Thursday, February 23, 2012

Here is one from a reader of the blog . . .
Dear Commissioner Gordon: Why is it that as I sit in Portland, Oregon USA and look at the website of the Portland Winterhawks, the first two ads I see are for ‘Canada's Best Selling and Most Durable Diesel Pickup Truck’? Aside from the fact that they have the wrong country listed (from my perspective), I would think the team doesn't like this, the sponsor doesn't like this and the fan doesn't like this.
Mike Johnston, the general manager and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, was good enough to answer a couple of questions regarding his organization having lost Garry Davidson, its director of player personnel, to the Everett Silvertips earlier this month.
Davidson, who had been with the Winterhawks since the ownership change took place in 2008, replaced the fired Doug Soetaert as Everett’s general manager.
Johnston confirmed that the Winterhawks were compensated by the Silvertips, but he added that the compensation “is confidential.”
The Winterhawks will have received a bantam draft pick or picks as the WHL doesn’t allow anything else to be used as compensation in these situations.
One supposes we will have to wait until the draft before finding out what it was that Portland received.
I also asked Johnston via email why the Winterhawks would allow Davidson to join another team, and a division rival at that, before the draft?
Johnston replied:
“We decided to let Garry go at this time to allow him the opportunity to be a GM in the league. He has worked very hard to help us rebuild things in Portland.
“Garry was the first person I hired and I felt I owed him the chance to run his own program. I also felt confident that our rankings for this year’s draft were in order and our area scouts had a good handle on where their guys fit in.”
With Davidson in Everett, Johnston said that Matt Bardsley, the Winterhawks’ director of hockey operations, will lead the Winterhawks into the draft. Bardsley also will attend the upcoming provincial camps.
Portland’s plan, according to Johnston, is to “hire a full time director of player personnel later in May.”
D Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors was back on the ice Wednesday, although he won’t play until perhaps early April. Rielly, who will be an early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2012 draft, had knee surgery on Dec. 1 after being injury Nov. 6. Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports that Rielly “spent most of Wednesday’s practice sitting on the bench, but would go for brief skates between drills where he showed his puck skills haven’t picked up any rust. He had a brace on his injured knee and was clearly lacking his usual explosive speed.” . . . According to Gourlie, “Rielly will return to Vancouver on March 28 where he will meet with his surgeon and some of the people who were part of his rehabilitation.” . . . “I don’t know what they’re going to say,” Rielly told Gourlie. “They might say ‘you have to wait another eight months’ or they might say I’m ready to go.”
In Kamloops on Wednesday night, the Blazers were leading Victoria 4-3 when Royals F Robin Soudek took an instigating minor for starting a scrap with D Tyler Bell. . . . Why is it that seemingly every time a player levels another player with a really good check, there is a fight? In this instance, Bell had hit F Steven Hodges with a tremendous check that was completely legal. . . . Never mind that his team was down a goal. Never mind that Kamloops already had scored three PP goals. Never mind that the Royals are hanging on to a playoff spot by the narrowest of margins. None of that mattered as Soudek went right after Bell, even though Hodges wasn’t injured. . . . The Blazers scored 11 seconds after Soudek was penalized and this one was over for all intents and purposes. . . . So often now we seem to see this kind of a play, be it in the NHL or at the major junior level. And you have to ask why? When did a good, hard bodycheck become the impetus for a fight?
In the QMJHL, D Connor Rogers of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles had been hit with a 10-game suspension after a kneeing incident on Saturday. Rogers will be eligible to return for Cape Breton’s final regular-season game, on March 17. . . . Rimouski Oceanic F Jean-Fran├žois Plante was injured on the play but it’s not yet known how long he will be out.
In Saskatoon, D Macoy Erkamps broke a 2-2 tie at 6:48 of the third period and the Lethbridge Hurricanes went on to beat the Blades, 3-2. . . . Lethbridge F Nick Buonassisi had tied the score 2-2 at 5:01. . . . Buonassisi has 15 goals; Erkamps has two. . . . F Ryan Olsen scored both Saskatoon goals, giving him 10. . . . Saskatoon F Jesse Paradis played in his 300th regular-season game. . . . Lethbridge G Damien Ketlo stopped 41 shots, three more than Saskatoon’s Andrey Makarov. . . . The Hurricanes are 19 points out of a playoff spot with 11 games left. . . . The Blades are sixth in the Eastern Conference, three points behind the Kootenay Ice and a point up on the Regina Pats. . . .

In Regina, the Pats scored the game’s first two goals and hung on to beat the Kootenay Ice, 2-1. . . . F Jordan Weal scored his 35th, shorthanded, at 5:15 of the second and F Lane Scheidl got his 25th on a PP at 8:06 of the third. . . . Weal drew an assist on Scheidl’s goal. . . . The Ice got close when F Brock Montgomery got his 19th at 18:52 of the third. . . . That goal kept Regina G Matt Hewitt from his fifth shutout of the season, something that would have tied a franchise single-season record. . . . Warren Fisher has held that record since 1967-68. . . . Hewitt finished with 31 saves, eight more than the Ice’s Nathan Lieuwen. . . . The Pats had beaten the Ice 4-2 in Cranbrook on Saturday. . . . Regina was without D Brandon Davidson, thanks to an undisclosed injury. Before the game, he tweeted: “Tough to sit out tonight but better safe than sorry.” . . . Ice D Jeff Hubic served a one-game suspension for a hit that injured Davidson on Saturday night. Hubic was back in the Ice’s lineup last night. . . . Regina had D Colby Williams of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians in the lineup. . . . The Pats are seventh in the Eastern Conference but now are just a point behind the Saskatoon Blades. . . . The Ice fell a point behind the Calgary Hitmen who won and moved past Kootenay. . . .

In Swift Current, F Mark McNeill and F Anthony Bardaro scored in the circus and the Prince Albert Raiders beat the Broncos, 3-2. . . . F Levi Bews matched McNeill’s goal, but Bardaro scored and the Broncos couldn’t equalize. . . . Bardaro had forced OT with his 27th goal at 19:50 of the third period. . . . The Broncos now are 15 points out of a playoff spot with 10 games remaining. . . . The Raiders have been eliminated from the playoff hunt. They are 26 points back with 12 games remaining. . . .

In Calgary, D Brock Sutherland had a goal and two assists to lead the Hitmen to a 5-3 victory over the Medicine Hat Tigers. . . . Sutherland scored his second goal of the season to give the Hitmen a 4-1 lead at 19:02 of the second. . . . Calgary F Jimmy Bubnick got his 28th, and the 101st of his career, into an empty net. . . . F Riley Sheen scored his first WHL goal for Medicine Hat. It came in his 40th game, 36 of which he has played this season. . . . The Tigers continue to be without G Tyler Bunz, D Kale Kessy and F Hunter Shinkaruk, all of whom are injured. Medicine Hat dressed 17 skaters, one under the maximum. . . . The Hitmen won their fourth in a row and now are just two points behind the third-place Tigers in the Eastern Conference. Calgary holds a game in hand. . . .

In Edmonton, G Jordon Cooke turned aside 43 shots to lead the Kelowna Rockets to a 6-4 victory over the Oil Kings. . . . F Carter Rigby and F Cody Chikie both scored twice for the Rockets. Rigby has 19 goals; Chikie has 15. . . . Edmonton F Kristians Pelss scored his 21st goal, shorthanded, at 11:17 of the first period. . . . Chikie broke the tie at 6:48 of the second, with Rigby scoring at 8:55 on the PP and Chikie again on the PP at 10:32 for a 4-1 lead. . . . Pelss, with his 22nd, and F Michael St. Croix, with this 39th, got Edmonton to within one before the second ended. . . . F Brett Bulmer, with his 26th, and Rigby gave Kelowna a 6-3 lead in the third. . . . Edmonton head coach Derek Laxdal yanked his starting goaltender for the third straight game. This time, starter Tristan Jarry gave way to Laurent Brossoit with the visitors leading 3-1. . . . “I feel like Mike Keenan,” Laxdal told Dave (Crash) Cameron of the Edmonton Sun. . . . Edmonton F Henrik Samuelsson took a kneeing major and game misconduct. That is his second major penalty in just over a month. He served a one-game suspension for a charging major he incurred on Jan. 15 in Calgary. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers scored the game’s last four goals, three of them via the PP, as they beat the Victoria Royals, 6-3. . . . F Tim Bozon scored twice, giving him 30 goals, and D Bronson Maschmeyer added two, giving him a dozen. . . . The victory allowed the Blazers to move back to the top of the WHL’s overall standings, one point ahead of the Portland Winterhawks, who had leap-frogged the Blazers with an 8-1 victory over the visiting Prince George Cougars on Tuesday. . . . The Blazers were able to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season. . . . The Royals were leading 3-2 when Maschmeyer scored on the PP at 18:37 of the second period. . . . Bozon’s 30th, at 1:37 of the third, also came on the PP, as did Maschmeyer’s second goal, at 6:20. . . . Kamloops F Chase Schaber returned from a one-game absence with a leg injury. . . . Kamloops G Cam Lanigan left this one at 4:19 of the second period after the Royals scored to go ahead 3-2. Lanigan was caught in traffic at the net and appeared to suffer an injury to his upper right leg. He was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure but head coach Guy Charron said he would be OK. . . . Kamloops F Brendan Ranford ran his point streak to 11 games with an assist. He has 18 points over that span. . . . The Blazers now have three 30-goal men, with Ranford and F Colin Smith, who had three assists, there, too.
F Lane Scheidl, Regina.
D Damon Severson, Kelowna.
D Jesse Zgraggen, Victoria.
From F Brody Sutter, the captain of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, following a 3-2 victory over the Blades in Saskatoon: “Happy bus back to LethVegas after possibly the stupidest one game trip of my career. #7hourhappybus.”
Yes, the Hurricanes made a one-game trip to Saskatoon.
For today’s good read, we turn to Harvey Araton of The New York Times, who writes about the relationship between the late Gary Carter and the team he managed at Palm Beach Atlantic University. That piece is right here.

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