A horse named I’ll Have Another is running for history on Saturday at Belmont Park in New York.
And you are going to watch Saturday’s third race in the Triple Crown after I tell you that there is a WHL angle to this horse.
That angle is named Larry Jones — he goes by the nickname Thumper — and he used to play in the WHL.
According to hockeydb.com, Jones played 58 games in 1977-78, splitting them between the Portland Winter Hawks, Medicine Hat Tigers and New Westminster Bruins. He played 13 games with the Lethbridge Broncos and 12 with the Regina Pats in 1978-79.
In 83 games, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound winger had four goals, seven assists and 212 penalty minutes.
It was while with the Bruins that Jones was involved in one of the most legendary bench-clearing brawls in WHL history. That was Feb. 12, 1978, against the Billings Bighorns.
“In the last game of that season (1977-78), we played Billings and pretty much brawled them up to the point that they had become terrified of us,” Jones told Tom Wolski of the Vancouver Province.
Ernie McLean’s Bruins went on to sweep the Bighorns en route to winning the 1978 Memorial Cup.
Jones’s hockey career was ended by back problems. Ultimately, he found relief from a chirorpactor.
It wasn’t quite this easy, but after finding help for his back, Jones wondered why he couldn’t do the same for horses. So he has done just that.
Most recent stories on him have referred to him as an “equine chiropractor,” although he has told Ryan Goldberg of The New York Times that “I’m not a chiropractor, I’m a positionalist.”
And there have been a lot of recent stories because the native of Stettler, Alta., has done a lot of work with I’ll Have Another, a horse that was ridden by Mario Gutierrez during the Kentucy Derby and the Preakness. (Gutierrez has been a regular jockey at Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver.)
There was a time when Jones worked at a now-defunct track in Kamloops and then went on to Exhibition Park in Vancouver.
On Saturday, Jones, now 53, will be at Belmont Park in New York.
And if I’ll Have Another should happen to win, Thumper’s legend — he is know for wearing shorts and cowboy boots — will continue to grow.
For more on Jones, check out Goldberg’s story right here.
F Taylor Peters of the Portland Winterhawks can be a deep-thinker, which is why I linked to his blog (Blades of Glory) over there on the right.
In his latest entry, he provides a major junior player’s reaction to the story from The New York Times that detailed the easy access the late Derek Boogaard had to prescription drugs.
Check out Blades of Glory because it’s definitely worth a read.
You should also check out Thom Beunig’s blog (In the Corner) that also is linked to over there on the right.
He lost one of his best friends on Wednesday and offers up some heartfelt thoughts and memories.
The NHL has a problem. A big problem. It seems that its teams don’t know the direction in which the league is headed. For example, the Detroit Red Wings, with D Nicklas Lidstrom having retired, have a lot of money to spend under the cap. But they don’t know whether to spend it on skill or gritty shot-blockers. Seriously. . . . Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail has an intriguing look at the situation right here.
F Dillon Wagner, who played out his eligibility this season, has decided to attend UBC and play for the Thunderbirds. Dillon played most of his WHL career with the Swift Current Broncos, but was traded to the Portland Winterhawks this season and then claimed on waivers by the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . He is a veteran of four WHL seasons, recording 66 points in 212 games. . . .
Three ex-WHLers have decided to go to the U of Lethbridge and play for the Pronghorns. G Damien Ketlo, who finished up his WHL career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes this season, has made the commitment. Head coach Greg Gatto immediately named Ketlo his starter, replacing the graduated Scott Bowles. . . . Ketlo played most his four-season career with the Regina Pats, before being dealt to Lethbridge this season. . . . Also agreeing to attend the U of L were D Hayden Rintoul and D Cason Machacek. . . . Rintoul played for the Kootenay Ice, who dealt him to the Victoria Royals prior to this season. He put up 144 points in 260 WHL games, and helped the Ice to the 2010-11 championship. . . . Machacek, who is from Lethbridge, finished up with Seattle, after playing for the Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge. He had 28 points and 536 penalty minutes in 245 WHL games.
THE COACHING GAME:
Evan Daum of the Edmonton Journal has spoken with Kris Knoblauch, the former head coach of the Kootenay Ice. That piece is right here. . . . Knoblauch, you’ll recall, had his contract terminated by the Ice as he was trying to land the head-coaching job with the U of Alberta Golden Bears. . . . There are some extremely interesting comments from Knoblauch who, among other things, told Daum: “Certainly, there wasn’t a guarantee that the job was mine, but I was under the impression I was a very good candidate. Everything short of the job being guaranteed to me. After this process was over, I’ve heard many names of people being kind of given the same sales pitch of applying.”
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