Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Augsburger Panther (Germany, DEL) announced the retirement of D Christian Chartier (Saskatoon, Prince George, 1996-2001). Chartier, an assistant captain of the Panther, had five goals and 15 assists in 52 games this season. . . .
G Marek Schwarz (Vancouver, 2004-05) signed a three-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had a 2.91 GAA and a .894 save percentage in 35 games with TPS Turku (Finland, SM-Liiga) this season. . . .
F Jeremy Boyer (Seattle, Saskatoon, 2005-10) signed a one-season contract with the Newcastle North Stars (Australia, AIHL). He had 16 goals and 16 assists in 62 games for the Quad City Mallards (Central Hockey League) this season. The AIHL regular season is 24 games long, starting April 28 and ending Aug. 26, and the playoffs are the first weekend in September. Other ex-WHL players playing in Australia include Sydney Bears captain and Australia national team F Michael Schlamp (Saskatoon, 1997-99) and Gold Coast Blue Tongues F Adam Geric (Saskatoon, 2005-07). In addition, the league commissioner is Tyler Lovering (Moose Jaw, 1987-88, 1991-92).
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette has written a couple of interesting pieces this week, both of which point out the problem  the NHL is having dealing with concussions. The first, which is right here, deals with what the ‘c’ word means in NHL circles.
The second, which is right here, points out that if players won’t own up to not feeling well, there isn’t much the teams can do.
Rob Daum, a former WHL coach, has signed a four-year contract with the Black Wings Linz, who have won the Austrian championship for the first time in nine seasons. . . . The contract was announced Wednesday as the Black Wings and their fans celebrated their championship in the city’s main square.
There is an interesting sidebar to the Austrian league playoffs.
Here it is from a piece on the IIHF website:
“Olimpija Ljubljana was waiting in the second round. The Slovenian team didn’t make new friends and suffered drastic suspensions after deliberately losing a game in the last round of the regular season. The team pulled goalkeeper Matija Pintaric during a shootout in the last game against Red Bull Salzburg so it could avoid playing Salzburg in the quarterfinals.
“The coach and goalie were suspended for several games and the club fined €10,000 for this unsportsmanlike conduct, but their plan seemed to work out as the underdog team faced the supposedly easier team in the first playoff round, Hungarian club Fehervar AV19, and defeated it 4-2.”
Think about that for a moment or two. A team actually pulled its goaltender in the shootout. Amazing!
The Linz story is right here.
Popeye Jones, the father of Seth Jones, says he expects his son to make a decision on his immediate future once the IIHF U18 world championship is completed later this month in the Czech Republic.
Seth Jones, a highly touted 17-year-old defenceman, is seen as an early first-round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. He played this season with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. His WHL rights are held by the Everett Silvertips and he has said he will play in Everett or at the U of North Dakota next season.
“It’s still very much up in the air right now,” Popeye Jones told Ryan Clark of the Fargo, N.D., Forum. “He wants to focus on the U-18 worlds and he’s been focusing and preparing very hard for that. His decision will probably come after the U-18 worlds. It’s his life and he’s still young. But he’s a pretty mature kid and it’s a decision he needs to make.”
Clark also writes the Slightly Chilled blog and there’s more on this story there. The link is over there on the right.
A few sidebars to the Seth Jones story:
F Miles Koules, a teammate of Jones’ with the USNTDP, also has committed to North Dakota. Koules’ WHL rights moved from Everett to the Medicine Hat Tigers at the trade deadline in January. Koules turns 18 on June 25.
Everett general manager Garry Davidson and head coach Mark Ferner have spent a lot of time on the Jones file in recent weeks. Doug Soetaert, who was fired as Everett’s general manager on Feb. 2, selected Jones with the 11th overall selection in the 2009 bantam draft and had done a lot of work building a relationship with Jones and his family.
One source familiar with the situation has told me that Tri-City Americans general manager Bob Tory tried to cut a deal with Everett that would have given him a 72-hour window in which he would have been allowed to speak with the Jones family. Tory’s attempt was rebuffed. There also are rumours that the Portland Winterhawks are quite interested in acquiring Seth Jones’ WHL rights. (However, the Winterhawks tried hard to land Koules’ rights but Soetaert didn’t want to move him within the U.S. Division.)
Should Everett land Jones and should D Ryan Murray, who is certain to be an early NHL draft pick in June, return to the Silvertips, head coach Mark Ferner would be the happiest man in the world.
In one of the better quotes of this spring, Ferner, in talking with Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald about Murray’s possible return, said:
"The one thing that keeps me optimistic about it is the rumor of a (NHL) lockout. He being 19, he can't go play in the minors. Do I want Ryan to play pro next season? Absolutely. Am I keeping my fingers crossed a little bit and selfishly hoping there's a lockout? Yeah.”
So what does it all mean?
Well, the final words go to a source familiar with the situation, who told me: “Seth is 50-50.”
When Kometa Brno finished eighth in the Czech Extraliga’s regular season, organizers of the IIHF U18 world championship didn’t give it a second thought. But now Kometa Brno has advanced all the way to the playoff final, so the U18 world championship has undergone a schedule adjustment. According to the IIHF, “Some games will be moved to the other venue, Znojmo, and a third facility in Breclav.” Breclav is located 52 km south of Brno and has a 4,200-seat arena that is home to the U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament every summer.
Here’s more info from an IIHF news release:
Game No. 5 (Czech Republic vs. Denmark) on Friday, 13 April will be moved from Brno to Znojmo, new game time: 15:00.
Game No. 6 in Znojmo (Switzerland vs. Latvia), will start at 19:00 instead of 18:00.
The games scheduled in Brno on Saturday, 14 April – No. 7 USA vs. Czech Republic (16:00) and No. 9 Canada vs. Finland (20:00) – will be moved to Breclav. The game times stay the same.
The quarterfinal games on Thursday, 19 April, will be moved from Brno to Breclav: Game No. 21 (A2 vs. B3, at 15:00) and No. 23 (B2 vs. A3, at 19:00). The game times stay the same.
The games of the preliminary round on the opening day (12 April), from 15 to 17 April, the semifinals (20 April), the fifth-place game (21 April) and the medal games (22 April) will be played at the Kajot Arena in Brno as planned.
The WHL had seven players named to the Canadian team that will play at the aforementioned IIHF U18 world championship. D Damon Severson (Kelowna Rockets), D Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert Raiders), D Mathew Dumba (Red Deer Rebels), F Branden Troock (Seattle Thunderbirds), F Mike Winther (Prince Albert), F Troy Bourke (Prince George Cougars) and F Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice) all will play for Canada. . . . The Canadian head coach is Jesse Wallin of Red Deer, while Chris Chisamore, an assistant coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is the video coach, and Jamie LeBlanc, the Swift Current Broncos’ athletic therapist, is the team’s equipment manager. As well, Roger Castle of the Edmonton Oil Kings is serving as Canada’s education consultant. . . . The Canadian team leaves for Europe today. It will play two pre-tournament games — vs. Germany in Prague on Sunday and vs. the Czech Republic in Brno on Monday.
The annual Subway Super Series will wrap up in Victoria and Vancouver next season. The series will begin with two games in QMJHL centres on Nov. 5 and 7, then continue in OHL cities on Nov. 8 and 12. Those four host cities have yet to be announced. . . . The game in Victoria is scheduled for Nov. 14, with the series finale in Vancouver on Nov. 15.
The Moose Jaw Warriors may have D Travis Brown back for Game 1 against the visiting Medicine Hat Tigers on Friday. He missed the last three games of Moose Jaw’s five-game first-round victory over the Regina Pats. . . . Medicine Hat F Rhyse Dieno has missed 14 games with a shoulder injury. While he is practising, he hasn’t been cleared to play. D Kale Kessy missed the last two games of the Tigers’ first-round sweep of the Saskatoon Blades and is questionable, as are F Jayden Hart and F Gavin Broadhead, who have yet to play in these playoffs. . . . The last two times the Warriors and Tigers met the scores were 6-0 and 6-0, with each side winning at home. . . .
Rob Henderson of the Brandon Sun points out that the WHL office handed out 13 suspensions in the first round; last season, there were 14 suspensions doled out through the entire playoff season. . . . There is a message there somewhere. . . . Henderson also points out that in the first round, home teams held a 21-15 edge. But the Brandon Wheat Kings earned three of those ‘home’ victories while playing in Winnipeg. So you could make a case for home teams being ahead only 18-15. . . .
D Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings has tweaked younger brother Sam again. With Sam having been named to the Canadian U18 team, Griffin tweeted:
“Congrats to my little bro Sam for making the U18 team. Keep your head up though because mom can't protect you anymore.”

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