STEVE LAROUCHE WINS JOHN CULLEN AWARD.
Chicago Wolves’ center Steve Larouche has been selected as the International
Hockey League’s Comeback Player of the Year. He will receive the John Cullen
Award, which is given annually to the player deemed to have been a key
contributor to his team, while overcoming injury, illness or other personal
setbacks. The award was voted on by a “blue ribbon” panel of general
managers, broadcasters and beat writers.
Larouche played in only 33 games last season, posting 13 goals and 25
assists for Chicago, before suffering a season-ending knee injury on
December 29, 1998. Larouche rejoined the Wolves for the 1999-2000 season,
where he tallied 88 points (31 goals, 57 assists). He was second in league
scoring, just two points behind teammate Steve Maltais. Larouche led the
league with 57 assists, and was tied for second overall with teammate Chris
Marinucci, netting 14 power-play goals. His efforts helped his team earn the
IHL’s Western Conference Championship, and a chance to compete in the Turner
Cup Finals for the second time in three years. Larouche has played admirably
for his team in the post-season, earning 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) in
13 playoff games, including two assists in three games in the Turner Cup
Larouche is in his ninth professional season and sixth in the IHL. He has Read more »
Leksand defenseman Lars Jonsson is the top rated Swede according to the Swedish correspondents at Hockey´s Future. He has achieved that by playing at a high level all season long and displaying flashes of greatness on both the Swedish national junior team and on Leksand´s junior team. Leksand officials expect Jonsson to step right in an play 30-40 of the 50 regular season games in the Elitserien next season.
The second rated player is Martin Samuelsson who was highly touted as a 16-year-old. He had to battle both injuries and inconsistency this season and his offensive output has to be considered a disappointment. A point-per-game pace in a soft league is not good enough for a potential first round pick. He added a silver lining to his poor season with a good U18 World Championship where he scored 3 goals and 5 assists in 6 games. The gifted Samuelsson, who moved from Stockholm to play for MoDo´s juniorteam, has now moved back to the Swedish capital and will suit up for Hammarby´s senior team next season. A good choice for Samuelsson who left a MoDo club where a lot of the players seemed more concerned about playing for the scouts than playing for their teammates at times. A selfish attitude won´t cut it in senior hockey, and next year will be very beneficial for him.
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Nathan Forster is a defenseman for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) and a 1998 Washington Capitals draft pick. He just
completed his fourth season in Seattle, and should be ready to turn pro next season.
I want to thank Nathan for taking the time to answer my questions, and I would especially like to thank Peter Forster for his help
in making this possible.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a hockey player?
A: If I wasn’t playing I would be going to school and fishing and golfing everyday.
Q: What do you do during the offseason?
A: During the off-season I hit the gym everyday in the morning and have the rest of the day to fish or golf or just relax.
Q: Do you have any game day superstitions?
A: I don’t have any game day superstitions.
Q: What is the greatest moment of your career so far?
A: My greatest memory so far in my hockey career was being drafted to the Caps and also playing in the WHL finals against
Lethbridge in 1997.
Q: Did you expect to be drafted higher in 1998?
A: I didn’t expect much going into the draft because I didn’t have the best year my draft year. I was just happy to be drafted and
knew that this is only the first step to becoming a pro.
Q: What type of player do you describe yourself as?
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The Ottawa Senators’ forward prospects fall into two main categories. Fast,offensively gifted forwards of European nationality and two-way North Americans.
Obviously there are some exceptions to this rule. Martin Havlat, last years 26th pick over all appears to have some defensive awareness. Although Havlat turns heads with his offence there is a well-rounded game underneath the flash. Occasionally Havlat appears to
lose focus and it is the back of his game that most suffers then. At 6’1″, 178 lbs. he’s got good size which should make defensive play easier, but to make the jump to the North American game Havlat must get used to the physical grind. Second behind Havlat on the
depth chart is Russian winger Petr Schastlivy. Many people got their first glimpse of Schastlivy at the ’98 World Junior Championships in Winnipeg. He is graced with good natural speed, balance and the sort of scoring touch you can’t teach. Mid season play with Read more »
He had the smile of an eighteen-year old kid…partly because he had just been selected number two overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft…and party because he was eighteen years old. David Legwand…the first draft selection in Nashville Predators history. Legwand automatically became the “cornerstone of the Nashville franchise for years to come.” His blazing speed and lightning quick hands landed him a spot on the Nashville pro roster less than a year after he was drafted.
He was called the “best goaltender in the world for his age.” He was one of only a handful of goaltenders to be selected in the top ten in the history of the NHL Entry Draft. Brian Finley…chosen sixth overall in the 1999 Entry Draft. One year and an OHL MVP later, Finley is the future number one butterfly goalie for the Preds.
Now think, how many big time free agents have the Predators signed in their history? How many blockbuster trades have the Preds been a part of? If you answered zero to both of those questions, then you are correct. The Predators are using a very painstaking system of building their team into playoff contenders. However, they are using a system that has been used before.
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It’s yet again time for the future watch once again. This time it’s Brian McConnell, the bruising power forward who spent last season at the NTDP in Ann Arbor playing with the Under 17 team. McConnell, is a physical player with a mean streak and has good offensive skills but must work on his skating skills. He had a 8-11-19 line with 76 penalty minutes, he decided to leave Thayer Academy to head to Ann Arbor because he felt it was the best decision to further his hockey career. He said, “It’s been great and it’s really helped me adjust to a higher level of competition.” Having selected Boston University over Maine, Boston College, and New Hampshire because, “Coach Parker is the best coach in the country and they have such a great winning tradition.” McConnell, Ryan Whitney, and Justin Maiser have all selected Boston University and they all feel they have a great chance to win the NCAA title and are looking forward playing together for Jack Parker. He is excited about playing for new coach Mike Eaves but will miss the old coaches especially Bob Mancini. This summer McConnell is skating a few times a week and working on a strength training program to add more muscle to his 6’1” 195lb frame. McConnell is part of one of the top recruiting classes in 2001, expect big things from this power forward.
The Ottawa Senators blue line is a very crowed place; it has been so for a few years now. Ever since the Nashville expansion draft, protecting the plethora of defenseman has been a major concern for management. Coach Jacques Martin likes to play six defensemen
(and often times seven). Laukkanen was off loaded to Pittsburgh, and Kravchuk will probably not be resigned. That leaves youngsters Redden, Philips, Salo, and Traverse along with the ageing York. Forget about Grant Ledyard who is referred by teammates to as old yellar. He will most likely retire. Salo and Traverse are now everyday players. This leaves Karel Rachunek as the only prospect left. John Gruden was recalled from Grand Rapids a few times, but injury problems were not kind to the former Bruin. (Rachunek has been a pleasant surprise. The ninth round, 229th ’97 draft pick was not supposed to be in camp that first year and certainly was not supposed to make it as deep into camp as he did the year after that. There is nothing flashy about this player but the most off-putting thing about him is his confidence. Rachunek did not look out of place back there. He was more defensively sound then Philips or Salo. He is progressing at the usual pace, and unless the inevitable Yashin trade brings a solid NHL defenseman, Rachunek will most likely find himself playing 50 games in the frigid capital this winter.)
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Despite a first round exit to the Buffalo Sabre’s in the ’99 playoffs Ottawa fans were very optimistic. The team had clinched the NorthEast Division pennant and broken the hundred point barrier for the first time. The optimism didn’t last long; there was dark
cumulus off in the distance. It began with mumblings of yet another Alexi Yashin holdout, and as then with a thunderous flash, general manager Rick Dudley fled for last place Tampa Bay. It was as if the team was itself struck by lighting. The shock of Pierre “the ghost”
Gautier leaving for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks was one thing, but now the Ottawa Senators had lost their second GM in one year. Worse still was the mid season departure of Ray Shero to Nashville. Groomed as a future Ottawa GM Mr. Shero had been an assistant GM
with the Ottawa Senators since the time of Randy Sexton. The only hockey man left in town was Marshall Johnstone. By all accounts Johnstone is a very knowledgeable scout and player personal director. He worked in the Devils and Red Wings systems previous to
Ottawa’s, but he is a man who hasn’t be in full control of a team since the days of the Don Cherry and the Colorado Rockies; a very different NHL indeed. The Read more »
Nashville Predators GM David Poile has done it once again. He’s plucked
someone else’s castoffs in the hope of rejuvenating them. This time it’s
two players off the waiver wire from the New York Islanders. Mike Watt and
Sean Haggerty – two 24 year old underachievers – were acquired this week off
the waiver wire. Both forwards, they have struggled to gain a foothold in
the NHL but Poile is ready to give them a shot.
The reasons are quite obvious. Watt and Haggerty are both highly
talented even if they have bounced around through the NHL and minor leagues.
As second round draft picks in 1994, both have had minimal shots at the NHL
with Watt faring the best. In 1999-2000, Watt played in 45 games. In those
games, he had 11 points while spending part of the year with Lowell in the
AHL. With a salary of only $375,000 the upside is obvious. Watt has
proven he can play but on an inconsistent basis. His large size and hard
play should help his case to be an NHL regular. The hope is as he matures,
he will perform better and hopefully battle for a roster spot during
Haggerty was a prolific scorer in juniors and continued on to do that in
the minors, only to struggle in his brief NHL stays. He has only played 11
games at the NHL level so most would argue that he has yet to receive a fair
shot. His blazing speed should fit in well with the speedy Preds, giving Read more »
For the last several years, the staple of the Sharks future has been with their defensive prowess. Even though names such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, and Jonathan Cheechoo give Shark fans reason for hope up front, there are many players that give reason for being ecstatic on defense.
This year saw the emergence of two players on defense with the Sharks. The first of course is Brad Stuart who was nothing short of incredible. While he had down times throughout the year like any rookie, his year as a whole was spectacular.
Throughout the year, Stuart made his presence known. His offensive abilities are proven by the fact that all season long, he only had two times when he was held scoreless 5 games or more in a row (7 and 13 game stretches). As the year progressed, it was clear that Stuart was becoming more and more comfortable with his role not only on defense, but also as part of the offense. Next year, expect to see further strides from Stuart, as he ventures a little further into the offensive zone.
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