Raiders’ loss improvement from previous season . . . WHL coverage takes two more hits . . . Blades and Warriors add scouts

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The Prince Albert Raiders, one of four community-owned WHL franchises, held their PrinceAlbertannual general meeting on Tuesday night and shareholders learned of a $168,430 loss from the 2017-18 season. That was an improvement from the $250,850 loss for 2016-17. . . . According to Trevor Redden of panow.com, the 2017-18 loss came despite “a 13 per cent year-over-year increase in revenues.” . . . Brad Toporowski, the organization’s vice-president, told shareholders there was an 18 per cent increase in travel expenses, some of that due to a U.S. road trip with a low Canadian dollar. . . . Redden’s story is right here.

Two of the other community-owned teams have scheduled their annual meetings for next month. Shareholders in the Moose Jaw Warriors are scheduled to meet on Sept. 12, with Lethbridge Hurricanes’ shareholders to gather on Sept. 17. . . . A year ago, the Hurricanes announced a profit of $737,710 for 2016-17, while the Warriors reported a loss of $463,566, but that came after they contributed more than $700,000 to Mosaic Place to cover a previous pledge and for upgrades in lighting and the sound system. . . . The Broncos don’t seem to have set a date for their annual general meeting just yet, but last year it was held on Sept. 25. They revealed a profit of $135,922 at that meeting.


The press coverage of two WHL teams has taken a huge hit with the departures of two reporters who have long written about the Tri-City Americans, Kelowna Rockets and, indeed, the WHL.

Annie Fowler, a reporter with the Tri-City Herald for more than 18 years, will work her last day there on Aug. 31. She has been laid off, another victim of everything that ails the newspaper industry these days.

In Kelowna, veteran writer Warren Henderson spent his last day with the Capital News after more than 17 years of banging out superb copy. It seems that he will be working in the landscaping business. Henderson didn’t waste away his last day as a reporter, either, as he posted a story on F Trevor Wong, the Rockets’ first-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, who has committed to the U of Denver Pioneers but admits that Kelowna isn’t out of the picture. That story is right here.


D Tyson Terretta, a seventh-round selection by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the 2015 WHL bantam draft, apparently has ended his playing career. . . . Terretta, 18, is from Okotoks, Alta. . . . He was pointless in two games with Seattle in 2016-17, then had one assist in 42 games last season.


The Saskatoon Blades have added two Manitoba-based scouts to their staff. . . . Craig SaskatoonLane of Virden, Man., will be scouting for a WHL team for the first time, although he has scouted for MJHL and SJHL teams for at least 10 years. Lane, whose son, Grady, a forward, was an eighth-round pick of the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft, is a senior manager with Tundra Oil and Gas. . . . Matt Patton of Winnipeg is also a first-time WHL scout. He is a veteran of the MJHL scouting game, and is a supervisor with Maple Leaf Foods.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have firmed up their scouting staff by adding Mark Blair, Zenon Herasymiuk and Todd Ripplinger. They join returnees Tanner McCall, Justin Rayner and MooseJawWarriorsBrendan Wust. . . . Blair, who spent the past 11 seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, is the Warriors’ senior regional scout — west, while Todd Ripplinger has been named senior regional scout — east. Ripplinger, a brother to Jason Ripplinger, the Warriors’ assistant general manager, has worked with the Kamloops Blazers (1991-97) and was the Regina Pats’ scouting director (1997-2011). Of late, he has been the head scout for the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. . . . Herasymiuk, from Calgary, was with the Kootenay Ice for the past two seasons. . . . McCall, from Weyburn, is into his third season with the Warriors. He also is the general manager and head scout for the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. . . . Rayner, from Regina, is starting his third season with Moose Jaw. He is responsible for scouting WHL teams for the Warriors. . . . Just has been with the Warriors since January 2016. He is the director of player personnel for the junior B Abbotsford Pilots of the Pacific Junior Hockey League. . . . The Warriors’ complete news release is right here.


If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.


A note from Stuart Kemp’s wife, Cathy, indicates that he has been given the OK to start Portlanddriving again, “but during the daytime only.” . . . As she points out, “This is huge . . . as it gives him his freedom back. He has had to sit in the apartment by himself all day, every day by himself.” . . . If you’re late to this story, Stuart, the president of the Portland Winterhawks’ Booster Club, is working to come back from two recent strokes.

I had heard from Stuart earlier Wednesday. He wrote that he has been “working hard on getting better,” adding that he had seen a doctor on Tuesday, who was “amazed at my recovery.”

Later Tuesday, he attended Winterhawks’ training camp at the Moda Center, something that I’m sure did him a world of good.

“It was great seeing many people,” he wrote, “Probably 100 or so came up and said hello. I think I surprised a few as well. . . . It was great to talk to so many who either read online or had heard about it . . . and were shocked to see me there.”

He also has a goal in mind.

“I want to be close to 100 per cent going into the regular season,” he noted. “I figured I’d be between 50 and 60 right now. It’s a lofty goal, but one where I am determined to give this a run for its money.”

Don’t forget that there is a GoFundMe page where you are able to help out Cathy and Stuart. You are able to find it right here.


The junior B Traveland RV Storm of the Prairie Junior Hockey League has signed Cory Unser as head coach. . . . Unser, 38, is from Sedley, Sask. He played two seasons (1998-2000) in the WHL, both with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


Joe Murphy once was the first overall selection in an NHL draft. He was a skilled forward, the furthest thing from an enforcer. These days he’s homeless and hanging around Kenora, Ont. The road he travelled to get there isn’t pretty. But how much responsibility does the NHL have for what has happened to Murphy? . . . Rick Westhead of TSN has Murphy’s story, or at least part of it, right here.


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If you check out Steve McLean’s timeline, you will find some interesting chatter about OHL ticket prices . . .

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It’s time for WHL to do the right thing . . . Decision-makers must act . . . Fighting, headshots have to go

 


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Included in a WHL news release that was issued on June 14 following the league’s annual meeting in Vancouver was this sentence:

“The WHL took further measures to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head.”

The news release didn’t provide any further details, but it says here that anything short of a complete ban on fighting and all contact with an opponent’s head, including incidental contact, is a complete failure.

If the WHL really — really, really, really — cares about the health and safety of its players it is time to make these moves. In fact, it’s well past time.

Why?

Well, let’s start with this Ken Dryden piece from the op-ed pages of the Washington Post.

And then there’s this piece right here from The Players Tribune. Written by Nick Boynton, a former major junior player who went to skate in the NHL, it isn’t pretty.

At one point, Boynton writes of his three-year-old son: “But I cannot, in good conscience, let him play the game of ice hockey until something changes and we start looking out for our players by taking the problems of head hits and concussions — and their potential impact on mental health — more seriously.”

Boynton also writes:

“Yes, ours is a physical, violent sport. And it may be the case that we cannot rid hockey of that violence and danger altogether. But at the very least let’s deal with the issues that arise as a result of that. Deal with the head trauma. Deal with the concussions. And deal with all of the ramifications that those things bring about.

“Stop telling people the world is flat and just do the right thing. Instead of ignoring the damage that occurs to the brain when you get your bell rung out on the ice, let’s own up to it and get guys the help they need. Not just after they retire, but while they’re playing the game.

“Let’s start addressing the problem. Let’s look closely at the brain — and how our sport as we currently play it might be harmful to the brain — and begin making things right.”

In a recent conversation with Brandon Rivers of dubnetwork.ca, WHL commissioner Ron Robison was asked about the fact that the OHL has fighting restrictions — Rivers pointed out that “If a player fights more than three times in a season, that player will be subjected to a two-game suspension for each fight over the number allowed” — while the WHL has no such thing.

Robison replied:

“I think that is another example. Each in our own way we are looking to reduce or eliminate fighting or what we would call . . . unnecessary fighting in the game. In our case, we have a WHL Player Safety Seven Point Plan, which has been in place for several seasons. We review that annually and make recommendations and we will be reviewing that actually with our general managers . . . It is an ongoing process. We each approach things a little differently but for the most part we are on the same page as far as what we are trying to accomplish.”

Robison, if you haven’t noticed, has got commissioner-speak down to a fine art where he uses many words to really say, well, not much. What he should have said is this:

“There is more and more scientific evidence linking CTE to blows to the head. Whether or not CTE is a direct result of blows to the head and/or concussions/traumatic brain injury, we are well aware that blows to the head aren’t good and may cause irreparable damage.

“As a result, the WHL is moving to the forefront of this issue by banning fighting. When a player has one fight, he will receive a warning. A second fight will carry with it a two-game suspension, with three games for a third, four for a fourth, etc.

“This is just another case of our wanting to protect the health of our players now and in the future.”

It would be easy for the WHL to adopt the IIHF’s rule that deals with checking to the head or neck. It’s Rule 124 in the IIHF rule book that is readily available at iihf.com.

Dryden, the former NHL goaltender whose latest book is Game Change: The Life and Death of Steve Montador and the Future of Hockey, spoke for 40 minutes at the See The Line symposium in London, Ont., on Thursday.

“Six years ago the process began (with See The Line),” he said. “Injuries happen, sometimes career-diminishing, sometimes career-ending, some that change a person’s life; and change them and make them not them anymore. In six years we are now more aware of that too.

“But after six years we still have this immense problem with brain injury in sports. Why? What can we do now? Our response to it is we need better science; we need to understand it better and that becomes our focus . . . to get better technology and the focus becomes on science. The problem is when it becomes so much of the focus; science takes time and games are played tomorrow.”

Later, he told Morris Dalla Costa of the London Free Press, whose piece is right here:

“If you don’t force decision-makers to do something, things will remain the same. We have to move beyond just awareness and science. As I said in the end it is up to the decision-makers to take all this awareness that’s been raised and apply it. They have every right to simply carry on and that’s the problem; they are the roadblock. Why do we let them off the hook? Put it into the hands of those whose hands it should be in. Say to them ‘you are not custodians of the game; but custodians of the people playing the game.’ What are you doing for them?”



If you would like to support my wife, Dorothy, as she celebrates the fifth anniversary of her kidney transplant by taking part in the 2018 Kamloops Kidney Walk on Sept. 23, you are able to do so right here.



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Things heat up on CHL legal front . . . Thunderbirds add ex-player to staff . . . Hockey Canada calls on Millar

MacBeth

D Cody Carlson (Medicine Hat, Regina, Prince George, 2006-12) signed a one-year contract with Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). This season, with the Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL), he had one goal and three assists in 28 games, and he had six goals and 19 assists in 27 games with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). . . .

D Giffen Nyren (Moose Jaw, Kamloops, Calgary, 2006-10) signed a one-year contract with Amiens (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with Sterzing/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL), he had 11 goals and 30 assists in 37 games. . . .

F Gal Koren (Kelowna, 2010-11) signed a one-year contract extension with Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia, Alps HL). This season, he had six goals and 14 assists in 26 games.


ThisThat

Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, continues to follow the class-action lawsuit that involves major junior hockey and is making its way through the court system. He also is keeping track of all that surrounds it, and it seems there is a lot of that.

On Thursday, Westhead tweeted: “Allegations that scholarships were not honoured, a union drive, a supportive letter from former NHL players, and a notice of libel. Lots going on in Canadian major junior hockey.”

That, of course, was a tease to his latest story, which is right here.

In the latest instalment, the QMJHL finds itself in a tiff with a former player who, according to Westhead, “has testified that the Victoriaville Tigres didn’t provide him with time to attend high school when he played for the team and that the franchise later backed out of honouring his educational scholarship.”

That was in testimony before Quebec’s National Assembly on May 29.

The QMJHL responded by claiming that “(Brandon) Hynes provided misleading and false testimony and that he didn’t meet the league’s requirements to remain eligible for scholarship funds.”

Hynes, the third-overall selection in the QMJHL’s 2008 draft, played 318 regular-season games over five seasons in that league.

Westhead’s story also brings news of a new union-organizing drive involving major junior players. This one is being organized by the World Association of Ice Hockey Players Unions (WAIPU), which is based in Montreal.

So there’s that . . . and there’s lots of news in Westhead’s story involving WAIPU, including the fact that the CHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL have filed a notice of libel against WAIPU.

Oh, and the CBC has reported that some former NHL, OHL and QMJHL players have written a letter supporting the lawsuit in which players and ex-players are looking for teams to have to pay at least minimum wage.

Quebec’s National Assembly is considering Bill 176, which would change labour laws and provide an exemption to the QMJHL’s Quebec-based teams from minimum wage legislation.

The letter from the former players says that Bill 176 “represents a serious injustice.”

You’re right. This is getting nasty, and it’s nowhere near an end.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have hired Steven Goertzen to fill the newly created position of Seattledirector of player development. . . . “He worked with our prospects at this year’s spring camp and has done a great job in our on-ice sessions at previous spring camps,” Russ Farwell, Seattle’s vice president of hockey operations, said in a news release. “He has been involved in both power skating and skills development the last 10 years and he is a great addition to our staff. Steven has been working for our new ownership group in the Edmonton area and that made this possible as a shared position to help us develop our prospects.” . . . From Stony Plain, Alta., Goertzen, 34, played three seasons (2001-04) with the Thunderbirds before going on to a pro career that included 68 NHL games and time in the AHL and in Europe. . . . Andy Side of 710 AM Seattle has more right here.


Alan Millar, the general manager of the Moose Jaw Warriors, has been named by Hockey Canada to its Program of Excellence management group. According to a news release, “Millar will advise and support the under-18 program, which includes the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup . . . making its debut in Canada this year.” . . . Martin Mondou, the general manager of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes, will work with the U-17 program, while Steve Staios, the president and GM of the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, will be involved with the national junior team program.


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Blazers set to introduce new GM . . . Thunderbirds, Blades make deal . . . Flames add Huska to coaching staff

MacBeth

F Jan Dalecký (Swift Current, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract extension with Herning (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). This season, he had 15 goals and 23 assists in 45 games. . . .

F Rudolf Červený (Regina, 2007-09) signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). This season, with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 21 goals and 17 assists in 49 games. He led his team in goals, was second in points, and was fourth in the league in goals. . . .

F Josh Nicholls (Saskatoon, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, with Litvinov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two assists in eight games. He signed with Storhamar (Norway, GET-Ligaen) on Nov. 19 and had 13 goals and seven assists in 22 games.


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The Kamloops Blazers are poised to introduce their new general manager at a news conference this morning (Friday).

A source familiar with the situation told Taking Note on Thursday afternoon that Matt Kamloops1Bardsley will be the new general manager.

Bardsley, who has been with the Portland Winterhawks since 1999, would replace Stu MacGregor, who has been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars. MacGregor took over as the GM in Kamloops after Craig Bonner left six games into the 2015-16 season. Bonner also is on the Stars’ scouting staff.

Tom Gaglardi, who owns the Stars, is the majority owner of the Blazers. The four minority owners, all former Blazers players, are Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor.
Bardsley, 46, has been Portland’s assistant general manager for the past four seasons.

He grew up in San Jose, and moved to Portland in 1987, getting work at the Valley Ice Arena in Beaverton. That facility was Portland’s practice facility. One thing led to another and Bardsley started scouting for the WHL team in 1999.

He moved up to director of player personnel prior to 2008-09, then was named director of hockey operations in time for the 2010-11 season.

In Kamloops, Bardsley takes over a franchise that needs a head coach, lead assistant coach and a director of player personnel.

Don Hay, the head coach for the past four seasons, now is in an advisory role. The Blazers also announced on May 10 that Mike Needham, an assistant coach with the Blazers since 2010, and Matt Recchi, the director of player personnel for 10 seasons, wouldn’t have their contracts renewed.

The present owners have been in control for 11 seasons. In that time, the Blazers have missed the playoffs four times and lost in the first round on five occasions. They have missed the playoffs in three of the past five seasons, including this season.

Since losing in the WHL’s championship final in the spring of 1999, Kamloops has won three playoff series, and has advanced past the second round on one occasion, when it reached the Western Conference final in 2013.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have traded F Nakodan Greyeyes, 17, to the Saskatoon Blades Saskatoonfor a conditional sixth-round selection in the WHL’s 2020 bantam draft. . . . Greyeyes, from Winnipeg, was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, but has yet to sign a WHL contract. . . . This season, he had 24 goals and 29 assists in 36 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy midget prep team. He also was pointless in two games with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Marek Schneider, 15, to a WHL contract. Schneider was a second-round selection by the Blades in the 2018 WHL bantam draft. From Prince Albert, he had three goals and 22 points in 30 games with the bantam AA Prince Albert Raiders this season. . . . Schneider expects to play with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos in 2018-19. He is a younger brother to D Braden Schneider of the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Everett Silvertips have named F Connor Dewar as their captain for the 2018-19 season. Dewar, who will turn 19 on June 26, is preparing for his fourth season with Everett. This season, as an alternate captain, he had 38 goals and 30 assists in 68 games. . . . He succeeds D Kevin Davis and F Matt Fonteyne, both of whom have played out their junior eligibility, as the Silvertips’ captain. Davis and Fonteyne were co-captains this season.


The five-part series — NHL Under Oath — that TSN has been running this week continued Thursday as Rick Westhead, the senior correspondent, continues to shine a light on the league and its reaction to brain injuries. There is a story available right here, along with a video, none of which is at all favourable towards the NHL.

Meanwhile, The Globe and Mail takes the NHL to task in an editorial that is right here.


TheCoachingGame

Ryan Huska, a former WHL player and coach, has moved up to the NHL’s Calgary Flames as an assistant coach where he will work under head coach Bill Peters. Huska, 42, has spent four seasons coaching the Flames’ AHL affiliate — one season with the Adirondack Flames and the past three with the Stockton Heat. Before that, he was with the Kelowna Rockets for 12 seasons, the last seven as head coach. . . . As a player, he spent four seasons (1991-95) with the Kamloops Blazers and won three Memorial Cup titles. . . . He also won one Memorial Cup as a coach — he was an assistant with Kelowna in 2004. . . . There’s more on Huska, from George Johnson of calgaryflames.com, right here.


Todd Nelson, who played four seasons (1986-90) with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders, has signed a three-year contract as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. In the coaching game since 2002-03, Nelson, 49, has spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Grand Rapids Griffins, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings.


Brad Lauer is out after three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning. The team announced that it “has mutually agreed to part ways” with Lauer. At the same time, the Lightning announced that it had fired associate coach Rick Bowness. . . . Lauer, from Humboldt, Sask., was an assistant coach with the WHL’s Kootenay Ice for five seasons (2002-07). He also has been an assistant coach in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators and Anaheim Ducks.


Jason Rogers has signed on as director of hockey operations and head coach of the White Rock Whalers, who are preparing for their first season in the junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League, which now features 12 teams. . . . This season, Rogers coached the midget A1 Vancouver Thunderbirds to a provincial title.


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Blades have their new coach . . . Capitals have WHL flavour, too . . . Giants sign first-round pick

MacBeth

F Taylor Vause (Swift Current, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract extension with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, he had 13 goals and 25 assists in 53 games. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). This season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 28 goals and 34 assists in 55 games. The team captain, he led the Lightning in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) signed a one-year extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He started this season with Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga), scoring once in 10 games. He signed with Liberec on Oct. 13 and finished with 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games.


ThisThat

The Saskatoon Blades are expected to introduce Mitch Love as their new head coach at a news conference this afternoon (Wednesday).

Love, who had been assistant to the general manager/assistant coach with the Everett SaskatoonSilvertips, replaced Dean Brockman in Saskatoon. Brockman had spent four seasons with Saskatoon, two as an assistant coach and the last two as head coach.

Love, 33, is from Quesnel, B.C. A hard-nosed defenceman, he played with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Swift Current Broncos and the Silvertips (2000-05). He was the Everett captain in his last of two seasons there and is one of the most popular players in that franchise’s history.

He went on to a six-season pro career, playing in the AHL, ECHL and CHL, before starting his coaching career in Everett. Love just completed his seventh season as an assistant with the Silvertips. He twice has coached Canadian teams at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge.

The Blades interviewed Love during the WHL playoffs with the Silvertips involved in a second-round series with the Portland Winterhawks. Following the second game of that series there was a two-day break. A source has told Taking Note that Love met with Blades’ management at Vancouver International Airport.

The Blades have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons. In fact, the last time they advanced past the second round was in 1994-95. They have missed the playoffs 11 times since that season.

Harley Love, Mitch’s father, is one of the Blades’ B.C. scouts.

The Edmonton Oil Kings, Kamloops Blazers and Swift Current Broncos now are the only WHL teams looking to hire head coaches.

The Oil Kings fired Steve Hamilton, their head coach for the past four seasons, on Monday.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, the winningest coach in WHL regular-season and playoff history, who moved into an advisory role after four seasons as head coach.

Manny Viveiros, who guided Swift Current to the WHL championship earlier in the month, left the Broncos on Friday and now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.


Might the Regina Pats make a coaching change before the 2018-19 season gets here? Greg PatsHarder of the Regina Leader-Post reports that John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, is expected to step aside as head coach at some point this summer. Paddock, 63, would then focus on his duties as general manager, allowing Dave Struch, the assistant GM/assistant coach, to take over as head coach. . . . Paddock and Struch, a former head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, have worked together through four seasons with the Pats. . . . Harder’s story is right here.


A few days ago, I wrote about the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights and the number of men with NHL ties, not including players, who are involved with the team.

I was remiss in not doing the same thing with the Washington Capitals, who  have some Capitalsserious WHL connections as they meet the Golden Knights in the Stanley Cup final.

At a glance, here are the men with WHL ties who are involved off the the ice with the Capitals:

Ross Mahoney, assistant general manager — Mahoney, 61, spent two seasons (1993-95) as an assistant coach with the Regina Pats. He then spent three seasons as an amateur scout with the Buffalo Sabres, before moving on to the Capitals. Mahoney is in his 18th season with Washington — 14 as director of amateur scouting and the last four as AGM. . . . Did you know: Mahoney was the leading hitter — he hit .636 — and all-star right field in helping the Melville, Sask., Elks win the 1973 Canadian midget baseball championship.

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Barry Trotz, head coach — Trotz, 55, was a defenceman for three seasons (1979-82) with the Regina Pats. He played in the 1980 Memorial Cup with the WHL-champion Pats. Trotz is in his fourth season as Washington’s head coach, after spending 15 seasons as head coach of the Nashville Predators. . . . Did you know: Trotz played his 20-year-old season in his hometown of Dauphin, Man., with the Kings of the MJHL. They won the MJHL title and the ANAVET Cup that season.

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Lane Lambert, assistant coach — Lambert, 53, is from Melfort, Sask. He played in the WHL with the Swift Current Broncos (1980-81) and Saskatoon Blades (1981-83). He put up 233 points, including 104 goals, in 136 regular-season games. . . . He went on to a pro career that included 283 regular-season NHL games. . . . Lambert started his coaching career as an assistant coach with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors in 2002-03. He took over as head coach of the Prince George Cougars during the 2003-04 season, and also spent 2004-05 there. . . . He was an assistant coach under Barry Krotz in Nashville (2011-14) and is in his fourth season with Washington. . . . Did you know: As a player, Lambert won playoff championships in the IHL (Houston Aeros), AHL (Adirondack Red Wings) and the NLB in Switzerland (HC Ajoie).

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Olie Kolzig, professional development coach — Kolzig, 48, played goal in the WHL with the New Westminster Bruins and Tri-City Americans (1987-90). . . . He scored a goal for the Americans on Nov. 29, 1989, the first WHL goaltender to manage that feat. . . . Kolzig’s pro career included 10-plus seasons with the Capitals, with whom he won the Vezina Trophy and was named to the first all-star team for the 1999-2000 season. . . . Kolzig has owned a piece of the Tri-City franchise since 2004-05. . . . Did you know: Kolzig’s number (33) has been retired by the Americans.

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Jason Fitzsimmons, pro scout/minor league operations — Fitzsimmons, 46, is from Regina. A goaltender, he played three seasons (1989-92) with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . He played professionally for six seasons, in the AHL and ECHL, finishing up with the South Carolina Stingrays in 1997-98. . . . He transitioned to coaching with the Stingrays and spent nine more seasons there, the last five as head coach. . . . He joined the Capitals as a pro scout in 2007-08, then added the director of minor league operations to his duties prior to 2016-17. . . . Did you know: Fitzsimmons stepped down as the Stingrays’ head coach after the 2006-07 season and was succeeded by Jared Bednar, who now is head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche.

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Brian Sutherby, scout — Sutherby, 36, is from Edmonton. He played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and was a first-round selection by Washington in the NHL’s 2000 draft. He went on to play 460 regular-season NHL games, splitting them between the Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Dallas Stars. He is in his third season on the Washington scouting staff. . . . Did you know: Sutherby retired after playing 25 games with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters. He finished as the team captain, taking over after Bryan Lerg suffered a season-ending knee injury.

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Alan May, TV analyst — May, now 53, played one season (1985-86) in the WHL — six games with the Medicine Hat Tigers and 32 with the New Westminster Bruins. . . . In a 393-game NHL career, May compiled 1,348 penalty minutes. . . . He now works as an analyst for NBC Sports Washington, where he has been since 2009. . . . Did you know: In 1984-85, May played in 64 games with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. In 64 games, he had 51 goals, 47 assists and, yes, 409 penalty minutes.


The Vancouver Giants have signed F Zack Ostapchuk, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Ostapchuk, who turned 15 on Tuesday, is from St. Albert, Alta. He was the 12th overall pick in the draft. . . . This season, he had 24 goals and 21 assists in 30 games with the Northern Alberta Xtreme bantam prep team.

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WHL teams that have signed 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

——

The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


The Tri-City Americans have signed F Booker Daniel to a WHL contract. He will turn 17 on Aug. 13. From Vanderhoof, B.C., Daniel spent this season with the major midget Kootenay Ice. He had 16 goals and 15 assists in 26 games with the Ice.


Chris Johnston is the new head coach of the midget AAA Brandon Wheat Kings. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant to head coach Tyson Ramsey. . . . Johnston, 43, played five seasons (1990-95) in the WHL, splitting time with his hometown Wheat Kings, the Red Deer Rebels and Regina Pats.


Mike Hastings, the head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, has been named the head coach of USA Hockey’s national junior team. He takes over from David Quinn, who left Boston U earlier this month and now is head coach of the NHL’s New York Rangers. . . . Quinn had been named the national junior team’s head coach on April 20. Hastings had been selected as an assistant coach. . . . Scott Sandelin, the head coach at Minnesota-Duluth, has been added to Team USA as an assistant coach, joining David Lassonde, the associate head coach at Dartmouth, and Steve Miller, the associate head coach at Ohio State. . . . The 2019 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Vancouver and Victoria, running from Dec. 26, 2018, through Jan. 5, 2019.


“A medical consultant to the National Hockey League Players’ Association has testified under oath that a top NHL lawyer watered down a warning to players about the long-term dangers of repeated head trauma on a poster displayed in every NHL team dressing room,” writes Rick Westhead, TSN’s senior correspondent, in the second of a five-part series that has been headlined NHL Under Oath. . . . The complete story is right here. . . . Meanwhile, the Toronto Star offered up this editorial right here.


Tweetoftheday

Hansch, Hamilton, Marsh gone from Oil Kings . . . Heponiemi is finished in Swift Current . . . Blades, Ice sign draft picks

MacBeth

F Josh Holden (Regina, 1994-98) has retired from playing and signed a one-year contract as assistant coach with Zug (Switzerland, NL A). He will also be development coach for Zug Academy (NL B) and Zug U20 (Elite Junior A). This season, he had two goals and three assists in 19 games with Zug, and had nine goals and 19 assists in 31 games with Zug Academy, where he was team captain. . . . According to the Zug news release, Holden “has been living with his family in the canton of Zug for 10 years and is likely to receive the Swiss passport soon.” . . .

F Aleksi Heponiemi (Swift Current, 2016-18) signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu (Finland, Liiga). This season, with Swift Current, he had 28 goals and a WHL-leading 90 assists in 57 games.


ThisThat

I have spent the past few weeks tinkering with three different blog sites.

If you haven’t already, please take a few moments to check them out, then let me know which one you prefer.

Here are the three addresses . . .

greggdrinnan.com

greggdrinnan.blogspot.com

gdrinnan.blogspot.ca

Let me know your preference by sending an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


The Edmonton Oil Kings will have at least three new faces in their hockey operations department when another season rolls around.

The Oil Kings will have a new general manager after revealing on Monday that Randy EdmontonOilKingsHansch is joining an as-yet-unnamed NHL team as an amateur scout.

At the same time, the Oil Kings announced that they have fired head coach Steve Hamilton, who had been in the organization for eight seasons, while assistant coach Ryan Marsh’s contract won’t be renewed. Marsh had been in that position through four seasons.

The decisions were announced by Peter Chiarelli, the president of hockey operations and general manager of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, who own the WHL franchise.

Hamilton, 44, spent four seasons as an assistant coach under head coach Derek Laxdal, then was head coach for four seasons. Hamilton took over from Hamilton when the latter joined the AHL’s Texas Stars as head coach.

Under Laxdal, the Oil Kings won two WHL titles and a Memorial Cup championship. Under Hamilton, the Oil Kings went 108-152-28, missing the playoffs each of the past two seasons.

This season, the Oil Kings had the WHL’s poorest record — 22-42-8.

Hansch, 52, had been with the Oil Kings since 2007-08, working the past five seasons as general manager. Prior to that, he was the director of player personnel and assistant general manager.

There has been speculation since the WHL bantam draft on May 3 that Kirt Hill, a former WHL player who spent this season as an amateur scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, will be joining the Oil Kings as director of hockey operations.

Hill played in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets and Regina Pats (2004-08). He joined the WHL office as manager of player development during the 2013-14 season, then left to work for the Blackhawks prior to this season.

Derek Van Diest of Postmedia has more on the Oil Kings right here in a piece that includes some good quotes from Hansch.


There now are four WHL teams in need of a head coach.

The Oil Kings, of course, need one, having fired Steve Hamilton on Monday after he spent four seasons in that role.

Also needing a head coach are the Kamloops Blazers, Saskatoon Blades and Swift Current Broncos.

The Blazers are looking for a replacement for Don Hay, who has moved into an advisory role after four seasons as head coach. However, Hay, 64,  has said he wants to continue coaching and you would think he would at least get some consideration in Edmonton. Hay has more regular-season and playoff victories than anyone in WHL history.

Saskatoon needs a head coach after firing Dean Brockman following the end of its season.

Swift Current, which won the WHL championship, has to replace Manny Viveiros, who left the Broncos on Friday and now is an assistant coach with the Oilers.

When it comes to general managers, there are three teams looking to hire.

The Oil Kings are looking for a replacement for Randy Hansch after Monday’s announcement.

Also in the market are the Kamloops Blazers and Prince George Cougars. The Blazers announced earlier this month that Stu MacGregor had been reassigned to the scouting staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars — Dallas owner Tom Gaglardi is the majority owner of the Blazers — while the Cougars parted company with Todd Harkins after their season ended.

The general manager in Prince George will inherit a head coach, Richard Matvichuk, who is going into the final season of his contract.

The Vancouver Giants already have a new general manager, having hired Barclay Parneta earlier this month. He replaces Glen Hanlon, who left the team after two seasons in that role.


If you aren’t already, you really should be paying attention to TSN where, led by Rick Westhead’s reporting, it is putting a spotlight on the NHL and head injuries. . . . It all has to do with the concussion-related lawsuit filed by a number of players against the NHL in 2013. It is mind-numbing to watch NHL commissioner Gary Bettman at his condescending best, and to read about some NHL owners denying having ever heard of CTE. . . . This is important to junior hockey fans, and owner/operators, too, because sooner or later a connection is going to be made, if it hasn’t already, between former professional players who are showing signs of CTE and head injuries they incurred in junior hockey. . . . The first of TSN’s five-part series is right here. There is video and a story by Westhead.


F Aleksi Heponiemi won’t be back for a third season with the WHL-champion Swift SCBroncosCurrent Broncos. The 19-year-old Finnish sensation has signed a two-year contract with Kärpät Oulu of the top pro league in Finland. . . . This season, Heponiemi had 118 points, including 90 assists, in 57 regular-season games with the Broncos. Last season, as a freshman, he had 28 goals and 58 assists in 72 games. . . . In 2016-17, he was named the WHL’s rookie of the year after leading all freshmen in assists and points. This season, he led the WHL in assists and was named a first-team all-star. He also was named the CHL’s most sportsmanlike player. . . . Heponiemi was selected by the Florida Panthers in the second round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The Broncos’ other import player is Russian D Artyom Minulin, who is eligible to return for his 20-year-old season.


Back in the day, the Kamloops Blazers were a major junior dynasty, something that was defined by their three Memorial Cup titles in four years (1992, 1994, 1995). The architect of all that was Bob Brown, who was fired as general manager a couple of weeks after the third title as the organization chose to go in a different direction. The Blazers, of course, haven’t come close to that kind of success since then, but what is Brown up to these days? . . . Tom Zillich of the Surrey Now-Leader checks in with Brown right here.

Here’s a thought . . . Zillich reports that Brown’s scouting contract with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers is about to expire. As well, Ken Hitchcock, who had considerable success as the Blazers’ head coach back in the day, doesn’t have a coaching job these days; he has moved into an advisory role with the NHL’s Dallas Stars. . . . So you don’t suppose . . . Nah. Never happen.


The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Colton Dach, who was the sixth overall selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. From Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., he is the younger brother of Blades F Kirby Dach, who was the second overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . This season, Colton had 22 goals and 47 assists in 30 games with the OHA Edmonton bantam prep team.


The Kootenay Ice has signed three of its selections from the 2018 WHL bantam draft — D KootenaynewCarson Lambos, D Karter Prosofsky and F Skyler Bruce. . . . Lambos, from Winnipeg, was taken second overall. He had 15 goals and 25 assists in 30 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Nationals bantam prep team. He was named the CSSHL bantam league’s top defenceman. . . . Prosofsky and Bruce were second-round selections. . . . Prosofsky, from Saskatoon, had eight goals and 10 assists in 24 games with the Victoria-based Pacific Coast Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team. . . . Bruce, from Winnipeg, also played at the Rink Hockey Academy. He had 21 goals and 19 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team.

The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed nine of the first-round selections from the 2018 bantam draft.

The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Dylan Guenther, the first overall selection, while the Ice (Lambos), Prince Albert Raiders (3. D Nolan Allan), Calgary Hitmen (4. F Sean Tschigerl), Saskatoon Blades (6. F Colton Dach), Lethbridge Hurricanes (8. F Zack Stringer), Tri-City Americans (14. D Marc Lajoie), Spokane Chiefs (17. D Graham Sward), and Edmonton (20. D Keegan Slaney),

The teams that have yet to sign their first-round selections are the Kamloops Blazers (5. F Logan Stankoven), Red Deer Rebels (7. F Jayden Grubbe), Prince George Cougars (9. F Craig Armstrong), Seattle Thunderbirds (10. F Kai Uchacz), Medicine Hat Tigers (11. F Cole Sillinger), Vancouver Giants (12. F Zack Ostapchuk), Victoria Royals (13. D Nolan Bentham), Brandon Wheat Kings (15. F Jake Chiasson), Red Deer (16. D Kyle Masters), Kelowna Rockets (18. F Trevor Wong), Portland Winterhawks (19. F Gabe Klassen), Prince George (21. G Tyler Brennan), and Moose Jaw Warriors (22. F Eric Alarie).


A tip of the Taking Note cap to the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves for hiring Mike Commito to fill the newly created position of team historian. . . . This is great news for a part of the hockey world whose history often is shoved into the shadows and forgotten. . . . “In anticipation of the Wolves 50th anniversary in the 2022 season,” the team noted in a news release, “the organization has created a new role to help capture the stories and memories that shape the rich Wolves’ hockey tradition.  From players and coaches, to fans and billet families, there are amazing stories that weave throughout the decades and who better to capture those stories than the team’s very first historian.” . . . That news release is right here.