Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lots of news . . .

G Tyler Weiman (Tri-City, 2000-04) signed a one-year contract with the Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL). He had a 2.62 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 29 games with the Manitoba Moose (AHL) last season. . . .
D Tomas Kudelka (Lethbridge, 2005-07) signed a one-year contract with Vitkovice (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He was pointless in nine games with Pardubice (Czech Republic, Extraliga) and had one goal and five assists in 43 games with TPS Turku (Finland, SM-Liiga) last season. . . .
F Bud Holloway (Seattle, 2003-08) signed a one-year contract with SkellefteƄ (Sweden, Elitserien). He had 28 goals and 33 assists in 78 games with the Manchester Monarchs (AHL) last season. . . .
D Gord Baldwin (Medicine Hat, 2004-07) signed a one-year contract with Mlada Boleslav (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had two goals and 11 assists in 75 games with the Abbotsford Heat (AHL) last season.
The Regina Pats will introduce Pat Conacher as their head coach this afternoon.
The Pats issued a news release late Monday afternoon indicating they will hold a press conference this afternoon. Later, a few Internet reports indicated Conacher, the assistant general manager and assistant coach with the Victoria Royals, had signed with the Pats.
Early Monday evening, two sources familiar with the situation confirmed Conacher’s signing. He will replace Curtis Hunt, who was fired last month despite having a year left on his contract last month.
That means each of the 22 WHL teams now has a head coach under contract, with the Pats being the fourth team to make a change this summer.
The Everett Silvertips lost Craig Hartsburg to the NHL’s Calgary Flames, and replaced him with Mark Ferner, who had been with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.
The Moose Jaw Warriors, who fired Dave Hunchak after last season, now have former NHL defenceman Mike Stothers as head coach. Stothers spent last season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers. Hunchak has since signed on as associate coach with the Kamloops Blazers.
The Seattle Thunderbirds hired former WHL forward Steve Konowalchuk, who had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. With the Thunderbirds, he replaces Rob Sumner.
Conacher, a 52-year-old native of Edmonton, played in the WHL with the Billings Bighorns and Saskatoon Blades before going on to a professional career that included 521 NHL games split among the New York Rangers, Edmonton Oilers, New Jersey Devils, Los Angeles Kings, Calgary Flames and New York Islanders.
He has head-coaching experience with the AHL’s Utah Grizzlies and San Antonio Rampage. Conacher spent last season as general manager/head coach Marc Habscheid’s right-hand man with the Chilliwack Bruins, who relocated to Victoria earlier this summer.
Just last week, the Royals signed Ben Cooper as an assistant coach. He had been a video coach with Hockey Canada for the previous three years.
Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch reported Sunday that Tyler Wright (Swift Current, 1989-93) is about to be promoted by the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.
According to Portzline, Wright, who has been the team’s development coach for three seasons, is soon to be promoted to director of amateur scouting and will share that title with Paul Castron, who has been there for five years.
There will be more changes coming, too, as the Blue Jackets have yet to replace Don Boyd, who was dropped as director of player personnel, and Bob Strumm, the former director of pro scouting who was relieved of his duties after the season.
Two new chapters to the Boogaard situation were penned on Monday.
Late Monday night, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis StarTribune posted to his blog an email he received from Ryan Boogaard, who is younger than his late brother, Derek, but older than Aaron. That posting is right here.
Earlier in the day, Aaron Boogaard appeared in court on charges relating to Derek’s death on May 13. He did not enter a plea and is to return to court on Aug. 17.
The StarTribune’s story on that appearance is right here.
Now a few words about a story that will take place today.
Forward Kris Draper of the Detroit Red Wings is expected to announce his retirement today, bringing to an end a 20-year career.
It says something that Draper was a member of four Stanley Cup-championship teams in Detroit.
But what always struck me the most about Draper was that he played the game the right way. A wonderful skater, he played whatever role was requested of him, and he played hard and within the rules.
More players should fashion themselves after Draper.
D Jamieson Oleksiak, all 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds of him, has left Northeastern University, where he spent one season, to sign with the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. He was the 14th overall selection in the NHL’s 2011 draft, taken by the Dallas Stars.
Oleksiak, who is from Toronto but has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship, will attend the Canadian national junior team’s development camp in August.
It would seem that Kamloops Blazers F Dylan Willick was rather fit when he showed up at the development camp of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild earlier this month.
In the fitness testing, Willick did 41 metronome pushups, which is a timed sequence involving doing a pushup every three seconds or so.
 In the last three NHL combines, only two players have bettered that number — G Mike Morrison (45) of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers and F Max Le Sieur (42) of the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes topped it at this year’s predraft combine. In 2009, F Kyle Palmieri of the U.S. U18 NTDP team also did 41.
The Portland Winterhawks revealed Monday that they will play 14 home games at the Rose Garden this season, with the other 22 scheduled for Memorial Coliseum.
However, you shouldn’t take that to the bank.
With the NBA presently in lockout mode, those numbers could change.
“If the current NBA labor dispute extends into the scheduled start of basketball season,” the Winterhawks’ news release reads, “the Winterhawks could move games to the Rose Garden. Should that be the case, the Winterhawks will announce those changes as those games approach.”
In other words, stay tuned.
Travis Hunington is the new radio voice of the Everett Silvertips.
Huntington, 28, is coming off four seasons with the now-defunct Bossier-Shreveport, La., Mudbugs, who folded after winning the Central league’s 2010-11 championship.
Huntington, a native of Platteville, Colo., will work as the Silvertips’ director of broadcasting and public relations. He replaces Jon Rosen, whose last day with the Silvertips is today.
Ken Pearson, who resigned Monday as GM/head coach of the SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars, has a two-year deal as GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers. Pearson spent the last three seasons with the North Stars after joining them from the MJHL’s Winnipeg South Blues in April 2008. . . . Pearson has two children who live in Emerson, Man., which is 56 km south east of Winkler, so this move will allow them to see more of each other. . . . In Winkler, Pearson will replace John Marks, who left last week to sign on with the USHL’s Fargo Force. . . . Pearson is a veteran coach who actually is returning to Winkler for a third time. He was on the Flyers’ coaching staff (1996-98) and was GM/head coach for a time after that. He also has extensive scouting experience. . . .
There are reports that Ron Rolston will be the next head coach of the Rochester Americans, the AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres. He is the head coach of USA Hockey’s U-18 national development team. . . . He is a brother to NHLer Brian Rolston. . . .
A Monday afternoon tweet from Michael Russo of the Minneapolis StarTribune: “Per sources, ex #NHL dman Mike Van Ryn is leading contender to be John Torchetti's top asst in Houston.” . . . The Houston Aeros are the AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild.
Former NHL head coach Andy Murray will be the next head coach of the Western Michigan University Broncos. He is reported to have signed a five-year contract. . . . The Broncos have needed a head coach since earlier this month when Jeff Blashill signed on as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings. . . .
Jim Madigan, who has been an NHL scout for the last 19 years, is expected to be named Northeastern’s head coach today. Numerous reports having him replacing Greg Cronin, who now is an assistant coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Madigan is a former Northeastern player (1981-85). He spent 13 years scouting with the New York Islanders, before moving over to the Pittsburgh Penguins. After playing, he worked for six seasons as an assistant coach at Northeastern.
Take two minutes out of your day and take a look at this Lethbridge TV feature on Tri-City Americans prospect Tyler Mrkonjic. You won’t be sorry you did.

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