Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wednesday . . .

Thanks to those of you who have taken time to post some kind words on Twitter. Much appreciated. . . . The tweeting world has been a bit slow but I have a feeling things will pick up over the next while. . . . If you aren’t following, perhaps you should be!
As expected, the Spokane Chiefs announced Wednesday that they will meet the visiting Kootenay Ice in the Rockstar Outdoor Hockey Classic on Jan. 15, 1 p.m., at Avista Stadium.
Rockstar Energy Drink is the title sponsor of the Spokane game, thus the name.
This will be the first outdoor game in the history of the WHL. The Regina Pats and Calgary Hitmen will meet in a second outdoor game on Feb. 21 at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium.
Am I the only one who finds the way the WHL handled all of this somewhat bizarre?
I mean, why did the WHL piggyback on the NHL’s announcement — the big league announced that the Montreal Canadiens and Calgary Flames will play the Heritage Classic on Feb. 20 — rather than wait and make both of its announcements on the same day? Especially when you consider that the Pats-Hitmen game, as it turns out, won’t be a ‘first’ for the WHL? It only was the first once to be announced.
So why didn’t the WHL wait until Wednesday and hold simultaneous news conferences — maybe even invite out-of-town media to take part via conference call — in Spokane and Calgary to announce both outdoor games?
That way, it would have been the only game in town in two WHL cities . . . at least for a day.
Hey, just asking . . .
For more on the outdoor game in Spokane, including why it will be played in 6,800-seat Avista Stadium as opposed to Albi Stadium, with more than 20,000 seats, check out Dave Trimmer’s story from the Spokane Spokesman-Review. It’s right here. . . . There also is mention here of possible TV coverage, something that doesn’t seem to have been finalized as of yet.
F Eric Schneider (Tri-City, 1995-96) signed a one-year contract with EHC M√ľnchen (Germany DEL). He had 16 goals and 30 assists in 53 games as captain of the Frankfurt Lions (Germany DEL) last season. . . .
F Vitali Karamnov (Everett, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract after a successful try-out with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). He had 21 goals and 24 assists in 42 games for MHC Dynamo Moscow (Russia MHL, the national junior league) and two assists in seven games with Dynamo Moscow (Russia KHL) last season.
There hasn’t yet been an announcement but I am told that the Brandon Wheat Kings have hired Mike Vandenberghe to work as an assistant coach. . . . Vandenberghe, 38, played for the Wheat Kings from 1989-90 into 1991-92, when he was traded to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Vandenberghe and Brandon assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk, both defencemen, were teammates on the Wheat Kings from 1989 until the former was traded. . . . Vandenberghe has worked as an assistant coach with the U of Regina Cougars and also worked as the GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds. He also spent one season (2001-02) as head coach of the United league’s Knoxville Speed. . . . Prior to that, he spent eight seasons playing in the minor pro ranks. . . . Vandenberghe joins owner/GM/head coach Kelly McCrimmon, assistant coach Darren Ritchie and Gylywoychuk on the Brandon staff. . . . Gylywoychuk, of course, suffered a broken back while moving some boxes around at the Keystone Centre earlier this month. He is recovering at home after a brief stay in hospital.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes held their annual meeting on Wednesday evening.
The three things that jumped out at me when I read Pat Siedlecki’s report at Hurricane Watch over there on the left . . .
1. The Hurricanes lost $260,202 last season;
2. They have budgeted to lose almost $100,000 in 2010-11; and,
3. Rich Sutter, the assistant to the general manager, no longer is with the team.
For all the details, check out Siedlecki’s report.
The Prince Albert Raiders have grand plans for what will be their 40th anniversary seasons. John MacNeil of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has the details right here.
Robin Brownlee has been trying to keep track of what’s happening as the Edmonton Oilers and Edmonton radio station TEAM 1260 search for a replacement for play-by-play man Rod Phillips.
That’s all right here at
The way he has it figured is that they’re down to Dennis Beyak, a former radio voice of the Saskatoon Blades who has worked the last few seasons doing Toronto Maple Leafs games; Regan Bartel, the radio voice of the Kelowna Rockets; and, John Bartlett, who does Toronto Marlies’ games.
Only time will tell . . .
Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers don’t yet have a radio voice to replace Kirk Fraser, who resigned this summer after 11 seasons of calling their games. Fraser, presently rehabbing after knee surgery, left to work for Shaw TV.
Radio NL, which holds the Blazers’ radio contract, has been interviewing and I’m told is close to a hire, if it hasn’t already been done. I also am told the No. 1 candidate has WHL play-calling experience.
In Fraser’s last couple of seasons in Kamloops, he did strictly play-by-play. I’m told that whoever is hired this time also will be doing sports reporting for Radio NL. That, interestingly enough, was Fraser’s role when he started in Kamloops.
At present, the Blazers are the only WHL team without a radio play-by-play voice.
The U of Saskatchewan Huskies have added six former WHLers to their roster for their upcoming season — G Ryan Holfeld (Medicine Hat, 2006-10), D Ryan Funk (Saskatoon, Vancouver, Kamloops, 2004-10), D Curtis Kulchar (Regina, Vancouver, Kamloops, Everett, 2006-10), D Garrett Thiessen (Kamloops, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2004-10), F Craig McCallum (Edmonton, Prince Albert, 2007-10) and F Cody Smuk (Chilliwack, Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2006-10).
The Regina Pats have unveiled a third jersey that will honour the 1924-25 Pats, the first team in franchise history to win the Memorial Cup.
The jersey is a throwback to the ones worn by that team. You may check them out right here.
I don’t know . . . I kind of like them.
And what a terrific idea to do something like this in honour of a team that played so long ago.
I heard from Dave Sheldon, one of my favourite people, on Wednesday. Sheldon, the media man and play-by-play voice of the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat, had checked out the mileage charts done up by Alan Caldwell over at Small Thoughts At Large, then had done a little work. . . .
“I did a little research on this end to see what Abbotsford's mileage is,” he wrote. “After all, 84 per cent of all NHL players this past season at one point in their careers played in the AHL. Also, many of the WHL's finest players use the AHL as their springboard to The Show.
“Last season, the Heat traveled 116,529 kilometres. While many people will say that the Heat flies everywhere, that is not necessarily correct. It is true that we fly out of either Vancouver or Abbotsford to get to our destinations, but we bus when we hit the ground to wherever we are traveling and we bus between cities for the most part.
“The average WHL team will spend approximately 45-50 days on the road to play their 36 road dates. Last season the Heat played 47 road dates, including playoffs, and we were out of our own beds for 91 days.
“Many of those 45-50 dates that find the WHL kids on the road, they will get back to their own beds for the majority of these dates. The Heat players spent more than 2,200 hours on the road last season.
“I think this info does three things:
1) It informs future hockey players, WHL or others, just what kind of travel demands are placed on professional teams;
2) It gives the fans a perspective on what is involved behind the scenes . . . the Heat also played 48 home dates last season; and,
3) Even as a broadcaster, you have to eat right and stay in shape as the road trips are tough on everyone, even if you are the eyes and ears for the team.
“One last thing . . . despite all the travel, it is a great way to make a living and I wouldn't change a thing. I’m absolutely not complaining!”

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