Blades and Raiders help Big River celebrate special occasion . . . First Nation opens complex in honour of ex-NHLer Jim Neilson . . . Rangers were there, too

Hey, folks, this is what it’s all about . . .

The Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades joined the people of the Big River First Nation on Tuesday to take part in the grand opening of the Jim Neilson Sports Complex, a multi-use facility that includes a 1,500-seat arena. It is named in honour of Neilson, the late NHL defenceman who was from Big River.

Joel Willick of MBC Radio has more on the opening right here.

Meanwhile, Dan Tencer, the Blades’ scouting director, posted four tweets later Tuesday, and here they are, in order:

  1. I’m in the hotel elevator last week in downtown Saskatoon and a mother and daughter get in. I ask about the very yummy plate of food they have and the daughter smiles. They tell me they’ve come from a barbecue for a gender reveal.
  2. Mom sees the logo on my shirt and asks if I work for the Blades. I say yes, I lead the group that scouts players for them. She excitedly says “you’re coming to Big River! We’re all coming out to watch.” I tell her I can’t wait to be there and they should find me and say hi.
  3. Game today ends, I’m outside by the team bus. Same mother and daughter walk up with the little girl imploring her mom to find the “scout leader.” It made my week. I was so touched that she had remembered our 25-second meeting.
  4. I was so proud that we were there to play at the opening of the new rink in their community. Hockey is a wonderful game and can facilitate so many connections in so many ways. Small as it might be, I’m so glad they found me again today.



Music


More than a few followers of the Kamloops Blazers were surprised (shocked?) when D Mats Lindgren, 18, was traded to the Red Deer Rebels on Aug. 29. Those Kamloopssame people were even more surprised to find out that Lindgren, a fourth-round selection of the Buffalo Sabres in the NHL’s 2022 draft, had asked out of Kamloops. . . . So what happened? . . . “It was the best thing for me for personal reasons and I’m just excited for this new opportunity,” Lindgren told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. . . . Shaun Clouston, the Blazers’ general manager and head coach, told Marty Hastings of Kelowna This Week: “Sometimes, players are looking for a different opportunity. Sometimes, things aren’t a perfect fit. This is a scenario where both teams are able to give their players an opportunity with another team.” . . . The Blazers, who open their exhibition season at home to the Kelowna Rockets on Friday, acquired D Kyle Masters, 19, and a lottery-protected 2025 first-round draft pick in the deal. If the Rebels miss the 2024-25 playoffs and thus are in the draft lottery, the pick will move to the 2026 draft. . . . Lindgren would have eaten up a lot of minutes for the Blazers this season, and would have been on the No. 1 power-play unit on a team that will play host to the 2023 Memorial Cup tournament. So to find out that he had asked for a trade immediately after the NHL draft left a lot of people wondering what had gone wrong in Kamloops. . . . The Blazers, then under general manager Matt Bardsley, selected Lindgren with the seventh pick of the WHL’s 2019 draft. Bardsley was able to get Lindgren signed a couple of months later, but two years later the GM resigned for what he said were family reasons. . . . Just spit-balling here, but you wonder if Bardsley’s departure, followed by that of associate coaches Cory Clouston, after the 2020-21 development season, and Mark Holick, after last season, had anything to do with Lindgren’s unhappiness?

Meanwhile, Holick is back at Yale Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., where he will coach the U17 men’s prep team. He had spent three seasons as the head coach of Yale’s U18 prep team before joining the Blazers. That lasted one season before he resigned citing “personal reasons.”


Yogi


You could make the case that a penalty taken by an inactive player cost the Saskatchewan Roughriders a victory in what ended up being a 20-18 loss to the CFLlogoWinnipeg Blue Bombers in Regina on Sunday. . . . With the game tied 17-17 in the fourth quarter, and neither team having yet scored in the second half, the Roughriders had moved into field goal range when a schmozzle developed at the Saskatchewan bench. WR Duke Williams of the Roughriders, not dressed because of an ankle injury, was flagged for yapping with fewer than 11 minutes to play. Saskatchewan took a holding penalty on the next play and, because the penalty had pushed them out of field goal ranger, was forced to punt.

According to freelancer Jeff DeDekker, who covers Saskatchewan home games for The Canadian Press, Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson had this to say about the Williams penalty:

“I can tell you this much, moving forward there will be no players on the bench area that aren’t either playing or thoroughly involved in coaching because that was very disappointing. That hurt us and it hurt us bad.

“It was a stupid penalty and Duke feels bad about it and he should. Hopefully he’s expressed that to his teammates.

“He’s an emotional guy and his emotions got the best of him. I think they called it pretty tight. I don’t know what he said to the guy but it wasn’t complimentary. I’ll talk to (Roughriders general manager) Jeremy O’Day and see what we can do. That hurt our team. He feels bad about it and he should.”

On Tuesday, the Roughriders released an American, but it wasn’t Williams. Instead, it was DL Garrett Marino, who also has been more than a handful in the discipline department. Already having served a four-game suspension for, among other things, a hit that took out Ottawa Redblacks’ QB Jeremiah Masoli, Marino got away with a late hit on Winnipeg QB Zach Collaros late in Sunday’s game.


Headline at The Beaverton (@TheBeaverton) — Hockey Canada insists it can change its culture without replacing leadership, changing culture.


THINKING OUT LOUD — I don’t know what it means, but think about this for a moment: The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks signed F J.T. Miller to a contract the other day that will pay him US$56 million over seven seasons; the NFL’s Denver Broncos signed QB Russell Wilson to a five-year, US$242,588,236 deal that included a $50-million signing bonus. . . . Miller is 29 years of age; Wilson is 33. . . . Summer is over. How do I know? Because the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League opened its regular season with one game on Wednesday night. There are two more on tonight’s schedule and four on Friday. . . . I also know that summer is over because the NFL season gets started tonight (Thursday). I’m riding with the host Buffalo Bills over the Los Angeles Rams. Could it be a Super Bowl preview?


LittleLeague


JUNIOR JOTTINGS:

Vincent Tremblay, the play-by-play voice of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, tweeted Tuesday that the club “will have a sponsor on the helmet.  Real estate company Trilogies Inc.” . . . Hmm, corporate logos on helmets. Can other junior teams be far behind? Not if there’s sponsorship money involved. . . .

Joe Mahon, who played in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks and Calgary Hitmen, will be in the NHL this season . . . as a linesman. Mahon, 28, is from Calgary. He has been officiating since 2019. Last season, he worked in the WHL and the AHL; this season, he’ll see action in the AHL and NHL. And he’ll be wearing No. 89. . . . Mahon played two seasons in the WHL. He had two goals and an assist in 41 games with Portland in 2012-13, then put up nine goals and nine assists in 56 games with the Hitmen in 2013-14. . . .

Eddie Gregory is the new play-by-play voice of the Vancouver Giants, having joined them after spending 18 seasons calling games for the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express. Gregory, 40, takes over from Dan O’Connor, who left for the athletic department at UBC where he now is sports information co-ordinator. . . .

Damon Pugerude has signed on as the Everett Silvertips’ head equipment manager. He had been with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles, as head trainer and equipment manager, for the past six seasons. He also has worked with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs and the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder and Sherwood Park Crusaders.


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.


Babymaking

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

WHL’s second round set to begin . . . It’s Rebels at Oil Kings tonight . . . Bardsley takes over in Spokane

WHLplayoffs2022After taking a couple of nights off, the WHL playoffs resume tonight (Thursday) as the second round gets started with an Eastern Conference matchup — the Red Deer Rebels visiting the Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . No, I’m not going to make predictions but I will tell you that the teams met 10 times this season — the Oil Kings were 5-3-2, while the Rebels were 5-5-0. . . . Edmonton had a 34-29 edge in goals scored. . . . Over 68 games, the Oil Kings finished 50-14-4, which left them 10 points ahead of the Rebels (45-19-4). . . . If you’re looking for a harbinger, perhaps this is it — they evenly split their last four regular-season meetings, all of which came in April, with each team winning once at home and once on the road. Edmonton outscored Red Deer, 16-15, in those four games. . . . Does that signal a close series? . . . The Oil Kings are coming off a sweep of the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes, while the Rebels took six games to shake off the No. 6 Brandon Wheat Kings. . . .

The other Eastern Conference semifinal is to open Friday night in Winnipeg with the Ice playing host to the Winnipeg Warriors. . . . They met seven times in the regular season, with Winnipeg going 5-1-1 and Winnipeg 2-5-0. . . . There was a large discrepancy in offence with the Ice holding a 37-16 edge. . . . Winnipeg had the WHL’s best regular-season record (53-10-5) and wound up 20 points ahead of the Warriors (37-24-7). . . . They met three times late in the regular season, with Winnipeg winning, 4-0 and 8-1, on March 16 and 29. The last time they played each other, on April 2, the host Warriors won, 3-1. . . . In the first round, the Ice took care of the No. 8 Prince Albert Raiders in five games, while the Warriors did the same to the No. 5 Saskatoon Blades. . . .

Meanwhile, one Western Conference semifinal opens Friday night, with the other swinging into action on Saturday. . . .

The Vancouver Giants, fresh off perhaps the biggest upset in WHL playoff history, are to be in Kamloops to face the Blazers on Friday night. . . . The Blazers are the highest seed in the Western Conference now. They went in as the second seed, but the top-seeded Everett Silvertips were ousted by the No. 8 Giants. . . . Kamloops finished the regular season at 48-17-3, 46 points ahead of Vancouver (24-39-5). . . . The Blazers, who swept the No. 7 Spokane Chiefs while outscoring them, 23-3, dominated the regular-season series, going 10-1-1 — Vancouver was 2-9-1 — and outscoring the Giants, 50-24. . . . These teams have met four times since Feb. 1 with Kamloops winning three of them — 3-2, 4-3 (OT) and 5-2 — while losing 4-3 in OT at home. . . .

The No. 3 Portland Winterhawks and No. 4 Seattle Thunderbirds are to open on Saturday night. Because the arena in Portland is busy with high school grads, this series will have a 1-2-1-1-1-1 format, meaning it is to begin in Kent, Wash., before moving to Portland for two games. . . . The Winterhawks, who swept the No. 6 Prince George Cougars, had a 47-16-5 regular-season record, leaving them five points ahead of Seattle (44-18-6). . . . The Thunderbirds took out the No. 5 Kelowna Rockets in five games. . . . Portland and Seattle met 13 times in the regular season with the Winterhawks going 9-4-0; the Thunderbirds were 4-6-3. . . . Nine of the games were decided by one or two goals with Portland outscoring Seattle, 44-36. . . .

Go ahead. Make your picks. Then let the fun begin . . .


In the OHL, the No. 7 Kitchener Rangers took out the No. 2 London Knights on Wednesday night . . .


Cables


As expected, the Spokane Chiefs have signed Matt Bardsley as their general Spokanemanager, replacing Scott Carter who announced earlier in the season that he is leaving for health and family reasons. Carter had been the GM for six seasons (2016-22). . . . Contract terms weren’t revealed, but you would be safe to say that Bardley got three years and perhaps as many as five. . . . Bardsley is only the Chiefs’ third GM since 1990. Carter had replaced Tim Speltz (1990-2016), who left to scout for the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . Bardsley was the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager from 2018-21. Recently, he has been working as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . Bardsley, who is from Portland and spent 18 seasons in the Winterhawks’ organization, left Kamloops for family reasons in May 2021. . . . Bardsley was in Kamloops last week for the third game of the Chiefs’ first-round playoff series with the Blazers and, in fact, was spotted in the Spokane dressing room after the game. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here.


In case you thought the pandemic was over, it isn’t. . . . Jackson Browne was supposed to have opened for James Taylor and his All-Star Band tonight (Thursday) at the Canada Life Centre in Winnipeg. But that isn’t going to happen because a “small number of positive COVID-19 cases” were found among tour staff. . . . According to a note on the tour’s website, the decision “was made out of an abundance of caution for the touring personnel, general public and the audience in Winnipeg.” . . . The next stop on the tour is scheduled for Saturday in Calgary. If the virus approves, of course.


Marathon


Mitch

Mitch Love, a former WHL coach and player, has been named the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s coach of the year. Love, 37, is in his first season as head coach of the Stockton Heat, an affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Love played five seasons (2000-05) in the WHL, splitting time with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and Everett Silvertips. He was an Everett assistant coach for six seasons before spending three seasons as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Stockton went 45-16-7 to finish atop the Pacific Division and is awaiting a first-round playoff opponent.


JUST NOTES:

F Bear Hughes of the Spokane Chiefs will finish up this season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears after signing an amateur tryout agreement with them. Hughes, who just completed his 20-year-old season, was a fifth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

D Olen Zellweger of the Everett Silvertips has joined the AHL’s San Diego Gulls for the remainder of the season. The Anaheim Ducks selected Zellweger, who will turn 19 on Sept. 10, in the second round of the NHL’s 2021 draft. . . .

F Ridley Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings has joined the AHL’s Belleville Senators for their playoff run, as long or short as it may be. The Ottawa Senators grabbed Greig, 19, with the 28th overall pick in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . .

CapFriendly reported Wednesday that F Ryder Korczak of the Moose Jaw Warriors has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the NHL’s New York Rangers. Korczak, 19, was selected by the Rangers in the third round of the 2021 draft. . . .

The BCHL’s Surrey Eagles have been purchased by brothers Ron and TJ Brar from Chuck Westgard, who had owned the team for 12 seasons. The league’s board of governors approved the sale last weekend, and it is effective immediately. . . . The Brars own Evergreen Herbs, which, according to a BCHL news release, is “a Surrey-based business that has grown into a leading provider of fresh herbs and vegetables to grocery stores across the country.” . . .

Rob DiMaio, a former WHL player, has been named assistant general manager with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. He also will serve as the general manager of their AHL affiliate, the San Diego Gulls. DiMaio was with the St. Louis Blues for the past 13 seasons, most recently as director of player personnel. He won back-to-back (1987 and 1988) Memorial Cups with the Medicine Hat Tigers and was the tournament MVP in 1988. . . .

Adam Nightingale is the new head coach of the Michigan State Spartans. For the past two seasons, he was a head coach with the U.S. National Team Development Program. He also has experience as an NHL assistant coach, most recently (2019-20) with the Detroit Red Wings. Nightingale replaces Danton Cole, the head coach for the past five seasons. . . .

The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Eagles have renewed the contract of head coach Chad Cassidy. He took over the Eagles’ position on Jan. 7, replacing Jake Grimes, who had resigned for personal reasons.


Therapist


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.


Cake

Chiefs make coaching change as Smith replaces Maglio . . . Americans take game outside . . . Ice gets rare taste of home cooking


The Spokane Chiefs became the second of the WHL’s 22 teams to undergo a Spokanemid-season coaching change when they fired Adam Maglio on Thursday. . . . Ryan Smith has moved up from associate coach as the interim head coach and is to finish the season in that position, with part-time assistant Dustin Donaghy now on board as a full-timer. . . . Maglio had been the Chiefs’ head coach since Aug. 27, 2020, when he took over from Manny Viveiros, who had left for the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights. Maglio had been the associate coach under Viveiros. . . . Spokane was 6-10-5 under Maglio in the 2021 development season. . . . This season, the Chiefs (12-26-4) are last in the 10-team Western Conference. . . .

The Chiefs are two games into a five-game series with the Portland Winterhawks, who won the first two, 7-3 and 9-0. Portland scored five first-period goals and added four more in the second in Wednesday’s victory, which turned out to be Maglio’s last game behind the Spokane bench. . . . They’ll conclude the five-game series with three games in Spokane, starting tonight (Friday). . . . Earlier in the season, the Chiefs traded away two of their top forwards — Jack Finley and Luke Toporowski — in obvious moves to spark a rebuild. . . . Smith has been with the Chiefs since September 2020. He has WHL coaching experience as an assistant with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos. He was on the Broncos’ staff under Viveiros when they won the WHL’s 2017-18 championship. . . .

The Broncos were the first team to change coaches this season when they announced on Oct. 14 that general manager/head coach Dean Brockman was resigning. Assistant coach Devan Praught took over as interim head coach. The Broncos were 2-3-0 at the time; they are 14-20-5 under Praught. . . . The Chiefs also are looking for a general manager after Scott Carter, citing health and family reasons, announced on Jan. 27 that he will be leaving the organization at season’s end. He has said he will help the team find his replacement. . . . In a story in the Spokane Spokesman-Review, Dan Thompson quoted team president Mark Miles as saying that the team is “getting close” to ending its search. Taking Note was told by a source on Thursday that Matt Bardsley, now an amateur scout with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers after leaving his position as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers on May 24, is “in the mix.” . . .

The Chiefs’ news release is right here.


Morale


On the day that Major League Baseball announced the DH is coming to the National League this year, Buster Olney of ESPN summed up the state of MLB in one 22-word tweet . . .


If you’re the Tri-City Americans and you’re in Kamloops for a Wednesday-AmericansFriday double-dip, what do you do on your off-day? You head about 45 minutes north of Kamloops to Sun Peaks Resort and get in some shinny on an outdoor rink. . . . On Wednesday night, the Americans scored three third-period goals and beat the Blazers, 4-3. This was one of those games where an empty-net goal turned into the game-winner. F Connor Bouchard broke a 2-2 tie with a PP goal at 12:27 of the third period then added the empty-netter at 18:54. F Daylan Kuefler got the home side to within a goal, on a PP, at 19:59. . . . The Americans (13-25-4) had lost their previous six games; the Blazers (31-12-1) had a nine-game winning streak snapped. . . . They’ll play again tonight (Friday) at the Sandman Centre, although there was speculation that the Americans tried to get the game moved to that outdoor rink at Sun Peaks. . . . Kamloops D Quinn Schmiemann won’t play in the rematch as he serves a one-game suspension for what the WHL terms a “one-man fight.” He was in stir when Bouchard scored his first goal.


In Thursday night’s lone WHL game, the Winnipeg Ice beat the visiting WinnipegIceBrandon Wheat Kings, 6-2, behind three goals from F Connor McClennon. It was Winnipeg’s first home game since Dec. 18. . . . McClennon ran his goal total to 31 as the Ice won its 30th game of the season. . . . Despite not having played at home for more than month, the Ice has gotten in 20 home games. It is 16-3-1 in the Wayne Fleming Arena. . . . The Ice and the Wheat Kings both had a number of home games postponed after government-implemented restrictions limited capacity to 250 fans. That restriction now is 50 per cent, with the Ice announcing an attendance of 1,000 last night. Earlier this month, the U of Manitoba established capacity in the Wayne Fleming Arena at 2,000.


Beatles


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.


Dog

Lightning strikes twice in two years for ex-WHLers . . . Raiders sign import goalie . . . Horrible day for Roughriders

Vaccine



A brief weather-related note: As we were driving into Kamloops early this afternoon, the temperature was 31C. . . . That is 16 degrees higher than what it was at 2 a.m. . . . It also is 16 degrees ‘cooler’ than what it was here on June 29. . . . Is this a great time to be alive, or what?


Grant Armstrong has added a couple of rings to his haberdashery since leaving the WHL. Armstrong and his wife, Lezlie, were in Tampa Bay on Wednesday night to celebrate with the Lightning as they won their second consecutive Stanley Cup. . . . “I’m a little weary because it was a late night,” he told Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader on Thursday, “but well worth it. It’s special.” . . . Zillich’s complete story is right here. . . . Armstrong was with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons (2007-12) and the Victoria Royals for three (2013-16) before working for the Brandon Wheat Kings for three seasons (2016-19) as general manager. . . . He has been scouting for the Lightning for two seasons and, yes, he now has two Stanley Cup rings. . . .

Also on Tampa Bay’s scouting staff is Josh Dye, a former Portland scout who has been with the Lightning for two seasons, meaning that he, too, has a pair of rings. Dye scouted for Portland from 2006-13 before spending three years with Newport Sports Management Inc. He returned to Portland prior to the 2016-17 season as the team’s U.S. and European scout. . . .

And let’s not forget Jason Berger, the Lightning’’s assistant equipment manager. Berger spent four seasons (2007-11) with the Seattle Thunderbirds as their equipment manager. He just completed his fourth season with the Lightning.

——

The Tampa Bay Lightning’s front office also includes two former WHL players — Jamie Pushor and Stacy Roest. . . . Pushor is assistant general manager, director of player personnel. Pushor played 204 regular-season games over five seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. He has been with the Lightning for 10 seasons now. . . . Roest, the Lightning’s assistant general manager, director of player development, played four full seasons (1991-95) with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He has been with the Lightning for eight seasons; he also is the general manager of Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Roest’s son, Austin, is a 17-year-old forward preparing for his second season with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips.


History


The Prince Albert Raiders have signed G Tikhon Chayka of Belarus, who was Raiderspicked in the CHL’s 2001 import draft. . . . Chayka, who turns 18 on Aug. 26, got into three games with Belarus at the IIHF U18 World championship in Texas, going 2-1-0, 2.67, .911. . . . In 29 appearances with Team Belarus in a junior league there, he was 3.60, .870. . . . The Raiders didn’t have any imports on their roster in the Regina hub earlier this year. They finished the 2019-20 season with three on their roster — F Daniil Stepanov, now 20, of Belarus; F Aliaksei Protas, now 20, also of Belarus; and F Ivan Kechkin, now 19, of Russia.


Martyr


The CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders haven’t opened training camp — that happens on Saturday — but they lost four players to torn Achilles injuries on Thursday as they worked out at Mosaic Stadium in preparation for things getting serious. DE Freddie Bishop, MLB Larry Dean, RB Jonathan Femi-Cole and DB Nelson Lokombo all went down in a matter of minutes. General manager Jeremy O’Day told reporters that he expects all four to be out long-term. . . . Bishop and Dean were projected as starters after signing in February. . . . “It wasn’t a competitive drill by any means,” O’Day told reporters. “It happened close enough that while one trainer was dealing with one, then another trainer was dealing with another.” . . . Murray McCormick of the Regina Leader-Post has more 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.


JUST NOTES: Barry Wolff has signed a two-year contract extension with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. According to a team news release, the contract contains “an option for a third year if he chooses.” Wolff is heading into his fourth season with the junior A team. . . . Steve Ewen of Postmedia tweeted on Wednesday that “longtime Vancouver Giants equipment manager Shingo Sasaki has left the club for a post with the Vancouver Canucks’ AHL team in Abbotsford.” . . .

Scott Burt, a former WHL player and assistant coach, has signed on as head coach and director of hockey operations with the ECHL’s Rapid City Rush. Burt spent 2019-20 as an assistant coach with the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads. Burt, 44, played three seasons (1995-98) in the WHL, suiting up with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Ice and Red Deer Rebels. He later spent six seasons (2013-19) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Jackson Playfair has joined the UBC Thunderbirds men’s hockey team as a full-time assistant coach. Playfair, 27, played in the WHL for three seasons (2012-15) with the Spokane Chiefs and Tri-City Americans before going on to spend four seasons at Dalhousie U. His father, Jim, also a former WHL player, is an associate coach with the Edmonton Oilers. . . .

USA Hockey has added F Cross Hanas of the Portland Winterhawks to the roster for the 2021 World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., from July 24-31. Hanas, a draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, is the only WHL player on the 44-man roster. . . . Matt Bardsley, who spent the previous three seasons as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager, has joined the Philadelphia Flyers as an amateur scout. He left the Blazers with three years left on his contract, saying that he wanted to get his family back to the U.S. He will spend most of his scouting time working WHL games out of Portland. . . .

The Winnipeg Ice will have a new play-by-play voice following the resignation of Mitch Peacock, who had been its manager, broadcast and communications. He handled the play-by-play for each of the previous two seasons. . . . Hockey Canada has invited 45 players, 17 of them from the WHL, to it U-18 summer development that is scheduled for the Seven Chiefs Sportsplex on the Tsuut’ina National near Calgary, from July 25 through Aug. 4. The six-man coaching staff includes three WHL head coaches — Brent Kisio (Lethbridge Hurricanes), Brad Lauer (Edmonton Oil Kings) and Dennis Williams (Everett Silvertips). There’s more right here.


Soccerplayer

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

Who will be Blazers’ next GM? . . . Sheffield fan remembers a ‘Frankie wonderland’ . . . Tigres one victory from title

Matt Bardsley surprised a whole lot of people on May 25 when he announced that he was leaving his post as general manager of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers. After all, the signs seem to point to the Blazers finally having returned to prominence in the B.C. Division. However, Bardsley cited family reasons in wanting to return to the U.S., so he will depart following month’s end. . . . But who will move into the GM’s office when Bardsley is gone? Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week checks in with a handful of candidates right here.


Frank Kovacs, one of hockey’s good guys, turned 50 on Thursday. Kovacs, who played five seasons (1987-92) with the Regina Pats, also spent three seasons (1996-99) with the Sheffield Steelers of what was then the British Ice Hockey Super League. After playing with the Steelers, he finished up with four seasons in Hungary. . . . But it’s interesting the relationships that live on with some of these players and fans. . . . On Thursday, Bryan Crabtree (@BryanCrabtree) tweeted to Kovacs: “Thanks for the wonderful memories when you played for the Steelers.” . . . Crabtree closed with: “There’s only one Frankie Kovacs, skating along, singing a song, skating in a Frankie wonderland.” . . . Wonderful! . . . Kovacs, by the way, now is a member of the Regina Police Service.


The Victoriaville Tigres scored a 3-1 victory over the Val-d’Or Foreurs on Thursday night and now hold a 3-2 edge in the QMJHL’s best-of-seven championship final. . . . The entire series is being played in Quebec City. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, with a seventh game, if necessary, to be played Sunday afternoon. . . . In Game 5, as in Game 4, the Foreurs scored a first-period goal and then didn’t score again. . . . F Olivier Coulombe pulled Victoriaville even at 18:21 of the first period and the Tigres added a pair of third-period goals, with F Nicolas Daigle counting at 0:45 and F Benjamin Tardif adding insurance at 9:07. . . . G Nikolas Hurtubise stopped 33 shots to earn the victory. . . . If you’re wondering about attendance, the series opener was played without fans, but the league received the OK to allow 2,000 fans in for each of ensuing games. The next four games drew, in order, crowds of 1,958, 2,146, 1,948 and 1,808.



Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on Sunday. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity. She just had a big day and now is having her best fund-raising Walk yet.


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: Castan Sommer, an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds since Aug. 4, 2017, has resigned. According to Bill La Forge, the Thunderbirds’ general manager, Sommer “has accepted an assistant coach position with a soon-to-be-announced team.” The Thunderbirds now are on the hunt for a replacement. Head coach Matt O’Dette’s staff includes assistant coach Kyle Hagel and goaltender coach Ian Gordon.


Jeep

Where do Silvertips, Blazers go from here? . . . Would WHL expand for the money? Who and where?

I STAND WITH ETHAN BEAR . . .


What is sure to be an interesting summer in WHL circles is off to quite a start with two teams presently without general managers and one club looking for a head coach.

The Everett Silvertips parted company with general manager Garry Davidson on EverettMay 20, ending a highly successful relationship that was more than nine years old. The Silvertips chose not to renew Davidson’s contract, just 10 days after the club wrapped up the 2020-21 developmental season with a 19-4-0 record, easily the best in the five-team U.S. Division.

On Tuesday, Matt Bardsley announced that he was resigning as general manager of the Kamloops Blazers, citing a desire to move his family back to the U.S., to be closer to relatives and so that grandparents in California and Oregon would have more access to their two grandchildren.

Bardsley made his announcement just 13 days after the Blazers wound up their Kamloopsseason with an 18-4-0 record, easily the best in the five-team B.C. Division. The Blazers also had the division’s best record when the 2019-20 season was cut short by the arrival of COVID-19.

I wrote on Tuesday night that Bardsley was believed to have one year left on his contract with Kamloops. That turned out to be incorrect. A source with knowledge of the situation has since told Taking Note that Bardsley signed a five-year contract with the WHL team when he joined it from the Portland Winterhawks. Then, with COVID-19 coming along and employees taking pay cuts, the Blazers’ ownership group extended his contract another year.

So . . . where might those two teams go from here.

Well, in the news release announcing Davidson’s departure, the Silvertips said: “The past two seasons have necessitated the restructuring of Silvertips hockey operations, and this process is ongoing.”

That would suggest that the Silvertips are cutting payroll and perhaps trimming positions, what with not having had any playoff revenue for the past two years and having had to play a shortened season in front of empty seats for 2020-21.

Does it all mean that the Silvertips will operate without a traditional general manager, perhaps giving Mike Fraser, their head scout, more responsibilities?

(Of course, the administrative staff page on the team’s website still listed Davidson as the general manager as of Wednesday evening, so maybe . . .)

Meanwhile, in Kamloops, you can bet that the Blazers will take a serious look at adding the GM’s title to head coach Shaun Clouston’s portfolio. After all, he was the GM/head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers for seven seasons before landing in Kamloops. He still might be in Medicine Hat had the beloved Willie Desjardins not come available prior to the 2019-20 season.

Or perhaps the Blazers will turn Clouston into strictly a general manager, and promote his brother, Cory, to head coach. Cory, on staff as an assistant coach, certainly has ample experience as a head coach.

I really expect the Blazers to promote from within their organization rather than add a new face to the structure. And I would think that the vast majority of WHL teams will be taking the same approach to any vacancies that may arise in the next while.

Except for the Red Deer Rebels, who are in the market for a head coach after RedDeerBrent Sutter, who also is the owner, president and general manager, stepped down on April 10.

Assistant coaches Ryan Colville and Brad Flynn, along with assistant GM Shaun Sutter, handled the team for the remainder of the season. Brent was in his 17th season as the team’s head coach, although he spent some time in the NHL during that stretch.

The Rebels were 2-10-2 when he announced that he was stepping down; they finished 4-15-4.

While Sutter no doubt has some ideas and may well already have sounded out a few candidates, I would imagine that he isn’t in a hurry and will wait until the NHL season ends to see just who shakes free.

But ever since he announced his decision, I have wondered: What if he conducts a search and discovers that the best candidate for the job is Brent Sutter?


Scams


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote a bit on Wednesday about whether the NBA might be able to recoup some pandemic-related losses by selling a couple of expansion franchises.

As he pointed out, the Los Angeles Clippers recently changed hands for US$2 billion, while the Houston Rockets went for US$2.2 billion and the New Jersey Nets for US$3.2 billion.

So if the NBA was to sell two expansions franchises for US$1.5 billion each, well, that would put $100 million in the jeans of each of the existing franchises. That kind of cash might help some of the franchises get over the pandemic pain.

All of which got me to thinking about the WHL, whose teams no doubt also have felt the pain, although not nine figures worth of it. But deep six-figure losses will sting a WHL franchise as much if not more than what NBA teams might be feeling.

Still, if the WHL could peddle a couple of expansion franchises for, say, Cdn$4 million apiece and then divvy up the proceeds, each of the existing teams would get about Cdn$364,000.

Remember, now, we’re just spitballin’ here . . .

Of course, I have no idea what an expansion franchise would be valued at, especially with the WHL working to escape the grip of this pandemic. Nor do I have any understanding as to whether there is anyone out there who might even be interested in purchasing a franchise.

On top of that, are there any arenas out there that aren’t being used by a junior team that would meet the WHL’s standards?

Nah, didn’t think so. Back to the drawing board.


Robert Morris U, which is located in Moon Township, Pa. announced on Wednesday that it has dropped it’s men’s and women’s hockey teams, both of which played at the NCAA Division I level. . . . RMU played host to the NCAA men’s Final Four in Pittsburgh just two months ago. . . . USCHO.com reported that the university attributed the decisions to a “series of strategic initiatives” intended to “position the university to be amongst the most agile and professionally focused schools in the nation” as it prepares for its upcoming 100th anniversary. . . . According to USCHO.com, “Approximately 55 student-athletes and seven staff positions will be impacted by this decision, which is effective immediately.” . . . Derek Schooley had been the men’s head coach since 2004-05, while Paul Colontino has been the women’s coach for 10 seasons.


Birthday


Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation 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.


JUST NOTES: Parker MacKay has joined the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints as an assistant coach. He will work alongside head coach Bram Stephen. MacKay played three seasons (2012-15) with the Saints, winning one title, before going on to the U of Minnesota-Duluth where he won two NCAA championships. There is a news release right here. . . . Burt Henderson is taking over as the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Langley Rivermen. Henderson, 46, spent the past two seasons as president and head coach of the junior B Langley Trappers of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. With the Rivermen, he replaces Bobby Henderson, a cousin, who hasn’t been with the team since some time in March although the team didn’t mention his departure until May. . . . The BCHL’s Coquitlam Express has signed Tali Campbell, its vice-president and general manager, to a three-year extension. He joined the team in October 2020.


Cxn

Bardsley leaving Blazers after three years . . . Dillabough makes retirement official . . . QMJHL final ready to go


Citing family reasons, Matt Bardsley announced his resignation as the Kamloops Blazers’ general manager on Tuesday morning.

Bardsley, who left the Portland Winterhawks to sign with the Blazers on June 1, Kamloops2018, said in a news release: “This was a very difficult decision for me and my wife, but one we needed to make for our young children. When we moved here in 2018, we planned on making this our home for many years. Unfortunately because of COVID-19, it has restricted our ability to see our family as they reside in the United States.”

Bardsley, 50, grew up in San Jose. He and his wife, Stacy, have two children — Brooke, 5, and Vince 2, who was born in Kamloops. There are grandparents in California and Oregon, who, as Bardsley explained to Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, haven’t seen their grandchildren in more than a year. (Hastings’ story is right here.)

“We’re not sure when things are going to change,” Bardsley told Hastings, “but we just felt it was the right decision to make for our family, for the kids, and if we were going to make it, it was right for the organization to do it now, rather than wait until August or September to see where things are at and change then. . . . In the states, it’s a lot more mobile right now. If we are in Portland, Washington or California, we know we can still get to and from to see family, as opposed to waiting to see when things will be lifted.”

Before signing with Kamloops, Bardsley had spent almost 20 years with the Winterhawks, starting as an area scout in 1999. He took over as director of player personnel inn 2007 and was named assistant general manager in 2013.

With Bardsley in the GM’s office, the Blazers had a regular-season record of 87-54-12; he was the Western Conference’s executive of the year for 2019-20. The Blazers won B.C. Division titles each of the past two seasons but, of course, there weren’t any playoffs in the spring of 2020 and the recently completed 2020-21 season was only for developmental purposes.

So now the two WHL teams that finished on top of the U.S. Division and B.C. Division in the 2020-21 developmental season each is without a general manager.

Last week, the Everett Silvertips parted company with Garry Davidson after a nine-year relationship. The Silvertips said that not renewing Davidson’s contract was part of a restructuring process brought on by the pandemic’s impact on the past two seasons. Perhaps they are going to go outside hockey’s box and not have a general manager.

Bardsley told Kamloops media that he doesn’t have a job to go to, nor does he have any immediate plans. He had three years left on his contract with the Blazers, so another team would have to ask permission before being able to speak with him about employment.

According to Chad Klassen of CFJC-TV, Bardsley said that he’s “not sure what is next for me at this time.”

Klassen’s story is right here.


It’s hard to imagine the Brandon Wheat Kings without Rick Dillabough, the Brandonhardest worker in all of the WHL, not in their office. But he has made his retirement official, writing on LinkedIn that “after more than 30 years of wonderful memories and service to this great organization, I have decided to step down from my position of Director of Business Operations, Sales and Sponsorship with the Brandon Wheat Kings.”

He added: “I can’t describe how exciting it was to be a part of so many highlights over the years. Two WHL championships, three trips to the Memorial Cup and, of course, having the opportunity to be a member of the host committee that brought the Memorial Cup to Brandon and Manitoba for the first time ever.

“I want to especially thank Kelly McCrimmon for seeking me out in 1989 and inviting me to embark on what turned out to be an incredible journey through the WHL.

“Off the ice, some of my proudest days were having the chance to work with so many talented people. From the coaches, the players, the management and staff, I feel fortunate to have spent so many years with some of the brightest minds in the game. What made it more special is that you always felt that you were a member of a big family — one that worked, supported, cheered and celebrated one another.

“My wife and I will continue to call Brandon home and I look forward to seeing what life has in store.”

So . . . what’s ahead for Dillabough? Well, a source familiar with the situation told Taking Note that Dillabough “is looking forward to retirement and helping his neighbour with his horses.”

Hey, Rick, that sounds like a plan. Enjoy!


Bond


Meanwhile, on the COVID-19 front, the province of B.C. unveiled a four-stage re-opening plan on Tuesday. If all goes according to plan, indoor sports could be permitted to play before live crowds starting on Sept. 7. . . . In making the four-stage announcement, Dr. Bonnie Henry, the provincial health officer, said: “Once we get to September, if the data still shows that we’re on the right track, we can have larger gatherings where we can have audiences.”

Of course, that is more than three months away and a lot can happen between now and then, as we have seen in recent times. But we still are allowed to hope that more and more people get fully vaccinated so that by then we are allowed to begin building what will be our new normal.


The Victoriaville Tigres beat the host Charlottetown Islanders, 2-0, on Tuesday night to advance to the QMJHL final where they will meet the Val-d’Or Foreurs. . . . Victoriaville won the last two games of the best-of-five series for a 3-2 victory. . . . The Foreurs are 9-0 in these playoffs; the Tigres are 9-2 with both losses coming in OT. . . . The Islanders had finished with the QMJHL’s best regular-season record (35-5-0). Geoffrey Brandow notes that this will be the “first time the No. 1 seed has not competed in the championship series since 2003.” . . . In the regular season, the Foreurs finished 29-3-4, second to the Islanders, while the Tigres wound up 16-9-1. . . . The best-of-seven final is scheduled to open Thursday in Val-d’Or.


Robot



Dorothy will be taking part in her eighth Kamloops Kidney Walk, albeit virtually, on June 6. If you would like to be part of her team, you are able to make a donation right here. . . . Thanks in advance for your generosity.

——

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: The QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs have signed head coach Steve Hartley, 35, to a five-year contract extension through 2025-26. He and general manager Philippe Boucher now have matching contracts in terms of length. Hartley, who has been with the Voltigeurs for five seasons, is the son of former NHL coach Bob Hartley, who is the head coach of the host Latvian team at the IIHF World championship in Riga. Bob also is head coach of Avangard Omsk, which won this season’s KHL championship. Steve was an assistant coach for two seasons in Drummondville before moving up for 2018-19. . . . The SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers have signed assistant coach/marketing director Cole McCaig to a two-year extension and also named him assistant general manager. McCaig, who played 123 games with the Bombers over three seasons (2011-14), has been on staff for three seasons. Jon Klassen, who had been the AGM, has moved over to become director of player personnel. . . . Mark Readman, who had been the associate general manager/associate coach with the Creston Thunder Cats, is the new head coach and assistant GM of the Princeton Posse. The junior B teams both play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. Mark McNaughton, the Posse’s previous head coach, remains as the general manager. . . . Ray Tremblay has signed on as the first general manager and head coach of the junior B Lake Cowichan Kraken of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Tremblay, 35, was the head coach of the Danville, Ill., Dashers of the Federal Prospects Hockey League in 2019-20.


Jesus

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