Thursday, August 14, 2014

'It makes me cry at my computer . . .'








F Tomáš Vincour (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract with Kometa Brno (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL), he had six goals and five assists in 39 games. . . .
F Kyle Beach (Everett, Lethbridge, Spokane, 2005-10) has signed a tryout contract through Sept. 30 with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, he had four goals in seven games with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL), two goals and an assist in seven games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), and two goals and five assists in 39 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL).
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An email arrived in my Inbox on Thursday morning. It was from a former WHL defenceman, who in his playing days could have played on my team, your team or any team. No, he wasn’t an all-star; rather, he was a tough-as-nails, take-no-prisoners defenceman, the kind you can’t win without. Yes, he fought; mostly, though, he played hard, really hard.
“I have had some depression issues in the past,” he wrote, “not to the point where I was thinking of doing anything drastic, but depression none the less.
“Was it from too many concussions? Maybe, not sure.
“My point to all this is, I know there are former players, just like myself, who have the same issues I do, they just hide it. Is it solely a hockey player problem? No, but it makes me cry at my computer when I see these kids killing themselves.
“Keep it in the spotlight, thanks for writing about this topic.”
That email came on the heels of another note, this from the wife of a career coach.
The other day, she wrote: “I read a Facebook status from a player who played for (my husband) on two different teams talking about his battle with depression. I contacted him. He was a tough guy, said he felt the need to live up to that reputation, until now.”
And now I’m wondering just how many former hockey players there are out there who are dealing, or trying to deal, with depression?
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TRADE WIRE:
THE DEAL: The Prince George Cougars acquired D Dominic Thom, 18, from the Brandon Wheat Kings for a conditional sixth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft.
THE SKINNY: Thom, from Calgary, was a ninth-round pick by Brandon in the 2011 bantam draft. He played in two games with Brandon, both last season, earning one assist. He played 29 games with the AJHL’s Calgary Mustangs, recording a goal and five assists.
THE ANALYSIS: The Wheat Kings get a draft pick, likely conditional on his being on the Cougars’ roster at a particular date, for a player who wasn’t going to stick with them. The Cougars get to look at a 6-foot-3, 185-pound defenceman who could provide them with some depth on the back end.
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F Axel Blomqvist will be a bit late reporting to the Victoria Royals. That’s because he will play for Team Sweden at a Four Nations tournament in Jönköping, Aug. 29-31. Earlier this summer, Blomqvist, who was acquired by Victoria from the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season, attended Sweden’s national junior evaluation camp. The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Blomqvist, 19, hopes to be named to the Swedish team that will play in the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. . . . The 2015 tournament will be split between Montreal and Toronto, running Dec. 26 through Jan. 5. . . . Blomqvist put up 43 points, including 16 goals, in 46 games with the Royals last season. He attended the Winnipeg Jets’ rookie and main camps as an undrafted free agent last season and ended up signing a three-year entry-level deal.
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The Saskatoon Blades have signed F Logan Christensen, who was a second-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft. Christensen, from Morden, Man., had 79 points, 34 of them goals, in 54 games at the Pursuit of Excellence in Kelowna last season.
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Teams in the QMJHL have been in camp for a few days now. If you’re wondering why that league always starts so early, Willy Palov of the Halifax ChronicleHerald has the scoop right here.
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A story in Thursday’s Ottawa Citizen begins with this: “A 31-year-old recreational hockey player has been sentenced to 18 months’ probation after a rare criminal conviction for an on-ice collision — a decision that his lawyer says has set a dangerous precedent that could chill participation in such hockey leagues.” . . . Meghan Hurley’s complete story is right here.
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THE COACHING GAME:
SJHLRyan Smith, the MJHL’s coach of the year last season, now is the general manager and head coach of the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos. He replaces Dean Brockman, who now is an assistant coach with the Saskatoon Blades. Smith, from Winnipeg, has a three-year contract with the Broncos. . . . Smith spent five seasons as the GM/head coach with the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers.
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Darren Komonoski is back with the junior B Revelstoke Grizzlies, as assistant coach and goaltending coach. Komonoski returns to the Grizzlies after stepping aside for a couple of years. He also works with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm SilverBacks. . . . A native of Humboldt, Sask., Komonoski, who lives in Revelstoke, will work with GM/head coach Ryan Parent. The Grizzlies play in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.
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Matt Cockell (Saskatoon, Seattle, Regina, Spokane, 1996-99) is back with the Brandon Wheat Kings as their goaltending coach. Cockell, from Winnipeg, spent the past two seasons with Hockey Canada after being part of the Wheat Kings’ coaching staff. He was the goaltending coach with the Canadian women’s team that won gold at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi last season. . . . While Cockell was gone, Brent Zelenwich had served as Brandon’s goaltending coach.
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Fernando Pisani, a native of Edmonton who played 402 regular-season games with the Oilers, has joined the U of Alberta Golden Bears as the lead assistant to head coach Ian Herbers. Pisani, 37, was the club’s part-time assistant last season; he now is full-time. He fills the spot created when Ryan Marsh left the Golden Bears to sign on as an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oil Kings.
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D MacKenzie Johnston (Kelowna, Prince Albert, Saskatoon, 2009-2014) will attend Mount Royal University and play for the Cougars. A native of Swift Current, Johnston played out his junior eligibility last season, splitting it between the Kelowna Rockets, Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. . . . D Dylan Busenius (Medicine Hat, Prince Albert, Saskatoon), who also played out his junior eligibility last season, has decided to attend the U of Calgary and play for the Dinosaurs. . . . F Connor Sanvido (Seattle, Swift Current, Saskatoon, 2009-13) will attend St. Thomas U in Fredericton, N.B., and play for the Tommies. Sanvido, the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2008 bantam draft, played three seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. He split last season between the Swift Current Broncos and Saskatoon Blades as he completed his junior eligibility. . . . A tip of the hat to Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix for tweeting all three of those moves.
The Brandon Wheat Kings revealed Thursday that they have sold 1,907 season tickets, “a slight increase over what the club had sold at the same time last summer.” The Wheat Kings sold more than “2,300 season tickets” last season when their average regular-season attendance was 3,529. . . . The Wheat Kings also announced that Russian D Ivan Provorov, 17, will report to training camp on Aug. 23. Provorov, who played with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders last season, was selected in the 2014 CHL import draft. In 2012-13, he played midget hockey in Wilkes-Barre Scranton, Penn.

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