Wednesday, October 30, 2013

WHL to Winnipeg? No deal in place

Jim Toth of Winnipeg radio station CJOB tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that he has "confirmed #TNSE had another meeting with a #WHL franchise recently." He later tweeted that the meeting hadn't produced a deal.
TNSE refers to True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd., which owns the NHL's Winnipeg Jets. There have NHLbeen rumours, pretty much since the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg and became the Jets, that the NHL team is interested in owning a WHL franchise that would play out of the city's MTS Centre.
That speculation heated up a few months ago with rumours that TNSE had been kicking the tires that belong to the Kootenay Ice.
Toth, on The Upperdeck Sports Show, threw more stuff into the rumour mill last night.
Toth, who said he had been working on the story since the weekend, told his audience that he had heard a deal had been struck to bring a WHL franchise to the Manitoba capital. He was told yesterday by TNSE, he said, that the rumour was "1,000 per cent false."
"I can confirm there is no deal in place," Toth said.
He added that "another meeting did take place" between TNSE and a WHL franchise at some point over the "last two to three weeks," and that this meeting was precipitated by the franchise.
Toth said that this franchise is "different from the first one."
TNSE, he stated, is not actively seeking a team right now, but "continues to do due diligence with all opportunities that come forward."
"That," Toth said, "is where it sits right now. There is no deal and nothing currently going on."
Toth said he had asked TNSE if chairman Mark Chipman would comment and was told he wouldn't "because there's nothing going on."
Toth did reference the recent sale of the Saskatoon Blades, which he said was for $9 million, and also mentioned having heard a rumour that the Regina Pats are "to be sold by December for $7 million." Of course, rumours involving the sale of the Pats have been around for more than a few years.
So . . . here we go again. Let the speculation begin. Which WHL team may have inititiated contact with the owners of the Winnipeg Jets?
For starters, eliminate the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, Prince Albert Raiders and Swift Current Broncos, the four community-owned teams. As stated numerous times previously, each of those communities understands the value of its franchise and knows full well that if it leaves it won't be coming back.
I asked Ice owner Jeff Chynoweth on Wednesday afternoon if he had been in touch with TNSE recently and he responded: "Nope . . . don't know where all that is coming from."
So that leaves . . .
1. This will be a big weekend in Prince Albert where the Raiders will salute Mike Modano, the best player in the franchise's history, and retire his number (9). . . . The emcee of Friday's gala celebration will be Kevin Smook, the radio voice of the Raiders during Modano's seasons in Prince Albert. . . . Smook also is to be congratulated on his recent successful foray into provincial politics in Alberta where he was elected as a municipal councillor in Division 1 of the Beaver County area. . . . The Regina Pats will provide the opposition in Prince Albert on Friday night.

2. Canadian cyclist Ryder Hesjedal "chose the wrong path." Yawn! Surely there isn't any surprise here. Ho hum! Let's move on.

3. D Joe Hicketts of the Victoria Royals will be out indefinitely. It seems he suffered some sort of injury last weekend and has since had upper-body surgery. Thanks to the WHL's inane rules about disclosing injuries, you are free to speculate on the injury.
The Royals, however, will have F Steven Hodges in their lineup for the first time this weekend. A third-round pick by the Florida Panthers in the 2012 NHL draft, Hodges is coming off offseason leg surgery.
You are free to wonder how it is that we know that Hodges had leg surgery, while all we know about Hicketts is that he had upper-body surgery.
According to the Victoria Times Colonist:: "Hicketts, touted as a first- or second-round pick for the 2014 NHL draft, was injured last weekend in a game against the Kelowna Rockets. In 15 games this season, Hicketts has four goals and five assists and is a team-best plus-5."
The Royals are at home to the Red Deer Rebels on Friday and Saturday nights.

4. The QMJHL's Saint John Sea Dogs have named Ross Yates as their new head coach. Yates and head scout Christian Vermette will serve as co-general managers. They replace Mike Kelly, who was fired on Tuesday. . . . Yates has been an assistant coach with the Sea Dogs for two seasons. Before that, he was the head coach of the AHL's Syracuse Crunch for four seasons. . . . Vermette is in his fourth season as Saint John's head scout.

5. The NFL's public relations machine was hard at work in the Chicago area on Tuesday. Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, was there. So was Associated Press sports columnist Jim Litke. The result is right here.

6. The OHL handed out a couple of stiff sentences on Wednesday. both resulting from incidents in Oct. 25 games. . . . F Damian Bourne of the Mississauga IceDogs has drawn a 10-game suspension for a damaging headshot against the Oshawa Generals. If you haven't seen the video, it's right here. . . . F Cameron Brace of the Owen Sound Attack, meanwhile, drew eight games for a headshot in a game with the Plymouth Whalers.

7. To pay donors for organs, or not to pay? That is a question making the rounds these days, thanks to a study done by U of Calgary researchers. . . . Margaret Somerville, founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University in Montreal, ponders the subject right here.
As I sit here and watch, and help as much as I can, my wife, Dorothy, recover from a Sept. 23 kidney transplant, I ponder that question. And I keep coming back to a conversation we had with the transplant surgeon just three days before surgery.
In the months leading up to this, I had come across a story on the Internet that was from an American newspaper and included the names of donors and recipients who had been involved in a kidney exchange that included, if I recall correctly, six or eight people.
I asked the surgeon why, in Canada, the names of donors and recipients, especially the donors, are so closely guarded. His response: "We want people to do this for the right reason."
The more Dorothy and I have discussed the option of paying donors for organs, the more we come back to "the right reason."
And the more we talk about it the more we believe "the right reason" is the best option.

8. When the St. Louis Cardinals look back and wonder what went wrong in Game 6 of the World Series, they need only look at the second inning. Runners on first and second with no one out in a scoreless game and the next two hitters aren't able to advance the runners. Talk about wasted at-bats. The runners later moved over on a wild pitch but it was all for naught when Boston starter John Lackey notched another strikeout. . . . This is the Big Show. You simply can't waste your at-bats; you have to get the runners over. . . . In hindsight, the Cardinals lost any chance they had of taking control right there. . . . Thankfully, the World Series is over, which means no more beard jokes.

9. The Detroit Red Wings went into Vancouver and beat the Canucks 2-1 last night. Here's a tweet from Blake Price (@blakeprice1040): "Bottom 6 forwards of the Canucks all played under 10 minutes... I don't think you could find that another time in the NHL all season."

In Regina, G Dawson MacAuley stopped 36 shots as the Pats beat the Moose Jaw Warriors, 3-0, to end a three-game losing skid. . . . MacAuley's second career shutout, and second this season, came in his 23rd game. It was his 15th appearance this season. . . . The game was scoreless going into the third period when F Boston Leier scored twice. He's got 11 goals this season. . . . The Pats had D Tye Hand back after he sat out 10 games with concussion-like symptoms, which may or may not mean he had a brain injury. He did miss time late last season with a brain injury. . . . On this night, he was plus-2 and got into a fight. . . . The Warriors had F Jayden Halbgewachs, 16, in their lineup for the first time this season. A first-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, the Warriors acquired him from the Kamloops Blazers last season. He has 16 points in 10 games with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. . . .

In Saskatoon, the Medicine Hat Tigers scored the game's last three goals and beat the Blades, 4-3. . . . Tigers F Steve Owre broke a 3-3 tie at 10:20 of the second period. . . . Saskatoon F Nikita Scherback scored twice, running his point streak to nine games. He's got 16 points over that stretch. The Russian rookie has 11 goals. . . . The Tigers, who have won three straight, continue to play without F Hunter Shinkaruk (hip). . . . Medicine Hat F Blake Penner left in the third period with an injured right knee. He was injured after taking a hit from Saskatoon D David Nemecek. . . .

In Red Deer, the Kootenay Ice scored two third-period goals to force overtime and then got the only goal of the shootout to beat the Rebels, 4-3. . . . The Ice has won two in a row. . . . The Rebels head out on a western swing having lost five straight, all at home. . . . F Ryan Chynoweth's second goal with the Ice tied the game at 11:20 of the third period. . . . Ice F Sam Reinhart scored the only goal of the shootout. . . . F Jaeden Deschenau scored twice for the Ice, giving him 13. . . .

In Kamloops, the Blazers got two goals from F Aspen Sterzer as they beat the Spokane Chiefs, 5-4, and ended a four-game losing skein. . . . Sterzer broke a 4-4 tie with his eighth goal of the season at 10:21 of the third period. He went into the season with seven career goals in 104 regular-season games over three seasons. . . . Sterzer also had an assist, while F Cole Ully had a goal and two helpers. . . . Trailing 3-0 in the second period, the Chiefs changed goaltenders, with Eric Williams replacing Garret Hughson, and tied the game before the end of the period. . . . F Mitch Holmberg, who leads the WHL with 18 goals, tied the game at 19:59 of the second. . . .

In Prince George, D Dalton Thrower scored at 3:13 of OT to give the Vancouver Giants a 3-2 victory over the Cougars. . . . The Giants had won 6-5 in Prince George on Tuesday night. . . . Cougars F David Soltes scored with 24.1 seconds left in the third period to force OT. . . . All three Vancouver goals were unassisted. . . . Cougars F Chase Witala had his goal-scoring streak stopped at six games. He did pick up an assist on Soltes' goal. . . . Five of the Cougars' six home games have gone into OT. The Cougars are 1-1-1-2 in those five games, meaning they have an OTW, an OTL, a shootout win and two shootout losses. . . .

In Portland, the Winterhawks got two quick first-period shorthanded goals and went on to beat the Brandon Wheat Kings, 5-2, as they ran their winning streak to nine. . . . Portland F Taylor Leier scored a PP goal 52 seconds into the first period, the third straight game in which the Winterhawks have scored in the game's opening minute. . . . F Chase De Leo and F Nic Petan struck for shorthanded goals just 53 seconds apart to give the home side a 3-0 lead late in the first period. . . . The Winterhawks moved back into first place in the Western Conference and now lead the U.S. Division and the WHL's overall standings by a point over the Seattle Thunderbirds. Those two teams will meet Friday in Kent, Wash. . . . The Wheat Kings have lost four straight in the U.S. Division. . . . Brandon played without D Rene Hunter, who suffered an undisclosed injury in Kent on Tuesday. . . . Brandon F Jayce Hawryluk sat out in a coach's decision.

From Boston Police Dept. (@boston police), at 10 p.m. ET: "Anyone who is not in a bar and does not have a ticket to the game must leave the permitter (sic) area around #Fenway."

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