Monday, September 8, 2014

Blades, Warriors deal . . . A few veterans get releases

I realize that this blog is almost always about hockey. But allow me today to spend some space on the subject of domestic abuse.
I have been involved in the founding of two charities, one at the Regina Leader-Post and the other at the now-dead Kamloops Daily News, that worked to help shelters for abused women and their children.
That has at least something to do with why I didn’t understand when Roger Goodell, the boss of all things NFL, chose to whisper in the ear of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice seven months ago, rather than suspend him for a long, long time.
The NFL, as you will have heard by now, indefinitely suspended Rice on Monday. The Ravens then released him.
Seven months ago, a video surfaced of Rice dragging his unconscious soon-to-be wife out of an elevator in a New Jersey casino. That video was taken from outside the elevator. Eventually, Goodell suspended Rice for the first two games of this regular season.
On Monday, TMZ released video from inside the elevator. It shows, among other things, Rice dropping his soon-to-be wife with a hard left hand.
Why Goodell didn’t suspend Rice indefinitely immediately upon seeing the first video is the $64-billion question. After all, as Goodell was watching that first video, how did he think Rice’s soon-to-be wife came to be in that condition?
Anyway . . .
There is some good reading available on this issue today.
Sally Jenkins of the Washington Post wonders about the NFL’s claim that no one in its office had seen the video from inside the elevator until Monday morning.
“That is almost surely not the truth, unless the NFL wanted it that way,” she writes. “This is a league that works with Homeland Security, confers with the Drug Enforcement Agency, collaborates with law enforcement and has its own highly equipped and secretive private security arm. You’re telling me it couldn’t get a hold of a grainy tape from an Atlantic City casino elevator? But TMZ could?”
Her column is right here.
In light of the indefinite suspension handed to Rice, Christine Brennan of USA TODAY wonders why players like Ray McDonald of the San Francisco 49ers, Greg Hardy of the Carolina Panthers and Terrell Suggs of the Ravens, each of whom has been involved or is alleged to have been involved in a domestic abuse situation, haven’t been suspended in the same fashion. “(Suggs) played Sunday for the Ravens in their loss to the Cincinnati Bengals,” Brennan writes. “Why? Was it because there's no video? Of course it was. And he'll be playing this Thursday night on national television against the Pittsburgh Steelers, even though he shouldn't be, at least according to the NFL's new Rice standards, as of today.” . . . Brennan’s column is right here.
Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun writes that “to understand what did happen, you have to understand the public relations power, and influence, and the almost unbelievable tone-deafness of one of the most intimidating sports leagues in the world. Until TMZ leaked the surveillance tape Monday morning, that is.” . . . His column is right here.
Cathal Kelly of The Globe and Mail:
“The NFL will try to quickly move the focus back onto the field. That will probably work. A lot of people howl about the NFL’s wobbly moral compass, and most of them watch 12 hours of football every Sunday.
“What won’t survive is our presumption of the league’s basic goodness. We assume that most right-minded people would watch that video and be shocked into action.
“Apparently, the NFL was not.”
Kelly’s column is right here.

THE DEAL: The Saskatoon Blades get F Josh Uhrich, 18, from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a fourth-round selection in the 2015 bantam draft.
THE SKINNY: Uhrich, from Rosetown, Sask., played for the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts, who finished third at the TELUS Cup national tournament in 2012. He had 10 goals and 14 assists in 126 regular-season games over two seasons with the Warriors. Uhrich was a second-round draft pick of the Warriors in 2011.
THE ANALYSIS: The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Uhrich hasn’t shown much offensive flair, but he brings sandpaper to the Blades’ lineup as they strive to become more difficult to play against. . . . The Warriors, who also dealt F Colton McCarthy, 18, to the Prince Albert Raiders on the weekend, have cleared room for some younger forwards. . . . A stick tap to the Warriors, too, for giving a couple of players who weren’t going to make their roster opportunities to stay in the WHL despite having to trade within their own division to do so.


The Kamloops Blazers have their roster at 27, including three goaltenders and eight defencemen, after releasing two veterans -- D Austin Douglas, 18, and F Nathan Looysen, 18 -- on Monday. . . . The 6-foot-6, 195-pound Douglas, from Winnipeg, was acquired last season from the Seattle Thunderbirds, who had selected him in the second round of the 2011 bantam draft. Last season, he had one assist in 13 games with Seattle and one goal in 22 games with Kamloops. . . . Looysen, from Saanichton, B.C., had two goals and seven assists in 57 games as a freshman with the Blazers.
The Kamloops Blazers don’t have a whole lot left from last season’s trade in which they sent G Taran Kozun, then 19, to the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Moving to Kamloops in that Jan. 10 deadline-day deal were G Justin Myles, 18, D Austin Douglas, 17, and a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Douglas was released on Monday, while Myles, who reported to the Blazers with a brain injury, never did play in Kamloops. Instead, he was dealt to the Lethbridge Hurricanes over the summer for a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. That pick reverted to Kamloops when Myles was forced to retire before reporting to the Hurricanes. . . . Kamloops also got a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft in the exchange with Seattle, and later, with Myles unable to play, was given a fourth-round pick in 2016 as compensation. . . . Meanwhile, Kozun, now 20, is Seattle’s starting goaltender. In 24 regular-season games with Seattle last season, he was 14-9-1/2.40/.928 with four shutouts. In 29 games with the Blazers, he had been 5-19-3/3.95/.897.
The Prince George Cougars got down to 29 players, including three goaltenders, by releasing six players on Monday. That included veteran G Adam Beukeboom, 20, who had been acquired from the Vancouver Giants on Jan. 9 for a seventh-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft. . . . Beukeboom, who played in 19 games with the Regina Pats in 2011-12, was 5-8-0/4.25/,887 in 14 appearances with the Cougars last season. . . . As a 20-year-old this season, Beukeboom was up against it as Ty Edmonds, 18, is expected to be the Cougars’ starter. Beukeboom, who is from Sundre, Alta., played only 29 minutes in the exhibition season and stopped all 18 shots he faced. . . . The move leaves the Cougars with Edmonds, Matt Kustra, 17, and Tavin Grant, 16, as their goaltenders.
BCHLThe Vernon Vipers are looking for a general manager and head coach, having revealed that Jason Williamson has vacated both positions. Williamson, who cited personal reasons in leaving, had been GM and head coach for three seasons and had been with the Vipers for the past seven seasons. He also played three seasons with the Vipers. . . . “Jason has
decided he needs some time away from the game to get his affairs in order and I respect that,” owner Duncan Wray said in a news release. “He has been great for our hockey club and will be missed, however we must move forward.” . . . Assistant coach Kevin Kraus has been named interim head, while Eric Godard, the other assistant coach, will take a more active role. . . . The Vipers open their regular season on Sept. 27. . . . Williamson spent four seasons working alongside Mark Ferner, who was then the Vipers’ GM and head coach. When Ferner signed as head coach of the WHL’s Everett Silvertips, prior to the 2011-12 season, Williamson was promoted. . . . Ferner now is preparing for his second season as an assistant coach with the Kamloops Blazers.
Gordon Clark works in the newsroom at the Vancouver Province. He also is the president of a minor hockey association. In Monday’s Province, Clark offered up what the headline referred to as “some humble advice for hockey parents for the new season.” . . . “Complain loudly and often about all aspects of your kids' hockey program,” Clark writes. “Nothing motivates volunteer coaches, managers and others who give hundreds of hours of their lives each year so that your son or daughter can lace 'em up to improve like a constant stream of tips, critiques and observations. Keep them on their toes!” . . . That piece is right here.
“It doesn't matter the sport, the area of concussion is now one of the burning issues globally yet many sporting bodies appear as confused and dazed as any player on the receiving end of a blow to the head,” writes Declan Whooley at . . . His complete story is right here.
“Casey Cochran's college football career is over before it really got going. A series of concussions forced him to quit,” writes Desmond Conner of the Hartford Courant. . . . Cochran had been the starting quarterback for the U of Connecticut Huskies. The school announced Monday that Cochran, who incurred his fourth concussion on Aug. 29, won’t play again. . . . Conner’s story is right here.

D Austin Shmoorkoff of Edmonton has been assigned by the Red Deer Rebels to the AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers. Shmoorkoff, 17, was pointless in six games with Red Deer last season. The move left the Rebels with 25 players on their roster. . . . Red Deer F Evan Polei suffered a cut hand during a fight in an exhibition game on Saturday and it will prevent him from attending training camp with the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. “His injury is a day-to-day situation,” Red Deer GM/head coach Brent Sutter said in a news release, “and he should be ready for the start of our regular season.” . . .
D Reid Gow, who captained the Spokane Chiefs last season, has enrolled in business at the U of Manitoba and will play for the Bisons. Gow, who is from Killarney, Man., chose to go to school, rather than return for a fifth season with the Chiefs. Last season, he had 62 points, including 56 assists, in 65 games. . . . The Vancouver Giants are down to 26 players, including three goaltenders and 15 forwards. On Monday, they released three players, including F Matt Barberis, 16, of Surrey, B.C., who was the 20th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft. The Giants also released D Kole Bryks, 17, who was a sixth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . 
The Tri-City Americans have the dubious distinction of being the first team to be fined by the WHL office this season. The Americans were docked $500 for “player instigating fight in last five minutes of game vs. Spokane” on Saturday. Tri-City D Riley Hillis, who was hit with a one-game suspension, picked up an instigating minor, along with a fighting major and game misconduct, at 19:06 of the third period in that game. Spokane F Riley Whittingham was given a checking-to-the-head minor and fighting major at the time. . . . F Aaron Macklin of the Prince George Cougars won’t play Friday against his old team, the Kamloops Blazers, as he will serve a one-game suspension. He took a kneeing major and game misconduct against the visiting Edmonon Oil Kings on Saturday. . . . F Taylor Sanheim of the Calgary Hitmen was given a one-game suspension after picking up a goaltender interference major and game misconduct in a Saturday game against the Medicine Hat Tigers.

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