The Blues gave some insight as to who they think are the top prospects in the organization. Fifteen players were selected to attend a camp designed to raise fitness awareness and inform the youngsters of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Those in attendance included Daniel Corso, Brent Johnson, Jan Horacek, Reed Low, Maxim Linnik, Jame Pollock, Tyler Rennette, Didier Tremblay, Brad Twordik, Cody Rudkowsky, Matt Smith, Jamie Thompson, and Jason Widmer.
Players present from this years draft class were Barret Jackman and Chad Starling. The three day mini-camp focused on weight training, speed development, dietary programs, media relations orientation, and drug and alcohol awareness. This off-ice program is something the Blues believe is a good investment. So many players are drafted and then are expected to develop into professional athletes without any direction or support from the organizations that own their rights. Larry Pleau implemented this plan a year ago and only good things have resulted. Top players not in camp were Christian Backman, Ladislav Nagy, and Andrei Podkonicky
Part II: Early Inroads in Europe
While it is true that the Flyers early relations with players and officials in the major European hockey countries were often strained and sometimes downright hostile, the organization also has a parallel history of being surprisingly progressive in recognizing that the European continent had a lot to offer the NHL.
Often lost amidst the recounting of the bitter rivalry with the Soviets during the 1970s is the fact that Fred Shero, the Broad Street Bullies era coach of the Flyers, was a dedicated student of Russian hockey. Even during the days when the Iron Curtain was firmly in place, Shero was able to travel to Russia during the offseason to study the Soviet style of play and meet with Tarasov. Shero and Tarasov developed a strong admiration for one another and spent a good deal of time together, comparing notes on their respective hockey philosophies. Shero borrowed ideas on practice methods and game tactics from the Soviets and adapted them to be useful in an NHL setting. For example, Shero brought back from Moscow a three man passing drill which simultaneously utilized three pucks, rather than one.
Although often portrayed as an organization that turns its back on the European talent pool in the top rounds of the NHL draft and is less patient with young European players in the organization than with North American prospects, the Philadelphia Flyers actually have one of the more complex histories in regard to tapping in to the European talent pool. For a quarter century, the Flyers have had a love-hate relationship with the hockey countries on the other side of the Atlantic. While the Flyers carried open enmity toward the former Soviet hockey machine for a longer period of time than with many other NHL teams, the organization showed itself to be progressive-thinking in other regards, both in Russia and throughout the rest of hockey-playing Europe.
Part I. The Roots of Antagonism and the Winds of Change Read more»
“He has a way of working along the boards in tight spaces, turning his body every which way to get a hand, an arm, his stick, free from the defenseman and to the puck to obtain possession.” “Mirko’s uncanny ability to come up with the puck in tight quarters have earned him the nickname, ‘Slinky’, ” states Frantz Bergevin-Jean, Moncton’s Director of Communications and assistant coach. “He is just super off the puck, working it free along the boards to help to start a scoring chance”. “He never hestitates to do the dirty work in the corners or in front of the net”, he adds.
Born in Montreal, but also a citizen of Switzerland, Mirko has made a name for himself as a tough, 2-way forward for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL the last 2 seasons. He was named the team’s rookie of the year in the 97-98 season after scoring 10 goals and 15 assists for 25 pts. in 54 games. He followed that up with 21 goals and 33 assists for 54 pts. in 69 games in 98-99. He added an assist in 4 playoff games against Rimouski. “We are looking forward to a big year from Mirko in 99-00″, says Bergevin-Jean, “He will have a bigger role on the team as an 18 yr. old, particularly as a leader this seaon”, he adds. “He will undoubtedly play on one of our top two lines this year”, he says.
Mirko slowly rose the ladder this past year as he was ranked 84th by CSB at their mid-term ranking and ended up the 67th-ranked North American skater by the end of the season. He played for Team Orr in the annual prospects games and had an assist.
The LA Kings started the 1998-99 season amid optimism for a breakout season. The backbone of that potential was what then-coach Larry Robinson called “one of the best defensive corps in the NHL.” While that may have been an overstatement, the fact remained that the Kings were deep at defense. A year later, Robinson is gone, as well as the deep defensive corps. Steve Duchesne was a bust, Garry Galley’s effort has been called into question, Doug Bodger has been told to seek employment elsewhere and promising young defenseman Aki Berg is no closer to signing with the club. Add to that the fact that Matthieu Biron, the club’s top pick last year, was sent to the Island in the Ziggy Pallfy trade, and we’re looking at some major depletion here… The Kings still have solid NHL defensemen in Rob Blake, Mattias Norstrom and an improving Sean O’Donnell, but still lack depth. Phillippe Boucher, Jaroslav Modry and Garry Galley round out the experienced defensemen on the NHL roster. The result is that one or two of the following players will need to make the club this season, and the other young defensemen in the system will need to mature quickly.