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Mon., Jan. 11, 2010, 7:33 a.m.

No deal for Chiefs

The Chiefs stood pat and then fell flat on Sunday.

The Western Hockey League trade deadline came and went Sunday afternoon and the only move Spokane made was to reassign excess defenseman, 18-year old rookie defenseman Grant Leedahl. Then, in a battle with Everett, which is tied with the Chiefs in the standings, fell 4-3 in a shootout.

(Just for fun you might want to read this story out of Russia, discovered by my colleague John Blanchette, who also wrote a column out of Saturday's 2-1 win over Tri-Cities.

 There were a flurry of trades, but since they didn't involve Spokane we'll let the blogs of Gregg Drinnan and Alan Caldwell wrap them up for you with some analysis.

So, the question is, did the Chiefs do the right thing? Do you think the Chiefs can be contenders with the way they are configured now? What would you have done, who would you have moved?

We have two weeks to ponder those questions before the Chiefs return home, so feel free to share your thoughts. Meanwhile, I found a nice story on the Chiefs' world junior participants, posted below.

By John MacNeil

Herald staff

SASKATOON – If local boy Jared Cowen needs any consolation after Canada’s overtime loss in the world junior hockey final, he can listen to Spokane Chiefs teammate Tyler Johnson of the gold-medal-winning U.S. team.

Cowen, the Spokane captain and a first-round draft pick of the Ottawa Senators, had a few forgettable moments even before Canada’s heartbreaking loss in his hometown of Saskatoon. After a tough outing in a shootout win over the U.S. in round-robin play, Cowen was benched for Canada’s semifinal victory over Switzerland. He returned to action, albeit in a limited role, for the gold-medal game, with Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Travis Hamonic sidelined with a separated shoulder.

It was frustrating finish for Cowen, who grew up in the nearby farming community of Allan, before his family moved to Saskatoon. It was apparent that he had lost the confidence of Canadian head coach Willie Desjardins – but not of his WHL teammate, Johnson.

“Cowen is an unbelievable hockey player,” Johnson said after the gold-medal game. “I think everyone knows that. I mean, I know that he had a little rough going here and there, but I still think he’s the best D-man in the WHL.

“I’m always going to stand by his side on my team. I know he always has my back. If he needs to be picked up, I’ll pick him up. But I doubt he’s going to need to. He knows he’s a good player, so everything is going to be fine.”

Johnson is five-foot-nine, while Cowen is six-foot-five.

“But I’m catching up to him,” Johnson said with a smile.

Both were rookies on the Spokane team that won the Memorial Cup in 2008.

At the world juniors in Saskatoon, Johnson was one of just three returning players from the U.S. team that finished fifth at last year’s tournament in Ottawa.

The Americans captured gold for the first time since they defeated Canada in the 2004 final. Johnson anticipated a warm reception when he returned home to Spokane.

“I’ve lived there my whole life,” said Johnson, 19. “I love it there. I can’t wait to meet the crowd again, because I know they’re going to be happy.”

Just getting to the world stage was a mighty climb for Johnson, a slick centre.

“I never thought this would happen,” he said. “Growing up, they have those regional select camps and national festivals, (but) my name was never on that (USA Hockey) national list. It’s something that kind of hurt, but it pushed me further and I think it made me a better player because of it. So, I came a long way.”

The only hurt Johnson felt this week was a leg injury that bumped him out of the gold-medal game prematurely.

“In the first period, I ran into the wall pretty hard and something happened (to my left leg),” he said. “It’s tight and I can’t move it.”

Johnson was anxious to get back to work with the Chiefs as soon as possible.

“I think that with Cowen and everyone coming back, we’re going to be more determined and ready to play,” he said. “I think we’re going to have a strong second half and make a run in the playoffs.”


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