Saturday, April 18, 2015

McDavid as a d-man? . . . OT rules in WHL playoffs . . . Thunder booms at Allan Cup

With apologies to Blackie Sherrod, we’re scatter shooting on a Saturday evening:
1. There I was sitting at a counter in a DQ, enjoying a cup of coffee while my wife did the crossword puzzle in Saturday’s Vancouver Sun. I was tracking the NHL draft lottery on my tablet and wondering if the NHL intentionally created such humour.
2. Of course, the last thing the Edmonton Oilers, who won the lottery, need is another highly skilled forward. Perhaps they will select F Connor McDavid of the OHL’s Erie Otters and turn him into a defenceman?
3. Here’s a post-lottery tweet from Neate Sager of Yahoo! Sports that says it all: “So Connor McDavid will go to #Oilers, who forced @ErieOtters owner Sherry Bassin to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. No justice. #OHL.”
4. Do you recall the comments by then-Vancouver Canucks head coach John Tortorella after his infamous dash towards the Calgary Flames dressing room last season? After that incident, he said of Flames head coach Bob Hartley: “I don’t like the way he does business.” . . . You can bet that wherever Tortorella was on Friday night, he was nodding his head.
5. If you’re like me, you’re wondering how much of that $50,000 fine will come out of Hartley’s pocket?
6. The WHL playoffs are almost through two rounds, and 21 of 61 games have gone to overtime. Unfortunately, these playoffs haven’t been as close as that might seem to indicate. To date, only three of 11 series have needed more than five games to decide. If Portland wins tonight in Everett, that will be three of 12.
7. If you’re a fan of the Portland Winterhawks, you have to like the way these playoffs are shaping up. The Winterhawks, who have been to four straight WHL finals, are relatively healthy, while the other four teams still standing — Brandon, Calgary, Everett and Kelowna — all have had injury issues. It could be, though, that the Rockets are getting healthy at just the right time.
8. You can bet that Brandon, Calgary and Kelowna, none of whom is likely to play before Friday, will make good use of the off days, simply by resting those players with bumps and bruises and worse.
9. There is speculation that Mike Johnston, who had so much success as the GM and head coach of the Winterhawks, is on the hot seat as his first season as head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins winds down. . . . If you think that’s crazy, there is speculation that the Boston Bruins’ brain trust is giving at least some consideration to firing head coach Claude Julien and hiring Mike Milbury to replace him. . . . Peter Chiarelli, the GM the Bruins fired the other day, had three years left on his contract.
10. A Saturday night tweet from Randy Turner of the Winnpeg Free Press: “I don't know why media keeps asking MacT if he'll trade McDavid. The Edmonton Oilers would never trade the best hockey player in the world.”

F Maximilian Kammerer (Regina, 2013-14) has signed a three-year contract with Düsseldorf (Germany, DEL). This season, with Red Bull Salzburg II (Austria, Russia MHL), he had five goals and eight assists in 35 games.


No Games Scheduled.

G Steve Christie, a 30-year-old Winnipegger, stopped 27 shots on Saturday, leading the South East Prairie Thunder to a 2-0 victory over the Bentley, Alta., Generals in the Allan Cup final in Clarenville, Nfld. The Allan Cup was awarded for the 107th time. . . . The Prairie Thunder, which plays out of Steinbach, Man., will be host team for the 2016 Allan Cup tournament. . . . The goals came from F Mark Agnew, a 32-year-old native of Hartney, Man., who played four seasons at Quinnipiac U, and F Shawn Limpright, 33, who is from St. Adolphe, Man., and played four seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Thunder’s lineup also included F Terry Yake, who played three seasons with the Brandon Wheat Kings before going on to a pro career that included 403 games in the NHL. Yake had an assist in the final, giving him a goal and two assists in four tournament games. Yake is 46 years of age. . . . The scoresheet from the final game is right here.
The Kelowna Rockets advanced to the third round of the WHL playoffs on Friday night and now await the winner of the ongoing series between the Portland Winterhawks and Everett Silvertips. Portland takes a 3-1 lead into Everett tonight. . . . Should the next round feature Kelowna and Portland, Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier writes that the Rockets could be “heavy favourites to avenge last year’s loss.” His reasoning? “Portland has a couple elite talents up front in Oliver Bjorkstrand and Nic Petan, but the tables have been turned on the back end, with Kelowna now boasting a clear advantage with (Josh) Morrissey in the fold. If (Leon) Draisaitl can pick up where he left off against Victoria, then the Rockets will be heavy favourites to avenge last year’s loss.”
Fisher’s story is right here.
Here’s Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune, before the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the host New York Rangers 4-3 on Saturday:
The Pittsburgh Penguins are in tough in their first-round NHL playoff series with the New York Rangers, who owned the league's best record in the regular season (53-22-7). According to a column in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, first-year coach Mike Johnston — the former Winterhawks general manager/head coach — is on the hot seat if the Penguins lose.
"Mike Johnston should survive. He probably won't," writes columnist Rob Rossi, blaming the Penguins' late-season swoon on injuries and a poor job of salary-cap management by general manager Jim Rutherford.
If the Penguins axe Johnston, the Winterhawks would be wise to welcome him back with open arms.
Johnston's replacement, Jamie Kompon, has done a capable job coaching the Hawks into the WHL's Western Conference semifinals. But Johnston did a sensational job in his six years in Portland, resurrecting a woebegone franchise that was a laughingstock when he arrived in 2008.
Keeping Kompon as coach and bringing back Johnston as the club's GM would be a win-win for everybody.

Jack Brodsky, a former owner of the Saskatoon Blades, will be presented with the Saskatchewan Order of Merit on May 13 in Regina. . . . Before the Blades were sold to Edmonton-based auto dealer Mike Priestner prior to the 2013-14 season, Brodsky was prominent in WHL circles. He was the Blades’ president and governor, and served on numerous WHL committees. . . .
F Tim Bozon (Kootenay Ice) made his pro debut with the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs last night. Bozon, who played out his junior eligibility this season, was pointless but had six shots on goal as the host Bulldogs dropped a 4-3 shootout decision to the Lake Erie Monsters. Bozon had a chance to win the game in OT but Monster G Calvin Pickard came up with a tremendous save. . . . Kootenay D Rinat Valiev also made his debut last night. He was plus-1 as his Toronto Marlies beat the host Rockford IceHogs, 3-1.
F Cole Ully (Kamloops Blazers) was pointless as the Texas Stars scored a 4-3 OT victory over the San Antonio Rampage. It was Ully’s second pro game; he picked up an assist in a 3-2 victory on Friday night. Ully, who has signed with the parent Dallas Stars, is headed home to Calgary today. . . . BTW, former Kamloops F Brendan Ranford scored the OT goal for Texas last night.

What is it like to be part of a family in which one individual is trying to cope with post-concussion syndrome? Kristin Reed has had six of these brain injuries, all while playing sports. She is 15 years of age. She yearns for a headache-free day. . . . Brandon Stoneburg of the Norristown, Pa., Times Herald has Stewart’s story right here.

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