ASK THE COMMISSIONER:
The Seattle Thunderbirds are scheduled to visit the Everett Silvertips tonight, while the Portland Winterhawks will be in Kennewick, Wash., to play the Tri-City Americans. Mr. Commissioner, with Portland and Tri-City embroiled in a battle for first place overall, why is it that Root Sports is televising the Seattle at Everett game?
TEN QUESTIONS, OR MORE:
1. Is there a head coach in the WHL who has done a better job this season than Jesse Wallin of the Red Deer Rebels? How many votes does he get as coach of the year?
2. How about Dave Hunchak of the Kamloops Blazers as the Western Conference nominee as coach of the year? An associate head coach never has won the coach-of-the-year award but you could make a case that no coach in the Western Conference has had a bigger impact than has Hunchak.
3. Why do so many people not understand that those people calling for an end to fighting recognize that its inclusion has become a safety issue? Those in control of such things must do all they can to reduce head trauma.
4. Brandon without the Wheat Kings? Surely, the speculation about serious problems in lease negotations between the Wheat Kings and Westman Place can’t be true.
5. The Tri-City Americans have taken some heat of late because the players have taken to using the ‘Bonesaw’ gimmick from Spiderman as a game-ending victory celebration. Some fans have interpreted it as something of an obscene gesture, however, so will the league step in and put a stop to it?
6. The Kamloops Blazers are 14-2-1 against the U.S. Division. They are 36-6-3 inside the Western Conference. How is that possible?
7. How much long can owner Rick Brodsky keep the Cougars in Prince George with announced attendance now having fallen to the 1,500 range? How many times a week does he hear from someone in another city who kicking tires?
8. If someone built a 5,500-seat arena in Nanaimo, would the WHL give — give, not sell — that person an expansion franchise?
9. What happened to F Brendan Shinnimin of the Tri-City Americans? He didn’t pick up any points on Thursday.
10. Is it really just three weeks until the playoffs begin?
You may recall having read here earlier this week about former WHL D Ryan Bender, who was participating in The Interview Season, a reality webinar in Regina. When I wrote about it earlier in the week, Bender had made the cut and was in the final pair. Well, Bender, who played in the WHL with the Kamloops Blazers and Regina Pats (2003-08), was named the winner on Thursday.
He gets a prize package worth more than $100,000, the best part of which is a $50,000 contract with Rock Bridge Reality, a deal that includes education, training and licensing needed to become a real estate agent. Bender also picks up a one-year lease on a Cadillac vehicle, a professional photo shoot, a marketing package that includes an advertising package from The Wolf 104.9, a Regina radio station, and a business wardrobe.
Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports that F Austin Fyten, 20, may get into the Vancouver Giants’ lineup before the end of the regular season. Fyten, who was dropped by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in January, hasn’t played at all this season because of a knee injury. . . . Ewen speculates that Fyten, a left winger with Lethbridge, may find himself playing between wingers Marek Tvrdon and Brendan Gallagher on Vancouver’s top line.
Chris Peters of The United States of Hockey offers up his take on the fighting conundrum right here. And he gets it. Fighting has to go, not as part of the move to get concussions out of the game, but to cut down on the amount of head trauma experienced by participants.
As Peters writes”
“It is very important to understand that the rule to ban fighting is indeed a plot to reduce concussions, but more specifically, it is a quest to reduce instances of contact to the head. Fighting will not always, but often result in one or more blows to the head. If you are unaware, every fighter’s goal is to connect his fist with his opponent’s face as many times as possible.
“Another huge factor in this debate is the difference between the teenage brain and the adult brain. The teenage brain is more succeptable to brain trauma and yes, concussions, putting them at a greater risk for CTE.”
Bernard Goldberg of HBO Sports has taken a look at the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy. It is nine minutes in length and is right here. And it’s really worth watching, even if it will make your eyes water.
Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun reports that “C Kevin Sundher (concussion) and C/RW Jason Swyripa both practised fully on Thursday and appear ready to return to the lineup tonight. C Tyrel Seaman (concussion) also practised without restrictions, but was not on one of the top four lines, suggesting he is not likely to (play).” . . . The Wheat Kings are at home to the Lethbridge Hurricanes tonight.
The Wheat Kings, who at present are eighth in the Eastern Conference, still could move up a spot or two. Wherever they finish, though, they will play their first-round home playoff games at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg. . . . That, as usual, is because the Royal Manitoba Winter Fair will be moving into the facility in Brandon.
A Thursday tweet from F Cody Beach (@CodyBeach16) of the Moose Jaw Warriors: “Car gets stuck in the snow, who stops to help? Homeless guy on a bike, thank you sir #10buckpayday”
The Tri-City Americans have signed F Beau McCue, 16, to a WHL contract. McCue, a native of Missoula, Montana, has 26 points, including 16 goals, in 39 games with the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes of the Tier 1 Elite League. The 6-foot-0, 180-pound McCue is the team captain. He has been on the Americans’ 50-play list since October 2010 and was at their training camp prior to this season.
With all the chatter this week about to fight or not to fight, Gilles Courteau, the QMJHL’s commissioner, felt a need to release this statement on Thursday, pointing out that he has been aware of discussions between Hockey Canada and USA Hockey:
“"We discussed it during the last World Junior Championship. However it is important to distinguish between minor hockey and the QMJHL and CHL when we talk about abolishing fights. We have been discussing this issue for several years now and have constantly revised our regulations in regards to fighting in order to provide a safer environment for our players."
In the BCHL, the visiting Penticton Vees ran their winning streak to 38 games with a 5-3 victory over the Merritt Centennials. The Vees scored the game’s last two goals to get the victory, which set a BCHL record for consecutive road victories. The Vees, with five games remaining, next play tonight against the visiting Salmon Arm SilverBacks.
For today’s good read, we leave the slippery ice surfaces of hockey and go to the slippery surface of golf greens. Here is Karen Crouse of The New York Times on the newest version of Tiger Woods, one that doesn’t seem to be much different than the old one.
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