Thursday, April 7, 2011

Thursday . . .

Goaltender Eric Comrie, looking rather comfortable at GM Bob Tory's
desk, signs with the WHL's Tri-City Americans on Thursday.

(Photo courtesy Tri-CIty Americans)
The sale of the Chilliwack Bruins to Vancouver-based RG Properties “is 100 per cent done,” a source informed me late Thursday.
Furthermore, the ownership transfer has been set for April 17, with moving vans expected to show up shortly thereafter. (The WHL has an official realtor — hello, there, RE/MAX — but is there an official mover?)
The same source has told me that “staff has been given walking papers.”
On top of which, the desks in the Bruins’ office are being cleared out and computers are being cleaned. Right now.
The ECHL’s Victoria Salmon Kings are involved in a best-of-five first-round playoff series with the Bakersfield Condors. The teams split two games in Victoria earlier in the week. Game 3 is to be played tonight in Bakersfield, which also will be the site of Game 4 on Saturday and, if needed, a fifth game on Monday.
Patrick King of Sportsnet offers up his take on the Chilliwack situation right here.
We know, don’t we, that the Chilliwack Bruins have been sold and will be moving to Victoria before another season gets here.
And we know, thanks to Brian Burke, who owned 25 per cent of the Bruins, that the WHL “is in the process of negotiating the movement of another WHL team to Chilliwack.” That was included in a letter from Burke, via lawyers, to Jim Mullin, the sports director at Vancouver radio station CKNW earlier in the week.
But . . .
Earlier this week, Jeff Chynoweth, the governor and president of the Kootenay Ice, told me, via text, that his club “definitely” wasn’t moving from Cranbrook to Chilliwack.
And now I’ve been told rather definitively, at least so far as I’m concerned, that the Prince George Cougars aren’t packing up and heading south. The Cougars, I’ve been told, “are not in play.”
Which brings us to the Regina Pats.
In years past, the Pats have had some rather noisy lease negotiations with Evraz Place, which operates the Brandt Centre, the building in which Regina plays.
Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post reports that the Pats, whose lease expires in May, have received a proposal from Evraz Place.
“We’ve obviously been waiting for this for quite some time,” Pats president Brent Parker told Harder. “We’ve left ourselves up against a deadline that we didn’t need to leave ourselves up against but we’re anxious to go through it and go from there. At least it gives us a starting point again and we can get back to work on it and get back to the table, which is where we need to be to get things done.”
Parker also told Harder that “we want to be here. We want to be in the building. But that has to be both ways. There has already been one major event that has been run out of the building in the last month (the Royal Red Horse Show). Maybe they’re trying to make it two.”
Harder’s complete story is right here.
The Moose Jaw Warriors won 40 games this season but that wasn’t enough to allow head coach Dave Hunchak to keep his job.
The Warriors revealed Wednesday that they won’t renew the contract of Hunchak, who had been the head coach through four seasons.
This is no surprise. After all, Hunchak already was in place when Alan Millar, an OHL veteran, was hired as director of hockey operations prior to this season. Millar has four years left on his contract; Hunchak’s contract was to expire in June.
Millar also ended up with a job for which Hunchak also had applied, so that very well may have been another strike against the head coach.
It also seems that Millar and Hunchak, 37, perhaps didn’t see eye-to-eye. That became obvious late in February when the two engaged in a morning yelling match deep in the bowels of the Crushed Can that was overheard by a handful of folks. Millar apparently was dissatisfied with the level of motivation of the players. The Warriors were locked into fifth place in the Eastern Conference at that point.
And what does it say when a team wins 40 games, despite not having an opportunity to move up the standings, and still can’t finish better than fifth?
The Warriors made three playoff appearances in Hunchak’s four seasons, but weren’t able to get out of the first round. Of course, the Warriors have only been past the second round once in their 27 seasons in Moose Jaw. That was in the spring of 2006 when they got lost the WHL final to the Vancouver Giants.
Assistant coach Trevor Weisgerber was told a while ago that he wouldn’t be back and that it would fine for him to start looking for another job. There is a chance he could end up as head coach of the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins.
Mike Vandenberghe, the other assistant coach, joined the Warriors late in December. His contract also is up and he isn’t expected to return.
Hunchak, the third coach in Warriors history to win 40 games in one season, won 37, 19, 33 and 40 games over his four regular seasons.
And let’s not forget that this is Moose Jaw. That always seems to factor into it, doesn’t it? Hunchak can take at least some solace in the fact that this is the organization that once dumped Mike Babcock, not to mention Lorne Molleken.
What this means, of course, is that the Warriors will have a new head coach when they move into their new building next season.
Which leads me to this question . . . whatever happened to Gerry James?


Eric Comrie
(Tri-City Americans photo)
The Tri-City Americans have signed G Eric Comrie, the 13th pick in the 2010 bantam draft.
The Americans made a draft-day deal with the Vancouver Giants in order to move up six spots and select Comrie, a native of Edmonton who lives in Newport Beach, Calif. He is the son of Bill Comrie, a former owner of the CFL’s B.C. Lions and the owner of The Brick.
Eric, who played in the Los Angeles Selects program, is a younger brother to NHLer Mike Comrie and Paul Comrie, who starred with the Denver University Pioneers before having his professional career cut short by post-concussion syndrome.
Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, was the GM of the Kootenay Ice in 2000-01 when Mike Comrie left the U of Michigan to play in the WHL.
Eric actually visited DU in January, leading to speculation that he might go the NCAA route. He chose, instead, to sign with the Americans.
A native of Edmonton, Comrie lives in Newport Beach, Calif. With the Selects U16 midget team, he was 16-2-0, with a 1.34 GAA, a .940 save percentage and five shutouts. The Selects reached the national semifinals, with Comrie putting up a 1.41 GAA and .929 save percentage, leading the tournament in both categories.
He has already joined the Americans and will stay with them through the WHL playoffs.
Nothing regarding former WHLers, but a neat note . . .
F Steve Moria, who played for the BCHL’s Richmond Sockeyes (1979-82 before moving on to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, has signed a one-year contract extension as player-head coach with the Basingstoke Bisons (English Premier League). Moria, who turned 50 in February, had 26 goals and 46 assists in 54 games for the Bisons this season to finish 15th in league scoring. He told the Basingstoke Gazette: “I am going to give it one last year as I want to go out on a high.” Basingstoke lost in the league quarterfinals last weekend to Milton Keynes Lightning.
JUST NOTES: D Brett Ponich, who had knee surgery, is back on skates and could rejoin the Portland Winterhawks before this season is over, should the team get deeper into the playoffs. Jason Vondersmith of the Portland Tribune reports that Ponich could return should the Winterhawks get to the WHL final in May. . . . The QMJHL has awarded the 2012 Memorial Cup to Shawinigan, Que. The other finalists were Saint John, N.B., Cape Breton and Halifax. Neate Sager of Yahoo! Sports takes a look at the QMJHL’s decision right here. . . . F Shayne Wiebe, who played two-plus seasons with the Kamloops Blazers before being dealt to the Brandon Wheat Kings, has signed an amateur tryout agreement with the Connecticut Whale, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s New York Rangers. Wiebe, 20, finished this regular season with 65 points, including 45 goals, in 72 games with the Wheat Kings. He added eight points in six games as they lost a first-round series to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Wiebe was never selected in the NHL draft. . . . F Jordan Eberle has been named the Sask Sport 2010 Saskatchewan athlete of the year. Eberle, who now is with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, completed his WHL career with the Regina Pats in 2009-10. In 2010, Eberle starred for Canada at the World Junior Championship and also was named the CHL’s player of the year. Eberle beat out Olympic curler Ben Herbert and Olympic speed skater Lucas Makowsky for the honour.
In Portland, F Shane McColgan scored three goals and set up another to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 5-1 victory over the Winterhawks. . . . It was Game 1 in a best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal. Game 2 is Sunday in Portland. . . . McColgan, who has six goals, now leads the WHL with 14 points in five playoff games, two more than Medicine Hat Tigers F Linden Vey. . . . The Rockets lost F Zach Franko in the first period after he was hit by Portland F Brad Ross. Franko left the game and didn’t return. He has a suspected concussion. . . . Ross was given a charging major and game misconduct. . . . Kelowna head coach Ryan Huska has said Franko isn’t likely to play Sunday. . . . Kelowna G Adam Brown stopped 45 shots, 14 more than Portland’s Mac Carruth.
One minor:
Kelowna F Colton Heffley.
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