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Game Day Blog Archive

Summer Blog Entry: July 31

07/31/2009 6:45 AM - Adam Turner
The Grizzlies added a defenseman when they re-signed Mark Lutz and a forward when they traded for Dale Reinhardt for future considerations this week. In this case, the future considerations is cash, which means Grizzlies CFO and Vice President of Business Operations Jill Roberts just needs to write the Reign a check and the transaction will be complete.

Kevin Colley was very enthusiastic about the acquisition of Reinhardt, whom he received a strong recommendation from James Sixsmith regarding. Sixsmith would know Reinhardt; the two not only played together on the same line for three years at Holy Cross University, but were both two of the top scorers in school history. It was funny this week; I had a great conversation with Dale and he reminded me a lot of James in both his voice and the way he spoke. Looking at the two, they kind of even look alike, not really, I guess, but take a look for yourself.

Speaking of great phone calls and good company, I talked with former Grizzlies goaltender Mike Mole for nearly 30 minutes on Wednesday as I drove home for lunch. Mike was also driving: from Toronto to Ottawa where his parents were preparing to make the move from Canada’s capital city back to New Brunswick where Mike was raised until about the junior high age. Mike was looking forward to heading back to NB where he also planned to meet up with Islanders prospect and 08-09 Grizzlies forward Rob Hennigar whom just bought a house there. We aren’t allowed to divulge where Mike will be playing this year, but I can tell you he will remember his time in Utah very fondly and definitely almost ended up back here again.

Speaking of driving while on the highway, I caught Scott Thauwald while he made the 90-minute or so commute from the Twin Cities back to his hometown of Rochester, Minnesota. Scott was skating in the Minneapolis area with some great hockey prospects and some NHL talent as he does about twice a week. He spends the rest of the time working youth hockey camps in Minnesota as does Mark Lutz who I spoke with on Tuesday. No body is more anxious to get back on the ice with his Grizzlies teammates than Mark who suffered through a horrible season of injuries, capped off by car trouble in the middle of Wyoming on his way home to Wisconsin this spring, which bounced him back to Utah.

And finally, I’m done dropping names but I will tell you I exchanged text messages with another Grizzlies player who was sent a contract this week by Head Coach Kevin Colley. Once Colley receives the contract from the player and then sends it to the ECHL for approval by hockey operations guys Mike Murray and Rod Pasma, it can be officially announced. Sorry, while I have been generous in the past on clues in the blog entries, there will be none here.

Speaking of name dropping, actually I’m not done! This weekend, I’m off to see a good friend, great Grizzlies supporter and the funniest comedian in Las Vegas in Vinnie Favorito; who performs nightly at the Flamingo. You can’t go to Vegas without a visit to Vinnie. This will be my seventh time seeing the show since November of 2007 and it’s always a highlight. Plus, his support of the team is second to none. You may remember when he joined us as a guest on Grizzlies Radio in 2007-2008 after hosting the entire Grizzlies team and staff to an evening of laughs “on the house.” Utah then went on to beat Las Vegas 8-5 the following evening; and what’s ironic, is that the two players Vinnie picked on the most during the show in Ryan Kinasewich and Micheal Haley each had hat tricks the following night.

Perhaps one of the biggest free agent signings since Utah joined the ECHL and definitely a surprise for me occurred Wednesday when Idaho snatched up prolific scorer Mark Derlago who had split time between Bakersfield and Manitoba the previous two seasons.

Stockton and second-year coach Matt Thomas are starting to build from the back-end first with the re-signing of   always dependable defenseman Darryl Marcoux. They have also re-added veteran leader Craig Valette.

Victoria also continues to reload with some familiar faces and will undoubtedly be another challenge out west based on pure talent alone.

And the Aces re-signed captain and former Grizzlies/Steelheads forward Scott Burt less than a week after announcing their new Head Coach Brent Thompson. Speaking of the Aces, they have invited ECHL newcomer Kalamazoo to Anchorage for a pair of preseason games. The Grizzlies will announce a pair of preseason games of their own pretty soon too. One will take place somewhere in the state of Utah with the other being played somewhere outside of an ECHL market but in an ECHL state. So stay tuned.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com

Until another Friday.

Summer Blog Entry: July 24

07/23/2009 11:59 PM - Adam Turner

The Grizzlies are starting to look very strong back on the blueline with this week’s signing of Tim Maxwell to go along with the previous announcements of Slavomir Tomko and Evan Stoflet. That’s three of six d for the roster, which doesn’t include any returned qualifying offers or anyone assigned here by the Islanders or Bridgeport. A good cast of d-men is always hard to come by and to already have three of this calibur locked up is huge.

As far as forwards go, adding Mark Pavli, Scott Thauwald and Nathan Gillies definitely gives Utah a top shelf energy line assembled as well, with three players who are going to give 100-percent and be consistent night after night.

Speaking of qualifying offers, players who received them on July 1 have until next Friday to return them or they will become null and void and the team will still hold the rights to any non-veterans. The Grizzlies also had some pretty good talent, in both forwards and defensemen, that they issued qualifying offers to so that should also be an interesting factor as we start to piece together this upcoming season’s roster.

The Alaska Aces took just over a week to tab their next Head Coach after Keith McCambridge was named an Assistant Coach in Manitoba. And the winner is former NHL’er and most recently a four-year Assistant Coach in the AHL with Peoria in Brent Thompson. Thompson worked alongside and under former Aces Head Coach Davis Payne with Alaska’s and St. Louis’ AHL affiliate. This is both Thompson’s first Head Coaching job and his first ECHL tour as either a player or a coach. I will also go out on a limb and say that he’d never been or thought about going to Anchorage, Alaska before this opportunity came up either. It was interesting, because before the press release came out at about 3 p.m. on Thursday, there had been no media reports on any possible candidates for this job. One of the reasons may be that Aces beat reporter and all-around great guy from the Anchorage Daily News, Doyle Woody, has been on vacation. I haven’t seen any recent articles from him, and a fellow sportswriter covered McCambridge’s departure. Hope your vacation is going well Doyle!!!!

The surprising signing of the summer might be Olivier Labelle signing an ECHL contract with the Reading Royals. Kevin Colley and myself along with most others familiar with Olivier believe he is an AHL talent and really should be at that level for a variety of reasons. Last year, he was on a two-way AHL/ECHL deal with Manitoba and Victoria while on a two-way in 07-08 with Bridgeport and Utah and playing all of 06-07 with the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch. Again, seeing him sign an ECHL contract just really, really surprises me. Hope he’s cashing in! Though as Idaho Steelheads broadcaster Doug Plagens just mentioned: he could have signed with Reading to open up his options of being called-up to several AHL teams as Reading is right in the middle of several markets in that league. The Royals lead the league in AHL call-ups just about every year.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com


Summer Blog Entry: July 17

07/17/2009 8:17 AM - Adam Turner
Grizzlies Athletic Trainer Mike Plandowski was on Long Island attending to other business last week as the Islanders conducted their mini-camp. Mike noted former Grizzlies Joel Rechlicz and Vladimir Nikiforov among other attendees and said that Nikiforov looked very impressive among the Islanders prospects.

The Islanders, who are starting to appear pretty deep from a goaltender standpoint with the addition of Dwayne Roloson from Edmonton and Scott Munroe from Philadelphia along with already having AHL all-rookie team member Nathan Lawson under contract; saw Peter Mannino who played in Utah, Bridgeport and New York last year sign with the Atlanta Thrashers organization as everyone hopes that Rick DiPietro returns to 100-percent health in 2009-2010.

Last week we told you that in this week’s blog Kevin Colley would break down his criteria for recruiting this year’s Grizzlies team. Colley, an apparent loyal reader of the blog, was then very prepared for the question, after telling me last Saturday night at his home in Draper that “apparently we’re going to talk about next year’s team this week.”

Here’s what Kevin and Assistant Coach Jeff Dwyer are looking for as they put together the 2009-2010 Grizzlies.

“Guys that are hungry to get up to the next level and I want them to be good people on and off the ice and in the community; so that’s where it starts right now. Bring in guys that have that dream to go to the American League and then some day play in the NHL. Hard works pays off and I feel coming to work every day together as a group and working hard we’re all going to be successful and we're hopefully going to put on a good show for the fans.”

Click here to listen to the interview in it’s entirety

Breaking news hit the wire late Wednesday evening with the surprising announcement that Alaska Aces Head Coach Keith McCambridge was departing for an AHL Assistant Coaching job after two seasons as the boss in Anchorage. McCambridge apparently finished second for an AHL Assistant Coach position last summer. Now Alaska, who hasn’t operated with an Assistant Coach since McCambridge took over for the AHL departed Davis Payne in 2007; begins the search for their next Head Coach. An early candidate could be former Grizzlies forward and last year’s Captain in Alaska Scott Burt who will likely break into coaching at some point.

From the “Where Are They Now” category: congratulations to my predecessor and former partner on Grizzlies Radio Bob Hoffman who has been named the Director of Operations for the Central Hockey League in Phoenix. Bob joined the league two years ago as the Director of Communications after previously serving as the Assistant General Manager for the CHL’s Youngstown Steelhounds after leaving Utah in 2005.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com


Summer Blog Entry: July 10

07/10/2009 8:41 AM - Adam Turner
Without question, the slowest week thus far has come and gone in the hockey off-season.

The Grizzlies earlier this week added Mark Pavli as their second player to officially sign along with Evan Stoflet. Ironically both players joined Utah on November 21 as the Grizzlies roster took its first hit of the season. Stoflet had been cut by Utah after the first game and replaced on the roster by former University of Vermont teammate Mark Lutz who had just been cut by Las Vegas. Pavli had just been released by Cincinnati. Though both players definitely played two of the most critical rolls as the team went down the stretch in their first ECHL seasons and both follow the model of what Grizzlies Head Coach Kevin Colley wants for next year’s team.

Sometime in the next five days, Colley will announce the Grizzlies first signing of a free agent player who did not play last year in Utah. The mystery player is a veteran forward who played a few games at the E-Center near the end of the 2007-2008 season with the Phoenix RoadRunners and skated the previous three seasons in the American Conference. The signing continues the chemistry project of Colley’s first recruiting season as he has very intricate details and characteristics that he is looking for in every player that will be on the 2008-2009 opening day roster and beyond. In next week’s blog, Colley will tell us exactly what that formula consists of.

Also, you may have noticed on the Grizzlies roster page, that Slavomir Tomko, who the Grizzlies acquired the rights to from Elmira in June and also issued a qualifying offer to on July 1, has officially signed with the team.

Speaking of opening day, Dirk Facer from the Deseret News and I discovered earlier this week at a Salt Lake Bees game that not only do the Grizzlies open their regular season in Las Vegas on Friday, October 16 with a one and done weekend, but the University of Utah football team also plays in Las Vegas at UNLV the very next night. Those two games setup what could be a very nice weekend trip for Grizzlies/Utes supporters; which I most certainly am!

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com

See you in Las Vegas for Utes and Grizzlies Opening Weekend and also talk to you next week.


Summer Blog Entry: July 3

07/03/2009 10:31 AM - Adam Turner
I heard from several 08-09 Grizzlies this week who were headed out of town for the weekend including Scott Thauwald; who was crossing into Canada for a fishing trip and Dan McDonald who was headed to his cottage. Evan Stoflet, according to Grizzlies beat reporter from the Salt Lake Tribune Maggie Thach, was on a long trip back to Vermont. Maggie is working on a story about how several other Grizzlies are spending their summer vacation. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies coaching staff of Kevin Colley and Jeff Dwyer were both in the office working on July 3, on what in the Grizzlies organization is billed as a paid holiday.

We’ve had several stories the last few weeks about former Grizzlies advancing up the coaching latter. Earlier this week, former Grizzlies goaltender Jamie McLennan was named an Assistant Coach with the Calgary Flames after retiring following the 2006-2007 season.

The goaltending depth of the New York Islanders and the proneness to injury of Rick DiPietro definitely has been on the radar of Grizzlies fans over the last couple of years. Last season, the Grizzlies goaltending situation was uprooted after just three games when Nathan Lawson left for the season after DiPietro suffered an injury on October 25. The injury to the franchise player and later goaltender Joey MacDonald forced the Islanders to dig deep into their minor league system for backstops with Peter Mannino and Yann Danis getting called-up from Bridgeport on numerous occasions and Mike Mole and Johnstown’s Kris Mayotte being plucked from the ECHL to fill the void in the AHL. Well, New York took a great stop in establishing goaltending depth Thursday signing veteran Dwayne Roloson from Edmonton.

Speaking of NHL free agency, the Islanders don’t appear to be in the market for an enforcer (bottom paragraph) following Joel Rechlicz evolution from Utah to New York in less than a month last February and March. Islanders GM Garth Snow seems very pleased with Joel’s progress and has apparently checked off the need to go after another tough guy in this year’s shopping season. The linked article goes on to say that the Islanders have sent a qualifying offer to former Utah goaltender Nathan Lawson and a two-way qualifier (New York, Bridgeport) to former Grizzlies forward Trevor Smith.

2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup loser Marian Hossa drew a lot of media attention this year, especially during the Finals, for defecting from Pittsburgh to Detroit on a one-year deal because he felt the 2008-09 Red Wings had a better shot at winning a championship than Pittsburgh who offered him a multi-year deal after the 2007-2008 Stanley Cup. Hossa is now headed to Chicago, where apparently security is now an issue, after he agreed to an insane 12-year deal. As NHL free agency began on July 1, this 30-year-old signing by the Blackhawks continues to just boggle my mind in so many ways.

And finally, the ECHL announced the 2009-2010 playoff format Monday. Out west, seven of eight teams will qualify. Changes in the first round format include best-of-five series and a first-round bye to the team with the best record. The format is no longer divisional like 08-09. In the second round, best-of-seven series will resume.

Send me your comments and your own blog entries at adenny@utahgrizz.com.


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