What lies ahead for WHL GMs? . . . Hitmen adding goalie with Stankowski out . . . Watson remembers McGeough


ThisThat

While the WHL’s trading deadline doesn’t arrive until Jan. 10, the 22 general managers know that it really is closer than that because of the Christmas moratorium that runs from Dec. 15 through Dec. 26.

At the same time, the 2018-19 regular-season is about one-third completed, and that’s whlenough for each general manager to have a pretty good idea how things are shaping up — with his team and how it stacks up against the competition.

For some of them then, there isn’t any sense waiting until January. That’s why general manager Matt Bardsley of the Kamloops Blazers made two deals on Monday.

This season’s arm’s race isn’t expected to be anything close to what went on a year ago. Back then, you may recall, things started to heat up on Nov. 13 when the Regina Pats acquired D Cale Fleury from the Kootenay Ice for D Jonathan Smart, F Cole Muir and two 2018 bantam draft picks — a second and a sixth.

Twelve days later, the Calgary Hitmen shipped F Matteo Gennaro, F Beck Malenstyn and a 2018 fifth-rounder to the Swift Current Broncos for five players — F Conner Chaulk, G Ethan Hein, F Josh Prokop, D Dom Schmiemann and F Riley Stotts — and a 2018 second-rounder.

From that point on, the WHL experienced its silliest silly season yet. In fact, before this season arrived, the WHL rewrote the regulations that govern trades. Now there are restrictions on the trading of 15-, 16- and 17-year-olds players.

Because of the new rules, it’s going to be interesting to see what transpires between now and Jan. 10.

On Monday, Bardsley traded away two players — a 20-year-old and a 19-year-old — and got back two players, one 20 and the other 19, and four bantam draft picks.

“You’re not allowed to trade a signed 15- or 16-year-old and the 17-year-olds have to agree to a trade,” Bardsley told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV in Kamloops. “So you have a pretty small group of 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds that you’re allowed to trade.

“Last (season), with all those major trades, a lot of them included signed 15- and 16-year-olds. (Now) teams are going to have to make up it with the draft picks . . . so whether we use those to select a player or use those drafts to acquire a player — it gives some options of what you can do to improve your team.”   

Who knows? Maybe we’ll see trades like the one in the OHL last week in which one team gave up two players and got back two players and 11 — count ‘em, 11 — draft picks.


F Cam Hausinger and F Connor McClennon, both of whom were injured on Saturday Kootenaynewnight in a 5-1 loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders, didn’t practice with the Kootenay Ice on Tuesday, indicating they won’t play tonight against the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . However, F Peyton Krebs, who has missed four games, and D Valtteri Kakkonen, a Finnish freshman who has sat out five games, were on the ice Tuesday. . . . On the WHL’s weekly roster report, McClennon is listed as being out four-to-six weeks, with Hausinger out week-to-week. . . . Also on Tuesday, the Ice brought in F Skyler Bruce and F James Form. If both players make their WHL debuts tonight that will give the Ice 12 available forwards. . . . Bruce, 15, has 16 goals and 18 assists in 19 games with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s. He was a second-round pick in the WHL’s 2018 bantam draft. . . . Form, 16, is from Saskatoon where he plays for the midget AAA Blazers. He has seven goals and four assists in seven games. The Ice selected him in the third round of the 2017 bantam draft. . . . If Bruce and Form play tonight, they will become the 34th and 35th players to have suited up for the Ice this season. The Ice (7-16-4) is seven points away from the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.


The Calgary Hitmen are listing G Carl Stankowski as being out week-to-week with a Calgarylower-body injury. . . . As you no doubt are aware, Stankowski, then 16, came off the bench to backstop the Seattle Thunderbirds to the WHL title in the spring of 2017. He didn’t play at all last season due to injuries, including hip-related woes, and illness, then was acquired by the Hitmen during the off-season. . . . Stankowski went the distance in Calgary’s second-last game, stopping 24 shots in a 5-2 victory over the Thunderbirds in Kent, Wash., on Friday night. . . . This season, Stankowski is 6-6-2, 3.72, .879. . . . With Stankowski out, freshman Jack McNaughton will take over the starter’s role. In 12 appearances, he is 4-6-1, 3.35, .890. . . . G Matt Armitage, who was with the Hitmen earlier in the season and has been playing with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks, will join Calgary for three weekend games. . . . The Hitmen, who just came off a U.S. Division trip on which they went 3-1-1, are next scheduled to play on Friday when they visit the Red Deer Rebels.


Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post filed a piece on Tuesday that began like this:

“At an altitude of 38,000 feet, Brad Watson expressed his appreciation for a late, great friend who was always so down-to-earth.

“While flying from Denver to Detroit, Watson wrote a tribute to a fellow Regina-born NHL referee — Mick McGeough — and, upon landing, kindly shares the heartfelt sentiments with us.”

It’s all right here, and it’s the best tribute to McGeough that I’ve read since his death, at 62, last week.


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Simon Black, an assistant professor of labour studies at Brock U in St. Catharines, Ont., writes in the Toronto Star:

“Major junior hockey is big business. Everyone from coaches to Zamboni drivers to concession stand workers gets paid and protected under labour laws. Everyone, that is, but the players.”

Some of what he writes involves the CHL claim that major junior players are amateur student athletes.

However, as Black points out, “There’s also legal precedent dispelling the amateur myth. Hearing a case about whether the Brandon Wheat Kings should pay employment insurance and Canada Pension Plan assessments, the Tax Court of Canada ruled in 2000 that the relationship between club and players is indeed one of employer-employee.”

Simon’s complete piece is right here.


F Nick Bowman, who left the Kootenay Ice earlier in the month, has joined the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders. Bowman, 18, is from Sherwood Park. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. He had 13 goals and 13 assists in 117 games with the Oil Kings when they dealt him to the Moose Jaw Warriors prior to this season. . . . After recording one assist in 10 games with Moose Jaw, he was traded to the Ice on Oct. 22, along with a sixth-round pick in the 2021 bantam draft, for F Kaeden Taphorn and his twin brother, Keenan, also a forward. . . . After scoring twice in 10 games with the Ice, Bowman chose to leave the club.


Brad Moran, who won a WHL scoring title while with the Calgary Hitmen, has been promoted from assistant coach to head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He takes over form Darryl Olsen, who was fired on Nov. 22. . . . Moran, 39, is from Abbotsford, B.C. He spent five seasons with the Hitmen. He totalled 450 points, including 204 goals, in 357 regular-season games. Moran won the WHL’s 1999-2000 scoring title, with 120 points. . . . The Canucks are 4-22-1, 20 points out of fifth-place in the AJHL’s Viterra South Division.


TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders ran their winning streak to 17 with a 4-3 victory over the PrinceAlbertRebels in Red Deer. . . . The Raiders (24-1-0) are 2-1-0 against the Rebels, having lost 4-3 in Red Deer on Oct. 6 and won 2-1 at home on Oct. 13. . . . Prince Albert set a franchise record with its seventh straight road victory. It had shared the record with the 1985-86 team. . . . The Rebels (16-7-1) have lost two in a row. . . . The visitors jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals from F Spencer Moe (4), at 2:59 of the first period, and F Parker Kelly (11), at 4:11. . . . D Ethan Sakowich (1) scored for Red Deer at 5:27, but F Cole Fonstad (7) got that one back for the Raiders at 9:07. . . . F Zak Smith (4) pulled the Rebels to with a goal at 9:43 of the second period. . . . F Brett Leason scored his WHL-leading 26th goal, on a PP, at 14:27, to restore Prince Albert’s two-goal lead. . . . F Jeff de Wit (16) counted on a PP, with G Byron Fancy on the bench for the extra attacker, at 19:01 of the third period for Red Deer’s third goal. . . . D Sergei Sapego had three assists for the winners. . . . Leason ran his point streak to 25 games — yes, every game this season — with an assist on Kelly’s goal. . . . Leason leads the WHL in goals and points (56). . . . Leason went into this season with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 regular-season games. . . . The Raiders were 1-2 on the PP; the Rebels were 1-7. . . . Sakowich’s goal was his fourth in 161 career regular-season games. He didn’t score in 72 games last season; in fact, his last goal came in a 6-1 victory over the visiting Kootenay Ice on March 11, 2017. . . . The Rebels were without their best defenceman, Russian Alex Alexeyev, who is out with an undisclosed injury. . . . The Raiders are back at it tonight when they meet the Oil Kings in Edmonton. This will be the first meeting of the season between these teams.


The Tri-City Americans erased a 2-1 deficit with the game’s last four goals and beat the tri-cityPrince George Cougars, 5-2, in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Tri-City (14-9-0) has won two in a row. . . . Prince George (10-12-3) has lost two straight. . . . F Vladislav Mikhalchuk (6) scored his second goal of the game, on a PP, at 4:09 of the second period to give the visitors a 2-1 lead. . . . F Isaac Johnson (9) tied the score, on a PP, at 9:51, and F Krystof Hrabik (7) snapped the tie at 18:42. . . . Tri-City put it away with third-period goals from F Sasha Mutala (6), at 6:00, and D Mitchell Brown (3), into an empty net, at 18:02. . . . G Beck Warm stopped 39 shots for the Americans. . . . D Aaron Hyman, who was acquired Monday from the Regina Pats, was in Tri-City’s starting lineup. He had one assist and it came on a PP. . . . The Americans lost F Kyle Olson to a cross-checking major and game misconduct at 19:19 of the first period.


F Davis Koch figured in three of the game’s last four goals to lead the Vancouver Giants to Vancouvera 5-3 victory over the Saskatoon Blades in Langley, B.C. . . . The Giants (17-6-2) have won three straight. . . . The Blades are 1-1-0 on a B.C. Division tour that continues tonight in Victoria. . . . Saskatoon scored all three of its goals in the game’s first 10 minutes, F Max Gerlach (16) giving it a 3-1 lead at 9:56. . . . Koch scored, on a PP, at 1:49 of the second period to get the Giants to within a goal. . . . F Aidan Barfoot (1), playing in his third game of the season and first since Sept. 22, tied it at 3:51. . . . F Milos Roman (13) gave Vancouver a 4-3 lead, on a PP, at 3:21 of the third period. . . . Koch scored his eighth goal into an empty net at 19:46. . . . Koch has 13 points, including five goals, in a six-game point streak. . . . D Nolan Kneen, who was acquired Monday from the Kamloops Blazers, made his Saskatoon debut.


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Scattershooting on a rainy Sunday . . . Rasmussen on Wings’ roster . . . Raiders win fifth straight . . . It’s a milestone for Mayer

Scattershooting

Brad Rock of the Deseret News proved that he’s ready for NBA training camps with this:

“The NBA season is nearly here, but there’s nothing to see until the playoffs.

“Well, maybe a few things.

“Last season went like this: Kawhi Leonard dissed Gregg Popovich, Bobby Portis broke Nikola Mirotic’s face, Dwane Casey was fired before being named Coach of the Year, and Kobe Bryant won an Oscar.

“Next they’ll be telling us a player is dating a Kardashian.

“Never mind. That’s not news.”

——

Rob Vanstone, in the Regina Leader-Post:

“The hockey community as a whole should dispense with the dopey double talk and fully embrace the concept of player safety. Severe sanctions should be imposed for fighting. The pugilism is especially appalling at the major-junior level, with people paying money to watch barely compensated teenagers punch each other in the head. Hockey should have evolved far beyond that by now, but so many coaches, general managers and administrators are woefully stuck in the 1970s.”

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You may have heard that HBO has decided boxing no longer will be a part of its programming. Larry Merchant, a long-time boxing insider with HBO, put it like this: “Once upon a time we were a promising kid. Then a challenger. Then a champion. A great champion. A long-time champion. And then a has-been who finally retired. So long, champ.”

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Paul Gosar is a Republican candidate in Arizona who has six siblings endorsing his opponent. As Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, noted: “And you think your Thanksgiving family dinner might be awkward.”

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The Saskatoon Blades are two games into a stretch of four games in five nights and six in eight nights, with the last five of those on the road. I guess I was rather naive to think that kind of scheduling would disappear when the WHL cut its regular-season schedule from 72 games to 68.

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“Richard Mietz of Germany broke a Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a guy dressed as a landmark,” writes RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com. “It was a monumental achievement.”

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It would seem that Currie is a big fan of marathons. After Jamie Buckland of Great Britain broke the Guinness world record for fastest marathon by a man dressed as a French maid, Currie noted: “Not only that, he dusted the competition.”

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Who knew there were such records? Other than Currie, that is?

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Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express passes along this one from a fake John Gruden account on Twitter: “I’ll tell ya what. Watching Patrick Mahomes throw the football is like music to my ears, man. He reminds me of that one West Virginia song. Take Mahomes country road.”

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Jack Todd, in the Montreal Gazette: “I’m looking for a smartphone that tells you to get off the stupid phone and get a life.”


ThisThat

If you were an early visitor to this site after I posted on Saturday night, you will have seen a lead item that was critical of the WHL for its focus on video at the expense of what whlI referred to as “old-fashioned news releases.”

I also posted a tweet in which there was a link to a season-opening interview with Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner.

Shortly after that post went live, I heard from Taylor Rocca, the WHL’s senior manager, communications, pointing out that the WHL did post an old-fashioned news release on its website, one that included most, if not all, of what Robison touched on in his video appearance.

Apologies to all involved for my having missed that news release, which was posted on Sept. 20.

A couple of things from that news release, which you are able to find right here . . .

On the trading of young players: “The WHL has adopted new restrictions on the trading of 15- and 16-year-old players. Effective this season, a 15- or 16-year-old player who has signed a WHL Standard Player Agreement cannot be traded under any circumstance.”

The trading of first-year import players, which has been prohibited prior to now, apparently will be allowed between Dec. 15 and the Jan. 10 trade deadline. But there isn’t any mention of this in the news release.

On new disciplinary standards: “The WHL has taken further steps to address player safety by introducing new supplemental discipline regulations and raising its standard on illegal checks to the head. The WHL Seven Point Plan was first adopted in 2011 to establish a comprehensive education and prevention plan to address player safety issues.

“In strengthening the WHL’s Player Safety Seven Point Plan, Kevin Acheson was appointed the WHL Director, Player Safety and is responsible to oversee all on-ice discipline and supplemental discipline matters during pre-season, regular season and playoff games. In addition, new standards have been implemented with a particular focus on repeat offenders and checks to the head.”

There also was a paragraph further down that I was thrilled to see. It had to do with a promotion the WHL was involved with last season and will do again in 2018-19: “The WHL is proud to give back to its communities through a number of community initiatives scheduled for throughout the 2018-19 season, including the second run of RE/MAX presents WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation.”

Last season, the WHL’s 17 Canadian franchises took part in this promotion and raised $265,500 on behalf of the Kidney Foundation of Canada.


The Saskatoon Blades played without F Brad Goethals, 20, as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Raiders in Prince Albert on Sunday night. According to Les Lazaruk, the radio voice of the Blades, Goethals has left the team. . . . A native of Ile Des Chenes, Man., Goethals had one goal in three games this season after recording 15 goals and 17 assists in 69 games last season. . . . Without Goethals, the Blades are down to a pair of 20-year-olds — F Max Gerlach and D Dawson Davidson.


The Tri-City Americans are going to be without F Michael Rasmussen for a while, perhaps even for the remainder of the WHL season. Rasmussen, 19, will be on the Detroit Red Wings’ roster when they open the NHL’s regular season against the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. . . . Rasmussen, 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, is from Vancouver. The Red Wings selected him with the ninth overall pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Last season, he had 31 goals and 28 assists in 58 games with the Americans. In 161 regular-season WHL games, he has 81 goals and 76 assists.


SUNDAY NIGHT NOTES:

The Prince Albert Raiders struck for three goals in 16 seconds en route to a 4-1 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Raiders broke open a scoreless game with second-period goals from F Justin Nachbaur (7:30), F Ozzy Wiesblatt (7:39) and F Parker Kelly (3) as they ran their record to 5-0-0. . . . That established a club record for fastest three goals and was four seconds off the WHL record. The Raiders’ record of 22 seconds had been set by F Wayde Bucsis, F Mike Modano and F Pat Elyniuk on Feb. 25, 1987 in Brandon. . . . The Blades went into the game at 3-0-0. . . . 

F Brayden Watts tied the game at 19:15 of the third period and then won it in a shootout as the host Vancouver Giants beat the Spokane Chiefs, 5-4. . . . Watts also had two assists. . . .

F Tristin Langan scored twice to lead the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors to a 2-1 victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Langan, 20, has two goals and four assists in four games. . . . The Pats now are 0-4-0. . . . G Brodan Salmond, who played last season with the Kelowna Rockets, stopped 31 shots in winning his first start with the Warriors. . . . Moose Jaw had D Brandon Schuldhaus back in the lineup after he served a three-game suspension left over from last season. . . .

F Brandon Hagel had a goal and three assists, and D Dawson Barteaux had four assists as the Red Deer Rebels beat the host Calgary Hitmen, 6-5, in OT. . . . F Oleg Zaytsev, a Russian freshman, won the game 31 seconds into OT. Hagel and Barteaux drew assists on the winner. . . . Hagel, 20, has 10 points, including seven assists, in five games. . . . Calgary F Tristen Nielsen took a boarding major and game misconduct at 2:04 of the second period for a hit on Red Deer D Carson Sass.


Feel free to click on the DONATE button over there on the right and add to the Taking Note coffee fund.


If you are a WHL fan and are on Twitter, you should be following Geoffrey Brandow (@GeoffreyBrandow). He regularly tweets interesting notes and stats involving WHL teams and players, such as this one from Saturday night:

Scattershooting on a Sunday: No welcome back Carter . . . Kamloops adds a scout . . . DD Train is rolling now


Scattershooting

Here’s Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle: “Former NFL running back Ricky Williams, who once took a break from smoking weed to swear to me that he was done smoking weed, is selling his own line of weed products, ‘Real Wellness by Ricky Williams.’  I hope it’s better than the line of baloney he used to sell.”


On the subject of weed and footballers, you don’t suppose the Saskatchewan Roughriders released Duron Carter because he had become too much of a distraction, do you? That being the case, the move should have been made weeks, if not months, ago.

Carter received an absolute discharge on June 21 in Winnipeg after pleading guilty to possession of marijuana-laced cookies — they also featured chocolate chips — following his arrest at the Winnipeg James Armstrong Richardson International Airport on Nov. 25 in November.

He also has pleaded not guilty to another possession charge, this one stemming from an arrest at Saskatoon’s John G. Diefenbaker International Airport on Feb. 1. That case is scheduled to go to trial on Dec. 3.

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For any football fans expecting an honest explanation from the brass as to why the Roughriders dumped Carter, well, forget it. Chris Jones is the top dog there — actually, he is the vice-president of football operations, general manager, head coach and defensive co-ordinator — and the team’s playbook carries the title ‘My Way or the Highway.’ Jones also isn’t alone in footballdom in operating under a cone of silence. I mean, are you still expecting New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to explain why he didn’t use defensive back Malcolm Butler in Super Bowl LII?

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If you’re interested in an overview of the situation involving the Roughriders and Carter, Ian Hamilton, the senior reporter at riderville.com, has a good look right here.


The Kamloops Blazers have added Jason Pashelka to their scouting staff. Pashelka, from Kamloops1Calgary, spent 11 seasons scouting with the Portland Winterhawks, so has a connection to Matt Bardsley, the Blazers’ new general manager. Bardsley had been in the Winterhawks’ organization since 1999 before signing on with the Blazers. . . . Pashelka spent the past two seasons scouting southern Alberta for the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . Earlier, the Blazers lost scout Mark Blair, who left after 11 seasons with them. He since has joined the scouting staff in Moose Jaw.


“Estaban Loaiza, who made over $40 million as a Major League pitcher, faces life in prison for attempting to sell $500,000 in cocaine near a San Diego school,” tweets comedy writer Alex Kaseberg. “Experts say this is the stupidest thing attempted since IHOP changed its name to International House of Burgers.”

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Kaseberg, again: “In Florida, a police helicopter filmed a fleeing woman who stole a car being herded by cows toward the police. Authorities do not consider this a full-blown Florida incident as she was not carrying an alligator under her arm at the time.”


The Kamloops Broncos dropped a 42-0 decision to the Vancouver Island Raiders in a junior football game played in Nanaimo on Saturday night. Judging from the above tweet, the Broncos had some issues with their punting game.


The Las Vegas Aces, a team in the WNBA, spent 24 hours en route to Washington, D.C., for a recent game with the Mystics. When they didn’t arrive in Washington until five hours before the scheduled game time, they chose not to play “for health and safety reasons.” . . . Seriously. . . . Under similar circumstances, how many junior hockey games wouldn’t get played over the course of a season? . . . The WNBA later forfeited that game to the Mystics.



“The Dallas Cowboys welcomed Randy Gregory to camp after he had been suspended by the NFL for a year due to substance abuse violations,” notes Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon. “This is merely the latest in a series of suspensions for the same reason. A couple of weeks ago, Jerry Jones said without any modifiers that if one of the Cowboys did not stand on the sidelines for the national anthem, that player would not play for the Cowboys. So, a serial drug abuser is OK, but . . .”


Brian Elder is the new head scout for the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. Elder, who played three seasons (1994-97 ) tending goal with the Brandon Wheat Kings, lives and teaches school in Souris, Man. He spent the previous four seasons as a scout with the Oil Capitals. . . . Jamie Hodson, the Oil Capitals’ director of business and hockey operations, also is a former Wheat Kings goaltender (1997-2001).


The DD Train has started to roll. Dorothy, my wife of 46 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013. This year, on Sept. 23, she will take part in her fifth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. If you would like to support her with a donation, you may do so right here. As of last night, she was among the top-10 fundraisers in B.C. Yes, we are rather proud of her in these parts.


“Give Trump credit,” writes Janice Hough (leftcoastsportsbabe.com). “Before this year, almost nobody cared what the SCORES were for preseason football, let alone what players were doing during the anthem.”

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Hough, again: “The San Francisco 49ers now say there isn’t anything they can do about the intense sun and heat faced by fans on the east side of Levi’s Stadium. But they will lower the price of bottled water from $6 to $2 so fans can stay hydrated. That’s the NFL equivalent of ‘thoughts and prayers’.”


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Parneta moves into GM’s office in Vancouver . . . Rockets release an import . . . Season ends for WHL champions

MacBeth

F Vladimír Sičák (Medicine Hat, 1998-2000) signed a one-year contract extension with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga). An alternate captain, he had four goals and 18 assists in 49 games. Karlovy Vary was in 1. Liga this season and won promotion to Extraliga for next season. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) signed a one-year contract extension with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season, he was pointless in 20 games. He had six assists in 41 games while on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga).


ThisThat

The Vancouver Giants introduced Barclay Parneta as their general manager on Wednesday morning. Parneta, 47, takes over from Glen Hanlon, who left the Giants earlier this month after two seasons as GM. . . . The Giants’ news release is right here. . . . Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for Postmedia, has a piece right here.


The Kelowna Rockets have released Czech F Marek Skrvne, who turns 19 on Aug. 6, after KelownaRocketsjust one season. He had four goals and nine assists in 69 games as a freshman last season. . . . The Rockets will make one selection in the CHL’s 2018 import draft, as Czech D Libor Zabransky, 18, will return for a second season. . . . “Marek did nothing to cause the direction we are headed except for the fact that I think we need a defenceman back there as we are trying to build a team for 2020,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ owner, president and general manager, told Regan Bartel, the team’s radio voice. . . . The Rockets are preparing to bid on the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . According to the WHL Guide, the import draft will be held on June 26 or 27.


The men who own the Regina Pats are going to take at least a $2-million bath on the 2018 ReginaPats100Memorial Cup, which is being played in their city. Not only that, but they aren’t at all surprised; in fact, they expected it. . . . They ended up handing the CHL a $3-million hosting fee and another $650,000 to cover some expenses. . . . “If every seat had been sold for the Eagles concert — part of the gala opening ceremony at Mosaic Stadium — and for every game of the tournament, the owners would still have been staring at a seven-figure shortfall,” writes Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post. . . . You have to wonder what’s going on in the world of major junior hockey when one of the CHL’s partners is forced into taking this kind of bath? . . . Vanstone’s piece is right here and it more than adequately explains the financial situation surrounding this Memorial Cup.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Hamilton 3, Acadie-Bathurst 2 (6,072)

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina 6, Swift Current 5 (6,484)

Thursday — Day off.

Friday’s Semifinal – Regina vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Sunday’s Final — Acadie-Bathurst vs. Regina/Hamilton winner, 5 p.m.


Speculation has been running wild in Edmonton regarding the likelihood that the NHL’s Oilers will add Glen Gulutzan and Trent Yawney to head coach Todd McLellan’s coaching staff. . . . Gulutzan was fired as head coach of the Calgary Flames after the season, while Yawney was let go by the Anaheim Ducks. . . . The Oilers have room for one more assistant coach and those same speculators are betting on Manny Viveiros, the director of hockey operations and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos. The Broncos won the WHL’s playoff championship, but went 0-3 at the Memorial Cup, bowing out Wednesday night with a 6-5 loss to the host Regina Pats.


TheCoachingGame

Clint Mylymok has signed on with the NAHL’s Maryland Black Bears as the first general manager and head coach in the franchise’s history. He had been the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds for the previous four seasons. The Hounds play out of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Wilcox, Sask. . . . The Black Bears will play out of Odenton, Maryland, using the Piney Orchard Ice Arena as their home base. It once was a training centre for the NHL’s Washington Capitals.


Geoff Grimwood has resigned as general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. Grimwood spent three seasons with the Klippers. He had been an assistant coach with the WHL’s Victoria Royals for three seasons (2012-15) before signing on with Kindersley.

Partnership between WHL, Kidney Foundation pays off . . . Pats’ owners expect $2-million loss on Memorial Cup . . . Former NHL ref remembers Flin Flon

MacBeth

D Connor Cox (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Everett, 2008-13) signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the U of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he had one goal and eight assists in 20 games. . . .

F Mário Bližňák (Vancouver, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had two goals and two assists in 24 games. On loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic,1. Liga), he was pointless in one game. . . .

F Milan Bartovič (Brandon, Tri-City, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and one assist in 19 games. On loan to Vítkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had one goal and four assists in 18 games. . . .

F Pavel Padakin (Calgary, Regina, 2012-15) has been traded by Sochi (Russia, KHL) to Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) for Dmitri Arkhipov and monetary compensation. With Sochi this season, Padakin had nine goals and a team-high 22 assists in 53 games. . . .

F Martin Erat (Saskatoon, Red Deer, 1999-2001) signed a one-year contract extension with Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). in 49 games, he had 12 goals and 34 assists. An alternate captain, he led his team in assists in points. He was second in the league in assists and fifth in scoring. . . .

G Ty Rimmer (Brandon, Prince George, Tri-City, Lethbridge, 2009-13) signed a one-year contract with Kitzbühel (Austria, Alps HL). This season, in 42 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL), he was 14-23-1-1, 3.91,.898. . . .

F Brett Ferguson (Red Deer, 2008-11) signed a two-year contract extension with Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). In 48 games, he had 18 goals and 38 assists.


Scattershooting

The WHL announced Monday at the Memorial Cup in Regina that $265,500 was raised through the RE/MAX Presents: WHL Suits Up with Don Cherry to Promote Organ Donation campaign. . . . The WHL’s 17 Canadian teams each played host to an event during the regular season. . . . The money was raised through various initiatives, including the auctioning of sweaters that resembled Cherry’s suit jackets. . . . From the WHL news release: “The $265,500 raised is the Kidney Foundation of Canada’s largest public awareness and fundraising campaign for organ donation.” . . . The Cherry family has been a huge supporter of the Kidney Foundation for years. Tim, Cherry’s son, received a kidney from his sister, Cindy, in 1979. . . . If you are interested in signing up as an organ donor, please visit CanadaDonates.ca. . . . There wasn’t any mention in the news release about whether the WHL will be involved in the campaign again next season, but here’s hoping.


Who was the scheduling wizard who scheduled Game 5 of the Stanley Cup series between the Vegas Golden Knights and Winnipeg Jets for Sunday afternoon on the first long weekend of summer? No, I didn’t watch. I was driving, so caught the game on XM.


Early on Sunday, there were social media notices that plenty of seats were available for that day’s Memorial Cup game in Regina, between the Pats and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, starting at $75 plus fees. For junior hockey?


The Kelowna Rockets have signed F Ethan Ernst, a native of Weyburn, Sask., who turned 16 on Jan. 26. He was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 41 games with the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds.


Hockey fans may not be aware that retired NHL referee Kerry Fraser first made his mark in the WHL, and it all started with a game in Flin Flon. Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post spoke with Fraser about that and other WHL stories. It’s all right here.


Rick Wilson, a former WHL coach, has decided to retire, ending a coaching career that began with two seasons (1978-79) at his alma mater, the U of North Dakota. He then spent eight seasons with his hometown Prince Albert Raiders, six as an assistant coach and the last two as head coach. . . . Wilson, 67, worked as an assistant coach with the NHL’s New York Islanders, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. But most of his career was spent with the Dallas Stars, which is where he finished up this season.


The Memorial Cup schedule (all times local):

Game 1, Friday – Regina 3, Hamilton 2 (5,678)

Game 2, Saturday – Acadie-Bathurst 4, Swift Current 3 (OT) (6,237)

Game 3, Sunday – Acadie-Bathurst 8, Regina 6 (5,832)

Game 4, Monday – Hamilton 2, Swift Current 1 (5,820)

Game 5, Tuesday – Acadie-Bathurst vs. Hamilton, 8 p.m.

Game 6, Wednesday – Regina vs. Swift Current, 8 p.m.

Tiebreaker (if necessary) – Thursday, 6 p.m.

Semifinal – Friday, May 25, 8 p.m.

Final — Sunday, May 27, 5 p.m.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Kadyn Chabot, 16, to a WHL contract. Chabot, from Lethbridge, had 13 goals and 22 assists in 32 games with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes this season. . . . He was a sixth-round selection by the Tigers in the 2017 bantam draft.


So here’s the deal. . . . The owners of the Regina Pats paid $3.65 million to the CHL for the right to play host to the 2018 Memorial Cup and celebrate the event’s 100th anniversary. . . . Shaun Semple, who is part of the ownership group and chairman of the tournament’s organizing committee, says they expect to lose about $2 million. . . . Alex Soloducha of CBC News has more right here.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was at the Memorial Cup on Monday as the OHL-champion Hamilton Bulldogs got past the WHL-champion Swift Current Broncos, 2-1. Steinke has a game story and some info on Bob Ridley, the voice of the Medicine Hat Tigers, right here.


The 1980 Memorial Cup, which started in Brandon and finished in Regina, was the messiest in the event’s history. You may recall that it featured questions about whether one team threw a game that eliminated the WHL-champion Pats; it also featured at least one chicken-throwing incident. . . . I know that I never will forget the sight of a reporter with a Regina radio station sporting a Pats cap and asking Mike Keenan, the head coach of the Peterborough Petes, questions about what had happened. Daniel Nugent-Bowman has produced an oral history of that tournament and it’s all right here.


Tweetoftheday

Royals “definitely in” on 2020 Memorial Cup . . . Bajkov fills hat as Everett wins Game 3 . . . Bo knows it’s Game 7 in SJHL

Scattershooting

If there was doubt in your mind about the Victoria Royals and the 2020 Memorial Cup, you can forget it. They’re in.

“We’re 100 per cent, definitely in,” Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general VictoriaRoyalsmanager, told Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist late last week.

The Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets also are all-in on this one, with both having held news conferences to announce their intentions. The Royals haven’t gone that far yet, but they will.

“We have let the Western Hockey League know we are bidding,” Hope told Dheensaw, adding that there isn’t any rush to hold a news conference because the WHL’s deadline to file an expression of interest is June 1 and bids won’t be heard until Oct. 3.

“The deadline for the expression of interest is not until later in the summer,” Hope said. “We have been (working) quietly behind the scenes. There will be a time to be louder.”

Dheensaw’s complete story is right here.


In Kennewick, Wash., the Everett Silvertips broke open a 4-4 game with four third-period goals in the span of 4:50 and went on to an 8-4 victory over the Tri-City Americans before Everettan announced crowd of 3,268 in Game 3 of the WHL’s best-of-seven Western Conference final. . . . Everett leads the series, 2-1. . . . The visitors got three goals from F Patrick Bajkov, who snapped the 4-4 tie at 6:54 of the third period, then made it 6-4 at 9:21. . . . The Americans had tied the score 4-4 on third-period goals from F Isaac Johnson, at 0:47, and F Michael Rasmussen, at 1:45. . . . Tri-City scored its first two goals via the PP and now is 17-33 with the man advantage through 11 playoff games. . . . Things got a bit heated early in the third period with the head coaches — Everett’s Dennis Williams and Tri-City’s Mike Williamson — exchanging greetings at the benches. . . . The series won’t resume until Thursday because Kennewick’s Toyota Center is playing host to Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story Onstage on Wednesday night. . . .

Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference final is set to continue tonight (Tuesday) in Lethbridge with the Swift Current Broncos holding a 2-0 edge over the Hurricanes. . . . The Broncos lost D Artyom Minulin and F Glenn Gawdin to injuries in the first two games. It’s playoffs, so their status for Game 3 isn’t known.


G Bo Didur stopped 36 shots on Sunday leading, leading the host Estevan Bruins to a 4-0 victory over the Nipawin Hawks in Game 6 of the SJHL’s championship final for the SJHLCanalta Cup. The best-of-seven series is 3-3 and will be decided Tuesday night in Nipawin. Game time is 7:30 p.m. . . . That, considering all that has transpired over the past two-plus weeks, is the only way this could end, isn’t it? . . . F Jake Fletcher, the Bruins’ captain, had a goal, his 10th of the playoffs, and two assists. Fletcher has 20 points, one behind playoff co-leaders Kaelan Holt of Estevan, who is the son of former Swift Current Broncos star Todd Holt, and Nipawin’s Brandan Arnold. Kaelan Holt had two assists on Sunday. . . . Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post was in Estevan and did up this piece right here on Didur, who is into the final games of his junior hockey career. . . . The winner of Tuesday’s game will meet the MJHL-champion Steinbach Pistons for the ANAVET Cup and a berth in the Royal Bank Cup.


The other day, a woman changed her mind about singing the U.S. national anthem at a Reno Aces’ baseball game when she was told she couldn’t bring her gun along with her. As Jim Barach of WCHS-TV in Charleston, W.Va., noted: “Apparently they got her name off the wrong list of sopranos.”


The MJHL’s Dauphin Kings have signed Doug Hedley as their general manager and head coach. Hedley, a former Kings head coach, spent the past two seasons with the MJHL’s OCN Blizzard. . . . Hedley has been behind the Kings’ bench for 358 games, going 217-116-17-8. According to a Kings’ news release, he is “second behind Marlin Murray (556) in all-time regular-season games coached and second in wins as a Kings coach.”. . . . With Dauphin, Hedley takes over from Mitch Giguere, an assistant coach who had been working as the interim GM/head coach after Marc Berry was fired on Nov. 19. . . . This season, the Kings finished 14-44-1-1, good for 10th in the 11-team league.



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The Metropolitan King County Council approved a ban on vaping and chewing tobacco in sports facilities — particularly the Mariners’ Safeco Field — effective May 19. In other words, Skoal’s out for the summer.”


MacBeth

F Tyler Spurgeon (Kelowna, 2001-06) has signed a one-year extension with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). The team captain, he had 18 goals and 31 assists in 54 games this season. . . .

F Jordan Hickmott (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Edmonton, 2005-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 22 assists in 51 games. He led his club in goals and points. . . .

F Justin Feser (Tri-City, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (Germany, DEL). This season, with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL), he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 44 games. . . .

F T.J. Mulock (Vancouver, Regina, Kamloops, 2002-03, 2005-06) has signed a one-year contract with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). This season, with Cologne Haie (Germany, DEL), he had two goals and seven assists in 46 games. He is a dual German-Canadian citizen.

Scattershooting: Hawks, Bruins all even in SJHL final . . . Gotta love D.J. Kennington’s car . . . Broncos and Warriors to decide it tonight

Scattershooting


The SJHL’s championship final is all even after the host Nipawin Hawks posted a 4-1 victory over the Estevan Bruins before 1,122 fans on Sunday night. . . . The Bruins had SJHLwon the opener, 5-2, in Nipawin on Saturday night. . . . Last night, F Adam Beckman led the Hawks with two goals, his first two of the playoffs. Beckman, a fifth-round selection by the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, played this season for the midget AAA Battlefords Stars. . . . Beckman has played three playoff games with the Hawks. He had one goal and one assist in the only regular-season game he played with Nipawin. . . . The Hawks also got two goals from F Logan Casavant, who has six in the playoffs. . . . F Arthur Miller had Estevan’s lone goal, his seventh. . . . The teams combined to take 24 minors. . . . Nipawin got 23 saves from G Declan Hobbs, while Estevan’s Bo Didur stopped 34 shots. . . . They’ll play the next two games in Estevan on Tuesday and Wednesday nights, with a fifth game back in Nipawin on Friday night.


The Estevan Bruins climbed on their bus Friday and headed for Nipawin, where they were scheduled to start the SJHL’s championship final against the Hawks on Saturday night. En route, the Hawks made a stop — they spent 30 minutes at the site where the Humboldt Broncos’ bus crashed into a big rig on the afternoon of April 6. . . . Chris Lewgood, the Bruins’ general manager and head coach, told Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post that stop was “the first step for a lot of the guys toward closure.” . . . The Bruins went on to win Game 1, 5-2. . . . Vanstone has more on the Bruins right here.


More from Vanstone:

“The Humboldt Broncos went into overtime and, as a result, so did two thoughtful employees at the Domo C-Store (in Nipawin).

“Just as March 30 was becoming March 31, a weary band of Broncos walked into a convenience store near the southern outskirts of Nipawin.

“Earlier that evening, the host Hawks had outlasted Humboldt 3-2 to open a best-of-seven SJHL semi-final. Michael Grant had scored the winner for Nipawin at 2:33 of the second overtime session.

Due to the marathon contest, the Broncos did not arrive at the Domo C-Store until just before midnight — closing time, in other words.

Four Humboldt players barely beat the buzzer, arriving at 11:59 p.m. With the team bus parked outside, the rest of the Broncos trickled in.”

The rest of the story, which is right here, is well worth your time.



If they put this beauty — it’s D.J. Kennington’s Castrol Edge Dodge — on toy shelves as a die-cast car, I really wonder how many thousands would be sold . . .


The Moose Jaw Warriors and Swift Current Broncos will decide their second-round WHL series tonight (Monday) when they meet for a seventh game. . . . The Warriors forced Game 7 with a 3-2 victory in triple OT in Swift Current on Saturday night. Moose Jaw got 58 saves from G Brody Willms, with F Jayden Halbgewachs, the WHL’s leading sniper in the regular season, scoring the winner, on a PP, 74 seconds into the third period. . . . The Broncos had a 1-0 lead and a 28-9 edge in shots through two periods, then took a 2-0 lead at 3:35 of the third period. . . . G Stuart Skinner stopped 35 shots for the Broncos. . . . The winner of Game 7 will meet the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the Eastern Conference final. . . . Darren Steinke, the travelling blogger, was at Game 6 and writes about it right here.


When I was a youngster, oh, how I loved my table hockey game, the one with the metal players, all of whom played for the Montreal Canadiens or the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hey, there weren’t any other options with my game. . . . It turns out that the likeness for those players actually had a model. As Tom Hawthorn writes in The Globe and Mail, the likeness was that of Dick Gamble, a long-time pro hockey player who died on March 22. . . . Hawthorn’s obituary for Gamble is right here.