WHL Notebook: Turmoil in Lethbridge continues on and off the ice

Dave
Dave Leaderhouse
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The season the Lethbridge Hurricanes can’t see end soon enough got even worse on the weekend when assistant coach Brad Lukowich had his contract terminated by the team. Lukowich, in his first season with the Hurricanes, was dismissed with cause meaning the hockey team is not on the hook for the remainder of his contract. Hurricanes’ general manager Brad Robson admitted to the Lethbridge media that Lukowich and head coach Drake Berehowsky had differing philosophies, but wouldn’t expand on that. Five players have already asked to be traded from the struggling franchise this year and Lukowich also walked away from the club before the hammer came down…The Hurricanes’ problems isn’t limited to just the way the team is playing on the ice. Financially, the club has lost more than a $1 million in the last five years and that has forced the board of directors of the community-owned team to seek a short-term loan from a financial institution. At a shareholders meeting last week those who attended were very vocal in the operation of the team and expressed their displeasure in the way the team is being run. A “For Sale” sign might be the only option left for the club.

Staying with the theme of unhappy endings, Jarrod Brodsky recently left the Saskatoon Blades after spending the last 12 years in a variety of roles, the last being assistant general manager. Brodsky, who is the nephew of former owner Jack Brodsky, said to the Saskatoon media that he was unhappy ever since his family sold the team in the fall to Edmonton businessman Mike Priestner. The parting of ways was a mutual decision although Brodsky said he knew it was better to end the relationship sooner than later…Brandon Wheat Kings had an extremely successful sportsman dinner last week with NHL Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier brought in as the guest speaker. A number of items were also secured for auction with a Steven Stamkos sweater bringing in $1,100 and a Matt Calvert jersey from the Columbus Blue Jackets netting $1,000.

A pair of former Prince Albert Raiders made the news recently – for completely different reasons. Dylan Busenius suited up for his 300th game in the WHL when the Saskatoon Blades played in Lethbridge while MacKenzie Johnston did his best John Tortorella impression when he charged the Prince George dressing room after he felt Ty Mappin of the Cougars mugged Nikita Scherbak in the final minute of a lopsided Saskatoon loss. Blades’ coach David Struch had to haul Johnston back to the Saskatoon dressing room, but not before the overage defenseman unleashed a string of profanity at Mappin. There were no penalties or suspensions as a result of the incident, but Scherbak has yet to play since that altercation.

Two other players with Prince Albert ties are enjoying some newfound success with clubs after trades earlier this year forced them to change addresses. Taran Kozun, a former Prince Albert Mintos netminder, is this week’s Canadian Hockey League goalie of the week after posting back-to-back shutouts with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Kozun, who started the year with the Kamloops Blazers, is 9-2-0 with four shutouts since being traded a month ago. Todd Fiddler, a former Prince Albert Raider, was named the WHL’s player of the month for January after the 20-year-old forward collected 16 goals and added 13 assists in 14 games. Fiddler began this year in Moose Jaw, but was sent to northern British Columbia in November when things didn’t work out with the Warriors.

There are 29 graduates of the WHL playing in the Winter Olympics with Canada and Slovakia each having eight former players on their rosters. One interesting alumni is Petr Nedved suiting up for the Czech Republic. Nedved, who defected to Canada in the late 1980s and starred with Seattle, represented Canada at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway…Chris Driedger is now the owner of the Calgary Hitmen record for most saves after passing Martin Jones for the top spot when he made his 3,391st stop of his career last week…All of those teddy bears that rained down from the stands during the Christmas holidays at WHL rinks totalled more than 94,000…Kamloops director and alternate governor Dennis Coates is this year’s recipient of the WHL distinguished service award. Coates has had an association with the WHL since 1971…Vancouver Giants held their annual school-kids flash mob showcase on Monday with 11,621 fans filling the stands at the Pacific Coliseum. The event is held to promote anti-bullying with Anti-Bullying Day scheduled for Feb. 26…The Regina Pats recently had a 15-minute pre-game tribute to honour the 100th anniversary of the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry, the group from which the team bears its name.

 Information for the WHL notebook is gathered from submissions provided by the WHL Writers Group.

 

Organizations: WHL Writers Group, Columbus Blue Jackets, Prince Albert Canadian Hockey League Seattle Thunderbirds Canadian Light Infantry

Geographic location: Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Canada Edmonton Prince George Moose Jaw British Columbia Slovakia Czech Republic Seattle Lillehammer Norway Kamloops

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