff teams. . . . The Blazers now hold two first-rounders in each of the 2023 and 2025 drafts. . . . During the WHL’s 2021 draft — it had been moved from May to Dec. 9 because of the COVID-19 situation — the Blazers dealt their 2021 first-round selection to Regina for the Pats’ first-rounder in 2023. Regina used the pick to take F Jaxsin Vaughan, who has played the past two seasons at the Rink Hockey Academy in Kelowna. Vaughan 16, was pointless in six games with the Pats last season. . . .

The trade on Monday leaves the Blazers without a defenceman who likely would Kamloopshave led them in minutes played and played on the first PP unit. It gives the Blazers one more chip to be used in what undoubtedly will be more than one or two future moves. . . . I would suggest that the Blazers are going to have to ascertain the status of F Logan Stankoven, 19, before deciding where to go from here. From all reports, he was really good at the just-completed World Junior Championship in Edmonton. So what are his chances of playing his way onto the roster of the Dallas Stars, who selected him in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft? All is well if he comes back. If he doesn’t return, Kamloops will need to go shopping for a high-end forward. . . . Also, is G Dylan Ernst, 18, capable of leading a team on a march to the Memorial Cup after getting into 24 games last season? Or do the Blazers need to go out and acquire some experience at that position? . . . No matter how you look at it Blazers’ fans are in for some interesting times.


In 1991, a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle card — his rookie card — sold for US$50,000. That same card sold for a record $12.6 million on Sunday. The previous record was $7.25 million, paid earlier this month for an American Tobacco Co. T206 Honus Wagner card that was produced somewhere around 1910. . . . BTW, you can’t make this part up: Bobby Caina Calvan of The Associated Press reported that “the auction netted a handsome profit for Anthony Giardino, a New Jersey waste management entrepreneur who bought it . . . at a New York City show in 1991.” . . . A different 1952 Mantle sold for $5.2 million in 2021. That was the record for a Mantle card prior to Sunday. . . . Sunday’s sale also set a record for any single item of sports memorabilia, surpassing the $9.3 million paid earlier this year for the uniform top worn by soccer’s Diego Maradona when he scored the “Hand of God” goal at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico City. . . . With that kind of memorabilia in mind, Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times informs us that “Ty Cobb’s dentures are up for auction for the first time in 23 years.” The last time they were on the block, in 1999, they sold for $7,475.



The Edmonton Oil Kings have yet to make an announcement but veteran hockey writer Jim Matheson tweeted on Monday that former NHL D Ladislav Smid “is going to be working” with them “in a coaching capacity.”. . . He will be working with head coach Luke Pierce and Serge Lajoie, who recently signed on as assistant coach and director of player development. . . . Smid, 36, is from the Czech Republic. He played seven-plus seasons with the Edmonton Oilers and then spent three seasons in the Calgary Flames organization. . . . He has played the past five seasons in his home country. . . .

Charlie Mattersdorfer has been named the Lethbridge Hurricanes as the skills and development coach. Mattersdorfer, 41, has spent the past two seasons as the club’s power skating coach. He played one season (1997-98) with the Hurricanes. . . .

The OHL has its first female assistant coach with the Hamilton Bulldogs having hired Laura Fortino as an assistant coach and the director of player development. Fortino, 31, is from Hamilton. She played university hockey at Cornell, is heavily involved with the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association and has won Olympic gold and silver medals with Canada’s national team. . . . In the WHL, Olivia Howe has been a “coaching assistant” with the Moose Jaw Warriors since Oct. 11, 2019.


G Max Paddock, who played four seasons in the WHL, is leaving hockey to play volleyball. Paddock, 22, played nine games in goal for the Acadia Axemen last season (2-6-0, 3.17, .898), but now has chosen to transfer across the country to the U of Fraser Valley where he will play on the Cascades men’s volleyball team. . . . He was a volleyball star with the Neelin Spartans while in high school in Brandon. . . . His father, Russ, was an international-calibre volleyball player, who is the athletic director at Brandon University. . . . Max is a nephew to John Paddock, the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats.


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Junior hockey, CFL looking for help . . . Hlinka Gretzky Cup done . . . Pro-junior agreement extended one year

Mike Hawes, the general manager of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings, has told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen that the pandemic has cost the league’s teams about $3 million in ticket sales and sponsorships. . . . Clarke also wrote: “Teams have been granted the option to opt out of (the) league for next season to allow them a year to restore operating budgets, but Hawes said none have yet indicated they plan to do that.” . . . The 18-team league announced in January that it was cutting its regular season from 58 games to 54. According to Clarke, it hopes to open on Sept. 18, but it has “alternate plans for 50- or 46-game seasons, depending on when COVID-19 restrictions on crowd gatherings are lifted.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


ICYMI, the afore-mentioned Ted Clarke is the winner of the 2019-20 Fred (Gus) Collins Award. According to a news release: “The award is handed out annually to a member of the media who works tirelessly covering Canada West and it student-athletes, and is named in honour of the late Fred (Gus) Collins.” . . . Collins was a longtime member of the Winnipeg Tribune and Calgary Herald sports departments. He covered university sports as a reporter and also was a longtime statistician with university sports in the west. . . . Clarke has covered the UNBC Timberwolves for 20 years, the last eight of them in Canada West. . . . The complete Canada West news release is right here.

Meanwhile, the junior B Kootenay Junior B International Hockey League announced Tuesday that it “will be seeking financial assistance from the provincial and federal governments” to help the 20-team league get through the pandemic. . . . The KIJHL has 13 community-owned teams and seven that are privately owned. Of its 20 teams, 19 are in B.C., the exception being the Spokane Braves. . . . According to a KIJHL news release, the league “has already experienced heavy financial losses due to the virus and expects continued challenges when play resumes. For that reason, the league is looking to the provincial government for support, and will also hope to tap into a program announced by the federal government that has earmarked $500 million towards arts, culture and sport organizations.” . . . Earlier, the junior A BCHL said that it will be looking for help from that same program. . . . The KIJHL’s news release is right here.

The CFL also is looking for some financial help from the federal government. From a report by The Canadian Press: “CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that the league’s proposal involves three phases: $30 million now to manage the impact the novel coronavirus outbreak has had on league business; additional assistance for an abbreviated regular season; and up to another $120 million in the event of a lost 2020 campaign.” . . . The CFL season had been scheduled to open on June 11, but that won’t happen. The league now hopes to begin play early in July.


Hockey Canada has confirmed the speculation by officially announcing the cancellation of the eight-country Hlinka Gretzky Cup, the U-18 tournament that was to have been played in Edmonton and Red Deer, Aug. 3-8. . . . While Hockey Canada pinned the blame on the pandemic, it’s no secret that the building in Edmonton will need to be ready in case the NHL is able to return to play. . . . The 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup is scheduled for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, before returning to Edmonton and Red Deer in 2022. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship, which is to run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, also is to be played in Edmonton and Red Deer.

We could be watching baseball on TV next week, as South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reports that ESPN and the Korean Baseball Organization are closing in on a deal. . . . The KBO season has been on hold but is scheduled to start on May 5. . . . The Korean league began two weeks of exhibition play on Tuesday without fans in stadiums. According to an Associated Press report from a game in Seoul: “Umpires wore masks and gloves, and some coaches and team staff wore masks in the dugouts. Some of the players and a coach wore messages on their caps that read ‘Corona 19 Out.’ ” As well, all people entering the stadium had their temperatures checked. . . . Oh, and one other thing — there is to be no spitting. That will be interesting because spitting has been around baseball as long as dirt. . . .

Perhaps forgotten in all of the news about postponements and cancellations in the sporting world is that the AHL season also is on hold. The AHL shut down on March 12, the same day that the NHL hit the ‘hold’ button. The Associated Press reported Monday that the AHLis “quite likely” to cancel the remainder of its season. In its report, the AP quoted a person with direct knowledge of discussions. The 31-team league responded by saying there is “nothing imminent” in terms of an announcement. . . .

With the government of France having banned public gatherings until mid-July, the French Grand Prix, scheduled for June 28, has been cancelled. Formula One now hopes to get its season started with the Austrian Grand Prix on July 5. . . .

I would suggest that tennis star Rafael Nadal gets it. In a story that appeared in newspapers in Spain on Monday, he was quoted as saying: “I don’t think training would be a problem, but competing . . . I see it very difficult. It’s a moment to be responsible and coherent, so I don’t see how we can travel every week to a different country.” . . . To this point, both tennis tours are on hold until at least mid-July. . . .

Argentina’s soccer federation, on hold since March 15, has cancelled the remainder of its 2020 season. It is hoping to get its 2021 season started in January. . . .

The Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede that was to have been held July 22-25 has been cancelled. . . .

The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony, which was to have included Canada’s Larry Walker, still is scheduled for July 26, but that may change this week after directors hold a virtual meeting. . . .

NASCAR, idle since March, hopes to get its schedule rolling on May 17 at Darlington, S.C., with the state having relaxed COVID-19 restrictions.

The NHL’s board of governors has approved extensions of its player development agreements through the 2020-21 season. That includes the pro-junior agreement with the CHL that covers the OHL, QMJHL and WHL. . . . With that agreement staying in place, it means that nothing will change for a 19-year-old player who signs an NHL contract; he will have to play with the NHL team or be returned to the major junior club. There had been speculation that a new agreement might include an option that would allow a signed 19-year-old to play in the AHL, something the NHL has been wanting for a while now.


Brady Leavold played 200 regular-season WHL games over five seasons (2003-08), splitting time with the Swift Current Broncos and Kelowna Rockets. However, his page at eliteprospects.com or hockeydb.com doesn’t begin to tell the story. . . . That’s because those pages only include hockey-related numbers, and nothing to do with addiction or rehab. Gare Joyce has written Leavold’s story right here and, well, it isn’t pretty, but it’s worth a read.

Marty Murray has left the NAHL’s Minot Minotauros to take over as general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Sioux Falls Stampede. . . . Murray, who spent four seasons (1991-95) playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, had spent more than eight seasons as Minot’s GM/head coach. . . . Murray, 45, was with the Minotauros from the start, beginning as an assistant coach and moving up to GM/head coach midway through the franchise’s first season. . . . The Minotauros immediately named Shane Wagner, who had been Murray’s assistant coach, as their head coach. Wagner has spent three years in Minot. . . . In Sioux Falls, Murray takes over from Scott Owens, who retired after five seasons there. . . . Minot’s complete news release is right here.


The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have signed associate coach Jeremy Blumes to a two-year contract. He spent the past two seasons as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Golden Rockets of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . In Nipawin, Blumes will be working with GM/head coach Doug Johnson.


No surprises from Bettman in front of MPs. . . . Fix-Wolansky turns into Monster. . . . Nyren to undergo psychiatric assessment


D Martin Gernát (Edmonton, 2011-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he had eight goals and 12 assists in 48 games. . . .

F Brandon Kozun (Calgary, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). This season, with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Russia, KHL), he had 19 goals and 22 assists in 52 games. He led his team in goals, and was tied for the team lead in points. . . .

F Malte Strömwall (Tri-City, 2011-13) has signed a one-year contract with Sochi (Russia, KHL). This season, with KooKoo Kouvola (Finland, Liiga), he had 30 goals and 27 assists in 52 games. He led the league in goals and points. . . .

G Patrik Bartošák (Red Deer, 2011-14) has signed a two-year contract with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was 26-21-0, 2.17, .935, with one shutout and one assist in 47 games. He led the league in save percentage. . . .

D Vojtěch Budík (Prince Albert, 2015-18) has signed a one-year plus option contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two assists in 34 games. On loan to Jihlava (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had one goal and one assist in three games. . . .

D Paul Postma (Swift Current, Calgary, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk (Russia, KHL). This season, with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL), he had eight goals and 20 assists in 57 games.


Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner, appeared on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Wednesday to appear before a committee of Members of Parliament who are studying sports-related concussions. . . . “Sure, Bettman has been on the job more than 26 years,” writes Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star. “He’s been an honoured member of the hockey hall since he was inducted last fall. But Wednesday confirmed they didn’t put him there because he benevolently served the good of the sport, its players and its future. They gave him the blue blazer and the ring because he profitably grew the business of his employers. And the business of his employers is clearly still served best by concussion denial.” . . . Feschuk’s column is right here.

The WHL announced its individual award winners, all-stars teams and more on Wednesday in Red Deer. You will find all of that information on the WHL’s website at whl.ca.

The annual bantam draft is scheduled to begin bright and early today (Thursday) in Red Deer. You won’t find much draft coverage here because it’s something that I just don’t spend a lot of time following.

F Trey Fix-Wolansky of the Edmonton Oil Kings will finish his season with the Cleveland EdmontonOilKingsMonsters, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. . . . Fix-Wolansky, an Edmonton native, will turn 20 on May 26. The Blue Jackets selected him in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and have signed him to a three-year entry-level contract. . . . This season, his third with the Oil Kings, he had 37 goals and 65 assists in 65 regular-season games. In 206 career regular-season games, he has 245 points, including 93 goals. . . . He wasn’t in Cleveland’s roster last night as it dropped a 5-2 decision to the Marlies in Toronto in Game 1 of a playoff series.

Giffen Nyren, the former WHL defenceman who is facing charges after a youngster was taken from his mother on Sunday at a Kelowna beach, appeared in court on Wednesday and was ordered to undergo a psychiatric assessment. . . . Nyren, 30, is facing one count of assault and one count of willfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer. . . . He remains in custody and is to be back in court on May 15. Nyren’s mother was in court when he made his appearance yesterday. . . . Doyle Potenteau of Global TV has more right here.

Taking Note has been told that veteran coach Barry Wolff will be joining the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials as their general manager and head coach. . . . After spending five seasons (2013-18) with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, one as head coach and four as general manager/head coach, Wolff spent this season as GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. They lost Game 7 of the championship final to the Portage Terriers. . . . Wolff has had previous BCHL stints with the Quesnel Millionaires, Langley Hornets and Langley Chiefs. He also has coached the junior B Fernie Ghostriders, the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard and the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons. . . . In Merritt, Wolff will replace Joe Martin, who left to take over as GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

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Aaron Schulze of northeastnow.com reported Wednesday that the Tisdale Trojans of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League have decided not to renew the contract of Darrell Mann, their general manager and head coach. . . . Mann had been with the Trojans, in one position or another, for 16 years. . . . Schulze wrote that team president Greg McShannock “confirmed to northeastNOW that Mann’s contract was up for renewal and the team decided to move in a different direction.” . . . Mann spent 10 seasons with the Trojans before singing on as head coach of the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs. He returned to the Trojans for 2013-14. This season, the Trojans finished second in the regular season, at 32-7-5, before losing a best-of-five semi-final series, 3-1, to the Saskatoon Blazers. . . . The Trojans then won the Western Regional as host team and went on to finish third at the Telus Cup. . . . Schulze’s story is right here.

Marty Murray, the general manager and head coach of the Minot Minotauros, has been honoured as the NAHL’s GM of the year. Murray, 44, is from Deloraine, Man., and played four seasons (1991-95) with the Brandon Wheat Kings before going on to a pro career that included 261 regular-season NHL games. . . . The Minotauros went 36-21-3 to finish second in the Central Division this season, and are presently involved in a second-round playoff series. They finished ninth in the NAHL in attendance, drawing more than 1,400 fans per game.


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