This column will endeavour to keep you informed about happenings going on with the Windsor Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers over the course of the 1999-2000 OHL season. Emphasis will be placed on the progress of the teams, of course, but particular emphasis will be placed on the rookies and selected sophomores on each team. You will be able to check out how these youngsters are doing offensively, along with some comments on how they’re handling themselves as the season goes on.
For now, some jots and thoughts as the teams get ready to open the season.
For some, the pre-season is a lot like the TV game show “Whose Line is it Anyway.” (Everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.)
However, coaches and GMs spend long hours going over each player’s performance.
In Windsor, the feeling is one of rebirth. Things are looking up with the hiring of Tom Webster as coach and Mike Kelly as GM.
Together, they’ve brought an air of knowledge and professionalism, the likes of which Windsor Arena hasn’t seen in a good, long while.
It started in early July, a few weeks after the draft. The players were sent a conditioning program to follow, and while it’s a work in progress, things seem better this time than they did a year ago.
Webster told the Windsor Star the biggest challenge is getting players to do the program.
“What they have to realize eventually is that the game becomes so much easier when they’re in shape.”
Read more »
Two players supposedly ticketed for Hartford, goalie Jean-Francois Labbe and center Mike York, may remain with the Rangers longer than anticipated. “Labbe has been terrific. He’s playing the way we thought he would all last season,” Maloney said. “[Kirk] McLean is on a big ticket [two years, $1.7 million plus incentives], but Labbe is really pushing for that No. 2 spot behind [Mike] Richter.” York, who played three games with the Wolf Pack last season after being runner-up for the Hobey Baker Award at Michigan State, could stay as a third or fourth center. “He’s making it really hard for the Rangers to keep him off the roster,” Don Maloney stated after the Baby Rangers played in South Windsor, CT before a standing room only crowd of 1,100 at South Windsor Arena.
Tough defender Dale Purinton received a five minute major and a game misconduct for high sticking. Although slight on skills Purinon may return to New York this season as the Rangers and Coach Muckler are searching for a tough player. The 6-2 220lb defenseman recorded 1 goal and 3 assists and 401 penalty minutes in the last 61 games covering 2 seasons. The Wolf Pack went on to defeat the Worcester Ice Cats and former Yale Goalie Alex Westlund 5-4 on a goal from Brad Smyth. David Oliver (6-2 205) (one goal) and Richard Scott were noted as the best players. Goalie Jason Labarbera made 17 saves and back up Jeff Heil kicked out 15 of 18.
Read more »
At the Sept. 19th Blackhawk exhibition, I spent some time talking to Ty Jones and Nathan Perrott. I approached Jones and identified myself as the Hockey’s Future Hawk editor and asked if I could talk to him about training camp.
He agreed and I asked about his experiences starting with the 1998 training camp through this 1999 camp. I told him everyone I talked to in the organization had him tabbed as a can’t miss NHL caliber player, but that last preseason he seemed very tentative and a step behind the play, and I wondered was going through his mind then.
Ty: When you finally come to a camp where the parent club is taking a long look at you, you feel afraid of making any mistakes. You could look at many of the guys brought into Hawk camp and their biggest problems on ice were just that fear of error.
Q2: Ty, I am wondering how you felt going back to junior, just waiting to get back here this September and then ending up unable to get any ice time (due to tailbone and finger injuries).
Ty: Going back to junior was a change. Here in the NHL the play and abilities are so accelerated that junior was much less challenging.
Q2:Did the Hawks have things they asked you to specifically work on in junior?
Ty: All I was asked to do is go out and play. Concerning my inability to play in preseason, all I could do now is lift and train.
Q3: Are you expecting to go down to Cleveland and play?
Read more »
The Hamilton Bulldogs, of the American Hockey League, assigned four players to the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks today. Kyle Schultz, Tiger Sharks Media Relations Director confirmed that four players had been assigned but had no further information.
The players that were sent to Tallahassee are Derek Paget, Craig Morgan, Brandon LaFrance and Paul Buczkowski.
No information was available on Morgan.
Padget is a Left Wing, 6’0 183 lbs., from Kamloops, BC. He played for The Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League. During the 1998-1999 season he scored 26 goals added 45 assists and 115 penalty minutes in 72 games.
Lafrance is a Right Wing, 6’1″ 190lbs., from Navan , Ontario. He played for the Ohio State University Buckeyes beginning in the 1995-1996 season. In the four years at Ohio State LaFrance played in 125 games, scored thirty- three goals, added twenty-one assists to go with 138 penalty minutes. His most productive season was the 1998-99 season where he scored Ten goals and had seven assists.
Buczkowski played six year for the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League. During his six-season tenure with the Blades, Buczkowski netted 126 goals, and was credited with 224 assists to go along with 313 minutes in the penalty box over the course of 313 games. Buczkowski played in the German Second league during the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons, with Peissenberg.
Read more »
At the halfway point of the preseason, the Kings have to be feeling pretty good about their team, but a bit shaken concerning their prospects. There were only a few young players expected to even challenge, but as the preseason presses on, they are beginning to take their one way plane flights out of LA. Donald MacLean was sent out Sunday, and one has to wonder if he has a future in the NHL. MacLean seemed to have the best chance of any prospect to make the team, but his play was unspectacular at best. Players like Justin Papineau, Kip Brennan, and Sean Blanchard were not expected to make the team and were consequently sent to the minors. The resulting players still hanging around include a couple of surprises. Jason Podollan has scrapped his past mold as a scorer and is challenging to be a wing on the checking line. He has shown the grit that he always has possessed but has also added an increased emphasis on the defensive side of the ice. Another potential surprise is Fran Kaberle, who with the continued Visa problems of Jere Karalahti, seems poised to sneak on the roster. New coach Andy Murray has publicly recognized Podollan and Kaberle as two of the more impressive youngsters in camp.
Notes: The Kings preseason game Monday night will be the final game ever at the forum. I will personally miss the Forum, but from all indications, the Staples Center will be one of the premiere buildings in the NHL.
Tidbits: Donald MacLean and Jan Nemecek are the only surprise cuts so far. Look for one shocker on the final cutdown.
The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim have had a wonderful off sesaon. They have made some new acquistions, watched prospects mature and for once, they had a relatively quiet off season unlike the past which was full of contract squabbles, ego trips, coaching changes and the occassional front office swap. The only problems this year stem from the possible sale of the Ducks by Disney to the billionaires Henry, other wise known as Henry Nicholas and Henry Samueli. The Ducks dont seem to care about what happens up top, instead they are focusing on the future and getting ready for the season.
The Ducks’ training camp motto is “Take the Next Step”. Apparently the fans are ready. A capacity crowd showed up at Disney ICE when camp opened bringing plenty of energy to camp. Heres a look at those trying to take the next step and make the big club and those who are on the verge of being there this time around. And a note for those wondering the “borderline” monikers, etc, it is only meant as their chances of making the team out of camp this year, not in the future or their future as an NHLer.
Niclas Havelid, D
Read more »
The first three roster cuts are complete and the remaining Nashville Predators prospects are entering the most important weekend of their careers. Nashville plays three games in as many nights and the trio of contests will offer the final chance for most prospects to earn roster spots. Here is the second of two reports that will provide updates on all the notable prospects who have participated in the Predators rookie camp and NHL training camp …
Ed Hill (6)
During the Nashville rookie camp, Ed Hill showed that he has the basic tools to be a successful NHL defenseman. He has a solid all-around game and is a smooth skater with good passing ability. He does not have any glaring weaknesses, but he will need to step up his game in the near future. He will return to the Barrie Colts of the OHL this season, where he is a teammate of fellow Predators prospect Brian Finley. If Hill can raise the level of his game over the next couple of years, he could develop into a very good prospect.
Karlis Skrastins (6)
Read more »
Numerous factors must go into a young person’s decision to make a change in his or her life. Is it best to stay close to home? Where will I have the best chance to succeed? How do I find out all that I need to know? When is it the best time to make the big changes?
Confusing questions to anyone, but imagine then having to make a change which requires you to move halfway around the world to a foreign country when you are just 17 years old. Konstantin Kalmikov, who hails from the Ukraine, made such a decision when he came over to North America to play in the Colonial Hockey League in the 1995-96 season.
“The hockey system is not very well organized in the Ukraine. I felt that to best develop my game, a move to North America would be helpful”, states the soft-spoken Kalmikov.
Following a 4-goal, 13-assist season split between Flint and Detroit in the CHL in the 1995-96 season, the Maple Leafs drafted Konstantin in the 3rd round of the 1996 NHL entry draft with the 68th overall selection. He moved to Sudbury of the OHL for the 1996-97 season, scoring 22 goals and adding 34 assists in 66 games. His second year with Sudbury saw a rise in his production to 32 goals and 32 assists during the 1997-98 season.
“While in Europe, we constantly worked on our skating, so I felt pretty good about that part of my game. My last two years I have worked more on my shot, trying to quicken my release and increase the power. That part of my game has improved a lot, but I have a ways to go”, states Kalmikov.
Read more »
It’s September 12, 1999, many young faces to the world of professional hockey are tying up their skates for the first time. They are preparing to step on the ice carrying an NHL crest on their jersey and knowing that they have a chance to become a professional hockey player one day.
Coach Crawford is telling his players to go out there and have fun and that’s all the game is about. The team races out with new faces in Steve Kariya and Jarkko Ruutu. However, Crawford and Burke, who have seen Kariya playing with intensity all week in Kamloops, have been caught saying some good words on the 5-foot-7 speedy gonzalez on ice.
By far Kariya has been the most productive player at camp this season and it is no doubt he will crack the lineup with the Canucks this season.
The Canucks have the Sedin twins wrapped up, now what if they were able to land Paul Kariya with Steve? Of course it probably won’t ever happen, what’s wrong with bringing more family love onto the Canucks? Other notable players at camp all week include Artem Chubarov, Lubomir Vaic and even Matt Cooke is stepping up for a job. Of course Cooke has stated several times to media he never wants to go back to Syracuse. If Josh Holden wants to ever see the dawn of day for more then a few games with the Canucks then he better pull out of the bag what he is projected to do or else players like Matt Cooke may rub 1st round pick all over Josh’s face in the next year.
Read more »
All in all, the Sharks are looking much more like a cohesive unit this year. The Sharks are famous for slow starts, look for that trend to end this year if they can maintain the momentum.
1: Johan Hedberg: Looking solid, but clearly AHL material for now. Given that he’s already 26, and will be fighting for time in Kentucky, don’t look for him to be anything more than a team’s 3rd goalie.
3: Bob Rouse: Actually looking pretty strong, better than last year. I’m hoping the Sharks can use him in a situation where he only plays perhaps every other or every 3rd game to keep him fresh. Although with smaller rosters now, not sure if that will be possible. May be odd man out if rookies earn a spot.
5: Jeff Norton: Looking better defensively than offensively which is opposite of what I expected. Haven’t really seen much on offense, but has made several very nice defensive plays.
8: Jarrod Skalde: Haven’t really seen much one way or another about him. Solid play on both ends, no big mistakes.
10: Marcus Ragnarson: A jammed ankle has slowed him a little bit, but has looked solid paired with Mike Rathje again. He’ll be back in time for when they count.
11: Owen Nolan: Miracle of miracles, I have not seen him go postal yet. When last year he was hitting posts and missing all together, he’s right on this year. Looking sharp around the net during practices. Haven’t seen him much in scrimmage or games yet though.
Read more »