Saturday, October 4, 2014

A little of this, a lot of that . . . getting caught up on WHL news








F Hampus Gustafsson (Regina, Brandon, 2010-11) signed a one-month tryout contract with Grenoble (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with Pantern Malmö (Sweden, Division 1), he was pointless in three games. Last season, with Troja-Ljunbgy (Sweden, Allsvenskan), he had nine goals and 10 assists in 42 games. . . .
F Martin Tomášek (Red Deer, 1996-97) has signed a one-year contract with Neuilly-sur-Marne (France, Division 1). He played there two seasons ago. Last season, with Feldkirch (Austria, Inter-National-League), he led the league with 35 goals and also added 20 assists, all in 36 games.
F Antonín Honejsek (Moose Jaw, 2009-11) has been released by Espoo Blues (Finland, Liiga) by mutual agreement. This season, he had one goal in two games with the Blues. On loan to Kiekko-Vantaa (Finland, Mestis), he had one assist in one game.
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Bowie Kuhn was the commissioner of Major League Baseball back in the day when Charlie O. Finley owned the Oakland Athletics.
And it was Kuhn who invoked the "best interests of baseball" clause in 1976 when he voided deals in which Finley sold ace reliever Rollie Fingers and outfielder Joe Rudi to the Boston Red Sox for $2 million and left-hander Vida Blue to the New York Yankees for $1.5 million.
Today, Ron Robison is the commissioner of the WHL and there are people, some of them inside the WHL, who feel that he should invoke a "best interests of the WHL" rule that would prohibit Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings, from communicating with Brad Robson, the general manager of the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
Consider that:
1. On May 2, 2013, McCrimmon acquired the sixth-overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft by giving Lethbridge his first-round pick and G Corbin Boes. McCrimmon used that pick to take D Kale Clague. . . . Clague, the son of former WHL G Jason Clague, had put up 77 points, including 35 goals, in 33 games with the Alberta Major Bantam League's Lloydminster Universal Heat. That broke the AMBHL record for points by a defenceman that had been held by Dion Phaneuf.
2. On Nov. 16, 2013, McCrimmon acquired D Ryan Pilon and the WHL rights to F Colt Conrad from the Hurricanes for D Nick Walters, F Taylor Cooper and D Tanner Browne.
3. On Tuesday, McCrimmon acquired F Reid Duke, D Macoy Erkamps and F Tak Anholt from the Hurricanes for D Kord Pankewicz, F Brett Kitt and F Ryley Lindgren.
In summation, then, McCrimmon got Clague, Pilon, Duke and Erkamps for Boes, Walters, Cooper, Browne, Pankewicz, Kitt and Lindgren. Conrad and Anholt, a second-round pick in 2013 who is at Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford, B.C., have yet to report to Brandon.
While McCrimmon no doubt will talk about giving up quality to get quality, most observers are of the opinion that he gave up quantity to get quality.
It's worth noting that Pilon, who had left the Hurricanes and requested a trade, was the third overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft, while Duke, who showed his discontent by refusing to report to the start of training camp prior to this season, was taken with the fifth pick in that same draft. Yes, they were going to be the centre pieces in the rebuilding of the Hurricanes. (Erkamps, a second-round pick in 2010, had expressed his unhappiness by not reporting to the Hurricanes at all prior to the start of this season.)
To say that Lethbridge’s rebuilding project has been slow in building momentum would be something of an understatement.
Not only have the Hurricanes been a bust on the ice in recent seasons -- they have missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and eight of the past 12 -- but they continue to implode financially. At the organization's AGM on Tuesday night, the board of directors, which had budgeted for a profit of $74,000, announced a loss of $390,331. That means that the franchise has dropped a cool $1.65 million over the last five seasons.
Among last season's expenses was $75,000 spent on having a new logo designed by a firm in, uhh, New York City.
(Paul Kingsmith of Global has more on the meeting right here.)
And yet the board told shareholders at the AGM that it is budgeting for a $114,863 profit this season, never mind that season-ticket sales have slipped to fewer than 1,300, down from 1,795 last season.
Interestingly, the Hurricanes' board is looking at a motion that would allow a vote on whether to explore the sale of the franchise. That motion was made at Wednesday's meeting, meaning it will be put to shareholders for a vote at the 2015 AGM.
Unless, of course, McCrimmon acquires the entire roster before then.
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On Wednesday, the Wheat Kings made a couple of more moves as they got their roster down to 25, including nine defencemen and 14 forwards.
F Kirklan Lycar, 17, and D Michael Mylchreest, 19, were released from the roster. Lycar, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft, played last season with the midget AAA Eastman Selects and will be reassigned. Mylchreest is a former member of the Prince George Cougars who played last season with the NAHL's Springfield Jr. Blues.
Neither Lycar nor Mylchreest had gotten into a regular-season game with the Wheat Kings.
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The Prince Albert Raiders held their annual general meeting last week and announced a loss of $262,280. That comes one year after the organization announced a profit of $78,896 for 2012-13.
Andrew Schopp of the Prince Albert Daily Herald has more right here.
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Spokane returned G Alex Moodie, 19, to Saskatoon on Wednesday, thus voiding a May deal in which the Chiefs gave the Blades a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft for the Winnipeg native. . . . The Chiefs have decided to go with veteran Garret Hughson, 19, as their starter, with Tyson Verhelst, 17, backing him up.
The Blades, meanwhile, have installed Moodie as their starting goaltender, a position he held for the first part of last season before he was laid low by injuries.
Nik Amundrud, who was acquired last month from the Everett Silvertips, will back up Moodie. Amundrud will turn 17 on Oct. 20. Trevor Martin, 18, who allowed 11 goals in three appearances with the Blades this season, is to join the SJHL's Melville Millionaires.
With the season still in its infancy, the Blades already have had five goaltenders on their roster. Troy Trombley, 20, and Michael Herringer, 18, both were released last month.
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The Chiefs have added F Jaret Anderson-Dolan to their roster at least through Oct. 10. Anderson-Dolan, from Calgary, was the 14th overall pick in the 2014 bantam draft. He won’t turn 15 until Dec. 9. "With our injury situation with our forwards, this will be a good opportunity for Jaret to join our team on a short-term basis," Tim Speltz, Spokane’s general manager, said in a news release. "It also helps our team as we are shorthanded, so it is a win-win situation. Jaret will benefit greatly from the experience." . . . On Thursday, the Chiefs released F Marcus Messier, 20. That leaves them with 25 players on their roster, including three 20-year-olds -- F Calder Brooks, F Connor Chartier and F Liam Stewart.
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The Swift Current Broncos took quite a hit during the week when it was revealed that they won’t be getting D Julius Honka, 18, back from the NHL’s Dallas Stars.
Honka was selected by the Stars in the first round of the NHL’s 2014 draft. Because he was drafted off a CHL roster, it was generally assumed that he had two options for 2014-15: Play in the NHL or with the Broncos.
It turns out, however, that there is a loophole in the NHL’s CBA with the NHLPA. Because Honka was on loan to the Broncos from his Finnish team -- most import players get a release in order to play in the CHL -- the rule doesn’t apply to him.
It turns out that Honka, one of the WHL’s most exciting players last season as a freshman, is able to play in Europe, the NHL, the CHL or the AHL. He now is with the AHL’s Texas Stars.
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Mike Sillinger, one of the most popular players in the history of the Regina Pats, is back with the WHL franchise. Sillinger, a Regina native, spent the past five seasons as the director of player development with the NHL's Edmonton Oilers. Now, he is a part-time hockey operations consultant with the Pats, while also serving as an assistant coach with the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. With the Pats, he will answer to John Paddock, the club's first-year senior vice-president of hockey operations and head coach. . . . "This is where my career started," Sillinger told Greg Harder of the Regina Leade-Post. "I'm thrilled to be back as a Regina Pat and part of an organization I've always been passionate about. It was an easy decision." . . . Harder's complete story is right here.
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Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard is due to hit bookstores this month. Written by John Branch, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer with The New York Times, the book is based on his three-part story that appeared in the newspaper following Boogaard’s death. . . . Steve Almond has read the book and his NYT review is right here.
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With G Tyler Fuhr away for what is being called “personal business,”, the Regina Pats have added G Tyler Brown, 17, to their roster. He plays for the MJHL’s Winnipeg Blues. . . . D Kyle Burroughs, who has been out with a concussions, has returned to Regina’s lineup. He is the team captain. . . . F Scott Cooke, 20, who left the Moose Jaw Warriors late last month, has joined the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. . . . F Brandon Potomak, 19, who left the Warriors at the same time as Cooke, now is with the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs. . . .
The Prince George Cougars have acquired F Cal Babych, 17, from the Calgary Hitmen for a seventh-round pick in the 2017 bantam draft. A fourth-round selection in the 2012 draft, Babych, from North Vancouver, had three goals and three assists in 41 games last season. This season, he had played one game with Calgary, picking up three assists. . . . He is the son of Dave Babych, who played 1,195 regular-season NHL games after playing in the WHL with the Portland Winterhawks (1977-80). . . .
The Kelowna Rockets are carrying four 20-year-olds, with the return of F Tyrell Goulbourne from the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. Goulbourne, however, has an undisclosed injury and hasn’t played even one game this season. The Rockets’ other 20s are F Colton Heffley, D Cole Martin and F Carter Rigby. . . . The Rockets moved to 5-0-0 on Friday night with a 5-4 OT victory over the Silvertips in Evertt. Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that Kelowna D Mitchell Wheaton “went down after being hit into the boards by Everett's Logan Aasman on the game's first shift. He went off holding his left hand/wrist and did not return.” . . .
The Lethbridge Hurricanes got their roster down to 28, including nine defencemen and 17 forwards, by releasing F Zachary Goberis and D Thomas Lenchyshyn. . . . Both were selected in the 2012 bantam draft, Lenchyshyn with the 18th overall selection and Goberis in the fourth round. . . . Lenchyshyn, from Steinbach, Man., got into two regular-season games, while Goberis, who is from Arvada, Colo., played in two games. . . .
The Saskatoon Blades have released F Ty Mappin, who is off to join the AJHL’s Olds Grizzlies. The Everett Silvertips selected Mappin with the seventh overall pick of the 2011 bantam draft. They dealt him to the Blades in a conditional deal, meaning that his rights now have reverted to Everett. The Blades were to have given up a seventh-round pick, that could have been upgraded to a fifth, in the 2015 bantam draft. That pick now goes back to Saskatoon. . . . On Saturday, the Blades announced that they have claimed F Landon Welykholowa, 18, off waivers from the Calgary Hitmen. Welykholowa played last season with the Hitmen, Victoria Royals and the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He had one goal and four assists in 34 WHL games last season. He was a third-round pick by the Prince Albert Raiders in the 2011 bantam draft. . . .
F Tyler Benson, the first overall selection in the 2013 bantam draft, sat out a one-game suspension on Friday after he got tossed from Wednesday’s 7-5 loss in Kelowna. In that game, Benson was given a boarding major and game misconduct for a hit on Kelowna D Jesse Lees. Vancouver head coach Troy Ward didn’t agree with the call, telling Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province: ““I’ll tell him to hit him again; I didn’t think it was a penalty. I’ll tell him to keep playing hard. As soon as you take the lion out of him, you don’t have a lion king.” . . . Lees didn’t play in Kelowna’s 5-4 OT victory in Everett on Friday night. . . .
F Morgan Klimchuk, 19, has been returned by the NHL’s Calgary Flames to the Regina Pats, but he won’t play for another couple of weeks. He injured his left hand/wrist during an NHL exhibition game on Sept. 24. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings have sold 2,387 season tickets, up from 2,357 last season.

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