Welcome! This is my new weekly CHL report that will be a feature until Katya catches on and tells me no I can't do that.
When I was at the Memorial Cup, I talked to a lot of people, and one of the things that came up was a lack of a Jr hockey hub that isn’t Sportsnet. Since Yahoo! shut down Buzzing the Net, there’s local papers, Sportsnet, and fan blogs to keep up with, but nothing big that isn’t connected to the league. Another thing was the question “Why doesn’t SB Nation have a junior hockey site?” Well, that’s not a question for me but you can contact them here. I’m going to use PPP for my own agenda today, and here we go.
June is an odd time to start something like this, but there was nothing else scheduled for today, and the OHL coaches from the Memorial Cup were hired away, so big news!
Coaches get poached
After winning the Memorial Cup with the host Windsor Spitfires, head coach Rocky Thompson was hired by the newest NHL team, the Vegas Golden Knights, to coach their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.
After he retired from playing mostly in the minor leagues in 2007, Thompson jumped right into coaching with the WHL Edmonton Oil Kings as an assistant coach. The Oilers liked what they saw there (they own the Oil Kings) and hired him to be an assistant with the Bakersfield Condors, and then in 2014 he was named an assistant coach with the Edmonton Oilers. That lasted one season and he then left to be head coach for the Windsor Spitfires.
Also gone from his team is OHL Champion, Memorial Cup runner up, Erie Otters coach Kris Knoblauch is now an assistant with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Knoblauch ended his playing career after graduating from the University of Alberta in 2004. He joined the Prince Albert Raiders for one year as an assistant then moved to Kootenay Ice where he was assistant for two years. In 2011 he was named head coach and the Ice won the WHL championship - the Ice finished 4th at the Memorial Cup. In 2013 he was a mid season replacement head coach for the Erie Otters.
The OHL schedule has been released. You can check it out here. Highlights include:
- Inter-league play when the OHL Ottawa 67’s and QMJHL Gatineau Olympiques face off for regular season games in both Ottawa and Gatineau.
- Hockey Day in the OHL on January 28th with a triple header on all CogecoTV stations. The games are Niagara at North Bay at 1:00 pm, Peterborough at Kingston at 4:00 pm, then Sarnia at Hamilton beginning at 7:00 pm.
OHL Showcase in Buffalo
The North Bay Battalion let some big news slip on their website when they announced their schedule:
This is a really interesting development. In 2015 Buffalo hosted the Erie Otters and the Niagara IceDogs to play a regular season game at the HSBC Key Marine Midland Bank Centre Arena Dome in a move that totally wasn’t about showcasing their tank to draft Connor McDavid, they swear.
Now a six team showcase event in the pre-season? This is most likely happening to spur interest in the World Juniors being held in Buffalo over New Years this winter, but could anything else be at play? Do the Jr. Sabres want to move up a level? And just who are the other five teams play here as well? North Bay is a little random to me, so are they taking the five teams from the Central Division - North Bay, Sudbury, Barrie, Mississauga, and Niagara - as well as the Erie Otters to play in this?
I would assume you take the closest teams to Buffalo - Hamilton, Erie, Mississauga, Niagara - to play in this, maybe they needed another couple to fill out and North Bay volunteered. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. If you can excuse me, I need to go renew my passport.
The Quebec league also released it’s schedule (hurry up WHL). You can check out the press release here.
The QMJHL Draft was last week, and instead of going the OHL route with a conference call and twitter, they hold it in a teams arena and go full NHL. Stage, lighting, giant video board. They do it up big time.
QMJHL Turning 50
The QMJHL turns 50 in 2018-19 season and event planning is starting. Shawinigan has been named host of the 2018 QMJHL Draft - from the Q:
The Shawinigan Bruins were part of the initial list of teams that comprised the League in its inaugural season that included: the Cornwall Royals, Drummondville Rangers, Laval Saints, Quebec Remparts, Rosemont National, Sherbrooke Castors, Sorel Éperviers, St-Jerome Alouettes, Trois-Rivieres Ducs and Verdun Maple Leafs.
It doesn’t mention why Shawinigan changed their logo in the 1990’s to a First Nation’s design, but hey, you do you Shawinigan.
WHL Champions honoured
The WHL Seattle Thunderbirds are getting some recognition in their hometown. The MLB Mariners will host the team on June 10th, appropriately enough when they host the Toronto Blue Jays. If you’re going to have a hockey team day, do it when there are Canadians in town.
Kootenay Ice get a new look, new bench boss
The name is still dumb, but at least the logo isn’t a light beer’s logo.
They have also named James Patrick, NHLer from 1983-2004, as head coach. Patrick coached in the NHL previously, as an assistant with the Buffalo Sabres from 2006-2013, and with the Dallas Stars from 2013-2017.
Spokane Chiefs name new coach
The Spokane Chiefs also named a former Sabres assistant as their head coach. Dan Lambert, former IHL and German league player, joins Spokane after being fired as the head coach of the Rochester Americans. He was also a Sabres assistant coach for one season, and before that he was an assistant coach with the Kelowna Rockets from 2009-2014 (non-consecutively), and head coach in 2014-15 when they won the WHL - they lost 2-1 in overtime to the Oshawa Generals in the finals of the Memorial Cup.
Finally, the Vancouver Giants acquired veteran forward Brad Morrison from the Prince George Cougars. Morrison played four season in Prince George where he posted 187 points in 260 games. The Giants picked up the overager for a conditional second round pick.
Thanks for reading, let me know what you think in the comments. We’ll see you next week. Ish. Maybe.