Monday, May 18, 2015

McLellan gold and new job . . . Former Chiefs star on fire . . . Rimouski wins QMJHL title

With apologies to Blackie Sherrod, we’re scattershooting on a Monday evening:

1. O Canada!

2. It was great to see head coach Todd McLellan guide Canada to a gold medal at the IIHF World championship in Czech Republic over the past few weeks. Hockey can be a cruel business but, even by those standards, he really got stiffed by the San Jose Sharks. He’ll get over it as the head coach of Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers (aka Young Guns).

3. It also was great to see Bill Peters win gold in Czech Republic too. Peters, always a straight shooter, is a former head coach of the Spokane Chiefs, who now is head coach of the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes.

4. How do you feel if you’re a season-ticket holder with the Prince Albert Raiders? First, a couple of the WHL’s premier players moved from the Raiders to the Kelowna Rockets, with thanks to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. The Rockets then went on to win the WHL championship, with one of those players named the playoff MVP. The Raiders, of course, didn’t make the playoffs and, on top of all that, the WHL commissioner has told the world that “in order for the Prince Albert Raiders to be viable long term, a new facility is required.” . . . Other than that, Raiders fans, how has your month been?

5. This WHL offseason just might be worth watching, what with the Medicine Hat Tigers not yet having a lease to play in that city’s new building, the Regina Pats’ owners scrapping with their landlord, the WHL hinting that Prince Albert needs a new arena or else, the WHL leaning on Lethbridge Hurricanes’ shareholders to sell to private interests, the WHL pretty much telling Kootenay Ice fans to show up in 2015-16 or else. . . .

6. If Canadian hockey fans ever wondered how much respect the NHL has for them, it was most evident when the Eastern Conference final opened with a Saturday day game. To the NHL, the tradition of Hockey Night in Canada is nothing more than chopped liver.

7. If you are watching an NHL playoff game, please don’t start whining about the number of penalties being called. Please don’t start begging the referees to “let them play.” Please plead with the referees to call the game by the rule book.

8. In Tyler Johnson’s last two seasons with the Spokane Chiefs, he was the best faceoff man and best penalty killer I had seen in a long while. But who knew the Tampa Bay Lightning star would be able to score like this at the NHL level? . . . If you missed it, he had the first playoff hat trick in Lightning history last night in a 6-2 victory over the Rangers in New York. He leads all playoff scorers in goals (11) and points (16). His 11 goals are four more than anyone else.

9. Chris Peters, the hockey writer at, has a good piece right here on Tyler Johnson and all that went on last night.

10. With the governor of Washington state having signed a bill designating WHL players as amateur athletes and non-employees, someone is going to have to explain to me how that works. After all, hasn’t the NCAA proclaimed WHL players as professionals? . . . Hey, perhaps things would be different if WHL players employed advisors and not agents.

D Nolan Yonkman (Kelowna, Brandon, 1996-2001) signed a one-year contract with JYP Jyvaskyla (Finland, Liiga). This season, with the Adirondack Flames (AHL), he had two goals and 10 assists in 65 games. He was the team captain.

It was a long weekend in Canada — thank you, Queen Victoria — and still no decision from F Auston Matthews. Matthews, who turns 18 on Sept. 17, is from Scottsdale, Ariz., and he is a game-changer. . . . His WHL rights belong to the Everett Silvertips, who selected him in the third round of the 2012 bantam draft. . . . Matthews is said to be deciding between Everett, the ZSC Lions, a Swiss pro team based in Zurich, and an NCAA school. I’m thinking the NCAA is out, so it’s between Everett and Lions. . . . One thing is for certain: Everett GM Garry Davidson says that, regardless of what you may have heard, the Matthews camp hasn’t asked the Silvertips to trade his WHL rights. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald has more right here.
Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington state, signed Senate Bill 5893 on Monday. That bill designates players on the WHL’s four Washington teams as amateur athletes and non-employees. That exempts the players from laws requiring employees be paid at least the minimum wage.
Jim Camden of the Spokane Spokesman-Revew has more right here.
AHLThe second-round AHL series between the Utica Comets and Oklahoma City Barons will be decided in Game 7 on Wednesday. The Barons won 2-1 at home last night, so Game 7 will be in Utica. . . . F Jake Virtanen of the Calgary Hitmen made his pro debut with the Comets in that game. The Vancouver Canucks selected him with the sixth overall pick in the NHL’s 2014 draft.
QMJHLThe host Rimouski Oceanic won the QMJHL championship on Monday, beating the Quebec Remparts 2-1 in double OT. . . . F Michael Joly’s 12th goal of the playoffs, via a PP, won the game, at 2:13 of the second OT period before 5,062 fans. . . . Rimouski G Philippe Desrosiers stopped 47 shots. . . . The Oceanic also won Game 6 in OT, that one by a 5-4 count. . . . With the Remparts as the host team for the Memorial Cup, both teams knew prior to the start of the series that both teams would play in the tournament.
Here is the Memorial Cup schedule (all games on Sportsnet; all times Eastern):
Friday, May 22: Kelowna vs. Quebec, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 23: Rimouski vs. Oshawa, 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 24: Quebec vs. Oshawa, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, May 25: Rimouski vs. Kelowna, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 26: Oshawa vs. Kelowna, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, May 27: Quebec vs. Rimouski, 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 28: Tiebreaker, if necessary, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, May 29: Semifina, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 31: Championship game, TBA


NHLThe NHL’s Colorado Avalanche lost two assistant coaches on Monday with the resignations of Mario Duhamel and André Tourigny. . . . Duhamel, the video coach, completed two seasons under head coach Patrick Roy with the Avalanche. Prior to that, Duhamel was the head coach of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs for four seasons. . . . Tourigny, who handled the defence, also spent two seasons with Colorado. Before that, he spent 10 seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
The U of North Dakota promoted assistant coach Brad Berry to head coach on Monday, just moments after the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers announced that Dave Hakstol would be their next head coach. Hakstol had been UND’s head coach for 11 seasons . . . Berry and Kamloops Blazers GM Craig Bonner are friends and it wasn’t that long ago when Berry was in the running to be the Blazers’ head coach. Before it got to that, however, Berry asked that his name be taken out of consideration.
AHLThe NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes cleaned house in Portland, Me., on Monday, as they dumped a whole lot of people from hockey operations with their AHL affiliate, the Pirates. . . . Chris Roy of Maine Hockey Journal reported that Ray Edwards, the GM and head coach, has been fired, along with assistant coaches John Slaney and Trent Whitfield. . . . The Pirates, who lost out in the first round of the playoffs, also dumped athletic therapist Bike Booi, equipment manager John Krouse, video coach Alex Loh and assistant equipment manager Joe Morse. . . . The Pirates are to move to Springfield, Mass., before the start of next season.

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