Habscheid leaves Raiders for team in Austria . . . Exits with 582 regular-season victories, two WHL titles . . . Will see some familiar faces in ICE Hockey League

Habby
Marc Habscheid, who coached the Prince Albert Raiders to the WHL’s 2018-19 championship, will coach in Austria in 2022-23. (Photo: raiderhockey.com)

It really is hard to imagine the WHL without Marc Habscheid. But that’s what the league and its fans are faced with after the Prince Albert Raiders announced on Thursday that Habscheid has resigned as head coach effective immediately.

Habscheid, 59, is to become the first head coach in the history of the Bemer PioneersPioneers Vorarlberg of the ICE Hockey League. The Pioneers play out of Feldkirch, Austria.

Dylan Stanley, a former WHL player, is on the Pioneers’ staff as an assistant coach.

Habscheid last played in 1995-96 with the DEL’s Augsburger Panther, with whom he put up 46 points in 48 games.

He began his coaching career the next season, signing on with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs as general manager and head coach.

One year later, he began a two-season stint as head coach the Kamloops Blazers. That was followed by five seasons with the Kelowna Rockets, a couple of seasons with the Canadian national team program, and one season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Boston Bruins.

He returned to the WHL as the GM/head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?) and made the move to Victoria with that franchise as it became the Royals.

For the past seven-plus seasons, he has been the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, where he put the cherry on top of the sundae by winning the WHL championship in 2019.

That was Habscheid’s second WHL title; he also won in 2003 with the Rockets, who went on to win the Memorial Cup on home ice.

Habscheid leaves the WHL with 582 regular-season victories, trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).

Habscheid is fifth on the all-time list of regular-season games coached (1,166) and seventh with 76 playoff victories.

“I am at a point in my career where I am looking for a new challenge and one has presented itself,” Habscheid said in a message to Raiders’ fans. “I am accepting the head coach position with a team in Europe.”

He is scheduled to make his debut behind the Pioneers’ bench on Aug. 19 in the first of six exhibition game, this one against the visiting Freiburg Wolves, a German team that plays in the DEL-2.

Habscheid and the Pioneers are to play their first regular-season game on Sept. 16 against HCB Südtirol Alperiathe, aka the Bolzano Foxes, of head coach Glen Hanlon.

Among the other head coaches Habscheid will encounter in the ICE Hockey League are Kevin Constantine, with Hydro Fehérvár AV19, and Rob Daum of EC iDM Wärmepumpen VSV.

Ben Cooper, who was an assistant coach under Habscheid in Victoria, is an assistant coach with the Red Bull Salzburg.


Royals

We learned on Wednesday that 10 of the 26 players on the Kansas City Royals’ roster wouldn’t be travelling to Toronto for a four-game series with the Blue Jays because they aren’t vaccinated. On Thursday, before the Royals opened the series with a 3-1 victory, we found out that three coaches also couldn’t travel for the same reason — pitching coach Cal Eldred, assistant hitting coach Keoni De Renee and Parker Morin, a strategist and bullpen catcher.

OF Whit Merrifield, one of the anti-vaxxers, showed his true character when he said that he might get vaccinated were he traded to a playoff team that might have to travel to Toronto.

Here’s Stephanie Apstein, a senior writer with si.com: “He is not a winning player. None of these scientists in baseball pants are. (This is a uniquely American breed of stupidity: Foreign-born players had to contend with U.S. entry requirements to play the season, so almost all of them are vaccinated.) Professional athletes have more resources than nearly anyone on earth, yet some of them cannot muster the energy to do enough research to come to the conclusion that every expert has: Vaccines are safe and effective. They give us our best shot at tamping down a pandemic that has already killed a million Americans and reshaped the lives of millions more. And players who refuse to get those vaccines — in addition to contributing to the extension of that pandemic — run the risk of fracturing their clubhouses and extinguishing their teams’ playoff hopes.”

Apstein’s piece is right here.

And a few words on the Royals from Sam McDowell, a columnist with the Kansas City Star:

“For more than a year now, the Royals’ medical and training staff, led by Nick Kenney, and front office have encouraged players to receive a vaccine that health experts have deemed both safe and effective in preventing serious illness. While nodding along to their injury and rehab advice, some Royals players have turned a cold shoulder to that health-preservation education, a contradiction that defies logic.”

McDowell’s column is right here.


Voodoo


Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, is tired of unvaccinated MLB players pointing fingers at Canada:

“What these players and so many reporters in the U.S. can’t seem to get through their thick skulls is that their country has a similar mandate. Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s uncertain status for the upcoming U.S. Open is one example, there are countless others through professional sports that are conveniently overlooked when this topic comes up.

“Across MLB, this is almost an exclusively American problem. The Jays weren’t the only team with players who needed to be vaccinated to compete this year. Every non-American citizen in the league who left the U.S. during the off-season had to go through the same process before reporting to spring training.”

Chisholm’s column is right here.


Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote about issues facing Major League Baseball on Thursday. Here’s part of what he wrote, and he is exactly right:

“The pace of play problem is clear and so are potential cures. The pitch clock used in minor league games works; if you do not believe that, please take yourself to a minor league game and try not to focus on the lower level of talent on display but focus on the action presented to you. The game is faster and more entertaining; pitchers do not get the ball back from the catcher and then take a stroll around the mound pondering the origins of the universe; batters do not step out of the batter’s box on every pitch to adjust their gloves even if they took the previous pitch. The games move; there is action; it is far more dynamic than a game in MLB.”

His complete piece is right here.


Cakes


The Canadian Professional League’s Winnipeg-based Valour FC was to have visited Atlético Ottawa on Sunday. However, the soccer game has been postponed until July 20 “due to league COVID protocols, based on advice from medical experts,” Valour FC said in a Thursday tweet.


THE COACHING GAME:

Nick Prkusic has signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. Prkusic, 25, played three seasons (2014-17) with Brooks and is a former team captain. The Bandits reached the AJHL final three times and won twice with him in their lineup. He went on to play at Robert Morris U, and was the team captain his last two seasons there. . . . He has been coaching at the Prairie Hockey Academy in Caronport, Sask., where he was head coach of the U-17 men’s team. . . . In Brooks, he will work alongside Ryan Papaioannou, the general manager and head coach, assistant coach Taylor Makin, skills coach Kevin Yellowaga and goaltender coach Keven Sajinovic. . . .


Wine


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.


NoTats

Blazers and Ice one victory from conference finals . . . Stankoven powers Kamloops past Giants . . . Memorial Cup host team ousted


The WHL’s best regular-season team in 2021-22 looks to move on to the WHLplayoffs2022Eastern Conference final when it plays host to a Friday night playoff game. Yes, the No. 1 Winnipeg Ice take a 3-1 series lead into Game 5 against the visiting No. 4 Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Warriors will be without F Robert Baco, whose suspension for a charging major in Game 3 had been set at two games. . . . A Winnipeg victory would send the Ice into a series against the No. 2 Edmonton Oil Kings, who are 8-0 in these playoffs, having swept the No. 7 Lethbridge Hurricanes and No. 3 Red Deer Rebels. . . .

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the Kamloops Blazers hold a 3-1 lead over the Vancouver Giants and they’ll play Game 5 in Kamloops tonight. . . . At the same time, the No. 3 Portland Winterhawks have a 2-1 edge on the Seattle Thunderbirds as they meet in Kent, Wash. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 5-0 victory in Game 3 in Portland on Wednesday night.

——

THURSDAY IN THE WHL:

Western Conference

In Langley, B.C., F Logan Stankoven broke a 2-2 tie on a late third-period PP as Kamloopsthe No. 2 Kamloops Blazers skated to a 4-2 victory over the No. 8 Vancouver Giants. . . . The Blazers hold a 3-1 lead in the series, and they’re right back at it tonight as they meet in Game 5, this time in Kamloops. . . . The teams exchanged goals in this one, with F Luke Toporowski (6) giving Kamloops a 1-0 lead at 13:54 of the third period. . . . F Zack Ostapchuk (4) got the Giants even at 17:42. . . . The Blazers went back in front at 12:59 of the second period on a goal by F Caedan Bankier (4). . . . Ostapchuk (5) tied it again, this time at 6:21 of the third. . . . Stankoven’s eighth goal, at 17:23, was the game-winner. . . . The Giants were hit with a minor for too many men just 46 seconds after Stankoven’s goal. . . . Stankoven followed that with his ninth goal in eight games into an empty net with 7.9 seconds remaining. . . . Ostapchuk and linemate Fabian Lysell, who had two assists, lead the WHL playoff scoring race, each with 19 points, one more than Stankoven. . . . Kamloops was 2-for-3 on the PP; Vancouver was 0-for-1. . . . The Blazers got 18 stops from G Dylan Garand, while G Jesper Vikman blocked 34 for the Giants. . . . F Cole Shephard, who last played on March 16, was back in Vancouver’s lineup.


In all my years of covering junior hockey, I don’t know that I encountered a player with a bigger personality than Brandon Underwood. . . . He played five seasons (Kamloops Blazers, Regina Pats, Red Deer Rebels, 2008-13) in the WHL before going on to spend four seasons with the UBC Thunderbirds. . . . He now is a Vancouver firefighter. . . . On Thursday night, after former Moose Jaw Warriors F Brayden Point scored in OT to give the host Tampa Bay Lightning a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Underwood won Twitter . . . 


Music


We had a goalie goal on Thursday night. . . . Former WHLer Joel Hofer, now with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, lit the lamp in a 6-2 victory over the visiting Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. . . . In his Calder Cup playoffs debut, he made 34 stops as the Thunderbirds took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Atlantic Division semifinal. . . . Hofer, 21, is from Winnipeg. He played three seasons (2017-20) in the WHL, making stops with the Swift Current Broncos and Portland Winterhawks.


Julie Stewart-Binks had to cancel out of being part of ESPN’s coverage of Game COVID6 of the NHL playoffs series between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the host Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night because she tested positive for COVID-19. “Thankfully through contract tracing everyone else is negative,” she wrote on Twitter. “I have been extremely diligent with safety protocols the entire pandemic. I am devastated not to work this game.” . . .

The Cleveland Guardians have at least seven members of their coaching staff in COVID-19 protocol after they tested positive — manager Terry Francona, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, hitting coach Chris Valaika, assistant pitching coach Joe Torres, first-base coach Sandy Alomar, third-base coach Mike Sarbaugh and hitting analyst Justin Toole.


Eye


JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The Saint John Sea Dogs, the host team for the 2022 Memorial Cup tournament, were eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs on Thursday night when they lost, 4-3 in OT, to the visiting Rimouski Oceanic. F Alexander Gaudio scored 30 seconds into extra time to give the Oceanic the series victory. The QMJHL is playing best-of-fives this time around and this was Game 5. . . . The Sea Dogs are next scheduled to play on June 20 when they get the Memorial Cup started with a game against the OHL champions. . . .

Three of the last four Memorial Cup host teams have lost out in the first round of playoffs — in 2017, the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires lost in seven games to the London Knights; in 2018, the Regina Pats were ousted by the Swift Current Broncos in seven games; and now the Sea Dogs are gone. . . . Windsor went on to win the Memorial Cup at home, while Regina lost out in the tournament final. . . . The Halifax Mooseheads were the host team in 2019; they reached the QMJHL final where they were swept by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. . . .

The QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Halifax Mooseheads were to have played the fifth game in their best-of-five series on Thursday night. But, with Wednesday’s fourth game having gone into the third OT period, the league chose to move Game 5 to Friday night. Because of the length of Game 4 in Halifax and the fact the teams would have had to travel about five hours to Bathurst, N.B., for Game 5 “the league judged it prudent for the well-being and security of the players to postpone the game to Friday.” A tip of the fedora to the QMJHL for making such a decision. . . .

The AJHL’s Camrose Kodiaks have signed Nick Prkusic as the organization’s first full-time assistant coach. He will be working alongside head coach Clayton Jardine. . . . Prkusic, who played in the AJHL with the Brooks Bandits, has been working as the head coach of the Caronport, Sask.-based Prairie Academy’s U-17 team.


Wallet


Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Golden State Warriors were whipped, 134-95, by the host Memphis Grizzlies in an NBA playoff game: “If Wednesday’s Game 5 box score was a report card, the Warriors would be grounded for a year. If the Warriors don’t respond in Game 6 Friday, that box score will become an autopsy report.”


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.

——

If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

——

Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

604-875-5182 or 1-855-875-5182

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Shoe

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