F Judd Blackwater (Spokane, 2005-08) signed a one-year contract with Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Ontario Reign (ECHL), he had 35 goals and 28 assists in 59 games. . . .
F Jason Jaffray (Edmonton/Kootenay, Swift Current, 1997-2002) signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Munich (Germany, DEL). Last season, he had 12 goals and 10 assists in 36 games with the St. John's Ice Caps (AHL). He was the team captain for the past four seasons. . . .
G Rastislav Staňa (Moose Jaw, Calgary, 1998-2000) announced he is taking a “time out” from hockey due to heart problems. Staňa hasn’t been cleared by doctors for any activity. He contracted pneumonia last season and then doctors discovered weakened heart functions and inflammation of the heart muscle. Last season, with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he was 2.57, .903 in 13 games. . . .
D Art Bidlevskii (Prince George, Regina, 2007-12) signed a one-year contract with Kallinge/Ronneby (Sweden, Division 1). Last season, with the Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL), he had three assists in 13 games. . . .
F Jonas Johansson (Kamloops, 2002-04) signed a one-year contract with the Stavanger Oilers (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, with Lausitzer Füchse Weisswasser (Germany, DEL2), he had 56 points, including 36 assists, in 44 games. He led his team in assists and points.
Kelly McCrimmon has turned down an offer to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, so will stay in Brandon where he is the owner/general manager and head coach of the Wheat Kings.
McCrimmon, 54, was offered a front-office position with the Maple Leafs sometime in the past month. But as time wore on and there wasn’t a decision, it seemed apparent that McCrimmon would turn down the offer. He made that announcement on Monday afternoon.
“With our team expected to contend this season,” McCrimmon, the WHL’s executive of the year for 2014-15, said in a news release, “I felt I owed it to the group to stay here and try to help us take the next step.”
The Wheat Kings had the WHL’s best regular-season record last season, at 53-11-8, and reached the Ed Chynoweth Cup final, where they were swept by the Kelowna Rockets.
Still, many observers feel the Wheat Kings got that far a year ahead of schedule and that the 2015-16 season will be their time.
"I think our players are focused and committed on trying to win and I want to be part of that," McCrimmon told Bruce Luebke, the team’s radio voice. “And, I feel that as the owner, general manager and head coach, I've got a responsibility to be part of that so that was the over-riding factor in the decision.”
If you know McCrimmon, you know that the last paragraph truthfully describes why he made the decision he did. He has a roster full of players who are there, at least in part, because they believe in McCrimmon and expect him to be there to see this process through to its end. McCrimmon knows that and you can bet that he would have had a whole lot of sleepless nights had he turned his back and walked away from them.
Here’s what McCrimmon told Rob Henderson, the Brandon Sun’s sports editor:
“I’m extremely fortunate to do what I do in Brandon. I’m very proud of our organization, I enjoy the people that I work with, I enjoy our players, so again that’s rewarding and something that I’ve always taken a lot of fulfilment out of.
“The opportunity in Toronto to get in on a ground floor with an Original Six franchise, working with people there that I know I would have really enjoyed, and the work needing to be done there would have been real challenging, real stimulating. . . . That’s what made the decision as difficult as it was.”
The Edmonton Oilers dropped two more people from their front-office staff on Monday, both of whom have ties to the WHL. Dave Semenko, one of the Oilers’ pro scouts, and Billy Moores, who was working in an advisory role with the coaching staff, both were let go. . . . Semenko played for the Brandon Wheat Kings (1975-78), while Moores played four seasons (1966-70) with the Edmonton Oil Kings. Moores, one of the truly nice people in hockey, was the Regina Pats’ general manager and head coach for one season (1985-86).
From Kevin Oklobzija of the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle:
“Former Rochester Americans and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Paetsch faces eight months home detention and must pay the U.S. government $265,000 as punishment for his role in an illegal gambling operation that was shut down last summer.
Paetsch, 32, pleaded guilty on Monday morning to two charges relating to an off-shore gambling enterprise run out of The Marina Restaurant and Bar in Charlotte.”
That story is right here.
Paetsch is from LeRoy, Sask. He played four seasons (1999-2003) with the Moose Jaw Warriors. A pro since 2003-04, he has played the last three seasons with the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins.
F Jarret Stoll of the Los Angeles Kings has been charged with one count of possession of a controlled substance (cocaine). He was arrested in April while he and some teammates were in Las Vegas shortly after their season ended. . . . Stoll, 32, is from Melville, Sask. He played four seasons (1998-2002) with the Kootenay Ice. . . . In terms of his NHL career, he will become an unrestricted free agent on June 1. He has played the past seven seasons with the Kings.
Eric Duhatschek, the veteran hockey writer who scribbles on behalf of The Globe and Mail, has seen enough of the grinding hockey that now is too often on display in NHL games. It seems that the recently completed Stanley Cup final, in which the Chicago Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning combined to score fewer than four goals per game, was the tipping point. It is time, Duhatschek writes right here, to make the nets larger.
THE COACHING GAME:Terry Virtue has resigned as head coach of the Canon-McMillan hockey team. Canon-McMillan is a school district located south of Pittsburgh. . . . According to a Canon-McMillan news release, Virtue is moving to the Worcester, Mass., area “to pursue other opportunities.” . . . A defenceman, Virtue played two seasons (Victoria Cougars, Tri-City, Portland, 1989-91) in the WHL and later was an assistant coach with the Americans for three seasons. . . . During his pro career, he played six seasons with the AHL’s Worcester IceHawks and is in that city’s sports hall of fame. . . . In two seasons at Canon-McMillan, he was 28-14-2. The program won its second Penguins Cup championship last season.
The WHL says it will release its exhibition schedule today and its regular-season schedule on Wednesday. Release time both days is 11 a.m., Mountain time.
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If I were named commissioner of all sports TV I would cull overpopulated herd of studio analysts by half and donate spare chairs to charity.— Neil Best (@sportswatch) June 23, 2015
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