Friday, August 24, 2012

The Moose Jaw Civic Centre goes into today with a 3-0 lead over the demolition crew.
The Crushed Can was to have been down by now but it just hasn’t happened.
The latest delay comes about after workers discovered a lot more rebar in the concrete than they had anticipated.
There’s more right here.
The Victoria Royals have signed D Jack Walker, 16, to a WHL contract. Walker, from Edina, Minn., is the younger brother of Royals F Ben Walker, who is preparing for his second WHL season. . . . Jack played for the gold medal-winning U.S. team at the U-17 Five Nations tournament earlier this month in Chomutov, Czech Republic, earning one assist in four games. Barry Smith, a former head coach with the Kamloops Blazers, was the head coach of the U.S. team.
JUST NOTES: G Luke Lee-Knight, 19, who played last season with the Prince Albert Raiders and Spokane Chiefs, is in camp with the Tri-City Americans. . . .  The AJHL’s Canmore Eagles – former WHLer Andrew Milne is their GM and head coach – have dealt G Michael Salmon (Seattle, Prince George, 2008-12) to the SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds. Salmon, 20, is a native of Red Deer. . . . The Spokane Chiefs are keeping G Mac Engel (high ankle sprain) and F Marek Kalus (upper body) off the ice for now. . . . Jess Brown of the Spokane Spokesman-Review also reported that F Tanner MacMaster, the Chiefs’ first-round selection, 19th overall, in the 2011 bantam draft, didn’t report to camp. Neither did F Rhett Gardner, the Chiefs’ second-round selection in 2011. . . . The Red Deer Rebels have lost two players as F Marc Mackenzie, who will be 19 in November, and F Mason Burr, 18, have chosen to move on. Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate reports that MacKenzie has returned to Kelowna-Okanagan College, while Burr has decided to leave hockey. Burr was a second-round selection in the 2009 bantam draft. Mackenzie, who is from Kelowna, started last season with the now-defunct Okanagan College Coyotes, joining the Rebels in time to play 31 games. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that the Silvertips are without a couple of veterans early in camp. F Ryan Harrison, 20, is out with mononucleosis and may miss the start of the regular season. Of course, he also has four games left over from a suspension that he has yet to serve. F Kohl Bauml, meanwhile, is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. . . . The Silvertips also held G Austin Lotz (hamstring) out on Thursday.
The Regina Pats have signed assistant coaches Malcolm Cameron and Josh Dixon to one-year contract extensions that will take them through 2013-14. The contracts of general manager Chad Lang and head coach Pat Conacher also run through 2013-14. . . . All three coaches are heading into their second seasons in Regina. . . .
Former NHL D Jamie Heward has joined the Swift Current Broncos as an assistant coach and director of player development. Heward, who is from Regina and played four seasons with the Pats (1987-91), will work alongside GM/head coach Mark Lamb and assistant coach Darren Evjen in Swift Current. Heward, 41, retired after the 2008-09 season. . . . With Heward now under contract to Swift Current, perhaps his name no longer will surface in rumours every time the Pats are about to be sold. Then again, maybe not. . . .
The Red Deer Rebels chose not to renew the contract of assistant coach Chris Neiszner, leaving GM/head coach Jesse Wallin and assistant coach Bryce Thoma to run the club. Neiszner, who played four seasons (2001-05) with the Rebels, was on the coaching staff for two seasons. . . . The decision was made because owner Brent Sutter is back in the neighbourhood. “With Brent being back full-time we just felt that he's going to be able to be a lot more involved," Wallin told Red Deer media. "He'll be able to help me out with a lot of the GM duties and alleviate a lot of that, which will allow me to focus a lot more on the coaching side of things." . . . Troy Gillard at reports that Neiszner now is working with Hockey Alberta. . . .
The Spokane Chiefs announced Thursday that Kevin Sawyer will serve as an interim assitant coach when head coach Don Nachbaur leaves for the World Junior Championship where he is to work as an assistant coach with Team Canada. With Nachbaur away, veteran assistant Jon Klemm will run the Chiefs. . . . Nachbaur, who is scheduled to leave the Chiefs on Dec. 8, might miss as many as 11 games. . . . The WJC will be held in Ufa, Russia, from Dec. 26 to Jan. 6. . . . Sawyer, who played three seasons with the Chiefs and was the team captain in 1993-94, is a familiar face around the Chiefs. He has been a guest coach in training camp for the past few seasons and will work with the club a lot between now and December. . . . Steve Spott (Kitchener Rangers) is Team Canada’s head coach, while the other assistants are Mario Duhamel (Drummondville Voltigeurs) and AndrĂ© Tourigny (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies).
Gregg Doyel, a national columnist with, has today’s good read. He chats with Scott Collie, a former football player whose son Austin is a receiver with the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts. On Sunday, Austin suffered his fourth concussion since November 2010. Read this to find out how a father feels when he sees his son go down again.
By now, you are aware that David Branch, who heads up the OHL and the CHL, issued a statement on Wednesday regarding the upstart CHLPA. As expected, there weren’t any surprises in what was a brief and emotionless statement.
Later in the day, QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau, who is a CHL vice-president, issued a statement that just about knocked me off my chair. It didn’t appear to get much play, so in case you missed it, here it is, unedited and in its entirety:
“The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Gilles Courteau, wanted to correct the allegations made on various forums in the past several days. The QMJHL protests the lies and half-truths expressed on the treatment of our players, especially regarding the health, wellness and support. The great family of the QMJHL is outraged by these gratuitous and unfounded statements.
“We are always on the forefront of new initiatives and new trends in order to develop the sport of hockey. In recent years, we have been proactive in order to improve our support by the creation of numerous programs such as players support program, education programs, anti-doping programs and programs to fight against discrimination. In addition, we have added resources to ensure the implementation and enforcement of these programs within our teams.
“The QMJHL is a SCHOOL OF LIFE. For years we have worked tirelessly to adequately supervise athletes, particularly in terms of continuous academic achievement.
“Our role is to provide guidance to young people enabling them to pursue their passion and their sport while studying and developing as a citizen.
This is why there are mechanisms to expose and correct any inappropriate behaviour. In addition, the League has put in place a player support program to enable players to better manage the challenges they face and solve their personal problems before they become serious. This program provides personalized support in a timely manner or on a regular basis and this, in complete confidentiality.
“With respect to nutrition: All players benefit from the services of highly qualified personnel to educate them about the importance of a healthy and balanced diet. The teams provide the players with the services of a nutritionist to help them make the right choices in terms of nutrition.
“With respect to health: Teams hire certified individuals, such as physicians, athletic therapists, neuropsychologists and fitness coaches to ensure the players' health. In addition, the protection of our players continues to be a priority. For this reason, the League has put in place a concussion safety program to educate players as to the consequences of hits to the head.
“With respect to violence: The League has taken a series of measures aimed at preventing and countering violence occurring during games and has a zero tolerance policy with respect to gratuitous violence. These measures were developed based on the report of an Advisory Committee on Violence created in 2008 by the League Commissioner. On the other hand, the League adopted a widely publicized charter on the prevention of violence which now serves as a reference and awareness tool.
“With respect to education: While QMJHL student-athletes face a number of challenges, success in academics is no longer an exception but the norm among the 18 teams of the League. The motivation, the discipline and the efforts of the players, combined with the support extended by their teachers, the school advisors of their CEGEP, as well as the academic advisor of their team, can certainly explain the success witnessed these past years.
“With respect to grants: If the League supports its hockey players in pursuing their academic endeavours throughout their junior career, it also offers a generous scholarship program to those who wish to pursue professional or university education immediately following their hockey career.
“This program is recognized as one of the best among Canada's sports leagues. Each year, the League invests several hundred thousand dollars. Since the inception of the scholarship program, more than $8 million have been distributed.
For the 2010-11 season only, the League awarded close to half a million dollars in scholarships to some 129 former hockey players. With respect to the amounts granted to players: The teams cover the full amount of sport and education related costs, which represents amounts that reach several thousand dollars per player. For this reason they receive allocations and not wages during the season.
“With regard to the control of illicit substances: As part of the anti-doping policy, the League implemented a series of informational and educational programs in order to persuade players to avoid using illegal substances and methods. It also encourages the management staff to keep a watchful eye on its players and to protect their health and promote clean sport.
“With respect to traveling: We realize that sometimes during the season long trips are necessary, but they are infrequent. Our owners and managers often discuss this issue in order to find solutions to minimize the hardships for the players.
“The League is: A true school of life. It offers a real opportunity for young players to attain their dream of achieving the professional ranks, but first and foremost, it provides them with the support and the necessary academic tools so they can live fulfilling lives and contribute to the development of our society. Our role is to provide a living environment favourable to their development as an athlete and as a citizen.”
As for the CHLPA, I have felt for some time now — likely since the CHL adopted its anti-doping policy — that something like this would show up sooner or later. Major junior players definitely need someone or an association to advocate on their behalf.
It’s just that when it happened I thought it would be a little more professional than what we have witnessed to this point.
In fact, what we have seen from the CHLPA to date hasn’t been much. Plain and simple, the ducks don’t seem to be in a row and they really needed to be before this production got to this stage.
I won’t argue with anyone who claims that major junior players should be better paid and that the education policy could have another year or two added to the option-to-use after a career ends.
As well, the anti-doping program got dropped on the players without their having any say.
There are all kinds of things like those that could be dealt with in one form or another, from working conditions (is it fair for players to have to play three games in less than 48 hours on occasion?) to the lack of an appeal process on matters of discipline.
And it’s great that all of these things and more are having some light shed on them these days.
But let me ask you this: If you had a son playing in the CHL, based on what you have seen and heard this week, would you want the CHLPA representing him?

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