Monday, June 29, 2015

Giants get their coach . . . Chiefs deal D-man to Tigers . . . Hitmen, Thunderbirds sign skaters








F Štěpán Novotný (Kelowna, Swift Current, 2008-11) signed a one-year contract with the Graz 99ers (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga), he had 13 goals and nine assists in 39 games. He also played 13 games with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga), scoring three goals.
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The Vancouver Giants will introduce Lorne Molleken today as their newest head coach. . . . Molleken, 59, is one of four coaches to have won more than 600 WHL regular-season games. His 603 victories trail only the retired Ken Hodge (742), Don Hay (637), who now is with the Kamloops Blazers, and Don Nachbaur (632) of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Molleken, who is from Regina, began his coaching career with the SJHL’s Weyburn Red Wings. In the WHL, he has been the head coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Regina Pats and Saskatoon Blades. He also has coached in the AHL and NHL. . . . In Vancouver, he takes over from Claude Noel, who wasn’t retained following the last season. Noel took over from Troy Ward, who was hired last summer and fired after 25 games. . . . Ward was hired after the Giants allowed Hay out of his contract in order for him to return to Kamloops. . . . The Giants have missed the playoffs in two of the past three seasons. . . . Daniel Nugent-Bowman has more on the Molleken signing right here.
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Steve Ewen, who covers the Giants for the Vancouver Province, takes a look right here at the team’s coaching situation. He says it’s time the organization changed its approach and started grooming future head coaches.
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With the Vancouver Giants having signed Lorne Mollken, it means that all 22 WHL teams now have head coaches in place. . . . Of those teams, three have made coaching changes since the 2014-15 season ended. . . . The Kootenay Ice hired Luke Pierce to replace Ryan McGill, who is believed to have been on Vancouver’s shortlist. . . . The Lethbridge Hurricanes hired Brent Kisio to take over from Peter Anholt, who will focus on his general manager’s duties. . . . Molleken, who turned 59 on June 11, is the third-oldest coach in the WHL, younger than only John Paddock of the Regina Pats, who turned 61 on June 9, and Don Hay of the Kamloops Blazers, who hit 61 on Feb. 13. . . . The youngest? Pierce will be 32 on Aug. 18, with Kisio scheduled to turn 33 on Dec. 15.
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The Spokane Chiefs have dealt D Tamas Laday, 19, to the Medicine Hat Tigers for an eighth-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft. Laday, a 6-foot-7, 215-pound Hungarian, had six assists in 60 games as a freshman last season with the Chiefs. . . . The trade allows the Chiefs, who also have Austrian F Dominic Zwerger on their roster, to select one player in today’s CHL import draft. They go into the draft with the 26th selection. . . . The Tigers also have German F Markus Eisenschmid on their roster. He had 44 points, including 19 goals, in 50 games last season, but at 20 years of age would be a two-spotter in 2015-16.
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The CHL import draft poses a lot of problems for WHL general managers because, in many instances, they don’t control a whole lot about it. So it’s always interesting to see what some of them have to say.
Here’s what John Paddock, the Regina Pats’ GM/head coach, told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post:
“It’s like picking a needle out of a haystack. You try to do your work. You have friends or people you know in the pro ranks that see these guys play. You talk to agents. You try to get as much information as you can.”
Paddock also said:
“You hope and pray. There are no guarantees of anything. When I looked around our league last year, there’s not a lot of significant Europeans. There’s the odd top one like (Leon) Draisaitl and (Ivan) Provorov, but with a lot of teams I couldn’t tell you who their Euros are.”
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, send an email to greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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Coaching

The QMJHL’s Charlottetown Islanders will introduce Jim Hulton as their new head coach on Thursday. . . . He will replace Gordie Dwyer, who was dropped after the Islanders didn’t get through the second round of the postseason. . . . Hulton, 46, has OHL coaching experience with the North Bay Centennials, Mississauga IceDogs, Belleville Bulls and Kingston Frontenacs. . . . He also spent three seasons (2008-11) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Florida Panthers. . . . Since 2011, Hulton has been the general manager and head coach of the USHL’s Tri-City Storm.
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Josh Hepditch, the former general manager and head coach of the junior B Creston Valley Thunder Cats of the Kootenay International junior league, has signed on as head coach of the County Aces, a junior A team that plays out of St. Stephen, N.B., in the Maritime Hockey League. . . . Last season, Hepditch was general manager and head coach of the MHL’s Amherst Ramblers.
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F Patrick D’Amico, who played out his eligibility with the Regina Pats last season, will attend the New Jersey Devils’ development camp. . . . F Tyler Soy, 18, of the Victoria Royals and F Jakob Stukel, 18, of the Vancouver Giants will be in the development camp of the Edmonton Oilers. . . . Tri-City Americans D Brendan O’Reilly, an 18-year-old from Southlake, Texas, will skate with the Dallas Stars. . . . F Terrell Draude, 18, of the Calgary Hitmen will be in camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning. . . . F Markus Eisenschmid, 20, of the Medicine Hat Tigers is to attend the Montreal Canadiens’ development camp. . . . D Justin Hamonic, who played with the Tri-City Americans as a 20-year-old last season, is going to camp with the Colorado Avalanche.
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The Calgary Hitmen have signed F Tristen Nielsen, the 19th overall selection in the 2015 bantam draft. Nielsen, from Fort St. John, B.C., played last season at the Edge School in Calgary. He had 97 points, including 59 goals, in 52 games with the bantam prep team.
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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed D Brandon Schuldhaus, who was a fifth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Schuldhaus, a 17-year-old native of Houston, Texas, who now lives in Calgary, has played two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn. Last season, with the midget AAA team, he had 12 points, five of them goals, in 31 games.
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Concussion Report

D Patrick Wey, 24, has retired from hockey after being unable to return from two concussions incurred less than a year apart. . . . Wey, from Pittsburgh, was a fourth-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2009 NHL draft. He had been playing with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . Mike Vogel, who writes for the Capitals, tweeted the news Monday morning. . . . Wey has said he will pursue “educational interests.” . . . Wey played 28 games in 2013-14 and just three games last season. . . . He suffered his first concussion in a fight on March 30, 2014, while up with the Capitals, then suffered the second one in the third game of last season, thanks to an elbow to the head.
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