Hockey’s Future Interview with Serge Payer
Nearing the halfway point of this NHL season, one of the surprises has been the abysmal start of the Florida Panthers. While there are many reasons for this poor outing so far, most notably a startling amount of injuries that have decimated the team and have never given the Panthers a full roster of healthy players.
Maybe one of the small benefits of a team stricken with this many injuries, is the chance for the unexpected. Having a player get called up to fill in sometimes gives the coaches, management, and most importantly, the fans the opportunity to see a player exceed all expectations and beat all the odds of making an impact in the NHL.
One of these players is Serge Payer. Signed as a free agent in late 1997, Serge was expected to spend time this year in the UHL, but an incredibly strong NHL pre-season turned the heads of Panther brass and Serge was sent to start his professional career in the AHL Louisville Panthers.
What is remarkable is the road that Serge took to get to this point in his early career in the NHL. Jennifer McCarthy of Hockey’s Future AHL report recently did a profile of Serge on her web-site http://www.pantherbytes.com/louisville.html
which is a highly recommended read, as well as a good source for Louisville Panther news.
Recently, I got the chance to sit down with Serge Payer on the day of the Colorado game, and it was apparent during the interview that Serge is in this “I still can’t believe” phase over the realization that he Read more »
The Rangers announced today that goalie Mike Richter will be sidelined for the Rangers next 2 games (23rd vs. Nashville and 27th vs. Carolina) because of an undisclosed injury, and Vitali Yeremeyev has been recalled from Hartford. In my opinion, Richter is not injured at all, but just needs some rest. The Rangers were likely to rest him in their next 2 games anyway, but I guess they decided to bring up Yeremeyev to get a look at him over the next week or so.
Yeremeyev, a 25 year old Kazakhstanian goalie who was selected in the 11th round of the 1994 Draft, has played OUTSTANDING with the Hartford Wolf Pack in 11 games this season. Yeremeyev has posted a 1.65 GAA, .951 Save%, and 2 shutouts. The ironic thing is that this is from someone who started the season struggling with the ECHL Charlotte Checkers (Jason Labarbera is the starter there now), as he posted a 4.23 GAA in only 5 games.
Playing excellent is not anything new to Yeremeyev however. In his last 3 years in Russia, Yeremeyev posted superb numbers. He had a 1.23 GAA with 7 shutouts in 26 games in 99/00 with Dynamo Moscow of the Russian Elite League. The two previous years before that he posted a 1.80 GAA in 19 games with CSKA Moscow of the Russian Tier 2 league, and a 1.16 GAA with Yaroslavl of the Elite league in 16 games. Yeremeyev got teared apart on the National stage though. He was the starter for team Kazakhstan in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He allowed 28 goals in 7 games, en route to a 5.76 GAA. Yeremeyev can’t be blamed for most of the goals however, as Kazakhstan is not known Read more »
The 2000-2001 Cedar Rapids RoughRiders are a much improved yet very similar team from last year. The RoughRiders, who are in their second year of existence after being moved from Mason City, Ia, have made a name for themselves in the USHL as being an aggressive, gritty team who always plays 110%. Last year Cedar Rapids was given the task of playing the first half of the season on the road where they did poorly. As the second half began they served notice that they were becoming a good hockey team. This year the RoughRiders got a “normal” schedule and after a rocky start are playing arguably some of the best hockey in the USHL right now. Cedar Rapids is tied for 2nd place with Waterloo in the Eastern Division. In their last 10 games they have had some impressive wins including two road wins at perennial power Des Moines and a home victory over the league favorite Lincoln Stars. Here is a breakdown on some of the individual leaders for the RoughRiders through the current Christmas break.
Offense - The RoughRiders are not well known for their offense but they do have a couple of stars. Darren Partch is the leader offensively and is one of the league leaders in the scoring. Partch has 10 goals and 14 assists for 24 points and leads the team in scoring. Partch is the kind of player who is in the right place at the right time and can kill you with precision passing. Gerry Hickey returned to Cedar Rapids after a spectacular season last year. So far Hickey has 8 goals and 9 assists for 17 points but he has an astonishing 120 penalty minutes. Tha Read more »
Patrick Foley has played in pain for the past three years and finally decided enough was enough. Partially tearing both his ACL’s in his junior year of high school football, he elected to continue playing hockey with braces on each knee up until last season. That’s when everything went downhill. After games and practices Foley’s knees had him in so much pain he couldn’t run or even ride a bike. He decided to have Dr. Brett Zarins of the New England Patriots take a look at his knees. The only solution to the problem was surgery. On May 31, 2000, Foley went in and had his right knee operated on. A month later it was the left knees turn to be repaired. Foley was optimistic about a return to the New Hampshire Wildcats this year, however after a November appointment with Dr. Zarins it was in Patrick’s best interest to be redshirted. Foley is rehabilitating his knees and skated for the first time since the surgery this past week. Foley said just feeling the wind blowing against his face was a great feeling. Being part of the team is important to Foley. He helps teammates at team workouts and provides support and the insight of someone not at ice level. What really drives Foley is the chance to play for a national title. The process of rehabilitating both knees is physically and mentally grinding, but you couldn’t find a bettter warrior than Patrick Foley to do it. Determined, Foley is working hard to get his play back to the level exhibited before the surgeries. Don’t be shocked to see him back on the rink next year playing better than ever.
Last time I checked, it had been three years since the teenage hockey phenoms that represent our country
every Christmas at the World Junior Hockey Championships had brought home the gold medal. A bronze
last year after falling to the dreaded Russians in the semifinal game, a silver in 1999 at Winnipeg in a
heartbreaking overtime loss, once again to the Russians. The 1998 edition was a forgetful eighth place
showing. So from failing hands the torch is passed to this years crop of teenage talent. Pressure? What
There is a handful of pundits and prognosticators that predict that if this year’s edition of the Canadian
world junior entry doesn’t win the yellow hardware, it will only further signify that Canada has fallen further
of its perch of hockey supremacy. I beg to differ. If the boys don’t come home with gold around their necks,
I maintain that it is exactly the opposite. We haven’t fallen further off the perch, it’s just that the perch has
become much bigger and now hosts more than the just the one or two dominant countries that occupied it
in the past. Canada, Russia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Finland are all dominant countries on the
international hockey scene. With the addition of up and comers such as Slovakia, Latvia and Belarus it only
promises to become even more crowded at the top. Suffice to say that the days of one country dominating
at the international level, such as the way Canada did from 1993 to ’97, five gold medals in a row at the
WJC’s, are over. Every year from now on will more than likely be a crap shoot w Read more »
Here are a few of the Canuck’s top prospects that are
currently in the NHL. I hope to provide some stats and updates on Canuck prospects at all levels every couple of weeks, as they play a major role in the future of
the Canucks’ organization.
Daniel Sedin, fourth in NHL rookie scoring (27–9-8-17) is making a big
impact on the Vancouver Canucks in his third line role. His ability to cycle
the puck in the offensive zone with twin brother Henrik, continues to
generate scoring chances. Recently Daniel missed four games due to a
shoulder injury. Coach Crawford babied him into returning to the lineup, to
many this raises questions about how Daniel has adapted to the rigours of
the NHL. Being held pointless in three games since his return, team and fans
alike hope that now that the league is getting to know the
Sedins’ style of play they won’t hit the wall a la Bill Muckalt or Steve
Kariya. Overall though,
Daniel is doing an excellent job in his first season, and is expected to
continue as a favorite in the Calder Cup run.
PROJECTION: Daniel looks like he’s going to be an excellent player in the
future. How good is hard to determine, but it seems as though he’s about as
close to being a sure-fire star as any first year prospect. He will very
likely be at least a consistent 25 goal, 60 point scorer in the NHL with the
ability to become a superstar perhaps scoring 50 goals and 100 points.
Through 27 games Sedin is on track to tally about 27 goals and 23 assists if
he were to play 80 games. To compare him to another player h Read more »
Week Of 12/10 to 12/20
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Pavel Brendl Calgary WHL 26 29 23 52 24 21
This Week: No Games Played
Notes: Will represent the Czech Republic in the upcoming World Junior Championships.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Jamie Lundmark Seattle WHL 20 17 17 34 19 +3
This Week: 1 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 P, 0 PIM, +2
Notes: Playing for team Canada at the WJC. Has been Seattle’s best player since the trade.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Filip Novak Regina WHL 34 12 22 34 38 12
This Week: 3 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 P, 5 PIM, +1
Notes: Would be playing for the Czech Republic in the WJC, but because of past problems with his former Czech team, they refused to let him play in the tournament. He currently has 5 more goals this year through 34 games than he had all last year in 47 games. He also is only 5 points away from matching last seasons totals. His play has really improved from last season.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Garret Bembridge Saskatoon WHL 35 24 20 44 12 -13
This Week: 3 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 2 P, 0 PIM, -6 Read more »
Jamie Lundmark was selected to the under-20 Canadian team for the upcoming World Junior Championships in Moscow, Russia, and he hasn’t disappointed so far. Team Canada left for Sweden a couple of days ago to play 2 exhibition games against the Sweden team before taking off for Moscow for the championships.
In the first exhibition game, Canada defeated Sweden 6-4. Lundmark had 2 goals and 3 assists and 2 PIM. One of his goals was an empty net goal at the end to close out the game. All 3 of Lundmark’s assists were primary assists and they also all occurred while Canada was on the power play.
Lundmark made a name for himself in last year’s WJC with a solid all-around performance and looks as though that will happen this year as well. Canada and Sweden face off tomorrow, so stay tuned to what Lundmark will do!
News and Notes: The only other 2 players in the Rangers organization that I know of that are participating in the WJC are Pavel Brendl and Sven Helfenstein. I will try and find out tomorrow if there is anyone else, and there probably is, so stay tuned.
After 4 days of practicing and scrimmaging the Canadian entry for the 2001 World Junior Hockey Championships is now set. On Monday morning the final cuts were made and the final roster was set.
In a surprise move the Canadian team management cut Kris Beech of the Calgary Hitmen and Pascal Leclaire of the Halifax Mooseheads on the final day. Also cut on Monday were Krys Kolanos and Luke Sellars. On Sunday, Rob Zepp, Garnet Exelby and Stephen Weiss were cut while Antoine Bergeron, Kurtis Foster, Jonathan Zion and Nathan Smith were cut on Saturday.
The goaltending on this team will be strong as Maxime Oullet and Alex Auld are going to backstop the Canadian team. From what’s been said by those who seen the camp, all four goaltenders (Oullet, Auld, Leclaire and Zepp) all played well.
The defensive corps on this team is somewhat young with just two 19-year-olds in Barret Jackman and Steve McCarthy. They should be solid nonetheless with three returnees in Jackman, McCarthy and Jay Bouwmeester. Four defensemen on this team are undrafted (Bouwmeester is draft eligible in 2002, while Dan Hamhuis, Jay Harrison and Mark Popovic are all eligible in 2001).
Offense should not be a problem for this team. Jamie Lundmark, Dany Heatley, Brandon Reid and Jason Spezza are all back from last year’s bronze-medal winning team. When you add Brad Boyes, Raffi Torres and Jason Jaspers to the mix you have an offence that should be capable of producing.
This year’s team seems to be more balanced than those of recent years where coaches tried to c Read more »
Even if Roman Simicek would be the best NHL rookie, he has no chance of winning the Calder Trophy. He is already 29 and no player older than 26 years can win this trophy. Maybe Roman didn’t even believe in making it to the NHL. But the fortune wanted it so. Better to say, Ivan Hilnka wanted it so. After this Czech coaching phenom became the head coach of the Pittsburgh penguins, he felt the need of a big skilled center who could play on a line with Jaromir Jagr. The former GM of Litvinov knew all possible Czech players and at the second draft day he told GM Craig Patrick to spent the ninth-round pick on a big skilled Czech center Roman Simicek. This really overager went to the Pens with the 273rd overall selection. His way to the NHL was free.
Roman was born 11-04-1971 and so 1990 eligible. In the years 1971 and 1972 there were a lot of future stars born in Czechoslovakia, for example Bobby Holik, Robert Reichel, Jaromir Jagr, Petr Nedved or Jan Caloun and Roman wasn’t playing a lot in the junior national teams. He was also scratched from the roster for the European championship of the Under-18 teams in 1989. No doubt that he was overlooked at the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. There were other Czech stars which could be selected, Jaromir Jagr topped the list.I don’t believe he worried a lot about this fact in the communistic Czechoslovakia. He had to worry about becoming a regular in the Extraleague after his junior days were over. He broke in the Elite League with HC Vitkovice and used his talent well. The sized center created a lot of smart plays and used his body Read more »