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.
The Future: Though the situation on the ice seems somewhat muddled at times this season, the Maple Leafs have established some grand plans for the club’s business operations in the coming years … modeling itself after England’s storied Manchester United Football Club (a sports empire worth about $3 billion CDN) the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment conglomerate has more than tripled its assets during the past three years … the organization currently has plans to add 44 new employees to its staff (bringing the total close to 400) as it implements Phase II of the mid-term business plan … Phase I involved the merging of 2 operations (hockey and basketball) and the completion of the ACC on time and on budget … much effort was also spent in getting the hockey and basketball teams into perennial playoff contention and booking out the new playing facility during the past 2 years … at this time, the Air Canada Centre is the #2 concert venue in North America in terms of gross revenue, just behind the Staples Centre in Los Angeles … last year there were 230 separate events staged at the ACC … the prime sports tenants lead the way with the Maple Leafs being sold out for every game and the Raptors currently representing the NBA’s #3 draw for road and home games combined … satisfied that their initial goals had been met, the MLSE board of directo Read more »
This article will be the first in a series devoted to mid-term progress reports of all the Buffalo Sabres’ prospects, with each article covering a different position.
There are many NHL GMs who stress the importance of being strong up the middle. While Buffalo has been able to draft or acquire some solid talent for the center position in recent years, they have had trouble landing a top-flight pivot who can create offensive opportunities for both himself and the players around him. This isn’t to say that Buffalo doesn’t have some help on the way in their prospect ranks, but it is definitely a position that will need to be addressed in the near future.
Topping Buffalo’s list of prospects at the center position is Kingston Frontenacs star Mike Zigomanis. Mike had an excellent 99-00 season, and he has so far followed up with an equally fine first half to the 00-01 campaign. Ziggy is currently the Frontenacs leading scorer with a total of 60 points (31G, 29A), a point total that places him in the OHL’s top 20 scorers. His goal total has him tied for 6th in the OHL in that category, with 6 of those goals coming on the power play, 2 in shorthanded situations, and 2 markers being game-winners. Mike has been honored as both Player of the Week and Month in the OHL (November), which was no doubt a factor in his being named to the OHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad. Zigomanis also was selected to play for Canada in the WJC, which was noted in a previous article.
Kingston is currently in the thick of the Read more »
Next up: Dieter Kochan
With the departure of netminder Dan Cloutier yesterday (sent to Vancouver for Adrian Aucoin and a 2nd round pick in 2001), Dieter Kochan may finally get his shot at the big time.
Kochan has spent his career bouncing around various leagues, but has never managed to get a big break. Now, at age 26, he may finally have the opportunity to solidify himself as an NHL goaltender.
There was an air of disbelief in late March last season when it was announced that the virtually unknown goaltender from the UHL would start in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just one day after being signed by the club, Kochan was left seeing stars, literally. He was pulled 15 minutes into the 1st period, after being shelled by the Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars and allowing 3 goals on 6 shots. Kochan was replaced by Cloutier 7 minutes into the 1st period, but re-entered the game at 2:00 of the second when Cloutier went down with a knee injury. He performed well in the second half of the game, only allowing one additional goal.
One week later, Kochan came back to redeem himself. He replaced Zac Bierk, and stopped 30 of 31 shots to help the Bolts to a 5-4 win over Boston.
So far this season, Kochan has appeared in 7 games with the Lightning, including two spectacular performances against the Colorado Avalanche. His 2.08 GAA and .933 save percentage is one of the best in the league.
Tampa Bay General Manager Rick Dudley told the Tampa Tribune after the Cloutier trade, “We’re going to give Dieter Koc Read more »
Andrej Hebar is a 16-year old kid who dreams of playing in the NHL one
day. And, unlike most, he just might get his chance. Andrej is a
first-year forward with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite U-18
league, and he is one of the most spectacular players in the league. He
might not be the biggest guy there, but he plays like he is, wearing his
heart on his sleeve. He’s only 5’10” and 155 lbs, but is still growing.
His father, a former goalie and now a coach in Slovenia, is 6’1”, and
Andrej is expected to be just as big.
Hebar is a natural goal-scorer, with 12 in 12 games this season, and he
plays a gritty style for a guy his size. He doesn’t shy away from the
physical stuff, and puts his body on the line to make a good play. His
biggest asset thought, is his blistering shot. He is also a fast, smooth
skater, and a decent, if not spectacular, passer.
Andrej was the final cut at Slovenia’s WJC U-20 camp in December. Had he
made it, he would have been by far the youngest player on the team.
Instead, Andrej has already locked up a roster spot with Slovenia’s U-18
team, which will play at the U-18 WJC (div.II) in Lithuania in March.
His good play with the Frolunda U-18 team prompted his coaches to try
him on their U-20 team, and he got his first chance to play in late
January, before going down with the flu.
Unlike other Slovenian players who play at home, Andrej is under the
constant watchful eye of NHL scouts and is a lock to be selected in the
2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Name: Andrej Hebar
Born: S Read more »
Chris Corrinet is a Capitals prospect forward currently playing with Princeton University.
1. Do you think you’ll sign with the Caps?
This is my goal.
2. Do you have any thoughts on how you’ll adjust to the different rules in pro hockey (Two-line pass, fighting, etc)?
I don’t feel there will be any difficulties making the adjustments.
3. Any regrets on choosing hockey over football?
Actually, I had a better future in baseball as a left-handed pitcher than football, but hockey was always my first love so it was not a tough choice in terms of what sport I wanted to pursue.
4. What are you going to do this summer to prepare for camp and next season?
I am going to train (not sure where yet) to get in the best possible shape in order to compete for a job next fall. I will also probably be in DC for the prospect orientation camp this summer-I have been there for the past three summers.
5. Do you know Jeff Halpern very well? Were you surprised that he made the Caps after his first training camp?
I know Jeff very well and I was not surprised he made the team. He has an intense desire to compete all the time and a good skill level. He has been an inspiration for me to work even harder to make it to the NHL.
6. Who were some of your favorite players when you were a kid? Who was your favorite team?
Read more »
Pavel Brendl, the Rangers top prospect, was benched last night after the 1st period in the Hitmen’s 6-3 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Calgary’s management hasn’t liked Brendl’s effort in the last few weeks and decided to send him a message.
“We know how good Pav can be, he can be the best player in the league when he wants,” said Dean Clark, head coach of the Hitmen. “He has to show interest in doing some things. There’s no sense in putting in half an effort. There are some other concerns, it’s not only Pav.”
This has been the biggest knock on Brendl since he was drafted. It’s funny when a great player has one or two big flaws in his game, his star potential becomes vastly overlooked. I’m sure everyone knows by now that Pavel doesn’t have the best work-ethic or the best attitude.
But there’s not many players that do.
Honestly, how would you feel if the only place you could play is juniors, which isn’t fun for you if you keep getting 5 points a night? Brendl doesn’t have that motivation to play in juniors anymore and I can’t really blame him.
He had that motivation going at the World Juniors.
He wanted to succeed.
He wanted to prove the critics wrong and wanted to be the best player in the tournament
And he did just that.
Next season, whether it be with the Rangers, or with Hartford of the AHL, it will be a big step up for Pavel and he’s not going to back down. I can promise you that much. He’s going to want to succeed and he’ll prove the critics wrong again. Just wait and see…
News and Notes: Read more »
Pretty much every team in all professional leagues have players who are
on the roster cause there annoying. In most cases that is all these types of
players are good for. They rarely score and do anything else besides fight
and take and draw penalties. Tyson Nash for the St.Louis Blues is a terrific
example. He is very very agitating and very very poor on the offensive end.
I’m not saying he’ll never score a goal, but if he gets more than 10 in a
year it’s a miracle. But one player who is on his way to the NHL real soon
may change all that. The Windsor Spitfires of the OHL have a player named
Steve Ott. Ott was drafted 25th overall by the Dallas Stars in the 2000 NHL
Entry Draft. Ott is a feisty troublemaker; a troublemaker who can score.
Through 37 games played by Ott this year, he had 36 goals and 28 assists for
64 points. Yet the most important number may be his 108 penalty minutes. Ott
averages almost 3.00 PIM a game. The type of game Ott plays opens up the ice
for his teammate and top draft prospect Jason Spezza. While so many people
are focused on Ott’s antics, Spezza goes more unnoticed then he should be.
Steve Ott is a coaches dream. He would be a coaches dream even if he didn’t
score. But the fact he can score means he should be in the dreams of Ken
Hitchcock and the Dallas Stars in the not too distant future.
Norfolks’Unsung Hero Marty Wilford
“He has been a great surprise this season. His +13 shows he can play well on offense and defense,” said reporter David Winkelsas, of ChicagoBlackhawks.com. So, has there been an unsung hero tucked beneath the wings of the blue and gold? Number 6 may not possess the title or popularity of an Aaron Downey. He doesn’t have the lightning speed of Steve McCarthy, Geoff Peters. But when it comes to tackling defense Marty Wilford has taken the quarterback plunge. What kind of numbers has the Alternate Captain put up thus far in his first season in the AHL? The left shooter in 48 game played, has 5 goals 28 assist and has a dressing of 32 points. The Cobourg, Ontario native has cashed in ten points in his last eight games (two goals, eight assists). He has set a team record with six consecutive game assists. In addition, on December 17, against the Philadelphia Phantoms, and he became the first Admiral record 3 assists in one game. Also, he tore the ice up in the junior league. He accumulated 19 goals 43 assists in his last year with Oshawa, in 1997. “Wilford personifies the typical defenseman. His aggressiveness, no-nonsense, go for broke attitude has inspired his teammates to play through adversity in light of recent call ups including blue line mates Steve Poapst and Steve McCarthy,” said Channel 13, (ABC) Pete Potchowski.
Here’s a brief history on Chicago’s 1995 sixth round (149th overall) draft pick. 1997-98, he enrolled to play 46 games in the ECHL (Columbus) G-8, A-27, PTS-35. Next stop? Indianapoli Read more »
In the NHL, the space of time occupying the latter half of January and the early part of February are known simply as the dog days of the hockey season. No trading deadline is in sight. The All-Star extravaganza of goals is just now behind them. Theoretically, everybody’s still in the playoff race. In the WHL, there aren’t any dog days to speak of during this part of the season. Right now, the only thing canine about the WHL is the dogfighting for position going into the post-season dance With just over five weeks left in the season, it promises to be anything but pretty.
In the Eastern Conference, the race can be best divided into two packs. The big dogs fighting for the conference title and the smaller dogs jockeying and vying for a spot in the post-season party. Unlike last season, when the Calgary Hitmen ran away with the Conference and league title, four teams this year have a viable chance at the crown. Again, unlike last season, it also seems that all four of the top dogs vying for the coveted number one seed in the conference can’t mount any type of sustainable winning streak to lay claim to the crown. Red Deer, Swift Current, Kootenay and Calgary all have legitimate shots at the top seed. Red Deer, currently at the top with 79 points and games in hand over their rivals chasing them in the standings, sits in the driver’s seat for the number one seed. But the Rebels (6-4-1in their last ten games), for all their team strengths in every category, can’t seem to pull away from their adversaries. The Swift Current Broncos (5-4-1 Last10), third in p Read more »