Summer Blog Entry (July 30)
07/29/2010 11:59 PM - Adrian Denny
The next news to be announced for the Grizzlies will likely be the 2010-2011 preseason schedule which is currently being finalized with the league and the opponent(s). One of the games will be on a weekend somewhere in Utah.
We’ve been talking about this possibility the last couple of years, but former Grizzlies Assistant Coach Chuck Weber has finally landed an AHL Head Coaching job after leading Cincinnati to a 177-92-19 record and two Kelly Cup Championships in four years. Chuck is so likeable and such a hard worker that this is a great success story, especially given the unusual path he has taken to this point. Though as always, connections in pro hockey are big, his Cyclones affiliation contact, Mike Santos in Nashville is now with the Florida Panthers, whom is Rochester’s affiliate and helped reward his long and hard work with the Preds’ prospects in Cincinnati. Ironically, Chuck, who is a native of western New York, gets his big break in his native state and is back at home for the first time in over a decade.
I’ve never seen so many players from one team defect to a rival as have gone from Alaska to Victoria in the last week. Matt Stefanishion, Derick Martin and Ryan Turek, who all spent the 2009-2010 season in Anchorage with the Aces have all signed with the Salmon Kings for 2010-2011.
My predecessor as the “Voice of the Grizzlies” is currently working as the Director of Operations at the Central Hockey League in Phoenix. Bob Hoffman, who does the league’s scheduled all by himself was featured in a newspaper article earlier this week. However one inaccuracy in the article mentions that Hoffman is currently vacationing in Salt Lake City which is false. Family from Salt Lake City is actually visiting in Phoenix. I told Bob that I would clear up the matter so no one’s feelings were hurt in Utah this week when he did not contact them.
It will be interesting to see if the Utah-Idaho rivalry which sparked in all directions with Derek Laxdal at the helm will continue to be as fiery on the benches as Hardy Sauter will now be opposing Kevin Colley as the new coach in Idaho. The 39-year-old may be best known for his dad’s interesting facial hair. But all accounts that I have heard say that Hardy is a terrific human being.
Summer Blog Entry (July 23)
07/22/2010 11:59 PM - Adrian Denny
Signing and expanding the Grizzlies affiliation with the Calgary Flames organization was definitely the top priority of the offseason for Head Coach Kevin Colley who last year found a great partner and mentor in Flames Director of Player Personnel Duane Sutter.
While last year’s affiliation was partial, this upcoming season Utah and Calgary will be each other’s lone NHL and ECHL affiliates respectively. Utah will no longer partner with the New York Islanders while Calgary’s partial affiliation with Victoria has been transferred to West Valley City.
Utah and Calgary partnered late in the offseason last year after the Flames pulled out of Las Vegas. Meanwhile Utah was happy to add an NHL affiliate closer to home for a variety of hockey and business reasons. Last year’s relationship went extremely well transpiring into Thursday’s announcement.
With the Calgary signing of goaltender and former Utah rival J.P Lamoureux this past week, don’t think that Kevin Colley didn’t have the ear of Calgary as he gave his full ringing endorsement of the ex-Alaska workhorse who may be the most dominating goaltender that we have seen playing against Utah the last 16 seasons period.
Grizzlies Assistant Coach Pat Curcio has a new home. He will be an Assistant Coach on the staff of the Soo Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League. Though I am sure we will still see and hear our fair share of the “Curdog” and his contagious laugh here visiting Utah in the offseason. Pat is a fantastic person and has a definite passion for the game of hockey and the people in it. Grizzlies fans should bookmark SooGreyHounds.com to cheer Curcio on as he takes the next step in his coaching career.
A bit of a firestorm in Victoria this weekend surrounded the abrupt and unhappy divorce between the Salmon Kings and Wes Goldie. Goldie, who scored 40 goals each of the last four years is in the process of leaving the rock and now is the most prized free agent in the ECHL. Goldie leaves as his captain “C” is being given to newcomer Peter Vandermeer who spent the last month or so of the year in Utah.
AJ Perry, known in the locker room as “Juice” has signed a one-way AHL contract with Syracuse joining the Anaheim organization that his brother Corey has starred with for the last five seasons.
After about six weeks without a Head Coach, the Idaho Steelheads will officially name their new Head Coach Tuesday.
Summer Blog Entry (July 16)
07/16/2010 9:17 AM - Adrian Denny
Three months from today at this time, the Grizzlies will be at morning skate in Anchorage as they get ready to play the second game of the season against the Aces.
Speaking of Alaska, the Grizzlies and the rest of the National Conference received word Thursday that the Aces host hotel will be back in downtown Anchorage and five minutes from the Sullivan Arena after a season about 20 minutes away by the city’s airport. That news was received well as downtown Anchorage is fantastically sprinkled with good restaurants, like Humpy’s, and a large mall. One thing about being on the road in the ECHL with limited per diem, is that cab fare adds up quickly if a hotel is out in the middle of nowhere. Hello Stockton.
No former Grizzlies found themselves on the NHL transaction wire in the last seven days as free agency entered its third week after a busy first two weeks of former Utah player comings and goings.
The Grizzlies affiliation situation for 2010-2011 has been finalized. An official announcement will come in the next couple of weeks.
The Calgary Flames, who Utah had a positive partial affiliation with in 2009-2010, recently added some depth to their front office by naming former Tampa Bay General Manager Jay Feaster as their Assistant General Manager. Feaster has a unique resume, which included working his way to the NHL from the AHL as the former President of the Hershey Bears. Ironically, he put together the team that beat his new boss and then Head Coach/General Manager Darryl Sutter to win the 2004 Stanley Cup Championship over Calgary in seven games. I personally will miss hearing Feaster weekly on NHL Live, which airs during the season on NHL Network and XM Radio Channel 204, as he was always very insightful and had a great personality.
Summer Blog Entry (July 9)
07/08/2010 11:59 PM - Adrian Denny
So it’s recruiting season, but what does that entail exactly for the General Manager which in Utah’s case is Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Kevin Colley?
On July 1, after teams issued qualifying offers, the ECHL sent a list of ECHL free agents and their agents to every team. That is step one of beginning to contact agents and ECHL players from last year in the beginning of building next year’s team. But with the ECHL being a developmental league, many impact players every year are rookies. So in addition, Colley scours the list of players who got a head start on their professional careers last year following college or juniors. The Utah coach has a sheet from www.hockeydb.com from every player that played in the AHL late last year on Amateur Tryout Agreements. That can be a great starting point for finding a player who might not be quite ready for the AHL yet and could use a solid beginning in the ECHL. For example, Vic Bartley played ten games with Providence at the conclusion of the 2008-2009 season before starting last year in Utah and going to the AHL for good on December 9. Colley is also finalizing next year’s affiliation situation and transferring information which could result in players getting two-way (AHL/ECHL) or three-way (NHL/AHL/ECHL) contacts. And finally, there are resources which highlight top players from juniors and colleges from last year. Again, Utah is not starting from scratch, seven qualifying offers were issued July 1 and other players have been signed, though immigration for Canadians sometimes delays official announcements.
It sounds like former Utah Assistant Coach Chuck Weber might finally get an AHL Head Coaching job. C-Web doesn’t beat around the bush in this article on his career goals and Rochester sounds like a definitely possibility. Good Luck Chuck!
Former Utah players signing NHL contracts this week include:
David Leneveu with Columbus
Trevor Smith with Anaheim
Jason Bacashihua with Colorado
Warren Peters with Minnesota on a two-year deal
Zenon Konopka with the Islanders on a two-year deal
Nathan Lawson with the Islanders
Catching Up With: Matt Sorteberg
07/06/2010 8:35 AM - Adrian Denny
Hey everyone, how’s it going?
Adrian asked if I would fill you all in on how my summer has been so far, so here it goes…
Lots of traveling…
A couple weeks after the season ended I went on my first cruise ever. This was a six-day cruise out of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida that took us to: Key West, Jamaica and Grand Cayman. The trip was great, the weather was nice and the food was unreal. I recommend it to anyone interested in a vacation; if you haven’t cruised, try it!
The first weekend in June, me and 11 of my buddies that I went to school with and played hockey with in college at Quinnipiac had our 1st annual ‘Man Weekend’. This year’s festivities were held in Fort Myers, Florida. Again, the weather was nice, and the times were good. Next year’s weekend festivities will be held in Minnesota, should be good.
As you can see I’ve been enjoying my summer. I’ve spent time between my home in Minnesota, and Connecticut where I went to school. I enjoy hitting the links when I get a chance. So far, amongst many rounds, I’ve participated in three scramble tournaments, all out in Connecticut: (Quinnipiac Round Ball. Uconn Hockey Scramble. Traditions Shootout.) I am currently in Minnesota training and skating, preparing for next season. I have also spent some time up in northern Minnesota at my family’s cabin on Big Birch Lake. Whether it be up there or down in the cities, I love being on the water, fishing if I can, enjoying the beautiful Minnesota summer.
So far, those are the highlights of my summer this year. I look forward to the beginning of the 2010-2011 season! Hope everyone had a fun fourth of July!
Summer Blog Entry (July 1)
07/01/2010 8:26 AM - Adrian Denny
With seven Utah 2010-2011 qualifying offers going to be announced on Friday, today, we greet you with a Thursday blog to spread out the website content a bit.
A couple of former Grizzlies were traded to Canada in the past week with former Utah goaltender Dan Ellis' rights being shipped to Montreal (he has since signed with Tampa Bay) in wake of the Jaroslav Halak departure. And once again, Keith Ballard has been dealt on a draft day, he is going to Vancouver.
The ECHL’s newest team has a name. The Greenville, South Carolina organization will be known as the Greenville Road Warriors. I’m not a big fan of the name and it sounds like a traveling motorcycle gang that performs music regularly in dive bars. And given what I know having served five years in this league, things are pretty psychological and sometimes it’s beyond ridiculous. I bet this team, with the name Road Warriors, wins more games on the road than at home on a regular basis.
NHL free agency of course opened today. There’s a couple of top goaltenders on the market as teams like Philadelphia, Chicago, Colorado and Nashville have proven it doesn’t take a top salaried goaltender to be successful. Many teams are expected to explore that route, including the San Jose Sharks who have advanced no further than the conference finals with Evgeni Nabakov. Of course, more ECHL signees are expected to come after tomorrow as well. The qualifying offers are usually the start of the movement.
The longer the Idaho Steelheads go without a Head Coach, the better for the rest of the ECHL, as they still search for a replacement for Derek Laxdal. While Laxdal I am sure has left a nice foundation, recruiting time is being lost by not having a Head Coach as in the ECHL the Presidents and CEOs are typically business people as opposed to hockey people and usually leave the GM duties to their Head Coach. When Jason Christie left for the AHL two summers ago, it took the Grizzlies organization less than 24 hours to tab Assistant Coach Kevin Colley as his replacement, thus no time and momentum was lost. However as we have discussed before, more and more teams are cutting Assistant Coaches to save costs and don’t have an internal well to draw from when their Head Coach leaves.
And finally, if you're getting a a bigger hankering for hockey each time a World Cup game comes on television, here is my Happy 4th of July present for you. Click here to watch.
Qualifying offers Friday, July 2 will be announced at 9:30 a.m. Mountain Time.