Monday, April 12, 2010

And Then There Was One

It is a terrible way to end a part of your life but sometimes losing is what comes with the territory as was the case with Sam Klassen as he ended his WHL career with the Saskatoon Blades.

Klassen and his Blades lost Game 6 5-4 to the Brandon Wheat Kings and were eliminated from the WHL playoffs 4 games to 2, For Klassen though how his WHL career ended is going to hurt for a while as Klassen was called for a very suspect holding call at 17:57 of the 3rd period and had to watch from the penalty box all but the last 3 seconds of the game.

Normally we do not openly criticize refs but we have to wonder about the 2 WHL referees who worked this game. When you have not called a single thing during a period; how in the world can you make a call that at best was a non-call every other time in the period?

Yes we know that our bias is showing since Sam is one of our prospects but to see a game let alone a playoff series be decided by a suspect call is one of the biggest problems in hockey at every level.

For Sam who spent 4 seasons with the Blades this has to be a heartbreaking way to watch the time of his youth end in such a manner. In the end Klassen's scoresheet looked like it did most nights with no points, an even but 2PIMs.

And as is the tradition in many a junior hockey franchises; Klassen was awarded the game's 3rd Star in his final day as a Blade.

Klassen finished the playoffs with 2 assists, a +8 and 8 PIMs after enjoying a career season where he was 3-27-30 +34 and 98 PIMs. Sam also gave us some of the hardest clean checks we got to watch in years at any level.

Klassen we expect will be a welcome addition to the Hartford Wolfpack lineup next season as the "stay at home" defender is exactly what the doctor is going to order for Hartford.

We also at this time want to thank the Saskatoon Blades for once again showing why from top to bottom one of the best WHL franchises out there. Not only did we get game updates but one person Dan Ukrainetz took the time to email us any time that Sam Klassen did something special and for that we thank him very kindly.

We can not wait for the next Ranger prospect to come from the Blades so we can work with a great bunch of people.


So what is left for us to do? Well we still have Chris Doyle playing the QMJHL playoffs which we will keep covering. And we will of course keep you updated about news we get on Ranger prospects like this tidbit.

A friend told us that Derek Stepan plans on returning to Wisconsin for his junior season. He wants to help lead that team and we think it is in typical Stepan fashion a right choice for him to make.

We think Derek is close to being ready to make the jump to the professional ranks but as Gordie Clark likes to say "let us see a prospect dominate at one level before advancing to the nest". We see next season as the year we lead the call for Stepan as a serious candidate for the Hobey Baker award. 

But with the Rangers finished and only one prospects then we can feel comfortable rooting for our own home team the Portland Winterhawks as they try to come back in their series against the Vancouver Giants. It is more than being a fan of Luke Walker and Nino Niederreiter as it is how we admire not only many a player on the young Winterhawks but the work of Coach/GM Mike Johnston.

Johnston when he took over had a mess on his hands but a lot of young talent that the easy way out would have been to trade for older experienced players. But no Johnston showed patience and faith in his young players and this season it was rewarded with not only a playoff spot but a very bright future for the entire franchise.

Basically Johnston is the "Anti-Sather/Tortorella" as he stuck with his younger players and was a teacher as well as coach. Too bad Ranger fans can not see what it really looks like to have someone like Johnston running the show.

(Klassen courtesy of the Saskatoon Blades)

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