The Last Line Of Defense Is A Good One For The Blues
On the eve of the first training camp of the 21st Century, a number of Blues’ fans have questions about the most important position on the team — the goaltenders.
Almost everyone will agree that the time had come to send the beleaguered Roman Turek packing. And yet, despite acquiring a reliable starter (Fred Brathwaite) in return, there is a large faction of Bluenote backers who remain convinced that, without a world-class goalie, the Blues will play second fiddle to the traditional Western powerhouses yet again. The Doubting Thomases point to the inexperience of Brathwaite and Brent Johnson, and predict doom for the Blues in 2001-02.
While Blues fans may have legitimate concerns about goaltending in the short term, the long-term outlook in goal for the Blues has never looked brighter. Of the eight goaltenders who will wear the ‘Note in various camps this fall, six of them were either drafted or developed as professionals by the Blues. And it all starts with the man they call “Big” Johnson.
Originally drafted 129th overall by Colorado in 1995, Brent Johnson became Blues’ property just prior to the 1997 Entry Draft, when interim GM Ron Caron swung a deal for the big young netminder. A few months later, Johnson began his first season as a pro in Worcester, and split the duty with Frederic Cassivi. Johnson’s numbers in his first season were respectable for a 20-year-old rookie — 42 games played, 14 wins, a 3.19 goals-against average and a save percentage of 89.9%.
The next year, t Read more»
Manitoba Moose General Manager Randy Carlyle announced that left-winger Jimmy Roy and defenseman Justin Kurtz will be returning to the Moose line up in 2001-2002 after both agreed to one-year contracts. Last season, Roy posted career highs with 18 goals and 31 points in 77 games with racking up 150 minutes in penalties and was plus-five. Kurtz scored eight goals and added 22 assists for 30 points and was plus-two in 69 games. In the playoffs, Kurtz played some of the best hockey of his career recording five points in 13 games.
Over the past four years, Roy became known around the International Hockey League for his aggressive style of play and his ability to take the opposition off their game. Off the ice, Roy has become Manitoba’s most recognizable player because of his efforts in the community.
Kurtz, who enters his fourth season with the Moose, has developed and improved consistently from year to year. His points and assists totals from last year were both career highs and following last season, Kurtz received the Moose’s annual Community Service Award.
“The signing of both Jimmy Roy and Justin Kurtz were important steps for our hockey club,” said Carlyle. “As much as both contribute on the ice, they are equally as productive off the ice and play an important role for our organization in the community. We are pleased to have Justin and Jimmy back and along with Brian Chapman, they will provide some continuity for our fans as we enter the AHL.”
Roy was originally drafted by the by the Dallas Stars with their 7th pick, 254th Read more»
Many are familiar with most of the Leaf blueliners in the pipeline. Names like Chartier, Zion, Svoboda, Pilar, Colaiacovo among others are either CHL products or overseas skaters that arrived with much fanfare. However, one name without either of these advantages might be worth taking note of in Regan Kelly. Kelly, going into his sophomore year at Providence College in the powerful Hockey East Conference of the NCAA, was obtained when Toronto peddled Chris MacAllister to the Philadelphia Flyers before the 2000/2001 season. Friars Coach Paul Pooley likes what he sees in Kelly to date and feels that he can only get better.
While admitting that “any defenseman needs to work at his pivot” he is also quick to point out that skating “is one of the strengths of the package” his young charge brings to the table with both his straight ahead speed and lateral movement being solid parts of his game. This naturally helps him out in the transition game and his coach lauds his ability to “make a playable (first) pass” although he will use the boards if nothing presents itself. On the rush he “reads the play well” and while “not an end to end rusher” in the mold of Bryan Berard, he knows how to “use his teammates” and “is adept at losing himself in the offense”. Once in the opposition zone Kelly presents a wide array of options for the others players on his team. He “makes himself a good target for passes” by separating from his mark and is “solid at keeping the puck in” when the opposition attempts to clear able to use both his hands and body in addition to his stick to get Read more»