Thursday, June 30, 2011

Blazer News...

It's been on twitter now for awhile but former Blazer and minority team owner Darryl Sydor has been named an Assistant Coach with the Minnesota Wild - reuniting with Mike Yeo who he assisted last year with the AHL's Houston Aeros.

There's more from Minnesota here


Blazer F Colin Smith will attend Edmonton Oilers summer development camp July 4-9th. This after being overlooked at the NHL Draft.


For the latest news follow twitter @JonKeenNLSports


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Former Bronco Assistant Coach Resigns in Salmon Arm

Tim Kehler has resigned from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL after only one year on the job.

Kehler was named the BCHL's Interior Conference coach of the year this past season.

The former Swift Current Bronco Assistant Coach will now look for his next coaching opportunity.

GM Bonner on Import Pick Bozon

Rick "The Bear" Wile spoke with Blazers General Manager Craig Bonner today regarding the Blazers CHL Import Pick Tim Bozon out of Lugano of the Swiss Jr. League. (more info below)

"His father (Phillipe) played in the NHL and played a number of years over in Switzerland and the European leagues. (Tim) has been around hockey his whole life. He's coming from a strong program in Switzerland in Lugano.

We've gone to a different country this year (in drafting) but he's a guy that we've been told has some potential in the draft next year. He has good size and you never know until you see him over here, we all know that. We'll see what happens."


Blazers Select Swiss F Tim Bozon **Update with Release**

The Blazers used their 27th overall pick to select Swiss F Tim Bozon. He's listed at 6'1, 184 pounds and played for Lugano of the Swiss Jr. League.

He's the son of former NHL'er Philippe Bozon who played with the St. Louis Blues for four seasons from 1991-95.

Tim Bozon was born in St. Louis and would represent France in any International tournament.


Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers have selected forward Tim Bozon from Switzerland with the 27th overall selection in the 2011 CHL Import Draft.

The 6’1”, 184lb forward played this past season with the HC Lugano Under-20 team in Switzerland. He scored 16 goals, 13 assists and 29 points in 27 games. The 1994-born Bozon is eligible for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Bozon’s father, Philippe Bozon, played 144 NHL games with the St. Louis Blues from 1991-95. Tim was born in St. Louis, but has spent most of his life between Switzerland and France. He has suited up for the Under-18 Division B France National Team twice; this year playing in 5 games and finishing with 3 goals and 6 points to help France to a Bronze Medal.

This is the second time the Blazers have selected a Swiss player in the CHL Import Draft. In 2005, the Blazers chose Janick Steinmann 18th overall.

Blazers Release 2011-12 Schedule


Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers have released their regular season schedule for the upcoming 2011-2012 hockey season. The hockey club will start the season with at home on Saturday, September 24th versus the Prince George Cougars. The hockey club will start with four straight home games, before the first road game in Everett on Saturday, October 8th.

A breakdown of home game nights for the Blazers:

Sunday – 3

Monday – 1

Tuesday – 1

Wednesday – 10

Thursday – 0

Friday – 12

Saturday – 9

Some other highlights from the schedule:

The Blazers only play 3 games in 3 nights once this season. They will be in Portland on Friday, October 14th, home versus Prince George on Saturday, October 15th and home versus Kelowna on Sunday, October 16th.

The Victoria Royals will make their first trip to Kamloops on Sunday, October 2nd, while the Blazers will be in Victoria for the first time on Tuesday, November 29th.
All of the Central Division teams will visit the Interior Savings Centre starting with Medicine Hat on Monday, October 10th.

The team will make one trip to Alberta this season to play Red Deer, Lethbridge and Medicine Hat in October.

The Blazers return to Saskatchewan and Manitoba in December 2011 for the first time since October 2009. The Eastern road trip will commence in Swift Current on Saturday, December 10th and finish in Moose Jaw on Saturday, December 17th.

The longest home-stand for the Blazers will be 4-games, which they do three times. The longest road trip will be in December when they play 6 games in 8 nights in Saskatchewan and Manitoba before the Christmas break from December 18-26.

The Blazers won’t play games in Edmonton, Kootenay or Calgary this year.

The Blazers will play Prince George ten times this season. They will play Kelowna, Vancouver and Victoria eight times each. There will be four games against each of the U.S. Division teams. The Blazers will visit each of the East Division teams once and play 12 games against the Central Division teams, including 9 of those games at home.

There will be two home games that start at 2pm this season. On Monday, October 10th and on Friday, November 11th.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Blazers Acquire D-Man Hrbas from Edmonton

The Kamloops Blazers General Manager, Craig Bonner, announced today that they have acquired 18-year-old defenseman Marek Hrbas and the 27th overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft from the Edmonton Oil Kings in exchange for the 18th overall pick in the 2011 CHL Import Draft and the Blazers’ 5th round pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft.

Hrbas, from Plzen, Czech Republic, played 64 games with the Oil Kings last season scoring 5 goals, 12 assists for 17 points last season. Last season was his first in the WHL after spending the 2009-10 season with the Fargo Force of the USHL.

“We are pleased to add another puck-moving defenseman to our hockey club,” said General Manager, Craig Bonner. “This move solidifies one of our two import spots with a player who has played in North America for the past two years.”

The Blazers will now be selecting at 10:20am/PT in the 2011 CHL Import Draft which is on Wednesday, June 29th.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Draft Facts

33 WHL'ers drafted over the last two days. The Edmonton Oil Kings, Saskatoon Blades and Portland Winterhawks each tied with four players selected.

Spokane and Swift Current had three. Red Deer, Prince Albert, Vancouver, and Seattle each had two.

There was one player chosen from Moose Jaw, Medicine Hat, Tri-City, Kelowna, Kootenay, Lethbridge and Brandon.

The Blazers along with Calgary, Everett, Prince George, Regina and Victoria all went without a player taken.

Blazers Blanked

For the 2nd time since 1982 and the days of the Kamloops Jr. Oilers, the Blazers did not have a player taken at the NHL draft. The last time that happened was 2008. No doubt a disappointing day at the draft in Minnesota.

A good draft for the WHL though with 33 players selected. Best of luck to those drafted moving forward into next season.


Friday, June 24, 2011

NHL Draft Notes

Tomorrow is shaping up to be a big day for a few Blazers hoping to hear their named called at the NHL draft in Minnesota.

Blazer F Colin Smith didn't get a whole lot of respect from NHL's Central Scouting 130th - MT - 96th - F . Saving his best for last, Smith ended the WHL's regular season scoring 13 of his 21 goals after January 7th. He also helped his draft stock after a strong showing at the spring U-18's in Germany.

"I haven't really paid to much attention to the rankings...throughout the year I wasn't really acknowledged as much as maybe I feel I should have been. I think that motivated me to be better."

Blazer F Dylan Willick was perhaps the Blazers most consistent player all season. He also wasn't a big favorite of the NHL's Central Scouting rankings after being left off the mid-term rankings and finishing 164th in the final rankings.

D Tyler Hansen also has a chance to be drafted. He finished 131st in the final rankings amongst North American skaters.

Don't forget about Chase Schaber. Entering his over-age season, Schaber could be selected late in the draft after being passed over the last two years.


Two Blazers were selected last year. D Austin Madaisky was taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 5th round - 124th overall. F Brendan Ranford was selected in the 7th round - 209th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Since 1982, the Blazers have only gone one year where no one was selected from the club. That year was 2008. The Blazers have had only one player selected in four drafts ( 2007, 2006, 1998, 1988 - Mark Recchi)

The most players drafted from the Blazers was in 1994. That year, nine players were chosen including Nolan Baumgartner, Jason Holland, Chris Murray, Jason Strudwick, Hnat Domenichelli, Brad Lukowich, Mike Josephson, Bob Westerby, Tyson Nash)


Blazer GM Craig Bonner and majority owner Tom Gaglardi are taking in the draft in Minnesota.


New Blazer Associate Coach Dave Hunchak is in the city this weekend. He's house hunting along with his wife Kim. It's expected he will be working out of the Blazer office by mid to late July.

Jon Keen

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Blazers Pre-Season Schedule Announced

The Western Hockey League's Exhibition schedule is out. It's a 64 game slate running from August 30th to September 18th.

There's pre-season tournaments set for Edmonton, Tri-City and Everett but the Blazers will not be taking part in any of them.

The Blazers will play six pre-season games starting with a visit by the Victoria Royals, September 2nd, before going to Ladner to face the Vancouver Giants, September 3rd.

The Blazers play Kelowna at home Sept. 9th, and, visit the Rockets on the 10th. The following week they host Prince George on Wednesday the 14th and visit PG on Friday September 16th.

The WHL's 792 game regular season schedule will be released next Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Game Seven Recap

For a great take of the game...that's yet to be played, check this out. Well done.

WHL Adressing Concussion Concerns / Mem Cup Finalists Named

News Release:


Calgary, AB -- The Western Hockey League Board of Governors wrapped up their Annual General Meeting today in Calgary by announcing they have adopted a Seven Point Plan to reduce blows to the head and concussions. The WHL Seven Point Plan is a comprehensive approach to addressing this important matter and includes the adoption of new playing rules; more severe suspensions for repeat offenders; production of an educational video on risks of concussion; educating the players to be more responsible for themselves on the ice; a seminar for all WHL Head Coaches and General Managers; new soft cap elbow and shoulder pads; expanded research data and a review of all WHL arena facilities safety standards.

The WHL Playing Rule changes includes the adoption of a Checking to the Head penalty for lateral and blind side hits to an unsuspecting opponent in open ice where the head is targeted or is the principle point of contact. The WHL also tightened the standard on late hits as well as charging and interference penalties to address players building up significant speed and hitting the opponent along the boards with excessive force. The WHL also adopted a new embellishment rule and introduced automatic suspensions for players who receive multiple penalties for checking to the head, checking from behind, embellishment and kneeing.

“The WHL is fully committed to addressing head blows and concussions in a comprehensive manner,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “We believe the Seven Point Plan we have adopted will not only create a safer environment for our players but will also enable us to better educate our players, coaches and officials as to what constitutes a legal hit.”

The WHL Board of Governors also adopted revisions to their Regulations and Constitution and received an update on their new WHL franchise in Victoria.

The WHL also announced that the Kelowna Rockets, Red Deer Rebels and Saskatoon Blades have been short listed as the final three candidates to host the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The final bid presentations will be made at the October 12, 2011 meeting of the WHL Board of Governors in Calgary.

The WHL will be releasing the 2011-12 WHL Pre-Season schedule on Thursday, June 23 and the 2011-12 WHL Regular Season schedule on Wednesday, June 29.

Monday, June 13, 2011


It's a historical night ahead as the Canucks and Bruins meet in game seven of the Cup Final. A rarity perhaps? Not really. This is the 16th Stanley Cup game seven with the last one coming in 2009 with Pittsburgh beating Detroit. The home team is 12-3 all-time.

Radio NL has the game beginning with the pre-game show at 4:30pm PT


What Canadian artist/group will kick off CBC's game seven opening montage tonight? You can bet the CBC will put together a pretty good long as they steer clear of Jann Arden or Bryan Adams. Wait and see I guess...


Yesterday I spoke with Nashville Predators Head Coach Barry Trotz. He's headlining the Kamloops Coaches Conference a month from now. Trotz, who makes his off-season home in the Okanagan near Vernon says the Canucks will win game seven...but it might take overtime. Yikes.

For more details on the conference check out


Want to have access to all WHL games via your mobile phone this year? Search the smartphone app called "tunein radio". The download is free. Use the search window to find your station and you're good to go. For example I searched "Kamloops CHNL" and we came up right away. Even searching the city of the originating broadcast will more than likely lead you there.

A warning though, the app is a battery drainer. Make sure you're on a good data plan too. It'll be good to listen to games on the bus this season ahead rather than refreshing the WHL's mobile site.


Is this Mark Recchi's final game in the NHL tonight? Possibly. Recchi is still contributing and could likely go another year. He picked up three assists in game six against the Canucks.

TSN did a story on it. You
can see that here.


Speaking of TSN... because of them being short bodies due to Stanley Cup coverage I was dispatched along with Pat from Pro Video down to BC Lions camp to get some interviews for them

It was a pretty simple gig...that is until the wind caught the Lions backdrop and blew it over onto Lions Head Coach/GM Wally Buono. The blooper made the Plays of the Week. You can watch the footage. It's about 45 seconds in here.


Dave Hunchak and his family will soon be moving to Kamloops as he prepares for his new role as Blazers Associate Coach. I believe this will be his first hockey job outside of Saskatchewan.

When we spoke after the announcement I told him one of the perks will be getting out of those sometimes nasty prairie winters. That is true to some extent, except the Blazers will spend two weeks in Saskatchewan likely in December this season for the eastern swing. There's a chance the final game before the Christmas break could be in Moose Jaw. A win there would be a nice early Christmas gift for Hunchak you would have to think.

Hunchak and I had three years of post-game coaches show interviews. I'd suspect we'll pick up right where we left off... wherever that was.


The WHL AGM's are underway. A lot of issues on the agenda including potential rule changes and talk over head shots. The CHL is not mandated by the Hockey Canada guidelines outlined last month. I'd expect the WHL to follow suit with potential NHL rule changes.


Congratulations to long-time Blazer bus driver (Coach Captain) Brennan Driedger and his wife to be Rachel Keating. They are getting married in Ireland Friday and then will be honeymooning across Europe after.

Enjoy game seven!


Blazers Ink 1st Rounder Thomson

Press Release:

Kamloops, BC – The Kamloops Blazers are pleased to announce the signing of defenseman Jordan Thomson to a standard WHL Education Contract. Thomson, from Wawanesa, Manitoba was selected with the 4th overall pick in the 2011 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft.

Thomson, who stands at 5’11.5” and 167lbs, was one of only 42 bantam-aged players selected to attend the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) first annual Allstate All-Canadians Mentorship Camp. He had 2 goals, 14 assists for 16 points and 42 penalty minutes in 40 games with the Southwest Cougars of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League last season.

“Jordan is a dynamic, high-end defenseman that we are pleased to sign,” said Director of Player Personnel, Matt Recchi. “He is an exceptional skater and displays a ton of character, competiveness and leadership in his game. Jordan was the youngest player in the Manitoba Midget AAA league and had an excellent season with the Southwest Cougars.”

Thomson is the highest selection in Kamloops Blazers franchise history at 4th overall. He was the first Manitoba-born player selected in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft.

Season Tickets for the 2011-12 season are on sale now. Contact Director of Ticketing, Todd Carnelley at the Kamloops Blazers office at 250-828-1144 or to purchase your seats for all 36 home games.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Hunchak Talks Blazers

Dave Hunchak is set to get a taste of the WHL's Western Conference after spending seven seasons in the East.

After three seasons under Dean Chynoweth as an Assistant Coach in Swift Current, and the last four years as Head Coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors, Hunchak comes west with one purpose: winning.

"I'm coming in to help the Kamloops Blazers and in particular to help Guy Charron win. Whatever jobs need to get taken care of got to get done. Coming from two small market Saskatchewan teams in Swift Current and Moose Jaw that's the mentality behind it, you just have to find ways to get it done."

The newly appointed Associate Coach will come into a new situation geographically but the hockey will be the common ground

A welcome to Hunch to Kamloops along with his wife Kim, daughter Alyssa and son Brendan.

Personally, this will be my 2nd time working with him after spending three seasons together with the Broncos in Swift Current.

I'll have more thoughts on today's announcements later this week...


twitter: @JonKeenNLSports

Blazers Name Hunchak, Patterson and Needham to Staff

The Kamloops Blazers have solidified their coaching staff for the upcoming 2011-12 hockey season. Dave Hunchak has been hired as the team’s Associate Coach, Ed Patterson will join the Blazers as an Assistant Coach and Mike Needham will be the new Skills Coach.

Hunchak brings with him a load of experience including spending the past four seasons behind the Moose Jaw Warriors bench as their Head Coach. He led the Warriors to 40 victories last season which was only the third time the franchise has won 40 games in 27 seasons in Moose Jaw. Previous to joining the Warriors, Hunchak served as the Assistant Coach of the Swift Current Broncos for three seasons from 2004-07. He also has experience with Hockey Canada as the Video Coach of Canada’s National Junior Team, winning a Gold Medal at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship and as an Assistant Coach with the 2006 National Summer Under-18 Team.

Patterson played in the WHL with Seattle, Swift Current and Kamloops from 1988-92, winning a Memorial Cup with the Blazers in 1992. After a 15-year pro career, which included 68 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Patterson returned to Kamloops as the Head Coach of the Kamloops Storm Junior B team. He led the team to first place finishes in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons including appearances in the league final both years. Patterson is also the Head Coach of the Kamloops Peewee AAA team for the 2011-12 season.

Needham re-joins the Blazers after suiting up for the hockey club from 1986-90, which included winning a Gold Medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships under the direction of Head Coach Guy Charron in 1990. He then went on to play in 86 NHL games including winning a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991-92. Needham is also the Head Coach of the Okanagan Hockey Academy Bantam AAA team for the 2011-12 season.

“Our mandate at the beginning of this process was to bring in experienced coaches that would add different dynamics to the organization,” said Vice President / General Manager, Craig Bonner. “I believe we have accomplished this with the addition of Dave, Ed and Mike to complement Head Coach Guy Charron,” Bonner concluded.

“I am thrilled with the addition of Dave, Ed and Mike to our coaching staff. Each coach adds a distinctive and unique element to our hockey club,” commented Head Coach, Guy Charron.

Terms of the contracts will not be disclosed. For all media inquires, please contact Vice President / General Manager, Craig Bonner.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Blazers Coaching Announcement

As speculated on Radio NL this morning, sounds like Dave Hunchak will be named Blazer Associate Coach, former Blazer and local Ed Patterson will be a p/t Assistant Coach and former Blazer Mike Needham will be named Skills Coach.

Announcement expected shortly.

Blazers to name Assistant Coach tomorrow AM

The Kamloops Blazers will announce a new assistant coach tomorrow morning at 10 PST.


Monday, June 06, 2011


Blazer F Dylan Willick and his family are re-locating to Kamloops for his 18 year-old season ahead. Willick and his family reside in Prince George but will be making the move this summer. Willick is already in the city training and preparing for the NHL draft just over two weeks away in Minnesota.


- A big congratulations to former Swift Current Bronco captain Zack Smith who helped the Binghamton Senators win a Calder Cup tonight over the Houston Aeros in six games. Smith had 20 points in the playoffs. He's one of my favorite junior players over the years no doubt.


- Speaking of favorite junior players, people who know me well know that I've always been a big Aaron Rome fan. The rugged d-man finds himself in the middle of controversy after his late hit on Boston's Nathan Horton. Even as I blog this, Sandie Rinaldo from CTV News is talking about it on the 11pm National News.

The hit drew a rather lengthy four-game suspension. I was frankly shocked to hear that number. Rome is an honest player and plays the game the right way. Granted, it's much easier for the NHL to sit a 6th defenseman down for four games than it would be to suspend a star player. There isn't much consistency in the way suspensions are handed down. A lot of it has to do with the players' status in the league.


Twitter is great for a lot of reasons but the other night during game three of the Stanley Cup final it was good to hear the thoughts of P.G. Cougars GM Dallas Thompson and Regina Pats President Brent Parker. They had some interesting takes...or tweets regarding the officiating and the game itself.

Thompson @DallasWThompson tweeted "cancel the game stripes, game is getting too physical!" when the referees led a parade to the penalty box in the third period.

Or this from Brent Parker @PatGuy65 with the Bruins of 4-0: "Dear City Planners: please cancel our booking for all downtown streets and the use of 10 fire trucks for this Thursday. Signed Mike Gillis"

Or even this one from former WHL Head Coach Drew Schoneck who is now the Head Coach / GM of the Tri-City Storm of the USHL

"I wish Lucic would harken back to his Giants days and grab Kessler and s*#t kick him"

Brandon Wheat Kings GM Kelly McCrimmon is also on twitter... but his tweet count remained at a firm "0" as I put this post together.

Oh, and if you're on twitter you can find me @JonKeenNLSports. I'm not as fun as the three mentioned above though.


I can only think former Chilliwack Bruins play-by-play broadcaster Randy Merkley got a raw deal. Merks never really had a chance of moving with the franchise to Victoria. It sounded like there wasn't much communication in regards to the position.

The Victoria WHL team then announced a radio deal with The Zone FM and that Dave Sawchuk would be doing the play-by-play. He's an employee of The Zone.

For Merks to have worked in two different WHL markets over the course of seven seasons I think he deserved better. Even if it was a kind and simple "Thanks...but we are going in a different direction."

I'll vouch for Merks. He's an honest guy who would be a great addition to your organization. I know he'd love to stay in the WHL.


If you like to go to banquet fundraisers and have a few bevvies may I suggest steering clear of the in-house mic. Let the MC do his job...he doesn't need you chiming in with your thoughts or commentary.

I've been to a few events in the past - and one recently where someone after a couple or twelve cold ones feels the need to share his wisdom with everyone. He makes his way to the front podium and graces us with his two cents. It's embarrassing for that person and awkward for the folks who have to sit through it.

I'm sure you can relate to what I'm talking about.


It's going to be a fun weekend out at Rivershore Golf Club just east of Kamloops. They're hosting the Canadian Tour's Western Championship with the first round Thursday. The club hosted the Pro-Am today.

Check the link on the right side of the page for more details. Two of the golfers in the field Adam Hadwin and Wes Heffernan recently qualified for the U.S. Open next week at Congressional.

If you're in the Kamloops Area it would be worth a visit out there.