Monday, November 21, 2016

WHL Guide? Where is it? ... Ice in brutal stretch of schedule ... Pats finalist for 2018 Memorial Cup

Scattershoot

Scattershooting on a Monday evening while watching an NFL game from Mexico City and wondering why there isn’t a franchise there . . .

The WHL’s regular season is almost one-third of the way to done and yet the 2016-17 Guide isn’t ready for download. As if it isn’t enough that the league no longer offers a printed guide for sale, now it seems that it can’t even deliver an on-line version in good time.
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I spoke with one WHL GM recently who suggests soft attendance at mid-week games indicates that at least some thought should be given to (a) shortening the 72-game regular season and (b) adding one weekend to its end. It’s hard to disagree with that argument. A 64- or 66-game regular season would allow more practice time, too.
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If you don’t think it’s time to do something about the WHL schedule, consider that the Kootenay Ice is about to embark on a stretch of four games in five nights FOR THE SECOND STRAIGHT WEEK! . . . The Ice played at home Nov. 15, in Lethbridge on Nov. 16, and back at home on Nov 18 and 19. . . . This week, it’s at home on Wednesday, in Red Deer on Friday and back home on Friday and Saturday. . . . It says here that the teenagers in this league deserve better than that. . . . Also, do you think playing six home games — that’s 17 per cent of a team’s home schedule — in a stretch of 12 days might be a bit much?
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If you’re waiting for a WHL franchise to land in Nanaimo, don’t hold your breath. Were a private investor to build a facility there, a team would appear in the Vancouver Island city in a hurry. But there isn’t any such person/group on the horizon.
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Spoke with a WHL coach recently and he bemoaned the amount of checking from behind that goes on in an average game. In fact, he admitted that he fears there will be tragic consequences if things don’t change.
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Remember when the Green Bay Packers were a force to be reckoned with in the NFL? What happened?
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Spoke with a pharmacist the other night who told me only about 30 per cent of people get flu shots. As someone whose wife lives with a suppressed immune system after having a kidney transplant, I am asking you to get a flu shot, if you haven’t already.
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Isn’t it time for hockey to take the cross-check to the back out of the game? It really is amazing how the cross-check continually is allowed to weasel its way back into hockey as a legitimate defensive play. Yes, it’s back in the WHL and it’s back in the NHL.
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It may be hard to wrap your head around the Prince George Cougars as a legitimate Memorial Cup threat — likely because of the struggles the franchise has experienced in recent seasons — but the acquisition of D Brendan Guhle on Friday puts them squarely in the conversation. With the Cougars, Guhle won’t have to be the star attraction; he won’t have to feel that he’s got the entire team on his shoulders, like he did with the Prince Albert Raiders. If the Cougars can maintain their discipline the way they did in a recent 7-0 blitzing of the host Kamloops Blazers, well, look out.
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The Postmedia scalpel has taken a chunk out of the newsroom at my old paper, the Regina Leader-Post. Eight friends have taken buyouts and that includes Ian Hamilton, who worked for me during my run as the sports editor there. Hamilton is the best reporter/writer/copy editor with whom I have worked. It hurts to see the newspaper industry cast aside so many great journalists and you really have to wonder about Postmedia’s end game, if it even has one. . . . The other day, a friend brought me a copy of the Winnipeg Free Press from Saturday, Nov. 12. As I devoured it, I realized that there are some people out there who continue to operate a real newspaper.
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F Zach Hamill (Everett, 2004-08) has signed for the rest of this season with Björklöven Umeå (Sweden, Allsvenskan). Last season, with Fribourg-Gottéron (Switzerland, NL A), he had five goals and two assists in nine games. He also had a goal and three assists in eight games with Ambrì-Piotta (same), and four goals and seven assists in 24 games with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL). . . .
F Brandon McMillan (Kelowna, 2006-10) has been released by Medveščak Zagreb (Croatia, KHL), which allows him to sign for the rest of this season with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL). This season, he had nine goals and six assists in 31 games with Medveščak. . . . The McMillan transaction was a trade, with Medveščak receiving “monetary compensation” from Torpedo in exchange for McMillan.
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The Regina Pats are one step closer to playing host to the 2018 Memorial Cup tournament. On Monday, the CHL revealed that the Pats and two OHL teams — the Hamilton Bulldogs and Oshawa Generals — have been shortlisted as potential host teams. . . . The tournament, which is scheduled for May 17-27, 2018, features four teams — a host team and the champions from the WHL, OHL and QMJHL. . . . The 2018 event will celebrate 100 years of the Memorial Cup. The Pats will celebrate their 100th anniversary season in 2017-18. . . . The host team is to be named sometime in February, with formal bid presentations to be made at some point before then. . . . The 2017 tournament is scheduled for Windsor with the OHL’s Spitfires as the host team. . . . The tournament normally is passed among the leagues on a rotated basis. That was changed for 2018 because of it being the 100th anniversary of the trophy and all 60 CHL teams were allowed to bid on it. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here on the story, including an update on the Pats’ lease with the Regina Exhibition Associated Ltd., which expired on May 31.
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The Kootenay Ice has acquired F Jake Elmer, who will turn 18 on Dec. 31, from the Regina Pats for a ninth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. The Calgarian was a sixth-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he was pointless in 17 games with the Pats, and had a goal and three assists in 20 games with the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. This season, with the Storm, he had 12 points, including nine goals, in 20 games. . . . The Ice is carrying 23 players, including seven defencemen and 14 forwards.
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The AJHL’s board of governors has voted to move to one division from two for the 2018-19 season. With that, all teams will play a fully interlocking schedule, with each of the 16 teams playing each opponent four times — two at home and two away. . . . Interestingly, the AJHL also is going away from its system of signing prospective players to White Cards; instead, it will use a system involving Letters of Intent. . . . There is more on the AJHL meeting right here.
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The AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners have postponed Tuesday and Wednesday home games as F Craig Cunningham, their captain, continues to fight for his life in a Tucson hospital. Cunningham, who played for the WHL’s Vancouver Giants and Portland Winterhawks, collapsed prior to a game against the visiting Manitoba Moose on Saturday night. That game also was postponed. . . . TSN’s Bob McKenzie has more on the Cunningham story right here. . . . As of Monday afternoon, Cunningham was listed in critical but stable condition.
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If you’ve got a comment, some information you would like to pass along, or if you just want to say hello, feel free to contact me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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MONDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.
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TUESDAY’S GAMES (all times local):

Red Deer at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Regina at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Edmonton vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Saskatoon at Swift Current, 7 p.m.

Kelowna at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.

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