Monday, March 31, 2008

Monday's musings . . .

The stuff has hit the fan in Portland where the owners of the Winter Hawks lowered the boom on the front office staff on Monday. The list of the dearly departed includes Liz Tillinghast, the finance director; Dave Taylor, director of ticket operations; and, Tracy Breon, the administrative assistant and receptionist. . . . This is clearly a cost-cutting move as the Winter Hawks, with their season having ended, no longer have cash coming into their operation. . . . There is comment here . . . Judging by all the fan chatter, someone, perhaps WHL commissioner Ron Robison, has a lot of work ahead of them if Winter Hawks fans are to be placated and brought back on board. Then, again, maybe too much damage has been done. . . . Either way, someone needs to hold a news conference, offer up some explanations and at least attempt to clear the air. . . .

The latest on the WHL auditing the Portland operation, as reported by the Tribune's Jason Vondersmith, is right here.

If you are a subscriber to Shaw TV or Star Choice, you will be treated to the series between the Calgary Hitmen and Swift Current Broncos once the second round of playoffs begins later this week. Even though the Hitmen are the higher seed the series will open in Swift Current on Friday and Saturday. It will follow a 2-3-1-1 format because the Hitmen have been bumped from the Pengrowth Saddledome by the Juno Awards — those are the Canadian Grammys, eh. . . . Game 3 will be played in Calgary on April 8, but no dates have been set for the remainder of the series. . . .
It’s Game 7 in Seattle on Tuesday with the Thunderbirds and Kelowna Rockets in a deadheat, at 3-3. . . . Seattle won Game 5 at home, 6-2, on Thursday before falling 4-3 in overtime in Kelowna on Saturday. . . . Kelowna has played in four previous Game 7s, suffering first-round losses to the Spokane Chiefs in 1993 and 1998, and losing to the Everett Silvertips in the 2005 Western Conference final. In 2005, Kelowna beat Seattle in a 2005 conference semifinal. . . . The series hasn’t been without its controversies. Kelowna RW Brady Leavold was hit with a late elbowing penalty in Game 6 and Seattle scored on the PP to force OT. “The league thinks it was a bad call,” Bruce Hamilton, the Rockets’ president and GM, told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “(Leavold’s) hands were down; they weren’t up. In my mind, that’s kinda the way the whole series has gone. Strange things have happened, but credit to the kids for playing through it.” . . . And there was a hit by Kelowna D Tyler Myers on Seattle D Thomas Hickey, also in Game 6. Hickey ended up on his back and the visor on his helmet apparently was broken, but no penalty was assessed. “It could have been charging, perhaps elbowing, perhaps high-sticking,” Seattle head coach Rob Sumner told Potenteau. “There was contact made to Hickey’s head, and I know this has been a hard-fought, physical series, but it was clearly a blow to the head. We’re lucky Hickey wasn’t seriously hurt on the play. The force made to his head, it’s tough to overlook.” . . . Seattle is 2-2 in Game 7s, having lost to Portland (2006) and Kelowna (2005) and having beaten Portland (2002) and Prince George (1999). . . . This series’ top pointmen are Kelowna C Colin Long, who has 11 points, nine of them assists; Seattle F Ian McKenzie, with nine points, including three goals; and, Hickey, who has a goal and eight helpers. . . . Leavold and Seattle’s David Richard have five goals apiece. . . . Seattle is 10-for-30 on the PP; Kelowna is 10-for-36. Overall, Seattle has outscored Kelowna, 18-16. . . . The referees will be veterans Derek Herman and Andy Thiessen. . . . Tuesday’s winner opens against the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash., on Friday night.
JUST NOTES: Calgary F T.J. Galiardi is the Boston Pizza WHL player of the week after totaling 10 points, including eight assists, in four playoff games. He also was plus-7. . . . The WHL nominee as CHL goaltender of the week is Dustin Tokarski of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . C Zach Hamill of the Everett Silvertips is joining the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Hamill was selected by the Boston Bruins with the eighth overall pick in the NHL’s 2007 draft after winning the WHL’s 2006-07 scoring championship. He signed with the Bruins last summer. . . .
NHL Central Scouting is holding meetings in Toronto to settle on its final predraft ratings. . . . There is an interesting read right here on the start to those meetings.

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