Red Deer Rebels broadcaster Cam Moon quipped, “Brent Sutter 2.0,” when describing the Rebels man of many hats.
I concur. I’d seen Brent Sutter on a couple of occasions during his tenure with the Calgary Flames and he looked weathered to say the least; not to mention he was short and it seemed any media interactions were forced.
Tara Slone, RJ and I spent a good 45 minutes with Sutter before Friday’s game and completely unprovoked, he opened up like the skies after a big storm. He spoke candidly on everything from the Rebels, to the Calgary Flames, his brother Darryl and his time with the New Jersey Devils.
Sutter spoke at length about his respect for Lou Lamoriello and the Devils culture and Sutter said the two of them would often leave the rink well after midnight.
I have the utmost respect for Matthew Dumba, but he didn’t look like a seventh overall NHL pick in Games 1 and 2. He turned pucks over, didn’t engage physically, didn’t show off that booming shot and rarely showed the offensive flare I’d seen from him previously. That being said, he did win Game 3 with a boomer from the top of the circles in overtime.
Conner Bleackley is a star in the making.
Patrik Bartosak has an unorthodox style, but he’s highly effective and would be a great add to an NHL team.
Calgary’s group of hulking defencemen were way more involved offensively than what I saw from them earlier in the season.
Overager and Mr. Hitman himself Cody Sylvester said his team’s game has evolved from individual to group play over the course of the season.
They don’t get much more honest than Hitmen goalie Chris Driedger (pronounced Dreeger).
Calgary rookie Jake Virtanen is learning the ropes from Victor Rask.
An NHL team better jump on Brady Brassart as he’s great around the net.
Saw Moose Jaw GM Alan Millar in Calgary. He prefers the WHL approach to player development where players are drafted at 15 as opposed to the OHL model (where he spent several years as a GM) where players are drafted at 16. As a result, the midget hockey out west is much more competitive than in Ontario and therefore provides a better platform for players to develop at 16.
U-18 Team Canada training camp
Head Coach Don Hay was already locked-in when RJ and I showed up to Sunday’s U-18 practice.
Laurent Dauphin of Chicoutimi looked most impressive on day two of Canada’s U-18 camp.
Rimouski defenceman Samuel Morin is the worst kept secret in the 2013 draft.
Moose Jaw forward Brayden Point has an uncanny ability to win puck battles against bigger, stronger opponents.
Connor McDavid is out of this world talented. He’s likely the smartest and most skilled in the group and next year, he’ll get a chance to play with Dylan Strome (Ryan’s brother).
Rimouski goalie Philippe Desrosiers shoots it better than some forwards.
Feel bad for Greyhounds star defenceman Darnell Nurse who’s injured and cannot participate.
Possible candidates to be added to the team should their respective CHL teams fail to advance include Madison Bowey of Kelowna and Nicholas Baptiste of Sudbury. Both the Rockets and the Wolves were down 2-0 in their respective series’ going into Tuesday night.
Hockey Canada has until midnight April 18th to finalize its roster.
I spent some time with former NHL’er Tom Fergus as he too was taking in some of the U-18 workout. Fergus will be an Assistant Coach with the Milton IceHawks next season and his son TJ (drafted in the 8th round of the OHL draft by Erie) will play for him.
Hockey Canada has started a movement to standardize it’s physical and mental fitness programs within the Program of Excellence. This means players that participate in U-17, U-18 and U-20 events will be subject to the same training techniques.
Expect a wrinkle similar to last year’s World Junior summer development camp where games were played in Russia and Halifax. Exhibition games will be played a lot closer to home this summer.
Better start to take notice of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
Benoit Groulx will have to work some of his career’s best magic if the Gatineau Olympiques are to give Halifax a run in their series.
One more candidate to consider for the vacant Moncton Wildcats head coaching job is Yves Sarault. The well-traveled former third round pick of the Montreal Canadiens has played all over the world and is currently coaching at the Ontario Hockey Academy. He is on Don Hay’s staff for Canada’s U-18 team.
The Oshawa Generals were dealt a serious blow when Scott Laughton was suspended for five games. The ‘Gennies’ are already down 3-0 in their series with Barrie.
Expect a couple of lengthy score sheets now that the Plymouth/Owen Sound series has shifted to Owen Sound (and I don’t necessarily mean goal scoring).
Anyone associated with what happened at Rutgers University should be fired, especially if they knew about it ahead of the public release of the video. Former Head Coach Mike Rice should be banned for life. Further, President Robert Barchi should have the balls to step down and remove himself for this happening under his watch.