1 – WARRIORS IN THE CLEAR?: With the Washington Redskins and Edmonton Eskimos under fire for names and/or logos deemed offensive as they relate to Aboriginal groups, will the Moose Jaw Warriors find themselves under the microscope? So far, it seems the answer is no. The only brush with political correctness for the team came in 2014 when folk singer Buffy Sainte-Marie criticized the old Warriors logo which the club revisited on a third jersey for its 30th Anniversary celebrations.
However that logo was updated in the mid-1990’s to feature a stylized Native headdress and it’s never been subject to criticism. Warriors GM Alan Millar told the Moose Jaw Times-Herald back in 2014, “We have nothing but respect for our First Nations people and we have always felt that the Warriors’ name has been in respect of their heritage. (The jersey) has been about historical significance and the tradition of the team.“
It would appear it’s a case of “no harm, no foul”.
2 – IN THE BUBBLE: What’s life like for NHL players during training camps right now in the league’s Return To Play? “It’s a little different,” former Kamloops Blazers goalie (2014-2017) Connor Ingram told The Rod Pedersen Show this week. The Imperial, SK product is skating with the Nashville Predators black aces in Music City. “There’s not much you can do really. Just go to the rink and come home everyday basically. It’s been good. Camp really only started on Monday. The NHL is doing everything they can to keep players safe. We get tested every morning and when we get to the rink they take our temperature. We wear a mask everywhere we go and they’re doing a really good job of it. As hard as it is, they’ve done a good job keeping a routine. In Nashville at least, we’re trying to simulate a normal game situation. We’ve been practicing in the mornings because I think our first three games are at 11:00 and 11:30.”
3 – DUBSTERS IN THE SHOW: Five current WHL players are in training camps with NHL teams and part of the expanded 31-player rosters. The group includes Peyton Krebbs (Vegas Golden Knights-Winnipeg ICE), Joel Hofer (St. Louis Blues-Portland Winterhawks), Egor Zamula (Philadelphia Flyers-Calgary Hitmen), Calen Addison (Minnesota Wild-Lethbridge Hurricanes), and Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche-Vancouver Giants).
4 – KEEP YOUR CHIN UP: There’s a message for all young hockey players in this week’s news that Warriors defenceman Daemon Hunt has been invited – along with Everett Silvertips forward Gage Goncalves – to Canada’s National Jr. Team Summer Developmental camp. The camp will be held virtually July 27-31. The invite for Hunt proves that even if you’re on a non-playoff team (Moose Jaw had only 14 wins last year), scouts are still watching and if you work hard and play your best every night, you’ll still get opportunities. Hunt is a hard-nosed sonofagun out of Brandon who’s fun to watch.
5 – IN THE STABLE: The Swift Current Broncos broadcast their games online in 2019-20 after being unable to reach a favourable agreement with longtime broadcaster Eagle 94.1 (Golden West Radio). Battles between small market teams and the-only-radio-station-in-town are as old as time, and I applauded the Broncos for having the guts to go online with first-year play-by-play man Craig Beauchemin. However it appears the ice may be melting.
“I’m not going to go into the nitty gritty of the decision that was made in the past,” Broncos Business Manager Nathan McDonald said on the Broncos Town Hall Podcast. “I don’t think that’s fair to both parties. We have a good working relationship with Golden West. We’ve continued to have an open dialogue about a positive relationship that would be mutually beneficial. I hope we continue to progress towards something that accomplishes the goals of both parties. I know both parties are really wanting to move forward if it makes sense and if it’s something that’s constructive for the future. That’s really all I’ll go into on that part.”
Personally I’d like to see the Broncos stick it out for a few more years with the streaming broadcasts because digital’s where it’s at. Failing that, I’d like to see Golden West relent and acknowledge the hard times the Broncos face in this economic climate for sports teams.
6 – ON THE AIR: Speaking of WHL broadcasting, the Regina Pats have been inundated with applications for the role as Voice of the Pats which will be vacated by Phil Andrews at the end of the month. Just about every Junior A radio guy in Western Canada has, or will, send in a tape and rumour has it there’s a candidate who has pro experience. Stay tuned.
7 – HARD TIMES: It’s flatout heartbreaking to see all the WHL office staff who’ve moved on for various reasons during the pandemic. Just in this region alone, longtime WHL front office people like Moose Jaw’s Corey Nyhagen and Regina’s Kellen Enslev, Shaun Kindopp and Gord Pritchard won’t be around whenever we get back to play. The reason? An absence of bucks. Again, heartbreaking. Thanks men, for your service to the WHL! It appears we’re headed back to the golden era of “doing more with less”, but that can be fun too!
8 – HURRICANES SOAR: The Lethbridge Hurricanes didn’t get a chance to compete for the Memorial Cup, but the franchise didn’t come away emptyhanded. The Hurricanes were in 3rd place in the Central Division with a record of 37-19-2-5 when play was halted. However GM Peter Anholt was named WHL Executive of the Year and the Lethbridge front office staff won the WHL’s Marketing & Business Award for 2019-20.
“(The Marketing Award) doesn’t fall under my umbrella at all other than Terry Hughesman and myself are basically partners in this whole thing,” Anholt told The Rod Pedersen Show. “Terry’s done just a marvelous job of building his team and promoting our team around Lethbridge. We’re really, really proud of our organization. Let’s be honest. We went from last place to first and it says something about your team when you’re competitive every year. We’re excited about the upcoming season and financially the club is in great shape. Last year was a record for season ticket sales (2,350) so we have a good base.”
It warmed my heart to see the ‘Canes win the Marketing Award because they rolled up their sleeves with community outreach programs, expansive community service by the players, and innovative in-game promotions. That’s the way it should be done!
9 – BURNETT’S BURNING TO PLAY: Two weeks ago the Moose Jaw Warriors added Gord Burnett as an Assistant Coach on Mark O’Leary’s staff. The Regina product left the Junior A Winnipeg Blues to join the Warriors and is excited about the rebuild. “I think it’s the staff,” Burnett said this week on The Rod Pedersen Show. “Knowing Mark O’Leary and how hard he works; he’s very well-prepared and organized. It’s #1 for me to be going to a staff of great people. I’ve been through the rebuilding thing but I missed last year which I know was a very hard year. The picks are coming in ready to play this year, Daemon Hunt should go high in the NHL Draft, and I’ve coached some of their listed players so I know some of the roster. It’s going to be a rebuilding process but I’m excited about the developmental part and the work that goes into it. Last year with Winnipeg we had essentially the youngest team in the country but it’s rewarding when the guys start to get it and the light bulb goes on as far as the game and the skills. Now it’s just about getting it started.”
10 – OUT WEST: Writer Dylan Bumbarger of Oregon Live wrote this week the sale of the Portland Winterhawks will be announced within 2-3 weeks. And there’s also this from the website SeattlePI.com: “The word is there are three or four really good possibilities for the Portland Winterhawks ownership set to be announced in late August or early September. The Hawks were in a situation where current owner Bill Gallacher leveraged the team on a loan. The loan was defaulted on possibly due to the pandemic, but word is that Gallacher was looking to sell the team as early as December. At the same time, Gallacher was also trying to sell a home in Arizona for $26-million dollars. He purchased the home for just 11 million.”
(The Rod Pedersen Show airs daily at 10:00 am MT on Game+ TV Network in over a million homes across Canada and the US as well as on Facebook Live)