After pursuing it for 23 years, Coach Doris Labonte was finally able to lift the Memorial Cup over his head thanks to a 6-2 victory by his Rimouski Oceanic over the Barrie Colts. Hockey’s Future, having caught up to Coach Labonte in a place without computers, had the opportunity to sit down and discuss the past season, Brad Richards, and the Memorial Cup with him and here is what he had to say:
Hockey’s Future: How are you feeling now that you’ve finally reached the pinnacle of coaching in the Canadian Hockey League by winning the Memorial Cup?
Doris Labonte: It’s really great. It was so big before, huge during, and even bigger afterwards! Personally it’s the reward for working so many years in hockey at various levels. It’s also very important for the franchise, all of our fans, the region and the QMJHL.
HF: Going into Halifax what were the areas you thought you could attack each of the teams in and what were the things you felt you had to stop those teams from doing in order to win?
Halifax Mooseheads-Stop their powerplay and their first line. Put more pressure on their defense.
Barrie Colts-Remain disciplined at all times and match their intensity
Kootenay ICE-Stop their first line (Svoboda, Blatney), beat their defensive scheme.
HF: Did any of the teams surprise you and force you to alter your gameplan during the tourney and if so how?
MOOSE AQUIRE 3 ICE DOGS
Doug Ast was one of the three players picked up by the Manitoba Moose
with right-winger Dmitri Leonov and defenceman Dion Darling for future
considerations. The Ice Dogs left the IHL last month to begin play in
West Coast Hockey League so they put up their I-calibre players up for
at the NHL draft in Calgary.
“It was hard for them to survive in the IHL,” said Ast of the Dogs’
attendance of less than 4,000. “Basically it was a business decision. It
Ast knew he could end up almost anywhere on the continent in the IHL or
but figured it would be either independent Houston or Manitoba.
“Manitoba’s my favorite rink to play in. I grew up out here watching the
Jets play and they’ve always got good ice. I’m looking forward to
front of Canadian hockey fans,” said Ast. “The weather is something
going to have to adjust to.”
Ast, 27, scored 22 goals and 48 points in 79 games for the Ice Dogs last
season and has played 211 games for Long Beach over three seasons.
“He can perform a number of roles and has a history of putting up second
line-type numbers,” said Moose GM/head coach Randy Carlyle.
Leonov, 25, notched 17 goals and 38 points while collecting 165 penalty
minutes last season. The 5-foot-11, 190-pound native of Chelyabinsk,
Russia, Read more»
Going into the 2000 draft I wanted the Coyotes to take a gamble on
players with huge upsides. They did not disappoint as several of the
Coyote picks were made for skilled offensive players who are years away
from making any sort of impact in the NHL. They even managed to grab
two overage draft re-entries that provide the Coyote roster with some
much needed depth for the short term.
As for the draft itself, after much reflection, I have to admit I was
fairly pleased with the group of prospects they grabbed with their
selections. It is not an “A” draft by any means, but I would give the
Coyote staff a grade of a “B-”. The grade would have been higher if the
Coyotes had been able to move up in the draft or if more information
were available on second round pick Tatarinov. The Coyote drafting
strategy highlighted the need to bring players with the potential to
play on a top line. I am also biased by the selection of Ramzi Abid who
I feel will make an immediate impact for the Coyotes. It would be
fantastic if Abid could develop into the type of player that Shane Doan
has become. I think Daniel Briere could find some room to work some
magic playing in between these two behemoths. I have a feeling that
Abid will be on the NHL roster next season; especially if the Coyotes
are unable to come to terms with free agent wingers Greg Adams or Benoit
Hogue. So with apologies to Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic, here Read more»
The Tampa Bay Lightning made some significant strides toward rebuilding their team in the 2000 draft. Here are the moves as they are viewed by the organization.
First, the trade for Kevin Weekes. The original plan was to add a veteran goaltender to help Dan Clouthier’s progression. This was probably a good idea at first, but considering the cost of a veteran goalie and the fact that who would really teach someone to take their job, not really feasible. Weekes came on strong at the end of last season and should be on the brink of breaking out. He is an athletic player and just needs a little seasoning. He should push Cloutier for the number spot and if nothing else is a very capable backup. The key to that trade though was actually the defenseman, Kristian Kudroc. The Lightning wanted Kudroc last year and would have selected him in the 2nd round. The Islanders traded up to get him though. Kudroc is big, tough, and has an immense upside. He is just another of the vast stable of blue liners that Tampa Bay has amassed.
The Capitals have already had a busy off-season, but the biggest moves are yet to come. Many of the changes so far have affected the minor league system, leaving the NHL roster intact. However, with six big-name Restricted Free Agents and the potential for some blockbuster trades very soon – the Caps could have a different look for 2000-01.
As with the rest of the league, the Capitals had to sign their 1998 draft picks by June 1st or lose the rights to them. George McPhee got things started early by signing collegiate defenseman Michael Farrell in March. Then, right at the deadline, the Caps came to terms with Krys Barch, Nathan Forster and Rastislav Stana. They are all expected to play minor pro next season, and the Caps have high hopes for all of them. This meant that the remaining 1998 draft picks: Goaltender Jomar Cruz, Forwards Blake Evans and Todd Hornung re-entered the 2000 draft. None of them were selected, and they will look for Free Agent deals during the summer.