Another in a series of weekly articles designed to summarize activities in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
What’s next: After several weeks of intensive activity featuring the Entry Draft, the successful pursuit of new players in the unrestricted free agent market and negotiating with their own restricted free agents, off season activity down at the ACC seems to have abated somewhat… Coach/GM Pat Quinn is currently relaxing on a friend’s yacht somewhere off the Greek Islands… however, when he returns, Quinn must deal with the following pieces of unfinished business…
- Hire a second Assistant Coach to replace the recently departed Alpo Suhonen
- Hire/promote 1 or more front office types to fill several holes in the Hockey Department
- Lock up free agents Perreault, Karpovtsev and others on new multi-year contracts
- Find someone who can quarterback the team’s anemic powerplay
- Decide whether or not to get involved in the upcoming Eric Lindros Sweepstakes
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Despite the fact that the OHL season finished up over a month ago it’s never too late to look back at the season past. In this season summary you will find almost everything you need to know about the 1999-200 OHL season.
The OHL sure had it’s share of turmoil this year. The Barrie Colts had plenty of run-ins with Commissioner David Branch’s office over the course of the 1999-2000 season. The Colts were the OHL’s version of “Team Turmoil”. With all of the problems that they had it was surprising that they were as successful as they were. We won’t get into those problems though. Many teams did better than expected this year while some weren’t quite as successful. Here is a brief look back at each team’s season:
Regular Season: 43-19-6-1, 93 points, Division-1st, Conference-1st, Overall-2nd
Playoffs: Won league title, Lost in Memorial Cup final to Rimouski (QMJHL)
Leading Scorer: Sheldon Keefe (48-73-121)
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The Wheeling Nailers, ECHL affiliate of the Pens, hired Alain Lemieux as
their new head coach replacing Murray Eaves (who is the brother of
former Pens asst. Mike Eaves).
Lemieux is, of course, the older brother of Pens owner Mario Lemieux.
Alain was the coach of the ECHL’s Jacksonville Lizard Kings last year
before they suspended operations at the end of the season.
The Pens also announced that they will be making more of an effort to
help the Nailers on and off the ice. The Pens signed a 5 year management agreement with Wheeling 2 yeaes ago, but interaction between the organizations has been limited the first 2 years because of off-ice bankruptcy problems with the Pens and the startup of their own AHL franchise last year. The Pens plan on sending 5 to 6
players to the Nailers this season, as opposed to the 1 player (Tom O’Connor) that they sent
each of the last 2.
They will also be doing some cross-promotions with Wheeling on their
With Tore Vikingstad likely to partake in the St.Louis Blues minicamp before returning to his Swedish club, the Norwegian Hockey Community was excited when they heard much rant and rave about Trond Magnussen and his brilliant World Championships but as draft day closed in…his name was not found on any of the ratings boards even as an “overage” player. The smallish Magnussen, a player in Fårjestad of Sweden showed a dominating team oriented performance against the Canadians at the World`s and was being scouted by Nashville, Islanders and others…but was not taken or offered a contract. Per Skroder of Frolunda (Sweden) was joined by Anders Myrvold (AIK) as other possible players of interest to the NHL clubs but none was offered a deal.
The next generation of Norwegian players includes Patrik Thoresen, son of long time Norwegian star Petter, Dan Tanges-Rogle(Sweden) and Anders Fredriksen lead the way. Lars Nagel who had been a bright spot in NEJHL was offered scholarships to atleast one Division One University (Yale) but there is no word on whether he will attend school there or stay home and play in Norway. The future is somewhat brighter with Espen Knutsen`s return to the NHL (Columbus) and the fairings at the 2000 World`s by Team Norway. But again time will tell.
Former Canadian Junior and Montreal Pick Jarl Ygranes who played solid hockey for Frisk(Nor.Elite) has been training like a monster and is headed back to a strong Frisk side led by former NHLer Serge Boisvert.
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It was bound to happen eventually. Former first round pick Nolan Baumgartner just wasn’t a part of the Capitals future anymore. After Nolan’s contract expired at the end of the season, there didn’t seem to be much reason to re-sign him.
Capitals’ GM George McPhee traded Baumgartner to the Blackhawks for defenseman Remi Royer in an exchange of headaches. Chicago fans had made Royer a target after watching him make several mistakes in his brief NHL stint in 1998. Both these players seem to hold a wealth of potential, but neither has put it together enough to secure a job in the big leagues.
The Capitals have made it their mission to acquire more toughness this off-season. They started by trading for defenseman Stephen Peat, and drafted Ryan VanBuskirk a month later. Two weeks ago, they brought back a familiar face by signing Free Agent Craig Berube. Now, with this deal for Royer, the Caps are certainly a tougher team – but it remains to be seen if they are better.
The Capitals main problem now seems to be an abundance of defenseman. They currently have 15 blueliners under contract, and two more ready to turn pro, in Bjorn Nord and Ryan VanBuskirk. Added to that are their three Restricted Free Agents: Sergei Gonchar, Ken Klee and Brendan Witt. With NHL teams carrying seven defensemen and AHL teams employing eight, the Caps have to find a place for the five extra defensemen to play.
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Bruce Cassidy was named head coach of the IHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, succeeding Guy Charron who left to become an assistant coach with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Cassidy, 35, began his head coaching career during the 1996-97 season, after a 12-year playing career as a defenceman in the NHL, IHL, AHL and Europe. Chicago’s first selection in the 1983 draft, Cassidy played parts of six seasons with the Blackhawks, totalling 37 games and 17 points (4-13-17).
He spent the majority of his career in the IHL with the Saginaw Gears and Indianapolis Ice, appearing in 312 games between 1987 and 1996.
After retiring early in the 1996-97 season, Cassidy became head coach of Jacksonville of the East Coast Hockey League.
Cassidy was head coach and director of hockey operations with Indianapolis of the IHL in the 1998-99 before taking over the ECHL Trenton Titans last season as head coach and director of hockey operations.
On June 8, 1996 the Utah Grizzlies defeat the Orlando Solar Bears 3-2 in overtime to complete their second consecutive four-game sweep of the Turner Cup Finals before a record playoff crowd of 17,381 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.
IHL TEAMS PLACE IN IHL HISTORY
CLEVELAND LUMBERJACKS: The franchise has been in existence for 37 years, but started in Muskegon, Mich., playing uder the name of the Zephyrs from 1960-65, the Mohwaks from 1965-84, and the Lumberjacks from 1985-92. The team relocated to Cleveland in 1992-93.
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The defending NCAA hockey champs will have a unique feature for their new arena when it opens next year. That feature, thanks to Las Vegas tycoon and UND alumni Ralph Engelstad, is a 26 feet long, 19 foot high organ. Engelstad gave the school $100 million for a new 12,000-seat arena to be built on campus and now he has donated the organ. The instrument dates to the 1920s and is made in the Art Deco style — detailed with pillars and bright colors. It’s not a pipe organ. It’s a dance organ. Dance organs were once called fair organs because they were popular during turn-of-the-century fairs and carnivals. The organs later became popular in European dance — hence the name dance organ. But, much like player pianos, dance organs play programmed music, which Engelstad and UND can program for their needs. Some of the musical instruments in the device are flutes, drums and accordions. Engelstad had it refurbished by prisoners participating in a program in Nevada to help train inmates in a trade. contractors don’t plan to install the refurbished organ until the arena is almost complete, in about a year. At that time, the contractors will install it in the arena’s Fighting Sioux Club. It will overlook Engelstad’s bowl-shaped arena and will be visible from most seats. People can also view it in the club. No other arena in teh country has such an organ.
With a state-of-the-art arena, luxury locker rooms, weight rooms, and now an antique organ, Dean Blais has one of the best recruiting tools in all of college hockey…Ralph Engelstad.
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As the Mississauga Ice Dogs look back on the 1999-2000 season, they must be wondering if things will ever come together for their franchise. Once again, the Ice Dogs endured another season of turmoil on and off the ice. They lost their first game of the season to the St.Michael’s Majors with less than a second remaining on the clock after blowing a third period lead. This was to be an omen of things to come, as the team would end up with a league worst record of 9-58-1. This lousy record resulted in the usual coaching changes, with the Ice Dogs firing Head Coach Jim Hulton . However, his replacement, veteran OHL coach Geoff Ward, lasted only a handful of games. He walked out on the team before a game, surrounded by rumours that he wouldn’t tolerate Don Cherry’s meddling in the coaching of the team. Cherry’s nephew, Steven Cherry, whose only previous coaching experience was with a girl’s high school hockey team, replaced Ward. Together, with the help of Don Cherry’s brother Dick, the two made progress down the stretch with the team seeming to make some strides towards their goal of on ice improvement. Steven Cherry was only supposed to be an interim coach, however, as of this time, a new head coach has yet to be hired.
KEY DEPARTURES- G-Nick Foley, F-Scott Page, F-Julian Smith, D Marcus Smith
PROBABLE ADDITIONS- F-Patrick Jarrett, F-Mark Cranley, D-Andrew Dwyer, F-Blair Jarrett, G-Matt Collaton or G-Justin Dumont, D Sean McMorrow, RW Mike Wehrstedt, D Brent Labre
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