Where are they now?: Part 6

By Joeri Loonen

Todd Elik
Current team: EV Zug

Elik is one of those players that made more than a decent NHL career without getting drafted. After serving his junior time he played 2 seasons in the IHL and 2 in the AHL before starting his NHL spell with teams as the Kings, North Stars, Oilers, Sharks, Blues and the Bruins before heading over to Switzerland as a 32-year old in the 1997-98 season. His first season was immediately a hit with 77 points and 234 penalty minutes for HC Lugano. The following two seaosn he skated for SC Langnau Tigers but despite being on a weaker team he continued to put up great numbers. This year is his 2nd season as a member of EV Zug, coached by Doug Mason this year. Elik continues to score over a point per game although his point total descreased this season compared to last seaosn. Also he’s guaranteed taking over 100 penalty minutes in the season which shows this 6’3, 198 lbs forward isn’t afraid to use his body. Last season he developped a nice chemistry with Andre Rötheli, who left for HC Lugano this season though. One could say the tandem of the two was one of the best on the league. Elik’s arrival at EV Zug definitely helped the attendance figures rise but also caused the team not to reach the semi finals of the palyoffs for the first time in 7 years. Where a top performance in the playoffs is expected from players like Elik, he showed a lack of that in the playoffs taking bad penalties at important times. He was even scratched, in favour of Todd Harkins, in the all important quarter final game.This behaviour also stops the development of the youngsters on the team with the team being shorthanded a lot, needing to play the top penalty killing lines instead of giving the yougsters some ice time. Also it’s a public secret Elik’s presence isn’t good for the team chemistry. You could say he’s not the favourite locker room guy. It was also known the Zug management rather saw him leave, although in offical press releases it was never clearly said that way, but the fact that he has a contract for one more year would have made the buy-out too expensive and no team would be willing to take over the current contract. That meant Elik played for EV Zug this season once again and once again a season full of points and penalty minutes was there along with the unrest he seems to carry with him. The fans and the media won’t mind that though.

Lonny Bohonos
Current team: HC Davos

The Russian with a Canadian passport is one of the players with the quickest hands in the league. In his debut season in Switzerland, and Europe, he showed his class every single game as if it was peanuts to him. It resulted in 28 goals and 60 points, good enough for the top scorers title in the Swiss league. But then came playoff time and that was a different story. Bohonos only managed 1 assist in 4 games vs SC Bern and the dream was over leaving him with an early summer holiday with lots of decisions to make. After the summer he decided not to go back to North-America and stay another season at HC Davos. That he holds the offensive tools to play in the NHL is no secret. The problem lies in his defensive game. He’s too one-dimensional to claim his spot in the NHL and was beaten by Tucker for a roster spot. In the Nationalliga A though the defensive problem isn’t that much of an issue because of the offensive threat he is. Where he found himself with a lot of space on the ice last year and became one of the most spectacular players in the league, this year it was different. Despite Davos leading the league for most of the season, Bohonos was given less room, resulting in his point total not to reach the 50-point mark this regular season. But after the Olympics it’s playoff time again and the question is what Bohonos will bring this season there. His contract is running out after the season so a good performance in the playoffs might open up some eyes from the scouts in North-America.

Jean-Yves Roy
Current team: Fribourg-Gottéron

The fact that Jean-Yves Roy is still playing at Fribourg-Gottéron wasn’t that given mid-January 2001. Fribourg tried, by then, to sign Christian Matte, but failed. If that deal would have gone through Roy would have had to deal with being the 4th import on the team (only three allowed to be dressed) or find a new employer elsewhere. Roy, who played in Europe before in Austria and Germany, fought back however and earned himself a new contract after ending the seaosn with 25 goals and 42 points in 40 games, followed by a 6 point 5-game playoff performance.
Roy started his career on the university of Maine before playing several seasons in the AHL. Then he had (parts of) 4 seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers and the Boston Bruins and a very short 4-game stint in Ottawa. However he was not good enough for the NHL level as a small forward as he only managed 28 points (12+16) in 61 games. With his physique Roy isn’t a player to put in the 3rd or 4th line and therfore his future was to be in the minor leagues or Europe. In Switzerland Roy was one of the fastest wingers in the league last season. But as could be concluded out of the first line of this article, Roy didn’t live up to expectations. He could perform like a Paul DiPietro and Oleg Petrov did some years ago (30+ goals) and he didn’t make that. Roy’s strengths are clearly his puckhandling under all conditions and his movement. That makes him suitable for the European game (less physical and more room on the ice) and therefore it’s not surprise Roy is a often returning member of Team Canada that plays on World Championships and other international tournaments.
This season the chemistry that was hoped for between Craig Ferguson and Roy didn’t arrive and the performance of both is behind of what can be expected of a former NHL player. Where the third import that started the season, Mike Gaul, did live up to the expectations Roy saw himself ranked ‘only 8th on the team in scoring with 23 points in 38 games. He even found himself scratched for a couple of games at the end of the regular season when the team opted to play newly acquired defenseman Anders Myrvold in favour of the Canadian. Despite having a contract still for next season it won’t be a surprise if Roy wouldn’t be on the rostr of Fribourg-Gottéron anymore next season.

Philippe Bozon
Current team: HC Genève-Servette

The former Blues’ forward had a rough summer of 2001. First his team HC Lugano lost the playoff final in overtime of game 7 after being virtually champions throughout the series (i.e 3-1 up in games). Then he played the World Championships with Team France in his home country were France were destined to immediately promote again after being relegated the season before. The campaign failed miserably as France even wasn’t able to beat the Netherlands and Hungary. Bozon himself had an ok tournament with 9 points in 5 games but the bigger mission failed. Then after returning Bozon had a battle to fight out with his club. Despite having a standing contract and having had a good season, the French forward wasn’t wanted in Lugano anymore. Despite his 9 points in 10 playoff games, he missed the 7th game of the final vs ZSC Lions due to a suspension give to him after he kicked an opponent on the head with his skate. Bozon and his family on the other hand felt perfectly at home in Lugano but when the team president announced Bozon was not to play for the team next season, contract or no contract, Bozon was smart enough to get the money Anschutz-team Servette-Geneve offered him.Bozon was promoted to captain and signed a 2-year deal for the team that was desperate to promote to the Nationalliga A and therefore invested a lot in an, for Natioanlliga B level, ‘all-star’ team. The season started a bit rough for Geneve-Servette but after they got the chemistry going on they were rolling and unstoppable and that resulted in the first place in the Nationalliga B, which isn’t yet a guarantee for automatic promotion as they’ll have to face a team from the Nationallig A in a promotion/relegation game series. Bozon, who elads the team in scoring averaging about 2 pts per game, will be very motivated though as he would love to face his old team Lugano to prove his right. Bozon hopes to help France qualify for the main Olympic hockey tournament. It is to be hoped for France Bozon will come fully ready as he was without luggage when he arrived when his luggage was sent to Chile instead. His luggage was sent to SDC (Santiago De Chile) instead of SLC, resulting in Bozon not having the perfect start of his Olympic campaign.

Jesse Belanger
Current team: HC La Chaux de Fonds

Belanger is a typical case of “Just not”. He has been close to clinging on to a permanent NHL spot all throughout his career but nver established himself as one. His longest spell was with the Florida Panthers were he played 180 games in 3 years, but on his other employers, Montreal (twice), Vancouver, Edmonton and the Islanders, he was unable to crack the roster permanent. Having had a short 5-game stint in the 97-98 season with Herisau in the Swiss league this year Belanger makes his full debut in Europe. While he could be good enough for a Nationalliga A team he is playing in the Swiss second division with HC La Chaux de Fonds. LCF relegated last season which wasn’t a big surprise. They tried to survive with a very young, though talented, roster but the class and experience of the other teams were simply too good for them. This year LCF was looking for a new #1 forward and they for sure got him in Jesse Belanger. Belanger leads the team in points and is one of the top forwards in the league. La Chaux de Fonds is currently riding on 2nd position well behind HC Geneve-Servette. The gap between both teams could have been smaller if LCF wasn’t being punished for dressing some ineligble players which caused the team to having several games forfeited with an automatic 5-0 loss. Nevertheless LCF could surprise in the playoffs and a return to the Nationalliga A isn’t out of the question. Belanger will play a key role in that achievement then if it will happen.

Mike Maneluk
Current team: HC Lugano

Mike Maneluk is successor of Philippe Bozon at HC Lugano. Maneluk isn’t a hard-hitting forward like Bozon though, but more of a smallish winger, but like Bozon he’s a scorer. The lack of size and weight caused him probably never to be drafted. When he turned 21 he became a Free Agent and was avaialble to be contracted by a NHL-team. The Anaheim Mighy Ducks took him under their wings in 1994, but his NHL-debut he made 4,5 years later with the Philadelphia Flyers. Despite a good start in Philly he was unable to stand his ground in the physical league the NHL is. In his 3 year NHL spell he played for Philadelphia, New York Rangers, Chicago and Columbus and recorded 85 games and 21 points. While virtually being out of the picture Maneluk got himself a last chance when Columbus offered him a $350.000 contract halfway the season. He played 39 games for the Blue Jackets but failed to impress with only 5 goals and 1 assist. Now it’s obvious to say Maneluk isn’t a NHL calibre player, but the 28 year old could for sure be a force in the minor leagues or in the Swiss league. He proved he knows what a forward’s main goal is in the minor leagues where his productivity is proven. In 323 AHL games he scored 327 points, with the absolute highlight being the Phantoms top scorer in 1998 during the playoffs (13 and 34 points in 20 games) which earned him the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy. This point total was the third best ever only behind Dixon Ward and Bill McDougall (ironically both play or have played in Switzerland as well). In his first season with HC Lugano, Maneluk registered 53 points in 43 regular seaosn game along with 90 penalty minutes and Maneluk will continue to paly an important role for Lugano during the playoffs after the Olympics have ended.

Dale McTavish
Current team: SC Rapperswil-Jona

No Nationalliga A team builds on consistency with their imports as much as SC Rapperswil-Jona does. This can only be managed when the management is very well informed about every possible new acquisition. They, surely, did an extensive research on McTavish during his spell in Finland with SaiPa and Espoo Blues, and therefore were exactly aware of his strengths and weaknesses. McTavish isn’t a spectacular player that scores lots of goals or tricks opponents on the ice. He is the opposite of his teammate Mike Richard – a power forward who doesn’t mind the right in your face game and also isn’t afraid of getting involved in a fight. Several players in the league, even teammates found that out. But McTavish isn’t an undisciplined player like Todd Elik, but is a very good professional with a lot of stamina. After a short NHL stint with the Calgary Flames , McTavish, in his first season in Finland, immediately became topscorer of the SM-Liiga with 25 goals. In his first season in Switzerland he scored 24 goals and averaged about 1 point per game. He was a bit streaky though as he went through streaks in which he scored night after night followed by a series of games in which he went without a point, topped by a 6-game no point streak. But the team wasn’t too worried about that as long as Dale kept on giving 100% and worked hard for the team.
McTavish has a hard, precies and quick shot and once through on goal very hard to stop. He needs more chances to score than Richard and has to work harder to create them. Nevertheless McTavish is a well respected player and example for his younger teammates with his “nevr give-up” mentality. He had a bit trouble with his positional play during his first seaosn in Switzerland but it was better in his 2nd season. McTavish extended his contract for 2 more seasons last summer and led the team this season in poins and goals, but didn’t reach the 30-goal level.

Mike Richard
Current team: SC Rapperswil-Jona

Richard can be considered a SC Rapperswil-Jona veteran, currently playing his 7th (!) consecutive seaosn for the team. 7 games with the Capitals and 2 AHL seasons did apparantly not bring what Richard wanted and he moved to Italy where he stayed one seaosn with the HC Devils. Last season with ‘Rappi’ Richard was a key-player on the team scoring 51 points and he carried the team back into the playoffs. The mangement awarded him a new contract for that effort. This season the 35-year old forward again didn’t disappoint despite never coming close to the 50-point mark. In 38 games Richar led the team in assists with 26 and was 2nd in scoring with 37 points. On the other hand Richard admitted it cost him more effort to keep his level of condition up, but he’s working extra hard on the hometrainer or in the fitness room.
Richard might not be the quickest anymore he still has got one of the fastest hands in the league. Last season he missed his friend Paul Ysebaert but soon a chemistry with Dale McTavish developped making Ysebaert forgotten. Richard, due to his history with the team, is a fan favourite and also has the ability to get his team energized and take the team’s play to another level when needed. His history also gives him a bigger pressure then a ‘regular’ import since so much more is expected from the Toronto-born forward. He’s logging enough ice time and is one of the most dangerous players in the league on the power play where he can use his experience and cleverness on the ice to find room for himself and his teammates. Another contract extension isn’t unlikely for Richard so he will have his 8th season in the Rappi-jersey, a rare thing in the Swiss league when it gets to imports.

In part 7 I will focus on the news and transactions that occurred after starting this series.

Part 8 will feature a statistical overview of all players listed in this article.