Thursday, November 29, 2012

Knoblauch moves on; So does Wand...

In the land of Ice the change certainly isn't glacial as lots of stories over the past week concerning all things Ice.

First off, former Ice head coach Kris Knoblauch has agreed to join the OHL's Erie Otters as their head coach after Sherry Bassin relieved six-year head coach Robbie Ftorek of the bench duties yesterday.

The release is here.

This one comes out of left field in the feeding frenzy that is the Portland Winterhawks situation (more on that below). Knoblauch had been helping out with the Junior B Kimberley Dynamiters as well as being a substitute teacher in Cranbrook - a teacher by trade, Knoblauch had also taken over the reigns of the Parkland Middle School Hockey Academy, of which my son was a part of. So in what was a boon to the academy and the local teaching profession, as well as the Junior B Nitros, is now an entirely new challenge in the OHL.

Knoblauch isn't taking over just any franchise. The Otters are run by Sherry Bassin, which is akin to Bob Tory if you're looking for an OHL analogy. Bassin has been around a long time and for him to take Knoblauch in and let go a quality coach in Ftorek, is a big deal.

That and Knoblauch has the opportunity to coach one of the best up and coming players in the game in 15-year-old Connor McDavid. McDavid is 15 (1997-born) and after applying for, and receiving, special status by Hockey Canada to play as an underage player, the young phenom has 15 goals and 19 assists in 27 games for the Otters, who are just this side of Peterborough and Ottawa for the OHL's basement in the standings.

Good luck Kris!

In other news the Ice announced that D Spencer Wand, 17, has left the team and retired from hockey. He'd been out the past couple of weeks with an upper body injury (read: concussion) and told the club his heart was no longer in it and went home.

Strange, indeed, from a player ranked by the NHL Central Scouting in their Preliminary rankings  - 24th in the WHL Rankings; Ice goaltender Wyatt Hoflin is 6th - for him to just up and retire without battling any extensive injuries other than the latest one. Though, perhaps, this one was worse than first thought. If he's dealt prior to the deadline, we'll have our answer. Just a thought, but two good young puck-moving D-men in Wand and Kris Krabben - dealt to Vancouver in the Austin Vetterrl deal - are now gone from the Ice roster. Depth is fleeting.

Oh, and the Ice did win last night at WFP, a 5-4 shootout win over the Edmonton Oil Kings. Wyatt Hoflin started in the nets for the Ice but was pulled - McGill is going to soon get the moniker 'Captain Hook' - in favour of Skapski to start the 3rd. Down 3-1, the Ice scored three straight to take the lead, only to surrender it - again, in this game - seconds later before beating the Oil in the circus.

Luke Philp notched two goals and an helper along with scoring the winner in the Shootout and Sam Reinhart got one with two helpers and scored in the extra festivities.

Missing from the Ice' wonderful 17-year-old offensive trio was F Jaedon Descheneau who is suspended indefinitely for 'detrimental conduct' as the team put it, at school. I don't know what he did but it certainly doesn't sound good for the young player who could go a long way in this league.

Oh, and yes, the crowd, if I'm not mistaken, was 2109, the smallest ever for a regular season game (or Playoff) at the Rec Plex/WFP. Kootenay breaks a 3-game losing streak from their U.S. Division trip and improves to 8-15-1 and 17 points, three better than the WHL's last place club, the Vancouver Giants in the Tyler Benson sweepstakes.

Finally, the WHL threw the book, the library and the truck carrying some more books at the Portland Winterhawks for recruiting violations. There's a ton out there on the subject so I'm not going to go into too much detail - go to Mr. Drinnan's blog for the goods; or to Alan Caldwell's at Small Thoughts; or to Coming down the Pipe - all with links over on the right - for the straight goods.

Needless to say, this boils down to what the WHL says is the team providing a cell phone to the captain and flights for families of players over the past few seasons. For that they were fined $200,000; Coach Mike Johnston was suspended for the rest of the season, including Playoffs; the club will not be able to participate in the first five rounds of the 2013 Bantam Draft and surrender their next four, first round picks in the the 2014-2017 Bantam Drafts.

That and the WHL will have no further comment on the situation. So they almost kill the future of the franchise for a cell phone and some flights? C'mon. In my business excessive discipline is easy to defend and based on what the WHL is saying, this is wayyyy too excessive, at least based on what the Winterhawks say the WHL said they did wrong. Did they screw up? Sure sounds like it but there's got to be more to this story.

That said, gotta give some kudos to the boys over at Coming Down the Pipe for breaking this story over two weeks ago and taking a lot of flack for it because nothing had yet materialized. Kind of gives me some belief in the concept of good investigative journalism is alive and kicking. The MSM (mainstream media) could definitely take some pointers from CDTP's scoop on this. Good job!

26 comments:

ELL said...

There is more to this Wand thing. There have been rumours circulating and they were not centered around the concussion. Perhaps some maturing necessary on his part.

A lot invested into his development, perhaps a rest and then maybe to another team?

Anonymous said...

Seems finger pointing and quitting are the strategies for hockey on Cranbrook this year! Makes one wonder - anyone ever hear the saying "point your finger - three pointing back"?

Anonymous said...

Kind of sad that the current environment does not have the kids 'wanting' to play hockey. Players quitting - others thinking about it. Yes please do point fingers and start asking some questions ... then fix it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe somebody needs to re-evaluate the coaching and playing environment these boys are in after the captain and other talented players have quit. It must be pretty grim to make these boys give up on their hockey dreams.

Anonymous said...

czerwonka now Wand? IMO it's gotta come down to the coaching. I think the hiring if McGill was the worst thing for this club. If guys arent wanting to come to the rink everyday it's sad. McGills style of coaching is in the past. Kids don't respect a guy that screams at you or benches you after a mistake. Never saw that with Knoblauch. Players coaches are in, not this old intimidating style of coaching. Won't be surprised if more walk out or ask for a trade.

ELL said...

The coaching has been great. He is someone who is building for the future and holding kids accountable along the way. Knoblauch had an older crew who, for the first year responded to were all in this together approach. Czerwonka was frustrated he could not get healthy and Wand it is something else.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Ell - "The coaching has been great." seriously? What is that based on? On-ice performance? Bringing out the best in the current roster? Having happy soldiers?

Sorry - its a bust - I liked the idea but it is just not working and will not work. Accountable along the way is great - when will coach and management become accountable?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Not the great organization it makes it self out to be...

Jeff said...

Keep it clean with the posts. If you have an opinion, fine, express it but attacks wont be tolerated, and they will be removed.

Anonymous said...

How does a top 25 ranked defence man get moved to forward(for 3 games) and get a concussion playing forward and no one has to answer for this? Now Joey is out for 2-4 weeks because of all the extra minutes him Muth and Dirk are playing?? Someone needs to be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

Might be Joey's last game in Ice jersey.We need to get some young Dmen,with Wand gone we have to use him for trading value! Only player we could get enough for.Hope I'm wrong,time will tell.

Anonymous said...

In any company a dept of people not performing doesn't start with firing the employees! Someone will start to ask bigger questions eventually!

Anonymous said...

Ya maybe not. But a company with unhappy people(players) can either quit or go somewhere else

Anonymous said...

True enough employees can quit - but these are kids who are doing what they love to do and been brought up by parents who have told them to respect their elders and work hard....the key here is to give these kids the tools to deal with difficult personalities such as this and rise above it. Maybe this Coach has a hard time coaching respectful kids - could it be he sees that as a weakness? Kids are learning through adversity - can he Coach them through it? Time will tell! But quitting for most of these kids is the very last option.....

Anonymous said...

Wonder if most realize how many years of hard work it takes to get to the whl? Good on any player who knows that 30dollars a week isn't cutting it and its time to move on or simply has just lost the love for the game. These guys have sacrificed there entire youth for what? To play for free and see maybe one team mate move to the next level. The days of playing for free are coming to an end I believe in the chl. Let these guys chase there dream, but pay them while they do it. No the education program isn't paying them. Pay them cash and let them save for there education like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Yes I agree, but that means there will be less teams in the league as the small town clubs won't make the cut. This will also happen in the nhl when the strike is over. Expect 3-4 less teams. The entire league is getting watered down anyway

Anonymous said...

i think a big problem could be solved by a phone call to a certain 20 year old dman that was traded to the giants last summer and since released by them and playing in yorkton presently imo he would help the defense out a lot with no cost to the future and also thought hubic looked good on defense last night to

brian said...

niebrandt can stay in yorkton and maybe he can land dirk a spot on that roster too. to most fumblesome out of place defencemen on the team. I just cant see how they are playing in the WHL. well one remains anyways. skapski must go as well.

Anonymous said...

mcGill must go or we will go.

Anonymous said...

Wand has been kicked off of or quit just about every team and process since he was in elementary school. People in sask wondered how long this would take. Just another kid who happened to have talent and size but history repeats itself.

Anonymous said...

The Ice do extensive background checks on all players before drafting them so they know all. They hired a thug and a bully for a coach that got fired from his last job so yes there seems to be a trend here if your story is correct.

Anonymous said...

So they did a background check on wand? Who did the check? He has been kicked off or quit every team he has played on since he was 10.

Anonymous said...

coaching is fine, wand has some issues and they stem from parenting

Anonymous said...

there was and is nothing wrong with wand. The ice are a horrible organization and treat the players horribly. His heart was not in the game anymore and the Ice are a joke. I do not blame him for leaving.