It really is hard to imagine the WHL without Marc Habscheid. But that’s what the league and its fans are faced with after the Prince Albert Raiders announced on Thursday that Habscheid has resigned as head coach effective immediately.
Habscheid, 59, is to become the first head coach in the history of the Bemer Pioneers Vorarlberg of the ICE Hockey League. The Pioneers play out of Feldkirch, Austria.
Dylan Stanley, a former WHL player, is on the Pioneers’ staff as an assistant coach.
Habscheid last played in 1995-96 with the DEL’s Augsburger Panther, with whom he put up 46 points in 48 games.
He began his coaching career the next season, signing on with the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs as general manager and head coach.
One year later, he began a two-season stint as head coach the Kamloops Blazers. That was followed by five seasons with the Kelowna Rockets, a couple of seasons with the Canadian national team program, and one season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Boston Bruins.
He returned to the WHL as the GM/head coach of the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?) and made the move to Victoria with that franchise as it became the Royals.
For the past seven-plus seasons, he has been the head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders, where he put the cherry on top of the sundae by winning the WHL championship in 2019.
That was Habscheid’s second WHL title; he also won in 2003 with the Rockets, who went on to win the Memorial Cup on home ice.
Habscheid leaves the WHL with 582 regular-season victories, trailing only Don Hay (750), Ken Hodge (742), Don Nachbaur (692) and Lorne Molleken (626).
Habscheid is fifth on the all-time list of regular-season games coached (1,166) and seventh with 76 playoff victories.
“I am at a point in my career where I am looking for a new challenge and one has presented itself,” Habscheid said in a message to Raiders’ fans. “I am accepting the head coach position with a team in Europe.”
He is scheduled to make his debut behind the Pioneers’ bench on Aug. 19 in the first of six exhibition game, this one against the visiting Freiburg Wolves, a German team that plays in the DEL-2.
Habscheid and the Pioneers are to play their first regular-season game on Sept. 16 against HCB Südtirol Alperiathe, aka the Bolzano Foxes, of head coach Glen Hanlon.
Among the other head coaches Habscheid will encounter in the ICE Hockey League are Kevin Constantine, with Hydro Fehérvár AV19, and Rob Daum of EC iDM Wärmepumpen VSV.
Ben Cooper, who was an assistant coach under Habscheid in Victoria, is an assistant coach with the Red Bull Salzburg.
We learned on Wednesday that 10 of the 26 players on the Kansas City Royals’ roster wouldn’t be travelling to Toronto for a four-game series with the Blue Jays because they aren’t vaccinated. On Thursday, before the Royals opened the series with a 3-1 victory, we found out that three coaches also couldn’t travel for the same reason — pitching coach Cal Eldred, assistant hitting coach Keoni De Renee and Parker Morin, a strategist and bullpen catcher.
OF Whit Merrifield, one of the anti-vaxxers, showed his true character when he said that he might get vaccinated were he traded to a playoff team that might have to travel to Toronto.
Here’s Stephanie Apstein, a senior writer with si.com: “He is not a winning player. None of these scientists in baseball pants are. (This is a uniquely American breed of stupidity: Foreign-born players had to contend with U.S. entry requirements to play the season, so almost all of them are vaccinated.) Professional athletes have more resources than nearly anyone on earth, yet some of them cannot muster the energy to do enough research to come to the conclusion that every expert has: Vaccines are safe and effective. They give us our best shot at tamping down a pandemic that has already killed a million Americans and reshaped the lives of millions more. And players who refuse to get those vaccines — in addition to contributing to the extension of that pandemic — run the risk of fracturing their clubhouses and extinguishing their teams’ playoff hopes.”
And a few words on the Royals from Sam McDowell, a columnist with the Kansas City Star:
“For more than a year now, the Royals’ medical and training staff, led by Nick Kenney, and front office have encouraged players to receive a vaccine that health experts have deemed both safe and effective in preventing serious illness. While nodding along to their injury and rehab advice, some Royals players have turned a cold shoulder to that health-preservation education, a contradiction that defies logic.”
Gregor Chisholm, a baseball columnist with the Toronto Star, is tired of unvaccinated MLB players pointing fingers at Canada:
“What these players and so many reporters in the U.S. can’t seem to get through their thick skulls is that their country has a similar mandate. Tennis star Novak Djokovic’s uncertain status for the upcoming U.S. Open is one example, there are countless others through professional sports that are conveniently overlooked when this topic comes up.
“Across MLB, this is almost an exclusively American problem. The Jays weren’t the only team with players who needed to be vaccinated to compete this year. Every non-American citizen in the league who left the U.S. during the off-season had to go through the same process before reporting to spring training.”
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, wrote about issues facing Major League Baseball on Thursday. Here’s part of what he wrote, and he is exactly right:
“The pace of play problem is clear and so are potential cures. The pitch clock used in minor league games works; if you do not believe that, please take yourself to a minor league game and try not to focus on the lower level of talent on display but focus on the action presented to you. The game is faster and more entertaining; pitchers do not get the ball back from the catcher and then take a stroll around the mound pondering the origins of the universe; batters do not step out of the batter’s box on every pitch to adjust their gloves even if they took the previous pitch. The games move; there is action; it is far more dynamic than a game in MLB.”
The Canadian Professional League’s Winnipeg-based Valour FC was to have visited Atlético Ottawa on Sunday. However, the soccer game has been postponed until July 20 “due to league COVID protocols, based on advice from medical experts,” Valour FC said in a Thursday tweet.
THE COACHING GAME:
Nick Prkusic has signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits. Prkusic, 25, played three seasons (2014-17) with Brooks and is a former team captain. The Bandits reached the AJHL final three times and won twice with him in their lineup. He went on to play at Robert Morris U, and was the team captain his last two seasons there. . . . He has been coaching at the Prairie Hockey Academy in Caronport, Sask., where he was head coach of the U-17 men’s team. . . . In Brooks, he will work alongside Ryan Papaioannou, the general manager and head coach, assistant coach Taylor Makin, skills coach Kevin Yellowaga and goaltender coach Keven Sajinovic. . . .
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
The BCHL had hoped to begin its regular season on Tuesday, but that dream ended when B.C.’s Provincial Health Office (PHO) imposed new restrictions last week.
In brief, those restrictions prohibit players 19 years of age and older from participating in practices or games, while allowing players younger than that to take part in drills but with a few restrictions.
Now, according to documents obtained by Taking Note, the BCHL is working on a plan that would have the 17 teams that are partaking in this season — the Wenatchee, Wash., Wild is on hiatus because the U.S.-Canada border is closed to non-essential travel — play in a Penticton bubble. The plan remains a work in progress but the league wants to present what it calls the “BCHL Bubble Concept” to the PHO this month.
That bubble would take place in the South Okanagan Events Centre, the home of the BCHL’s Vees, and the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre.
A two-week quarantine period would be followed by a regular season of 20 to 24 games and a seven- or 10-day playoff tournament. One model worked up by the league would have the quarantine period run Jan. 15-29, with a two-day transition into the bubble, the regular season going Feb. 1 through March 22, and playoffs running March 23 through April 2.
According to the documentation, a plan for COVID-19 testing “will be determined by the PHO.” Individuals would be tested as many as five times while in quarantine, although there are “more details to come on this.”
Players would continue to pay $1,500 per month for February and March, as they did for October and November when the teams held extended training camps and played exhibition games within cohorts.
So what’s next? The BCHL needs approval from government and health officials, as well as from Hockey Canada and BC Hockey.
“Once approval is (received),” the documentation reads, “we will notify all players and parents. Then final league decision and alterations to this plan are made. This is just the outlook of a plan and extensive work is going into the procedure.”
According to @cmoresport, 2021 draft eligible forward William Eklund will be stopped from participating in the World Juniors. This due to a positive Covid-19 test. A huge loss for the Swedish team as Eklund has been a breakthrough player in the SHL this season.
F William Eklund won’t be on Sweden’s roster at the fast-approaching World Junior Championship after he tested positive. Eklund, 18, is a top prospect for the NHL’s 2021 draft. He has seven goals and five assists in 16 games with Djurgardens IF in the SHL, his country’s top league. Last season, in the J20 SuperElit, he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 31 games. . . . Sweden’s national junior team would have been expecting him to score for them at the WJC. . . . The 10-team tournament is scheduled to open in a bubble in Edmonton on Dec. 25. With the tournament this close, a positive test means that person won’t be allowed entry into Canada. . . .
At least two other high-end players also will be missing, but not because of positive tests. The New Jersey Devils have decided not to allow F Jack Hughes to play for the U.S., while the New York Rangers aren’t going to let F Alexis Lafreniere join Team Canada.
Rob Daum is back in the coaching game, this time with EC VSV, which plays in the Erste Bank Hockey League out of Villach, Austria. . . . Daum actually is returning to the club he coached last season. He ended up on the outside looking in after he and the team weren’t able to agree to contract terms after the season ended. . . . On Saturday, Daum, 62, got a two-year deal in replacing Dan Ceman, who was 6-10. The change was made despite the club having won its last two games and four in a row on home ice. . . . Daum has been coaching since 1986, and has been in Europe since 2011-12. He coached in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes, 1989-95).
CBC News: Manitoba is reporting 19 new deaths related to COVID-19, including a woman in her 20s. The province is also reporting 354 new cases of the virus. Manitoba’s test positivity rate is 13.1%. 349 people are in hospital, including 51 in intensive care.
CBC News: Saskatchewan is reporting 202 new cases of COVID-19. No new deaths related to the illness have been reported in the province. . . . The Saskatchewan government says the numbers in the Saskatoon region, where 4 cases were recorded, are ‘much lower than anticipated due to a data-related issue that is in the process of correction and is expected to be updated tomorrow.’
CBC News: Alberta is reporting a record 1,879 new cases of COVID-19. This is the 3rd straight day the province has seen more than 1,800 cases. There have been 6 additional deaths linked to COVID-19 in the province.
As usual, there isn’t a weekend report from B.C. That guarantees us some huge numbers when they are revealed on Monday.
CBC News: Ontario reports new record high of 1,859 COVID-19 cases on Saturday. . . . Ontario health minister says spread of COVID-19 ‘has reached a critical point’ as province reports 1,859 more cases
CBC News: Quebec is reporting 2,031 new cases of COVID-19. The province has added 48 deaths to its total, including 11 that occurred within the last 24 hours. 754 people are in hospital, including 96 in intensive care. . . . With 2,031 new COVID-19 cases today, Quebec has set a grim record. It’s the highest daily case count recorded in any province or territory since the start of the pandemic. . . . Today marks the 1st time the province has topped 2,000 new cases. Case counts are skyrocketing in Montreal (630 new cases), Quebec City (304) and the outlying eastern parts of the province. . . . INSQ epidemiologist Dr. Gaston De Serres says: ‘The system in which people put in information regarding new cases slowed down,’ resulting in a slightly lower case count Friday and a slightly higher count today.
CBC News: New Brunswick is reporting 2 new cases of COVID-19. 1 case is in the Saint John region; the other is in the Edmundston region. Both new cases are under investigation. There are 98 known active cases in the province, including 1 person in intensive care.
CBC News: Nova Scotia is reporting 6 new cases of COVID-19. 4 of the new cases are in the Central Zone and 2 are in the Eastern Zone. All of the new cases are being investigated. There are 95 known active cases in the province. No one is currently in hospital.
CBC News: P.E.I. is reporting 3 new cases of COVID-19. The province hasseen 76 confirmed cases since the pandemic began.
CBC News: 4 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Newfoundland and Labrador. 2 are contacts of a previously announced case, 1 is travel-related and the remaining case is being investigated. There are 26 known active cases of the virus in N.L.
CBC News: Nunavut is reporting 8 new cases of COVID-19. There are 56 known active cases in the province.
KPTV: Oregon Health Authority update: 1,847 new cases of COVID-19 statewide, 24 additional deaths.
The New York Times: Seven states in the Midwest have seen a sustained decrease in infections over the past 14 days, offering a glimmer of hope for a region consumed by the coronavirus.
Ryan Struyk, CNN: “We’re rounding the corner on the pandemic,” President Trump says falsely as the United States reports a record-high 227,885 new coronavirus cases in a single day.
Ryan Struyk, CNN: The United States is now averaging 2,011 coronavirus deaths per day, its highest seven-day rolling average since April 29, according to data from CNN and Johns Hopkins University. . . . The United States is now averaging 182,586 new coronavirus cases per day, the highest seven-day rolling average since the pandemic began, according to data from CNN and Johns Hopkins University. . . . 14.4 million people in the United States have tested positive for coronavirus. . . . The rolling average of new US coronavirus cases has climbed to 182,586 cases per day. That’s up 100% in the last 30 days, up 200% in the last 45 days, up 300% in the last 60 days and up 400% in the last 90 days. . . . The United States has now reported more than 1 million new coronavirus cases so far in December.
CBC News: Moscow, the epicentre of Russia’s coronavirus outbreak, registered 7,993 new cases overnight.
Thomson Reuters: Moscow began distributing the Sputnik V COVID-19 shot via 70 clinics on Saturday, marking Russia’s first mass vaccination against the disease, the city’s coronavirus task force said. . . . The task force said the Russian-made vaccine would first be made available to doctors and other medical workers, teachers and social workers because they ran the highest risk of exposure to the disease.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
Here is the fifth and final piece on the WHL’s first 25 years. The five stories were written in the late 1990s, while I was the sports editor at the Regina Leader-Post. I had pretty much forgotten about it until recently when I was asked if I might post it again. So I have done just that over the past couple of weeks. . . . As you read each piece, please remember that I wrote them more than 20 years ago and they cover only the league’s first 25 years. It isn’t an all-encompassing history, but hits on some of the highlights and a few lowlights. . . . The stories are pretty much as originally written. . . . Here, then, is Part 5 of 5. Thanks for reading along. I hope you have enjoyed these stories, and thank you for all of the positive feedback. . . .
The fifth five-year segment was easily the best of the WHL’s first 25 years.
There was success in the stands, particularly in the Pacific Northwest corner of the United States, and in Saskatoon where the Blades welcomed a new facility.
There was stability, too. Recent additions, like the Tri-City Americans and Lethbridge Hurricanes, settled in for what appeared to be long stays.
But the greatest success came on the ice where the WHL won four Memorial Cup championships during the five seasons, opening with three in a row and closing with a victory by the Spokane Chiefs.
The 1986-87 season actually started on something of a strange note. The Regina Pats signed Doug Sauter, who was under contract to the Medicine Hat Tigers, to a two-year deal as general manager/head coach. The result was that the Pats agreed to compensate the Tigers.
The compensation turned into two veteran players — defenceman Kevin Ekdahl and forward Kevin Clemens. It was the first time in WHL history that a coach had, in effect, been traded.
The Pats also welcomed back another familiar face with Dennis Sobchuk, the greatest and most-popular player in franchise history, signing on as assistant coach/assistant manager.
This was a time of great change in the front offices and behind the benches. Barry Trapp left the Moose Jaw Warriors, saying, “I wasn’t fired. It was just a mutual agreement. It was a very friendly parting.”
Medicine Hat signed Bryan Maxwell to replace Sauter, while Peter Esdale was the new coach in Spokane and Wayne Naka took over the Cougars in Victoria. In New Westminster, John Olver was the GM, with Ernie McLean the coach. Harvey Roy was out as the Bruins’ director of marketing, but he would surface in Moose Jaw as the GM and would hire Greg Kvisle to coach the Warriors. In Prince Albert, GM/head coach Terry Simpson left to coach the NHL’s New York Islanders and Rick Wilson took over.
Perhaps the biggest news in the summer of 1986 came on June 2 when the WHL announced it was doing away with round-robin playoff series in the East Division. Instead, the top two teams would get first- round byes.
In the WHL office, Richard Doerksen’s title was upgraded from executive assistant/referee-in-chief to vice-president.
There was trouble in Brandon, where the Bank of Nova Scotia called in a $77,000 demand loan, asking for payment on July 31. This resulted in the Wheat Kings’ board recommending to shareholders that the franchise be sold.
In August, shareholders voted 1,411-404 in favour of selling the Wheat Kings. Offers were received from two groups — one in Edmonton headed by Vic Mah, the other comprising Brandon businessmen Bob Cornell and Stuart Craig, and Winnipeg businessman Dave Laing.
Cornell’s group purchased the Wheat Kings for more than $300,000 and then added a unique twist to the situation by signing a 10-year working agreement with the Keystone Centre. The Keystone took over operation of the club, and hired Bill Shinske to run the front office. Shinske hired Marc Pezzin as coach.
The WHL also welcomed the Swift Current Broncos to the fold. Behind the bench was Graham James, who had recently reached an out-of-court settlement with the Warriors over a lawsuit he had started the previous year.
“If we continue to average close to 2,000, we’ll have a real successful year and we’ll show a profit of about $80,000,” Gary Bollinger, the Broncos’ vice-president and alternate governor, said. “That doesn’t include playoff revenue. We were budgeting for an average of 1,600. If we averaged that, we’d still make a bit of a profit.”
The first coaching change of the 1986-87 season took place on Dec. 8 in Seattle when Sheldon Ferguson gave up the Thunderbirds’ coaching reins, but stayed on as GM. Dan McDonald was the new head coach, with former Portland Winter Hawks star Jim Dobson as the assistant.
Disaster struck on Dec. 30 when the Broncos, en route to Regina to play the Pats, were involved in a bus accident. Four players — Scott Kruger, Trent Kresse, Brent Ruff and Chris Mantyka — were killed.
“There has never been anything more devastating that has happened to me personally,” Ed Chynoweth, the WHL president, said. “The question I keep asking myself is ‘Why?’ My heart goes out to all the parents and the people involved. I wish someone would call and say this is all a mistake.”
John Foster, the Broncos’ publicity director, said: “This team will band together and win it for those guys who died. The (survivors) were absolutely professional under stress. If the people of Swift Current could have seen them, they would have been proud.”
There was never any thought of the team not continuing. As team president John Rittinger said: “It’s up to the players and the fans now. We aren’t ready to throw in the towel.”
Defenceman Ed Brost, talking about the club’s next game, stated: “It will be difficult. To go right back out on the ice would be cheating ourselves emotionally and physically. Right now people have to remember athletes are human beings, not robots.”
Moose Jaw centre Theoren Fleury was in Czechoslovakia with Canada’s national junior team at the time of the accident.
“I just can’t believe it,” Fleury said. “I just sat on the bus all the way to practice today thinking about what’s going on with all those guys on that team right now. It just blows me away. I don’t know what to say. There’s nothing we can do about it and I think being helpless is the most frustrating thing about it.”
As if losing four players in the accident wasn’t enough, Herman Kruger, 67, suffered a fatal heart attack as he entered the church for his great-grandson’s funeral.
And later the same day, Sauter and Regina trainer Stan Szumlak came to the rescue of Keith Giles, a member of the Prince Albert executive, who was choking on some food.
Donations in memory of the players poured into the Broncos’ office and an education fund was set up in their memory. Another fund was started to raise money that would go towards the cost of replacing the bus.
On Feb. 2, a longtime veteran of the WHL’s coaching wars returned for one last fling when John Chapman replaced Wally Kozak behind the bench of the Calgary Wranglers. Chapman also was the Calgary GM.
On Feb. 15, Portland won a game in Spokane and Ken Hodge took over as the winningest coach in WHL history. His 547 victories were one more than Ernie McLean.
Tragedy struck the WHL again on March 1 when Regina centre Brad Hornung was checked into the end boards at the Agridome and suffered a broken neck.
Dr. Chris Ekong, a neurosurgeon, said Hornung suffered a burst fracture of the third cervical vertebrae and a crushed spinal cord. “Brad has no feelings in his arms and legs,” Dr. Ekong said. “He is completely paralysed from the neck down.”
Hornung would never regain the use of his arms and legs, but that didn’t stop him from going on with his life.
As the WHL completed its 25th season, Hornung was continuing with his education, taking courses at the University of Regina.
Despite the bus accident, Swift Current made the playoffs in its first season. But there wouldn’t be a Cinderella story as the Broncos dropped a best-of-five series to Prince Albert, 3-1.
April was highlighted by three coaching changes — Esdale’s contract wasn’t renewed by Spokane, Kvisle resigned in Moose Jaw and McLean stepped aside in New Westminster.
And Medicine Hat won the WHL championship. The Tigers faced elimination twice in each of their last two series, and dumped visiting Portland 7-2 in the seventh game of the championship final.
The Tigers would win their first of two consecutive Memorial Cup championships, the first under Maxwell, the second under Barry Melrose. Both came with Russ Farwell as general manager.
John Van Horlick took over as coach in New Westminster for 1987-88, with
Butch Goring the coach in Spokane. Jim Harrison was the new head coach in Moose Jaw, with Ed Staniowski his assistant. Harrison and Roy, the GM, were friends from their days in Estevan, while Staniowski was a former all-star goaltender with Regina.
And the WHL was returning to Lethbridge. The Tier One Junior Hockey Club of Lethbridge purchased the Wranglers for about $350,000 from Brian Ekstrom. The Lethbridge franchise would be called the Hurricanes, causing Lethbridge Herald columnist Pat Sullivan to wonder if the logo would be an overturned mobile home.
The sale also meant that there wouldn’t be a franchise in the city in which the WHL office was located. But the office wasn’t about to be moved.
“It was decided that it was certainly the most central location for our league,” Chynoweth said.
Going into the new season, the WHL passed a rule cracking down on checking from behind.
“We do use (NHL) rules and the NHL doesn’t have hitting from behind instituted in its rule book,” Chynoweth said, “but I predict that within two years the NHL will have the same rule.”
That is exactly what happened.
There was change in the WHL’s boardroom, too, as Portland’s Brian Shaw stepped down as chairman of the board and was replaced by Saskatoon’s Rick Brodsky.
On June 5, Swift Current celebrated its first birthday by revealing the franchise was no longer in debt.
Rittinger said: “We bought the franchise and we borrowed money to buy the franchise. So we took the season-ticket money to pay the bank loan off. The bank loan is paid off. We don’t owe the bank anything. And that’s incredible because we just got the franchise last year.”
Maxwell left Medicine Hat, joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Lethbridge named Glen Hawker as its first GM/head coach. Before the season started, Lethbridge reorganized, with Wayne Simpson taking over as GM.
On July 6, Hornung, in his first interview since being injured, told the Regina Leader-Post: “You have to accept it. Life goes on and you do the best with what you have. At first, it was a time of change, shock really, but right now, it’s actually gotten easier because you get used to the adjustments. Like everybody else, I have my good days and bad days. But I don’t have many bad days.”
Separate pregame warmups came to the WHL on Sept. 28.
With Seattle off to a 2-15-0 start, owner Earl Hale told Ferguson, the GM, to take a leave of absence. On Nov. 16, Ferguson was fired. A couple of weeks later, Hawker was fired in Lethbridge, where Blaine Galbraith took over. And on Dec. 8, Moose Jaw fired Harrison and hired Gerry James, the only person to have played in a Grey Cup game and Stanley Cup final in the same season.
On Feb. 2, Saskatoon beat Regina 7-2 before 3,308 fans in the final game at the Saskatoon Arena. Regina coach Doug Sauter, for one, was glad to see the end of the old barn: “I get screwed every time I come in here and I haven’t been kissed yet.”
One week later, on Feb. 9, Saskatoon beat Brandon 4-3 in front of 9,343 fans at Saskatchewan Place. Chynoweth announced prior to the game that the 1989 Memorial Cup would be played in Saskatoon.
On March 11, amidst rumours that the Warriors were on the verge of major financial problems, it was announced that Roy’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.
WHL attendance figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that Swift Current drew 82,080 fans to 36 home games, which was 99 per cent of capacity. Portland led in total attendance — 200,911. The league drew 1,405,874 fans, an increase of almost 80,000 over the previous season.
For the first time in league history, the scoring race ended in a dead heat.
Two centres — Fleury and Swift Current’s Joe Sakic — finished the regular season with 160 points. Sakic had 78 goals, Fleury 68. But there was nothing in the WHL bylaws to deal with the situation so the scoring race was ruled a tie.
The rumours were true — there were financial problems in Moose Jaw. The Warriors began sorting things out by separating the hockey side of things from the business side. With an accumulated debt of $234,000, Joe Celentano, a former referee with basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters, was hired as business manager.
On April 17, Medicine Hat beat visiting Saskatoon 3-0 to win its third straight East Division title. The only other team to win three consecutive East titles was the Flin Flon Bombers, beginning in 1968-69.
On May 3, the Tigers beat visiting Kamloops 5-2 to win their second straight WHL title, this one in six games.
The very next day, Bob Vranckaert, who was in the construction business in Alaska, said he would like to put an expansion franchise in Anchorage in time for the 1990-91 season. Born in Drumheller, Alta., and raised in Burnaby, B.C., Vranckaert spent more than 20 years in general commercial construction 800 miles north of Anchorage.
The WHL said it would play two exhibition and four regular-season games in Anchorage and use that, plus the 1989 world junior championship, which was to be held in Anchorage, as a barometer.
On May 8, the Pats announced that Sauter’s contract wouldn’t be renewed.
A week later, Sauter’s old team, the Tigers, beat the Windsor Spitfires 7-6 in Chicoutimi to become the sixth team in the 70-year history of the Memorial Cup to win back-to-back championships.
The board in Moose Jaw put H.J. (Toby) Tobias in charge and then resigned en masse. Tobias was empowered to chair a committee whose immediate responsibility was to carry on a fund-raising campaign aimed at erasing the club’s debt. The immediate goal was to raise $150,000.
Tobias said he would look into the team’s accounting procedures, recommend constitutional changes and appoint an auditor to present a year-end statement at the club’s annual meeting.
“To me it’s a four-stage project,” Tobias said. “Stage 1: Solve the immediate debt crisis and give us some breathing room. Step 2: Have a look at the front office and see if there are some things we can tighten up. Stage 3: Come up with a budget we can live with in years to come. Stage 4: Make sure fund-raising becomes a year-round effort.”
In mid-May, Pezzin resigned as coach in Brandon. He would be replaced by Sauter, who was reunited with Shinske. The two were old friends, going back to the Estevan and New Westminster Bruins. Sobchuk replaced Sauter in Regina.
Celentano resigned in Moose Jaw, saying: “By my staying I become just another liability, one of those accounts payable that they have to make every day, and they don’t have the money.”
On May 31, Tobias announced that the Warriors had reached their goal of $151,800. That figure covered debts accrued up until March 31. Tobias said: “The phoenix has risen from the ashes. The financial health of the club remains fragile . . . but it’s business as usual from here on in.”
Indications were that New Westminster owner Ron Dixon would move the franchise to the Tri-Cities area of Washington State. He just happened to be building an arena, the Tri-Cities Coliseum, there.
In July, Farwell and Melrose resigned in Medicine Hat. Shortly after, they signed in Seattle. Wes Phillips was named GM in Medicine Hat and hired Ron Kennedy, a former Estevan player, as coach. Before the season started, Phillips quit, citing business and family pressures, and Tim Speltz replaced him.
Peter Anholt was named head coach in Prince Albert, where Wilson quit to join the L.A. Kings as an assistant coach. Brad Tippett was the GM in Prince Albert.
The WHL arrived in Anchorage on the weekend of Sept. 24 and 25, 1988.
Kamloops and Portland played two exhibition games in Anchorage, drawing 2,100 to the first game and 1,750 the next night.
A shakeup occurred in Spokane. It started on Oct. 14 when Spokane GM Bob Strumm acquired six players while giving up four others in trades that involved three other teams. The Chiefs were 1-4-0 and had given up 33 goals in those five games.
Twelve days later, with the Chiefs 2-9-0, Strumm relieved Goring of his duties. Strumm, with a three-year contract extension that would take him through the 1991-92 season, went behind the bench, went 2-4-0 and immediately installed Gary Braun as coach.
On Nov. 11, Moose Jaw dumped Gerry James and installed Kvisle as head coach/director of hockey operations.
Three days later, Regina shook up things. Sobchuk moved from coach to GM, with Bernie Lynch moving up from assistant coach to head coach.
It was announced on Nov. 17 that Vranckaert had purchased the Victoria Cougars from Fraser McColl. Ownership actually had changed hands 10 days after the end of the season.
“Bob has been after me for a long time,” McColl said. “He wants to get into the business with a passion. And, perhaps, that’s the type of enthusiasm this team needs right now.”
On Nov. 20, the Tri-City Americans, having played their first 17 games on the road because the Coliseum wasn’t ready, opened at home with a 4-3 overtime victory over Seattle in front of a sellout crowd of 6,004.
Swift Current started the season with 12 straight victories, and went into the Christmas break at 28-5-0 and on a 10-game winning streak. Referring to the bus accident of two years previous, James said: “I think the bus accident galvanized the spirit of the community. I think that was a catalyst. Since then we’ve had to provide a product that’s been worthy of fans coming, but I think that incident certainly rallied the community.”
Added centre Tim Tisdale: “That’s all anybody in town talks about. It’s hard to believe. You go downtown and you’re eating in a restaurant and everybody at the next table is talking about the Broncos. It definitely helps your hockey.”
There was big news out of Calgary on Jan. 3, 1989, when Petr Nedved, a centre with a midget team from Litvinov, Czechoslovakia, defected after a midget tournament. His WHL rights belonged to Moose Jaw, but the Warriors would deal them to Seattle.
The season wasn’t over when Spokane owner Vic Fitzgerald said that Braun wouldn’t be returning.
On March 14, Chynoweth revealed that the WHL “had an inquiry from Terry Simpson about putting a team in Red Deer. They would have to get a new building.” A conditional franchise was sold to Simpson on Aug. 12, 1991. The Rebels would begin play in the fall of 1992.
Attendance figures compiled by The Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance was up 232,951 over 1987-88. Most of that was attributable to the first-year Americans who attracted 203,532 fans, which was 156,149 more than they drew the previous season in New Westminster.
There was a change in Seattle on April 11 when Medicine Hat businessman Bill Yuill bought the Thunderbirds from Earl Hale of Calgary.
The usual spate of front-office changes began in earnest with the news that: 1. Galbraith would not be back in Lethbridge; 2. Al Patterson, who quit in Victoria after the season ended, had signed as Tri-City’s GM; 3. Ron Byrne had signed as the GM in Victoria; 4. Sobchuk had resigned as GM in Regina; 5. Shinske had resigned in Brandon; and, 6. Tippett had quit in P.A.
Swift Current won 4-1 in Portland on April 30 to sweep the Winter Hawks in the championship final. The Broncos became the first team to sweep its way to the WHL championship — they also got past Moose Jaw and Saskatoon in four games each. The Broncos, just a season and a half after having four players killed in a bus accident, went 55-16-1, the best record in the CHL.
“This is a great accomplishment for our franchise,” James said. “But I don’t want the Memorial Cup to decide if we had a great year.”
Tisdale added: “We have the team to do it this year. If we can’t get up for four games, we don’t belong there. I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win the Memorial Cup.”
On May 14, Tisdale’s goal at 3:25 of the first sudden-death overtime period gave the Broncos a 4-3 victory over Saskatoon in the final game of the Memorial Cup. The game was played in front of 9.078 fans in Saskatchewan Place and brought to an end the most successful Memorial Cup tournament ever played.
Shortly after the Memorial Cup, the changes continued: 1. Lynch found out his contract in Regina wouldn’t be renewed; 2. Rick Kozuback signed a two-year contract as coach with Tri-City; 3. Simpson returned to Prince Albert as GM/head coach; 4. Bill Hicke was named GM in Regina; 5. Tippett signed as Regina’s head coach; 5. Maxwell returned from L.A. to sign as co-coach and director of hockey operations in Spokane; 6. Braun was Spokane’s co-coach and assistant director of hockey operations; 7. Melrose left Seattle to become head coach of the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings; 8. Marcel Comeau signed a two-year deal in Saskatoon but shortly after resigned to become head coach of the AHL’s New Haven Nighthawks; 9. Anholt quit in P.A. to join Seattle as head coach; 10. Rob Daum signed as assistant coach/assistant manager in P.A.; and, 11. Terry Ruskowski signed to coach the Blades.
On June 14, 1989, Moose Jaw, so close to financial ruin just one year earlier, revealed at its annual meeting that there was a paper profit of $119,722 and that the Warriors had about $40,000 in the bank.
At its annual meeting, the WHL had two major announcements. It had decided for the first time to use full-time referees. “We’re hoping it leads to more consistent, professional refereeing,” Regina governor Ted Knight said. By the time all was said and done, the WHL had hired eight full-time and four part-time referees.
The WHL also said it would no longer allow teams to list 13-year-old players. From that point on, 14-year-olds would count for two spots on a list, players 15 and older for one.
Seattle set a single-game attendance record on Oct. 7 when 12,173 fans showed up to watch the Thunderbirds edge Portland, 4-3. “We could have sold 2,000 more tickets,” Seth Landau, the club’s director of marketing and public relations, said. “We were sold out the day before the game.” The previous attendance record belonged to Portland, which had attracted capacity crowds of 10,437 to Memorial Coliseum on numerous occasions.
The first coaching change came on Oct. 15 when Naka resigned in Victoria. Lyle Moffat replaced him.
On Nov. 1, Ken Hitchcock, 36 years of age and in the neighbourhood of 400 pounds, went public with the news that he was going on a serious diet.
“There comes a time in life when it becomes a case of now or never,” said the popular coach of the Kamloops Blazers. “I look down the road four or five years from now, what do I want to be doing? If that’s what I have to do to move up the ladder, that’s what I have to do.”
Victoria made another coaching change on Nov. 13 with Garry Cunningham becoming the Cougars’ third coach of the season. Moffat stayed on as marketing director.
A lawsuit launched by Hornung was settled out of court in November. Thirteen defendants, including the WHL, were named in the suit launched in July of 1987. Details of the settlement weren’t made public.
At a WHL board of governors’ meeting on Nov. 20, the chair switched bodies again. It was a case of deja vu, with Shaw taking over from Brodsky.
On Dec. 17, Sauter was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disorder that strikes at the central nervous system. He would not return to coaching until late in the 1990-91 season when he finished the winter with the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins. Brandon GM Kelly McCrimmon moved in behind Brandon’s bench.
There was a player revolt in Tri-City when Dixon named Bill LaForge director of player personnel. LaForge said he had a five-year contract.
On Dec. 31, with Portland scheduled to play in Tri-City, the Americans players refused. A statement signed by 19 players read in part: “We will definitely not participate in any further games without the termination of Mr. Bill LaForge from the Americans organization.”
The players ended their holdout the next day, winning 8-4 in Portland. Dixon had contacted players earlier in the day and said LaForge would no longer have any contact with them.
Defenceman Colin Ruck later explained the Tri-City deal: “He came into the dressing room screaming and cutting guys down. To get to us, he said we had to call him Coach. He had (coach) Rick Kozuback picking up pucks during practice. That really upset us. Bill came out and ran a really brutal practice. We felt we had to do something.”
Byrne was gone as Victoria’s GM before January ended, while Cunningham was out as coach on Feb. 5. Moffat went back behind the bench. The Cougars would set a CHL record, losing 29 in a row.
On Feb. 7, Seattle centre Glen Goodall had an assist in a 5-3 victory over visiting Tri-City to break the WHL record for most points in a career. That lifted his point total to 530, one more than Craig Endean, who had played with Seattle and Regina.
Two nights later, Seattle broke the WHL single-game attendance record as 12,253 fans watched a 5-3 victory over Spokane.
Figures compiled by the Regina Leader-Post showed that attendance totalled 1,678,651, up about 40,000 over the previous season. Tri-City, which sold out every home game, led the way with total attendance of 216,360. Saskatoon, in its first full season in Saskatchewan Place, played in front of 209,542 fans. Seattle, which finished with its best-ever record (52-17-3; the best previous was 32-28-12 in 1977-78), drew 181,211 fans, up 66,189 from a year previous.
On March 28, Chynoweth admitted that two groups had applied for an expansion franchise for Tacoma, Wash.
The Spokane franchise changed hands on April 10, with Fitzgerald selling to the Brett brothers — Bobby, George and Ken — for more than $600,000. Bob Brett wouldn’t say what they paid, other than to say it was “too much.”
The postseason changes started in April when Speltz and Kennedy learned that Medicine Hat wouldn’t renew their contracts, and Rick Hopper was named head coach/director of hockey operations in Victoria. Jack Shupe, the Tigers’ first GM/head coach in 1970-71, was the new GM in Medicine Hat. He hired Tim Bothwell as coach.
On April 29, Kamloops scored a 6-5 overtime victory in Lethbridge to win the WHL final in five games. Kamloops lost the opener and then won four straight. The Blazers struck out at the Memorial Cup, though, as the Oshawa Generals, with Eric Lindros, won it all in Hamilton.
There was much expansion talk in the WHL, resulting in this comment from Brodsky: “It’s sort of like being in love. If you have to ask yourself whether you’re in love, you’re probably not. If we’re wondering why we should expand, then maybe we’re forcing the issue a bit. If expansion is right, we’ll know it.”
Farwell left Seattle to become GM of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Anholt added the GM’s nameplate to his door, and hired assistant GM Dennis Beyak from Saskatoon. Beyak had been in Saskatoon since 1981 and was the person deemed most responsible for the success of the 1989 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.
Simpson left Prince Albert again, this time to become an assistant coach with the Winnipeg Jets. Daum was promoted to replace him.
There were shockwaves in Kamloops when Hitchcock resigned after six seasons with the Blazers. He signed as an assistant coach with Philadelphia. Tom Renney replaced Hitchcock, who left with a 291-125-15 regular-season record over six seasons, his .693 winning percentage the highest of any coach in WHL history.
Leaving wasn’t easy for Hitchcock, who said: “I got cold feet a couple of times. I almost went into (GM) Bob Brown’s office and said, ‘Call the whole thing off, I don’t want to go.’ ”
On Sept. 30, Chynoweth chatted about expansion: “There are what I like to call tire-kickers in Boise, Idaho; Eugene, Oregon; and, Tacoma, Washington. The WHL is in good shape and we’re aggressive to expand by one, possibly two teams in the West Division sometime soon. We are coming off our second record-setting attendance season. We’re also proud of the fact that this is the third year in a row we aren’t opening a new site. Believe it or not, but we’re stable.”
Bruce Hamilton, a former player and scout with the Blades, headed a group of Saskatoon and Tacoma investors who were eventually granted a franchise for Tacoma to start with the 1991-92 season.
On Oct. 30, with the 1990-91 season one month old, one night before Halloween, James went wild in Swift Current. Upset with referee Kevin Muench after the Broncos turned a 7-3 second-period lead into a 9-8 loss to visiting Medicine Hat, James went on to the ice in pursuit of Muench, then returned to the bench and threw sticks and water bottles onto the ice. James then removed his jacket, tie, shirt and one shoe and threw them onto the ice before his players escorted him to the dressing room.
Bothwell summed it up: “All I can say is, ‘Wow.’ I don’t know what words can describe what happened out there, from a lot of different aspects.”
James was suspended for six games and fined $2,000. “At least they didn’t ask me for the shirt off my back,” he said. The incident would show up on video on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and the David Letterman Show among others.
There was some silliness in Spokane, too. On Dec. 6, with Tri-City visiting Spokane, Maxwell and Americans assistant Gerry Johannson got into it after first period.
Here’s Maxwell: “He was waiting for me. He was yapping at me. He challenged me and I accepted the challenge.” Maxwell was said to have out-punched his opponent, 4-0.
Here’s Johansson: “He throws punches like marshmallows.”
Maxwell was suspended for three games and fined $500. Johansson got hit for $1,000 and four games.
Remember that $1 parking fee in Regina? Well, on Dec. 17, Regina Exhibition Park announced it was doubling it to $2. “I don’t think our fans will take very kindly to it if it does happen,” said co-owner/GM Bill Hicke. “If that’s the case it’ll drive another nail in the coffin.”
The Pats’ lease would expire after the 1990-91 season and Hicke had already made at least one trip into the Pacific Northwest to scout buildings.
A change in Prince Albert had Dale Engel move in as GM, with Rob Daum giving up that title but staying on as coach. It was no surprise when Daum left P.A. for Swift Current at season’s end.
On Feb. 4, Saskatoon fired head coach Terry Ruskowski, replacing him with former Blades defenceman Bob Hoffmeyer.
On March 17, Seattle was awarded the 1992 Memorial Cup.
The Leader-Post’s attendance figures showed that Tri-City, with 36 sellouts, again topped the WHL with 216,360 fans. Seattle was next at 215,248, up 34,037 from the season previous. But overall attendance was down 22,861 to 1,655,790.
On April 17, Marcel Comeau was named the first head coach of the Tacoma Rockets. Hamilton would be the GM, with Lorne Frey, most recently with Swift Current, as director of player personnel.
Spokane scored a 7-2 victory over home-town Lethbridge to sweep the WHL final. The Chiefs would go on to win the Memorial Cup, with goaltender Trevor Kidd and right-winger Pat Falloon wrapping up dream seasons. Both played for the Canadian junior team that won the gold medal in Saskatoon.
One thing more than any other summed up the WHL as it headed into its second 25 years. When the 1991-92 season opened, the league not only had the same 14 teams for the fourth consecutive season, but it had welcomed the Tacoma Rockets to the fold.
Gordie Howe was in St. Thomas ON Sunday to watch his sons Mark and Marty in a Jr A game there. When he entered the Detroit dressing room after the game his son Marty threw him a water bottle and asked him to fill it. Gordie said “Do you know any other $100,000/Yr water boys?"
The Ministry of Health for Saskatchewan informed curlers on Tuesday that their travel will be limited this year. “We just received word that our teams are not able to travel outside of Saskatchewan this year,” Ashley Howard, the executive director of CurlSask, told Claire Hanna of CTV News Regina. At the same time, Hanna reported that “teams from outside the province won’t be allowed to come to Saskatchewan for competition.” . . . You are free to wonder what that means, if anything, for the WHL, which includes an East Division comprising four Saskatchewan teams and two from Manitoba. The Swift Current Broncos, a fifth Saskatchewan team, play in the Central Division with five teams from Alberta.
The Regina Pats have hired Evan Daum as their director of media and communications, a spot that had been filled by Phil Andrews before he announced his resignation. Daum, who is to start work in Regina on Nov. 2, also will handle play-by-play and social media. He has been working as the associate director of communications and marketing with Canada West, which oversees university sports in Western Canada. . . . His father, Rob, is a former WHL coach, having worked with the Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1989-95). He has spent the past nine seasons coaching in Europe.
COVID-19 CHRONICLES . . .
Due to the concerning increase of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Green Bay area and across Wisconsin, the Packers have put an indefinite hold on hosting fans for games this season at Lambeau Field.
Mikael Lalancette of TVA Sports reported Tuesday that the public health investigation involving the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada isn’t complete but “there is said to more than one case of COVID-19 in the locker room. . . . It is unlikely that the team will resume operations soon.” . . . The Armada shut things down on Monday after reporting that one player had tested positive. . . . The Armada played a weekend doubleheader against the Sherbrook Phoenix, who also have been shut down pending testing.
The NHL, which had been looking to start its 2020-21 regular season on Dec. 1, now has adjusted that to Jan. 1. The NHL and NHLPA said Tuesday that dates for training camps will be announced in the future. . . . The NHL’s 2019-20 season ended on Sept. 28 with the Tampa Bay Lightning winning the Stanley Cup in the Edmonton bubble. . . .
Steve Yzerman, the Detroit Red Wings’ executive vice-president and general manager, is taking part in the NHL draft from a remote location rather than with team staff. The team explained that he recently was exposed to someone who tested positive. Yzerman has tested negative repeatedly but decided to handle the draft virtually as a precaution. . . .
D Matt Niskanen has retired, leaving the Philadelphia Flyers despite having one year and US$5.75 million left on his contract. It seems that Niskanen, 33, simply grew tired off all the uncertainty involved in hockey these days. . . . Neil Sheehy, his agent, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “He told me he didn’t want to go through it again. He mentioned COVID to me. I don’t think he wanted to get ready for another season by Nov. 15 and then have to go into isolation and be away from his two kids and his wife. I think he always (wanted to) finish his contract and then stop, but I think because of COVID and his experience of the bubble, he decided now is the time. He basically said, ‘With COVID, I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to prepare anymore.’ ” . . . Niskanen and his family live in northern Minnesota, which is where he grew up. . . . Campbell’s piece is right here. . . .
The Southern Professional Hockey League is planning to open a 42-game regular-season schedule on Dec. 26, but it only has five teams left after five decided not to play in 2020-21. . . . The Birmingham Bulls, Huntsville Havoc, Knoxville Ice Bears, Macon Mayhem and Pensacola Ice Flyers are planning to play, but the Evansville Thunderbolts, Fayetteville Marksmen, Peoria Rivermen, Quad City Storm and Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs have opted out. . . . According to an SPHL news release, the latter five teams are out “due to state and local restrictions related to the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that limit their ability to host spectators and the projected economic impacts.” . . .
Arsenal of soccer’s Premier League has fired its dinosaur mascot, Gunnersaurus, as it works to cut costs because of a shortage of revenue due to not having fans at home games. Arsenal has said it will have to cut 55 jobs and Jerry Quy, the mascot for 27 years, was one of those.
If you are interested in being a living kidney donor, more information is available here:
JUST NOTES: Darin Schumacher is the new head coach of the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. He replaces Mike Bay, who stepped down, according to the team, in order to spend more time with his family. The Braves won’t be playing in 2020-21 because of the U.S.-Canada border being closed. . . . Hey, Sportsnet, enough with the onslaught of those spots pushing your streaming serve. OK? . . . Wilson Housley has signed on as an assistant coach with the USHL’s Tri-City Storm. Housley, a 28-year-old who was born in Winnipeg, is the son of former NHL D Phil Housley.
The XFL kicked off its first season on Saturday and you need to know that sportsbettingdime.com has the Dallas Renegades as 3-1 favourites to win the inaugural championship. The New York Guardians are next at 4-1, with the Los Angeles Wildcats and Tampa Bay Vipers at 5-1. . . . You’re wondering about the Seattle Dragons? They’re eighth in the eight-team league, at 10-1. . . . I’m betting on the St. Louis Battlehawks (also 10-1), if only because Missouri seems to be home to titles these days.
I am not the first person to point this out. One of our former copy editors posted it on Facebook. Missouri is the only state that can claim a current champion in any of the four major sports. Think about it.
Former WHL coach Rob Daum received a phone call on Tuesday, and he left Wednesday for Europe and his latest head-coaching assignment, this one with EC Panaceo VSV of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. His latest club plays out of Villach, Austria. . . . Daum, 62, agreed to a deal that runs through the end of this season. . . . He replaces Jyrki Aho of Finland, who was fired by the team’s board of directors on Monday. He had been hired in July. . . . VSV is sixth in the 11-team league, at 17-15-8. . . . Daum is quite familiar with the league, having spent six seasons (2011-17) as the head coach of the Black Wings Linz. In fact, he has 237 EBHL victories to his credit, and no one has more. . . . He also spent two seasons (2017-19) with the DEL’s Iserlohn Roosters. . . . In the WHL, Daum has coached with the Prince Albert Raiders, Swift Current Broncos and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1989-95).
The WHL playoffs must be getting close. How do I know that? Because, judging from the clip in the tweet below, cross-checking has been removed from the rule book as often seems to happen as spring nears. . . .
Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle, after the Super Bowl: “The halftime show seems to be trying too hard. I remember the good old simple days when it was just Michael Jackson moonwalking and groping for his car keys.”
Ostler, looking back at a few days in Miami: “Miami is not a foreign country, it’s a different planet. Back yards are fenced in to keep out mosquitoes the size of bald eagles. Here’s an actual billboard I saw: ‘Got iguanas?’ It was an ad for an iguana-control company. And I thought squirrels in the crawl space were annoying.”
President Trump congratulated the 'Great State of Kansas' after the Chiefs' Super Bowl win. They play in Kansas City, Missouri https://t.co/5b55PPBTr4
Joe Judge, the new head coach of the NFL’s New York Giants, has filled out his coaching staff. OK, are you ready for this? How many assistant coaches do you think are on the staff? . . . Would you believe 15? No. How about 19? . . . Yes, there are 19 assistants. . . . There are three co-ordinators (offence, defence, special teams). . . . There are nine offensive assistants — quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, assistant offensive line, senior offensive assistant, offensive assistant, offensive quality control. . . . There are seven defensive assistants — defensive line, inside linebackers, outside linebackers/senior assistant, defensive backs, assistant defensive backs, defensive assistant, defensive quality control. . . . Seriously!
Former WHL star F Emerson Etem is getting into the coaching game in a bigger way. He has signed on as the general manager and head coach of the Missoula, Mont., Jr. Bruins, who play in the NA3HL. . . . Etem, from Long Beach, Calif., will take over from Cliff Cook to begin next season. Cook is moving on to an as-yet-unnamed collegiate team. . . . The NHL’s Anaheim Ducks selected Etem with the 29th pick of the 2010 draft. He spent three seasons (2009-12) with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers. He spent eight seasons playing professionally before a knee injury took him into retirement. Of late, he has been coaching at the South Alberta Hockey Academy, where he helps out Tigers GM/head coach Willie Desjardins.
I think it is safe to say 98% of us would trade whatever we’re doing right now to do this. The other 2% are probably doing something illegal. pic.twitter.com/OSE3PqvfiS
Bob Molinaro, in the Hampton Roads Virginia-Pilot: “I guess something’s wrong with me. Otherwise, I’d have a stronger reaction to the Super Bowl halftime show put on by two middle-aged women. But I don’t. For me, it was neither great nor controversial, perhaps because I was barely paying attention. But so many things media and people find spectacular or objectionable just aren’t. It’s tiresome.”
F Jannik Hansen (Portland, 2005-06) signed a one-year contract with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and 12 assists in 46 games with the San Jose Sharks (NHL).
I’ve not met anyone who fought longer and harder against one of the worst forms of cancer. And kept an amazingly positive outlook. A good friend, and a better role model. Proud to know you, Darryl. https://t.co/MrtPpqFjxn
Darryl Porter, who worked in the WHL with the Tri-City Americans, Chilliwack Bruins and Edmonton Oil Kings, died in Edmonton on July 25. He would have turned 57 on Aug. 12. . . . His death came after a long battle with cancer. . . . According to his obituary, a ‘Jeans and Jerseys’ celebration of life is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 13, 2 p.m., at Connelly-McKinley, 1011—114 St., in Edmonton. . . . That obituary is right here. . . . Porter spent 16 years with Molson Breweries before venturing into the WHL. He worked for three years as president of the Americans, and for five seasons was president and part-owner of the Bruins. The Oil Kings named him vice-president of family brands on May 31, 2011.
The IIHF has released the schedule for the 2019 World Junior Championship that is to be played in Victoria and Vancouver. . . . That schedule is right here, and it includes teams, venues and starting times. . . . The tournament opens on Dec. 26 and runs through Jan. 5.
The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed F Eric Alarie, their first-round selection in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. Alarie was the final pick in that first round. His signing leaves just four of the 22 first-round selections unsigned (see list below). . . . Alarie, from Winnipeg, had 28 goals and 27 assists in 30 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy bantam prep team. He added a goal and six assists in five playoff games.
The 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.
5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.
6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.
7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.
8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.
11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.
12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.
13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.
14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.
15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.
16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.
17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.
19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.
20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.
22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.
The WHL teams that have yet to sign their 2018 first-round bantam draft selections:
9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.
10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.
18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong (committed to U of Denver, 2021-22).
21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.
Sooo what nhl player is gonna do the right thing and buy this place so that junior hockey beauties of the future can sneak out past curfew after a double header fri/sat in K-town in get absolutely IN ONE! #sorrycoachpic.twitter.com/keGfiHEehW
The Everett Silvertips have signed Slovakian F Peter Melcher, 17, who was their lone selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft. . . . Last season, he played with three teams, putting up 17 goals and 15 assists in 15 games with MHC Martin’s U-18 side; three goals and two assists in 12 games with MHC Martin’s U-20 team; and two goals and four assists in 21 games with the Iowa Wild’s U-16 club. He had one assist in four games with the Slovakian U-18 team at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament. . . . Melcher joins Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, who is preparing for his second season, as Everett’s import players.
Tim Speltz, the former general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, now is the head amateur scout with the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs. Speltz left the Chiefs two years ago after having been with the organization since 1990. . . . He joined the Maple Leafs as director of western area scouting. . . . Speltz spent two seasons (1988-90) as GM of the Medicine Hat Tigers before joining the Chiefs.
Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. She will celebrate the fifth anniversary on Sept. 23 by taking part in the Kamloops Kidney Walk. This will be the fifth time she has done the Kidney Walk; she has been the leading fund-raiser in Kamloops in each of the previous four years. . . . If you would like to support her this year, you are able to do so right here.
Like Bill Moores before him and those who followed, Rob Daum carried on the tradition of @GBHKY success in the house that Clare Drake built during his time here. Well deserved in every way. https://t.co/nFIqE7sGb0
Former WHL coach Rob Daum will be inducted into the U of Alberta’s Sports Wall of Fame on Sept. 23. Daum was the Golden Bears’ hockey coach from 1995-2005, taking the team to nine straight national championships and winning three of them. He was Canada West’s coach of the year on five occasions and won the national award twice. He went on to coach in the AHL and NHL, and has coached in Europe since 2011-12. . . . Daum, 60, was an assistant coach (1989-90) and head coach (1990-91) with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, then worked for two seasons (1991-93) as an assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos. He was the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ head coach for two seasons (1993-95) before taking over as head coach of the Golden Bears. . . . He presently is the head coach of the Iserlohn Roosters of the German DEL.
An argument to be made that Rob Daum has been best Coach in U of A history!
Went 182-24-16 (.855) last 5 seasons with Golden Bears. Alberta was ranked #1 72 of 84 weeks during that stretch…and #2 the other 12 weeks.
Now that my move from BC to Edmonton is done, I’m extremely excited to officially be joining the scouting staff for the Swift Current Broncos. I want to thank @ISShockey and all the amazing mentors who helped me during my internship. Let’s go @SCBroncos !!
Judging by the above tweet, the Swift Current Broncos, who apparently lost all of their scouts following a regime change, have started filling the vacancies. . . . The Broncos, the reigning WHL champions, never did make an announcement regarding the departed scouts, nor have they added the names of any scouts to their website.
Katie Greenway has been named the head coach of the Okanagan Hockey Academy’s female prep team. Greenway, 26, was an assistant coach with the team last season. . . . In her playing days, she was a goaltender at UBC and Simon Fraser, and also played for the ZSC Lions in Zurich, Switzerland. . . . At OHA, she will be joined on the bench by former NHL defenceman Blake Wesley, 59, who has been on the OHA staff since 2004. Wesley played three WHL seasons (1976-80) with the Portland Winter Hawks. He also worked as an assistant coach with the Tri-City Americans (2001-02) and Portland (2002-04).
The MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders have hired Ryan Bettesworth as an assistant coach. He played two seasons (2005-07) with the Stampeders. . . . He has spent the past eight years in Thompson, Man., working with the Fire Emergency Services. . . . With the Stampeders, he will work with GM/head coach Taurean White.