The WHL’s travelling medicine show stopped in Moose Jaw this week, where Ron Robison, the commish, took part in a chat during the Warriors’ annual general meeting. According to Marc Smith of discovermoosejaw.com: “One of the big topics that Robison discussed was the lawsuit that the WHL is facing in regards to players’ status as employees. Robison said it’s something that could cost the league a third of its teams if it were to be successful.” . . . Discuss among yourselves which seven or eight franchises would be most in danger of going the way of the dodo bird.
Here is one person’s list of the eight franchises that might top a goodbye list, in no particular order: Brandon Wheat Kings; Kootenay Ice; Lethbridge Hurricanes; Medicine Hat Tigers; Moose Jaw Warriors; Prince Albert Raiders; Prince George Cougars; Swift Current Broncos.
According to Smith, Robison also told the audience that the WHL soon will be exempted from minimum wage legislation in even more jurisdictions. “Having been registered in the Canadian amateur hockey system since Day 1, over 50 years ago, we’ve always been (of the) view that we’re amateur hockey players, so it’s really a government matter,” Robison said, according to Smith. “The Saskatchewan government was the first province in the country to recognize our players as amateur athletes as employees. Saskatchewan has led the way and we’ve now had success in B.C. and Washington state, and we’re soon to have success in Manitoba and Oregon, but we’re having a little trouble in Alberta. They’re not supporting (our) position.”
The WHL’s travelling show journeyed on to Regina for a Thursday production, the highlight of which may have been supplied by John Paddock, the general manager and head coach of the Regina Pats. According to a tweet from Taylor Shire of Global Regina, Paddock “calls Moose Jaw the best team in the Eastern Conference. Hopes the Pats can provide a challenge for them.”
Sportsnet let the cat out yesterday pic.twitter.com/KHByz3ktQN
— Logan B (@LoganBBH) September 21, 2017
Apparently, there wasn’t anything said in Moose Jaw or Regina about the Warriors and Pats playing an outdoor game at Mosaic Stadium, the home of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders. . . . So we are left to wonder if Sportsnet really did have the scoop with the above tweet on Wednesday. The WHL schedule calls for the Warriors to play in Regina on Feb. 18 at 2 p.m. . . . The scoop in the above tweet came from a piece written by Sam Cosentino, the well-connected analyst on Sportsnet’s major junior telecasts. However, that last sentence was removed at some point after the story was posted. . . . Still, I’m betting on Sam having the dope on this.
Isn’t it exciting to have NHL games back on TV? Isn’t it fun to flip through the channels and see which games are blacked out in your market? Hello, NFL. Hello, MLB.
What does it mean that 14 goaltenders have been involved in WHL trades since May 22? Yes, 14 goaltenders — Jordan Hollett, Nick Schneider, Mario Petit, Travis Child, Declan Hobbs, Kyle Dumba, Dylan Myskiw, Hunter Arps, Bailey Brkin, Kurtis Chapman, Jacob Wassermann, Liam Hughes, Ryan Kubic and Logan Flodell — have been dealt as general managers strive to improve the game’s most important position.
Yes, it’s time for the CHL to bury the rule that prohibits import goaltenders from playing over here.
Did anyone have a better Wednesday than Colin Priestner, the general manager of the Saskatoon Blades? He started the day with four quality 20-year-olds. By the time the day was done, he had made two trades, moving out G Logan Flodell, 20, and bringing in G Ryan Kubic, 19. That allowed Priestner to keep forwards Cam Hebig and Braylon Shmyr, both 20 and both of whom can score.
The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played an exhibition game in China on Thursday. . . . Headline at nhl.com: China Games big first step for NHL (subhead: Kings’ historic win against Canucks thrills fans new to hockey). . . . Headline at theglobeandmail.com: ‘The NHL blew it’: League’s first preseason game in China draws few fans, leaves supporters disappointed.
Carter Hart, the WHL’s top goaltender each of the past two seasons, is on his way back to the Everett Silvertips for a fourth season. Hart, 19, was returned to Everett by the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. The Flyers selected him in the second round of the 2016 NHL draft and he has signed a three-year entry-level contract. . . . Hart has been the WHL’s goaltender of the year and on the Western Conference’s first all-star team for two years running. He was the CHL’s top goaltender for 2015-16. . . . Hart is 85-40-18, 2.13, .921 in 149 career regular-season appearances with the Silvertips. Last season, he was 32-11-8, 1.99, .927; in 2015-16, he was 35-23-4, 2.14, .918. . . . The Silvertips have three other goaltenders on their roster, but two of them — Dustin Wolf of Tustin, Calif., and Danton Belluk of Lorette, Man., are 16 years of age. Chances are that Everett will keep Dorrin Luding, 18, to caddy for Hart. Luding, from Prince George, was a third-round selection by the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL’s 2014 bantam draft.
The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed Swedish D Linus Nassen, 19, to a WHL contract. Nassen was selected by the Tigers in the CHL’s 2017 import draft. . . . In the CHL’s 2016 import draft, he was taken by the Brandon Wheat Kings but he never joined them. However, he arrived in Medicine Hat on Wednesday. . . . Last season, he had three goals and 13 assists in 25 games with Lulea HF’s U-20 team, and added a goal and an assist in 21 games with Lulea’s SHL team. He was pointless in four games on loan to AIK of the Allsvenskan. Nassen also had two assists in four games with Sweden’s U-19 team and one assist in three games with the U-20 team. . . . Nassen was selected by the Florida Panthers in the third round of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . The Tigers have two other imports on their roster. Freshman F Mick Kohler, from Germany, also was taken in the CHL’s 2017 import draft. Latvian D Kristians Rubins, who turns 20 on Dec. 11, is recovering from shoulder surgery. Rubins will start the season on the Tigers’ injured list. Once he recovers and is ready to play, the Tigers will have seven days to get down to two imports. . . . Of course, Rubins is a two-spotter, as a 20-year-old and an import.
Meanwhile, the Tigers also will be without F Zach Fischer, another 20-year-old, as he recovers from a concussion suffered while in camp with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. . . . G Jordan Hollett (mononucleosis) also is out, meaning G Michael Bullion, 20, will start on Friday against the Hurricanes in Lethbridge.
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The Spokane Chiefs are in Prince George where they will open the regular season by playing a Friday-Saturday doubleheader against the Cougars. The Chiefs, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, still have four 16-year-olds on their roster, three of them selections in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft — F Luke Toporowski of Bettendorf, Iowa, who was taken in the first round; F Carter Chorney of Sherwood Park, Alta., picked in the second round; F Adam Beckman of Saskatoon, who was taken in the fifth round; and D Tyson Feist of Dawson Creek, B.C. . . . The Chiefs will open the season with their two top forwards, as Kailer Yamamoto remains in camp with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and Jaret Anderson-Dolan still is with the Los Angeles Kings.
The Moose Jaw Warriors don’t have any 16-year-olds left after releasing D Austin Herron from their roster on Thursday. The 6-foot-3 Herron, who is from Abbotsford, B.C., was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has played the past two seasons at the Yale Hockey Academy in Abbotsford.
Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers are poised to open the season with two 16-year-olds on their roster, both of them good Saskatchewan boys — F Connor Zary of Saskatoon and D Quinn Schmiemann of Wilcox. . . . Zary, who actually will turn 16 on Monday, was a scorer in bantam AAA (81 points, including 44 goals, in 30 games) and midget AAA (45 points, including 27 goals, in 36 games last season). A second-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, he should get a look among the Blazers’ top six forwards. . . . Schmiemann, a third-round pick in the 2016 bantam draft, is one of eight defencemen on the roster. He and Sean Strange, a 17-year-old from Saanich, B.C., are the only freshmen. Strange was a 10th-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft.
D Noah Juulsen is expected to miss up to six weeks with a fractured foot suffered on Monday while playing with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens during an exhibition game in Quebec City. Juulsen, 20, spent the previous four seasons with the Everett Silvertips and is eligible to return for one more season. The Canadiens selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2015 draft. Juulsen, who is from Surrey, B.C., was thought to have an outside shot at landing a spot on the Canadiens’ roster this season. When he returns from injury he is likely to be assigned to the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
D Anthony Kehrer, a second-round pick by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft, announced on Twitter that he has committed to attending the U of Wisconsin and playing for the Badgers. Kehrer, from Winnipeg, turned 15 on March 4. . . . Last season, he had four goals and 23 assists in 29 games with the Rink Hockey Academy’s bantam prep team.
F Vladislav Lukin, who played the past three seasons with the Tri-City Americans, has signed a tryout deal with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. Lukin, from Ufa, Russia, had 26 goals and 32 assists in 63 games with the Americans last season. . . . In 183 career regular-season WHL games, he put up 54 goals and 64 assists. . . . He was in camp with the Americans but left this week in search of a pro deal. Lukin, 20, is eligible to play one more season in the WHL.
Winterhawks games won't be on KPAM this year. Online broadcasts only.
— Scott Sepich (@SSepich) September 22, 2017
Earlier this week, there was news that nine games between the Portland Winterhawks and Seattle Thunderbirds would be televised in the Seattle area by JOEtv. The Winterhawks announced Thursday that the games will be televised in their area by Portland’s CW. Here’s the TV schedule:
Sept. 30, at Portland, 6 p.m.
Oct. 7, at Seattle, 6:05 p.m.
Dec. 30, at Seattle, 6:05 p.m.
Dec. 31, at Portland, 7 p.m.
Jan. 13, at Portland, 6 p.m.
Feb. 10, at Seattle, 6:05 p.m.
Feb. 11, at Portland, 5 p.m.
March 4, at Seattle, 5:05 p.m.
March 17, at Seattle, 6:05 p.m.
In Regina, Access Communications will carry 20 games involving the Regina Pats, with 15 of those games featuring other East Division teams. . . . The telecast schedule is right here.
Friday games (opening of regular season; all times local):
Regina at Brandon, 7:30 p.m.
Calgary vs. Kootenay, at Cranbrook, B.C., 7 p.m.
Moose Jaw at Prince Albert, 7 p.m.
Medicine Hat at Lethbridge, 7 p.m.
Swift Current at Saskatoon, 7:05 p.m.
Spokane at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Vancouver at Victoria, 7:05 p.m.
Kamloops at Kelowna 7:05 p.m.
Saturday games (all times local):
Kootenay at Calgary, 7 p.m.
Prince Albert at Moose Jaw, 7 p.m.
Edmonton at Red Deer, 7 p.m.
Brandon at Regina, 7 p.m.
Lethbridge at Medicine Hat, 7:30 p.m.
Spokane at Prince George, 7 p.m.
Victoria at Vancouver 7 p.m.
Kelowna at Kamloops, 7 p.m.
Portland at Everett, 7:05 p.m.
Tri-City vs. Seattle, at Kent, Wash., 7:05 p.m.
Sunday games (all times local):
Red Deer at Edmonton, 4 p.m.
Tri-City at Everett, 4:05 p.m.
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— Brent Kisio (@Brent_Kisio) September 22, 2017
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