Monday, May 29, 2017

WHL and fighting: What next? ... Doing some Scattershooting ... Rosetown gets Allan Cup

Scattershoot

MLB became less watchable Monday when the Anaheim Angels put outfielder Mike Trout, the game’s premier player, on the DL with a thumb injury that will need surgery. He was injured on a headfirst slide into second base. Hopefully, at least some players will take notice and stop sliding in that fashion.
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On Oct. 7, 2014, in Game 1 of the NLDS, Bryce Harper of the visiting Washington Nationals hit a 445-foot bomb off pitcher Hunter Strickland of the San Francisco Giants. Harper stood and watched as the ball sailed over the right-field wall and into McCovey Cove. On Monday, the two met up again, and again it was in San Francisco. This time, Strickland drilled Harper in the right hip with a 97 mph fastball and a basebrawl ensued. Talk about carrying a grudge!
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I have lived in B.C. for more than 17 years and thought I had seen everything on the political front. Until now, that is. If you aren’t aware, we had a provincial election earlier this month. In that election, the ruling party won more seats than anyone else and got more of the popular vote. But it was close. The result is that a party that won three seats (out of 87) is calling the shots and is about to enter into a four-year deal with the second-place finisher in an attempt to take over. No word on whether the deal includes a no-trade clause. . . . Only in B.C., folks. Only in B.C.
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“Ringling Brothers has packed its tent after 146 years,” writes Cam Hutchinson of the Saskatoon Express. “Word is the Trump administration has hired the clowns.” . . . Any clowns still unemployed are free to visit B.C.
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Is there a political or sporting leader out there today who is better at putting lipstick on a pig than NHL commish Gary Bettman? . . . Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star has a piece right here on Bettman’s state-of-the-NHL address that was given prior to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final.
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In Gary Bettman’s NHL, a goal is disallowed via video review because a skate was hovering over a blue line a few seconds earlier, thus the play was ruled offside. Meanwhile, referees choose to turn a blind eye to numerous other fouls. Yes, it’s all a head-scratcher, or a forehead-slapper.

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You know how the NFL protects its quarterbacks? When will the NHL start doing the same with its goaltenders?
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RJ Currie of SportsDeke.com reports: “Tom Brady is promoting an Aston Martin that starts at US$212,000. Yahoo Sports calls the price ridiculously expensive; Gisele Bundchen calls it chump change.”
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Headline on the front page of Tuesday’s New York Daily News and New York Post: DUI OF THE TIGER. . . . The headlines are accompanied by mugshots of Tiger Woods, of course.
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The 2018 Allan Cup will be decided in Rosetown, Sask., April 9-14. The Allan Cup goes to Canada’s senior AAA hockey champion. Rosetown is the home of the Red Wings, who play in the aptly named Chinook Hockey League. G Taran Kozun, who had a pretty good run with the Seattle Thunderbirds for part of 2013-14 and all of 2014-15 after being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers , played with the Red Wings this season.
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F Mitch Wahl (Spokane, 2005-10) has signed a one-year contract with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). This season, with Ilves Tampere (Finland, Liiga), he had a goal and three assists in 16 games. He also played with Västervik (Sweden, Allsvenskan), putting up six goals and eight assists in 23 games, and had a goal and five assist in eight games with Oskarshamn (Sweden, Allsvenskan).
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Prior to the start of this season, the OHL issued another crackdown on fighting.
The OHL’s board of governors decided that a player would be suspended once he had been involved in three fights and again for every fight after that. That standard had been 10 since the start of the 2012-13 season.
The OHL didn’t have any players with more than 10 fights in 2014-15 or 2015-16. This season, the OHL’s pugilistic leader fought eight times. There was one player with five fights, 11 with four and another 24 with three.
According to hockeyfights.com, the OHL had 167 fights this season, down from 315 in 2015-16 and 359 in 2014-15.
The QMJHL had 288 fights in 2016-17, while the WHL had 394.
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Here, from hockeyfights.com, is a look at the number of fights in the OHL (20 teams), QMJHL (18) and WHL (22) over the past five regular seasons, with the average number of fights per game in parentheses. . . .
OHL:
2012-13: 474 (.697)
2013-14: 473 (.696)
2014-15: 359 (.528)
2015-16: 315 (.463)
2016-17: 167 (.246)
QMJHL:
2012-13: 408 (.667)
2013-14: 445 (.727)
2014-15: 406 (.663)
2015-16: 309 (.505)
2016-17: 288 (.471)
WHL:
2012-13: 666 (.841)
2013-14: 679 (.857)
2014-15: 467 (.511)
2015-16: 393 (.496)
2016-17: 394 (.497)
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While fighting has declined markedly in the OHL, that hasn’t quite been the case in the WHL where there aren’t any OHL-like limitations.
This season, according to hockeyfights.com, there were 788 fighting majors handed out in the WHL, meaning that there were 394 fights, an average of half a fight per game.
This season, the WHL had six players with 10 or more fights, with a total of 112 involved in at least three scraps.
If you were wondering, 11 of the WHL’s 22 teams had at least 36 fights, led by the Vancouver Giants (48), Lethbridge Hurricanes (46), Spokane Chiefs (45), and Edmonton Oil Kings and Kelowna Rockets, each 44. The OHL leader, the Oshawa Generals, had 28 fights. The QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres had 46.
It’s worth noting that there were only five fights in the WHL playoffs this season, down from 11 a year ago. In the spring of 2015, there were seven playoff bouts.
This spring, the OHL playoffs featured 20 fights, while there were 22 in the QMJHL.
In the interest of player safety, fighting is slowly leaving the game. While it’s true that fighting isn’t the No. 1 cause of concussions in hockey, there no longer can be any denying that an accumulation of blows to the head can cause brain damage. So it only makes sense that a league comprising teenagers do as much as it possibly can to ensure their safety.
Perhaps some discussion on how to further reduce fighting will take place when the WHL holds its annual meeting in Vancouver, June 13 and 14.
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The Prince Albert Raiders have signed Ron Gunville, their director of player personnel, to a contract extension through the end of the 2018-19 season. . . . Gunville, a 47-year-old Prince Albert native, has been in this role since the 2015-16 season. He joined the Raiders in June 2013 as assistant director of player personnel, after having scouted for the Prince George Cougars. . . . Gunville is a former WHL player, having spent time over three seasons (1987-90) with the Raiders and Lethbridge Hurricanes. In 91 regular-season games, he had nine goals and 24 assists, along with 233 penalty minutes.
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Might F Tyson Jost end up with the Regina Pats next season as they prepare to play in the 2018 Memorial Cup as the host team? John Paddock, the Pats’ general manager and head coach, isn’t concerning himself with that, preferring to take a wait-and-see approach. . . . Jost, whose rights the Pats acquired from the Everett Silvertips, started this season with UND and finished it with the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has more right here.
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Frank Deford, the greatest sports essayist of our time, died on Sunday night at his home in Key West, Fla. He was 78. In the days before the Internet, as a Sports Illustrated subscriber, I picked up each magazine and hoped there was a Deford piece inside. He was beyond great, wherever that is. . . . Daniel Victor of The New York Times has more right here.
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BTW, if you want to contact me with some information or just feel like commenting on something, you may email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
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Coaching

Reports on Monday indicated that Joe Shawhan will be named head coach of the Michigan Tech Huskies today, taking over from Mel Pearson, who now is the head coach at Michigan. Shawhan spent the past three seasons as an assistant alongside Pearson. . . . The first place I saw with the story was techhockeyguide.com. . . . A goaltender, Shawhan played four seasons (1983-87) at Lake Superior State, then began his coaching career as a volunteer assistant under Frank Anzalone and then Jeff Jackson. . . . Shawhan later was the general manager and head coach of the NAHL’s Soo Indians (1995-2005), where he was a three-time coach of the year. After that, he was an assistant at Lake Superior State for three seasons before working as a volunteer assistant with the Northern Michigan Wildcats as he worked on completing a bachelor’s degree. He was named a full-time assistant in 2010, then headed to Michigan Tech in 2014.
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