Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday . . .

Here it is. The best quote of the 2009-10 WHL season, and it belongs to G Linden Rowat, 20, who used up his major junior eligibility with the Lethbridge Hurricanes this season.
The quote appears in a recent story written by Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. He chatted with Rowat, who began his WHL career with the Pats, and wrote a story on the goaltender’s WHL career and what might be in his future.
Here’s the quote:
“I guess real life is around the corner. I have to get a job and go to school. You kind of take it for granted playing in the Western League for five years, getting up at 11 o’clock, playing video games, going to practice. Now it’s going to be a lifestyle change. A complete 180.”
And you thought the WHL was all about early mornings, going to school and playing hockey. . . .
Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post is doing a terrific job of providing analysis from members of the Regina Pats’ organization who were involved in what turned into a debacle of a season. The playoffs are here and the Pats are on the outside looking in for the second straight spring.
You can bet there is a lot of navel-gazing going on . . . and Harder has been speaking with and writing about all of the main players.
You can read his stuff on his blog — Slap Shots, over there on the left — or check out The Leader-Post website right here. Two headlines there late Monday night were: ‘I’ll take the heat,’ says Pats head coach Curtis Hunt; and, 'Regina Pats GM Brent Parker addresses his critics'.
It sounds as though the Canadian Hockey League will be heard during this summer’s Molson Canadian Open Ice Summit. It will be held in Toronto, Aug. 23-27.
At some point during that summit, the CHL will be heard on the subject of Paul Kelly, the former NHLPA executive director who now tours around on behalf of College Hockey Inc.
Kelly has been quoted as saying things like:
“(CHL teams have) been actively recruiting kids that have committed to colleges and universities, in many cases after they’ve enrolled. They do it on a continuing basis. They use tactics that in some cases are not permitted by their own league — paying money to the players or their family members, funneling money to youth league coaches who are off their payrolls here in the United States in order to identify talent. And college hockey up to now hasn’t responded in any sort of co-ordinated fashion.”
That quote appears in a Jan. 26 story by Jim Connelly, a senior writer at
You are free to ask: Where is the evidence? Yes, there have long been rumours — as there are at every level of ultra-competitive hockey — but where is the evidence?
College Hockey Inc., by the way, funded Kelly’s hiring with money it received from the NHL.
“We’ve made an appeal back to the NHL,” Bruce Hamilton, the governor, president and general manager of the Kelowna Rockets who also is chairman of the WHL’s board of governors, told me on the weekend.
“That money the NHL gave USA Hockey . . . why are they funding this guy? Our whole thing to the NHL was, ‘We’re your partners. They’re not your partners.’ ”
The CHL now has an employee charged with tracking Kelly’s every move and everything he says.
“We’ve got the counter to it now,” Hamilton said. “There’s probably a good chance at the summit this summer that quite a bit of that will be rolled out by us.
“We’re going to have a significat position at that summit to be able to bark.”
Four members of the Regina Pats will be joining professional teams this week. . . . F Jordan Eberle is off to the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, an affiliate of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . F Carter Ashton will join the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals (Tampa Bay Lightning). . . . D Colten Teubert heads for the ECHL’s Ontario Reign (Los Angeles Kings). . . . F Grrett Mitchell is to join the AHL’s Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals).
Dan Plaster, the Regina Pats’ director of communications, points out something of interest:
“Jordan Eberle is the all-time goal-scoring leader for Canada in the World Junior Championships with 14, and he wore No. 14. Eberle finished seventh in all-time Pats goal scoring, and he wore No. 7.”
When F Brandon Kozun set up four goals for the Calgary Hitmen on Sunday and thus won the WHL scoring title by one point over Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats, it kept alive one WHL record.
Eberle was poised to become the second player with a non-playoff team in WHL history to win the league’s scoring title. But it didn’t happen, as he lost out, 107-106, to Kozun.
That means that Ron Chipperfield of the 1973-74 Brandon Wheat Kings remains the only player to win the scoring title while with a team that didn’t make the playoffs.
Chipperfield, perhaps the greatest player in WHL history from the offensive blue-line in, had one of the best offensive seasons ever in 1973-74. He scored 90 of his team’s 305 goals. He finished with 162 points, meaning he was in on an absurd 53.1 per cent of the Wheat Kings’ goals. And he won the scoring title by 16 points over Dennis Sobchuk, who was a rather fine player himself and who was playing for a team that went on to win the Memorial Cup that spring.
Kozun, by the way, was coming off a 108-point 2008-09 season. As the WHL website points out, he is the first player to have back-to-back 100-point seasons since F Layne Ulmer of the Swift Current Broncos put up 104 in 1999-2000 and 119 in 2000-01.
A tip of the Keeping Score hat to the Portland Winterhawks for this:
“Media who wish to cover the games in person should contact Graham Kendrick to arrange credentials. All players and coaches will be available on game nights for interviews up to 90 minutes before the start of the game, and within 10 minutes of the completion of the game outside the team’s locker room.”
For a number of years, the Western Major Junior Hockey Writers Association (WMJHWA) tried to impress upon the WHL the importance of quick post-game access due to deadline-related pressures on sports writers. The WHL has chosen to ignore those requests and has stayed with a 15-minute rule, and also leaves it up to the individual teams as to whether they allow dressing room access.
Now you may not think five minutes is much, but when you’re on deadline and have less than 30 minutes to turn in between 500 and 1,000 words, well, as Danny Gallivan used to say, time is of the essence.
So here’s to the Portland Winterhawks for getting it.
Fred Pittendreigh, the owner of the junior B Chase Chiefs, has denied that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League team is for sale “at this point.”
He was doing damage control after a report that Ken Andrusiak and Garth Sheridan of Kelowna were attempting to purchase the team and move it to Rutland, on the north side of Kelowna.
Of course, Pittendreigh also admits that the Chiefs have lost around $100,000 over three seasons in Chase, which is located on the Trans-Canada Highway, just a few slapshots east of Kamloops.
I have had one source who is familiar with the situation tell me that it was only a few months ago when Pittendreigh was talking of perhaps creating a nonprofit sports society in Chase and selling the team to the society. And, failing that, the source said, Pittendreigh hoped to move the team to Rutland.
Another source has told me that on more than one occasion over the last three years Pittendreigh has looked into moving the team to Kelowna.
It’s official.
Shaw TV will televise the first-round WHL playoff series between the Kamloops Blazers and Vancouver Giants in its entirety.
The series opens with games Friday and Saturday at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.
The broadcast crew will comprise Dan Russell, Bill Wilms and Stu Walters.
Shaw also will cover a series in Round 2, one of the conference championship series and the WHL championship final.
So . . . what’s up with Spokane Chiefs F Kyle Beach?
Beach suffered a leg injury — it apparently is above the right knee — during a 5-4 victory over the host Tri-City Americans on Saturday night and sat out Sunday’s 3-2 victory over the visiting Everett Silvertips.
So . . . will he be ready to open the playoffs Saturday in Portland against the Winterhawks.
“He’s hurt and he’s real sore and we’ll be re-evaluating on Wednesday,” Spokane head coach Hardy Sauter told Doyle Potenteau of the Kelowna Daily Courier. “We should know more after the doctor sees him then.”
Beach was hurt on a play that resulted in a clipping major and a game misconduct to Tri-City D Tyler Schmidt.
“It was one of those (plays) where (Beach) went to go to his left and he was gonna get by Schmidt,” Sauter told Potenteau, “and they went leg to leg. The good news is that there’s no ligament damage. The bad news is that it’s probably as bad as it could have been without that.”
As for whether Beach will play Saturday, Sauter said he is “really, really hoping he can manage to play Saturday, but, again, I won’t have any idea until Wednesday.”
Steve Pleau, the head coach of the Edmonton Oil Kings, is under contract through 2011-12, and he can hardly wait for next season to get here. The Edmonton Journal has a story right here.

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