Saturday, August 16, 2014

Ex-player finds light in his life . . . Americans, Royals do some business

An email arrived in the early morning hours of Friday. I was laying in bed at the time and checked my email on my tablet. (Hey, isn’t that we do in this day and age?)
By the time I had finished reading, I had tears in my eyes and it took me at least an hour to fall asleep.
Because, if we need it, this one email is proof that if you are depressed, if you are dealing with anxiety, if you feel that something is wrong but aren’t sure what it is, you really can lighten the load by talking with someone you trust.
Here is the meat of that email as it was written by a former hockey player who remains in the game . . .
“I wanted to thank you for your recent post regarding depression and hockey players.
“After nine years with my significant other, I finally told her about my depression, thanks to the unfortunate passing of my childhood hero Robin Williams and your latest post, both of which made it so much easier. My next step is to speak to a professional and get back my life.
“The last five years, my darkest, are gone and I will never get them back. But the future looks much brighter. More importantly, my loved ones know and we can all begin to move forward from under this weight to how things used to be.
“Whether it is due to the concussions I suffered -- five diagnosed, so it's really probably closer to 10 -- or something else isn’t the issue now. What is done is done.
“But just to get these guys to talk to someone, anyone, if they are just not feeling right is a huge step in a direction to feeling normal again.
“I know it is going to be a long road but I am looking forward to moving forward, and I just wanted you to know you and your recent post have helped me.”
Please, if you are struggling, talk with someone who is close to you. If you look around, you will find more than one person who will help and be your support group.
Please remember that you aren’t alone.
If you are a fan of the Prince Albert Raiders, you may rest easy. Well, a little bit easy. F Leon Draisaitl, the German star who was selected by the Edmonton Oilers with the third pick of the NHL’s 2014 draft, won’t be playing in Europe in 2014-15.
NHLThere was talk in some corners this week that the Oilers would find a way to place him in Europe if he doesn’t make their roster. That isn’t going to happen.
The CBA that binds the NHL and NHLPA includes this clause: “During the first two seasons next succeeding the draft of an age 18 Player, the Club he signs an SPC with must first offer him to the club from which he was claimed before it may Loan him.”
Draisaitl, who has been training in Edmonton, has signed an SPC (standard player’s contract) with the Oilers, so that takes care of that part.
Barring injury, he will start the season with the Oilers, meaning that he won’t be in the Raiders’ training camp. But should the Oilers’ brass, after taking a prolonged look, decide he would be better off elsewhere, there is but one option and that is Prince Albert. Let’s not forget, too, that the Oilers last appeared in the NHL playoffs in the spring of 2006. Yes, they have failed to make the playoffs in each of the last eight seasons.
You have to think, then, that there is at least some pressure in the Oilers’ offices to make the playoffs. If you are a Raiders’ fan, you also are thinking that it isn’t likely that a German who turns 19 on Oct. 27 would be that much of a difference-maker in his freshman season.
As one observer offered: “Who knows? It might turn into a Dumba situation.”
D Mathew Dumba, then of the Red Deer Rebels, was selected by the Minnesota Wild with the seventh pick of the 2012 draft. Last season, at 19, he began the season with the Wild, but dressed for only 13 games. He played for Canada at the World Junior Championship and then returned to the WHL, by which time he had been traded by the Rebels to the Portland Winterhawks.
Just don’t think for a moment that the Raiders would refuse Draisaitl’s services and allow the Oilers to put him in Europe.
“He’s either playing in Edmonton or he’s playing in Prince Albert,” one hockey official with knowledge of the situation told Taking Note. “That’s it. There’s no other choice.”
The Raiders are in the same situation with D Josh Morrissey, who was a first-round (13th overall) selection of the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL’s 2013 draft. He is a year older than Draisaitl but, as the CBA reads, that clause covers a player’s 18- and 19-year-old seasons. So Morrissey, who was superb in the playoffs with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps last spring, has to play for the Jets or be returned to the Raiders.
As you may be aware, my wife, Dorothy, is preparing to take part in the 2014 Kidney Walk on Aug. 24. She underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23 and due to a really nasty infection wasn’t healthy until mid-April. Her recovery since then has been nothing short of amazing.
She has said that she wants to give back to the Kidney Foundation, so here we are. This morning, if the weather holds, she will be on the road, walking 2.5 km for the first time in, well, since I can’t remember when.
If you are wondering how her fund-raising is going, I have had to raise her goal for a fourth time. She hit $1,600 late Friday night.
Dorothy continues to be amazed at the generosity of people, many of whom have come into contact with her through Taking Note.
If you are interested in tracking her donations, you are able to do so right here. The top 10 is on the right side of the home page. Click on her name and a list of donors will appear on a scroll.
THE DEAL: The Tri-City Americans acquire F Steven Hodges, 20, and a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft from the Victoria Royals for a conditional second-round pick in 2016. The picks are conditional on Hodges returning to the WHL.
THE SKINNY: Hodges was selected by the Florida Panthers in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft. He has signed an NHL contract and will go to camp with the Panthers. He very well could open the season with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage. Last season, he had 47 points, 21 of them goals, in 52 games with the Royals. In his WHL career, he has 75 goals and 82 assists in 247 regular-season games.
THE ANALYSIS: The Americans cut a deal with huge upside and no real downside. If Hodges comes back, their offence gets a real boost. If he does return, he will start by sitting out a five-game suspension left over from the playoffs. . . . The Royals move out a 20-year-old, and a second-round pick is more than a decent return if Hodges returns. They are left with three others on their roster -- D Travis Brown, F Austin Carroll and F Brandon Magee. Of course, Magee has signed a tryout deal with Kometa Brno of the Czech Republic’s Exgraliga. Should he end up back in the WHL, he’s got a 12-game suspension hanging over his head. . . . The Americans have three other 20-year-olds on their roster -- F Lucas Nickles, F Jackson Playfair and D Justin Hamonic.

F Tim Bozon has told Brenda Branswell of the Montreal Gazette that he feels 100 per cent and that he has worked twice as hard as normal as he works to come back from a scrap with Neisseria meningitis in March that almost killed him. . . . Bozon, who was with the Kootenay Ice when he took ill, is preparing to go to camp with the Montreal Canadiens. They selected him in the third round of the NHL's 2012 draft and he has signed a contract. . . . Branswell’s story is right here. . . . One of these days, perhaps the WHL will issue a news release thanking fans for their donations to the fund set up to benefit the Bozon family and perhaps the league also will include a total.
The on-ice part of the Portland Winterhawks training camp is scheduled to begin on Thursday. As usual, prospects will compete in the Neely Cup tournament. Interestingly, the Winterhawks are charging admission to the tournament games at the Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton. “As the popularity of the Neely Cup has grown with each year,” reads a news release, “the games will be ticketed this year in order to ensure the organization is in compliance with fire codes. There will be 100 four-day passes available for $20 that will allow access to all games, and 50 additional daily passes for $5 that will allow entry to both games on a particular day.” . . . As well, the release adds, “The Neely Cup will be the only portion of training camp open to the public.” . . . Sheesh, remember Red No. 23?
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed F Nikita Milekhin, a Russian who was the third overall selection in the CHL’s 2014 import draft. He played last season for a team in the Moscow Dynamo program, putting up 21 points, 13 of them goals, in 26 games. . . . Milekhin, 17, also was a fourth-round selection by Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL’s 2014 draft. . . . Interestingly, his surname is spelled Milyokhin in some spots on the Internet.
Due to the political situation in that corner of the world, Ukraine won’t be the host for the 2015 IIHF Division I Group A world championship. The IIHF’s congress had approved Donetsk as the host city. Donetsk is in the eastern Ukraine. The Ukraine federation now has withdrawn its bid. . . . “Unfortunately, we cannot be fully protected against that fact that the political tension in the country is an obstacle for foreign visitors and fans who want to visit the ice festival in Donetsk,” the Ice Hockey Federation of Ukraine’s President Anatoli Brezvin said in a statement. “It is our priority to find together with the IIHF and our colleagues from Italy, Kazakhstan, Japan, Hungary and Poland a proper solution that will satisfy everybody – from participants to commercial partners and fans. To do so, we take the first step and declare the withdrawal of our responsibilities to organize the championship in Ukraine.” . . . The top two teams from the Division 1 Group A championship get promoted to the top division for the 2016 IIHF World Championship. . . . The Division 1 Group A tournament is scheduled for April A new host city is expected to be announced at the IIHF semi-annual congress that is scheduled for Sept. 18-20. The Polish Ice Hockey Federation has said it is prepared to host the tournament in Krakow at the new Krakow Arena.
“Everyone is saying how Robin killed himself, but Robin didn’t kill himself, his disease killed him. It’s like a cancer, only a different type.” That is Jordan Matechuk, the B.C. Lions’ long-snapper, in conversation with Lowell Ullrich of the Vancouver Province. They were, of course, talking about Robin Williams. Matechuk knows of what he speaks, too, as he is bipolar. Ullrich has the story right here of Matechuk and how he copes.

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