Just a few notes today as the club resumes practice before their final two exhibition games this weekend.
Former assistant coach and longtime Cranbrook teacher and hockey legend Colin Patterson is running the show in the UK. Funny, with the Ice he was known more as a gentle teacher but with his other junior clubs in the '80's and 90's locally he 'ruled with an iron fist' as inferred in the story. I never played for him but was told on numerous occassions that he was a coach you didn't want to cross, not that there's many in this sport.
Some alumni notes as former Ice captain Jarret Stoll signed a four-year deal last week. The Kings will be young again this season but you can see the turn-around on the horizon a la Pittsburgh and Chicago this season. Strange however to see two former Ice captains - Stoll and New York Islander Mike Comrie - on the gossip pages due to their high profile relationships with Rachel Hunter and Hilary Duff, respectively. The former teammates took two different directions with their relationships as Hunter is 12 years senior to Stoll while Duff is seven years junior to Comrie. Stoll and Hunter are engaged to be married while Comrie and Duff are still at the rumour stage.
Here's an early copy of a Kootenay preview that'll run next week. Changes to the roster will be noted as they happen.
Kootenay Ice Season Preview 2008-09
Last season: 42-22-5-3; Third in Central Division; Fifth in Eastern Conference. Lost to Lethbridge in the second round of the WHL Playoffs.
Head coach: Mark Hollick (second season)
Assistants: Kris Knoblauch (second season), Scott Beattie (first season)
Key Losses: Captain and leading scorer C Steve Da Silva; D Chad Greenan and D Paul Kurceba. C Ben Maxwell will not return for his final year of junior eligibility having been signed by the Montreal Canadiens. Imports RW Arnaud Jacquemet and D Jiri Ryzuk; role players LW Josh Gionfriddo and D/F Zach Sim.
The 20-year-olds: D Eric Frere, D Ian Barteaux, RW Andrew Bailey and G Kris Lazaruk.
The Imports: Forwards Ales Frieb, 19, and Dominik Pascovsky, 18, both of the Czech Republic.
Key returnees: C Dustin Sylvester, RW Andrew Bailey and LW Michael Stickland will be counted upon heavily for a team thin on offense; D John Negrin will have to lead on the back-end.
New faces: G Nathan Lieuwen, 17, D Tyler Vanscourt, 16, D Hayden Rintoul, C Max Reinhart, 16, Jesse Ismond, 17, Drew Czerwonka, 16 are likely rookie candidates while D Cason Machacek, 17, D Joey Leach, 16, RW Jordan Bauer, 17, and LW Mike Cassivi, 17, are fighting for the club’s last two spots.
Watch for: A club in search of offence. Fans will witness likely the youngest club Kootenay has iced since 1998-99.
Just notes: With a glut of quality netminders overage G Kris Lazaruk will likely find himself the odd-man out… If the club doesn’t average 2800 in paid attendance this season they have the ability to opt-out of their 15-year lease with the Cranbrook Rec Plex signed in 2000, freeing the club to move elsewhere.
Did you know: C Max Reinhart is the son of former NHL’er Paul Reinhart, who also owned the Junior A Cranbrook Colts prior to the Ice relocating here in 1998… D Cason Machacek is the younger brother of Vancouver Giant forward Spencer.
The prognosis: 2008-09 will be a rebuilding year for the club and possibly the first year in the past decade they won’t make the playoffs. Unfortunate timing for a team looking for more fans.