Monday, March 20, 2017

No coaching changes appear imminent . . . Blades staff back for sure . . . Lawsuit moves to Toronto




F Jakub Rumpel (Medicine Hat, 2006-07) has signed a one-year extension with Preussen Berlin (Germany, Oberliga). This season, he had eight goals and 15 assists in 12 games. He started the season on a tryout with Schönheide (Germany, Oberliga). He had a goal and two assists in four games, then was released on Nov. 23. He signed with Preussen on Jan. 20. . . .
F Jan Eberle (Seattle, 2006-08) has signed a one-year extension with Olomouc (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had seven goals and 10 assists in 51 games this season.
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Here’s a look at the 22 WHL head coaches who have more than 300 regular-season victories to their credit (following 2016-17):
1. Ken Hodge (Edmonton, Portland), 742
2. Don Hay (Kamloops, Tri-City, Vancouver) 720
3. Don Nachbaur (Seattle, Tri-City, Spokane) 692
4. Lorne Molleken (Moose Jaw, Saskatoon, Regina) 626
5. Ernie McLean (Estevan, New Westminster) 548
6. Mike Williamson (Portland, Calgary, Tri-City) 534
7. Pat Ginnell (Flin Flon, Victoria, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, New Westminster) 518
8. Peter Anholt (Prince Albert, Seattle, Red Deer, Kelowna, Lethbridge) 466
    Jack Shupe (Medicine Hat, Victoria) 466
10. Dean Clark (Calgary, Brandon, Kamloops, Prince George) 465
11. Kelly McCrimmon (Brandon) 456
12. Bob Lowes (Seattle, Brandon, Regina) 453
13. Brent Sutter (Red Deer) 441
14. Marc Habscheid (Kamloops, Kelowna, Chilliwack, Victoria, Prince Albert) 424
15. Doug Sauter (Calgary, Medicine Hat, Regina, Brandon) 417
16. Marcel Comeau (Calgary, Saskatoon, Tacoma, Kelowna) 411
17. Bryan Maxwell (Medicine Hat, Spokane, Lethbridge) 397
18. Graham James (Moose Jaw, Swift Current, Calgary) 349
19. Bob Loucks (Lethbridge, Tri-City, Medicine Hat) 340
20. Willie Desjardins (Saskatoon, Medicine Hat) 333
21. Kevin Constantine (Everett) 326
22. Shaun Clouston, Medicine Hat 320
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Colin Priestner, the general manager of the Saskatoon Blades, says the team’s coaching staff will be back for another go-round next season.
When Taking Note queried Priestner on that subject, he quickly responded: “For sure. They did an
unbelievable job.”
Dean Brockman was in his first season as head coach, after spending two seasons working with Bob Woods, the previous head coach, who now is an assistant with the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres. Bryce Thoma and Ryan Keller completed their first seasons as Saskatoon’s assistant coaches. Of course, Jerome Engele, the other assistant coach, is a Blades lifer.
The Blades have yet to appear in the postseason during the Priestner era. Mike Priestner, who is based in Edmonton, purchased the team prior to the 2013-14 season. The Blades had been the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup tournament.
This season, they dealt with a number of long-term injuries, but were in the playoff chase right to the final weekend.
Meanwhile, Steve Ewen of Postmedia points out that “Jason McKee is the longest-serving (head) coach that the Vancouver Giants have had among the past four bench bosses. He’s lasted an entire season.”
The Giants missed the playoffs in McKee’s first season behind their bench, but they went all-in for the future at the trade deadline and also paid the price when F Tyler Benson and D Darian Skeoch, two key performers, had their seasons cut short by injuries.
Vancouver is on the outside looking in for a third straight season, and the fourth time in five springs, 
Still, as Ewen writes, “By all accounts, owner Ron Toigo is bringing back McKee, 37, and general manager Glen Hanlon, 60, for a second season. There’s a calm. They need to capitalize on that.”
Ewen’s piece is right here.
McKee has two seasons left on his contract.
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The Spokane Chiefs joined the Vancouver Giants as the other Western Conference team not to make the playoffs. Don Nachbaur, the Chiefs’ head coach and the third-winningest coach in WHL regular-season history, has one season left on his contract.
In the Eastern Conference, the other non-playoff teams are the Edmonton Oil Kings, Kootenay Ice and Prince Albert Raiders.
Steve Hamilton, the Oil Kings’ head coach, signed what was announced as a “multi-year” deal in July 2014, and you would think he isn’t going anywhere. He spent four seasons as an assistant under Derek Laxdal and moved up when Laxdal left for a job with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Hamilton has Oil Kings bloodlines — his father, Al, is a former team captain who also captained the Oilers. The Oil Kings committed to a rebuild when they dealt D Aaron Irving and F Lane Bauer, two key 20-year-olds, at the deadline.
The future of Luke Pierce, who has completed two seasons as head coach of the Kootenay Ice, may hinge on what appears to be the impending sale of the franchise. Pierce signed a three-year contract, so has a year left on his deal. The Ice went young two seasons ago and has paid a steep price, going 26-99-19 during Pierce’s stint in Cranbrook.
In Prince Albert, veteran WHL coach Marc Habscheid has a contract that runs through 2018-19. He took over from the fired Cory Clouston on Nov. 1, 2014.
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Rick Westhead, a senior reporter with TSN, has filed his latest piece on the proposed class-action lawsuits that more than 400 present and former major junior players have filed. The lawyers were in a Calgary courtroom last month and, while there hasn’t been a decision rendered from there just yet, the scene now has shifted to Toronto.
“The Ontario Hockey League says its teams may have to pare back their drug education, anti-doping, concussion management, and medical and dental programs if the league loses a minimum-wage lawsuit, according to a new court filing,” Westhead writes.
“The OHL made the claims days before it appears in Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday to begin a hearing into whether a lawsuit filed against the league by former players should be certified as a class action.”
According to a rebuttal filed by the plaintiffs: “. . . The vast majority of the benefits which the defendants claim are threatened are not true player benefits. It would be impossible for the league to operate without coaches, away games, billeting, equipment, etc. Accordingly, the likelihood of these ‘benefits’ being cut is virtually nil.”
Westhead’s latest story is right here.
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MONDAY-THURSDAY GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
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FRIDAY GAMES (all times local):

(Game 1, best-of-seven series)
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:35 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:35 p.m.
Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.
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SATURDAY GAMES (all times local):

(Game 2, best-of-seven series)
Red Deer at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary at Regina, 7 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna, 7:05 p.m.
Victoria at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Portland at Prince George, 7 p.m.

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