By GREGG DRINNAN
Daily News Sports Editor
Ryan Hanes, a veteran winger with the Kamloops Blazers, has an upper-body injury and isn’t being disciplined, at least not at this point, according to Guy Charron, the WHL team’s head coach.
According to sources close to the organization, Hanes, 19, suffered undisclosed injuries on Dec. 23 when he became involved in a fracas while in Cactus Jack’s Saloon in downtown Kamloops.
The Blazers hadn’t played since Dec. 17 and were well into their Christmas break at the time of the incident.
The Blazers have played four games since returning from their break; Hanes hasn’t played in any of them. According to the team, he was scratched with an upper-body injury in each instance.
The WHL injury report that was released Tuesday lists Hanes as being out “week to week” with an upper-body injury.
This season, the WHL and its 22 teams have chosen not to identify players who are concussed, listing them instead as having “upper body” injuries. However, it isn’t known if Hanes has a concussion.
Asked after practice yesterday whether Hanes was injured or being disciplined, Charron replied: “He’s hurt.”
Charron wouldn’t confirm what had happened, saying: “I don’t have all the details. . . . my concern was and is the health of our player.”
Hanes couldn’t be reached for comment.
The Blazers last played Sunday when they beat the visiting Prince George Cougars, 5-0. They next play Friday and Saturday in Prince George.
Charron said Hanes won’t play in Prince George.
“Right now, for sure not this weekend,” Charron said. “His assessment is being done on a day-to-day basis.”
Asked if Hanes would travel with the team to Prince George, Charron replied: “Not sure . . . I don’t think so.”
Hanes, who is from Kamloops, is in his third season with the Blazers and has proven to be quite effective in an energy role. He has career highs of five goals, nine assists and 14 points. In 161 regular-season games, Hanes has 32 points, including 13 goals.
This isn’t the first time a Blazers player has gotten into a squabble in Cactus Jack’s.
On Jan. 24, 2004, following a 4-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers, forwards Paul Brown, Grant Jacobsen, who was the team captain and its leading scorer, and Ricky Kozak, defenceman Conlan Seder and goaltender Geoff McIntosh all were in Cactus Jack’s.
The fact that the five of them were in the saloon became public knowledge after Brown became involved in an altercation.
Dean Clark, then the interim director of hockey operations and head coach, suspended all five players for one game for being in “violation of team rules.” Four of them sat out a 4-1 loss to the Cougars in Prince George; McIntosh backed up Devan Dubnyk because another goaltender couldn’t be found on short notice.
While Hanes won’t play this weeked, Charron said he expects to have defenceman Marek Hrbas and forward Matt Needham back with the team. Hrbas has been playing for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship in Alberta, while Needham has been with Team Pacific at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge in the Windsor, Ont., area.
Charron said he expects Hrbas and Needham to meet the Blazers in Prince George.
Blazers F Jordan DePape skated with the Manitoba Major Junior league’s St. Boniface Riels on Monday night. It was his first time on skates since he underwent shoulder surgery on Nov. 4 in Winnipeg.
“I pretty much just got cleared to skate,” he told The Daily News. “I was in full equipment and got a good bag skate in. (I am) trying to get my on-ice lungs back in place, even though they feel good off the ice with my training. But it’s a little different with the skates on.”
DePape said he isn’t yet able to shoot the puck, but is able to stickhandle and make soft passes.
“Hopefully, I keep progressing,” DePape, 19, said.
He added that he hopes to be back late in February.
JUST NOTES: Kamloops D Tyler Hansen left Tuesday’s practice after taking a puck in the lower face area. He went to Royal Inland Hospital for stitches. Hansen is expected to play this weekend. . . . Needham and Team Pacific beat Quebec 5-4 in OT on Tuesday to finish fifth at the WHC. They were 3-1 in the round-robin but lost a playoff spot on a tiebreaker. Needham had a goal yesterday. He finished the tournament with one goal and one assist in five games. . . . Hrbas and the Czech Republic will play Slovkia for fifth place at the WJC today in Calgary. He has one assist in five games.