Thursday, May 31, 2007

Westy Without A Contract/Tips New Coach Is?

The Wild apparently are not wild over Kristofer Westblom.
The Kelowna Rockets goaltender told the Daily Courier Newspaper that he will likely become a free agent June 1st.
The Minnesota Wild, who drafted Westblom in the 3rd round in 2005 are not interested in signing the 20 year-old netminder to a deal.
Westblom was told by his agent Monday that the chances of the Wild offering him a contract are slim to none.
What does this mean for Westblom's future?
He'll battle for a starting spot with the Rockets this season as an overage, before either he or Torrie Jung pack their bags and head elsewhere.
While it would be ideal to have two quality goaltenders next season, both would fetch some decent talent if the Rockets were able to make a trade for an upgrade in one specific area.
That said, Rockets General Manager Bruce Hamilton may be a little gun shy this time around after dealing away Derek Yeomans for defenseman Clayton Barthel who failed to meet
This picture of Westblom in a Wild uniform may be as close as he'll ever get to suiting up for the franchise that drafted him in 2005.


It's not often that a WHL team declares who the captain will be at the end of the season, but the Vancouver Giants did just that.
Head Coach Don Hay is quoted as saying Milan Lucic will be the Giants captain next season.
I am not questioning the selection, but giving Lucic the 'C' following the conclusion of the WHL season for the Memorial Cup champions is unprecedented.
In Kelowna the players select the leader of the hockey club. I guess in Vancouver the coach gets the pleasure of declaring who he sees fit as being the best leader.
That said, I am sure if it came down to a players vote, Lucic would get the nod.

The Everett Silvertips have a press conference for 2 pm this afternoon where they will name a replacement for Kevin Constantine.
Constantine resigned Tuesday to take over the coaching reins with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League.
While Tips fans are sad to see him go, it was time for a coach who has nothing to prove in junior. He is a tremendous motivator and in the franchises early years was able to get the most out of a marginal talent pool.
As the Tips built through the bantam draft the talent got better and Constantine was able to mold the team into a well balanced combination of skill and defensive minded-systematic hockey.

It's an exciting time to be a WHL assistant coach.
Those who have paid their dues have to be licking their chops at the number of coaching jobs that are available out there.
All four WHL teams that have a vacancy would be ideal for a first year coach with Moose Jaw and Prince Albert leading the way with the least amount of pressure.
The expansion Edmonton Oil Kings have to be looking for a veteran guy, while the Tips job may come with the most pressure considering filling Constantine's big shoes are almost impossible.

Not everyone is giving the Memorial Cup tournament in Vancouver rave reviews.
The Junior Hockey Junkies is one group that has rated the last 10 Memorial Cups and made it clear that Vancouver isn't even in the top 5.

"Away from the arena, there's nothing. Nothing," Kim Thomas, the big-bearded co-founder of the Junior Hockey Junkies, said at the Pacific Coliseum.

"You don't see banners, that kind of stuff. You tell people you're here for the Memorial Cup. People say, 'What's that?'".

A few banners lined the nearby street, but otherwise the tournament seemed lacking any large public profile in the big West Coast city.

The Junior Hockey Junkies still rate the 2005 Memorial Cup in London as the best in the last 10 years.

Great quote from former Swift Current Bronco forward Trent McLeary during his short stint in the NHL.
"Some of us were meant to score, others were meant to play goal. And others were meant to do what I do. I tick people off and I don't get danger pay."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Constantine Leaving Everett

I am and am not surprised at Kevin Constantine leaving Everett.
Bottom line..great coach.
He knows the game inside out and did a tremendous job with an expansion franchise and was a key reason why the Tips were again a contender for a league title this past season.

I'll miss Constantine.
I'll always remember his animation on the bench, his standing on the boards while barking at the referee over a non-call. His face would almost turn pink as he would slam the door on the bench in frustration.
I won't
miss his defensive minded systems, but he was one of the best interviews I've ever conducted when it comes to chatting with an opposing coach. He took the time to answer reporters questions and appeared to like the dialogue.
He is a pro and deserves to be in the pro's.

Oddly enough nothing appeared on the Everett Silvertips website or on the WHL website.
One word - Weird !

Here is the release from the Houston Aeros website.

Kevin Constantine, a former runner-up for the National Hockey League’s Coach of the Year honor, has been named the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Houston Aeros, the team announced Tuesday. Constantine spent the last four seasons as head coach of the Western Hockey League’s Everett Silvertips. The announcement was made by Minnesota Wild President/General Manager Doug Risebrough. The Aeros are the Wild's primary developmental affiliate.

“A development team requires a leader who will teach the players the game, while at the same time instilling the discipline, accountability and hard work required to play in the NHL for this organization,” Minnesota Wild Assistant General Manager/Aeros General Manager Tom Lynn said. “Kevin has a demonstrated record of all of these elements. In addition, he has had success coaching at all levels of hockey, and in particular in developing younger players.”

Constantine, 48 (12/27/58), has been behind the bench as a head coach for more than 1,000 combined games, presiding over teams in the United States Hockey League (USHL), International Hockey League (IHL), National Hockey League (NHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL).

The native of International Falls, Minn., accrued a 159-153-66 mark in seven National Hockey League seasons with San Jose, Pittsburgh and New Jersey. Two seasons after helping Kansas City claim the International Hockey League’s Turner Cup championship in 1991-92, Constantine took over a Sharks team that won just 11 games the previous season. Constantine led San Jose to a 33-35-16 record in 1993-94 and a first-round upset of Detroit in the Western Conference Quarterfinals. He was the runner-up to current Minnesota Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire for the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s top coach, after the Sharks improved a league-record 58 points. Constantine is the only NHL coach to ever lead a pair of eight seeds over a No. 1 seed, having also led Pittsburgh over New Jersey in 1998-99.

Constantine joined expansion Everett in 2003-04 and led the Silvertips to a 162-106-20 mark in four seasons. Everett won division titles in three of his four seasons there, and advanced to the WHL Final in its inaugural season, helping Constantine land Coach of the Year honors. In 2006-07, Constantine led the Silvertips to a 54-15-1-2 record and a berth in the Western Conference Semifinals. Among the players under Constantine’s tutelage in Washington have been Ondrej Fiala, the Wild’s second-round pick (No. 40 overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, and Peter Mueller, the eighth-overall pick by Phoenix in 2006.

In two seasons with Kansas City, Constantine’s Blades went 102-48-14. Constantine has also served as an assistant coach with NHL Calgary, IHL Kalamazoo, and as head coach of North Iowa and Rochester of the United States Hockey League. Constantine also founded the North American Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Forge in 2001. The Forge compiled an 80-24-8 record in his two seasons there. Eighteen Forge players earned Division I scholarships.

Constantine played amateur hockey at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York and was Montreal’s ninth-round pick (No. 154 overall) in the 1978 NHL Amateur Draft.

Cosntantine has three sons: Mathew, Jeffrey and Nicholas.

Good on the Giants/Ray Resigned to Canadian College Hockey

Belated congratulations to the Vancouver Giants for winning the Memorial Cup.
Now hockey fans in the Western Hockey League can give them a hard time for winning junior hockey's ultimate prize, despite failing to win the league title.

The Kelowna Rockets have been getting it from all sides since they won the crown in 2004, despite being bounced in the Western Conference final.
But let's face it, as long as the Memorial Cup exists you need to have a host team participating or the interest just wouldn't be there.
The Giants were a legitimate heavyweight this season and deserved to be in the final four, just like the Rockets were in 2004.
And how about the record crowds? Wow!!
Hats off to the organizing committee for getting bums in the seats for every game of the tournament.

If I'm a WHL Governor, and I am voting on who should be awarded the Memorial Cup the next time 'our league' gets a chance, I'm thinking big market all the way.
Unless Calgary bids for the 2010 games, Saskatoon should be a slam dunk to get it. But if a smaller centre attempts to pull the games away from the Blades bid, I simply don't see a chance of them getting it.
Each WHL team is getting a financial piece of the pie and even the small market teams, which tend to band together in support, have to agree that bigger is better when it comes to a larger city hosting the event.
Money does talk, and reaping the rewards of a successful Memorial Cup with a check that helps the bottom line of a smaller market team couldn't come at a better time, as expenses to run a junior hockey franchise go through the roof.

The Giants celebrated Tuesday, no not with a parade in downtown Vancouver, but at city hall as the Mayor declared today 'Vancouver Giants Day'.
Like one hockey fan said, "The Giants did something the Canucks were unable to do at Pacific a championship".
Giants head coach Don Hay should be proud of his team and his accomplishments for keeping his squad focused, despite knowing all season long they would be playing hockey in the month of May regardless of how good or bad they were during the regular season.
Don Hay has to be considered for a pro job at the next level.
To see him behind the bench of the Giants next season won't happen.
If he is back behind the bench of an NHL team as an assistant or head coach next season I'll be shocked.
If Hay bolts for the pro's that would leave five teams looking for new head coaches. Openings would be in Everett, Vancouver, expansion Edmonton, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert.

I ran into Kelowna Rockets overage Chris Ray at the gym yesterday.
Ray has spent the past couple of weeks backpacking with his brother overseas.
Talk about the adventurous type.
Ray is going to be spending a good portion of his summer in Calgary, and appears to be resigned to the fact he'll be playing Canadian College hockey this winter.
Not like that's a bad thing, but I am sure even Ray thought more pro teams would be knocking at his door despite a less than solid 20 year-old season.


How many WHL athletic therapists do you think are considering the job opening with the Prince George Cougars?
The answer - none!
Over the years we've seen 'trainers' move within the league, but no one in their right mind will be taking that job up in Cougar Country.
Let's see...piss poor pay....tons of work...long hours and terrible travel. Hmmmmmm.
In finding good people you often look at someone with a vast knowledge of the league. In this case the less the applicant knows about the job the better.

How much was that goal worth that Travis Moen scored in game one of the Stanley Cup final? Will his performance in the 2007 NHL playoffs see him seeking more money next season?
Moen has shown he is worth his 475 thousand dollar paycheck and may be looking for more having scored two game winning goals in the playoffs, and scoring 5 times in the Ducks run towards the cup.
Moen has caught the eye of Anaheim G.M Brian Burke.
Funny thing is while Moen is paid 475 grand to keep opponents off the board, fellow teammate Ryan Getzlaf is earning just over 600 grand to do the opposite - score!
The way I see it either Moen is getting paid to much, or Getzlaf is getting paid to little.

I will admit I've been struggling keeping up with my blog this week.
The reason?
I am all about excuses, and will use the fact that I am doing the morning shift for a co-worker this week who is having some voice problems.
That's why I'm slacking off.
Getting up at 4 am this week just isn't right. Who can function at that time of the morning?
Everyone says it's a great shift because you are done your work day by noon, and then you can do whatever you want with the rest of the day!
But when you feel like s*** once the shift is over and you want nothing more than to sleep, I just don't see the benefits.
I've never been an early riser.
Never have, never will!!

A great quote from former NHL goaltender Bob Froese after the ice was littered with plastic mugs after fans complaining about a referee's call.
"I'm just glad it wasn't Machete Night".

Saturday, May 26, 2007

An All WHL Memorial Cup/Moffatt Moves to Michigan

We got our wish!
It's an all Western Hockey League final at the Memorial Cup.
For the 11th time this season the Tigers and Giants will meet in the one game showdown Sunday to decide it all.
Once again I'm calling Vancouver to win this thing.
I am just hoping it's an entertaining game and not the chess match we saw in the round robin between these two teams.
I will admit it's awfully impressive that the two WHL teams are meeting for major juniors top prize.
Honestly I don't care who wins the game, as long as they both showcase their true talents as two exceptionally strong hockey clubs.
By my recollection, the last time two WHL teams met in the final was 1989 when the Swift Current Broncos beat the host Saskatoon Blades in overtime.

It looks like Kelowna Rockets prospect Luke Moffatt will be playing this season in Michigan.
Moffatt will be playing midget hockey with a team called Compuware Midget Minor.
Rockets fans will be able to see Moffatt up close this fall during the teams rookie camp at Prospera Place.
Thanks Andy for researching into that!

The NHL draft is next month in Columbus and the only Kelowna Rockets player with a legitimate shot of hearing his name called is Torrie Jung.
Jung is rated 24th of North American goaltenders for the draft.
Cody Almond and Lucas Bloodoff have chances of being drafted but would be late picks at best. Neither is even rated by NHL Central Scouting.

Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton is likely spending this weekend in Saskatoon watching his son Curtis participate in the Blades prospects camp.
Curtis Hamilton has a guaranteed spot on the Blades roster as a 16-year old this season and is expected to be a big piece of the puzzle when the franchise believes to have a legitimate shot of winning a Memorial Cup when Hamilton is in his 18 or 19 year old season.
Maybe that's why the Blades organization is so enthused about earning the right to host the Memorial Cup in 2010.
The timing couldn't be more right.


Moen vs. McAmmond!
Anahiem against Ottawa in the Stanley Cup featuring former Rocket Travis Moen against former Broncos winger Dean McCammond.
I enjoyed getting to know both of these guys during their junior days, but if I had to pick just one to hold Lord Stanley's Cup it would be Moen.
McAmmond has been to the cup finals with Calgary while Moen has never been there.
Yet while I want Moen to have success I am admittedly cheering for Ottawa in this one.
Maybe the Stanley Cup will come to the Okanagan if the Senators win?
Why you ask?
Ottawa forward Dany Heatley spends a good portion of the off season in the Okanagan and has a nice house on the waterfront on the Westside of Okanagan Lake.

I love a quote from Mark Parrish when a reporter came up to him trying to put a negative spin on why he scores all of his goals in the third period.
Parrish said, "I score most of my goals in the 3rd period because I don't like to lose".

Friday, May 25, 2007

Making Hay to get back in NHL/ Could Luke's Bro be Kelowna Bound?

While everyone is focusing on the benefits of what a Memorial Cup appearance brings for a junior player, having led a team to the final four can't hurt the coaching resume either.
Which brings us to the future of Vancouver Giants head skipper Don Hay.
Hay is a quality coach and has proven without a shadow of a doubt he deserves another opportunity at the NHL level.

Hay is no stranger to the pro's with stints as an assistant with Anaheim, Phoenix and Calgary while having guided the Coyotes as a head coach in 1996 and again with the Flames in 2001.
Hay has to be considered for a pro job next season meaning his days are numbered behind the Giants bench.
Job openings in Columbus and now Tampa Bay may be just what Hay is looking for as he moves back into the NHL as an assistant.


It looks like the Saskatoon Blades are set to bid for the 2010 Memorial Cup.
Owner Jack Brodsky is more interested in hosting the four team tournament than the World Junior Hockey Championships.
The last time the Blades hosted the M.C was in 1989, and what a tournament it was. Ok I am biased here by basking in the glow of the Swift Current Broncos win in overtime against the Marcel Comeau coached Saskatoon Blades.

I can hear it now!
"Luke passes it to Brayden - Brayden back to Luke who joins the attack , he shoots and scoresssssss".
Could Luke Schenn and his younger brother Brayden be teammates with the Kelowna Rockets in the near future?
Word out of Brandon is the Wheat Kings are having a problem coaxing Luke's younger brother to join the Wheat Kings next season.
The Wheat Kings made Brayden Schenn the clubs first round bantam pick in the 2006 WHL bantam draft yet Schenn has hinted he would either like to play in Kelowna with his brother or play in his hometown of Saskatoon.
The Wheat Kings website had a press release Thursday outlining prospects that will attend a camp this weekend and Schenn's name is no where to be found.
If Brayden would join the Rockets, it would mark the 6th time brothers have played for the organization.
The McLeod's - Cuthbert's - Ferguson's - Deschamps' and Bloodoff's have worn a Rockets uniform.
Only the McLeod and Bloodoff brothers have worn the jersey as teammates though.

The radio phone in shows in Vancouver are buzzing with the boredom the Western Hockey League had on display Wednesday night at the Memorial Cup in the Medicine Hat Tigers 1-0 win over Vancouver.
It was defense-first type of hockey against two teams that can light it up and entertain, but with so much on the line believe that keeping the cards close to their chest gives them a better chance of winning.
Wednesday's game was boring, but if you speak to someone who called the game you will likely get a different opinion.
Which brings me to my point about watching a hockey game as a spectator and calling a game as a broadcaster.
When you are calling the game you are so enthralled and focused on what is happening that you often mistake what you perceive as a good game for one as a spectator which is bland and boring.

I got it in the mail yesterday.
An invite to the wedding of my former color analyst on Swift Current Bronco broadcasts Everett Hindley.
After living in sin for so many years he's decided to make it official this summer.

A great quote from former NHL'er Basil McRae.
"Fifty percent of the game is mental and the other fifty percent is being mental. I've got that part down no problem".

Thursday, May 24, 2007

You've Got to Hand it to the Hat!

Watching the 2007 Memorial Cup from afar makes me glad not to be the host broadcaster.
When the tournament was in Kelowna back in 2004, I spent the entire week working! It was fun in a sense but I
really didn't have the opportunity to take in the tournament like a fan would.
As the host broadcaster, Oldies 1150 aired every game which turned into 8 games in 10 night's.
Thank goodness a tie breaker wasn't necessary in that tournament.
I will admit I enjoyed the Memorial Cup's in London and Quebec considering we
covered only the Rockets games. Don't get me wrong - calling the MC final when the Rockets won the title was sweet, but when the tourney was over I can honestly say it was nice to get away from the rink.

I watched and listened to portions of last night's Tigers-Giants round-robin game.
In listening to Joe Kenward on the Giants radio broadcast, it again showed that a good crowd/ice mic is essential to giving you a better appreciation of what is happening in the building.
In Kelowna we have the luxury at Prospera Place of having the ice mic directly in the middle of the scoreboard. I'll admit the ice/crowd noise makes the broadcast sound better...and frankly I need all the help I can get.

Watching the Memorial Cup on TV and hearing Peter Loubardias voice makes me smile. No he doesn't have the best set of pipes, but can you name anyone who loves the junior game more than he does?
I can tell you I don't know anyone who loves the CHL more, or knows the league's better than he goes.
I laughed the first time I saw Pete do a game in Kelowna. He and his partner John Druce were calling the game and every time their was a good scoring chance, Loubardias would not only raise his voice in excitement but would lean back as the scoring chance was developing. Pete gets into the game both vocally and physically.

It was interesting to see - or hear Loubardias pronouncing Giants forward Milan Lucic name Lou-cheech.
Frankly I said it that way all season long yet heard it pronounced differently by Dan Russell during the Shaw coverage leading up to the WHL final.
I understand neither is wrong
Labardious also is calling Tigers forward Derek Dorsett - Door-sit. Is it not Door-set? I know Pete is all about attention to detail which has me feeling I having been saying it wrong this entire time.

Is it just me or am I getting far to consumed by the Minnesota Wild taking their time in signing Rockets twenty-year-old goaltender Kristofer Westblom to a contract.
Maybe I want it to happen more than he does?
I doubt it, but man I'd like to see a 'good guy' rewarded for his efforts. I think Westy will play in the show someday and he'd look mighty fine in Wild colors.
The NHL team has just a couple of days to sign him as the deadline is set for June 1st.

I loved the pic's a couple of weeks ago on Rod Pedersen's blog of Taylor Field.
OK the stadium has a different name now, but I will always consider it Taylor Field - the home of the Saskatchewan Roughriders.
The old stadium is getting an upgrade with new turf this season.
I love that stadium and have such fond memories attending games there as a teenager. I doubt the Rider organization knew the impact they were having on me as a young teen at the time, but despite their lack of success they still managed to make me a lifetime fan. I hope the organization keeps that in mind with today's young fan. You don't necessarily have to win games but making the experience an enjoyable one goes a long way in bring memories to an individual that will last a lifetime. I am proof of that.

I have to tip my hat to Rod Pedersen as he prepares for another season on the airwaves with Riders Radio.
Roddie has the ability to do both hockey and football very well, something that broadcasters try to tackle but with little success.
Pedersen can call a high tempo hockey game and then keep it low key until a big play in the game of football. What makes the feat more impressive is he can do it using the medium of radio - where voice, not visual is required.
Rick Ball is a broadcaster that I think found his sport when he landed the gig as the BC Lions radio caller.
Ball was solid as a WHL play-by-play broadcaster but in my opinion is more suited to calling the game of football.
The game has it's share of excitement at certain times but doesn't have the thrills that hockey provides.
I have called just one football game in my life and let me say it's a lot harder than it looks. In the Canadian game it's 12 players aside for a total of 24 men on the field while in hockey it's just 6 skaters aside for a total of 12 players on the ice.
I told you I was good at math!!
A tip for those hockey broadcasters wanting to make the transition to football play-by-play...saying the quarterback throws the puck is not recommended!!!

Media coverage from the Memorial Cup in Vancouver has been outstanding. How can it not be with the Vancouver Sun/Province covering the tournament with little else in the way of hockey to talk about.
Oh sure the Stanley Cup playoffs get it's fair share of coverage, but the real deal in town is what's happening at the Memorial Cup. The excitement will only intensify should the host Giants advance to Sunday's final.


The Public Address announcer at the Memorial Cup is a beauty!
John Ashbridge has those 'old school' pipes that are second to none. Just to hear him across the arena either calling a penalty or calling a goal is a delight.
In case your wondering, he is also the PA announcer for the NHL's Vancouver Canucks.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Truitt Taking Time Off/Doyle 'Ties' One on @ M.C

Not least not yet!
That is how Kelowna Rockets head coach Jeff Truitt views the possibility of becoming a member of the Team Canada coaching staff for the upcoming World Juniors.
Truitt isn't heading to the Memorial Cup next week to interview for a spot on the coaching staff, simply believing that Craig Hartsburg will be back to guide the team with Curtis Hunt as his assistant along with a representative from the Quebec league.
Truitt says he would be more than interested in joining the staff when the tournament is a little closer to home with Canada hosting in 2009 and again in 2010.
Will Truitt be heading to the Memorial Cup in Vancouver to watch any of the action?
Instead he's meeting David Michaud and I for lunch next week.


Ok Matt Kassian just signed a NHL contract with the Minnesota Wild giving me the general feeling that Kristofer Westblom is just days away from signing a deal of his own.
Kassian, the Kamloops Blazers tough guy was a second round pick of the Wild but to see them sign him when they already have toughness with Derek Boogaard comes as a bit of a surprise. Rumor has it that Kassian signed for just 75 thousand bucks. I'm making it sound like that is chump change, yet in the hockey world it really is.
It should be announced shortly that Westblom has inked a deal, likely for a little bit more than his BC division counterpart.

Which team has the most pressure heading into the Memorial Cup? That's easy it's the Vancouver Giants.
Anytime you are the host team and are taking the backdoor into the tournament, the weight of the junior world is on your shoulders. The Giants do not want to embarrass themselves in front of the hometown faithful and want to prove to themselves and others that they were the better team, not Medicine Hat in the Western Hockey League final.
To make matters worse the Memorial Cup tournament has been hosted in BC on three separate occasions with the host team winning all three times.
The New Westminster Bruins, Kamloops Blazers and Kelowna Rockets all hosted the M.C and won it as the host.
The Giants are hoping that trend continues with the tournament beginning tonight at Pacific Coliseum.

The Vancouver Giants now confirm they are going with a new look by shaving off their beards after a game seven loss to the Tigers earlier this week.
When the host team hits the ice tonight to open the tournament, the Giants are going with a clean shave look which translates into a fresh start for a team that was bounced in the championship series.
Giants enforcer Garet Hunt won't be playing at the Memorial Cup, but the fact he's actually skating is a miracle in itself.
The little guy broke his leg against the Kamloops Blazers late in the season but is on the slow road to recovery. The fact he rehabilitated that quickly is amazing.
Speaking of injuries, Cody Franson is still questionable for the Giants first game at the M.C after missing the last three games of the WHL final with an undisclosed injury. I mentioned a few weeks back on this blog that I had a feeling Franson was playing injured because of his less than stellar play in the post season. Franson is a quality kid who I've interviewed many times and would like nothing more than to see him end his junior career on the ice competing for a championship - not sitting on the trainers table.

I used this term loosely but Kelowna media will be well represented at the Memorial Cup this weekend in Vancouver.
All joking aside, Kelowna Daily Courier Sports reporter Doyle Potenteau will be at the tourney with laptop in hand. Potenteau has several angles he can take when bring the Memorial Cup back to the readers in K-Town.
Westbank's Scott Wasden plays for the WHL champion Medicine Hat Tigers while Giants d-man Cody Franson is from Sicamous.
If you are unaware who Doyle is, he'll be the best dressed newspaper reporter with a tape recorded in his hand. While his colleagues will have mustard stains on their t-shirts (Doyle will have a dress shirt and tie combination) Pontenteau will be looking like a million bucks.
What he does after dark when the evening games are complete is nobody's business.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Todd McLellan wants to drink out of Lord Stanley

I will admit I am not a fan of the Detroit Red Wings but one of the coaching staff behind the Red Wings bench I am cheering for in this seasons NHL playoffs.
Todd McLellan, an assistant coach with the Wings, was the first junior coach I had the pleasure of knowing when I was cutting my teeth with the Swift Current Broncos in the fall of 1995.
I remember the press conference the Broncos held that day to announce the teams new head coach and all I can remembered was the fact McLellan was just slightly older than me.
"How can a guy that is 28 coach a junior team", I exclaimed. Todd McLellan has no clue in what he's getting himself into. The Broncos must be pretty desperate to hire this guy considering his lack of coaching experience.
Those were just some of the thoughts I had when the Saskatoon resident addressed the media
that day at Houston's Pizza...all three of us.
Boy was I wrong.
Todd McLellan made an immediate impression on all of us when he quicky bought a house in 'Swifty' and invited us media hounds over to his place for dinner. McLellan didn't see us as enemies, but as a group of individuals working together to improve the communication between the Broncos organization and it's fans.
Todd was always about communication. I often had great talks with him as we were cruised down Highway One on one of those long bus trips to Moose Jaw. (An hour and a half bus ride - wow! Those were the days.)

My general perception of McLellan?
He was a smart man who often talked about everything but hockey. McLellan loved to chat about investing and building a strong portfolio. I often thought that if coaching didn't
work out he should look at becoming a financial advisor.
He'd spend hours on the bus playing the thinking man's game - chess - and was more
of a tactician than a motivator during his stint with the Broncos.
Todd was always focused, never stayed out late on the road and was usually in bed by 11 and up by 7.
I remember the summer he left the Broncos. After another tough season where he packed on significant weight, he went into a workout regime like I had never seen before. Up until that point Todd and working out were never found in the same sentence, yet his mindset had all of a sudden changed dramatically.
My guess is McLellan wanted to get into peak physical condition as he was about to candidate for a pro job that summer at the NHL draft in Calgary.
When I saw him at the Saddledome he was as focused as ever, setting off a red flag that something was up. A few weeks later he would get the head coaching job in Cleveland of the now defunct International Hockey League and the rest was history.

Since he left for the pro's I haven't spoken to him since. So as I watch the Detroit Red Wings battle with Anaheim for a birth in this years Stanley Cup I can't help but watch closely when the TV camera's take a shot at the Wings bench and show McLellan talking strategy with Detroit head coach Mike Babcock.
This young punk who was named the Broncos head skipper at the tender age of 28 back in 1994 is now within a couple of wins of earning a Stanley Cup ring.

This article appeared in Wednesday's Windsor Star newspaper:

Detroit Red Wings assistant coach Todd McLellan’s name is being quietly mentioned as
someone who has a future in the National Hockey League as a head coach and Detroit coach Mike Babcock couldn’t agree more. “He’s a good man who does things the right way,” Babcock said. “He’s a professional and a good communicator. When I was hired here, I wanted someone on my staff who’d been a head coach. I didn’t want there to be consensus in every decision. I wanted there to be debate.” Prior to coming to Detroit, McLellan was head coach of Houston of the American Hockey League, the top farm club of the Minnesota Wild. “I’m a big fan of (Minnesota coach) Jacques Lemaire. “Todd’s been in his organization and it was a good chance to add someone of that calibre.”

If you are heading off to Vancouver to watch the Memorial Cup, don't be fooled by the warm weather outside.
The conditions inside Pacific Coliseum will give you goose bumps. The air conditioning in the arena will be working overtime at the tournament to keep the ice conditions ideal while trying to avoid the fog like experienced at the Medicine Hat Arena for game 7 of the WHL final.
Trust me the air conditioning at the old Coliseum works great. It was like a meat locker in there when the Rockets met the Giants in a first round playoff series 3 years ago.
Even with a crowd of 14 thousand in the arena for a playoff game it was more than a little nippy in there. That said, it won't stop some Vancouver puck bunnies from showing up half naked at the Coliseum.
But hey if the hockey is bad, at least the talent in the stands won't be!

Could Regina Pats bench boss Curtis Hunt be the next head coach of the Canadian World Junior team?
Hunt has confirmed he will be in Vancouver next week at the Memorial Cup to meet with Hockey Canada officials about a position on the coaching staff.
Hunt was an assistant to Craig Hartsburg at the 2007 tournament and Hartsburg has yet to announce his intentions if he will return to the program next season.
The other top candidate is Clemont Jodin, who was an assistant for the past two years under Hartsburg and Brent Sutter.
Would Rockets coach Jeff Truitt be interested in throwing his name into the ring for a spot on the Team Canada coaching staff.
I'll answer that question on this very blog later today.

What is the protocol for shaving off a playoff beard?
With hockey players growing beards during their respective league playoffs, do you shave them off or do you keep them around if you are one of the four teams competing at the Memorial Cup?
I noticed in one interview Wednesday, Giants forward Milan Lucic sporting a clean shave while veteran d-man Brett Festerling looked like he was staying status quo.
For the 16 year-old rookies on any of the four junior team competing, the hope is the beards will be shaved off for the Memorial Cup. They've likely been humiliated enough during the playoffs with the inability to grown facial hair while the veterans have done their best in looking like Grizzly Adams.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Province Newspaper gets Slammed/Habscheid Rumor Interesting

Sore losers!
How could they fail to mention the Medicine Hat Tigers WHL Championship win over the Vancouver Giants?
That's the question many Okanagan residents asked when they had coffee Tuesday morning and opened up the Vancouver Province newspaper.
The overtime win by the Tigers wasn't on page one - or five or even 7 of the sports section. Infact the Province had no coverage at all on the Tigers triumph or the Giants demise.
The reasoning?
The paper that is circulated province-wide is often times the 'first edition' - in other words a portion of the paper that is published earlier than the one that comes on the doorstep of Vancouverites bright and early each morning.
Because game seven went as late into the night as it did, it meant no coverage in the Province newspaper for those outside the Vancouver city limits.
But let me assure you t
he Tigers and Giants will get more coverage than a good toupee on a bald man's head when the two take the ice for the start of the Memorial Cup this weekend.

Speaking of the Vancouver Province, an interesting article from David Pratt Tuesday on Canucks color analyst Tom Larscheid.
Larscheid had speculated earlier this season that he may step away from the microphone after over 30 years in that capacity.
I knew little about Larscheid when I came here 6 year ago - but in Saskatchewan terms - he's like John Lynch no longer being able to talk Saskatchewan Roughrider football.
It's unheard of!
Larscheid is still wet behind the years - he's 67!!
He'll be heard on the airwaves next season, no questions asked.

Speaking of wet behind the ears - Bill Wilms will be back on the Vancouver Giants radio broadcasters for the Memorial Cup.
The cagey veteran has been covering the WHL playoffs for Shaw with partner in crime Dan Russell. Now Wilms moves back behind the mic where his voice will describe what's happening on the ice. Wilms has probably spent more time at the rink than with his wife this spring. No wonder they get along so well together!!!
Enjoy the Memorial Cup'll be a blast.

How many broadcasters read WHL chat sites that are spewed all over the internet?
The too cool for school ones will say "never".

The honest ones will say "I do".
If you are on the internet as much as we broadcasters are these sites fall into your lap whether you want to look at them or not.
The latest rumor on one chat site has Marc Habscheid becoming the Head Coach of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Everyone will laugh at the suggestion but is it that far fetched? If I know one thing about Habby he likes to call his own shots and the lure of the NHL as an assistant is great but isn't as great as many may think.
Habscheid is a prairie boy through and through. Look at the type of vehicle he drove during his time in Kelowna - a Ford F-350 diesel truck. It was a farmers truck for the lack of better words. Now I've offended anyone who drives a F-350!
Habscheid loves going back home in the summer and being on the family farm/ranch, so being in nearby Moose Jaw wouldn't be a bad fit.
It would be a close second to being the head coach with the Swift Current Broncos, something that Habscheid at one point entertained.
Do I see Habscheid moving to Moose Jaw? Honestly no! If it happened would I be surprised? Not really.
Habscheid is a small town guy who loves the game of hockey and doesn't need the bright lights of the big city to validate him as a successful coach.
Marc Habscheid is always up for a challenge, and leading the Moose Jaw Warriors to the franchises first WHL Championship may just be up in his alley.
Hey he did it in K-Town why can't he do it in Moose-Lips?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

It's Tough to Tame a Tiger/Giants Will Have Revenge!


What a finish between two fantastic teams.

The Medicine Hat Tigers are Western Hockey League Champions but the Vancouver Giants were equally as good.
It's just a shame that one team
had to lose in game seven - especially in double overtime.

While the first couple of games of the series didn't live up to expectations between two powerhouses that appear to have little in the way of flaws, what we saw in game 6 and in a tremendous seventh and deciding game was nothing short of outstanding.

Both teams fought to the bitter end and showed why both are front-runners to capture the Memorial Cup which begins Friday in Vancouver.

I applaud both teams for putting on a great show which makes you proud to be apart of the Western Hockey League.

Matt Keetley is pictured on the left. The overage goaltender was
named the series MVP.


What a great run it's been for Willie Desjardins and the Medicine Hat Tigers.

The quiet and sometimes standoffish coach won't wow you with his interviewing skills but he knows something about coaching.

Desjardins deserves alot of credit for helping the Tigers win 2 WHL Championships in the last four years.

But to think how the Tigers at one time missed the playoffs for 5 straight seasons from 1997 until 2002 before finally getting into the
post season in 2003. Willie was the key in putting the 'Tiger Train' back on the tracks.

Desjardins has guided this Tiger team to 4 consecutive 40+ win seasons bring back the feeling of being the 'King of the Hill' like this franchise was in the late 80's with back-to-back WHL titles in 87 and again in 1988.

I can hear it now.
People are going be verbally bash the Vancouver Giants now that they have failed to win the league title.
Sound familiar Rockets fans?
It's not right.
This Giants team is tremendous and showed this season that they are an elite team that had as good a shot as the Tigers of winning the league title.
Yes they technically get the bye to the 2007 Memorial Cup because they are the hosts, yet the Giants deserve to be there.
The Kelowna Rockets were bashed in 2004 for failing to win the league championship yet capturing the Memorial Cup by failing to lose a game.
If the Giants do the same as hosts, many will discredit them for the victory. But like the Rockets in 04 the Giants are a special team and one to contend with when the tournament begins Friday night at Pacific Coliseum.

I made the prediction on this blog before the WHL final even started and I'm sticking with it.

I said the te
am that loses the championship final will win the Memorial Cup.
My knowledge of the teams out of the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec League are limited, but surely they can't be as good as these two teams?
Yes the Vancouver Giants will win the 2007 Memorial Cup by beating...the Medicine Hat Tigers in an all WHL final.
I can feel it, and frankly I'd love to see it!
If it happens it would mark the first time that two WHL teams would meet in the Memorial Cup final since the Swift Current Broncos beat the Saskatoon Blades at the 1989 Memorial Cup.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

I'm Losing Interest/Winning WHL Title @ Home - Not Easy!

Am I the only one who is losing interest in the Western Hockey League final?
Didn't think so!
Oh sure I want to know the score at the end of the night, but it's not what I expected.
Shaw has done a great job of covering a series - but where's the scoring?
Outside of Giants Head Coach Don Hay beeking at the Tigers after game two and the 'Hats' Derek Dorsett chomping on Giants forward Kenndal McArdle's finger in game four it's been less than stellar.
These two teams are so good that they are limiting what each other can do offensively - and it's a crying shame. Fire wagon hockey is what we expected didn't we?
You'd have to think Marc Habscheid and Kevin Constantine would love this series. I can see it now the two side-by-side, hovering in front of a TV set with a bucket of popcorn between them.
"Now this is hockey" they'd exclaim!!
All joking aside, does this brand of hockey win championships? No doubt. What is the objective of these two teams? Granted they are there to win a title not to entertain.

But my hope heading into the championship final was the two sides exchanging scoring chances at both ends. What we've seen is shutdown hockey and odd man rushes that have been few and far between as a BC Liberal MLA opting out of a recommended pay raise!
Even broadcasters Dan Russell and Bill Wilms can't save this series.
If you are a hockey fan outside of the two centers competing you are just hoping these two teams are forced to find some offensive flair when the Memorial Cup rolls around later this month.
Before I close my rant on this subject I was thinking - was the Rockets WHL final series with Brandon in 2005 this bad?
In 6 games the two teams combined for 27 goals. So far the Hat and Giants have just 18 goals combined after 5 games.
Here's hoping for a 5-4 score in game 6 Sunday.

In my opinion winning the Western Hockey League title is the ultimate accomplishment.
I know...I know...people will say winning the Memorial Cup is the ultimate prize but I disagree. For me the Memorial Cup is a crap shoot with the team holding the hot hand over the ten days winning the national title. If you stink during that week, your cooked!!
Often times it's which team adjusts the quickest to an opponent that finds themselves hoisting the coveted trophy at the end of the tournament.
So for my money going through 4 rounds of intense hockey against teams you've battled against all season long is much more rewarding then beating a team that you could potentially meet twice (once in the round-robin and once in final) at the Memorial Cup.
I am not saying the Kelowna Rockets 2004 Memorial Cup win wasn't special, but for my money WHL victories in 2003 over Red Deer and again in 2005 in Brandon will always been the highlight!

The Kelowna Rockets won WHL titles in 2003 and 2005 - both on the road. In 2004 the Medicine Hat Tigers also won the crown on opposition ice in Everett. Last year Vancouver won it on the road in Moose Jaw.
Makes you wonder when the last time a team won a WHL championship in front of the hometown crowd?
The answer - The Kootenay Ice!
The Ice used overtime in a 3-2 win over the Red Deer Rebels in the WHL final in 2002 before a crowd of 4550 at the Cranbrook Rec Plex.
Infact in 6 of the last 7 WHL finals, the series clinching game has happened on the road.

Would Calgary be the logical place to host the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championships?
With Canada having the luxury of hosting the 2009 tournament in Ottawa, hockey fans in 'Cowtown' feel they are ready to host the world's best a year later.
Earlier this week Canada was granted to host the World Juniors in back-to-back years after no other country elected to bid on the games for 2010.
The last Alberta city to host the World Juniors was Red Deer in 1995. That year the tourney was a huge success.
Two years ago Calgary and Edmonton put in a joint bid for the 2009 games but didn't even make the shortlist with competition from Vancouver and Ottawa.
It will be interesting to see if Calgary steps up to the table again to acquire a tournament that is a must see for hockey fans at Christmas.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Vernon Vipers New GM is..............

The Vernon Vipers didn't have to look very far for a new General Manager.
Coach Mark Holick will be taking over the position as well for the next three years.
Fomer Viper GM Troy Mick is resigning to become a realtor in Mexico.

Keith looked like Luke Skywalker/Mick is on the Move

Give Tigers agitator Derek Dorsett a break.
I heard he slept past the Tigers pre-game meal before game four and was a little hungry during the game.
That explains why he took a nibble of Giants forward Kenndal McArdle. All joking aside Dorsett claims he never bit the finger of McArdle in the second period of Vancouver's 4-0 win.
He will sit out one game for his actions.
I guess fans in Vancouver can now call him 'Dorsett the Digit Biter'.

One of the funniest on-ice incidents I've witnessed over the years was back in 2004 when the Rockets clashed with the Giants in a regular season game in Vancouver.
After a pushing match in the corner several players separated from the pack and started throwing punches leaving only two players on the ice without a dance partner.
The two players were Rockets d-man Duncan Keith and Giants d-man Mark Fistric.
Fistric wanted to grab hold of an undersized Keith, but Duncan didn't want any of it.
His first reaction with no help in sight?
He took his stick and used it like a Luke Skywalker Lightsaber to fend off an approaching Fistric. Keith literally stuck the blade of his stick in Fistric's face for a full 30 seconds in an effort to fend him off before the linesman finally came to his aid and pushed Fistric away.
The fans at Pacific Coliseum booed Keith all game long after the incident and looking back at it now it would have been best just to drop the gloves and let the chips fall where they may.
At the time Duncan Keith knew little about fighting.He had joined the Rockets after Christmas from U.S College hockey and was getting a first hand taste of what life was like at the junior level and how at one point in his career he'd have to stand up for himself while patrolling the Chicago Black Hawks blue line.
Keith has fought sporadically at the pro level - thank God - because I honestly felt embarrassed for him the day he used his stick as a Luke Skywalker Lightsaber to fend off an opponent.

Now it's official.
Troy Mick is leaving junior hockey. Mick resigned Thursday as General Manager of the Vernon Vipers.
Mick says he'll be moving to Puerto Vallarta Mexico in the fall to start a new career in real estate.
Mick's been with the team for 2 years and says he'll continue to be a consultant and advisor.

I watched very little of the opening game of the Ottawa-Buffalo series. I watched the 2nd period while on the treadmill at the gym, so essentially 22 minutes.
I made two odd observations while putting on a lather (a sweat for those unaware of the term or in the dictionary it reads:
the foam resulting from excessive sweating as on a horse).
In Buffalo I was surprised to see Tim Horton's signage along the boards. At first thought I believed that 'Timmy's' locations were Canada exclusive, yet after further research I found out that Timmy-Ho's has over 100 locations in the great U.S.A.
Did you know that Tim Horton's owns 76 percent of the coffee market in Canada. Starbucks owns just 7 percent!!

CBC's Ron McLean had Sabres GM Darcy Regier on during the second intermission. Regier used a phrase I have never heard but will use it this upcoming season.
'Lock down line' is how he referred to his one checking line in this series. Maybe I've had my head in the sand but I have never heard it put that way.
'Lock down line' - I like it!!
If I hear Keener, Roddie or Andy Kemper in Portland use it this season I'll...I'll....I'll know that you like it as much as I do!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cumiskey Can't Wait for Next Season

I spoke to Kyle Cumiskey Wednesday. The former Kelowna Rockets defenseman is at home in Abbotsford, BC relaxing before heading out to Denver May 20th for a series of workout sessions with the Avalanche.
Cumiskey is one of only 5 prospects from the Av's attending the week long training session.
Cumiskey spent the majority of the year in the American Hockey League with the Av's minor league affiliate in Albany New York. He roomed with former Saskatoon Blade Joe Barnes who spent the majority of the season on the shelf with a broken foot, concussion and shoulder problem.
Cumiskey on the other hand had the privilege of playing in 9 games in the NHL and admits he loved the experience and the paychecks that go along with it.
Even the rookies are paid good money at the NHL level. How does 23 hundred bucks a day sound to ya?
Cumiskey says his summer will include buying a truck (he said he isn't rich enough yet to buy an Escalade) and attending the Rockets alumni weekend in Kelowna in July.
Cumiskey was drafted 222nd overall by the Av's yet saw NHL ice this season.

Two former Western Hockey League coaches now with the Detroit Red Wings find themselves in the final four of the NHL playoffs.
Wings Head Coach Mike Babcock and Assistant Todd McLellan are preparing for game one against Anaheim.
Babcock was at one time the head skipper in Spokane while McLellan called the shots as GM and Head Coach of the Swift Current Broncos when I was there.
In some respects the two are polar opposites in the way they come across. Babcock is as intense as it gets while McLellan is a bit more laid back. Both are great coaches no doubt and appear to be a pretty good fit considering they joined forces as a coaching staff in 1997 when Babcock guided the Canadian World Junior team while McLellan was his assistant.
The two helped Canada win a gold medal that year and are now trying to win hockey's ultimate prize - the Stanley Cup.

Dave Sheldon welcome aboard!
The Chilliwack Bruins made it official Wednesday naming Sheldon the teams new play-by-play voice.
Sheldon's passion for the game can't be overlooked. He loves the game and won't hesitate when talking hockey with everyone he meets.
I've gotten to know him very well over his time in Everett and with the Bruins. His enthusiasm and smile is infectious.

Sheldon is joining some elite company now that he is the full time radio man for the Bruins. He joins the Medicine Hat Tigers Bob Ridley as the only two broadcasters in the league that not only broadcast the games but the drive the bus as well.

My blog buddy Jon Keen in Swift Current mentioned that he has now joined facebook!
Keener you are killing me here. I didn't think you'd stoop to that level.
I am surrounded by this 'facebook phenomenon' in our newsroom in Kelowna and it makes me gag.
From what I understand of this facebook crap, it's a competition to see how many friends you
I hear my co-workers (females) bantering back and forth saying "I have 230 friends" while the other says "Oh ya I have 235 friends".
It's driving me crazy...can you tell? Half the work day is spent pissing around on facebook.
It makes me question the personel contact or lack thereof we have with one another. Where are we headed here?
First it was e-mail, now we learn what's happening to one another through our blogs and now facebook comes on the scene.
Heaven forbid if we meet face-to-face we won't know what to say to each other because we are used to communicating by hiding behind our computer keyboards.
I know what your saying. I sound old fashioned here. Yes I still listen to my 8-track player (Whitney Houston rocks), I love my beta machine to watch movies and my Atari video games can't be beat. I'll admit I'm old school.
AlI can say is if Curt Keilback joins facebook I'm all in. Until that happens I'll watch from the sidelines on this one thanks!

For all of you Canuck fans out there:

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Wild About Westy/Bronco Fans Backing Darcy?

Can you here that?
The clock is ticking.
No one can hear it more clearly than Kelowna Rockets goaltender Kristofer Westblom.
Westblom realizes time is ticking down before, or if the National Hockey League's Minnesota Wild sign him to a contract.
The Wild drafted Westblom in the 3rd round of the 2005 draft meaning they must sign him by June 1st or the Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan resident becomes a free agent.

I spoke to Wild Director of Player Personnel Tom Thompson about the potential of signing 'Westy'.

"What we do with all of our players that need to be signed is we make them as soon as they are practical for us to make them. We are being quite open with this that a few other things have to come into place before we make decisions on Westy and a number of players like him".

Part of the process is being fiscally responsible.

"It's not like the old days when you could's not like being at a buffet and say you'll take some of everything, you have to make choices when you order here so alot of that is determined with what the finances are."

Where does Westblom fit on the Wilds depth chart?
"Clearly we have Manny Fernandez and Nicholas Backstrom and then Josh Harding so which ever way you shuffle the deck they are the top three and after that it's wide open", Thompson added.

One last thing about my conversation with Thompson...he asked me about Cody Almond.
I told him the truth.
When Almond wants to play, and does with passion he can be a very good player.
When Cody fought Giants tough guy Garet Hunt this season in Vancouver I saw a side of the Calgary resident NHL scouts want to see more often.
If he plays with heart, takes the go-to-guy label and runs with it Cody Almond can be a very good junior, and who knows maybe a good pro?
Thompson and the Wild are obviously interested. We'll see if his name is called at the NHL draft table.
Remember Almond led his team in scoring in just his second season in the WHL. He could have been considered a rookie last year had he played in two fewer games.

I found this on the website of Michael Remmerde who is a scout and contributor to Red Line Report. Remmerde is based out of Vancouver Washington. This is his thoughts on Kelowna Rockets eligible for the NHL draft:

Cody Almond - Big time late riser. Was a big beneficiary (in terms of ice time) of Ofukany, Saulietis, and Hill being traded. Size, a bit of skill, not a bad skater. Big wild card. Feels like a 4th/5th round guy to me, but could go way higher than I think.

Torrie Jung - Another wild card. Did not play well for me in the two games I saw him, but I know some NHL guys who like him. I don't believe he's a top 3 round guy, but otherwise I have no idea where he could go.

Colin Long - I like his speed and elusiveness, but beyond that I don't think much of him. Could be a late pick, just on his speed.

Lucas Bloodoff - Did not get a real good read on him, but I thought there was some skill there. This Kelowna roster is full of some late round wild cards, and he's another one.

Brett Breitkreuz - He can skate and he works hard. I don't think he goes, however.

And for you Swift Current readers:

Eric Doyle - Hard to figure for me. I like his aggressive style and the way he rushes the puck. But I think there's a lack of hockey sense there that is a problem. I know some think of him as a first rounder, but I'd be surprised at that. I think he's a late 2nd round guy.

Paul Postma - Lots of puck skill and good size, but I don't like his skating. Not real good in the defensive zone and chases a lot. I'm guessing he'll go in the middle or late rounds.

Derek Claffey - Good skater and might have enough skill to draw late round interest.

Kyle Bortis - Should have been a 7th round gamble pick last year. Maybe still only worth a 7th this year. Way too much skill to not roll the dice with a late pick on a player like this.

Daniel Rakos - Yes, he's an 87. But this guy has size, quickness, and he put up a few points this year. Worth a late pick.

I watched the 3rd period of game three of the Western Hockey League final Tuesday night.
Is it just me or does the game look a little more professional at Pacific Coliseum?
It appears the centre ice camera is situated in a better location and appears further from the ice and slightly higher.
I don't know that for a fact but it looks that way. Obviously Pacific Coliseum is a former NHL rink so camera location availability would be better than what we saw in game one and two in the Hat.
Dan Russell has done a great job on the play-by-play. Russell is a radio guy but describes the play well considering it is on television - a visual medium.
He doesn't get over descriptive which is often the tendency of someone who's background is radio.
For the record Dan Russell is as smart as a whip when it comes to sports, and love him or hate him for his radio call-in-show he has a passion for radio, sports and hockey in general.
What's not to like about the guy?

You would think Swift Current hockey fans would be cheering for the Buffalo Sabres in the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Don't you cheer for one of your own?

The General Manager of the Sabres is Darcy Regier. Darcy John Regier was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan November 27, 1957.
While he was born in Swifty he was raised in nearby Herbert. I wonder if Darcy ever had one of those world famous (ok Southwest Saskatchewan famous) cheese burgers they would
sell at the rink?
They were just slightly behind the ones they sold at the Stewart Valley Arena.

Oh by the way...Regier is the longest standing GM in Sabres history.


I wonder what the take is from the organizing committee for the 2007 Royal Bank Cup in Prince George when it comes to attendance?
Tuesday night's game involving the home town Spruce Kings and Aurora saw a crowd of just over 3 thousand which essentially leaves the CN Centre half empty.
Other games at the tournament have been around the 2 thousand mark.
Who's to blame for the poor attendance?
TSN will be showing Sunday's final. The way things have gone during the preliminary round it's best that the producers ask the camera crew to keep to the action on the ice and avoid taking shots of the lackluster crowd in the stands.