Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Long+Coyotes=NHL Contract?

How close are the Phoenix Coyotes in signing Kelowna Rockets forward Colin Long? I spoke to Coyotes assistant GM Brad Treliving earlier today.

"Our philosophy is we want the kid (Long) to focus on what's important right now, and that's playing. They are still kids yet, and we want his focus on every game and helping his team get as far as they can go because it helps his development. We want the focus to be where it should be, which is the games in hand."

On his 19 year-old season:

"Obviously he is a skilled, skilled player, who has put up a lot of points the last two years in the WHL. In a lot of cases he is dynamic offensively, and I think he has taken a step leadership wise on the ice and off it wearing the 'c' in Kelowna. Hopefully he can lead that team to success in the playoffs, but we are happy where he is. Like any young player their are areas in your game that you need to improve and with Colin he is not a big, huge man. With a lot of offensive players they've always had the ability to let their skill dictate at the junior level, but when they that that next step and are playing against men, you have less time and guys take you out because they are a bit stronger, and are a little bit more forceful in terms of letting you get by them. But that said, their are very few players that come out of junior that you can say are physically where they need to be to play against men".

On signing him to a contract:

"We will see over the next couple of weeks and depending where the season goes and how they end up and at what point...what's the next step for him".

On playing another year of junior considering he was picked in the 2008 draft:

"He was a late draft, and he is still a young man. He is still an '89' birth date and some kids have that growth spurt at 17 and 18 while others wait till they are or 20 or 21 or beyond. Obviously his play and production has really grown in the last two years, so is he now ready for the next challenge? Or is another year in Kelowna developing physically better? The good news for us is we really believe strongly in the program in Kelowna. They have a tremendous franchise. I think they are very well coached. It's a place where players get better, it's a place where players are developed and they are taught the right way to play. It's not a situation where you wanna rush to get him out of there so his game doesn't take a step backwards."

On not being named to the U-S-A World Junior Team:

"I was surprised he didn't make it. I know it was discouraging for him, but it's about how you respond to that adversity. I think he responded very well. He went back, and the only thing he could control was how you react to it, and I think he went back and played hard, was productive and carried that team when they had players like Jamie Benn and Tyler Myers away. He really took a step over that three week period when those players were gone and really became a leader. You can go into the corner and suck your thumb or you can go out and play and push, and do all the things that you can do in a positive way, and he went that route which was a positive thing to see."

Treliving told me he saw Long play in games three and four of an opening round series with Kamloops. Overall the Coyotes watched him play over 20 times this season.
The audio from this interview can be heard Friday night on our pre-game show at 6:35.


T.D. said...

What isn't addressed is that the Phx franchise is on very untenable financial legs. They don't know if they are going to be in Phx next year, and more importantly, if they even have $$$ to offer to their prospects. Moreover, they are cutting back in their front office, staff, etc. The unfortunate part about this is that if Long had been drafted by another team his production/improvement over the past two seasons probably would have been enough to warrant signing him now.

Also of note, is that they say they don't want to distract him right now during the playoffs, and that they want to see how the team finishes the season. That really sucks for him. Most teams take the approach of signing their players during the playoffs (in other words I don't buy the explanation). Furthermore, how the team finishes is code for "how he finishes." That kid hasn't had anything given to him at this level. His first two years remain obstacles for him.

Also of note, is that they talked about the superior coaching he receives at this level. I have to disagree with that. I'll admit the Rockets' defensive coaching is great (hence the outstanding prospects that have been produced by the team), but the offensive coaching is average at best.

Finally, the assist gm took in the two games in Kamloops. That's too bad for Long because those weren't his best games, and KAmloops did go out of their way to cheap shot him on every shift.

I hope Long continues to play well, and he get's his contract. As a fan and observer of this teams for several years, I for one am of the opinion that he deserves it.

As a side question, if Phx doesn't sign him is he eligible to sign with another team? That might be his best option given the economic condition of the Phoenix franchise.

apsco17 said...

I've watched Colin play a lot of games and besides all his other great attributes, the thing that amazes me is that for his size he is remarkably hard to knock off the puck when he is cyclying in the offensive zone. He seems to have a combination of great balance, and puck control. And maybe the d-man is always worried that if he commits 100% to trying to take him out, Colin will manouver away and get in scoring position or make a great pass.

I wish the best for Colin and hope he signs a pro contract soon, but it would be awesome for the Rockets if he was back next year.

Regan Bartel said...

Long is so slippery and the big concern is the d-man getting a penalty if they grab a hold of him. I thought the conversation with the Coyotes was a positive one, and I look at the situation of Long signing a contract as a good one. The Rockets have three players now that are playing junior hockey, yet have a NHL contract in their back pocket. Almond (Minn), Backlund (Flames), Benn (Dallas). Lets hope Long joins that group.

grinder said...

I think Long will sign by the end of the summer... Good luck Long!!!!!!!