Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ice on thin ice? . . . Will Gallacher kick Penguins' tires? . . . New look for Cougars

SCATTERSHOOTING, with apologies to Blackie Sherrod:

1. Well, Game 1 of the NHL’s Stanley Cup final wasn’t much, at least not until the final five minutes. The Tampa Bay Lightning was nursing a 1-0 lead when it started playing a 1-3-1 defence in the neutral zone in the third period. Shortly afterwards, the Chicago Blackhawks started to dominate and, of course, they won 2-1 with two late goals.
2. The Lethbrige Hurricanes will remain community-owned. They also are attempting to sell 2,000 shares at $1,000 apiece. Does that mean the opportunity is there for someone to purchase those shares for $200,000, spread them among friends and acquaintances, and control the next shareholders’ vote on whether to sell?
3. Hey, it’s not like there isn’t precedent for an end-run like that in the WHL.
4. Tampa Bay F Tyler Johnson has had a terrific spring, as has Chicago F Jonathan Toews. But the best player in the playoffs is Chicago D Duncan Keith and, really, it isn’t that close.
5. If you missed the performance turned in by Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon on Tuesday night, hunt it up and give it a look. It wasn’t quite in Lou Piniella country, but it was close.
6. The Kootenay Ice’s average attendance in 2014-15 was 2,239. WHL commissioner Ron Robison has told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman that the figure needs to be at 3,000 or better in 2015-16. Or else . . . Abbotsford Ice?
7. The NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs have at least talked with Kelly McCrimmon, the owner, general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings. The Leafs have been hiring major junior executives the way a Greyhound bus takes on passengers. McCrimmon would like nothing better than to be given opportunity at the NHL level. But I can’t see him leaving at this point, not when his Wheat Kings have been built with next season in mind.
8. The more I think about Kootenay hiring Luke Pierce as its new head coach, the more I like it. Hey, what’s not to like. How many WHL coaches have degrees from Royal Military College? Pierce has a BA (psychology major, business minor) and an MBA (concentration in strategic management). He also spent six seasons as the GM/head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials. Merritt just happens to be his hometown. So he is no stranger to pressure.
9. The NBA Finals — it’s the NBA Finals and the NHL final — starts tonight, meaning it’s Steph versus LeBron. According to Ray Ratto of, the cheapest seat for Game 1 was going for US$638, with the priciest at $58,000. Seriously!
10. Should we be surprised that Dennis Rodman apparently has said he would like to date Caitlyn Jenner?

F Brett McLean (Tacoma/Kelowna, Brandon, 1994-99) signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Lugano (Switzerland, NL A), he had nine goals and 21 assists in 47 games. He was an alternate captain. . . .
F Brett Palin (Kelowna, 2000-05) signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, as an alternate captain with Mora (Sweden, Allsvenskan), Palin had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .
F Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-09) signed a one-year contract with the Hull Stingrays (England, UK Elite). This season, with the Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2), he had 24 points, including nine goals, in 45 games.
Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, has reiterated that if the Kootenay Ice’s attendance doesn’t improve in 2015-16, the franchise’s future in Cranbrook may come to an end.
“It’s reached a very critical stage,” Robison told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Daily Townsman. “I think it’s something we’re going to have to determine this year. If things aren’t improving, I don’t believe ownership or the league will be in a position to continue to support the franchise remaining in Cranbrook. It’s a very critical season coming up. We need to see more support in order to get us to a position where we have confidence in the market moving forward, but at this stage, we’re very concerned about the future of the franchise.”
Rocca’s story includes a chart showing the Ice’s average attendance each season. It was 3,635 in 2000-01 and 2,239 this season.
Robison told Rocca:
“We recognize Cranbrook is a small market in relation to other markets. I think back to when the franchise moved into Cranbrook and the goal and certainly the requirement at that time was to draw a minimum of 2,800 fans. What we see now is (that) it’s going to have to be something in excess of 3,000 a game. When you look at the attendance this year, that’s certainly a long way from where we need to be.”
I’m thinking Luke Pierce, the Ice’s new head coach, should rent for the first year.
Rocca’s story is right here.

Owners Ron Burkle and Mario Lemieux are exploring the their options in terms of selling the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.
Don’t be surprised if you hear that Bill Gallacher, the owner of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks and the NHLKloten Flyers of Switzerland’s NL A, is kicking the tires.
According to a news released from the Penguins, they “have engaged Morgan Stanley to oversee a review of their strategic options.”
Burkle and Lemieux are the lead owners in a group that has owned the franchise for 16 years.
“We conduct periodic reviews of our business and, because we have received several inquiries about the franchise in recent years, we decided to engage Morgan Stanley for their insight and counsel,” Lemieux and Burkle said in a joint statement. “After buying the team out of bankruptcy, ensuring its long-term future in Pittsburgh and creating a strong foundation for continued success, we believe it is time to explore our options.”
Bob McKenzie, TSN’s lead hockey insider, reported right here: “It doesn't mean Burkle and Lemieux are necessarily getting out but they are looking at various options. It's believed Lemieux, perhaps more than Burkle, may have an interest in getting his equity share out of the franchise.”
According to Pittsburgh’s news release, the Penguins “have made the playoffs for nine straight seasons, the second-longest active streak in the NHL. They have sold out 377 straight games, dating back to February 2007, and have led the NHL’s U.S.-based teams in local television ratings for six straight years.”
Gallacher purchased the Winterhawks over the summer of 2008. He bought majority ownership in the Flyers earlier this year.
It is believed that Gallacher has long been interested in owning an NHL franchise, but he has been patient in waiting for what he feels is the right franchise at the right time.
Mike Johnston, who just finished his first season as the Penguins’ head coach, spent the previous six seasons as the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach. You can bet that he will have provided Gallacher with a lot of inside information on the Pittsburgh franchise.
Earlier this year, Forbes magazine valued the Penguins at US$550 million.
The Prince George Cougars, who are preparing for a second season under their new ownership group, unveiled a new logo on Wednesday. The 2015-16 season will be the franchise’s 22nd in Prince George.
“It was very important for us to respect the history of both the Prince George Cougars name and logo during this process, particularly since two of our owners (Dan Hamhuis and Eric Brewer) played such a vital part in helping create this team’s identity when they played in Prince George,” Cougars president Greg Pocock said in a news release.“This is another historic moment for the Prince George Cougars franchise. Our new logo keeps the similar color scheme that our fans have come to know and love, while also providing a new identifiable symbol that will help unite our fans as the excitement and passion continues to build for all that lies ahead for us.” . . . The logo was designed by Mike Doran of Prince George-based Splash Media. . . . This will be the Cougars’ fourth logo since they relocated from Victoria after 1993-94. . . . For more on the Cougars and their Wednesday announcements, click right here.
The fifth annual Hockey Coaches Conference is scheduled for July 24 and 25 in Vancouver. Presenters announced to date include NHL head coaches Willie Desjardins and Mike Johnston; Toronto Maple Leafs AGM Kyle Dubas; Mike Valley, the Dallas Stars’ goaltender coach; Roger Takahashi, the Canucks’ strength and conditioning coach; and, Scott Salmond, vice-president, hockey operations and national teams with Hockey Canada. . . . For lots more info, check out the website right here.


Ron Wilson, a veteran NHL coach, is expected to be named head coach of the U.S. national junior team this morning. Wilson, 60, was fired as the head coach of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs late in the 2011-12 season. Prior to that, he spent three seasons as an assistant coach with the Vacnouver Canucks, four as the head coach of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, five as head coach of the Washington Capitals and five as head coach of the San Jose Sharks.
The junior B Kelowna Chiefs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League have signed Ryan Jorde and Lennie Rampone as assistant coaches. Jorde and Rampone, both of whom are from Kelowna, will work alongside head coach Jason Tansem. . . . Jorde, 34, spent the past four seasons coaching at the Pursuit of Excellence Academy. He played parts of five seasons in the WHL (Tri-City Americans, Lethbridge Hurricanes, Moose Jaw Warriors, 1997-2002). . . . Rampone, 36, captained the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers when they won the 1999 RBC Cup as national junior A champions. Of late, he has coached in Calgary and Kelowna.

 In the ECHL, the South Carolina Stingrays scored a 4-1 victory over the host Allen Americans in Game 3 of the Kelly Cup final. . . . The Stingrays hold a 2-1 lead, with the next three games in their home arena. . . . Attendance for Game 3 was 3,604. . . . Allen held a 40-28 edge in shots. . . . The series will resume with games in North Charleston, S.C., on Sunday and Tuesday. Game 6, if needed, would be played on Wednesday.

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