NHL one step closer to return . . . Canada out of junior Summer Showcase . . . Fragle hoping to rock in Trail

There still are a number of hurdles to get over but the NHLPA has given the OK for its executive to keep on talking to the NHL about a return to play. So if things continue to progress, hockey fans may yet get to watch 24 teams take part in some kind of a Stanley Cup tournament with games played in a number of hub cities. . . . Keeping in mind that there still negotiations to be held, Carol Schram, a senior contributor for Forbes, has more right here.

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Here’s one more thing for NHL players to think about as they prepare for a potential return to the ice. . . . Dr. Andrew Morris, who specializes in infectious diseases at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, has told TSN’s Rick Westhead that players need to make sure their long-term health is looked after should they happen to end up becoming infected with the novel coronavirus during a return to play. . . . Dr. Morris said: “Young athletes do not think about this stuff because they think they are invincible, but every so often we see young, healthy people get very bad diseases, and this is no different. It would be unusual for a healthy young athlete to get really sick with COVID and wind up in the ICU, but, hey, somebody wins the lottery, right? . . . They should want their health care and income insured, seeing that they are taking an additional risk, especially if residing in the U.S.” . . . As the medical community learns more and more about the impact of this virus, it is finding survivors who have been left with heart, kidney, liver and lung damage. . . . Westhead’s story is right here.



And what of the NBA and its efforts to get its season back on track? It is look as though it will re-open with all of its teams playing out of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., without fans in attendance. . . . As Rohan Nadkarni of si.com points out in this piece right here, it really is all about the Benjamins.


Here’s Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle on the NBA and a return to play:

“In the wonderful world of asterisks, we’re already talking Extra Large for whichever team wins the title. If you’re trying to play through a pandemic in neutral settings with nobody in the stands, you connect with nothing in Finals history. Don’t ruin this risky venture by welcoming the absurd.

“Those 16 teams worked hard to establish playoff position. Nobody else has the right to qualify after such a maddening layoff. The Warriors have long disappeared from view, but the same goes for Portland, New Orleans or any other team trying to sneak into this science-fiction film. They all had their chance.

“And for heaven’s sake, forget the idea (actually discussed) of a ‘play-in tournament’ to determine the final playoff slots in each conference. Could it be more boring, especially during times of urgency? ‘Hey, come see the teams that don’t deserve this.’ ”



With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team and put a smile on her face by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


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USA Hockey is planning to play host to the World Junior Summer Showcase later this USAhockeysummer but Canada won’t be taking part. Teams from the U.S., Finland and Sweden will participate in the event that is to run from July 24 through Aug. 1 at Plymouth, Mich. . . . “We’ve heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we’re checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland,” said John Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey’s assistant executive director of hockey operations who also is the GM of the U.S. national junior team. “Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There’s also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it’s going to be lifted sometime in June, so we’re just staying on top of everything from what’s going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That’s how we’re going to go. We’re not going to change anything.”



Hockey Canada announced on March 13 that it had cancelled all sanctioned events until further notice. . . . Earlier this week, Hockey Canada issued “An Open Letter to Canadians” that was signed by Michael Brind’Amour, the chairman of the board of directors, CEO Tom Renney and Scott Smith, the president and COO. . . . Included in that letter was this paragraph:

“The health and safety of everyone involved in the game will determine when we return, not our desire to get back on the ice. When our country is ready, Hockey Canada will be ready. Until then, continue to follow the guidelines set by your provincial and territorial government to help limit the spread of COVID-19. Only by working together will we be able to make a difference and safely return.”

That letter is right here.



Here’s Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, with his Thought for the Day, this one from H.L. Mencken, who died in 1956 put perhaps foresaw the future rather clearly: “When a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or be lost. . . . All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre.”


Granted, it’s not going to happen until 2021, but a new hockey league — 3ICE — is on the way. Headed up by CEO E.J. Johnston and Commissioner Craig Patrick, 3ICE will feature eight teams playing 3-on-3 hockey over nine weekends, each one in a different city, during the summer of 2021. . . . Each team’s roster will comprise six skaters and one goalie. . . . The team’s head coaches are Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, Ed Johnston, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Bryan Trottier. . . . E.J. Johnston is the son of Ed Johnston, one of the head coaches who is a former NHL goaltender, head coach and GM. . . . There’s more right here.


After watching all 10 episodes of The Last Dance, Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote: “These questions will never be answered, but here goes: For Jordan, was there really a higher level of emotional fire that could be reached only by disrespect? Did that disrespect supercharge his physical skills, or was that higher level of fire a self-created myth to enhance his greatness?”


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Brian Wiebe, a veteran observer of the BCHL, has a solid piece right here on that league and how it and its teams are coping with the pandemic and all that has come with it.

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Tim Fragle is the new general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters. TrailFrom Edmonton, Fragle has spent the past four seasons as the head coach of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) Ooks of the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. . . . While at NAIT, Fragle won three coach-of-the-year awards. . . . Fragile was the GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders for seven seasons (2009-16). . . . He played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Smoke Eaters, finish the last of those seasons with the Merritt Centennials. . . . While playing in Trail, he was teammates with Craig Clare, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., and is the Smokies’ director of hockey and business operations. . . . In Trail, Fragle takes over from Jeff Tambellini, who left in April to join the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning as a pro scout and NCAA free-agent recruiter.


David Legwand, a co-owner of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, is moving from associate coach to be the team’s president of hockey operations. Legwand and Derian Hatcher, another former NHL player, purchased the Sting in 2015. . . . Legwand has been the associate coach for three seasons, with Hatcher as the head coach. Hatcher remains in the role, with Dylan Seca the general manager.


Darren Rovell of actionnetwork.com reports that a Mike Trout signed rookie card has sold at auction for US$900,000. It was from the Bowman Draft Chrome Prospect set. . . . That “obliterated the record for the highest-priced modern-day baseball card and tied the record for the most expensive modern-day card ever — the LeBron James/Michael Jordan logoman card, sold in February 2020,” Rovell wrote. . . . Perhaps the most interesting part of Rovell’s story involved seven unopened boxes of 1986-87 Fleer NBA cards. These boxes weren’t at all popular when they debuted; in fact, boxes were returned by hobby stores for $6 refunds. At auction, Rovell wrote, they sold for “as much as $109,200 each.” . . . Rovell’s story is right here.


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CHL, teams settle minimum-wage lawsuit for $30 million . . . Next up: Concussion-related action . . . Gaglardi: It all comes down to testing

Six years later . . . if you were hoping for a clear-cut winner and loser, well, as Peggy Lee sang, “Is that all there is?”

The CHL and its leagues have agreed to pay $30 million to settle three class-action CHLminimum wage-related lawsuits that were filed six years ago.

The suits were filed by former players against the three major junior leagues — the Ontario Hockey League, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Western Hockey League — that operate under the CHL umbrella. They later were certified as class action.

“This settlement does not mean that we agree with the plaintiffs,” the CHL said in a statement. “It means that we wanted to end the lawsuits so we could continue to focus on being the best development league in hockey.” 

Ted Charney of Toronto-based Charney Lawyers PC, who was the lead for the plaintiffs, told Ken Campbell of The Hockey News: “This has been a very long, hard-fought battle, effectively gloves-off litigation for several years. We had to fight the (political) lobbying, which we lost miserably on, but we won in all the court rooms.”

The lawsuits were filed in 2014, with players claiming that the major junior teams are businesses and that players, as employees, should be eligible for minimum wages and overtime pay. The players also requested back pay.

While the lawsuits were before the court, the major junior leagues, which are of the belief that the players are student-athletes, lobbied various governments and were successful in gaining exemptions from minimum-wage laws.

As TSN’s Rick Westhead said in an on-air interview: “Over the last few years, the CHL has been very diligent about going to provinces and U.S. states where there are CHL teams and trying to successfully have minimum-wage laws amended so that players are exempt from minimum-wage legislation.”

In the west, governments in B.C., Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Washington state all amended labour codes to provide exemptions. Oregon politicians chose not to provide an exemption.

According to the CHL and the plaintiffs, they agreed on a settlement in February with the help of a mediator.

“Earlier this year we met with the lawyers for the plaintiffs and agreed on a settlement that would see the end of the court case and an award of $30 million which will cover their lawyer’s fees, funder’s fees and other legal costs,” the CHL said in its statement. “The remainder will be distributed to players in the class. We did this because cases like these are very expensive and are a distraction to the league and as we had publicly disclosed, we had $30 million in insurance for these lawsuits.”

Lawyers are expected to get about $10 million off the top, with the remainder to be split among players. There are believed to be about 4,000 players who played from 2010-19 eligible to share in the money — players who have signed NHL contracts aren’t eligible — but it’s unlikely that all will apply.

It is believed that the CHL and its teams will pay half of the agreed-upon sum, with the CHL’s insurance paying the other half. Interestingly, the CHL purchases its insurance through Hockey Canada, which means that insurance premiums for the governing body of minor hockey in Canada are likely to rise. Those costs could be passed on to minor hockey players throughout the country.

If all 60 CHL teams are on the hook for a share of the payout, each will pay $250,000. But there are seven Americans teams involved, five of them in the WHL. If the American teams, which were exempted from the class action, aren’t required to pay, each of the remaining 52 teams would pay more than $288,000.

One of the five players who was in on the lawsuit from the beginning, Samuel Berg (Niagara IceDogs, OHL), is to receive a $20,000 honorarium. Each of the other four — Travis McEvoy (Saskatoon Blades, Vancouver Giants, Portland Winterhawks, WHL), Kyle O’Connor  (Kootenay Ice, WHL), Thomas Gobeil (Baie-Comeau Drakkar, Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Val-d’Or Foreurs, QMJHL) and Lukas Walter (Tri-City Americans, WHL; Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL) — is to get $10,000.

As Westhead reported, with the amendments having been made to minimum-wage laws in various provinces and states, “This does not open the door to future claims like this. . . . it’s unlikely the CHL is going to have to worry about a case like this down the road.”

Unless, of course, there are changes in governments and new faces choose to rewrite the employment standards legislation that includes the exemptions from minimum-wage requirements.

“There was a belief the provincial changes showed the CHL to be on the right side of the law,” Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet wrote, “but legal advice indicated the case could continue for up to another decade. That would cost millions in fees and, according to sources, the insurance fund topped out at $30 million. Clearly, that was a major factor in deciding to settle the case.”

What’s next? According to a tweet from Westhead: “After a settlement approval hearing (likely Aug/Sept), eligible players will need to file claims with a court-appointed administrator to get a payout.”

So, as the lawyers like to say on TV, in summation . . . the winners and losers.

Well, the only winners would appear to be the lawyers.

Yes, I would suggest that everyone else loses.

The CHL teams lost because financial filings necessitated by the lawsuit allowed people on the outside to learn just how much money some of these franchises make. Yes, major junior hockey no long is a mom-and-pop operation. It is a big business.

Players, past and present, certainly didn’t win. Yesterday’s players aren’t likely to get more than a few thousand dollars out of this settlement and, as far as today’s players are concerned, nothing is going to change in terms of what they are paid.

Perhaps the biggest winners, aside from the lawyers, of course, are WHL fans in whlcities that won’t lose their teams.

Three years ago, Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, issued a statement  after the lawsuit was certified as a class-action. In that statement, Robison said: “If WHL clubs were required to provide minimum wage, in addition to the benefits the players currently receive, the majority of our teams would not be in a position to continue operating.”

That is a position that he repeated more than once or twice over the past three years. Presumably those unnamed franchises won’t cease operations now. Although considering the uncertainties presented by the pandemic-related situation in which all teams now find themselves, you wonder how they will handle getting a bill for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

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“Well, major junior hockey operators in Canada got rid of one of the biggest headaches they’ve had in their history and all it cost them was $30 million, much of it paid by insurance, and a ton of negative headlines. Now they’re free to go back to paying their ‘student athletes’ less than minimum wage,” writes Ken Campbell of The Hockey News.

“Sounds like a pretty good deal for them. Because essentially what has happened when the CHL minimum-wage lawsuit was settled to the tune of $30 million is that the former players who bravely and persistently fought for this chunk of money were able to win in court for themselves and the roughly 3,600 other players in the lawsuit. But in the bigger picture, the Canadian Hockey League won in the far more important political arena by convincing each province to consider its players student athletes, which exempts it from annoying employment standards legislation. Once they managed to do that, they were happy to settle. It’s believed it cost each team about $250,000.”

Campbell’s complete piece is right here.

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It should be pointed out that what came to be known as the minimum-wage lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with another class-action lawsuit facing the CHL, its three leagues and Hockey Canada. . . . James McEwan, a former WHL player, filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CHL, WHL and Hockey Canada in January 2019. The lawsuit later was refiled with the Supreme Court of British Columbia to include the OHL and QMJHL. . . . Preliminary discussions regarding the certification of the lawsuit as class action were to have been held in Vancouver in March. If the pandemic didn’t play havoc with that, all parties involved will be awaiting Madam Justice Neena Sharma’s ruling. . . . McEwan played four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting his time between the Kelowna Rockets and Seattle Thunderbirds.


Tom Gaglardi, the majority owner of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, says the league is Kamloops1“trying to figure out what the season’s going to look like . . . when it’s going to start.”

Appearing on TSN 1040 in Vancouver, Gaglardi chatted with Jeff Paterson and The Moj (aka Bob Marjanovich) on Friday.

Gaglardi, who also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars and the AHL’s Texas Stars, frequently mentioned the importance of testing in terms of getting the economy rolling again.

Even for the WHL, he said, “it really all comes down to . . . testing.”

“There’s now a swab,” he said, “that you can get that you can swab your mouth and it tells you in 30 seconds whether you’ve got the virus. If this is something that we can get out into the mainstream market, how far are we from having fans in arenas?

“We’re really waiting for something . . . it may not be a vaccine . . . I’m certainly not counting on a vaccine in 2020. But I do think we’re going to have better testing soon, more access to testing, and somewhere we’re going to get some drug that’s therapeutic that will mean a 65- or 70-year- old guy can go to a hockey game and not worry about dying, and if he comes down with a virus then we can treat him and he’s going to be OK. We need to get to there to get this economy back going.

“At some point I think we’ll get there, with a combination of testing, tracing and hopefully something’s that therapeutic that allows people to feel safe to go to events like hockey.”

Asked about playing WHL games without fans in the building, Gaglardi replied: “The WHL is a gate-driven league. Without people in the buildings, it’s hard to see how we can operate for a great length of time.”

The WHL, according to Gaglardi, has got “contingency plans like every league there is. The Western Hockey League’s not the only league in that position . . . we’ll look at all kinds of scenarios.

“At the same time, too, we’ve got an obligation . . . to develop young hockey players, so if our league starts up a little late . . . we’ve got contingency plans to get the kids into Kamloops and to develop them. We’ve got all kinds of schemes of games and day games and things we might do . . . we take that obligation seriously.”

The complete interview is right here.

Gaglardi’s appearance on the Vancouver radio station came one day after his NHL and AHL organizations were hit with more furloughs, these ones to run through July 3.

Matthew DeFranks of the Dallas Morning News reported that the latest cuts included “most of the remaining front office,” but excluded anyone who is a vice-president or higher.

“The Stars’ hockey operations department was not affected by the furloughs, but management, coaches and scouts took 20% pay cuts,” DeFranks wrote.

His complete story is right here.


The junior B Pacific Junior Hockey League will have an expansion franchise in 2020-21 — the Chilliwack Jets. That begins the number of teams in the league to 13. . . . Clayton Robinson, the majority owner, will be the general manager and head coach. . . . The Jets will play out of the Sardis Sports Complex.



Honda Indy Toronto, which had been scheduled for July 10-12, has been cancelled. The move came after the City of Toronto cancelled event permits for major events for July and August. . . .

Organizers for what was to have been Ironman Canada’s return to Penticton, B.C., announced Friday that the event has been cancelled. It had been scheduled for Aug. 30. The Ironman last was held in Penticton in 2012, ending a run that began in 1983. . . .

The GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon has been cancelled for 2020. The 41st running of the event had been scheduled for Oct. 11. Last year’s race drew more than 8,000 participants. . . .


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With our annual Kidney Walk having been cancelled, my wife, Dorothy, is raising funds in support of a ‘virtual’ walk that is scheduled for June 7. All money raised goes to help folks who are dealing with kidney disease. . . . You are able to join Dorothy’s team by making a donation right here. . . . Thank you.


The U.S. national junior team has filled out its coaching staff by adding four assistants — Ted Donato (Harvard), Theresa Feaster (Providence), Kris Mayotte (U of Michigan) and Steve Miller (Ohio State). All will work alongside head coach Nate Leaman of Providence College. . . . Feaster, the director of men’s hockey operations at Providence, is the first woman named to the coaching staff. She will be Team USA’s video coach. . . . She is the daughter of Jay Feaster, a former NHL general manager with the Calgary Flames and Tampa Bay Lightning. He now is the Lightning’s vice-president of community hockey development. . . . The 2021 World Junior Championship is scheduled for Red Deer and Edmonton, from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5.


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Hope, Price are liking status quo in Victoria. . . . They’ve got Raiders Fever in P.A. . . . Bandits wrap up AJHL title


MacBeth

F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) has signed a one-season contract with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). This season, with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he had four goals and nine assists in 44 games. The AIHL opens its 2019 regular season on Saturday. . . .

F Zach Hamill (Everett, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2). This season, he had 10 goals and 29 assists in 34 games.


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In the world of hockey, you learn never to say never. But it certainly doesn’t sound as though there will be a coaching change with the Victoria Royals.

The Royals went 34-30-4 to finish second in the B.C. Division this season, 29 points behind VictoriaRoyalsthe Vancouver Giants (48-15-5). The Royals ousted the Kamloops Blazers from a first-round series that last six games and then got swept by the Giants.

Dan Price completed his third season with the Royals, his second as head coach since taking over after Dave Lowry signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings.

Cam Hope, the Royals’ president and general manager, liked what he saw this season.

“In my time in hockey,” Hope told CHEK News earlier this week, “I’ve had the pleasure of working with some terrific coaches, guys who are head coaches in the National Hockey League right now in the playoffs . . . I can tell you that there isn’t a coaching staff that works harder, prepares more, is more intelligent in the way they do it and get their players to buy in more than this coaching staff. It’s remarkable what Dan Price, J.F. (Best) and Doug Bodger have done. It’s remarkable.”

Best and Bodger are the Royals’ assistant coaches.

Price, for his part, told CHEK News that he isn’t wanting to move.

“I would love to be here for as long as Cam and (owner) Graham (Lee) would like to have me,” Price said. “It is one of the best jobs if not the best job in hockey. I am grateful every day. . . . I love it here. I don’t want to go anywhere.”


JUST NOTES: The Eastern Conference final between the Prince Albert Raiders and Edmonton Oil Kings is scheduled to begin with Games 1 and 2 on Friday and Saturday nights in the Saskatchewan city. Single-game tickets went on sale in Prince Albert on Tuesday at 9 a.m. People started lining up as early as 5:30 a.m. . . . In the OHL, the Guelph Storm scored the game’s last five goals to beat the Knights, 6-3, in London in Game 7 of a second-round series. The Storm is the fifth team in OHL history to lost the first three games of a series, then win the next four. The Storm is the first team to do that against a No. 1 seed.


The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have fired Marc-Andre Dumont, who had qmjhlbeen general manager and head coach, and assistant coach Brent Hughes. Dumont had been in that position since December 2012. . . . This season, the Screaming Eagles went 40-22-6 and advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they lost in five games to the Rimouski Oceanic. . . . “We made a commitment to evaluate the team back when I became president almost a year ago and under new ownership we also made the commitment that we would evaluate the team,” Gerard Shaw, the organization’s president, told Jeremy Fraser of the Cape Breton Post. “We felt that we wanted to go in a new direction, so we decided the time was right to make a change and to take a new direction.”


USA Hockey has named Scott Sandelin the head coach of its national junior team. USAhockeySandelin just completed his 19th season as the head coach of the U of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, who have won two straight NCAA championships. . . . Sandelin was the head coach of the national junior team in 2005 and was an assistant coach in 2012 and 2019. . . . The IIHF’s 2020 World Junior Championship is scheduled to run from Dec. 26 through Jan. 5 in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic.


The Brooks Bandits won their fifth AJHL championship in 10 seasons on Tuesday night, beating the Spruce Grove Saints, 2-0, to win the series, 4-0. . . . G Pierce Charleson, a 19-year-old freshman from Aurora, Ont., stopped 22 shots to earn the shutout. . . . The goals came from F William Lemay of Marieville, Que., who is committed to the U of Vermont, and F Jakob Lee of Owen Sound, Ont., who will attend Canisius College. Lemay and Lee both are in their first AJHL seasons. . . .

In the MJHL, F Bradly Goethals scored at 1:46 of the third OT period to give the Swan Valley Stampeders a 4-3 victory over the Portage Terriers. The Stampeders hold a 3-2 lead in the championships series, with Game 6 in Swan River on Thursday. . . . Goethals, from Île-des-Chênes, Man., has played in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips and Saskatoon Blades. . . . Swan Valley also got goals from F Brian Harris, who has played 54 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings, F Kasyn Kruse of Luverne, Minn., and F Matthew Osadick of Grande Pointe, Man., who is ticketed for the U of Maine. . . .

In the BCHL, F Ben Poisson scored at 12:07 of OT to give the Prince George Spruce Kings a 4-3 victory over the Vipers in Vernon. . . . The Spruce Kings hold a 3-0 lead and get their first chance to wrap it up tonight in Vernon. . . . Poisson’s brother, Nick, drew the lone assist on the winner.


Garry Childerhose is the new general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Kindersley Klippers. He replaced Clayton Jardine, who, according to a news release, “has stepped aside to pursue other career opportunities.” . . . Jardine just completed his first season as the Klippers’ GM/head coach, and he was named the SJHL’s coach of the year. The Clippers finished 36-16-6 in the regular season, placing second in the Global Ag Risk Solutions Division. They lost a first-round playoff series to the Melfort Mustangs in five games. . . . Childerhose has been the Flin Flon Bombers’ assistant GM/assistant coach for the past five seasons.


The MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals have chosen not to renew the contract of Troy Leslie, who had been with the organization for seven seasons. . . . From a news release: “Troy helped lead the team to six straight playoff appearances and a league championship final, and helped develop many players to the next level of hockey and careers beyond the game.” . . . This season, Virden finished 31-21-8, good for fifth place in the 11-team league. The Oil Capitals were 4-6 in the playoffs, beating the Selkirk Steelers in six games, then losing in four to the Portage Terriers.


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

MacBeth

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

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

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


ThisThat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

1 Edmonton — F Dylan Guenther.

2. Kootenay — D Carson Lambos.

3. Prince Albert — D Nolan Allan.

4. Calgary — F Sean Tschigerl.

6. Saskatoon — F Colton Dach.

8. Lethbridge — F Zack Stringer.

12. Vancouver — F Zack Ostapchuk.

14. Tri-City — D Marc Lajoie.

17. Spokane — D Graham Sward.

20. Edmonton — D Keegan Slaney.

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

5. Kamloops — F Logan Stankoven.

7. Red Deer — F Jayden Grubbe.

9. Prince George — F Craig Armstrong.

10. Seattle — F Kai Uchacz.

11. Medicine Hat — F Cole Sillinger.

13. Victoria — D Nolan Bentham.

15. Brandon — F Jake Chiasson.

16. Red Deer — D Kyle Masters.

18. Kelowna — F Trevor Wong.

19. Portland — F Gabe Klassen.

21. Prince George — G Tyler Brennan.

22. Moose Jaw — F Eric Alarie.


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


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


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


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


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