Thursday, May 8, 2014

Former WHL D retires; Tigers promote Kruger

G Daniel Spence (Calgary, 2004-09) has signed a one-year contract with Asplöven Haparanda (Sweden, Allsvenskan). This season, with Jokipojat Joensuu (Finland, Mestis), Spence was 2.28 and .922 in 38 games. . . .
Brandon F Jesse Gabrielle was drafted by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia) in the fourth round, 156th overall, of Thursday’s KHL Junior Draft.

1. If it really does get darkest just before the dawn, it may be a while before the sun rises over the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . In the latest chapter to the saga of the Hurricanes, Clear Sky Radio has announced that it won’t bid on the team’s broadcast rights when its contract expires May 31. . . . 94.1 CJOC has been home to Hurricanes’ broadcasts since 2007. . . . There is more on all of this on Pat Siedlecki’s blog right here. He had been the Hurricanes’ radio voice; now he has been named Clear Sky Radio’s corporate news director.

NHL2. An observer sits and watches goings-on in the NHL where Brad Treliving now is the general manager of the Calgary Flames and Ron Hextall is the GM with the Philadelphia Flyers, and where the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals have vacancies for that position. Some organizations -- Vancouver, the Colorado Avalanche, Philadelphia and Toronto Maple Leafs, for starters -- have created a new layer of management by hiring a president to fill a slot on the organizational tree that is a step above the general manager. . . . An observer wonders why NHL teams don’t look into the WHL when looking to fill some of these vacancies. Who is more qualified to be the president or GM of an NHL franchise than someone who has run every aspect of a major junior franchise and been successful doing it, someone like Kelly McCrimmon of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Tim Speltz of the Spokane Chiefs or Bob Tory of the Tri-City Americans, just to name three?
The Canucks put former captain Trevor Linden into the president’s office, even though he had never worked in an NHL team’s front office and had been away from the game for six years. If you are going to give the keys to the Bentley to someone like that, it says here that you could do a lot worse than turn to someone like McCrimmon, who has all the hockey qualifications and an MBA.

3. D Dean Arsene has chosen to retire, ending his 13-season professional career. Arsene played this season with the AHL’s Abbotsford Heat. Troy Ward, the Heat’s head coach, said: “Whether you want to say he was a crusher or a rusher, he wasn't either one. He made it just on hard work, and just being a really good man. That was the part that was most encouraging – you can still do something you really love just by being a really good human being. That's pretty cool." . . . Arsene (Regina, Edmonton, Kootenay, 1996-2001) always carried himself like a professional, even in the early days of his WHL career with the Pats. . . . Dan Kinvig has more on Arsene right here.

4. It’s doubtful that there is a better analyst on TV today than Hubie Brown, who does NBA telecasts for ABC/ESPN.

5. At 14 years of age, James Priestner was seen as perhaps the best goaltender in Canada in his age group. He played in the WHL (Kamloops, Brandon, Prince George, 2006-11) but the hockey career didn’t work out. Now he’s into music as the lead vocalist with a group called The Lunas. . . . Check it out right here.

6. Who is having a better playoff season, F Lars Eller of the Montreal Canadiens or his brother, Mads, with the Edmonton Oil Kings? Perhaps one day the story will be told about how Mads came this close () to being the property of the WHL’s Victoria Royals.

7. F Matt Fraser (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2006-11), playing in his first NHL playoff game, scores in OT and the Boston Bruins beat the host Montreal Canadiens, 1-0. It is moments like that prove live sporting events are the best of reality TV. . . . As Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post tweeted: “Ha Ha Clinton-Dix gets drafted before Johnny Football. And you say you don't love sports?”

8. A tweet from WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “17 - The number of goals Matt Fraser scored during the 2011 Playoffs... Including the Game Winner in the WHL Championship clinching Game 5.”

The Saskatoon Blades have acquired G Trevor Martin, 18, from the Spokane Chiefs for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. Martin, a ninth-round pick by Spokane in 2011, played this season for the midget AAA Leduc Oil Kings, going 9-4-1, 2.41, .925. . . . Earlier, the Blades dealt G Alex Moodie, 19, to the Chiefs for a fourth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft.
F Leon Draisaitl of the Prince Albert Raiders will play for his native Germany in the IIHF World championship tournament that opens today in Minsk, Belarus. Draisaitl, from Cologne, had 105 points, including 38 goals, with the Raiders this season. He is expected to be on of the first players selected in the NHL’s 2014 draft. . . . Playing for Germany will be quite a thrill for Draisaitl because his father, Peter, played 49 games for Germany over seven World championships. . . . Germany opens against Kazakhstan on Saturday. Also in that group are Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Switzerland and the U.S.
Friday: North Bay Battalion at Guelph Storm. Guelph leads 3-1.
Friday: Val-d’Or Foreurs at Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Series tied 2-2.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have promoted assistant coach Darren Kruger to senior director, player development. According to a news release from the Tigers, Kruger “will be responsible for advance scouting WHL teams along with overseeing the development of Tigers’ prospects playing at various levels in western Canada and the northwest United States.” . . . The position has been vacant for about two years, or since Rick Carriere left to join the Edmonton Oilers organization. . . . Kruger, a puck-moving defenceman in his playing days (Swift Current, 1986-89), has been with the Tigers for nine years.
Two WHL coaches will be involved with Canadian teams at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge that is scheduled for Oct. 31 to Nov. 8 at a site that has yet to be determined. Hockey Canada will have three teams in the tournament (Black, Red and White), rather than the five regional teams as in past seasons. . . . Dan Lambert, an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets, will be one of the head coaches, while Josh Dixon, an assistant coach with the Regina Pats, will be an assistant coach with one of the Canadian teams.
AHLThe NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets have picked up the option year on the contract of Brad Larsen, the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons. . . . Larsen (Swift Current, 1993-97) has been the head coach in Springfield for two seasons, after spending two seasons as an assistant coach. . . . Assistant coaches Nolan Pratt (Portland, 1991-95) and Jared Bednar (Saskatoon, Spokane, Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, 1990-93) also will be back with the Falcons.
The Calgary-based Mount Royal Cougars have named Bert Gilling as their new head coach. Gilling, a native of Alexander, Man., has been an assistant coach with the Bemidji State Beavers for 11 seasons. . . . Gilling takes over from Jean LaForest, who stepped down after six seasons as head coach, the first four in the ACAC and the last two in Canada West. . . . The Cougars also have announced that F Rob Trzonkowski (Calgary, Kamloops, Vancouver, 2010-14) has committed to their program. Trzonkowski, 20, is coming off two injury-ravaged WHL seasons. This season, he had four points, three of them goals, in 36 games with the Giants.
BCHLTom Spencer, the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League’s coach of the year with the Valley West Hawks, is stepping up to the BCHL. Spencer has signed on as an assistant coach with the Surrey Eagles, where he will work alongside GM/head coach Peter Schaefer. Spencer spent three seasons as the Hawks’ head coach.
AJHLGord Thibodeau, fired last month as GM/head coach of the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, has landed with that league’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Thibodeau will be part of a coaching staff that is headed up by GM/head coach Garry VanHereweghe. . . . Thibodeau was the head coach in Lloydminster for three seasons (1997-2000) before he went to Fort McMurray. . . . Thibodeau signed a multi-year contract that is effective immediately.

THE FOURTH ROUND (best-of-seven; all times local):
WHL final, for the Ed Chynoweth Cup
(x - if necessary)
(All games televised live by Shaw)
(All games televised on delayed basis by Root Sports)
PORTLAND (2, West) vs. Edmonton (1, East)
(Series tied, 2-2)
Season series: Portland, 0-0-1; Edmonton, 1-0-0.
Saturday: Edmonton 2 at Portland 5 (10,947)
Sunday: Edmonton 1 at Portland 3 (10,645)
Tuesday: Portland 2 at Edmonton 3 (6,799)
Wednesday: Portland 0 at Edmonton 2 (7,859)
Friday: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (Moda Center)
Sunday: Portland at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
x-Monday: Edmonton at Portland, 7 p.m. (Memorial Coliseum)
Portland: None.
Edmonton: None.
No game scheduled.

From Paul Kingsmith (@paulkingsmith): “Pat Siedlecki (@radiopat258) will not return as @WHLHurricanes play-by-play voice. A crushing blow for Canes fans, Pat is a true pro.”
One more from Kingsmith: “@radiopat258 & @FreddieJack643 raised the bar for local broadcast adding a full pregame & weekly show. Huge shoes for Hurricanes to fill.”
From WHL Facts (@WHLFacts): “27 - Number of times the @pdxwinterhawks shut out opponents between Dec 18, 2011 & May 6, 2014. PORT scoring at least 1 goal in all 247 games.”
From Thomas Hickey (@thomas_hickey14): “Could you imagine if guys did the cool handshake/hug combo with Bettman after they got drafted? #NFLDraft2014”

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