Season Officially Over…

88035039MH032_Stanley_Cup_FAfter a long, grueling hockey season, it officially ended with the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 at the Joe Louis Arena tonight.

This has to be especially hard for former Hawk Marian Hossa (photo by Getty Images) who, for the second  year in a row is denied in the Stanley Cup Final in his personal quest for hockey’s ultimate goal.

The question now remains where will Hossa wind up next year?  He is a free agent after only signing a one year contract with the Wings and I’m sure he’ll be sought after by a lot of teams in the off-season, even with a sub-par post-season.

The Penguins played well tonight and they won the game with a physical game that took away Detroit’s greatest strength – puck control.  Detroit can’t win playing dump and chase and the Penguins took their puck control away in the neutral zone and that was enough – thanks to Max Talbot’s two goals – to get the win.

Watching CBC’s post-game right now and you have to love Marc-Andre Fleury’s candor when he was asked what he thought when he saw the puck bounce to Nick Lidstrom in the final seconds with a chance to tie…his response was “oh shit!”.  He made the save and the Penguins return home Stanley Cup Champions.

DSC00956On the Winterhawks front, the first day of the 2009 Prospect Camp took place today at the Max Bell Centre (pictured left) in Calgary and from all accounts, it was a success.

To start it was great to catch up with the Mike Johnston, Travis Green and Kyle Gustafson as well as Rich Campbell and Rob Gagne who are here to make the camp run smoothly for the players and their families.

The 22 players hit the arena early and were put through a stretching and warm-up routine by Campbell before hitting the ice for a 75 minute session that focused on skating and puck control and I was impressed by the skill level and skating ability of all the players here for the camp.

After a lunch, the players were back for another warm-up and then a longer 90 minute session on the ice with more emphasis on puck battles and shooting than in the earlier session.  The players look more relaxed in the afternoon than they did in the morning and they were worked hard by the coaching staff.

An off ice session on nutrition capped the day followed by dinner and then a chance to watch Game 7…a packed day for the players and it will continue tomorrow with a few more seminars and a single ice session later in the day.

As I said previously, I’m not going to comment on the individual players for the most part nor am I going to list the attendees here.   I will say that my first look of #1 overall selection Derrick Pouliot was a positive one.  He was as advertised – a smooth skater who plays with poise and smarts.   Fans will get to see Pouliot and most likely all of the players here at the rookie, and probably main camp, in August.

I will catch a bit of the ice session tomorrow before catching a flight home.

The future is bright for the Hawks…

Lastly, I have to admit that I always get a bit emotional watching the Stanley Cup or the Memorial Cup raised, knowing how hard the battle was to get there.

Being a broadcaster, I always think about how I would be able to describe that moment with the emotions that I know I will have if that happened and I don’t know how I’ll get through it…but I sure want to give it a try.

I have a feeling that with the organization and personnel and place in Portland, that I will get that chance at some point down the road.

I can’t wait for it to happen…

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