Scattershooting on a Saturday night as WHL players head for home . . .

Scattershooting

SOME DOTS AND THOUGHTS AS WE WAIT THIS THING OUT . . .

A couple of hours after the above tweet was posted, the Kamloops Blazers announced that they “have released their players to return home immediately.”

“We will have all players return to Kamloops at an undetermined time,” the statement read.

It wasn’t long after that until the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips said they, too, were allowing players to return to their homes.

The Cougars said they “have decided to send players home to their families until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Silvertips, according to a tweet from Josh Horton of the Everett Herald, are sending players home Sunday morning. As well, there were indications on social media that the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice are doing the same.

However, there was nothing official from the WHL as of late Saturday night.

Look, the way things are shaping up “undetermined time” and “until further notice” may well turn out to be late August, just in time for training camp prior to the 2020-21 season.

Hey, if you are being honest and assuming you have been paying attention to the spread of the COVID-19 virus and all the numbers associated with that, you might be starting to realize that this mess isn’t anywhere near close to a conclusion. . . .

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The WHL’s board of governors apparently is scheduled to chat on Tuesday. If that’s the case, it is time for them to cancel their season and do all they can to get players back to their families. Hey, billet families are wonderful, they really are, but this league is full of teenagers, some of them as young as 16, who should be with their real families until all of this blows over. . . . So scrub the season and start hoping that things will be better in time to open training camps in August. . . . On second thought, do it today. . . .


On Saturday, the ECHL announced that it has ended its season. “This decision allows our players the opportunity to return to their homes and removes the uncertainty that currently exists,” the ECHL said in a statement. . . . The ECHL is the first North American professional league to cancel its season. . . .


The world mixed and world senior curling championships have been cancelled. They were to have been held in Kelowna, April 18-25. . . . The Memorial Cup is scheduled for Kelowna, May 21-31. . . .

ICYMI, the world men’s curling championship also has been cancelled. It was to have been held in Glasgow, from March 28 through April 5. . . .



Janice Hough, who can be found at LeftCoastSportsBabe.com: “Now March Madness is cancelled. No, let me rephrase that: The NCAA basketball tournaments are cancelled. We’re LIVING in March Madness.” . . .


Tom Brady, at the age of 42, isn’t yet ready to stop playing football. Of course, as comedian Argus Hamilton pointed out via Twitter: “He’s 35 years too young to run for president.” . . .


One supposes that you have to be ready just in case they come for the toilet paper . . .


All those people standing in line to buy toilet paper . . . are those the same people who complain about being third in line at a cash register during normal times? . . .


Are you tired of doing jigsaw puzzles yet? Is there anything worse than putting out 1,000 pieces before getting started on putting it together? . . .


Headline at TheOnion.com: Orioles suggest that MLB maybe consider cancelling entire season just to be safe. . . .



Dwight Perry, in the Seattle Times: “The saddest part about MLB prematurely shutting down spring training? Our gritty young Mariners, at 6-12, were still mathematically alive to win the Cactus League championship.” . . .

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One more from Perry: “One of the best ways to avoid catching the coronavirus, health officials say, is to avoid touching your own face. Lots of luck trying to break a third-base coach of that nasty habit.” . . .


Wash your hands and stay safe out there.

Scattershooting on a Sunday night while wondering how Canucks fans are taking things . . .

Scattershooting

Heavyweight Deontay Wilder blamed his loss to Tyson Fury on a 40-pound costume that he wore into the ring for the introductions. Said it took all the zip out of his legs. What did Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, think of that excuse? “And women are going, ‘40 pounds? Meh, that’s the weight of my small purse,’ ” she wrote.



Patti Dawn Swansson, aka The River City Renegade, is of the opinion that there is “a very real human element” to the David Ayres story. “He has one of his mom’s kidneys, you see,” Swansson writes, “and his new-born celebrity allows Ayres to raise awareness and funds for a disease that, according to the National Kidney Foundation, causes more deaths in the U.S. than breast or prostate cancer. One in 10 Canadians has kidney disease, and I happen to be among them. I’m at Stage 4, and there’s no cure for the silent killer. Not surprisingly, though, the kidney angle is too often an afterthought in the telling of the Ayres tale, because who thinks about their kidneys until they go on the fritz?” . . . You can read The River City Renegade right here.

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One more from Swansson: “Wow, CBS will be paying Tony Romo $17 million to flap his gums during National Football League games next season. Hmmm, I wonder how much it would take for Fox to get Terry Bradshaw to stop talking.”


Honey


Scott Ostler in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Hey, NFL, let’s just make your season an even 30 games. That would really jack up the income of the owners and the salaries of the players . . . for one season. Then every player would be injured or dead, and the league would fold. But let’s not dwell on the down side.

“It’s called greed. NFL owners simply can’t get enough money, and players can’t resist a slight pay hike, even if it costs them dearly in terms of injuries and shortened careers. Richard Sherman’s lonely voice of sanity was drowned out by the merry cha-chinging of the cash register.”


“It’s February 28,” wrote Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, on Thursday. “Not sure what we’re going to call Donald Trump’s coronavirus strategy. Alas ‘March Madness’ is already taken.”


Onion


There was a time when Brandi Brodsky was the vice-president of business with the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. . . . There were good times and there were bad times — a house that was egged, needing an escort from the press box to the office, having to lock the office door with the team on the road. . . . She talks about all that and more on Hartley Miller’s Cat Scan, a podcast that is right here.


Gillian Kemmerer, who blogs at The Caviar Diplomat, sat down with Scotty Bowman on the day of the NHL trade deadline. Most of the conversation was about Russian hockey and players, and it’s well worth reading. It’s all right here.


D Ty Smith had eight points on Friday night, leading his Spokane Chiefs to a 9-2 WHL victory over the visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . The Spokane Spokesman-Review posted five brief paragraphs — not one containing a quote from Smith — about the game on its website. . . . On Saturday, the host Chiefs beat the Tri-City Americans, 4-3 in a shootout. This game got seven paragraphs. . . . You don’t suppose that the Spokesman-Review has stopped sending writers and photographers to Chiefs’ home games, do you? If so, what’s up with that?


“Ever notice,” writes Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle, “that there are no grammar-checking editors anywhere in radio or television, including talk-show hosts? Thus, the steady stream of ‘would have gave,’ ‘should have went,’ ‘as we seen,’ ‘that’s what he do,’ and other fractured offerings. No need to get upset; nobody else is. Apparently, it’s absolutely fine.”



JUST NOTES: Al Strachan, who spent a lot of years covering the NHL and was a regular on Hockey Night in Canada, has a new book on the way. Hot Stove: The Untold Stories of the Original Hockey Insiders is to be released on Nov. 17, just in time for Christmas. . . . Former WHL F Carter Rigby will return as head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes, who didn’t qualify for the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League playoffs this season. Rigby stepped in has the Coyotes’ head coach in December. . . . ICYMI, the Vancouver Canucks went east and lost to the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets, blowing a late 3-1 lead in the latter game on Sunday. They aren’t rioting in the streets of Vancouver — yet — but the panic is running in the streets like so much rain water.

Scattershooting on a Thursday night while watching Ovie shoot for 700 . . .

Scattershooting

A lot of what follows was to have been up here earlier in the week, but I got caught up in the Trevor Weisgerber story that you may have read here. If you haven’t seen it, just scroll down a bit and ready about the hockey coach who is fresh off a kidney transplant . . . Apologies, then, if some of what follows is a touch dated . . .


Followers of the WHL should be looking to the Pacific Northwest and thanking the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds for having breathed some life into the 2019-20 season.

Considering that their home arenas are located a few slapshots apart — of course, with SeattleSeattle-area traffic that can turn into a long drive in terms of time — we should expect this to be a healthy rivalry.

Now, however, I think it’s fair to say that this is the WHL’s top rivalry.

On Saturday night, the Silvertips hung a 5-2 beating on the host Thunderbirds, who actually play in Kent, Wash.

There was some nastiness, of course, a lot of it stemming from a second-period incident in which Everett F Justyn Gurney delivered an unpenalized shoulder to the head of Seattle D Cade McNelly. Less than 24 hours later, the WHL suspended Gurney for two games.

It was after the game when things really heated up.

Dennis Williams, the Silvertips’ head coach, told Josh Horton of the Everett Herald: “I Everettdon’t know what (Seattle’s) mindset is. Do they not want to play hockey? The game of hockey is skilled. It’s making plays, it’s going up the ice. From the midway to the second on, we knew we had them beat.”

Williams also told Horton that he lifted No. 1 G Dustin Wolf in the third period because “I just don’t trust them.”

On Sunday afternoon, Thunderbirds general manager Bil La Forge responded, telling Andy Eide of ESPN radio in Seattle: “Their comments post-game got me riled up. We always are portrayed as the big bad Thunderbirds. We do play hard and I’m not apologizing for that nor will I ever. But I think them yelling down at us from their high horse has to stop.”

La Forge, who obviously had done some research, also told Eide: “I think the numbers speak for themselves. They’ve been suspended 52 games in the last three seasons, we’ve been suspended 40. Twenty-six of their (game) suspensions have been against us and only eight of our game suspensions have been against them. That tells me that we’re playing hard, I’m not going to deny that. But, we’re trying to play within the rules as much as possible.”

Meanwhile, Thom Beuning, the veteran play-by-play voice of the Thunderbirds, was tweeting:

The Silvertips and Thunderbirds are scheduled to face each other three more times this season, starting tonight (Friday) in Everett. Happy Valentine’s Day!

And the U.S. Division-leading Portland Winterhawks are sitting back, enjoying every second of this, and saying: “Have at ’er boys!”

(Eide’s complete story, with lots of great quotes from La Forge, who used to work for the Silvertips, is right here.)


A couple of days later, Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the Kamloops Blazers, did his best to stimulate the rivalry not only between his team and the Kelowna Rockets, but also Kamloops1between the cities. . . . Gaglardi didn’t just throw some fuel on the fire; he opened the gas bowser and left it running. . . . When Gaglardi chatted with Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week, the Blazers (32-16-4), who had lost five in a row (0-4-1), were leading the B.C. Division, with the Rockets (23-25-3) 19 points back in fourth spot. . . . In the fall of 2018, you may recall, the WHL’s board of governors heard bids from Kamloops, Kelowna and the Lethbridge Hurricanes, each of whom wanted to play host to the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . In the end, the governors chose the Rockets whose big boss, Bruce Hamilton, is the chairman of that board of governors. . . . “I think you know how I feel,” Gaglardi told Hastings. “Yeah, it was our turn. It should have been ours. It was the wrong thing. The league did the wrong thing. . . . Yeah, I’m sour, for sure. I’m disappointed.” . . . Hastings’ complete story is right here. . . . The Hurricanes (33-12-7), meanwhile, are second in the Central Division, six points behind the Edmonton Oil Kings (35-8-9).


Annoying


There is ample speculation that quarterback Tom Brady won’t be returning to the New England Patriots. However, Mike Bianchi of the Orlando Sentinel doesn’t see him landing with the Buccaneers. Bianchi explained: “Not to be mean, but putting Tom Brady on the Bucs would be like putting the Mona Lisa in Room 217 of the Red Roof Inn.”


The San Francisco Giants have a manager (Gabe Kapler) and 13 coaches, none of whom chews tobacco. As Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle writes: “The new day in baseball has been coming for a long time now, and with the Giants, it’s here. In the old days, not that long ago, everybody chewed and dipped, and drank. Including the batboy.” . . . If you aren’t aware, using smokeless tobacco is against MLB’s rules, but it’s against the law like speeding and not using turn signals are against the law. . . . “The Giants, though, might have the first tabacky-free MLB coaching staff in history. That’s a guess,” Ostler adds.


A recent gem from the readerboard at the El Arroyo restaurant in Austin, Texas: “Did anyone catch the football game at the J-Lo and Shakira concert?”



Here’s Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times after an incident during a college basketball game: “Houston guard DeJon Jarreau bit Cincinnati’s Keith Williams on the calf during a loose-ball scrum, so he was ejected from the game. Or more precisely, extracted.”

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One more from Perry: “Who says there’s too much time between the NFL’s conference-championship games and the Super Bowl? Pamela Anderson and Jon Peters managed to get married — and separated — in that two-week span this year.”


A tip of the fedora to the Spokane Chiefs for honouring the Spokane Jets, who won the 1970 Allan Cup, a trophy that once was among the most famous in all of hockey. . . . Dan Thompson wrote a terrific story about the Jets and some of the men who returned to Spokane for Sunday’s game, and it’s all right here, from the pages of the Spokesman-Review.


Baseball


After a Saturday hockey game in which the Calgary Flames physically abused F Elias Pettersson of the host Vancouver Canucks, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News points out that the NHL has allowed its best players to be subjected to this kind of treatment for years and years. Hey, remember when Bobby Hull complained of it? . . . Campbell has more right here. . . . Could it be that the NHL is starting to realize that cross-checking is a problem? Maybe if the NHL does something about that, the WHL will, too.


Former Swift Current Broncos F Sheldon Kennedy has been named to the Order of Hockey In Canada, as well he should have been. He, along with Ken Dryden and Dr. Charles Tator, will be saluted at the Hockey Canada Foundation annual affair in Niagara Falls in June. . . . The WHL posted a story on its website announcing the honour and pointing out that Kennedy roller-bladed “across Canada to raise awareness and funds for sexual assault victims. Kennedy devoted his post-hockey career to child-abuse prevention and education.” . . . Unfortunately, the WHL didn’t bother to explain why Kennedy headed down this career path after bringing an end to his professional hockey career. It was, of course, because he — along with a number of teammates — was sexually abused on hundreds of occasions by Graham James, who then was the Broncos’ general manager and head coach. . . . I have written it before and here it is again: It is long past time for the WHL to unveil an award in Kennedy’s honour, one that should go to anyone who has been involved with the WHL at any level and has gone on to do outstanding work outside the walls of the league.



According to Forbes Magazine, the New York Knicks, who are one of the NBA’s poorest-run operations, carry the highest valuation of the Association’s 30 teams, at $4.6 billion. . . . Here’s Pete Blackburn of CBS Sports reacting to that: “The Knicks should serve as a true inspiration to anyone who dares to dream of being super rich despite sucking at pretty much everything. That’s the real American Dream.”


JUST NOTES: Congrats to Brent Kisio, who became the winningest head coach in the history of the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Saturday night, when he put up victory No. 189. That put him one ahead of Bryan Maxwell. It’s believed that Kisio also has more friends among the zebras than Maxie did. . . . The Everett Silvertips have signed head coach Dennis Williams to a two-year contract extension. A tip of the fedora to Everett GM Garry Davidson for announcing the length of the extension — through the 2022-23 season. The 40-year-old Williams is in his third season with the Silvertips. His regular-season record is a rather solid 127-48-14, and he is 19-13 in the playoffs. . . . Earlier in the week, the Winnipeg Ice signed head coach James Patrick to a three-year extension. Patrick is in his third season with the Ice, which will make the playoffs this go-round for the first time on Patrick’s watch. . . .

Hey, Sportsnet, I think it’s time to suggest to your hockey analysts — hello there Garry Galley; hi Louie DeBrusk — that they stop talking when the play resumes. There’s a time for analysis/nattering and a time for play-by-play; when the puck is in the area of a goal, it’s play-by-play time. And we won’t even get into the fact that Galley talks far too much. . . . Nick Taylor, who calls Abbotsford, B.C., home, went wire-to-wire in winning the Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the weekend, even starting down Phil Mickelson in the final round on Sunday. Here’s hoping that Taylor’s accomplishment isn’t forgotten by all of the year-end award voters come the closing weeks of 2020. . . .

The best part of a Major League Baseball game is the strategy involved; it’s why you don’t have to be a fan of one of the two teams involved in a game to enjoy it. That’s why I absolutely despise the rule announced this week involving a relief pitcher having to face at least three batters if he doesn’t end an inning. It also could spell the end to the left-handed specialist. . . . And a big happy birthday to Brad Hornung, a friend who turned 51 on Thursday.


Chiefs, Ice swap defencemen. . . . Hey, WHL teams, where are those rosters? . . . Deadmarsh set for third season in Spokane

ThisThat

The Winnipeg Ice added another homebrew to its roster on Friday when it acquired Mike Ladyman from the Spokane Chiefs for Jordan Chudley in a swap of defencemen. . . . The Chiefs also get a fifth-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft; the Ice gets a fifth-rounder in 2021. . . . Ladyman 18, is from Winnipeg. He has played for the prep team at the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy and for the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. The Ice, RHA and the Blues all are owned by 50 Below Sports + Entertainment. . . . Ladyman was a fifth-round pick by the Regina Pats in the 2016 bantam draft. Regina eventually dropped him from their protected list and Spokane added him in November 2017. . . . Last season, Ladyman had two assists in 22 games with the Chiefs, and four goals and 24 assists in 26 games with the Blues. . . . Chudley, 18, is from Souris, Man. He was a fourth-round pick by the Ice in the 2016 bantam draft. He was pointless in two games with the Ice in 2017-18, and had two assists in 32 games last season.


As you will have read in the item above, the Spokane Chiefs and Winnipeg Ice swapped a whlpair of 18-year-old defencemen on Friday. As a follower of the WHL — or maybe even as a fan of either team — you may be wondering where Jordan Chudley and/or Mike Ladyman fit in on the roster of their new team. . . . Unfortunately, neither the Chiefs nor the Ice appear to have posted a pre-season roster. Of course, neither have 18 of the WHL’s other 20 teams. . . . And that’s a shame. There really is no excuse for teams not to have made rosters available, especially with training camps about a month away. . . . The WHL and its teams really need to understand that there are fans out there with a real thirst for information. From where I sit, not having roster info available at this stage is a real slap in the face to those fans. . . . So post those pre-season rosters and give those fans something about which to talk. . . .

In the meantime, a tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats. When I checked on Friday evening, they were the only WHL teams to have pre-season rosters updated and available. . . . Two minutes for not looking so good to the other 20 teams.


Adam Deadmarsh will be back for a third season as an assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. The team announced Friday that he has been signed through the 2019-20 season. . . . Deadmarsh, 44, played four seasons (1991-95) with the Portland Winterhawks before going on to play 567 regular-season NHL games and 105 more in the playoffs. . . .


Tweetoftheday

Moulton moves on from Chiefs. . . . Silvertips lose coach, add one. . . . Pats get forward from Winterhawks

ThisThat

Chris Moulton, who had been with the Spokane Chiefs since 2005, has left to join the hockey division of the Los Angeles-based Wasserman Media Group. Moulton had been the Chiefs’ assistant general manager of hockey operations. . . . With Wasserman, he will fill the newly created position of Western Canada player recruitment and development advisor. . . . Wasserman bills itself as a sports marketing and talent management company. . . . Moulton started with the Chiefs as director of player personnel, and was promoted to his most-recent position in 2016. He also spent 11 seasons as a scout with the Calgary Hitmen.


Harry Mahood has left the Everett Silvertips after one season as an assistant coach. . . . In Everetta news release, Mahood said: “Returning this season became difficult after moving to New York for an opportunity of a lifetime, for my wife Sarah within the airline industry, and this allows for continued work in hockey with development consulting and player representation.” . . . Mahood, 56, played for four WHL teams back in the day (1979-82) — the Great Falls Americans, Spokane Flyers, Billings Bighorns and Nanaimo Islanders. . . .

Shortly after announcing Mahood’s departure, the Silvertips revealed that they have added Mike Lysyj as their new assistant coach. Lysyj, 30, is from Hillsborough, N.J. . . . He spent last season as a volunteer assistant coach with the RPI (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) Engineers. Prior to that, he spent four seasons as an assistant coach with the State University of New York at Fredonia Blue Devils, who play in NCAA Division III. . . . Everett’s coaching staff now comprises head coach Dennis Williams, assistant coach Louise Mass and goaltending coach James Jensen.



The Regina Pats have acquired F Haydn Delorme, 19, from the Portland Winterhawks for an undisclosed conditional pick in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. Last season, as a freshman, he had one goal and three assists in 31 games. . . . Delorme, who is from Port Moody, B.C., was a ninth-round pick by the Vancouver Giants in the 2015 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed Finnish F Jesse Seppälä to a WHL contract. . . . EdmontonOilKingsEdmonton selected him in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . The 17-year-old, who is listed at 5-foot-8 and 148 pounds, had 17 goals and 31 assists in 42 games with Tappara’s U-18 team last season. He also had four goals and eight assists in 24 games with Finland’s U-17 team. . . . The Oil Kings also have Belarusian F Vladimir Alistrov, 18, on their roster. He had 12 goals and 26 assists in 62 games as a freshman in 2018-19. . . . Edmonton released F Andrei Pavlenko, 19, who also is from Belarus. He had 12 goals and 18 assists in 78 games over two seasons with the Oil Kings.


The Kamloops Blazers have promoted Robbie Sandland to director of player personnel. He had been their head B.C. scout. . . . Sandland had been one of the team’s three head scouts, with Ken Fox handling Saskatchewan and Jason Pashelka in Alberta. . . . The Blazers had been without a director of player personnel since May 10, 2018, when they announced that Matt Recchi’s contract wasn’t going to be renewed.


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JUST NOTES:

Mike Burnstein, the Vancouver Giants’ athletic therapist, will be working with Canada’s national junior team for a second straight season when the 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship is held in Czech Republic from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . Burnstein, who worked with the Vancouver Canucks for 20 seasons, is preparing for his third season with the Giants. He will be in Plymouth, Mich., with Team Canada for the Summer Showcase, July 30 through Aug. 3. . . .

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League, a 20-team junior B circuit, is searching for a commissioner. If you think you have the right stuff, check out the above tweet. . . . I don’t know what it pays, but judging by the “duties and responsibilities,” I’m thinking $200,000 — that’s 10 grand per team — would be about right. . . .

The 15-team Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League has cut a deal with HockeyTech that will result in the broadcasting of all games in 2019-20. Each of the league’s teams plays a 42-game schedule. . . . The games will be shown via HockeyTV, Hockey Tech’s streaming platform.


Tweetoftheday

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


MacBeth

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

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

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

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


ThisThat

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

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


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


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


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JUST NOTES:

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

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

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

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


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Ex-Blades import signs in Sweden. . . . Matvichuk joins hockey ops at BWC. . . . Chiefs lose goaltending coach

MacBeth

D Jesse Forsberg (Prince George, Seattle, Moose Jaw, 2008-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with U of Saskatchewan (USports, Canada West), he had six goals and 15 assists in 24 games. He was the Huskies’ captain. . . .

F Eric Fehr (Brandon, 2000-05) has signed a one-year contract with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, National League). Last season, with the Minnesota Wild (NHL), he had seven goals and eight assists in 72 games. . . .

F Mário Múčka (Everett, 2016-17) has signed a one-year contract with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Nitra U20 (Slovakia, Extraliga Juniori), he had seven goals and 22 assists in 28 games. . . .

D Andrej Meszároš (Vancouver, 2004-05) has signed a one-year contract extension with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 39 games with Slovan in the KHL, he had two goals and five assists. He was an alternate captain. . . .

D Jindřich Barák (Red Deer, 2009-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Last season, he had one goal and five assists in 31 games. . . .

F Kristian Røykås Marthinsen (Saskatoon, 2018-19) has signed a one-year contract with HC Dalen Norrahammar (Sweden, Division 1), where he will play with his older brother Andreas. Last season, with the Saskatoon Blades (WHL), he had 13 goals and 16 assists in 62 games. . . .

F Milan Kytnár (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 56 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 29 goals and 14 assists. He was an alternate captain. He led the team in goals and was tied for third in the league.


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F Kristian Røykås Marthinsen won’t be back for a second season with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . As you will have read in The MacBeth Report, the 20-year-old from Lorenskog, SaskatoonNorway, has signed with HC Dalen Norrahammar (Sweden, Division 1). . . . He had 29 points, including 13 goals, in 62 games with the Blades last season. . . . Røykås Marthinsen was a seventh-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2017 draft but wasn’t signed. . . . Saskatoon also lost its other import from last season as D Emil Malysjev has chosen to remain in Sweden. He had three goals and 14 assists in 63 games last season, then added one goal in 10 playoff games. . . . The Blades, who knew well in advance that neither would return, selected Czech D Libor Zabransky and Czech F Radek Kucerik in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . Zabransky, 19, has WHL experience, having played with the Kelowna Rockets in 2017-18 and for part of last season. He finished it with the USHL’s Fargo Force. . . . Kucerik, who won’t turn 18 until Dec. 21, had six goals and 17 assists in 43 games with HC Kometa Brno’s U-19 team last season. He was the team captain. He also had two goals and three assists in 22 games with the national U-18 team. . . . Zabransky also is a product of the Kometa Brno organization.


Richard Matvichuk is the Burnaby Winter Club’s new hockey director. He will start his new job on Aug. 1. Matvichuk, 46, spent the past two-plus seasons as the head coach of the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. He guided the Cougars to the B.C. Division title in his first season, 2016-17, then was fired last season, less than two seasons into a rebuild. . . . Prior to joining the Cougars, he spent two seasons as the director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks. . . . As a player, he spent three seasons (1989-92) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 796 regular-season and 123 playoff NHL games.


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JUST NOTES:

Ryan Cyr isn’t returning to the Spokane Chiefs as their goaltending coach after having joined the 50 Below Sports + Entertainment ownership group in Winnipeg. . . . Cyr, a former WHL goaltender (Seattle, Lethbridge Saskatoon, 2000-05), had been with the Chiefs since 2011. . . . He is the co-founder of what now is Rink Goalie Development in Winnipeg. He also is the president of Rink Training Centre. . . . The 50 Below Sports group owns the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice, MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues, the Rink Hockey Academy and the Rink Training Centre. . . .

Brad Cole is the new head coach of the men’s hockey team at the Briercrest College and Seminary in Caronport, Sask., just west of Moose Jaw. . . . Cole, who is from Miniota, Man., played four seasons in the WHL (Seattle, Kootenay, Saskatoon, 2003-07). A defenceman, he went on to play in the AHL and ECHL, and spent five seasons in Europe. . . . Cole, 32, played 14 games with the Miniota-Elkhorn C-Hawks in the North Central Hockey League last season. He put up five goals and 23 assists in those 14 games. . . .

Andy Murray has signed a five-year contract extension as the head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos. The deal runs through 2023-24. Murray, 68, is prepping for his ninth season as the Broncos’ head coach. . . . How many fans remember Murray as the quarterback of the Brandon U Bobcats? Yes, BU once had a football team. Garry Davidson, Murray’s boyhood pal and now the general manager of the Everett Silvertips, also played for the Bobcats. . . .

Mark Chase has signed on as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks. Chase, from Kamloops, spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires before working last season as the general manager and head coach of the junior B Osoyoos Coyotes of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.


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