WHL named in another proposed class-action suit . . . Former player Kobe Mohr involved in this one . . . Pats’ pick to skate in Sweden

Sheesh, it really can’t be much fun being the owner of a WHL team these days. For starters, you don’t know whether to be selling sponsorships, advertising and season tickets because you aren’t able to guarantee a starting date for a new whlseason. You are hoping to begin regular-season play on Dec. 4, but there aren’t any guarantees.

On top of that, you likely still are counting up the losses from not having been able to finish the 2019-20 season, thanks to the pandemic that doesn’t appear anywhere close to going way.

And now the WHL finds itself involved in yet another proposed class-action lawsuit, this one apparently having been filed this week.

Kobe Mohr, a former WHL player, is among those fronting this one that names the NHL, AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL. Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star reports: “A proposed $825-million class-action claim alleges a conspiracy among the world’s top professional and amateur hockey leagues to exploit dream-chasing teenage players with one-sided contracts containing abusive restrictions on their young careers.”

Mohr, now 21, played with the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Moose Jaw Warriors (2014-20). He totalled 35 goals and 66 assists in 265 regular-season games, after being selected by Edmonton with the 20th pick in the 2014 bantam draft.

The WHL now finds itself entangled to one degree or another in four separate class-action lawsuits in various stages of progression through the legal system. Two others — one involving concussions and the other regarding alleged hazing and other physical and mental abuses — are early in the process. . . .

The other, which involved a claim for past and present-day players to be paid minimum wage and other perks, was settled by the CHL for $30 million earlier this year, but the settlement still needs judicial approval. Rick Westhead of TSN reported Tuesday that an Ontario judge spent part of yesterday hearing arguments “about whether to approve” the settlement. According to Westhead, Justice Paul Perell said there are “objectors” to the settlement and that “a trade association called the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions has filed ‘an aggressive intervenor’ application with the courts to overturn” the settlement.

Ted Charney, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, asked the courts to approve the settlement, saying, according to Westhead, that “a settlement wouldn’t bar new federal court case because the new case alleges a conspiracy to breach the Competition Act, not employment standards laws.”

When Tuesday’s hearing concluded, judgment was reserved.


Asteroid


F Connor Bedard, who was selected first overall by the Regina Pats in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft, will be travelling to Sweden so that he can skate with HV71’s junior team in Jönköping. Bedard, from North Vancouver, is the first player in history to have been granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada in order to allow him to play regularly in the WHL as a 15-year-old. . . . Because he won’t be playing in games in Sweden, the Pats didn’t have to issue a release. The WHL hopes to start its regular season on Dec. 4, by which time Bedard will have returned to Canada.


COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

The United Kingdom’s 10-team Elite Hockey League announced Tuesday that it has suspended play because of the pandemic. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 5. . . . “We’ve been very open that we need to have fans back in our arenas for us to begin playing again,” Tony Smith, the league’s chairman, said. “We operate around 75 to 100 per cent capacity at our venues and this is the level of crowds we would need in order to go ahead at any point, which isn’t a realistic option right now.” . . . The average attendance at league game last season was 3,043. . . .

The World Series will be played in one venue for the first time since 1944. The American and National League winners will play a best-of-seven championship series at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, with Game 1 scheduled for Oct. 20. . . . In 1944, the World Series was played in St. Louis, with both teams from that city. The Cardinals beat the Browns, 4-2. . . . Leading to the World Series, the American League Championship Series will be played at Petco Park in San Diego, with the NLCS at Arlington. . . . Prior to that, the AL Divison Series is to be played in San Diego and Los Angeles, with the NLDS in Arlington and Houston. . . .

The Texas Tech Red Raiders had five positives last week, bringing the team total to 75 since mid-June when testing began as football players returned to campus. The team is carrying more than 120 players. . . . The school has had 116 positives among its student-athletes. . . .

Ed Orgeron, the head football coach at LSU, told reporters on Tuesday that most of his time has had the virus. “Not all of our players, but most of our players have caught it,” he said. “I think that hopefully they won’t catch it again, and hopefully they’re not our for games.” . . . Alex Scarborough of ESPN pointed out: “LSU, like many programs in the SEC and nationally, has not provided regular reports on the number of players who have contracted the novel coronavirus.” . . .

The Quebec Student Sports Federation (QSSF) cancelled university sports for the fall semester on Monday. This means none of Canada’s four university conferences will play football this fall. The Quebec conference has five teams. . . . U Sports, the governing body for university sports in Canada, had cancelled its national semifinals and final in June. . . .

Organizers of the 2021 Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament have cancelled it. The tournament was to have run from Dec. 30 through Jan. 3. . . . Tournament chairman Jan Antons told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “We still don’t know what games are going to look like, when games are potentially going to start and, overall, the main concern was still the health and safety of our players, bringing players in from other provinces and dealing with the 50-person gathering-size limit. It would make it very difficulty to run a tournament at the level we’re used to. We want to make sure KIBIHT remains one of the top-notch tournaments in Canada. . . . there is just too much unknown right now. It’s still a very hard decision.”


Sign


——

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 WHL’s four community-owned teams each holds an annual general meeting that is open to shareholders. The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Tuesday that they will hold their AGM on Sept. 29. The Swift Current Broncos said earlier that their meeting also will be held on Sept. 29, with the Prince Albert Raiders having said they will hold their AGM on Oct. 7. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes have said their AGM will be held in November, but they have yet to announce an exact date. . . . I don’t know what it is — maybe NHL teams have come down with the ‘Bubble Blues’ — but the games are getting less and less watchable. Too many bodies in the area in front of both nets, not enough shots getting through, not enough offence, not enough goals. Whatever it is, it isn’t good for the NHL game. . . . Did you get your fill of football on Monday night? ESPN’s MNF team of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick — they did the second game — were OK, but the Game 1 pairing of Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit was outstanding. Fowler and Herbstreit have worked together as ESPN’s No. 1 college football pairing. They are comfortable with each other and it showed.


Hearing

Remembering my days at The Trib . . . Like the time I was given Earl Lunsford’s suite . . .

Trib1

By Aug. 27, 1980, I had been back at the Brandon Sun for almost two years. So, no I wasn’t at The Trib when Southam folded it on the same day that Thompson buried the Ottawa Journal.

That left Thompson with a monopoly in Winnipeg with the Free Press, while Southam now owned Ottawa with the Citizen. But none of this was underhanded or in violation of any laws. Wink! Wink!!

Even though I had left Winnipeg, that day still stung. You bet it did. And it still does.

I had started what turned into an almost-43-year newspaper career at The Sun in the summer of 1971, catching on as the sports department was expanded from two writers (Bill Davidson and Bruce Penton) to three. In time, after I had done what seemed like a million rewrites and answered a gazillion phone calls and done a whole lot of learning, I got to cover the Manitoba Senior Baseball League. If this was heaven, I loved it.

Two years later, Matty came calling. Jack Matheson, the legendary sports editor at the Winnipeg Tribune, wanted me. If memory serves, he offered me $125 a week, up from the $75 I was making at The Sun.

Truth be told, I would have gone for a whole lot less.

A few years earlier, while growing up in Lynn Lake, Man., I had delivered The Trib. The papers came in via rail three times a week — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. I would load my wagon at the post office and head out in the dark of night. During the summer, on occasion, I would visit a garden, grab a few carrots and find a street light. There I would sit on the paper and read The Trib’s sports section.

One summer, maybe even two of them, Uncle Vince Leah, who was almost as much a legend as was Matty, brought a bunch of Winnipeg boys to Lynn Lake. They were there to fish and play a little baseball and soccer. Uncle Vince always wrote a column or two while there, and I would hop on my bike and take his copy to the CN station so that it could be sent via telegraph to Winnipeg.

Now here I was, all those years later, heading to the Manitoba capital to work for Matty and be in the same office as Uncle Vince.

SteelersHockyGods
The 1973-74 Selkirk Steelers, winners of the Centennial Cup.

I spent a lot of time covering the MJHL, which, in those days, meant spending springs with George Dorman’s Selkirk Steelers, who always seemed to meet up with Terry Simpson’s Prince Albert Raiders along the playoff trail.

It was in my first year at The Trib that I saw one of the two best hockey games of my writing career.

The Steelers won the 1974 Centennial Cup by beating the Smiths Falls Bears, 1-0 in OT, on a goal by Gord Kaluzniak in Nepean, Ont. (There wasn’t ice in the Smiths Falls rink, so the best-of-seven series was played in the Nepean Sportsplex.) In those days, under Canadian Amateur Hockey Association rules, teams played a 10-minute OT session before going into sudden-death. Kaluzniak scored with two minutes left in that first OT period and the Steelers were able to hold the lead.

I also learned an important lesson during that series. With the Steelers leading the series, 3-1, I wrote that the Bears were done like dinner. LOL! Lesson learned.

(BTW, the other best game that I witnessed was the final of the 1979 Memorial Cup with the Brandon Wheat Kings losing 2-1 in OT to the Peterborough Petes in Verdun, Que.)

Back then, The Trib didn’t have copy editors who laid out the sports pages. Rather, the writers shared the layout duties; if you weren’t writing, chances are Trib2you were laying out pages. It wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t want to spend summers in the office, so I decided to turn motorsports into a beat, even though I wouldn’t know how to put air in a tire. So I ended up spending time at Bison Dragways, an NHRA-sanctioned strip located 29 miles east of Winnipeg, and Winnipeg Speedway, where the stock cars ran on a short track south of the city. I point this out because it’s how I picked up the nickname Greaser, which is what Matty started calling me after my first motorsport-related byline.

In time, I ended up covering the Blue Bombers, spending time at training camp at St. John’s-Ravenscourt and travelling to the odd regular-season game whenever Matty wanted to stay home.

That’s how I got to be in Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium on June 22, 1978, when a limousine pulled onto the field and Tom Jones — yes, that Tom Jones — climbed out to handle the ceremonial opening kickoff before a CFL exhibition game.

“The ball,” I wrote, “went off the side of his shoe and travelled about 12 yards.”

A week later I was in Calgary with the Blue Bombers when I ended up the beneficiary of something of a mistake by the front desk at the hotel in which we would stay. I picked up the key to my room and headed upstairs, with Bob Irving, (Cactus) Jack Wells and Ken Ploen, all of radio station CJOB, who were on the same floor. I opened the door to my room, took a look and suggested that the three might want to take a look. I had been given the suite that was to have gone to general manager Earl Lunsford. Yes, it was well-stocked with booze and snacks.

Before I could close the door, the wrapping was removed from sandwiches and drinks were poured. I spent the next day and game night avoiding Lunsford.

Upon returning to Winnipeg, I filed my expenses and then made sure to steer clear of Matty. There was a news conference prior to the next Bombers’ home game, which I was to cover. I knew that Matty would be there, meaning there no longer would be a way to avoid him.

And here he came, strolling into the room with a glint in his eyes.

“Hey, Okie,” he said in Lunsford’s direction, “do my guys travel first class, or what?”

I never heard another word, nor did I ever again end up in Lunsford’s suite.

Later that year, with The Sun looking for someone to cover the 1978-79 Wheat Kings, perhaps the best team in WHL history, I left The Trib and returned to Brandon.

Patti Dawn Swansson was one of the other sports writers at The Trib when I was there, and wrote a wonderful piece last week on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the newspaper’s closing.

If you wonder what it was like working there, give this a read right here. Yes, I got a little misty-eyed while reading it. But, damn, those were great times!

The stories about sitting around late at night and arguing about the chances of hitting a home run off Nolan Ryan or surviving a jump from a fifth-floor window are accurate. Those are the conversations that were important in the mid-’70s.

WHL backs up proposed start to Dec. 4 . . . Aiming to play 68 games in 147 days . . . Still lots of questions without answers

Under what once was considered normal circumstances, the 22-team WHL would start a regular season in late September. Each team would play 68 regular-season games, with whlplayoffs — four rounds of best-of-seven series — beginning in late March.

In other words, teams would take six months to play those 68 games. In 2018-19, the teams played the regular season in 178 days, then took 53 days to complete the playoffs.

Then, like the big, bad wolf, along came the coronavirus and the resulting disruption of all things normal.

A few weeks ago, the WHL announced that it hoped to open its 68-game regular season on Oct. 2.

On Thursday, the goal posts moved again; now the WHL is targeting Dec. 4 as opening day, and continues to say it plans on having each team play 68 games.

While the WHL didn’t reveal a closing date, the OHL on Wednesday said that it hopes to play a 64-game season from Dec. 1 through April 29, with the Memorial Cup scheduled for June 17-27.

Presumably the WHL will be following a similar blueprint, meaning it will have to play its regular season in five months. Should it get to open on Dec. 4 and play through April 29, each of its teams would play 68 games in 147 days — 31 fewer days than it took to play the same number of games in 2018-19.

That means teams would be playing as many as four games a week. There likely would be an increase in the dreaded three-in-three weekends. You may recall that decreasing the number of tripleheader weekends was one of the reasons given when the league shortened its schedule from 72 games.

A Dec. 4 start surely would mean a shorter Christmas break — the league stopped for 10 days in 2018-19 and nine days in 2019-20.

But let’s be honest. There aren’t any guarantees there will be a season.

As the WHL’s news release read, all of this “remains contingent on receiving the necessary approvals from the government and health authorities in each of the six provincial/state jurisdictions in WHL territory.”

The WHL’s announcement didn’t mention the situation involving the U.S.-Canada border being closed to non-essential travel, something that doesn’t seem likely to change in 2020, at least not at B.C. crossings. That would lead to teams playing inside their own divisions for the early part of a schedule.

The news release also didn’t mention players and school. The OHL said Wednesday that it will have its players stay home and start school there, so it likely is safe to assume that the WHL do the same as everyone awaits further developments.

The most important thing to remember is that everything — and I do mean everything — is fluid.

What follows are some thoughts from a few WHL officials, all speaking after Thursday’s announcement . . .

Gord Broda, the president of the Prince Albert Raiders, who are the WHL’s defending Raiders50champions, told Trevor Redden of panow.com: “As frustrating as this (process) has been, I just can’t emphasize enough that as a league, safety is at the forefront. Safety for our players, safety for the people in our buildings when we get going, safety for our fans. We’re at a time where patience is necessary.”

Broda also said: “I’ll speak for the Prince Albert Raiders only, even at 50 per cent capacity, we’re going to have financial shortfalls. I think it’s a realistic goal as a starting point to maybe work with our medical authorities and hopefully they find that an acceptable capacity level. And at the same time at least it’s a reasonable start from a financial perspective. It’s going to be financially very challenging to have reduced capacity in all the buildings. We all know we’re a ticket-driven venue and we’ve got to have fans in the seats.” . . .

Don Moores, the president of the Kamloops Blazers, told Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week: “Being fluid is really important. If the border remains closed, we’ll have to deal with it. If it opens and there are restrictions we have to adhere to, we’ll see if that’s workable and make those decisions as we go.” . . .

Brent Sutter, owner, president, general manager, and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, Red Deertold Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate: “We gotta have people in the building, no question. We have to have some kind of attendance and that’s our goal right now. And yet we’ll just have to see where it goes because it continues to move. It’s a moving target that’s changing all the time. It changes from week to week. You look at the other leagues — junior A leagues, American Hockey League, National Hockey League — no one is going to be playing in November.”

Ron Robison, WHL commissioner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post: “It’s all part of the outcome on where we arrive at with respect to capacity. We’re having ongoing discussions with the provincial/state governments on trying to obtain the capacity that we need. If that is not successful, we will be considering some form of financial support to help us get started. But right now we’re focused on trying to get to a capacity that will work for our teams.”

Zoran Rajcic, the chief operating officer of the Everett Silvertips, told Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald: “The anticipation was that we would be further ahead with (the pandemic) within not only Washington and Oregon, but the four western provinces. The more we looked at things and the way (Washington) is in a holding pattern with Phase 2 (of the state’s reopening plan), it was probably the only decision we can look at. They’re talking about us in Washington not looking at hosting events until Phase 4, so this makes the most sense now. It gives us time to work through things.”



COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .

——

The Canadian Junior Football League announced Thursday that it has cancelled its 2020 season and has turned its attention to getting a 2021 season off the ground. . . . The CJFL is the governing body for 18 teams in six provinces that play in three conferences. . . .

The U of Alberta’s men’s and women’s hockey teams have been reinstated by Canada West, so will be eligible to play should the conference start up again in January. The reinstatement comes after the programs received a financial infusion from almuni. . . . The athletic department announced on June 17 that it was suspending all Canada West competition for 2020-21 for financial reasons. . . .

The Hawaii High School Athletic Association has cancelled football’s 2020 season, while pushing girls volleyball, cross-country and cheerleading to January. . . . The only sports left on Hawaii’s fall high school sports calendar are air riflery and bowling. . . . Delaware also has cancelled its high school football season. There are 12 states who have done that, while at least 28 others have postponed the start of the football season. . . .

The U of Louisville booted three players off its men’s soccer team and suspended three others for their roles in a Saturday off-campus party that resulted in 29 positive tests within the school’s athletic department. The three who were kicked off the team apparently organized the party. Players from both soccer teams, as well as the field hockey and volleyball teams, tested positive. . . .

The NFL’s Green Bay Packers said Thursday that they will play their first two home games without fans. That will be re-evaluated after the two games. . . . The Las Vegas Raiders had announced earlier that they will play the entire season without fans in their brand new 65,000-seat Allegiant Stadium. . . . The NFL’s regular season is scheduled to open on Sept. 10. . . . Since July 21, when rookies reported to training camps, the NFL has had at least 56 positive tests. . . . The NFL had 66 players opt out of the season by Thursday’s deadline. A complete list is 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.



Tinfoil

B.C. moves to protect amateur sports organizations . . . Cranbrook arena getting spruced up for Bucks . . . Bedard tops in clicks

Here is two minutes 20 seconds of hockey heaven. Watch it before putting your head on the pillow because you will have great dreams . . .


John Horgan, the premier of B.C., announced on Wednesday that “the government has passed an order protecting” amateur sports organizations and their volunteers “from any litigation as a result of COVID-19.” . . . As Patrick Johnston and Harrison Mooney of Postmedia reports, the move comes “after many insurance companies refused to cover leagues for coronavirus liability.” . . . The order, they added, “means sports organizations and organizers cannot be sued if someone contracts or transmits COVID-19 as a result of their participation in organized amateur sport, as long as those sports are following provincial pandemic guidelines.” . . . Jake Cabott, a Vancouver lawyer, said that people involved in amateur sports are going to need to “stay current on public health guidance and follow it. Don’t follow it as closely as your sport will allow. Follow it 100 per cent and modify your sport activities accordingly.” . . . The complete story is right here.


Of all the comments I have seen about the decision by U Sports and three of its conferences to cancel some national championships and suspend some seasons until at least January, I thought Blake Nill, the head coach of football’s UBC Thunderbirds, said it best when he told J.J. Adams of Postmedia that it was the correct decision.

“Ultimately,” Nill said, “universities have to provide leadership. They have to set an example. And this is absolutely about that. This is about universities being responsible given the health crisis. . . . It’s about safety of our athletes, it’s about health, and I’m a big believer that we have to be a flagship. We have to be up there at the front in doing that.

“We just have to get through it. Athletes are built to overcome any challenges and, this is a challenge that we need that kind of mindset for.”

Adams’ complete story is right here.



Whenever the BCHL is able to start a new season, the expansion Cranbrook Bucks are going to play in a spruced up Western Financial Place. It is getting a new watertight roof that is in the process of being installed. Work began on May 5. . . . Bradley Jones of myeastkootenaynow.com reports that the work on the roof isn’t expected to have an impact on the start of a new season. . . . According to Jones, several other upgrades are being made to the arena, which used to be home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice before the team moved to Winnipeg after the 2018-19 season. When the Bucks begin play, there will be new boards and glass, a new chiller and heat exchanger on the ice plant, and a new video scoreboard. . . . Just wondering, but does anyone know if the Ice’s owners have settled their last lease agreement with Cranbrook city council? That lease was to run through 2022-23.



A gem from Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, in reference to the problems MLB and the MLBPA are having in trying to get a season started: “If Rob Manfred called Tony Clark and suggested they have dinner together tonight, I would not be surprised if both men brought food tasters with them. That kind of distrust must stop sometime or MLB as we have come to know it is not going to exist.”



penguin


MLS is planning a 26-team tournament without fans to run from July 8 through Aug. 11 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla. . . . The NBA is planning to bring 22 teams into the same complex to begin play with the resumption of its season on July 31. . . . MLS is hoping that it will be able to move back to its regular markets once the tournament is completed. . . .

Manchester United was to have played a friendly with visiting Stoke City on Tuesday, but the game was cancelled after Stoke manager Michael O’Neill tested positive for COVID-19. . . . He had come up negative in five previous tests, but was positive in a test conducted on Monday. . . .

The LPGA has cancelled the Evian Championship that was to have been held in Evian-les-Bains, France, Aug. 6-9. This is the first major tournament cancelled by the LPGA. . . . The LPGA is planning on returning to play with the Marathon Classic in Ohio, July 23-26. . . .

Three of the world’s top soccer leagues are to resume their schedules in the next few days, all of them without fans. The Spanish league is to re-open today (Thursday), with Italy re-starting on Friday as Juventus and AC Milan clash in a semifinal. On June 17, the English Premier League will be back with two games. . . .

The PGA Tour returns today (Thursday) from the Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas. All players and caddies tested negative for the COVID-19 virus as of Wednesday night. Some players will wear microphones, while CBS-TV’s Jim Nantz will be alone in the broadcast booth. Ian Baker-Finch, Nick Faldo and Frank Nobilo will provide commentary from a studio in Orlando. . . .

The Prince George Cougars have had to cancel their ninth annual Alumni Hospital charity golf tournament that benefits the Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation. It had been scheduled for July 10 and 11. The event has raised $558,000 in total, including $75,000 last summer. . . .

The European Badminton Championships have been cancelled. They had been scheduled for Kiev, Ukraine, April 21-26, but were postponed. Unable to find suitable dates, the Badminton World Federation pulled the plug.



The NHL’s Los Angeles Kings revealed Wednesday that Jon Rosen “is no longer a member of our organization,” a victim of cutbacks brought on by the pandemic. Rosen, once the radio voice of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, spent eight seasons working with the NHL team as the LA Kings Insider. He did a superb job over those eight seasons; in fact, there were none better in his field. . . . What kind of person is Rosen? The Kings’ news release is right here; make sure you go to the end of it and read Rosen’s statement.


Food


Mike McKenzie now is the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. He had stepped in as interim head coach on Nov. 26, replacing the fired Jay McKee when the team was 7-10-4. With him running the bench, they went 33-6-3. . . . “Right now,” McKenzie said in a news release, “this decision makes the most sense for our organization.”



If you are a major junior hockey fan, this story may sound a wee bit familiar. . . . Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Tuesday that “Major League Baseball and the 22 teams named as defendants in a landmark lawsuit over minor-league salaries have taken their argument to the U.S. Supreme Court in a final effort to prevent a trial.” . . . Earlier, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that the suit could move forward as a class action covering, according to Schulman, “any minor-league who has played in Arizona or Florida — essentlally all who went to spring training.” . . . Schulman added: “The suit, filed in 2004 by Missouri attorney and former Giants pitching prospect Garrrett Broshuis, hopes to compel teams to pay minor-league players at least the state minimum wage during the season and in spring training, when they are not paid aside from meal money.”

Schulman’s story is right here.


Book

Raiders’ home possibly shuttered until 2021. It’s all about managing debt . . . Former Wheat Kings GM/head coach done in Dallas


Officials from the city of Prince Albert have said that the Art Hauser Centre, the home of PrinceAlbertthe WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, may remain closed for the remainder of 2020 because of the financial situation brought on by the pandemic. . . . Alison Sandstrom of panow.com reported that all “city facilities, including pools, arenas and rinks are expected to remain closed for the rest of the calendar year, even as they are allowed to reopen under the phased provincial plan.” . . . The facilities need mass usage in order to be able to keep the doors open, and with a ban on large gatherings that isn’t going to happen. “City officials emphasized the situation could change,” Sandstrom wrote, “but said unless the province allows mass gatherings, facilities will likely have stay shut until the end of December.” . . . Mayor Greg Dionne summed it up with: “What we’re trying to do is manage debt. At this point, we’re not trying to manage facilities.” . . . Sandstrom’s complete story is right here.


With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


BearCrap


Hockey Canada announced Thursday that it has “cancelled all programs and national team camps through Sept. 1,” with plans to hold some of them on a virtual basis over the summer. . . . The national U-17 development camp, scheduled for July 19-25, and the national junior team summer development camp, July 27-31, are among those going virtual. . . . The complete news release is right here.


The Western Canadian Baseball League has cancelled its 2020 season. The 12-team collegiate league, which was to have opened its season on May 29, has franchises in the Alberta communities of Brooks, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Okotoks, and the Saskatchewan communities of Melville, Moose Jaw, Regina, Swift Current, Weyburn and Yorkton. . . .

If all health and safety requirements are met, soccer’s Premier League will resume play on June 17 with a doubleheader — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa against Sheffield United. . . .

The National Women’s Soccer League plans on taking all nine of its teams to Utah for a 25-game tournament that is to begin, without fans, in two Salt Lake City stadiums on June 27. The teams will live in two area hotels. Players will be tested before heading for Utah, then will be screened regularly during training and the tournament. . . .

The KHL, the top hockey league in Russia, has set a preliminary date of Sept. 2 for the opening of its 2020-21 season. . . .

The 2020 Boston Marathon has been cancelled for the first time in its 124-year history. It had been moved from April 20 to Sept. 14, but the plug was pulled on Thursday. . . .

The Dutch Grand Prix that had been scheduled for Zandvoort on May 3 has been cancelled. It is the fourth Formula 1 race to be cancelled, following the Australian, Monaco and French races.


Innovation


From Elliotte Friedman’s latest 31 Thoughts that was posted on Thursday: “For almost 35 years, Les Jackson’s been a (Dallas) Star. Hired as an assistant coach when the franchise was still in Minnesota in 1985, he stayed with the organization every season but one since. His contract will not be renewed. End of an era, for sure. He’s been a huge part of that organization’s success.” . . . Jackson, 67, is a former WHL head coach, having worked with the Great Falls Americans (1979-80) and Brandon Wheat Kings, where he was the head coach for two seasons (1980-82) and general manager for three (1982-85). With the Stars organization he was, at various times, assistant coach, scout, director of amateur scouting, director of player personnel, director of hockey operations, assistant general manager, general manager, director of player development and senior advisor.


Long Island University, which on April 30 announced its intention to ice a men’s hockey team, has named Brett Riley, 29, as the Sharks’ first head coach. LIU is located in Brookville, N.Y. . . . Riley spent last season as an assistant coach with the Colgate U Raiders. . . . He spent two seasons (2017-19) as the head coach of the Wilkes U Colonels in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Penn. The first of those seasons was spent preparing the Colonels for their first season of play in 2018-19. . . . Riley’s father, Bob, was the head coach at Army West Point for 19 years and now scouts for the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Riley’s grandfather, Jack, also coached at Army for more than 35 years and was the head coach of the U.S. team that won the gold medal at the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif.


Derick Brassard of the NHL’s New York Islanders is among a group of three men who have purchased 10 per cent of the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. Brassard played two seasons (2002-04) with the midget AAA Intrepid Gatineau. . . . Yan Hébert and Michel Quesnel, who partnered with Brassard, are businessmen in the Outaouais region. . . . The Olympiques now have an 11-member ownership group.


StarTrek

Scattershooting . . . on a Wednesday after another evening with Ken Burns’ superb Country Music series . . .

Scattershooting
When you spend most of a rainy Sunday and a Monday evening watching the NFL on TV, you realize that you really have forgotten how bad a lot of commercials are. I’m pointing a finger at you, Subway.


On the subject of the NFL, do we write off the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers without quarterbacks Drew Brees (thumb) and Ben Roethlisberger (elbow), respectively? . . . And what of the New York Jets without Sam Darnold (mononucleosis) and Trevor Siemian (ankle), and the Jacksonville Jaguars without Nick Foles (shoulder)? . . . Then there’s the Carolina Panthers, who have Cam Newton (foot), and we won’t even get into Oliver Luck who walked away from the Indianapolis Colts and football before the season began.

——

Mike Reilly of the B.C. Lions is the only one of the nine quarterbacks who were starters to begin the CFL season not to have been injured to this point. Might the NFL be headed for the same kind of season in terms of injuries to quarterbacks?



Two questions from Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times: “1. Has there ever been a more fitting NFL team to tank than one called the Dolphins? . . . 2. Is White Sox rookie pitcher Dylan Cease destined to become the team’s stopper?”



The Lethbridge Hurricanes, one of the WHL’s four community-owned teams, held their AGM on Monday night and reported a profit of $282,168 for the 2018-19 season. . . . Meanwhile, if you’re wondering how much a WHL championship is worth to a community-owned team playing in a smallish arena, well, the Prince Albert Raiders told their shareholders on Tuesday night that they made $633,314 last season. That comes a year after the Swift Current Broncos reported a profit of $561,500 in 2017-18, their championship season.

——

You cannot over-estimate the job done in Lethbridge by general manager Peter Anholt and Terry Huisman, the GM of business operations. Remember that this is a franchise that WHL commish Ron Robison recommended be sold to private interests. “It’s not to say that this community organization can’t get things turned around,” Robison said in May 2015. “But we think, when you look at the franchise moving forward, that private interests would be in the best interest of the club.” . . . Not enough shareholders listened, Anholt rode in on his white horse, and the rest, as they say, is history. . . . It’s just too bad that the WHL’s board of governors didn’t see fit to put the 2020 Memorial Cup tournament in Lethbridge instead of Kelowna because the Hurricanes and their fans deserve it.


Have been out and about a bit over the past couple of days. Have decided that I will vote for any candidate who promises to ban all of those gawdawful election signs.


PotatoHead


By now, chances are that you have seen that TV commercial featuring the A&W guy at Mosaic Stadium in Regina. It seems that the commercial, which is all about the Beyond Meat Burger, has caused some controversy on the flatlands. . . . There is more right here from 3DownNation, while Adrienne Ivey, a Saskatchewan rancher, has her say right here. . . . And now the Roughriders, like QB Cody Fajardo evading pass-rushers, are scrambling to distance themselves from all of it. The Regina Leader-Post has more on that right here.


Baseball, as we all know, is a game of numbers and statistics, moreso than any of the other major sports. But every once in a while something comes along that defies belief. . . . For example: Manager Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants has managed in the bigs from 1995-2019. On the morning of Sept. 10, his lifetime record was 1995-2019.


Sheesh, it must be boring to be a fan of the New England Patriots. Two weeks in and they’re 2-0, having outscored the opposition, 86-3. And in their next game, on Sunday, they get to beat up on the — wait for it! — visiting New York Jets.


Thomson won’t return to Rockets. . . . Wheat Kings fill out coaching staff. . . . Nyren’s story plays out in Kelowna courtroom


MacBeth

D Daniel Bukač (Brandon, 2016-18) has signed a three-year contract with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, in 54 games with the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL), he had four goals and 11 assists. . . .

F Marek Tvrdoň (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Dizel Penza (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with Saryarka Karaganda (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had one goal in four games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Klagenfurt II (Austria, Alps HL), four goals and six assists in 14 games with the Nottingham Panthers (England, UK Elite), and one goal and one assist in three games with Cracovia Kraków (Poland, PHL). . . .

F Mark Derlago (Brandon, 2003-07) has retired from playing to become an assistant coach with the Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL). Last season, with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), he had 17 goals and 18 assists in 36 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F John Persson (Red Deer, 2009-12) has signed a one-year contract with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga). Last season, in 27 games with Mora (Sweden, SHL), he had nine goals and two assists.


ThisThat

The Kelowna Rockets may have known before Tuesday, but that’s when their fans found KelownaRocketsout that Finnish D Lassi Thomson won’t be back for a second season. Instead, he will play with Ilves in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. . . . Thomson, who is to turn 19 on Sept. 24, has signed a contract (two years plus an option for a third) with Ilves. He is from Tampere, and has played for Ilves’ U-16, U-18 and U-20 sides. . . . The Ottawa Senators selected Thomson with the 19th-overall pick in the NHL’s 2019 draft, then signed him to a three-year entry-level contract on July 15. . . . Last season, Thomson put up 17 goals and 24 assists in 63 regular-season games with the Rockets. He was named the Western Conference’s rookie of the year and to the conference’s second all-star team. . . . Thomson is spending this week playing for a Finnish team in a U-20 tournament in Vierumaki, Finland. Teams from Czech Republic and Switzerland also are taking part. . . .

The news, now that it’s official, leaves quite a hole on the Rockets’ backend. And don’t forget that the Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are to be the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . The Rockets have two solid defencemen in Kaedan Korczak, 18, who was a second-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2019 draft, and Jake Lee, 18, who was acquired from the Seattle Thunderbirds on May 2. Both are heading into their third WHL seasons. . . . Kelowna also added Sean Comrie, 19, in a deal with the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 2. Comrie played last season at the U of Denver, but had just one assist in 18 games. It’s fair to say, then, that he goes into the season as something of a WHL unknown. . . . The Rockets only have two 20-year-olds on their roster — F Leif Mattson and F Kyle Topping — so could add a veteran defenceman in the third slot. . . . Only one thing is for certain — the Rockets will be making more than a couple of roster moves before May gets here.


The Brandon Wheat Kings rounded out their coaching staff on Tuesday with the news BrandonWKregularthat Don MacGillivray and Tyler Plante will return and that Mark Derlago has been added as a second assistant. . . . MacGillivray is entering his fourth season as an assistant coach, as is Plante, the goaltending coach. . . . Derlago, a former Wheat Kings captain, has signed on as the team’s second assistant coach having chosen to end his playing career. He played last season with Esbjerg Energy in Denmark, scoring 17 goals and adding 18 assists in 36 games. . . . Plante is the son of Cam Plante, who played four seasons (1980-84) with the Wheat Kings; Derlago’s uncle, Bill, spent three-plus seasons (1974-78) with Brandon and was one of the most-prolific scorers in WHL history. . . . The coaching staff is headed up by Dave Lowry, who was named head coach on July 18. . . . Darren Ritchie, the Wheat Kings’ general manager, also is preparing for his first season in a new role. He was named GM on July 12. A former Wheat Kings forward, he also worked as an assistant coach for 10 seasons and was their director of scouting for the past three seasons. . . . The Wheat Kings’ complete news release is right here.


Former WHL D Giffen Nyren was sentenced in Kelowna on Tuesday after pleading guilty to attempting to take an 18-month-old baby from its mother’s arms on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, was given a conditional discharge with two years of probation. If he follows the conditions set by Judge Catharine Heinrichs, he won’t have a criminal record. . . . Nyren also will pay $4,648 in restitution to the baby’s family to cover lost wages and some daycare costs. . . . He also will write a letter of apology to the family and take part in a restorative justice program. . . . According to Brie Welton of infotel.ca, “The court heard that Nyren’s toxicology report at the time of the incident showed no traces of drug abuse and that psychologists who assessed him believe that it is highly possible that he was suffering from bipolar disorder which resulted in the brief but acute manic episode and psychosis.” . . . Welton also reported: “By all accounts, Nyren was distraught and delusional at the time of the offence. When speaking to a doctor in the psychiatric unit of the Kelowna General Hospital following the incident, Nyren said that he’d been walking around downtown feeling threatened by the people around him when he saw the family. Nyren believed that he knew the family and came to believe that the baby had been abducted, which is why he tried to take it from Kendra. . . . Nyren’s lawyer Grant Gray told the court that Nyren’s two-year relationship ended in March 2019 and that his hockey career appeared to be coming to an end. Court also heard that Nyren has suffered four concussions in the course of his career as a hockey player.” . . . Nyren, from Calgary, played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen (2006-10). He went on to have stints in the AHL, ECHL and USports, before playing a bit in Europe. Last season, he played seven games with a team in Amiens, France, then got into 14 regular-season and seven playoff games with the Lacombe Generals of Allan Cup Hockey West. . . . Welton’s complete story is right here.


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JUST NOTES:

Hockey Canada revealed on Tuesday that two WHLers won’t be participating in the U-20 Summer Showcase that is to run July 27 through Aug. 3 in Plymouth, Wash. . . . F Cole Fonstad of the Prince Albert Raiders and D Ty Smith of the Spokane Chiefs have been dropped from the roster. Hockey Canada didn’t provide any further information. . . . Both players still could end up playing for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Trinic and Ostrava, Czech Republic, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . .

The AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm has added Jonny Webb as its goaltending coach and former NHLer Chris Mason as a goaltending consultant. . . . Webb worked for the past three seasons with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons and midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. He also was with the ACAC’s SAIT Trojans last season. He is a goaltending coach with Top Prospects Goaltending in Calgary. . . . Mason played in the WHL with the Victoria/Prince George Cougars (1993-97). He retired after playing two seasons (2013-15) in Europe. . . .

Brandon Shaw has left the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials to join the Alberni Valley Bulldogs as assistant coach and player development co-ordinator. Shaw spent the previous two seasons working alongside Joe Martin, then the Centennials’ general manager and head coach. Martin, the BCHL’s reigning coach of the year, left Merritt after the 2018-19 season and now is the Bulldogs’ GM and head coach. . . .

Steve Gainey is the new head coach of the junior B Kamloops Storm of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He helped out as an assistant coach last season. . . . Gainey, 40, played four seasons (1995-99) with the Kamloops Blazers and was on their coaching staff for one season (2007-08). His pro career included 33 regular-season NHL games. . . . Gainey’s assistant coaches will be Andrew Fisher, Cody Lockwood and Jassi Sangha, who was the head coach last season, with Pete Friedel as the team’s trainer. . . . The Storm recently underwent an ownership change.


Tweetoftheday

Redlick on road to recovery. . . . Maglio replaces Burt on Chiefs’ staff. . . . Giants’ Byram gets NHL contract


MacBeth

F Mitch Callahan (Kelowna, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). Last season, in 61 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had 15 goals and 19 assists. He was an alternate captain.


ThisThat

Redlick
Jack Redlick, the AMHL’s coach of the year, is recovering in hospital from injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. (Kristina Lindsay photo, Facebook)

Jack Redlick, a former WHL player, won’t be coaching in 2019-20 after being injured in a motorcycle accident. Redlick, the head coach of the midget AAA St. Albert Raiders, is the Alberta Midget Hockey League’s reigning coach of the year. . . . He played 75 WHL games over three seasons, split among the Kamloops Blazers, Vancouver Giants and Regina Pats. . . . Redlick was injured on June 29 while riding near Idaho Falls, Idaho. He has since been transferred to the U of Alberta Hospital. . . .

Kristina Lindsay posted this on Redlick’s Facebook page earlier in the week:

“Surgeries 3 and 4 to repair the torn pectoral on the right shoulder and do the skin graft on his left forearm are complete. “Can I please have 2 M&Ms and 1 Crisper?” The comedy show is appreciated. It will be a long week with extremely limited mobility on both arms. They will check his foot again in 2 weeks.”

On July 13, she had posted this:

“Two weeks ago today I got the knock at the door that everyone dreads. Today I got to roll Jack outside for the first time since the accident, it’s a good day. Many of the staples and stitches came out today, the bruising and swelling is gone, he looks great. Monday will be shoulder surgery to repair the detached pectoral on the right side, a skin graft on the left forearm is up next later in the week. The bruised heart, collapsed lung and broken femur are healing as they should. The tib/fib is coming along but will be a long haul. The big question is what will happen with his foot, it’s a waiting game for now until the foot declares what will survive. Another surgery down the line on the foot once decisions have been made, no word yet on how long he’ll be in here but a while yet still. Jack loves visitors to combat the boredom so if you’re in the U of A area between 12-6 come say hi.”

——

The latest from the Raiders on Friday:

“The Redlick family would like to extend a huge thank you to their Raiders family and all those who have supported them through this tough process. On June 29 an oncoming motorcycle crossed the centre line and hit Jack head on while he was on a motorcycle trip with friends in Idaho. Jack sustained various serious injuries but was very lucky and has no head, neck or spinal injuries. The longest part of the recovery will be a partial amputation of his (left) foot, which will keep him from coaching this year. We believe that with Jack’s strength and determination he will make a successful recovery and we will see him back on the bench. We wish the 2019/2020 Raiders luck In the upcoming season and Jack will be in stands as soon as he’s able.”

Geoff Giacobbo will be the Raiders’ head coach in 2019-20, with Rob Hayne, Jeff Leyer and Dave Ridd the assistant coaches.


Scott Burt no longer is on the Spokane Chiefs’ coaching staff, while Adam Maglio has SpokaneChiefsbeen hired as associate coach under new head coach Manny Viveiros. . . . Burt, who had been with the Chiefs for six seasons, was passed over twice in the past two years as the team hired new head coaches. Two years ago, they signed Dan Lambert, who left after two seasons to join the NHL’s Nashville Predators as an assistant coach. The Chiefs announced Viveiros’s signing on July 9. . . . Maglio, a 33-year-old from Nelson, B.C., spent four seasons with the Spruce Kings, two as an assistant coach and two as head coach. He led them to back-to-back BCHL championship series. They won the Fred Page Cup last season, and then won the Doyle Cup, before losing the junior A national championship in the final game. . . . The Spruce Kings immediately promoted Alex Evin, their associate coach, to head coach. . . . The Chiefs’ news release is right here. . . .

The Chiefs also announced the signing of Russian D Matvei Startsev, who will turn 17 on Sept. 4, to a WHL contract. The Chiefs selected him in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Last season, he had four goals and eight assists in 25 games with the Moskva U-17 team, and added three goals and six assists in 13 games with the U-18 side. . . . His signing leaves the Chiefs with three imports on their roster, the others being Czech G Lukas Parik, who also was selected in the 2019 import draft, and veteran D Filip Kral, who will turn 20 on Oct. 20. Kral, also a Czech, was a fifth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2018 NHL draft and has signed a contract with their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. . . . Parik, 18, was picked by the Los Angeles Kings in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft.


The Prince George Cougars have signed F Kyren Gronick, 15, and F Filip Koffer, 18, to PrinceGeorgeWHL contracts. . . . Gronick, from Regina, was a second-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. Last season, he had 27 goals and 26 assists in 24 games with the bantam AA Regina Aces. . . . Koffer was the 10th-overall pick in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. From Czech Republic, he had 10 goals and 28 assists in 38 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice in the Czech U-19 league. He also had one assist in 12 games with Dynamo Pardubice in the Extraliga. Koffer played for the Czechs at the World Hockey Championship in April and led the team with six points, four of them goals, in five games. . . . Koffer joins sophomore Czech F Matej Toman, who is from, as the Cougars’ import players. Toman had nine goals and 11 assists in 66 games last season. . . . Belarusian F Vladislav Mikhalchuk is eligible to return to the Cougars as a 20-year-old for a third season, but he has signed a one-year, two-way contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). If he doesn’t stick with that club, he likely would play with Torpedo Nizhny Nogorod-2 (Russia, VHL). . . .

The Cougars also announced the signing of Mike Matthies as athletic therapist. A Prince George native, he spent the past two seasons with the Victoria Royals, working as a student athletic therapist. . . . He takes over the Cougars’ position from Chico Dhanjal, who has been the team’s athletic trainer and equipment manager for 11 seasons. He remains as the Cougars’ equipment manager. . . . In fact, he will work in that role for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF U-17 World Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat and Swift Current, Nov. 2-9. This week, he is in Calgary working at Hockey Canada’s U-17 development camp. . . . Dhanjal, one of the WHL’s really good guys, has been with the Cougars since 2008. How do I now he’s one of the good guys? Because every time he sees me, he asks about my wife, and that means a lot. (Hey, Chico, she is excellent. Thanks for asking.)


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders will pay $100,000 towards the purchase of a PrinceAlbertnew scoreclock for the Art Hauser Centre. The club will play that money over a five-year period. . . . City council has voted to pay about $95,000 of the remaining cost, which will total more than $275,000. . . . The new clock will bring the arena “into full compliance with new WHL facility standards set to come into affect for the 2019-20 season,” reports Jason Kerr of the Prince Albert Daily Herald. Also included in those standards are a new LED lighting system and acrylic boards and new glass. . . . By the way, Kerr also reported that the Raiders’ deep playoff run put $153,402.98 into the city’s offers. . . . Kerr’s complete story is right here.


JUST NOTES:

D Bowen Byram of the Vancouver Giants has a signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He was the fourth-overall selection in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . A native of Cranbrook, Byram, 18, had 26 goals and 45 assists in 67 regular-season games with the Giants in 2018-19. He led all playoff scorers by putting up 26 points in 22 games as the Giants reached Game 7 of the championship final. . . . His father, Shawn, played three WHL seasons (Regina Pats, Prince Albert Raiders, 1985-88) and was a fourth-round pick by the New York Islanders in the NHL’s 1986 draft. . . . As an 18-year-old, Byram’s options for the 2019-20 season are the Avalanche or the Giants. . . .

Veteran scout Jeff Finley has joined the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets after spending seven seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, the last three as their chief amateur scout. Finley, 52, fills the vacancy on Winnipeg’s staff created by the retirement of Marcel Comeau. . . . Finley played three seasons (1984-87) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to a pro career that included 708 regular-season and 52 playoff NHL games. . . . Finley spent two seasons (2007-09) as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets. . . . He is the father to Jack, who plays for the Spokane Chiefs, and Mason, who was a fifth-round pick by the Calgary Hitmen in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


Tweetoftheday

Happy retirement to Ferguson and Marshall. . . . Nickolet leaves Blades for NHL. . . . Leason gets pro deal. . . . Chiefs sign Czech goaltender

MacBeth

F Alexander Delnov (Seattle, 2012-14) has signed a tryout contract with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). Last season, with Molot-Prikamie Perm (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 52 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Andrei Pavlenko (Edmonton, 2017-19) has signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 58 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL), he had nine goals and 17 assists.


ThisThat

The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes have lost two veterans of their scouting staff to retirement, both of them with ties to the WHL. . . . Sheldon Ferguson, who had been Carolina’s head North American scout, and Bert Marshall, a long-time amateur scout, both have headed off into retirement. . . .

Going back to 1977-78, Ferguson owned the WHL’s Billing Bighorns (actually, it was the WCHL then) and the AJHL’s Red Deer Rustlers. He spent part of 1978-79 as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, before scouting with the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques for six seasons. From 1985-88, he was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ GM and head coach. He also worked for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos’ assistant GM. For 18 of the past 20 seasons, Ferguson has been on Carolina’s scouting staff. . . .

Marshall has been an NHL scout since 1983-84. He spent 13 seasons with the New York Islanders and one with the Hartford Whalers. He has been with the Hurricanes since 1997-98. As a player, he came off two seasons (1962-64) with the Edmonton Oil Kings to play 868 regular-season and 72 playoff games, split between the Detroit Red Wings, California/Oakland Seals, New York Rangers, and the Islanders. . . . Think about this for a minute: Marshall has been a part of the NHL for 54 years — since 1965-66 when he played 61 games with the Red Wings. . . . A defenceman in his playing days, Marshall scouted the way he played — quietly efficient. . . .

At the same time, the Hurricanes have added Cody Nickolet and Eric Fink to their scouting staff. . . . Nickolet has been a scout with the Saskatoon Blades, and also was their director of analytics for four seasons. . . . Fink spent the past six seasons scouting for the Portland Winterhawks.


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F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Leason was selected in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the Raiders for his 20-year-old season but, if he doesn’t crack the Capitals’ roster, is more likely to open with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . From Calgary, he opened last season with a 30-game point streak, putting up 28 goals and 36 assists. He finished the regular season with 36 goals and 53 assists in 55 games. Leason added 10 goals and 15 assists in 22 playoff games in helping the Raiders to the WHL championship. . . . Leason may have been the best individual story of the 2018-19 regular season, considering that he went in with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 games. He played his first 81 games with the Tri-City Americans before being dealt to the Raiders early in 2017-18.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed Czech G Lukas Parik to a WHL contract. Parik, 18, was selected by the Chiefs in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Parik was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Chiefs haven’t posted their pre-season roster on the WHL website, but barring any unreported moves they have four goaltenders on their depth chart. Parik joins veterans Bailey Brkin and Reece Klassen, both 20, and Campbell Arnold, 17, who was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


Whoops! Chad Harden was hit with 30 seconds in penalties on Day 7 of the Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede. Harden finished second in the heat, but the penalties dropped him to fourth. . . . By night’s end, Harden, who scouts for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen when he’s not racing chuckwagons, had fallen from third to 33rd in the aggregate standings. . . . Harden was penalized, fined $10,000 and given a two-performance suspension after it was ruled that he cut off Evan Salmond, whose chuckwagon went into the inside rail. . . . Harden has won $22,300.


Tweetoftheday

Lamb to wear two hats with Cougars. . . . Pats get Holmes back from Everett. . . . Raiders’ Sapego gets AHL deal


MacBeth

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Kobra Prague (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 25 games with Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga),he had 14 goals and 27 assists. He also had six goals and 21 assists in 18 games with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga). . . .

F Tyler Wong (Lethbridge, 2011-17) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, he had five goals and eight assists in 68 games with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). . . .

F Adam Cracknell (Kootenay, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games. He also was pointless in two games with the Anaheim Ducks (NHL), and had 15 goals and 13 assists in 32 games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL). . . .

F Garet Hunt (Vancouver, 2004-08) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had nine goals and 14 assists in 69 games. . . .

F Adam Helewka (Spokane, Red Deer, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he had 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games with the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL), and eight goals and 11 assists in 24 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). . . . Nur-Sultan was known as Astana until the Kazakhstan parliament voted in March 2019 to change the name. . . .

F Brandon Magee (Chilliwack/Victoria, 2009-15) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 22 games.


ThisThat

Mark Lamb won’t be joining the coaching staff of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Instead of flying into NHL cities all over North America, he’ll be riding a bus to cities that are home to WHL franchises.

The Prince George Cougars announced Thursday that Lamb now is the team’s 13th head PrinceGeorgecoach since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season. Lamb also is their general manager.

Lamb has a history with Dave Tippett, the Oilers’ new head coach, and there had been speculation that the two would reunite in Edmonton.

According to Lamb, he rejected overtures from the Oilers to stay in Prince George, and when is the last time that happened?

In a story by Ethan Ready of myprincegeorgenow that is right here, Lamb explained his decision this way:

“The NHL lifestyle is unbelievable, as we all know. And it should be unbelievable because it’s the best league in the world. That’s where everybody wants to be. You’re flying on chartered jets, staying in nice hotels. But I’m from Cadillac, Saskatchewan — there’s not a lot of jets out there.”

Lamb, who will turn 55 on Aug. 3, spent 16 seasons as a pro player. He was in the NHL long enough to play 403 regular-season games and 70 in the playoffs. He won a Stanley Cup with the 1989-90 Oilers. He then spent seven seasons as an NHL assistant coach before working for seven seasons (2008-16) as the general manager/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos.

“I’ve been there. I’ve had some success in the NHL as a player and won a Stanley Cup,” Lamb said. “I’m not downgrading it at all, it’s an unbelievable league, but the situation here is pretty gratifying.”

Lamb, who signed a four-year contract with the Cougars a year ago, has completed one season as the franchise’s general manager. He had been the interim head coach since Richard Matvichuk was fired on Feb. 7.

The Cougars finished 19-41-8 and didn’t make the playoffs in 2018-19. Interestingly, Lamb said at that time that he wasn’t interested in being a full-time head coach.

“That’s not the plan to come back, I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am,” Lamb told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen in late March.“There’s going to be a search for it . . .”

Early in May, Lamb told Clarke that the search for a head coach was in progress.

“I’ve talked to quite a few people and I’m going to be talking to more,” Lamb said. “You’ve got to be able to relate to the kids, know the trends how hockey is being played now, how you communicate. Just being down there coaching, I have a pretty good idea what it’s going to take and what type of coach the guys do need. I have a lot of connections not just in our league but in pro leagues and I’m doing a lot of work in those areas.”

At the end of the day, the Cougars’ ownership group obviously decided that Lamb fit all of those descriptions and was the best man for the job.

Or maybe Lamb’s wife, Tanya, who is from Edmonton, was tired of all the moving in recent years?

——

Here is the last sentence of the news release in which the Prince George Cougars announced that general manager Mark Lamb also would be the head coach:

“The Cougars will be naming an associate coach and finalizing other members of the hockey operations department in the coming weeks.”

Steve O’Rourke, the team’s associate coach for the past three seasons, no longer is with the Cougars.

Lamb told Bill Phillips of pgdailynews.ca, for a story that is right here, that the new associate coach will have a lot on his plate.

“It’s going to be like two coaches,” Lamb said. “He’s going to have a lot of responsibility . . . I want to make that one of the tightest coaching staffs in the league, which will give us a greater opportunity to have success.”

Others in the Cougars’ hockey operations department include goaltending coach Taylor Dakers and Nick Drazenovic, the director of player development.


There now are two WHL teams without head coaches — the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are looking to replace David Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed, and the Spokane Chiefs, who lost Dan Lambert to the NHL’s Nashville Predators where he now is an assistant coach.

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager as they have yet to replace Grant Armstrong, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

Earlier, the Kamloops Blazers signed Shaun Clouston, who had been dismissed by the Medicine Hat Tigers, to replace Serge Lajoie. Willie Desjardins has taken over as the general manager and head coach in Medicine Hat.


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F Robbie Holmes is back with the Regina Pats. They have acquired Holmes, who will turn Pats20 on July 22, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for two 2020 bantam draft selections — a fifth- and a sixth-round pick. . . . Holmes, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., had played 148 regular-season games with the Pats before he was dealt to Everett on Jan. 10 for F Sloan Stanick, a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2022. . . . Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 26 games with Everett, after putting up nine goals and seven assists in 16 games with Regina. . . . In 174 career games, he had 32 goals and 34 assists. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes four 20-year-olds — Holmes, F Austin Pratt, F Dawson Holt, who was acquired from the Vancouver Giants last month, and F Sebastian Streu. . . . Everett now has five 20s on its roster — F Lucas Cullen, F Max Patterson, F Bryce Kindopp, D Jake Christiansen, D Wyatte Wylie.


The Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, have signed D PrinceAlbertSergei Sapego of the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. Sapego, from Belarus, had 10 goals and 33 assists in 58 regular-season games last season, then added three goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games. . . . The signing came after Sapego attended the Maple Leafs’ development camp. . . . Sapego will turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . The Raiders also have Belarusian F Aliaksei Protas, who was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2019 draft, on their roster, and they selected Russian F Ivan Kechkin in the 2019 import draft. . . . The Raiders have yet to post a pre-season roster on the WHL website, but the 20s on their playoff roster were G Ian Scott, Sapego, D Max Martin, D Brayden Pachal, D Zack Hayes, D Jeremy Masella, F Parker Kelly, F Brett Leason and F Brian Harris. . . . Scott (Toronto), Kelly (Ottawa Senators) and Leason (Washington Capitals) are expected to begin their pro careers with the start of the upcoming season.


If you click on Nick’s tweet, you will find the schedule for the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup . . .

 


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