1 – VIVE LAS VEGAS: It seemed nobody saw Monday’s news coming that the AHL’s Henderson Silver Knights have hired WHL great Emanuel Viveiros as the franchise’s first-ever head coach. The San Antonio Rampage were purchased by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment this winter and moved to the Las Vegas suburb. The Vegas Golden Knights are Henderson’s parent club.
“Whether it’s been on the ice, behind the bench or in the front office, Manny Viveiros has been a part of the game at every level,” Vegas Golden Knights General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said in a news release. “In our search for the Silver Knights Head Coach, we were looking for someone who could not only lead a winning team to the Calder Cup Championship but could set a positive example for our prospects. We’re confident Manny is up for the task and are excited to see his impact on our organization.”
2 – MANNYWOOD: Viveiros seems to have the Midas Touch. He won a Memorial Cup as a player with the 1985 Prince Albert Raiders and then led the Swift Current Broncos to the 2018 WHL title as GM/Head Coach (the first Sask team to do it since 1993). Swifty was tabbed “Mannywood” because of the locals’ affection for Viveiros but he left when the NHL and his hometown Edmonton Oilers came calling. He then spent one season in charge of the Spokane Chiefs where he led the club to the WHL’s 4th-best record at 41-18-4-1.
Here’s what I have to say about Manny: I broadcast those Broncos games on the WHL On Shaw in 2018 and dealing with him was a treat. It was refreshing. He’d come out of the dressing room for visits in jeans and stylish European loafers (granted, they were jeans likely more expensive than the suit I was wearing) and he was always beaming. He has a real Zen/Universe/Law of Attraction vibe about him. It’s easy to see why players want to follow him. Great hire!
3 – OVER TO MAGLIO: Less than 24 hours after Viveiros’s departure, the Spokane Chiefs announced Adam Maglio will be the franchise’s 14th full-time head coach. He served last season as an Associate Coach with Spokane. The Nelson, BC product played at Sunnyville and UBC and had tremendous success as Head Coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings.
4- WHEAT KINGS SALE: Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek triggered an avalanche of speculation with this Tweet on Thursday evening, “CHL News – Sounds like the Brandon Wheat Kings will have new owners soon. The WHL Board has been informed of a potential sale”.
It’s a fairly new story, as whispers of the sale had arisen just over the past week. After Marek’s Tweet, my phone blew up from Manitoba hockey types who informed me the man purchasing the Wheat Kings from Kelly McCrimmon is Brandonite Jared Jacobson.
They tell me Jacobson represents a well-thought-of family in Brandon which owns a RONA, is into construction, real estate, hotels, and more. There’s even talk of building a new hockey arena in Brandon.
Wow! All I can say is it’ll be weird without Kelly McCrimmon involved with the Wheat Kings because that association goes back to the 1980s.
5 – PANDEMIC BLUES: I’ll be frank. The pandemic really slammed me on Monday when I realized there would be no Regina Pats Blue & White Game. Hockey’s my first love and the Pats are my team so to not be able to catch the annual Intrasquad game on the last Monday of August was a gut-punch. I’ve coached it a dozen or so times but definitely never miss it. It’s a time to congregate with my hockey buddies, recap the summer, observe the Pats prospects, and get ready for the upcoming season. Not having the game was brutal.
6 – BIEBER ON SKATES: Furthermore a devout Regina hockey fan reminded me this week we were denied the chance to watch phenom Connor Bedard in the Blue & White Game. The “Holy Child” he called Bedard, to which I rolled. Honestly, that hadn’t dawned on me so as you can imagine, it sucked even more! The guy also criticized the Pats for not marketing Bedard more but I’ll defend them on that one. What’s there to market at this time? The December 4 start date for the WHL season looks incredibly optimistic unless COVID controls change fast.
7 – PUMP THE BRAKES: Regina Pats head coach Dave Struch gave an update to the Leader Post’s Greg Harder on where the team stands at the moment. “This is a good time to take a little break,” Struch told Harder. “At the same time, we don’t want them to sit around on the couch. We need them to stay active. They’ve done a lot of hard work leading up to this point. We don’t want them to lose the base that they’ve gained but we do need them to be thinking about some rest and recovery and then put everything into it for September, October, November and get ready for the start of the season.”
8 – BISON WARS: I’ve gotta tell you I’ve been fascinated by the move of the Kootenay Ice to Winnipeg ever since it happened and I just think the potential for the WHL in the Manitoba capital is through the roof. As a matter of fact, it’s done TONS for junior hockey in the province.
“It’s funny,” noted Wheat Kings head coach Dave Lowry. “Winnipeg is one year removed from Cranbrook. And Brandon and Kootenay never really had a huge rivalry. You put the ICE in Winnipeg, and all of a sudden both teams despise each other. If we’re gonna play just within the division, it’s gonna be fun, competitive hockey.
“Now you’re competing for the fan. We had control of a province and everybody deferred to the Brandon Wheat Kings. Now what you have to do is win those fans back. There’s nothing better than a competitive rival and ours is 2 ½ hours up the road. It’s made for great games. (ICE head coach) James Patrick and I have mutual respect for our careers. We’ve gone head-to-head, now we coach head-to-head and we’re both competitive. We both want to win and we both feel the game needs to be played a certain way.”
9 – VICTORY LANE: If you’ve been following this column throughout the summer you’ll notice we’ve had fun pointing out the WHL alumni on NHL benches in these Stanley Cup Playoffs. Somehow we missed the great Lane Lambert! The Swift Current product and former Blade and Bronco is Barry Trotz’s righthand man on the bench with the upstart New York Islanders and they’ve been the surprise team of these playoffs. I’m sure Lane would laugh to admit some of his closest friends call him “Vain”, and they’re all pulling for him to bring the Stanley Cup trophy to Saskatchewan this off-season along with Jordan Eberle!
10 – SLATS: It’s the wildest thing ever but Hall of Fame Oilers/Rangers GM Glen Sather is listed as SJHL alum because he played for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the SJHL during the 1963-64 season. (Someone will need to explain that to me because it’s looonnnng before my time). Anyway “Slats” holds the record for most playoff series wins by an NHL GM with a whopping 41! The next closest are Islanders greats Bill Torrey and Lou Lamoriello with 28. At the time of this writing, Lamoriello is heading to Game 7 in Round 2 with the NYI against Philadelphia. But he’s got a long way to go to catch Sather, the pride of High River, AB.
(The Rod Pedersen Show airs daily at 10:00 am MT on Game+ TV Network in over a million homes in Canada and the USA. It’s available in Manitoba on Bell/MTS Cable, in Saskatchewan on SaskTel Max TV, in Alberta & BC on Telus Optik TV and in Washington and Oregon on TDS Cable. It also airs on Facebook Live and RodPedersen.com/ListenLive)