Edmonton and Toronto, here’s pulling for you . . . What happened to the Matthews story? . . . Soetaert at top of KCYHA

Mask


One of these days, the NHL will get around to naming the two hub cities in which it hopes to finish its season.

Here’s Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province with his take on things and, yes, as someone who lives in B.C., I agree with him:

“Admittedly, this comes down to a question of optics. For over three months, British Columbians have followed the guidelines of the public health authority with a single-minded purpose, sacrificing to keep themselves and their neighbours safe and healthy.

“We can be proud of those efforts and they’ve created some of the best COVID-related numbers in North America. But they weren’t made so we could throw our doors open to the NHL and an ersatz Stanley Cup tournament which will benefit a couple of hotels and the food-delivery industry.

“These games will take place, the virus willing, and we’ll be watching. But if Edmonton or Toronto wants them that badly, they can have them.”

Willes’s complete column is right here.

The NHL is reportedly down to six cities — Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Chicago — and is expected to announce the two choices this week.

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If you haven’t seen it, Willes also had an excellent column that carried this headline: The story behind the story about Auston Matthews’ positive test is bewildering. . . . Postmedia’s Steve Simmons broke the Matthews story, and there were other outlets, some of them of the bigly variety, who ignored it. . . . This is all about how some media types have a vested interest in some of what they cover, so perhaps the consumer isn’t getting the whole story. . . . The complete column is right here.



With MLB poised to open training camps on July 1, Kyle Newman of the Denver Post reports that all-star OF Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies and two team-mates, LHR Phillip Diehl and RHP Ryan Castellani, have tested positive for the coronavirus at Coors Field in Denver. . . .

According to ESPN, Nikola Jokic, an all-star centre with the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, tested positive for the coronavirus in Serbia before he could leave to join his teammates in the U.S. . . . Michael Malone, the Nuggest’s head coach, has disclosed that he had the virus in late March. . . .

Jokic was at a recent tennis tournament hosted by fellow-Serb Novak Djokovic in Belgrade. Djokovic, the world’s No. 1 men’s player, also has tested positive, as has his wife Jelena. . . . Three other players — Borna Coric, Grigor Dimitrov and Viktor Troicki — also tested positive after playing in the exhibition tournament. . . .

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Tuesday night that G Avery Bradley of the Los Angeles Lakers has chosen to opt out of the re-start of the NBA season in Orlando, Fla. . . . Trevor Ariza of the Portland Trail Blazers and Davis Bertans of the Washington Wizards also are reported to have opted out. . . .

The Philadelphia Phillies announced Tuesday that two more players and two more staff members have tested positive. One player and the two staffers were in Clearwater, Fla., the site of the Phillies’ training facility. The other player was somewhere else. . . . The Phillies now have had seven players and five staffers come up positive. . . .

The Pittsburgh Steelers had two players test positive earlier this year. Head coach Mike Tomlin said both have recovered and are back at work. . . .

Karate’s 2020 world championships have been postponed. They were to have been held in Dubai, Nov. 17-22. The next worlds are scheduled for Dubai, Nov. 16-21, 2021. . . .

Seven soccer players in France, four from Toulouse and three from Paris Saint-Germain, have tested positive. PSG also had a staff member test positive. . . . The PSG players have resumed training. . . . The Toulouse players were tested on Monday as the team prepared to resume training. . . .

The Orlando Pride withdrew from the National Women’s Soccer League tournament that is scheduled to start Saturday near Salt Lake City. . . . The move, which left the tournament with eight teams, came after six players and four staffers tested positive. . . . On Tuesday, three players, all members of the U.S. national team, said they won’t play, either. Tobin Heath of the Portland Thorns and Christen Press of the Utah Royals cited health concerns. It’s not known why Megan Rapinoe of the OL Reign opted out.




A note from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, from his Monday posting:

“Back in March, the NBA shut down its operations entirely when one player — ONE player — tested positive for COVID-19. In March, the number of known/active cases for COVID-19 in the U.S. was less than 75,000 and there had been about 1,500 deaths ascribed to COVID-19. The latest data I can find says that COVID-19 cases in the U.S. now total more than 2.2 million and that there have been approximately 115,000 deaths. So, what is the NBA considering today? Reopening their season-interruptus in a bubble environment in Florida — one of those states where case numbers are on the rise. Do those two actions make any sense to you once you juxtapose them? They do if dollars and cents take precedence over health and safety concerns.”

His complete post is right here.


“A Pawtucket, R.I., brewery — taking a swipe at Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski for bolting the Patriots for the Buccaneers — has come out with a new beer named ‘Traitorade,’” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “It’s an imperial fruit sour with sea salt, reviewers say, with maybe just a hint of sour grapes.”

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Here’s Perry, with a coffee-spitter: “Disease czar Dr. Anthony Fauci has advised against playing baseball deep into October. No problem, said the Seattle Mariners.”


Office


Garrett Taylor, who is the co-signee with Daniel Carcillo on a class-action lawsuit against the CHL that was filed last week, is 29 and claims to have health issues left over from abuse he faced in the WHL. . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News writes:

“The statement of claim refers to the incident as ‘the garbage bag treatment,’ a term that is well known in junior hockey circles that refers to when a player is dropped by his team. Kim Taylor said when her son was reassigned, there were no calls made to any of her, Taylor’s agent or his billet family. Nor was he given any money or further direction. The lawsuit alleges that he was told the news in front of the team and had to retrieve his belongings from the bus and his equipment from the storage area.”

Campbell has more on the Taylors right here.

Two years ago, the WHL acknowledged wrongdoing in how Taylor was treated when he was cut by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Kim Taylor and two former WHL players were questioned by an Oregon Senate committee that was considering a request by the WHL to have Portland Winterhawks players exempted from Oregon’s minimum wage legislation. . . . The committee didn’t grant the WHL’s request. . . . After the hearing, the WHL hired a former RCMP deputy commissioner, Craig Callens, to conduct an investigation into 14 allegations of mistreatment that emerged from the hearing. In July 2018, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, announced that Taylor’s allegation was the only one of the 14 to be “supported by the evidence collected.” . . . In his statement, Robison said: “With respect to the one allegation that was supported in the investigation, the WHL will take the necessary steps to introduce a new policy in this area as it relates to the release or trading of players.” . . . The WHL hasn’t revealed what “necessary steps” it has taken; nor has it released Callens’ report.



Doug Soetaert, a former WHL goaltender and later general manager of the Everett Silvertips, has taken over as the president and executive director of the Kansas City Youth Hockey Association. . . . Soetaert was the head coach, and later the general manager, of the Kansas City Blades as they entered the International Hockey League for the 1990-91 season. From 1991-2001, he was the GM. . . . The Blades won the Turner Cup and Soetaert was the executive of the year for 1991-92. . . . He has since settled in Kansas City. . . . Soetaert, now 64, played four seasons (1971-75) for the Edmonton Oil Kings. He was Everett’s first GM and spent nine seasons (2002-05, 2006-12) with the Silvertips.



Once upon a time there was a hockey player named Rick Herbert. In the days before 15-Patsyear-olds having to apply for exceptional status in order to play regularly in the WHL, he made the Regina Pats’ roster for the 1982-83 season. Of course, the Pats gave up seven players in order to be able to select him in the 1982 WHL draft. . . . How did it work out for him? “It turned me off for life,” Herbert, now 52, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. ““I haven’t put on my skates to play in a hockey game in 30 years. I don’t pay attention to it.” . . . Not since Herbert, who lives in Kelowna, has anyone played regularly for the Pats at the age of 15. . . . F Connor Bedard will be the next one, and Herbert said: “I’ll be watching from Kelowna.” . . . Harder’s excellent story is right here.


Headline at fark.com: NBA players get fancy rings that can detect COVID symptoms early. You get a dirty mask to wear while getting yelled at by people in the grocery store.


AllWrong


Greg Gilbert is the new head coach of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Gilbert, a 58-year-old veteran coach, is a former head coach of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . He also spent eight seasons as an OHL head coach, three (2003-06) with the Mississauga IceDogs and five (2011-16) with the Saginaw Spirit. . . . He has worked the last four seasons as an analyst with TSN. . . . In Saint John, he takes over from interim head coach Jeff Cowan, who replaced the fired Josh Dixon on Dec. 2. Cowan will stay on as an assistant coach. . . . Last season, the Sea Dogs were  30-33-1 and tied for 10th in the 18-team league when the pandemic halted proceedings.


Daniel Lacroix is returning for his first full season as head coach of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. Lacroix took over as the Wildcats’ head coach in December, and the team went 26-6 with him in charge, including a 16-game winning streak. . . . Earlier in his career, he spent four seasons (2002-07) on Moncton’s coaching staff, taking over as head coach during his third season there. . . . Before returning to Moncton last season, he was the head coach of the Lithuanian national team. . . . He also has ample experience as an NHL assistant, having worked with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. . . . As well, Ritchie Thibeau, who had been the Wildcats’ interim director of hockey operations, has moved into the role in a permanent capacity. . . . The Wildcats had dismissed John Torchetti, the director of hockey operations and head coach, in December.


After ESPN’s 30-for-30 documentary Long Gone Summer, about the Mark McGwire vs. Sammy Sosa bulked up home run derby of 1998, Phil Mushnick of the New York Post summed it up: “ESPN doc tests negative for ’roids.”


Delivery

Scattershooting on a quiet Sunday . . . Snoop Dogg in the broadcast booth . . . Oil Kings back on top . . . Giants stretch lead

Scattershooting

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If your favourite hockey team holds a Country Night and you don’t hear even one Merle Haggard tune, well, it ain’t a real Country Night.

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This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Seattle Pilots, an MLB team that didn’t have much of a history, at least not in Seattle. Now, in case you haven’t noticed, the Seattle Mariners have made a boat-load of offseason moves. As Darren Rawie, a Mariners fan, noted via Twitter: “And with all the offseason moves, the Mariners have blessed us with our third expansion team.”

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joggers

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“An Oklahoma woman is facing fines up to $2,400 after she bragged about killing a deer out of season on the dating app Bumble,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “The potential suitor she was trying to impress turned out to be McIntosh County game warden Cannon Harrison.”

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If you were wondering, and even if you weren’t, the Kootenay Kountdown is into Day 26.

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Ever wonder what a fired football coach does with all of those clothes that feature his former team’s logo? According to Perry: “A bunch of Dirk Koetter’s Buccaneers apparel — complete with his name on the iron-on labels — was discovered at a Tampa Goodwill store less than a week after he was fired as the NFL team’s head coach.”

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billposters

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A trio of headlines after Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s double-double-doing allowed the Philadelphia Eagles to win that playoff game:

Philadelphia Inquirer — Still upright.

Chicago Tribune — Post mortem.

Philadelphia Daily News — Clanks for the memory!

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After North Carolina fired Larry Fedora, the football team’s head coach, and sent him on his way with a $12-million buyout, Bob Molinaro of the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot noted: “What a deal. But colleges don’t have enough money to pay athletes.”

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If you haven’t seen/heard it yet, Snoop Dogg was in the house in Los Angeles on Saturday night as the Kings met the Pittsburgh Penguins. He took time to drop by the broadcast move and even engaged in a little play-by-play. As he said when his stint was over: ”I’m the host with the most.” . . . It’s all right here.

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pot

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ThisThat

According to a tweet from Mikaël Lalancette of TVA Sports, the QMJHL’s MonctonqmjhlWildcats are expected to introduce John Torchetti as their new general manager and head coach this week. . . . Torchetti will replace Darren Rumble, who was fired as head coach on Tuesday. . . . Torchetti has some history as Moncton’s head coach, having been there for the 2006-07 season. . . . Torchetti, 54, has extensive coaching experience, including stints with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild and Detroit Red Wings. . . . Rumble, once an assistant coach with the Seattle Thunderbirds, was in his sixth season as the Wildcats’ head coach. With him gone, assistant coach Josh Hepditch has been the interim head coach.

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G Lucas Mills of the Trinity Western Spartans set a B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League record for career shutouts on Saturday in a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Island Mariners at the Langley Events Centre. . . . Mills, from Abbotsford, B.C., is in his fourth season with the Spartans. . . . He had shared the shutout record with Andrew Parent of the Simon Fraser U Clan. . . . Mills, who has two shutouts this season, also is the BCIHL’s career leader in GAA (1.76) and save percentage (.936).

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SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

G Riley Lamb blocked 47 shots to lead the Swift Current Broncos to a 4-2 victory over the SCBroncosvisiting Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Swift Current (9-30-3) had lost its previous two games. The Broncos remain in the WHL’s cellar but now are only two points shy of the Kootenay Ice. . . . Brandon (17-18-6) is six points away from a playoff spot. . . . It was the third game in fewer than 48 hours for Brandon, which went 1-2-0. . . . Lamb was making his first WHL appearance since March 16 when he was with the Red Deer Rebels. He spent most of this season with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings, who traded him to the Yorkton Terriers on Jan. 2. The Broncos, having sent G Joel Hofer to the Portland Winterhawks, signed Lamb on Thursday. . . . Lamb, 20, is from Rivers, Man., which is about 30 km northwest of Brandon. . . . The Wheat Kings held a 49-24 edge in shots, including 20-7 in the second period and 16-5 in the third. . . . F Ian Briscoe scored his first goal of the season at 8:10 of the first period to give the Broncos a 1-0 lead. This was his 24th game this season. Last season, he failed to score in 25 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds, and had two goals in 20 games with them in 2016-17. . . . D Zach Wytinck (3) pulled Brandon even at 12:37. . . . The Broncos went back in front when F Ethan O’Rourke (4) scored, on a PP, at 17:31. . . . The Wheat Kings tied it at 10:34 of the second period when F Luka Burzan (25) scored, on a PP. . . . Broncos D Alex Moar (2) broke the tie, on a PP, at 12:33. . . . F Tanner Nagel (7) added insurance at 8:45 of the third period. . . . Dutertre in the above tweet would be Scott Dutertre, one of the Broncos’ assistant coaches. Dean, of course, is Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of hockey operations and head coach.

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The Edmonton Oil Kings moved into first place in the Central Division with a 4-1 victory EdmontonOilKingsover the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Edmonton (24-14-7) has won three in a row. . . . Lethbridge (23-12-8) trails Edmonton by one point although the Hurricanes hold two games in hand. . . . Edmonton is 4-1-1 in the season series; Lethbridge is 2-4-0. . . . F Liam Keeler gave the Oil Kings a 2-0 lead as he had the first multi-goal game of his career. Keeler, who has eight goals, scored at 11:43 and 14:21 of the first period. . . . F Vince Lochiavo (21) made it 3-0 at 5:41 of the second, and F Trey Fix-Wolansky (25) upped it to 4-0, on a PP, at 3:33 of the third. . . . Fix-Wolansky also had two assists. . . . F Jake Elmer (20) scored for Lethbridge, on a PP, at 8:02 of the third. . . . Fix-Wolansky leads the WHL in assists (38) and is second in points (75), behind F Joachim Blichfeld of the Portland Winterhawks, who has 79. . . . Edmonton got 31 saves from G Todd Scott, while Liam Hughes stopped 29 shots for Lethbridge. . . . This was the third meeting in eight days between these teams. The Hurricanes won, 5-2, in Edmonton Jan. 6. The Oil Kings then went into Lethbridge and won, 5-1, on Friday. . . . Both teams were playing for a third time in fewer than 48 hours — Lethbridge went 1-2-0); Edmonton was 3-0-0. . . . The Oil Kings remain without F Quinn Benjafield and D Matt Robertson.

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F Davis Koch scored one goal and added two assists to lead the Vancouver Giants to a 3-2 Vancouvervictory over the visiting Victoria Royals. . . . Vancouver (26-12-2) has won three in a row. . . . The Giants lead the B.C. Division by nine points over the Royals. . . . Victoria (22-17-1) has lost two straight. . . . Victoria went 1-2-0 in playing three times in fewer than 48 hours. . . . Vancouver is 4-2-1 in the season series; Victoria is 3-3-1. . . . D Bowen Byram, coming off a five-point night in a 7-4 victory over visiting Kamloops on Saturday, gave the Giants a 1-0 lead with his 13th goal at 9:34 of the first period. . . . F Tristen Nielsen (6) made it 2-0 at 12:25 of the second. . . . D Jameson Murray (3) cut the lead in half at 14:12. . . . Koch (13) made it 3-1 at 13:12 of the third. . . . D Scott Walford (5) got Victoria back to within a goal, on a PP, at 16:59. . . . Koch has two goals and four assists in his past two games, and two goals and six assists over three games. . . . Nielsen also had two assists and has back-to-back three-point outings. . . . Byram now has 39 points, 26 of them assists, in 40 games.

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Ice acknowledges Vopat’s release . . . Two deals as deadline nears . . . Ex-Seattle assistant coach fired


ThisThat

There is nothing on the Kootenay Ice’s website, nor is there anything on its Twitter account.

But the WHL team apparently has acknowledged that, yes, it did dismiss assistant coach KootenaynewRoman Vopat for “breaches of team policy.”

Jessica Dempsey, the sports editor at the Cranbrook Daily Townsman, reported Monday afternoon that the team had issued a statement.

According to Dempsey, the statement read:

“Roman was a part-time resource for our coaches on home game days and was released from his consulting agreement based in breaches of team policy, including our social media policy and his consulting agreement,” 

Taking Note was told Sunday morning that Vopat had been dismissed late last week after he was critical of Tim Hunter, the head coach of Canada’s national team at the World Junior Championship, on social media.

If you missed the piece I posted on Sunday about Vopat’s dismissal, just scroll down here until you find it.


tradewire

COUNTDOWN TO DEADLINE

(WHL trade deadline: Thursday, 3 p.m. MT)

Monday’s action:

No. of trades: 2.

Players: 3.

Bantam draft picks: 1.

Conditional draft picks: 1.

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Total deals (since Nov. 26):

No. of trades: 30.

Players: 57.

Bantam draft picks: 45.

Conditional draft picks: 11.

(Note: On Nov. 30, Kelowna traded F Jack Cowell, 19, to Kootenay for a third-round selection in the 2020 bantam draft. Cowell chose not to report and the deal was voided, so isn’t included in these totals.)

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The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Brandon Machado, 18, and a fifth-round selection in the Saskatoon2021 WHL bantam draft from the Saskatoon for F Cyle McNabb, 18. . . .

It appears that this trade was sparked because McNabb wanted out.

“While it was certainly not our intention to move Cyle when acquiring him, after conversations with him, this was determined to be in the best interest of the player,” Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, said in a news release. . . .

Machado, from Airdrie, Alta., was a fifth-round pick by the Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . This season, he has two goals and an assist in 35 games. In 97 career regular-season games, he has three goals and four assists. . . . The Ice next is scheduled to play on Wednesday against the Hurricanes in Lethbridge. . . .

McNabb, from Winnipeg, is on the move for the second time in less than a week. The Ice acquired him from the Vancouver Giants on Friday for D Dallas Hines, 20. . . . McNabb had a goal and seven assists in 61 games with Vancouver last season. This season, he had one goal and two assists in 34 games with the Giants. He was Kootenay property long enough to get into three games on the weekend, recording one assist. . . . McNabb and Blades F Tristen Robins were teammates at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg in 2016-17. . . . McNabb is expected to be in Saskatoon’s lineup on Friday against the visiting Calgary Hitmen. . . .

In the meantime, Saskatoon has added F Braden Plaschewsky, 16, to its roster and he is to make his WHL debut in tonight’s game against the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. Plaschewsky, from Calgary, was a second-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. He has four goals and nine assists in 26 games with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes.

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The Swift Current Broncos have acquired F Tyler Lees, 18, from the Victoria Royals for a SCBroncosconditional ninth-round selection in the WHL’s 2021 bantam draft. . . . This season, Lees has one goal and two assists in 27 games with Victoria. . . . Lees, from Regina, was a fifth-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . In 2016-17, he had one goal in seven games with the Blades. Last season, he had two goals and an assist in 32 games with Saskatoon. . . . The Blades traded him to Victoria on July 19 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2019 draft. . . .

Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of hockey operations and head coach, was the Blades’ head coach when Lees was on their roster. So there will be some familiarity there. . . .

As Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Broncos, tweeted, Lees played for the 2016-17 Regina Pats Canadians who won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League championship. F Matthew Culling and F Eric Houk, both of whom are on the Broncos’ roster, also were on that Regina team. . . .

The Broncos are next scheduled to play on Wednesday against the visiting Red Deer Rebels.


The Kootenay Ice has returned D Carson Lambos to the midget prep team at the Rink Hockey Academy in Winnipeg. Lambos, who is from Winnipeg, was the second-overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Lambos, who will turn 16 on Jan. 14, was pointless in three games with the Ice. . . . In 12 games with RHA, he has nine goals and eight assist.


G Nick Sanders has decided to retire from hockey. Sanders, 20, was with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. . . . From Calgary, Sanders was a sixth-round pick by the Tri-City Americans in the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. . . . He made 23 appearances with the Americans in 2015-16, then was traded to the Prince Albert Raiders early in 2016-17. He had hip issues with the Raiders and ended up having surgery. The was later dealt to the Calgary Hitmen and was in their training camp prior to this season. . . . He played two games with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats and 15 with the Oilers this season.


The QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats have fired head coach Darren Rumble. He was in his sixth season as their head coach. . . . Rumble, who was in the final season of his contract, was fired despite the Wildcats being 24-13-5 and tied for fifth in the 18-team league. So what happened? They had won only five of their previous 17 games and were 3-4-3 in their past 10, and owner Robert K. Irving had seen enough. . . . The Wildcats were 180-169-33 in regular-season games under Rumble. They got as far as the semifinals in 2014-15 and 2015-16, and reached the second round last season. . . . Josh Hepditch, in his second season as an assistant coach, was named interim head coach. . . . Rumble, 49, spent two seasons (2011-13) as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds.


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