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Vancouver Province article (All grown up and ready to play)

June 17 2012 at 7:59 AM
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All grown up and ready to play

Surrey NHL prospect Jujhar Khaira was once a pipsqueak. Not anymore

By Jim Jamieson, The Province

June 17, 2012

Jujhar Khaira, shown with his father, Sukh, a truck driver, was too small to be drafted by the WHL in bantam but now, at age 17, he's 6-foot-3, weighs 200 pounds, and is a prospect for the June 22 NHL draft.

Photograph by: Stuart Davis - PNG , The Province

Hard work and some prodigious growth spurts have Jujhar Khaira poised to shift his hockey career into high gear.

The road went from being a smallish player who wasn't selected in the WHL bantam draft at 14 to three years later attending this month's NHL Draft Combine.

Just to put that accomplishment - and length of journey - into perspective, only the top-ranked 105 NHL Draft prospects are invited to the Combine for physical testing and interview opportunities with scouts.

Khaira, a Surrey native, was the only B.C. Hockey League player to get the invitation. He spoke with about a dozen teams, by the way, including Chicago, Montreal and Detroit, but not the Canucks.

In a season where Penticton Vees dominated the BCHL headlines with a phenomenal 42-game winning streak and a national Junior A championship, Khaira was part of one of the league's most dominant forward lines for the Prince George Spruce Kings with right winger Paul De Jersey - the BCHL scoring champ - and centre Michael Colantone.

Two years younger than his linemates, the big left winger had a breakout season, finishing 10th in league scoring (29-50-79) and was the highest-ranked BCHL skater (74th) on NHL Central Scouting's final list.

"It was great," said Khaira of the Combine.

"The treatment we got, the players we got a chance to meet. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I really enjoyed it."

Khaira, who turns 18 on Aug. 13, is expected to go somewhere in the middle of the seven-round NHL draft on June 22 in Pittsburgh.

His father, Sukh, a gravel truck owner-operator who's no stranger to hard work, says a wide stubborn streak and no hesitation to roll his sleeves up have been key ingredients in Jujhar's leap forward.

"I saw the determination in him," said Sukh. "I knew he was going to grow, so it was just a matter of being patient.

"After that, I thought once he became bigger and stronger it was in his hands. Once he sets a goal, he really goes after it."

Jujhar puts it all back on Sukh and his mom, Komal - who's a speech language pathologist with Surrey School Board.

"Growing up, doing chores and seeing my parents doing stuff around the house, they always did things to their full potential and if they didn't they always tried to do better," said Jujhar, who's graduating from Clayton Heights Secondary.

"My dad goes to work all day and then he goes to work out. I think that dedication carried on to me.

"There's always some player who's doing more than you so you want to catch up and take his job."

Two training camps ago, that's exactly what Khaira did after showing up in Prince George not knowing where his hockey career was headed.

"He came to us last year as kind of an unheralded 16-year-old," said Spruce Kings GM Mike Hawes. "In that main training camp that year we saw some things we really liked and he had a tremendous season and exceeded expectations. That was just a springboard for him as a 17 year old."

Cue the hard work and Khaira, who'd gone from 5-5 to 5-10 in the three months after being ignored in the WHL draft, put on 15 pounds and a couple of inches after training like a demon last summer to turbocharge the past season.

Khaira is now 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds - which is one of the reasons the pro scouts are so interested. His dad is 6-4, so don't think the growing is over.

Khaira, who'll attend Michigan Tech in the fall, says he wants to improve his shot release and skating this summer.

"He's a prototypical power forward, with more offensive up-side than most," said Hawes. "He's got a strong, powerful stride and also sees the ice extremely well."

Khaira trains with fellow Surrey native Kevin Sundher - who was drafted by Buffalo (75th overall) two seasons ago.

Both are members of the South Asian community - a group that's seen little representation in the NHL - but neither Khaira nor his dad get caught up in it.

"We've brought up our kids to fit in with everybody," said Sukh. " Don't treat anybody any different than you like to be treated."

Added Jujhar: "I don't think it matters at this point. No matter what your skin colour, everybody is fighting for the same spot."

jjamieson@ theprovince.com

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Montreal Gazette article (Habs rookie prospects mend fences)

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June 17 2012, 8:07 AM 

Habs rookie prospects mend fences

Holland, Gallagher were WHL rivals

By PAT HICKEY, THE GAZETTE

June 15, 2012

EDMONTON, ALBERTA. AUG.5/2011- Brendan Gallagher told The Gazette that “I’m most effective when I’m pissing guys off.”

(Bruce Edwards/Edmonton Journal)Photograph by: Bruce Edwards , Bruce Edwards

After three seasons of tormenting Patrick Holland, Brendan Gallagher said this week has given him the opportunity to mend some fences.

The two have been rivals in the Western Hockey League, where the pesky Gallagher has earned a reputation for getting under an opponent’s skin, but he and Holland are now on the same side. They are among the 32 players attending the Canadiens’ development camp in Brossard, and they are expected to be teammates this fall with the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs.

“We had a few run-ins in the WHL,” said Gallagher, who played for the Vancouver Giants. “I’m most effective when I’m pissing guys off. I got him a few times, but he won’t let me forget that Tri-City beat us in the playoffs this year.”

The possibility of the two Alberta natives becoming teammates arose earlier this year when the Canadiens acquired Holland’s rights from the Calgary Flames as part of the deal that sent Michael Cammalleri back to Calgary.

“It was a bit of a surprise,” admitted Holland, who grew up as an Edmonton Oilers fan in Lethbridge. “Guys get traded in junior all the time, but it’s unusual for NHL teams to trade junior players. In the short term, it didn’t affect me. I went from one class organization to another, and now I’m just trying to make it as a pro.”

Gallagher and Holland have both made strides since being late-round draft choices in 2010.

Gallagher’s lack of height – he’s 5-foot-8 – scared most teams, and the Canadiens selected him in the fifth round (147th overall). But the solidly built forward was the surprise of training camp last fall as he excelled in a series of exhibition games. There was a general feeling the Canadiens were waiting for him to fail so they wouldn’t have to make a decision on whether to keep him.

“I made it easy for them,” said Gallagher, who appears to have a perpetual smile on his face. “I didn’t have a very good game in the final exhibition against Tampa Bay. I was playing against Marty St. Louis and I think I spent too much time watching him. He’s my hero and I try to pattern my game on his.”

Gallagher had a solid season in Vancouver, with 41 goals and 36 assists in 54 games. He also had three goals and three assists in six games with Canada at the World Junior Championship. He said he has added a few pounds of muscle, but was disappointed he didn’t grow any taller.

The Flames drafted Holland in the seventh round (193rd overall). He had a breakthrough this past season with 25 goals and 84 assists while playing with the Tri-City Americans, ranking seventh in Canadian Hockey League scoring.

“I’ve always been a late bloomer and I needed time to grow in height and get bigger,” the 6-foot, 175-pound right-winger said. “It has to be tough on the people who are drafting because you’re making projections into the future. You have a seventh-rounder like Pavel Datsyuk, who becomes a star, and there are first-rounders who never make it.”

The assumption would be that Holland benefitted from playing on a line with Brendan Shinnimir, who led the CHL with 134 points, but Holland said they were together for only a month.

“I didn’t play with him until February,” Holland said. “I played most of the time of the time with Justin Feser.”

And Holland’s numbers are a little unusual because he has a disproportionately high number of assists for a winger.

“I’ve always been a passer and I read the ice pretty well,” he said. “I do get myself quite a bit of shots, but that’s something I have to work on, bearing down on my chances.”

While Gallagher’s goal is to make it to the NHL next fall, he realizes he might start his pro career in Hamilton.

“That would be interesting, because this is my third development camp and there are a lot of guys here who have been together for a few years and become friends,” he said.

Gallagher, Holland, Nathan Beaulieu, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, Morgan Ellis and Greg Pateryn are the first-year pros expected to start the season on the farm.

The group grew by one on Thursday when forward Steve Quailer signed a two-year entry-level contract, forfeiting his final year of eligibility at Boston’s Northeastern University.

“It was always my intention to turn pro, but the deal was delayed because of all the changes in management,” said Quailer, whose four years at Northeastern were marred by a knee injury.

He missed the entire 2009-10 season and was limited to 26 games last season.

“I had problems with the same knee,” he said. “I stopped wearing my brace and I won’t make that mistake again.”

The 6-foot-4, 192-pound Quailer described himself as a power forward and said his goal is to win a spot with the Canadiens this fall.

“I bring some size, and that’s something this team doesn’t have a lot of,” said Quailer, who added he’s only a few courses short of a degree in sociology.

phickey@montrealgazette.com

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

 
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StarPhoenix article (Sutter crosses border and joins Team Canada)

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June 17 2012, 8:09 AM 

Sutter crosses border and joins Team Canada

By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix

June 16, 2012

Lukas Sutter of the Saskatoon Blades is trading in some stars and stripes for a red Maple Leaf.

Sutter - a St. Louis-born centre, who grew up in Lethbridge, Alta. - was officially named to Canada's roster for the Canada-Russia Challenge on Friday.

Sutter was one of 28 players selected to the team for the fourgame, under-20 series in August. The first two games will be played in Yaroslavl, Russia followed by a pair of contests in Halifax, signifying the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.

The event marks the first time Sutter has played for Canada after suiting up for the United States at the 2009 under-17 Five Nations and 2010 under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournaments.

However, because neither of those competitions was sanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation and since Sutter didn't play the requisite two years of minor hockey south of the border, it would have been more of an ordeal to represent the United States in the future.

"I'd had conversations with Hockey USA and Hockey Canada throughout this past winter," said Sutter, who moved to Lethbridge from Chicago when he was two after his father, Rich, retired from the NHL.

"It would come down to an appeal process to play for USA Hockey. Had they lost the appeal, I wouldn't have been able to play (in the world junior championship). You can't really pass up an opportunity to play for your country."

While the Canada-Russia Challenge will feature Sutter wearing a different sweater in international play, his family is well accustomed to representing the red and white in junior tournaments.

Sutter's uncle, Brent, coached Canada to back-to-back world junior gold medals in 2005 and 2006. He led Canada to a 7-0-1 record against Russia in the 2007 Super Series.

Sutter's cousin, Brandon - Brent's son, who now plays for the Carolina Hurricanes - was a member of that Super Series team and then captured a gold medal at the 2008 world junior championship.

This year's Challenge serves as the summer development camp for the 2013 world junior tourney in Ufa, Russia.

"Playing for Canada and playing for the States is a whole different level in terms of the expectations," Sutter said. "With the team that they're taking over there, they obviously want to win.

"At the same time, you're trying to leave an impression for the winter and make a strong push to play for the world junior team."

In addition to the Challenge, Hockey Canada head scout Kevin Prendergast will use the first few months of the upcoming season and the CHL Subway Super Series to monitor the 28 players selected as well as identify other candidates for the 2013 world junior selection camp in December.

That leaves the door open for Blades defencemen Duncan Siemens, who took part in the 2011 summer development camp, and Dalton Thrower, a potential firstround pick in the NHL draft next week, to earn an invite.

Sutter had 28 goals and 59 points for Saskatoon last season after earning just four goals and 19 points in 2010-11.

On top of the increased offensive production, Sutter was tasked with shutting down the oppositions' best lines.

Those two-way skills are something that could make him a valuable cog for Canada, which hasn't won a world junior gold since 2009.

"You look back when Brent was coaching those teams and he had guys that were very responsible and wanted to play that game the length of the ice," said Rich Sutter, who has been a WHL assistant coach and an NHL scout. "There's a role there to be filled and I think that was missing on a couple of the last world junior teams."

And Lukas Sutter believes he's ready to bring his style of game to the bigger stage.

"I'm obviously a gritty two-way guy," he said.

"I think that every team needs a player like me. That's something that I take pride in and that's a role that I'd be more than honoured to fill."

BLADE BITS: Sutter wasn't the only member of the Blades named to Team Canada. Blades team doctor Cole Beavis, of Saskatoon, will fill the same role for Canada.

dnugent-bowman@ thestarphoenix.com Twitter.com/DNBsports

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Victoria Times Colonist article (Bus company finds one stop beats several)

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June 20 2012, 10:09 PM 

Bus company finds one stop beats several

By Darron Kloster, Times Colonist

June 16, 2012

John and Kello Wilson at their new site on Glanford Avenue.

Photograph by: Lyle Stafford , timescolonist.com (June 2012)

John Wilson calls it an "operational godsend."

The manager of Wilson's Transportation, one of the Island's biggest bus companies, has consolidated a patchwork of five locations under one roof at the former Gary Line yard at 4196 Glanford Ave.

Wilson's, which operates 92 vehicles and has 85 employees, signed a four-year lease with a pair of one-year options with B.C. Transit, which owns the property. Wilson's also has a contract to service and retrofit B.C. Transit buses used outside the Capital Regional District.

For Wilson, the new location brings the obvious efficiencies of having administrative, mechanical and other staff in one place.

The company previously had its office and garage at different locations in Saanich and three other yards. "Things run very smoothly when everything is together," said Wilson.

The company still operates yards in Campbell River and Chemainus, and parks some of its buses at Ogden Point for cruise passengers.

W.D. Kello Wilson, John's father, started a trucking business in 1964 and incorporated Wilson's Transportation in 1980. Kello is semi-retired and remains president of the company that operates 45 coaches, 27 school buses and 20 mini-coaches and vans.

Wilson's has doubled its cruiseship business over the past decade, but the bulk of its revenues remains moving schools and sports teams, including the Victoria Royals, Shamrocks, Grizzlies and most of the Island's junior hockey teams.

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

 
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Leader-Post article (Pats' Klimchuk gets call from Canada)

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June 20 2012, 10:35 PM 

Pats' Klimchuk gets call from Canada

Leader-Post

June 15, 2012

Regina Pats forward Morgan Klimchuk has earned a tryout with the Canadian under-18 team.

The 17-year-old Calgary product was among 40 players named Thursday to Canada's selection camp for the 2012 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament, slated for Aug. 13-18 in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

The camp runs Aug. 3-6 in Toronto. Moose Jaw Warriors forward Carter Hansen, who's from Craven, has also been invited to compete for a spot on the 22-man roster, along with Swift Current Broncos defenceman Dillon Heatherington.

Klimchuk is coming off a productive rookie season in which he recorded 18 goals and 36 points in 67 games.

- - -

Regina's Nicole Cripps is to represent Canada at the Pan Am triathlon junior championships in Edmonton on July 7.

Cripps is also to compete in the Craven-Genki Pike Lake junior elite race at Pike Lake on June 24.

© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post

 
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Leader-Post article (L.A. Kings scout Rob Laird enjoying view from the top)

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June 20 2012, 10:38 PM 

L.A. Kings scout Rob Laird enjoying view from the top

By Greg Harder, Leader-Post

June 15, 2012

Long-time scout Rob Laird has as much reason as anyone to savour the Los Angeles Kings' climb to the NHL summit.

After all, he was there for rock bottom.

"I've been with the Kings for 18 years and we never really got close (to the Cup) in those 18 years," Laird said Thursday from his home in Fort Wayne, Ind. "I just feel really blessed for this opportunity to be part of a championship team. To win the Stanley Cup, I think everybody in Canada knows what that's all about."

Laird, one of the longest-serving members of the organization, joined the Kings in 1994-95 as the head coach of their top minor-league affiliate, the Phoenix Roadrunners. While Laird was guiding the IHL club to back-to-back winning seasons, the Kings had fallen on hard times in the wake of their appearance in the 1993 Stanley Cup final.

Laird made the move to L.A.'s pro scouting staff in 1996 and has been there ever since, helping the team navigate some long and arduous rebuilding phases. The ultimate reward finally came Monday when the Kings defeated the New Jersey Devils in six games.

"The feelings are of satisfaction and elation," said Laird, 57. "We had kind of a challenging season. There was certainly some doubt whether we were going to get into the playoffs, probably as late as February, early March. But (head coach) Darryl Sutter did a fantastic job of getting everybody playing to their abilities. That's the job of a coach, to make your players better, and Darryl came in (after the firing of Terry Murray) and did that, from the top of the lineup to the bottom."

Laird was in attendance at Staples Center for Monday's Cup-clinching win - plus the ensuing victory celebration - and he admits it'll take time for the whole thing to sink in.

"I've been doing a lot of reflecting," said the Regina product, a forward with the WHL's Pats from 1971 to '74.

"I've been with the Kings for 18 years and there have been some fabulous people I've worked with who aren't in the organization right now, like Regina native Al Murray (the team's former director of amateur scouting). Al and his staff drafted Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jonathan Quick, and those were the big three in the playoffs for us. I've been thinking about Al and about all the guys I've had the privilege to work with, even going back to my coaching days. I've been getting so many calls and emails. It's kind of nice to be able to reconnect with those people. That's where my thoughts are right now - and obviously family and friends back in Regina. It has been good to talk to some people back there as well."

Laird played a behind-the-scenes role with the Kings, but a crucial one nonetheless. As a senior pro scout, Laird is heavily involved in evaluating players who are acquired through trades, free agency or the waiver wire. That includes blockbuster deals like the one which saw L.A. pick up sniper Jeff Carter from the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenceman Jack Johnson.

"We were busy all year long trying to identify players who we could bring in," said Laird. "There weren't a lot of boxes to fill but there were some holes within our roster. It doesn't fall on any one person in the organization. We collaborate on every player. We all feel invested in this. It was good to be part of a team within the team."

The experience has also given Laird cause to look back and reflect upon the last time he won a championship - the 1974 Memorial Cup.

"That's still the closest-knit team I've been apart of," he said of the '74 Pats. "That just tells you what it means to win a championship. This team here with the staff members (he works alongside for L.A.), that's going to be special for the rest of my life as well. There's something to be said for winning championships and how that kind of bonds you for life."

gharder@leaderpost.com

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StarPhoenix article (Onion Lake expansion bid under review)

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June 20 2012, 11:02 PM 

Onion Lake expansion bid under review

By Darren Zary, The StarPhoenix

June 16, 2012

More time will be needed to peel off the layers of the Onion Lake expansion bid, which has been tabled for review by the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.

The SJHL has to also decide if it even wants to expand at this point of time, says SJHL president Bill Chow.

"That's the question I proposed to the governors," Chow said Friday from his Prince Albert home. "It's twofold: One, we have the application from Onion Lake in front of us. Two, is there a desire to expand, regardless of where that may be?"

Chow says he doesn't have a vote in the matter. His position, more or less, is to bring applications forward to the league governors.

He concedes that the Onion Lake proposal, which came up for discussion at the SJHL annual general meeting this past weekend in Regina, contains plenty of pertinent information.

Onion Lake Cree Nation, which is located 50 kilometres north of Lloydminster, does have an adequate hockey facility. Population, however, may be in question. Are there enough people on the reserve and surrounding area to support a junior A hockey franchise?

"It may be a factor because our bylaws state a minimum population of 5,000 people," noted Chow.

"I'm not even sure if that's the fly in the ointment that may deter this process, but, again, that's something that has to be looked at."

The group submitted an earlier application, back in January, which was incomplete. There has been plenty of talk in the SJHL community, so another proposal came as no surprise.

"Their people," said Chow, " have been out and about."

One of them is former Melfort Mustangs general manager Leonard Strandberg, who is the acting point-man for the Onion Lake group, which has plenty of oil resource money at its disposal. Strandberg is the one who passed on the application to Chow, who circulated the information to the SJHL board of governors.

In the past, Warman/Martensville and Meadow Lake are other communities that have been mentioned for potential junior A or midget AAA hockey franchises. The SJHL had an inquiry from the Warman/Martensville area at this time last year.

"I gave them the information, the process they would have to follow," said Chow, "and I never heard back from them."

Warman has a brand-new hockey facility, which opened this past season.

Chow compares Warman/ Martensville to the smaller cities around Edmonton. He wonders if there's enough corporate support and whether the commuters from these bedroom communities would end up creating a longer-term fan base.

"Everybody keeps asking about the Warman/Martensville area and that's my concern with that," said Chow. "Not that is about the Blades or the Huskies or Saskatoon minor hockey, but it's the same corporations that they would be going after. How much can they handle in supporting a franchise out in the bedroom community?

"That's just my area of concern that I would take a long, hard look at."

The main concern of the Onion Lake proposal and others is longer-term viability once the honeymoon phase is over. "I don't want to sell them short, but, at the end of the day, like many sports markets, when do you get tired of throwing money at it if it's not paying for itself ?" said Chow.

"Long-term, from my perspective, I would want to make sure it's a viable situation regardless of where, that it's something that is long term, that it would be around for a while, not short-term.

"There's always the honeymoon phase, where it would be great and everything else. It's after the honeymoon phase that I have to worry about."

dzary@thestarphoenix.com

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StarPhoenix article (Schenn brothers host tourney)

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June 20 2012, 11:05 PM 

Schenn brothers host tourney

Goal to raise $250,000

By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix

June 15, 2012

Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn, left, signs autographs ahead of the celebrity golf tournament that has attracted a number of professional hockey players to Saskatoon.

Photograph by: Gord Waldner, The StarPhoenix , The StarPhoenix

Brayden Schenn's rookie season in the NHL was far from uneventful.

It started when his rights were traded to Philadelphia from Los Angeles in the offseason shortly after finishing his WHL career with the Saskatoon Blades.

He suffered a concussion early this past season, toiled in the American Hockey League for a while and then finally scored his first NHL goal in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2.

To cap it off, Schenn was an instrumental piece as the Flyers knocked out the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference quarter-final before bowing out to New Jersey.

"It's a big transition, but I think I handled it pretty well," said the Saskatoon native, who had nine points in 11 post-season games. "Obviously, it wasn't the start I was looking for with the injuries and everything else that played out.

"I think I ended strong. To sum it up, not a great start, but a good finish and hopefully I can build on that."

Schenn is now hoping to build on something off the ice too.

The Flyers centreman was at the Royal University Hospital on Thursday to promote his inaugural charity golf tournament, which he's hosting along with his older brother, Luke, of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The tournament gets underway today at Moonlake Golf & Country Club.

The brothers said they had wanted to start their own charitable tournament in Saskatoon for a while. However, having both played in NHLer Jarret Stoll's tournament over the past two years, they knew it would a challenge to duplicate.

But Stoll decided he would step down after raising more than $1 million in six years for the hospital foundation. Stoll asked Brayden - his former teammate with Los Angeles - to take over, and he and Luke were more than willing to oblige.

"Saskatoon's given us so much growing up as kids," Luke Schenn said. "When you're put in the position where you can help out and give back a little bit, you want to do as much as possible to give back."

It ended up working out for the best, considering Stoll - who won the Stanley Cup with the Kings on Monday - won't be able to make it this year.

"I wanted to eventually pass it on to them and I think they were ready for it," Stoll said during a phone interview Wednesday. "I would have came back for it this year, but obviously things happen. I'll hopefully be there next year."

Through sponsorships and green fees, Royal University Hospital Foundation CEO Arla Gustafson said the tournament could raise as much as $250,000.

That amount would top up the $5.5 million needed for the foundation to open the province's first full-time cardiac electrophysiology lab, which treats patients with heart rhythm disorders.

The Schenns have brought in a handful of teammates for the tournament including Philadelphia's Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, as well as Toronto's Colby Armstrong, Cody Franson and Carter Ashton.

Gustafson is thrilled they were able to pick up where Stoll left off.

"When we were looking as to how we could continue to raise money for the hospital with a winning formula, Luke and Brayden stepped forward," she said.

On the ice, the Schenns are looking to make the next step forward in their NHL careers.

While only 22, Luke has already played four years in Toronto. The defenceman posted two goals and 22 points in 79 games last season.

Although he has yet to make the playoffs with the Leafs and his name comes up frequently in trade rumours, Luke said he's wiser for his experiences.

"It's all part of it," he said. "Right when you get drafted, you know what you're in for. Even though I'm young in age, I don't feel like a young guy anymore. You know what to expect from yourself and you know the players around the league better."

As a rookie last season, meanwhile, Brayden was only one year removed from junior hockey as netted 12 goals and 18 points in 54 NHL games.

While he was focused on making a name for himself in the big leagues, Brayden said he also made sure to see how former teammates like Jake Trask and Brent Benson were doing with the Blades.

With the team preparing to host the 2013 Memorial Cup, Brayden - who played in the 2010 tournament with Brandon - said he'll continue to watch on with keen interest.

His former head coach and general manager with the Blades, Lorne Molleken, is teeing off in the golf tourney today.

"It's important to keep in close contact with those guys and follow the team," Brayden said.

"They made a trade for me at the deadline and brought me home. I was excited, and you don't forget things like that."

dnugent-bowman@thestarphoenix.com

Twitter.com/DNBsports

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

 
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StarPhoenix article (Former Blade heads to Manitoba)

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June 20 2012, 11:07 PM 

Former Blade heads to Manitoba

By Daniel Nugent-Bowman, The StarPhoenix

June 15, 2012

Former Saskatoon Blades winger Jesse Paradis will be playing hockey closer to home next season.

Manitoba Bisons head coach Mike Sirant said the Winnipeg native - who was an overager with the Blades in 2011-12 - has committed to play for the university team in the fall.

"We keep tabs of our Manitoba players that have left our province to play in the Western Hockey League," Sirant said, noting he first approached Blades head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken about Paradis in December.

"As Lorne agreed, we both thought he did a real good job with the Blades. Jesse's a solid player. He's a hardworking guy that is a good two-way forward."

Paradis was picked up off of waivers by the Blades last September after being released by the Moose Jaw Warriors just before the start of the season.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound leftwinger set career highs with 15 goals and 49 points while playing in all 72 games.

He was named the Blades' most sportsmanlike player after registering 32 penalty minutes.

Paradis was key member of the team's penalty kill and was counted on defensively.

Sirant believes Paradis's "versatility" will allow him to compete for third-and fourth-line minutes.

"All players coming from the Western league, it's an adjustment coming into Canada West," he said.

"We expect Jesse to make that transition and make a good contribution for us in his first year."

The university will welcome Paradis into the fold next week when its recruitment class is officially released.

dnugent-bowman @thestarphoenix.com

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix

 
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N. W. Bruin
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Edmonton Journal article (Jim Matheson's hockey world)

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June 21 2012, 7:37 AM 

Jim Matheson's hockey world

Edmonton Journal

June 17, 2012

Free-agent deadline looms for Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers have to decide by June 25 whether to tender qualifying offers to nine restricted free agents to keep their rights.

If not, they become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Oilers will let Cam Barker and his $2.25-million salary walk, for sure. He didn't fit on their blue-line, missing three months with ankle surgery.

When he was healthy, he gave them almost no offence.

Barker, the third overall pick in the 2004 NHL entry draft, has played for three teams - Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild and the Oilers. He might have to ply his trade in Europe.

The Oilers will also try to trade winger Linus Omark ($875,000) at the entry draft in Pittsburgh on June 22-23 rather than qualify the Swedish forward.

If they get a fourth-round pick, the same as Omark was in 2007 (97th overall), they'll likely grab him.

They will certainly give qualifying offers to centre Sam Gagner ($2.275 million), defenceman Jeff Petry ($1 million) and goalie Devan Dubnyk ($800,000).

Defenceman Theo Peckham ($1.075 million) is most likely to get qualified, although he fell out of favour with former coach Tom Renney and his staff late last season.

Centre Chris VandeVelde, who had a big playoff with the Oklahoma City Barons, the Oilers' American Hockey League affiliate, should get qualified ($850,000).

Hunter Tremblay ($565,000) and Alex Plante ($1.075 million), another farmhand, however, are iffy. Plante, who had two concussions last season, is certainly game, but his foot speed is a hindrance and he keeps falling down the organizational depth chart. He's trade bait, too.

Dubnyk, the Oilers' No. 1 goalie, will be looking for Corey Crawford money in new deal. The Blackhawks goalie is a $2.667-million salary-cap hit. If a player makes between $660,000 and $1 million, the Oilers have to offer 105 per cent of last season's salary to keep a player's rights; under $660,000 it's 110 per cent. If it's more than $1 million, it's the same salary as the player made last season.

Tiny Conacher looks like NHL material

While NHL teams such as the Los Angeles Kings are into big forwards, making life miserable for opponents through the playoffs, there's still some room for smaller players like Cory Conacher.

The AHL's most valuable player from Norfolk Admirals was undrafted, unwanted. He was maybe a steal for the Tampa Bay Lightning - the Admirals' AHL affiliate - who signed him in March after his college coach twisted the arm of Pat Verbeek, Tampa Bay's head of pro scouting, and he received an invitation to their training camp last fall.

"He's five-foot-eight, played Tier 11 in Ontario, he's got Type 1 diabetes and ended up going to like the smallest of all schools in the U.S. at Canisius College (Buffalo). He basically played everywhere a scout wouldn't go," said his Norfolk coach Jon Cooper.

"Last year, after leaving college, he played on, like, three East Coast League teams and one American League team and still nobody signed him. He'll play in the NHL."

Peterson impressed with big Kings

Former Nashville Predators associate coach Brent Peterson will host a golf tournament at The Ranch Golf and Country Club on Aug. 13 to help with Parkinson's research.

Peterson has the disease under control now after he had deep brain stimulation surgery to ease his symptoms last December.

He watched the Los Angeles Kings' playoff run and one thing hit him over the head - the size of L.A'.s players. Teams tend to model themselves after winning franchises, and you can bet big will be in at the draft next weekend as teams look for large specimens once again.

"(Anze) Kopitar and (Dustin) Brown were great. (Dwight) King is huge, too. Huge guys going to the net, hard to stop," said Peterson.

"Guys like (Taylor) Hall are going to have to learn to play in traffic now. You get to the playoffs and there's no room for anybody. Sticks on pucks, sticks on sticks. Blocked shots. It's hard to score."

This 'n' that

- With New Jersey Devils forward Zach Parise saying he wants no part of signing with the Rangers if he gets the chance on July 1, New York will have to pursue Rick Nash hard now. But will they give up Chris Kreider, who was very good in the playoffs, coming right out of school? Doubtful, but they do have Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Derek Stepan and defenceman Michael Del Zotto to dangle, plus a firstround pick. If Nash is traded on June 22, Day 1 of the draft, that's exactly 10 years from the day he was picked by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

- The Blackhawks have been asking lots of questions about P.K. Subban's athletic goalie brother Malcolm. It sounds like Chicago, with unsure goaltending, are thinking of taking the goalie in Round 1 at No. 18.

- St. Louis Blues winger Chris Stewart should be sending general manager Doug Armstrong a gift basket and a nice bottle of wine for giving him $3 million in a new one-year deal after his disappointing 15 goals and 30 points, a pay cut of just $250,000. Stewart has way more ability than those meagre numbers. If Stewart gets $3 million for 30 points, there's not a chance the Oilers' restricted freeagent forward Sam Gagner should take a penny less after his 47 points. They're the same age, 22. Gagner makes $2.275 million right now.

- Do the Oilers have enough salesmanship in them to get Justin Schultz as a free agent, knowing they don't have an ex-University of Wisconsin teammate like the New York Rangers (Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan) or Toronto Maple Leafs (Jake Gardiner) to entice him? They can sell top-four minutes for the Hobey Baker finalist and, being close to his home in Kelowna, B.C., but this is really going to be crunch time for the Oilers. They need this kid badly.

- Laurent Brossoit, admitting he was a little tired after the Memorial Cup and Edmonton Oil Kings playoff run, still was very good at the Hockey Canada goalie camp in Calgary last week.

He made Canada's under-20 team for the Canada-Russia junior challenge (two games in Yaroslavl and two in Halifax, starting Aug. 8) which means he's a solid candidate to play at the world junior championship in Russia over the Christmas break. Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart made the team, too.

- It's no surprise that Gerard Gallant probably took about only 10 seconds to say "Yes" when asked to join new Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien's staff.

Gallant's Saint John Sea Dogs junior club loaded up the last two years, winning one Memorial Cup and making it again this spring, and there's a major rebuild there. Now if the Habs could only find a winger like Gallant, who was a double-pronged threat (scorer and lots of penalty minutes) in his days with the Detroit Red Wings.

- Is the reason the Oilers haven't talked to Brent Sutter about their vacant coaching position because his contract with Calgary doesn't end until June 30, and the Flames won't grant permission until then? Just asking. I still think it's between associate coach Ralph Krueger, who knows the team inside and out, and Sutter, who coached against the Oilers for three years. Jon Cooper is a the wild-card.

- I keep hearing the Los Angeles Kings don't want to deal little-used but very marketable backup goalie Jonathan Bernier until they've got playoff MVP Jonathan Quick locked into a long-term extension ($6 million a year for, say, seven years). Quick is due $1.8 million next season, the best bang for the buck in the NHL. Now that the Predators have dealt Pekka Rinne's backup Anders Lindback to Tampa Bay for two second-round picks (Nos. 37 and 50) in June's draft, that sets the parameters for Bernier in a deal. The Blue Jackets were also in there pitching hard for Lindback (maybe offering the 30th and 31st picks - the Kings' pick for Jeff Carter and their own in Round 2), but the Preds weren't going to trade him within the division.

Columbus isn't as sold on Bernier as Lindback. The two backups are almost mirror images, stats-wise. They both played 16 games this season. Bernier was 5-6-2, with a 2.36 goalsagainst average and a .909 save percentage; Lindback was 5-8, 2.42 GAA, .912 save percentage. Lindback is 24, Bernier turns 24 in August.

Bernier has played 48 NHL games; Lindback 38. The only difference is in height: Berner is five-foot-11 and Lindback is six-foot-six.

- Tom Renney talked to Washington general manager George McPhee about the Capitals' vacant coaching gig, but it's unlikely he's their guy. Renney reportedly was also sounded out for the Magnitogorsk (Kontinental Hockey League) job that went to Paul Maurice. I find it hard to believe how somebody as qualified as Renney can't get work.

Maybe he's overqualified. At worst, he's an associate coach. Some team should hire him as director of player personnel. Heck, maybe he'll wind up on TSN or the NHL Network. He's a good talker.

- If the Oilers take Ryan Murray (represented by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' agent Rick Valette) rather than Nail Yakupov (I'd say it's a 50-50 chance now), the Blue Jackets likely won't take the Russian forward after striking out on Nikolai Zherdev and Nikita Filatov. They like forward Filip Forsberg. So what happens if Yakupov is there at No. 3 for the Montreal Canadiens? Does a team that's painfully small (other than Erik Cole and Max Pacioretty) take the explosive but five-foot-eleven, 190-pound Yakupov?

- Veteran referee Stephane Auger saw the handwriting on the wall and retired this summer. His evaluation wasn't top-drawer (no games in the playoffs at 41, only 10 in his history) and by retiring he'll get a nice severance package. Auger, of course, was accused by Alex Burrows of having it in for him and telling him so in a pre-game skate because the ref felt he'd been duped by Burrows in an earlier game, getting a penalty call. Nothing was proved.

- St. Louis Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock was talking to Vancouver Giants coach Don Hay about joining the Blues staff, but opted to bring in Gary Agnew, who worked with Hitchcock in Columbus. Renney tried to get Hay to leave the Western Hockey League junior club in 2010, too, but Hay took a pass. Hay, Canada's world junior coach last year, had Hitchcock helping out at his summer evaluation camp.

- It's true that Halifax Mooseheads centre Nathan MacKinnon and Portland Winterhawks defenceman Seth Jones could go in the top three to five picks if they were eligible for this June's draft, according to almost every scout. "Jones, to me, might be the best junior defenceman I've seen in the last 20 years," said Hockey Canada's chief scout Kevin Prendergast. "I couldn't take my eyes off of him in the world junior (last Christmas)."

- That third-round pick the Oilers got as the last piece of the Dustin Penner trade is No. 91 now because the Kings won the Cup. They also have No. 63 in Round 3. The Oilers don't have a seventh-rounder, giving it up to the Kings for Ryan Smyth.

- Oscar Klefbom's entry level contract is $925,000 if he plays here, plus $350,000 in performance bonuses, and a $92,500 signing bonus every year.

edmontonjournal.com

For more hockey tidbits from Hall of Fame hockey writer Jim Matheson, go to: edmontonjournal.com/sports

© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

 
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