Friday, May 30, 2008

Thursday notes . . .

RW Juuso Puustinen, who spent the last two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers, will spend 2008-09 playing in Finland. Puustinen, who turned 20 on April 5, was selected by the Flames in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2006 draft but has yet to sign with Calgary. The deadline to sign 2006 draft picks is Sunday. . . . "We drafted him out of Europe," Flames GM Darryl Sutter told Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald. "We decided, between the two of us, that he'd play there again this year. Our feeling is that we should still have his rights. We're still waiting on that, but we think that's going to happen.”

In case you missed it, the QMJHL will open its 2008-09 season on Sept. 11 when the defending-champion Gatineau Olympiques play host to the Victoriaville Tigers. And, yes, the entire schedule is already available on the QMJHL website. . . .
The QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have promoted assistant coach Mario Durocher, 44, to GM/head coach. Durocher, who spent the last two seasons on their staff, has head-coaching experience with QMJHL teams in Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Lewiston and Acadie-Bathurst. He was Victoriaville’s head coach in 2002 when the Tigres lost 6-3 to the Kootenay Ice in the Memorial Cup final in Guelph. . . . Durocher replaces Pascal Vincent, who bolted for the Montreal Juniors (formerly the St. John’s Fog Devils) with a year left on his contract.
That would seem to be an interesting situation involving Wayne Fleming, who is under contract to the Calgary Flames but seems ticketed to the Dinamo team that will play out of Minsk in the new Continental Hockey League. In fact, Garth MacBeth reports that according to the team’s website, Fleming is scheduled to arrive in Minsk on Friday for contract talks “
with club general director Vladimir Goncharov.” As well, a press conference has been scheduled for Monday at the offices of the Belarus Ice Hockey Association. Fleming is an assistant under head coach Glen Hanlon with the Belarussian national team. . . . Fleming also is expected to take part in Saturday’s opening of an arena in the Minski suburb of Bobruisk. The opening will feature an opening game that will include the likes of Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus, as well as former NHLers Timo Blomqvist, Alexei Kasatonov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Glenn Anderson, Cliff Ronning, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Esa Tikkanen and Andrei Kovalenko. . . . Commenting on speculation that Fleming had accepted the head-coaching job with Dinamo Minsk, Calgary GM Darryl Sutter told the Calgary Herald: “I don’t know if there’s any validity to that.” Fleming, however, does have an out in his Flames contract. "We give him the same out as we give everybody else -- if they have a chance to move up, I'm not going to hold anybody back. If they feel it's a move up the ladder, then fine. We just put a deadline on it and see where it takes us." . . . At one time during the 2007-08 season, Fleming was one of the people the Kamloops Blazers’ ownership group had hoped might be interested in coaching their club. . . .
I have a feeling this Continental Hockey League is going to cause some big league headaches on this side of the pond before all is said and done.

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