Well, it’s been a bit since my last post…been fairly busy with travel lately as I was in Kennewick for couple days for business, then Albany for a swim meet and now I’m typing this from McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas awaiting my flight back to Portland. The Vegas trip has been a work one, with a day side road trip to Prescott, AZ, and it is bloody hot down here. The temp gauge in the rental car today hit 120′. I’m ready for Portland weather again…
For the Winterhawks, the draft buzz has died down a bit with a number of players attending prospect camps and showing themselves quite well. The two highest draft picks both got good reviews with Ryan Johansen in Columbus and Nino Niederreiter on Long Island. Some Islander fans are already writing Nino into the opening night line-up while others want to be patient and have him come back to Portland. I am agreeing with latter, albeit selfishly. Johansen could surprise as well in September and the Hawks faithful will be waiting anxiously during pro camps for those two to be returned to Portland.
The Hawks did announce today the signing of two drafted players from the 1994 age group in Brendan Leipsic and Adam Smith. The two 16 year olds will compete for roster spots at the training camp at the end of August and the two are quite different players. Leipsic is a small, shifty, and maybe a bit agitating that had a very strong camp last year in Portland and has all the makings of a future fan favorite as the small, feisty players all seem to get that recognition. Smith is larger body who plays very physical and is in the power forward mold. With the two signings, the Hawks have four of their drafted players from the 2009 draft signed, including Derrick Pouliot and Taylor Leier. With all the Hawks going to NHL camps in September, all four players should get a real good look from the coaching staff prior to opening night.
Also, the Hawks acquired the rights to California born Rocco Grimaldi from the Vancouver Giants. Grimaldi has said his intentions are to go to North Dakota University in 2011, but the Hawks will do everything they can to recruit him to Portland. The Hawks have had success in the recent past getting some NCAA bound players in Portland and the Winterhawks stock may be at an all-time high right now, so the time to go after these players is now. It will be interesting to see if Grimaldi is at camp in August.
Lastly, I wanted to send out best wishes to Kirk Fraser, the long-time voice of the Kamloops Blazers, who is stepping aside from that role to work for Shaw TV in Kamloops. The Cap’n is a true pro and with all of the high-scoring battles the Blazers and Hawks have had in the past couple of years, it make for some interesting broadcast booth conversations. I’ll miss those talks and I hope to see him at the ISC in Kamloops this season.
With Fraser stepping aside, there are now four open broadcast positions in the WHL – Kamloops, Regina, Edmonton and Vancouver – so, there will be some new voices to hear in the 2010-11 season for those with the WHL Livestream package. Wasn’t long ago, I was the new guy in the fraternity…I’ll do my best to help the new guys, just like the boys in the booth helped me in my first year.
That’s it for now…
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