Friday, July 23, 2010

WHL Notes July 23

Cougars On The Drive
The Prince George Cougars signed a new three year broadcast with The Jim Pattison Broadcast Group.
Andy Neal, color commentator the past two seasons who handles Corporate Sales and Broadcasting, will take over the duties as play-by-play announcer.

In Penticton, BC on Friday night WHL Chairman of the Board and Governor/General Manger of the Kelowna Rockets Bruce Hamilton, along with former Medicine Hat Tiger and NHL great Trevor Linden, were inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame. Hamilton was inducted in the builder category while Linden in the player category.

Bruce Hamitlon
Category: Builder

Bruce Hamilton is a dedicated hockey professional who has experienced all facets of participation in the WHL league.

Three-year player (1973-1976) with his hometown Saskatoon Blades, Bruce was drafted 81st overall in the 1977 NHL Draft by the St. Louis Blues. He began his successful managerial career as Director of Player Personnel and Assistant Coach for the Blades in 1981 following a professional hockey career that culminated in an Allen Cup Championship with the Spokane Flyers of the Western International Hockey League.

He was later named Assistant Coach and Director of Scouting for the Blades before moving on to both the Hartford Whalers and Washington Capitals of the NHL as Chief Western Scout.

Bruce joined the Saskatoon Fire Department in 1985 and treasures the memories and his time in this endeavor.

In 1991-92 Bruce acquired ownership in the expansion Tacoma Rockets, the expansion Rockets blasted their way to one of the most memorable inaugural seasons in the 30 year history of the Western Hockey League chalking up the highest per game average for a first year expansion team under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella.

The 1995-96 season sees significant change to the entire Rockets organization, the decision to bring the Rockets to Kelowna, British Columbia, rich history in hockey and the prospect of a new arena made Kelowna the natural choice.

Kelowna Rockets went to three straight Memorial Cup tournaments in the years 2003, 2004 and 2005 and again in 2008-09 season. They won the Memorial Cup for the first time in franchise history in 2004, coincidentally the same year they were selected to host the event.

In the 19 years since acquiring ownership in the expansion Tacoma (now Kelowna) Rockets franchise in 1991, Bruce has served in his current role of President, General Manager and Governor of Kelowna Rockets Hockey Enterprises LTD. (WHL), also spent six years as Chairman of the Western Hockey League’s Board of Governors.

Under his direction, the Kelowna Rockets Organization is committed to the development of its personnel both as players and successful people. The building of a rich tradition and alumni atmosphere are guiding principles under Hamilton’s leadership.

The NHL Alumni continues to grow rapidly as with star players: Duncan Keith, Chuck Kobasew, Luke Schenn, Jamie Benn, Kyle Cumiskey, Josh Gorges, Tyler Myers, Sheldon Souray, Pat Conacher, Alexander Edler, Todd Fedoruk, Vern Fiddler, Scott Hannan, Travis Moen, Scott Parker and Shea Weber.

The Rockets have only missed the playoffs once in their history and continue to have very successful years.

Trevor Linden
Category: Player

He played centre and right wing with four different teams: the Vancouver Canucks (in two stints), New York Islanders, Montreal Canadians, and Washington Capitals. Before joining the NHL in 1988, Linden helped the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL) win consecutive Memorial Cup championships. In addition to appearing in two NHL all-star games, Linden was a member of the 1998 Canadian Olympic team and participated in the 1996 World Cup of hockey.

Throughout his career, Linden has been recognized as a respected leader on and off the ice. He was named captain of the Canucks at the age of 21, making him one of the youngest captains in league history. While captaining the Canucks, Linden led the team to within a game of winning the Stanley Cup in 1994. It was during this time that he began to be called Captain Canuck. In 1998 he was elected President of the Nation Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), a position he held for eight years. As President, he played an instrumental role in the 2004-05 NHL lockout, including taking a direct role in negotiation with league owners. Off the ice, Linden has taken an active role in charities, and was awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy for leadership on the ice and humanitarian contributions off the ice in 1997, as well as the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2008, after 19 seasons in the NHL, Linden retired on June 11, 2008, twenty years to the day after he was drafted into the NHL. Linden’s jersey number 16 was retired by the Canucks on December 17, 2008, the second number retired by the team.

Trevor Linden starred for his hometown Medicine Hat Tigers in the WHL where he won consecutive Memorial Cups in 1987 and 1988. In 1987-88, he scored 110 points, he helped Canada win the gold medal at the world junior championships, and was chosen second overall by the Vancouver Canucks at the 1988 NHL Entry Draft, also named to the WHL East Second All-Star team in his final season.

The 6’4” winger scored 30 goals as a rookie in 1988-89 and was runner-up to Brian Leetch in the Calder Trophy voting. Linden was also named to the leagues All-rookie team and seemed destined to be one of the top power forwards in the game. He went on to hit the 30-goal mark five more times and represented Canada at the 1991 World Championships. In 1994, he scored 25 points in 24 games while helping Vancouver come within a game of winning the Stanley Cup.

By the late 1990’s, the Canucks began retooling their roster and traded Linden to the NY Islanders in February 1998 and after the 1998-99 season was traded to the Montreal Canadians and prior to the March deadline as acquired by the Washington Capitals to add experience to their playoff drive Linden spend parts of three seasons in Washington before returning to the Vancouver Canucks early in the 2001-02 season.

Since his return to Vancouver, Linden went on to surpass the 1,100 games played and during the 2003-04 season became the Canucks All-Time leading scorer. Over the next three seasons in Vancouver, Linden would continue to establish new Canucks all-time records, in 2005-06 suited up for his 1,000 game as a Canuck, the first to do so, 2006-07 became the first Canuck to score 300 goals and returning the club back into the playoffs.