WHL adds five more to Top 50 Club

Scattershooting . . . in memory of Blackie Sherrod

Scattershoot

Blackie Sherrod died of natural causes in Dallas at the age of 96 on Thursday. If you are at all into sports and writing, you will know that he was one of the greats of his generation at a time when newspapers really mattered. If you would like to know more about Sherrod, the Dallas Morning News posted this piece right here on Thursday.

Sherrod also wrote a popular Scattershooting column, so what follows is in his memory . . .

  • Who whines more about officiating/umpiring . . . the Los Angeles Clippers or Toronto Blue Jays?
  • It was the Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 on Wednesday night. Sportsnet had at least six talking heads in the studio, but couldn’t have one of its own crews do the play-by-play on site? Instead, we got the Anaheim TV gang. Come on, Sportsnet, your viewers deserve better.
  • Still with Sportsnet, I don’t know what happened to Rich Sutter, but please bring him back. Oh, and Corey Hirsch, too.
  • The NHL draft lottery is scheduled for Saturday. You won’t need to watch because the Edmonton Oilers — who else? — are going to win it.
  • If you haven’t been paying attention, the New York Yankees have had a number of players all get old at the same time.
  • In case you missed it during these NHL playoffs, the bison now is the national mammal of the the U.S.
  • Yesterday, you read here about Harrison Blaisdell, a 15-year-old Reginan who has committed to the U of North Dakota before he has been selected in the WHL bantam draft. Hmm, I wonder how NCAA sympathizers feel about that move?
  • If today’s hockey sticks are so good, why do so many of them seem to explode at such key moments?
  • The WHL final will feature the Seattle Thunderbirds and either the Brandon Wheat Kings or Red Deer Rebels. And, please, it’s the final, not finals. It’s one best-of-seven series, which makes it a final.
  • The Kootenay Ice, already with the poorest attendance in the WHL, now will have to get by with less media attention than it normally gets. That’s because the Cranbrook Daily Townsman now is the Cranbrook Townsman. On April 18, the newspaper, part of the Black Press Group, began publishing only on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. That’s too bad because the Townsman’s Taylor Rocca is one of the brightest young hockey writers in Western Canada.
  • Is it just me or has the NHL taken cross-checking and charging minor penalties out of its rule book?
  • This has been quite a week for Don Mattingly, the first-year manager of the Miami Marlins. After getting stiffed by the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Marlins went into La-La Land and swept a four-game series. Listening to Vin Scully, 88, call the games, a viewer would never know that he is a Dodgers’ TV announcer. All he does is call the play and tell the stories . . . no cheerleading. Wonderful!

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G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with Dresdner Eislöwen (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Eisbären Berlin (Germany, DEL), he was 2.77 and .910 in six games.

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The WHL’s championship final for the Ed Chynoweth Cup could be set tonight as the Brandon Wheat Kings have their first opportunity to oust the Red Deer Rebels. The Wheat Kings hold a 3-1 lead as the teams meet in Brandon.

The Rebels, of course, are the host team for the 2016 Memorial Cup, so should they come back and win the series, the Western Conference-champion Seattle Thunderbirds would also qualify for the tournament.

The Thunderbirds beat the defending-champion Kelowna Rockets, 5-4 in OT, on Wednesday night to sweep that series.

TeamSnap Coaches Conference 2016

The Thunderbirds would have home-ice advantage in a series with Red Deer, but not against Brandon. . . . The WHL final likely will open on Friday (May 6) in Brandon or in Kent, Wash.

The third round of the WHL playoffs hasn’t had a whole lot of suspense, with the one series ending in four games and the other perhaps finishing in five games tonight.

Interestingly, the same thing has happened in the OHL and QMJHL.

In the OHL, the London Knights swept the Erie Otters from one conference final, while, in the other, the Niagara IceDogs took out the Barrie Colts in five games. The OHL final is scheduled to open in London on Thursday. Yes, that would be Thursday, May 5.

In the QMJHL, the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies hold a 3-1 edge on the Moncton Wildcats, while the Shawinigan Cataractes have a 3-1 lead on the Saint John Sea Dogs. Those series resume tonight in Rouyn-Noranda and Shawinigan.

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And then there were three . . .

The WHL revealed the names of five more members of its Top 50 Club on WHL50Thursday, leaving just the top three yet to be named. That will happen during the league’s awards luncheon in Calgary on Wednesday.

The WHL is celebrating its 50th anniversary season. In advance of the season, it had a panel of veteran observers select 125 of the best players in its history. Fans then voted online to select the 50 greatest players of all-time.

Here are the latest additions to the list:

8. F Mike Modano — From Livonia, Mich., Modano, 45, played three seasons (1986-89) with the Prince Albert Raiders. His third season was shortened to 41 games by a wrist injury suffered in the WHL all-star game. Still, he finished the season with 105 points, including 39 goals, and was an East first-team all-star. . . . In 1987-88, he put up 127 points, 47 of them goals, in 65 games. . . . In 176 regular-season games, Modano had 294 points, including 118 goals. He added 23 points, including eight goals, in 17 playoff games. . . . His number (9) has been retired by the Raiders.

7. F Jarome Iginla — He played three seasons (1993-96) with the Kamloops Blazers and was part of two Memorial Cup championships. . . . He was the tournament’s most sportsmanlike player in 1995. . . . In his third season, he had 136 points, including 63 goals, in 63 games, adding 29 points, 16 of them goals, in 16 playoff games. . . . He was the WHL’s player of the year in 1995-96, when he also was a West and CHL first-team all-star. . . . In 183 regular-season games, the native of St. Albert, Alta., had 236 points, including 102 goals. He had 56 points, 26 of them goals, in 56 playoff games. . . . Iginla, 38, plays for the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, while also owning part of the Blazers.

6. F Lanny McDonald — He had two assists in six games with the Calgary Centennials in 1970-71 before going on to a pair of glorious seasons (1971-73) with the Medicine Hat Tigers. The native of Hanna, Alta., had 114 points, including 50 goals, as a freshman, and added 139 points, 62 of them goals, in his final season when he finished third in the scoring race and was named to the first all-star team. That season, he helped the Tigers to the WHL title. . . . He finished with 255 points, including 112 goals, in 142 regular-season games, and added 20 goals and 21 assists in 24 playoff games. . . . His number (8) has been retired by the Tigers.

5. D Scott Niedermayer — The smooth-skating Niedermayer, from Cranbook, played 156 regular-season games over three seasons (1989-92) with the Kamloops Blazers. He finished with 190 points, including 47 goals. . . . In 34 playoff games, he had 11 goal and 28 assists. . . . He was part of WHL championship in 1989-90 and a Memorial Cup title in 1991-92. . . . In 1990-91, he was a West first-team all-star and also the WHL and CHL scholastic player of the year. . . . In 1991-92, he was a West first-team all-star and a CHL all-star. At the Memorial Cup, he was named MVP and to the all-star team. . . . Niedermayer, 42, is a special assignment coach with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.

4. F Bryan Trottier — A native of Val Marie, Sask., Trottier played three seasons in the league, two (1972-74) with the Swift Current Broncos and one (1974-75) with the Lethbridge Broncos following the franchise’s relocation. . . . He followed a 45-point freshman season with 112- and 144-point seasons, putting up 41 and 46 goals, respectively. He finished second in the scoring race in 1974-75 as he led the league with 98 assists. . . . In 202 regular-season games, he had 103 goals and 198 assists, for 301 points. He added 22 playoff points, including nine goals, in 19 games. . . . In 1974-75, he was the league’s player of the year and a first-team all-star. . . . Trottier, 59, will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame on Nov. 1.

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The Top 50 Club’s first 47 members:

50. Stu Barnes (New Westminster Bruins/Tri-City Americans, 1987-90)

49. F Ray Whitney (Spokane Chiefs, 1988-91))

48. F Darcy Tucker (Kamloops Blazers, 1991-95)

47. D Duncan Keith (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-03)

46. F Cliff Running (New Westminster Bruins, 1983-85)

45. F Pavel Brendl (Calgary Hitmen, 1998-2001)

44. F Brent Sutter (Lethbridge Broncos, 1980-82)

43. F Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice, 2011-15)

42. G John Davidson (Calgary Centennials, 1971-73)

41. F Marian Hossa (Portland Winterhawks, 1997-98)

40. F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer Rebels, 2009-11)

39. F Tom Lysiak (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1970-73)

38. F Brad Moran (Calgary Hitmen, 1995-2000)

37. F Shane Doan (Kamloops Blazers, 1992-95)

36. F Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver Giants, 2008-12)

35. F Ron Chipperfield (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1970-74)

34. F Patrick Marleau (Seattle Thunderbirds, 1995-97)

33. F Jamie Benn (Kelowna Rockets, 2007-09)

32. F Dennis Sobchuk (Regina Pats, 1971-74)

31. G Mike Vernon (Calgary Wranglers, 1980-83)

30. F Doug Wickenheiser (Regina Pats, 1977-80)

29. F Reg Leach (Flin Flon Bombers, 1967-70)

28. F Ray Allison (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1975-79)

27. F Dan Hodgson (Prince Albert Raiders, 1982-85)

26. D Barry Beck (New Westminster Bruins, 1974-77)

25. F Ryan Getzlaf (Calgary Hitmen, 2001-05)

24. F Clark Gillies (Regina Pats, 1971-74)

23. F Mark Recchi (New Westminster Bruins/Kamloops Blazers, 1985-88)

22. D Brad McCrimmon (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)

21. F Rob Brown (Kamloops Junior Oilers/Blazers, 1983-87)

20. F Trevor Linden (Medicine Hat Tigers, 1986-88)

19. F Dale Derkatch (Regina Pats, 1981-85)

18. F Bill Derlago (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1974-78)

17. F Theoren Fleury (Moose Jaw Warriors, 1984-88)

16. F Jordan Eberle (Regina Pats, 2006-10)

15. D Wendel Clark (Saskatoon Blades, 1983-85)

14. F Brian Propp (Brandon Wheat Kings, 1976-79)

13. D Shea Weber (Kelowna Rockets, 2002-05)

12. F Bernie Federko (Saskatoon Blades, 1973-76)

11. F Ray Ferraro (Portland Winterhawks/Brandon Wheat Kings, 1982-84)

10. F Cam Neely (Portland Winterhawks, 1982-84)

9. G Grant Fuhr (Victoria Cougars, 1979-81)

8. F Mike Modano (Prince Albert Raiders, 1986-89)

7. F Jarome Iginla (Kamloops Blazers, 1993-96)

6. F Lanny McDonald (Calgary Centennials/Medicine Hat Tigers, 1970-73)

5. D Scott Niedermayer (Kamloops Blazers, 1989-92)

4. F Bryan Trottier (Swift Current Broncos/Lethbridge Broncos, 1972-75)

3.

2.

1.

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While the Kelowna Rockets’ season came crashing to an end on Wednesday night in Kent, Wash., with a 5-4 OT loss to the SeattleThunderbirds, the WHL team was being honoured back at home. The City of Kelowna held its annual Civic Awards ceremony on Wednesday and the Rockets were honoured with the Bryan Couling Memorial Award as athletic team-of-the-year. . . . The Rockets won the Ed Chynoweth Cup as WHL champions a year ago, before reaching the Memorial Cup final, where they lost to the OHL’s Oshawa Generals in OT. . . . Meanwhile, Rockets F Rourke Chartier is off to join the San Jose Barracuda, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks. He was a fifth-round pick by the Sharks in the NHL’s 2014 draft. In four regular-seasons with the Rockets, he has 216 points, including 110 goals, in 230 games. He also has played in an amazing 51 playoff games, with 26 goals and 19 assists. . . . The Barracuda is down 2-1 to the Ontario Reign in a best-of-five first-round series.

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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.

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CONFERENCE FINALS

(Best-of-seven)

THURSDAY’S GAMES:

No Games Scheduled.

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FRIDAY’S GAME (all times local):

Red Deer at Brandon, 7:30 p.m. (Shaw-TV)

(Brandon leads series, 3-1)

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