Tuesday, June 4, 2013

F Stanislav Balan (Portland, 2005-06) has been assigned on loan by Zlin (Czech Republic, Extraliga) to Karlovy Vary (Czech Republic, Extraliga) for at least the start of next season. Balan had 16 goals and 31 assists in 43 games for Poprad (Slovakia, Extraliga) this season. . . .

F Sami Sandell (Brandon, 2004-06) signed a one-year plus option contract with Ilves Tampere (Finland, SM-Liiga). He had three goals and five assists in 40 games with LuleƄ (Sweden, Elitserien) this season. . . .

D Tomas Slovak (Kelowna, 2001-03) signed a one-year contract extension with Plzen (Czech Republic, Extraliga). He had four goals and seven assists in 27 games with Plzen this season.

1. Well, if you didn’t have a dog in either hunt that was a wasted evening of TV viewing. The Boston Bruins blew out the host Pittsburgh Penguins and after two games hold a 9-1 edge in goals, while the Miami Heat picked apart the visiting Indiana Pacers in Game 7 of an NBA division final. . . . An evening that began with much promise, when pfffft in a hurry.
2. Beth Bragg of the Anchorage Daily News reports that the U of Alaska-Anchorage is down to six finalists as it searches for a new head coach for its hockey team. Her story is right here, and it includes all six names, which is kind of interesting. . . . Can’t you just see a WHL team allowing its fans to follow along as it searches for a head coach!
3. With the Prince Albert Raiders having hired Cory Clouston as head coach, there now are two WHL teams — the Everett Silvertips and Lethbridge Hurricanes — who still have vacancies in that position.
4. The Hurricanes are the only team in the 22-team league without a head coach and a logo.
5. A few years ago, I got an email from a hockey fan named Bill Motiuk. He had put a lot of thought into hockey’s loser point — in many leagues, including the WHL, a team losing a game in overtime or a shootout receives one point. In brief, Motiuk proposed right here that a winner in regulation time be given three points, with two points going to an OT winner and one to a shootout winner. The loser wouldn’t get anything.
The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. Of course, the powers-that-be have yet to see the light.
Recently, I received another email from Motiuk, this time with “something for hockey fans to throw around in the down time between playoff series.”
And rather than have me explain it, here he is . . .
“How would the game change if a team getting a power play with less than two minutes left in a period had the option of taking the penalty at the time of the call or at the start of the next period?
“Why the option?
“As it stands now, the penalty and subsequent power play are not really for two minutes. For example, it could be a 45-second power play in one period and a one-minute 15-second power play in the next period.
“The amount of time allotted to the power play in each period currently depends on or at what time after the 18 minute-mark the penalty was called. How often is a goal scored at the end of a period on a penalty called at 19:30 of the period? That 30 seconds is probably the easiest bit of time to kill.
“Even if you have the momentum and are pressing on the power play, the clock puts a stop to that even though you have 90 of PP time left. And when the next period begins the faceoff is at centre ice where if you lose the draw another few seconds are lost.
“As it stands now the team taking a penalty with fewer than two minutes to play in a period faces less of a challenge than it would if that same penalty were called with two or more minutes remaining in the period.
“Adopting my suggestion would most likely change a dynamic in coaching. The ability of the coach would become more evident as to his effect on the outcome of a game. Does the coach accept the time of the penalty when called to continue his team’s momentum (if his team has it) or does he go to the dressing room and draw up a plan to exploit any weaknesses he may have observed? As well, when a new period begins, his players will be rested and the ice will be fresh.
“Of course, the other team also will be rested. So does he give the opposing team a chance to re-group?
“The score at the end of the period would be another variable. Heading toward overtime near the end of the third period would also add another dynamic. Does he try to win in regulation time and deny the other team a single point or does he gamble and carry the full two-minute penalty into overtime, in a 4-on-3 situation, which has a high percentage likelihood of a power play goal and the two points?
“If he allows the penalty time to be split over the period and into overtime and the power play comes up dry, the OT becomes a toss-up as to who will win. It could all come down to who can out-coach whom?
“I’m sure a lot of people could come up many more pros and cons for this idea, but I just wanted to throw it out there to see if it raises any thoughts.”
6. I will throw out another suggestion, one that I heard Kamloops Blazers head coach Dave Hunchak mention during one of his radio appearances at the recent Memorial Cup.
If hockey really wants to increase scoring, Hunchak suggested, the nets should be enlarged, but only upwards. If they were six inches higher, putting cross-bars 54 inches off the ice, he continued, goaltenders would have to spend a lot more time standing up.
Make the goaltenders stand up more and they are able to play less butterfly, meaning the bottom of the net would be open for more scoring.
I am quick to admit that I am a traditionalist, but hockey needs more goals. It’s obvious that the equipment worn by goaltenders isn’t going to be downsized a whole lot, if at all.
So, hey, why not raise the cross-bar by six inches?
Cory Clouston is back in the game, this time as head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders. The WHL team announced Monday that it had signed Clouston to a two-year deal, with the team holding an option on a third season. . . . Clouston, a two-time WHL coach of the year while with the Kootenay Ice, is the 13th head coach in Raiders’ history. . . . He left the Ice after 2007-08 and spent a bit more than one season as head coach of the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, moving up as head coach of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators with 34 games left in 2008-09. Clouston spent two more seasons with Ottawa before being dropped, and then was head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings for one season, going 39-28-5 in 2011-12. He was fired shortly after the season ended. . . . With the Raiders, Clouston replaces Steve Young. The Raiders announced on April 29 that they wouldn’t pick up the option on Young’s contract. . . . Associate coach Dave Manson and assistant coach Tim Leonard will work alongside Clouston. . . . Perry Bergson of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has more right here.

The ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets are expected to name a new head coach today. They are replacing veteran coach Al Sims, who retired after the season. . . . The new coach may well be Gary Graham, a Fort Wayne native who was an assistant under Sims. 

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