Wednesday, March 27, 2013

First baseman Justin Morneau of the Minnesota Twins is all to familiar with post-concussion syndrome, and the former hockey player tells Tom Maloney of The Globe and Mail all about it right here.
How quickly things change in the coaching game.
Less than 10 months ago, on July 12, the Lethbridge Hurricanes announced that they were picking up the 2013-14 option on the contract belonging to general manager/head coach Rich Preston.
On Tuesday morning, they fired him and promoted Brad Robson, who had been the assistant general manager and director of player personnel, to general manager.
The Hurricanes have missed the playoffs each of the last four seasons, going 100-156-32 during that time.
Robson, a familiar face around the WHL, has been with the Hurricanes since 2007. While Robson has been working out of Calgary, he said his plan now is to relocate his family to Lethbridge.
In conversation with Pat Siedlecki, who calls the play on 94.1 CJOC, and his partner, Fred Jack, Hurricanes president Brian McNaughton said:
“This is not a business that’s about potential; this is a business that’s about performance. We are on a five-year plan; we’re still on that plan. But I think the performance in the last half of the season had to be better. There’s really no way that I think I could justify in my own mind that we were going to be better next (season), so that forced a decision like this, which is unfortunate.”
Asked by Siedlecki if the franchise’s financial situation played any role at all in the decision, McNaughton replied:
“Absolutely not at all. Quite honestly, everyone keeps focusing on how bad our financial situation is. We had an outstanding year . . . we’re way ahead of where we projected. Our attendance is up 11 per cent and as a result of that there’s a lot of revenues that are up in that area and in other areas. We’ve made a major turn here financially this season. We’ll present that to our shareholders in September . . . and we have a business plan in place that is going to mitigate this expense. We have an obligation, we are prepared to live up to our obligation, but we have a plan to deal with it.”
McNaughton pointed to the Hurricanes’ final 30 games as the harbinger.
The Hurricanes came back from the Christmas break with 34 games remaining, 21 of those on the road. They went 10-19-5 in those 34 games. Six times they went to extra time – they lost twice in OT and three times in shootouts. The only victory in extra time came on Jan. 18 when they went into Portland and beat the Winterhawks 5-4 in a shootout.
As for promoting Robson to the GM’s post, McNaughton said the directors came up with a short list, went through the process and “came to the conclusion very quickly that this is the right decision for us.”
In conversation with Siedlecki, Robson said all of this came together in the previous 12 hours. He added that he will take the organization through the bantam draft and then look after hiring a coach.
“After a coach is selected,” Robson said, “whoever that person may be and myself will select an assistant coach that will help our hockey club, help our young players. I’m looking for two coaches that are young, have experience . . . the main thing is I want guys who can teach . . .”
Assistant coaches Matt Kabayama and Chris Chisamore are under contract through May 31. Robson told Siedlecki he will take with both men over the next while.
There’s more on Siedlecki’s blog right here, or you can find it over there on the right.
In the OHL, the Guelph Storm has signed vice-president and general manager Mike Kelly to a deal that takes him through next season. The club has an option on the 2014-15 season.
2013 Playoffs
The WHL’s first-round situation:
Edmonton (1) vs. Kootenay (8)
(Edmonton leads 2-1; Game 4 tonight in Cranbrook)
Saskatoon (2) vs. Medicine Hat (7)
(Medicine Hat leads 3-0; Game 4 tonight in Medicine Hat)
Calgary (3) vs. Swift Current (6)
(Calgary leads 3-1; Game 5 on Thursday in Calgary)
Red Deer (4) vs Prince Albert (5)
(Red Deer leads 3-0; Game 4 tonight in Prince Albert)

Portland (1) vs. Everett (8)
(Series tied 1-1; Game 3 tonight in Everett)
Kelowna (2) vs. Seattle (7)
(Seattle leads 3-0; Game 4 tonight in Kent, Wash.)
Kamloops (3) vs. Victoria (6)
(Kamloops leads 2-1; Game 4 on Thursday in Victoria, Bear Mountain Arena)
Spokane (4) vs. Tri-City (5)
(Spokane leads 2-1; Game 3 on Thursday in Kennewick, Wash.)
In Medicine Hat, the Tigers scored the game’s first five goals and went on to beat the Saskatoon Blades, 5-2. . . . The Blades, the host team for the 2013 Memorial Cup, trail the series, 3-0, with Game 4 in Medicine Hat tonight. . . . In 2001, the Regina Pats were the host team for the Memorial Cup and lost a first-round series to the Calgary Hitmen in six games. . . . Saskatoon GM/head coach Lorne Molleken was the head coach of the Pats in 2000-01. . . . The Tigers swept the Blades from a first-round series last spring. . . . Saskatoon now has lost 11 straight playoff games. . . . The Blades have been outscored 12-3 in this series. . . . F Curtis Valk and D Kyle Becker had the Tigers up 2-0 by 5:01 of the first period. . . . Valk also had two assists. . . . Saskatoon G Andrey Makarov surrendered four goals on 14 shots and was gone when the second period started. Alex Moodie came on to stop 19 of 20. . . . Medicine Hat G Cam Lanigan continued his strong playing with 42 saves, the third straight game in which he has done that. . . . “They took full advantage and came at us hard and we didn’t get a save,” Molleken told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “(It’s) mental. We’re mental midgets right now.” . . . When F Lukas Sutter scored for the Blades in the second period, it ended Medicine Hat G Cam Lanigan’s shutout streak at 110:03. . . . Saskatoon F Josh Nicholls was hit with a slashing major for a hack on Medicine Hat F Hunter Shinkaruk at game’s end. Chances are Nicholls won’t be allowed to play in Game 4. . . . Saskatoon F Jessey Astles served the second game of his two-game suspension that resulted from a Game 1 hit on Medicine Hat F Matt Staples, who is concussed. . . . With Astles out, Saskatoon F Logan Harland played for the first time since Feb. 12. . . . Nugent-Bowman’s full report is right here.

In Cranbrook, F Michael St. Croix had two goals and an assist as the Edmonton Oil Kings dropped the Kootenay Ice, 7-1. . . . Edmonton F Curtis Lazar broke a 1-1 tie at 4:13 of the first period and the Oil Kings went from there. . . . Edmonton scored on each of its first three shots. . . . Edmonton F Trevor Cheek had a goal and two assists. . . . Edmonton D Martin Gernat was pointless and plus-4. . . . The Oil Kings have outscored the Ice 17-3 in three games. . . . The Oil Kings inserted D Dysin Mayo into their lineup, replacing D Ashton Sautner, who has an undisclosed injury. . . . The Ice averaged 2,411 fans during the regular season, the lowest average in the team’s 15 seasons in Cranbrook. Attendance last night was 2,204. . . .

In Prince Albert, the Red Deer Rebels broke a scoreless tie with two second-period goals and went on to a 3-1 victory over the Raiders. . . . F Brooks Maxwell and F Turner Elson, on the PP, scored 3:24 apart in the first half of the second. . . . Elson added a second goal into an empty net at 19:16 of the third. . . . Red Deer G Patrik Bartosak stopped 29 shots. . . . Red Deer D Mathew Dumba had two assists, as did F Rhyse Dieno. . . .

In Swift Current, F Victor Rask scored the game’s only goal, banging home a rebound just 37 seconds into OT to give the Calgary Hitmen a 1-0 victory over the Broncos. . . . It was the third time in four games that these teams have gone to OT. . . . The Broncos felt the goal should have been disallowed because of a gloved pass between two Hitmen. . . . A tweet from Broncos radio voice Shawn Mullin (@shawnmullin): “Upon review of the replay... Macek clearly scooped the puck in his glove and tossed it into the crease…” . . . More from Mullin: “There is some question as to if it hit Laurikainen's stick before Rask's but it was _clearly_ gloved into the crease.” . . . A tweet from the Calgary Herald’s Kristen Odland (@KristenOdlandCH): “A seething Mark Lamb on Calgary's OT goal (which had been apparently gloved down by Brooks Macek): ‘(The referees) totally missed the call.’ ” . . . Lamb is the Broncos’ GM/head coach. . . . Calgary G Chris Driedger stopped 28 shots, while Swift Current’s Eetu Laurikainen turned aside 26. . . .

In Kent, Wash., D Evan Wardley scored at 4:55 of OT was the Seattle Thunderbirds (of Kent) got past the Kelowna Rockets, 3-2. . . . It was the third time in as many games that OT was needed to decide the issue. The Thunderbirds had won 5-4 and 2-1 in Kelowna to begin the series. . . . Wardley has two goals in 90 career regular-season games, both of them scored this season when he played in 60 games. . . . Seattle D Jesse Forsberg tied the game at 2 at 19:35 of the second period. . . . The Rockets led 2-0 at 6:10 of the first period on goals by F Zach Franko and F Cody Fowlie. . . . F Roberts Lipsbergs of the Thunderbirds scored at 15:25 of the first period. . . . Seattle G Brandon Glover stopped 33 shots, six more than Kelowna’s Jordon Cooke. . . . Kelowna had a glorious opportunity in OT when Seattle was penalized for having too many men on the ice at 0:34. . . .

In Victoria, F Tim Traber broke a 1-1 tie 50 seconds into the third period and the Royals beat the Kamloops Blazers, 2-1. . . . F Ben Walker gave Victoria a 1-0 lead at 18:23 of the first. . . . Kamloops F JC Lipon tied it with his third goal of the series, at 12:52 of the second, on a PP. . . . Victoria G Patrik Polivka stopped 39 shots. . . . Attendance in Bear Mountain Arena was 2,395. The Royals are having to play first-round games there because Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre is home to the world men’s curling championship. . . . Bear Mountain will be home tonight to the deciding game in a best-of-five BCHL series between the Alberni Valley Bulldogs and Victoria Grizzlies. . . .

In Kennewick, Wash., F Parker Bowles scored his second goal of the game at 10:46 of OT to give the host Tri-City Americans a 5-4 victory over the Spokane Chiefs. . . . The Americans forced OT by coming back from a 4-1 second-period deficit. . . . F Mitch Messier scored at 10:38 of the second and F Justin Feser added a goal at 12:00. . . . D Drydn Dow tied it at 18:06 of the second, via a PP. . . . Americans F Connor Rankin had three assists. . . . Tri-City G Luke Lee-Knight made 34 saves, while Eric Williams of the Chiefs stopped 38. . . . This was the 15th time in the last 28 playoff meetings between these teams that OT was needed.

F Carson Perreaux, Prince Albert


From Swift Current Broncos D Reece Scarlett (@reecescarlett): “What a travesty... That's all that can be said about that #movingonnow”
From Swift Current G Eetu Laurikainen (@eetu41): “It's ice hockey. Not basketball.. #alleyoop”

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