Monday, November 28, 2016

Concussion forum set for Ottawa . . . Where are CHL power-brokers? . . . Hlinka tourney on move

D Jesse Dudas (Lethbridge, Prince George, Swift Current, Regina, 2003-09) has been released by TPS Turku (Liiga, Finland) due to injury. According to a TPS news release, "Dudas' upper body injury is worse than expected . . . season is over." He was injured in the only game in which he played. That was a Sept. 2 Champions League game against Liberec (Czech Republic) on Sept. 2. He scored one goal. . . .
F Dominik Volek (Regina, Red Deer, Vancouver, 2011-14) has returned to Sparta Prague (Czech Republic) from loan to České Budějovice (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). He was pointless in four games. He had been loaned out for one month on Nov. 16. . . .
F David Vrbata (Calgary, 2000-01) has signed a contract for the rest of this season with Benátky and Jizerou (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had five goals and six assists in 12 games with Neumarkt/Egna (Italy, Alps HL) before being released by mutual agreement on Nov. 3.
Concussion ReportSo . . . it has come to this!
“With the NHL and CFL dragging their feet on the issue of concussions,” writes Roy MacGregor of The Globe and Mail, “and no action on the government's part after the Prime Minister brought up the topic with cabinet ministers a year ago, the governor-general has decided to go it alone.
“David Johnston will hold a one-day forum titled ‘We Can Do Better’ at Rideau Hall to address rising public concern over the long-lasting effects of sport concussions.”
The conference is scheduled for Dec. 6 at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.
This meeting has been talked about for at least five years, and it finally will take place, thanks to Gov. Gen. Johnston, who played hockey and football at Harvard University. Before going on to Harvard, he suffered three concussions as a 16-year-old hockey player in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., so has some experience with brain injuries.
He is adamant that he is not at all interested in removing physical play from sports.
"First," he tells MacGregor, "I love sport myself, so I come at it with a passion. I love competitive sports and played in three sports at the competitive level. Secondly, we're not talking here so much about expertise in the game, whether it be hockey, football or baseball. We're talking about promotion of healthy living for our children. And healthy living includes physical activity. One of the finest forms of physical activity is sport, especially competitive sport.
"So how do we as a society organize ourselves so that our kids can play and play well and be safe? And when we speak of professional sport, I think that applies as well. If we are going to ask people to perform in this form of entertainment, we want to be sure that there is an understanding of risk and to mitigate those risks as best we can."
There has yet to be any indication that any representatives from major junior hockey — the CHL, OHL, QMJHL or WHL — will be involved. That, of course, is too bad, because the time has long since passed for these leagues to place an outright ban on fighting.
Dr. Charles Tator of the Canadian Concussion Centre at Toronto Western Hospital, who is an expert on brain injuries, will be involved with the conference.
"All parents, players, coaches and sports administrators have to wake up to the fact that you only get one brain,” Dr. Tator told MacGregor, “and it needs to be carefully protected, especially in kids and adolescents. We have to put more brain power and resources into preventing concussions and properly managing those that will still occur. So thank you Prime Minister and Governor-General for waving the red flag!"
MacGregor’s complete story is right here and should be widely read.
The Hockey News has published its annual Money and Power issue — the cover is dated Dec. 5. Included is a feature on the “100 people of power and influence” in the game of hockey.
Interestingly, the people involved in major junior hockey — there are 60 teams in the Canadian Hockey League, which governs the OHL, QMJHL and WHL — hardly rate a mention.
In fact, the only person in the top 100 who is actively involved in the CHL is David Branch, who doubles as the CHL president and OHL commissioner. Branch stayed steady at No. 22 from last year to this.
I was able to find 10 others on the list with at least a tie to the WHL, but there was nary a mention of either Ron Robison, the league’s commissioner, or Bruce Hamilton, the chairman of the board of governors who runs the Kelowna Rockets.
The Hockey News refers to Branch as “the most progressive executive in the game,” but there are no other power-brokers in the top 100 who are active in the OHL, QMJHL or WHL.
Here are the 10 with ties to the WHL:
8. G Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens played for the Tri-City Americans (2003-07).
11. Murray Edwards is a co-owner of the Calgary Flames, who own the Calgary Hitmen.
18. Dave Andrews is the president of the AHL and former coach of the Victoria Cougars (1982-84) before they moved to Prince George.
31. Ken Holland is the Detroit Red Wings’ executive vice-president of hockey operations and general manager; he tended goal for the Medicine Hat Tigers (1974-76).
37. Tom Renney, the president and CEO of Hockey Canada, is a former head coach of the Kamloops Blazers (1990-92).
50. Dale Purinton, a defenceman and enforcer with the Tacoma Rockets, Kelowna Rockets and Lethbridge Hurricanes (1994-97), is, as The Hockey News puts it, at “the forefront of players’ concussion lawsuit against the NHL.”
61. Mike Babock is the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs; he played in the WHL with the Saskatoon Blades (1980-81) and Kelowna Wings (1982-83) and coached in the WHL with the Moose Jaw Warriors (1991-93) and Spokane Chiefs (1994-2000).
72. Ken Hitchcock, the head coach of the St. Louis Blues, spent six seasons (1984-90) has head coach of the Kamloops Blazers.
85. Brian Burke, the president of hockey operations with the Calgary Flames, has in the past owned a piece of two WHL teams — the Tri-City Americans and Chilliwack Bruins.
98. Ray Ferraro, a former NHL player who now is a hockey analyst with TSN, played with the Portland Winterhawks (1982-83) and Brandon Wheat Kings (1983-84), setting the WHL’s single-season goal record (108) with the Wheaties.
That’s all, folks.
What makes the lack of major junior pooh-bahs on the list concerning is that this is a crucial time for the game at that level. There is a move afoot at the professional level to make first-round NHL draft picks eligible to play in the AHL as 19-year-olds. For example, that would have allowed the New York Islanders to put F Mathew Barzal in the AHL this season, rather than return him to the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Those discussions are on-going, along with talk of perhaps altering the draft-eligible age.
John Paddock, the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats, is trying to put on a happy face, but a decision by the CHL will play into the plans of a host team to prepare for the 2018 Memorial Cup. The Pats and two OHL teams — the Hamilton Bulldogs and Oshawa Generals — are the finalists but the decision isn't to be announced until February, well after the Jan. 10 trade deadline. In comparison, the Red Deer Rebels, learned in October 2014 that they had been selected to play host to the 2016 tournament. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has two stories on this subject right here.
The Prince Albert Raiders have dropped D Cam Reagan, 19, from their roster. He is expected to join the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. . . . Reagan, from Sherwood Park, Alta., had two assists in 18 games with the Raiders. He was acquired from the Kamloops Blazers on Sept. 26, in exchange for a seventh-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . He was selected by Kamloops in the fourth round of the 2012 bantam draft. In 117 regular-season WHL games, 99 of them with Kamloops, Reagan has 10 assists.
The NHL’s Florida Panthers kicked head coach Gerard Gallant to the curb on Sunday, in Raleigh, N.C., leaving him standing on it while he waited for a cab. The Panthers, who had a pretty good season in 2015-16, have moved out a lot of good hockey people in the past few months. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News writes: “If there’s anyone out there who can figure out exactly what the game plan is with the Florida Panthers these days, feel free to let us know.” . . . That piece is right here.
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The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, a tournament that is owned by the Czech Ice Hockey Association and the Slovakian Ice Hockey Federation, will be played in Edmonton in 2018, 2020 and 2022. This tournament is played annually in August and features the best under-18 players from eight countries. Dates of the 2018 tournament haven’t yet been announced. The Hockey Canada news release is right here. . . . 
Hockey Canada is scheduled to announce the roster for the national junior team’s selection camp this morning. It is expected that 30 players, plus or minus a couple, will be invited to the camp that is scheduled for Blainville, Que., Dec. 11-14. . . . The Brandon Wheat Kings finished the trek to Victoria on Monday and, if you’re wondering, F Nolan Patrick didn’t make the trip. He hasn’t played since Oct. 11 as he deals with a situation that is related to sports hernia surgery he underwent in July. . . .
According to Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province, F Johnny Wesley of the Vancouver Giants didn’t practise on Monday afternoon, which makes him “doubtful” for tonight’s game against the visiting Prince George Cougars. . . .
F Eli Zummack, 16, will be staying “indefinitely” on the roster of the Spokane Chiefs, according to the team. Zummack, from Kelowna, has been with the Chiefs since Nov. 23. He had been playing with the Kelowna-based Okanagan Rockets of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. He has two points in five games with the Chiefs. . . . 
The Kootenay Ice has recalled D Bobby Russell, 16, from the Valley West Hawks of the B.C. Major Midget Hockey League. Russell was a sixth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. He is pointless in one earlier game with the Ice, and has 13 points, three of them goals, in 16 games with the Hawks. . . . The Ice also has returned F Eli Lieffers, 16, to the major midget Saskatoon Contacts. Lieffers, a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft, had one goal in four games with the Ice. Before reporting to Kootenay, had had 13 points, two of them goals, in 16 games with the Contacts. 



No Games Scheduled.

TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Prince Albert at Medicine Hat, 7 p.m.
Prince George vs. Vancouver, at Langley, B.C., 7 p.m.

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