Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday . . .

There is an interesting dance going on involving the Kelowna Rockets, Detroit Red Wings and Jokerit Helsinki, which plays in Finland’s SM-Liiga.
And it all involves F Teemu Pulkkinen, a player selected by the Rockets in the 2009 CHL import draft and by the Red Wings in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL draft.
Pulkkinen, an extremely talented player, struggled in 2009-10 because of injuries — knee, wrist and shoulder. In fact, he has had surgery to repair all three injuries.
There are all kinds of connections between the Rockets and Red Wings, who, you will recall, took a break from the rigours of the 2009-10 schedule and spent a couple of days in the Little Apple last season. They practised in front of 5,000 or 6,000 fans and took in a lot of donations for that city’s Food Bank.
Ken Holland, the Red Wings’ GM, is from Vernon, which is just a few slapshots from Kelowna. Former Rockets assistant coach Jeff Finley lives in Kelowna and scouts for the Red Wings, while Marty Stein, another scout, lives in Vernon and veteran scout Bruce Haralson, who now is in Bellingham, Wash., used to work out of the Okanagan.
Detroit head coach Mike Babcock played a season (1982-83) of junior in Kelowna when the franchise was known as the Wings.
Kelowna winger Mitchell (Dirty Harry) Callahan was a sixth-round pick by Detroit in the 2009 NHL draft and he has since signed with the Red Wings.
And on and on . . .
It stands to reason, then, that Kelowna president and general manager Bruce Hamilton has asked the Red Wings to see if they can help get Pulkkinen into a Rockets’ uniform.
All of which, at first glance, might seem doable. Right?
Well . . . there is this one little problem.
It seems that a few days before the NHL draft, the Red Wings signed F Ilari Filppula, who played the last two seasons with TPS Turku of the Finnish Elite League. The older brother of Detroit F Valtteri Filppula, Ilari had a fine season — he had 49 points in 58 regular-season games — and ended up being named the playoff MVP after adding two goals and 12 assists in 15 games. Yes, TPS won the league championship.
Before joining TPS Turku, Ilari Filppula had played for Jokerit . . . and he signed a new deal with Jokerit on May 4. That, you have to understand, was Jokerit’s BIG signing of the offseason.
But then along came the Red Wings on June 15, which was the deadline for free agents and previously drafted players to sign for next season and get out of their Finnish contracts.
Which is exactly what Filppula did.
That left Jokerit scrambling to find a replacement, something it hasn’t yet done. And remember that Finnish teams usually get their signings wrapped up by mid-June so that everyone can have something of a vacation, what with training camps opening in mid-July.
Meanwhile, Pulkkinen apparently has one season left on his contract with Jokerit, but has a window this summer during which he could leave for Kelowna.
In order to get through that window, Detroit would have to sign Pulkkinen by Aug. 15. Were that to happen, the Red Wings could assign him to Kelowna.
But having signed Filppula away from Jokerit, you have to wonder how eager the Red Wings are to take a second player from the Helsinki-based team?
(NOTE: Garth MacBeth of The MacBeth Report contributed to this report.)
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As expected, the Swift Current Broncos have named Jamie Porter as their assistant general manager. He replaces Sheldon Ferguson, who has returned to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes as an amateur scout. . . . Porter started as a regional scout with the Broncos in 2003 and was named the head scout and director of player personnel in 2006.
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Two former WHL goaltenders -- Kurtis Mucha and Linden Rowat -- have committed to the U of Alberta. . . . Mucha (Portland, Kamloops, 2004-10), who finished his WHL career with the Kamloops Blazers last season, holds the CHL record for career minutes played. . . . Rowat (Regina, Lethbridge, 2005-10) finished up his WHL career last season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . D Jarrett Toll (2004-10) and D Drew Nichol (Edmonton, 2007-10) also have committed to the Golden Bears. . . . Mucha and Rowat both may end up seeing ample playing time as G Travis Yonkman (Swift Current, 2005-08) no longer is with the U of A program, while G Real Cyr (Prince George, 2004-08) has a hernia problem. . . . E.Daum, over at southcampussports.com, also reports that U of A head coach Eric Thurston is in hot pursuit of F Zack Dailey (Everett, 2005-10) and F Bretton Cameron (Medicine Hat, 2005-10), and that Cameron “looks to have a tryout secured with the Stanley Cup-champion Chicago Blackhawks.”

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