Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lukowich files wrongful dismissal suit; City Council grills Lethbridge president, WHL commish

G Justin Pogge (Prince George, Calgary, 2003-06) has signed a two-year contract with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL). This season with Karlskoga (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he was 2.16 and .921 in 51 games. . . .
D Tomáš Slovák (Kelowna, 2001-03) has signed a two-year contract with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga). This season with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 13 points, including four goals, in 47 games.
Brad Lukowich, a former assistant coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, is suing the WHL team, claiming wrongful dismissal.
On Monday afternoon, Paul Kingsmith (@paulkingsmith) of Global-TV in Lethbridge tweeted: “Documents obtained by Global show Hurricanes sued by former assistant coach Brad Lukowich for wrongful dismissal.”
Neither the Hurricanes nor Lukowich would comment, according to Kingsmith.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the lawsuit is this, which came in another tweet from Kingsmith: “In the suit, Lukowich alleges he raised concerns ‘regarding non-compliance by certain Hurricanes coaches with policies mandated by the WHL.’ ”
Later in the day, Kingsmith and Bradley Jones posted a story that is right here.
Lukowich began this season as an assistant coach under Lethbridge head coach Drake Berehowsky. When Lukowich wasn’t at practices in early February, the team claimed that he was ill. On Feb. 8, general manager Brad Robson announced that Lukowich had been “terminated for cause."
Robson told the Lethbridge Herald at the time:
"It’s been going on for a couple of weeks, of course you know Brad left the team last week and I’ve been dealing with it, speaking with him and we’ve decided this is the course of action. For Brad’s future and for the Hurricanes’ future.
“Brad’s goal is still to be a coach, to eventually become a head coach and he’ll continue to work toward that, just not with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.”
Brian McNaughton, the president of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, and WHL commissioner Ron Robison appeared in front of Lethbridge city council on Monday night.
Here are some highlights, as tweeted by Pat Siedlecki, the radio voice of the Hurricanes on 94.1 CJOC (BTW, it’s worth noting that the Hurricanes no longer have a broadcast contract; it expired with the end of this season):
“Robison says WHL is fully committed to Lethbridge market and the league will NOT be leaving the Lethbridge area.”
“Robison says WHL has had straight forward talks with Pres. Brian McNaughton & Governor Herman Elfring.”
“Robison says the WHL has agreed to approve the Lethbridge Hurricanes current business plan going forward.”
“Robison states the status quo is not acceptable for the Hurricanes going forward and club must adhere to new guidelines.”
“McNaughton says moving forward the team must do two things: (1) Be competitive and (2) Be profitable.”
“McNaughton says: ‘We expect to make the playoffs, but not deviate from the plan to build from within.’ ”
“McNaughton says team will be filling Assistant Coach & Assistant GM positions.”
“Commissioner Ron Robison says Lethbridge is one of the best markets in the WHL. He states team needs stronger leadership.”
“McNaughton tells Councillor Coffman the Hurricanes currently have around 2200 shareholders.”
“McNaughton tells Councillor Mauro team will be better next season by making younger players better and bringing in older players to help.”
“Robison says people need to be patient, although patience is getting thin in Lethbridge. He says there is no quick fix.”
“McNaughton says the number one thing the Hurricanes need to focus on is selling tickets.”
“Robison says he believes no team has an economic advantage over another in the WHL. Says the difference is management.”
Siedlecki has posted some audio from the City Council meeting right here. The second link is a question-and-answer session and is worth a listen. (At one point, about 30 minutes in, Robison says that the Portland Winterhawks are "arguably a model franchise within our league."
Paul Kingsmith of Global-TV also was paying attention to the goings-on at the council meeting. Among his tweets was this one:
“ 'Canes President McNaughton says team is resetting its objectives with league guidance after previous 5 year plan failed.”
Later in the evening, Kingsmith posted a story and it is right here.

1. F Tim Bozon of the Kootenay Ice is making good progress as he recovers from his battle with Neisseria meningitis. On Monday, Bozon (@timbozon94) tweeted: “Two months today since I got really sick .. Made lots improvement #RoadtoRecovery #good.” . . . Bozon is going through the rehabilitation process in Capbreton, France.

2. The Portland Winterhawks will be without F Brendan Leipsic for Game 1 of the WHL’s championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. Leipsic has been suspended for one game for a spearing major and game misconduct that he incurred late in the fifth and final game of the Western Conference final on Friday in Kelowna. He was penalized after getting involved with Kelowna Rockets F Tyrell Goulbourne. . . . Leipsic is a repeat offender, having already served three- and seven-game suspensions this season. The fact the WHL chose to give him only one game for this latest incident would seem to indicate that it didn’t deem this one as being very serious.

3. The Coaches Conference has announced three guest speakers for its 2014 weekend. Former Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz, Ryan Huska, the head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, and strength-and-conditioning guru Matt Nichol all will be involved in this year’s conference, which is scheduled for July 18 and 19 at the U of British Columbia. . . . For more info, visit the conference’s website at thecoachessite.com or click on the ad at the top of this page.

4. The QMJHL’s Val-d’Or Foreurs and Halifax Mooseheads are going to a Game 7. The Foreurs beat the visiting Mooseheads 7-5 on Monday night, meaning the third-round series is 3-3. It will be decided tonight in Halifax. . . . The other semifinal, between the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada and Baie-Comeau Drakkar, also has gone to a Game 7. It will be played tonight in Baie-Comeau.

5. Dear Sportsnet: My brain turns to hazelnut mush whenever that Hazel promo appears. Once an hour is enough. Thank you.

6. G Eetu Laurikainen, who played the last two seasons with the Swift Current Broncos, has signed with the Espoo Blues (Finland, SM-liiga). Laurikainen played out his junior eligibility this season with the Broncos, going 25-20-6, 2.90, .914. He is from Jyvaskyla, Finland.

7. The ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash., which is home to the Seattle Thunderbirds, didn’t lose as much money in the first quarter of 2014 as officials had projected. That was thanks, at least in part, to the Thunderbirds getting three home playoff games. . . . Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter has more right here.

8. The Austrian Ice Hockey Association won’t be resigning Emanuel Viveiros, the head coach of its national men’s team. The announcement came two days after Austria wound up second in the IIHF Division 1 Group A world championship, earning promotion to the top division. . . . Viveiros is a former WHL defenceman (Prince Albert, 1983-88) who has a son, Layne, on the Portland Winterhawks’ roster. . . . There is more on that story right here.

THE FOURTH ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup
(x - if necessary)
(all games televised by Shaw)
PORTLAND (2, West) vs. Edmonton (1, East)
Season series: Portland, 0-0-1; Edmonton, 1-0-0.
Saturday: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (Moda Center)
Sunday: Edmonton at Portland, 5 p.m. (Moda Center)
Tuesday, May 6: Portland at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, May 7: Portland at Edmonton, 7 p.m.
x-Friday, May 9: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (TBA)
x-Sunday, May 11: Portland at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
x-Monday, May 12: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (TBA)
Portland: None.
Edmonton: None.
No game scheduled.

From Tyson Dallman (@dolly_lama83): “Why don't Portland and Edmonton just have a seven game series in September and save everyone a whole bunch of time? #WHL”

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