Remembering 1945-46 USAHA-champion Vancouver Canucks . . . Russians stun Americans in Texas . . . Some twin history for Royals

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Some baseball numbers to chew on. . . . I watch a fair amount of baseball, so obviously am aware that there are a whole lot of strikeouts in today’s game. In fact, I would suggest that the numbers have become mind-numbing. . . .

John Shea is the national baseball writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. A couple of days ago, I read a story he had written about what the headline referred to as “baseball’s rising tide of strikeouts” and the numbers were out of this world. . . . The gist of the story was how the Giants and Oakland A’s were adding flame-throwers to their pitching staffs because of the preponderance of strikeouts in MLB. . . . The numbers are stunning. . . .

Going into last weekend, MLB teams had played 576 games. There had been 5,263 strikeouts and 4,414 hits, a difference of 849. As Shea reported, “From 1900 through 2017, hits always outnumbered strikeouts. . . . In 1998, the year the sport expanded to 30 teams, there were 12,596 more hits than strikeouts.” . . . In 2018, there were 189 more strikeouts than hits, the first time that had occurred. That number was 784 in 2019 and last season, in only 60 games, it was 1,147.

As I said . . . mind-numbing numbers.


The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to begin on July 23. But, yes, there are questions, lots of questions. . . . If you’re a Canadian, you know that tennis star Bianca Andreescu won’t play in the Madrid Open after testing positive, and Canada won’t compete in the World track relays in Poland in May. And now there have been two positive tests on one of the teams that was entering the Calgary bubble to play in the women’s World Curling Championship. . . . As Myles Dichter of CBC writes: “It remains unclear how positive tests and cases like Andreescu’s would be handled, and it also remains to be seen if Japanese citizens will come around to hosting, as the latest polling reveals that at least 70 per cent are opposed. Meanwhile, just one per cent of the Japanese population is vaccinated and the torch relay has been rerouted to avoid hot spots on multiple occasions as the country lives under its third state of emergency.”


Are you aware that the Vancouver Canucks once won the Walter A. Brown Cup as United States Amateur Hockey Association champions? Yes, they did. . . . The Canucks played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League in 1945-46, winning the league championship by beating the Hollywood Wolves, 4-1, in a best-of-seven final. . . . The Canucks then challenged the Boston Olympics, who had won the Eastern Hockey League title, for the U.S. crown. Boston’s lineup included future Hockey Hall of Famers Fern Flaman and Allan Stanley. . . . The series was played in Vancouver with the Canucks losing three of the first four games before storming back to win the title. . . . There’s more on this story, from Jason Beck of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, right here.

The late Andy Clovechok was the scoring leader on that Vancouver team, winning the PCHL scoring title with 103 points, 56 of them goals, in 54 games. In September 2012, I wrote a bit about him and the 1945-46 Canucks as they were about to be inducted into the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame. . . . “The next season,” Clovechok said of the Olympics, “eight of Boston’s 14 players were in the National Hockey League. That’s how good they were.” . . . That story is right here.


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The 2021 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship opened Monday in Frisco and Plano, Texas, and there was a shocker in the opening draw. . . . F Nikita Chibrikov, Russia’s captain, went end-to-end in OT and scored at 1:25 to give Russia a 7-6 victory over the U.S. Russia had trailed 5-1 in the second period. . . . Lucas Aykroyd has the game story right here. . . .

In the other Group B game on opening day, Czech Republic beat Germany, 3-1. . . . In Group A, Sweden bounced Belarus, 5-1, and Switzerland doubled Latvia, 4-2. . . . Canada plays its first game today when it meets Sweden (TSN, 6 p.m. PT). The other Group A game has Switzerland against Belarus. . . . In Group B, it’s Finland versus Russia and Germany against the U.S.


While the U18 teams began battling it out in Texas, there were three WHL games on Monday night . . .

The Winnipeg Ice scored three third-period goals to beat the Prince Albert WinnipegRaiders, 4-3, in the Regina hub. . . . Winnipeg (17-5-1) has points in six straight (5-0-1). . . . The Raiders are 8-11-4. . . . Prince Albert scored three PP goals to take a 3-1 lead into the third period. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (6) got it started at 11:16 of the first period. . . . F Jackson Leppard (2) pulled the Ice into a tie at 6:36 of the second. . . . The Raiders went up 3-1 on goals from F Spencer Moe (2), at 10:29, and F Justin Nachbaur (6), at 17:07. . . . F Conor Geekie (8) started the Winnipeg comeback at 9:28 of the third and F Zachary Benson (9) tied it, on a PP, at 10:48. . . . D Karter Prosofsky got the winner, his first WHL goal, at 15:20. . . . A second-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft, Prosofsky was playing in his 57th game. . . . Ice F Peyton Krebs drew an assist on the game’s final goal to run his point streak to 22 games. That is a Kootenay/WInnipeg Ice franchise record, breaking the previous record that was set by F Mike Comrie with Kootenay in 2000-01. . . . Winnipeg got 24 saves from G Daniel Hauser, who is 7-0-1, 3.10, .898. He was a sixth-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . .

D Rhett Rhinehart’s OT goal gave the Saskatoon Blades a 5-4 victory over the BladesMoose Jaw Warriors in the Regina hub. . . . The Blades (15-5-3) had lost their previous four games (0-3-1). . . . The Warriors (8-13-3) finished their 24-game schedule by dropping four straight (0-2-2). . . . F Kyle Crnkovic had two goals and two assists for the Blades, with F Colton Dach, who assisted on the winner, scoring once and adding three helpers. . . . Crnkovic, who has 10 goals, gave Saskatoon a 1-0 lead at 3:49 of the first period, with Moose Jaw F Logan Doust (2) equalizing at 7:27. . . . Crnkovic scored a shorthanded goal at 11:24 of the second period for a 2-1 lead, only to have the Warriors tie it on a goal by F Jagger Firkus (6) at 12:02. . . . The Blades broke the tie on goals from Dach (9) and D Chase Wouters (9) at 0:08 and 5:29 of the third. . . . D Daemon Hunt (8), on a PP, and F Calder Anderson (3) scored for the Warriors at 7:02 and 15:43 to get proceedings into OT. . . . Rhinehart won it at 1:27. . . . Despite nine goals, 12 minor penalties and OT, the game took only two hours 12 minutes to complete. . . .

In Kamloops, the Prince George Cougars opened a 3-0 lead en route to a 4-1 PGvictory over the Victoria Royals. . . . The Cougars (5-7-2) had lost its previous four games. . . . The Royals (1-12-1) have dropped nine in a row. . . . F Kyren Gronick (5) and F Ethan Browne (4), on a PP, scored first-period goals for the Cougars, with F Jonny Hooker (6) making it 3-0 at 11:11 of the second. . . . F Trentyn Crane (2) got the Royals on the board at 5:44 of the third period but F Craig Armstrong (6) got that one back for Prince George at 7:30. . . . G Taylor Gauthier stopped 25 shots for the Cougars. . . . Ryan Spizawka made his WHL debut with the Royals, joining his twin brother, Jason, in the lineup. The brothers, from Victoria, are defencemen. Jason, the 19th overall pick in the 2019 bantam draft, has three assists in 12 games. Ryan was a seventh-round selection in that draft. . . . According to Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist, they are the “fourth set of identical twins” to play on the same WHL team. Dheensaw writes: “Jeremy and Josh Schappert skated with the Seattle Thunderbirds from 2005 to 2007, future NHLers Ron and Rich Sutter with the Lethbridge Broncos from 1980 to 1983, and Ted and Brent McAneeley with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 1968 to 1970.”


Dorothy, my wife of almost 49 years, had a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, 2013, and now is preparing to take part in her eighth straight Kamloops Kidney Walk. It happens virtually on June 6. You are able to join her team with a donation right here.

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

Living Kidney Donor Program

St. Paul’s Hospital

6A Providence Building

1081 Burrard Street

Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6

Tel: 604-806-9027

Toll free: 1-877-922-9822

Fax: 604-806-9873

Email: donornurse@providencehealth.bc.ca

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Vancouver General Hospital Living Donor Program – Kidney 

Gordon and Leslie Diamond Health Care Centre

Level 5, 2775 Laurel Street

Vancouver, BC V5Z 1M9

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

kidneydonornurse@vch.ca

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Or, for more information, visit right here.


JUST NOTES: Colin Campbell, who has been with the Seattle Thunderbirds since 1994, has been promoted to president. He had been the team’s vice-president for business operations for 19 seasons. According to a news release, he will “oversee all hockey and business operations” for the organization. That news release is right here. . . . Brandin Cote, an assistant coach with the Swift Current Broncos, will leave after this season to become the associate coach with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. The Broncos and Huskies confirmed the move on Monday. Cote is in his third season with the Broncos. Cote will work alongside Mike Babcock, the Huskies’ new head coach. Cote spent three seasons (1997-2000) as a player under Babcock with the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs.


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Will Lamb stay, or will he go? . . . Cranbrook: Ice isn’t tenant, so doesn’t control lease. . . . Royals sign local twins

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F Davis Vandane (Saskatoon, Spokane, Prince Albert, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with Jegesmedvék Miskolc (Hungary, Slovakia Extraliga). This season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 55 games. . . .

F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has announced his retirement through the website of the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Kassel, he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 52 games. Meilleur is quoted in the announcement as saying that he is returning to Manitoba to work on the family farm. . . .

D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, with Liberec (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was pointless in four games, while, in 47 games on loan to Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had six goals and nine assists.


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The Prince George Cougars have been without a head coach since their season ended in PrinceGeorgeMarch. You are free to wonder if they soon also will be looking for a general manager. . . . Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen took a look at the situation in a story for Wednesday’s paper. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, is friends with, and has worked with, Dave Tippett, the new head coach of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . “Now entering the second year of a four-year contract with the Cougars,” Clarke writes, “Lamb would neither confirm nor deny whether he’s about to be hired by the NHL team, but the stars appear to be aligned in that direction.” . . . Clarke’s complete story is right here.


As it played its final WHL season in Cranbrook’s Western Financial Place, the Kootenay Ice had a lease that ran through the 2022-23 season. Now that the team has moved to Winnipeg, the city feels the Ice no longer is a tenant so doesn’t control the lease. . . . That’s the word from Paul Heywood, the city’s acting director of community services, who was responding to charges from a group that attempted to purchase and relocate an AJHL franchise (Calgary Mustangs) and later a KIJHL team (Kelowna Chiefs) to Cranbrook. . . . The group said in a news release that the city’s refusal to approve a sublease between it and the Ice ended the chances of placing a team in Cranbrook. . . . Heywood told Trevor Crawley of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman: “The City has not turned down any offers, and we presently have a questionnaire open for any hockey organizations that are willing to submit an offer to bring their team to Cranbrook. The City of Cranbrook decided that the Kootenay Ice (is) no longer a tenant in Western Financial Place, after establishing offices in Winnipeg and selling tickets for a new season at the Wayne Fleming Arena at the University of Manitoba. The City of Cranbrook has clearly stated that the Winnipeg Ice no longer (has) the right to assign a sublease to any hockey organization. It will remain at the discretion (of) the City of Cranbrook to choose which hockey team will be coming to WFP.” . . . Crawley’s complete story, including the group’s news release, is right here.


The Victoria Royals have signed twin brothers Jason and Ryan Spizawka to WHL VictoriaRoyalscontracts. Both were taken in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Jason, a defenceman, was selected in the first round. Last season, with the bantam prep team at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., he had two goals and 23 assists in 28 games. . . . Ryan, also a defenceman, was taken in the seventh round. He also played at Yale Hockey Academy, putting up eight goals and 12 assists in 28 games. . . .

This Victoria franchise, which entered the WHL as the Chilliwack Bruins, has had at least one other set of brothers, but the Walker boys weren’t twins. From Edina, Minn., Ben played from 2011-14, and Jack was there from 2012-17.

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The WHL’s 22 teams now have signed 15 first-round selections from the May 2 draft. . . .

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


It is always interesting to compare ticket prices between WHL teams. Hartley Miller, the news and sports supervisor at 94.3 the GOAT in Prince George, has done just that, taking a look at the Cougars and the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Miller also is the analyst on broadcasts of Cougars’ home games. . . . His comparison piece is right here.


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Mike Pelino, a former WHL coach, will spend next season working as an assistant coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He will be working alongside first-year head coach Craig MacTavish. . . . Pelino, 59, spent two seasons (1997-99) as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . He has spent the past six seasons working in the KHL. This season, he was an assistant coach with Avangard Omsk. Prior to that, he was on staff with Metallurg Magnitogorsk for five seasons.


The junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers are in the market for a general manager/head coach after Curtis Toneff signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. . . . The Buccaneers play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Toneff, who is from Nanaimo, was the Buccaneers’ head coach for two seasons. . . .

The VIJHL’s Saanich Braves also are looking for a general manager/head coach, with Sam Waterfield having joined the BCHL’s Coquitlam Express as an assistant coach. . . . Waterfield spent two seasons with the Braves.


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Royals get goalie from Portland. . . . More bantam draft odds and ends. . . . McCrimmon an NHL GM and a Hall of Famer


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Part II: More trades and odds and ends from the WHL’s bantam draft. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks appeared to clear up a logjam at the goaltender position, Portlandwhile the Victoria Royals have begun life after Griffen Outhouse. . . . The Winterhawks dealt G Shane Farkas, who is to turn 20 on Dec. 1, and a 2019 fifth-round bantam draft pick to the Royals for a fourth-round pick in 2019 and a conditional selection that could end up being in the fourth round in 2020. . . . The 2019 fourth-rounder that the Winterhawks acquired actually originated with them; it went to Victoria in a deal for D Jared Freadrich last summer. . . . The deal leaves Portland with five 20-year-olds on its roster, with F Lane Gilliss, F Jake Gricius, F Josh Paterson and D Matthew Quigley the others. . . .

Farkas, from Penticton, B.C., appeared in 84 games over three seasons with Portland. VictoriaRoyalsThis season, he finished 30-12-6, 2.71, .906 in 50 regular-season appearances. . . . His departure leaves the Winterhawks’ depth chart with Joel Hofer, who will be 19 on July 30, and Dante Giannuzzi, who is to turn 17 on Sept. 3, at the top of the goaltending section. . . .

Outhouse, who was so outstanding in goal for the Royals, has completed his junior eligibility. Farkas and sophomore Brock Gould, 18, are one-two on the Royals’ depth chart, at least for now. . . . The Royals now have six 20-year-olds on their roster — Farkas, F D-Jay Jerome, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, D Jameson Murray and D Jake Kustra.


The Swift Current Broncos have acquired D Wyatt Wilson from the Lethbridge SCBroncosHurricanes for F Alex Thacker. . . . Wilson, from Swift Current, will turn 16 on Oct. 11. He was a sixth-round pick by Lethbridge in the 2018 bantam draft. This season, he had six goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the elite 15s at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C. . . . Thacker, 17, is from Fort Saskatchewan, Alta. This season, he had 10 goals and 27 assists in 34 games as he captained the midget AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers. He also had one assist in four games with the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, and was pointless in two games with Swift Current. The Broncos had selected him in the sixth round of the 2017 bantam draft.


Lethbridge also made a deal with the Prince George Cougars, landing D Tyson Phare in LethbridgePrinceGeorgeexchange for F Fischer O’Brien. . . . Phare, 17, was the 18th-overall selection in the 2017 bantam draft. From Maple Ridge, B.C., he was pointless in 14 games with the Cougars this season. He also had a goal and nine assists in eight games with the prep team at the Delta Hockey Academy, and was pointless in two games with the junior B Ridge Meadow Flames. . . . O’Brien, 16, is from Prince George. Lethbridge picked him in the fifth round of the 2018 bantam draft. Fischer had two goals and five assists in 40 games with the Cariboo Cougars, who won the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League title. His brother, Brogan, played three seasons (2015-18) with the WHL’s Cougars and now is at Carleton U in Ottawa.


JUST NOTES: The Portland Winterhawks selected F Marek Hejduk in the ninth round. He played this season with the bantam AAA Colorado Thunderbirds, scoring seven goals and adding nine assists in 13 games. . . . Six picks later, the Everett Silvertips grabbed D David Hejduk, Marek’s twin brother. David had one goal and one assists in 13 games with the Thunderbirds. . . . They are the sons of former NHL F Milan Hejduk. . . .

In the 10th round, the Edmonton Oil Kings landed F Cade Littler of East Wenatchee, Wash. He played this season with the bantam AAA San Jose Jr. Sharks. His father, Bliss, is a long-time junior coach. He has been with the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild for seven seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . .

In the fourth round, the Seattle Thunderbirds took F Connor Gourley of Calgary. He had 36 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. His brother Jarrod, who will turn 20 on June 29, was a third-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2014 bantam draft. A defenceman, he chose to go to Arizona State U where he just completed his first season with the Sun Devils. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers, picking 12th overall, took F Oasis Wiesblatt of Calgary. He had 19 goals and 36 assists in 28 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons. . . . His brother Orca, who will turn 19 on June 2, got into 12 games with the Calgary Hitmen this season, after playing 49 with them last season. He now is with the MJHL-champion Portage Terriers. . . . Another brother, 20-year-old Ocean, also is with the Terriers, while Ozzy, 17, is in his first season with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Google is your friend, so search out a story on the boys and their mother, who is deaf and a really wonderful story. . . .

The Hitmen selected F Mason Finley of Kelowna in the fifth round. His brother, Jack, just finished his freshman season with the Spokane Chiefs. Their father, Jeff, played three seasons (1984-87) with the Portland Winterhawks and now is in his 10th season as a scout with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings, the last six as the team’s chief amateur scout. . . .

The Victoria Royals landed twin brothers who just happen to be from, yes, Victoria. . . . They took D Jason Spizawka with the 19th-overall selection then added his twin, Ryan, in the seventh round. . . . Both boys played at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., this season. . . .

The Regina Pats picked D Layton Feist with the draft’s 17th-overall selection. From Dawson Creek, B.C., he is the younger brother of Pats D Tyson Feist. . . .

In the second round, the Prince Albert Raiders took D Graydon Gotaas, who is from Camrose, Alta., and played this season with the bantam AAA Sherwood Park, Alta., Flyers. . . . His uncle, Steve Gotaas, played four seasons (1983-87) with the Raiders. . . .

If you know of any other hockey bloodlines from the draft or have any tidbits you would like to share, email Taking Note at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.


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Kelly McCrimmon, who owns the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings, will take over as general manager of the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights on Sept. 1. That means that McCrimmon, who has been the Golden Knights’ assistant GM, won’t be going to Edmonton, where the Oilers had an interest in him, or to the expansion franchise in Seattle, which also is believed to have bene interested in his services.

Meanwhile, McCrimmon also found out on Thursday that he will be part of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame’s class of 2019. . . . McCrimmon has served the Wheat Kings as a player, coach, general manager, owner and governor. . . . Going into the hall this year as players will be Bob Fitchner, Trevor Kidd, Marty Murray and Terry Yake, all of whom played for the Wheat Kings, along with Larry Bolonchuk and Susanna Yuen. . . . Builders to be inducted are McCrimmon and Barry Shenkarow. . . . Rob Haithwaite will go into the officials section, while the media wing will welcome Bob Holliday. . . . The 1957-58 St. Boniface Canadians, 1965-66 Flin Flon Warriors and 1972-73 St. Boniface Mohawks will be inducted in the team category. . . . Going into the veterans’ category will be Johnny Sheppard as a player and the 1929 Elmwood Millionaires. . . . The inductions will take place at Canad Inns Polo Park in Winnipeg on Oct. 5. . . . Bios of the inductees are available right here.


The BCHL’s Merritt Centennials made it official Thursday — they have signed Barry Wolff as their new general manager and head coach. Wolff, who spent this season as GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders, will replace Joe Martin, who now is the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . With Wolff behind the bench, the Stampeders lost the MJHL final to the Portage Terriers, dropping Game 7 in OT.


Eric Ditto has been the head coach of the junior B Delisle Chiefs of the Prairie Junior Hockey League for four seasons. Now he also is the general manager. The Chiefs won 38 games this season as they set a PJHL single-season record with 77 points in a 40-game schedule. Ditto takes over as GM from Ryan Marushak, who had been in that position for four seasons.


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