Tuesday, August 2, 2016

McCrimmon move made official; Guard down in P.A.

F Tim Traber (Chilliwack/Victoria, Vancouver, 2009-14) has signed a two-year extension with Genève-Servette (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, he was pointless in nine games with Genève-Servette, and had one goal in two games while on loan to La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland, NL B). . . .
F Chase Schaber (Calgary, Kamloops, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, he was pointless in two games with the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. . . .
D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, he was pointless in three games with the Binghamton Senators (AHL), and also had six goals and 24 assists in 61 games with the Evansville Icemen (ECHL).
The WHL and the Brandon Wheat Kings both took hits on Tuesday as the NHL’s Las Vegas franchise made it official -- Kelly McCrimmon has signed on as assistant general manager.
McCrimmon owns the Wheat Kings; he also is the team’s general manager and head coach. On top of that, he is one of the two most powerful men in the WHL — I would suggest that McCrimmon and Bruce Hamilton, the president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets who is the chairman of
Kelly McCrimmon is leaving the Brandon Wheat Kings to join
the NHL's new Las Vegas franchise.
(Photo: wheatkings.com)
the WHL’s board of governors, are 1A and 1B, depending upon which way the wind is blowing.
McCrimmon has been a member of the board of governors’ executive committee for six years, and he is chairman of the competition committee. He also is a team owner who understands that that league’s strength is in its whole, not in its individual clubs.
McCrimmon played two seasons (1978-80) with the Wheat Kings. He returned to the Wheat Kings in 1988 and has been part of the organization since then, buying one-third of the franchise in 1992 and purchasing the rest in 2000.
With McCrimmon in charge, the Wheat Kings have more victories since 1992 than any other team in the CHL.
McCrimmon, who met the media in Brandon on Tuesday afternoon, has had NHL thoughts for a few years now. A year ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs offered him an AGM’s post. However, McCrimmon had built the Wheat Kings for a championship run in 2015-16, so he chose to stay in Brandon. The Wheat Kings went on to win the Ed Chynoweth Cup so will celebrate their 50th anniversary season as the WHL’s reigning champions.
Soon to be 56 years of age, McCrimmon also fully realizes that the sands of time continue their inevitable run. He also understands that it can all end in a hurry, as it did for his brother, Brad, who hadn’t yet worked a game as head coach of the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl when he was killed in a plane crash on Sept. 7, 2011.
You can bet that Kelly thought about all that and more before making the decision to join Las Vegas.
He also has never been one to turn away from a challenge, and what can be more challenging than building an NHL team from the ground up?
“The timing was better this year and I'm grateful for that because this would have been a really difficult opportunity to pass up,” McCrimmon told Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun. “Making this (decision) was about the quality of the opportunity, the uniqueness and the chance to be in a position to be on the ground floor to help build a franchise, shape the identity of the franchise and to help develop the culture that will be who we are.”
Wiebe’s story is right here.
McCrimmon also said the Wheat Kings aren’t going to be sold.
“Our family will continue to own the hockey club,” McCrimmon said in a news release. “I look forward to offering leadership, guidance and resources for the team to continue to be successful. The strength of our organization is the people and we will have some announcements soon with respect to the open positions.”
With McCrimmon now only the owner, the Wheat Kings have openings for a governor, general manager and head coach. Whether that is one, two or three people remains to be seen.
The Wheat Kings, who open camp on Aug. 30, also need an athletic therapist, Josh Guenther having left after three seasons to join the Red Deer Rebels.
As well, the Wheat Kings will have a new radio voice for the first time since 1993, long-time play-by-play man Bruce Luebke and radio station CKLQ having parted company last week.
That is a lot of upheaval for an organization that has been long on stability in recent years. It will be interesting to watch this unfold and see how the team reacts to all of the change.
And a tip of the cap to Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) of The Pipeline Show for being first with the McCrimmon-to-Vegas story.
Kelly Guard no longer is an assistant coach with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders, but he is staying on as a goaltending consultant. His contract as an assistant coach expired following last season. . . . Guard actually was hired as goaltending coach and strength-and-conditioning coach during 2012-13. Prior to 2014-15, he was moved into an assistant coach role. . . . For now, at least, the Raiders are left with two coaches -- head coach Marc Habscheid and associate coach Dave Manson. . . . “We’ve got two very good, experienced coaches and when you look around the league, both scenarios work — the three-man system and the two-man system,” general manager Curtis Hunt told Jeff D’Andrea of paNOW. “We’ll discuss that and we’ve been discussing that as a group, but time’s getting late here. We’re not going to do a formal search, but we’ve kicked around some ideas of what we want to do. We can run two [coaches] plus a consultant or we can look at options of bringing another guy in. That will be determined over the next quick, little while.”
There are five WHL players on the 22-man roster of the team that will represent Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup that runs Aug. 8-13 in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia. . . . Team Canada has won the last eight of these tournaments. . . . The WHL players are G Ian Scott of the Prince Albert Raiders, D Jonathan Smart of the Kelowna Rockets, F Jordy Bellerive of the Lethbridge Hurricanes, F Stelio Mattheos of the Brandon Wheat Kings and F Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans. . . . Paul McFarland of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs is the head coach, former Seattle Thunderbirds assistant Darren Rumble, now with the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, and Mark French of the Calgary Hitmen as the assistants. . . . Canada is in Group B with Russia, Slovakia and Sweden. Canada will meet Czech Republic in a tuneup on Saturday and opens the tournament Monday against Slovakia.
Concussion Report
Gabriel Landeskog, the captain of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, suffered a concussion in January 2013. It happened late in the first period, but he came back and finished the game. Of course, he did. . . . Writing at The Players’ Tribune, Landeskog explains why he returned to the game, and he also writes about what followed over the next few weeks. “Unlike broken bones, concussions are invisible,” he writes, “and that means that everyone in the hockey community needs to unite and redefine what we mean by toughness and warrior mentality. If we continue to keep quiet, it’s sending the message that taking time to recover is not right, or that it’s a sign of weakness. We have to stand up and speak up.” . . . That piece is right here.
Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
The NHL’s Vancouver Canucks have hired Jason King as an assistant coach for their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. He will work alongside head coach Travis Green, assistant coach Nolan Baumgartner and Roland Melanson, who is their goaltending coach and also is involved in player development. . . . After retiring as a player, King spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps. Last season, King was director of hockey operations with the IceCaps. . . . In Utica, King replaces Paul Jerrard, who now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Calgary Flames.

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