Next year will be an interesting one for the Sharks’ primary affiliate, the Kentucky Thoroughblades. Much of the core of Kentucky will be, or is already gone from last year’s team, which was just one game shy of playing in the Calder Cup Finals.
Names that are already gone include Andrei Zyuzin, Shawn Burr, and co-leading scorer Steve Guolla-all traded in the deal that brought Nik Sundstrom to San Jose. The team’s other leading scorer, Herbert Vasiljevs (Florida prospect) was also traded, to Atlanta, for Trevor Kidd. With their two main offensive threats gone, they then found themselves without one of their starting goalies, as Sean Gauthier will not return, as he is an Unrestricted Free Agent, and is looking for playing time somewhere else. To cap it off, Dan Boyle will likely find himself playing in Florida next year. He was one of the main guys on defense last year. Other names who may not be back include: Jarrett Deuling (possible), Mike Craig (possible), Steve Lingren (gone), Peter Allen (gone).
Part 7: Euro Draft Statistical Breakdown
Times have certainly changed in the NHL over the last quarter century. It is now truly a global league. Locker rooms commonly feature players from seven different countries and there are a smattering of players from several other lands. European talent scouting has become more crucial than ever as the league has continued to expand and more and more European-born players have come to be selected in the early phases of the NHL draft. Today, many European fans follow the NHL with equal or greater passion than they do the leagues in their own country. NHL hockey has become a global entity. So have the Philadelphia Flyers, sometimes blazing trails at the forefront, sometimes being dragged kicking and screaming.
Appendix: European Flyers by the numbers
Through 1998-99, there have been 28 European-born players who have worn a Flyers uniform, not including players who dressed only in pre-season games, such as Toni Porkka and Vladislav Boulin. Here is a county-by country breakdown:
Czech Repubic [or Czech portion of former Czechoslovakia] (8)
Russia (7) Read more»
Part VI: The Return of Bob Clarke
On June 15, 1994, Bob Clarke left his post as GM of the Florida Panthers to return to Philadelphia and once again become the Flyers General Manager. After his firing by Jay Snider in the summer of 1990, Clarke had become GM of the Minnesota North Stars. Despite having some success in Minnesota, including a surprise trip to the Stanley Cup Finals, Clarke longed to return to Philadelphia. The Flyers also wanted him back in the fold, although not in a major decision making capacity. They hired him as their “Senior Vice President,” which turned out to be a largely ceremonial title, much to Clarke’s dismay. Farwell rarely came to Clarke for any important decisions. Even Clarke’s staunchest critics would admit that he is a man who is no more comfortable taking money for nothing than he is accepting what he deems lazy effort from a player. That was Clarke’s main rationale for leaving Philadelphia to take the Florida job. Read more»
When the Boston Bruins open training camp in early September, one name not to forget as a possible replacement to Tim Taylor is Marquis Mathieu. Mathieu a 5-foot-11, 190 pound center, spent most of last season playing on the “D Line” for the Calder Cup Champion Providence Bruins recording 15 goals, 30 points in 64 games with 166 pim. In the past 5 years, Mathieu has had stints in Wheeling, Fredericton, Raliegh, Toledo, Worcester, Johnstown, Birmingham, and Houston. Recently, Marquis held down a job at the parts counter of a Suzuki dealership in Quebec city.
Two years ago, Mathieu was recovering from abdominal surgery and worked for a Suzuki dealership. “I found out what it was like to wake up every day and have to go to work for a living. I thought there had to be a better life for me than working 9 to 5″. Realizing he wanted to give hockey another chance, Mathieu joined the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and impressed bench boss Peter Laviolette. When Laviolette took the head coaching job in Providence last season, he convinced Bruins management to sign Mathieu to an AHL contract. By October, the Bruins liked Mathieu so much they promoted him to Boston ahead of top prospects Cameron Mann and Randy Robitaille. Mathieu signed a 1 year NHL contract with the Bruins on the airplane to his first game in Montreal for $325,000 (U.S.).
Part V: European Drafting in the Farwell Years
New Flyers General Manager Russ Farwell inherited a mess from Clarke in 1990. The team had a paper-thin farm system and, on the big club, little front forward talent remained, the blueline was shallow and, with Ron Hextall battling ongoing groin injuries, the goaltending was at most adequate. Farwell immediately set about a rebuilding program that he intended to be primarily accomplished at the draft table, relying on his own knowledge of Canadian junior hockey and his strong contacts in North America and overseas. Inge Hammarström was hired to revive the Flyers foundering European scouting program, including their first full-scale forays into Russia. Hammarström and North American scout Bill Dineen became two of Farwell’s most trusted advisers at the draft. Given his short preparation time, Farwell did a marvelous job at the 1990 draft, the first of several good drafts he ran. While the on-ice results were modest during Farwell’s tenure (no playoff appearances), his draft and trade moves assembled much of the nucleus of the Flyer’s revival in the middle and latter part of the 1990s. Read more»