Thursday, September 08, 2011

The Latest

- The Blazers had two more players depart for NHL camps today as Chase Schaber and Colin Smith - both bound for Edmonton. They undergo fitness testing with the team tomorrow and will eventually head down to Penticton with the Oilers prospects to play in the Young Stars tournament.

Five of the eight Blazers headed to camps have now left (Dylan Willick, Josh Caron - Minnesota, Austin Madaisky - Columbus). Jordan DePape leaves tomorrow for Winnipeg. Brendan Ranford leaves for Philadelphia Saturday and JT Barnett takes off for New Jersey Monday.

- Blazer 16 year-old Matt Needham will see his first pre-season game action tomorrow night when the Blazers host the Kelowna Rockets to kick-off the exhibition home-and-home series. Needham missed all of training camp with an elbow injury but was back in full-practice this week.

- The Kelowna Rockets will join the Blazers in being short staffed this weekend. They also have eight players headed for NHL camps. D Mitchell Chapman will also miss tomorrow's game due to a one-game suspension picked up for a fight vs Victoria's Curt Gogol last weekend.

I believe both teams have agreed to a level playing field and will be dressing the same amount of players for the weekend set.

- At first I wasn't sure how the coaching dynamic with Head Coach Guy Charron and Associate Coach Dave Hunchak would work but I'm liking what I'm seeing and hearing so far.

Guy has allowed Dave to come in and share ideas, thoughts and a game plan to which Guy has whole-heartily endorsed. There's no ego getting in the way here. Guy understands the knowledge and experience Hunchak brings to the table with his time in the league. He's allowing an equal voice between the two and it can only stand to benefit the Blazers. It's like having two head coaches on the bench this season. So far, so good.

- Kamloops was not immune to the news of yesterday's plane crash in Russia as the names of those dead began emerging.

As tweeted about yesterday, Guy Charron coached Karel Ruchunek in Grand Rapids of the IHL back in the 1999-2000 season. When I was passing on some of the names to Guy over the phone yesterday you could hear the surprise in his voice when I got to his name. As said time and time again, the hockey world is very small.

- Two names grabbed my attention - Danill Sobchenko and Yuri Urychev. I remember the Russian roster from Radio NL's broadcast of the Subway Super Series last November between Team Russia and Team WHL at Interior Savings Center. Those two were key parts of the Russian team. Sobchenko scored in the game, and then went on to score in the shootout in a 7-6 Russian come-from-behind victory.

- Of course the death of Brad McCrimmon was the big story. I was introduced to Brad at the NHL draft in Ottawa by Dean Chynoweth several years ago. The Chynoweth family and the McCrimmons go back many years. It's a devastating loss to the WHL community.

Brad's brother Kelly McCrimmon (GM/Owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings) talked about his brother's death here.

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