Sunday, August 31, 2008

Transcript with Tyson Barrie's Dad - Len

You took over ownership of the NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning June 1st. Has it always been something you wanted to do....become an owner at the NHL level?

"I think you always have dreams, and I think if you don't have dreams you don't have anything to look forward too. Never winning a Stanley Cup as a player, I think you have to go to another level whether you coach or gm, and I think getting to this level now as being an owner at least you can't be fired. Both Oren (Koules)and I are owner/operators and we are involved day-to-day and are looking forward to the season."

It's been suggested that you are the new wave of ownership in the NHL. Do you hope to bring new ideas to the table as you get your feet wet as an NHL owner?

"I am looking forward to the (NHL) first board of governors meeting September 14th and 15th in Toronto, and just sit back. Their are a lot of successful people in that room that have done a lot of great things with the league, and being younger and being a new generation, hopefully we can bring something in and add something better."

New owners in Tampa Bay, a new coach...does that translate into renewed success down there in T-Bay?

"The players are excited to get the season started, and the coaches are excited. We have a whole new staff. We've made a lot of changes in there, we've made changes in there today and we are not done. Everybody wants to be the Detroit Red Wings. That's taken Ken Holland twenty years to do, so we want to be like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and turn it around quick, so hopefully we've done that."

Let's talk about your son Tyson. What do you see from him in his second season in the WHL, this being his draft year?

"Tyson is just going to go out and have fun. He loves to play the game. You have a great group of kids with a great organization around him and I think it's going to be an exciting year for the hockey team. Anytime you have a great team, it will make it easier on the players."

Do you have any advise for him considering this is his draft year?

"Just go out and play. Don't change anything. Don't think about anything. He's the type of player if the team has success, he'll have success. You can see a lot of talent out here, so it's going to be an exciting year for the Rockets. It's going to be tough, I'm going to wanna watch both teams a lot this season."

Would you change anything in his game?

"You love to watch him play because he's an offensive player. I think Jeff Finley and Ryan Huska have done a great job with him on the defensive side and obviously having Luke (Schenn) to play with has been a real asset to him. I think this team has high expectations for themselves this year, so it's going to be exciting for the city of Kelowna."

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Intra-Squad Game A Perfect 10!

  • Dylan Hood scored twice leading Team Black to a 6-4 win over Team White in the Kelowna Rockets intra-squad game. Hood was the best player on the ice using his skating ability to create several quality chances.
  • Kyle St. Denis also impressed with his speed and quick release. St-D hit the cross-bar twice during the spirited affair.
  • Several Rockets veterans were wearing different numbers for the game. It just looked odd to see Luke Schenn wearing jersey #8, rather than his familiar #5.
  • The biggest hit of the night may have come when veteran Jamie Benn tagged rookie fifteen year-old defenseman Colton Jobke in the offensive zone. Benn won the physical confrontation, as his 6'2 - 188 pound frame lumbered over the 5'11 - 157 pound d-man.
  • Veteran goaltender Torrie Jung sat this one out, meaning four goaltenders battling for a backup spot had a chance to compete. Daniel Salamandyk looked the most comfortable of the four goatenders, allowing just two goals on 19 shots. Sixteen year-old Adam Brown allowed two goals on 19 shots as well. Dylan Tait allowed four goals on 28 shots while Patrick Fairclough allowed 2 goals on 11 shots.
  • Toronto Maple Leafs radio broadcaster Dennis Beyak took in Saturday night's game. Beyak makes his off-season home in Westbank.
  • I had a chance to chat with Len Barrie Saturday night. The father of Rockets defenseman Tyson Barrie is the owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning. I'll post a transcript later this week.
  • Veteran forward Lucas Bloodoff has been granted a free-agent tryout with the Tampa Bay Lightning.
  • He's finally arrived. European forward Stepan Novotny arrived at Kelowna International Airport at 7:30 pm Saturday night, and made it to the rink in time for the Rockets autograph session following the game.
  • This is a photo of the Rockets autograph session. Pictured ( from left to right) Colin Long, Luke Schenn, Jamie Benn and Brandon McMillan.
  • Here is some video for you of the Rockets coming off the ice after the first period of Saturday night's game. The Rockets were expected to make between 10 and 13 cuts after the game, so for many, this video may be the only time they ever wear a Rockets uniform.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • Tonight's intra squad game is just another opportunity for a new face to strut their stuff. While it is a no-brainer that the Long's, Benn's and Schenn's are automatics to make this years team, it's just one more chance for a rookie to show that he is worthy of sticking around for a series of exhibition games.
  • I'll attend the intra squad game tonight, and share some thoughts on some of the players I liked and didn't. The fact the Rockets have brought back the intra squad game is a great idea.
  • With eight veterans off to NHL camps, I would anticipate the Rockets being very selective on who they release following the conclusion of the exhibition schedule. With Schenn, Myers and Benn the most likely candidates to see some NHL exhibition action, those three may not even return to Kelowna until three games into the WHL season. Schenn will be given every chance to make the Leafs considering he's a first round pick, with the same holding true for Myers IN Buffalo. Benn has signed a contract with Dallas, meaning they will want to see him in some game action.
  • Tysen Dowzak (Rangers), Brandon McMillan (Anaheim), Colin Long (Phoenix), Torrie Jung (Tampa Bay), and Cody Almond (Minnesota) will also attend an NHL training camp.
  • In talking to Rockets #1 bantam pick Shane McColgan, it appears he's all but decided to join the team next season. McColgan has yet to sign a WHL players contract, but that will surely be done when he is called up to play with the team in December when Myers, Schenn, Benn, Long and possibly McMillan attend a World Junior camp. It almost sounded like a slam dunk that McColgan would join the Rockets next season after an article in Friday's Capital News. Even McColgan's dad believes the WHL is the route to go. And when the parent is talking that way, the player is surely taking a similar stance on the issue.
  • Is Shane McColgan a possible captain of this hockey club down the road? You don't want to put the cart before the horse, but he has left a tremendous impression on everyone he has come into contact with at training camp this year. Excluding his on-ice performance, McColgan's maturity is far beyond his years, and the respect he has shown for the coaching staff and training staff have not gone unnoticed. It's those little things that he's done away from the ice that have you hoping he chooses the WHL next season.
  • Little to nothing has been said on this blog about Luke Moffatt. The reason? Their is nothing much to be said. He is not here. The Rockets #1 bantam pick from two years ago is with the Under 17 U.S Hockey program, as is Nick Shore, the Rockets 7th round pick from 2007. My general belief is both Moffatt and Shore have not shut the door on the Rockets all together, and my interest in them is heightened next season, not this year. As 16 year-old players, they would have most likely played supporting roles with a Rockets veteran lineup this season anyway. Next season the Rockets will have several holes that need to be filled, where younger players will be thrown into key situations to fill the gaps left by Long, Benn, Almond and Schenn. Don't get me wrong, I wish they were here, but I think the urgency of those two showing up at training camp next year is far greater than this season.
  • The newest player that I am watching closely is Stepan Novotny. Novotny is the European player who the Rockets picked in the CHL draft this summer. Novotny has played the last two years at Shattuck St. Mary's. Novotny was projected to be headed to the NCAA where he'd eventually play at the University of Denver, but has elected to play with the Rockets instead. The Rockets believe he can play with Benn and Long on the teams #1 line.
  • Who has the leg-up on the back-up goaltending duties to Torrie Jung? Tonight I will watch them closely, and give you my take on who I would keep. With Jung going to the NHL camp of the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Rockets will have to drag their feet a little bit in making a decision.
  • Congrats to Rockets Athletic Therapist Jeff Thorburn. Thorburn is going to be a 'daddy' in February. The 34 year-old has a lot on his plate before then though, as he is a member of the Canadian World Junior training staff.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rockets Main Camp In Pictures

He is still one of my all time favorite Rockets. Montreal Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges is seen here watching main camp. Gorges always has time to shoot the breeze with this washed up broadcaster, and it's hard to fathom that it was just five years ago that he was attending Rockets rookie camp. Gorges anticipates practicing with the Rockets in the next couple of weeks as he tunes up for main camp next month with the Canadiens.
Brandon McMillan didn't quite have the summer Luke Schenn did, but the personable forward helped Canada win gold at the Under -18's, and then was drafted by Anaheim in the NHL draft. I anticipate McMillan having a great year, and with added maturity will come consistency in his game.

The parking lot at Prospera Place is always packed during Rockets training camp. The majority of those cars are parents, who have traveled miles to see their son compete against elite competition. One thing I've noticed over the years...a good number of the license plates are from South of the border.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

My First Video Interview - Luke Schenn is the Guinea Pig

This is an experiment using my digital camera. I thought I'd attempt a video interview with Rockets d-man Luke Schenn. He is a fan of the blog, so I thought he'd be my first victim.

I have been harping on this blog about the outdated score-clock at Prospera Place. I was informed this summer that a new video screen has been added to the lower portion of clock which should provide an added feature at home games. I got a sneak peek at the video screen in action this week, and I was surprisingly impressed. But you be the judge. Leave a comment if you think it is an improvement, or if indeed a new clock/video monitor needs to be put on order.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Al Coates @ Rockets Camp

The Director of Player Personnel for the Toronto Maple Leafs made a surprise visit this afternoon at Kelowna Rockets training camp. I had to ask Al Coates why he was sitting at Prospera Place watching the players go through the paces. Was he in Kelowna to sign prospect Luke Schenn and take him away to Toronto? As it turned out, none of the above was true. Here's the conversation I had with Coates.

"I was debating whether to even stop or not because of red flags. My son (Jeffrey) is going to the Okanagan Hockey Academy, so he has to be there for training camp in a couple of days so that's why I thought I'd stop by Rockets training camp."

You were hired by the Leafs late this summer, but what do you think of prospect Luke Schenn?

"I think he's a really good player. I have to say at the outset, I wasn't involved in amateur scouting last year with Anaheim nor was I with Toronto in time really to have any input into that. I think Cliff (Fletcher) did a terrific job of moving up in the draft to get a young man that most people think is a top two-three defenseman in the NHL for a long time to come, so those are the kinds of people if it works out the way everyone expects it too to build championship teams around. You have to start somewhere. I think we've made some significant changes in Toronto. About 25 percent of our team quite frankly, and if you run that over on into the draft, then I believe the organization is headed in the right direction".

Are you under the belief that Luke Schenn can play with the Leafs this season?

"I think what has to happen is...sure he can play, but should he play and can he play and will he play? I am sure that's what he thinks. He was good at rookie camp, and I think that's what training camp is all about. I think Cliff Fletcher along with Ron Wilson and hopefully I have a little bit of input when we get to that point, we look at all of our young players and we make the right decision for both the player and the organization, for the long term and not just the short term."

Because the Rockets are projected to be an elite team in the WHL this season, does that give you a sense of leaving him in junior for another season rather than hustling him along to play in Toronto?

"I think it's one of those factors that you take into account. I think you sit around a board table sometime through training camp or at the end of training camp and you make an evaluation, and take in all the factors include a strong junior team that has good coaching and good ownership and you factor all these things into making an evaluation. It would be very persumcious for me to say one way or the other to say what the outcome will be. Toronto is playing nine exhibition games, so their is tremendous opportunity for all of the young players to demonstrate what they are capable of doing."

I always wonder how much pressure will be on the shoulders of Luke Schenn from not just the fans, but the media in Toronto, when he indeed wears Leafs colours?

"He seems like a pretty polished young guy, and I've had the good fortune myself...say in Calgary when Iginla came in as a young player, the key really is to have not just management and coaches around, but leadership around young people so you can help guide them through the nasty waters, and their are some for sure. Toronto, Montreal and all Canadian cities frankly, and two or three in the United States, you are under media scrutiny all the time and it goes a little less noticed if you have a real top end team and your winning all the time and they don't pay as much attention to somebody, whether it's the captain of the team or an 18 year-old prospect. But I think the media attention is a good thing. I think it builds character. I think it brings people together and it helps bond a team together. Quite frankly it develops mental toughness and it's all part of the process of being a pro for a long, long time."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

McColgan Impressive @ Rockets Main Camp

It may only be the first day of the Kelowna Rockets main camp, but 15 year-old Shane McColgan didn't look out of place. The Rockets #1 pick from this summers WHL bantam draft looked anything but intimidated on the ice with first round draft picks Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers. You can view one of many shifts that McColgan had during Tuesday night's workout. In case you haven't figured it out, he's the guy with the yellow helmet.

One of six goaltenders attempting to earn the back-up spot to veteran Torrie Jung is 16 year-old American born Adam Brown. Brown, who has duel citizenship because his dad is Canadian, is familiar with the Western Hockey League after being placed on the Lethbridge Hurricanes 50 man protected list earlier this summer. Brown told the Hurricanes that he wasn't interested in playing there, so was subsequently released and picked up by the Rockets. Brown should know something about hockey. His dad is Newell Brown, the assistant coach of the NHL's Anaheim Ducks. Last season Brown played midget hockey in Dallas Texas.

  • Brown wasn't the only goaltender that impressed in Tuesday night's workout. Penticton's Darren Hogg looked good along with Rockets drafted netminder Jordon Cooke. It's clear that the battle of the back-up's will be one of the most interesting stories at training camp over the next three weeks.
  • I am not sure how the teams were picked for main camp, but 'Team Teal' is stacked. Team Teal had Colin Long, Jamie Benn, Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers. By comparison, Team Red had Kyle St. Denis, Brandon McMillan, Evan Bloodoff and Tysen Barrie that stood out. Let's just say Team Teal had the majority of the territorial play in the evening scrimmage.
  • Joey McEwan is attending Rockets main camp. McEwan is the younger brother of former Rockets captain James McEwan. Last year Joey attended rookie camp.
  • Fifteen year-old Dylan Simpson is getting a chance to shine at main camp. Simpson is the son of former NHL'er Craig Simpson. While his dad was a forward, Dylan is a defenseman.
  • Things got feisty during Tuesday night's workout when veterans Evan Bloodoff and Tyler Myers began pushing and shoving. The two dropped their gloves, but no real punches were thrown as the much larger Myers did a good job of tying up the aggressive Bloodoff.
  • The Rockets will have a new look this season. The team has parted ways with the Reebok helmets and have gone to CCM. While the two are owned by the same company, you will notice that the helmets do look different. Colin Long and Jesse Paradis, who were linemates in Tuesday's scrimmage, were just two of very few veterans not wearing the new gear.
  • I unfortunately didn't have a chance to see European Lukas Matejka. Matejka's group was not on the ice in the evening session. Fellow Euro Stepan Novotny is scheduled to arrive in Kelowna in the next couple of days.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Day 2 of Rockets Rookie Camp

A picture of the longest standing employee in the Kelowna Rockets organization, outside of GM Bruce Hamilton. Lorne Frey, the Rockets Director of Player Personnel is all eyes on the teams prospects at rookie camp this week.

Frey is only as good as those around him. The Rockets scouting staff from across Western Canada converge on Kelowna this week looking to see how the player they recommended is progressing.

For many this is a first time experience at a WHL camp. Some players are drafted, others are simply brought it with the oppertunity to be listed by the Rockets.

Game action from the 11 am scrimmage Friday morning.Do you notice something different with the scoreboard? A new video panel has been added around the base (ya it is actually new even though it looks like the old one). It's an improvement from what we've grown accustom too at Prospera Place, but until I actually see what it can and cannot do once it's operational, I'm keeping my expectations extremely low.

  • The Rockets have twins competing at rookie camp this year. Fifteen year-olds Brady and Chase Norrish from Strongfield Saskatchewan are trying to impress. Both are d-men.
  • Two of the young goaltenders competing at rookie camp this week are Kieran Anderson from Campbell River B.C and Nevan Trombley from Midale Saskatchewan. Trombley is playing bantam hockey in Estevan, while Anderson is playing bantam in his hometown. If one thing both 15 year-old goaltenders do not lack, it's size.
  • Former Rockets alumnus Cam Paddock should have some interest in rookie camp this week. Paddock's 15 year-old younger brother Casey is competing.
  • The Rockets welcomed 15 year-old Shayne McColgan to camp today. McColgan has been sick lately, so instead of bringing him into rookie camp, he'll compete with the 'big dogs' at main camp next week. McColgan is the Rockets #1 pick from the 2008 WHL bantam draft.
  • The referee's at the 11 am scrimmage Friday morning were Dylan Hood and James McEwan. Hood has apparently lost some weight and has worked on his lower body for quicker speed and power this season. McEwan is preparing for his first pro season with the Phoenix RoadRunners after signing a deal with the E-C-H-L team this week.

McEwan Off to Phoenix

Congrats to former Kelowna Rockets captain James McEwan for signing with the Phoenix RoadRunners of the East Coast Hockey League.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Rockets Training Camp in Pictures

A picture of the outside of the Kelowna Rockets dressing room. Rookies attending training camp have had a guided tour of the facility, but it's off limits until you make the team.

A friendly reminder to those attending Rockets rookie camp. The parking police are out in full force and are a ruthless bunch. So if you don't purchase a parking pass you will be dinged in the pocket book.

You have to tip your hat to how well rookie camp is run by the Rockets organizations. When you have close to 100 kids on the ice throughout the day, plenty of signs with arrows leading you in the right direction is a must.

Rookies attending camp this week have some interesting viewing near the Rockets dressroom. Here a painting of alumnus Shea Weber hoisting the 2005 WHL Championship trophy.

Both parents and players attending Rockets rookie camp for the first time can get a good idea of the franchises success by looking high above the ice surface at Prospera Place.

A clean sheet of ice await the next on-ice session at rookie camp.

A pic of Prospera Place at night.

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • The cool thing about rookie camp is it gives the Rockets scouting staff, coaches and the odd media guy a glimpse into the future at what talent is on the horizon for this hockey club. But I don't anticipate some 16 year-old invitee to knock the socks off of everyone and get an invite to main camp and make the team.
  • Outside of the two Euro's, I am told two rookies have a tremendous shot of making the opening day roster. Unfortunately I am unable to tell you who those two are at this time. If you are a regular reader of this blog, I will be talking about them once main camp begins. Until then, my lips are sealed.
  • Remember, the Rockets scouting staff always have something up their sleeve when it comes to player availability. This years training camp is no exception. Stay tuned.
  • Even though I am unable to give details on these players, you may read about them in the Courier or Capital News this week before main camp starts? As an example, I was told not to say anything about the Rockets bid for the 2010 Memorial Cup only to see GM Bruce Hamilton make a clear comment in the Brandon Sun that the team was going to bid for the tournament. The article then appeared a day later in the Daily Courier. None of that appeared on this blog, at the Rockets request. As the teams broadcaster I will keep my trap shut, and will continue to abide by their wishes. So remember this blog is likely your last stop for breaking news about the Rockets, not your first. My opinions I will share...breaking news is best read on other blogs or in the local newspaper.
  • So the Seattle Thunderbirds have the best logo in the WHL do they? The Hockey News thinks so. I find it interesting that the Kelowna Rockets are considered to have the worst logo of the 22 teams. You wonder if the Rockets will re-jig their logo, considering the team will celebrate it's 15th year in Kelowna in 2009-2010.
  • I've taken a few shots at the Prince George Cougars on this blog in the past, but let me applaud them for a great looking logo unveiled to the media on Wednesday. Some say it couldn't get worse. Here it is if you missed it:
  • When I heard that the Cougars had an exciting announcement planned for this week, I thought it had to do with Cougars marketing man David Michaud. I've heard that Michaud will be playing goal at all of the teams practices this season. It appears head coach Drew Schoneck wants to give his shooters some confidence, so putting Michaud between the pipes should accomplish that feat.
  • Speaking of the Cougars, PGTV pretty boy Allan Bristowe was busy this week conducting a series of interviews for 'Cougar View' this season. Bristowe was taping several segments of the show down here in Kelowna. Bristowe and I had a chance to break bread Wednesday night as he made a brief stop in the city. You have to give props to PGTV for spending some cash by sending Bristowe on the road for what should be some tremendous features this winter. I won't spoil the surprise on who he interviewed, but Cougar fans are in for a treat.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Rockets Rookie Camp Begins Today...Sort Of!

  • You can expect close to 130 players on the ice during Rockets training camp, which officially opens Thursday at Prospera Place. Those that impress are expected to get an invite to main camp, where 60 players will try to crack the opening day roster.
  • Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey gets his fair share of media attention at this time of the year...and rightfully so. The Rockets assistant GM has, in one shape or form, had a hand in bringing in every player competing for a job at rookie camp.
  • I anticipate a good portion of the 16 year-olds on the Rockets protected list will bypass rookie camp and will go directly to main camp. It's happened in the past that way, so I don't see that formula changing.
  • I was asked on this blog if rookie camp ice sessions and main camp are open to the public, and indeed they are. While you won't find many seat ticket holders in the seats, you'll find a fair share of eager parents hoping their son impresses in front of the Rockets scouting staff.
  • Rookie camp officially begins today with registration and then a players meetings. On-ice sessions begin Thursday starting at 7 am and run every day until about 10 at night. Rookie camp wraps up Sunday at around 2:30.
  • Main camp begins with veterans reporting on Monday August 25th. On ice sessions begin Tuesday August 26th.
  • Can you believe the Rockets intra squad game is just 10 tens away? August 30th the Rockets conduct the game at 6 pm at Prospera Place.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ten Thoughts Going Into Rockets Training Camp

  • I am amazed at the growth spurts that these 16-20 year-olds experience over the summer. A tired veteran at the end of last years post season looks like a muscled-up alley cat wanting to get out of his cage once training camp begins. These athletes have trained hard over the summer and are as fit as a fiddle. On top of that the veterans are a year older and a year wiser.
  • The second year players are the ones I am most interested in seeing. Collin Bowman, Kyle Verdino, Jesse Paradis and Tyson Barrie won't have that deer in the headlights look at camp this year. All four have proven they can play at this level, and if you thought they were good last year, they should be extremely good in their draft years.
  • What is the mindset of a signed player like Jamie Benn? Benn signed a deal with Dallas over the offseason, and often times that early pay day has an adverse effect on a player. Does Benn come back wanting to dominate, or does he simply feel like he has nothing to prove in junior, when that couldn't be further from the truth.
  • When Luke Schenn makes his presence known at training camp, does he become a mentor for others like Shea Weber was when he was a wide-eyed rookie? If I know Schenn, his summer hasn't changed him a bit. He's a big league player on the verge of wearing an NHL jersey full time, but he would be fooling himself if he doesn't think players at Rockets training camp are not watching him closely. The veterans will be looking at him from the corner of their eye while the rookies will be down right gawking.
  • Which rookie is going to be fortunate enough to crack this years roster? If more than two 16 year-old's make this years veteran lineup, I'd be shocked. If your a rookie and looking to steal a job from a veteran, you have your work cut out for you.
  • In this day and age it's not about which prospect will make the team, but which ones will show up at training camp. Will Luke Moffatt show up? How about Nick Shore? Often times it's the players that don't show up that provide the best story line.
  • I would like to see the shock on the faces of the rookies during training camp when they learn they are not allowed to dress in the Rockets locker room. But before the rookies get too excited, it should be noted that the veterans get the same treatment. Until you make the Rockets roster, you'll be gearing up for on-ice sessions elsewhere.
  • The battle for the back-up spot. Training camp will be extremely interesting as prospects attempt to earn a spot on the Rockets roster this season, with the main goal to sit on the bench and be a cheerleader for veteran goaltender Torrie Jung. If the back-up sees 20 games this season, he'll be lucky. If the back-up sees limited duty, that's good news. It means Jung has been doing his job.
  • The anxiety level of head coach Ryan Huska surely will be lower at training camp this year than a year ago. Huska has finally gone through a training camp as 'the guy', and should feel more relaxed. The same should hold true for second year assistant coach Jeff Finley, who had no clue one year ago at training camp who anyone was.
  • How good will the Rockets two Europeans be? Will they be average, or will they be an impact player? Not even the coaching staff can tell you until they compete against the veterans at main camp. You will get an early indication if these two guys can really play.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Things That Make Me Go Hmm...

  • I applaud Brandon Regier for going with his gut and electing not to join the Brandon Wheat Kings this season. The 16 year-old, the Wheat Kings first round pick in 2007, has openly admitted that he just doesn't have the passion of playing hockey any more...and can you blame him? I don't know his track record, but if he is like any of the elite hockey players across Western Canada, he has been put through the ringer to develop his game to where it is today. That means a long winter of too many games and too many practices. On top of that summer hockey schools and intense off-ice training sessions, that were once exclusive only to pro players, have likely been the norm. That 24-7 approach to hockey may have just turned him off to a game that at one time he played because he enjoyed it. It's like eating ice cream. Sure the first two bowls of it taste great, but after a third and fourth bowl, the ice cream that you once craved now nauseates you. To much of anything just isn't good, yet my general feeling is parents and coaches push these kids so heavily now to play hockey 11 months out of the year, that burn-out is sure to follow. While it's a tough pill to swallow for the Wheat Kings organization, I am sure GM Kelly McCrimmon would rather have a player that is fully committed to the team rather than one who's heart just isn't into it. Who knows, maybe Regier will have a change of heart? But until he comes to the Wheat Kings with a different mindset, 'McCrimmon's Crew' is far better off without him.
  • Speaking of the Wheat Kings, they've made it clear they want to host the 2010 Memorial Cup tournament. The Wheat Kings went public prior to the deadline (today) for teams to make submissions to the league showing interest in hosting the event. If the former arena known as the Keystone Centre gets the 2.5 million dollar upgrade, I can see that city being a tremendous host. With the tournament two years away, just look how solid they will be in 2010. Brayden Schenn and Donnie Glennie will be their leaders - offensively and in the locker-room, and both will still be just 18 when the tournament arrives. The Wheat Kings will be solid this season, but should be poised to make a real run for a league title in 2010. The timing of hosting the Memorial Cup couldn't be better.
  • I found it interesting that the Tri City Americans have already named their captain for the upcoming season. Taylor Procyshen will wear the 'C' this season. I still like the fact that the Kelowna Rockets give their players a say on who the captain should be. Two individuals stand out as candidates for the captaincy this season. Luke Schenn would appear to be the obvious, but does he need the added pressure of making teammates accountable, plus being the anchor on the Rockets blue line? Will he even be with the Rockets this season is a better question. Remember Shea Weber was an elite player as a 19 year-old, but overager Brett Palin wore the 'C' while Weber took the role of an assistant during the teams run to a league title in 2005, the final season for both Weber and Palin. Would Colin Long then not be a worthy recipient to wear the 'C' on his jersey this season? Here is a player who is among the elite in this league, yet has proven to his teammates through an example, that true dedication translates into good results. When Long attended training camp as a rookie, he would have been a long shot at best to be perceived as a potential captain of the team down the road. Yet his focus, maturity, and passion for the game has teammates taking notice of a player who is now well respected by both the coaches and teamates. It will be interesting to see who is chosen in 2008-2009, but if I was a betting man I'd pick Long as captain, with Schenn, Benn and Dowzak as assistants.
  • Ryan Getzlaf loves Walmart. The Anaheim Duck forward has been spotted twice in the Kelowna Walmart over the last two weeks. My brother-in-law saw Getzlaf there last Friday and my cousin, who was visiting from Williams Lake, saw the power forward there on Thursday. I assured both of them that the former Calgary Hitmen is not a greeter there.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Long' Time No See!!

Rockets forward Colin Long wearing team U-S-A colours at a recent camp in Lake Placid New York. Long will be back in Kelowna later this month for the teams main camp before heading to Phoenix for the Coyotes training camp in September.
In case your wondering, the ice at Prospera Place goes back in Sunday.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Freaked Out Over Losing Schenn/WHL Coming to Penticton?

    • Am I the only one freaked out about the future of Luke Schenn? It appears he is going to get every chance of making the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Let's face it, the Leafs have done very little this summer to bolster their blue-line, which opens the door for Schenn to make the team at the tender age of 18. The only move the Leafs have made in the off season ispicking up defenseman Jeff Finger. Don't get me wrong, I want to see Schenn play at the NHL level, but is his long term interests not better served with another year of junior hockey? Rockets fans, enjoy Luke Schenn at training camp this fall because it may be the last time you see him skating on Prospera Place ice.
    • After spending some time in Penticton Saturday, one has to wonder how long it will be before the WHL looks seriously at putting a team there. After driving by the construction of the new 9.7 million dollar South Okanagan Events Centre, you would think Penticton would be a prime location for a WHL team. All the talk has been on Victoria or Naniamo eventually getting a team, but when the new 4 thousand seat arena in Penticton is complete, don't be surprised if a group isn't formed in the 'Peach City' showing their interest in either getting an expansion franchise, or gobbling up an existing one who's on life support.
    • The Chilliwack Bruins apparently have found their new radio play-by-play voice. The radio station that calls the Bruins games have hired Randy Merkley. I am not sure if an official announcement has been made, but Merkley is not stranger to the WHL, having called games at one time for the Moose Jaw Warriors. After calling games at the Moose Jaw Civic Centre, Merkley will think he's died and gone to heaven now that he's calling games at Prospera Centre. Plus that windshield scraper in his car will no longer be required.
    • The U.S World Junior team wrapped up an evaluation camp Saturday in Lake Placid New York with a pair of exhibition wins over Finland and Sweden. In the game against Finland, Kelowna Rockets forward Colin Long picked up three assists in a 5-2 win. By all accounts (points wise) Long had an extremely strong camp, and should be considered for a roster spot on the U.S team at this years World Juniors in Ottawa. Potentially four Rockets could play at this years World Juniors. Long, Schenn, Myers and Benn all have a chance at representing their countries. Throw Athletic Therapist Jeff Thorburn into the mix, who is a member of the Team Canada training staff, and that makes five.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

McEwan Plays Pro/Mario Coming to K-Town

  • James McEwan will be playing pro hockey this season, but unfortunately I am unable to say where. Why? McEwan wants to keep it under wraps until the team he is joining this fall makes it official on their website. I will respect his wishes and will keep my mouth shut until I see it posted. I am just pleased to see McEwan earning some money at a game he used to simply play for fun.

  • The Rockets officially released their regular season schedule today. While some may think starting the season on the road is a bad thing, I view it differently. I'd rather play more games on the road early in the season, especially to places like Portland and Tri City, which are often bus trips this broadcaster dreads. Don't get me wrong, I love being in those communities, I am just not a fan of the trip that get you there.

  • I found it interesting that the Rockets are holding an inter squad game this season. They failed to have one last year, and frankly I missed it. I like to see the rookies battle the veterans for a spot on the roster. The game never garners a huge audience, but surely its a valuable tool in evaluating the talent.

  • The inter squad game is August 30th. I like the game time. 6 o'clock is ideal, especially as fans and media are still trying to enjoy every summer night to its maximum.

  • Living in the Okanagan has it's privileges. Like Sunday when I ran into Martin Gelinas at a local Quiznos. Even the pro's love a tasty sandwich! Gelinas has calves that would make a body builder jealous. It was interesting to run into him on the week leading up to the 20th anniversary of the trade of Wayne Gretzky to the LA Kings. Gelinas was one of the players sent to the Oilers in that deal.

  • Mario Lemiuex is coming to the Okanagan next month. Lemiuex is one of several celebrities taking part in the Kids Rock Celebrity Golf Tournament to raise funds for the Children's Wish Foundation. The three day event begins August 27th at the Rise in Vernon. Ed Jovanoski and Bruce McNall have also said they will attend the event.

  • I want to publicly thank Kelly McCrimmon of the Brandon Wheat Kings for the sympathy card that I received from the team last week. Kelly, it was unexpected, but appreciated all the same.
  • Oh how times have changed for Todd McLellan. I laughed at the photo of him meeting with the media in San Jose the other day. It's a far cry from when Todd and I got together for pre-game interviews on frigid night's at the arena I still like to call the Civic Centre in Swift Current. After a loss in Swifty Todd had to answer to just two members of the and the paper guy.