Friday, May 27, 2011

Sheesh, if you had arrived fresh on the Twitterverse on Thursday afternoon you might have thought Seattle had an NHL franchise and that it was going to begin play in September.
Fresh out of cities to use as leverage (thank you, Winnipeg), could it be that the NHL has turned its lonely eyes to Seattle?
You remember Seattle? It used to be home to a WHL franchise that now is located in Kent, Wash., even though it still calls itself the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds, you may recall, vacated the KeyArena and moved into new digs in Kent. The KeyArena, you will remember, also at one time was home to an NBA franchise, one that now is the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So why would the NHL be interested in moving into a city where there obviously isn’t an arena that would meet its standards, and where there isn’t a plan anywhere in sight for a new building? After all, even though baseball’s Mariners and football’s Seahawks have new homes, no one stepped up to build a new facility and save the SuperSonics.
“We’ve had discussions with a group in Seattle,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Seattle TV station KING5. “Certainly (there are) people who are interested in having NHL hockey in Seattle. I would rather not get into specifics to be fair to that group, or the process.”
In speaking with the TV station, Daly also questioned whether KeyArena would be a proper venue for an NHL franchise, pointing out that there are “obstructed view” seats for hockey.
But that didn’t stop people from jumping all over this story and running with it. Part of that is likely because a Seattle franchise presumably would have some kind of rivalry with the Vancouver Canucks and, these days, the Canucks are kind of a hot topic on the West Coast.
Of course, a skeptic might suggest that with the Phoenix Coyotes staying put, at least for now, and with the Atlanta Thrashers’ move to Winnipeg to be finalized whenever TSN and Rogers Sportsnet quit fighting over the date of the official announcement, the NHL simply is searching for another lever. So that the next time it is suggested that a particular team is struggling financially, well, Seattle will be in the conversation as an option.
Nah . . .
F Daniel Vorab (Saskatoon, 2001-03) signed a one-year contract with the Basingstoke Bison (England, Premier). He had eight goals and 15 assists in 44 games for Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic 1.Liga) this season. Bison director of ice hockey Steve Moria: "I am obviously very happy to sign a player of this calibre. This is a player who could have been playing in the NHL right now if things went differently seven or eight years ago. His excellent overall game will suit us perfectly. His vision and awareness wil create scoring opportunities for his wingers."
F Igor Revenko (Prince Albert, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with Yunost Minsk (Belarus, Open). He had 23 goals and 28 assists in 57 games for the Raiders this season. . . .
F Kyle Wanvig (Edmonton/Kootenay, Red Deer, 1997-2001) signed a one-year contract with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had five goals and 10 assists in 37 games for Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL) and two goals and two assists in five games for Poprad (Slovakia, Extraliga) this season.
John MacNeil of the Brandon Sun has written extensively this week on concussions and their impact on people. Right here is a look at Jace Miller, a 14-year-old minor hockey player, and what he and his family went through.
A note from a sidebar written by MacNeil is worth posting here:
Hockey Brandon is polling its members for input on a gameplan to tackle and manage concussions.
"We've taken a proactive approach to offer a non-contact division for peewee-aged and older children who don't want to play (contact hockey)," said Hockey Brandon third vice-president Don Wilson. "A lot of larger centres are going to that, with very good success and their numbers are going up and kids are staying involved in the sport. We've sent out an email to all families to see if that is something they'd at all be interested in, just to get a gauge on interest."
Brandon will host an open concussion symposium June 8 at the Victoria Inn at 7 p.m.
D Victor Bartley, who played in Europe this season, signed a two-year deal with the NHL’s Nashville Predators earlier this week. According to, Bartley, 23, will get US$67,500 in the AHL and $537,5000 in the NHL. He got a $25,000 signing bonus over two years. . . . The Minnesota Wild has signed Red Deer Rebels G Darcy Kuemper to a three-year contract. Kuemper, who played out his junior eligibility this season, was a sixth-round selection in the 2009 NHL draft. He is coming off a season in which he was the WHL’s player and goaltender of the year. reports that Kuemper’s AHL salary will be US$67,500 for each of the three seasons, with NHL salaries of $690,000, $740,000 annd $900,000. He got a $270,000 signing bonus over three years. . . .
As expected, Don Hay, the head coach of the Vancouver Giants, has been named head coach of Canada’s national junior team. Assistant coaches will be George Burnett (Belleville Bulls), Ryan Huska (Kelowna Rockets) and Pascal Vincent (Montreal Juniors). The 2012 World Junior Championship is scheduled to open in Calgary and Edmonton on Dec. 26. . . . Steve Spott of the Kitchener Rangers was named head coach of the Canadian U-18 team that will play in the Ivan Hlinka Memmorial tournament in Czech Republic and Slovakia, Aug. 8-13. His assistants will be Don Nachbaur (Spokane Chiefs) and Mario Duhamel (Drummondville Voltigeurs).
The Saskatoon Blades aren’t going anywhere.
According to, the Blades have signed a three-year lease with Credit Union Centre. The lease gives them hockey exclusivity, meaning you can forget about the AHL (hello, there, Manitoba Moose) showing up in ‘Toontown.
The Blades will celebrate their 50th anniversary in 2013-14 and this lease takes them through there.
The Blades also are hoping to serve as the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup. Of course, at this point, so are the Kelowna Rockets, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Prince George Cougars and Red Deer Rebels.
With five of the WHL’s most-successful franchises located in the U.S. Division, when does the Memorial Cup go south again?
There really weren’t any surprises out of the news conference held Thursday by the Victoria ?????, who used to be the Chilliwack Bruins. Marc Habscheid has relocated and remains the GM/head coach. Pat Conacher also has made the move and is the assistant GM/assistant coach. . . . No, they didn’t announce a nickname. . . . Cleve Dheensaw of the Victoria Times Colonist was at the newser. His story is right here.
Comedian and TV host Bill Maher: “Looks like Palin is running! Thank u Jesus!”
Comedian, actor and banjo picker Steve Martin: “I’ve decided I want to get to know Cher on a first-name basis.”
The Kootenay Ice has lived to play another day.
The Ice won its second straight elimination game at the MasterCard Memorial Cup on Thursday, beating the OHL-champion Owen Sound Attack, 7-3.
The Ice, which trailed 2-0 after one period, got two goals from each of F Matt Fraser and F Cody Eakin. The Ice also got key shorthanded goals from F Joe Antilla and F Max Reinhart.
The Attack, which had beaten the Ice 5-0 in the round-robin, was without captain Garrett Wilson and leading scorer Joey Hishon, both of whom suffered concussions during the tournament.
Attendance was 4,916, the first game of the tournament’s first seven that wasn’t sold out.
And so it’s on to the semifinal for the Ice, which will play the host Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors tonight. When they met in the round-robin, the Majors beat the Ice 2-1. That was on Sunday, before the Ice rediscovered its scoring touch.
The semifinal winner will meet the QMJHL-champion Saint John Sea Dogs in Sunday’s final.
On Tueday, the Ice completed its portion of the round-robin with a 5-4 victory over the Sea Dogs. A loss would have eliminated the Ice, which had lost its first two games.
The only team to have won the Memorial Cup after starting the tournament 0-2 was the 2009 Windsor Spitfires.
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