Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The night Fleury was traded to the Pats . . . 2016 Memorial Cup will be in Red Deer or Vancouver








F Layne Ulmer (Swift Current, 1997-2001) has signed a one-year extension with Asiago (Italy, Serie A). Last season, he had 35 points, including 17 goals, in 23 games.
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While tooling around the Internet the other night, I stumbled upon a book that was released this month. Written by David Ward, its title is: The Lost 10 Point Night (Searching for My Hockey Hero . . . Jim Harrison).
Jim Harrison (Estevan, 1966-68) was a terrific hockey player who battled back problems through his career; in fact, there is no doubt that the back woes kept him from being the player he could have been.
A straight shooter who had, and still has, issues with Alan Eagleson, the NHLPA, many of today's well-paid players and on and on, Harrison is a great subject for a book. Yes, there is a lot of straight shooting between the covers of this one. There also are a whole lot of great anecdotes from Harrison and many former WHL, NHL and WHA teammates.
If you are a follower of the WHL, you may recall that after his playing days, Harrison started 1987-88 as the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
While Harrison was with the Warriors, their star player was Theo Fleury. He was in his final of four WHL seasons in 1987-88; he would put up 160 points, including 68 goals, in 65 games.
There was a time early in that season, according to Harrison, when Fleury almost became a member of the Regina Pats.
The Pats at the time were owned by a group of Regina businessmen, including Bill Hicke, who had played in the NHL (Montreal Canadiens) and had been a teammate of Harrison's with the WHA's Edmonton Oilers.
So . . . there was this night when Hicke, who loved rum and coke, and Harrison, who was a beer guy, sat down to talk . . .
“Billy owned the Regina Pats when I coached in Moose Jaw,” Harrison tells Ward. “Then, because there are a lot of political things that go on in hockey, suddenly I'm not only coaching but I'm running the show for a couple of months. We knew Theo Fleury was leaving and the team wasn't doing very well. So I decided I was going to trade Fleury to Regina because Regina had a shot at the Memorial Cup, and we needed more guys who could make us better.
“Billy and I made a deal over a bottle of rum. Then ownership got word that I was going to trade Fleury, and I was fired the next day. Fleury never went to Regina, and the Pats didn't make it to the Memorial Cup.”
Ward's book is available right here.
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Here’s more of the Jim Harrison story . . .
Harrison, in his first season as the Warriors' head coach, was fired on Dec. 8, 1987, moments after a 7-4 victory over the visiting Saskatoon Blades, 7-4.
Art Schoenroth, then the team's president, blamed a poor record (12-19-0) and declining attendance. The Warriors replaced Harrison with Gerry James, a former CFL and NHL player who was a legendary owner/coach in the junior A SJHL.
In February 2007, with the Warriors this time having fired head coach Steve Young, Rob Vanstone of the Regina Leader-Post would write:
“At least the Warriors got around to telling Young he was dismissed. Such a courtesy was not extended to Jim Harrison. In 1987, the Warriors announced that Harrison had been ashcanned without bothering to deliver the news to the deposed coach. Harrison's wife, Liz, learned of the firing when a newspaper reporter (yours truly) called the family's residence, seeking comment.”
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THE DEAL: The Saskatoon Blades acquired G Michael Herringer, 18, from the Victoria Royals on Tuesday. According to the WHL website, the Blades gave up “conditional draft pick(s).”
THE SKINNY: Herringer was a ninth-round selection in the 2011 WHL bantam draft. From Comox, B.C., he got into two games with the Royals in 2012-13, going 1-0-0/2.39/.925. Last season, he played with the junior B Nanaimo Buccaneers and Kerry Park Islanders.
THE ANALYSIS: The Blades add a third goaltender to the mix, as Herringer joins veteran Troy Trombley, 20, and freshman Trevor Martin, 18. With Trombley being 20, adding another goaltender may provide them with another option in terms of adding a 20-year-old forward or, more likely, defenceman. . . . The Royals get a possible draft pick, or picks, for an asset, while they are prepared to open the season with veteran Coleman Vollrath, 19, and freshman Evan Smith, 17, as their goaltenders. Smith is from Parker, Colo.
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The Victoria Royals have pulled out of the bidding for the 2016 Memorial Cup tournament, leaving the Red Deer Memorial CupRebels and Vancouver Giants to duke it out for the hosting rights.
Combine the Royals’ apparent evolution into a solid team and Victoria’s role as a tourist destination, you have to think it’s a shoo-in somewhere down the road, perhaps in 2019.
“As a wise man once said,” Royals GM Cam Hope told Taking Note last night, “you got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.”
The Royals went into the bidding for 2016 not knowing who else would be involved. Once the bids from Red Deer and Vancouver were made official, the Royals “reassessed and decided to step aside this time,” according to Hope.
You can bet, then, that Victoria will be back in the picture when it comes time to bid on the 2019 tournament.
“We’ll focus on 2019,” Hope added, “and on playing our way into the tournament in the meantime.”
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Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports that the WHL’s board of governors will hear proposals from Red Deer and Vancouver, and will select a host site on Oct. 8.
“Voters will be looking into the financial viability of both (bids),” Ewen writes, “since a percentage of the cash goes to the league. They will also focus on which team should be more competitive, due to the fact the host spot includes that automatic berth to the tournament.
“The Saskatoon Blades beat out the Rebels . . . and the Kelowna Rockets for the 2013 host berth, and proceeded to get eliminated in four straight games in the first round of the WHL playoffs. They ended up sitting idle for 51 days. and wound up last in the Memorial Cup,
“No one will give out exact dollar figures, but Red Deer owner/operator Brent Sutter said last season that that financial guarantee the Blades offered the league to host the event was $900,000 more than what Red Deer offered.”
Vancouver played host to the Memorial Cup in 2007. The Memorial Cup was last held in Alberta in 1974.
The 2015 tournament is scheduled to be held in Quebec City.
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Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province takes a look right here at Victoria Royals F Tyler Soy, who is poised to become a really solid WHL player.
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The Victoria Royals and head coach Dave Lowry have agreed on a multi-year contract extension. The exact length wasn't released, but an educated guess would be three years with a club option on a fourth year.
Lowry is going into his third season as the Royals' head coach, and chances are this was to have been the third year of an original three-year deal. That being the case, and if the extension is for three years, he’ll now be signed through 2017-18.
The Royals are 83-50-11 in regular-season games during his tenure. He is the WHL's reigning coach of the year after going 48-20-4, for the franchise's first 100-point season, in 2013-14. The 48 victories and 100 points set franchise single-season records.
Lowry joined the Royals after spending three seasons as an assistant coach with the NHL's Calgary Flames. Prior to that, he was on the coaching staff of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen for four seasons, working as assistant coach, associate coach and head coach.
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The Saskatoon Blades have released veteran F Logan Harland, 19. From Frenchman Butte, Sask., Harland had 22 points, 13 of them goals, in 84 regular-season games with the Blades over two seasons. He had one goal in three exhibition games. . . . Harland also played 10 games, scoring once, with the Vancouver Giants in 2011-12. . . . The Blades' roster is at 27, including three goaltenders and nine defencemen. . . . The SJHL’s Flin Flon Bombers hold Harland’s junior A rights.
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The Spokane Chiefs are down to 27 players after releasing two 16-year-old defencemen, Jeff Faith and Jake Toporowski, on Tuesday. . . . Faith was the 16th overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft. He will play for the midget AAA Notre Dame Hounds in his hometown of Wilcox, Sask. . . . Toporowski, from Bettendorf, Iowa, was a third-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. The Chiefs aren't yet sure where he will play this season. His father, Kerry, played two seasons (1989-91) with Spokane. . . . The Chiefs are carrying three goaltenders, nine defencemen and 15 forwards.
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The Saskatoon Blades haven't had a first-round pick in any of the last four bantam drafts. But they have three players on their roster who were first-round selections of other teams. “Every team in the league, including us, is going to have a situation where it doesn’t work out for a player for whatever reason,” Blades managing partner Colin Priestner told Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix. “Especially given that we haven’t had any first-round picks for the last (four) years, we opted to look outside the box to find players that some teams might call reclamation projects. We want to get to a position where we do enough homework that we’re confident we’re getting someone at 60 cents or sometimes 10 cents on the dollar if you look at where their talent level might be. It’s believing in our organization that we can put them in a situation where we’re confident we can turn their career around.” . . . Nugent-Bowman's complete story is right here.
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Portland freelancer Scott Sepich tweeted Tuesday: “20-year-old Adam De Champlain is no longer with @pdxwinterhawks and is now on the roster of @camrosekodiaks of the AJHL.” De Champlain is from Sherwood Park, Alta. He was a 10th-round pick by the Winterhawks in the 2009 bantam draft. Over the last two seasons, he put up 14 goals and 14 assists in 103 regular-season games. He had two goals and two assists in 41 playoff games. He played for the Kodiaks in 2011-12, before heading to Portland. . . . His departure leaves the Winterhawks with two 20-year-olds -- D Josh Hanson and D Josh Smith.
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NHLThe NHL's Columbus Blue Jackets and F Ryan Johansen, who is coming off his entry-level deal, have yet to agree on a new contract. And things are getting nasty, real nasty, with president John Davidson throwing around words like "extortion." . . . Ken Campbell of The Hockey News has more right here.
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"Mental illness is a big topic in the life of a hockey player," writes Ashley March of marchhockey.com. "Once things start to slow down and they take a step back to look at their life, that’s when everything comes spiralling out of control. I’ve read it in way too many player biographies. We’re getting better with the NHL’s Hockey Talks campaign but it needs to (be) more than once a year. It’s important to know that it’s okay to ask for help."
March takes an interesting look right here at what might happen when the dream starts to die.
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Any sports league that gets media coverage and knows what it is doing in terms of marketing plays favourites with the media, especially when it comes to providing some reports with exclusive information in return for positive coverage. Stefan Fatsis of Slate has an interesting piece right here about how the NFL may have burned its favoured reporters during the Ray Rice mess.
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