Florida’s Little Big Man, Byron Ritchie

by Mark Fischel

It is widely recognized that when it comes to the issue of size for hockey players, the larger players seemingly get more consideration over the smaller players. For a time in the mid 90’s, large skilled players were in vogue as the “Legion of Doom” was carving their way through the Eastern Conference, and general managers were looking for the next “Big” player.

While a player of Eric Lindros’s size and skill are always coveted, sometimes it is the smaller guys who make just as much difference on their teams. Guys like Steve Sullivan, Paul Kariya, Ray Whitney, Theo Fleury , and Sergei Samsonov all play big games in contrast to their smaller stature.

Another small player is starting to make his presence felt on the Florida Panthers is Byron Ritchie, and he too has never taken into consideration the negatives toward the small players.

“I never had a problem with size being an issue, and as long as a guy like me isn’t intimidated by the bigger players. I don’t even think the size is really an issue.” Ritchie said, “For instance, Doug Gilmour of Montreal. He isn’t a big player but he has had an awesome career and he is one of the feistiest players in the league”

On January 16th, the Panthers made a trade with the Hurricanes in acquiring defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh and center Byron Ritchie, giving Florida the puck-moving offensive defenseman they have been searching for since their inception. For a player originally drafted in the 7th round of the 1995 draft by the then Hartford Whalers, the first time being traded was a new exp Read more»

The CHL Daily News: Playoff Edition

by League Press Release

The Toronto St. Michael’s Majors (6) became the first CHL team to advance to
the second round of the playoffs Tuesday night, as the North Bay Centennials
became the first team to be eliminated from the post-season.

Toronto defeated North Bay 5-2 Tuesday night, winning the best-of-seven
Ontario Hockey League Eastern Conference opening round series in four
consecutive games. As a result, there are now 45 teams still alive in the
fight to join the host Guelph Storm at the 2002 MasterCard Memorial Cup May
18-26 in Guelph, Ontario.

It was the final OHL game in North Bay, which has been home to the
Centennials for 20 years. The team was recently sold to a group that will
transfer the team to Saginaw, Michigan next season.

Tuesday night was a busy night in the CHL playoffs as 17 games were played.
Details on all of the games are listed below.

In each edition of the CHL Daily News (Monday through Friday) right up until
the conclusion of the CHL playoffs, the playoff results of all three CHL
leagues will be included. First round playoff action in all three leagues
will be completed by April 3.

Wrap-ups from all of the games are included daily, along with that day’s
schedule of games.

Starting April 3, a special MasterCard Memorial Cup section will also be
available at the official website of the CHL, www.chl.ca.

The complete playoff schedules of the three leagues are listed below. Be
sure and follow all of the CHL playoff action at the official website of the
CHL, www.chl.ca, daily right up until the 2002 MasterCard Memoria Read more»

New Coach to Lead the Jr. Blues Next Year

by Ron Valerino

The Springfield Jr. Blues of the North American Hockey League (NAHL) have
hired Chicago native Nick Pollos as their new Head Coach and General Manager
for the upcoming 2002 – 2003 Jr. A Hockey Season. Pollos comes to the Jr.
Blues from the Chicago Flames Midget program where he captured three
consecutive Illinois State and USA Central District Championships as well as
a USA Hockey National Championship in 1999 and a USA Hockey National Runner
Up in 2000.

“I am very excited about the opportunity here in Springfield” says Pollos,
“It’s a great hockey town with great fans. The people of Springfield will be
proud of the team next season and enjoy watching them perform.” The Jr.
Blues will look to rebound from a dismal 2001 – 2002 season. “One of our
goals as a team is to be the hardest working team on the ice night in and
night out. Hard work, commitment and a discipline attitude are not requested
next year, they are expected,” says Pollos, “We want to be a skilled team
and play a complete team game”. The Jr. Blues currently are fighting for the
final playoff spot in the NAHL’s West Division

The Jr. Blues can be reached at 217-525-2589 or by email at

Islanders trade deadline report and look ahead

by Bill Bennett

The Trade Deadline:

It was a Good News/Bad News Deadline day for the Islanders.

The Good News:

Mike Milbury did not sacrifice any of the teams future on draft day. The names Isbister, Mezei, DiPietro, Torres and Kolnik were all in rumors, along with Dave Scatchard. After all the years of trading in the kids, it was the right call to stick to a plan and see if one goal-scorer to play alongside Yashin this summer can be added. Which is why my last article had several offers that only should have been made if it was a complete steal for Mike Milbury’s roster.

The Isles did bring in Darren Van Impe from the Florida Panthers for a fifth rd pick this summer to give the defense some badly needed depth and in his early games has played in a pairing with Roman Hamrlik.

Van Impe played only thirty games with Boston last season because of an injury and was released before his arbitration hearing. The Rangers signed him where he saw spot duty before being picked up by Florida. Mike Keenan has a habit of making moves on impulse and Van Impe’s plus six rating on a poor Panthers team makes it an interesting move. We’ll see if he fits the Islanders system better which is half the story for many of these players who bounce from team to team without a real good look.

Minor Move:

Dave Roche was re-acquired by the Sound Tigers for
Ben Guite and Swedish product Bjorn Melin. Bridgeport clinched a playoff spot and is in a wild race with the Hartford Wolfpack (Ra Read more»

Countdown to Sutherby

by Seth Keggins

And so, the countdown for Brian Sutherby continues. After promising words from both Owner Ted Leonsis and G.M. George McPhee, touted Caps prospect Brian Sutherby could arrive back in Washington as early as next week. Sutherby is currently taking part in the WHL playoffs in which his squad, the Moose Jaw Warriors, is fencing with a Regina team which owns a better regular season record (and owns the season series between the two squads at 6-4-1). Caps team hierarchy report that Sutherby is expected to arrive in Washington, D.C. as early as this weekend, however Brian and his team are more focused towards advancing into the second round of the playoffs.
Read more»