THE MacBETH REPORT:
The SM-Liiga had its board meeting on Tuesday at which it discussed the Jokerit Helsinki situation. At 7:50 p.m. Helsinki time, SM-Liiga announced the following via the league website:
“SM-Liiga and Jokerit on Tuesday reached agreement on the terms on which Jokerit has been granted the right to play in the SM-Liiga for the 2013-2014 season. It has also agreed on the terms of the agreement under which the League granted Jokerit the right to play in the Kontinental Hockey League beginning with the 2014-2015 season. SM-League Chairman Hannu Penttilä and Jokerit owner Harry Harkimo are happy with the end result.”
It was reported to be a contentious meeting that began at 3 p.m., one where Harkimo angrily walked out twice, at 3:45 for about 45 minutes and again at 5:30 for about 30 minutes.
Initial reports are that Kärpät Oulu, HIFK Helsinki and TPS Turku were most reluctant to allow Jokerit to compete in the league under any circumstances, while some of the other clubs were open to a financial settlement from Jokerit.
After the announcement, Harkimo answered “I am not going to comment” when asked how much Jokerit had to pay to stay in SM-Liiga and whether Jokerit had to pay to leave SM-Liiga for the KHL.
When asked again, Harkimo said: “It is what it is.”
Harkimo did say: “Certainly SM-Liiga will survive Jokerit’s departure.”
SM-Liiga Chairman Hannu Penttilä said: “The process was not as it should have been, but everyone is happy now. SM-Liiga will begin as normal in September and there are no other clubs going to the KHL.”
Penttilä later said that the conditions attached to the agreement won’t be made public. It is rumoured that Jokerit must pay 5 to 8 million Euros (US$6.6 to 10.6 million, Cdn$6.8 to 10.9 million) to compensate the league and other clubs for lost revenues.
To put the amount in perspective, Jokerit’s player payroll for last season was about 4 million Euros.
Harkimo also said that the agreement for Jokerit to join the KHL is not final yet; a final decision will be made this fall.
It seems that public opinion in Finland is running against Jokerit playing in SM-Liiga this season.
On Friday, the Helsinki newspaper Iltalehti ran an online poll and 65 per cent of the 13,162 respondents said that Jokerit shouldn’t be allowed to play in SM-Liiga this season.
Another online poll, this one run by another Helsinki newspaper, Ilta-Sanomat, while the meeting was taking place, asked the question: “Should Jokerit be kicked out of SM-Liiga immediately?” Of the 8,046 respondents, 87 per cent said: “YES.”
A second Ilta-Sanomat online poll which ran after the decision was announced asked: “Was it the right decision to allow Jokerit to play in SM-Liiga this season?” Of the 10,475 respondents, 82 per cent said: “NO.”
Finally, a columnist for Ilta-Sanomat said in an editorial posted after the decision was announced that “this season, Jokerit is the most hated team more than ever.”
While we are talking SM-Liiga, here is a look at this season’s ice surface at Oulu's Energia Areena, the home arena for Kärpät Oulu. Try to find the puck quickly here. One Finnish commentator said this really gives a new meaning to the phrase “home ice advantage.”
Moving to central Europe, the Czech Republic Ice Hockey Federation and the Czech Extraliga have announced new roster rules for the 2013-14 season.
1) teams are allowed to dress for each game a maximum of 15 players born 1990 or earlier (age 23 and older);
2) each team must have at least three players dressed born between 1991 and 1993 (age 20-22); and,
3) at least one player dressed for a game must be born after 1993 (age 19 and under).
Goaltenders are exempt from these rules.
Additionally, each Extraliga team will be allowed six import (non-Czech citizen) licenses. Once an import is listed on a game sheet, that uses up one of the licenses, regardless of whether the import player actually plays in the game or not.
The intent is to try to keep more Czech young players at home and to get them drafted — there were only four Czech players drafted in the 2013 NHL draft and all four played in the CHL last season. The last player to go directly to the NHL from an Extraliga team was Edmonton Oilers D Ladislav Smid, drafted by Anaheim in 2004 from Liberec.
Now for Tuesday’s moves . . .
F Ryan Russell (Kootenay, 2003-07) signed a one-year contract with Leksand (Sweden, SEL). He had 10 goals and six assists in 62 games with the Springfield Falcons (AHL) last season. . . .
F Brett Sonne (Calgary, 2004-09) signed a one-year contract with Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had seven goals and eight assists in 56 games with the Peoria Rivermen (AHL), three goals and four assists in seven games with the Evansville Icemen (ECHL), and one goal and two assists in six games with the Texas Stars (AHL) last season. . . .
D Trevor Johnson (Kootenay, Seattle, Tri-City, 1998-2003) signed a one-year contract extension with Valpellice (Italy, Serie A). He had 10 goals and 34 assists in 42 games as captain of Valpellice last season. Johnson also represented Italy at both the Division 1 world championship and the Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, totaling four assists in eight games. . . .
F Ales Kilnar (Vancouver, 2012-13) signed a tryout contract with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Austria Erste Bank Liga). He had no points in one game with Vancouver, no points in three games with Jokipojat Joensuu U20 (Finland, SM-Liiga A-Juniors), four goals and seven assists in 15 games with Vitkovice Ostrava U20 (Czech Republic, U20 Extraliga), and three goals and three assists in seven games with Poruba (Czech Republic, 2. Liga) last season. Kilnar had a goal for Orli in Tuesday’s 4-1 exhibition game victory against Mlada Boleslav, playing on a line with Ondrej Fiala (Everett, Saskatoon, 2005-08).
Jonathan Parker played three seasons (Seattle, Prince Albert, 2008-11) in the WHL. Now 21, Parker, a forward from Solona Beach, Calif., is preparing for his third season in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization. But, as Jeff Cox writes at sbnation.com, this season will be different for Parker because his father, Steven, won’t be there to enjoy it with him. Steven Parker lost a three-year battle with cancer last week. . . . As Cox points out right here, there’s more to the story and now Jonathan Parker and his sister, Charlene, need help. Here’s hoping the hockey community will provide some.
F Adam Kambeitz (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Seattle, 2008-13) has decided he’ll go to the U of Calgary and play for the Dinos. Kambeitz is from Coaldale, Alta. He played out his WHL eligibility last season. He was in his fifth season with the Red Deer Rebels when he was traded to the Saskatoon Blades early last season. Then, at the trade deadline, the Blades sent him to the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Kambeitz told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix that it came down to Calgary or Acadia U in Wolfville, N.S. . . . Nugent-Bowman also reports that F Chris Collins (Chilliwack, Saskatoon, 2007-12) also will attend the U of Calgary. Collins, from Calgary, played last season with the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers.
F James Henry (Vancouver, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has chosen to leave school after one season with the U of Manitoba Bisons. He has signed with the ECHL’s Stockton Thunder. Henry, 22, is a Winnipeg native. He had 22 points in 28 games with the Bisons last season. He earned CIS all-rookie team honours and was named Canada West’s most outstanding freshman. . . . While in Vancouver, Henry was teammates with F Garet Hunt, who is a fan favourite in Stockton.
There isn’t a more polarizing sports figure anywhere than Ken (Hawk) Harrelson, the TV play-by-play voice of the Chicago White Sox. He has referred to the explosion of mathematical-based analytics in baseball as “the biggest joke I’ve ever seen.” . . . Ben Strauss of The New York Times has more on Harrelson right here. BTW, Hawk says the only stat that matters is “T.W.T.W.”
THE COACHING GAME:
Randy Ladouceur has signed on as an assistant coach with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters. Ladouceur, a veteran of the NHL playing and coaching wars, will work alongside head coach Dean Chynoweth. Ladouceur has worked as an assisteant coach for four NHL teams since he ended his playing career in 1996. . . . Ladouceur’s arrival allows David Oliver to return to his role as director of AHL operations. The Monsters are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. . . . Jock Callander is preparing for his second season as an assistant coach, while Jean-Ian Filiatrault has come on board as the goaltending coach.
The ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings have signed Colin Chaulk as an assistant coach. Chaulk retired as a player after last season. He spent 10 pro seasons playing for the Fort Wayne Komets, a rival of the Wings. . . . In Kalamazoo, he will work with Nick Bootland, the director of hockey operations and head coach.
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