I had an oportunity recently to ask Brandon Wheat Kings forward Ryan Craig a few questions. This is the jist of what I got out of this interview.
The season has been for Ryan Craig, like most of his fellow Wheat King teammates, a dissapointment. Due to injuries and an overall poor team talent wise to play with, Craig has seen his stock for the June NHL entry draft fall. An enlarged spleen (brought on by a case of mononucleosis) forced him to miss the under-18 tournament in August and a shoulder injury sustained after the Top Prospects game forced him out for another three weeks. At the beginning of the season, Craig was being touted as a potential first-round pick. However the injuries, combined with lower then expected numbers on the score sheets this year, has led to Craig’s drop in the rankings.
March 6, 2000. A day that will live in infamy. Well, not really, but for those who follow the Boston Bruins, there has been one constant over the past 21 seasons. That constant’s name? Raymond Jean Bourque. With Boston all but dead in its playoff quest, the
Bruins traded Bourque and veteran winger Dave Andreychuk to the Colorado Avalanche
for C/W Brian Rolston, C/W Samuel Pahlsson, D Martin Grenier and a first round pick in
either 2000 or 2001.
While many Bruins fans are still in shock over the deal that sent one of
Boston’s true sports icons away in the twilight of his career, all that is left to be done is to sift
through the ashes and figure out whether Boston’s risk taken on youth might pay dividends
in the future.
At face value, there is little to compensate for a player who maintained a consistent
level of excellence for so many years like Bourque did in Boston. Critics of the trade need
merely point to the Avalanche players received and compare their statistics to those of
Bourque and Andreychuk. Taking this approach, clearly, Colorado is the winner. Place
your bets, folks, because the odds of the Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup are now Read more»
As much as I’ve enjoyed covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and their farm affiliates in Wilkes-Barre and Wheeling, it is now time for me to go after a dream of my own. Before I do so, I would like to take this moment and say, “Thank you,” to those of you who have followed my work and supported me. Because this dream is rather demanding, and it will take a lot of energy and dedication, I will not be able to write about the Penguins with the frequency you are used to.
You see, for the past seven years I have dedicated my life to writing about hockey, always dreaming of reaching for the impossible and doing what no other journalist has done before. The only problem with my dream was despite effort and determination it lacked a sense of direction. I may have learned a lot about this magical game throughout the journey, but was honestly miles away from “the game winning goal.” Now, after careful consideration and endless hours of research, I have decided to reach beyond the boundaries of North America and specialize in Russian hockey.
Last summer was the first big step in turning this dream into a reality. I was a little frightened and unsure, but I knew if I could find the courage to push myself, I could make anything happen. That’s when I boarded a plane at JFK in New York and headed out on a solo trip to Yaroslavl, Russia. It took ten hours by air and 4 hours by train to get there, but I eventually made it and somehow captured an interview with the management of Torpedo Yaroslavl, elite members of the Russian Hockey League.
On February 22nd Penguins fans were devastated with the news that Pittsburgh’s leading
scorer and beloved captain, right winger Jaromir Jagr, would be placed on injured reserved
with a hamstring injury. The original estimate for games missed was 3 weeks. Considering the
Penguins current struggles, inconsistency both on and off the ice, the last thing this team needed was to lose their leader. At the same time 3 weeks without Jagr would be a good test for the unity of the team, and a chance for individuals such as Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka, German Titov, and Aleksey Morozov to focus on their talents and break out of scoring slumps. It would also give some of the Jr. Pens, hard working players such as Robert Dome and Martin Sonnenberg a chance to revisit NHL ice.
Unfortunately, the outlook for Jagr’s return soon became grimmer. Few were prepared when it was announced that a blood clot had formed in his thigh and would need to be surgically removed, an incident unrelated to that of the hamstring injury. What did it mean? It meant adding at least a couple more weeks to the overall recovery time. Instead of missing a month of action, Jaromir could end up missing the remainder of the regular season, if not the remainder of the year.
Jerred Smithson is more than a footnote.
The 20 year old winger was acquired from Calgary a couple weeks ago for future considerations. While this move was glossed over by many Kings fans, including yours truly, Smithson seems to have something special.
Jerred Smithson is a right winger for the Calgary Hitmen of the CHL. The Hitmen are well known in the Canadian Hockey League, not only because of professional wrestler Brett “Hitman” Hart’s involvement with the team, but because highly regarded Ranger prospect Pavel Brendl also plays for them. Smithson, who only has 10 goals and 20 assists this season, is perhaps even more highly regarded than Brendl with some fans. Smithson is what so many broadcasters call a “lunchpail” player. Smithson is a blue collar-type player. He has little or no regard for his body, as evidenced by a recent injury from throwing himself into the boards attempting to make a big hit. Smithson has amassed over 100 PIM’s and as Kings fans can tell you, that is important for a guys who has flanked a star like Brendl this season. A guy who has size, stands up for his teammates and makes big hits is exactly what the Kings need right now.