Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sutter: 'There were some issues' . . . High praise for Chiefs' prospect . . . Warriors to fund improvements



Brent Sutter, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Red Deer Rebels, is looking forward to a new season with some new faces on his roster. The Rebels were the host team for the 2016
Memorial Cup and it seems that the ship wasn’t always sailing on calm seas.
“Obviously it was a Memorial Cup year and we had some good players on our team, but they were older players,” Sutter told Rebels writer Greg Meachem. “There certainly were some issues with some of our older players . . . trying to get them to stay on page, to get them to play at the level we needed them to be at every night and trying to get them to be team players.
“The kids who are coming back, they certainly saw that. They saw what the guys who are moving on to pro hockey with signed contracts . . . what they were like. Hopefully, the returning guys learned from that. Hopefully, they can be better players for it and lead these younger guys and show them how things have to be done.
“I’m certainly hoping from a management and coaching perspective that some of the issues we had to deal with last year we won’t have to deal with this year.”
Meachem’s complete story is right here.
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“He's one of the best prospects I've ever seen. He's got a terrific stride, skates like (Sidney) Crosby. Hard to knock off his feet, just cutting around the defense and accelerating.” . . . According to Adrian Dater of bleacherreport.com, the speaker was Scotty Bowman, and he was referring to F Luke Toporowski after watching the U.S. National Development camp that was held recently in Buffalo. . . . Toporowski is the son of former Spokane enforcer Kerry Toporowski and was taken by the Chiefs with the eighth overall selection in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Dater has more on the Toporowskis right here.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors announced Wednesday that they will spent $520,000 to improve the lighting and sound in Mosaic Place. . . . According to a news release: “The Warriors investment includes the purchase of a new lighting system featuring 48 independent LED (light-emitting diode) lighting units including colour, as well as a JBL Powered Sound System that will bring a clearer, richer quality arena level sound to Mosaic Place and Warriors games.” . . . The upgrades are scheduled to be ready to go when the Warriors stage their home-opener, on Sept. 23, against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
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The U of Saskatchewan Huskies unveiled their 2016-17 recruiting class on Wednesday and it includes 10 former WHL players -- F Alex Forsberg, F Connor Gay, D Colby Harmsworth, F Wyatt Johnson, D Tanner Lishchynsky, F Elliott Peterson, F Carson Stadnyk, F Colton Stephenson, F Jordan Tkatch and G Daniel Wapple. . . . The complete news release is right here.
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Craig West, the veteran radio voice of the Tri-City Americans, wants you to know that, like Prince Albert Raiders play-by-play man Drew Wilson, he’s ready for another season.
While Wilson prepared by competing in triathlons and 140-km cycling events, West says he got ready
by joining his old pals on the Spokane Oldtimers and playing in the 41st annual Snoopy Seniors tournament last month in Santa Rosa, Calif.
The Spokane gang successfully defended the gold medal that it won a year ago in the 60 and over division. Spokane, with West in goal, opened with a 2-1 victory over San Jose; beat Long Island, N.Y., 11-3; and ended the tournament with a 6-2 victory over Anchorage in a game that began at 6 a.m.
One day later, West was back in the press box calling a baseball game — the Tri-City Dust Devils scored a 3-2 10th-inning victory over the Boise Hawks in a Northwest League game.
West encountered some familiar names at the Snoopy tournament, including former Portland Winterhawks G Peter Fry and former NHLers like Benoit Hogue, who was in goal for a Phoenix team, Rod Buskas and Terry Harper.
West says playing all the time is his “golf game” and keeps him “forever young.”
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While we’re on the subject of goaltenders . . . did you hear the one about the goaltender who walked into a beer store in Russell, Man., the hometown of Theo Fleury, and helped a partner walk off with “several cases of beer,” according to the RCMP. . . . David Larkin of the Winnipeg Sun has more right here.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

The NHL’s Arizona Coyotes announced Wednesday that they have hired Dawn Braid as their skating coach, making her the first full-time female coach in NHL history. . . . She worked part-time with the Coyotes last season, and also has worked with the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs. . . . While Braid may be the NHL’s first full-time female coach, as Sunaya Sapurji points out in the above tweet, women have long been coaching hockey players in skating technique. . . . Liane Davis of Regina, for example, has operated Liane Davis Power Skating for longer than she likely cares to remember. According to her website, “Players from each of the 30 NHL teams, all 22 WHL teams, various OHL, QMJHL, NCAA, European teams and every Junior A league in North America have participated in my program.” . . . There is more on Braid’s hiring right here.
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Raiders show profit for 2015-16 . . . Wheaties get their GM . . . Ice adds coach . . . Veteran scouts on move








F Ned Lukacevic (Spokane, Swift Current, 2001-06) has signed a one-year contract with Katowice (Poland, PHL). Last season, with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 21 games. He also had nine goals and 12 assists in 25 games with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite). . . .
D Kirill Vorobyev (Portland, 2012-13) has been assigned by CSKA Moscow (KHL, Russia) to Zvezda Chekhov (Russia, Vysshaya Liga). Last season, with CSKA Moscow, he had three assists in 28 games. He also had two goals and six assists in 16 games with Zvezda Chekhov . He had one assist in two games with Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (Russia, MHL). MHL (Molodezhnaya Liga) is Russia's top junior league.
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It isn’t much, but it’s a profit, and that’s important to the community-owned teams in the WHL. The Prince Albert Raiders held their annual meeting on Monday and reported a profit of $3,892 for the 2015-16 season. . . . The Raiders showed a profit despite that fact that their attendance dropped 62 fans per game from 2014-15, when the franchise reported a loss of $61,365. In 2015-16, the Raiders averaged 2,369 fans per game. . . . The Raiders definitely would appear to be headed in the right direction; after all, they reported a loss of more than $262,000 for the 2013-14 season.
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The Brandon Wheat Kings, the WHL’s defending champions, announced Tuesday that they have signed Grant Armstrong as their general manager. He replaces Kelly McCrimmon, the franchise’s owner and governor, who is joining the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise as assistant general manager. McCrimmon had been the GM since 1989, when he took over from Bill Shinske. . . . Guy Flaming of The Pipeline Show was the first to suggest that Armstrong could be headed to the Wheat Kings. . . . “I think it’s time,” Armstrong told Taking Note. “Hopefully, we’ll provide Kelly with a team he’s going to be proud of.” . . . . Armstrong, 54, from North Vancouver, had been with the Victoria Royals for four seasons, the past two as assistant GM, player personnel. Before that, he was the director of player personnel for two seasons. . . . Prior to that, Armstrong spent four seasons as the Portland Winterhawks’ head scout. . . . He has been a familiar face in Lower Mainland hockey circles, having coached the junior B North Delta Devils, while serving as the North Vancouver Minor Hockey Association’s director of hockey operations. He also has been involved with the North Delta Minor Hockey Association as a coach and development co-ordinator. He was honoured with the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association’s Coaching Development Award in 2003. . . . The Wheat Kings also announced that Mick McCrimmon, 30, will be the team’s assistant GM. McCrimmon, Kelly’s son, has a law degree, and will assist in hockey and business operations.
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The Kootenay Ice has signed Roman Vopat as an assistant coach. He spent the previous two seasons as an assistant coach with the Prince George Cougars. . . . Vopat played two seasons in the WHL, with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince Albert Raiders, before going on to a 16-year professional career that included 133 NHL games. A native of Litvinov, Czech Republic, Vopat and his family reside in Cranbrook. . . . With the Ice, he’ll join head coach Luke Pierce and fellow assistant Gordon Burnett behind the bench.
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With WHL training camps about to open, or in some cases having already started, Alan Caldwell has come through again. His annual numbers-filled look at WHL teams and their prospects is right here.
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Vaughn Karpan, a native of The Pas, Man., has joined the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise as its director of player personnel. He had been with the Montreal Canadiens since 2005, most recently as director of pro scouting. He also worked with the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes for 13 years, five as director of amateur scouting. . . . Karpan played for Canada’s national men’s team (1983-88), playing in two Olympic Winter Games. He captained the U of Manitoba Bisons while playing there and also played one season (1979-80) with the Brandon Wheat Kings. . . . Las Vegas also confirmed something that was reported here yesterday — former Prince Albert Raiders general manager Bruno Campese has been hired as an amateur scout.
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Bruce Franklin, a longtime scout with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, has moved to the Anaheim Ducks to fill the new position of director of player evaluation. Franklin spent 23 years with Chicago, the last six as chief amateur scout. . . . He cut his scouting teeth in the WHL, where he was part of two Memorial Cup champions. He was a scout with the 1984-85 Prince Albert Raiders and the director of player personnel with the 1988-89 Swift Current Broncos.
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Scott Galbraith, a fan of the OHL’s London Knights, has filed a civil statement of claim asking for $100,000, including $80,000 for aggravated and punitive damages, after he says he purchased a game-used sweater but wasn’t given the one that he had bought. The suit also names the Canadian Hockey League and the Hockey Hall of Fame. . . . Robert Cribb of the Toronto Star has more right here.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

Billy Keane is the new head coach of the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. He had been their assistant coach, so steps up to fill the spot created when Don MacGillivray joined the Brandon Wheat Kings as an assistant coach. . . . McGillivray had been the GM/head coach of the Blues for seven seasons. . . . Keane had been an assistant coach with the Blues for three seasons. He played for them for two seasons (1982-84). . . . Tim Schick will be the Blues’ director of hockey operations and head scout, with Wayne Bartley on board as assistant coach. . . . Keane is the brother of former NHL/WHL F Mike Keane.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Hurricanes, Ice swap forwards . . . Broncos sign one, release two

F Jesse Zaharichuk wanted out of Cranbrook, so the Kootenay Ice accommodated him. On Monday, the Ice dealt the 19-year-old to the Lethbridge Hurrianes for F Barrett Sheen, who will turn 18 on Sept. 20. . . . Zaharichuk, from Sherwood Park, Alta., played one-plus seasons with the Kamloops Blazers before being dealt to the Ice last season. He had eight goals and 20 assists in 43 games with the Ice, after totalling seven goals and 21 assists in 65 games over two seasons with Kamloops. . . . Sheen, from Airdrie, Alta., had four goals and eight assists in 46 games as a freshman with the Hurricanes last season. He is a cousin to former Hurricanes F Riley Sheen. . . . The Hurricanes get some skill with the 5-foot-8, 155-pound Zaharichuk, but give up size in trading away the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Barrett Sheen.
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The Swift Current Broncos signed F Quinton Waitzner to a WHL contract on Monday, while revealing that two veterans — F Austin Adamson, 20, and D Mark Taraschuk, 19 — have been
released. . . . Waitzner, from Victoria, was a ninth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, he had eight goals and nine assists in 18 games with Shawnigan Lake School’s varsity team in the Canadian Sports School Varsity Hockey League. He added a goal and two assists in four playoff games, and also had one assist in nine games with the school’s prep team in the CSSHL. . . . Adamson, from Richmond, B.C., had a goal and four assists in 23 games with the Broncos after being acquired from the Red Deer Rebels in January. He also has played with the Saskatoon Blades. In 134 regular-season games, he has eight goals and 12 assists. . . . Taraschuk, from Winnipeg, came over from the Brandon Wheat Kings in November, then left the Broncos for what the team said was “personal reasons” in February. He had one goal in 19 games with Swift Current. He was a sixth-round pick by the Wheat Kings in the 2012 bantam draft. In 50 games over two seasons with Brandon, he had 10 assists.
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Bruno Campese, the former general manager of the Prince Albert Raiders, is joining the NHL expansion franchise in Las Vegas, a source told Taking Note on Monday. . . . Campese, 53, was in Prince Albert for eight seasons (2007-15). He was the head coach for four-plus seasons and the general manager for seven seasons. . . . Last season, he was the head coach of the bantam prep team at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton. He also scouted for the Kelowna Rockets. . . . A goaltender in his playing days, Campese played one season (1982-83) with the Portland Winterhawks and the next with the Kelowna Wings.
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It was mentioned here yesterday that the U of Alberta Golden Bears were welcoming D Ben Carroll, from the Edmonton Oil Kings, to the fold, and that they may yet end up with D Ryan Rehill (Kamloops Blazers), F Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels), F Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets) and D Jason Fram (Spokane Chiefs), all of whom will first attend pro camps. . . . It should be mentioned that the Golden Bears also have ex-WHL forwards Cole Linaker (Kelowna), Taylor Cooper (Brandon Wheat Kings, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Regina Pats) and Todd Fiddler (Medicine Hat Tigers, Prince Albert Raiders, Spokane, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince George Cougars) coming in, and they may yet land F Trevor Cox (Medicine Hat, Vancouver Giants). Fiddler counted 92 goals in his last two WHL seasons before dipping his toes into the ECHL last season. As well, D Graeme Craig (Swift Current Broncos, Saskatoon Blades, Prince Albert) will play after red-shirting. . . . The Golden Bears didn’t win the CIS championship last season. Perhaps they took it personally!
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Scott Galbraith, who collects game-worn sweaters, paid $3,510 for a game-worn sweater. But he says he didn’t get what he paid for and apparently is threatening to sue the OHL’s London Knights. For their part, the Knights say they have done nothing wrong. . . . Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press has more right here.



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The Mermaid Who Started a New Olympic Sport




You can't talk about synchronized swimming without mentioning Esther Williams, the queen of the pool. She may not have invented the sport but she certainly launched it into the limelight. In 1984, Jim Murray did the following column on Williams and how the sport of synchronized swimming came to be in the Olympics.
Congratulations to the Russian team that took gold in both team and duets in Rio.
Enjoy! 
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THURSDAY, AUGUST 2, 1984, SPORTS
Copyright 1984/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY

The Mermaid Who Started a New Olympic Sport

No one knows exactly the derivation of about half the sports in an Olympics. The javelin is pretty easy to figure out. How else could you kill a dinosaur in 1 million BC? The discus is a little harder to 
figure. So is the hammer throw. Come to think of it, the backstroke seems a pretty inefficient way to get away from crocodiles.
The inventors of a lot of the ball sport events are no longer with us. Dr. James Naismith of basketball fame, for example, has gone to a higher tournament. Whoever invented kayak pairs; small-bore rifle, prone; the coxless fours, or the clean-and-jerk weightlift and the uneven bars has gone to his reward. Presumably, they were all dour, pipe-smoking, gym teacher types with handlebar moustaches, festooned with stopwatches and charts.
But the inventor, or at least, the popularizer, of one Olympic sport is none of the above. She is, in fact, an American Aphrodite, an orchidaceous goddess of the sea who put a whole generation of her contemporaries in back-yard swimming pools and was the mermaid of a thousand schoolboy dreams.
Esther Williams did more for a bathing suit than John Wayne ever did for a cowboy hat, Tom Mix for a horse, Errol Flynn for a sword, Ronald Colman for a pith helmet or Cary Grant for a tuxedo.
She put a generation of shopgirls not only in handkerchief bathing suits but in upswept hairdos. She practically made the suntan-oil industry and wrecked the parasol business by herself.
Esther was a dirt-poor Los Angeles schoolgirl who became the best swimmer in the world in the hectic prewar year of 1940, when she won gold medals in 100-meter freestyle, butterfly and medley swimming at the national championships in Des Moines that year. Esther was 17.
When you shed a tear for the poor boycotting athletes of 1980 and '84, consider that Esther's generation was one of the first to be deprived of its gold-medal shot. The Helsinki Olympics of 1940 were canceled. The Red Army was at the gates of Finland, and Hitler was rolling through France. Esther, instead of winning a gold medal in Helsinki, was working in the windows of I. Magnin's Wilshire Boulevard store pinning scarves on mannequins for $78 a month.
It was a time when Billy Rose was married to Eleanor Holm, the unfrocked swim star of the '36 Olympics, and was staging an ‘Aquacade’, i.e., a Ziegfeld Follies, in a tank at the San Francisco World's Fair. Rose figured it was a swell way to undress some of the most gorgeous chorus-girl shafts in the country.
Esther Williams was tall, green-eyed and voluptuous. She really didn't have to swim, but she did.
MGM came panting. Johnny Hyde, Sam Katz, L.B. Mayer himself came waving blank contracts. Esther, a practical sort, balked. She already had a career — after all, they promised to make her assistant buyer with a raise to $200 a month at Magnin’s.
She made a screen test with Clark Gable, no less. The studio figured once Gable kissed her, a movie career would look infinitely better. They were right. "I melted," admits Esther, who always had a lusty interest in the other sex and romance. "You're tall," Louis B. Mayer told her accusingly. "You're short," Esther told him, accurately enough. From then on, she was studio pet.
Hollywood had a canny history of turning Olympic sport into beauty pageant and a welcome break in the programs of gangster movies, war dramas and horse operas. In the silent era, they had signed up Annette Kellerman, the bathing beauty who had popularized the one-piece bathing suit and took ankles out of the closet, and made a fortune with her. They found Sonja Henie, a Dresden doll in a skating costume at Hitler's Olympics and not only made Sun Valley Serenade, but launched a dozen Ice Follies-type touring shows.
Esther Williams and Busby Berkeley turned a swimming pool into a seraglio, a sultan's dream with breathtaking production numbers of gorgeous girls swimming in geometric shapes around blue water while Esther, with orchids and exotic plants wound round her hair framing that beauteous face, was the centerpiece.
The plots weren't much. The titles should tell you. Neptune's Daughter, Jupiter's Darling, Million Dollar Mermaid, Bathing Beauty, Pagan Love Song, Easy To Love, Andy Hardy's Double Life. Esther got to kiss her leading men, including Mickey Rooney, under water. The critics were beside themselves with gnashing teeth, of course. The critics always want Hollywood to make Ibsen and Grapes Of Wrath, in that order. "Wet, she's a star. Dry, she ain't," they jeered.
"I never had a picture that was praised by Time, Bosley Crowther or The New Yorker," Esther lamented. But she never had a picture that lost money. Million Dollar Mermaid was the second-biggest grosser (to Gone With the Wind) in Metro history at the time.
The songs were toe-tapping. Magic Is the Moonlight, Baby, It's Cold Outside. Recalls Esther: "More girls between the ages of 12 and 18 went to my movies than any others on the lot or in the town." She was the hottest single property the town had seen since Shirley Temple.
But what was more important, her films introduced the world to the beauty of choreographed swimming. "We called it 'Water Ballet,' " she said.
Stage 30 at MGM became the most important swimming hole in history. When Esther first showed up on camera, she splashed down the pool in near-world record time. Mayer was disgusted, "I don't want fast, I want pretty!" he shouted.
They've been getting it pretty ever since. A new sport was spawned. It was called ‘synchronized swimming.’ Women who had been trying to get it certificated for years saw its acceptance grow by quantum leaps every time Esther surfaced through leis of plumeria and birds of paradise to fall into the arms of Fernando Lamas.
Esther got rich huckstering swimming pools (Hollywood didn't give residuals in those days), but synchronized swimming became an Olympic event and gave a new meaning to the term “breaststroke," at least for the men in the audience who had popped for $200 a seat to watch medleys.
Avery Brundage, the crusty old czar of the Games, had resisted the event for years. "It's not sport, it's show biz," he growled.
Esther, still the unlined beauty who used to rise out of a sea of chlorines and corsages, is finally getting her Olympics. She will be an ABC-TV commentator for the swimming, diving, and, of course, synchronized swimming events in the Olympics.
She sternly defends its inclusion in the Games. "It's a grueling sport. You have to do acrobatic lifts, you can't touch bottom, you have to train for years, you have to be precise, skilled and athletic.”
And of course, in the old days, you got kissed by Clark Gable.  

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116

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What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation's efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Scattershoot
One of these days, Kelly McCrimmon, the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, will get around to announcing a new general manager. That is expected to be Grant Armstrong, the Victoria Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel. . . . McCrimmon, who has signed on assistant GM with the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise, had been the Wheat Kings’ GM since 1989. The GM in Brandon prior to McCrimmon? Bill Shinske.
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In Spokane, Tim Speltz is leaving his post as GM to join the Toronto Maple Leafs as the NHL team’s head western scout. Speltz had been the Chiefs’ GM since 1990. The last Spokane GM before Speltz took over? Vic Fitzgerald, who owned the Chiefs before selling the franchise to Bobby Brett.
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With training camps about to open, it would seem that all of the post-Memorial Cup speculation involving Brent Sutter’s future as the head coach of the Red Deer Rebels was nothing but hot air. Thankfully.
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Let’s be honest. The star of the Rio Olympics was the Tongan flag bearer in the opening and closing ceremonies. . . . BTW, I realized the Olympics were over when I scanned the TV listings on Sunday evening and the World Poker Tour was on four of the Rogers Sportsnet channels.
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The Portland Timbers were in Seattle on Sunday evening for an MLS game with the Sounders. At one point, a Portland player went down, perhaps injured. According to a tweet from Paige Cornwell (@pgcornwell), Seattle fans chanted: “Let him die! Let him die!” . . . That’s like something out of a Monty Python skit, isn’t it? . . . We will hope that kind of stuff doesn’t reach the rivalry between Portland and Seattle WHL fans.
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The Medicine Hat News reported last week that Tigers F Matt Bradley suffered a separated shoulder in the first period of his first game at the Montreal Canadiens’ development camp in July. Bradley, 19, who had 23 goals and 28 assists with the Tigers last season, hasn’t yet been cleared for contact so may miss the start of training camp. Remind me again why these players need to be in camps during the summer months?
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Yes, it’s time for the WHL to get out in front of things by attaching an automatic game misconduct to a fighting major, so long as an opponent didn’t get an instigating minor. It’s the right thing to do if, that is, player safety really is paramount.
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Is there a bigger tire fire in the sporting world these days than the Saskatchewan Roughriders? They were 3-15 a year ago; today, their offence is bad, their defence is worse — for starters, they can’t pressure the QB because the secondary can’t cover — and they are taking their 1-7 record into Edmonton for a Friday date with the high-flying Eskimos.
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On Aug. 7, Drew Wilson, the radio voice of the Prince Albert Raiders, completed the Frank Dunn Triathlon at Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park. On Aug. 14, he completed a 100-kilometre bike ride in Saskatoon. On Aug. 21, he completed Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria, which covered 140 km. . . . Any question as to which WHL play-by-play guy is most ready for the grind of another season?
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D Ben Carroll, who played the past three seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings, will attend the U of Alberta and play this season for the Golden Bears. From Sherwood Park, Alta., he played out his junior eligibility last season. . . . There also is speculation that the Golden Bears will get D Ryan Rehill (Kamloops Blazers), F Luke Philp (Kootenay Ice, Red Deer Rebels), F Tyson Baillie (Kelowna Rockets) and D Jason Fram (Spokane Chiefs) if they aren’t able to earn pro contracts at NHL camps. The latter four also played in the WHL as 20-year-olds last season. . . . That would be some kind of recruiting class should Alberta add those four to its roster.
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My wife, Dorothy, is to be one of the co-honourees — along with her friend Margaret Thompson — of the 2016 Kamloops Kidney Walk. Each year, the walk salutes someone who has worked to shine a light on kidney transplants and organ donorship. Dorothy, who had a kidney transplant almost three years ago, will take part in her third straight Kidney Walk on Sept. 25. If you would like to sponsor her, please click right here.
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Friday, August 19, 2016

Flooding misses Dumonts . . . OHL closer to banning fighting . . . Wheaties have new voice

G Tyler Weiman (Tri-City, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract with the Daemyung Killer Whales Incheon (South Korea, Asia HL). Last season, with Val Pusteria Brunico (Italy, Serie A), he was 1.96 and .948 in three regular-season games. In 15 playoff games, he was 2.30 and .933. . . .
F Darian Dziurzynski (Saskatoon, Brandon, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had two goals and two assists in nine games with the Tulsa Oilers (ECHL), 12 goals and 11 assists in 35 games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL), 10 goals and three assists in 17 games with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL), and one goal in three games with the Binghamton Senators (AHL).
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The state of Louisiana has encountered some horrid weather-related difficulties of late. Louis Dumont, who played four seasons (1990-94) in the WHL with the Regina Pats and Kamloops Blazers, lives in Lafayette. When I asked how he and his family — wife Hayley, daughter Camille and son Jacques — are doing, he replied:
“My wife, daughter and son are well. Our home is in an older neighborhood that drains well, so we
Louis Dumont is the ECHL's all-time leader in assists
and points.
(Photo: echl.com)
had no flooding. Everyone around us and in the surrounding towns are in rough shape.
“The water table is already extremely high down here. We received 22 inches of rain in a matter of 24 hours. The weather system rolled in an stayed. Multiple hurricanes have come through this area over the years, but none of them have produced this much flooding.
“The Cajun people are very resilient, and thankfully own a lot of boats.”
Dumont, who won a Memorial Cup with the 1993-94 Blazers, is the general manager of the Louisiana IceGators, a Southern Professional Hockey League franchise that has suspended operations at least for 2016-17 due to its home arena undergoing renovations. BTW, that arena may have the greatest name in all of hockey — the Cajundome.
If you aren’t aware Dumont, who was a real smoothie, is the ECHL’s career assists (566) and points (891) leader, having done it in 771 games during stints over 12 seasons with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, Wheeling Thunderbirds, Louisiana, Augusta Lynx, Pensacola Ice Pilots, Mississippi Sea Wolves and Utah Grizzlies.
Dumont, now 43, retired after 2010-11. He spent his last five seasons with the CHL’s Mississippi RiverKings. He put up 282 points over 318 games in those final five seasons.
In the WHL, he had 380 points, including 172 goals, in 279 games.
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To its credit, the OHL is closer to eliminating fighting from its games after lowering the suspension threshold from 10 games to three. The league recently concluded its annual meeting and its board of governors has chosen to suspend players who get into a fourth fight. Last season, that number was 10 fights; this season, a fourth fight, and all subsequent scraps, will be subject to a two-game suspension. If an opponent is hit with an instigating penalty that fight won’t count in a player’s total.
From an OHL news release: “Since the adoption of the 10-fight threshold for 2012-13, the league has seen the number of fights decrease by 49.5% and for the last two seasons has not had a single player with more than 10 fights based on the threshold criteria established.” . . . According to a tweet from Adam Gretz (@AGretz): “82 players in the OHL had at least 3 fights last season. 56 went over that number.”
The OHL also has added a rule aimed at eliminating blindside hits. Again, from a news release: “There will be a penalty assessed for those players who check an opponent from the blindside. Based on the discretion of the referee, a minor, major and game misconduct or match penalty may be assessed. Such infraction would also be subject to review and possible supplementary discipline by the league.”
The OHL also has ditched no-touch icing in favour of hybrid icing, as is used by the NHL.
The OHL gets it. It really does. The OHL hands down stiff suspensions for headshots. Now it is doing something about blindside checks. And it continues to work towards the elimination of fighting.
It is all about player safety, something the OHL has been working to improve over the past few seasons. In a season or two, don’t be surprised if the OHL bans fighting altogether.
The QMJHL and WHL would be wise to get in step with the OHL on these matters.



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D Dmitri Zaitsev has arrived in Moose Jaw and has signed a WHL contract with the Warriors.
Zaitsev, 18, is from Togliatti, Russia. The Warriors selected him during the CHL’s 2016 import draft. . . . Last season, with the NAHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights, he had 22 points, including seven goals, in 53 games. He was named to the East Division’s all-rookie team. He was selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. . . . Zaitsev joins Russian F Nikita Popugaev, who will be 19 on Nov. 20, as the Warriors’ two import players. Popugaev is recovering from offseason surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during last season’s playoffs, but should be ready for the start of camp. He had 47 points, 16 of them goals, in 70 games as a freshman last season.
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Branden Crowe is the new voice of the Brandon Wheat Kings on radio station 880 CKLQ. Crowe, who is from Boissevain, Man., replaces Bruce Luebke, who had called the play of Wheat Kings’ games for the past 23 seasons. . . . CKLQ and Luebke parted company last month; neither party has made any public comment explaining what happened. . . . Most recently, Crowe was marketing manager and radio voice for the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. . . . The defending-champion Wheat Kings are heading into their 50th anniversary season; CKLQ is preparing for its 25th year as the team’s radio home. . . . Crowe will make his Wheat Kings play-by-play debut on Sept. 9 when Brandon meets the visiting Moose Jaw Warriors in an exhibition game.
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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blazers, Rockets make a deal . . . Ex-Pats coach back behind bench

You know what they say about some things depending on whose bull is being gored?
Well, on March 4, D Joe Gatenby of the visiting Kelowna Rockets stepped up in the neutral zone and drilled F Jake Kryski of the Kamloops Blazers with as hard a check as was seen in the WHL last season.
It was the second period of a game that was televised nationally in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet.
Kryski, who suffered a broken nose on the play, skated one more shift and called it a night. The Blazers weren’t happy with the hit, and F Deven Sideroff went right to Gatenby and dropped the mitts.
The next day, the Blazers filed for supplemental discipline; however, Kryski subsequently passed the concussion protocol and Gatenby wasn’t suspended. In fact, both played that night in Kelowna.
So, on Thursday, you guessed it . . . 
The Blazers acquired Gatenby, 19, and his brother Danny, a defenceman who will turn 18 on Sept. 17, from the Rockets for Kryski, 18. Kamloops also received a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft. The Gatenbys are from Kelowna.
Shortly after the trade was announced, the Blazers, now with Joe Gatenby on their roster, were on Twitter . . . 
The Blazers made the trade in the hopes that the older Gatenby will be able to eat up some of the playing time created by the departure of Ryan Rehill, who played out his eligibility last season. Rehill played a regular shift, was on the point of the first power-play unit and also killed penalties. Yes, Gatenby is going to get his fill of playing time in Kamloops.
Joe Gatenby, 6-foot-0 and 185 pounds, is preparing for his fourth WHL season after being a second-
round pick by the Rockets in the 2012 bantam draft. He has 44 points, including five goals, in 174 regular-season games, all with the Rockets. Last season, he earned 23 points, three of them goals, in 66 games. He also has played in 52 playoff games and five Memorial Cup games. An alternate captain, he was honoured by the Rockets as their top defenceman last season.
Danny Gatenby, 6-foot-3 and 180 pounds, split last season between the Rockets (22 games) and the major midget Okanagan Rockets (15 games). He had one assist with Kelowna and 10 points, including two goals, with Okanagan.
With the two Gatenbys on board, the Blazers have nine defencemen on their roster with at least some WHL experience, the others being Dallas Valentine, 20, Cameron Reagan, 19, Dawson Davidson and Ondrej Vala, both 18, and Nolan Kneen and Conner McDonald, both 17. As well, Luke Zazula, a highly skilled 16-year-old from Langley, B.C., got into three games last season and is expected to be on the roster when the new season opens.
From Vancouver, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Kryski was the 13th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft, taken by the Prince Albert Raiders. He was dealt to Kamloops in a trade that had G Cole Cheveldave go the other way. Kryski had 65 points, including 23 goals, in 136 regular-season games with the Blazers. Last season, he recorded 39 points, 12 of them goals.
The Rockets have lost F Tyson Baillie, their leading scorer from last season, to graduation, while F Rourke Chartier and F Justin Kirkland are likely to at least start the season as professionals. The Rockets, then, are hoping that Kryski can become one of their top six forwards. If they are fortunate, he will find some chemistry with the sublime F Nick Merkley, who is coming off a season-ending knee injury and create some offensive magic.
If you’re wondering, the Blazers and Rockets last pulled off a meaningful trade on Oct. 14 when F Gage Quinney, 20, was dealt to Kamloops for a third-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. Quinney provided the Blazers with 50 points in 48 games; the Rockets used the pick to take F Dallon Wilton of Beausejour, Man., who had 48 points in 32 games with the bantam AAA Eastern Selects.
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The Saskatoon Blades will celebrate the life of Gordie Howe, aka Mr. Hockey, on Sept. 25. As plans
now stand, the ashes of Howe, who died on June 10 at 88, and his wife Colleen, who passed away in 2009, will be buried near a statue of Howe that stands by the Blades’ home arena, the SaskTel Centre. . . . Steve Hogle, the Blades’ president, asked city council to declare the area around the statue a cemetery, in order to allow this to happen. City council now has asked the Saskatchewan government for the OK. . . . The interment is only part of a special day that the Blades are planning. . . . Included in the goings-on will be a noon tailgate party and a pregame ceremony at 2 p.m. The Blades and Swift Current Broncos will play at 2:25 p.m. . . . Andrea Hill of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here.
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With the state of Alaska battling budget deficits, it seems the hockey programs at the U of Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks may be in trouble. . . . “The Alaska university system released a Strategic Pathways report Thursday that detailed ‘options to be considered’ to address a state legislative mandate to trim $50 million from the budget of the university system,” College Hockey News reports. “The report addressed three options specifically related to athletics at both Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks, and all three would affect the hockey programs of at least one of the schools.” . . . One option would eliminate both schools’ athletic departments. Another option would have the schools merge their athletic departments and cut the number of sports in which the new department would participate. A third option would eliminate Division I sports — that would include hockey — and compete on with existing sports in Division II. . . . “We are in a crisis (in Alaska),” Keith Hackett, the athletic director at Alaska-Anchorage, said. “And there’s no two ways about it.” . . . The College Hockey News piece is right here.
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The Colorado Avalanche is about to begin interviewing potential head coaches as it works to replace Patrick Roy, who quit last week. Reports indicate that three of the candidates are former WHL players, two of whom have coached in the WHL. . . . Travis Green, the head coach of the AHL’s Utica Comets, is believed to be on Colorado’s radar. He played in the WHL with the Spokane Chiefs and Medicine Hat Tigers (1986-90) and coached with the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Lane Lambert, an assistant coach with the NHL’s Washington Capitals, spent two seasons (1981-83) with the Saskatoon Blades and coached with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince George Cougars. . . . Jared Bednar, who played with the Saskatoon Blades, Spokane, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders (1990-93), is the head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, who won the 2015-16 AHL title as the Lake Erie Monsters.  
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching
Former Regina Pats head coach Brad Tippett has signed on as director of hockey operations and head coach of the junior B Peninsula Panthers of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. . . . Tippett takes over as head coach from Rob Mortin, who left the team to pursue other opportunities. . . . Tippett, a brother to long-time NHL coach Dave Tippett, coached the Pats for four seasons (1989-93). . . . Steven Heywood of the Peninsula News Review has more on this story right here.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors have hired Scott King as assistant coach/co-ordinator, player development. . . . From Saskatoon, King played one season at Boston U and then joined the Kelowna Rockets for the 1996-97 season. He went on to a pro career that included 14 seasons (2001-15) in Germany. Last season, King served as the Warriors’ skills coach and also was Hockey Canada’s head skills development coach. . . . King, 39, is the son of veteran coach Dave King.
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The SJHL’s Nipawin Hawks have hired T.J. Millar as an assistant coach. From Calgary, Millar, 22, had been the Tri-City Americans’ video coach.
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