Thursday, January 29, 2015

A little of this and some of that from the WHL and beyond








F Zdeněk Blatný (Seattle, Kootenay, 1998-2001) has been released by mutual agreement by Dornbirn (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). He had eight goals and two assists in 25 games. . . .
F Richard Mueller (Brandon, Saskatoon, Calgary, 1998-2003) has signed a one-year extension with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2). This season, in 38 games, he leads his team in scoring with 47 points, including 28 goals, in 38 games. . . . The Frankfurt general manager is Rich Chernomaz (Saskatoon, Victoria Cougars, 1979-83 . . . Frankfurt’s head coach is Tim Kehler, who was an assistant coach with Swift Current (2007-10). . . .
F Jakub Langhammer (Spokane, 2002-04) has signed for the rest of this season with Dresdner Eislöwen (Germany, DEL2). He had been released on Wednesday by Regensburg (Germany, Oberliga) at his request so that he could sign with Dresden. He had two goals in two games with with Regensburg.
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The Saskatoon Blades visit the Broncos in Swift Current tonight. That means Blades D Brycen Martin gets to face his former team for the first time. Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more right here, and Martin doesn’t mince words when he explains how he believes things went south for him in Swift Current.
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No WHL player has put up better numbers of late than G Evan Sarthou of the Tri-City Americans. Before losing 7-5 in Portland on Sunday, Sarthou had put up four shutouts in his previous five starts. With G Eric Comrie on the roster of Canada’s national junior team and now injured, Sarthou has made 20 straight starts. . . . Annie Fowler of the Tri-City Herald has more right here.
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In the last few games, the Kootenay Ice has lost twice to the Saskatoon Blades and once to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, two non-playoff teams. The Ice gets a chance to undo some of the damage when it begins a seven-game homestand tonight against the Regina Pats. . . . Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman has more right here.
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The Moose Jaw Warriors, under general manager Alan Millar, have taken a long, hard look at all aspects of their scouting game. It resulted in the firing of head scout Rob MacLachlan last week, even though he had the rest of this season and next left on his contract. Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com takes a look right here at all that happened and why it happened.
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Dave McLellan, the GM and head coach of the junior B Nelson Leafs, has been suspended for the balance of this Kootenay International Junior Hockey League regular season. The ruling came down after the Leafs were found to have played an ineligible player for nine games. . . . Bruce Fuhr of the Nelson Daily has more right here.
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F Charlie Zuccarini of the BCHL’s Trail Smoke Eaters has been suspended for the balance of this season and the playoffs after he slashed a referee during a game last weekend. . . . From Shelton, Conn., Zuccarini is a 20-year-old, meaning that his junior career is finished. . . . He has committed to Arizona State U. . . . During the game against the Coquitlam Express, Zuccarini was hit with a match penalty after slashing referee Kirk Wood on one wrist. . . . According to a news release from the Smoke Eaters, Zuccarini “took responsibility for his actions and did not question that he was in the wrong.” . . . He had 56 points, including 27 goals, in 45 games. . . . The Smoke Eaters' news release is right here.
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Note to Jim Hiller: All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr. If you haven’t already, put it on your reading list.
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The CFL’s B.C. Lions announced Thursday that they have signed received Austin Collie, who has a history of concussions. A couple of days before he signed, but with Collie's signing somewhere in the CFL said to be imminent, Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press filed an interesting column that is right here.
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“The rate of concussions among NFL players fell 25 per cent this season, according to the league, even as injury reporting and trips to injured reserve list rose overall,” writes Howard Fendrich of The Associated Press from Phoenix, site of Sunday’s Super Bowl. . . . That is especially interesting considering the increased attention on concussions these days. . . . Fendrich’s story is right here.
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Here’s how Ray Ratto of CSNBayArea.com summed up the NFL’s concussion report:
“The NFL said concussions were down 25 percent in 2014, which is fine. They said it. Means nothing though, since their protocols for reporting are still laxly supervised and are left to individual teams and (worse) to individual players who feel pressure to play through the haze. Plus, the NFL has lost its right to be believed anyway.
“So congratulations to all players who didn’t have a concussion in 2014. Whoever you are.”
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“A new study of NFL retirees found that those who began playing tackle football when they were younger than 12 years old had a higher risk of developing memory and thinking problems later in life,” writes Ken Belson of The New York Times. “The study, published in the medical journal Neurology by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine, was based on tests given to 42 former NFL players, ages 41 to 65, who had experienced cognitive problems for at least six months. Half the players started playing tackle football before age 12, and the other half began at 12 or older.” . . . The complete story is right here.
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If you are wondering about concussions in the WHL this season, it is impossible to keep track. There is no transparency in the WHL when it comes to injuries and it’s impossible to count concussions by anecdotal evidence.
In many WHL markets, the media types who cover the teams don’t concern themselves with trying to identify injuries, other than going with upper- and lower-body information, as supplied by the league.
However, judging by anecdotal evidence and the number of “upper-body injuries” there have been and continue to be in the WHL, I would suggest that the number of concussions incurred by WHL players isn’t decreasing.
There also have been at least three players suffer concussions in fights in recent games.
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F Barrett Sheen, 16, has signed with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. An undrafted list player, Sheen is from Airdrie, Alta. The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder is playing for the midget AAA UFA Bisons, who play out of Strathmore, Alta. . . .
Vancouver is scheduled to visit Everett tonight, which means Giants D Mason Geersen and Silvertips F Nikita Scherbak will renew what has turned into quite a rivalry. . . . Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province has more right here. . . . Ewen also points out that the Giants have yet to say who will replace injured G Payton Lee on their roster for the weekend. . . . Vancouver D Clayton Kirichenko, out since Nov. 26 with an undisclosed injury, is expected to return tonight. . . .
The Saskatoon Blades, who are expected to be without D Kolton Dixon, F Luke Gingras and F Mitch Skapski due to undisclosed injuries tonight in Swift Current, have added F Brayden Uhrich and D Mackenzie Dwyer to their roster. . . . Dwyer is a 17-year-old Winnipegger who is playing for the MJHL’s Selkirk Steelers. He was an 11th-round pick in the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Uhrich is the younger brother of Saskatoon F Josh Uhrich. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix reports that F Brett Stovin, the team’s captain, is listed as probable due to an undisclosed injury.
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