Tribune Articles…

I’ve received a few e-mails asking me my opinion on what Dwight Jaynes wrote in the Portland Tribune today regarding the group led by Brent Peterson and the possible purchase of the Winter Hawks.

My response has been the same to each – it is hard to comment on it as there really isn’t anything to comment on.

Sure, there is a group that is interested in possibly purchasing the team.  The group includes some big-time names from the Winter Hawks past and also local golf professional Peter Jacobsen.  It is an impressive list of names.

But, as of right now, from reading the article, they have yet to approach the current Hawks management team about purchasing the franchise.  Until they do, it is nothing more than a speculative venture that will cause a bunch of fans to sit and dream about the “glory days” of the franchise.

That’s all well and good, nothing wrong with speculation, especially when it is done in an official publication with the quotes from Peterson.  But until a “dream and a hope” becomes an offer that is being considered by the current ownership group, there isn’t really anything to get overly excited about.

The other article in the Tribune today had to do with the fate of the Rose Quarter and the plans that the Blazers have for the space.  It talked about possibly replacing the Memorial Coliseum with a smaller arena that could house sports and concerts.

To make this work, it only makes sense to keep the Winter Hawks as part of the master plan for the Rose Quarter.  A team that could anchor 25-30 dates a year in the MC or the new arena while also splitting bigger games with the soon to be corporately named Rose Garden.

Time will tell, where the Blazers get with this plan…but to me, I read the article as a reason to be optimistic.

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Hawks Select Trunev…

With the third overall pick in the 2008 CHL Import Draft, the Portland Winter Hawks have selected from Severstal Cherepovets, 1990 born Right Wing Maxim Trunev.

Trunev is 5’11, 174 lbs. and was the 5th round selection, #138 overall, of the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL Entry Draft last weekend.

Trunev is described as an incredibly fast skater with good hands.  He has been over to North America to play in the Macs Tournament in Calgary and according to to the Winter Hawks site, he has taken part in the Okanagan Hockey School the past two summers, working with Hawks Coach Rich Kromm.

From reading some comments online from Montreal, they fully expect Trunev to play in North America this season. 

On the Hockey’s Future board, you can read some comments from Canadien fans regarding Trunev.

It has been an interesting start to the Import Draft with six of the first seven players taken being from Russia or have ties to Russia – only the Red Deer Rebels have gone away from the trend by selecting a Finnish defenseman.

That’s it for now…

Import Draft/Preseason Notes…

The 2008 CHL Import Draft goes tomorrow morning (early on the West Coast – starting at 6:00 AM local time).  This is a chance for teams to add European players to their protected lists.  Some teams will be looking to add two players, some one and some will most likely pass on their picks.

Here is a breakdown by team in the WHL on where they stand entering the draft:

Brandon – The Wheat Kings will most likely choose two players on Thursday.  They finished the season last year with Daniel Bartek on their active roster, but Bartek would be an overage this season.  They own the 33rd pick (acquired from Moose Jaw) and the 39th pick in the first round.

Calgary – The Hitmen will be most likely looking to add one player on Thursday.  They have 89 born Bostjan Golicic eligible to return after a decent 2007-08 (12-18-30 in 57 games).  The other import on their list is Martin Stepan, who was sent home after only 18 games last season.  Look for Calgary to drop Stepan and pick up another player at #56.

Chilliwack – The Bruins will look to add one player on Thursday.  They still have Oscar Moller, who may be a possibility to stick with the LA Kings, as a 1989 born player on their list.  They have one opening after dropping David Hoda after 26 games last season.  They have the 21st pick.

Edmonton – The Oil Kings will add one player on Thursday.  They have Tomas Vincour (#1 overall in 2007) as a 90 born player and they are losing 88 born Robin Figren who won’t be back after signing a pro contract.  They own the 12th pick.

Everett – The Silvertips most likely won’t make any selections on Thursday as they currently have two 89 born players – Lukas Vartovnik and Vitali Karamnov – on their roster.  Everett has traded their #27 pick to Regina earlier.  They stand pat.

Kamloops – The Blazers can select two players on Thursday as both of their possible returning imports are 88 born overage players – Juuso Puustinen and Ivan Rohac.  I don’t expect either of those players to be back in Kamloops this year.  The Blazers own the #18 pick (their own) and the #30 pick (acquired from Kelowna).

Kelowna – What will the Rockets do?  They already traded their pick to Kamloops meaning they may stand pat with returning 89 Milan Kytnar and hope that 89 Mikael Backlund is sent to them from the Calgary Flames. 

Kootenay – The Ice may select either one or two players depending on what they want to do with 90 born Jiri Ryzuk.  He had no points in 45 games as a rookie in 2007-08.  The other possible returnee is overage 88 Arnaud Jacquemet, who I would think that the Ice wouldn’t mind getting back after 53 points in 65 games.  Kootenay has the 45th pick.

Lethbridge – I think the Hurricanes stand pat with returning players Juha Metsola, the 89 born goaltender, and 90 born Luca Sbisa (who just went in the 1st round of the NHL Draft).   The Canes own the 54th pick if they to use the choice.

Medicine Hat – Look for Medicine Hat to take two players on Thursday.  They have possible returning 88 overage Mikael A’hlen, who didn’t get much of a look early last year, but was decent down the stretch.  In a surprise to me, the Tigers already have dropped 89 goaltender Tomas Vosvrda.  The Tigers pick 48th.

Moose Jaw – With the Warriors trading their first round pick to Brandon, I would expect them to stand pat with the 89 born Martin Filo and Tomas Karpov this season.  I don’t expect them to make any picks.

Portland – The Hawks have the #3 pick and will use that to hopefully garner an impact player.  Expect 89 Radim Valchar to return for his second season in Portland.

Prince Albert – The Raiders will most likely make one selection on Thursday.  They have 90 born Tomas Voracek returning while their other import returnee would be 88 born overage Max Brandl.   PA picks 15th.

Prince George – I expect the Cougars to select two players as they have already dropped Jan Kupec and the other returnee would be 88 born overage Patrik Magnussen.  The Cougars have the 9th pick and 69th pick in the second round.

Red Deer – The Rebels have two possible returning players in 89 born Juraj Valach (who has made stops in Tri City, Vancouver, Regina and Red Deer) and 90 born Tomas Polak.   Red Deer has the 6th pick overall…do they maybe look to swap that pick or will both Valach and Polak be back.  This could be interesting between now and tomorrow morning.

Regina – The Pats will look to pick one player tomorrow as they have 89 born Rudolf Cerveny eligible to return.  Regina picked up the #30 pick from Everett in a deal and then dealt their own pick #51 to Vancouver.

Saskatoon – The Blades will also look to select one player as they have 90 born Jyri Niemi slated to be back after a solid first year in the WHL.  Saskatoon has the #24 pick.

Seattle – The Thunderbirds will be looking at taking one pick as it is almost certain that 88 born overage goaltender Riku Helenius won’t be back.  They do have 89 born Jan Eberle slated to return.  Seattle owns pick #42.

Spokane – I think the Chiefs stand pat with 89 born Ondrej Roman and 90 born Stefan Ulmer.  The Chiefs have the 59th pick, but I don’t think they’ll use it.

Swift Current – The Broncos will most likely take one player on Thursday.  They have 90 born Jan Dalecky set to come back while their other import 88 born overage David Stieler is eligible to return as well.  SC has the 36th pick.

Tri City – The Americans will also most likely take one player on Thursday.  They have 89 born Petr Stoklasa eligible to return as well as 88 born overage Radek Meidl.  I think the Ams make a selection and I think they may be a team going after the Red Deer pick….just a hunch.  They own the final pick, #60, in the first round.

Vancouver – Gone is overage Mario Bliznak and the other possible returnee would be 88 born overage Michal Repik.  Look for Vancouver to make two picks as they acquired Regina’s at #51 and they have their own at #58.

We’ll see how it plays out tomorrow…

The WHl has put out their pre-season schedule and it shows that the Winter Hawks will play eight pre-season games heading into the 2008-09 season:

8/29 – Portland vs. Tri City – 3:00 – Everett

8/30 – Spokane vs. Portland – 3:00 – Everett

8/31 – Portland vs. Seattle – 3:00 – Everett

9/5 – Everett vs. Portland – 2:00 – Tri City

9/6 – Portland vs. Seattle – 2:00 – Tri City

9/7 – Portland vs. Tri City – 2:00 – Tri City

9/12 – Seattle vs. Portland – 7:30 – Portland

9/13 – Portland vs. Seattle – 7:05 – Kent

No details yet on the game to be held in Portland on Friday, September 12th.

What’s Next?

There are very few TV series that I follow with any regularity, but one that I did follow from Day 1 until it went off the air after seven seasons was “The West Wing”.  While I am not much into politics, it was an extremely well written show that had intelligent story lines, humor and a tremendous ensemble cast.

I have all seven seasons on DVD and with the lack of decent TV now that the Stanley Cup Finals are over, I have been revisiting the seasons over the past few weeks.

President Bartlet’s character (played by Martin Sheen) has a reoccurring line when he is ready to move on to a new subject – “What’s next?”.

To me, that is basically what I think the front office and management of the Portland Winter Hawks are quietly saying to themselves after the official comment from the WHL after the review of the Winter  Hawks situation.  It is time to move on as an organization.  Move on to what needs to happen to get the team back to a successful situation, both on and off the ice.

This week, one of the “what’s next?” questions will be answered when the Winter Hawks select third overall in CHL Import Draft on Thursday.  I haven’t heard any rumblings about who they will pick as the Import Draft isn’t necessarily an exact science.  A lot of times it has to do with who you know and that usually means dealing with the agents of the players looking to come over.

The name bantered about most is Nikita Filatov who went 6th overall in the NHL Draft on Friday evening to the Columbus Blue Jackets.  He has stated that he will move to North America this season and the Sudbury Wolves, who own the #1 overall pick in the CHL Import Draft have stated publicly that they will take Filatov at that position.  It is a risk as Filatov could make the Blue Jackets roster as an 18 year old, but its a calculated risk.

The other first rounders from the NHL Draft are longer shots – Erik Karlsson (#15 overall to Ottawa) from Sweden is already committed to playing for Frolunda in Sweden this season, Anton Gustafson (#21 overall to Washington) and Mattias Tedenby (#24 overall to New Jersey) are also Swedish born players that would most likely remain in Sweden.  The only other import from the first round is not so much an import as he grew up mainly in California – Viktor Tikhonov (#28 overall to Phoenix).  The grandson of the famous Russian Head Coach during the Red Army days, is a late bloomer (1988 born, making him an overage this season).

There were only four import players taken in the second round as this seemed to be a down year of import picks in the NHL Draft – which counteracts all of the talk I heard last year about last year being a down year for CHL Imports while 2008 would be a good year for CHL Imports.  As like most things, only time will tell.

I do expect that Radim Valchar will be back for the 2008-09 season, meaning the Hawks wouldn’t use their second round selection this year.

As you probably know by now, no current Winter Hawks were selected in the NHL Draft, marking just the second time in team history that they had no players selected.

Patrick Wiercioch, who is on the Hawks college list, was selected #42 overall in the second round by the Ottawa Senators.  Wiercioch has committed to play for the University of Wisconsin.

It was a good first round for OHL and WHL prospects, but you had to feel a bit for the QMJHL who didn’t have a player selected until #34 overall.  By that time, the AJHL, USHL and GHL each had a player selected.

Did you know that Oren Koules – one of the new owners of the Tampa Bay Lightning – once played for Portland?  He appeared in two games in 1979-80 and my Mother still has a team photo from that year with Koules in it.

I’m out for now…

Friday Update…

I’m getting ready to fly back to Portland shortly, so this will be fairly brief.

First off, I wasn’t overly surprised at the press release that the WHL put out regarding the Winter Hawks situation.  It is imperative that the Hawks do whatever it takes to get the on-ice product back to a competitive level and I believe that was the main reasoning regarding Ken Hodge.

Off the ice, I do believe that the ownership group is committed to making it work and they know it won’t be easy.  

Right now, the focus needs to be on getting the players and team ready for the 2008-08 season.

The NHL Entry Draft starts this afternoon with the first round going tonight and the other six rounds going on Saturday.  

I don’t know if any Hawks will be drafted this year or not.  I would think that Kurtis Mucha and Travis Ehrhardt would have the best shot, but both probably felt they had a good shot last year as well.

I’m not expecting much out of the draft for Portland, but I also didn’t expect Frazer McLaren to get picked last year.

Here are some NHL Draft stats regarding the Winter Hawks:

There has only been one year that a Winter Hawk hasn’t been drafted – 2000-01.

Here is a summary by round of Winter Hawks drafted players:

Summary – By Round:

1st Round – 21 Selections

2nd Round – 21 Selections

3rd Round – 13 Selections

4th Round – 15 Selections

5th Round – 12 Selections

6th Round – 3 Selections

7th Round – 9 Selections

8th Round – 6 Selections

9th Round – 4 Selections

10th Round – 0 Selections

11th Round – 3 Selections

Total – 107 Selections

Here is a summary by team of Winter Hawk draft picks:

Summary – By NHL Team:

Chicago Blackhawks – 10 Selections

Vancouver Canucks – 9 Selections

Montreal Canadiens – 8 Selections

Edmonton Oilers – 7 Selections

New York Rangers – 7 Selections

Buffalo Sabres – 6 Selections

Washington Capitals – 6 Selections

Dallas Stars/Minnesota North Stars – 5 Selections

Pittsburgh Penguins – 5 Selections

St. Louis Blues – 5 Selections

Detroit Red Wings – 4 Selections

Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets – 4 Selections

Atlanta Thrashers – 3 Selections

Boston Bruins – 3 Selections

Calgary Flames – 3 Selections

Carolina Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers – 3 Selections

Colorado Avalanche/Quebec Nordiques – 3 Selections

Philadelphia Flyers – 3 Selections

Toronto Maple Leafs – 3 Selections

New Jersey Devils/Colorado Rockies – 2 Selections

Ottawa Senators – 2 Selections

Anaheim Ducks – 1 Selection

Florida Panthers – 1 Selection

Minnesota Wild – 1 Selection

New York Islanders – 1 Selection

San Jose Sharks – 1 Selection

Tampa Bay Lightning – 1 Selection

Columbus Blue Jackets – 0 Selections

Los Angeles Kings – 0 Selections

Nashville Predators – 0 Selections

The first Winter Hawk to have his name called:  Jeff Bandura, 22nd overall in 1977, Vancouver (Bandura is now a Portland scout).

Thats it for now…

The View from the North…

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Richmond, BC, as I’m up here for a few days of sales calls and trade shows.  My hotel is literally right next door to the Richmond Ice Centre, home of the Seafair Minor Hockey Association, where Hawk prospect Kyzen Loo played his Bantam hockey.

I walked over this evening and watched some young players run drills…it was refreshing.  No talk of audits, leases, press releases…just kids skating, shooting, passing and doing what they love.  

The WHL delayed releasing their statement on the Portland Winter Hawks until tomorrow.  I’ll be tied up at a trade show all day, so don’t expect any comments from me on it until sometime tomorrow evening (that is if they actually put out a release!).

I honestly don’t know what to expect out of the statement they will put out.  I think there are some fans that are expecting a scathing expose’ and a full disclosure report on what the audit did or didn’t uncover.  I don’t think it will be that, but I could be wrong.  I am far enough removed (by my own choice) to not know how it will be handled.

One of the interesting things for me has been some of the messages that I have received from fans on the whole subject.  Some expect me to divulge all the behind-the-scenes dirt and what has or hasn’t been discussed, like it is their inalienable right as a fan to know it.  That’s fine…but what little I do know won’t be divulged.

I have been reading the OregonLive Forum and I have been fairly impressed that a lot of the discussion has been intelligent and reasonable.  There are still a few on there looking just to be anonymous trolls, but you will never get rid of them.

I have had the pleasure of getting to know a few people from that board, as people – not just hockey fans – and I won’t divulge who they are because they are sometimes some of the more vocal posters.  But, they are intelligent and reasonable and while we don’t always agree on everything, we will at least hear each other out and accept our disagreements.

The same can be said for Chris Snethen.  I consider Chris a friend and I respect any person that can intelligently express their thoughts on any subject, and Chris can do that, both in conversation and in his writing.  I don’t always agree with what he writes on his blog, but I know that I can e-mail him and call him on it and it will be a reasonable response.

Prior to taking the gig as Scooter’s color guy, I was just another anonymous poster on the OL board.  That ended when Scooter put my OL screen name in the press release when I was hired.  I was fine with that…there wasn’t anything on there under the screen name “PHWHistorian” that I regretted writing.  I decided later that if I was going to write something, it wouldn’t be under a screen name and this blog was born.

Has it been what I expected?  I honestly don’t know.  It would have been a hell of a lot easier without all the off-ice stuff going on, but I can honestly say that I still love hockey, I still love writing and I will continue to be in the press box as long as I still love doing it (and as long as my family grants me the time and commitment to do it).

I have met so many great people – Coaches, GM’s, Players, Parents, Fans, Scouts – in the past four seasons.  I am richer by the experience.

I will leave you with that…good night.

14 And Counting…

One of the advantages of working from home was that I got a chance to watch the Monday playoff between Tiger Woods (Getty Images photo) and Rocco Mediate in the U.S. Open.

It was the 14th major championship for Woods, just four behind Jack Nicklaus on the all-time list.

While I was quietly rooting for the underdog Mediate, Woods once again showed why he is the best in the game, going to the 18th hole one shot down and making birdie to force extra holes where he won it with a par on the 19th hole of the playoff.

Woods is coming off knee surgery and was in obvious pain during much of the tournament.  Sure, it wasn’t quite Bobby Baun coming back with a broken ankle to win Game 6 of the 1964 Stanley Cup Final in overtime to force a Game 7 that his Toronto Maple Leafs won, but it was a physical struggle for Woods.

For Mediate, it was a tremendous show for what is the closest thing to an “every man” that the PGA has to offer with his good humor, attitude and honest, down-to-earth personality.  He was one putt away from winning the championship a few times, but couldn’t quite nail it down.  And, if you give Woods enough chances, he will beat you.

All in all, it was tremendous theatre watching the past few days.  

Meanwhile, as a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan (AP Photo/Frank Gunn), I’ve resisted the temptation to toot the horn of the Major League Best Record Cubs, currently at 20 games over .500 at 45-25.

For those of us that have followed the Cubs for a while, it is tough not to gloat a bit, but I will have to try not to as we have all had our hopes dashed before.

It has been 100 years since the Cubbies have won the World Series back in 1908.  One every century is not too much to ask, is it???

I’m still worried about their starting pitching, but they have enough offense to cover some bad starts.  And if they can get Carlos Zambrano to 20 wins and a few more AB’s (he’s only hitting .362 as a starting pitcher this year), I think they can take it all.

Somewhere Harry Carey is tipping an ice cold Bud and smiling.

On the hockey front, nothing really to talk about today.  The WHL annual meetings are this week in Calgary and we’ll have to see if any news comes out of that.  

I know fans are clamoring for any information that they can get and I’ve got repeated inquiries about the audit and otherwise.  Anything that I state would be purely speculation and I’m not going there.  I will know what the league found or didn’t find when (or if) they decide to make a formal announcement.

The NHL Entry Draft will be held this weekend, with the opening round on Friday evening and the balance to be held on Saturday.  I believe that Friday night will be televised on the Versus network.

Thats it for now, I hope all the Fathers out there had a nice Fathers Day…

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