Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Pats shuffling their deck . . . Giants interested in Gulutzan, Morrison

F Cody Almond (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a five-year extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, he had 34 points, including 16 goals, in 44 games. Almond, an alternate captain on the team, has dual Canadian-Swiss citizenship. . . .
The KHL has announced that due to civil unrest in eastern Ukraine and the recent arson attack on the Donetsk arena, Donbass Donetsk (Ukraine) will take a “sabbatical” and won’t play in the KHL in 2014-2015. The club is scheduled to return to the KHL in 2015-2016. All players currently under contract with Donbass will remain under contract but will be allowed to sign one-year contracts with other KHL clubs. . . . Donbass announced that it will play in Ukraine Professionalnaya Hokkeinaya Liga this season. Its farm club played in that league last season. . . . Players currently under contract with Donbass include Gennady Razin (Kamloops, 1996-98), Pavel Padakin (Calgary, 2012-14) and Sergei Varlamov (Swift Current, 1995-98).
Just when things seemed to be settling down on the WHL coaching front . . .
The Regina Pats announced Tuesday that head coach Malcolm Cameron has been fired “effective immediately.”
The Pats also chose to reveal that assistant coach Josh Dixon had quit on June 17, while fellow assistant Billy McGuigan had turned in his resignation on June 5. No one has said why those moves weren’t made public when they happened.
McGuigan apparently cited family reasons when he resigned, while Dixon wasn’t able to come to a contract agreement with the Pats and there are suggestions that he felt low-balled by the franchise’s new owners.
With both assistant coaches having left, it seems the new owners decided to get rid of the head coach and make a fresh start in that area of the front office.
“Coming in we were committed to moving forward as is,” Todd Lumbard, the team’s president and a co-owner, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “We had a coaching staff that had some success as a unit. (The owners wanted to) keep the momentum going.
“When we knew that neither assistant coach was going to come back for various reasons, we just stopped there for a bit and tried to figure out what we were going to do. We decided we wanted to bring a cohesive group to the team next season. We thought it was best for us to start with a head coach and build our coaching staff that way with someone new that we would hire.”
Cameron was preparing for his second season as head coach. He was an assistant coach there for two seasons before taking over when Pat Conacher left.
McGuigan had spent one season with the Pats, while Dixon had been there through three seasons.
Harder has lots more, including reaction from Cameron, at
Interestingly, the Pats’ new owners, who were so up front and in the spotlight as they purchased the team from Diane and Russ Parker, weren’t very visible on Tuesday.
Here’s Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post:
“A Tuesday afternoon yak session with the media was devoid of Pat answers.
“The questions persisted for upwards of 20 minutes, leaving Regina Pats general manager Chad Lang as an uneasy and rather sympathetic figure in the face of microphones, cameras and, well, skepticism.
“Lang was essentially served up as a sacrificial lamb by the Western Hockey League team’s new ownership group after head coach Malcolm Cameron was fired — a move that was announced Tuesday morning but never satisfactorily explained to the reporters who convened outside the Pats’ Brandt Centre office.
“The picture became clearer when, in conversation with the Leader-Post’s Greg Harder, new Pats president Todd Lumbard acknowledged that the new regime wanted to bring in its own guy.
“Now, who knows whether the same philosophy will extend to the incumbent general manager?
“The new owners did entrust Lang to meet the media, en masse, on Tuesday. Lucky him . . .”
Visit for Vanstone’s complete column.
Glenn Reid, CBC Regina’s veteran sportscaster, took time out to tweet this: “1st strike against #Pats new owners. Fire the coach and don't show up to explain why. Shame.”

1. Peter Anholt, one of the winningest coaches in WHL history, has joined the Lethbridge Hurricanes as their assistant general manager. . . . Anholt has 450 head-coaching victories to his credit, with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Red Deer Rebels and Kelowna Rockets. He is 10th on the WHL list of career coaching victories and sixth in games coached (973). . . . In Lethbridge, he will work with GM Brad Robson. . . . Anholt has spent the last three seasons on Seattle’s scouting staff.

2. Yes, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are looking for a head coach, are showing some interest in Mike Johnston, the GM/head coach of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune filed this story right here.

3. Is Eric Lindros a legitimate candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame? Ken Campbell of The Hockey News explores that issue right here.

4. Darren Gusdal, a forward who spent two seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings (1978-80), died over the weekend. His obituary is right here; you also are able to leave messages of condolences if you follow that link.

5. It’s not often that #cannibal is trending on Twitter, but that was the case Tuesday afternoon after Italy soccer star Luis Suarez took a bite out of an opponent. . . . Dan Treadway of takes an hilarious look at the situation, including a tweet from Evander Holyfield, right here.

6. The Vancouver Giants continue to search for a head coach to replace Don Hay, who was allowed to get out of his contract which had a year remaining and return to Kamloops where he now is head coach of the Blazers. . . . I am told that the Giants interviewed Glen Gulutzan on Tuesday. Gulutzan, a former head coach of the NHL’s Dallas Stars, is an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks. When Gulutzan was the head coach in Dallas, Willie Desjardins was an associate coach with the Stars. Desjardins signed as the Canucks’ head coach on Monday.

7. Throw another name into the Giants’ list of potential head coaches. I am told that they have asked the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets for permission to speak with Mark Morrison, who has been an assistant coach with the St. John’s IceCaps for three seasons. Morrison, who is from Delta, B.C., was the head coach of the now-defunct Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL for four-plus seasons. . . . Morrison, 51, played four seasons for the Victoria Cougars (1979-83).

8. If Glen Gulutzan is interested in coaching in the WHL, chances are he will be getting in touch with the Regina Pats, who canned head coach Malcolm Cameron on Tuesday. Gulutzan, a native of The Pas., Man., played in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors, Brandon Wheat Kings and Saskatoon Blades (1986-92).

9. How about Lorne Molleken as the next head coach of the Regina Pats? He’s from Regina. He coached the Pats in 2000-01, when they were the host team for the Memorial Cup. He’s available, too, having been bought out by the Saskatoon Blades’ new owners after spending last season as that team’s general manager.
The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed head coach Steve Konowalchuk to a three-year contract extension. Konowalchuk signed on with the Thunderbirds on June 16, 2011, and started off with a four-year deal. . . . The Thunderbirds went 41-25-6 last season and got into the second round of the players.

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