Thursday, September 29, 2011

Could it be that the WHL has found a way to eliminate concussions? Simply by not reporting them? If you haven’t yet seen this week’s WHL injury list, you should check it out. (To find it, go to the WHL website, click on NEWS, then WHL WEEKLY REPORT.)
Every injured player — every single one of them — is listed as having either an upper body or lower body inury.
For instance, D Brodie Melnychuk of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who has a broken wrist, is shown to have an upper body injury. Brandon F Brenden Walker, who is recovering from a concussion suffered last season, also has an upper body injury.
Seattle Thunderbirds F Branden Troock, who is struggling with migraines, is shown as having an upper body injury.F Max Adolph of the Kelowna Rockets, who returned home to Saskatoon this week with another in a series of concussions, isn’t even listed on the injury report.
While everyone is pleading for transparency when it comes to head injuries, the WHL, a league in which players incurred more than 100 concussions last season, has taken a horrible step backwards.Here’s hoping someone in the Calgary office comes to their senses and returns the injury list to what it used to be.
Normally, I don’t pay a whole lot of attention to the Canadian Hockey League’s BMO CHL MasterCard top 10 rankings and it isn’t because of the ridiculously long title.
No, it’s because the rankings often are badly lacking in the credibility department.
However, when I noticed that the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs, who are the defending Memorial Cup champions, are at No. 1 in the latest rankings, despite their ho-hum record (3-3-0), I chose to take a look.The Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, who appeared in the 2011 Memorial Cup as the host team, are No. 10, with a 2-0-0 record.
And what of the Kootenay Ice, the WHL’s defending champion?
Well, the Ice, despite being 2-0-1, despite having gotten G Nathan Lieuwen back from the Buffalo Sabres, despite having gotten F Max Reinhart back from the Calgary Flames, is nowhere to be found.
The WHL’s Red Deer Rebels (2-0-0) moved from ninth to third. The Portland Winterhawks (2-1-0) fell from third to fifth. The Kelowna Rockets (1-0-0) dropped from seventh to ninth despite winning their lone game, beating the Silvertips in Everett.
The Regina Pats (2-0-0) earned an honourable mention, never mind that they haven’t made the playoffs since the spring of 2008 and never mind that their two early victories both were over the Swift Current Broncos, a team that also has struggled in recent seasons.
The Kootenay Ice? If nothing else, the lack of respect gives head coach Kris Knoblauch more bulletin board material.
JUST NOTES: D Kyle Verdino, 20, has left the Seattle Thunderbirds after signing an ATO with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, who are affiliated with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. Verdino, who was acquired from the Swift Current Broncos over the summer, had one assist in Seattle’s lone game to this point in the season. . . . F James Henry of the Vancouver Giants tied a franchise record Wednesday night as he drew five assists in a 6-5 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips. Henry now shares the record with F Craig Cunningham, who set it on Oct. 20 in a 7-5 victory over the Kelowna Rockets. . . . The Giants were without C Brendan Gallagher, who remains with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, and D Neil Manning (back). . . . The Regina Pats improved to 3-0 with a 5-3 victory over the Tigers in Medicine Hat. The Pats had lost their last six appearances in Medicine Hat by a combined score of 32-12. . . . F Darren Kramer, who led the WHL in fighting majors (46) and penalty minutes (306) last season, has been returned to the Spokane Chiefs by the NHL’s Ottawa Senators. Kramer’s arrival will leave the Chiefs with four 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Steven Kuhn, F Matt Marantz and D Corbin Baldwin.
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