Monday, November 24, 2014

Notes, quotes and anecdotes

    I spoke to NJ Devils David Conte about Damon Severson
  • What did Kelowna Rockets head coach Dan Lambert have to say when asked if some fans across the WHL will be surprised that his team lost back-to-back games to the Portland Winterhawks on the weekend? "They are defending champs of the Western Conference", Lambert said dead panned on the AM 1150 post game show Saturday night. "I don't know how you can be underrated when...(pause) are the champ until somebody beats you. In my books, we were the underdogs in this series and they showed us why".      
  • I have received a number of compliments, and thankfully no complaints after my emotional call at the conclusion of the Rockets/Royals game Wednesday night. I went into 'Regan's Rant' mode and shared my opinion about what I saw on the ice when Victoria forward Brandon Magee went after Rockets forward Cole Linaker. I was careful not to go overboard, but if you read this blog regularly, I speak my mind and am not under the thumb of anyone to mind my p's and q's. I don't trade Kelowna Rockets team secrets, but that is because God gave me a brain to use and you don't cut off the hand that feeds you. What I hope to accomplish on this blog is some honesty about the way I feel, but I also want to be fair towards the opposition. I have spoken to Brandon Magee before and off the ice he is a good guy. He is personable. I don't hate him despite his stick work the other night that got me upset on the air. Will I talk to him again? You bet I will. I don't hold grudges unless you treat me a certain way. If you disrespect me, like one WHL coach who was recently fired did, I am done with you. If you portray that I am wasting your time during a pre-game interview, our interactions are over. You don't need me and I don't need you.          
  • An interesting discussion last week with a WHL executive on small crowds at WHL games so far this season. It was suggested the regression in fighting, while great in making steps towards eliminating concussions in hockey, is hurting the number of people who are sitting in the stands. The game is so "vanilla" and "predictable" said the executive. It is hard to argue with that. In the 80's/90's, you didn't know if a fight or line brawl would break out. Fans hated one another as much as the players did on the ice. You paid a ticket to watch the great goals but you also didn't mind dishing out your hard earned dough if you saw a great fight or two. The fact is players have friends on opposing teams and despite the statement that friendships are put aside when the puck drops it isn't the case anymore. The animosity or hatred between players is no where near what it used to be. It is a kinder, gentler game and some of the raw emotion is lost.       
  • The best interview last week came from the Director of Officiating for the Western Hockey League Kevin Muench. I asked him several questions about officiating including embellishment. "I think embellishment is a concern at all levels of hockey. There is a difference about embellishment or going down soft. Sometimes a player will go down easily when he is hit. That is not embellishment. Embellishment is when you are trying to trick officials", Muench added.
  • How about fighting? Are we headed towards a day when fighting is eliminated at the WHL level? "There was a time when there were multiple fights. There were times where there were staged fights. Do we see less fighting? Yes, I think so. Right now fighting has been minimized and I don't doubt it will continue that it will be gradually less", Muench added. 
  • Have you noticed that name bars on NHL, AHL, OHL and QMJHL referee's and linesman are absent? Did you also noticed every WHL official has his name tag (bar) on the back of his jersey? In the other league's fans have to yell out, "Hey 24, your a bum". In the WHL you can says his last name before throwing out a verbal barb.    
  • Have you noticed that fighting isn't the automatic reaction when a player throws a good body check on an opponent? I am not saying it doesn't happen, but it isn't happening as much this season in the games I've witnessed. "I think players have to feel comfortable that they don't have to fight if they don't want too", Kevin Muench told me. "The dangers now are as a result of a good hit they have to fight. We don't need younger players coming into our league who are tentative to throw body checks thinking that they may have to fight as a result". 
  • It is a crowded Kelowna Rockets crease with three goaltenders attempting to earn playing time. It is clearly the battle of the back ups with rookies Jake Morrissey fending off 18 year-old Michael Herringer. Herringer, who opened the season as a possible back up with the Victoria Royals, says all three, including starter Jackson Whistle are getting along famously. "I was part of three goalies in Victoria and Saskatoon so it doesn't bother me. Your job is to stop the puck and help the team. We are all trying to do that. We are all on the same team so we have to be friends, right?"  
  • Remember at the start of the season when we were all concerned that Jackson Whistle may not be capable of being a starter in the WHL? Any doubts now? N-O!  
  • The Victoria Royals do a nice job of using interns who are responsible for doing many of the stats the team has in its game day packages. It is a nice use of that resource and I am sure they (interns) glean something from the experience too. The interns, I believe, are responsible for counting the shot totals of every player on the ice and they are featured prominently on the WHL website. I think the only other WHL team that counts shots per player, and then releases them period by period to the media, are the Calgary Hitmen. Those two organizations receive a high five from me.     
  • Remember a few weeks back it was suggested that a new rule should be put into place where 19 year-old players who had spent a minimum of three years in the CHL and are deemed too good to go back to junior hockey could play in the American Hockey League? If that were the case, Portland's Nic Petan and Oliver Bjorkstrand would no longer wear Winterhawks colours. Those two are heads and shoulders above the competition and are two of the best 19 year-old's you will find on the planet. Petan specifically passes like a pro. I haven't seen that skill level for years at the WHL level.  
  • Rourke Chartier has the most goals of any player in the CHL, yet he probably won't get an invite to the Canadian World Junior camp next month.Yes he is 18, but shouldn't the best players - regardless of age - with the hottest sticks get a look-see? 
  • I heard on an Edmonton radio station the other day where the hockey host couldn't believe that Damon Severson failed to make the Canadian World Junior team. Of the players invited to the World Junior main camp last year, six have spent time in the NHL this season with Severson being one of them. The others are Aaron Ekblad (Florida), Bo Horvat (Canucks), Jonathon Drouin (Tampa), Curtis Lazar (Senators) and Sam Reinhart (Buffalo).   
  • Am I the only one who thinks LinkedIn is useless? I signed up for it last year and haven't used it once.
  • I ran into New Jersey Devils Director of Scouting David Conte at Saturday night's game at Prospera Place. I had to grab him for a couple of minutes for an interview where he spoke about former Rockets d-man Damon Severson. "He has been excellent. He is playing more minutes than anyone else". Conte likes his low panic threshold. "It is a strength and a weakness sometimes. Complacency at some points but I like everything about him. He is a modest individual. He is a team oriented guy. The sky is the limit.", Conte added. The greatest adjustment for Severson is off the ice where he is a 20 year-old player who's teammates are significantly older than him with wives and kids. Look no further than 42 year-old Jaromir Jagr. I will have the entire David Conte interview Wednesday from Tri City.        
  • What does Conte think of Nick Merkley who is rated as an 'A' prospect by NHL Central Scouting? "Obviously through Damon I have seen him over the years. It is the first time I have seen him this year though. It is quite clear he is an impact level player and that was to be expected again. I equate it this way. A lot of times scouting is a lot like going into the 9th grade and saying, who is going to be the doctor? The ones that have the best grades, work the hardest and have the highest aptitude usually have the best chance but they have to do it from there. Nick is probably the guy that could be the doctor but he has to take the other courses too", Conte added.
  • It looks like Dillon Dube is the closest to returning to the line up. The 16 year-old, who has played in just two games this season, could be back Saturday against visiting Regina. The Cochrane Alberta product broke a bone in his foot in practice and missed the first 8 games of the regular season and then was hurt in his second game back after a kneeing incident in Spokane on October 17th. Dube has missed 16 games since. I miss his smile and positive demeanor on the bus.    
  • Were you holding your breath when Nick Merkley and Nic Petan dropped the gloves Saturday night in an unexpected fight? I did, for both players. I didn't want either to hurt themselves with an unfortunate incident of either hurting a shoulder or having a finger broken. Fortunately, no one was hurt.     
  • I received a message this weekend from a WHL executive wondering why I didn't update my blog following a home ice loss to the Portland Winterhawks Friday night. In joking, the executive said he reads my blog with his morning coffee and failing to supply a posting the following morning was b.s. I chuckled and wrote back that I appreciate him spending a small portion of his day reading my b.s. ;). 
  • By the way, this blog is intended for Kelowna Rockets fans. It is linked on the teams official website. If you don't like it, or it leans too heavily towards the Rockets, don't read it. That's the intention.   


Jared Comeau said...

Thank you for that final note Regan. I hate coming on here, and reading comments from people saying you're too bias. Or hearing about people through the grapevine that you're too bias towards the Rockets on your blog. It's a Rockets blog, not a non-partisan whl blog.

Cory Robinson said...

Coming from a Winterhawks fan I have always enjoyed listening to your game calls. I also think Kelowna is one of the classiest organizations around. Keep up the good work and we will see you in the playoffs :)

Clinton Williams said...

this blog is a lot better then the other Regan rant wannabes out there. Its always a good read.