The Head Coach and General Manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings had some things to get clear up in our pre-taped "Behind the Bench" segment after today's pre-game skate.
Kelly Macrimmon has always been a favorite of mine to talk to. He has a sly way about him and you never know what he's going to say. He's tough to read and thats what makes it interesting.
Admitedly a reader of "Keen's Korner", Kelly knows the WHL media didn't give the Wheat Kings a lot of credit heading into the season. The WHL's broadcaster rankings to start the season had them 11th out of 12 teams in the conference. That same poll had the Broncos picked to finish 6th. Now, I didn't put the Wheaties that low. I believe I ranked them 8th out of 12. A quick look at the standings shows Brandon presently in 7th. By no means world beaters but better than most thought. Seems like I was the whipping boy for the 22 broadcasters today.
Here's a little taste of what transpired in our five minute pre-game chat....
JK: We see some players emerging in this Wheat Kings line up, Matt Lowry is off to a great start while the rookie line (Glennie/Calvert/Schenn) have also made a solid contribution. How much of this did you expect, and how much of it is a surprise?
Kelly: Well, I think he had more confidence in our group than let's say.... you did Jon, for sure. We have gotten real good mileage out of our returning players after we graduated some great players but I think the guys that have returned have really taken on larger roles and responsibilities.
JK: Is it nice kind of being under the radar a little going into the season and not being one of the teams picked to be a contender? Not that other General Managers around the league picked you to finish out of the playoffs because they know of the success you've had here. Is it nice being a team not thought that highly of by others?
Kelly: Well to be honest, I know as much as it keeps guys like yourself busy Jon, I'm not really that concerned about what other teams think about our team. We haven't had a rebuilding year in Brandon since 1991. I guess there is a part of me that would be a little bit surprised that people were so adament that our team was going to struggle, but with all that said I think our focus is internal and I think it's been a great challenge for our players. They have fed off of that. Our veterans are good players and people and they want our team to do well. I think the returning veterans we have all want to be a part of things and leave their mark.
JK: I compare the Broncos this season to the Wheaties of last. Some good scoring, a mobile defense and steady goaltending. Your team last year had some success that saw you get to the 2nd round of playoffs. How do you win with a team like that? What advice would you give?
Kelly: Well, first of all Dean Chynoweth doesn't need any of my advice, he's done a real good job of putting a good team together. I think just from reading your blog Jon, I don't think there has ever been a team in the Western Hockey League that would compare to this year's Swift Current Broncos. So, we (Wheat Kings) are just hoping to be the Washington Generals here tonight for the Broncos and play our part.
There you go, more classic stuff from Kelly.
Broncos and Generals...I mean Wheat Kings tonight on the Eagle 94.1 FM, pre-game show at 6pm, play-by-play at 6:30pm.