Chynoweth pulls trigger on overage trade
It is an annual occurrence. Not that a team wants to, not that a team needs to, it has to, just to satisfy the league rule of a maximum three twenty-yr-old, overage players on its roster and this year was no exception. Like Scott Roles, Dion Lassu, Brad Tutschek before him, Tyler Beechey had grown up with the Kootenay ICE and last Friday Beechey became part of the club’s most ardent rival, the Calgary Hitmen. The trade, for nineteen-yr-old winger Shaun Norrie as the ICE cut down to the three overage players in Jason Jaffray, Cole Fischer and Craig Weller, happened much earlier than most everyone had anticipated. A full two weeks before the league-mandated deadline of October 12.
Knowing that someone had to go, it still came as a shock to both the organization and the fans alike. For Jeff Chynoweth, his tenor as G.M. only weeks old, it was one of the hardest decisions he’s had to make. “It was very, very tough,” said Chynoweth. “Friday was probably the toughest day I’ve had as G.M. To trade a guy like Tyler Beechey, he’s a quality individual and a quality player and he’s been with us since we started in Edmonton as an original third round draft pick the year we drafted Steve McCarthy.
“But you’re only allowed three and we felt that we wanted to get done sooner rather than later for the player’s sake and for the sake of the dressing room as it gets everyone at ease if we get down the numbers.”
The ICE G.M. also mentioned that it’s not as if Beechey was singled out but rather it came down to what was coming the other way via a trade. That and the fact that Chynoweth wanted to keep a balanced, experienced defensive unit together, Beechey ended up commanding the most in a deal. “We felt it was imperative that we get a player in return,” said Chynoweth. “We were offered lots of high bantam draft picks but Tyler Beechey scored 72 points last year and might score 85 – 100 this year. We needed a player and Shaun Norrie fits what we were looking for, a power forward, 6’3″ 190 lbs. and we’re familiar with the Norrie family as we had his older brother Jason in Edmonton.” Norrie, a 6th round draft pick (184th overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in 2000 NHL Draft, will fill the need of the ICE to add some size up front. The toughness that accompanies Norrie comes honestly as his older brother Jason still holds the single season mark for PIM’s at 308.
As eye-opening as the Beechey trade was, it was the trading partner that raised more than a few eyebrows. It’s not every day that a transaction happens between two arch-rivals such as the Hitmen and the ICE. “I know it seems different to be trading with Calgary and I know we meet them seven times but now we’re in a different division and the only time we’d meet them (in the playoffs) is in the WHL final and at that time we’d both be pretty happy to be there,” said Chynoweth.
Although the shock of the trade hadn’t quite set in for Beechey, he at least was happy to go place that was a good organization and that was closer to home. The hardest part is going to be on the Hitmen side of the ice after being conditioned that they were the enemy in the ongoing war between the two clubs. “It’s going be toughest playing against my old friends,” said Beechey. “I’ve played hockey with them for the last three or four years and some even longer but once we get on the ice it’s business and once we get off, we’ll chat and see how things are going.” Beechey also echoed his former G.M.’s thoughts about getting things done earlier rather than closer to the October 12 deadline, when rumors start to fly and the tension in the dressing room becomes evident. “I think it’s great that it’s done early rather than later on,” said Beechey. “It gives us more time to get to our new place and get settled and get going with the year.”
Quick Hits – Both Beechey and Norrie didn’t play for their respective new clubs on Saturday night. Norrie’s first action in an ICE uniform was against Lethbridge Sunday night in a 6-4 loss to the Hurricanes… It was announced Monday that Dan Blackburn had signed with the New York Rangers for the NHL rookie maximum of three years for $3.5 million before the Monday deadline to return him to junior. The Rangers now have a couple of options. They can keep the rookie sensation as a backup to Mike Richter for the full season or they can keep him for a maximum ten games (playing in at least 31 minutes to qualify as a game) and then send him back to junior without having a year count against his contract. After that the only time the Rangers could recall Blackburn is under emergency conditions or when the ICE had finished their season. The other goalie on the Rangers roster is Petr Skudra who at press time hadn’t been signed to a contract… Driving the trade of Tyler Beechey was the important factor of keeping an experienced defensive unit together as it looking like a very real possibility that Blackburn might not return. Leaving the goaltending duties to 18-yr-old Jeff Harvey and rookie Bryan Bridges that will need all the help they can get given their limited experience…. The Calgary game on Saturday drew an announced crowd of 3785, the first time in recent memory that the Hitmen didn’t draw a sellout crowd in Cranbrook…. Kootenay’s on the road for two important tests against divisional rivals the Kelowna Rockets and Kamloops Blazers. Next home action is on holiday Monday against the Prince Albert Raiders. Start time is 2:00 P.M. at the ‘Plex.