Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Welcome Back Hockey

If day 1 of the 2011-2012 hockey season is any indication of what kind of season we will have then strap yourself in New York Ranger fans for one wild ride. We have plenty of news to report to you but we want to start with the Plymouth Whaler's side of the JT Miller story.

If you have not listened to Dean and Guy of "The Pipeline Show" then you are missing 2 of the best radio guys covering hockey anywhere. On Tuesday's show they had the GM/Coach of the Plymouth Whalers Mike Vellucci on to talk about how JT Miller wound up signing with them.

Take a listen to what Vellucci has to say and judge for yourself why JT Miller decided to play in the OHL.

The second bit of news is a confirmation from our friend Andy Kemper the voice of the Portland Winterhawks which is that Nino Niederreiter is reporting to the Islanders and not the Winterhawks. But we want to give the kind of idea what a training camp is like for a CHL team.

The Winterhawks have invited a total of 88 players to their training camp which is not including Nino Niederreiter or Ryan Johansen both who either make the NHL or have to come back to the Winterhawks. What you really have to have a look at is the list of players who the Winterhawks will lose to NHL training camps.

12 listed plus Nino and Ryan with Taylor Peters looking at an invite from the Wild this means of the 20 Winterhawks who dressed for Game 5 of the WHL Finals only 2 will remain with the Winterhawks while the rest report to NHL training camps. Anyone want to guess who our preseason favorite to win the WHL is?

We got an unexpected surprise today when in response to asking the Edmonton Oil Kings if they would mind giving us a scouting report on Michael St. Croix (NYR 2011 4th) and Jordan Hickmott; we got a phone call from Derek Laxdal, the coach of the Oil Kings.

To say that the Oil Kings are excited about this upcoming season would be a major understatement. The Oil Kings are in their 5th season since joining the WHL as an expansion franchise and they believe this is going to be their year.

Coach Laxdal is expecting a lot out of St. Croix this season as right off the bat he compares his first line center to Simon Gagne as a player. An offensive weapon is what Coach Laxdal says about St. Croix who he says could put up anywhere from 75-100 points this season.

On Jordan Hickmott, Laxdal compares him to former Ranger Bernie Nickols and calls Hickmott's invite to Traverse City "a tremendous opportunity." Laxdal is proud of both of his players and while Hickmott has finished his junior career; St. Croix is going to be a key figure as the Oil Kings hope this is the year where they challenge for the Eastern Conference Championship in the WHL.

It is hard not to blame Laxdal as he is seeing 10 of his players heading off to NHL training camps. The Oil Kings are also co-hosting the 2012 World Under-20 Championships with Calgary which should make for a very entertaining year of hockey in Edmonton.

One of the biggest reasons why we are huge fans of Marnel Rasmussen of the Moose Jaw Warriors is because there are very few people anywhere in hockey who go "above and beyond" to help their players get positive publicity like she does.

We asked her if she could get Moose Jaw GM Alan Millar to talk to us about Colin Bowman and Dylan McIlrath. No problem she said but asked if we could wait until next week since the Warrior training camp was just opening up.

Not a problem we said but in between preparing for 87 players to begin training camp with the Warriors; Marnel sent us her scouting report on Colin Bowman.

Can you describe the kind of player that Colin is and what he did for the Warriors as a player on and off the ice?

Collin is a character player. He loves hockey; it’s in his blood and he is a very driven individual. He is not your typical Junior player—while other players might be gaming, Collin found part time work-- not because he had to but because he likes to keep busy. Collin worked with a power skating school in Moose Jaw; helping young players develop and learn skating skills. Collin is mature beyond his 20 years.

Off the ice, he put in over 40 hours of volunteer work--- reading, visiting schools and attending hockey practices.

On the ice, Collin brings it every night. I cannot remember him ever missing a game unless a serious injury.

He played through the flu and a broken finger (without a blink of an eye)--- never afraid to drop the gloves and works very hard. He is a leader and one of our assistant captains last year…. Deservingly so. He is has helped our young D like Morgan Rielly (Draft Eligible) and Joel Edmundson (St Louis) develop tremendously.

What about Colin would the Ranger fans like the most about the way he plays?

Ranger fans would like the fact the Collin works… and works… and works. He takes the game seriously and is always willing to learn. He is a mentor and a leader…

Well spoken and passionate about his family and friends.

He is a tough guy who will block a shot, take a punch, rock a big hit and put in offensively.

This is our 2nd year working with Marnel and at times, she out works her own players as the Moose Jaw Director of Community Relations. That she sings the praises of Bowman we also know is totally free of "homerism" as when someone plays bad she will not mince words.

And courtesy of our friend Gregg Drinnan of Taking Note, 1999 Ranger first round pick Jamie Lundmark is going to play in the KHL with Latvia. So now both 1999 Ranger first round picks are playing in the KHL as Pavel Brendl has been playing there since 2008.

We will leave the jokes to you folks as it is our first day of the season and we promised to behave at least until the first week is over.

(St. Croix/Edmonton Oil Kings, Bowman/Moose Jaw)


Kmp said...

Jess, does Moose Jaw have a shot in the WHL? I know the D is very good and the kid Stone is a good goaltender, I huess losing Hood and Edwards will hurt their offense.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Tough to say right now with MJ changing coaches. WHL eastern looks pretty loaded this year.

MJ IMO needs to find more offense and stay healthy something they had trouble doing last year