Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mpofu lays down the law . . . Cameron back in coaching game

Some old, some new . . . as I try to catch up after a few days away . . .
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F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL). Last season, with Spokane, he had 23 points, 11 of them goals, in 72 games. He has dual Canadian-German citizenship. . . .
D Petr Šenkeřík (Kootenay, Prince George, 2009-10) signed a tryout contract with Vitkovice Ostrava (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had a goal and two assists in 24 games. In 17 games with Berounští Medvědi (Czech Republic, 1. Liga), he had 11 points, four of them goals. . . .
F Gal Koren (Kelowna, 2010-11) signed a one-year contract with Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, KHL), he had one goal in 23 games. He had four goals and four assists in 15 games with Olimpija Ljubljana, and was pointless in four games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . .
D Dmitri Sinitsyn (Regina, 2013-14) has signed a two-year, two-way contract with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had 44 points, including 10 goals, in 69 games with Regina. . . .
F Michal Pšurný (Medicine Hat, Kootenay, 2005-06) signed a one-year extension with the Manchester Phoenix (England, Premier). Last season, he led the league in scoring, putting up 99 points, including 45 goals, in 54 games. He was a first-team all-star. . . .
D Jace Coyle (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2007-11) signed a one-year contract with Aalborg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL), he had 31 points, including eight goals. He was pointless in three games on loan to the Lake Erie Monsters (AHL). . . .
D Tomáš Troliga (Calgary, 2003-04) signed a tryout contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Dukla Trenčín (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 24 points, 13 of them goals, in 46 games.
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F Vukie Mpofu, the 87th selection in the WHL’s 2011 bantam draft, has informed the Red Deer Rebels that he won’t be returning for a second season. Mpofu, 18, is a native of Saskatoon, who had 15 points, including nine goals, in 65 games last season.
He has decided to attend the U of Saskatchewan and study business and marketing as he works toward a law degree.
“He called me and told me he’d thought about it all summer and that his goal was to attend law school,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner/GM/head coach, told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate. “He felt it was important for him to start his schooling now (at the U of S) and then in four years enrol in law school in Toronto.”
Sutter told Meachem that he wasn’t surprised to hear from Mpofu.
“I don’t know how driven he was to be a hockey player and I told him that over the phone . . . that if his heart wasn’t in it then it was better to move on to school,” Sutter said. “I kind of had a feeling that something was up at the end of the season. After he got hurt he never had the same drive. His emotion for the game wasn’t the same when he came back and at our year-end meeting I had a feeling he really wasn’t all-in to being a player.”
Mpofu struggled in the second half of the season after returning from a lower-back injury.
 Mpofu told Meachem there wouldn’t be any looking back.
“I’ve had everything I could have ever asked for out of hockey and I’m at a point in my life — now that I’m out of high school — that every decision I make from here on in should be building toward my long-term goals and where I would eventually like to see myself in five to 10 years. That’s pretty much the basis of my decision,” Mpofu said.
“Hockey was a lot of fun for me, but I had to make a decision now for my future.”
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And now for some self-promotion . . .
Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, is a friend who writes daily on his blog. He also offers up some recommended readings for his followers.
The other day, he posted this right here:
“Here is one to put on your ‘Wish List’ so that folks can get you a book for your birthday or for Christmas…"
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Meanwhile, The Sports Curmudgeon also took time to dissect a claim by someone that the return of LeBron could put $500 million into the Cleveland economy. I always cringe when people, mostly of a political bent, start talking about how much a tournament or an event will mean to a city’s economy because there always seem to be a lot of numbers thrown around without a whole lot of proof. . . . Well, The Sports Curmudgeon explains the whole thing awfully well right here. Give this a read and the next time you hear/read about how much economic benefit there will be from an event coming to your town, you will feel a bit better informed.
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The Saskatoon Blades, under relatively new ownership and a freshman GM/head coach in Bob Woods, have realigned their scouting department. Doug Molleken, their head scout, now is director of scouting, eastern region, and will be responsible for Saskatchewan, Manitoba and the U.S. Molleken, 54, has signed a two-year extension. . . . Dan Tencer, 28, has been promoted from regional scout to director of scouting, western region, and will focus on Alberta and B.C. . . . Molleken and Tencer will report to Colin Priestner, the franchise’s managing partner who will oversee the bantam and European drafts. . . . There is more on the Blades’ scouting staff right here.
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“Wilfred Rose, 58, spent a career studying the pants pockets of New Yorkers,” writes Joseph Goldstein in The New York Times, “always on the lookout for ‘a nice stiff wallet’ full of cash, or better yet, the fainter outline of a dozen folded bills.” . . . This is the story of a man who may have been the greatest pickpocket in New York City’s history, and you won’t want to miss it. It’s right here.
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The Montreal Canadiens have signed F Nikita Scherbak, their first-round pick in the NHL’s 2014 draft, to a three-year, entry-level contract. Scherbak, from Russia, had 78 points, including 28 goals, in 65 games as a freshman with the Saskatoon Blades last season. Under terms of the CBA between the NHL and NHLPA, Scherbak, who doesn’t turn 19 until Dec. 30, has to play with the Canadiens or the Blades in 2014-15. Of course, the Blades could also choose to trade him. . . .
As you will have noticed in The MacBeth Report, D Dmitry Sinitsyn of the Regina Pats has signed with the KHL’s Dynamo Moscow. Sinitsyn, who turned 20 on June 17, may not have returned to the Pats anyway, as the Moscow native would have been a two-spotter -- a 20-year-old and an import. He was a seventh-round pick by the Dallas Stars in the NHL’s 2012 draft. The Pats’ roster also includes German F Maximilian Kammerer, who is preparing for his second WHL season, and Russian D Sergey Zborovsky, who was selected last month in the CHL import draft. . . . Regina finished last season with five other players who could be 20-year-olds on the 2014-15 roster -- F Braden Christoffer, F Patrick D’Amico, G Dawson MacAuley, F Logan McVeigh and F Chandler Stephenson. . . . Another note from The MacBeth Report has F Carter Proft (Brandon, Spokane, 2011-14) having signed with the Kassel Huskies of the German DEL. Proft, who turns 20 on Aug. 30, had 23 points, 11 of them goals, in 72 games last season with the Chiefs. Other 20-year-olds on Spokane’s roster are F Liam Stewart, F Marcus Messier, F Connor Chartier and D Reid Gow. . . .
The Portland Winterhawks have signed D Brendan De Jong, a seventh-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft out of Victoria. De Jong, 16, had 13 points in 32 games with the Pacific Sea Devils, an elite 15 team at the Pacific Coast Academy.
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THE COACHING GAME:
Malcolm Cameron, who spent last season as head coach of the Regina Pats, now is on staff at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, B.C. Cameron, 44, guided the Pats to WHL East Division regular-season title last season, but was fired by the franchise’s new owners last month. Prior to last season, he was an assistant coach with the Pats for two seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, Cameron was an ECHL head coach for eight season. . . .

ECHLJean-François (J.F.) Houle is the new head coach of the ECHL’s Bakersfield Condors, who are owned by the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. He takes over from Troy Mann, now the head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . For the past three seasons, Houle, 39, has been head coach of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. . . . He is the son of former Montreal Canadiens F Réjean Houle. . . . The Armada is working on finding a new head coach. . . .

The QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar is looking for a head coach after Eric Veilleux left to become head coach of the Norfolk Admirals, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. Veilleux, who had been with the Drakkar for two seasons, replaces Trent Yawney, who now is an assistant coach with the Ducks. The Drakkar reached the QMJHL final in each of Veilleux’s seasons. . . .

The Saskatoon Blades have added Shane Endicott (Seattle, 1997-2001) to their staff as the franchise’s first skills coach. Endicott, who is from Saskatoon, spent six seasons in the AHL after being the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him 52nd overall in the NHL’s 2000 draft. He retired after playing in Europe and opened On Ice Connections in Saskatoon. Last season, he helped the U of Saskatchewan Huskies women’s team to its first conference title. . . .

BCHLKevin Kraus (Kamloops, Tri-City, 2006-08) is returning to Vernon as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Vipers. He will work alongside GM/head coach Jason Williamson. A defenceman from Garden Grove, Calif., Kraus played 130 regular-season and 44 playoff games with the Vipers, helping them to two national championships. Kraus, 24, spent last season as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. With the Vipers, he replaces Kris Mallette, now an assistant coach with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. . . .

Kim Dillabaugh has left the Kelowna Rockets after 11 seasons as their goaltending coach. Dillabaugh is moving on to work full-time with the Stanley Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings. While working with the Rockets, he also has helped the Kings for the past eight seasons in the area of goaltending development. He will continue in that area with the Kings, but now also will scout for them. The Rockets plan is to hire a goaltending coach to replace Dillabaugh.

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Friday, July 18, 2014





Jack Finarelli, aka The Sports Curmudgeon, writing about LeBron James and his pursuit of Michael Jordan’s legend: “Michael Jordan and the Bulls went to the NBA Finals six times. The Bulls won all six of those series AND Michael Jordan was the MVP of the finals all six times. The simple fact is that James cannot meet let alone exceed that standard. James and his teams (Cavs and Heat) have been to the Finals five times. The Cavs/Heat have only won two of those five series. It would seem to me that the only way to exceed 6-for-6 would be to go 7-for-7. That is mathematically impossible.” . . . If you missed it Friday night, the host Ottawa Redblacks got past the Toronto Bluewhites, 18-17, in CFL action. . . .

I always wonder how they figure out these things, but some economists have done the calculations and decided that LeBron’s return to the Cleveland Cavaliers will benefit the local economy to the tune of $500 million. “More importantly for James,” writes Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post, “it will inject $21 million a year into his economy.” . . . Babe Ruth’s 1918 contract with the Boston Red Sox sold for $1.02 million the other day. “Out of force of habit,” reports Hamilton, “the Yankees bought it.” . . . Headline at SportsPickle.com: Local soccer bar back to just being an Irish pub again. . . .

“Did you see the new rule for the next America’s Cup?” asks Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle. “Seriously. The defending champion U.S. team will be allowed a backup boat, but the challenger teams will not. That’s like a World Series where only one team is allowed to have a bullpen.” . . . “Johnny Manziel might be second string in Cleveland,” notes Ostler, “but he’s a starter in Las Vegas, baby. Just before reporting to the Browns, Johnny Football was seen spraying Champagne on Vegas nightclub patrons. How many rookies are willing to put in the time practicing Super Bowl celebrations?” . . .

How bad was the smoke in the Kamloops area on Wednesday? My lungs thought they were smoking Export A’s for the first time since, well, 2003 when the hills around here were aflame. . . . So some guy in the Seattle area was really fed up with this spider he had noticed in his home. So he pulled out a can of spray paint and a cigarette lighter. Before he was done, he had caused $60,000 in fire damage to his home. . . . Gotta wonder when his spidey senses kicked in and told him it was hot in there. . . . No word on whether the spider survived. . . . “And once again,” wrote Janice Hough, aka The Left Coast Sports Babe, “somewhere Darwin is saying, ‘Missed it by that much.’ ” . . .

A question from Hough: “Who's done the better acting job in last month? The floppers of the World Cup or the millions of Americans who pretended to care about soccer?” . . . During Tuesday’s MLB All-Star game, this tweet was sent out by @CBSNews: “Michael Jeter takes bow at his final All-Star game.” To which Hough responded: “Wonder if Michael’s brother is any good?” . . . I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a problem with NL starter Adam Wainwright putting a fastball on a tee for AL shortstop Derek Jeter in the All-Star Game. . . . But I still have a problem with MLB using the All-Star Game to determine home-field advantage in the World Series. . . . Because of that, baseball still will be talking about that one pitch during the October-November Classic. . . . Contributor Bill Littlejohn says he’s heard that Wainwright’s “new walk-up music just became ‘Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon’ ” . . . In case you missed it, Lindsey Vonn and Roger Federer played some tennis the other day, atop a glacier in the Swiss Alps. “Federer was supposed to play Maria Sharapova,” noted Littlejohn, “but officials worried her grunting could have triggered an avalanche.” . . .

Mike Lupica, in The New York Daily News: “A friend of mine said that it might take Heat fans, as casual as they are about when they show up for games, until the middle of November to notice that LeBron is actually gone. And that’s without traffic.” . . . If you’re looking for a good read, you can’t go wrong with Up, Up & Away: The Kid, The Hawk, Rock, Vladi, Pedro, Le Grand Orange, Youppi!, The Crazy Business of Baseball, & the Ill-fated but Unforgettable Montreal Expos. If you were a fan of the Expos, author Jonah Keri will put you through an emotional wringer, especially when he reminds you how close this team came to being -- dare we say it? -- a dynasty. . . .

How loud was the celebration in Germany after the World Cup? “It was so noisy in Berlin,” reports comedy writer Alan Ray, “the CIA could barely hear to eavesdrop.” . . . “Russia is hosting the next World Cup,” notes syndicated columnist Norman Chad. “Of course, by 2018 the Russian empire could extend west to Poland and east to Alaska, so host cities are up in the air. Warsaw and Anchorage should be on high alert!” . . . Last weekend in sports is wrapped up by NBC’s Seth Meyers: “LeBron went back to being a Cavalier, Carmelo went back to being a Knick, and soccer went back to being a thing you drive your kids to.” . . . “So, hot-dog eating champ Joey Chestnut is about to be married?” writes Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times. “Our condiments to the bride.”

(Gregg Drinnan is a former sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post and the late Kamloops Daily News. He is at gdrinnan.blogspot.ca and twitter.com/gdrinnan. Keeping Score appears here on weekends, except when it doesn’t.)

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Warriors post profit despite decrease in ticket sales

Despite a $128,446 decrease in revenue from ticket sales and corporate boxes, the Moose Jaw Warriors reported a net profit of $61,566 for 2013-14 at their annual general meeting on Thursday night.
In a season in which 19 of the WHL’s 22 teams suffered a decrease in attendance, the Warriors’ total fell by 8,916, dropping the per-game average to 3,613 from 3,860.
Last season was the third for the Warriors in their new arena, the 4,414-seat Mosaic Place having opened prior to 2011-12. In their first season in the new building, the Warriors drew 140,313 fans, an average of 3,898 per game.
One year ago, the Warriors, a community-owned organization, reported a net profit of $343,890.
“I'm happy,” team president Chad Taylor told reporters. “We're keeping our costs in line, we offer a fair value for ticket prices and, at the end of the day, we want to make sure everyone has a good time, but we need to be profitable and we need to have money in the bank.”
The Warriors, who didn’t make the playoffs in either of the last two seasons, introduced Tim Hunter as their new head coach earlier Thursday. He replaces Mike Stothers, who left to become head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs.
“We lost a lot of revenue off of walk-up tickets this year and when you have a poorer team on the ice, the fan base isn't going to come support you and we understand that and we were prepared,” Taylor said. “The nice thing is we had enough revenue to cover off the expenses and keep the club healthy.”
The Warriors also are in a situation where they pledged $2 million for the construction of Mosaic Place. They paid another $200,000 on that last season. In fact, the Warriors, in total, paid Mosaic Place $777,282, a sum that included revenue sharing and the pledge.
For more, see Marc Smith’s story for discovermoosejaw.com that is right here.
Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald has a story on the meeting right here.
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Warriors, Giants sign head coaches . . . Two others on vacation!








KHL
D Ivan Baranka (Everett, 2003-05) has signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had 20 points, 19 of them assists, in 47 games. . . .



DELF Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, Wruck had six points, including four goals, in three games with the Ontario Reign (ECHL). He missed most of the season due to injury. Wruck has dual Canadian-German citizenship. . . .

D Sam Klassen (Saskatoon, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Hamburg Freezers (Germany, DEL). He has dual Canadian-German citizenship. Last season, he had 10 points, one of them a goal, with the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL), a goal and an assist in nine games with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), and one assist in 10 games with the Portland Pirates (AHL). . . .

F Jaroslav Obšut (Swift Current, Medicine Hat, Edmonton Ice, 1995-97) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brasov (Romania, MOL Liga). Last season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 15 points, including six goals, in 24 games. . . .

DEL
F Tyler Beechey (Edmonton/Kootenay, Calgary, 1997-2002) has signed a two-year contract with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had 37 points, 12 of them goals, in 49 games.
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1. The Moose Jaw Warriors introduced Tim Hunter as their newest head coach on Thursday morning. Hunter, the 16th head coach in Warriors’ history, replaces Mike Stothers, who now is the head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. . . . The 53-year-old Hunter, who has coaching experience as an NHL assistant with the Washington Capitals (1997-2002, 2012-13), San Jose Sharks (2002-08) and Toronto Maple Leafs (2008-11), has been living in Calgary, working for the Calgary Flames and the Flames Alumni. . . . The Calgary native played in the WHL with the Seattle Breakers (1977-80), before going to an 18-year pro career that included 815 NHL games. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports that general manager Alan Millar “spoke to Hunter on the phone on multiple occasions and then flew to Vancouver Sunday to meet with him in person. The pair talked for more than three hours and that meeting left little doubt in Millar's mind that Hunter was the right man to replace Mike Stothers behind the Warriors bench.” . . . Millar told Goulie: "I felt that there was a connection in terms of philosophically how we want to play the game and what is important to us in managing and coaching a WHL team. But more importantly how we were going to treat our players and how we were going to care for them on and off the ice." . . . Hunter takes over a team that has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. . . . Gourlie’s story is right here.

2. The Vancouver Giants introduced Troy Ward as the fourth head coach in franchise history on Thursday morning. Ward, 52, takes over from Don Hay, who left after 10 seasons as head coach and now is the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Ward, who is reported to have signed a three-year contract, spent the last three seasons as head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Ward is a native of St. Paul, Minn. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more right here.

3. There now is just one WHL team without a head coach. The Regina Pats are looking for a head coach and two assistant coaches. The franchise’s new owners fired head coach Malcolm Cameron last month, while assistant coaches Josh Dixon and Billy McGuigan resigned earlier in the month. . . . Here’s a look at the nine teams with new head coaches, showing team, new coach and previous coach:
Calgary Hitmen: Mark French, Mike Williamson.
Edmonton Oil Kings: Steve Hamilton, Derek Laxdal.
Kamloops Blazers: Don Hay, Guy Charron.
Kelowna Rockets: Dan Lambert, Ryan Huska.
Moose Jaw Warriors: Tim Hunter, Mike Stothers.
Portland Winterhawks: Jamie Kompon, Mike Johnston.
Saskatoon Blades: Bob Woods, Dave Struch.
Tri-City Americans: Mike Williamson, Jim Hiller.
Vancouver Giants: Troy Ward, Don Hay.
I still find it interesting that by the time Regina hires a head coach, there will have been 10 changes and only two teams -- Edmonton and Kelowna -- will have promoted form within.

4. As for the remainder of the teams, just in case you have forgotten, here’s a look at who their head coaches are:
Brandon Wheat Kings: Kelly McCrimmon (owner/GM/head coach).
Everett Silvertips: Kevin Constantine (preparing for second season in his reincarnation as head coach here).
Kootenay Ice: Ryan McGill (entering final year of three-year contract).
Lethbridge Hurricanes: Drake Berehowsky (entering second year of three-year contract).
Medicine Hat Tigers: Shaun Clouston (also GM).
Prince Albert Raiders: Cory Clouston (entering second year of two-year deal; club has option on a third year).
Prince George Cougars: Mark Holick (signed through 2017-18).
Red Deer Rebels: Brent Sutter (owner/GM/head coach).
Seattle Thunderbirds: Steve Konowalchuk (signed through 2017-18).
Spokane Chiefs: Don Nachbaur (signed through 2016-17).
Swift Current Broncos: Mark Lamb (also GM; entering last year of three-year contract).
Victoria Royals: Dave Lowry (preparing for third season).

5. The Vancouver Giants have extended their partnership with TEAM Radio through 2017-18. All regular-season and playoff games will be heard on TEAM 1040 and TEAM 1410. . . . TEAM Radio also is home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, the CFL’s BC Lions, the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the NWL’s Vancouver Canadians. . . . The Giants also announced that Brendan Batchelor will return for a second season as the play-by-play voice, alongside analyst Bill Wilms. Batchelor also has been named the club’s director of media relations.

6. The Everett Silvertips have signed F Bryce Kindopp, who was selected in the third round of the 2014 WHL bantam draft. The Silvertips made 15 selections in that draft; Kindopp is the first player to sign. . . . From Lloydminster, Alta., Kindopp helped his hometown Heat win the 2014 Alberta Major Bantam League championship. . . . In 33 regular-season games, Kindopp had 63 points, including 26 goals. He led the league’s playoff scoring derby with 16 goals and finished second in points, with 25. . . . Everett selected Heat captain Jantzen Leslie in the first round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . .

7. There isn’t much doubt which team D Dalton Yorke of the Kelowna Rockets was cheering for in Sunday’s World Cup final. Yorke, an 18-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., would have been solidly in Germany’s corner. Why? Because his sister, Montana, 21, is an item with German forward André Schürrle, who assisted on the winning goal, an extra-time score that gave his side a 1-0 victory over Argentina. . . . Jennifer Saltman of the Vancouver Province has more on the happy couple right here.

8. They’ll be talking hockey tonight at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert as the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame holds its 2014 induction ceremony. Included in the class of 2014 are Bruce Clements, Emile (The Cat) Francis, Johnny Gottselig, Wayne Kartusch, Brad McCrimmon, Jim Neilson, Brian Propp, Terry Simpson and Wes Smith. Also going in are the 1982 Prince Albert Raiders and the 1972 Rosetown Redwings. . . . The Prince Albert Daily Herald has more right here.
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Winterhawks get assistant coach . . . or do they?

SMOKE ON THE WATER: Somewhere through all the smoke over the South
Thompson River near Kamloops stands Mount Martin. Yes, it's been smokin' hot
in Kamloops for the past few days.








D Rory Rawlyk (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, Prince Albert, Red Deer, 2000-03) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 40 points, including 32 assists, in 43 games. He was named to the Elite League’s second all-star team. . . . Rawlyk’s season was cut short by a freak training accident in which he suffered a broken nose, fractured cheekbone and cracked eye socket, which required surgery. . . .
F Eric Johansson (Tri-City, 1997-2002) has signed a one-year extension with Ritten/Renon (Italy, Serie A). Last season, Johansson had 50 points, 14 of them goals, in 38 games with the Italian champions. He led the team in assists and points.
D Garnet Exelby (Saskatoon, Regina, 1998-2001) has signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, as the captain of the Norfolk Admirals (AHL), he had 18 points, all of them assists, in 72 games.
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“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
When you hear that, you think of that great movie Cool Hand Luke.
Well, we ran into a communication problem on Wednesday.
Under the headline ‘Charlottetown native to be an (sic) WHL assistant’, a website that goes by hockeyscene.com reported that “Brad MacKenzie of Charlottetown and the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League have agreed to terms that will see MacKenzie become an assistant coach with the team.”
MacKenzie is quoted in the story as saying: “It is what I want to do. It is a good first step with a terrific organization.”
I tweeted out a link to the 10-paragraph story that didn’t carry a byline.
Moments later, I got an email from a Winterhawks’ official.
“I think there was a miscommunication with the writer of the article,” the official wrote. “He is not an assistant coach, but from what I understand will be an intern or assistant of some sort working with the staff.
“Not sure exactly what his title will be but he won't be our new assistant coach.”
The hockeyscene.com story is right here.
The Winterhawks are looking for an assistant coach to replace Karl Taylor, who left Portland to become an assistant coach with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
The Winterhawks introduced Jamie Kompon as their new GM/head coach last week. He replaces Mike Johnston, now head coach of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Kyle Gustafson, the club’s other assistant coach, is back and is preparing for his 11th season with the Winterhawks.
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1. The Vancouver Giants are scheduled to introduce Troy Ward as their head coach this morning. (Yesterday, in this space, I erred in writing that the news conference was to be held Wednesday morning.) . . . Ward spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. In Vancouver, he will replace Don Hay, the Giants’ head coach for the past 10 seasons. Hay now is head coach of the Kamloops Blazers.

2. The Moose Jaw Warriors also will be introducing a new head coach today. They have been looking to fill the void created when Mike Stothers signed on as head coach of the Manchester Monarchs, the AHL farm team of the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . There has been speculation that Malcolm Cameron, who was fired last month by the new owners of the Regina Pats, is the No. 1 candidate in Moose Jaw. Cameron guided the Pats to the East Division’s regular-season pennant last season. . . . This is a big day for the Warriors as the organization’s annual meeting is scheduled for tonight at the Heritage Inn.

3. It’s safe to say that the Lethbridge Hurricanes raised some eyebrows on Tuesday with the announcement that they were adding Bryan Maxwell to their coaching staff, as an assistant under head coach Drake Berehowsky. . . . Dale Woodard of the Lethbridge Herald has more on Maxwell right here, including what he’s been doing the last couple of years and how he hopes to help the Hurricanes.

4. The Edmonton Oilers have added Rocky Thompson to their coaching staff. During games, he will serve as their eye in the sky. . . . Thompson, 36, has been an assistant coach with the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons for the past four seasons. . . . A former WHL defenceman (Medicine Hat, Swift Current, 1993-97), Thompson also worked as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings (2007-10).

5. No matter where Yvon Barrette roams -- he’s in Prince Albert for a celebrity golf tournament -- he gets the question: “Who own the Chiefs?” . . . Yes, you know the movie. . . . Andrew Schopp of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has more right here.

6. F Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who won the WHL scoring title in 2008-09 while with the Vancouver Giants, has signed on with the ECHL’s Gwinnett Gladiators. . . . Pierro-Zabotel, 25, started last season with the Lausitzer Foxes in Germany (DEL2). He joined the Gladiators in January and put up 28 points, including seven goals, in 36 games. . . . In 2008-09, he had 115 points, including 36 goals, in 72 games with the Giants.

7. Arland Bruce III has filed a concussion-related lawsuit against the CFL that is believed to be the first of its kind filed in Canada. This lawsuit was filed in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. . . . There is more right here.

8. The big story after Tuesday’s MLB All-Star Game involved NL starter Adam Wainwright. Did he, or did he not, groove a fastball for AL shortstop Derek Jeter? And, if he did, does it matter? . . . Richard Justice of mlb.com has more right here.

9. Don’t forget to vote in the Memorial Cup poll over there on the right. Just click on where you think the 2016 tournament should be played.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Giants get their coach . . . Guess who's back with Hurricanes?

It has been quite a while since Taking Note has included a poll. But there is one here today.
With three WHL franchises having indicated they are likely to bid on the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament, I thought it would be fun to see how readers of this blog feel about the subject.
So . . . there’s a poll over there on the right. Please take a moment and make your choice.
Thank you.
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F Jens Meilleur (Brandon, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). He has dual Canadian-German citizenship. Last season, with Brandon (WHL), he had 26 points, including 11 goals, in 67 games.
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Trilight Entertainment, which purchased an option on Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, is still hoping to do some of the filming in the southwestern Saskatchewan city.
Shayne Putzlocher, a producer with Trilight Entertainment, was in Swift Current on Tuesday “doing some preliminary scouting and meetings,” he said via email. “(We are) still trying to do what we can to shoot some of this movie in Swift.”
The book, which was published in November 2012, takes a look at how the Broncos dealt with the aftermath of a bus accident in which four players died and how the team went on to win the 1989 Memorial Cup championship. (If you haven’t read it yet, you may order it over there on the right.)
To date, Trilight Entertainment has received funding from Telefilm Canada and the Alberta Media Fund, and a first draft script is being written.
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1. And then there were two. . . . The Vancouver Giants will introduce a new head coach this morning, leaving only the Moose Jaw Warriors and Regina Pats as WHL teams without head coaches. . . . The Warriors are looking to replace Mike Stothers, now the head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. The Pats’ new owners created a vacancy when they fired Malcolm Cameron last month. . . . One rumour that just won’t go away has Lorne Molleken and David Struch signing in Regina as head coach and assistant coach. Molleken was the Pats’ head coach in 2000-01 when they were the host team for the Memorial Cup. Most recently, he was the general manager of the Saskatoon Blades, but he was dropped after last season. Struch, Molleken’s long-time assistant coach in Saskatoon, spent last season as the Blades’ head coach and was fired following the season. . . . Meanwhile, Cameron has expressed an interest in the Warriors’ vacancy. . . . Hey, wouldn’t it make things interesting if Molleken and Struch do end up in Regina and Cameron surfaces as the Warriors’ head coach? . . . Now that would add some heat to some rivalries!

2. The Vancouver Giants have signed Troy Ward as their head coach and are scheduled to introduce him at a news conference this morning. Ward will replace Don Hay, who left to return to his hometown of Kamloops and work as the Blazers’ head coach. The Giants have been looking for a new coach since May 1. . . . Ward, a 52-year-old native of St. Paul, Minn., spent the last three seasons as the head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. His contract wasn’t renewed following last season. . . . Ward also spent part of a season (34 games in 2005-06) as head coach of the Victoria Salmon Kings, a now-defunct ECHL franchise. . . . Ward, a coach since 1990-91, hasn’t coached junior hockey since 1993-95 when he was the head coach of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. He spent three seasons (2002-05) on the coaching staff at the U of Wisconsin.

3. The Abbotsford Heat, of course, have relocated to Glens Falls, N.Y., where they now are the Adirondack Flames. The parent Calgary Flames reached into Kelowna and signed Rockets head coach Ryan Huska to replace Troy Ward as the head coach of their AHL affiliate. . . . Calgary has yet to sign any assistant coaches for Adirondack and a source told me Tuesday night that Mark Ferner will be joining the AHL team’s staff. Ferner, 48, spent last season as the associate coach with the Kamloops Blazers. . . . He and Huska, 39, both played junior in Kamloops.

4. The Prince George Cougars did the expected on Tuesday, naming Todd Harkins as their new general manager. . . . Harkins, 45, had been head scout and director of player personnel at the time of an ownership change earlier this summer. When former GM Dallas Thompson wasn’t kept on, Harkins stepped in as interim GM. . . . According to team president Greg Pocock, “We took the time needed to make sure that we got the best person for the job. We had 17 candidates, talked to eight, interviewed five and hired the best one -- Todd Harkins.” . . . Harkins is a former Miami University player who went on to play in the NHL, with the Calgary Flames and Hartford Whalers. He retired in 2001 after a four-year stretch in Germany. . . . Later, he worked as the hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club. He also coached the major midget Vancouver Northwest Giants to back-to-back provincial titles in 2011 and 2012. . . . Harkins also is the answer to a trivia question: “Who played Russian forward Valeri Kharlamov in the movie Miracle? . . . Harkins’ son Jansen is heading into his second season with the Cougars. Jansen was the second overall pick in the 2012 WHL bantam draft. . . . Harkins’ contract is for four years, with an option for a fifth season. . . . The Cougars are expected to name a new director of player personnel in the not too distant future.

5. The Cougars also gave head coach Mark Holick a contract extension. Holick had expressed an interest in the general manager’s position, but it’s believed that he was told as early as April that the new owners, EDGEPRO Sports, preferred to split the general manager and coaching duties. . . . Holick, 45, is preparing for his second full season as the Cougars’ head coach. He replaced Dean Clark in January 2013. Holick, who had two years left on his contract, received a two-year extension and now is signed through 2017-18. . . . Holick’s family spent last season at their home in Penticton, but wife Janet is planning on moving to Prince George this summer. . . . A former WHL player (Saskatoon, New Westminster, 1984-88), Holick was the head coach of the Kootenay Ice for three seasons (2007-10). . . . The Cougars have missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and haven’t been out of the playoffs since reaching the Western Conference final in the spring of 2007.

6. The Lethbridge Hurricanes have added Bryan Maxwell to their coaching staff. He will work as an assistant, alongside head coach Drake Berehowsky and fellow assistant Mike Craig. . . . Maxwell, 58, is a veteran WHL coach, having worked in Medicine Hat, Lethbridge and Spokane, but he has been out of the game for a while. . . . He was the WHL’s coach of the year with the Spokane Chiefs for 1991-92. . . . Maxwell was the head coach of the 1986-87 Medicine Hat Tigers, who won the Memorial Cup. . . . He then spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings, before taking over as head coach of the Chiefs, a job he held for five seasons. . . . He took over as the Hurricanes’ head coach in 1995-96 and also held the job from 1997-2001 and for 34 games in 2002-03. . . . He sat out the 1996-97 season with a suspension following a post-game altercation involving referee Brent Reiber on March 23, 1996.

7. Ed Habetler, one of the founding fathers of the Prince Albert Raiders, died on the weekend. Habetler, 78, had been battling cancer for some time. . . . According to a Raiders’ news release: “Habetler was on the original board of directors of the hockey club established in 1972 by the Northern Hockey Development Association. . . . Habetler (and) his wife Violet have had season tickets with the hockey club for each of the 43 seasons in club history.” . . . A funeral mass is scheduled for Thursday, 10 a.m., in St. Roman’s Catholic Church in Prince Albert. . . . Almost four years ago, the Prince Albert Daily Herald profiled Habetler right here.

AHL8. The NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs have named Gord Dineen as head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. . . . Dineen takes over from Steve Spott, who has moved up to the Maple Leafs as an assistant coach. . . . Dineen, 51, has been a Marlies’ assistant coach for five seasons. . . . The Leafs also promoted Marlies assistant coach Derek King to associate coach. King, 47, also has been with the Marlies for five seasons.
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