D Jonathan Harty (Everett, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract with Björklöven Umeå (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Last season, with Mora (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he had nine points, including three goals, in 46 games.
After writing a bit about hockey and mental illness in this space yesterday, I heard from a mother.
It was heart-wrenching. It’s one thing to deal with mental illness in a parent; I can’t imaging what it must be like when one of your children is affected.
This mother has a teenage son who is a hockey player and who “suffers from depression and anxiety.“
“He has always had anxiety disorder and this year it crept into the dark side of depression,” she wrote. “The sad truth is no one wants to talk about it. When I spoke to his coaches about it and what was happening, it almost seemed as though they thought he was just mentally weak. I feel like coaches/teachers and such need to learn more and realize this is an illness, not a sign of weakness.
“It makes me mad,” she continued. “If you were diagnosed with cancer your employer . . . would rally around you.”
Yes, mental illness is just that . . . an illness, and the sooner people realize it is, the better off we all will be. Unfortunately, when it comes to mental illness, there are employers in the hockey world who prefer to look the other way.
When we are ill, we take medication. I have had open-heart surgery and take medication. My wife has had a kidney transplant and takes medication. When someone has a mental illness, of course there is medication involved.
“Our son is on medication right now and is doing so much better,” the mother wrote, adding that there are times when he wants to go off his meds.
“We just say to him when he wants to stop taking meds that a diabetic doesn't stop his insulin when he is feeling good,” she wrote. “I take meds and am not afraid to admit they help me.”
A couple of other notes . . .
Her husband is involved in hockey and she noted that because of his experience at home he “is very aware of little changes in his own players now and is not afraid to ask questions and investigate when he thinks something is a little off.”
This family has a history in hockey, something she said led to her son facing “unreal” expectations.
Unfortunately, I’m guessing that there are a lot of stories out there that are just like this one, and the thought that there are people out there who may not get the help they need is terrifying.
Dan Lambert is the new head coach of the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets. His promotion from assistant coach was announced Monday afternoon, about three hours after the NHL’s Calgary Flames announced that they had signed Rockets head coach Ryan Huska as the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Adirondack Flames.
In time, observers will recognize Huska as one of the best coaches in WHL history.
With 295 regular-season victories, he is the winningest coach in franchise history. Only once, in 2011-12, did one of his teams not finish above .500; that team went 31-31-10. The Rockets followed that up with 52- and 57-victory seasons, both of which were franchise records.
Huska was never one to promote himself, so he hadn’t pursued other positions. In the end, the Flames came calling. He was in Calgary on Thursday and a contract offer arrive on Friday.
"I felt really good about the meetings I had and told my wife, Denise, when I got home that I hoped things would work out," Huska told the Kelowna Capital News. "What they stand for just feels right. . . . It's a great opportunity that I'm looking forward to."
No one has won more Memorial Cup championships than Huska, who won three with the Kamloops Blazers (1992, 1994, 1995) and one (2004) as an assistant coach with the Rockets.
A native of Cranbrook, Huska, who turns 39 on July 2, understands how important it is to surround yourself with good people.
"If you don't have good people who aren't passionate about what they do, then you don't get to have individual success," Huska told the Capital News. "Reflecting back, we're proud of the records we've had and the banners we've had, but I'm going to be remembering the team, and all the people that allowed us to get to that point, and allowed me the opportunity to move on. That's what's really special about this organization."
The Flames’ AHL affiliate, which is relocating from Abbotsford, B.C., where it was the Heat, will play out of Glens Falls, N.Y. Huska will replace Troy Ward, whose contract wasn’t renewed.
The 44-year-old Lambert, meanwhile, is a former all-star defenceman with the Swift Current Broncos, who had been an assistant coach with the Rockets for five seasons. He won a Memorial Cup with the 1989 Broncos.
"We spent a lot of time together over the last five years,” Lambert told the Capital News, “and it is sad to see him go but there's no doubt Ryan was ready to move on.
“Him being successful has allowed me to grow as a young coach and now to get this opportunity, I'm very grateful to the Hamilton family and that they trust in me that I can follow in Ryan's footsteps."
1. That’s quite the Medicine Hat Mafia that the Vancouver Canucks are putting together. . . . Willie Desjardins, signed to a four-year deal as head coach, is, of course, a former Tigers GM and head coach. Canucks president Trevor Linden played for the Tigers and is from Medicine Hat. . . . It’s also expected that Doug Lidster, an assistant coach under Desjardins with the AHL’s Texas Stars, will be on the Vancouver coaching staff. Lidster, a native of Kamloops, is a former Tigers coach. He was on Desjardins’ staff with the Tigers in 2002-03; that was Desjardins’ first season as head coach. Lidster also is a former Canucks captain; in fact, Linden followed Lidster in that role.
2. With Vancouver, the Nashville Predators (Peter Laviolette), Washington Capitals (Barry Trotz), Florida Panthers (Gerard Gallant) and Carolina Hurricanes (Bill Peters) having signed head coaches, all eyes turn to the Pittsburgh Penguins. They lost out on Peters and Desjardins, and now GM Jimmy Rutherford will be going back on the interview circuit. It’s believed that one person he wants to chat with is Mike Johnston, the GM and head coach of the Portland Winterhawks. . . . Darren Dreger of TSN tweeted Monday evening that Johnston “is considered a strong candidate.”
3. Steve Smith has left the Edmonton Oilers after four seasons as an assistant coach. He has signed on as an assistant with the Carolina Hurricanes. That will lead to speculation involving Derek Laxdal, the head coach of the Memorial Cup-champion Edmonton Oil Kings. . . . Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins wanted Smith to move from behind the bench to the press box as an eye in the sky during games. Smith chose to leave for Carolina. . . . You wonder if Laxdal would want to make such a move if it means being the eye in the sky and being that far from the game action.
4. Of course, the Oilers own the Oil Kings. So if Laxdal were to end up on Eakins’ staff, one has to surmise that Oil Kings assistant coach Steve Hamilton, who is highly thought of, would be promoted to head coach.
5. The AHL’s Texas Stars now need a head coach, with Desjardins having moved to the Canucks. Perhaps Laxdal ends up there. . . . Don’t you just love the coaching game of musical chairs?
6. Elliotte Friedman, who is leaving Hockey Night in Canada (RIP) for Sportsnet and its NHL coverage team, has filed his latest 30 Thoughts and it’s right here. Among the news: The Vancouver Canucks, in pursuit of the No. 1 selection in this weekend’s NHL draft, may have offered Medicine Hat Tigers F Hunter Shinkaruk to the Florida Panthers.
7. The Vancouver Giants are the lone WHL team without a head coach. I’m thinking the best candidate is Jim Hiller, who has had success as a WHL head coach with the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?) and Tri-City Americans. . . . Of course, perhaps he is shopping for a pro job, and maybe that’s holding things up in Vancouver.
8. "Back when we were young, we thought it (smokeless tobacco) was a safe alternative to smoking,” San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy told Richard Justice of MLB.com. "We didn't realize how dangerous it was. It's one of the hardest habits to break."
THE COACHING GAME:
If you are a coach with junior/high performance experience, you may be interested in stepping behind the bench with the major midget Okanagan Rockets, who are based in Kelowna. . . . Mack O’Rourke, who led the Rockets to a league championship, a Pacific Regional title and a third-place finish at the TELUS Cup, is leaving for a job in the oil and gas field. . . . That means that GM David Michaud is searching for a successor. . . . “Our program,” Michaud tells me, “has pushed itself to the point where we need a high-level coach.”
The BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks have added Misko Antisin to their coaching staff as an assistant under head coach Brandon West. Antisin (Victoria Cougars, 1983-85) had a lengthy playing career in Europe before getting into coaching. From Vancouver, Antisin has coached in the BCHL, as an assistant coach with the Westside Warriors, and also in the B.C. Major Midget League, as well as in Switzerland.
The NHL’s Anaheim Ducks have signed Trent Yawney as an assistant coach. Yawney had been the head coach of their AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals. . . . In Anaheim, Yawney will work under head coach Bruce Boudreau and alongside assistants Brad Lauer and Scott Niedermayer, and video co-ordinator Joe Piscotty. . . . Yawney (Saskatoon, 1982-85) is no stranger to the Ducks, having been an associate coach with their AHL team when it was in Syracuse. He also has scouted for the Ducks. . . . Jim Hodges, in the Hampton Roads Virginian-Pilot, reported last night that Admirals assistant coach Jarrod Skaldi is expected to move up as Norfolk’s head coach.
According to a Monday morning tweet from News1130 Sports, the Vancouver Giants “won't name Don Hay's replacement as head coach till after the NHL draft.” . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes and Rock 106, which is owned by Rogers Media, have signed a three-year contract involving broadcast rights. They haven’t haven’t yet named a play-by-play voice. The Hurricanes had been heard on 94.1 CJOC for the past seven seasons. . . .
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Sahvan Khaira, who was selected in the ninth round of the WHL’s 2013 bantam draft. Last season, with the Penticton, B.C.-based Okanagan Hockey Academy midget prep team, the 6-foot-1, 210-pounder had 22 points, two of them goals, in 28 games. A native of Cloverdale, B.C., he is the younger brother of F Jujhar Khaira, who played last season with the Everett Silvertips after being a third-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2012 draft. . . . The Vancouver Giants have signed F James Malm, a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft, to a WHL contract. Malm, from Langley, B.C., had 144 points, including 70 goals, in 56 games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s Bantam A1 Tier 1 team. . . . The Saskatoon Blades have signed D Schael Higson, a Grande Prairie, Alta., native they listed after he wasn’t selected in the 2013 bantam draft. Higson attended the Blades’ camp prior to last season, then spent the season with the midget AAA Grande Prairie Storm, putting up 20 points, including eight goals, in 33 games.
Thank you to the @HockeyHallFame @DallasStars @DetroitRedWings @PARaidersHockey what a humbling honor. Words don't do it justice.
— Mike Modano (@9modano) June 23, 2014
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