Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday . . .

F Josh Birkholz of Maple Grove, Minn., has left the University of Minnesota to sign with the Everett Silvertips. (Photo: Getty Images)

F Oleg Saprykin (Seattle, 1998-2000) signed a three-year contract with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (Russia KHL). He had seven goals and seven assists in 47 games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia KHL) and SKA St. Petersburg (Russia KHL) last season. . . .
F Jaroslav Kristek (Tri-City, 1998-2000) signed a tryout contract with HC Lev Poprad (Slovakia, KHL). He had 10 goals and 14 assists in 52 games with Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic Extraliga) and Zlin (Czech Republic Extraliga) last season. . . .
F Martin Sagat (Kootenay, 2003-05) has been loaned to Trinec (Czech Republic Extraliga) by Slovan Usti nad Labem (Czech Republic 1.Liga). He had one goal and two assists in 13 games for Mlada Boleslav (Czech Republic Extraliga) and 12 goals and 19 assists in 36 games with Slovan last season.
One day after acquiring F Landon Ferraro, 19, from the Red Deer Rebels, the Everett Silvertips have written another headline by signing a player out of the NCAA ranks.
F Josh Birkholz, 19, of Maple Grove, Minn., is leaving the U of Minnesota Gophers to play for the Silvertips. Birkholz was a third-round selection, 67th overall, by the Florida Panthers in the NHL’s 2009 draft.
Birkholz, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, had six points, including five goals, in 36 games with Minnesota last season. As a 17-year-old, he played for the USHL’s Fargo, N.D., Force, picking up 36 points, 21 of them goals, in 55 games.
"We are very pleased to be able to have Josh join our organization," Everett GM Doug Soetaert said in a news release. "We feel strongly that we will be able to provide him the opportunity to develop and succeed at reaching his goal of playing in the National Hockey League while continuing his education. Our hockey staff, headed by head coach Craig Hartsburg, is excited to have another top-six forward join the team for the upcoming (season)."
The Minneapolis StarTribune reported that “Birkholz . . . would have been suspended at the start of the college season for breaking unspecified team rules, according to a team release.”
Roman Augustoviz of the StarTribune has more from Birkholz right here.
The Kootenay Ice has promoted assistant coach Kris Knoblauch to head coach, replacing Mark Holick who now is head coach of the Syracuse Crunch, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
Knoblauch, 31, signed a two-year contract; the Ice holds an option on a third season.
Knoblauch, a former WHL player, has been on the Ice’s coaching staff for three seasons. He played two seasons in the Ice organization -- one each with Edmonton and Kootenay. Later, he played five seasons with the U of Alberta Golden Bears. He also has served one season as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders.
“After going through the numerous applicants for the head-coaching position the decision to promote Kris was ultimately an easy one as he has been with the hockey club for three years and has worked in the Western Hockey League for the past four years,” Jeff Chynoweth, the team’s president and general manager, said in a news release. “The philosophy of our organization is to hire and promote from within wherever possible. Kris is very familiar with our returning group of players which will make the transition from assistant to head coach that much easier.”
What makes this an extremely interesting hire is that Chynoweth said two months ago that, while he planned on interviewing Knoblauch, he wasn’t about to promote him. Chynoweth learned of Holick’s departure during the Memorial Cup in Brandon in May; at the time, Chynoweth told me he would interview Knoblauch because the latter’s position and what he had so far given to the organization warranted it. But Chynoweth said at the time that he just didn’t feel that Knoblauch was ready, especially with the level of coaching in the WHL these days.
Obviously, Knoblauch did some convincing between then and now.
And just like that . . . each of the WHL’s 22 teams has a head coach. A couple of teams, like Kootenay and the Medicine Hat Tigers, and perhaps the Vancouver Giants, will be adding assistants before training camps open in just over a month.
Chuck Weber is the new head coach of the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers. Weber has been the head coach of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, winning playoff titles in 2008 and 2010. Weber, 37, replaces Benoit Groulx, who was the head coach in Rochester for two seasons.
The QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats have a new general manager. Bob Crossman has replaced Bill Schurman, who is moving into sports management. Crossman is no stranger to the GM’s position. The Wildcats are heading into their 15th season -- he has been the organization’s vice-president since Day 1 and has twice served as GM.
From Cam Tait of the Edmonton Journal:
Nick Wilson left his post as vice-president with the Edmonton Oil Kings last week.
After three seasons with the Western Hockey League team, Wilson decided to home school his four children, between the ages of six and 12.
"It's something my wife and I have been thinking about for the last year and a half, and we decided to go for it," said Wilson.
Ryan Jankowski, who was dropped earlier in the summer by the New York Islanders, has joined the Montreal Canadiens’ scouting staff. Jankowski had been the Islanders’ assistant GM and director of amateur scouting since 2006. They chose not to renew his contract. . . . Among his responsibilities with the Habs, Jankowski will scout the WHL. He will replace Vaughn Karpan (Brandon, 1979-80), who has been moved up to pro scout.
Hardy Sauter, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, has sign on as head coach and director of hockey operations for the ECHL’s Boise-based Idaho Steelheads. He replaces Derek Laxdal, who left after five seasons to become head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings. Sauter, 39, guided the Chiefs to a 91-45-8 record over the last two regular seasons. After a seven-game loss to the Portland Winterhawks in the first round of the 2009-10 playoffs, the Chiefs chose not to pick up the option on his contract.
The Edmonton-based NAIT Ooks have added D Dion Darling (Spokane, Moose Jaw, 1992-94) to their roster. Darling, 35, is enrolled in the power-engineering program at NAIT. He has more than 400 AHL games under his belt and also has played in Russia and other pro leagues, including, most recently, in England. . . . As well, Ooks head coach Serge Lajoie has named three assistant coaches -- Ryan Marsh, who was a defenceman with the Tri-City Americans (1992-95) before going on to the U of Alberta; Russ Hewson, an all-star centre at the U of A who played for the Swift Current Broncos and Regina Pats (1992-96), and former goaltender Dustin Schwartz (Medicine Hat, Red Deer, 1996-99). . . . Marsh has been an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints for the last four seasons. . . . Hewson is a member of the Edmonton police force and has spent two seasons working with U of Alberta head coach Eric Thurston. . . . Schwartz has worked with AJHL goaltenders over the last five seasons.
The Prince Albert Raiders have traded F Ryan Harrison, 18, to the Medicine Hat Tigers for D Austin Bourhis, who turns 18 on July 31, F Todd Fiddler, 17, and future considerations. . . . Harrison, from Kelowna, had 54 points, including 40 helpers, and 136 penalty minutes as a 17-year-old sophomore last season. . . . Fiddler, from Meadow Lake, Sask., led the Saskatchewan midget AAA league in scoring last season, putting up 93 points in 40 games with the Beardy’s Blackhawks. He was a third-round pick by the Tigers in the 2008 bantam draft. . . . Bourhis, from Kipling, Sask., had 21 points and 139 penalty minutes with the SJHL’s Yorkton Terriers last season. The Tigers had acquired him from the Edmonton Oil Kings last season.

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