Friday, July 4, 2014

Winterhawks close in on GM/head coach

F Ian McDonald (Tri-City, 2000-06) signed a one-year contract with Briançon (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with Beibarys Atyrau (Kazakhstan, Vysshaya Liga), he had a team-leading 57 points, including 27 goals, in 54 games. He finished seventh in the league’s scoring race.
F Brad Schell (Spokane, 1999-2004) signed a one-year contract with Herning (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Last season, with Rossoblu Milan (Italy, Serie A), he had 45 points, including a team-leading 35 assists, in 38 games. . . .
F Jozef Balej (Portland, 1999-2002) signed a one-year contract with Plzeň (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 14 points, eight of the goals, in 37 games.

1. The Portland Winterhawks are looking for a replacement for Mike Johnston, who had been their GM/head coach since October 2008. Johnston signed on as head coach of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins last month. . . . How close are the Winterhawks to signing someone? . . . “Should have an announcement on a new head coach very shortly,” a Portland insider told me on Friday. . . . When queried as to whether the Winterhawks were on the verge of hiring a GM or a GM/head coach, the response was “GM/head coach combo.”

2. The Prince George Cougars have hired Michael Hengen as what their news release called “an assistant/strength and conditioning coach.” . . . Hengen, from Surrey, B.C., spent the last four seasons as an assistant coach with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees. . . . Hengen, 26, was selected by the Swift Current Broncos in the fifth round of the 2002 bantam draft. He split 226 WHL regular-season games between the Broncos, Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors, Calgary Hitmen and Saskatoon Blades. . . . With the Cougars, Hengen will work alongside head coach Mark Holick.

3. The Swift Current Broncos have signed Josh Dixon to a three-year contract as their associate coach. Dixon spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach with the Regina Pats. He left last month after being unable to reach a contract agreement with the Pats’ new owners. . . . In Swift Current, Dixon will work with GM/head coach Mark Lamb. . . . With the Broncos, Dixon also will be responsible for all off-ice training and what Lamb referred to as “the fitness aspect of the Broncos organization.” . . . Dixon fills the void created when Darren Evjen resigned after four seasons.

4. The Regina Pats have re-signed goaltending coach Rob Muntain for another season. He is preparing for his fourth season working with Regina’s goaltenders. Muntain, an officer in the Regina Police Service, is a former WHL goaltender (Brandon, 1995-96), who has worked with the Saskatchewan Hockey Association and Hockey Canada. . . . The Pats also are working to sign a head coach and two assistant coaches.

5. Kris Mallette has signed on as an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets. He will work with head coach Dan Lambert, who was promoted after five seasons as an assistant coach. Former head coach Ryan Huska now is head coach of the Adirondack Flames, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . Mallette (Kelowna, Moose Jaw, 1996-2000) spent last season as an associate coach with the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers.

6. Through four days of NHL free agency, reports that 78 unrestricted free agents have signed for a total of US$560,950,000.

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