Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Who backs up Jackson Whistle?

Jackson Whistle will be front and centre this season
  • The Kelowna Rockets hold the first of its kinds prospects camp this weekend at the Capital News Centre. In the past only goaltenders have been involved, but this time 14 prospects (8 forwards and 6 goaltenders) will be put through the paces by the coaching staff. The three day get-to-together is designed for these new faces to meet the coaches while getting to know a few of the veterans. Among the prospects will be 15 year-old defenceman Jonathan Smart who was taken in the first round by the Rockets in May's WHL bantam draft.
  • It will be worth watching the six goalies in camp closely. Why? The question has to be asked. Who is the next Jordon Cooke? With the CHL Goaltender of the Year graduating from major junior, hopefully no less than two emerge as a possible back up to 19 year-old Jackson Whistle. Is Whistle ready for prime time? He better be. After two years as a back up to Cooke, now is the West Kelowna residents time to shine in his third full season in the WHL. The Rockets are counting on Whistle to carry the mail this season. If he can't...look out!
  • The Rockets will release their regular season schedule next week. If I was a betting man, the chances of starting the season with a home and home series against the new look Kamloops Blazers under head coach Don Hay is pretty good. If that indeed happens, it will be nice to raise the BC Division and WHL regular season championship banners in front of them. That never gets old against an arch rival. I remember when the Blazers lifted the BC Division banner in front of the Rockets at the Interior Savings Centre in 2013. It wasn't nice to watch as a member of the dreaded opposition.
  • Dan Lambert showed he can preform under pressure. The Rockets assistant coach was asked to pinch hit when GM Bruce Hamilton was unable to make a press conference Tuesday when the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame named its four inductees for 2014. The Rockets 2004 Memorial Cup championship team will be inducted during a ceremony in November. Despite not being apart of the team in 04' and playing in Europe at the time, Lambert came through with flying colours with some nice thoughts of how that championship team paved the way for future success within the organization.
  • Just to keep things straight here, the Rockets will be inducted into the BC Hockey Hall of Fame in Penticton in July and will again be inducted into the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame in Kelowna at a breakfast in November.
  • I met an enthusiastic female Rockets fan at the Hall of Fame press conference. She came up to me and said, "So you are Regan Bartel! I expected you to be much larger". We both laughed. I told her to give me another 10 years, with the way we eat on the road, I will look exactly how she envisioned. 
  • Next month I will share my memories of the 2004 Memorial Cup winning team, but for now a memory from 2002 when the team was attempting to beat out other bids to host the 10 day tournament. I remember boarding the Rockets bus headed for Vancouver the night before the presentations were to be heard. The Rockets bid committee was comprised of GM Bruce Hamilton, VP of Business Gavin Hamilton, then Prospera Place GM Dave Dakers, Memorial Cup Chairman Paul Mitchell and Councilor Andre Blanleil. Myself and Doyle Potenteau of the Daily Courier were the only two media members asked to come along to report on the event. Rockets Head Coach Marc Habscheid and Kelowna Mayor Walter Gray were also apart of the committee's presentation, but they were not on the bus the day we headed out to Vancouver. I remember the day of the announcement after the presentations were heard by league governors at a downtown hotel. At a gathering in a conference room at the Pacific Coliseum that evening, WHL Commissioner Ron Robison stepped up to the microphone to announce the host team for the 2004 Memorial Cup. With Lethbridge bowing out, it was between Kelowna and Vancouver for the chance to host the prestigious event. As we know now, Kelowna won the bid. When Commissioner Robison uttered those words, the yell from the committee in jubilation is something I will never forget. Less than two years later the team would win the darn thing.
  • I was extremely pleased to learn Prince George Cougars assistant coach Jason Becker is heading to the Okanagan this fall. Becker, who spent five seasons as an assistant in PG, has taken a coaching position with the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Becker and I go back to my days as the Swift Current Broncos radio broadcaster while he was a player on the team. The year was 1994-95. The move for his family alone will be a major upgrade. The winters are so much better here in the Okanagan than up North. That said, the people of Prince George are a friendly bunch and my hope is the people here embrace them too.
  • The Okanagan is always the site of weddings in the summer. Kelowna specifically provides for an outstanding backdrop. This summer two former Kelowna Rockets players will be tying the knot in our fair city. Ryan Cuthbert, who captained the team for two seasons including the 2003 WHL championship squad, will say 'I do'. Defenceman Tyler Myers, who was a member of the Rockets 2009 WHL championship team, will also walk down the aisle. 
  • It looks like Zach Franko will head to Acadia University this fall. The 21 year-old played 252 regular season games with the Kelowna Rockets before being traded to Kootenay in January to make room for overage forward Marek Tvrdon. Franko told me he will choose to go to Acadia if a pro opportunity doesn't come his way.
  • It will be interesting to see what happens with Myles Bell and his contract negotiations with the New Jersey Devils. With Bell being unsigned and having no other option but to play pro or go to school, the Devils need to offer him a contract to his liking for him to play in the AHL this season. Bell was drafted in the 6th round by the Devils last summer.
  • Speaking of players looking for a contract, will the Edmonton Oilers re-sign Kelowna resident Curtis Hamilton before July 1st? If the Oilers don't, Hamilton, a 2nd round pick of the Oilers in 2010, will become a free agent. Several players in Oklahoma City have had a chance to show their stuff with the Oilers over the years but Hamilton unfortunately hasn't been afforded that luxury. It makes you wonder if the now 22 year-old would get a better shot with another team?
  • Will Rockets alumnus Travis Moen be with the Montreal Canadiens next season? While he still has two years left on a four year contract that pays him 1.8 million, it never looks good when you are a health scratch in the Eastern Conference finals. 

2 comments:

Brian Franken said...

I was somewhat surprised the Devils didn't give Bell an ELC by the signing deadline for CHL prospects. I suppose they feel with his options being limited, they could give him an AHL deal so they have more flexibility on their reserve list and financially. I wouldn't be shocked if they have an AHL deal close to completion with him or done and just haven't announced it.

The Devils did something similar a few years ago when Corbin McPherson completed his 4 years of NCAA eligibility and he ended up getting an AHL deal instead of NHL ELC.

Brian Franken said...

I was somewhat surprised the Devils didn't give Bell an ELC by the signing deadline for CHL prospects. I suppose they feel with his options being limited, they could give him an AHL deal so they have more flexibility on their reserve list and financially. I wouldn't be shocked if they have an AHL deal close to completion and just haven't announced it.

The Devils did something similar a few years ago when Corbin McPherson completed his 4 years of NCAA eligibility and he ended up getting an AHL deal instead of NHL ELC.