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.
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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.