Monday, June 2, 2014

Blades introduce their man; Royals haven't spoken with Richardson

D T.J. Fast (Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2), he had 34 points, including nine goals, in 49 games. In the relegation round, he added 19 points, eight of them goals, in 17 games. . . .
F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a two-year extension with Frölunda Gothenburg (Sweden, SEL). Last season, he had 23 points, including nine goals, in 43 games.
Bob Woods, the Saskatoon Blades' new
GM/head coach, addresses the media
at a Monday news conference.

(Photo: Saskatoon Blades)
The Saskatoon Blades, as expected, introduced Bob Woods as their new general manager and head coach on Monday.
Woods, who had spent the last two-plus seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, replaces Lorne Molleken and David Struch with the Blades. Molleken, the team’s long-time GM/head coach, was released by the team’s new owners, Mike and Colin Priestner, after last season. Struch, a former Blades player and long-time assistant coach under Molleken, got the heave-ho after one season as head coach.
Woods got a five-year contract from the Blades.
Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix attended the news conference and, at one point, tweeted that under the terms of the contract Woods “is open to pursue NHL jobs. Terms not disclosed, but he'll one of the WHL's highest-paid people.”
Nugent-Bowman’s story is right here.
With Bob Woods having signed on as the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, only two of the WHL’s 22 teams are without head coaches.
The Calgary Hitmen, who fired Mike Williamson following the season, and the Vancouver Giants, who allowed Don Hay out of the final year of his contract so that he could take over the coaching duties with his hometown Kamloops Blazers, both are in the market.
Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal has reported that the Hitmen are “very interested” in Edmonton Oil Kings assistant coach Steve Hamilton.
It’s unlikely that Hamilton will make a move until the immediate future of Oil Kings head coach Derek Laxdal is confirmed one way or the other. There have been hints that perhaps the parent Oilers might add him to their staff, perhaps as an associate coach under head coach Dallas Eakins. Should that happen, Hamilton would be in line to be the Oil Kings’ head coach.
However, should the Oilers leave Laxdal in place as the Oil Kings’ head coach, perhaps Hamilton would consider a move to another WHL team as its head coach.

1. F Evan Richardson, a sophomore forward at Boston College, won’t be returning to the Eagles. Richardson, 20, had two goals in four games last season as freshman. From Nanaimo, B.C., Richardson was selected 15th overall by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2009 WHL bantam draft. . . . On Sept. 5, 2012, the Broncos dealt his rights to the Victoria Royals for 1995-born F Justin Spagrud and a conditional second-round bantam draft pick. . . . As of late Monday night, Royals general manager Cam Hope hadn’t spoken with Richardson, who is believed to be thinking about playing junior A or transferring to another school. . . . Of course, he would be welcome to join the Royals and, as Hope told me, “fight for an overage spot with us . . . he’s a skilled player.” . . . The Royals have five 20-year-olds on their roster in D Travis Brown, F Austin Carroll, F Steven Hodges, F Brandon Magee and G Patrik Polivka. However, Hodges has signed with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, while Magee and Polivka have signed with teams in Europe.

2. The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F James Hamblin, the 17th overall selection in the 2014 WHL bantam draft. Hamblin, from Edmonton, spent the past two seasons with the bantam AAA Edmonton-South Side Athletic Club Lions. Last season, he had 62 points, including 32 goals, in 31 games. . . . Hamblin was one of 21 prospects who attended the Tigers’ weekend orientation camp.

3. The Prince Albert Raiders have traded F Chance Braid, who turns 20 in September, and F Lance Yaremchuk, 18, to the Prince George Cougars for F Jordan Tkatch, 19, and a sixth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Braid, from Chauvin, Alta., has 57 points in 201 regular-season games, all with Prince Albert. . . . Yaremchuk had a goal and two assists in 15 games with the Raiders last season. He also had 31 points, 15 of them goals, in 20 games with the midget AAA Prince Albert Mintos, who went on to win the Telus Cup. Yaremchuk was a sixth-round selection by the Raiders in the 2011 bantam draft. . . .  Tkatch, a second-round pick by the Cougars in the 2010 bantam draft, put up 82 points, 33 of them goals, in 196 regular-season games. He is from Prud’Homme, which is located 110 km south of Prince Albert, where he played for the midget AAA Mintos. Last season, he had 46 points, including 16 goals, in 72 games.

4. The deal between Prince Albert and Prince George leaves the Raiders with six potential 20-year-olds on their roster -- F Calder Brooks, F Dakota Conroy, F Shane Danyluk, F Jayden Hart, D Sawyer Lange and F Carson Perreaux. . . . In Prince George, Braid joins G Adam Beukeboom, F Troy Bourke, F Jari Erricson, F Zach Pochiro, F Brett Roulston, D Joshua Smith and D Wil Tomchuk as potential 20-year-olds on the Cougars’ roster. Bourke has signed an NHL deal with the Colorado Avalanche so isn’t likely to return.

5. When a team loses, it isn’t often that fans give the other team credit. When that happens in Game 7 of a championship series, it rarely happens. More often, the officials get the blame, it seems. So I must say I was quite pleased to get the following via email from a Portland Winterhawks’ fan:
“Has there ever been a more resilient and tough-minded WHL team than this year's Oil Kings - They took multiple ‘George Foreman in his prime haymakers’ from the Hawks . . . Storm . . . and Val-d'Or:
- Fall behind the Hawks 2-0 in games / getting shaky goaltending from (Tristan) Jarry;
- Fall behind the Hawks 2-0 three minutes into Game 3;
- Blow two three-goal leads at HOME ... lose Game 6 in epic failure fashion;
- Get beaten soundly by Guelph in the round-robin;
- Multiple OT's against Val-d’Or;
- Fall behind 1-0 . . . a minute into the championship game.
Unbelievable guts and courage shown by Edmonton.”

NHL6. F Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs is NHL Central Scouting’s top-ranked North American skater going into this month’s draft. But at the combine last weekend in Mississauga, Ont., Bennett wasn’t able to do even one pull-up. . . . Yes, that raised some eyebrows. But, as Neate Sager of Yahoo! Canada Sports writes right here: Who cares? . . . It all reminds me of an anecdote involving F Bill Derlago, one of the great scorers in WHL history, who was selected by the Vancouver Canucks with the fourth overall pick of the NHL’s 1978 draft. When players showed up for training camp, the Canucks’ braintrust put them through some dryland stuff that included sprints. Jake Milford, who had a long history with the Wheat Kings, was the Canucks’ general manager at the time. He called Brandon head coach Dunc McCallum and admitted that he was concerned because Derlago didn’t run very well. McCallum asked Milford: “Are you putting together a track team or a hockey team?”

7. D Kyle Sheen (Kootenay, Kamloops, 1999-2004) will be bringing home at least one
souvenir from the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship that opened Sunday in Pardubice, Czech Republic. . . . Sheen’s first goal in an IIHF competition gave Canada a 1-0 lead less than a minute into Monday’s game against Finland. However, the Finns came back for a 5-3 victory. . . . Canada, bronze medalists a year ago, had opened with a 3-1 victory over Germany on Saturday. . . . Canada (1-1) will meet Sweden on Tuesday. . . . Interestingly, F Ales Hemsky of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators has joined the Czech team. His father, Petr, is the head coach of the Czech side.

8. Hockey Canada has revealed that registration for the 2013-14 season was down 5,600 from the previous season. The number of boys played hockey in Canada decreased for a third straight season. . . . Meanwhile, the number of new players involved in soccer went up by 20,000. . . . Alan Maki of The Globe and Mail delves into why that is happening right here.

9. D Andrew Alberts’ hockey career may be over, but he’s not even thinking about that. All he wants right now is to experience one day without a headache. Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun has the story right here on what he calls “the NHL’s shame.”

10. Retired NFL star Dan Marino is part of a lawsuit filed against the NFL on May 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Yes, it has to do with concussions. As Massachusetts-based attorney Michael McCann, who writes on legal matters for Sports Illustrated, notes right here, these lawsuits aren’t going away any time soon.
BCHLBrandon West has been promoted to head coach of the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. He had been the associate coach under GM/head coach Troy Mick. . . . Mick now is the franchise’s governor, president and general manager. According to the BCHL constitution, a team’s head coach isn’t allowed to serve as governor. . . . Mick and West, who has been with Salmon Arm for three seasons, have worked together through the past two seasons.
AJHLTom Keca won’t be back as the assistant GM/assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Curtis Hunt, the team’s new GM and head coach, made that revelation on Monday. Keca had been with the Oil Barons for nine seasons. . . . Hunt also said that Ryan Allen, the club’s other assistant coach, will be back. . . . Robert Murray of Fort McMurray Today has more right here.

From the Vancouver Giants (@WHLGiants): “Be a part of our 2014/15 Dance Team! Auditions will take place on June 14 at the Coliseum.”
From Giants F Joel Hamilton (@Jhamilton181): “@WHLGiants I'm out of town until about mid august... Can I audition then? #jk”
The Giants response: “We’ll hold a spot for you!”

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