Wednesday, August 30, 2017

End of August looming large

Brett McLean will try his hand at coaching
  • The Kelowna Rockets organization is saddened by the news of the death of longtime scout Graham Tuer. Tuer spent 15+ years with the organization and was always a treat to be around. I often had enjoyable talks and laughs with Graham when he attending Rockets rookie camp and he would often show his face when the team visited Regina during it's bi-annual Saskatchewan road trip. Graham Tuer was 87.      
  • Appearing on a Vancouver sports radio station, I was asked point blank; 'How long do you think it will take for Kole Lind to play regularly in a Vancouver Canucks uniform'? Wanting not to put pressure on the recently drafted Lind, I quickly said 'four to five years'. I am not sure Canuck fans want to hear that, but why would I put pressure on Lind to crack the NHL at 20? Or why put false hope into a Canucks fan base desperate for anything positive? If Lind is a full time NHLer before he is 23, than good on him. I rather take the bullet for being wrong rather than put unrealistic expectations on what is an excellent prospect. Will Lind play in the NHL? I believe he will, but not without some seasoning.  Hey Canucks fan...he will be worth the wait.    
  • From what I've been told, Liam Kindree is having a strong camp. The 17 year-old was a late cut of the Kelowna Rockets last season and spent the year in the BC Major Midget Hockey League where he was the league scoring champion (28+39=67) with the Vancouver Northwest Giants. Unlike last fall, Kindree isn't going anywhere. The North Vancouver resident should be a regular fixture on the fourth line, but with his skill set, could a look on the second power play unit be a possibility? While I haven't seen a lot of Kindree in his short stint with the Rockets, he looks to me like a more skilled Cody Chikie.        
  • I'd argue one of the best players at main camp may be Jack Cowell. Cowell looks motivated and is around the puck in scrimmages. What Cowell lacked last season was strength. Often out-muscled by stronger, bigger players, it can be a frustrating experience losing battles for loose pucks. With a little more body maturity and overall strength, it will be interesting to watch if he is able to own the puck more than chase it.   
  • Luke Schenn is a father. In speaking to the always approachable 27 year-old before a brief skate this morning at Prospera Place, Schenn says both he and his wife have made the smooth transition into parenthood. With the baby four months old, sleeping through the night is typically the first hurdle one must overcome. The Schenn's, according to Luke, are having success in that area where sleep deprivation is a common side effect after a newborn enters the world.    
  • Among the goaltenders competing at Kelowna Rockets main camp this week is 17 year-old Jordan Frey. Listed at 5'7 and 134 pounds, Frey played with the Saskatoon Contacts last season under the watchful eye of Rourke Chartier's father - Marc. And no, Frey is not related to Director of Player Personnel Lorne Frey.   
  • Speaking of goaltending, I've been asked if 16 year-old rookie Roman Basran should be given the chance to earn the backup duties with the team this season? My answer? I don't like the idea to be honest. Basran needs playing time. The Delta, BC product is the goalie of the future. Basran needs to play and the BC Major Midget Hockey League is an excellent platform to do that. You don't rush goalies. The Rockets won't make the same mistake twice. Remember Josh Lepp? We all know how that turned out.    
  • After 19 seasons, one of the most popular players ever to wear a Kelowna Rockets uniform has retired. Brett McLean quietly called it a career this summer after 19 seasons of pro hockey. McLean played parts of five seasons with the Rockets, starting in Tacoma in 1994 and concluding his WHL career when he was dealt from Kelowna to Brandon in 1999. McLean had offensive success at the WHL level, scoring a career high 44 goals and 104 points in 1996-97. The Comox, BC resident was the Dallas Stars ninth round pick in in 1997 but never played a game in 'Big D'. McLean played 385 NHL games with the Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. McLean will begin his first season of coaching as an assistant with the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.
  • Two former members of the Kelowna Rockets are getting a look-see elsewhere. Do you remember Alex Uryga? The 19 year-old played five games with the Rockets as a listed player. Uryga is attending the Seattle Thunderbirds training camp this week. Tanner Wishnowski was put on waivers by the Prince George Cougars. At last word, the 20 year-old was attempting to earn a spot wit the BCHL's Vernon Vipers. 
  • I had a 'I'm old moment'. Defenceman Brayden Chizen asked me if I was calling the play-by-play on the radio when Shea Weber was with the Kelowna Rockets. When I answered yes, the only word that came out of Chizen's mouth was, "wow". 

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