Put away your summer clothes everybody. It's hockey season.
The Spokane Chiefs begin their 2015-2016 season Saturday night when the rival Tri-City Americans drive up Highway 395 to the Spokane Arena.
The two teams closed out the exhibition season last Saturday, with the Ams prevailing 4-3.
There is one major question heading into Saturday night's game, however....
Adam Helewka assigned to San Jose Barracuda
The Chiefs leading scorer from last year spent some time with the San Jose Sharks for the first few days of the pro club's training camp before being assigned to Barracuda of the AHL. The Sharks drafted Helewka this past June in the fourth round.
This is good news for the rest of the U.S. Division, and bittersweet news (so far) for the Chiefs. Helewka is eligible to play in the AHL this season, but it remains to be seen if he'll stick with the Barracuda or be sent back to Spokane.
The Chiefs would benefit from Helewka playing for them this year, as he is expected to be among the team's leaders. He is also one of four 20-year-olds on the team's roster. WHL teams (and all teams in the CHL) are allowed only three 20-year-olds by Oct. 15.
Stay tuned on whether Helewka stays or goes (stick tap to the Spokane Chiefs Fan Page on Facebook for alerting me to this news).
WHL announces top 125 players of all time; handful of Chiefs recognized
In celebration of the league's 50th season, the Western Hockey League has named the top 125 players of all time, as chosen by a panel of WHL historians.
Former Chiefs Pat Falloon, Trevor Kidd, Ray Whitney and Tyler Johnson were recognized. All won a Memorial Cup during their stay in Spokane.
Also recognized were Dean Evason and Dan Hodgson, who each played in Spokane before being traded.
No snubs as far as I can tell from this list, at least from a Chiefs perspective. You could make a case for a Greg Leeb or a Trent Whitfield or even a Dustin Tokarski, but then my bias would be showing.
It looks like fans will have a chance to chime in October through an online vote.
Derek Ryan in Hurricanes camp
Former Chief and Spokane native Derek Ryan is in camp with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 28-year-old center signed a two-way contract this summer with the team (coached by former Chiefs coach Bill Peters) and is vying for a roster spot.
For what it's worth, The Hockey News has Ryan fifth on the team's depth chart at center.
Other former Chiefs in NHL camps include....*
Dominik Uher (Pittsburgh)
Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay)
Darcy Kuemper (Minnesota)
Jared Spurgeon (Minnesota)
Brady Brassart (Minnesota)
Michael Grabner (Toronto)
Jared Cowan (Ottawa)
Justin Falk (Columbus)
Dustin Tokarski (Montreal)
*These are the ones I could find, and there may be more out there. Anybody know where Drayson Bowman is?