Friday, May 15, 2015

Raiders looking for GM . . . Hurricanes, Thunderbirds swap veterans . . . Unhappiness in The Hat








KHL news . . . some old . . . some new . . .
The Associated Press reported April 9 that Sochi hadn’t paid its players since January, but promised that they would be paid in full by the end of April. That didn't happened so the players have filed KHLsuit in Russian court to get their money. League rules require teams to resolve all debts to players by May 31 if they wish to continue in the league in the following season.
This AP report also noted there were Russian media reports that put at least five teams at risk of withdrawing from the KHL for financial reasons. The AP named Slovan Bratislava, Atlant Mytischi and Admiral Vladivostok as three of the five.
While Slovan Bratislava hasn’t officially left the KHL, it has applied to rejoin Slovakia's Extraliga.
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From the April 30 edition of the online Russian website Sport-Express (it has been all World Championship since then):
1) Valery Kamensky, president of Atlant Mytischi, said that from May 1 all members of the team would be dismissed. According to him, the future of the club is unknown. "Today is the last day for all staff of Atlant. From 1 May, they will be fired,” Kamensky said."With regard to the future of the club, for the moment I have nothing to say. There is no news. We are planning that the youth team will continue to serve in the region and the Youth Academy also continues." On April 28, Atlant GM Alexi Zhamnov confirmed that Atlant has transferred the rights to 10 players to SKA St. Petersburg as compensation for money SKA gave to Atlant earlier in the season so that Atlant could finish the season.
2) Alexander Pavlinov, vice-president of Amur Khabarovsk, admitted that the club had sent a request for deferral of the KHL deadline to provide financial guarantees for the coming season. It was reported earlier that difficulties arose with the co-operation necessary for confirmation in the documents. "We have appealed to the leadership of the league for an extension of the deadlines for submission of documents,” Pavlinov said. "A technical hitch, so we still need time. Asked to extend until the end of May and we are waiting for a response.”
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Slava Malamud, who is a Washington, D.C., area correspondent for the Russian media outlet Sport-Express, tweeted last month that SKA St. Petersburg players were each paid a US$800,000 bonus for reaching the KHL final. SKA won the league championship so one can only imagine what kind of bonus the players got for that. How this falls under the KHL salary cap is unknown.
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The 2015-16 KHL regular season is scheduled to open on Aug. 24. The league had announced during this season that it plans to align the schedule more closely to the needs of the Russian national team. As such, Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak has said that the KHL won’t adjust its schedule to fit in with the proposed NHL/NHLPA World Cup in 2016. If this holds, there won’t be any KHL players available to play in the World Cup.
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It wasn’t a surprise when the Prince Albert Raiders announced Friday that general manager Bruno Campese won’t be returning.
It had been rumoured for a while now that Campese wasn’t likely to be back, that he was wanting to return to West Kelowna, B.C., for family reasons.
The Raiders and Campese, 51, said that the decision to part company was mutual, and that the Raiders
BRUNO CAMPESE
wouldn’t be exercising their option on his contract.
“There’s no doubt that I would’ve loved to come back,” Campese told Brett Smith of the Prince Albert Daily Herald.“I love my job and I love the people I work with but, at the end of the day, it’s been a family decision to move back home. I’m good with it, my family’s good with it and I think when I look at it perspectively from the Raiders’ point of view, and I had mentioned this to our executive board, that the right time to do this is now.”
If there had been any doubt that this would happen, it likely was erased on April 21 when the Raiders announced that head coach Marc Habscheid had been signed to a four-year contract. At that time, nothing was said about Campese’s future.
As well, nothing definitive was said earlier this week when the Raiders announced they had re-signed associate coach Dave Manson to a four-year deal and assistant coach Kelly Guard to a one-year contract.
Raiders president Dale McFee plans on having a new GM in place in short order. The way McFee sounds, Habscheid, who was GM/head coach with the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals, isn’t a candidate.
“Marc is a qualified candidate, but I think we’ve been through that experience once already,” McFee told Smith. “We had a coach/GM and it didn’t work.
“We feel the ultimate model for Prince Albert is one where we have a coach and a general manager that are separate and that we actually can focus in and make sure that obviously our business product, being a community-owned team, is aligned with our on-ice product and that’s not something we feel we want to give up on.”
Of course, if it isn’t Habscheid, the next GM will be brought in knowing full well that he won’t have any of his hires on the coaching staff. And how often does that work out?
Campese, who will work with the Raiders until a replacement is named, spent eight seasons with the Raiders. He was hired as the head coach prior to 2007-08 and was also the GM before that season ended. In 2011, he stepped aside as head coach and has been strictly the GM since that time.
The Raiders had their struggles on the ice, making the playoffs in three of Campese’s eight seasons in Prince Albert. However, they did make the playoffs in the two seasons prior to this one, and it’s fair to say that things looked pretty good a year ago.
In fact, I think it’s fair to say that he and the Raiders deserved a better fate than not making the playoffs this season.
After going 35-32-5 in 2013-14 and suffering a second-straight first-round exit, the Raiders and their fans looked forward to this season, knowing they would have two of the WHL’s premier players — D Josh Morrissey and F Leon Draisaitl — on their roster. However, Draisaitl, the third-overall pick in the NHL’s 2014 draft, opened the season with the Edmonton Oilers, who later refused to return him to the Raiders. The Oilers told the Raiders that if Draisaitl was to return to the WHL he would only play with the Kelowna Rockets. (Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and GM, is tight with a number of people in the Oilers’ organization, which made the optics even worse.)
Faced with that news, Campese was forced to try and cut his losses, so Morrissey and Draisaitl both ended up with the Rockets.
Kelowna won the WHL championship on Wednesday night; two days later, Campese announced that he was done.
Now that he’s available, perhaps the Oilers need an assistant GM.
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The Lethbridge Hurricanes have traded F Jamal Watson, their captain, to the Seattle Thunderbirds for F Cory Millette and a 2016 fifth-round bantam draft pick.
Both players are preparing for their 20-year-old seasons.
Watson, from Calgary, is coming off a career season. He had 56 points, including 26 goals, as he set career highs in all three major offensive categories. He was named team captain prior to what was his fourth season in Lethbridge. In those four seasons, he had 148 points, 69 of them goals, in 270 games. Only six players in franchise history played more games.
Millette, from Storthoaks, Sask., split last season between the Thunderbirds, Prince Albert Raiders and Saskatoon Blades. In 71 games, he had 47 points, including 24 goals. He also has played with the Red Deer Rebels. In 238 career games, he has 121 points, 60 of them goals.
Millette is the lone 20-year-old on the Hurricanes’ roster.
The Thunderbirds’ roster also includes two 20-year-old defencemen — Jared Hauf and Jerret Smith.
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Things are turning nasty in Medicine Hat where the Tigers don’t yet have a lease to play in the Regional Event Centre, a $75-million facility that is to open in time for next season. . . . Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News has more right here.
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If you have ever wondered what it costs to operate a facility like the Medicine Hat Arena, Alex McCuaig of the Medicine Hat News has a chart right here that shows how that facility lost $1,866,827, not including administration costs, over the past six years.
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The Thrill Is Gone, bluesman B.B. King having died on Thursday evening. He was one of a kind and there will never be another. . . . Right here, Rolling Stone takes a look at his 10 greatest songs. Enjoy!
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Tim Weiner has The New York Times’ obituary on B.B. King right here. Just in case you don’t know what B.B. means . . .
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THE COACHING GAME:

While the Prince Albert Raiders may be reluctant to have one person as the general manager and head coach, that isn’t the case with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. On Friday, they announced that head coach Jeff Brown, 49, a former NHL defenceman, also will be the GM. He is coming off his first season as head coach, one in which he guided the 67’s into the playoffs for the first time in three seasons. They were 38-25-5 in the regular season. . . . Brown takes over from Pat Higgins, who resigned after the season and now is Ottawa’s head scout.
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In the OHL, the Oshawa Generals beat the visiting Erie Otters 6-2 to win the championship final, 4-1, OHLbefore 6,125 fans. . . . Oshawa F Cole Cassels had four assists as the Generals won their first OHL championship since 1997. . . . Erie F Connor McDavid was selected as the playoff MVP. It was only the second time that a player from a non-championship team won the award, the other being D Marc Staal with the Sudbury Wolves in 2007. . . . McDavid was held pointless in what likely was the final game of his junior career. He led the OHL playoffs in goals (21), assists (28) and points (49), all in 20 games. He finished 18 points ahead of Cassels and Oshawa F Michael Dal Colle. . . .

QMJHLIn the QMJHL, the visiting Quebec Remparts beat the Rimouski Oceanic 3-2 in OT to take a 3-2 lead in the championship final. . . . F Massimo Carozza’s fourth goal of the playoffs won the game 10 seconds into the first OT period. . . . Attendance was 4,732. . . . Game 6 is scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Quebec City. . . . With the Remparts the host team for the Memorial Cup, both teams will play in the tournament.
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