Scattershooting on a lawn-mowing Friday … Bondra’s return up in air … Rossignol tells it like it was

The Saskatchewan Roughriders play host to the B.C. Lions on Sunday afternoon. The Roughriders (2-4) lost 30-15 — it wasn’t that close — in Vancouver on Saturday. You would think that another loss would send Rider Nation into Regina’s streets, pitchforks in hand.

There is only one thing wrong with the Los Angeles Dodgers burning up the National League this season. It’s happening in the season after Vin Scully’s retirement.

With the Trumpmeister having threatened North Korea with “fire and fury,” you are free to wonder how concerned the Tri-City Americans might be, what with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation located just north of Richland. Yes, I know that it is mostly decommissioned, but do you think Kim Jong-un is aware of that.

Perhaps Bob Tory, the Americans’ co-owner and general manager, should make Kim an honourary season-ticket holder, you know, just to be on the safe side.

When Genie Bouchard and Milos Raonic departed early from the Rogers Cup, you have to think the event’s organizers were sweating. But then along came Denis Shapovalov to save the day. Genie Who? Milos Next Time?

Swedish forward Elias Pettersson, taken fifth overall by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2017 NHL draft, apparently wasn’t anywhere near the top of his game at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich. His coach speculated that perhaps three trips to North America this off-season had taken their toll. Gee, you think!

In the first half of the MLB season, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees was able to lay off sliders low and away, and he was lights out. Now he’s swinging at that pitch and the result is a whole lot of strikeouts. Yes, some observers are blaming the Home Run Derby for his bad habits.

The World Series-champion Chicago Cubs lost catcher Willson Contreras to an injury to his right hamstring on Wednesday. With Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant scuffling, Contreras, who has 21 fingers and 70 RBI, had been carrying them of late. If he’s gone for up to six weeks, it just might derail a repeat.

Scott Ostler, in the San Francisco Chronicle: “Idly wondering: Why did Superman need a real job? Need cash? Grab a lump of coal and squeeze it into a diamond. Want to get close to Lois Lane? Call her and say, ‘Superman here, let’s have lunch.’ And if Superman needed a real job, why newspaper reporter? Should I fight interplanetary crime today, or cover the Metropolis school board meeting?”

FIRE REPORT: Smoke cleared enough that I was able to mow the lawn without feeling that I had smoked a pack of Mark Tens — remember them? — while I was doing it. . . . From the 1 p.m. BC Wildlife Service update — 143 fires, 11 of them new. Since April 1, 966 fires have burned 646,000 hectares. Kevin Skrepnek, the BCWS’s excellent information office, made the point that the area is “more than double the size of Greater Vancouver.” . . . The cost to the BCWS is $270.7 million. . . . There are more than 3,700 personnel working the fires, along with more than 650 firefighters from out of province, and more than 1,500 contractors. . . . All crown land in the Cariboo Fire Centre has been closed to public access as of Friday afternoon. . . . It isn’t going to get any better with wind and lightning expected in the Interior today.

F Mário Grman (Red Deer, Kootenay, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga) after a successful tryout. Last season, he had a goal and two assists in three games with Topolcany U20 (Slovakia, U20), three assists in 17 games with Team Slovakia U20 (Slovakia, Extraliga), a goal and two assists in seven games with Team Slovakia U20 (Slovakia, 1. Liga), and two assists in 14 games with Žilina (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Slovakian national junior team plays a regular schedule in the professional Extraliga and 1. Liga prior to the World Junior Championship.

A report on Friday indicated that F Radovan Bondra, a 20-year-old Slovakian, will return to the Prince George Cougars for a third WHL season. However, the Cougars aren’t so sure.

The Athletic’s Scott Powers reported that the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected Bondra in the fifth round of the 2015 NHL draft, haven’t offered him a contract and won’t have room for him on the roster of their AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs. So a decision has been made to return him to the Cougars. Because the Blackhawks drafted him out of Europe and not off a CHL roster, the NHL team holds his rights for four years, until July 2019.

Bondra is expected to attend the start of the Cougars’ training camp later this month and then leave for the Blackhawks’ rookie camp.

As for his return for the WHL regular season . . .

“Not sure on that one,” a source familiar with the situation told Taking Note last night. “We’re not hearing that from the other side.”

Last season, Bondra had 19 goals and 12 assists in 32 games with the Vancouver Giants. After being dealt to Prince George, he had 13 goals and 19 assists in 30 games with the Cougars.

Interestingly, there was a report early in June that Bondra had signed a one-year contract with Slovan Bratislava, a Slovakian team that plays in the KHL. However, he isn’t on the team’s training camp roster.

As a 20-year-old import, Bondra would be a two-spotter with the Cougars — one of their two imports and one of three 20s — should he end up back with them.

Bondra joins F Aaron Boyd, F Jared Bethune, D Shane Collins, F Brogan O’Brien, D Tate Olson and F Tanner Wishnowski as other 20s on the Cougars’ roster. Of course, they are able to keep only three of those. They also hold the WHL rights to F Jesse Gabrielle, D Brendan Guhle and F Jansen Harkins, each of whom is expected to play professionally in 2017-18.

The Cougars selected F Vladislav Mikhalchuk, an 18-year-old from Belarus in the CHL’s 2017 import draft. Prince George’s roster also includes Russian F Nikita Popugaev, who was a fourth-round pick by the New Jersey Devils in the NHL’s 2017 draft. He will turn 19 on Nov. 20.

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With Brad McEwen having left the Calgary Flames for Hockey Canada, the NHL team has an opening for an amateur scout in Western Canada. Speculation around the WHL has it that Darren Kruger will be leaving the Medicine Hat Tigers to fill that spot. . . . McEwen, who had been with the Flames for three years, now is the head scout for Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Interestingly, he joined the Flames from Medicine Hat, where he had filled a number of positions — general manager, assistant GM, director of scouting — over five seasons (2009-14). . . . Kruger has been with the Tigers since 2006, first as an assistant coach and for the past three seasons as the director of player development.

Meanwhile, the Prince Albert Raiders have added Douglas Bodner to their scouting staff. Bodner, who has coached minor hockey for 45 years, will work on B.C.’s Lower Mainland. From a news release: “Bodner was recently the co-ordinator for the Lower Mainland East development stream for B.C. Hockey. He also has 45 years of minor hockey coaching experience, including twice being named the Mission Minor Hockey coach of the year.”

The Kootenay Ice announced on Aug. 1 that it had signed Swiss F Gilian Kohler, whose rights had been selected in the CHL’s 2017 import draft. Five days later, Kohler suffered a concussion in an exhibition game while playing for Switzerland against Belarus in Breclav, Czech Republic. The concussion kept him out of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup. . . . On Tuesday, Kohler’s father, Denis, told Brad McLeod of the Cranbrook Townsman: “The doctor said that he could take the plane home and he’s already feeling much better. Of course, he needs rest, but it’s not posing any problems.” . . . Kohler is expected to leave Switzerland on Aug. 25 as he journeys to Cranbrook for the start of training camp. . . . McLeod’s story is right here.

Don Nachbaur, the third-winningest head coach in WHL history, spent the past 20 years in the league, with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Tri-City Americans and Spokane Chiefs. He and the Chiefs parted company after last season and now he’s preparing for his first season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . Nachbaur was in Prince George the other day and took time to chat with Hartley Miller, the sports director at 94.3 The Goat. Miller’s piece is right here.


The NHL’s Ottawa Senators have added Bobby Strumm to their amateur scouting staff. Strumm is the son of Bob Strumm, who has been in and around the WHL and various teams since the early 1970s. Bobby has spent the past four seasons as a scout with the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.

Brad Howard has stepped in as the SJHL’s new referee-in-chief. Howard is a veteran on-ice official, who began working junior A games at the age of 18. Since then, he has continuously been involved with the SJHL as a linesmen, referee and/or supervisor. He has worked as a referee-in-chief or supervisor with the U-17 World Hockey Challenge and Royal Bank Cup on three occasions each, the USports championship and the Junior A Challenge. . . . With the SJHL, Howard takes over from Tracy Cook, who filled the position since 2009. Cook, who has been involved in the SJHL for more than 40 years, has stepped aside due to health concerns.

During the course of a season, far more third- and fourth-liners than front-line players move through the WHL. D Royce Rossignol, from Surrey, B.C., was one such player.  A seventh-round selection by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2011 bantam draft, he would play only seven games in the WHL. But he would play in seven different junior leagues from 2013-17. Rossignol, now 21, put his thoughts and memories into essay form earlier this year and posted them in blog form. There are two parts — Part 1 is right here; Part 2 is right here — and they should be required reading to aspiring junior hockey players and their parents. . . . A tip of the cap to Matthew Gourlie (@Matt Gourlie) for bringing these pieces to my attention.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

The Hungarian Ice Hockey Federation has hired Finnish coach Jarmo Tolvanen to guide its men’s national and U-20 teams. . . . Following the 2017 IIHF World Championship (Division 1 Group A), the federation chose not to pick up the option on former WHLer’s Rich Chernomaz’s contract. . . . Hungary finished fifth in that tournament. . . . Chernomaz had taken the men’s team to five World Championship events, with the team having qualified to play in the top group in 2016. He also guided the U-20 team through four Worlds. Last winter, Hungary won a tournament in Budapest and was promoted to Division 1A. . . . For the past two seasons, Tolvanen has been with Stjermen in Norway’s top league.

Blazers keeping eye on fire situation … Chiefs forward gets NHL deal … Raiders coach leaves

There are 80 firefighters from New Zealand helping in this season of fire in B.C. One of them is a helicopter pilot who has told Radio New Zealand that everyone is working in an ”apocalyptic twilight” amid the worst conditions he has experienced in 25 years.

Stephen Boyce told RNZ that “the visibility and flying conditions are the worst I have experienced on fires in 25 years.”

If you are curious about what it’s like on the front lines, there is more right here from

According to the BC Wildlife Service’s Thursday afternoon report, there were 148 fires burning, with 15 new ones — most of which were started by lightning strikes. The new fires were mostly in the southeastern and northeastern parts of the province. Since April 1, the BCWS has dealt with 958 fires that have torched 621,000 hectares.

The Elephant Hill fire, which is the one that started all the fun in the Kamloops area, was at 117,170 hectares and continuing to be most active in spots.

The cost to the BCWS as of this report was $264.3 million.

In Kamloops, we had yet another terribly smoky day. On the air-quality scale of 1-10, with 10 being poorest, we were between 15 and 21 well into the evening.

There might be some clearing by Saturday, though, and there are weekend showers in the forecast.

We shall see.

Meanwhile, the Kamloops Blazers will move their hockey school, training camp and exhibition games from the Sandman Centre, which is being used as an emergency evacuation reception centre, to the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre.

The hockey school is to run next week, while training camp opens on Aug. 22 when goaltenders report.

Kamloops has home exhibition games scheduled for Sept. 1, against the Victoria Royals, and Sept. 9, against the Kelowna Rockets.

The Blazers and the WHL will be keeping a close eye on things because the way things are going this situation could easily run well into September and perhaps threaten the start of the regular season.

The Blazers are scheduled to open by going home-and-home with the Rockets, playing in Kelowna on Sept. 22 and at the Sandman Centre the next night.

The arena right now is full of cots and other evacuation-related material, meaning it will take a day or two to get it ready for the installation of ice, something that itself takes the better part of a week.

So if the process of getting the facility ready for hockey hasn’t started by mid-September, you have to think Plan B will be put into motion.

At the start, that would include just the Sept. 23 game against the visiting Rockets. After that, the Blazers aren’t scheduled to play at home until Oct. 4 and Oct. 6, when the Prince George Cougars and Victoria Royals are to visit.

One thing is for sure, though — you won’t hear the Blazers complaining.

“When we look at what’s going on right now,” Don Moores, the franchise’s president and COO, told Earl Seitz of CFJC-TV, “it’s certainly a minor inconvenience (when compared) to what a lot of people are dealing with right now.

“We’re happy to do it and hopefully this will get resolved quickly.”

F Jim Vandermeer (Red Deer, 1997-2001) has signed a one-year extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, he had eight goals and 17 assists in 50 games. Vandermeer also was named a player/assistant coach for this season. He was a first team Elite League all-star last season. . . .

F Denis Zaripov (Swift Current, 1998-99) and Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL) have mutually agreed to terminate their contract. Zaripov was suspended by the IIHF for two years in July after testing positive for a banned substance in May. Zaripov has appealed the suspension.

F Kailer Yamamoto of the Spokane Chiefs has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Edmonton Oilers. They selected him with the 22nd overall pick of the NHL’s 2017 draft. . . . Yamamoto, who is from Spokane, participated in the Oilers’ development camp early in July and played for Team USA at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., last week. He is scheduled to play for the Oilers’ entry in the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C., Sept. 8-11, and then take part in Edmonton’s main camp. . . . Yamamoto, who turns 19 on Sept. 29, will return to the Chiefs for a fourth season and it is anticipated that he will be on Team USA’s roster for the 2018 World Junior Championship that opens in Buffalo on Dec. 26. . . . Last season, Yamamoto had 42 goals and 57 assists in 65 games for the Chiefs, who didn’t make the playoffs. In 190 career regular-season games, he has 227 points, including 84 goals.

Dustin Schwartz, the goaltending coach with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, has taken on a part-time role as the WHL’s goaltending consultant. Schwartz, 38, will supervise the WHL’s goaltending advisory committee and will be part of a national goaltending advisory group. The Oilers own the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings and Schwartz, who is from Stettler, Alta., is the junior team’s goaltending coach. He played in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers and Red Deer Rebels (1996-2000) before spending five years at the U of Alberta.

Brandin Cote has left his position as an assistant coach with the Prince Albert Raiders to work as an associate coach with the Red Deer College Kings. Cote spent one season with the Raiders. . . . Earlier, he spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Kings. . . . Cote, 36, is from Swift Current. He played five seasons (1997-2002) with the Spokane Chiefs.

The Kootenay Ice has hired Neil Ross as its strength and conditioning coach. Ross spent the past 10 years in Australia, where, according to an Ice news release, “he held coaching, sport science, and strength and conditioning roles with Cycling Australia and the Australian Institute of Sport. Ross is also a veteran of dozens of world championship and Olympic campaigns.” . . . Before going to Australia, he was the head strength and conditioning coach at McMaster U in Hamilton, where he also was the director and head coach at the Canadian National Cycling Centre.

If you like what you see here, you may want to consider donating to the cause. Should you choose to help out, simply click on the DONATE button in the upper right corner of this page and away you go. Thank you!

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

Blazers likely to move camp … Chiefs, ‘Tips add trainers … Ex-WHLers get ECHL deals

My camera doesn’t really do justice for a shot like this, but that’s the sun, which was blood red, setting over the hills east of Kamloops on Wednesday night.

As you can tell by the photo, it was another smoky day in Kamloops.

As mentioned previously, we live 20 km east of the city in an area known as Campbell Creek. There was a change in the smoke on Tuesday that carried over to Wednesday; oh, it’s still smoke, but it’s lower now than it had been; it lays in the trees and hovers just above water level in the South Thompson River.

There are rumblings that we may get a break from it as the weekend approaches, and I even heard something about scattered showers in the forecast for Saturday or Sunday. Yes, I will believe that when it happens.

In the meantime, you should know that if you go into the back country, start a campfire and get caught, the BC Conservation Officer Service will write you a ticket that will cost you $1,150. On the long weekend, the BCCOS wrote 19 such tickets. Seriously!

F Kruise Reddick (Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had six goals and 13 assists in 52 games with Vita Hästen Norrköping (Sweden, Allsvenskan). . . .

D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Lakehead University (OUA West), he had two goals and five assists in 23 games. . . .

D Petr Kuboš (Prince George, 1997-99) has signed a a tryout contract with Vsetín (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). Last season, he had three goals and 13 assists in 39 games with Tychy (Poland, PHL). Kuboš is from Vsetín.

The Kamloops Blazers may be forced out of the Sandman Centre for training camp and exhibition games. Radio NL, the longtime voice of the Blazers, reported Wednesday that the wildfire situation may necessitate a switch. The arena is being used as an evacuation centre and is housing evacuees. As Jon Keen, the play-by-play voice, tweeted, the “situation likely not improving the next month.” . . . Goalies are to report to camp on Aug. 22, with freshmen coming in Aug. 25 and veterans on Aug. 27. . . . According to Keen, the Blazers are preparing to hold training camp at the McArthur Island Sport and Event Centre or Memorial Arena. . . . Memorial Arena was the home of the Blazers before the opening of the Sandman Centre, which was then known as Riverside Coliseum. . . . The Blazers have two home exhibition games scheduled — against the Victoria Royals on Sept. 1 and the Kelowna Rockets on Sept. 9. According to the exhibition schedule on the WHL website, both games will be played at McArthur Island.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, wrote a piece over the weekend that carried this headline: When Shultz stirred the pot between Raiders and Blades. . . . The blog entry detailed goings-on leading up to and during a game between the Saskatoon Blades and hometown Prince Albert Raiders on Jan. 30, 2004. Chris Schlenker was a defenceman with the Raiders and found himself in the middle of some stuff in that game. . . . Steinke’s blog is right here.

Meanwhile, the Medicine Hat News carried a piece on Schlenker on Wednesday. If you aren’t aware, Schlenker, who was a WHL tough cookie, now is an NHL referee. The News’s story is right here.

Joseph Hurley is the Spokane Chiefs’ new head trainer and conditioning coach. He replaces Todd Daniels, who has left Spokane after nine years to join the AHL’s Tucson Roadrunners. The Chiefs announced his departure on Monday. . . . Hurley, 28, spent last season with the NAHL’s Amarillo Bulls. He has an exercise and sports science degree from Coastal Carolina and graduated from Seton Hall with a master’s of science in athletic training in 2015. He was an assistant trainer with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers in 2015-16.

The Everett Silvertips have added Blake Draughon as their athletic trainer. He replaces Rob Tagle, who has joined the ECHL’s Worcester Railers, who are preparing for their first season. . . . Draughon, 28, has a bachelor of science from Texas Tech (2011) and graduated from the Texas Tech Health Sciences Centre with a master’s of science in athletic training in 2015. . . . He has training experience with Plainview, Texas, High School, and with Texas Tech, including with the Red Raiders football team. He also worked with the NHL’s Dallas Stars during their July 2014 development camp.

Marty Williamson, a veteran OHL coach, has been named interim head coach of the Brock U Badgers for 2017-18. The Badgers play out of St. Catharines, Ont. . . . Williamson, 54, replaces Murray Nystrom, who had coached the Badgers since 1998. . . . Williamson had been the general manager and head coach of the OHL’s Niagara IceDogs, who also play out of St. Catharines for six seasons (2010-16). The IceDogs fired him in May 2016 despite the fact they made the playoffs in each of his six seasons and won two Eastern Conference championships.

The BCHL’s Vernon Vipers announced on Wednesday that they have signed F Alex Swetlikoff, 16, and F Josh Prokop, 17. . . . Swetlikoff, from Kelowna, was grabbed by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the third round of the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. He has committed to Denver U for 2020-21. Last season, he had 19 goals and 26 assists in 28 games with the Yale Hockey Academy prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League. . . . Prokop, from Edmonton, was a fifth-round selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the fifth round of the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. Last season, Prokop had 29 goals and 28 assists in 30 games with the CSSHL’s Northern Alberta X-Treme prep side. . . . “We feel like both of these players are major acquisitions for our hockey club,” Mark Vernon, the Vipers’ head coach, said, “and they will both be important pieces of the Vernon Vipers, not just for next season, but for the future as well. We are really excited.”


The Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, which is located in Wilcox, Sask., and is home to the Hounds, is looking for a hockey operations assistant who also would help out as an assistant coach with the junior A team that plays in the SJHL. A partial job description: “The hockey operations assistant is responsible for recruiting, co-ordinating and organizing the Spring Showcases and Summer Camps . . . while providing assistance with the fall camp operations. The individual in this position will work within the Hockey Office and related areas providing administrative support. The staff member in this position directly reports to the male hockey co-ordinator.” . . . There’s a lot more information right here.

The SJHL’s Battlefords North Stars, who are the reigning champions, firmed up their coaching staff on Wednesday, naming Brandon Heck general manager and head coach, with Boyd Wakelin coming on board as assistant coach. . . . For the past four seasons, Heck, 32, has been the head coach of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League’s Camrose Red Wings. From Forrestburg, Alta., he played junior A with the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers and the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder, then spent four years playing for NCAA Division III Castleton, Vt., Spartans. . . . Heck replaces Nate Bedford, now the head coach of the Portage College Voyageurs in Lac La Biche, Alta. . . . Wakelin, 26, is from Battleford and is a former North Stars player.

F Patrick D’Amico, who played three seasons (2012-15) with the Regina Pats, has signed with the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators. D’Amico, 22, is from Winnipeg. He played 50 games with Atlanta in 2015-16, putting up 13 goals and seven assists. Last season, he had six goals and 10 assists in 38 games with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel. . . . Meanwhile, the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads have re-signed D Corbin Baldwin for a third season. Baldwin, 26, spent four seasons (2008-12) with the Spokane Chiefs. . . . Sean Zimmerman, another former Spokane defenceman (2003-07), has signed with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears. He spent last season with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles. In fact, Zimmerman, 30, was the team captain as they won the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions.

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Benson to miss Giants’ camp? … Hockey tonight in Salmon Arm … Ex-WHLer to coach Wildcats

D Troy Rutkowski (Portland, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Sarpsborg (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, he had nine goals and 26 assists in 45 games with Lillehammer (Norway, GET-Ligaen).

It could be that F Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants will miss training camp. Rick Dhaliwal of NEWS 1130 Sports in Vancouver tweeted the above note on Tuesday morning, then added that the Giants “are hoping Benson is ready for the regular-season opener.” . . . Benson, 19, was selected by Vancouver with the first overall pick of the 2013 bantam draft. He has been with the Giants for the past three seasons, but injuries and ailments limited him to 30 games in 2015-16 and 33 games in 2017-18. . . . Benson had 28 points, including nine goals, two seasons ago and 11 goals and 31 assists last season. . . . Last season, he played his last game on Jan. 2. . . . An Edmonton native, he has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Oilers, who selected him in the second round of the 2016 draft. Benson has been rehabbing since undergoing sports hernia surgery in April. He skated for the first time since the surgery at the Oilers’ development camp in Jasper, Alta., early in July.

If you happen to be in the Salmon Arm area today (Wednesday) and feel like watching some hockey, get yourself over to the Shaw Centre because puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. . . . It’s the annual Pro Am Scholarship game that is staged by the BCHL’s Silverbacks. . . . This year’s game will feature the likes of F Curtis Lazar of the Calgary Flames and F Riley Nash of the Boston Bruins. The Silverbacks announced Tuesday that D Jake Bean of the Calgary Hitmen, who was a first-round selection by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2016 NHL draft, also will play. . . . Tickets are $7 apiece, with youngsters six and under free. Ducats are available all day at the Silverbacks’ office and the Maximum Edge Hockey Shop, which recently was purchased by the team.

Travis Young is the new head coach of the Valley Wildcats, who play out of Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League. Nick Greenough was the general manager and head coach for the previous four seasons, but now will focus entirely on the GM’s duties. . . . Young, from Souris, Man., played five seasons (19990-2004) in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Prince Albert Raiders. The 34-year-old later played three seasons with the Acadia U Axemen before his playing career was sidelined by concussion-related issues. . . . He spent six seasons as an assistant coach at Acadia, before working as the head coach of Miskolc Jegesmedvek on Hungary’s MOL. He also has worked with the MHL’s South Shore Lumberjacks. For the past two seasons, he has been coaching the Wildcats’ major bantam team, while helping the junior A team as an assistant coach.

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Scattershooting on a smoky Monday … Chiefs’ trainer heads south … About Rink Burgers and more

Amanda Stein is the latest journalist to leave an MSM outlet, in this case TSN 690 in Montreal, to join a pro team — she is to be the all-access host for the NHL’s New Jersey Devils. Stein is the latest in a long line of journalists to move to a team or a league. With the continuing shrinkage of the media world, I still think it’s only a matter of time before more major junior teams follow this route. In the WHL, the Red Deer Rebels have their own writer, in Greg Meachem, the former sports editor of the Red Deer Advocate. It won’t be long before other teams begin to realize the value in following suit.


I know I’m not the only one thinking the NHL is doing this Olympic thing all wrong. How can you talk about growing the game and then turn your back on the Olympic opportunity that comes around only once every four years?


Also, it’s one thing to prohibit players in the NHL from playing in the Olympic Winter Games — after all, it’s all about the schedule — but it says here that you’re only being a bully if you are going to deny minor leaguers on NHL contracts what may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.


From where I sit, it’s great to have Dean Chynoweth back in the WHL. If you missed it, he signed on last week as an associate coach with the Vancouver Giants. Yes, he is a son of the late Ed Chynoweth, something of which he always will be proud, but he’s an excellent hockey man in his own right.


I can only imagine the stories that will be told when Vancouver general manager Glen Hanlon and associate coach Dean Chynoweth are in close proximity on a road trip.


The Seattle Thunderbirds have hired two assistant coaches — Kyle Hagel and Castan Sommer — both of whom were active as players as recently as last season. I can’t remember another WHL team having hired two assistant coaches so freshly removed from their playing careers.


The WHL has been posting on Twitter as it searches for a manager, hockey operations. I don’t know what it means, if anything, but I am told that as many as five people have moved on from the WHL’s Calgary office since the end of last season.


It was a national holiday in Canada on Monday, with it going by various names in different jurisdictions. Manitoba gets it right, because the holiday there is Terry Fox Day. If you don’t know the name Terry Fox, get yourself to Google.


Sidney Crosby, Mike Trout and Gregg Drinnan celebrate birthdays on Aug. 7. Two of those men get regular mentions on ESPN, Sportsnet and TSN. The other watches TV.

A birthday cake, forwarded by Mike Benton, the radio voice of the Everett Silvertips, Were I to get a real cake like this, it would go under glass and never be eaten. Yes, I used one of these when I began my career as a sports writer.
The birthday treat that I did get to eat some of in our favourite restaurant, Senor Froggy. Dorothy and best friend Della ate most of it. Right?
A Eurasian collared dove stopped by for a visit on Monday, about 6 p.m., taking time to pose in front of the wall of smoke over the South Thompson River.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to pass along birthday greetings.

Yes, there was a birthday cake. No, there weren’t any candles. You’re right. We didn’t want to risk any more smoke. As you can see from one of the photos, it was plenty bad again on Monday. There are rumblings that we may get some relief today (Tuesday), so we shall wait and see on that.

If you are wondering what’s ahead, well, Kevin Skrepnek, the chief fire information officer for the BC Wildfire Service, reiterated during Monday’s daily update that things are likely to get a whole lot worse before they get any better. As he said, again, August usually is BCWS’s busiest time of year, it’s hot and dry out there, and it’s only going to get warmer and drier.

It seems that any rain that may be in the forecast is likely to be accompanied by lightning, and that’s not good.

What I do know is that it seems like forever since we’ve seen blue sky. The worst part of the extremely poor air quality — we were 27 on the 1-10 scale Monday afternoon — is that you begin to feel like a prisoner.

It could be worse, though, because we haven’t lost our home, we haven’t even been threatened, nor have we had to deal with being evacuated.

Here’s hoping that doesn’t happen.

D William Wrenn (Portland, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL) after obtaining his release from Bolzano (Italy, Alps HL) on Friday. Last season, with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), he had three goals and six assists in 39 games. . . .

D Logan Pyett (Regina, 2003-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Tohoku Free Blades Hachinohe (Japan, Asia HL). Pyett didn’t play last season. In 2015-16, he signed with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) but didn’t play a regular-season game after being diagnosed with sarcoma in his upper leg at the beginning of the season. In 2014-15, with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL), he had four goals and three assists in 21 games, and a goal and seven assists in 32 games with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL). . . .

F Blair Jones (Red Deer, Moose Jaw, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with Cologne (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Iserlohn Roosters (Germany, DEL), he had seven goals and 12 assists in 30 games. . . .

D Logan Stephenson (Tri-City, 2001-06) has signed a one-year extension with the Tohoku Free Blades Hachinohe (Japan, Asia HL). Last season, he had seven goals and 28 assists in 43 games. He was a first-team league all-star. This will be his fourth season with the Free Blades. . . .

F Sean Ringrose (Medicine Hat, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with Pusteral/Val Pusteria Brunico (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, he had 14 goals and 20 assists in 41 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). Ringrose added six goals and 17 assists in the playoffs, as held the league in assists and points as Gap won the championship.

Best wishes to Jesse, who covers the Everett Silvertips and the WHL for the Everett Herald, and his bride from the gang at Taking Note.

Todd Daniels, the long-time trainer and conditioning coach with the Spokane Chiefs, is leaving the WHL team. He had been with the Chiefs since 2008, but is moving on as a trainer with the Tucson Roadrunners, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Arizona Coyotes. . . . From a Chiefs’ news release: “Daniels signed on with the Chiefs beginning with the 2008-09 season and headed the organization’s training and conditioning program since then, including injury rehabilitation and performance monitoring. He will remain with the team through this month’s training camp before heading to Tucson.”

Troy Smith is the new head coach of the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit. Smith, 39, spent the previous two seasons with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, as their assistant general manager and associate coach. Prior to that, he spent nine seasons in various roles with the Kitchener Rangers. For six seasons (2006-13), he was an assistant coach under head coach Peter DeBoer, now the head coach of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. Smith spent the next two seasons (2013-15) as the Rangers’ head coach. . . . In Saginaw, Smith takes over from Spencer Carbery, who left after one season for an assistant coaching job with the AHL’s Providence Bruins.

G Jonny Hogue, who played 18 games with his hometown Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2013-14, has decided to attend the U of Lethbridge and play for the Pronghorns. Hogue, now 21, played last season with the NAHL’s Odessa Jackalopes, going 2.76 and .913 in 39 appearances. . . . He was an eighth-round pick by the Hurricanes in the WHL’s 2011 bantam draft. . . . In 2013-14, he was 5.94 and .855 with the Hurricanes. He played two seasons (2014-16) with the AJHL’s Drumheller Dragons.

Being an avid reader who is always on the lookout for a good sports-related book, I don’t know how I missed Rink Burgers. Written by Todd Devonshire, it was published in 2012, but somehow escaped my attention until friends sent me a copy late last month.

Well, what a captivating read.

Devonshire grew up and played minor hockey in Big River, Sask., a small community northwest of Prince Albert. In the book, he and his wife, Dawn, return to the family home to go through childhood belongings as his folks are downsizing in preparation for a move.

Going through boxes of goodies tweaks memories that spill out onto the pages like ketchup from a glass bottle.

Intertwined with the stories, is a mini-plot that involves the love affair the author and his father, Phil, have with the Boston Bruins. This was back in the day when the Habs owned the Bruins, and the Devonshires weren’t alone in having abuse heaped upon them by fans of the blue, blanc et rouge.

The love affair only deepens when Barry Pederson, who is from Big River, lands with the Bruins, and it cools slightly when he is traded for “a young prospect no one had heard of.” That prospect was Cam Neely, who had a pretty good, if injury-shortened, career with Boston.

More than anything, though, Rink Burgers is about growing up in small-town Canada, where everybody knows everybody and there are few secrets. It’s about friends and families and hockey tournaments; it’s about youngsters having to deal with a car accident that takes away friends and leaves pals without their parents. It’s about all that and more, and it’s about rink burgers.

It doesn’t matter what arena you’re in, minutes after the minor hockey game is over, the recent combatants don’t much care what the score was because they want their rink burgers, preferably with fried onions.

They don’t come any better than rink burgers, Devonshire’s book is ample proof of that, and it surely will make you smile on more than one occasion.

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Monday’s with Murray: That’s Shoe Biz




That’s Shoe Biz

Bob Lanier of the Detroit Pistons is a 25-point-a-night scorer. He frequently grabs 20 or more rebounds a game. He played the most minutes and was the game’s MVP in the 1974 All-Star lineup that included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Nate Thurmond.

And, yet, the first thing anybody notices about him is his feet. He’s got the biggest feet of any creature that wears shoes. If you saw his footprints in the snow, you’d run like hell.

If Bob Lanier played football, he’d have to line up one yard behind the line of scrimmage or be offside. Rumor has it, his shoes are off-loaded at the Detroit River docks by tug. It takes him 20 minutes to unlace them.  Even in basketball, he can get a three-second violation while standing on the sidelines.

Bob Lanier is 6-foot-11, 250 pounds, but all anybody wants to talk about are the bottom 25 inches. He was on the CBS post-game show one afternoon, after an outstanding day on the court, and a girl reporter only wanted to try on his shoes. She disappeared into them. Bob Lanier disappeared, too. He threw the shoes against the wall and walked out.

Big Bob never wanted to be Big Foot. He tried to go around pretending everyone wears size 22 or so. Even as a kid, he was never able to go into Thom McAn’s and say casually, “Do you have anything in a 21-1/2 X?” He shouted any journalist out of the dressing room who tried to bring up the subject of feet. It was hard not to bring it up. Writers would stare at those toes, which are bigger than most peoples’ feet, and start the general questioning . . . “Uh, Bob, how many feet — er, I mean, rebounds, did you have tonight?”

But this year a curious thing happened: Lee Williams, the publicity man for the Basketball Hall of Fame, asked to include some pro basketball memorabilia in the bicentennial Freedom Train, decided to liven the exhibit with something besides the ball Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points with, or the warm-up jacket worn by Oscar Robertson — and he put in a pair of Bob Lanier’s shoes.

They quickly became the most popular exhibit in the car, not to say the train. I mean, let’s face it: The bat Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run with looks like any other bat. The Bob Lanier shoes don’t look like any other pair of shoes. They look, in fact, like supertankers.

It is not unusual for a person to rail against the thing which makes him or her unique. I can remember Marilyn Monroe loftily preferring to explain her reading of the ‘Brothers Karamazov,’ as if anyone with her dimensions needed a literary reputation.

Golfers on the tour who are great putters hate the reputation. And I can recall Hank Aaron standing around a batting cage and saying resentfully, “I do other things besides hit home runs.”

There is evidence Babe Ruth considered the rest of his career downhill when he left the pitcher’s mound. Terrible-Tempered Tommy Bolt always wanted to be known as a guy who could see both sides of a question equally. For all I know, W.C. Fields probably wanted to be known as a man of moderation. And Bill Shoemaker used to chin himself on coat racks trying to be 6 feet tall — so he could be driving a truck instead of Swaps.

And so Bob Lanier would probably have preferred to have been known as just another pretty foot.

But if Bob had any sense of shoe business, if the late P.T. Barnum had had him, he would probably begin wearing shoes two sizes (or more) too large for him. He would edge them in neon, or loud colors. He would sell advertising on the soles.

When your shoes can rival the Declaration of Independence, The Adams Chronicles, or Lincoln’s shawl as a national monument, your feet belong to the world. I would let my toenails grow if I were Bob and, if the Detroit Pistons get in the playoff finals, 20 million people will concentrate not on the scorer’s feats, but on the scorer’s feet.

Reprinted with permission by the Los Angeles Times.

Jim Murray Memorial Foundation, P.O. Box 60753, Pasadena, CA 91116


What is the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation? 

  The Jim Murray Memorial Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, established in 1999 to perpetuate the Jim Murray legacy, and his love for and dedication to his extraordinary career in journalism. Since 1999, JMMF has granted 104 $5,000 scholarships to outstanding journalism students. Success of the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation’s efforts depends heavily on the contributions from generous individuals, organizations, corporations, and volunteers who align themselves with the mission and values of the JMMF.

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Portland hopes d-man back in four weeks … Tri-City forward gets NHL deal … Chiefs to change benches

Kamloops was back in the smoke on Saturday. In Campbell Creek, 20 km east, it also was smoky. It wasn’t as bad as Thursday when the air quality hit 49 on a scale of 1-10, but we weren’t barbecuing yesterday.

The inferno knowns as the Elephant Hill fire, which is north of Ashcroft and just east of Clinton — grew to more than 110,000 hectares — that’s 271,816 acres — as it remains incredibly active.

One of the things I have learned in this summer of fire is that stupidity, like rust, never sleeps.

Consider the above tweet, and that’s just for starters.

On the night of July 31, thieves made off with a water pump and hoses — 10 100-foot lengths — that were being used by the B.C. Wildfire Service in the Castlegar area.

On July 25, two hikers were found in Tweedsmuir Park near Anahim Lake— that’s Carey Price country. It’s also an area that was closed because of the fire situation. Wildlife people had to extinguish a campfire as the two were helicoptered out of the area. They were fined a total of $1,233.

There have been other similar stories, including one from the Kelowna area that involved a couple of $1,000 fines.

In another incident, a helicopter fire-response crew had to stop work due to interference from some folks who were off-roading in the backcountry. There also have been reports of tankers unable to fill up from various lakes because of boaters who were in the way.

Late last week, thieves made off with pet food and supplies from the Four Paws Food Bank that has been operating outside the Sandman Centre in Kamloops.

It goes on and on. Early on in his mess, there were reports out of Quesnel of scammers posing as wildlife officials going door-to-door and telling people they had to evacuate.

And, yes, there are countless reports of thoughtless smokers flipping butts out of vehicle windows.

Kevin Skrepnek, the chief fire information officer for the Kamloops area, made the point on CBC-TV early on Saturday that things likely will get worse before they get better. As he pointed out, August is usually the wildfire service’s busiest time of the year.

Allow me to remind you that August isn’t half over. You know what? It can’t snow soon enough.

The Portland Winterhawks are hoping that D Henri Jokiharju will be in their lineup when they open the regular season on Sept. 23 against the host Everett Silvertips.

Failing that, perhaps at the time he’ll be in camp with the Chicago Blackhawks, who selected him in the first round of the NHL’s 2017 draft.

No matter, the Winterhawks hope the Finnish defender will be skating by then.

Jokiharju suffered an injury to his left knee while playing for Team Finland at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich., a week ago. The injury ended his Showcase.

On Saturday night, Mike Johnston, the Winterhawks’ general manager and head coach, told Taking Note that “we heard four weeks until skating so should be fine.”

The Winterhawks open training camp on Aug. 24, which is slightly more than two weeks away, so it seems unlikely that Jokiharju will be participating, at least in the beginning.

The Blackhawks open camp on Sept. 16, so perhaps he’ll be there, if only for the team’s medical staff to give him a going over.

Jokiharju is heading into his second WHL season, after putting up nine goals and 39 assists in 71 games last season.

F Michael Rasmussen of the Tri-City Americans has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. They selected him with the ninth overall pick of the 2017 NHL draft. . . . The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Rasmussen was limited to 50 games last season after suffering a broken scaphoid in his left wrist. He finished with 32 goals, 15 of them on the PP, and 23 assists. . . . In 114 career games, he has 98 points, including 50 goals. . . . From Surrey, B.C., Rasmussen will be back for a third season with the Americans. He presently is with Team Canada at the World Junior Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Mich.

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Season-ticket holders with the Spokane Chiefs are being provided with the option of moving their seats in the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena with the news that the home and visiting teams are switching player benches. Starting with the upcoming season, the Chiefs will occupy the bench closest to the end that they defend in the first and third periods. . . . The home and visiting penalty benches also will be switched. . . . Season-ticket holders were informed of the changes in a letter from the team dated July 28. . . . “The Western Hockey League has ruled that the Chiefs must move benches,” the letter reads, although it doesn’t say why the WHL office made such a decision. “Everything will stay the same except for the Chiefs’ home bench and which penalty box each team uses. This is not a decision put in place by the Chiefs organization, but imposed by the Western Hockey League.” . . . The WHL may have forced the move in the interests of consistency as it works towards using the same template in all buildings. Of course, that’s impossible in some buildings like Brandon and Swift Current, where the player benches are on opposite sides of the ice. . . . I also heard that Dan Lambert, who is heading into his first season as the Chiefs’ head coach, suggested the change, likely preferring not to be faced with the long change for two periods every home game. Lambert spent six seasons on the Kelowna Rockets’ coaching staff so will be quite familiar with playing in Spokane.

The Lower Mainland of B.C. includes three universities with hockey programs. Until now, the three of them — the Simon Fraser Clan, Trinity Western Spartans and UBC Thunderbirds — have never taken part in the same competition. They will in September when they compete in the inaugural Captains Cup, presented by the WHL’s Vancouver Giants. . . . The three teams will play a round-robin affair over two weeks. It begins with the Clan and Thunderbirds meeting at UBC on Sept. 15. One night later, the Spartans will play SFU at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Centre. It all ends on Sept. 30 with the Spartans and Thunderbirds meeting at UBC. . . . From a news release: “The goal of the event is to promote university hockey in the Lower Mainland, while also raising awareness for the WHL’s scholarship program, which is available for players entering into post-secondary hockey. . . . Between the three teams, the 28 players on their collective rosters have experience playing in the WHL. This includes 22 players with UBC, four with TWU and two with SFU. Amongst Giants alumni, the T-Birds have four players who spent time in the WHL with Vancouver.” . . . Also from the news release: “UBC enters the competition with a combined record of 9-1 against SFU and TWU. The Thunderbirds only loss against their BCIHL brethren was Jan. 6, 2012 when the Clan earned a 3-1 win. TWU and UBC played each other last year in an exhibition game for the first time ever, with the T-Birds winning 3-2.”

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

Colin Birkas is the new head coach of the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks. He replaces James Poole, who left to join the coaching staff at the Edge School in Calgary. . . . Birkas has coached at the junior A level for five seasons, all of them in the OJHL. He spent four seasons (2011-15) with the Kingston Voyageurs and last season with the Brockville Braves. All told, he went 201-124-19, reaching four conference finals and winning one conference title.

Familiar name joins Giants’ staff … T-Birds add a coach … Pats ink two imports

There now are 108 firefighters from Mexico’s national wildfire service helping the B.C. Wildfire Service in this summer of fire. We don’t have a wall, so they were able to arrive in Kamloops on Friday morning.

Their presence will be welcomed, you can bet on that.

While the smoke cleared over at least some of the Kamloops area on Friday, leaving behind a light haze, the threat is far from over.

During the afternoon, a fire broke out above the community of Peachland, south of Kelowna, but firefighters quickly got a handle on it and prevented what could have been a disaster.

Also on Friday afternoon, the City of Kamloops shut down 18 parks and walking areas due to the wildfire risk. These parks had been closed a couple of weeks ago and recently reopened. As well, off-road vehicles now are banned from all back-country areas.

Meanwhile, west of Kamloops, an evacuation order was issued for the Skeetchestn Indian Band, thanks to the Elephant Hill fire. This is the fire that by Friday afternoon had grown to more than 93,000 hectares — that’s more than 229,800 acres.

Oh, and the tab for fighting all of these fires has reached $211.7 million.

In Campbell Creek, where we live east of Kamloops, it was easy breathing for the first time since Sunday. So, yes, the threw potatoes, corn and sausages on the barbecue.

And now we wait to see what Saturday brings.

F Igor Valeyev (Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Swift Current, 1998-2000) has signed a one-year contract with the Edinburgh Capitals (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with Chelmet Chelyabinsk (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had two goals and five assists in 11 games. . . .

F Joe Antilla (Kootenay, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). Last season, with U of British Columbia (Canada West), he had seven goals and 11 assists in 28 games. (NOTE: Erste Liga was formerly known as MOL Liga. It is a different league than Erste Bank Liga.) . . .

Per @A_Kalnins, F Denis Zairpov (Swift Current, 1998-99) has formally appealed his two-year suspension. He was suspended by the IIHF for using a banned substance. Zairpov states that he was never involved in any doping affair.


The Vancouver Giants have added Dean Chynoweth to their staff as associate coach. Chynoweth, 48, didn’t coach last season after being fired as head coach of the San Antonio Rampage, the AHL affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. . . . Chynoweth, a defenceman in his playing days, captained the Medicine Hat Tigers and was part of two Memorial Cup championship teams (1987, 1988). . . . He was selected in the first round of the 1987 NHL draft by the New York Islanders but injuries limited him to 241 NHL games over nine seasons with them and the Boston Bruins. . . . Chynoweth, the son of longtime WHL president Ed Chynoweth, has ample WHL experience. He was the head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds for four seasons (2000-04) and the general manager and head coach of the Swift Current Broncos for five seasons (2004-09). . . . He also was an assistant coach with the Islanders for three seasons. . . . With the Giants, he will work alongside Jason McKee, who is preparing for his second season as head coach. Chynoweth fills the void created when assistant coach Tyler Kuntz wasn’t brought back for a third season.

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The Seattle Thunderbirds, the reigning WHL champions, rounded out their coaching staff on Friday with the signing of Castan Sommer as an assistant coach. “We were looking for a young guy to really concentrate on the development of our incoming group of players and especially our forwards,” Seattle general manager Russ Farwell said in a news release. “Castan has done both skating and skill development with young professionals and we felt he would be the ideal addition to our staff.” . . . Sommer, 25, played four seasons at Holy Cross before spending last season with Kallinge/Ronneby, a Division 1 team in Sweden. A year ago, he also worked as a skating coach at the development camp of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. . . . Sommer is the son of Roy Sommer, who has been the head coach of the Sharks’ AHL affiliate, presently the San Jose Barracuda, since 1998. He is the winningest head coach in AHL history. . . . In Seattle, Castan will work alongside head coach Matt O’Dette, who was promoted from assistant coach to replace Steve Konowalchuk, now an assistant coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks, and fellow assistant Kyle Hagel, who was signed last month after choosing to end his playing career.

The Regina Pats have signed their two 2017 CHL import draft selections — Russian D Egor Zamula and Swedish F Emil Oksanen. . . . The 17-year-old Zamula, from Chelyabinsk, had three goals and 23 assists in 36 games with Megallurg Magnitogorsk’s U-17 club. . . . Oksanen, 19, played professionally with Espoo United (Mestis League) last season, putting up 13 goals and six assists in 48 games. . . . Both of the Pats’ imports from last season — Swedish F Filip Ahl and Russian D Sergey Zborovskiy — are eligible to return for their 20-year-old seasons. However, Ahl has signed to play professionally in his native Sweden, and Zborovskiy is under contract with the NHL’s New York Rangers and is expected to play in their organization.

F Lukas Svejkovsky is moving on after three seasons at the Delta, B.C., Hockey Academy, where his father, Yogi, has helped coach him. Last season, with the Elite 15s, he had 17 goals and 27 assists in 22 games. . . . The Vancouver Giants selected the 5-foot-8, 145-pounder in the second round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft. . . . Yogi played one season (1995-96) with the Tri-City Americans before going on to a pro career that included 113 NHL games. For the past 11 seasons, he also has worked with the Giants as a skills and development coach.

D Jeff Rayman, who is from Cranbrook, will attend the U of Lethbridge and play for the Pronghorns. Rayman played out his WHL eligibility last season, which was split between the Tri-City Americans and Vancouver Giants. . . . He also played with the Spokane Chiefs during a four-season career. In 205 regular-season games, he had seven goals and 10 assists. . . . If you’re interested in Canadian university hockey news, be sure to follow Victor Findlay (@Finder_24) on Twitter.

The ECHL’s Allen Americans, who had a run of four straight championships end last season, signed three former WHL players this week. . . . On Friday, they announced the signings of brothers Dalton and Josh Thrower, both of whom are defencemen. Dalton, 23, played five seasons (2009-14) in the WHL, spending four seasons with the Saskatoon Blades and one with the Vancouver Giants. As a pro, he has played 81 games over three seasons with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast. . . . Josh, 21, also spent five seasons (2012-17) in the WHL, playing with the Calgary Hitmen, Tri-City Americans, Vancouver and the Moose Jaw Warriors. . . . The Americans also have signed F Casey Pierro-Zabotel, who won the WHL’s 2008-09 scoring title while with Vancouver. He was part of Allen’s ECHL’s 2015-16 championship club, before leaving to play for the Colorado Eagles last season.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).

Here are a couple of stories that showed up on Twitter late in the week, just to get your weekend rolling. Note that the one about the armadillo actually is a couple of years old, but the reaction it got with a second life is interesting.

Things are smokin’ in Kamloops … Hebig getting geared up … Ex-WHLer cookin’ in modelling world

How were things in Kamloops on Thursday?

Well, one of the air quality rating systems works on a 1-10 basis, with 10 being the poorest. At noon, the air quality in Kamloops was rated at 24. Seriously . . . 24!

Except that it went to 27 . . . then 47 . . . then 49!

Yes, it was bad.

In their daily briefing, at 1 p.m., the fire information people told us that there were 126 fires burning, with eight of them new ones. All told, there have been 861 fires and they have scorched 491,000 hectares — that’s 1,213,287 acres.

Still, we’ve got a ways to go before this is the worst fire season on record. In 1958, the scorched total was 855,968 hectares. Right now, though, we’re No. 2.

As for the cost, well, since April 1 the tab is at $204 million, which has to be right there with Norm’s bar tab at Cheers.

G Jackson Whistle (Vancouver, Kelowna, 2011-16) has signed a one-year extension with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite). Last season, in 14 games, he was 2.59 and .903. Whistle doesn’t count as an import because he played minor hockey in the UK. His father David (Kamloops, Brandon, 1986-87) played and coached in the UK, including three seasons as head coach of Belfast (2000-03).

F Cameron Hebig of the Saskatoon Blades is eagerly preparing for his 20-year-old season, after sitting out all of last season with concussion-related problems. “I was seeing a neurologist, and you know the brain heals and the body heals,” Hebig told CTV’s Pat McKay. “I had worked hard at my physio, and I think that helped a lot, and I’m feeling 100 per cent now.” . . . Hebig arguably was the Blades’ top forward going into last season. He was coming off an 18-year-old season in which he put up 69 points, 26 of them goals, in 59 games. Those are impressive numbers, especially when you consider that he was playing on a poor team and frequently was up against the other team’s top centre. . . . Without Hebig last season, the Blades missed the playoffs for a fourth straight season. Of course, there isn’t a guarantee that he will be in the lineup when the 2017-18 season arrives because he is, at the moment, one of four 20-year-olds on the Saskatoon roster, along with D Evan Fiala, G Logan Flodell and F Braylon Shmyr. . . . McKay has more on Hebig right here.

The Everett Silvertips have signed G Blake Lyda to a WHL contract. Lyda, from Edmonton, was a fourth-round selection in the 2017 bantam draft. Last season, in 24 games with the bantam AAA Canadian Athletic Club Canadians, he was 3.30 and .917 with one one shutout. . . . Lyda is a cousin to F Vern Fiddler, who has played 14 NHL seasons after playing four WHL seasons (Kelowna, Medicine Hat, 1997-2001).

Rob Sumner, a former head coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds, has been promoted to assistant director of amateur scouting by the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Sumner was the Thunderbirds’ head coach for seven seasons (2004-11) after spending seven seasons there as an assistant coach. He has been an amateur scout with the Flames since 2011. . . . The Flames named Sumner and Fred Parker as assistant directors of amateur scouting under Tod Button, their director of amateur scouting.

The ShoWare Center, which is home to the WHL-champion Seattle Thunderbirds, was expected to lose US$311,897 in the second quarter; instead, the loss was $120,683. That’s because the Thunderbirds were a big hit in the WHL playoffs and had eight home playoff games in that time. Steve Hunter of the Kent Reporter writes that “ShoWare’s rental income came in $108,754 more than the budget. The hockey games also increased the food and beverage profits. The arena’s concessions brought in $236,817 for the second quarter, nearly $175,000 higher than budget.” . . . Playoffs aren’t a sure thing, so teams and facilities don’t budget for these numbers. Yes, making the playoffs is awfully important to WHL teams and the buildings in which they play. . . . Hunter’s complete story is right here.


The next time you walk past a Gap store, make sure you check out the photos using male models. If one of them looks familiar, it just might be Jacob Dietrich, who spent four seasons (2004-08) in the WHL, splitting that time among the Moose Jaw Warriors, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Portland Winterhawks. . . . These days, he’s know as Jake and he is represented by Wilhelmina International Inc. . . . Dietrich, who is from Deloraine, Man., a farming community located south of Brandon, is from a hockey family. His father, Don, played for the Wheat Kings, while his brother, Nick, played with Lethbridge and Portland. . . . After his hockey career, Jake was going to enter the world of culinary arts. But he got sidetracked and now he’s busy working for the likes of Joseph Abboud, Michael Kors and, yes, The Gap. . . . Ian Froese of The Brandon Sun has a terrific story right here.

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Royals, T-Birds make deal … Pats add two scouts … Ex-Wheaties captain big in Brandon

F Fredrik Pettersson (Calgary, 2005-07) has signed a one-year-plus-option contract with the ZSC Lions Zurich (Switzerland, NL A). Last season, he had five goals and seven assists in 24 games with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (Russia, KHL), and eight goals and 10 assists in 18 games with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL).

Victoria and Seattle swapped a pair of 19-year-old veterans on Wednesday, with D Anthony Bishop heading to the Royals in exchange for F Blake Bargar. . . . Bishop, who is from Kelowna, is prepping for his third WHL season. He had two assists in 40 games with the Saskatoon Blades in 2015-16. Last season, he had two goals and five assists in 66 regular-season games with the Thunderbirds. He was pointless in 11 playoff games as the Thunderbirds won the Ed Chynoweth Cup. . . . Bargar, who has played three seasons in the WHL, had six goals and four assists in 61 games with the Royals last season. He is from Torrance, Calif., and was a seventh-round pick by the Moose Jaw Warriors in the 2013 bantam draft. In two seasons with the Warriors, he had two goals and six assists in 119 games.

Dean Seymour and Tommy Tartaglione have been added to the Regina Pats’ scouting staff. . . . Seymour, from Saskatoon, will scout in Saskatchewan. He played three seasons at Northern Michigan, where he was team captain, before playing in Europe for eight seasons. . . . Tartaglione, a former WHL goaltender, will scout in California. As a player, he split three seasons between the Pats, Vancouver Giants and Prince George Cougars. He was with the Giants when they won the 2006 WHL championship.

A tip of the cap to Matt Calvert, a Brandon native who played with his hometown Wheat Kings, after his golf tournament raised more than $50,000, which was handed over to the Brandon Regional Health Centre Foundation this week. The Matt Calvert Charity Shootout was held at the Wheat City Golf Course in June. Calvert, now with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, played three seasons (2007-10) with the Wheat Kings, captaining them in 2009-10. . . . Jillian Austin of the Brandon Sun has more right here.

The BCHL’s Penticton Vees will have at least two players on their roster in 2017-18 who were first-round selections in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft. . . . F Massimo Rizzo, taken 14th overall by the Kamloops Blazers, and D Luke Reid, who went to the Victoria Royals as the 26th player selected, both will suit up with the Vees. . . . Massimo has yet to commit publicly to the Blazers or an NCAA school; Reid has said he will attend North Dakota and play for the Fighting Hawks, starting in 2020-21.

The junior B Surrey Knights of the Pacific Junior Hockey League have added a couple of experienced hands to their management team. Amar Gill, who owns the franchise, announced Wednesday that he has added Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning to his team. . . . Gilman, a former assistant general manager with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks and Arizona Coyotes, will assist with management of the team. Henning, a WHL star with the Estevan Bruins back in the day, will help with the development of the Knights’ coaching staff and players. Henning also played in the NHL and has worked in coaching and scouting departments. He was an assistant GM with the Canucks for seven seasons (2006-15). He also helps out as a consultant with Geneve-Servette, a team in the Swiss-A league.

F Filip Zadina has signed with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. Zadina, from Czech Republic, was selected by Halifax in the CHL’s 2017 import draft. . . . In 2016, the Vancouver Giants selected Zadina with the fourth overall pick in the import draft, but he chose not to report. . . . Zadina, who will turn 18 on Nov. 27, is seen as a potential early first-round selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft. . . . Last season, he had nine goals and nine assists in 20 games with HC Pardubice’s U-20 side, and had a goal and an assist in 25 games with the big club. He also played 22 games with the country’s U18 side, scoring 20 goals and adding 11 assists.

If you would like to contact Taking Note with information, have a question or just feel like commenting on something, feel free to send an email to I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).