It all starts in earnest tomorrow…
The 82 players that are going to battle for positions on not only the opening day roster of the 2010-11 Portland Winterhawks, but also those that are battling for position on the team’s 50 man protected player list, will gather at the Memorial Coliseum for registration and fitness testing.
The on-ice sessions start on Thursday morning with the first public scrimmages and the battle for the Neely Cup starts at 4:00 on Thursday afternoon.
This afternoon, the team introduced the eight players that were drafted in the June NHL Entry Draft this year to the media and the fans in attendance at Buffalo Wild Wing’s in Downtown Portland. Well, seven of the eight anyway as Nino Niederreiter was not in attendance.
Niederreiter, at the request the New York Islanders, is going to remain in New York and prepare for the start of their rookie camp in early September. Mike Johnston made that announcement today to the media and said that he has been, and will continue to be, in contact with Garth Snow, the General Manager of the Islanders, as camp progresses.
Nino has had a busy year and a busy off-season and the rest leading up to the Isles camp is in his best interest and the Hawks and Islanders feel that it is best for the player, even if selfishly, it would be great to see Nino in Portland doing what he does, even if it is only scrimmages.
What will happen with Nino as far as the regular season goes is still to be determined. He either will be an Islander or a Winterhawk…and the teams will decide what is best for his development as we get to the end of September and early October.
In the mean time, it was great to see Ryan Johansen, Brad Ross, Taylor Aronson, Troy Rutkowski, Luke Walker, Mac Carruth and Riley Boychuk standing in front of the crowd in their respective NHL jerseys. It was an impressive display and one that everyone in the organization can be proud of.
Three of the local TV stations were on hand – KATU, KGW and KPTV – and they should all have video on their newscast and probably their websites tonight. The local papers were all on hand as well with the Oregonian, Tribune and Columbian all represented.
Hawkey is back in town…it’s going to be a fun ride!