Thursday, September 4, 2008

These Are The Folks With The Right Stuff

We have a lot of stuff to pass along today as to be honest we did not know where to begin until we thought about it and decided that this kind of item might show why we love what we do.

Heart Does Equal Character

One of the areas that we look at when trying to gauge the pro potential of a prospect is the kind of environment that prospect plays in. The Rangers best prospects have come from franchises that have winning traditions but there is another factor that sometimes gets overlooked.

We are talking about franchises that give back to the community that they reside in. Giving back to us helps build the right kind of character in a prospect so when they do get to the Rangers that they are the kind of people Ranger fans can be proud to see wearing a Ranger uniform.

Character is about heart and desire something that our experiences has taught us that when a prospect gives of himself that he also tends to give that much more on the ice.

It is more than a Teddy Bear Game (No less than 8 Ranger prospects have played in and helped to distribute the TBs), a Center Ice haircut (Nigel Dawes), or raising money for a former player in need (Mitch Gaulton); it is about helping to teach these young men to open their hearts and not take the gifts they were given for granted.

Maybe it is our fault because we are so used to seeing this kind of giving that we forget to share it with you as yet another reason why to root for one of these prospects to make it.

Now let us add another team to the list as the Medicine Hat Tigers (Tomas Kundratek) are going to help a family who needs some help.

Medicine Hat Tigers to Hold a Benefit For Local Family

Medicine Hat Tigers are pleased to announce they will be hosting a WHL exhibition game in Medicine Hat to benefit the Tony Aasman family.

The Tigers will take on the Prince Albert Raiders on Tuesday, September 9th at 7:00 p.m. at The Arena
All net proceeds from the game will be donated to Tony Aasman and his family.

"We appreciate all the hard work and long hours Tony has contributed to Medicine Hat Minor Hockey," said Tigers' director of marketing and public relations Dave Andjelic. "His commitment to help young hockey players be the best they could be can not be more evident than Tony's son Ryan, who was drafted by the Prince Albert Raiders and will be playing in the game," said Andjelic.

"One of Tony's dreams was to coach in the WHL and we are going to make that dream come true," said Andjelic. "Tony will be behind the Tigers bench for the game and it should be extra special that his son Ryan will be participating in the game as well."

"We are glad to be able to help the Aasman family as they go through the tough battle of cancer with Tony. We hope the money raised during the game will help relieve some of the stress the family must be facing," stated Andjelic.

The Tigers would like to thank the Prince Albert Raiders and the Western Hockey League in helping to make this event possible.

And we want to thank the Tigers for doing this as well

Jason Baird Update

Since we are leading with the good side of hockey, as promised we are passing along an update on minor league player Jason Baird who Ranger goalie Steve Valiquette was trying to help raise money for.

Jason's wife Bethany wrote at her journal that:

Jason this week began new therapy with more physical activity that will help him with range and mobility and independence. He does squats and raises his arms to help build strength. He is also able to hold his own drink and raise it to his mouth!! Next will be eating independently which I have to say I will miss feeding him a little

Good Job Jason and Bethany as we look forward to hearing that Jason is going to get to go home to his family.

You Can Start Drooling Now

It is scary that they tell us that 2008 3rd round pick Evgeny Grachev is still adjusting to how to play the North American style of play. It is scary for those who are going to have to face Grachev in the OHL this season that it.

With each passing game that Grachev is showing us that the Rangers just might have the steal of the 2008 Entry Draft.

We are already on the search for a nickname for this 6'3 210 man child playing for the Brampton Battalion. Grachev in his 3rd exhibition game finally broke though with a goal and assist during the Battalions 6-4 win over Guelph Storm on Thursday evening.

In this game, the Troop used Grachev as a right wing and it only took Grachev 5:20 of the first to score his first goal with the Battalion. It was a shot off the right face off circle that handcuffed Storm Goalie Jake Fischer and according to the reports we got the bigger story was the chemistry that Grachev and teammate Matt Duchene are building.

If you did not know then Matt Duchene was the captain of Canada's Gold Medal winning Under-18 team at the recent World Championships. The two played against each other during the tournament and now as teammates are going make life miserable for the rest of the OHL.

We did not get word as to how Grachev got his helper but we believe based on other reports that it was a secondary assist. However to us the key has to be that Grachev's best future is not at center but on the wing which is ideal for a possible power forward.

The thought of seeing Grachev barreling down on an unsuspecting defender on the forecheck is just making us wish the OHL regular season would get here.

Very Disappointing

When we finally got a look at the press releases from the QMJHL and saw that Antoine Lafleur had not been traded from the Prince Edward Island Rocket we were very disappointed in the Rocket front office. Yes Lafleur did not report to training camp but the Rocket had made it crystal clear that Lafleur was neither wanted or needed.

In our eyes, Lafleur was within his rights not reporting to the Rocket since he had nothing at all to gain. The Rocket gave away his fellow goalie from last season Marc-Antoine Gelinas for an 8th round pick so why not just release Lafleur?

We think that if Lafleur plays well in Traverse City against the prospects of other teams that someone is going to want him. Sure the kid had an inconsistent last season but if Benoit Allaire is the prized goalie guru that those in the CHL think he is then that alone should find Lafleur a home.

The Rangers would not bring him to Traverse City (or even keep his draft rights) if they not think Lafleur did not still have potential.

Cmon Prince Edward Island; is it not time to jettison Lafleur and let him try to find himself another team?

Other Notes

Pat Quinn was named as the coach of Team Canada's Under-20 team replacing Benoit Grouix who took a job coaching in the AHL. Before people start saying that this is a bad move, our response is no it is actually a very good move.

Where to start is the question? How about no other available head coach has much international coaching experience for Canada than Quinn's 10 appearances? That instead of getting a part time coach for Team Canada, now they have a full-time one.

If anyone doubts that this is not a good idea then go back to April and ask who was coaching Canada's Gold Medal winning Under-18 team? If you said Pat Quinn you would be right.

See we think that both Canada and USA Hockey do their hockey programs a major disservice by using those part time coaches. Hire one person who can coach the team at the Under-17, Under- 18 and then Under-20 championships.

Instead of this having to find 3 new head coaches every season, just have one who will bring the program consistency and all an easy transition to the team system come championship time. Stop with the part time coaches who have to also spend their time checking in on "day" job that they can not devote the kind of effort to build winning programs.

Canada as it is has been dominating at the World Championships and now we believe the rest of the world is about fall that much further behind.

Are you watching USA Hockey?

(Picture Credits: Grachev:Brampton (OHL), Lafleur: Dubi Silverstein (Blueshirt Bulletin), Pat Quinn-CBC.CA, Nigel Dawes: New York Rangers)

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