Today's WHL bantam draft lottery win was the big news out of today... for more details see the post below.
Other news included F Colin Smith getting the Western Conference nominee for the WHL's Scholastic Player of the Year. He will go up against the Eastern Conference nominee which will be announced tomorrow.
F Brendan Ranford was a 2nd team Western Conference All Star. Here's a look at the two all-star teams as announced today.
WHL WESTERN CONFERENCE ALL-STAR TEAMS
FIRST ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – James Reid (Calgary, AB), Spokane Chiefs
Defenceman – Tyson Barrie (Victoria, BC), Kelowna Rockets
Defenceman – Jared Cowen (Allan, SK), Spokane Chiefs
Forward – Brendan Gallagher (Delta, BC), Vancouver Giants
Forward – Tyler Johnson (Spokane, WA), Spokane Chiefs
Forward – Ryan Johansen (Port Moody, BC), Portland Winterhawks
SECOND ALL-STAR TEAM
Goaltender – Calvin Pickard (Winnipeg, MB), Seattle Thunderbirds
Defenceman – Brenden Kichton (Spruce Grove, AB), Spokane Chiefs
Defenceman – Ryan Murray (White City, SK), Everett Silvertips
Forward – Brendan Shinnimin (Winnipeg, MB), Tri-City Americans
Forward – Brendan Ranford (Edmonton, AB), Kamloops Blazers
Forward – Ryan Howse (Prince George, BC), Chilliwack Bruins
I recently sat down with General Manger Craig Bonner to recap the disappointing season.
What's your take on the season... how it ended, and where you're at right now....
It's very disappointing, where we finished and with our expectations we had going in. As a group there's lots of reasons we didn't make the playoffs. The reality of suspensions and our injury situation at the end caught up with us. We just couldn't battle through it in the end.
Looking at it overall, the two biggest areas we need to drastically improve on is our defensive play as a team and our discipline. Those are going to be the main focuses going into next year. The teams that win are good defensively and are disciplined. It's not a formula that's hard to figure out it's getting your team to do it.
Training camp next year will be very intense, very challenging and jobs will be on the line. Anytime you don't make the playoffs there's changes and I anticipate there will be some changes around here.
What's the plans are far as moving forward? When will you evaluate your team and staff ?
The focus right now for Matt (Recchi, Director of Player Personnel) is the bantam draft. There's three more provinces to go to leading up to the draft in May. We continue to recruit for next year as well.
I'm sure the ownership group will be evaluating the entire organization, that's what happens every year especially when you don't make the playoffs, that's part of the business.
You're always being evaluated - players, coaches, myself...the business staff. That's the way it is.
Looking back at the start of the year the term "division title" was being thrown around. I know majority owner Tom Gaglardi has used the term "underachieve" when looking at the end result. Would you agree with that?
Yeah I think we have and as I said earlier I think there's reasons why we have. Some of those reasons you can control and some aren't. If you look at our defensive and discipline stats they're ugly. We are in the bottom three of most defensive and discipline stats.
When you lose your top line forwards to 12 games in suspensions, that's undisciplined play. That's 24 points on the line where you're missing your top guys for.
When you look at the roster for next season there won't be a lot of turnover... how do you get the players to improve and take these things to heart?
We are learning and we all have to improve from myself to the coaches. When you look at Guy (Charron), he's been removed from junior hockey for a long time and we are always learning.
We've talked a lot about different areas we need to improve in. We are going to have a lot of heart-to-heart meetings this spring and summer. it's no secret, we have to improve as an organization. To not make the playoffs is unacceptable for the ownership group down.