Gustafson free to return to WHL . . . Memorial Cup host replaces head coach . . . Remembering Bill Hunter, the coach


The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks announced on Sunday that two of their assistant coaches — Scott Walker and Kyle Gustafson — won’t be returning to head coach Bruce Boudreau’s staff.

The move clears the way for the anticipated move of Gustafson to the WHL’s SpokaneSpokane Chiefs as head coach.

Gustafson had spent 18 seasons on the Portland Winterhawks’ coaching staff before joining the Canucks. Travis Green was Vancouver’s head coach at the time; he and Gustafson had worked together in Portland for five seasons (2008-13).

However, Green was fired on Dec. 6 and replaced by Boudreau, who has one year left on his contract and is shaping his own coaching staff.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, hired Matt Bardsley as their general manager on May 3. Bardsley is quite familiar with Gustafson, having spent 18 seasons with the Winterhawks himself, before joining the Kamloops Blazers as general manager prior to the 2017-18 season. He left after the 2020-21 season, citing a desire to be closer to family during the pandemic, and had been scouting for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when the Chiefs came calling following Scott Carter’s decision to leave.

While Bardsey was in Kamloops, he attempted to hire Gustafson as head coach prior to the 2018-19 season. Taking Note has reported that Bardsley offered Gustafson a four-year contract. However, the job ended up going to Serge Lajoie, who was gone after one season.

The Chiefs have been in the market for a head coach since firing Adam Maglio on Feb. 10. Associate coach Ryan Smith finished the season as interim head coach. The Chiefs tied for sixth in the Western Conference, ended up seventh after tiebreakers, and were swept from the first round by Kamloops.


The QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who will be the host team for next month’s SJSeaDogsMemorial Cup tournament, fired head coach Gordie Dwyer on Sunday.

Yes, they did. Seriously.

Why?

Well, as Sunaya Sapurji, now with The Athletic, loves to say: “Because it’s the Q.”

And because it’s the Q, Gardiner MacDougall, who last coached a junior hockey team in 1998-99, will guide the Sea Dogs through the Memorial Cup. The plan is for him to then return to his full-time post as head coach of the U of New Brunswick Reds men’s team that plays out of Fredericton, which is about an hour northwest of Saint John. MacDougall has been the Reds’ head coach for 22 seasons, winning seven national championships.

The Sea Dogs also are bringing in Rocky Thompson as an advisor. A former WHL player and coach, Thompson spent two seasons (2015-17) as head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. They won the 2017 Memorial Cup as the host team after being bounced in the first round of the OHL playoffs.

The Sea Dogs were 47-14-4 in the regular season, good for third place in the Eastern Conference, scoring a QMJHL-leading 311 goals along the way. They lost a best-of-five first-round series to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The Sea Dogs held a 2-1 lead in that series before losing 1-0 in Game 4 — they outshot the Oceanic, 40-14 — and 4-3 in OT in Game 5.

Dwyer had been the Sea Dogs’ head coach since Aug. 4. Before signing with the Sea Dogs he had spent five seasons in Europe, coaching in the Swiss A League and the KHL.

The Sea Dogs are owned by Scott McCain, the chairman of McCain Foods.


This isn’t the first time that a major junior hockey team has fired its head coach before it was to play in the Memorial Cup tournament as the host club. In 2000, the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads dumped Bob Mongrain, replacing him with assistant coach Shawn MacKenzie.

Halifax had gone 41-20-6-5 (wins-losses-ties-OTL) in the regular season to place second, three points behind the Moncton Wildcats in the Maritimes Division. Halifax then was swept by the Rimouski Oceanic in the second round.

The Mooseheads went on to lose, 6-3, to the OHL’s Barrie Colts in the Memorial Cup semifinal. Rimouski beat Barrie, 6-2, in the final.

The WHL’s Kootenay Ice went 0-3 in the Halifax event, the first time the Memorial Cup was held in the Maritimes.


Fishing


My wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in her ninth Kamloops Kidney Walk. . . . It will be held on June 5, but thanks to the pandemic it again will be a virtual event. . . . If you would like to sponsor her, you are able to do so right here.


While ‘Wild’ Bill Hunter never replaced an Edmonton Oil Kings’ head coach that close to a Memorial Cup, the team’s owner and general manager was known to Edmontonstep behind the bench late in a season.

Like in 1970-71, after the Oil Kings, under head coach Harvey Roy, had gone 45-20-1 to finish atop what was then a 10-team Western Canada Hockey League.

In the first round of playoffs, the Oil Kings took out the Saskatoon Blades in five games. But when Edmonton fell behind 2-0 to the Calgary Centennials, Roy apparently asked out and Hunter took over.

Wayne Overland of the Edmonton Journal wrote in the April 10, 1971 edition: “Just as the swallows come back to Capistrano every spring, so Bill Hunter must return to the Oil Kings players’ box.

“It took a little longer this spring. But it finally happened and, as a result, Oil Kings are back in contention in their junior hockey playoff series with Calgary Centennials.”

With Hunter on the bench and Roy in the press box, the Oil Kings won 3-2 to cut Calgary’s lead in the series to 2-1.

“I felt we had about five players who weren’t performing and the best way to get it out of them was to have Bill motivate them,” Roy told Overland. “After all, he is the big boss.”

Hunter insisted the move was temporary — yeah, right! — as he said: “We’ve had some players who were taking advantage of Harvey and myself. Some of them don’t know what it is to work hart yet. I’m 50 years old and doing more yelling out there than some of those 18-year-olds. You’ve got to play this game with enthusiasm.”

The enthusiastic Oil Kings ended up winning four in a row to eliminate the Centennials, 4-2. Hunter rolled the dice in Game 6, starting Larry Hendrick, then 15, in goal, and he responded with 25 saves in a 2-1 victory in Calgary.

(BTW, tickets to the games in Edmonton could be had for $2.25 and $2.50, with student ducats $1.50 each and children’s $1.)

In the league final, the Oil Kings took out the Flin Flon Bombers in six games — Edmonton won four, lost one and there was one tie.

The Oil Kings went on to lose the Memorial Cup to the host Quebec Remparts, whose lineup included Guy Lafleur. It was a best-of-three final, with the Remparts winning, 5-1 — Lafleur had four points — and 5-2.

That was the end of Hunter’s junior hockey coaching days.

Earlier, he had taken over late in seasons for Bill Gadsby and Gerry Melnyk.

In 1967-68, after a 38-16-6 regular season, Hunter waited until two games into the playoffs before replacing Gadsby. Hunter steered the Oil Kings past Saskatoon (3-2-2) before losing to Flin Flon (4-1-1).

Two seasons later, Hunter replaced Melnyk with eight games remaining in a 35-25-0 regular season. The Oil Kings went 5-3-0 under Hunter to end that regular season, before going 8-8-2 in the playoffs. They took out the Swift Current Broncos, 4-1-0, and eliminated Calgary, 4-3-2, before being swept by Flin Flon in the championship final.


“I can’t be the only person out there who couldn’t really care less whether Don Cherry and Ron MacLean patch up their fractured relationship, can I?” writes Ken Campbell at Hockey Unfiltered. . . . No, Ken, you aren’t.



Fridge


Steve Kerr, the head coach of the NBA’s Golden State Warriors, missed the last three games of his club’s playoff victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after COVIDtesting positive for COVID-19.

“It was a huge wakeup call,” he told columnist Ann Killion of the San Francisco Chronicle. “There’s clearly a surge.”

Killion added: “The world wants to act like the pandemic has ended, but you know it hasn’t. Like clockwork, mask mandates are lifted, protocols are eased and another surge is upon us. You probably know a handful of people right now who are infected and — hopefully — isolating. If they’re vaccinated and boosted, they’re not likely to get very ill.”

The Warriors also had Rick Celebrini, their director of sports medicine, and head performance coach Carl Bergstrom test positive. Now the focus is on making sure it doesn’t spread to players.

“We’ve reinstituted all our COVID policies,” Kerr told Killion. “Internally, coaches are wearing masks. No visitors to practice. The front office is staying upstairs and not coming downstairs unless necessary. And we’ve asked everybody, don’t go out to dinner. Order in. We’re trying to do everything possible.”



Headline at fark.com — Nike to Kyrie Irving: Just do it . . . with another shoe company.


Zoom


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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Sleeping

Raiders to hit road early for TV appearance . . . Bedard opens with a pair . . . Three hat-tricks, one shutout on WHL’s opening night

The CHL is back on TV this (Saturday) afternoon as the Regina Pats play host to CHLthe Prince Albert Raiders in a game that is to be shown on CBC. . . . If you tune in, you’re going to get Victor Findlay doing the play-by-play with analysis by Sam Cosentino, who is hardly a stranger to major junior hockey. . . . Findlay has a whole lot of play-by-play experience, having called a lot of Canadian university games, as well as a couple of Champions Hockey League finals, some Ottawa Senators games and an IIHF U-18 World championship. . . . It’ll be a quick turnaround for the teams after Regina won, 3-1, in Prince Albert on Friday night. The Raiders’ bus is to hit the road at 6:15 a.m. . . . You may recall that CHL climbed into bed with Sportsnet in 1998 and then the two parties signed a 12-year “partnership extension” on Feb. 18, 2014, that was to run through the 2025-26 season. . . . Their relationship ended this summer, with Sportsnet bailing and the CHL signing on with TSN, RDS and CBC on what the hockey people called “multi-platform, multi-year broadcast partnerships.” . . . It all starts today at 1 p.m. Regina time — that’s noon PT — and you can bet the spotlight will be on Regina F Connor Bedard, who, at 16, comes with all the adjectives you might imagine. He scored the game’s first and last goals on Friday in Prince Albert and, yes, he was named first star. . . . Blogger Darren Steinke was in Prince Albert on Friday night and his report is right here.

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Elsewhere in the WHL on Friday night . . .

G Isaac Poulter stopped 20 shots to record the first shutout of the season as the host Swift Current Broncos got past the Medicine Hat Tigers, 2-0. That was Poulter’s second career shutout. His first came on March 13, 2019, when he stopped 33 shots as the Broncos beat the host Regina Pats, 2-0. . . .

In Moose Jaw, F Brayden Yager, 16, who is from Saskatoon, struck for three goals as the Warriors beat the Blades, 7-1. Alex Clarke of Weyburn, Sask., became the first woman to work as an on-ice official in a WHL regular-season game when she partnered with Ryan Lundquist on the lines. . . .

The Edmonton Oil Kings got three goals from F Josh Williams and three assists from F Jakub Demek as they defeated the visiting Red Deer Rebels, 4-1. Byron Hackett of the Red Deer Advocate points out that the Oil Kings have won 18 of their last 19 meetings with the Rebels. Yes, that’s domination. . . .

F Noah Boyko scored three times and F Justin Hall had a goal and four assists as the host Lethbridge Hurricanes dropped the Calgary Hitmen, 9-2. . . .

In Brandon, the Winnipeg Ice thrashed the Wheat Kings, 10-2. Winnipeg got two goals from each of F Skyler Bruce and F Mikey Milne. Ice G Daniel Hauser stopped 20 shots, including a pair of penalty shots. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., the Tri-City Americans scored twice in a five-round shootout to beat the Portland Winterhawks, 5-4. Dwayne Jean Jr., a 17-year-old freshman from Edmonton, got the shootout winner.



Hygiene



In case you missed it, this from Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle: “The Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. hit a ball completely out of Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, a shot that landed on top of the left-field pavilion and disappeared into the night. According to the Dodgers’ website, only five other players have done that since the park opened in 1962: Willie Stargell (1969 Pirates), Stargell again (1973 Pirates), Mike Piazza (1997 Dodgers), McGwire (1999 Cardinals) and Giancarlo Stanton (2015 Marlins).”



F Zac Rinaldo refuses to get vaccinated against COVID-19 so it would seem the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets are through with him. Earlier, the team told Rinaldo to stay away from their training camp. On Friday, Rinaldo, 31, cleared NHL waivers and the Blue Jackets told him not to bother reporting to camp with the Cleveland Monsters, their AHL affiliate, when it opens on Tuesday. . . . Rinaldo signed a one-year, two-way contract in August. He won’t be getting his NHL salary (US$750,000), but will draw his AHL salary ($300,000) while he doesn’t play. . . . The Blue Jackets have told Rinaldo that he is free to look for other opportunities.


AuntEdna


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

——

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

——

Or, for more information, visit right here.


Fur

Raiders put Giants behind 8-ball. . . . P.A. scores seven in first period. . . . Winds of change blowing in Brandon

MacBeth

F Yegor Babenko (Lethbridge, 2015-17) has been traded by Severstal Cherepovets to Traktor Chelyabinsk (both Russia, KHL) for monetary compensation. This season, with Rubin Tyumen (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 25 games. He also was pointless in three games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL), and had two goals three assists in 15 games with Severstal Cherepovets. . . .

F Liam Stewart (Spokane, 2011-15) has signed a one-season contract with the Southern Stampede Queenstown (New Zealand, NZIHL). Last season,  with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had 12 goals and 11 assists in 35 games. He didn’t play this season after suffering a concussion. . . . Stewart holds dual UK/New Zealand citizenship and is considered a local player in New Zealand. However, in the UK, he is considered an import because he played his minor hockey in the U.S.


ThisThat

The Brandon Wheat Kings revealed on Tuesday that they won’t be renewing the contract BrandonWKregularof Grant Armstrong, who had been their general manager through three seasons. . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, said in a news release that Armstrong “was responsible for many of the moves that will serve us well in the future. At the same time, I also felt a change was necessary as we look to return to a higher level as an organization.” . . . McCrimmon is the assistant GM with the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights. He will be taking over as the Golden Knights’ GM on Sept 1. . . . Armstrong signed as Brandon’s general manager to take over from McCrimmon when he signed with Vegas. . . . The Wheat Kings were 102-87-23 with Armstrong as the general manager. This season, they finished 31-29-8, missing the playoffs for the first time since 2013. . . . Before joining Brandon, Armstrong was with the Victoria Royals for four seasons as director of player personnel and assistant GM. Prior to that, he worked with the Portland Winterhawks for five seasons, the last four as head scout. . . . The Wheat Kings’ news release is right here. . . .

With a new general manager to be hired at some point, you are free to wonder about the future of head coach David Anning and assistant coach Don MacGillivray. After three seasons, their contracts are up, too. . . . The news release on Armstrong’s departure doesn’t mention the coaching staff.


The Tri-City Americans announced Tuesday that they have renewed the contracts of goaltending coaches Eli Wilson and Liam McOnie “through the 2021 season.” . . . Wilson and McOnie have worked with the Americans since the 2017-18 season. They also run goaltending camps through Eli Wilson Goaltending.


There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Thank you very much.


The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers have hired Jason McKee as general manager and head coach, Vernonreplacing Mark Ferner, who got the team into the BCHL final this season, his fifth season in his second stint with the organization. . . . Ferner, 53, was the Vipers’ head coach for four seasons (2007-11), getting them into three national finals and winning two of them, before spending time on the coaching staffs of the Everett Silvertips and Kamloops Blazers. This time, he had been the Vipers’ director of hockey operations and head coach since early in the 2014-15 season. . . . This season, the Vipers went 26-21-11 to finish fourth in the seven-team Interior Division. They reach the championship final where they were swept by the Prince George Spruce Kings. . . . McKee, 40, was the head coach of the Vancouver Giants for two seasons (2016-18). Prior to that, he was with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for 10 seasons, the last six as general manager and head coach. . . . Brothers John and Tom Glen purchased the Vipers in September from Libby Wray, whose husband, Dr. Duncan Wray, had owned the franchise from 1992 through his death on Jan. 11, 2018. . . . John Glen was quite involved with the Saints, although not at the ownership level. He also is a former scout with the Giants.


If you’re a junior hockey fan you should be following Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) on Twitter. He always has up-to-date information on players moving from the WHL to the Canadian university scene, including F Kody McDonald, who played out his eligibility with the Victoria Royals this season and will be playing for the Carleton Ravens of Ottawa next season. Findlay also reports that Josh Curtis, who was a 20-year-old with the Prince George Cougars, will be joining the Queen’s U Gaels, who play out of Kingston, Ont. Findlay also has F Ryan Jevne (Medicine Hat Tigers) going to the U of Alberta Golden Bears in Edmonton, F Nolan Yaremko (Tri-City Americans) off to the Calgary-based Mount Royal Cougars, and F Ryan Vandervlis (Lethbridge Hurricanes), F Mike MacLean (Prince George) and F Jeff de Wit (Red Deer Rebels) all joining the Montreal-based Concordia Stingers.


The Halifax Mooseheads broke a 1-1 tie with two second-period goals and then added two more in the third, en route to a 5-1 victory over the visiting Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the QMJHL’s championship final on Tuesday night. . . . The series now is tied, 2-2, with Game 5 in Rouyn-Noranda on Thursday night, and Game 6 back in Halifax on Saturday afternoon. A seventh game would be played in Rouyn-Noranda on Monday. . . . Both teams already know they will play in the Memorial Cup because Halifax is the host team. . . .

In the OHL, the Ottawa 67’s will meet the Storm in Guelph in Game 4 tonight (Wednesday). The 67’s hold a 2-1 lead after dropping a 7-2 decision to the host Storm on Monday night. That was the first loss of these playoffs for the 67’s, who now are 14-1.


Rich Pilon, who was named the head coach of the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings on April 29, now is the team’s general manager, as well. The Red Wings announced Tuesday that Pilon will add the GM’s duties, taking over from Tanner McCall, who had been the GM and head scout. . . . McCall, who also scouts for the Moose Jaw Warriors, had been with the Red Wings for five seasons, the last three as general manager and head scout.


EdChynowethCup

NOTES: Well, who saw that one coming? The Prince Albert Raiders went into Langley, B.C., and humbled the Vancouver Giants, handing them an 8-2 loss in Game 3 of the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . The Raiders lead the series, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. Game 5 is set for Friday night in Langley. . . . Last night’s decision means that if the Giants are to win the series, they will have to do it in Prince Albert. Games 6 and 7, if one or both are needed, would be played there on Sunday and Monday. . . .

In Game 3, the Raiders took control with seven goals in the first period. . . . The WHL record for most goals in one period of a playoff game is nine and belongs to the Saskatoon Blades (March 30, 1986, second period of a 12-5 victory over the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors). . . .

Oh the games people play now/Every night and every day now. . . . According to the lineup sheet circulated prior to the game, Raiders D Max Martin would play, with D Loeden Schaufler and F Jakob Brook listed with question marks beside their names. That would seem to have indicated that one of those two would play and the other would sit. . . . Martin didn’t finish Game 2 after suffering an apparent shoulder injury when he went awkwardly into the boards in the second period. Last night, he took the pregame warmup and then was scratched. Schaufler and Brook both were dressed and on the Prince Albert bench. . . .

F Dante Hannoun of the Raiders had a goal and two assists in Game 3. He leads the WHL playoffs with 12 goals. His 23 points have him tied with Vancouver D Bowen Byram for the scoring lead. Byram had one assist in Game 3. . . .

According to tweets from Steve Ewen, there were a number of NHL luminaries in the crowd, among them Scotty Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks), and Rob Blake and Todd McLellan (Los Angeles Kings).

——

TUESDAY HIGHLIGHTS:

The Prince Albert Raiders scored 41 seconds into the first period and made it 2-0 at 2:27 PrinceAlbertas they went on to an 8-2 victory over the Vancouver Giants in Langley, B.C. . . . The Raiders lead the WHL final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup, 2-1, with Game 4 in Langley tonight. . . . Prince Albert had won Game 2, 4-0, so has outscored Vancouver, 12-2, over the last two games. . . . The visitors led 4-0 at 6:33 of the first period, 6-0 at 16:30 and 7-0 going into the second period. . . . The Giants took the game’s first four minor penalties, all of them in the opening 6:33. The Raiders responded with three PP goals. . . . F Parker Kelly (5,6) and F Brett Leason (8,9) each scored twice and added an assist for the victors, with F Dante Hannoun (12) scoring once and adding two assists. . . . F Ozzy Wiesblatt (5), F Cole Fonstad (2) and F Noah Gregor (10) added a goal each. . . . D Sergei Sapego, F Aliaksei Protas and F Sean Montgomery added two assists each for the Raiders. . . . F Brayden Watts (6) and F Yannik Valenti (3) scored PP goals for the Giants after they had fallen behind 8-0. . . . Prince Albert was 4-8 on the PP; Vancouver was 2-8. . . . G Ian Scott blocked 27 shots for the Raiders. . . . Vancouver starter David Tendeck gave up three goals on 13 shots. He allowed two goals on four shots in 2:27, then was relieved by Trent Miner for the remainder of the first period. Miner allowed five goals on 14 shots. Tendeck returned for the final two periods and stopped eight of nine shots. . . . The referees were Mike Campbell and Chris Crich, with Ron Dietterle and Michael Roberts the linesmen.


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