Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hitmen trim two 20-year-olds ... Rasmussen joins Team Canada's camp ... Ex-Royals coach stays in NHL

The last rays of a setting sun bounce off a cloud over
the Monte Lake fire on Thursday night.
We woke up to a whole lot of smoke on Thursday, but it apparently was coming from the Elephant Hill fire, which is the one that has caused so much damage in the Ashcroft/Cache Creek area, and not the Monte Lake fire that started late Wednesday afternoon. However, by late afternoon on Thursday most of the smoke had moved away from our area, leaving behind a beautiful evening. . . . However, there was quite a bit of air traffic between Kamloops and Monte Lake at the same time, so they obviously aren't out of the woods there just yet. . . . With high winds and high temps forecast -- we've been around 35 and are headed for at least 37 in a day or two -- the summer of fire doesn't appear to be anywhere near its end.
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THE MacBETH REPORT . . .

F Taylor Stefishen (Prince George, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had 12 goals and 23 assists in 44 games with Dijon (France, Ligue Magnus). He led his team in assists and points.
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A LITTLE OF THIS . . .


The Calgary Hitmen are left with four 20-year-olds on their roster after G Cody Porter and D Jaydan Gordon cleared waivers. . . . That leaves the Hitmen with G Nick Schneider, F Jakob Stukel, F Matteo Gennaro and D Brady Reagan as the four remaining 20s on their roster. Each WHL team will have to declare a maximum of three 20s shortly after the new season begins. . . . Porter, from North Vancouver, was 14-16-3, 3.46, .888 in 34 appearances with the Hitmen last season. In 117 regular-season appearances, 42 with the Vancouver Giants and 75 with Calgary — he is 52-42-9, 3.30, .887. . . . Gordon, from Cochrane, Alta., had two goals and six assists in 70 games last season. He played his first two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos. In 172 career games, he has three goals and 13 assists. . . . Porter’s departure leaves Schneider as Calgary’s undisputed No. 1 goaltender. At the moment, veteran Kyle Dumba, 19, would appear to be No. 2 on the depth chart. Chance are, however, that the Hitmen won’t want to go into the season with a 19-year-old in a backup role. . . . Schneider, who was acquired from the Medicine Hat Tigers this summer, has signed an entry-level contract as a free agent with the NHL’s Calgary Flames, whose parent company also owns the Hitmen.
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F Michael Rasmussen has been added to Team Canada’s roster for the World Junior Showcase that is scheduled to begin today (Friday) in Plymouth, Mich. . . . Rasmussen, from the Tri-City Americans, had last season cut short by a broken scaphoid in his left wrist. His addition to the roster would seem to indicate that he now is healthy. . . . Rasmussen was added after F Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants was forced to opt out. He apparently hasn’t yet fully recovered from sports hernia surgery in the spring. . . . F Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who has had at least two surgical procedures due to sports hernias, also isn’t able to take part. . . . Also unable to take part are F Gabe Vilardi of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires and F Adam Mascherin of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.
Meanwhile, G Carl Stankowski, who backstopped the Seattle Thunderbirds to their first WHL championship last season, was scratched from Hockey Canada’s U-18 selection camp in Calgary due to an undisclosed injury. His spot was filled by Kevin Mandolese of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. . . . Team Canada, under head coach Brent Kisio of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, will leave next week for the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia. The tournament opens on Aug. 7.
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F Kolten Olynek, who played out his junior eligibility last season, has decided to attend the U of Western Ontario and play for the Mustangs in 2017-18. Olynek, who is from Saskatoon, was a second-round selection by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the WHL’s 2011 bantam draft. . . . He split last season between the Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. During his career, he also played with the Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors and Spokane Chiefs. . . . In 253 regular-season games, he had 32 goals and 45 assists.
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D Austin Adam, who played four seasons in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips and Moose Jaw Warriors, is transferring to Simon Fraser U after spending one season at the U of Western Ontario. . . . The 6-foot-6 Adam, 22, is from Surrey, B.C. He had a goal and two assists in 28 games with the Mustangs last season. . . . SFU plays in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League.
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Mike Fraser, a veteran WHL scout who now works for the Brandon Wheat Kings, also has been writing a column for the Brandon-based Westman Journal. Those columns have mostly revolved around the world of WHL scouts and there adventures. However, there has been a change at the Journal and Fraser has chosen to end his column-writing career, at least for now. His last column is right here.
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Really . . . I mean, really . . . how are we doing in Kamloops in this summer of flames? Well, it seems that old friend Jack Knox of the Victoria Times Colonist paid us a recent visit and he quite liked what he saw, except for the fact that his volunteer services weren’t needed, that is. . . . His last column is right here.
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If you’re a regular here, and even you aren’t, feel free to contribute to the feeding of the Drinnan family by making a donation to the cause. You are able to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
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THE CONCUSSION REPORT . . .

John Urschel sometimes was referred to as the smartest man in football. Urschel, 26, was in line to be the Baltimore Ravens’ starting centre in the upcoming season, that was before he surprised coaches, teammates and observers by announcing his retirement on Thursday. That decision came two days after researchers released the results of a study in which CTE was found in the brains of 110 of 111 deceased football players. . . . There’s more on Urschel’s decision right here.
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THE COACHING GAME . . .

Ben Cooper, a former WHL assistant coach, has signed on with the NHL’s Florida Panthers as their video coach. Cooper, 40, spent the past three seasons as the Vancouver Canucks’ video coach. Prior to that, he worked two seasons (2011-13) with the WHL’s Victoria Royals. . . . He also has experience with Hockey Canada, and was on the coaching staff of Canadian teams that won gold at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the 2009 World Junior Championship.
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TWEET OF THE DAY


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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Smoke over the hills ... Warriors ink goalie coach ... Ex-WHL coach's run ends in Tucson





The summer of fires moved closer to our home late Wednesday afternoon when one broke out near Monte Lake. We live about 20 km east of Kamloops above the north shore of the South Thompson River. When we go to Vernon or Kelowna, we head east on the Trans-Canada Highway to the Monte Creek interchange and then take Highway 97. Monte Lake is about 15 minutes up that highway. . . . The four photos above were taken off our deck on Wednesday evening. When I first heard about the fire, at about 5 p.m., I took a look and there was one fairly thin column of smoke. Inside of 30 minutes it had grown by leaps and bounds. . . . The top photo shows the light from the setting sun glancing off the smoke as the clock neared 9 p.m. . . . The photo second from top was taken just moments before the top one. . . . The third photo was taken around 6 p.m. . . . There were a number of airplanes working the fire; the one in the photo has a retardant bay on its bottom; it was headed back to the Kamloops airport for the night as darkness set in. . . . The Thompson Nicola Regional District put evacuation alerts and orders in place, and there are an untold number of buildings at risk. . . . Now we can only wait and see what morning will bring. 


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THE MacBETH REPORT:

F Charles Wells (Seattle, Prince Albert, Portland, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Mulhouse (France, Division 1), he had six goals and 15 assists in 22 games. . . .
F Tyler Redenbach (Prince George, Swift Current, Lethbridge, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with Tappara Tampere (Finland, Liiga). Last season, he had 11 goals and 22 assists in 34 games with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga), and two goals and three assists in nine games with Třinec (Czech Republic, Extraliga). . . .
F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronn (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had seven goals and 35 assists in 53 games. He led the team in assists.
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A LITTLE OF THIS . . .

Matt Weninger has joined the Moose Jaw Warriors as their new goaltender coach. . . . From a news release: “Weninger is currently the regional consultant and goaltending lead for Hockey Alberta and previously worked with the Saskatchewan Hockey Association in 2015-16 as a goaltending and coaching consultant.” . . . He also served as the goaltending coach for the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers for two seasons (2015-17) and has worked with Laurentian University (U Sports) and Hockey Canada. . . . As a player, he spent four seasons (2010-14) at St. Lawrence U, where he holds school records for career and single-season games played, minutes played, consecutive games played, and total saves. . . . He also played three SJHL seasons, splitting that time between the Kindersley Klippers and Flin Flon Bombers. . . . In Moose Jaw, Weninger takes over from Jamie Hodson, who had worked with the Warriors since 2011. Hodson now is the director of business and hockey operations for the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals.
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If you were wondering what was wrong with D Ethan Bear of the Seattle Thunderbirds late in the WHL playoffs and through the Memorial Cup, well, now we know. . . . As was reported here originally, Bear did have a broken finger. What we didn’t know until now is that he underwent surgery to repair the index finger on his left hand. . . . Bear was injured while blocking a shot in Game 3 of the Western Conference final against the Kelowna Rockets. He sat out the next three games, then returned for the final against the Regina Pats, a series that Seattle won, 4-2. . . . “I was lucky enough to get a quick surgery, and then I recovered enough to play in the final and then the Memorial Cup," Bear told Derek Van Diest for a story that is posted right here at nhl.com. “I had to adjust the knob on my stick and the way I placed my hand. But Seattle, they really made it work for me and I was able to play at my best abilities. They put a plate in it and couple of screws. The doctors did a really good job. They made it strong enough so that I could play and I wouldn't feel as much pain.” . . . According to Van Diest, “Bear still is recovering from his injury, but is expected to be ready for Oilers training camp in the fall.” . . . Bear, 20, was a fifth-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2015 draft and has signed a three-year entry-level contract.
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There are three WHL players on the roster for Team Finland as it prepares to play in the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., from July 29 through Aug. 5. . . . F Sami Moilanen (Seattle Thunderbirds), D Juuso Valimaki (Tri-City Americans) and D Henri Jokiharju (Portland Winterhawks) all are on Team Finland’s roster for the tournament that also features teams from Canada, Sweden and the U.S.
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If you’re a regular here, and even you aren’t, feel free to contribute to the feeding of the Drinnan family by making a donation to the cause. You are able to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
———

THE COACHING GAME . . .

Mark Lamb, who spent six seasons as the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos, is out after one season as head coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. . . . John Chayka, the Coyotes’ president of hockey operations and general manager, announced Wednesday that Mike Van Ryn has taken over as head coach. . . . The assistant coaches will be John Slaney and Steve Potvin. . . . Mark Hardy, an assistant coach last season, also won’t be returning. . . . Van Ryn spent the past season working as the Coyotes’ development coach. . . . In 2015-16, he was the head coach of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. . . . Slaney spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach with the Coyotes, while Potvin has been with the organization for one season as the skills coach. . . . The Roadrunners finished 29-31-8 last season, their first in the AHL. Their winning percentage (.485) left them sixth in the eight-team Pacific Division. They didn’t qualify for the playoffs.
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TWEET OF THE DAY . . .


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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

City gives Blazers break on lease ... Ice sweeps out eight scouts ... Oil Kings waive goalie

F Danis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has been suspended by the IIHF until May 22, 2019, for using illegal substances. One of Zaripov's samples tested positive for banned stimulants, as well as substances prohibited as diuretics and masking agents. Multiple sources have said Zaripov will appeal. There is no comment so far from the IIHF, KHL or his team, Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). . . . Patrick Conway of Conway’s Russian Hockey Blog has more right here. . . .
D Tomáš Voráček (Prince Albert, 2007-09) has signed a tryout contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he had two goals and three assists in 43 games with Mladá Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga). . . .
F Matt Fraser (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he was pointless in four games with Rögle Ängelholm (Sweden, SHL). Fraser was sidelined by injury until Feb. 28.
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If they haven’t already, landlords to WHL teams just might be hearing from their tenants one of these days. It seems that the league and its teams are concerned about flat ticket sales and are looking for some relief.
Sandman Centre, home of the Kamloops Blazers.
(Photo: sandmancentre.ca)
The City of Kamloops has revealed that it approved a new 10-year lease for the Blazers in February, one that cut the rent by about $150,000 per season.
Jeff Putnam, the city’s parks and civic facilities manager, told Andrea Klassen of Kamloops This Week that the WHL and its teams have been working to renegotiate leases.
“The league was having some concerns about their ticket revenue being flat,” Putnam said. “They’re not struggling, but they’re having challenges with attracting a different demographic. And that was a league-wide issue.”
Klassen reported that the Blazers, whose lease was to expire in 2018, will pay a base rental fee of $128,000 to use the Sandman Centre for 2017-18, down from $278,000 in 2016-17.
Although the Blazers came to an agreement with city officials in February, Klassen reported that “a record of the vote was only recently released.”
According to Klassen, “Under the new deal . . . if more than 3,500 tickets are sold for a game, the city will receive an additional $1.40 per ticket sold above the 3,500 mark.”
Last season, the Blazers’ announced average attendance was 3,782 for 36 regular-season home games. However, there frequently were far fewer bums in the seats than the announced figure, meaning there were a lot of no-shows.
The Blazers also pay the city $250,000 per season in exchange for all advertising rights in the arena.
(The city announced two years ago that it had entered into a 10-year agreement with the Sandman Hotel Group for naming rights to the arena, but has never revealed the financial terms. Tom Gaglardi, the Blazers’ majority owner, is the CEO of the Sandman Hotel Group. Could it be that the naming rights are part of the advertising rights deal?)
The vote on the new lease passed by a 5-3 vote among councillors.
“I have to admit, I had a little bit of trouble swallowing somebody coming to me with their hands out and they’re a billionaire,” Dieter Dudy, one of the councillors who voted for the agreement, told Klassen.
Gaglardi also owns the NHL’s Dallas Stars. He is the CEO of the Northland Properties Group, which owns, among other things, the Sandman and Sutton Place hotels, as well as Denny’s and Moxie’s restaurants, and Shark clubs.
Gaglardi and four ex-Blazers — Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla, Mark Recchi and Darryl Sydor — purchased the franchise from the Kamloops Blazers Sports Society, a community group, in 2007.
According to the winter 2016-17 issue of Canadian Business, the Gaglardis are worth $3.55 billion, leaving them in 20th spot among the countries’ wealthiest “business dynasties.”
Meanwhile, according to hockeyzoneplus.com, a site that tracks the earnings of NHL players, Recchi made US$50,943,000 during his playing days, while Sydor brought in $31,715,000. Both men have retired from playing. Doan’s career earnings are at $41,294,000, with Iginla at $69,025,000. Doan and Iginla, both of whom played last season, are unrestricted free agents who have yet to sign new contracts.
Dudy told Klassen that he voted in favour of the new lease because of concerns that the Blazers might leave Kamloops.
However, under the terms of the sales agreement between Gaglardi’s group and the society, the society has the first option on purchasing the franchise should ownership wish to sell it or move it.
In other words, the Blazers aren’t going anywhere. Besides where would they go? Yes, there is an empty arena in Abbotsford, one that seats 7,000 for hockey, but the Vancouver Giants, who play out of Langley, would have a move and that isn’t likely to happen.
In November 2007, Bob Smillie, the society’s executive director, told its annual meeting that “the option to purchase is at the same price less 10 per cent of what has been paid in the current transaction and is subject to the same conditions. It is transferable to any new owner who may be seeking a franchise in Kamloops.”
According to Smillie, the society felt holding that option was important even though Gaglardi’s group promised to keep the team in Kamloops.
”It’s good and well for everybody to indicate that they would be here forever,” Smillie said at the time. “But we all know that forever is not necessarily forever.”
Smillie, who also chaired the society’s governance committee, pointed out
that WHL bylaws don’t contain anything guaranteeing the franchise could not be moved.
“They have guidelines only; there are no specific requirements within the Western Hockey League bylaws for the new owners of the franchise to keep the operation within the city,” Smillie said. “The board, in its due diligence in discussions with the league, has determined that the guidelines of the league, in fact, would request the new owners to maintain the franchise in Kamloops for a minimum of five years.” 
Kamloops taxpayers also are on the hook for more than $1 million in upgrades to the arena, all of them at the request of the WHL. That includes $300,000 to improve lighting — the WHL has requested that all arenas have LED lightning to facilitate HD telecasts — and about $1 million to retrofit boards and glass.
Klassen’s complete story is right here.
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Two former WHL coaches will be part of the Team Canada’s coaching staff at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. . . . Willie Desjardins, a former head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers (2002-10), will be Canada’s head coach, while Dave King, who coached the WHL’s Billings Bighorns (1977-79), will be one of the assistant coaches. . . . The NHL has opted out of the Games, so Hockey Canada will put together a national team of players from outside that league. Its schedule begins with a tournament in Sochi, Russia, from Aug. 6-9. Canada then will move on to St. Petersburg, Russia, for another tournament, Aug. 14-17. . . . Team Canada’s roster for the Sochi Cup includes a number of former WHL players, including F Gilbert Brule (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, KHL), F Bud Holloway (Skellefteå AIK, SHL), F Rob Klinkhammer (Dinamo Minsk, KHL), F Brandon Kozun (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL), F Ben Maxwell (Spartak Moskva, KHL), F Brandon McMillan (Dinamo Riga, KHL) and F Linden Vey (Barys Astana, KHL). 
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Taking Note has been told that the Kootenay Ice has dropped all of its part-time scouts, choosing to keep only Garnet Kazuik, the director of scouting. Kazuik, a former WHL player, has been with the Ice for 12 seasons, 10 of them as director of scouting. . . . Matt Cockell, the Ice’s president and general manager, apparently told the ex-scouts that he is changing the business model and is moving to a system that employs three full-time scouts in Western Canada. . . . The WHL’s 2016-17 Guide showed the Ice with eight scouts — Wayne Dougherty, Peter Dubbeldam, Ward Edwards, Scott Frizzell, Chad Harden, Zenon Herasymiuk, Scott Perry and Tim Schick. Taking Note has been told by a source familiar with the situation that “all eight part-time scouts were let go.” . . . Cockell hasn’t responded to a request asking if he had made changes in the scouting department.
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The Edmonton Oil Kings have placed G Patrick Dea, 20, on waivers. Dea, who is from St. Albert,
Alta., played in 55 games with Edmonton last season, going 19-31-3, 3.86, .882. In 123 career regular-season games, he is 48-55-8, 3.34, .890. . . . Dea was a first-round selection by Edmonton in the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. . . . With Dea’s departure, the Oil Kings appear poised to start the season with Travis Child as their No. 1 guy. He was acquired from the Brandon Wheat Kings on May 30, for a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2018 bantam draft. Child, 20, played two-plus seasons with the Swift Current Broncos before being traded to Brandon last season. . . . Chances are that Boston Bilous, 16, is No. 2 on the Edmonton depth chart. From Langley, B.C., he was a fourth-round pick by the Oil Kings in the 2016 bantam draft. He spent last season with the Fraser Valley Thunderbirds of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He finished with a 2.20 GAA.
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G Jeffrey Veitch, who will turn 20 on Oct. 4, has signed with the Waldorf University Warriors, who play out of Forest City, Iowa. Veitch was an eighth-round selection by the Kootenay Ice in the eighth round of the WHL’s 2012 bantam draft. He played last season with the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Timmins Rock of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League. Before that, he played three seasons with the junior B Mission Outlaws. He is from Mission, B.C.
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The Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame held its gala night on Saturday in North Battleford and there were a number of inductees with ties to the WHL, including Bob Bourne, Stan Dunn, Graham Tuer and Ken Wheler. . . . John Cairns of the Battlefords News Optimist has a terrific recap right here.
Meanwhile, on Sunday night in Canmore, the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame held its induction dinner, with the hall doors swinging open for Mel Davidson, Bill Hay, Tony Kollman, Perry Pearn, Glen Sather and the Sutter family — yes, the entire family. . . . There is more right here
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Yes, I was on the air with Jason Gregor and Jason Strudwick of TSN1260 in Edmonton on Tuesday afternoon. If you missed it, you can find the conversation — it was about 20 minutes worth — via the above Tweet.
And thanks to all of you who messaged me afterwards. The kind words are much appreciated.
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If you’re a regular here, and even you aren’t, feel free to contribute to the feeding of the Drinnan family by making a donation to the cause. You are able to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
———

Concussion Report
From Tuesday’s edition of The New York Times:
“Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologist, has examined the brains of 202 deceased football players. A broad survey of her findings was published on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association.
“Of the 202 players, 111 of them played in the N.F.L. — and 110 of those were found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head.
“C.T.E. causes myriad symptoms, including memory loss, confusion, depression and dementia. The problems can arise years after the blows to the head have stopped.”
The full report from The Times is right here, and it’s well worth a look.
This should end, once and for all, the debate about whether blows to the head are responsible for CTE. A person needn’t have been concussed in order to end up with CTE; it’s quite simple -- blows to the head aren’t a good thing. Period.
This also should be enough for the powers-that-be in any hockey league that allows fighting to act to get it out of the game.
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Coaching Game
The OHL’s Saginaw Spirit is looking for a head coach after Spencer Carbery left to join an unnamed AHL team as an assistant coach. The 35-year-old Carbery, who is from Victoria, spent one season with the Spirit, after working for five seasons as director of hockey operations and head coach of the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, who have an affiliation with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. . . . Last season, the Spirit finished 27-32-9 and out of the playoffs.
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David Bell has joined the AHL’s Ontario Reign as an assistant coach. Bell, 40, spent the previous four seasons with the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, three as an assistant coach and last season as head coach. . . . With the Reign, Bell will work alongside head coach Mike Stothers. They spent three seasons (2004-07) together with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack, Stothers as head coach and Bell as an assistant. . . . Bell has previous AHL coaching experience having worked as an assistant for two seasons (2007-09) with the Springfield Falcons.
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If you’re wondering, @clouston25 is the Twitter handle for former WHL D Connor Clouston, whose father is Shaun Clouston, the GM and head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers.

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Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekend of partying is over ... Tri-City d-man gets NHL deal ... More changes with Ice

One of these two special girls just turned one; the other is young
at heart (and kidney).
I’m back after a weekend in Burnaby where one of my two favourite girls celebrated her first birthday. Yes, a grand time was had by all.
But the traffic . . . oh my, the traffic! No, not the traffic on the Lower Mainland; the traffic on the Coquihalla Highway. We were heading west on Friday and everyone else seemed to be going east. On Sunday afternoon, things were reversed.
But if that is normal traffic volume for a summer weekend, I don’t like our chances of weaning ourselves off fossil fuels at any point in the next few years, if we don’t burn down between now and then, that is.
Anyway . . . back to hockey . . .
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D Landon Oslanski (Spokane, Lethbridge, Everett, 2009-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Braehead Clan Glasgow (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he had two goals and 15 assists with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and two goals and two assists in 12 games with the Toledo Walleye (ECHL). . . .
D Taylor Aronson (Portland, 2009-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with Lada Togliatti (Russia, KHL), he had two goals and 13 assists in 41 games. . . .
D Jesse Craige (Lethbridge, Chilliwack, 2004-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he had three goals and 21 assists in 42 games. . . .
D Giffen Nyren (Moose Jaw, Kamloops, Calgary, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with Sterling/Vipiteno (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, he was pointless in one game with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), and had three goals and 12 assists in 19 games with Dijon (France, Ligue Magnus). . . .
G Barry Brust (Spokane, Calgary, 2000-04) has signed a one-year contract with Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, in 42 games with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he was 19-15-5, 2.42, .918 with three shutouts, two assists and 106 penalty minutes. He finished sixth in the league in penalty minutes. . . . 
F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) was released by Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland, NL A) at his request. Řepík wants to play for a team where he will get the "maximum amount of ice time . . . and thus put all the chances on his side for the ultimate goal of playing the next Olympic Games in Pyeongchang with the Czech national team,” according to Fribourg-Gottéron's press release. . . . Řepík then signed a signed one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, he was pointless in two games with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia, KHL), and had seven goals and nine assists in 22 games with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). . . .
F Jordan Knackstedt (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract with Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2). Last season, he had 12 goals and 19 assists in 32 games with Herlev (Denmark, Metal Ligaen), and three goals and two assists in four games with Esbjerg (Denmark, Metal Ligaen).
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D Juuso Valimaki of the Tri-City Americans has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. They selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . From Nokia, Finland, Valimaki had 61 points, including 19 goals, in 60 games with the Americans last season. In 2015-16, his freshman season, he had seven goals and 25 assists in 56 games. . . . Valimaki, who turns 19 on Oct. 6, will have to be returned to the Americans if he doesn’t crack the Flames’ roster out of training camp.
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Nathan Lieuwen has signed on as the Kootenay Ice’s video coach. The former Ice goaltender announced his retirement as a player earlier this year. He was forced out by vision problems that are a direct result of a concussion he suffered in one of seven NHL games he played with the Buffalo Sabres. . . . From Abbotsford, B.C., he played on 14 games last season — two with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage and 12 with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. . . . Lieuwen was 85-59-15 in 178 regular-season appearances (2007-12) with the Ice. He backstopped the Ice to the 2011 Ed Chynoweth Cup when he was named the WHL’s playoff MVP. . . . James Patrick, the Ice’s freshman head coach, was an assistant coach in Buffalo when Lieuwen was in the Sabres’ organization.
The Ice also has hired Adam Douglas as its sports performance consultant. According to a news release, he “will he responsible for athlete testing, programming, training schedules and utilizing data to provide feedback to the Ice coaching staff on rest and recovery.”
Douglas also works with Hockey Canada as manager, sports performance for the men’s high performance teams, and he also is involved with strength and conditioning with the women’s teams. He also is the head strength-and-conditioning coach at York U in Toronto. In the past, he has worked in that area with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
Meanwhile, a source told Taking Note last week that the Ice had dropped “a whole bunch of scouts.”
The Ice, of course, changed hands earlier this off-season, with Winnipeggers Greg Fettes and Matt Cockell purchasing the franchise from the Chynoweth family. Cockell, who serves as the Ice’s president and general manager, hasn’t responded to a request for comment.
The WHL’s 2016-17 Guide, which came out late in the season, listed Carter Sears as scouting consultant with Wayne Dougherty, Peter Dubbeldam, Ward Edwards, Scott Frizzell, Chad Harden, Zenon Herasymiuk, Scott Perry and Tim Schick shown as scouts.
The Ice’s website once included a listing of scouts, but it no longer is there. The website does indicate that Garnet Kaziuk remains the director of scouting, a position he has filled since 2007.
In search of confirmation, I contacted someone familiar with the organization last week. The response: “I am not in a position to comment.”
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If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
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Coaching

Jake Grimes has replaced Todd Harvey on the coaching staff of the OHL’s Guelph Storm. … Harvey, 42, has left the Storm, telling Tony Saxon of guelphtoday.com that he will be scouting for an NHL team in 2017-18. Harvey had been a Storm assistant coach for four seasons. . . . Grimes, 44, will be working alongside George Burnett, the Storms’ general manager and head coach, as associate coach. Grimes was an assistant coach for 11 seasons in Belleville when Burnett was the head coach. Grimes spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the Peterborough Petes. . . . Saxon’s story is right here.


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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Why was K9 a healthy scratch? ... AHL's 2015 man of year joins Seattle ... Toth heading to school


D Patrik Maier (Kamloops, Moose Jaw, 2014-16) has signed a tryout contract with Benátky nad Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Last season, he had a goal and three assists in 53 games with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . 
F Dustin Johner (Seattle, 1999-2004) has signed a one-year contract with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 13 goals and 26 assists in 54 games.
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In this space on Thursday, there was a revisitation of a confrontation between a couple of WHL head coaches. Yes, there was photographic evidence, too.
The picture and story prompted all kinds of responses, including the above tweet from Brent Parker, who was the Regina Pats’ general manager for 15 years so was front and centre in a lot of the rivalry with the Moose Jaw Warriors.
In the tweet, he referred to the shenanigans that went on during a home-and-home series on March 24 and 25, 2000.
The series opened in the Moose Jaw Civic Centre, aka the Crushed Can.
At the time, the Warriors had a mascot with the moniker of Puckhead and it looked pretty much like you might imagine — with a giant puck for a head.
At one point during the game, Puckhead was taunted by a few fans who apparently were pals of Pats F Ryan Thomas. One thing led to another and a couple of the fans bodychecked Puckhead. When Puckhead shoved back, one of the fans, according to a piece at CBC.ca, began punching her.
Yes, Puckhead’s outfit was inhabited by a woman, the late Doreen Gurnsey, who was in her sixth season as the mascot. (Gurnsey passed away on Oct. 1, 2007.) 
“I’ve been kicked," she told CBC a few days later. “I’ve had beer poured over me. One fellow one time gave me a shove towards the ice. I mean that's down to the bleachers towards the ice. And it was just lucky that I had straddled the railing and was able to grip on. I'm quite sure I might not have lived through that.”
Anyway, during the altercation, Puckhead’s head came off. You know that the two fans were surprised to see a woman’s face looking back at them, and they quickly and quietly exited stage right.
In a recollection that is posted at rodpedersen.com, veteran Pats/Warriors observer Kelly Remple wrote:
“Following the game, Pats head coach Tim Tisdale sat quietly in the front of the bus, waiting to depart for the Queen City. A lunatic sporting black, red, and white approached the bus and banged on the door. The bus driver opened the door to hear what this maniac was shouting. As the door opened, the crazed fan looked at Tisdale and, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, said: ‘Your dog is dead. DEAD! You understand me. Your dog is DEAD!’ A concerned Tisdale called home and asked his wife, ‘Honey, is the dog OK?’ ”
There were reports of threatening phone calls to the Pats’ office the following day and, of course, Parker made reference to threatening faxes.
For the record, the Warriors won the Friday game, 6-3, in front of 3,074 fans. The next night, the Pats posted a 3-2 victory before 6,231 fans. Yes, there was a line brawl. No, K9 wasn’t there to witness it.

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The rivalry between the Seattle Thunderbirds and Everett Silvertips may have taken another turn away from love on Thursday. That’s because the Thunderbirds, the WHL’s reigning champions, have hired Kyle Hagel as an assistant coach.
As is evident from the above tweet, Hagel and Mitch Love, Everett’s assistant GM/assistant coach, are
KYLE HAGEL
(Photo: seattlethunderbirds.com)
quite familiar with each other.
There is a whole more to Hagel than a scrap, however.
Hagel, 32, is from Hamilton. He played four seasons at Princeton before going on to a pro career that ended after last season. A defenceman who sometimes played on left wing, he played the last three seasons with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.
After 2014-15, Hagel was honoured as the AHL’s IOA/American Specialty AHL man of the year. He was presented with the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which is awarded annually, according to the AHL, to a player “for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations.” That was the fifth time that Hagel had been nominated by his AHL team for the award.
Hagel also is a co-founder of HP4K (Hockey Players for Kids), a non-profit organization that, according to its website, is “made up of hockey players around the world who are dedicated to positively impacting the communities they play in. . . . HP4K believes that promoting player interaction with children is the best way they can achieve this impact, and acts as a catalyst in connecting players with kids in their communities.”
O’Dette and Hagel met for the first time when they were teammates for part of the 2008-09 season with the ECHL’s Fresno Falcons. That was Hagel’s first season as a pro player, while it was O’Dette’s last one.
The Thunderbirds will hire one more assistant coach before the season. One vacancy was created when the Thunderbirds moved Matt O’Dette from assistant to head coach after Steve Konowalchuk left for the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks. The other spot came open when assistant coach Tyler Alos chose to leave the organization.
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G Rylan Toth, who played out his junior eligibility with the Seattle Thunderbirds last season, has decided to attend UBC and play for the Thunderbirds in 2017-18. . . . Toth led WHL goaltenders in regular-season victories (36) last season. He had a 2.75 GAA and .902 save percentage. He suffered an undisclosed injury late in the season and didn’t play again until getting into two games during the Memorial Cup tournament. . . . Toth also played two seasons with the Red Deer Rebels. . . . In 158 regular-season games, the Saskatoon native was 90-51-13, 2.76, .906.
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The BCHL’s Cowichan Valley Capitals have signed Brian Passmore as their new general manager and head coach. He takes over from Bob Beatty, who has resigned after four seasons with the Capitals. Beatty had spent 17 seasons in the SJHL before signing with the Capitals prior to the 2013-14 season. . . . Passmore, 37, has been the head coach of the bantam prep team at Shawnigan Lake School for the past two seasons. . . . Passmore also has coaching experience in the junior B Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League, having spent two seasons with the Peninsula Panthers and one with the Westshore Wolves. . . . The Capitals also announced that Dan Whiteford will be back for a second season as assistant coach, while Darren Rodney, who had been the assistant GM,  now is director of hockey operations.
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Mike Fraser, who scouts for the Brandon Wheat Kings, also has been writing a weekly column for the Brandon-based Westman Journal. In this week’s ponderings, who looks back at five years with the Wheat Kings. That column is right here. . . . With the Journal undergoing a change in the editor’s office, Fraser has chosen to step back, so next week’s column will be his last one. 
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Darren Steinke, the wandering blogger, spent a lot of the 2016-17 WHL season visiting various arenas. On Thursday, he blogged about his travels and how much fun he had. It’s all right here.
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If you’re a regular here, and even you aren’t, feel free to contribute to the feeding of the Drinnan family by making a donation to the cause. You are able to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The night the coaches (almost) scrapped ... What a rivalry Pats-Warriors had ... Ex-WHLer interim coach with Ravens


F Dustin Boyd (Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a two-year contract with Dynamo Moscow (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had eight goals and six assists in 30 games with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL). . . . 
F Parker Bowles (Tri-City, 2011-16) has signed a one-year contract with the Tilburg Trappers (Netherlands, Germany Oberliga). Last season, with the U of Calgary Dinos (Canada West), he had three goals and nine assists in 12 games. . . . 
F Milan Kytnár (Kelowna, Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, with Nové Zámky (Slovakia, Extraliga), he finished with 11 goals and 18 assists in 43 games. . . . 
F Anthony Bardaro (Spokane, Prince Albert, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Asiago (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, with the U of British Columbia Thunderbirds (Canada West), he had 14 goals and 16 assists in 28 games. He led the T-Birds in goals, assists and points, and was fourth in the Canada West scoring race.
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My favourite WHL-related photo showed up on Twitter on Wednesday.
Ahh, yes, those were the days.
It was a Friday night — Nov. 18, 1994 — and the Moose Jaw Warriors were visiting the Regina Pats in what was then the Agridome.
Late in the game, Moose Jaw head coach Al Tuer and his Regina counterpart, Norm Johnston, took off their jackets, climbed up on the back of the players’ boxes and threatened to make like Hulk Hogan and Bret (Hitman) Hart.
The late Roy Antal was The Leader-Post photographer assigned to the game and he just happened to be between the benches when the fun began. Not only did he get this photo, but he also managed to get his left hand in the picture — that’s it at the bottom right.
Shortly after I tweeted to point out that the photo, autographed by both would-be pugilists, hangs in my home, Mick Kartusch, who carries a famous Saskatchewan hockey name, responded: “I remember that night vividly … those Friday night Pats/Warriors games back in the day were gems. . . . Theo’s meltdowns, O’Connor’s ceremonial face-off win, Keane vs. Savard, ’84 bench clearer. Never a dull moment at the dome.”
Which took me back to Feb. 5, 2009, and something that I posted right here below that same photo . . .
There just aren’t fun nights like this in the WHL anymore.
The date was Nov. 18, 1994. It was a Friday night. The Moose Jaw Warriors were visiting the Regina Pats in what was then known as the Agridome. It was a time before corporations purchased naming rights to whatever was for sale. It was a time when hockey games frequently — well, certainly more often than now — included some kind of action that would leave the fans buzzing when they left the arena.
The Pats would win this game, 5-2, but as the fans headed for home the talk centred on two things: 1. Wasn’t that something?, and, 2. How do we get tickets for tomorrow night in Moose Jaw?
This was the night that Al Tuer, the head coach of the Warriors, and Norm Johnston, the Pats’ head coach, scaled the glass behind their teams’ benches and made like they were trying to get at each other. Vince McMahon would have loved it.
Roy Antal, a photographer with the Regina Leader-Post, was in the box between the team’s benches when all heck broke out.
Tuer laughs about it these days. He now scouts for the NHL’s Calgary Flames out of Vernon, B.C.
“There was a line brawl,” Tuer said the other night, “and we ended up with one more guy on the ice than they did. Go figure.”
Tuer laughed.
“Norm called me the next morning,” Tuer added. “He said we should go for a beer.”
Both head coaches drew one-game — yes, one-game! — suspensions.
The next night, the teams met in Moose Jaw and the Warriors won, 5-2. Former NHLer Bill Hicke, then one of the Pats’ owners, coached the Pats; Warriors assistant coach Len Nielsen ran the Moose Jaw bench.
Attendance in Moose Jaw was 3,317. The fire marshal may have been on vacation. The WHL’s 1994-95 Guide lists capacity of the Crushed Can at 3,269 – 2,969 seats and 310 standing.
“Yeah, the rink in Moose Jaw was kind of full that night,” Tuer said.
Of course, he and Johnston weren’t able to attend.
And, no, they never did get together for that beer.
While Tuer scouts for the Flames, Johnston, a school teacher, is head coach of the midget AAA Regina Pats Canadians. He also is involved in mentoring coaches with Hockey Regina. And one of Johnston’s best friends is Graham Tuer, Al’s father.
Yes, the hockey world is a small one. It’s just not as much fun for some of us as it used to be.
(The above photo was taken by Roy Antal of the Regina Leader-Post. I have had it autographed and tried to copy it for use here. I'm not a photographer and that is my flash bouncing back that you see in the middle of it. Hey, I'm a writer . . .)
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UPDATE: Al Tuer now is the head pro scout with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. Norm Johnston is preparing for his first full season as the head coach of the Battlefords Stars of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League.
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Shaun Van Allen was named the interim head coach of the Carleton U Ravens on Wednesday, after head coach Marty Johnston left to join the AHL’s Manitoba Moose as an assistant coach. . . . The 49-year-old Van Allen, from Calgary, has been an assistant coach at Carleton for seven seasons. He played two seasons (1985-87) with the Saskatoon Blades before going on to a pro career that included 794 NHL games. . . . With the Moose, Johnston will work alongside head coach Pascal Vincent, assistant coach Eric Dubois, developmental goaltending coach Rick St. Croix and video coach Richard Bue. Johnston, 38, had been the Ravens’ head coach for seven seasons.
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The U of Alaska-Fairbanks has promoted Lance West from assistant coach to head coach. He replaces Dallas Ferguson, who left after nine seasons as head coach of the Nanooks to join the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen as their head coach. . . . West was on Ferguson’s staff for the entire nine-season run. . . . College Hockey News has more on West’s promotion right here.
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If you’re a regular here, and even you aren’t, feel free to contribute to the feeding of the Drinnan family by making a donation to the cause. You are able to do so by clicking on the DONATE button and going from there.
If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com. I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
———


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