Summer Blog Entry (May 28)
05/27/2010 3:31 PM - Adrian Denny
The Utah Grizzlies were the first ECHL team to release the 2010-2011 schedule Thursday and Grizzlies fans will see the most of Las Vegas, Stockton and Ontario who will all make seven visits to West Valley City in 2010-2011.
Like in 2009-2010, the Grizzlies will also become part time residents of Boise with nine games spanning four trips to downtown and the Qwest Arena. It almost became laughable constantly walking by Angela and Nancy, the two evening lobby bartenders, and Megan the main concierge at the Grove Hotel which is attached to the arena this season; we were there so much. They probably thought that 25 businessmen from Utah were given a weekly rate there from November-April and were using the place as an apartment. The Grizzlies went to Boise six times in six months this past season and knew everyone at that hotel by first name.
Utah will somehow avoid the dirty snow and nearly impassable roads which makeup a dark Anchorage winter by visiting there in October and April only, their first and last road trips of the year.
November 24-28, the Grizzlies will get to know California’s Highway 99, which leads from Los Angeles, to Stockton and holiday traffic as they visit Bakersfield, Stockton, Bakersfield and Ontario to play four games in five nights the week of Thanksgiving. The trip will feature two rides through now defunct ECHL market Fresno. It always feels so lonely and somber driving through a former hockey city. I remember the same feeling being in San Diego last summer. This will be the first time in six seasons that the Grizzlies will be on the road for the American Thanksgiving.
Trevor at the Coast Harbourside Hotel in Victoria is hoping his favorite player Vlady Nikiforov will be there February 25, 26 and March 16,18,19 as Utah goes to Canada on two consecutive road trips.
The Las Vegas Wranglers annual midnight game will preempt 1320 KFAN’s Fox Sports Radio overnight show JT The Brick on December 27 as the Grizzlies will play a game that will begin at 12:59 a.m. Hopefully there is a Jazz game that night so KFAN can have a Monday night doubleheader which will last till approximately 4 a.m.
Enjoy your holiday weekend, opening night is less than five months away.
Summer Blog Entry (May 21)
05/20/2010 11:59 PM - Adrian Denny
Having been involved in booking team travel at the ECHL level, especially at the last second, I can tell you that it’s not an easy task. However, what Cincinnati and Idaho have gone through so far in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Finals is beyond ridiculous.
The Cincinnati Cyclones leaving Boise last weekend up 2-0 had this itinerary which at first I thought was a joke. The Cyclones flew from Boise to Reno to Las Vegas to Indianapolis and then bussed the rest of the 112 miles to Cincinnati. The Steelheads on Monday, flew from Boise to Las Vegas to Columbus, Ohio and then bussed the remaining 109 miles. Cincinnati is the 28th largest media market in the USA, however the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport which boasts non-stop flights from 70 cities (including Salt Lake), faster connections, friendly service and shopping and dining; was unable to accommodate the Steelheads and Cyclones at the last second.
Meanwhile in Cincinnati, Idaho Head Coach Derek Laxdal is putting everyone to work, including the working media. J Bates (Formerly of Salt Lake’s KUTV), the Sports Director at KBOI Channel 2 in Boise; blogged that while in Cincinnati he was asked to pick up a couple Steelheads at the airport, as they met the team in Ohio. Could Bates’ next task for Laxdal be helping him move? A report out of Edmonton has the Steelheads boss listed as the frontrunner to become the next Head Coach of the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings.
Grizzlies defenseman Matt Sorteberg is on a cruise this week but is excited to submit a blog entry to utahgrizzlies.com when he returns next week.
Summer Blog Entry (May 14)
05/13/2010 3:10 PM - Adrian Denny
While the Grizzlies have seen their fair share of players advance to the next level, including five to the NHL in the last two years, they also had a very special assistant coach advance following the 2005-2006 season here in Chuck Weber.
Weber, currently in his fourth year as the Head Coach of the ECHL’s Cincinnati Cyclones, made history Wednesday night by battling back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat Reading four games to three and head to the Kelly Cup Finals against Idaho. The Cyclones are the first team in ECHL history to come back after losing the first three games in the series.
What makes it more amazing is the road that Weber has taken to become one of the hottest young coaches in the game. After playing college hockey and soccer at the University at Albany and never playing pro hockey, he began his career as an intern with the Buffalo Sabres. That led to a ticket sales account executive position with the IHL’s Orlando Solar Bears and ultimately a job as the Video Scouting Coordinator for the club who won the Turner Cup Championship in 2000-2001. From there, after the Solar Bears folded following the demise of the IHL, Chuck followed his Head Coach and current Predators Assistant Coach Peter Horachek to Trenton (ECHL) and Milwaukee (AHL). The two parted ways in 2003-04 when Horachek got his Predators gig while Weber spent two bumpy years with the ECHL’s Augusta Lynx before landing in Utah after he and Head Coach Stan Drulia were fired following the 2004-2005 season. After one season under Jason Christie in Utah in 2005-2006, Weber left for a weekend interview in Cincinnati and came back with the Cyclones Head Coaching job as that team prepared to rejoin the ECHL. It’s definitely much harder for coaches who haven’t played professionally to advance up the ranks, but Weber’s latest feat should just about guarantee his next step up the coaching ranks this summer.
Chuck was my very first ever roommate on the road in professional hockey and was the perfect complement for Jason Christie’s demand for constant professionalism. Chuck just had his stuff together. He is as organized as a person can be and has a great talent for interacting with people: be it a young punk player or a hotel clerk or catering attendant should something not be right at a team function.
The one thing about this level is the people who hit their pinnacles at the next level are usually a year or two removed when they do it; but it is always special to think back about the times that they spent here in Utah with us as a part of their success. I’m sure it won’t be long until I am writing about a member of the 2009-2010 team and/or staff that is accomplishing something amazing at their next level.
Catching Up With: Brett Parnham
05/12/2010 12:51 PM - Brett Parnham
After sustaining an injury, Brett's missed all action after February 20 for the Grizzlies. The 21-year-old rookie posted four goals and 12 assists in three months after joining the Grizzlies and scoring in his professional debut November 20 versus Las Vegas.
This summer has started much differently for me. I am currently one month post operation on my shoulder. So far, everything has gone well and I am beginning physiotherapy. I have never had a serious injury before and it is definitely frustrating. I can only imagine how my parents feel about having to drive me around everywhere and help me out with a lot of things on a daily basis. I guess having a chauffeur most days isn't really that bad. haha. I have spent a lot of time reading books and catching just about every playoff game. For the majority of my summer, I will spend my time training and going to physiotherapy. That will ensure I will be healthy and ready for next season. When I get the opportunity I will go up to my family cottage and enjoy the nice weather as well. I will be very limited due to my surgery, therefore golf and any type of water sport will be out of the question. This summer will obviously be a little more low key then what I am used to, but I am very grateful that come next season I will be back to normal and able to perform well.
Summer Blog Entry (May 7)
05/07/2010 9:46 AM - Adrian Denny
While 19 former Grizzlies started the season on NHL rosters, only three advanced to the postseason, only one played and that same player is still playing, barely.
John Erskine with Washington was injured and missed his team’s debacle of a series against Montreal, Dan Ellis serving as Pekka Rinne’s backup in Nashville did not see any action either, which leaves Todd Bertuzzi as the only active former Utah player still fighting for a cup and his Detroit team continues to face elimination against San Jose.
Stockton Thunder Head Coach Matt Thomas gets this week’s award for the most creative weapon used this week in hockey after he threw a broken stick towards the Idaho bench Saturday. Apparently the team’s skate sharpener was in use.
Former Grizzlies Assistant Coach Jeff Dwyer has a new job working for Paul Kelly, the former Executive Director of the NHL’s Players’ Association with College Hockey Inc. Jeff is the Director of Education and Recruitment for the Boston based organization and his job is to get kids to play college hockey.
With Charlotte joining the AHL next year, they have returned their ECHL membership and all of their ECHL contracted 2009-2010 players were declared free agents Thursday, including longtime National Conference agitator Matt Stefanishion who has played with Fresno and Alaska. Charlotte went 43-21-4-4 this past season so some talent is available.