WHL’s winds of change: Coaches and scouts on the move . . . and more news, too

MacBeth

F Justin Sigrist (Kamloops, 2017-18) signed a one-year contract with the GC Küsnacht Lions (Switzerland, NL B). Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 50 games with Kamloops (WHL). . . .

F James Wright (Vancouver, 2005-09) signed a one-year plus option contract with Linköping (Sweden, SHL). Last season, he had two goals and six assists in 26 games with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), and three goals and two assists in 15 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL).


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Luke Pierce has signed on as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Pierce, 34, spent last season as an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s Paralympic sledge hockey team after working for two seasons as head coach of the Kootenay Ice. . . . He lost his job with the Ice when he got caught up in an ownership change. . . . Prior to that, he was the general manager and head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials for five-plus seasons. . . .

In Edmonton, Pierce will work alongside head coach Brad Lauer, who is preparing for his first season in that role. Pierce replaces Ryan Marsh, who was fired on May 29, along with head coach Steve Hamilton, and has since joined the Saskatoon Blades as an assistant coach. Hamilton now is the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen.

Meanwhile, the Oil Kings also announced that Jamie Novakoski, their director of scouting, won’t be back. He had been with the Oil Kings since 2007, working as director of scouting for the past five seasons. . . . According to the Oil Kings, he “will assist with the transition to a new director of scouting before leaving to pursue an opportunity outside of hockey.”


The Prince Albert Raiders announced Monday that they have added Jeff Truitt, Dan Gendur and Mike Brodeur to their coaching staff. . . . Truitt, 53, fills the vacancy created when associate coach Dave Manson left to join the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. Truitt and Raiders head coach Marc Habscheid know each other well, having worked together with the Kelowna Rockets from 2000-04. When Kelowna won the 2004 Memorial Cup, Habscheid was the Rockets’ head coach and Truitt was associate coach. Truitt spent the past six seasons as the associate coach with the Red Deer Rebels. He also has AHL coaching experience, having worked with the San Antonio Rampage and Texas Stars. . . . Last season, Gendur, 31, was the head coach of the midget AAA Airdrie CFR Bisons of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. He joined the Raiders late in the WHL season and worked with them through the playoffs. He is a former WHL player, having played with the Prince George Cougars and Everett Silvertips (2004-08). . . . Brodeur, 35, is the Raiders’ new goaltending coach. He spent one season  (2003-04) playing with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. Last season, he was an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. With the Raiders, Brodeur takes over from Kelly Guard, now an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats.


Veteran coach Willie Desjardins has signed on to work with the Prairie Rose School Division in establishing a new hockey academy that will involve three schools in the Medicine Hat Area. The 61-year-old Desjardins, who was the head coach of Canada’s national men’s team last season, continues to live in Medicine Hat, where he coached the Tigers for eight seasons (2002-10). . . . Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News has more right here.



The Seattle Thunderbirds have added Craig Goebel and Jared Crooks to their scouting staff. . . . Goebel spent the past 10 seasons scouting for the Regina Pats. His main assignment will be pre-scouting Seattle’s opponents. . . . Crooks, who played four seasons at MacEwan U in Edmonton, is the head instructor at the Mount Carmel Hockey Academy in Edmonton. He will scout for the Thunderbirds in northern Alberta.


The Brandon Wheat Kings have added Mark Sauer and Brennen York to their scouting staff. . . . Earlier this summer, the Wheat Kings lost veteran scout Mike Fraser when he left to sign on as the Everett Silvertips’ head scout. . . . Sauer, from Calgary, had been on the scouting staff at ISS for three years. . . . York is from Edmonton where he founded DraftGeek.


It’s official. The Vancouver Giants have added Jamie Heward to their coaching staff. The team announced Monday morning that Heward has been signed as the associate coach. . Vancouver. . He replaces Dean Chynoweth, who left after one season and has signed as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. . . . As a player, Heward spent parts of nine seasons in the NHL, after playing four seasons (1987-91) with his hometown Regina Pats. . . . Heward, 47, spent the past six seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, as an assistant coach and the director of player development. . . . This means that the Broncos, the WHL’s reigning champions, have lost three coaches since the season ended. Head coach Manny Viveiros now is an assistant with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, while assistant coach Ryan Smith has joined the Medicine Hat Tigers.

During his playing days in Regina, Heward was a member of what was known as the PUP Line. Its other members also were Regina natives — Frank Kovacs and Mike Sillinger. All three played as 16-year-olds, thus the PUP moniker.

On Monday, while Heward was busy with the Giants, Kovacs was busy, too, as you can see from this tweet . . .


The Portland Winterhawks have signed F Robbie Fromm-Delorme, who was a seventh-round pick in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Richmond, B.C., Fromm-Delorme played last season in Byfield, Mass., at The Governor’s Academy in the USHS-Prep league. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 27 games. . . . He attended the Winterhawks’ training camp prior to the 2017-18 season.


Bill Reddick will chair the committee that will prepare the bid by the Lethbridge LethbridgeHurricanes and the City of Lethbridge for the 2020 Memorial Cup. . . . Terry Huisman, the Hurricanes’ general manager of business operations, will be the co-chair. . . . Reddick is a partner with Mercer Wilde Group Chartered Accountants in Lethbridge and has long been involved with minor hockey in that city. . . . Huisman has been the general manager of business operations since 2012 and has played an integral role in leading the franchise out of the financial mess it was in not that long ago. . . . The Hurricanes, Kamloops Blazers, Kelowna Rockets and Victoria Royals all are preparing bids for the 2020 Memorial Cup. They are scheduled to present those bids at a meeting of the WHL’s board of governors in Calgary on Oct. 3. A host city is expected to be named at the conclusion of that meeting.


The AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs have added Alex Mandolidis, Josh Watson and Richie Hubbell to a coaching staff this is headed up by GM/head coach Tyler Drader. . . . Mandolidis has spent the past five seasons with either the midget AAA Calgary Flames or midget AAA Calgary Northstars, while Watson has worked with the midget AAA Calgary Buffaloes. . . . Hubbell has been the goaltending coach with the women’s team at Olds College.


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Scattershooting: The SJHL “will play hockey” . . . Big day for Beaudry . . . Willie helps out

Scattershooting

The SJHL’s board of governors voted unanimously on Wednesday afternoon to have the league’s playoffs played to a conclusion. The best-of-seven final will open Saturday with SJHLthe Estevan Bruins visiting the Hawks in Nipawin.

The league has been in a holding pattern since Friday when the bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to Nipawin for a game that night was involved in a crash in which 16 people died. The Hawks led that series, 3-1, at the time.

“We had a gruelling decision to make with respects on how we can pay tribute and honour the Humboldt Broncos,” SJHL president Bill Chow said in a statement. “On behalf of the board of governors, this intensive decision has been made and that decision is to carry through and finish off the 2017-18 season.

“The league will play hockey.”

The winner of the final will win the Canalta Cup and go on to play the Manitoba Junior Hockey League champion for the ANAVET Cup.

If you’re wonder, the Broncos’ organization is onside with the decision to play the final series.

“In my opinion, I think that hockey is important in our world, and it’s part of the healing process,” Broncos president Kevin Garinger told The Canadian Press. “I think it’s important to recognize that it is part of the healing process for everyone involved in this tragedy.”

Garinger also repeated that the Broncos expect to be one of the SJHL’s 12 teams when the 2018-19 season arrives.

“We know that hockey is critical for our Humboldt Broncos family,” he said. “We know that moving forward it will take time but we fully expect that the Humboldt Broncos organization will be part of the 2018-19 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League schedule. We will look toward that when the time is right to consider it.”

——

SJHL final (best-of-seven):

Saturday: at Nipawin

Sunday: at Nipawin

Tuesday: at Estevan

Wednesday: at Estevan

If necessary:

Friday, April 20: at Nipawin

Sunday, April 22: at Estevan

Tuesday, April 24: at Nipawin


The Nipawin Hawks began preparations for the SJHL final at practice Wednesday afternoon, and they had a new assistant coach on the ice with them. Humboldt assistant coach Chris Beaudry, who wasn’t on the Broncos’ bus on Friday because he was driving himself to the game, had on his coaching gear and was helping the Hawks.

Later in the day, Beaudry hit send on the following tweet:


If you follow the WHL, you know that the Saskatoon Blades didn’t qualify for the playoffs and, subsequently, head coach Dean Brockman was fired.

If you are one of those people who believes that things happen for a reason, well, before joining the Blades as an assistant coach, Brockman spent 17 seasons with the Broncos, the last 10 as general manager and head coach.

With that in mind, might Brockman end up back there, charged with putting the franchise back together?

Only time will tell. In the meantime, Brockman’s thoughts on the tragedy and what has transpired are right here in a piece from CBC.


On Tuesday afternoon, I posted a piece here — The boys grab some sticks and win a game — and the response has blown me away. On Wednesday morning, Cam Hutchinson, the editor of the Saskatoon Express, asked for permission to print the story in the next issue of that newspaper. Of course, I told him to go ahead. So, if you’re in the Saskatoon area, you can watch for it in print on Monday and online on Tuesday. . . . On Wednesday afternoon, following the death of Broncos athletic therapist Dayna Brons, I updated the story to include her.



There are stories everywhere involving victims of Friday’s bus accident. Here’s one that I absolutely love. . . . Graysen Cameron is one of the Humboldt players who was hospitalized after the accident. His brother, Bretton, is the captain of the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He played three seasons (2007-10) with the Medicine Hat Tigers, while Willie Desjardins was the general manager and head coach. . . . Bretton badly wanted to get to Saskatoon in order to be with Graysen, but was having visa problems. It just happened that Desjardins called on Saturday to ask about Graysen. During the conversation, Bretton mentioned the visa issues. Well, it seems that Desjardins knows a lawyer through his NHL connections and, well, Bretton was on a plane to Saskatoon on Sunday. . . . These are the kinds of relationships that are forged while buses carry teams across this land.