Winterhawks president resigns
After 13 years, Doug Piper has stepped down as president of the Portland Winterhawks.
The Western Hockey League club announced Piper's resignation on Tuesday, June 8. In the announcement, Piper said now is a good time to pursue other opportunities in the sports industry.
"Now that we have weathered some pretty big challenges in recent years, first with COVID-19, then with the sale of the team, I feel now is a great time to hand over the reins to the new owners, who I know will take the organization to new heights," Piper said in a press release.
The Winterhawks were purchased by a group led by Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete, a sale that was finalized in January.
Piper is a Portland native who oversaw the business side of the Winterhawks including Winterhawks Skating Center. He joined the Winterhawks in November of 2008 after the club was purchased by Alberta businessman Bill Gallacher. Prior to joining the club, Piper worked in business/management roles for the Trail Blazers and Utah Jazz and NHL's Edmonton Oilers, Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators.
Under Piper, the Winterhawks have consistently been at or near the top of the WHL in attendance and have consistently led the league in sponsorships.
"(Piper) has done a great job. It's been a real good partnership" managing the club, said Mike Johnston, Winterhawks vice president, general manager and coach.
Johnston pointed to Piper's local ties and his emphasis on community outreach and engagement with fans and sponsors as areas Piper helped transform a business that was struggling on and off the ice when Piper arrived.
Piper said this is a good time to explore new opportunities as sports work to bounce back from the pandemic.
"Of particular interest is the role social media and technology are poised to play going forward as we work to bring back our fans," Piper said in the announcement.
Hawks acquire rights to goalie — Portland has acquired the rights to Swedish goalie Jesper Wallstedt from the Moose Jaw Warriors for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 WHL Draft.
The top-rated European goalie for this July's NHL Draft, and a possible first-round pick, Wallstedt this season played 23 games in Sweden's top pro league and was on Sweden's team at the IIHF World Junior Championships.
Listed at 6-3 and 214 pounds, Wallstedt is a late 2002-born player who is entering his 19-year-old hockey season.
Johnston said it is a speculative acquisition, noting that if Wallstedt is a first-round pick it's possible his NHL club will want him to play junior hockey next season.
Portland retains its one pick in the June 30 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft. Defenseman Jonas Brondberg is on the club's overage list and Wallstedt is not yet on the Winterhawks' roster. Simon Knak is one of two allowed players from outside North America on the Portland roster.
Adin Hill wins gold — Former Winterhawks goalie Adin Hill was part of Canada's team that won the IIHF World Championship tournament that concluded on June 6.
Hill played in three of Canada's games at the tournament, posting a .909 save percentage and 1-1 record.
Canada beat Finland 3-2 in overtime in the gold-medal game. Hill's Arizona Coyote teammate Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for Canada in the final game.
Hill just finished his fifth pro season in the Arizona organization, playing in the AHL and NHL. He is a restricted free agent.
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