Friday, June 20, 2014

Hockey and smokeless tobacco. . . . Desjardins to Canucks?

D Cody Carlson (Medicine Hat, Regina, Prince George, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with Peiting (Germany, Oberliga). Last season, with Strasbourg (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 18 points, including four goals, in 22 games. . . .
F Jakub Langhammer (Spokane, 2002-04) has signed a one-year contract with Eispiraten Crimmitschau (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had six points, four of them goals, in 33 games. On loan to Slavia Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had five points, including four goals, in 10 games.

Tony Gwynn, one of the best hitters in Major League Baseball History, died this week at the age of 54.
He had fought a long battle with cancer, something he blamed on a smokeless tobacco habit.
Of course, chewing tobacco -- or using smokeless tobacco or snus -- has long been popular in baseball circles, although in recent years there has been a serious movement away from it.
However, because it has over the years been so associated with baseball, you might not see it as a hockey problem.
Well, you’d be wrong.
Randy Turner of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote a story in December that should be mandatory reading for all parents of junior hockey players or aspiring junior hockey players. (Turner’s story, headlined Hockey’s Disgusting Little Habit, is right here.)
In that story, Turner reported that half the players in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League were regular users. So were 40 per cent of the U of Manitoba Bisons and 40 per cent of the Transcona Railer Express of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League.
This is rather startling when one considers the damage that can be done by this habit. If you don’t believe it, just go to Google and find a story or two about Tony Gwynn, a terrific baseball player, and an even better human being, who is gone far too soon.
Yes, there are users in the WHL, too. I don’t know what the percentage is, but if it’s 50 per cent in the MJHL, it would seem to be a safe bet that it’s in double figures in the WHL.
The WHL came out against all tobacco products a few years ago, and its rule against such products is posted in all dressing rooms. It reads:
“The WHL does not permit the use of tobacco products (including chewing tobacco) at any WHL events. This includes all practices, game situations and travel to and from games.”
Adam Proteau of The Hockey News also has written about hockey and its smokeless tobacco problem. That column is right here.
The game of musical chairs NHL style took another turn on Friday with the news that Willie Desjardins turned down an offer to become head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Matthew Sekeres of Vancouver radio station Team 1040 AM tweeted Friday afternoon: "Was just told Desjardins spurned #Pens b/c offer was for 2 years only, no authority to hire own assts. Now expected to be hired by #Canucks."
There was immediate speculation that should the Vancouver Canucks hire Desjardins, he might be interested in having Mike Johnston, the GM/head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, as an assistant coach.
However, I’m thinking that Johnston won’t leave the Winterhawks for anything less than an NHL head-coaching position, not when you consider the freedom that he gets to run the Portland on-ice operation. Johnston has taken the Winterhawks to four-straight WHL finals and you know that owner Bill Gallacher is looking after his guy.
Then again . . . would you rather fly charter or ride a bus?
Jeff Brown, a former NHL defenceman, is the new head coach of the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. Brown had been general manager and head coach of the Indiana Ice, who are the USHL champions for 2013-14. . . . Brown played 747 NHL regular-season games over 13 seasons. That followed four seasons with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves. . . . Brown takes over from Chris Byrne, who had been GM and head coach. Byrne left to scout for the Los Angeles Kings. . . . Pat Higgins, the assistant GM, has since been promoted to GM.
CHLThe Central league’s Denver Cutthroats have signed Brad Smyth as their director of hockey operations and head coach. He had been working as the team’s general manager and assistant coach. . . . Derek Armstrong, who was the head coach last season, now is the Cutthroats’ president and general manager. . . . The Cutthroats reached the CHL final last season for the first time in franchise history.
AHLRoy Sommer will be back for another season as head coach of the Worcester Sharks, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He is preparing for his 19th season in the Sharks organization, his 17th as the head coach of the NHL team’s top developmental club. . . . David Cunniff won’t return for a 13th season as an assistant or associate coach with San Jose’s top developmental team. . . . According to a Worcester news release: “Charlie Townsend will return for a second season as the Worcester Sharks’ video coaching assistant, while development coaches Mike Ricci, Bryan Marchment, Corey Schwab, and Dirk Graham will all have a continued presence in Worcester during the 2014-15 season.”

The Kelowna Rockets have placed F Marcus Mitchell on their protected list. Mitchell is a 1998-born player from Kelowna who played last season with the Midget Elite 15 team at the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna. He had 34 points, including 11 goals, in 37 games. . . . The Portland Winterhawks have added F Ezekiel (Zeke) Estrada, 16, to their protected list. A native of Homer, Alaska, Estrada headed south at the age of 10 to pursue a career in hockey. He played last season with the Los Angeles Jr. Kings midget AAA team, putting up 46 points, including 25 goals, in 18 games. . . . Mitchell and Estrada are being  advised by EA Sports Management. . . .

D Matt Thomas, 19, isn’t likely to be back with the Kamloops Blazers, who have dropped him from their protected list. Thomas, from Calgary, has seven assists in 132 career regular-season games. He had four assists in 55 games after being acquired last season from the Kootenay Ice. The Ice acquired F Tim Bozon and D Landon Cross, both 19 at the time, from the Blazers for Thomas, F Collin Shirley, 17, a 2014 third-round bantam draft pick and a fifth-round pick in 2015. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes are expected to announce a new deal with a local radio station at a Monday afternoon news conference. The Hurricanes and 94.1 CJOC didn’t renew their contract after last season. . . . F Luke Bertolucci, 19, of the Edmonton Oil Kings was involved in a BCHL trade on Friday. His junior A rights, along with future considerations, went from Salmon Arm to the Merritt Centennials, with the Silverbacks getting F Logan Mick, 19. Mick is the son of Troy Mick, the Silverbacks’ governor, president and GM. Logan spent last season with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

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