Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Ortio is a native of Turku, Finland and played with the TPS Turko Junior Team. He had a 2.63 GAA and a .917 Save Percentage last season. He was the Calgary Flames 6th round selection, 171st over-all at last Saturday’s NHL draft.
Ortio, turned 18 years old last April, is 6’1” and 181 lbs. He was Finland’s number 1 goalie at the IIHF world under 18 Championships, helping Finland defeat Cody Eakin and Team Canada in the bronze medal game.
We are excited to get the opportunity to draft Joni,” comments Assistant General Manager Sheldon Ferguson, “he is highly regarded in Finland and we had a chance to see him play at the World Under 18’s in North Dakota and were impressed with his demeanor.”
Monday, June 29, 2009
First, a CHL Import draft preview for the Broncos.
I was talking to Assistant General Manager Sheldon Ferguson today. He said they may be looking to move up from their 44th overall pick for Tuesday's draft. He also has some reservations about the process.
"We have young (Jan) Dalecky coming back and we are certainly very happy with Jan. We have the pick at #44 but there's also been a lot of activity in the top 15. We have a few teams in our league in the top 15 area. If something could be worked out we may possibly get into that action."
Ferguson adds if they can't make it happen, then they will be content to use the pick at #44.
"If it doesn't happen we will pick someone at #44 and it will be a prospect we feel can play."
Ferguson wasn't leaning in one particular positional direction.
"If we want to take a goalie I'm pretty sure there will be a kid we can take a chance on. There's a couple of defenseman I'm very interested with and then of course there an exciting young forward or two that may fall there, although I don't think they will fall that far. We will just have to wait and see and obviously we will just try and pick the best player for the Broncos."
As in previous years, Ferguson knows it isn't a level playing field for some of the smaller markets across the CHL to attract the top talent.
"I hate to use the word "cheat", but this European draft is not a perfect system with the whole CHL involved. There are certainly teams with a bigger advantage than others. I've certainly been finding that out to be true when talking to agents and the teams involved. It's an interesting process and one that I'll certainly be very interested in going forward. I have some very strong views on this European draft and I will certainly make them clear as we proceed."
Ok now to the newest sport in Swift Current "Name the Coach". A lot of speculation around the replacement (or two) for Dean Chynoweth. I went to work on it today.
Word is the process wants to be wrapped up by early July so we're not talking a lot of time here. I'm told it's the selection committee's mandate to hire a General Manager. That person would then make a decision on a head coach if not themselves. The hiring committee doesn't want to put the cart before the horse so this is the process they are following moving forward.
Now to some names....
Mark Lamb - Continues to be the name heard the most. He's visiting family in Swift Current and interviewed for the job Saturday.
Don Nachbaur - Still under contract by the Tri-City Americans. Perhaps a promotion to GM gets him out of that contract without the Broncos providing compensation to the Ams? I have a feeling Nachbaur is in the mix. Word is his son is a pretty good 14 year-old player and a move to Canada would be the best for his development. He's coached a pretty successful program in Tri-City under General Manager Bob Tory.
Michael Dyck - The recent head coach of the Lethbridge Hurricanes tells me he's expressed interest into the job to the Board of Directors. Like most of the candidates, he lacks GM experience in the league. He hasn't heard anything from the Broncos end. More than a capable head coach.
Chad Lang - Has GM experience with the Moose Jaw Warriors and did a good job climbing the ranks with the Warriors. Has the respect of other GM's across the league.
Roy Stasiuk - Also has GM experience and has been in the league a long, long time. Recently let go by the Lethbridge Hurricanes. Comes with some strong recommendations.
Tim Kehler - Has the inside track as a being a big part of the current program as Assistant Coach. Can he convince the BOD that he can make the jump or are they already looking past him because of the GM first route? Sentimental favorite perhaps? There's a lot of people thinking he deserves a chance to coach.
Sheldon Ferguson - Broncos Assistant G.M. Came in midway thru last season as a replacement for the out-going Elden Moberg. Has plenty of experience in the junior and NHL levels. Tells me "he's a team player and willing to take on any role sent his way. Has made Swift Current his home and is looking forward to continuing with the team.
Obviously this isn't a complete list and a few other names have to be in the mix. I think the fact the BOD is looking for a General Manager first will limit the process down to just a handful of names.
We will see what the week brings....
What a busy weekend in Swift Current with grad ceremonies Friday and Frontier Days wrapping up last night after four days of action. For me the Fair is a "been there done that" scenario but I think organizers did a really good job this year.
The show ended with the fireworks at the fairgrounds. Great fireworks, but I could done without the commentary on 98.5 FM. The show was synchronized to music with two gentlemen doing skits and telling jokes. Just blast the fireworks next time. They stand up pretty well on their own.
Now to Cody Eakin who was taken by the Washington Capitals in the 3rd round, 85th overall in Saturday's NHL Draft.
Here's what he was saying afterwards.
On being drafted by the Capitals.......
"They have a good young squad and the last couple years they've really turned it around. Backstrom, Semin and obviously Ovechkin. To meet those guys and see them on the ice is going to be a real shell shock I think."
On being a 3rd round selection.....
"I didn't really know where I was going to fall...somewhere in the first three rounds. I can't complain going to a great organization like Washington. I'm excited to head down to their prospects camp in a couple weeks."
On being taken after several WHL players he was ranked higher than....
"I think I've got some things to prove when playing against those guys that went ahead of me. There's a little bit in the back of my mind that tells me that I want to show these guys up and be the better player on the ice every night.
On watching five WHL'ers drafted in the opening round Friday night....
"Obviously I feel like I'm on the same level as them. I know I can play with those guys and against them and on nights be better than them. They were some high picks but I feel on any given night I feel I can give them a run."
You can watch an interview the Capitals website folks did with Cody following his selection here.
I'm very impressed with the Capitals draft coverage on their website. Great work.
I've been holding on to this info for some time but apparently NHL teams are now releasing who they've invited for a free-agent tryout.
A pair of Bronco graduating players are headed to NHL camps. G Travis Yonkman has been invited to New York Rangers camp while there was early word that D Spencer McAvoy has been invited to Columbus Blue Jackets camp. Good luck guys. Maybe there will be something official coming soon.
Who's the next Head Coach / General Manager of the Broncos? I get that question a lot lately. The interview process has begun and not a lot of names have emerged. Maybe that's the way it should be. Someone made the comment to me that it should be an entirely confidential scenario. That person is probably right, but Bronco fans won't stand for that. They need something to get excited about and a thirsty for some tidbits here and there. After all, it's the fans and sponsors that make the junior hockey world go around. I can tell you this much, Mark Lamb did interview Saturday for the job. We will see if more names from the outside come out in the coming days.
Thanks to an unnamed NHL scout for the message on my voicemail overnight. Sounds like you guys are having a good time in MTL. Way to get'er done guys.
The CHL Import draft is tomorrow. The Broncos will more than likely make two selections. This draft may spell out the future of import F Jan Dalecky. Although eligible to return for his 19 year-old season, I'm not sure what his status is moving forward. There has been talk that he will stay back in the CZE this year and that he may done with the WHL. If that's the case it'll be too bad. The personable, speedy forward has been one of my favorites the past couple seasons.
What's on the Broncos import shopping list? You would have to think they will be looking at a goaltender and defenseman to help shore up some potential depth issues for next season.
This year's import draft holds a lot more at stake than in previous years from my perspective.
I may have more info later in the day.... stay tuned.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
-Swift Current Broncos forward Cody Eakin was selected 85th overall in the third round by the Washington Capitals at Saturday’s NHL draft.
Eakin had a solid sophmore season with the Broncos notching 24 goals and 24 assists for 48 points in 54 games this past season. He was hampered by injuries early in the season but had a strong finish to the year. Cody was ranked 29th amongst North American skaters coming into the draft.
Head Coach and General Manager Dean Chynoweth has high praise for Eakin: “Cody's is a natural born leader; he has the ability to make people around him better. His skating ability along with his willingness to compete and battle will make him a fine pro prospect.”
Eakin was the Broncos 1st round selection in the 2006 Bantam Draft, selected 6th over-all. He was the MVP for Team Orr at the CHL Prospects Game in January.
I'm thinking Cody slipped a bit further than I would have thought. He's a top-talent and I believe will come into next season with something to prove. Cody should be motivated to prove some teams wrong that passed on him in the 2nd round. Obvisously there was some teams that shyed away because of a couple of concussions.
He will be back stronger than ever next season.
I'll post some Eakin thoughts later....
Friday, June 26, 2009
Expected to fall somewhere in the 2nd or 3rd round, Eakin is excited to be part of it all.
"I've done all I could to put myself in the best position. We'll see how it unfolds. I'm a little bit nervous to find out what happens but I guess we'll find out soon."
As to where he will be selected, Eakin isn't setting his expectations too high.
"You don't want to set any expectations. I want to go in with an open mind... whether it's 2nd or 3rd or lower than that so be it. (Bronco defenseman) John Negrin told me the most important thing is to be drafted by a team that really wants you."
Cody is hoping his teammates can share in the experience including Justin Dowling and Joel Rogers.
"I know Justin Dowling... there was a team I interviewed with that wanted to know all about him. I said he's an unbelievable guy and an unbelievable talent. They sounded really interested. Also Joel Rogers, I wish him the best of luck. Hopefully we can share some exciting times."
No other Coach/GM related news today. I could speculate on who else is in the running but it would be pure speculation at this time. If I hear anything concrete I'll try and pass it along.
It sure is generating a ton of talk. I'm getting a lot of questions daily on the topic. People are talking about it with a sense of excitement. We will see what develops after the weekend.
I have to give a shout out to Gord Hahn. Honda found my cell phone last night 100 yards off the 18th tee at Chinook after it apparently fell out of my golf bag or pocket. It set me into a little bit of a panic last night. The former Bronco trainer and longtime supporter brought it into the pro shop... finding it before this morning's mower did. Thanks!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Sources say Lamb will interview for the job Saturday.
After a lengthy pro career with NHL stops in Detroit, Edmonton, Ottawa, Philadelphia, and Montreal, Lamb has been an assistant coach with the Dallas Stars the past six years.
He was recently swept up in some Stars housecleaning when Head Coach Dave Tippett was relieved of his duties earlier this month.
The 45 year-old has plenty of family in the southwest. His mom Willa is in the city and follows the local hockey scene intently. She's a billet for players of the "AAA" midget Legionnaires.
One could assume here that Lamb is after both head coach and General Manager roles but that's not written in stone.
Something to chew on today.....
Broncos F Cody Eakin is off to Montreal today for NHL draft festivities. I'll post some of his thoughts later today or tomorrow.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
After two years with the club as an assistant, Tim is very familiar with the how the team operates and the returning player personnel for next season.
The well-spoken, cerebral hockey mind from North Vancouver, BC will get his chance to interview and do his best to convince the Selection Committee that he's the right fit.
Can an assistant coach moving into the main role succeed? I think the precedent has been set around the league that it's working and working well.
Look no further than the WHL final this past season. It featured Kelowna's Ryan Huska (promoted to Head Coach just two seasons ago) against Calgary's Dave Lowry (rookie head coach and former assistant). The two did an admirable job with their respective teams this season and were recently rewarded - Huska with a contract extension, Lowry with a promotion to the Calgary Flames.
Kehler has a big task ahead of him though as he tries to fend off some of the bigger names and established coaching veterans who have apparently expressed interest.
He's not your cliche-throwing, giv'em hell, old school type personality. He takes a refreshing more calculated approach to his business.
He has me convinced. Now his job is to convince the rest.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The Swift Current Broncos have announced that their 2009-10 regular season slogan will be: “It’s About Passion”.
This year’s slogan is geared towards the tremendous support the people of Swift Current and Southwest Saskatchewan have shown for the Broncos and towards all of the players that have worn Broncos jerseys over the years. The slogan also revolves around the quest to bring another championship to Swift Current as the team is honouring the 1989 Memorial Cup Championship Team this summer, inducting the team into the Broncos Hall of Fame.
It’s About Passion represents all of the contributions to the Broncos organization from: fans, players and volunteers from the past, present and the future.
The Swift Current Broncos are pleased to release their 2009-10 tentative schedule. The dates and times are subject to change.
The Broncos start the season on home ice Friday September 18th against the Moose Jaw Warriors at 7:30PM at the Credit Union i-plex.
The Broncos will play 12 home games on Saturdays, 9 on Fridays, 6 on Wednesdays, 4 on Sundays, 3 on Tuesdays and 2 on Mondays.
Games on Monday through Saturday remain at 7:30PM and Sunday games are 7:00PM.
The schedule features 3 holiday games at home: Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day and New Year’s Day. All holiday games have a special 2:30PM start time.
The pre-season includes 6 games, two of which are at the Edmonton Tournament, Saturday August 29th at 7:00PM against Edmonton and Sunday August 30th at 3:00PM against Regina. The Broncos then play a home and home series with Moose Jaw and the Medicine Hat Tigers the next two weekends. Both home games are Friday nights at 7:30PM with the Warriors coming to town Friday September 4th and the Tigers visiting the Credit Union i-plex Friday September 11th.
Single game ticket prices for this season will remain the same as last season’s prices.
Blogger Note: The Broncos are in Medicine Hat for the first time on October 18th. It looks like that's the night I'll have to face the music by donning the Tigers jersey at the Arena. What a gross feeling looking ahead...
If you're one of the applicants for the soon to be vacant Broncos Head Coach / General Manager position I know you will be surfing in from time to time to find out the latest. There has been a landslide of applicants over the last few days so I'm told.
The Board of Directors will meet today to form a selection committee to keep the process moving forward. I spoke with Chairman Al Stewart to get the latest. Here's what he had to say.
On the applications they are receiving.....
"In the last few days we've received resumes, we've received phone calls from all directions of the globe actually. We have resumes from people who would like to return to the WHL from the NHL. We have resumes from other pro leagues, from people who are coaching in Europe as well as College and Junior "A". There is a vast array of them actually."
On promoting from within....
"We have had success from promoting from within at times. We think we have a very strong organization right now and if those people desire to move up they will be given the opportunity to apply for the job and interview for the job. We would certainly give them the right - which they deserve, to try and take the next step."
On the process itself....
"As much of a loss Dean (Chynoweth) is, there's some excitement that goes with this too. I think we all had it in the back of our minds and had planned some day that we would have to go through this process again. It comes without warning but at the same time we think we have a pretty good organization at this point and that the groundwork that Dean has put in makes this an attractive opportunity for the next guy to come along.
From another perspective this is much the way when a guy like Zack Smith leaves and we wonder how in the world are we going to get by without him. Then remarkably a young man steps up and fills the gap and in two years you wonder how you're going to get by without him.
We will go through the process, we are excited for an opportunity to attract a real good coach or G.M. or a Coach/G.M. We're looking at building at the success we've had in the last five years and taking it several steps further."
I won't get into specific names of applicants for the job(s) but put it this way: If you are a currently unemployed coach or G.M. and have worked in the WHL then you have applied for one or both of the positions. That should be good for about 10-15 names right there.
The Everett Silvertips will announce Craig Hartsburg as their new Head Coach today. Hartsburg is familiar with a lot of the league personnel including Regina Pats Head Coach Curtis Hunt who we took to the Ottawa Senators this past season to be his assistant coach. He's also worked with Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak through the World Juniors.
Speaking of Hunchak, I'm thinking he's quietly excited that he doesn't have to face-off with Chynoweth behind the bench any time soon. The teacher was 13-1 against his former student over the last two seasons. Granted, the Warriors couldn't buy a break or save against the Broncos the last two years.
More and more the WHL is becoming an attractive place to be. In fact, it seems there's more NHL coaches in this league than actually in the NHL. I'm a little tongue in cheek here but the interest level has gone through the roof lately from coaches at the next level.
It sure makes it awfully tough to for the young coaches out there waiting on an opportunity to prove themselves. It seems NHL teams are more willing to give a young coach a shot than the WHL these days. Strange how that works.
One thing I've realized (again), Is that I feel very fortunate to have a role in this league in some capacity. I hope current WHL coaches/GM's sit back and think about how fortunate they are too. It's easy to take it for granted until you're the one trying to hunt down a vacant spot.
The WHL coaching game is not for the faint of heart.
Thanks for the visit,
Monday, June 22, 2009
I'll give some thoughts on Dean, but first here's some quotes from Friday's news conference...
"Obviously there's some mixed emotions with this type of move, but I am going to resign effective July 1st. I've taken a job with the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League as an assistant coach with Scott Gordon's coaching staff.
I look back five years ago and came into a situation here with an organization that gave me a chance to grow not only as a coach and a manager but develop a program that I know I'm extremely proud of. We've had a number of successes both on the ice and off." - Chynoweth.
"In the five seasons he was with our club, the changes have been dramatic. He leaves to his successor a strong and growing fan base, a talented and deep pool of young players, a renovated arena, a brand new dressing room and training facility, a winning hockey club and a solid organization who has benefited and developed through Dean's involvement with the Broncos." - Al Stewart, Board Chairman
"The tough part for me with the coaching hat on is leaving the players. The kids are what this game is all about. We have had some tremendous young men go though here that came in as young boys and left as men. That's probably the best part of junior hockey." - Chynoweth
"My wife Rebecca and I are extremely proud to have been here for five years. We've made a lot of friends and it'll be a tough move but one we look forward to with great anticipation.
My friends out east always ask me what's it like (in Swift Current)? I tell them it's like the movie Friday Night Lights. It's Swift Current. Where the kids go, people know them. Where I go people know me, where my family goes they know them. There's pressures with that. When you lose you hear about it, when you win you eat for free for a week." - Chynoweth.
"Moving forward I think the structure of the club will be dictated by the quality of applicants. The board has not made a cast in stone decision regarding split role or a dual role. We intend to interview and find the best candidate and then continue to build on recent success and towards a championship." - Al Stewart
"There's a sense of urgency. We certainly have no intention of dragging this process out but it is a process. We want to talk to all the people that are interested and make a decision from there."- Al Stewart
My personal thoughts first and foremost is a "Good for Dean" feeling. Five to seven years is about all you can ask for a Coach and or General Manager in a market. There's a certain shelf life that comes into play in the business. As I was told once "there's only so many ways to kick a garbage can".
I'm sure five to seven years in Swift Current is what the Chynoweth family planned on. Now it's onward and upward.
Where this hurts the Broncos the most is the influence and power at the league level the team is losing. A small market team has to claw and scratch for everything in a league with big fish at every corner.
Dean has the respect of everyone at WHL Head Office and the rest of the General Managers in the game. In the WHL shark tank it's survival of the fittest, sink or swim, eat or be eaten.
Dean did his best to look out for the best interests of the franchise and his name alone carried a lot of weight. That won't be replaced, I guarantee it.
He has a larger than life appeal that demands respect. You are never too comfortable around him and if you're perceived to be out of line he will check you. Trust me. I've seen it with his staff, his players and have fallen victim several times myself. In my opinion it's that type of mentality a General Manager or Head Coach needs. There's room to have a little fun but this isn't a country club. With Dean around, you have to be on your toes.
There's a lot of stories one could tell. I've personally witnessed all his highs and lows of the last five seasons. Dean lived and will go on with the mentality of never get too high and never get too low. When times were tough and the gun was pointed in his direction he was calm and cool. When the team rattled off 10 straight wins there was a smile, but never would complacency become an issue.
Dean's contacts at the NHL and WHL level is impressive. It's another aspect that you can't take for granted. It's a personal and professional edge. He's plugged in and has developed a lot of relationships through the game.
On the coaching side he always took heat for "not talking to the players". It's probably what most of the fans talk about when it comes to his coaching style. He's not a cheerleader on the bench. It seems some fans always found flaws in his style.
From his colleagues he's a respected coach. Every other league personnel went out of their way to tell me how good of a job they thought he was doing when we talked. They know Swift Current and some of the smaller markets are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to some aspects of the league. Several were impressed with the way he handled his business with his hands being tied in some instances.
To close, I think the Broncos are losing a big element and a strong voice. With that said, there are several strong candidates out there and a lot of capable people. The Broncos will find a solid replacement moving forward.
Doing both jobs is tough. I fully expect the Broncos to split the duties moving forward unless something blows them away at the interview table.
THE CHYNOWETH YEARS
I thought I would try to give a five-year review of the team of the "Chynoweth Years".
Let's get into it.
Dean was hired in June of 2004 and was quick to use the term "rebuilding phase". The team was offensively starved due to the departure of some key players. An early season trade of Alex Leavitt to Everett further put the team behind the 8-ball offensively.
The Central division was full of powerhouses that year and is became obvious by Christmas the Broncos were going to miss the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
A trade deadline deal which sent Tyler Redenbach to Lethbridge stripped the Broncos of any natural offensive talent. The trade really didn't stalk the shelves moving forward. D R.J Larochelle, 20 year-old F Justin Cruse and F David Murray was the return.
It was a much anticipated deal but one Bronco fans and Dean Chynoweth were expecting more from to say the least.
Somehow, the team found a way to win 22 games while only scoring 140 goals that season. The goal total was the lowest in CHL history.
It was a tough year for all involved. There was hope for the future though. The team would land the #2 overall bantam pick for the summer while prospects like Travis Yonkman and Kyle Bortis were making noise with the Saskatoon Contacts as National "AAA" midget champions.
There was light at the end of the tunnel.
Optimism was returning to Bronco nation but the feeling was the team was still a ways from making some noise under the guidance of Chynoweth.
An early season trade shipped D David Schulz to Spokane for speedy F Ned Lukacevic. Ned turns head immediately in Swift Current with a five-goal game in his home debut. What a night. Sadly that night would account for 20% of his season goal production ending the year with 25 tallies.
With a strong group of 17 year-olds getting quality ice-time (Levi Nelson, Dale Weise, Spencer McAvoy, Kyle Bortis, Karl Benke, Travis Yonkman, Zack Smith) the Broncos were competitive yet still building for a future ahead.
I will always remember that year for what was a season long battle with the Red Deer Rebels for the final playoff spot in the Central division. The Broncos never relinquished the spot but Red Deer knocked on the door all season long until the 2nd last weekend of the regular season.
Who can forget the trade deadline deal Chynoweth pulled that year? The Broncos sending over-age D Derek Price and young D Michael Hengen to Saskatoon for D Dane Crowley and enforcer F Brandon Tidball.
Crowley, a virtual throw-in for the deal turned out to be a top-end defenseman in the WHL while Tidball made every player on the Broncos roster a couple inches taller.
The season would end at the hands of a high-powered Medicine Hat team in the opening round of playoffs.
It was a season of growing and learning.
The Broncos wanted to start seeing some dividends of some lumps they had taken the previous two years. With 2nd overall bantam pick Geordie Wudrick playing in his rookie season and a lot of returning players, the Broncos knew they were getting closer as to where they wanted to be.
Offensive numbers struggled though. 18 year-old Levi Nelson led the team in scoring with 52 points. The team had some scoring depth but it there wasn't a player on the roster that would really strike fear in the opposition... at least not yet.
The Broncos made a move back in the east division that season. Approaching the trade deadline and not being a huge threat for a league championship, Chynoweth traded their leader on the back-end Dane Crowley and prospect F Jordan Mistlebacher for young 17 year-old defenseman Eric Doyle.
What looked like a steal for Everett never really turned out that way in the long run. The emergence of Doyle and his expected return as a 20 year-old defenseman this season has the Broncos out in front in that one. It was a good deal for both teams though and both team wouldn't regret.
After going 33-36-1-2 in the regular season and finishing 3rd in the east division, the Broncos would match-up with the Regina Pats in the opening round. It was a hard fought series but the Pats victory in six games would again end the Broncos season without at least a 2nd round playoff appearance.
It was the end of the line of the Kyle Moir era in goal with his graduation as a 20 year-old. D Myles Rumsey and F Jeremy Schenderling also played out the last of their WHL eligibility.
Seeds were planted again for the future but Bronco fans wanted some playoff success and they wanted it now.
After some contract talk both negative and positive, Chynoweth was given another two year plus an option deal to guide the Broncos in the off-season. The deal took some time to be finalized but in the end, the Board of Directors gave him the mandate to continue the process.
Rink renovations were being done which was a largely disruptive but necessary process. It would take until over Christmas before the renovations were put to use.
Assistant Coach Dave Hunchak took the top job in Moose Jaw. Tim Kehler was added as his replacement.
The year started with a bang. In what became a common theme under Chynoweth, the Broncos made a blockbuster deal in the first week of the regular season. Paul Postma and Kyle Bortis where on their way to Calgary for F Keegan Dansereau and D Brent Plouffe who was then one-touched to Tri-City for the speedy over-age F Erik Felde. Overnight, the Broncos became a big offensive threat and sported the best offensive depth in Conference.
This was also the year that core of 17-year olds from two seasons ago would be the leaders of the team and give the Broncos the supporting cast to be real contenders.
After a disappointing first half to the season there was still optimism the group could get it together. A trade deadline deal which sent G Ian Curtis to Prince George for D Jesse Dudas and the acquisition of D Bretton Stamler from Edmonton for a draft pick solidified the Broncos back-end.
The team also picked up an unknown 18 year-old goaltender named Mark Guggenberger from the Portland Winterhawks with the departure of back-up Ian Curtis.
Two weeks later, the team was humming right along. They rattled off a WHL best 10 straight wins down the stretch in a very competitive Eastern Conference from 1st to 8th.
The Broncos were making noise, turning heads and the fans were loving this dynamic, speedy and skilled team. The rink was rocking and the renovations were complete and looking great.
Hockey fever was back for the first time in years. The Broncos were the best team from the trade deadline on which allowed them a 41 win regular season.
The team headed into the playoffs that season wanting another shot at the Pats. On paper the match-up wasn't even close. The Pats, albeit east division champions, didn't have the speed or skill to keep up. They were big and they were tough,
Wins in game four, five and six thanks to a Travis Yonkman paddle save on Jordan Eberle during OT of game four gave the Broncos the win in six and 2nd round playoff appearance for the first time with Chynoweth at the helm.
Next up, the Eastern Conference #1 seed Calgary Hitmen. This was perhaps the best series in the five year Chynoweth run. Tied 1-1 after two games, a Ryan White triple-overtime goal turned out to be the series turning point. The Broncos extended the series to six games but it was the Hitmen advancing on in perhaps one of the fastest paced series in years.
The city had it's first taste of Broncos success in several years. The team was looking to build on it despite losing four of their top five scorers to graduation or pro contracts.
The team jumped out of the gates with the emergence of players like Matt Tassone, Justin Dowling and Cody Eakin up-front. Veteran Keegan Dansereau was expected to be the offensive leader and didn't disappoint with a team leading 81 points - the most points a player picked up in one season in the Chynoweth years.
Without pulling an early blockbuster deal, Chynoweth saved it up for a trading frenzy at the deadline. Eight players and several draft picks changed hands in four separate deadline deals. The biggest one was the Kootenay Ice blockbuster with the acquisition of Michael Stickland and John Negrin for James Martin, Christian Magnus and a draft pick.
A 4-2 B.C. road trip and strong play down the stretch allowed the Broncos a 42 win season and home-ice advantage with the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
A toss-up with the #5 seed Medicine Hat Tigers, the well-documented series from March saw The Tigers Tyler Ennis and several key Bronco injuries as the difference. A Medicine Hat game seven victory at the Credit Union i-plex would spell the end of another season.
Two weeks later, it was made public the Board of Directors had exercised the option year on Chynoweth's contract as GM/Head Coach but an extension wasn't granted.
On Friday, Chynoweth put in his resignation with the intentions of joining the New York Islanders as an Assistant Coach.
Over the five years the win totals increased in each season. 22,24,33,41, and 42. Regular season success had returned to the Broncos but playoff success still eluded the team.
Final regular season numbers: 162-163-12-17
That's enough for today.... we will start to move forward the rest of the week to see what the lies in store for the future.
Friday, June 19, 2009
First of all, congratulations are in order. Dean is going from one good spot to another after five seasons of ups and downs with the Broncos. It was quite the ride, and I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the last five years with Dean at the helm from my perspective.
He would be the first to be excited about any of his staff moving on to something bigger. He truly is a team guy when it comes to his staff and looks out for their best interests. I think he has created a loyal following amongst his inner circle because of that. If anything, he has a massive respect amongst his colleagues.
The last 48 hours has been exciting to say the least. From reporting the story to following up at today's news conference - these are the types of moments you really enjoy as a reporter / broadcaster.
I got to thinking about it and realized I could put together quite the post of thoughts, stories and predictions moving forward. I'll think about it over the weekend and then post something.
Maybe I'll do a year-by-year rundown of some of the key moments I remember over the last five seasons.
Until then, I'm off for the weekend...
“Not unlike our players, we realize our staff is committed to trying to advance to the highest levels of hockey,” commented Chairman of the Board, Al Stewart. “We’re pleased that Dean has used his time in Swift Current to develop the skills and attributes necessary to be an assistant coach at the National Hockey League level.”
In five seasons with the Broncos, Chynoweth led the club to increased win totals each year. This past season, the club finished 4th in the Eastern Conference with their second straight 40 plus win season (42). In addition, the club’s season ticket base and overall attendance has improved each of the last 5 seasons. Prior to joining the Broncos, Chynoweth was the Head Coach of the Seattle Thunderbirds for 4 seasons.
Dean is leaving after making dramatic changes to our organization in five years and he should be proud of his accomplishments,” says Stewart. “He leaves to his successor a strong and growing fan base, a deep and talented player list, a newly renovated arena, a brand new dressing room and training facility, a winning Hockey Club, and a solid organization who have all benefitted and developed in their own right through Dean’s involvement with the team.”
Chynoweth is thankful for his time in Swift Current. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank the members of the Board who have supported me full heartedly from the time I arrived in Swift Current and never wavered. I would also like to thank the Board for a tremendous opportunity over the past five years to work towards rebuilding the Bronco program to a consistent level of success both on the ice and off.” Chynoweth adds: “I have enjoyed my time with the Broncos, the City of Swift Current and the many friends I have made here. It is a truly special place and I am extremely proud of the work the staff and I have accomplished during my tenure.”
Chynoweth returns to Long Island after being drafted 13th over-all by New York in 1987. He played 8 of his 10 NHL seasons with the Islanders
The Board of Directors thank Dean, Rebecca, and Stella for their commitment to the organization and community, and wish them all of the best as they move on to the Islanders organization.
The Board of Directors will start the search for Dean’s replacement immediately.
It was a good gathering today upstairs in the Credit Union i-plex. We carried it live on the Eagle 94.1 FM but had to breakaway 25 minutes in because of a back log of commercials and the 10am news approaching.
I'll have more on the news conference when I have more time....
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The Eagle 94.1 FM "Your Official Broncos Station" will carry tomorrow morning's news conference live from the Credit Union i-plex begnning at 9:30am.
We will try to have Dean Chynoweth join us for a one-on-one following the formal part of the conference.
Here's the listen live link
A reminder, feel free to leave your comments below to the story but let's keep them civil.
It appears as if Swift Current Broncos Head Coach / General Manager Dean Chynoweth is moving on.
He's set to resign his position with the Broncos at a news conference set for tomorrow morning at the Credit Union i-plex for another opportunity.
Chynoweth was hired as the Broncos Head Coach / GM back in June of 2004 and has been in the present role for the last five seasons.
More details coming. The Eagle 94.1 FM will try and carry the news conference live.
The announcement came this morning in one of two news conferences planned by the Broncos to close off the week.
The two teams that will face-off are undetermined at this point. It will likely by two international rivals (Sweden, Finland, USA, Austria, Czech Republic, etc). The game will be held in mid-December.
Six venues other than Saskatoon and Regina will host pre-tournament games. Prince Albert, Humboldt and Unity will host games in the North. Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Weyburn will host games in the South.
Another Habscheid is headed to Chilliwack.
Defenseman Zach Habscheid, a Bronco bantam draft pick in 2007 has been traded to the Bruins for a 4th round bantam pick in 2010.
The Broncos selected Habscheid with their last pick in the 2007 bantam draft (9th round, 184th overall)
He spent last season with the Home Hardware "AAA" midget Legionnaires.
Zach's dad Marc was introduced two weeks ago as the Chilliwack Bruins Head Coach/General Manager.
This trade comes as no surprise. The Broncos get good value for the young defenseman who never cracked the Broncos line-up. Habscheid showed strong improvement over this last season with the Legionnaires though.
I think the Broncos are getting some good value out of this as they in essence trade up four rounds in the bantam draft.
Still playing the waiting game with the Broncos regarding Friday's news conference. It was the talk over at the Elmwood Golf Club last night as to what the announcement could be.
Until its made official, there will be a lot of speculating going on. From all accounts, Friday morning is going to be very interesting.
Wish I could say more, but honestly I don't know enough at this point....
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
No details are being released except a statement saying "Dean will give an update regarding the Broncos organization".
My instincts are telling me something's up.
- First off, congratulations to my colorman on the Broncos broadcasts Tim Tisdale. Tizzy recently won the Saskatchewan Hockey Association's Coach of the Year Award. The ongoing award established in 2001 is to honour an outstanding volunteer who has devoted his or her time to coaching in Saskatchewan.
Coaching is just one-part of Tizzy's busy winter. He referees several levels of hockey and also fills the board member role of Swift Current Minor Hockey Past-President. Of course he also works as color commentator for about 35 Bronco broadcasts over the course of the season.
The Swift Current Broncos have called a news conference for tomorrow morning to announce an "International Hockey Event" coming to the city. That wording likely means they will announce the Credit Union i-plex will be the host venue for a World Junior exhibition game in December. Stay tuned.
There's rumblings of another Broncos "General Manager" hosted news conference for Friday morning, although no details have been officially announced yet. A lot of speculation as to what this is about. Again, stay tuned.
Do they have their General Manager in Lethbridge yet? Whatever the announcement is later this week you can bet it will generate a lot of chatter.
Saw some pictures of what the Moose Jaw Multiplex will look like upon completion. To me, it looks a lot like the Cranbrook Rec Plex - the home of the Kootenay Ice. If so, Moose Jaw will have a real nice junior hockey building for the Hunch Bunch to play out of.
Has anyone else heard this? Apparently there's set to be some turnover on the Broncos Board of Directors moving forward. The Annual General Meeting should be coming up in the next month. We should know more officially by then.
Swift Current City Councillor Stacey Ellertson was apparently out of joint over a recent blog post about how he never shies away from local media attention. I'm sure this sampling will bring another uninvited newsroom visit later this week. Don't forgot to bring your apple box or pulpit.
Broncos Hall of Fame weekend is a month away. The more I think about this year's event the more I think it's going to be a beauty. The Eagle 94.1 FM is in the midst of planning a welcome party for the Thursday night heading into the event. Hopefully we can pull something off at one of the local establishments.
Ran into San Jose Sharks forward and local product Travis Moen this week. Moen is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1st. He says he will weigh whatever offers come his way and make a decision which is best for his family. He did say he would love to re-sign in San Jose for next season.
It's hard to believe that Moen is already a veteran of over 400 NHL games. He will enter his fifth season in the NHL next year.
Moen and his family are building a house in Swift Current in the newer area of the NE part of the city.
The Swift Current Indians are off to a hot start. They improved to 8-2 with a 3-2 win over Regina last night at Mitchell Field. The Tribe looks like they have more than enough offense this season. It's a matter of getting some good solid pitching all summer long. So far it's holding up. Coach Joe Carnahan is a great guy, but he no fun to interview. He won't give you anything. Not a confrontational word to be said from his mouth. We will see once the rivalries begin to heat up if anything changes.
That's all today. Check back tomorrow for the details of Broncos news conference #1.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
It's by Adam Schwartz. I was a little miffed about his wording when he referred to Swift Current being in "one of the more remote regions of Canada" and how it's hard to get scouts to games here.
I guess if "remote" is being located along the Transcanada Highway smack in the middle of the Western Hockey League with seven teams within a day-trip then so be it.
And if scouts are having trouble finding Swift Current then why is it that at least one player has been drafted from the Broncos since the team moved back in 1986 and four were selected last year to match Kelowna for the highest amount taken of any WHL club.
I've forwarded an invitation to Schwartz to catch some games in Swift Current this winter. Maybe if there's time we can build an igloo and do some dog-sledding between games.
All joking aside, the article has some good quotes from Eakin and Broncos Head Coach / GM Dean Chynoweth.
The article is still worth a read, even if the opening paragraph turns you off.
Monday, June 08, 2009
JK: We've talked about finding the "right fit" for awhile now, what makes Chilliwack the right fir?
MH: With anything when you're building a house you have to have a foundation and I think there's a good one here. It's a good market, it's good some good ownership involved and the facility is very good as well. The other thing is that it's a young franchise with room to grow. Also, having a good support group around me is very important.
JK: Team President Darryl Porter mentioned at the news conference that talks between you two had been going on for months. In return you thanked him for his patience. What took so long to get it done?
MH: Through the whole thing I just wanted to take my time. They were doing their due-diligence with the other candidates. There was no rush to do anything. We discussed a lot of organizational things to see the direction that we both wanted. It was a good process because in the end it made the decision easy.
JK: The term "long-term deal" was used a few times...nothing was made public. I'm sure your happy with the deal. Can you talk on that?
MH: It worked out for everybody. There was a lot of so-called experts that we're saying the only place I'd go was if it included ownership but I can tell you right now I have no ownership in this team. It was the right fit and it made the decision easy.
JK: How comfortable are you with the Bruins roster and 50 player list?
MH: Everything is up for evaluation. I think you don't want to do anything to reactionary. You want to get a feel for what the roster is all about. It's nice to talk to people all you want but it's nice to look at it for yourself. The only way I'm going to be able to do that is training camp. But if the right situation comes along to help our team we'll look at that but you really want to be careful and methodical so I think patience is a key word.
JK: We spoke about you maybe trying to shake the rust off from being out of the WHL since 2004. Are you expecting some things to be different or a lot of it the same?
MH: Coaching is coaching and you're not coaching hockey you're coaching people. The game is always going to be the game. Helping Regan (Darby) with the "AAA" Legionnaires (in Swift Current) was good because he let me run some practices and do video and those types of things. That was good for me to get back and dust off the old coaching manual. It will be good to get going again with a group.
Wednesday, June 03, 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
The native of Wymark has been out of the coaching game since June of 2007 when he let go as an Assistant Coach for the Boston Bruins.
I got a hold of Marc this afternoon at his Swift Current home. He won't confirm the report but said he would talk later in the week.
Chilliwack has scheduled a news conference for Wednesday. I'll have a transcript if it's made official at that time.
Eakin tested well and placed 4th overall in the VO2 Max Test. Cody informs me he didn't spill his breakfast either in the test that often has a bucket nearby due to the physicality of it.
The Winnipeg native, who just turned 18 last Sunday, was interviewed by 24 NHL teams at the Combine.
Cody answered all sorts of questions. A lot of the teams wanted to know about prior injuries. Some even asked about teammate Justin Dowling who was not at the Combine.
Eakin has been training hard this off-season and tells me he's added about 10 lbs since the season ended putting him at a very lean 184 lbs.
We will see where he falls come draft day in Montreal. There seems to be a consensus that Eakin will be taken somewhere in the 2nd round. If that holds true he could be the highest Bronco NHL draft pick since Duncan Milroy in 2001 (2nd round 37th overall).
The Broncos had four players drafted in 2008 but don't expect the number to be that high in this draft. There could be as many as three chosen with Dowling and Joel Rogers a possibility. One thing we've learnt over the years is to expect some surprises on draft day.
Local product and four-year Kootenay Ice graduated player Andrew Bailey is looking at the potential of playing pro hockey next season.
Bailey has an offer to play pro in Holland next season. If he doesn't go that route expect Bailey to attend school at the University of Saskatchewan and play for the Huskies.
I'm really surprised Bailey hasn't been invited to an NHL camp this fall. He's a pretty complete player who was one of the best in the league last season.
The Moose Jaw Warriors will announce Jeff Truitt this morning as their next General Manager / Director of Hockey Operations to replace Chad Lang.
Although not having a first-hand look on how Truitt handles the hockey side of things, I can tell you if it's anything like his character than it's top notch. I'm glad to see Jeff back in the WHL.
No one is really sure where Warriors Head Coach Dave Hunchak fits into things yet. I've been told he's safe. More should be known later today when the Warriors hold a news conference.
This may be the only update for awhile. As you can probably tell over the last few weeks, I'm on blogger hiatus. It's going to be a very busy hockey season again and I enjoy my off-season as much as anybody in the league.
For now, there isn't much happening anyways... at least not in these parts.