Last year it was a jammed fax. This year it was a mountain of paperwork to be filed within a scant nineteen minutes before the deadline.
And reporters thought their deadlines were tough.
Jarrett Stoll, (2nd Rd. 46th overall – 2000) the captain of both the silver-medal winning junior national club and the Memorial Cup champion Kootenay ICE couldn’t come to contract terms with the Calgary Flames by the 3:00 P.M. deadline last Saturday and will now re-enter the NHL Draft, slated ironically enough for Toronto’s Air Canada Center on June 22 and 23. I mention the irony because just nineteen minutes before the deadline, Stoll’s agent Don Meehan came to terms with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who in turn agreed to obtain the Yorkton, Sask. native for a reported second round pick in this year’s draft.
But because all the i’s were not dotted and the t’s not crossed and submitted in time, the NHL’s central registry declared the deal null and void, proclaiming Stoll eligible for any NHL club to select him on June 22-23.
For the second time in as many years there’s been a blunder at the deadline, you’d think that the NHL might catch on and try to rectify the problem. Last year the Boston Bruins couldn’t come to terms with former Kootenay ICE, Red Deer Rebel and Memorial Cup MVP Kyle Wanvig but had agreed to deal Wanvig to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jonas Hoglund and an exchange of picks. Only the fax reportedly jammed and thus the trade was declared void. Wanvig went back into the draft and was subsequently picked by the Minnesota Wild in the second round, 36th overall. Two years earlier Wanvig had been selected in the third round, 89th overall by the Bruins.
Contracts impasses happen daily in the world of sports. They are an accepted fact of doing business in today’s professional world. Perhaps it’s time the NHL developed a protocol to deal with such mishaps. That or maybe the Leafs have to get somebody in to look over the fax machine again . . .
Kootenay’s captain wasn’t the only player not signed by deadline day as teammates Girard Dicaire (Buffalo), Shaun Norrie (Edmonton) and Craig Weller (St. Louis) as well as many other big WHL names were left off NHL contracts last Saturday. WHL leading scorer Nathan Barrett of the Lethbridge Hurricanes and sniper Tim Smith of the Swift Current Broncos failed to sign with the Vancouver Canucks. The Florida Panthers came to terms with Pats’ D-man Filip Novak but failed to ink Blazers netminder Davis Parley and defenseman Aaron Gionet, who couldn’t get a deal from the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jared Aulin, Stoll’s teammate on Team Canada and selected one pick later in 2000 at the 47th spot, signed with the L.A. Kings. Blazer leading-scorer and former Moose Jaw Warrior Ben Knopp also inked the mandatory three-year rookie deal with the Columbus BlueJackets. Warriors RW Steve Crampton added to his name to a contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins. For Crampton, who played only 37 games this season due to injury, it was a bittersweet moment as the scrappy Warrior had lost his dad Brian Crampton to cancer less than three weeks earlier. Other notables to sign were Portland’s Paul Gaustad with the Sabres and Medicine Hat’s Phil Cole with New Jersey . . .
The CHL’s import Draft goes June 26 and 27. With Tomas Plihal expected to return next season, Kootenay is expected to select one player as Marek Svatos isn’t expected back as an overage player. Svatos is eligible to return as a 20-yr-old next season if he remains unsigned by the Colorado Avalanche. If Svatos did return, Kootenay would have to drop or trade one of the three imports. Svatos was awaiting the results of an M.R.I. this past week to determine whether or not the shoulder he injured earlier on in the season will require surgery . . .
The WHL coaching carousel continues as Troy Mick was announced as the Blazers new head coach last week. Mick replaces fired Kamloops bench boss Dean Evason who now presides over the Vancouver Giants bench. Mick, as you might remember was the coach of the Tri-City Americans until work visa renewal problems spurned him to seek employment with the Blazers. The Americans replaced Mick with former Portland Winterhawk assistant Shaun Clouston. Clouston also happens to be the older brother of ICE Assistant coach Cory Clouston. Kootenay’s bench still hasn’t been finalized as Ryan McGill and Cory Clouston hadn’t signed contract renewals as of press time. Both however are expected back and an announcement is pending in the coming weeks. In Spokane it’s been announced that Al Conroy will take over for the departed Perry Ganchar. Conroy arrives from the ECHL’s Charlotte Checkers where he served as an Assistant Coach. . . Kelowna Rocket’s head coach Marc Habscheid has been named head coach of the Canadian National junior squad for the upcoming World Junior Hockey championships to be held in Halifax, N.S. in January of 2004.
The WHL’s annual league meetings go June 8-11 in Vancouver. Hot on the agenda will the finalization of the Seattle Thunderbird sale. To whom, however is anybody’s guess. The potential suitors have not been made public. Also on the slate for the meetings will be the location of the 2004 Memorial Cup to be hosted by a WHL city. To date only Lethbridge has formally endorsed a bid to host the tournament although it’s expected that bids will come from Prince George, Kelowna, Vancouver, Calgary and Red Deer.