Thursday, November 15, 2012

F Jason Chimera (Medicine Hat, Brandon, 1996-99) signed a lockout contract with Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had 20 goals and 19 assists in 82 games with the Washington Capitals last season. The contract is for the rest of this season, should the NHL lockout last that long.
Chomutov has six former WHL players on the roster in addition to Chimera: Radek Duda (Regina, Lethbridge, 1998-2000), Karel Hromas (Everett, 2004-06), David Hruska (Red Deer, 1995-96), team captain Milan Kraft (Prince Albert, 1998-2000), Brett Palin (Kelowna, 2000-05) and Lukas Pulpan (Vancouver, 2003-04). The GM of Chomutov is Leo Gudas, father of current AHL-Syracuse D Radko Gudas (Everett, 2009-10).
The Red Deer Rebels (10-11-2) woke up Wednesday morning tied for seventh place in the Eastern Conference. They are 5-4-1 in their last 10 games and, with 22 points, they are seven points out of first place, tied with the Moose Jaw Warriors for the conference’s last playoff spot. Only 12 points separate first from 11th in the conference.
So Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, president and general manager, did what most observers thought he would do in July or August — he dumped head coach Jesse Wallin and moved behind the bench himself.
Sutter, whose contract wasn’t renewed by the NHL’s Calgary Flames after last season, named himself the interim head coach. (The press release announcing the change was interesting in that it’s very last line reads: “Brent Sutter will be the interim Head Coach.”
Sutter told Greg Meachem of the Red Deer Advocate:
“After discussions with Jesse I made the decision to move forward in a new direction with our head-coaching position. Coaching is a tough racket. Jesse is a very good coach, but for whatever reason the message just wasn’t getting through to the players and I really don’t know the exact reasons why that was or has been the case.
“The right thing is to make a change. Sometimes in life it’s never easy to do the right thing, but this is the right thing to do today moving forward. It’s too bad, though. It’s not a day that I’m sitting here feeling good about at all. It’s just not. But I know it’s something that has to be done.”
(Meachem’s complete story is right here.)
Sutter said Wallin will be offered another position in the organization.
“I told Jesse to go home for now and be a dad and a husband and spend time with your family, and then we’ll sit down in a couple of weeks,” Sutter said. “Jesse is a really good person and a good hockey man, but his time here ran its course. That happens in coaching and it’s not his fault, or anyone’s fault.
“You have to move forward and I had to make this decision, which was not an easy one to make.”
Sutter also named Jeff Truitt as associate coach. Truitt, a former head coach of the Kelowna Rockets who also worked in the Moose Jaw Warriors’ front office, spent last season as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Texas Stars. Most recently, he had been working with the U of Lethbridge Pronghorns.
Assistant coach Bryce Thoma remains in place.
Wallin was a defenceman through four seasons (1994-98) with the Rebels and then joined their coaching staff in 1997 after post-concussion syndrome brought an end to his professional playing career.
He was an assistant coach until being named associate coach for 2005-07. He was in his fifth season as head coach and is seen as one of the bright, young coaches in the game today.
The Rebels didn’t make the playoffs last season when they finished 32-34-6. But they were hit with a horrible string of injuries and Wallin received a lot of credit for keeping his club playing hard every night.
He was the head coach of Canada’s Under-18 team that finished third at the 2012 IIHF World U-18 championship last spring in the Czech Republic.
This will be an interesting test for Sutter, whose coaching record over the last few seasons has been a bit spotty.
He missed the playoffs in each of his three seasons with the Flames, although he did win 40 and 41 games in his first two seasons (2009-11) there.
In two seasons (2007-09) with the New Jersey Devils, he won 46 and 51 games but bowed out in the first round of the playoffs each time.
He was the head coach when the Rebels won the 2001 Memorial Cup and lost in the WHL final in 2004. The Rebels lost out in the third round in 2003-04 and were gone in the first round in 2004-05.
It has been a while, then, since Sutter has seen even the second round of a playoff series.
Yes, these will be interesting times in Red Deer.
The Rebels next play Saturday when the Swift Current Broncos pay a visit.
Sutter’s first player personnel move was to send home F Charles Inglis, 20, who leads the Rebels in goals (11) and points (14).
The Rebels acquired Inglis from the Prince George Cougars on Dec. 29, giving up F Daulton Siwak, who turned 19 on Oct.25, and a 2012 third-round bantam draft pick in the exchange.
At the time, Inglis was at home awaiting a trade, having been sent home by the Cougars. He began his WHL career with the Saskatoon Blades, but wore out his welcome there and was dealt to the Cougars.
“At this point in time he leads our team in goals and points, so the fact we’re sending him home kind of speaks for itself,” Sutter told the Red Deer Advocate. “What more can you say? His time here has run out.
“He’s being sent home (to Saskatoon) to await a trade. If nothing happens he’ll go on waivers next week and if there’s no interest then he’ll play with a junior A team if he wishes.”
Inglis (@CharlesInglis) let the Twitter world know that he was gone: “Thank you red deer for the past year going to miss a lot of the guys and the city, fans here are second to none love the city #RebelsHockey”
Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports that the Saskatoon Blades could be without F Jessey Astles, 19, for quite some time.
Astles was injured Friday during a 6-3 victory over the visiting Regina Pats when he suffered a self-inflicted skate cut to a wrist following a fight.
According to Nugent-Bowman, Astles “had surgery Saturday to repair the radial artery and four cut tendons, leaving a large S-shaped scar running halfway down his forearm.”
Lorne Molleken, the Blades’ general manager and head coach, said Astles could miss anywhere from two months to the rest of the season.
The Blades open a B.C. Division tour on Friday in Prince George.
Nugent-Bowman’s story is right here.
In Wednesday’s Globe and Mail, Hall of Famer Roy MacGregor takes a look at Edge School for Athletes, which is located in Calgary. . . . When it comes to hockey, from the junior level on down, there is a whole lot of symbolism in having an ATM machine mentioned in the essay’s first sentence. . . . That piece is right here.
F Travis Ewanyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings left Wednesday’s Super Series game in Vancouver with an injury. Prior to the start of the third period, TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted that Ewanyk had suffered “an injury (foot or ankle) and not expected to return.”
From F Jesse Mychan (@jmychan28): “Found out the bomb used in Hiroshima was built in tri! #crazyness #who knew”

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