WHL dumps Jan. 8 start date; all will be quiet for next month . . . How/why did we start to normalize the numbers? . . . USTA out of Frisco Bowl, into First Responder Bowl

There won’t be many of us doing this over the next 10 days, but here’s a Christmas song that I really, really enjoy . . .


A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the WHL for doing the right thing in not only whlscrubbing its Jan. 8 start date, but also for not coming up with another proposed start date.

The 22-team league, which has teams in four provinces and two states, announced Tuesday that “with public health restrictions in place across Western Canada and the Pacific Northwest U.S., the WHL is not in a position to start its regular season as planned on Jan. 8.”

This decision was made, according to a statement, “following further consultation with regional health authorities.”

What’s next for the WHL? According to the statement, its board of governors ”will meet in January to consider potential start dates.”


If you stop by here on a regular basis, you will have noticed that I didn’t post anything, not even a COVID-19 update, on Monday.

Well, I did edit a Mondays With Murray piece and posted that, but that was it.

CovidI actually started to put together a regular week-day piece, but I found that as I pulled in the COVID-19 numbers I only got more and more frustrated. No matter how you look at the numbers, there really isn’t an end in sight.

Yes, one vaccine is here and more are on the way. But it’s not a magic elixir that is going to make things better overnight. Yes, we are going to need still more patience.

Earlier on Monday, I had spoken with the owner of a small business in Kamloops and he, like me, figures we’re in this until the summer months get here. Even though it didn’t have to be that way.

And then I spoke with a friend in Regina, who told me about the clown show that hit Regina on Sunday in which the two lead clowns weren’t even from Regina. We talked, too, about the restrictions that are coming to Saskatchewan. It was, we agreed, like in so many other Canadian jurisdictions, too little, too late. And, we agreed, it didn’t have to be like this. If only the politicians had acted sooner, we agreed.

But, still, I was going to write something. I was going to cobble something together and get it on the site.

But then . . .

I had been told on Friday about a B.C. junior hockey team whose 19- and 20-year-olds had skated together that day. If, indeed, that happened it would have been in direct contravention of restrictions that had been put in place by the Provincial Health Office (PHO) earlier in the month, one that prohibited such players from participating in indoor or outdoor sports.

On Monday, as I was getting my thoughts together, I got another text, this one informing me that same team had held a “full team practice” earlier in the day. As the source put it: “Other teams have gone home and they are practising!”

And then I saw the ‘woe is me’ piece that the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers — who aren’t the team referred to above — posted on their website. Well . . . that was enough to shut down my brain and open John Grisham’s latest novel.

At one point, Clippers owner Wes Mussio is quoted (on the Clippers’ website, not in the Grisham book):

“I’ve heard from many hockey fans that coming to a Clippers game is the highlight of their week and without hockey, their mental health is declining. I don’t blame them because this is our national sport and not being able to enjoy it is a tremendous sacrifice.”

Nowhere in the Clippers’ statement is there even one word about the safety of their community, or even a mention of families who have lost loved ones, or anything about people in hospitals. Nothing about healthcare workers. Nada about teachers. Retail workers? Forget it.

Nowhere is there anything about using these times as a teaching moment. Nothing about accountability. Nothing about being socially responsible. Not a word about trying to keep a community safe. Crickets about what the players can take out of living through this kind of adversity and having to deal with it.

In the meantime, the Canadian death toll from this pandemic reached 13,659 on Tuesday. The number of positive cases went over 475,000, an increase of 6,733 in the previous 24 hours.

At the same time, there have been 42,943 positive cases in B.C., and 647 deaths.

BCHL rosters include a number of American players. There have been 16.8 million positive cases and 304,000 deaths in their country.

But somehow we seem to have normalized all of this. Somehow these numbers have become just that — numbers.

How did that happen? By now most of us know someone who is or was ill, or someone who has lost a loved one to this virus, someone whose Christmas dinner table will have an empty space. We’ve read the stories about those families, or about the long-termers, those people who had the virus, some of them months ago, and continue to suffer. So how do so many people either ignore what’s going on or pretend it isn’t happening?

Perhaps some of them get their cues from what is going on in the U.S., especially in the NFL, the NBA and NCAA basketball and football, where the risk seems to be looked upon as though a positive test is nothing more than a mosquito bite.

Look, as much as I want to see junior hockey players back on the ice, the reality is that it isn’t going to happen until the numbers come down . . . way down. The virus will decide when junior hockey returns.

Having been around junior hockey for the better part of 50 years now, I fully understand the role it plays in so many communities. And I know how much it means to young players to be on the ice, all the while trying to carve out their future. But to suggest that it is an essential service or that the mental health of “many” fans is “declining”  because it is missing in action. . . please, get a grip.

Oh, and wear a mask!



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

CBC News: Manitoba reports 272 new COVID-19 cases, pushing the 7-day average up slightly to 309. There are also 9 more deaths being attributed to the virus, raising the province’s death toll to 508.

CBC News: Saskatchewan adds 194 new COVID-19 cases; it’s the 1st time in a week the daily total has been below 200. 7 additional deaths are also attributed to the virus.

CBC News: Alberta reports 1,341 new COVID-19 cases and 11 more deaths. There are 742 people in hospital and 137 in ICU, both an all time high for the province.

CBC News: Health-care worker becomes first in B.C. to receive COVID-19 vaccine as province reports 522 new coronavirus cases and 21 more deaths. . . . A cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Big White resort community near Kelowna B.C. has grown to 60 confirmed cases. Large number of people in shared homes and social gatherings to blame for spread, says Interior Health.

CBC News: Ontario reports 2,275 new COVID-19 cases, the 1st time the province has had more than 2,000. It pushes the 7-day average to 1,926. (Note: The health minister’s office says today’s number may be higher due to a change in the way data are tabulated.) . . . Changes to how Public Health Ont. collects, analyzes cases mean today’s figure has 2.5 extra hours of data from several health units, artificially inflating the number — but by how much not yet clear. 20 more deaths, 39,600 tests completed. . . . Hospitals across Ontario have been ordered to brace for a spike in COVID-19 patients. A memo from Ontario Health obtained by CBC News tells hospitals to prepare to activate emergency plans immediately.

CBC News: 1,741 new COVID-19 cases in Quebec, health authorities say. That nudges the province’s 7-day average up to 1,790. 39 additional deaths are also being attributed to the virus. . . . Quebec looking to use Christmas break as way to slow down surge in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations. Schools, offices, non-essential businesses to close until Jan. 11 to help curb spread of 2nd wave.

Klamath Alerts: COVID-19 has claimed 54 more lives in Oregon, raising the state’s death toll to 1,214 the Oregon Health Authority reported at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. Oregon Health Authority reported 1,129 new confirmed and presumptive cases of COVID-19, bringing the state total to 96,092.

Seattle P-I: The number of confirmed cases statewide as of Tuesday climbed to 205,069, including 2,953 deaths, according to the Washington State Department of Health. As of Monday, there were 54,849 cases in King County according to King County Public Health’s dashboard. That included 948 deaths.

——

The BC Senior Games Society has postponed the 2021 55+ BC Games that were to have been held in Victoria, from Sept. 14-18. Those Games will be moved to the fall of 2022 and be held in Victoria. The 2022 Games that were to have been held in Abbotsford now will be there in 2023. . . .

For the period Dec. 6-12, the NFL announced that it had 14 players and 31 staff members test positive. . . . During that time, 41,857 gets were given to 6,960 players and personnel. . . .

The Seattle Seahawks announced that “as case counts . . . remain high in Washington state, we will continue to play without fans in attendance at our final regular-season home game on Dec. 27 vs. the L.A. Rams.” . . .

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are to play the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, played kicker Ryan Succop, punter Bradley Pinion and long-snapper Zach Triner on the reserve-COVID-19 list on Tuesday. It isn’t yet known if they will be out for Sunday’s game. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders will be without WR Henry Ruggs III on Thursday when they meet the Los Angeles Chargers. He went on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Tuesday.

The Winter X Games are scheduled to go ahead as planned, running from Jan. 29-31 in Aspen, Colo., but there won’t be any fans in attendance. The Games are operated by ESPN. . . .

Vanderbilt won’t be playing at the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday as the Commodores are dealing with an outbreak. That means the career of Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller is over after two games. The first woman to play in a Power Five game kicked two extra points in her second game on Saturday against Tennessee. . . .

The first bowl game of the Christmas season was schedule for Saturday between SMU and the U of Texas at San Antonio. However, the Tropical Smoothie Café Frisco Bowl in Frisco, Texas, was cancelled on Tuesday because of an outbreak in the SMU program. Don’t dry for USTA, though. The Roadrunners now have accepted an invitation to play in the SERVPRO First Responder Bowl on Dec. 26 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium on the SMU. An opponent has yet to be announced. . . .  SMU ended up losing three games to the virus this season. . . . Meanwhile, Michigan continues to have COVID-19 issues and has cancelled it’s Saturday game at Iowa. Michigan AD Warde Manuel said that between the virus, contact tracing and injuries the Wolverines are without more than 50 players. Michigan ended up cancelling its last three games.


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.


 

WHL not playing games, but some players are . . . Two football bowl games gone . . . Hobbs decides to go back home

Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, addressed some media folks in a virtual whlgathering on Oct. 15. When the topic of WHL players moving to junior A during the shutdown arose, Trevor Redden of panow.com reported via Twitter that Robison said that if they were affiliated last (season), they’re eligible to play now, and that general managers were to discuss the subject this week.

That meeting apparently took place at some point this week, because the WHL issued a statement late Friday afternoon, stating that it “has granted temporary transfers for WHL roster players to continue their development by playing competitive hockey at the junior A, junior B and under-18 levels . . . through mid-December.”

That something had happened became apparent on Thursday night when the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers announced that they had signed Everett D Gianni Fairbrother, 20.

Then, on Friday morning, the Estevan Bruins revealed there was an agreement between the SJHL and WHL that will allow major junior players to play in the junior A league until Dec. 20. The Bruins did that as they announced the signing of F Cole Fonstad of the Everett Silvertips. Fonstad, 20, is from Estevan.

Everett also has loaned D Dylan Anderson, 18, to the BCHL’s Cowichan Capitals, F Jackson Berezowski, 18, to the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers, and F Ethan Regnier, 20, to the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs.

A news release from the Silvertips indicated that players are allowed “full participation in . . . practices, workout activities and games, until a loan expiration of Dec. 20. . . .”

The WHL has said it will start its next regular season on Jan. 8, with players reporting to teams shortly after Christmas.

According to Ryan Flaherty of Global Saskatoon, Blades D Rhett Rhinehart, who turns 19 next month, is with the SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers. Flaherty added that G Nolan Maier, 19, “will likely play for Yorkton, although that has not been confirmed yet.”

As well, Mike Sawatzky of the Winnipeg Free Press reported F Evan Herman, 18, of the Winnipeg Ice has joined the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard, while Connor Roulette, 17, of the Seattle Thunderbirds is with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.

Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate tweeted that Rebels F Jaxsen Wiebe, 18, is to play for the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks.

The Tri-City Americans have loaned F Parker Bell to the junior B Campbell River Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Bell, 17, is from Campbell River.

Meanwhile, Regan Bartel, the long-time radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets, tweeted that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors have run out of goaltenders — three of them are injured — so have added veteran goaltenders Roman Basran and Cole Schwebius, both 19, from the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets at least for this weekend.

——

Questions . . . yes, there are questions about the WHL’s agreement with junior A and junior B leagues about the loaning of players.

For starters, what happens to the transferred players if a WHL regular season doesn’t get started?

Also, some of these leagues have moved to a pay-for-play model. So who is paying for the WHL players to play in these other leagues?

Braden Malsbury, the radio voice of the SJHL’s La Ronge Ice Wolves via MBC Radio, also has some thoughts in the following tweets:



Grandma


Hartley Miller, the GOAT at 94.3 The GOAT and the analyst on broadcasts of Prince George Cougars home games, offered up this today:

“Leagues like the BCHL and WHL insist they will play a season even if fans are not allowed to their games.
“The financial commitment from those owners should be applauded, but the question remains how safe is it to play?

“There does not appear to be a clear answer but regardless of whether it is a top-notch junior player or one competing at the rec level, the athlete needs to fully understand there is a health risk, even though we remain in the dark how much risk that is.”

That is from his latest Hartley’s Hart Attack, headlined ‘The risk of competition.’ . . . It’s all right here. . . . And if you aren’t a daily reader, you should be.


Nessman


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Bruce Jenkins, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Among the many thousands who just don’t get the mask thing, there appear to be three options: (1) Wear it under the nose. Perfected by Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth on Sunday Night Football. Gives those droplets a fighting chance. (2) Down around the chin. Extremely fashionable. Shows you might have cared at daybreak. (3) None at all. Because, you know, what the hell, it’s a hassle.” . . .

The Founders League, which comprises 11 prep schools, announced Friday that it has cancelled all interscholastic competition for the 2020-21 season. It includes 10 Connecticut schools and one from eastern New York. . . .

The KHL has postponed Jokerit’s next two games, which were scheduled for Monday and Wednesday, after four positive tests within the organization. Jokerit underwent testing after returning from its latest road trip. . . . Jokerit also had games postponed early in September because of positive tests. . . .

Two of U.S. college football’s bowl games are gone, at least for 2020. The Holiday Bowl was to have been held in San Diego, while the Fenway Bowl, which was to have been played for the first time, was scheduled for, yes, Fenway Park in Boston. . . .

Scotty Walden, the interim head coach at Southern Miss, tested positive earlier this week. He has been the head coach since Jay Hopson left after the season’s first game. . . . The Golden Eagles, who haven’t played since Oct. 3, are scheduled to play Liberty today (Saturday). Their game on Oct. 17 against UTEP wasn’t played because they were going through an outbreak. . . .

The U of Toledo has put its men’s basketball team on hold for two weeks because six players and head coach Tod Kowalczyk tested positive. . . . Marquette’s men’s and women’s basketball teams also have been shut down for two weeks after each experienced one positive test.


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: Some European teams are using the four-team Karjala Cup as a tuneup for the 2021 World Junior Championship that opens in an Edmonton bubble on Dec. 25. Former NHLer Igor Larionov is coaching the Russian team, with Valeri Bragin, normally the team’s head coach, having recently recovered from COVID-19. Also in the Karjala Cup are teams from Czech Republic and Sweden. The tournament, in Helsinki, runs from Nov. 5-8. . . . Former WHL D Connor Hobbs (Medicine Hat, Regina, 2013-17) has retired from pro hockey after playing three seasons with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Hobbs is back at home in Saskatoon and taking online courses as the U of Saskatchewan. Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that story right here.


Leg

CHL lawsuit settlement rejected by two judges . . . Third QMJHL team has positive test . . . NHL postpones two events

It was May 17 when the CHL announced that it had agreed to a $30-million settlement in a class-action lawsuit that had been brought against it. The lawsuit asked that teams be forced to pay their plays minimum wage.

Under terms of the settlement, the CHL would pay out $30 million by Oct. 20, 2020, with no legal obligation to treat players as employees.CHL

Two WHL teams, the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders, told shareholders at their annual general meetings that they had paid $180,846 and $166,667, respectively, as their parts of the settlement.

Well . . . it turns out that the lawsuit is anything but settled; in fact, it is very much alive.

On Thursday, two judges rejected the settlement.

According to Rick Westhead of TSN, Madam Justice Chantal Corriveau, a Quebec judge, “wrote the settlement terms were overly broad and may give the CHL too much protection from liability for conduct that falls outside the claims alleged in this case.”

Westhead added, via Twitter, that the judge “suggested sides file new settlement with amended terms and noted in her decision the CHL faces at least 3 other legal cases — a proposed class action over concussions, and other cases involving alleged abuse and violation of anti-competition laws.”

Meanwhile, Westhead reported, Ontario Justice Paul Perell “also rejected the minimum-wage lawsuit settlement, saying if it was approved, it might prevent current/former players from suing the CHL in other class actions for compensation for significant injuries.”

Westhead added that “Justice Perell wants a renegotiation of the settlement agreement and seems to take issue with how much money lawyers working on the case were to collect.”

In his decision, Perell wrote: “In the immediate case, Class Counsel had far more to gain ($9M) than the $8,381 net recovery of a class member . . .”


The QMJHL has had a third team hit with a positive test for the coronavirus. qmjhlnewThis time the Drummondville Voltigeurs had a player test positive, so all in-person activities have been halted while other players and staff are tested. . . . The league’s Quebec-based teams have been in a holding pattern since Oct. 14 because of rising numbers in the province. Activities have been halted until at least Oct. 28. . . . Earlier this month, the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada had 18 positives, with the Sherbrooke Phoenix being hit with eight. The teams had met in a doubleheader on the regular season’s first weekend. Two on-ice officials who worked in those games also tested positive.


Cheese


With the WHL and its teams focussed on opening their regular season on Jan. 8, Saskatoonthe Saskatoon Blades are exploring a number of seating plans for their home games, all of them with the assumption that they will be allowed to have fans in attendance. The unknown, of course, is just how many fans will be at their home-opener, whenever that may come. . . . Ryan Flaherty of Global-TV Saskatoon checked in with Tyler Wawryk, the Blades’ director of business operations, and that piece is right here.


Former WHLer JC Lipon is spending this season with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga, meaning his home base is in Latvia. From Regina, Lipon spent four seasons (2010-13) with the Kamloops Blazers before ending up in the Winnipeg Jets’ organization. So how did he end up in Riga? . . . Read all about it, in his own words, right here.


Congrats


The Ukrainian Hockey League began its 2019-20 season on Sept. 14, 2019; it ended it on Tuesday when HK Kremenchuk won the championship, beating Bily Bars, 3-2 in OT, in Game 7 of the final series. When Kremenchuk captain Nikolai Kiselyov scored the winner on a PP, it was the first time his team held the lead in Game 7. . . . As for the 2020-21 season, well, it’s scheduled to get started next week. . . . Andy Potts has more right here.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The NHL has postponed its 2021 Winter Classic and All-Star Game. The Winter Classic had been scheduled for Jan. 1 at Target Field in Minneapolis, with the All-Star Game in Sunrise, Fla., on Jan. 30. . . . The NHL continues to have a target date of Jan. 1 for the start of its next regular season. . . .

In what we used to see as normal times, more than 250,000 people would file through Macy’s store in New York City every Christmas just to visit with Santa Claus. That won’t happen this time because, for the first time in 160 years, Mr. Claus won’t be there. Yes, this grinchy pandemic has claimed another tradition. . . . There is more on that story right here. . . .

Emily Potter, a pro basketball player from Winnipeg, has tested positive in the Czech Republic where she plays for KP Brno. Potter, 25, attend the U of Utah and is involved in the Canadian national women’s team program. She tested positive this week with the league already shut down following a nationwide lockdown. So far, the head coach, a manager and two of her teammates also have tested positive. . . . Ted Wyman of the Winnipeg Sun has her story right here. . . .

Massachusetts’ Public Health Department has shut down indoor arenas and skating facilities for two weeks due to rising coronavirus cases. Kaitlin McKlnley Becker of NBC Boston reported that “health officials say the order is in response to multiple COVID-19 clusters occurring at rinks throughout the state following games, practices and tournaments. . . . In Massachusetts, there have been at least 30 clusters of COVID-19 associated with organized ice hockey activities involving residents from more than 60 municipalities. Each of these includes two or more confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases, totalling 108 confirmed cases.” . . . The shutdown doesn’t impact collegiate or professional hockey. . . .

In a cost-cutting measure brought on by the pandemic, Michigan State said Thursday that it will drop men’s and women’s swimming and men’s and women’s diving after the 2020-21 season. . . .

The NFL may be on the verge of moving another game. The Las Vegas Raiders have moved two OL to the COVID-19 list, so many not have enough eligible for Sunday’s scheduled game against the visiting Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rules call for teams to dress eight OL per game. At the moment, the Raiders only have seven available. . . . The game already has been moved once. It was to have been played Sunday night, but the NFL moved it to the late afternoon slot the Seattle Seahawks at Arizona Cardinals to the night game. The NFL wants to guarantee that there is a game for Sunday Night Football.


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 BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed D Gianni Fairbrother, 20, who played the past three seasons with the Everett Silvertips. From North Vancouver, B.C., he was a third-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL draft. . . . Mark Readman has joined the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League as assistant general manager and assistant coach. Readman, 25, spent last season as head coach of the Dawson Creek Junior Canucks of the junior B Northwest Junior Hockey League. In Creston, he will work alongside GM/head coach Bill Rotheisler.


Perfect

McCrimmon on verge of selling Wheat Kings? . . . KIJHL announces return-to-play plan, loses three teams . . . Two WHLers sign to play in Sweden


The smoke started with a query on Wednesday night. . . . An insider with one WHL team wanted to know if I had heard “any rumblings out of Brandon . . . BrandonWKregularthat the team is on the verge of being sold.” . . . I hadn’t. But it seems that there might be something happening, especially if the WHL’s board of governors has been alerted. . . . Kelly McCrimmon purchased one-third of the Wheat Kings from Bob Cornell in 1992 and became the sole owner in 2001. McCrimmon took a step back from the Wheat Kings when he joined the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, then an expansion team, as assistant general manager on Aug. 2, 2016. He moved up to general manager on May 2, 2019. . . . If a sale occurs, speculation has Jared Jacobson as being involved. His family is the Jacobson in the Jacobson & Greiner Group of Companies — he is the president and CEO — that has been a part of Brandon for more than 60 years. . . .

Meanwhile, there doesn’t seem to be any news on the sale of the Portland Winterhawks, despite Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, having said in June that he hoped to have the situation resolved within weeks.

Paul Danzer of the Portland Tribune reported that Robison said: “We’re hopeful that we will be in a position later this month and into July to select a candidate to become the new owner of the Portland Winterhawks. It’s important to have that resolved as quickly as possible. Our target is to have that resolved by sometime in July.”

Bill Gallacher, who had owned the Winterhawks, had used the franchise as part of the collateral for a $20-million loan. When he forfeited on that, the Winterhawks ended up in receivership.


The junior B Kootenay International Junior Hockey League hopes to open its 2020-21 season on Nov. 13, a move from its original projection of Oct. 2. It also kijhlhas lost three teams, with the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, 100 Mile House Wranglers and Spokane Braves all opting to sit out the season for pandemic-related reasons. . . . That leaves the league with 17 teams, each of whom will play 30 games in the regular season that is to begin without fans in the buildings. A schedule is to be released on Sept. 25. . . . The league’s news release is right here.

Interestingly, each of the three teams that opted out did so for a different reason.

Spokane isn’t able to participate because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel and that situation isn’t likely to change for a while now.

The Wranglers opted out because, as Greg Aiken, the organization’s president, told Kelly Sinoski of the 100 Mile Free Press: “We’re concerned for the health of our community, just bringing 35 foreign bodies to our town is a risk. To me, that just doesn’t make sense with this pandemic going on. Who knows what is going to happen with the kids going back to school . . . I can guarantee there’s going to be a spike in cases. It’s not getting better.” . . . Aiken also said that not having fans at games was a difference-maker, too. “We can’t survive on these few fans,” he said. “We rely on 500 fans coming per game.” . . . Aiken’s story is right here.

In Beaver Valley, the Nitehawks’ decision was made by 16 players who decided they weren’t going to play. . . . As Jamie Cominotto, the general manager, explained to Jim Bailey of the Trail Times: “Our players decided they were not going to play, and we don’t have time to replace 16 players.” Cominotto said he had a Zoom meeting with the players, “and we explained the league plan for play, as well as the costs for them to play. The team fees went up a little bit, and obviously we were unable to help with the billeting financially, because we just don’t have the money.” . . . Cominotto also told Bailey that “we don’t have the billet homes that we usually have.” That would seem to be a problem in more than one jurisdiction, at least judging by the number of teams on social media who are looking for billet homes. . . . Bailey’s story is right here.



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

Hockey Canada has cancelled three 2020 events — the National Women’s U-18 Championship that was to have been decided in Dawson Creek, B.C., Nov. 2-8; the Canadian Tire Para Hockey Cup, in Bridgewater, N.S., Dec. 6-12; and the World Junior A Challenge, in Cornwall, Ont., Dec. 13-20. . . . Hockey Canada is hoping to be able to place those events in those same communities in 2021. . . .

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the NCAA will furlough about 60 staff members from its office in Indianapolis. They’ll be gone for between three and eight weeks starting later this month and running through January. . . . Senior management people have taken a 20 per cent cut in pay. . . .

The South African Ice Hockey Federation has pulled its U-20 men’s hockey team from the Division III championship that is scheduled to be played in Mexico City, Jan. 10-17. The tournament now will featured the host team and clubs from Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei, Israel and Turkey. . . .

Brandon’s three high school football teams won’t be playing this season, not even if the Winnipeg high school league is able to get off the ground. “We aren’t playing, plain and simple,” Neelin High head coach Rob Cullen told Thomas Friesen of the Brandon Sun. “We have already made our voice known that we will play in the spring as long as everything tapers down. I’m not going to put my athletes, my athletes’ families or anybody else at risk to play the sport of football at this time.”


——

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

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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

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


Jokerit, the Helsinki-based team that plays in the KHL, was to have opened the regular season against host Dinamo Minsk on Thursday. Minsk is in Belarus, the site of a great deal of political unrest of late. . . . Jokerit didn’t show up for its flight to Minsk, and the KHL later announced that the game had been forfeited to Dinamo Minsk. . . . According to newsnowfinland.fi, “Jokerit have faced growing pressure this week over their decision to travel to Belarus, amid an ongoing brutal crackdown against democracy protesters by regime forces. The club’s official supporters association Eteläpääty Ry says they’re very happy with the decision to cancel Thursday night’s game, after calling for a boycott of home matches if the fixture went ahead as planned.” . . . That story is right here. . . .

There are all kinds of political angles to this story. For starters, Jokerit has Russian owners with ties to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president. . . . The hosting duties for the 2021 IIHF World championship are scheduled to be shared between Belarus and Latvia. However, Latvia has said it won’t take part if Belarus is involved. . . . In other words, this story is far from over.


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Two WHL players — F Connor McClennon of the Winnipeg Ice and F Ridly Greig of the Brandon Wheat Kings — have signed one-year contracts with Karlskrona HK, which plays in Sweden’s HockeyEttan Södra. . . . Erik Belin, Karlskrona HK’s general manager, said in a news release that the club “gets this opportunity as we live in a troubled time and players are anxious to secure their situation for the coming season. In this category of players, this is the coolest news Karlskrona HK has ever launched! These players are here to deliver and keep their places in the national team and raise their positions before the draft.” . . . Greig had 26 goals and 34 assists in 56 games with Brandon last season. . . . McClennon put up 21 goals and 28 assists in 42 games with the Winnipeg Ice before suffering a shoulder injury. . . . Both are eligible for the NHL’s 2020 draft and are expected to be selected somewhere in the first two rounds. . . . The HockeyEttan Södra season opens on Oct. 3, with Karlskrona scheduled to play its first game on Oct. 4. . . . Both players are believed to have clauses in their contracts that would allow them to return to the WHL, which hopes to open its regular season on Dec. 4.


JUST NOTES: Tali Campbell has left the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after one season as their general manager. He had been with the Clippers since Nov. 28, 2018 when he signed on as director of business operations. He took over as GM on Dec. 18, 2019. . . . The junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League now is aiming to open its regular season on Sept. 21 or Sept. 28. This comes after it earlier had said it have four potential openings dates — Sept. 7 for a 48-game season, Oct. 12 (40), Nov. 16 (40) or Dec. 14 (32).


Drazenovic no longer with Cougars. . . . New clock coming to Brandon. . . . Hurricanes sign prospect


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F Nick Buonassisi (Prince George, Lethbridge, Brandon, 2007-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). Last season, in 25 games with Pergine (Italy, Italian League), he had 13 goals and 21 assists. He was tied for the team lead in goals, and led the team in assists and points. . . .

D Corbin Baldwin (Spokane, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had one goal and eight assists in 60 games.


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Nick Drazenovic no longer is with the Prince George Cougars. He had been their director of player development for the past two-plus seasons. . . . Drazenovic, 32, is from Prince PrinceGeorgeGeorge and was a highly popular player through his four-plus seasons (2002-07) with the Cougars. In 281 regular-season games, he put up 77 goals and 137 assists. He added nine goals and 10 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . A sixth-round pick by the St. Louis Blues in the NHL’s 2005 draft, Drazenovic went on to play nine seasons of pro hockey, including 12 regular-season NHL games — three with St. Louis, eight with the Columbus Blue Jackets and one with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Injuries forced his retirement after the 2015-16 season. . . . Todd Harkins, then the Cougars’ general manager, hired Drazenovic on Feb. 17, 2017. . . . Drazenovic wasn’t mentioned on Tuesday when the Cougars announced the hiring of Jason Smith as associate coach. In fact, Drazenovic’s head shot and bio were on the Cougars’ website on Tuesday but had been deleted by Wednesday afternoon. . . . When contacted by Taking Note, Drazenovic said: “I love Prince George. I love the Cougars. I love the players. I love the fans. It’s sad.” . . . Drazenovic also told Taking Note that he is staying in Prince George and will be starting a business venture — Northern Elite Hockey — that will “support the north in hockey development.”


The Brandon Wheat Kings will have a new scoreclock, complete with video screens, in Westoba Place when they open the WHL’s regular season against the Winnipeg Ice on Sept. 20. . . . The Keystone Centre is installing the new score clock because the previous one, installed prior to the facility playing host to the 2010 Memorial Cup, has, according to a news release, “reached the end of its useful life.” . . . That news release is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed D Logan McCutcheon to a WHL contract. McCutcheon was a third-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. From Saskatoon, he had 13 goals and 46 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AA Saskatoon Maniacs last season.


Spiros Anastas is the new director of hockey operations and head coach of the Brampton Beast, the ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Anastas takes over from Colin Chaulk, who now is an assistant coach with the AHL’s Belleville Senators. . . . Anastas spent four seasons as the head coach of the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns, before working as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? All that’s involved is clicking on the DONATE button over there on the right and following the instructions. Thank you very much.


The BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers have signed Darren Naylor, their director of hockey operations, general manager and head coach, to a “long-term deal,” according to the team’s Facebook page. Naylor has been the Clippers’ head coach since Dec. 22, 2017. He replaced Mike Vandekamp, who was fired shortly after the franchise underwent a change of ownership. Vandekamp was in his seventh season in Nanaimo at the time. . . . Vandekamp now is the general manager/head coach of the BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals.


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Comings, goings and happenings . . . and now back to baseball and The Border

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been right here. I am taking some time away from writing, just taking a break. . . . I also have cracked open The Border, the third book in author Don Winslow’s terrific trilogy about, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border and a whole lot more. So I have been spending some time with Art Keller (hey, Google is your friend). . . . If you haven’t read the trilogy, start with The Dogs of War, then move on to The Cartel. After that you’ll be ready for The Border. . . . A warning though — this stuff is gritty. . . .

Some stuff has happened over the last few days, so what follows is a summary. No, I’m not back on a daily basis. Not yet. . . . You see, I’m only halfway through The Border. . . .


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F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he put up 42 goals and 43 assists in 61 games. He was tied for the league lead in goals and was second in points. . . .

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga), he had eight goals and 15 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Lukáš Králík (Victoria, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Nový Jičín (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 28 games with Draci Šumperk (Czech Republic, 2. Liga), he had seven goals and four assists. . . .

D Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had one assist in six games. He also had one goal and one assist in 26 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Glasgow press release states that Pufahl will enrol in the MBA program at Glasgow Caledonian University while playing for the Clan. . . .

F Wacey Rabbit (Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 70 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was tied for the lead in assists. . . .

F Michael Burns (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-12) has signed a try-out contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). He didn’t play last season. In summer 2018, with the Sydney Bears (Australia, AIHL), he had five goals and five assists in nine games. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cortina (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, in 45 games with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Austin Carroll (Victoria, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 45 games. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games; he was an alternate captain. . . . He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 26, and had five goals and four assists in 19 games. . . .

F Jim O’Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Belleville Senators (AHL), he had one goal and two assists in 11 games. . . .

F R.J. Reed (Vancouver, Prince Albert, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with Diez-Limburg (Germany, Regionalliga West). Last season, with the Nijmegen Devils (Netherlands, BeNeLiga), he had 33 goals and 17 assists in 19 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. He was third in the league in goals. . . .

D Brendan Mikkelson (Portland, Vancouver, 2003-07) has signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 47 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had six goals and eight assists in 47 games.


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The Kamloops Blazers have signed Shaun Clouston as their head coach, replacing Serge Lajoie who was one-and-done. Clouston arrives in Kamloops after spending 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was dismissed as general manager and head coach on Kamloops1May 30 so that the Tigers could bring back Willie Desjardins to fill both roles. . . . The Blazers also named co-owner Darryl Sydor an associate coach. He was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Clouston for not ducking questions about what happened in Medicine Hat. The Tigers announced his departure in a three-paragraph news release in which the team said they and Clouston “have parted ways.” . . . Clouston told reporters in Kamloops on Wednesday that he was in shock — he likened it to a “punch in the stomach” — when the Tigers dumped him. . . .

The Blazers didn’t announce any terms of their contract with Clouston, but you have to think it is at least four years in length. After all, they originally offered Kyle Gustafson a four-year deal, only to have him choose to remain with the Portland Winterhawks as associate coach and assistant GM. The offer to Gustafson was made before Clouston’s time ran out in The Hat. . . .

What makes things interesting in Kamloops is Sydor’s presence as associate coach. He also is one of the team’s five co-owners and hasn’t hidden his desire to be a WHL head coach. Sydor has never been a head coach, but has ample experience as an NHL assistant coach, having worked with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. . . .

With the Blazers having hired Clouston, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs as the only WHL teams still searching for head coaches. . . . The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have a announced the hiring of Jim Playfair as an associate coach under head coach Dave Tippett. There continues to be speculation that Mark Lamb, presently the Cougars’ general manager, could be joining the Oilers as an assistant coach. He has a long history with Tippett.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


A couple of notes from Postmedia’s Jim Matheson:

“Connor McDavid’s junior coach Kris Knoblauch lost out for the Columbus farm team head job in Cleveland to Mike Eaves. . . . Hearing Los Angeles head coach Todd McLellan would have hired his other Oilers assistant Manny Viveiros, but there’s only room for two assistants for budgetary reasons. Viveiros is very much in running for an assistant’s job in Ottawa, though. No surprise Trent Yawney, who’ll look after L.A.’s defence, is joining McLellan again.”



I watched most of the Minnesota Twins’ 17-inning victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. One night later, Dick Bremer, the TV play-by-play voice of the Twins, passed along some interesting numbers. In a nine-inning game, he said, MLB teams will go through between six and 18 dozen baseballs. On Tuesday, in a game that included 487 pitches, they used up 27 dozen baseballs. . . . That’s a lot of souvenirs!


Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past nine seasons, will be the new play-by-play voice of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, according to Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner. . . . According to Davies, Mullin will replace Rob Snoek of Extra 90.5FM. Snoek told Davies that he won’t be back and that “it wasn’t my decision.” . . . Davies’ story is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 20, from the Victoria Royals Lethbridgefor a pair of unspecified conditional bantam draft picks, one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Jerome is from Lethbridge. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Lethbridge’s roster include D Koletrane Wilson, D Ty Prefontaine, F Scott Mahovlich and F Zach Cox. F Jake Leschyshyn, F Jordy Bellerive and F Nick Henry also are 1999-born players, but are likely to begin their pro careers in the fall. . . .

The Royals also lost D Jake Kustra, 20, on waivers to the Swift Current Broncos. Kustra played under Broncos head coach Dean Brockman when both were with the Saskatoon VictoriaRoyalsBlades. . . . With Kustra, the Broncos have three 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Ian Briscoe and F Ethan O’Rourke. . . .

Having trade away Jerome and placed Kustra on waivers, Victoria has six 20s on its roster — D Will Warm, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on June 13, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, who is from Victoria, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford and G Shane Farkas, an offseason acquisition from the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed F Mat Ward to a WHL contract. From Kamloops, he was the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have waived F Zach Russell, 20. He got into 36 games with them last season. Earlier, the Oil Kings had dealt D Will Warm, 20, to the Victoria Royals. . . . The Oil Kings are left with four 20s on their roster — F Riley Sawchuk, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on May 16, G Dylan Myskiw, D Conner McDonald and D Parker Gavlas. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but is likely to begin his pro career in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


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An interesting note from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot: “Bob Molinaro in the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Forbes has put out another list of the highest-paid athletes. It’s the usual dull cluster of dollar signs and numbers, but with one amusing twist. Strictly by salary, Tom Brady ranks fifth on the list — among Boston athletes alone. The top paid Beantown jock is Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, followed by teammates Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Red Sox left-hander David Price slips into fourth place. Not taken into account is the cash value of six Super Bowl rings.”


The Kamloops Blazers are down to three 20-year-olds with F Travis Walton having cleared WHL waivers and signed with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Walton had nine goals and nine assists in 48 regular-season games over three seasons with the Blazers. . . . The 20s remaining on the Blazers’ roster are F Zane Franklin, F Kobe Mohr and D Jackson Caller. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers announced Thursday that they have signed Colin (Toledo) Robinson, their trainer, to a contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Robinson has been with the Blazers since then GM/head coach Dean Clark signed him in 2005. Robinson is prepping for his 25th WHL season, having also worked for the Swift Current Broncos and Vancouver Giants.


The Prince Albert Raiders named Curt Brownlee as their director of player personnel. He has been with the Raiders since 2011 when he signed on as a scout. He takes over from the late Ron Gunville, who died in December.


There is zero chance of the Tampa Bay Rays splitting their American League seasons between the Florida city and Montreal. None. Zilch. Nada. . . . This is simply a cheap way for the Rays to try and pressure their way to a new ballpark in Tampa.


If you’re wondering about the costs of operating a junior A hockey team, consider this from Michael Reeve of radio station Q101.1 from the AGM of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials:

“Beth Nadeau, the team’s treasurer, provided an update on last (season’s) financials. While the team’s expenses came in at approximately the same amount as last (season), this (season’s) revenue was down close to $23,000. All of that resulted in the team losing $95,644.68 last (season), up from a loss of $75,329.99 the season before.”

Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their AGM on Wednesday night and reported a deficit of $6,402.95. The Stampeders had a long playoff run or it would have been a lot worse. . . . For more, check out Benny Walchuk’s blog right here.


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Food news: Blades’ Beuf is back! . . . Lethbridge adds forward in deal . . . Hitmen trim two from roster . . . Ice drops an import


MacBeth

F Masi Marjamäki (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-05) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 24 games with Jokerit Helsinki (Finland, KHL), and four goals and two assists in 14 games with Almtuna Uppsala (Sweden, Allsvenskan).


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The biggest news in the WHL on Thursday, an off-day on the schedule, came from the Saskatoon Blades, and it is explained in the following tweets . . . If you don’t know the origin of Jerome Engele’s nickname, you should know that he is a former Saskatoon police officer and you need to watch Smokey and the Bandit. . . .


When a WHL team puts together a bid package in the hopes of bringing the Memorial Cup tournament to its city, one of the things that must be included is a guaranteed profit.

For example, in winning the right to play host to the 2013 tournament, the Saskatoon KelownaRocketsBlades guaranteed a profit of $3.5 million. When all was said and done, the event fell a bit short of that, so the Saskatchewan government, which had agreed to underwrite the guarantee, shelled out $668,000 to the CHL. The 2013 tournament drew 82,503 fans to nine games, at the time the fourth-highest attendance in the event’s history.

So what kind of profit did the Kelowna Rockets guarantee as part of their successful bid for the 2020 Memorial Cup?

We may never find out, but Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and general manager, told Ron Seymour of the Kelowna Daily Courier that it was a “heck of a lot less” than the Blades’ guarantee.

Seymour also reported that the City of Kelowna is to hear a funding request in December and that the organizing committee is expected to apply to the provincial government for grants to help with tournament costs.

Seymour’s complete story is right here.

The WHL announced Wednesday, following a board of governors’ meeting in Calgary, that the Rockets would be the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup. That night, the Rockets dropped a 5-0 decision to the visiting Vancouver Giants before, according to Wayne Moore of castanet.net, “just 4,008 fans, the smallest announced crowd at Prospera Place since October of 2002.”



The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F Ty Kolle, 18, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes Lethbridgefor a fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Kolle, from Kamloops, was scratched on Wednesday night when the Winterhawks went on to score a 7-3 victory over the Blazers in Kamloops. . . . Kolle was picked by Portland in the fourth round of the 2015 bantam draft. In 77 regular-season games with the Winterhawks, he has seven goals and 11 assists. Last season, he put up seven goals and seven assists in 60 games. . . . Kolle could make his Lethbridge debut tonight (Friday) against the visiting Prince Albert Raiders.



The Calgary Hitmen have released F Orca Wiesblatt, 18, and G Matthew Armitage, 19, from their roster. . . . Wiesblatt had five goals and eight assists in 49 games as a freshman Calgarywith the Hitmen last season. This season, he was pointless in two games. He joined the Hitmen in late October from the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. Prior to then, he had been committed to attend the U of Vermont and play for the Catamounts. . . . Armitage will turn 19 on Oct. 30. He got into 19 games with the Hitmen last season (4-7-1, 3.55, .890) as a freshman, and had played in one game this season (0-1-0, 5.05, .839). The Spokane Chiefs selected him in the fourth round of the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft. . . . Armitage’s departure leaves the Hitmen with two goaltenders — Carl Stankowski, 18, and freshman Jack McNaughton, who turns 17 on Oct. 30. The move also would appear to signal that the Hitmen are feeling good about Stankowski’s health. Then with the Seattle Thunderbirds, he sat out all of last season due to injury and health issues.


The Kootenay Ice has released F Gilian Kohler, who was the third-overall selection in the KootenaynewCHL’s 2017 import draft. The move allows the Ice to keep Slovakian D Martin Bodak, 20, and Finnish D Valterri Kakkonen, who is in his first WHL season. . . . Kohler, 18, is from Biel, Switzerland. He had eight goals and 11 assists in 55 games as a freshman last season. He had one assist in one game this season. . . . Kohler has cleared the 48-hour import waivers and is expected to return to Switzerland and play for Biel-Bienne in the Elite Jr. A League. He had eight goals and 42 assists in 43 games there in 2016-17.


THURSDAY NIGHT NOTES:

If you are a follower of the Prince George Cougars, or a WHL fan in general, you should know that Hartley Miller is two episodes into a new podcast called Hartley’s Cat Scan. . . . The second episode finds Miller, the analyst on Cougars’ home broadcasts and the sports director at 94.3 The Goat, involved in an entertaining conversation with G Taylor Gauthier. It’s all right here.

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The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers have acquired the rights to F Sebastian Streu from the Cowichan Capitals for future considerations. Streu, who is to turn 19 on Nov. 22, was released by the Kootenay Ice last month. Last season, as a freshman, he had nine goals and three assists in 54 games with the Ice. . . . Streu is from Germany, but his father, Craig, has Canadian roots, so Sebastian, who has dual citizenship, wasn’t considered an import by the WHL.

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In another BCHL deal, the Surrey Eagles have added G Kyle Dumba, 20, and F Brady Lynn, 19, from the Nanaimo Clippers for future considerations. . . . Dumba, from Calgary, has played in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers, Everett Silvertips and Regina Pats. He started this season in camp with the Pats but was released. . . .

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In the OHL, G Michael DiPietro tied the league record for most career shutouts as the Windsor Spitfires beat the visiting London Knights, 2-0. DiPietro, in his fourth season with Windsor, stopped 32 shots in recording his 16th shutout, tying the record set by Tom McCollum, who played two-plus seasons with the Guelph Storm and half a season with the Brampton Battalion (2006-09). . . . DiPietro was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . McCollum now is with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. . . . The WHL career record of 26 is shared by Tyson Sexsmith (Vancouver, 2005-09) and Carter Hart (Everett, 2013-18).


Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and add to the Taking Note book fund. Just finished Hockey Fight in Canada, by David Shoalts. Next up is Jeff Pearlman’s Football for a Buck, about the rise and fall of the USFL.


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Kootenay puts some seats on ice . . . Broncos, Pats struggling early . . . Smith back to Chiefs after NHL stint


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Cranbrooktarps

A few weeks ago, Taking Note received an email from a reader who reported that the Kootenay Ice had blocked off some seats in one end of the 4,268-seat Western Financial Place.

According to the emailer, some season-ticket holders had been asked to relocate to seats Kootenaynewelsewhere in the arena.

“The past three seasons, attendance in sections F, G and H was pretty sparse,” the emailer continued. “Now, if one goes to the website and tries to buy season tickets, almost every seat in those three sections is unavailable.”

As you can see from the above photo, the Ice has indeed closed off some seats; in fact, there now are tarps over those seats.

During the offseason, the Ice, which has worked hard as an organization on community involvement and raising its visibility in the Cranbrook area, mounted a season-ticket campaign — Drive to 25 — in an attempt to sell 2,500 before this season opened. Last week, Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman reported that the count was at “1,670, a drop of 247 from last (season).”

When the Ice played their home-opener a week ago, the announced attendance was 2,862. The Ice beat the Calgary Hitmen, 5-3, in that one.

On Friday night, the announced attendance was 2,375 as the Ice dropped a 7-4 decision to the visiting Spokane Chiefs.


It appears that F Lukus MacKenzie’s WHL career is over. MacKenzie, 19, has returned home after being in camp with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . According to someone familiar with the situation, MacKenzie “lost his interest in playing.” It is expected MacKenzie soon will be going back to school. . . . MacKenzie, from Calgary, was one of the WHL’s toughest players over the previous three seasons. A third-round pick by the Saskatoon Blades in 2014 WHL bantam draft, he played two seasons (2015-17) there before being dealt to the Red Deer Rebels early last season. The Winterhawks later acquired him from the Rebels. . . . In 169 regular-season games, he put up 10 goals and 23 assists.


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D Dan Gatenby, who was released by the Tri-City Americans, has joined the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. Gatenby, 20, is from Kelowna. He also has played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. . . . Last season, he had five assists in 57 games with the Americans. . . . In 120 regular-season WHL games, he has one goal and 12 assists. . . . Prior to joining Nanaimo, his junior A experience comprised two games with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors in 2014-15.


Barry Wolff, a long-time junior coach, has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders. . . . Wolff spent the previous four-plus seasons with the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express, the first as head coach and then as general manager and head coach. He was fired by the Express, with whom he won the BCHL’s 2014 playoff championship, in late November with their record at 3-21-2. . . . He has been involved in junior B or junior hockey as a coach since at least 1996-97, spending most of that time in the BCHL. . . . He did spend one season (2004-05) in the MJHL, as the head coach of the OCN Blizzard. . . . The Stampeders had been looking for a GM/head coach since Taurean White resigned prior to beginning his second season with them. . . . Darren Webster, who will stay on as a part-time director of player personnel, has been working as the interim GM/head coach. . . . The Stampeders went into Friday’s action at 2-1-0.


FRIDAY NIGHT NOTES: The NHL’s New Jersey Devils have returned D Ty Smith to the Spokane Chiefs. The Devils selected Smith with the 17th overall pick of the NHL’s 2018 draft after he put up 73 points, including 59 assists, in 69 games. He is expected to be in Spokane’s lineup tonight as the Chiefs open their home schedule against the Kootenay Ice. . . . Two players off the Tri-City Americans’ 2017-18 roster remain with NHL teams. D Juusu Valimaki, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 6, is with the Calgary Flames. If he doesn’t start with them, he likely will be with the AHL’s Stockton Heat. F Michael Rasmussen, 19, is with the Detroit Red Wings; if he doesn’t stick there, he must be returned to the Americans. . . .

The WHL’s two representatives in the 2018 Memorial Cup are having a tough time finding that first victory this season. The Swift Current Broncos, the WHL’s defending champions, are 0-3-0 and have been outscored, 15-1. They were outshot 47-14 and beaten 5-0 by the host Edmonton Oil Kings last night, the second game in a row in which they’ve been blanked. Swift Current’s only goal in three games was scored by F Kaden Elder, who was dealt to the Calgary Hitmen on Thursday. . . . The Regina Pats, the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament, also are 0-3-0. Last night, they fell 8-4 at the hands of the visiting Lethbridge Hurricanes, who got three goals from F Dylan Cozens. . . . The Pats last opened 0-3-0 in 2008-09. . . . The Oil Kings, meanwhile, have started 4-0-0 for the first time since they entered the WHL in 2007-08. . . .

The Hurricanes lost D Igor Merezhko to a checking-from-behind major and game misconduct at 19:31 of the second period for a hit on Regina F Austin Pratt. Pratt left the game at the time, but returned for the third period. . . . The Portland Winterhawks blew a 5-3 third-period lead, then failed to score on a rare 5-on-3 man advantage in overtime before dropping a 6-5 four-round shootout decision to the host Tri-City Americans.


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Bronco$ cash in on championship season . . . Winter Hawks get back star player . . . Pats add goalie from Royals


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The Swift Current Broncos, the reigning WHL champions, informed their annual general meeting on Tuesday that they had made a profit of $561,500 for the 2017-18 season.

According to a news release, it was the “largest (profit) in franchise history.”

(Andrew McCormack of swiftcurrentonline.com reports that the 1992-93 Broncos, who also won the WHL title, reported a profit of $567,000.)

“It was a tremendous season,” Trent McCleary, a former Broncos player who now is chairman of the board of directors, told the AGM. “We did a great job in all areas.

“Some of the highlights from last season were truly memorable and something that can never be taken away from this franchise.”

The Broncos’ average attendance in the 2017-18 regular season was 2,550, an increase of 544 from the previous season. They sold out 11 regular-season games and all 13 home playoff games.

The Broncos are one of four community-owned WHL teams and the last one to hold its annual general meeting.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes, who lost the Eastern Conference final to the Broncos, reported a profit of $422,443 after paying $167,000 to the City of Lethbridge to help cover the cost of arena improvements.

The Moose Jaw Warriors made $704,182 and have $1,157,466 in the bank, after putting $233,648 towards new boards and glass at Mosaic Place.

The Prince Albert Raiders, who lost a first-round series to the Warriors, reported a loss of $163,430 for 2017-18.


When Tuesday ended, the Swift Current Broncos had six 20-year-olds on their roster, that after adding D Matthew Stanley. The Broncos had included Stanley in last season’s monster deadline deal with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Lethbridge placed Stanley on 20-year-old waivers and the Broncos claimed him. . . . In Swift Current, Stanley joins F Kaden Elder, F Tanner Nagel, F Andrew Fyten, D Artyom Minulin and D Ryan Pouliot as the 20s who are scrapping for one of three spots. . . . Minulin, a Russian veteran, is injured so could go on the injured list, a move that would buy the Broncos some time on him. They still would have to cut two of the other five over the next two weeks. . . . The Broncos have two other import players, both freshman forwards from Finland, on their roster — Roope Pynnonen, 17, and Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 17 on Dec. 17. . . .

The Hurricanes, meanwhile, have three 20s left on their roster — D Igor Merezhko, F Jake Elmer and F Taylor Ross. However, Merezhko is an import, so should they keep him they will have to release one of their two freshman imports, either Swiss G Akira Schmid, 18, who had been in camp with the NHL’s New Jersey Devils, or D Danila Palivko, who is from Belarus. Pavilko is to turn 17 on Nov. 30. . . .

Schmid, a fifth-round pick by the Devils in the NHL’s 2018 draft, joins Reece Klassen, 19, and freshman Carl Tetachuk, 17, as the goaltenders on Lethbridge’s roster.



The Portland Winterhawks added a major cog to their offence on Tuesday when the PortlandNHL’s Vegas Golden Knights returned F Cody Glass, 19, to the WHL team. . . . Glass, from Winnipeg, put up 102 points, including 37 goals, in 64 games last season. In three seasons with the Winterhawks, he has 223 points, 79 of them goals, in 201 games. . . . Glass will provide a huge boost to a Portland offence that is without F Ryan Hughes. He will sit for at least a month with a leg injury; at present, he is getting around with the help of a walking boot. Hughes had 17 goals and 24 assists in 46 games last season, his third in Portland, during which he missed time with a broken leg that required surgery. . . . The Golden Knights selected Glass with the sixth overall pick in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . .

Meanwhile, the Winterhawks have solved their import and 20-year-old situations by releasing freshman F Dean Schwenninger, who is from Switzerland, and F Conor MacEachern. . . . Both moves became necessary after the NHL’s San Jose Sharks returned Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, 20, to Portland. . . . The Winterhawks’ second import is freshman F Michal Kvasnica, 18, who is from Ostrava, Czech Republic. . . . The remaining 20s are Blichfeld, D Brendan De Jong and F Jared Freadrich. . . .

The Winterhawks also released D Ryan Miley, 18, who played one game with them last season. He is expected to join the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have decided to go with veteran Jordan Hollett and freshman import Mads Sogaard as their two goaltenders. . . . . On Tuesday, the Tigers released G Garin Bjorklund, 16, who is expected to join the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. Bjorklund was a first-round pick by the Tigers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . Hollett, 19, was a sixth-round selection by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Sogaard, who turns 18 on Dec. 13, is from Aalborg, Denmark.


The Regina Pats have acquired G Dean McNabb, 18, from the Victoria Royals for a Patsconditional fifth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . The Royals also got a ninth-round pick in the 2019 draft in the deal. . . . McNabb, from Davidson, Sask., has been in one game this season, stopping the three shots he faced in relief. Last season, as a freshman, he was 4-10-0, 4.52, .870. . . . McNabb, the younger brother of D Brayden McNabb of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights, was a third round pick by Victoria in the 2015 bantam draft after playing two seasons with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . In Regina, McNabb presumably will back up starter Max Paddock, an 18-year-old sophomore from Brandon. However, Matthew Pesenti, 17, also is on the Pats’ roster. Pesenti backed up Paddock as the Pats dropped two games to the Prince Albert Raiders on the weekend. . . . Kyle Dumba, 20, had been on the Pats’ roster but his name disappeared sometime on Tuesday. . . .

In Victoria, McNabb’s departure leaves the Royals with veteran Griffen Outhouse, 20, and freshman Brock Gould, a 6-foot-4, 190-pounder from Colorado Springs who was an eighth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Gould will turn 17 on Dec. 11.


F Gunnar Wegleitner, who has played 112 regular-season WHL games, has joined the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers after they acquired his junior A rights from the NOJHL’s Kirkland Lake Gold Miners. . . . Wegleitner, 20, is from Vancouver. He had 10 goals and nine assists in 57 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings last season. In 2016-17, he played with the Victoria Royals and Kirkland Lake. . . . He also has played with the Everett Silvertips. . . . The Wheat Kings dealt him to the Kootenay Ice over the summer. The Ice released him during training camp.


The Kamloops Blazers got down to two goaltenders on Monday by releasing Max Palaga, 18, and Rayce Ramsay, 17. Palaga, who backed up with the Blazers last season, is from Kamloops and is expected to join the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers. Ramsay, from Saskatoon, will join the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The moves leave the Blazers with veteran Dylan Ferguson, 20, and freshman Dylan Garand, 16, who is from Victoria and was a third-round pick by the Blazers in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . The highly touted Garand got into three games as a 16-year-old last season, going 1-2-0, 3.14, .905.


The Seattle Thunderbirds got down to two goaltenders by releasing Eric Ward, a 17-year-old from Edmonton. He played last season with the midget AAA CAC Edmonton Canadians. . . . The move left the Thunderbirds with veteran Liam Hughes, 19, as their starter, and freshman Cole Schwebius, 17, as the backup. Schwebius, from Kelowna, was a 10th-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft.


D Alex Alexeyev of the Red Deer Rebels has signed a three-year entry-level deal with the Washington Capitals, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. The 6-foot-4, 200-pounder from St. Petersburg, Russia, is to turn 19 on Nov. 15. . . . Alexeyev is back for a third season with the Rebels and, in fact, scored a goal in each of Red Deer’s first two games.


The Tri-City Americans have four 20-year-olds on their roster after releasing D Dan Gatenby. The Americans had acquired him from the Kamloops Blazers for a conditional seventh-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . He is the younger brother of D Joe Gatenby, who played for the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops, and now is at the U of New Brunswick. . . . The Americans will have to move out one of F Parker AuCoin, D Anthony Bishop, F Brett Clayton or F Nolan Yaremko to get down to the maximum of three 20s.


It seems that the Edmonton Oil Kings didn’t have any choice but to acquire another EdmontonOilKingsgoaltender, thus the deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings for Dylan Myskiw, 19. . . . Myskiw and Boston Bilous, 17, are the Oil Kings’ two active goaltenders at the moment. . . . They also have veteran Todd Scott, 18, on the roster, but he is out week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. . . . Edmonton also had Sebastian Cossa, who turns 16 on Nov. 21, in camp and he remains on their roster, but he, too, is injured and out for up to six weeks. . . . Myskiw got off to a good start with Edmonton, stopping 28 shots as the Oil Kings beat the host Red Deer Rebels on Saturday. The Oil Kings are back in action tonight against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on Edmonton’s goaltenders right here.


The WHL’s latest roster report is right here.



Dave Matsos, the head coach of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, collapsed at his team’s bench with 19.8 seconds left in the third period of game in Barrie against the Colts on Saturday night. Matsos, 44, is in his first season as the Bulldog’s head coach; Hamilton won the game, 4-2, to present him with his first head-coaching victory with the team. . . . He was taken to hospital for tests, then was released on Monday. . . . Scott Radley of the Hamilton Spectator has more right here. . . . The Bulldogs are off until Saturday when they are to meet the Petes in Peterborough.


The BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings and head coach Adam Maglio have signed a contract extension that runs through the 2020-21 season. He is in his fourth season with the team, his second as head coach. Last season, the Spruce Kings reached the BCHL final where they lost in five games to the Wenatchee Wild. . . . Maglio, 32, is from Nelson, B.C.


The SJHL is encouraging its players to wear seatbelts if they are available on any bus on which they are riding. This comes, of course, after the April 6 crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus in which 16 people died. . . . However, it seems that this will be a tough sell, especially for trips of any duration. . . . Jennifer Quesnel of CBC News has more on the story right here.


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Scattershooting on Sunday . . . Petes trade one player, get nine draft picks . . . Goaltenders in WHL news . . . Schlenker’s movin’ on up

Scattershooting

“San Francisco Giants first baseman Brandon Belt named his newborn son August,” reports Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times, “in honor of his college coach at Texas, the late Augie Garrido. Just be thankful the Longhorns hired Garrido instead of Oil Can Boyd.”



Jack Finarelli, who is at sportscurmudgeon.com, had this analysis of a recent trade between the Green Bay Packer and Seattle Seahawks: “The Packers sent backup QB, Brent Hundley to the Seahawks where he will carry a clipboard for Russell Wilson instead of Aaron Rodgers. Hundley showed last season that he might someday become a journeyman QB who will not throw up on his shoes.”



College football players are being ejected when ruled to have targeted another player’s head for a helmet-to-helmet hit. In the WHL, meanwhile, teenagers are allowed to punch each other in the face and get only major penalties.



Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post, writing about the mess at Ohio State: “Read the public documents Ohio State collected in its investigation of Urban Meyer and you will never again be able to view him as anything but boneless.”

The complete column is right here. After reading it you will never look at a plucked chicken the same way again.


Surely it is only a coincidence that Chris Jones, the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator, and his Saskatchewan Roughriders are 3-0 since ridding themselves of Duron (The Distraction) Carter. Right?


Here’s Janice Hough, who can be found at leftcoastsportsbabe.com: “Bottled water has an expiration date?! So what happens when it expires?”



With Air Canada and WestJet having increased the fees to check bags, perhaps it’s time people flew in the baggage compartment and the bags were strapped into the seats.


MacBeth

F Kris Versteeg (Lethbridge, Kamloops, Red Deer, 2002-06) signed a one-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had three goals and five assists in 24 games with the Calgary Flames (NHL). . . .

F Ryan Hollweg (Medicine Hat, 1999-2004) has been released by Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga) by mutual agreement due to “long-term health problems.” Hollweg signed a one-year extension with Plzeň in April. Last season, he had two goals and two assists in 41 games.


ThisThat

When the OHL held what it calls its priority selection — most of us call it a draft — the Peterborough Petes selected F Will Cuylle in the first round.

Cuylle, who played last season with the minor midget AAA Toronto Marlboros, and his ohlfamily had told the Petes that he wouldn’t report if they selected him. The Petes rolled the dice and took him anyway, then tried to convince him to report.

When that failed, they traded him to the Windsor Spitfires on Friday in a deal that resulted in the Petes acquiring nine draft picks. Yes, NINE!

Here are the particulars from a Petes news release:

In the deal, Peterborough acquires one first-round pick, four second-round picks, three third-round picks, and one fifth-round pick, as follows:

  • Kingston’s 2nd round pick in 2019
  • Kingston’s 3rd round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 5th round pick in 2020
  • Windsor’s 3rd round pick in 2021
  • Barrie’s 2nd round pick in 2022
  • Windsor’s 3rd round in 2023
  • Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024* (conditional)
  • 1st round pick (5th overall) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)
  • 2nd round pick (end of round) in 2019 (OHL Compensatory Pick)

* Should Windsor acquire a 2nd round pick in 2020 or 2021, Peterborough will receive that pick and return Kitchener’s 2nd round pick in 2024.

The Petes also will receive the 5th overall pick and the last pick in the 2nd round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection as compensation from the Ontario Hockey League.

——

In the OHL, if a team’s first-round selection doesn’t report to training camp he is considered to be a “defected” player and the team will get a compensatory pick if it trades the player prior to Sept. 15. The drafting team also gets a second-round pick if the player in question was a top five pick.

——

With the restrictions that the WHL apparently has placed on the trading of young players, we are left to wonder if we will start to see these kinds of deals happen in the WHL.

(ICYMI, I wrote about those restrictions right here.)

When a team is loading up because it is to play host to a Memorial Cup, will it be prepared to trade away six or seven bantam draft picks in order to land a star player who just might put that team over the top?


Chris Schlenker, a former WHL player and on-ice official, has been promoted by the NHL and will be a full-time referee this season.

Schlenker, 34, worked in the AHL and NHL last season.

From Medicine Hat, he played four seasons (2001-05) in the WHL, playing two-plus seasons with the Regina Pats and one-plus with the Prince Albert Raiders.

He also spent 10 years as a member of the Medicine Hat Police Service.

There is more on Schlenker right here, from scoutingtherefs.com.


The Prince Albert Raiders have added G Donovan Buskey, 18, from the Spokane Chiefs in PrinceAlbertexchange for a sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft.

Buskey, from Vancouver, was a third-round pick by the Chiefs in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he was 10-10-0, 3.56, .871, with one shutout, in 22 appearances with the Spokane.

Adding Buskey adds to the Raiders’ goaltending depth and could figure in the 20-year-old decision-making process as the start of the regular season grows near.

Ian Scott, 19, who will go to camp with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, is No. 1 on the depth chart. Curtis Meger, 20, and Brett Balas, 17, also are on the Raiders’ roster.

The other 20-year-olds on the roster are F Kody McDonald and F Sean Montgomery. They also hold the WHL rights to F Noah Gregor, 20, who could end up with the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. The Raiders acquired Gregor’s rights from the Victoria Royals earlier in the summer.



The Prince George Cougars will open the regular season with Isaiah DiLaura, 18, and Taylor Gauthier, 17, as their goaltenders.

Gauthier is atop the depth chart. Last season, he was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885. This summer, he PrinceGeorgeplayed with the Canadian U-18 team that won the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. In fact, Gauthier, from Calgary, was the winning goaltender in the final, coming on with his side down 2-0 and stopping 16 shots as Canada beat Sweden, 6-2.

The 10th overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft, Gauthier was 8-18-3, 3.96, .885 last season.

DiLaura, from Elko New Market, Minn., was 3-3-2, 3.94, .888, in 14 appearances.

The third goaltender on their roster at the moment is Tyler Brennan, a first-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft who won’t turn 15 until Sept. 27. From Winnipeg, he will return to the Rink Hockey Academy and play for the midget prep team.

Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen has more right here.


Because of injuries, the Edmonton Oil Kings used five goaltenders last season as they went 22-42-8 and missed the playoffs.

This season, with exhibition games just having started, they already are down to three EdmontonOilKingsand one of those, Sebastian Cossa, won’t turn 16 until Nov. 21.

Chances are that the Oil Kings, under first-year head coach Brad Lauer, will open the regular season with Todd Scott, 18, who was acquired last season from the Vancouver Giants, and Boston Bilous, 17, a fourth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft, as their goaltenders.

Scott, from Albertville, Minn., was 4-5-0, 3.89, .883 after joining the Oil Kings last season. He had been 8-7-4, 4.11, .869 with the Giants when they sent him east.

Bilous, from Langley, B.C., got into 16 games and went 0-10-1, 4.72, .838.

Cossa, from Fort McMurray, Alta., was a second-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played for the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers, going 3.37, .915 in 19 games. In seven playoff games, he was 2.28, .943.

With the three young goaltenders, Lauer told Derek Van Diest of Postmedia that age won’t have much to do with which two make the roster.

“They’re all young, so I don’t think the age part of it comes into play,” Later said. “It’s going to be how you’re playing that comes into play. I know we’ll be good defensively and responsible so, for me, goaltending is going to be how the exhibition seasons goes and how they develop through that.”

Van Diest’s complete story is right here.


The Saskatoon Blades are down to three goaltenders after releasing Cameron Beson, 16, who is from Grande Prairie, Alta. He has been in two Blades’ training camps now, and Saskatoonhas been placed on their protected list.

Sophomore Nolan Maier, a 17-year-old from Yorkton, is the Blades’ starter after going 23-17-2, 3.31, .895 in 43 appearances last season. He spent part of his summer winning gold with Canada’s U-18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, going 3.12, .872 in four games.

The other two goaltenders on the roster are Dorrin Luding, 19, of Prince George, and Koen MacInnes, a 16-year-old from Burnaby, B.C.

The Blades re-acquired Luding on June 21, getting him from the Seattle Thunderbirds on June 21 for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft. Saskatoon had selected him in the third round of the 2014 bantam draft.

Last season, Luding got into 11 games with the Everett Silvertips (3-6-0, 3.64, .891) and 17 with Seattle (6-9-1, 3.81, .881). In 30 career games, he is 9-15-1, 3.75, .886.

Saskatoon picked MacInnes in the second round of the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the Burnaby Winter Club’s Elite 15s, going 2.36, .926 in 17 regular-season games.

The Blades have opened the exhibition season by going 3-0-0.


The Brandon Wheat Kings, who wrapped up training camp with their intrasquad game BrandonWKregularon Sunday, also are down to three goaltenders after releasing Connor Ungar, 16.

That leaves the Wheat Kings with Ethan Kruger, Dylan Myskiw and Jiri Patera as the remaining goaltenders.

Myskiw, 19, got into 22 games with Brandon last season, going 11-5-2, 3.41, .887. He spent the season backing up Logan Thompson, who was playing out his eligibility.

Patera, 19, is from Praha, Czech Republic. He played last season with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, after the Vegas Golden Knights selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. He has yet to sign a pro contract, and will leave later this week to attend the Golden Knights’ camp.

Kruger, who turns 17 on Sept. 27, is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Last season, he played with the midget AAA Sherwood Park Kings.


F Ryan Vandervlis of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, who was badly burned during an incident involving a firepit on June 15, is back home after being released from a Calgary hospital on Friday.

Vandervlis, 20, suffered burns to as much as 60 per cent of his body and spent four weeks in a medically induced coma. For the last part of his hospital stay, he was in the burn unit at Foothills Hospital.

Two other hockey players — Jordy Bellerive and Matt Alfaro — were injured in the incident that took place at the home of former Hurricanes captain Tyler Wong near Calgary. Bellerive, the Hurricanes’ captain, is in camp with his club. Alfaro will be going into his second season with the U of Calgary Dinos.

Bellerive scored twice, including the OT winner, as Lethbridge opened its exhibition season with a 5-4 victory over the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday night.



The junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats found themselves without a general manager and head coach earlier this week when Brad Tobin left to join the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles as an assistant coach. . . . Tobin, 29, worked as an assistant with the Eagles for six seasons (2010-16) before leaving to join the Thunder Cats. . . . In Surrey, Tobin will work alongside Peter Schaefer, who took over as head coach on Aug. 28 following the departure of Brandon West. . . . One week before Tobin handed in his resignation, the Thunder Cats lost assistant coach Carter Duffin, who left to join the KIJHL’s Castlegar Rebels. . . . Earlier, Jeff Wagner, another Creston assistant coach, joined the Fernie Ghostriders as GM and head coach. After he left, Tobin hired Duffin, who had been with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins, as an assistant coach.


G Kyle Dumba, 20, had his junior A rights swapped this week when the Nanaimo Clippers acquired them from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, who got back D Sam MacBean, 20. . . . Dumba, who has split 41 career regular-season WHL games between the Calgary Hitmen, Kamloops Blazers and Everett Silvertips, is in camp with the Regina Pats. He finished last season on the Pats’ roster, but didn’t get into any regular-season games. Last season, he also got into 30 regular-season and three playoff games with Salmon Arm.


Karablog
Kara is answering the phone and taking pledges as her grandma, Dorothy Drinnan, prepares for her fifth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23. (Todd Drinnan photo)

Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, will celebrate the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation — and she is closing in on $2,000 — you are able to do so right here.


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