Monday, August 29, 2016

WHL teams busy signing players . . . Warriors closing in on second father-son combo . . . Royals ink brother of NHL d-man

F Blair Jones (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Utica Comets (AHL), he had nine goals and six assists in 36 games, and four goals and three assists in 13 games with the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).
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D Cole Moberg of North Vancouver, who will turn 16 on Oct. 15, has signed with the Prince George Cougars. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Moberg was listed by the Cougars almost a year ago. Last season, with the midget AAA North Shore Winter Club side, he had 48 points, 21 of them goals, in 57 games.
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The Victoria Royals have signed G Dean McNabb, a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft, to a WHL contract. Last season, the 6-foot-2, 174-pound McNabb, who is from Davidson, Sask., was 11-5-0, 2.15, .904 in 18 games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . . He is the younger brother of Los Angeles Kings D Brayden McNabb, who played four seasons (2007-11) with the Kootenay Ice.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors are a step closer to having the second father-son playing duo in franchise history. On Monday, they signed F Chantz Petruic, 17, of Moose Jaw, whose father Jeff played 148 games with the Warriors (1989-93). Chantz, a 5-foot-10, 178-pound listed player, played last season with the midget AAA Moose Jaw Generals, putting up 28 points, including 21 goals, in 43 games. He also had a goal and two assists in one game with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers. . . . The first father-son duo in Warriors’ history was Mark (1984-85) and Matt MacKay (2008-10). . . . The Warriors also signed two other listed players. . . . F Tyler Smithies, a 6-foot-1, 175-pounder, is a 16-year-old from Beaumont, Alta.  Last season, with the midget AAA Leduc Oil Kings, Smithies had 12 points, including five goals, in 33 games. . . . F Jaxan Kaluski, 17, of Lloydminster, Alta., is 6-foot-0 and 178 pounds. Also a listed player, he had 22 points, including 14 goals, in 32 games with the midget AAA Lloydminster Bobcats last season.
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The Swift Current Broncos have signed G Joel Hofer, a 16-year-old out of Winnipeg who was a list player. . . . Hofer spent last season at the Pursuit of Excellence, going 2.92 and .890 in 12 games with the U-16 team, 1.74 and .937 in 15 games with the varsity team, and 3.20 and .887 in six games with the prep team. He was named the Canadian Sports Schools Varsity Hockey League’s top goaltender after leading the league in GAA and save percentage.
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The Kamloops Blazers have signed D Quinn Schmiemann, a native of Wilcox, Sask., to a WHL contract. He was a third-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Last season, with the Wilcox-based Notre Dame Hounds bantams, he had 22 points, including eight goals, in 38 games. The 6-foot-1, 160-pounder is the younger brother of D Dominic Schmiemann, who was taken by the Swift Current Broncos with the 12th overall pick of the 2014 bantam draft.
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Jim Devellano, a long-time NHL front-office guy who has seven Stanley Cup rings, has bought into the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Devellano won four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and three with the New York Islanders. . . . He now is the Spirit’s alternate governor and will also help the marketing people and serve as an ambassador for the franchise. . . . He still is senior vice-president and alternate governor of the Red Wings and vice-president of the Detroit Tigers. Both teams are owned by the Ilitch family.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching
John Madden, 43, is the new head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets. He takes over from Jared Bednar, who was named the head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Rockies last week. The Monsters are the reigning AHL champions. . . . Madden has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, but had been fired after last season. . . . He played 13 seasons in the NHL, playing 898 games with Florida, the Minnesota Wild, Chicago Blackhawks and New Jersey Devils (1998-2012). . . . Columbus assistant GM Bill Zito, who made the announcement, was Madden’s agent at one time.
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Mondays With Murray: He Should Know Who Good Guy Is



Gene Autry (left), with Jim Murray
We've really gotten used to the Kershaw to Ellis combination out here in Los Angeles. L.A. has come to love A.J. Ellis.  He's a solid hitter. He's good at throwing to second. He's an all-around nice guy, according to other Dodgers who spend a lot of time with him. Generally speaking, he's a good guy to have on the team.
As of Thursday, however, Ellis no longer wears the blue and grey of L.A., but rather the red and white of Philadelphia as he was dealt to the Phillies for catcher Carlos Ruiz.
This trade reminded me of another trade, this one between the Angels and the Braves in 1991 . . .
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Does anyone remember Wally Joyner with the Angels?  Or, should I say, does anyone remember when the Angels traded a real life angel to the Kansas City Royals and replaced him with a guy who got kicked out of the World Series for cocaine use?
One of my all time favourite Jim Murray stories was a December morning in 1991 . . . Dec. 17 to be exact. Jim was writing and the phone rang. I answered . . .
Me: “Hello."  
Voice on the other end: "Is Jim there?" 
Me: "He's writing. May I take a message."
Voice: "Tell him it's Gene Autry. He'll take this call."
Me: "Jim, Gene Autry is on the phone."
Jim: "I knew that was going to happen."
Jim picked up the phone and after about two minutes of “yes," “sure,” “yes,” “ok” . . . he hung up.
Me: "Everything OK?"
Jim: "Yeah, he just needed to yell at someone. I drew the short straw."
And now, here's the column that got Gene Autry all riled up . . .
ENJOY! 
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DECEMBER 17, 1991, SPORTS
Copyright 1991/THE TIMES MIRROR COMPANY

JIM MURRAY 

He Should Know Who Good Guy Is

All right, Miss Blue Eyes, how about a letter to Gene Autry, the head Angel on this year's Christmas tree? Ready? Mark it, "Open anytime." 
"Dear Gene:
"I know I am presuming on an old acquaintance to address you in this way but, after all, we go back to Bev Barnett and John Wayne and Mitch Hamilburg, right? To the days when Will Rogers gave you some advice, `Keep working!' (Or was that Duke Wayne he said it to?)
"No matter. I have a subject of some interest I'd like to discuss with you.
"It's the matter of Wally Joyner, your first baseman. Your ex-first baseman.
"Now, I thought Wally Joyner was a perfectly lovely human being and a real fine ballplayer. I mean, 
he always had this smile on his face. He seemed to have time for autographs. He really kind of looked like an Angel, if you know what I mean. This baby face. He always looked as if someone had just wiped Pablum off it. You wanted to put him back in his high chair or look around for his nanny.
"But how he could hit a baseball! His fast bat, quick wrists, level swing. For pitchers, it was like getting bit by your pet poodle, but Wally put the numbers up. He hit .301 last year with 21 home runs and 96 runs batted in. He hit .290 one year with 100 runs batted in, and .285 another with 117 runs batted in. He's as popular as ice cream in Anaheim. There's Mickey Mouse — and there's Wally Joyner.
"So you let him go with a shrug.
"OK, that's business, right?
"It's what happened after that that bothers me.
"I pick up the papers and see where the Angels are maneuvering to replace Joyner. They are throwing money off the back of trucks to get a guy named Otis Nixon from the Atlanta Braves.
"Now, I don't know much about Otis Nixon. He may be good to his mother, kind to kids and a barrel of laughs around the house.
"But I do know he snorted himself out of the World Series last year. He could have cost his team that Series by his enforced absence. There wasn't much else to choose between the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins.
"But his absence was not caused by a bruised calf, a pulled hamstring or a torn rotator cuff. Nixon was suspended from baseball for 60 days for violation of the game's drug rules. At the time you were bidding on him, Gene, he still had 18 days to serve of a 60-day suspension, as a second-time loser. He'll miss the start of next season.
"There weren't too many teams interested in taking on this problem player. His own Braves were lukewarm.
"And then, along came your team, Gene. You raised the bidding for this guy to unconscionable heights.
"It was widely believed that Otis Nixon had irrevocably damaged his market value. His chances at a big-money contract were considered nil because of his drug use. His own club, the Braves, was believed to have made a grudging offer of $750,000 for a year, with bonuses depending on his fitness to play.
"Then, the Angels sat in on the game.
"Nixon had earned $585,000 the year before. The Angels opened the general bidding at $8 million.
"Nixon's agent was overjoyed. He should have been. The Angels turned damaged goods into the Kohinoor diamond. The next day, the Braves signed Nixon for $8.1 million for three years.
"Gene, can I ask you something? What kind of message does this bring to young people of America? Snort coke and get a $2-million raise? Live right and wind up in Kansas City?
"Oh, I know the marketplace is unsentimental, non-judgmental. I'm the guy who quotes the hypothetical coach who wants to sign a guy out of the police lineup and his faculty says, ‘But this guy raped 12 nurses!' The coach says, ‘I know, but he can run the 40 in 4.3!’
"I guess Otis Nixon would have helped your team. On the other hand, he's not Ty Cobb. He can run. Stole 72 bases last year. Hit .297.
"He also stole 50 bases in 1990, at Montreal, and hit .251. He stole 46 bases the year before, batting only .217.
"Someone's going to have to explain to me how you can do that in the throes of an addiction.
"Anyway, I'm glad you didn't get him. I don't find him an acceptable substitute at all for Wally Joyner. I know some guys would suit up Hitler if they thought he would bring them a pennant — or put them in the Super Bowl.
"But that's not your image, Gene.
"I mean, what would Rudolph think?”
Your old pal, Jim Murray

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

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

What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

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

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Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cougars sifting through resumes . . . Silvertips getting 'Trumped' . . . SJHL to salute Mr. Hockey

The Prince George Cougars are in the market for an assistant coach, general manager Todd Harkins confirmed to Taking Note on Sunday. They have a vacancy after Michael Hengen left the team after two seasons. . . . "We have had quite a few resumes come in and are slowly sifting through them,” Harkins said. . . . A new assistant coach will work alongside head coach Richard Matvichuk and associate coach Steve O’Rourke, both of whom are starting their first seasons with the Cougars. . . . As for Hengen, he told Taking Note that he has “decided to move on from coaching.” It was, he added, “an absolute dream come true to coach in the WHL.” He had to make a “tough decision,” he continued, “but it’s a very necessary choice that I had to make.” . . . Brent Arsenault, who had been with the organization since 2005 and also was the education advisor, has left the Cougars, too. Harkins said that the Cougars have added Mary LaMarre as the education advisor. She “was Brent’s contact and right-hand person at Prince George Secondary School,” Harkins said.
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With two of the WHL’s Big Three having left for the NHL over the past month, what about the one who remains? Bruce Hamilton, the majority owner, president and governor of the Kelowna Rockets, told Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Rockets: “I’m 59 and I’m not so sure that’s in line for me right now. I’m happy here right now. We want to win again — that’s the most important thing for us, and to continue to have one of the better franchises in the Canadian Hockey League.” . . . Kelly McCrimmon, the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings, has signed on with the NHL’s Las Vegas expansion franchise as assistant general manager. Tim Speltz, the long-time general manager of the Spokane Chiefs, is leaving to join the Toronto Maple Leafs as a western scout. . . . Hamilton? Well, he added: “If the right thing came along that interested me, yeah, I would listen. You’d be stupid not to listen.” . . . Fisher’s story is right here.
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The Everett Silvertips are being ‘Trumped’ on Tuesday. . . . Donald Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, has Everett’s Xfinity Arena booked for the entire day, so the Silvertips will be on the outside looking in. Unless, of course, they plan on attending The Donald’s rally, which begins at 7 p.m., although the doors apparently open at 4. . . . The Silvertips wrapped up their main camp with the annual Green vs. Grey intrasquad game on Sunday afternoon.
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The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Brady Nicholas, who was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. From St. Albert, Alta., the 6-foot-0, 178-pound Nichols had 43 points, 14 of them goals, in 30 games with the bantam AAA St. Albert Saints last season. 
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The Moose Jaw Warriors announced the signings of four players, each of them taller than 6-foot-0, following their intrasquad game on Sunday night. . . . D Matthew Benson of Surrey, B.C., played last season with the Delta Hockey Academy Elite 15s. The 6-foot-1, 187-pound Benson recorded one goal and 12 assists in 33 games. He will turn 16 on Nov. 24. . . . D Matthew Sanders of Calgary was a fifth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Sanders, 6-foot-2 and 191 pounds, played last season with the bantam AAA Calgary Bisons, scoring seven goals and adding 10 assists in 36 games. . . . F Kale Clouston, 6-foot-4 and 177 pounds, is from Rockyview, Alta. He was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. Last season, with the minor midget AAA Rockeyview Raiders, he had 39 points, including 14 goals, in 62 games. . . . F Brecon Wood of Edmonton also signed. The 6-foot-2, 168-pounder was selected in the seventh round of the 2015 bantam draft. He will turn 16 on Dec. 5. Last season, he had 15 points, four of them goals, in 23 games with the OHA-Edmonton team in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League.
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When the Moose Jaw Warriors held their intrasquad game on Sunday night, admission was by donation with all proceeds going to the Canadian Mental Health Association in memory of Ethan Williams. . . . It is important that people like Williams not be forgotten. . . . Two years ago, Williams, a Warriors prospect from Winnipeg, took his own life at 16 years of age. . . . Mike McIntyre of the Winnipeg Free Press explored Williams’ story right here.
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SJHLThe SJHL has announced that all of its players will wear No. 9 patches this season in honour of the late Gordie Howe, who died on June 20, 2016. Born in Floral, Sask., Mr. Hockey grew up in Saskatoon. . . . “As a league from Mr. Howe’s home province, from what he did for hockey in Saskatchewan and the world, the SJHL’s governors wanted to recognize him somehow,” SJHL president Bill Chow said. “It was decided a No. 9 patch would be worn on the sweaters. Mr. Howe meant a lot to hockey and the Saskatchewan people. He is the epitome of what Saskatchewan hockey is all about — heart, soul, character, dedication and commitment.”
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By now you will be aware of the thief in goaltending gear who hit a beer store in Russell, Man., the other night. All of the publicity this thief has received reminded me of a gem of a book that I don’t think received its proper due when it was published in 2005. The book, by Julian Rubinstein, carries the title Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts. . . . Seriously, that is the title. . . . It is the story of Attila Ambrus, who moonlighted as a gentleman thief while trying to carve out a career as a professional goaltender in Budapest. . . . This is a truly bizarre story and a worthwhile read, one that will leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Departures in Prince George . . . Rockets sign first-round pick . . . Koep, Matsuba won't be back

The Prince George Cougars have yet to announce it but sources have told Taking Note that assistant coaches Michael Hengen and Brent Arsenault have left the organization. . . . The names of both men have been removed from the Cougars’ website. . . . Hengen had been with the Cougars since July 3, 2014, when he signed on as assistant coach and strength-and-conditioning coach. A native of Surrey, B.C., he had been with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees for four seasons prior to joining the Cougars. He is a former WHL player who split 226 regular-season games between the Swift Current Broncos, Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Calgary Hitmen and Saskatoon Blades. . . . Arsenault had been with the Cougars since 2005. He signed on as an assistant coach and in 2007 also became the team’s education advisor. . . . The Cougars’ coaching staff now comprises head coach Richard Matvichuk, who is prepping for his first season on a three-year contract after replacing Mark Holick, and associate coach Steve O’Rourke, who also is about to begin his first season in Prince George. He had been on staff with the Red Deer Rebels before leaving after last season.
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Assuming that the Cougars will hire an assistant coach, by my count there are three WHL teams on the hunt. . . . The Victoria Royals are looking to fill the spot created when veteran assistant Enio Sacilotto was moved up to director of prospect development and scout. That came about after Grant Armstrong, the Royals’ assistant general manager, player personnel signed with the Brandon Wheat Kings as their general manager. . . . The Calgary Hitmen, meanwhile, have yet to replace Trent Whitfield, a one-season assistant coach who now is an assistant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.
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D Kaedan Korczak has signed with the Kelowna Rockets. Korczak, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 WHL bantam draft, announced the signing on Twitter. . . . The Rockets traded up at the draft in order to pick the native of Yorkton, Sask. . . . The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder had 15 points, two of them goals, with the midget AAA Yorkton Maulers last season. He will be returning to the Maulers for a second season.
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F Andrew Koep has decided not to return to the Edmonton Oil Kings for a third season. The 19-year-old from Lloydminster, Alta., has chosen instead to attend the U of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. . . . Koep was a second-round pick by the Oil Kings in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had 22 points, 11 of them goals, in 71 games. In 130 career regular-season games, Koep put up 63 points, including 26 goals.
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D Mark Matsuba won’t be back with the Brandon Wheat Kings for his 19-year-old season. From St. Albert, Alta., Matsuba has chosen to retire. He was fourth-round selection in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had a goal and five assists in 50 regular-season games. In two seasons, he put up 10 points, two of them goals, in 86 games. . . . He played in only two playoff games during the Wheat Kings’ championship run last spring. . . . If you missed it, Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun also reported Saturday that D Jordan Thomson, 20, has retired so won’t be returning to the Wheat Kings.
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Friday, August 26, 2016

NHL camps to cut into opening night WHL rosters . . . Blades lose two vets . . . Brandon d-man retires


Fans of the WHL should be prepared to have some of their favourite players missing for the first couple weeks of the regular season, or perhaps even longer. . . . Because of the World Cup of Hockey, the NHL’s regular season won’t begin until Oct. 12, five days later than a season ago. With so many
players involved with the WCOH, NHL teams are going to need bodies to fill out training camp rosters, which could mean major junior players will get longer looks. . . . NHL rookie camps open in mid-September, about when WHL teams are wrapping up the exhibition season. . . . As Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports, the top two goaltenders on the Warriors’ depth chart — Zach Sawchenko (Nashville Predators) and Brody Willms (Los Angeles Kings) — will attend NHL rookie camps as free-agent invitees. . . . As Warriors GM Alan Millar told Gourlie: “We're going to have to expect that we're going to be missing guys opening weekend. We're going to be have to be on our toes in terms of what is going on with Willms and Sawchenko and managing our goaltending situation if it gets to be the start of the season.” . . . The Warriors also will have four of their top skaters — F Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning), F Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks), D Dimitri Zaitsev (Washington Capitals) and F Tanner Jeannot (Minnesota Wild) — at NHL camps. . . . Of course, every one of the WHL’s 22 teams and their fans will be in the same boat as opening night approaches — watching and waiting to see who will be back from the NHL.
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If you haven’t yet seen the story from Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Townsman in which Kootenay Ice president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth points an accusing finger at many of those involved with the CHL import draft, it is right here. . . . Among other things, Chynoweth told Rocca: “Right now, to me, it looks like the commissioners of the OHL and QMJHL look the other way and are ignoring a serious problem when it comes to the import draft. It's broken. It's the haves and the have-nots. It's not a level playing field. Something has to be done about it.” . . . This is serious stuff.
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Taylor Rocca is one of the best young sports reporters to surface in Western Canada in a while. Unfortunately, he won’t be plying his trade in the newspaper business for much longer. The WHL has hired him as its communications co-ordinator. Rocca will spend most of his time on content creation and keeping new material, much of which he no doubt will produce, flowing to the WHL website.
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The Saskatoon Blades were without a couple of veteran players as training camp opened. . . . F Terrell Draude, 19, apparently will go to school. From Warman, Sask., the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder
played two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen before being dealt to the Blades early last season. He had 15 points, including nine goals, in 47 games with the Blades. In 167 career regular-season games, Draude put up 54 points, 24 of them goals. . . . D Duane Perillat, 19, chose to retire. Perillat, from Saskatoon, played 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2014-15 and 11 last season. He finished the season by playing 31 games with the Blades, recording 16 points, including 11 assists. In 95 career games, he had 46 points, including 13 goals. . . . Meanwhile, Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix also reports that D Chance Patterson, 19, is with the Blades after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. Patterson is from Foam Lake, Sask., and played midget AAA with the Saskatoon Blazers. With the Oil Kings, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder played in 28 games in 2014-15 and 30 games last season. He was pointless as a freshman and had a goal and an assist in his sophomore season.
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After playing in 237 regular-season games with four teams, D Jordan Thomson has chosen to retire rather than return as a 20-year-old. He would have been one of five 20s in camp with the defending-champion Brandon Wheat Kings, the others being G Jordan Papirny, F Duncan Campbell, F Tyler Coulter and F Reid Duke. . . . A native of nearby Wawanesa, Thomson now is working for Brandon Maintenance Services while deciding whether to go to school at Assiniboine Community College. . . . “I think of the situation I had with Brandon and ending it off on such a positive note,” Thomson told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “There are so many 20-year-olds coming back, high-calibre players, I might as well end my career off on an absolute high.” . . . The Kamloops Blazers selected Thomson with the fourth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. They later traded him to the Saskatoon Blades, who moved him to the Swift Current Broncos. Brandon acquired him from Swift Current on Nov. 25. . . . In 237 regular-season games, he totalled 69 points, including 16 goals.
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

The SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds have hired Taras McEwen as their new assistant coach. He will work alongside Clint Mylymok, the Hounds’ general manager and head coach. . . . McEwen takes over from Bear Trapp, who left after two seasons. Trapp is the son of former WHL F Doug Trapp and the grandson of Barry Trapp, a former WHL GM, assistant coach and head coach, and a long-time scout. . . . In the same vein, McEwen is the son of Brad McEwen, who is a scout with the NHL’s Calgary Flames after working for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos in various roles for a number of years. . . . Taras, from Whitewood, Sask., most recently was head coach of the junior B Fort Knox entry in the Prairie Junior Hockey League. He also will be the hockey operations assistant in Notre Dame’s hockey office. . . . The Hounds’ main camp opens Aug. 30 and is open to the public.
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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chynoweth blows whistle on import draft . . . Royals make front-office move . . . Chiefs goaltender retires



F Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-09) has signed a one-year contract with Katowice (Poland, PHL). Last season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had 53 points, including 35 assists, in 61 games. This summer, he played with the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL), putting up 15 goals and 16 assists in 21 games. The AIHL regular season ended on Sunday; the Ice Dogs missed the playoffs. . . .
F Adam Courchaine (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 17 goals and 13 assists in 48 games. He tied for the team lead in goals. Courchaine signed a two-year extension with Hradec Králové in January, but terminated the contract prior to signing with Székesfehérvár.
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Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, has had enough of the CHL import draft as it presently exists. Chynoweth, the son of the late Ed Chynoweth, the long-time head of the CHL and WHL, told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Townsman on Thursday that too many
CHL teams cut deals with player agents before the draft is even held.
“Until the CHL changes the rules of the import draft, nothing is going to change,” Chynoweth told Rocca. “I know when my dad was in charge of the CHL, he would recognize and strive to address the issues. Right now, to me, it looks like the commissioners of the OHL and QMJHL look the other way and are ignoring a serious problem when it comes to the import draft. It's broken.
“It’s the haves and the have-nots. It’s not a level playing field. Something has to be done about it.”
Chynoweth claims that “the Western Hockey League polices itself against the backdoor deals that go on with the import draft.”
The Ice had the first selection in this year’s import draft and took Russian F Klim Kostin, a 17-year-old who is projected as an early selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. Originally, Chynoweth had high hopes for landing Kostin, but he has signed with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.
(The Ice’s other import pick, Russian D Nikita Radzivilyuk, 17, is expected to arrived in Cranbrook this weekend, in time to take part in training camp.)
It long has been known that player agents drive the annual import draft, oftentimes picking and choosing to which teams clients will report. It has been suggested at times that the CHL needs to go to a system in which a player has to opt into the draft and, in doing so, agrees to play for the team that selects him.
Chynoweth has come around to agree with that line of thinking.
“Critics will say an opt-in doesn't guarantee a player is coming,” he told Rocca. “Absolutely it doesn't. But at least you know that Kootenay or London have the same list of players to choose from.
“Until we do that, it's not a level playing field.”
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Enio Sacilotto has moved from the bench to the front office with the Victoria Royals, Sacilotto, a veteran coach, had been a Royals’ assistant coach for  six seasons, going back to their days as the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?). . . . Sacilotto, 58, has been named the Royals’ director of prospect development and also will work as a scout. . . . A vacancy was created earlier in the week when Grant Armstrong, the Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, signed on with the Brandon Wheat Kings as general manager. . . . The Royals now are looking for a head coach to work alongside Dave Lowry. . . . Sacilotto ran the Royals’ bench at times last season, going 5-6-2 while Lowry was tending to duties as the head coach of Canada’s national junior team.
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If you were wondering why Tim Speltz, then the Spokane Chiefs’ general manager, acquired G Jayden Sittler, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes earlier this summer, well, you have your answer. . .


. Tyson Verhelst, a 19-year-old native of Brandon, has chosen to retire. Verhelst played in 81 games for the Chiefs over the past two seasons, including 55 in 2015-16 when he was 23-22-5, 3.16, .892. . . . “It’s a tough one,” Speltz told Thomas Clouse of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “(Verhelst) had an injury. He suddenly lost his passion. When we traded for Sittler, I knew we were in trouble.” . . . . As things now stand, Sittler will open the season as the Chiefs’ starter. The backup is expected to be either Matthew Berlin or Donovan Buskey. Berlin, 18, is from Edmonton and was a seventh-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Buskey, 16, is from North Vancouver. He was a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Speltz stepped down as GM earlier this month in order to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as head western scout. However, he continues to help the Chiefs through the transition.
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F Massimo Rizzo hasn’t signed with the Kamloops Blazers, who selected him 15th overall in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, but he will be in their rookie camp when it opens (today) Friday at the Sandman Centre. . . . Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played for the Penticton Vees as they beat the West Kelowna Warriors 2-0 in a BCHL exhibition game on Wednesday night, then left for Kamloops on Thursday. . . . During an appearance on Radio NL’s Jim Harrison Show earlier this month, Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi indicated that he didn’t foresee a problem in signing Rizzo but acknowledged that the family had said it wanted time to consider the options. . . . One WHL insider told Taking Note on Thursday that the family “told everyone they were thinking college” prior to the draft. . . . After watching Rizzo on the ice and then in Wednesday’s game, Penticton assistant coach Jason Becker, a former WHL player and assistant coach, told Taking Note: “He looked pretty good . . . he’s a special player.” . . . Last season, with the bantam AAA Burnaby Winter Club Bruins, Rizzo had 137 points, including 60 goals, in 61 games.
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F Nick Merkley, who had his 2015-16 season short-circuited by a knee injury that required surgery, won’t attend the Kelowna Rockets’ training camp. Merkley, 19, is skating but hasn’t been cleared for contact. He was a first-round selection by Arizona in the 2015 NHL draft and is expected to rejoin the Rockets at some point. . . . Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier also reports right here that the Rockets are expected to begin with F Rod Southam, their captain, G Michael Herringer and F Riley Stadel, a former defenceman, as their 20-year-olds.
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In an intriguing move, the Regina Pats have offered F Nick Henry, 17, a roster spot if he signs a WHL contract. Henry was the MJHL’s rookie of the year last season after putting up 61 points, including 26 goals, in 50 games with his hometown Portage Terriers. . . . Henry, whose rights the Pats acquired from the Everett Silvertips, has made a verbal commitment to attend Western Michigan U, but has agreed to attend the Pats’ training camp. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that and more right here.
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According to Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, F Bradly Goethals is expected to be in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp when it opens on Wednesday. Goethals, 18, won the Manitoba Midget AAA League scoring title with 74 points, including 41 goals, in 43 games with the Eastman Selects. He is from Iles-des-Chenes, Man., and had made a commitment to Bemidji State. . . . Bergson also reported that F Tak Anholt also is expected in camp. Anholt, 18, reported to the Wheat Kings last season but didn’t get into any games, then left for what the team said was personal reasons. He was a second-round selection by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2013 bantam draft. The Wheat Kings acquired Anholt, along with F Reid Duke and D Macoy Erkamps, from the Hurricanes for D Kord Pankewicz, F Brett Kitt and F Ryley Lindgren on Sept. 30, 2014.
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NHLFormer WHLer Jared Bednar is the new head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He replaces Patrick Roy, who quit earlier this month. . . . According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Bednar and the Avs agreed to a three-year contract. . . . Bednar had been head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, who won the AHL championship last season as the Lake Erie Monsters. Interestingly, Bednar has never played or coached in the NHL. . . . The other finalist was Lane Lambert, a former WHL player and coach, who now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. . . . Colorado general manager Joe Sakic made the final decision while in Seattle where his son, Chase, is in the training camp of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Chase, a forward, will turn 16 on Oct. 14. . . . Bednar, 44, played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, with the Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . A native of Yorkton, Sask., Bednar has been in the coaching game since 2002-03. . . . Reports that Travis Green, the head coach of the AHL’s Utica Comets, was in the running for the Colorado position weren’t accurate. A source has told Taking Note that Green, a former Portland Winterhawks assistant GM and assistant coach, doesn’t have an out-clause in his contract that would allow him to leave at this time. The Comets are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
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The NHL’s Las Vegas franchise, which is to begin play in 2017-18, has added yet another WHLer to its front office. Erin Ginnell, who played for five teams (New Westminster Bruins, Calgary Wranglers, Seattle Thunderbirds, Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos) over two seasons (1985-87), has joined Las Vegas as an amateur scout. . . . Ginnell, the son of the late Pat Ginnell, has been an NHL scout since 2000-01, working with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. He spent 14 seasons with the Panthers, the last five as their director of amateur scouting. . . . Ginnell’s son, Brad, is in camp with the Portland Winterhawks.  He was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Las Vegas also has added Scott Luce as its director of amateur scouting. He had been Florida’s director of player personnel. . . . Luce and Ginnell both found themselves unemployed when Florida shuffled GM Dale Tallon upstairs and put Tom Rowe in charge. . . . In recent days, Las Vegas has signed at least four other people with WHL experience — Murray Craven (senior vice-president), Kelly McCrimmon (assistant GM), Vaughn Karpan (director of player personnel) and Bruno Campese (amateur scout).
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The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced this week that — wait for it! — each of its regular-season games will be worth three points. . . . Here’s how it will work. . . . If a team wins in regulation time, it gets three points. . . . If a team wins during a five-minute sudden-death OT period, it gets three points. The loser doesn’t get a thing. . . . If a game is decided in 3-on-3 OT, which occurs if the five-minute period doesn’t settle things, the winner gets two points, with the loser getting one. . . . If the game needs a shootout, the winner gets two points and the loser gets one. . . . It is going to be interesting to watch the in-season reaction to see if teams push harder to win in regulation or the first OT period.
There also was this paragraph in the news release: “The 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts will only affect the WCHA standings, while any game that is tied after the 5-on-5 overtime remains officially a tie for NCAA purposes. Thus, the WCHA standings will show Wins, Losses, Ties and 3-on-3/Shootout Wins (W-L-T-3/SW). In this format, W-L-T will add up to games played, with the Tie column signifying how many times a team has been to a 3-on-3 overtime or shootout; and, the 3/SW column representing how many games a team has won in that fashion.”
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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