Thursday, July 17, 2014

Warriors, Giants sign head coaches . . . Two others on vacation!

D Ivan Baranka (Everett, 2003-05) has signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL), he had 20 points, 19 of them assists, in 47 games. . . .

DELF Dylan Wruck (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). Last season, Wruck had six points, including four goals, in three games with the Ontario Reign (ECHL). He missed most of the season due to injury. Wruck has dual Canadian-German citizenship. . . .

D Sam Klassen (Saskatoon, 2006-10) has signed a one-year contract with the Hamburg Freezers (Germany, DEL). He has dual Canadian-German citizenship. Last season, he had 10 points, one of them a goal, with the Greenville Road Warriors (ECHL), a goal and an assist in nine games with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL), and one assist in 10 games with the Portland Pirates (AHL). . . .

F Jaroslav Obšut (Swift Current, Medicine Hat, Edmonton Ice, 1995-97) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brasov (Romania, MOL Liga). Last season, with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 15 points, including six goals, in 24 games. . . .

F Tyler Beechey (Edmonton/Kootenay, Calgary, 1997-2002) has signed a two-year contract with the Krefeld Pinguine (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Schwenninger Wild Wings (Germany, DEL), he had 37 points, 12 of them goals, in 49 games.

1. The Moose Jaw Warriors introduced Tim Hunter as their newest head coach on Thursday morning. Hunter, the 16th head coach in Warriors’ history, replaces Mike Stothers, who now is the head coach of the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs. . . . The 53-year-old Hunter, who has coaching experience as an NHL assistant with the Washington Capitals (1997-2002, 2012-13), San Jose Sharks (2002-08) and Toronto Maple Leafs (2008-11), has been living in Calgary, working for the Calgary Flames and the Flames Alumni. . . . The Calgary native played in the WHL with the Seattle Breakers (1977-80), before going to an 18-year pro career that included 815 NHL games. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports that general manager Alan Millar “spoke to Hunter on the phone on multiple occasions and then flew to Vancouver Sunday to meet with him in person. The pair talked for more than three hours and that meeting left little doubt in Millar's mind that Hunter was the right man to replace Mike Stothers behind the Warriors bench.” . . . Millar told Goulie: "I felt that there was a connection in terms of philosophically how we want to play the game and what is important to us in managing and coaching a WHL team. But more importantly how we were going to treat our players and how we were going to care for them on and off the ice." . . . Hunter takes over a team that has missed the playoffs each of the last two seasons. . . . Gourlie’s story is right here.

2. The Vancouver Giants introduced Troy Ward as the fourth head coach in franchise history on Thursday morning. Ward, 52, takes over from Don Hay, who left after 10 seasons as head coach and now is the head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. . . . Ward, who is reported to have signed a three-year contract, spent the last three seasons as head coach of the Abbotsford Heat, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Ward is a native of St. Paul, Minn. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more right here.

3. There now is just one WHL team without a head coach. The Regina Pats are looking for a head coach and two assistant coaches. The franchise’s new owners fired head coach Malcolm Cameron last month, while assistant coaches Josh Dixon and Billy McGuigan resigned earlier in the month. . . . Here’s a look at the nine teams with new head coaches, showing team, new coach and previous coach:
Calgary Hitmen: Mark French, Mike Williamson.
Edmonton Oil Kings: Steve Hamilton, Derek Laxdal.
Kamloops Blazers: Don Hay, Guy Charron.
Kelowna Rockets: Dan Lambert, Ryan Huska.
Moose Jaw Warriors: Tim Hunter, Mike Stothers.
Portland Winterhawks: Jamie Kompon, Mike Johnston.
Saskatoon Blades: Bob Woods, Dave Struch.
Tri-City Americans: Mike Williamson, Jim Hiller.
Vancouver Giants: Troy Ward, Don Hay.
I still find it interesting that by the time Regina hires a head coach, there will have been 10 changes and only two teams -- Edmonton and Kelowna -- will have promoted form within.

4. As for the remainder of the teams, just in case you have forgotten, here’s a look at who their head coaches are:
Brandon Wheat Kings: Kelly McCrimmon (owner/GM/head coach).
Everett Silvertips: Kevin Constantine (preparing for second season in his reincarnation as head coach here).
Kootenay Ice: Ryan McGill (entering final year of three-year contract).
Lethbridge Hurricanes: Drake Berehowsky (entering second year of three-year contract).
Medicine Hat Tigers: Shaun Clouston (also GM).
Prince Albert Raiders: Cory Clouston (entering second year of two-year deal; club has option on a third year).
Prince George Cougars: Mark Holick (signed through 2017-18).
Red Deer Rebels: Brent Sutter (owner/GM/head coach).
Seattle Thunderbirds: Steve Konowalchuk (signed through 2017-18).
Spokane Chiefs: Don Nachbaur (signed through 2016-17).
Swift Current Broncos: Mark Lamb (also GM; entering last year of three-year contract).
Victoria Royals: Dave Lowry (preparing for third season).

5. The Vancouver Giants have extended their partnership with TEAM Radio through 2017-18. All regular-season and playoff games will be heard on TEAM 1040 and TEAM 1410. . . . TEAM Radio also is home to the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, the CFL’s BC Lions, the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC and the NWL’s Vancouver Canadians. . . . The Giants also announced that Brendan Batchelor will return for a second season as the play-by-play voice, alongside analyst Bill Wilms. Batchelor also has been named the club’s director of media relations.

6. The Everett Silvertips have signed F Bryce Kindopp, who was selected in the third round of the 2014 WHL bantam draft. The Silvertips made 15 selections in that draft; Kindopp is the first player to sign. . . . From Lloydminster, Alta., Kindopp helped his hometown Heat win the 2014 Alberta Major Bantam League championship. . . . In 33 regular-season games, Kindopp had 63 points, including 26 goals. He led the league’s playoff scoring derby with 16 goals and finished second in points, with 25. . . . Everett selected Heat captain Jantzen Leslie in the first round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . .

7. There isn’t much doubt which team D Dalton Yorke of the Kelowna Rockets was cheering for in Sunday’s World Cup final. Yorke, an 18-year-old from Maple Ridge, B.C., would have been solidly in Germany’s corner. Why? Because his sister, Montana, 21, is an item with German forward André Schürrle, who assisted on the winning goal, an extra-time score that gave his side a 1-0 victory over Argentina. . . . Jennifer Saltman of the Vancouver Province has more on the happy couple right here.

8. They’ll be talking hockey tonight at the Art Hauser Centre in Prince Albert as the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame holds its 2014 induction ceremony. Included in the class of 2014 are Bruce Clements, Emile (The Cat) Francis, Johnny Gottselig, Wayne Kartusch, Brad McCrimmon, Jim Neilson, Brian Propp, Terry Simpson and Wes Smith. Also going in are the 1982 Prince Albert Raiders and the 1972 Rosetown Redwings. . . . The Prince Albert Daily Herald has more right here.

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