Saturday, August 14, 2010

Questions, questions and more questions . . .

We've got questions . . .

1. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, associated with WHL teams expects a number of 19- and 20-year-old goalies to be on the market between now and the trade deadline in January. . . . Did the Prince George Cougars get the best of the lot when they acquired Morgan Clark, 20, from the Swift Current Broncos earlier in the week? And if Clark comes out of training camp as the starter, who will be backing up? If the Cougars are prepared to go with 20- and 19-year-old goaltenders, they may go with Clark and James Priestner, 19, who has a history with head coach Dean Clark. Priestner, however, left the Cougars early last season, so is going to have to prove to management and teammates that his heart is in it this time around.
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2. F Landon Ferraro got a lot of offseason pub, thanks to his highly publicized falling out with Red Deer head coach Jesse Wallin last season. But do you really think the Rebels got the short end of the deal that sent Ferraro to the Everett Silvertips for F Byron Froese? Froese may have flown under the radar the last two seasons but consistency has been his middle name. Red Deer fans are going to like him.
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3. With Brandon Wheat Kings assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk felled by a broken back, who takes over the title as hockey’s No. 1 chewer of gum? On an interim basis, of course. . . . Gylywoychuk, by the way, was released from hospital in Brandon on Thursday and now is recovering at home. He has been fitted with a back brace and is back walking.
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4. If the Moose Jaw Warriors, while searching for a director of hockey operations, saw fit to place a call to Hockey Canada head scout Al Murray, why didn’t they make him an offer he couldn’t refuse? . . . Murray and his family live in Regina. Who better than a Reginan to take the Warriors’ hockey operation into a new arena?
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5. The Brandon Wheat Kings have two 20-year-old goaltenders on their roster. Which one -- Jacob DeSerres or Andrew Hayes -- will be the odd man out? And will that one still be in the WHL when the music has stopped?
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6. Are the Vancouver Giants one of this country’s best employers, or what? General manager Scott Bonner, head coach Don Hay and director of player personnel Jason Ripplinger all were approached by other organizations over the summer. All three still are with the Giants. . . . Maybe owner Ron Toigo hands out White Spot franchises the way baseball owners used to hand out liquor distributorships. Or maybe each Giants employee gets a lifetime supply of Michael Buble CDs.
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7. Will the WHL’s U.S. Division be more fun to watch than anything in hockey in 2010-11? . . . You’ve got the Tri-City Americans gunning for a fourth straight division pennant. . . . You’ve got former Americans head coach Don Nachbaur -- yes, he also is a former Seattle Thunderbirds head coach -- now behind the bench of the Spokane Chiefs. . . . You’ve got the Portland Winter Hawks trying to prove that last season, when they improved from 43 points to 91, wasn’t a fluke. . . . You’ve got the Seattle Thunderbirds (of Kent) wanting to prove that their last season (19 victories, 50 points, no playoffs) was a fluke. . . . And you’ve got the Everett Silvertips quietly going about their business. The Silvertips, by the way, open the season with an eight-game homestand. If they get off to a hot start, well, yes, it’s going to be fun in the U.S. Division.
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8. What does Mike Williamson do for an encore? Williamson, a former head coach with Portland, left the Winterhawks in an ugly dispute after the 2006-07 season and was out of hockey for two seasons. He returned last season as the head coach of the Calgary Hitmen. All they did was win the WHL regular-season and playoff championships.
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9. The Lethbridge Hurricanes are the first team to officially express a desire to play host to the 2013 Memorial Cup. So will the Hurricanes show in 2010-11 that they are on the way back to becoming a competitive team, one that will be worthy of being the host team in 2013? The Hurricanes, their home arena undergoing renovations, opened last season with eight road games. They limped home 2-6 and never recovered. This season, they open with five in a row on the road. A better start than a year ago is imperative for Rich Preston’s bunch.
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10. The Medicine Hat Tigers won’t have Willie Desjardins behind their bench. The veteran GM/head coach has joined the NHL’s Dallas Stars. So will we notice any differences with the Tigers? Likely not, because Shaun Clouston, Desjardins’ long-time lieutenant, has taken over. But it will be worth watching just to see if Clouston does anything differently.

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