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.
The Blackhawks have decided to take the Vancouver #1 in this year’s 2000
draft instead of waiting for the 2001 draft. The Hawk reasoning in this
decision was not an easy one. If the they chose to accept the 2001 Vancouver
pick, they would have had three #1’s in the stronger 2001 draft.. Would that
have been enough to wrest away Jason Spezza from the the worst expansion team
picking in 2001? Doubtful. They are clearly thinking
that Vancouver will be much improved with an entire season of Felix Potvin in
net and the Sedin twins arrival. It is ironic that the original pick the
Hawks traded away would have brought Henrik Sedin to Chicago, but they
instead took this #1 and bolstered their weak defense with Brian McCabe.
McCabe hasn’t been Superman on the backline. His deceptive plus/minus depict
s him in a negative light, but he clearly is one of the better guys of a
horribly weak bunch of defensemen.
Henrik on the other hand, represents a position the Hawks have suddenly
called a very important need; first line centre.
I still feel this was a stop gap trade when and happened and down the
line the hawks will forever wish they hadn’t made it.
Which takes us back to the the 2000 draft. These two #s currently #7 and
# 9 overall, prior to the lottery that if won by those picks would bring them
down four slottings.At his press conference announcing the hawkdecisionn Smith Read more»
Vaclav Pletka is by no means a bluechip NHL prospect, nor is he the type of player that one usually associates with the Flyers system. The type of players that the Flyers are drawn to, whether they are North American or European are big, strong players with grit. Well, that’s not Vaclav Pletka. He’s not big. He’s not physical. And although, he’s been improving his all-around game, Pletka is neither a defensive stalwart nor a regular combatant in the trench wars that occur down low in the zone. Moreover, there are questions over whether he is well suited to the game on the smaller North American rink. Nevertheless, the Flyers 7th round pick in the 1999 entry draft (#208 overall) is one of the more intriguing “sleeper” prospects in the NHL. What Vaclav Pletka has to offer is something that no team in the goal-starved NHL can afford to dismiss without taking a closer look; namely, soft hands, a quick shot release, and good ice vision.