Thursday, 14 April 2011

Ice Knock Blades Out and Other Thursday Ramblings

- The WHL's regular season champions have been ousted from the playoffs. Kootenay downed Saskatoon 5-2 last night to complete an improbable four-game sweep of the Blades in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Saskatoon led the WHL with 56 wins and 115 points during the regular season. Former Wheat Kings' co-captain Brayden Schenn was held to one goal and had a -6 rating in the series. Schenn is now expected to join the Los Angeles Kings, who begin their Stanley Cup playoff drive tonight. The Blades' drought continues as they have yet to win a WHL title in their history, and haven't advanced beyond the second round since 1994.

- When I saw that Darcy Kuemper (ankle) was out of the Red Deer lineup last night, I thought the Rebels chances of prolonging their series with Medicine Hat were pretty long. As it turns out, I was 100 per cent wrong. Dawson Guhle stopped all 19 shots he faced as Red Deer beat the Tigers 1-0 to stave off elimination. It's still a long climb back for the Rebels, who trail the Eastern Conference Semifinal 3-1, but it's a start. By the way, the only time a WHL team has overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series was when Spokane downed Portland in the first round of the 1996 playoffs.

- Jacob DeSerres and the Saint John Sea Dogs beat the Victoriaville Tigres 5-4 in overtime on Wednesday night to take a 3-1 lead in the QMJHL second round playoff series. DeSerres made 24 saves, and is now 6-1 with a 1.79 GAA and .924 SPCT in seven playoff games this spring.

- Could the WHL take a cue from the American Hockey League? The AHL announced yesterday a schedule modification plan beginning with the 2011-12 season. Under the plan, the regular-season playing schedule will be reduced from 80 to 76 games; the AHL playing calendar will be extended by one week; all sequences in which teams play four games in five nights will be eliminated; and the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs will be reduced to a best-of-five series.

- Far be it for me to get involved in the WHL's business but, just for the record, the situation with the Chilliwack Bruins and their impending move to Victoria smells really bad for all involved. What makes it even tougher to fathom is the fact that the owners of the Bruins bailed out on Tri-City and, basically, blackmailed the WHL into giving them an expansion franchise five years ago. Perhaps the WHL should be a little more cautious about whom them let into their exclusive ownership club!

- By the way, do you think that the other WHL owners that were at least partly responsible for putting the Bruins' in a perilous position care? Of course, I'm talking about the Calgary Flames, who decided two years ago to place their AHL team in Abbotsford and helped erode the market for Chilliwack. I'm guessing the answer is no!

- Canada opens the World Under-18 Hockey Championship tomorrow versus the Czech Republic.

- The Allan Cup is continuing in Kenora. The battle for Canadian Senior AAA supremacy includes a lot of WHL connections. The Brian Sutter-led Bentley Generals roster includes the likes of Curtis Austring (Kamloops, Regina, Medicine Hat), Travis Brigley (Lethbridge), Darryl LaPlante (Moose Jaw), Jason Lundmark (Moose Jaw), Brandin Cote (Spokane) and Sean Robertson (Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Lethbridge). Manitoba's South East Prairie Thunder has Krister Toews (Brandon, Portland), Rob Smith (Calgary), Jon Cara (Lethbridge, Saskatoon), Jason Goulet (Prince George, Saskatoon) and Tim Plett (Moose Jaw).


Anonymous said...

What's the back story behind the owners of the Bruins "bailing" on Tri City and "blackmailing" the WHL? Strong words that you should probably back up with some sort of backstory.

Anonymous said...

In defense of Abbotsford, what were they supposed to do since a rink 30 minutes away has a WHL team? Just have no team?

I think you need to step back for a second and look at things from the fans' perspective rather than the perspective of WHL owners.

The WHL is a cash cow. Operating costs are extremely low compared to ticket prices. It's why a junior frnachise is worth over $5 million and AHL and ECHL franchises sell for less than $500,000.

The Bruins, even with low attendance, are profitable in years when they're winning and lose a bit of money in some years too. Why do you advocate for this business, then, to receive an unnecessary monopoly not just in Chilliwack but in Abbotsford too? The Bruins aren't moving because they aren't profitable, they're moving because they are more profitable in Victoria. (The same is happening in Victoria. ECHL is profitable with higher operating costs and better hockey. They are leaving because dropping to the WHL just widens the profit margin)

If you allow the WHL to have "monopolies" in regions, ticket prices become higher and fans are denied the opportunity to watch minor pro hockey, which, though lower profile, is played at a higher calibre.

If we can all agree that fans win when their is competition for their dollar, and fans benefit from a variety of different brands of hockey available, then maybe you'd re-evaluate your position.

The only people who benefit from these monopolies, oops, I mean "territories" are the owners. It's the fans that lose.