Summer Blog Entry: July 28, 2017
07/28/2017 10:49 AM - Adrian Denny
Generally an ECHL team returns 6-8 players from the previous year. I would say without question that this Utah roster for 2017-2018 will have more players from last year or previous years than we have seen in quite some time and maybe ever. Up to 13 players will be familiar names.
Utah is entering their fifth-straight season as an affiliate of the Anaheim Ducks; which will be the longest consecutive relationship that they’ve had with an NHL team ever. They previously were with Dallas four-straight seasons from 2000-2004. Utah had three-straight years with the New York Islanders from 1994-97, and 2007-10.
The Grizzlies and other ECHL teams will be wrapping up the finalization of preseason games in the next few weeks with announcements to follow. There are some options being discussed that would potentially give the preseason game schedule a different look than previous seasons.
Our new Equipment Manager will arrive in Salt Lake late next week with an announcement to follow later. Former Grizzlies Equipment Manager Jon Laughner was named the Equipment Manager for Arizona State University’s hockey team last week. He’s the second former staff member in three years to be hired at a major college hockey program. Former Director of Hockey Operations/Video Coordinator Ian Greenwald enters his third year in the same position at Union College; who barely missed out on a trip to the Frozen Four last season.
Next week is vacation, Summer Blog will return Friday, August 11.
Summer Blog Entry: July 21, 2017
07/21/2017 7:00 AM - Adrian Denny
It looks like next week we’ll announce two returning defensemen; which will leave two other returnees and two rookies still unannounced that have officially signed contracts.
Head Coach Tim Branham will have more contracts to submit when he returns from Wisconsin; where he is running two weeks of Branham Hockey Schools through the end of the month.
Of note so far on the roster: Of the 12 players the Grizzlies currently have under contract, nine are American, three are from Canada. Ten played college hockey and two played junior hockey before turning professional.
The latest step to the 2017-2018 season was completed for the most part this week with just about all of the team’s airline travel finalized and booked. The team will become familiar with a new airport this year when they fly out of Wichita twice following weekends with the Thunder.
Idaho announced a contract extension for Head Coach Neil Graham earlier this week. At this point every Head Coach in the Mountain Division either was Head Coach of their same team last year, moved to another team in Rob Murray going from Alaska to Tulsa or was Assistant Coach of their team in Daniel Tetrault in Rapid City.
Summer Blog Entry: July 14, 2017
07/14/2017 10:24 AM - Adrian Denny
Looking at official contracts into the league office, the Grizzlies currently have six forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender. We’ve currently announced two forwards and two defensemen and will announce some more next week to keep the content spread through the summer. We have several other contracts in transit.
The roster this year has come together quickly. The core of players the Grizzlies desired to return from last year’s team was a good start. In addition, Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham and now former Assistant Coach Jeff Carr essentially had their college recruiting done by the time last season ended as they looked to add a body or two for the stretch run after the college seasons ended. That being said, there were several college players targeted and contacted late last season, that for a variety of reasons didn’t join last year’s team, but are good to go for this year’s roster. That hard work put in early, while the season was still going, got the Grizzlies way ahead of the process for this year’s recruiting. By being first in line, it ended up creating early relationships with good college players that other teams would have gone after this summer as well.
Branham is still targeting several new high end bodies; with signings like that always taking place closer to training camp.
Micheal Ferland, who played three games with Utah in 2012-2013, and has stacked up 173 NHL games already with Calgary; just signed a two-year contract extension with the Flames. But be careful, he’s the second former Grizzlies player in two weeks to sign an NHL contract who spells Micheal with an e before the a after Micheal Haley just signed with Florida. Trevor Daley, who recently won his second-straight Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, just signed a three-year deal in Detroit.
And behind the scenes, a great friend of mine and the team, passed away last night in an accident up Big Cottonwood Canyon in KUTV’s Matt Hearn. Matt was my business contact at our television partner and was always anxious and enthusiastic to get hockey season going so we could come up with the next great idea to sell tickets. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with for the last three years; he was such a gamer and so much fun.
Summer Blog Entry: July 7, 2017
07/07/2017 1:36 PM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies announced the first three player signings of the offseason this week in Taylor Richart, Brad Navin and Rob Mann. Coming up next week, we’ll either announce another popular returnee or two more 2016-2017 Alaska Aces who will be joining the Grizzlies. Feel free to weigh in on your preference to ADenny@UtahGrizz.com or on Twitter at @GrizzliesVoice.
Parting with Brad Navin was a difficult decision in February, though the Grizzlies only made the move because they were able to acquire a top defenseman in Marc-Andre Leveque during a very lean time on D. With Alaska suspending operations at the end of this past season, all Aces players were declared free agents and the Grizzlies again pursued Navin to return.
2007-2008 Grizzlies forward Micheal Haley has signed a two-year contract with the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are his fourth NHL team after previously playing for the Islanders, Rangers and Sharks. He played in 58 games last year with San Jose and had two goals and 10 assists for 12 points and 128 penalty minutes.
The Grizzlies second all-time leading scorer Chris Taylor (1995-98), who held the team’s all-time scoring lead for over 11 years until he was surpassed by Ryan Kinasewich in 2009, was named Head Coach of the AHL’s Rochester Americans late last week. He spent last season as an Assistant Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton after three previous seasons as an Assistant in Rochester. He retired as a player in 2011 after nearly 20 years. His Assistant Coach in Rochester was named earlier this week and is a former teammate/captain of his here in Utah in Gord Dineen.
Congratulations to Head Coach Tim Branham who will soon close on a house in a new subdivision on the south end of the valley.