In the land of Ice the change certainly isn't glacial as lots of stories over the past week concerning all things Ice.
First off, former Ice head coach Kris Knoblauch has agreed to join the OHL's Erie Otters as their head coach after Sherry Bassin relieved six-year head coach Robbie Ftorek of the bench duties yesterday.
The release is here.
This one comes out of left field in the feeding frenzy that is the Portland Winterhawks situation (more on that below). Knoblauch had been helping out with the Junior B Kimberley Dynamiters as well as being a substitute teacher in Cranbrook - a teacher by trade, Knoblauch had also taken over the reigns of the Parkland Middle School Hockey Academy, of which my son was a part of. So in what was a boon to the academy and the local teaching profession, as well as the Junior B Nitros, is now an entirely new challenge in the OHL.
Knoblauch isn't taking over just any franchise. The Otters are run by Sherry Bassin, which is akin to Bob Tory if you're looking for an OHL analogy. Bassin has been around a long time and for him to take Knoblauch in and let go a quality coach in Ftorek, is a big deal.
That and Knoblauch has the opportunity to coach one of the best up and coming players in the game in 15-year-old Connor McDavid. McDavid is 15 (1997-born) and after applying for, and receiving, special status by Hockey Canada to play as an underage player, the young phenom has 15 goals and 19 assists in 27 games for the Otters, who are just this side of Peterborough and Ottawa for the OHL's basement in the standings.
Good luck Kris!
In other news the Ice announced that D Spencer Wand, 17, has left the team and retired from hockey. He'd been out the past couple of weeks with an upper body injury (read: concussion) and told the club his heart was no longer in it and went home.
Strange, indeed, from a player ranked by the NHL Central Scouting in their Preliminary rankings - 24th in the WHL Rankings; Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin is 6th - for him to just up and retire without battling any extensive injuries other than the latest one. Though, perhaps, this one was worse than first thought. If he's dealt prior to the deadline, we'll have our answer. Just a thought, but two good young puck-moving D-men in Wand and Kris Krabben - dealt to Vancouver in the Austin Vetterrl deal - are now gone from the Ice roster. Depth is fleeting.
Oh, and the Ice did win last night at WFP, a 5-4 shootout win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Wyatt Hoflin started in the nets for the Ice but was pulled - McGill is going to soon get the moniker 'Captain Hook' - in favour of Skapski to start the 3rd. Down 3-1, the Ice scored three straight to take the lead, only to surrender it - again, in this game - seconds later before beating the Oil in the circus.
Luke Philp notched two goals and an helper along with scoring the winner in the Shootout and Sam Reinhart got one with two helpers and scored in the extra festivities.
Missing from the Ice' wonderful 17-year-old offensive trio was F Jaedon Descheneau who is suspended indefinitely for 'detrimental conduct' as the team put it, at school. I don't know what he did but it certainly doesn't sound good for the young player who could go a long way in this league.
Oh, and yes, the crowd, if I'm not mistaken, was 2109, the smallest ever for a regular season game (or Playoff) at the Rec Plex/WFP. Kootenay breaks a 3-game losing streak from their U.S. Division trip and improves to 8-15-1 and 17 points, three better than the WHL's last place club, the Vancouver Giants in the Tyler Benson sweepstakes.
Finally, the WHL threw the book, the library and the truck carrying some more books at the Portland Winterhawks for recruiting violations. There's a ton out there on the subject so I'm not going to go into too much detail - go to Mr. Drinnan's blog for the goods; or to Alan Caldwell's at Small Thoughts; or to Coming down the Pipe - all with links over on the right - for the straight goods.
Needless to say, this boils down to what the WHL says is the team providing a cell phone to the captain and flights for families of players over the past few seasons. For that they were fined $200,000; Coach Mike Johnston was suspended for the rest of the season, including Playoffs; the club will not be able to participate in the first five rounds of the 2013 Bantam Draft and surrender their next four, first round picks in the the 2014-2017 Bantam Drafts.
That and the WHL will have no further comment on the situation. So they almost kill the future of the franchise for a cell phone and some flights? C'mon. In my business excessive discipline is easy to defend and based on what the WHL is saying, this is wayyyy too excessive, at least based on what the Winterhawks say the WHL said they did wrong. Did they screw up? Sure sounds like it but there's got to be more to this story.
That said, gotta give some kudos to the boys over at Coming Down the Pipe for breaking this story over two weeks ago and taking a lot of flack for it because nothing had yet materialized. Kind of gives me some belief in the concept of good investigative journalism is alive and kicking. The MSM (mainstream media) could definitely take some pointers from CDTP's scoop on this. Good job!