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Tracking a Phenom, Jason Spezza – 2nd Installment

by Bob Chery
on
I will post my preliminary rankings of OHL players eligible for the NHL Draft early next week. I don’t foresee any changes to the Top Five that I posted in my pre-season rankings, but there will be some shuffling beyond that point. There are a couple of power-forwards rising through the ranks, plus of course the birthdate issues. Perhaps by then we’ll know where Spezza ends up.

WHL: Rants and Ravings

by Jeff Bromley
on
Reports of panic and bedlam hitting the streets of Cranbrook due to the circulating rumors of ICE scoring sensation Mike Comrie signing a pro contract and heading to greener pastures
are greatly exaggerated. There are reports of ICE fans at centers all over the WHL protesting the possibility of losing their superstar at his father’s BRICK Furniture stores. These protests
failed to materialize however, due to the incredible, DON’T PAY UNTIL 2010 sale offered only to ICE fans. Being upset about losing your favorite hockey player is one thing but getting a
great deal on appliances is another story altogether……. Seriously though folks, this whole hullabaloo about the possible Edmonton Oiler offer to Comrie for first round draft pick money
(pegged at about $1.1 million per year with a lucrative bonus structure) doesn’t wash with me. Why would he (and his agent) sacrifice a kick at unrestricted free agency next June by
signing now? My money’s on him staying with the ICE.

A report out the OHL states that possible number one draft pick for this June’s NHL Draft, Jason Spezza, has asked for, and will
receive a trade from the cellar-dwelling Mississauga Ice Dogs.

The bids for the Canadian host city for the 2003 World Junior Championships are now being accepted. No fewer than ten cities are bidding
from Calgary to Halifax. When are they going to wake up and realize that the WJC’s only draws any real interest from fans in Canada? The organizers can’t be making any money over there from the obviously mediocre fan support. It’s time we host Read more »

ECHL: Pensacola Sets Team Record

by Parker Neale
on
Wayne Cashman has definitely had an impact on the success of the Ice
Pilots after joining the team in the off-season. His numerous
transactions that created an entirely new look for the team on the ice
produced negative results initially as the team started off the season
by losing their first four games. However, since then, the Ice Pilots
have been on a tear. A new team record was set for the franchise when
they defeated the Birmingham Bulls, 6-5, in overtime this past Sunday.
That win has brought their winning streak to 7 consecutive games.

The Ice Pilots are led on offence by Jeff Bes. The veteran forward has
tallied 17 points on 4 goals and 13 assists, thus far. This total ties
him for second in the league in points and he has been nominated for
Player of the Week honors for this past week. Bes also recorded a point
in each of the seven wins during the streak.
The Ice Pilots have also received solid contributions during that
stretch from Allan Egeland (14 points), John Tripp (10 points) and Kevin
Colley (10 points). Tripp has been able to pop in goals during
opportune times as he sits atop the league with 3 game-winners. The Ice
Pilots have 6 players that have tallied 10 points through the season
thus far and 18 players that have notched at least one point. These
figures definitely signal a well-balanced attack.

On defence, Briane Thompson, Jay McGee and Scott McCallum have been able
to contribute points of their own. This threesome has also combined for
a plus/minus rating of +10.
And, in goal, Shawn Degagne an Read more »

Czech NHL rookies – Martin Havlat

by Robert Neuhauser
on
In the first part I’m going to feature a possible Calder trophy winner, Czech winger Martin Havlat, who is currently among the top NHL scoring rookies. And it’s most likely that he’ll stay there till the end of the season.

Martin was born on April 19th, 1981, already with a god-given hockey talent. His father, former Brno defenseman and a current coach, soon recognized the talent of his son. At the age of 2 Martin already stood on skates. He sometimes followed his father to the practices and so he had a lot of opportunities to learn skating.

As time passed, little Martin found himself a player for the HC Ytong Brno 1st grade kids team with his father as his coach. The god-given hockey sense and good skating immediately made him the superstar of the team. He had to score goals and he knew how to do it, besides it is said that Martin was treated bad by his father if he failed to score in a single period! The purpose was to force Martin to fight for the puck as hard as he could to score that goal. And he scored, but not everyone was pleased with his play, people raved that he was too afraid to fight along the boards and the skinny Martin wasn’t the king when it came to weight-lifting. At the bantam age Martin wasn’t satisfied with the ice time he got in Ytong and so he moved to a much weaker Div II bantam team, where he played up to 30 minutes a game. After that year he returned to Ytong in great shape and became a regular with the Under-16 team. Michal Sivek was the star of this team, with Martin following him closely. After the 1996-97 season Sivek mo Read more »

Stars Notebook (11/08/2000)

by Keith Riskey
on

Notebook — 11/08/2000

Utah Grizzlies Update

The (IHL affiliate) Utah Grizzlies season record dropped to 7-5-0 after two absymal road games this weekend. On Friday, they lost 4-0 to Milwaukee and on Saturday they lost 5-3 to Cleveland. During this road trip, the Grizzlies have continued to exhibit numerous special teams problems. In both games over the weekend, the power play (which received 10 chances) did not convert, and the penalty kill was exceptionally poor (giving up 4 goals on 11 tries).

But don’t start jumping off bridges just yet, Grizzlies fans. Rugged defensive-minded coaches Bob Bourne, Craig Ludwig, and Jason Taylor, should whip these green mommas-boys into proper penalty killing shape soon — it’s their speciality.

The Grizzlies are 2-2-0 on their current road trip. Their next game is Friday in Detroit against the Vipers.

Top Utah Scorers
Read more »

To Affiliate or Not to Affiliate?

by Chad Cranmer
on
The IHL is down to just 11 teams this season. The independent Long Beach
Ice Dogs left for the West Coast League, and the Michigan K-Wings joined the
United League when the Dallas Stars dropped the K-Wings as their top
affiliate. Houston and Manitoba are the only two teams left in the IHL
without an affiliation agreement, and some people wonder if the independent
teams can sty competitive in a league where more than three-quarters of the
teams have a parent club.

One Houston fan used to think that affiliation was a bad idea. He is not as
sure now though. “After watching KC skate rings around our guys, and seeing
the independents making up most of the bottom tier of the league this year .
. . and seeing the inability of the Aeros to assemble a competitive team
this year, I have reversed my position on affiliation.”

Not all fans are in favor of affiliation, however. “I am not in favor of an
all affiliate league as I find being a fan of an independent much more fun,”
said another fan.

So is affiliation good or bad? There are plenty of reasons for and against
full affiliation.

One reason that teams become affiliates is that it helps with salary
concerns. NHL teams pay part of the players’ salaries when they are in the
minors, with the farm team picking up what the parent club doesn’t pay.
This is considerably less expensive than paying the full salaries.

Another way an affiliation agreement helps a team is that many times an NHL
team will sign or trade for a veteran player Read more »

Could the Unthinkable Happen?

by Jeff Bromley
on
By now, you are probably well aware of the Mike Comrie situation. That being of course that the Edmonton Oilers have until the June 2001 NHL
Draft deadline to sign the prominent Kootenay ICE forward or lose him to unrestricted free agency. A couple of weeks back, a report by New
York Post Columnist Larry Brooks cited sources close to the New York Rangers that stated that they were actively pursuing the rights of the
former Michigan Wolverine from the Oilers for either a 3rd or 1st round draft pick, depending on whether or not Comrie played with the Rangers
or was sent to their AHL affiliate in Hartford.

As all ICE fans collectively gasp, there are a few observances to be made.

First, consider the source, The New York Post. Not exactly the Hockey News and, when it comes to reporting gossip, rumors and heresy, is
sometimes looked upon as a few steps up the ladder from the National Enquirer. Nevertheless, the story does have some credence that should
be taken seriously. Please note that former Oiler G.M. and current Ranger Boss, Glen Sather was the one that drafted Mike Comrie in the 3rd
round of the 1999 NHL Draft. So besides that fact that Comrie is an incredibly talented prospect, Sather’s interest in him is obvious, he knows
the potential was in Comrie when he drafted him, now perhaps he would like that realized potential to join him in a Ranger uniform. Another
bolster that helps this rumor along is the fact that former AJHL line-mate and close friend Jamie Lundmark is also a top prospect of the New York Rangers and the thought of reuniting Read more »

2000-2001 USHL Western Division Outlook

by Jason Shaner
on
The new season is upon us, last week you saw an outlook for the Eastern
Division teams. Here is a look at the rough and tough Western
Division. This division is the stronger of the two and it looks to be a
race that will go until the final second to decide who will win the
west. The Western Division welcomes the new Tri-City Storm who were
known as the Twin Cities Vulcans up until last season. The Vulcans
ended their run in the Twin Cities as National Junior A champions after
falling just short of winning the Clark Cup in the USHL playoffs. The
Sioux Falls Stampede are coming into their 2nd year of existence and
after a #3 seed in the playoffs, were ousted in the playoffs to those
previously mentioned Vulcans. They will no doubt maintain their high
ranking in the standings this year and with a year of experience under
their belt look to go far. Here are my previews for each team in the
Western Division and where I think they will finish.

1. Lincoln Stars -
No doubt the land of Lincoln has high expectations for the Stars again
this season. And there should be no reason why they won’t produce what
is expected of them and that is why I’m picking them for a 1st place
finish in the West. They are also my team to win the Anderson Cup.
Lincoln brings the heat on offense, simply put. Returning are major
offensive forces from last year in the names of Preston Callender, Chris
Fournier and Brandon Bochenski. This offense is charged like an
energizer battery and they don’t seem to lose power as time goes on.
Their opponent Read more »

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland
during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations,
commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Off-season Improvements Finally Kick In: The off-season repairs applied
to the Toronto roster were clearly evident as the Leafs beat the Devils
5 – 3 in a stirring comeback on November 2nd … the added muscle
(represented mainly by off-season additions Gary Roberts, Shayne Corson
and Dave Manson) were a huge factor in the victory … the Maple Leafs
competed physically with New Jersey all over the ice, all evening long …
a big hit by Roberts on playoff nemesis Scott Stevens was symbolic of
the club’s overall competitiveness – the type of hit that no one on the
club could (or would) deliver last spring … even frequent passengers
such as Khistich and Hoglund (and dare I say, Mats Sundin) displayed
some grit and fire in this one … miraculously, when the entire club puts
forward that sort of total effort, the missing offense suddenly returned
as well … a very satisfying game indeed and hopefully a portent of good
things to come …

Tucker Extended: Darcy Tucker, another standout against the Devils, was
given a contract extension by the team this week … this was likely done
for two main reasons … certainly the Leafs see Darcy as an important and
popular member of their club and wanted to lock him up for several
seasons … additionally, for the past three years, the Leafs have been
selling their players on a team bonus Read more »

Holmqvist Inconsistent In 2nd NHL Start

by Brandon LeBourveau
on
As was the case last Friday against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rangers’ rookie
goaltender Johan Holmqvist was forced to start another NHL game. The doctors
have stated that starting goalie Mike Richter can’t play in consecutive
games, so the choice for last night’s game against the Ottawa Senators would
have been Kirk McLean, leaving Holmqvist as the backup. However, McLean was
still feeling the effects of back spasms and couldn’t play in the game. So
Holmqvist got the emergency call last night as the starter.

Holmqvist was impressive at times, but also looked shaky as the Senators came
back to win 6-5, as they scored three goals in the third period to erase a
4-3 Rangers’ lead. Holmqvist finished with 32 saves on 38 shots, and now has
lost both NHL games he has played in. Let’s take a look back at some of the
ups and downs of Holmqvist last night.

Right away Johan got off on the wrong foot as Martin Havlat, the 19 year old
rookie sensation of the Ottawa Senators, got the puck in the neutral zone off
a turnover and used his blazing speed to go right by Rangers rookie
defenseman Mike Mottau and snapped a shot through Holmqvist’s legs, at 2:42
of the 1st period. It was a soft goal that Johan let up and one he should
have had. He was caught going down to soon and the puck slid through his legs
just as he went down. I find it very ironic that before the game started they
showed footage of Holmqvist working with the Rangers goalie coach on trying
to stay on his feet more, and then he gets beat in the game on the same th Read more »