Sunday, August 24, 2014

Last weekend, the gang at Deadspin noted that a game between the Oakland A’s and the host Atlanta Braves was delayed by a “naked idiot on the field.” To which Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle tweeted: “Why do we assume he’s an idiot? Might be MIT grad getting healthy dose of sun.” . . . Ostler was in attendance last Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers players their first game in their new park, Levi’s Stadium. He pointed out that there is a “cobbler station” in the press box, with “your choice of peach or mixed-berry, with ice cream and caramel drizzle . . . I was disappointed in the folks at the cobbler station. They said they couldn't fix my shoe.” . . . You should know that Ostler is working on his bucket list. Last week, he writes, “I crossed off ‘driving-range balls’ and ‘KFC.’ ” . . .

Because I know that you wanted to know, one beer at Levi’s Stadium will set you back $10.25. . . . I seem to recall buying a dozen and getting change back from a 10 spot the last time I was in Bellingham, Wash. . . . “Tennis player Maria Kirilenko called off her wedding to NHL star Alex Ovechkin,” writes RJ Currie of “Probably just as well; Ovie disappears when he gets close to a ring.” . . . One more from Currie: “Hanso won the California canine surfing competition in the large dog category. I’m guessing he’s a boarder collie.” . . . Headline from Pure-hearted Little League World Series players playing simply for love of ESPN’s bottom line. . . .

If Johnny Football is going to make a habit of flipping the bird to the opposing team’s bench, he won’t finish the NFL season. Heck, he might not even start it. . . . Here’s money in the bank from contributor Bill Littlejohn: “Little League World Series player Blake Money has a brother named Cash — as in Cash Money. I hear Cash never takes check swings." . . . Littlejohn, again: “With one gesture to the opposing sidelines, Johnny Manziel is no longer Johnny Football. He’s more like Ilie Tennis.” . . .

"Philadelphia pitcher A.J. Burnett says he is thinking of retiring after the season," notes Janice Hough (aka The Left Coast Sports Babe). "As opposed to the rest of the Phillies, who called it quits before the All-Star break." . . . Sports Illustrated put Mo’Ne Davis on its cover and her Philadelphia team lost two straight games and was eliminated from the Little League World Series. . . . Obviously, the SI cover jinx doesn’t discriminate by age. . . . Here’s Brad Dickson, in the Omaha World-Herald: “A NASCAR fan shaved the American flag into his chest hair. A San Antonio Spurs fan had the likenesses of Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard cut into his hair. And, still, my barber can’t get my sideburns even?” . . .

On Wednesday night, with the Los Angeles Angels playing the host Boston Red Sox, ESPN’s Dan Shulman tweeted that announcers Dave O’Brien and Aaron Boone were having a good discussion on “speeding up the game. (Boston pitcher Clay) Buchholz giving them plenty of time between pitches to discuss.” . . . MLB’s biggest problem these days is the speed of play. It is completely out of hand. There is no way a nine-inning game should even approach four hours. . . . The other major problem faced by new commissioner Rob Manfred when he succeeds Bud (Light) Selig? The beards. Baseball is home to some of the ugliest beards in the history of the universe. . . . In Oakland this week, Selig said the slow pace “drives me crazy.” Just not crazy enough to do something about it. . . .

When Mark Cohon leaves as commissioner of the CFL will his legacy be the horrid helmets and uniforms that have been unveiled in recent days? . . . When you see the mess the Winnipeg Blue Bombers have to wear, you are left to wonder if there were any other designs in the contest. . . . The University of the Fraser Valley, which is based in Abbotsford, dumped athletic director Rocky Olfert last week. He had been the AD since June 2012. Continuity and stability? Not at UFV. Al Tuchscherer, the head coach of the women’s basketball team since 2002, has seen six athletic directors come and go. That number is seven if you count one who was there on an interim basis. . . . Why did Rocky get his ticket punched? No one’s talking. . . .

In a recent conversation with the Chicago Sun-Times, former NFL player and head coach Mike Ditka offered up this: “There’s no excuse for domestic violence. None. If you have a problem, go outside and walk around the block. If that doesn’t work, keep walking.” . . . As usual, Iron Mike is right. . . . Earlier this month, the Detroit Tigers honoured Miguel Cabrera with a bobblehead night. They handed out 10,000 of the precious little things, each of them with Cabrera’s likeness holding a pair of National League MVP awards. . . . Oh well, at least they didn’t call him Melky. . . . For the record, Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Buster Posey of the San Francisco Giants are the last two NL MVPs.

Frank McCrystal, the head coach of the U of Regina Rams football team, announced this week that he will retire following this season. Back in the day, when he played and coached for the junior Rams, he helped forge one of the great rivalries in Canadian sporting history, that between the Rams and the Saskatoon Hilltops. In fact, I would bet that he still has to wear a disguise when he’s in Saskatoon. . . . McCrystal, 60, was with the junior Rams for 25 years -- five as a player, five as an assistant coach and 15 as head coach. He is into his 16th season as head coach of the U of R Rams. . . . “His departure,” wrote Ian Hamilton of the Regina Leader-Post, “will leave a void in a program that hasn't seen a coaching change since Pierre Trudeau was Canada's prime minister.” . . . It often is hard to follow a legend, but McCrystal did just fine after taking over from Gord Currie. . . . If there is such a thing, McCrystal should be a first-ballot Canadian Sports Hall of Famer.

(Gregg Drinnan is a former sports editor of the Regina Leader-Post and the late Kamloops Daily News. He is at and Keeping Score appears here on weekends, except when it doesn’t.)

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Dorothy's Team has great Kidney Walk

It took two volunteers to check the numbers when Dorothy registered
for the 2014 Kidney Walk on Sunday.

Dorothy had lots of support, with (left to right) our son, Todd, good
friend Jenn Rensch, Todd's girlfriend Joanna Kwan, good friends
Ron and Sue Burt and Della Robinson, Max Hunter (in stroller),
Tanya Hunter, Larry Read (behind Tanya) and Mark Hunter
all on hand before Sunday's walk.

Dorothy and Jenn Rensch, with Todd attempting a photo bomb,
just before Sunday's walk got started.

Dorothy and good friend Sue Burt making good time on the
return trip to Riverside Park. That's the Red Bridge in the
The 2014 Kidney Walk, Kamloops edition, is over and it was quite a success story.
Especially for my wife, Dorothy.
How did she handle it? Well, she walked the 2.5-km, then went for a bite of lunch and then went shopping. So I’m thinking she handled it pretty well.
Dorothy underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23. She was recovering quite well, when an infection somehow was able to set up shop in her system. By early December, she wasn’t able to walk unaided.
So to see her walking so easily with all of the other people on Sunday was really something. In fact, we parked in downtown Kamloops and walked to Riverside Park, so by the time you add in that walk and the return trip, she will have walked close to four kilometres.
And, as she set out, she said: “I’m definitely walking for all those people who showed support through donations.” With all of you walking with her, Dorothy’s Team had to have been the largest one there!
In another Canadian city, good friends and family members went for a walk at the same time as we did. Joan, as she's know in these parts, gave up a kidney through the Live Donor Paired Exchange program so that Dorothy could get one. She and her family couldn't be with us, but wanted to show support, so they walked late Sunday morning, too.
As the walk started in Kamloops, you had shown your support with donations totalling $3,100, and there is more on the way.
All of this has turned out to be more than we could have expected. A week ago, when we set up her donations page, the first goal we set was $300.
So . . . thank you all so much for your support. It really is appreciated.

There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click HERE. . . and thank you very much.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ex-coach: Depression, anxiety among factors in players leaving

It happens every August as WHL teams get their training camps rolling.
Some veteran players don’t show up. For one reason or another, they decide to move on to other things.
A lot of these players would be going into their 20-year-old seasons. Are they tired of the grind? Are they concerned about getting caught up in the 20-year-old game and its uncertainties, with each team being allowed to keep only three of them?
Some of the departing players are younger, perhaps feeling the impact of injuries or not wanting to be away from home anymore.
One former WHL coach wonders if this is just a sign of the times.
“Kids in general today do not have the same character required by people who have been in the game for 20-plus years,” he said. “Players have changed; managers, owners, coaches have not.
“The idea of ‘earning’ something seems to have gone by the wayside. Once a player gets drafted, it’s expected by the player, parents and agent for the ‘team’ to make him a player. (That is) unfortunate, but very true.”
This former coach also pointed a finger at the rigours of being a major junior hockey player.
These days, hockey at this level offers little in the way of down time. As a result, he said, “Players are getting worn out by pushing themselves in the off-season. Whatever happened to playing another sport?”
He suggests that hockey’s push to being a year-round sport has taken a lot of the “fun” out of the game.
“It’s a game,” he said. “But we do not treat it like a game. It’s all or nothing. TSN thrives on the business and compete part of the game. Rogers will do the same. It’s big business in the CHL.”
The former coach also touched on a couple of things that don’t get a whole lot of play in the hockey world.
“Depression and anxiety play a huge part in all of this,” he said. “The stress and pressure for a player to reach his ‘potential’ is a lot of times insurmountable. When you have been the best from 10-15 (years of age) in a small pool, expectations become unrealistic. Jump in the big pool, and the sharks eat you.”
It all adds up to a lot of burnout and pressure, he said, adding that “I would easily say that 75 per cent of players in the entire pool of players fall because of unrealistic expectations.”
Another former WHL coach wonders if some players who leave before their 20-year-old seasons would stay if they had no-trade clauses.
“The 20-year-olds don’t want to be suitcases and would like to play but not get traded,” he suggested. “As you have seen over the years, there is that the glut of 20-year-olds at the start of the season and players get moved or dropped to junior A. The kids are smarter now and don't like it.
“If the WHL wants to change this, then they need to open up the 20-year-olds to five or maybe even seven, and then they won’t quit.”
The ex-coach also is of the opinion that such a move would only help the WHL’s product.
“It would give better value to the $20,” he reasoned. “I also think that this would help the NHL coaches coming to the WHL as they won’t have to do skills and progression drills . . . just systems.”
From time-to-time, there has been talk among WHL officials about increasing the 20-year-old roster limit. However, it won’t happen without support from the OHL and QMJHL and, to date, that support hasn’t been there.

G Brett Zarowny didn’t report to training camp with the Prince George Cougars. Zarowny, 19, was a third-round bantam draft pick in 2010. From Edson, Alta., Zarowny played two seasons with the Cougars. He was 9-19-0/3.74/.886 in 2012-13; last season, he went 3-10-2/4.23/.885. . . . A groin injury suffered in late November limited Zarowny to 17 games last season. . . . Cougars head coach Mark Holick told Taking Note that Zarowny “has decided to go to school.”
With Zarowny gone, it would appear that the top two goaltenders on the Cougars’ depth chart would be Ty Edmonds, 18, and Adam Beukeboom, 20, with Matt Kustra, 17, perhaps third. Edmonds got into 55 games last season, going 19-19-6/3.85/.887. With Zarowny hurt, Beukeboom came on to play in 14 games, going 5-8-0/4.25/.887. Kustra was an eight-round bantam draft pick in 2012.
The Cougars’ roster shows four 1994-born players, the others being F Chance Braid, F Jari Erricson and D Wil Tomchuk.
Holick told Taking Note that Erricson is in camp and has been cleared to participate. Erricson had one assist in four games last season before suffering a season-ending brain injury during a fight with F Jessey Astles of the Tri-City Americans on Sept. 22.
In 192 career games, the first 129 with the Everett Silvertips, Erricson, who is from Prince George, has 62 points, including 26 goals.
There is more good news in Prince George as F David Soltes, a 19-year-old Slovakian, is on the training camp roster. He had his freshman season ended by a knee injury after just 15 games. He had four goals and one assist in those 15 games.
The Lethbridge Hurricanes have signed Russian F Pavel Skumatov, 17, who was their second-round selection in the CHL’s 2014 import draft. He is from Mescherskoye. The 6-foot-0, 165-pounder played for Vityazi Chekhov in the U20 MHL last season. He was one of the youngest players on his team and had two assists in 26 games.
Stay home, or hand over big bucks and go to the game. Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle has that argument with himself right here.

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Still time to join Dorothy's Team!

Dorothy has had enough of training and is ready to walk!
The 2014 Kidney Walk is almost upon us.
It takes place Sunday morning at Riverside Park in Kamloops, and we will be there. Registration is at 10 a.m., with the two runs -- 5- and 10-km -- and the 2.5-km walk to begin at 11.
You should know that Dorothy is coached up and ready to go. Her compete level has never been better. We're looking for nothing less than 110 per cent from her.
She also has been fundraising on behalf of the Kidney Foundation, and if you would like to be part of her team just click right here and go to ‘Sponsor a Participant.’
Dorothy, who underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23, is excited about all the support she has received and is thankful that she is able to give something back to the Kidney Foundation.
Folks like you already have donated $2,700 on her behalf, something that thrills and amazes her.

There has never been a subscription fee for this blog, but if you enjoy stopping by here, why not consider donating to the cause? Just click HERE. . . and thank you very much.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Hurricanes keeping busy . . . Tigers lose assistant GM to NHL

D Mitch Versteeg (Lethbridge, 2006-09) has signed a one-year contract with the NikkĊ Icebucks (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2), he had six goals and 11 assists in 27 games. He also played for Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), picking up 14 points, including two goals, in 24 games. . . .
F Justin Keller (Kelowna, 2003-06) has signed a one-year contract with Bolzano (Italy, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 14 goals and 15 assists in 50 games.


THE DEAL: The Lethbridge Hurricanes get G Zac Robidoux, 18, from the Medicine Hat Tigers for a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft and a conditional fourth-rounder in 2017. The latter is conditional on Robidoux playing in the WHL in 2016-17. He is the son of Florent Robidoux, who played two seasons (1978-80) with the Portland Winterhawks.
THE SKINNY: The Hurricanes lost G Justin Myles, who retired Friday due to problems associated with a brain injury suffered last season. Thus, they need some depth at that position. . . . Robidoux, from Morden, Man., is 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds. He played last season with the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, finishing with a slash line of 17-9-0/2.19/.924 in 27 appearances. With the Tigers, he was 2-1-0/2.27/891 in three games. He was a sixth-round pick of the Tigers in the 2011 bantam draft.
THE ANALYSIS: The Hurricanes used six goaltenders last season as they stumbled to a WHL-worst 12-55-5. Taking a look at Robidoux can’t hurt because it’s too early for Stuart Skinner, 16, the 17th pick in the 2013 bantam draft, to be the go-to guy. . . . The deal would seem to signal the Tigers’ contentment with a goaltending tandem of Nick Schneider, 17, and Jared Rathjen, 20. Schneider was acquired last season from the Regina Pats; Rathjen came over this summer from the Vancouver Giants.

All eyes were on the Lethbridge Hurricanes on Friday, and they didn’t disappoint.
They didn’t trade D Macoy Erkamps, but they did place F Reid Duke on the suspended list, announced that G Justin Myles has retired, and acquired G Zac Robidoux from the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Erkamps, 19, didn’t show up for camp on Thursday and has requested a trade. The native of Delta, B.C., has played three seasons with the Hurricanes.
Duke, 18, was one of Lethbridge’s better players last season, his second with the Hurricanes after being the fifth overall pick in the 2011 bantam draft. (D Ryan Pilon, selected by Lethbridge with the third pick in that draft, asked for a trade last season and ended up with the Brandon Wheat Kings.)
Duke put up 40 points, including 15 goals, in 62 games. In 131 career regular-season games, he has 25 goals and 45 assists.
General manager Brad Robson said Thursday that Duke would be placed on the suspended list if he wasn’t in camp by Friday, at 2 p.m. Duke now is on that suspended list.
Myles, meanwhile, hasn’t played since Jan. 5 when he was with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Since then, he has been traded to the Kamloops Blazers and the Hurricanes.
Robson told Pat Siedlecki of Lethbridge radio station CJOC that doctors advised Myles not to play due to concussions. The conditional draft pick that went to Kamloops in the trade has reverted to Lethbridge.
Mitch Wilson was a tough hockey player, witness 436 penalty minutes with the WHL’s Seattle Breakers in 1981-82. Now he’s taking on ALS, as documented right here by Mike Morreale of . . . Wilson, a Calgary native, has been sailing the seas for the last 20 years, most recently as a tugboat captain. He played two seasons (1980-82) with the Breakers; he piled up 253 penalty minutes in his first season. . . . In 124 regular-season games, he had 66 points, including 26 goals. He went on to play professionally into the mid-1990s, and got into 26 NHL games, scoring twice, earning three assists, and picking up 104 penalty minutes.
G Christopher Tai, who turns 19 on Dec. 1, is in camp with the Kelowna Rockets. A native of Delta, B.C., Tai played last season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes (eight games), Medicine Hat Tiger (1) and Brandon Wheat Kings (1). In 2012-13, he got into 12 games with the Hurricanes. . . . In 22 regular-season games, he is 5-6-0, 4.54, .867. . . . In Kelowna, it’s anticipated that veteran Jackson Whistle will open as the starter, after backing up Jordon Cooke last season. Cooke has used up his junior eligibility.
The Kamloops Blazers revealed Friday morning that F Carson Bolduc, 18, has decided not to report to training camp. . . . According to a news release, he is evaluating his hockey career. . . . “Carson informed us prior to training camp that he did not want to compete at the level necessary to play in the WHL,” general manager Craig Bonner said in that news release. . . . Bolduc, from Salmon Arm, had 20 points, eight of them goals, in 121 career regular-season games. He was acquired last season from the Prince George Cougars and had 11 points, including three goals, in 44 games with the Blazers. . . . The Cougars selected him in the third round of the 2011 bantam draft.
The Kamloops Blazers have three sets of twins in their rookie camp. Andrew and Lucas Palladino, from Sturgeon County, Alta., both are forwards, as are Michael and Ryan Van Unen, who are from Kamloops. Benson and Jordan Thorpe are from Saskatoon. Benson is a right winger, while Jordan is a defenceman. All are 15 years of age. . . . Kamloops has D Clint Colebourn of North Vancouver and F Phillip Knies of Phoenix on its main camp roster. Both were 2013 bantam draft picks, Colebourn in the seventh round and Knies in the fourth, but both were injured an unable to attend camp a year ago. . . . F Tyler Ward of Kamloops turned 15 on Tuesday, but had to pull out of the Blazers’ camp with an injury. The 5-foot-6, 130-pound Ward was an 11th-round pick in the 2014 bantam draft.
Dan Olsen is the new head coach of the Calgary-based SAIT Trojans. Olsen is a former player and assistant coach with the Trojans. . . . He is SAIT’s first new hockey coach in 27 years. Olsen, 53, takes over from Ken Babey, the former head coach and athletic director who resigned from both positions in June. . . . Olsen was Babey’s assistant coach for five seasons (1991-95). . . . Most recently, Olsen has been the head coach of the Calgary Buffalo Hockey Association’s minor midget Triple A Rangers.

The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed F Noah Gregor, 16, who was acquired last season from the Victoria Royals. The Royals picked up Gregor and two third-round bantam draft picks, in 2014 and 2016, for D Travis Brown, 19. . . . The Warriors traded that 2016 pick last week when they acquired F Jaimen Yakubowski, 20, from the Seattle Thunderbirds. . . . Last season, Gregor played for the midget AAA Leduc Oil Kings. In his freshman season, he led the league in scoring, with 51 points, including 21 goals, in 35 games. . . . Victoria had selected him in the third round of the 2013 draft. . . . Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports that Gregor will take it slow over the weekend, thanks to “a minor back and hip flexor injury.” . . . Gourlie also reports that the Warriors didn’t invite F Brandon Del Grosso, 18, to camp. He was limited to one game last season after suffering a brain injury on Oct. 10. . . .
D Liam Schioler, 16, is taking part in the Regina Pats’ rookie camp. Schioler, from Winnipeg, was a second-round selection in the 2013 bantam draft. He plans on returning to Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Faribault, Minn., for a second season. . . . The NHL’s Calgary Flames have added Brad McEwen to their scouting staff. He had been working with the Medicine Hat Tigers as their head scout and assistant general manager. McEwen will begin work for the Flames on Sept. 1. A veteran of Western Canadian hockey arenas, he had been the Tigers’ head scout since 2007. . . . The Moose Jaw Warriors will donate all proceeds from Sunday’s intrasquad game to the Journey to Hope in memory of Ethan Williams. A fifth-round draft pick by the Warriors in 2012, Williams committed suicide last month in his hometown of Winnipeg. He was to have attended this training camp.

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More unrest in Lethbridge . . . Oil Kings part ways with assistant coach

 Please allow me to remind you that my wife, Dorothy, will take part in the 2014 Kidney Walk in Kamloops on Sunday. She underwent a kidney transplant on Sept. 23 and now is healthy enough to walk the 2.5 kilometres and give something back to the Kidney Foundation.
Should you like to sponsor her and be part of Dorothy's Team, please click right here and then go to Sponsor a Participant.
If you are interested in seeing how much money she has raised, click on the link and you will find a list of fund-raisers on the right-hand side. Click on her name, and you will see a list of donors on a scroll.
 Thank you.

D David Nemecek (Saskatoon, 2013-14) has signed a tryout contract with TPS Turku U20 (Finland, U20 SM-Liiga). Last season, with Saskatoon, he had 15 points, five of them goals, in 56 games. . . .
D Logan Stephenson (Tri-City, 2001-06) has signed a one-year contract with Tohoku Free Blades Hachinohe (Japan, Asia Hockey League). Last season, with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway, GET-Ligaen), he had seven goals and 16 assists in 44 games.

If you are still confused about the options that are available to D Julius Honka and F Leon Draisaitl, I will try to clarify them by bringing D Tommy Vanelli into the picture.
Draisaitl was a first-round selection, third overall, by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL’s 2014 draft; Honka went to the Dallas Stars in the first round, 14th overall, of the same draft.
Vanelli, 19, was selected by the St. Louis Blues in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Draisaitl, who will turn 19 on Oct. 27, was drafted from the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders; Honka, whose 19th birthday is on Dec. 3, was taken from the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos.
The Blues drafted Vanelli, who played last season with the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, from a high school team in Minnetonka, Minn.
And therein lies the rub. . . .
Because Draisaitl and Honka played last season with CHL teams and because they were the property of those teams when drafted, their immediate futures include two options for their 19-year-old seasons -- they either play in the NHL or they are returned to their WHL teams. That is the rule according to the CBA between the NHL and the NHLPA.
Because Vanelli was drafted from a team that is not under the CHL umbrella, his options include the NHL, the AHL and the WHL. Yes, he could be assigned to the Blues’ AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
When will the circus leave Lethbridge?
Two veteran players -- F Reid Duke and D Macoy Erkamps -- were no-shows on Wednesday when the Hurricanes opened camp.
Paul Kingsmith of Global Lethbridge tweeted that Duke, according to general manager Brad Robson, is expected today.
Erkamps, however, has asked to be traded.
Duke, 18, was the fifth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. A native of Calgary, he had 40 points, 15 of them goals, in 62 games as a sophomore last season. That followed a freshman season in which he put up 24 points, eight of them goals. The Minnesota Wild selected him in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2014 draft.
Erkamps, 19, has played three seasons in Lethbridge, after being a second-round pick in the 2010 bantam draft. From Delta, B.C., he has had 20-, 35- and 31-point seasons. In 201 career games, he has 86 points, 14 of them goals.
But wait . . . there’s more!
F Giorgio Estephan, the fourth overall pick in the 2012 bantam draft, was injured at Hockey Canada’s U-18 camp and will sit for six weeks. He apparently was recovering from a fractured foot, aggravated it and has since had surgery.
The 17-year-old from Edmonton had 12 goals and 12 assists in 64 games last season as a freshman.
All of this comes after a 2013-14 season in which the Hurricanes missed the playoffs for a fifth straight season, thanks to a 12-55-5 mark, the poorest record in the 22-team league. During the season, the likes of Sam McKechnie, Jaimen Yakubowski and Ryan Pilon, all veterans, asked out and were traded.
On top of this, there is speculation in Lethbridge that G Justin Myles, 19, will retire.
Myles, from Calgary, was selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Seattle dealt him to Kamloops on Jan. 10, but he showed up with an upper body injury, believed to be a brain injury, and never played a game with the Blazers. On May 12, they dealt him to Lethbridge for a fourth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.
Without Myles, the Hurricanes might be looking at going into the season with Jonny Hogue, 18, and Stuart Skinner, who won’t be 16 until Nov. 1, as their two goaltenders. They are two of the six goaltenders used by the Hurricanes last season. Hogue played in 18 games; Skinner got into four.
On Wednesday, the Hurricanes signed F Zane Franklin, a second-round pick from the 2014 bantam draft. He had 116 points in 38 regular-season and playoff games with the bantam AAA Lloydminster Heat last season.
F Mitch Lipon, 18, is in camp with the Spokane Chiefs. Lipon, from Regina, had seven points, two of them goals, in 31 games with the Kamloops Blazers last season, before he was dealt to the Saskatoon Blades. He had six points, including four goals, in 24 games with the Blades. The 5-foot-8, 160-pound Lipon was dropped by the Blades during the 2014 bantam draft. . . . He is the younger brother of former Blazers F JC Lipon, who played last season with the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps.
F Chris Stockl, who has played with the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels, is in camp with the Everett Silvertips. Stockl, 19, is from Winnipeg. He was a fourth-round selection by the Saskatoon Blades in the 2010 bantam draft. . . . He had one goal in five games with the Blades in 2012-13, before moving on to Red Deer, where he had nine points, including two goals, in 57 games. Last season, he had one goal in 16 games with the Rebels. He missed about two months of the season with a brain injury, and then joined the MJHL’s Virden Oil Capitals. He was pointless in two games with them.
The Edmonton Oil Kings announced Thursday that they “have agreed to part ways” with Sean Brown, who had been an assistant coach through two seasons. . . . General manager Randy Hansch said, in a news release: “With the promotion of Steve Hamilton and the hiring of Ryan Marsh this off-season, as well as the increased roles of Dustin Schwartz and Jory Stuparyk, we're excited to have our coaching staff in place.” . . . Hamilton was promoted from assistant to head coach after Derek Laxdal left the reigning Memorial Cup champions to take over as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars.
By the time things finished shaking out this week, the Toronto Maple Leafs had a three-man analytics department. That’s about all we know and about all we will ever find out about that particular part of the Toronto organization. To paraphrase Gare Joyce, the sun will never shine on the Maple Leafs’ analytics department. Joyce, a longtime observer and writer of all things hockey, has more on the NHL’s seemingly sudden move to analytics right here.
G Jean-Sebastien Giguere announced his retirement on Thursday, ending a career that included 16 seasons in the NHL. He was with the Colorado Avalanche for most of the last three seasons. . . . Giguere was selected 13th overall by the Hartford Whalers in the NHL’s 1995 draft. He played eight games with the Whalers in 1996-97 and is the last active NHLer to have played for Hartford. . . . Giguere is a part-owner of the QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. He plans to stay in hockey by learning the junior hockey ropes with the Armada.
Pour yourself a big cup of coffee before clicking on this story right here. It’s from GQ and was written by Michael Finkel. It’s about a guy who drove into the forest in northern Maine in 1986 and didn’t come out until 2013. This is an amazingly interesting read.

In Saskatoon, the home of the Blades is gets a new name today. The Credit Union Centre for the past 10 years now is SaskTel Centre, with signing expected to go up on Friday. City council approved a deal on Thursday that gives SaskTel naming rights for 10 years for $3.5 million. The previous deal was worth $1.6 million over 10 years. “The Blades retain the right to rink board advertising, except the centre-ice logo, during WHL games,” writes Phil Tank of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix in a story that is right here. “SaskTel has the right to renegotiate the agreement should a WHL team no longer be a permanent fixture at the arena, while the city has the right to seek more money should a professional hockey or basketball team move to Saskatoon and start playing in the facility.” . . . D Ben (Boo) Grist of North Saanich, B.C., suffered a suspected concussion during a scrimmage in the Red Deer Rebels’ camp on Thursday. He was a sixth-round pick of the Rebels in the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Nick Patterson of the Everett Herald reports that Silvertips G Austin Lotz reported to camp having lost a few pounds. “Lotz played at 203 pounds last season,” Patterson writes, “but he reported to camp at a trim 180 pounds, looking nearly unrecognizable. The main factor in Lotz's weight loss was getting serious about nutrition during the offseason.” . . . The Portland Winterhawks released their venue schedule on Thursday. They will play 17 games in the Moda Center and 16 in Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The venue for three other games will be decided later, depending on building availability. The Moda Center also is home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers.

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