Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Tuesday Morning Ramblings

Greetings from Spokane, where the Wheat Kings open their seven-game road trip tomorrow night against the Chiefs. After a leisurely bus trip (travel count, 1,597 kilometres, according to Google Maps), the team arrived in Spokane about 7:00 a.m. (PST) this morning.

- Three players didn’t make the trip with the Wheat Kings: D Brodie Melnychuk (upper body, 1-2 weeks), F Dominick Favreau (lower body, 2 weeks) and F Jens Meilleur (upper body, 3 weeks). D Rene Hunter, who missed Friday’s game against Prince George after taking a hit to the chin in the previous game against Saskatoon, is with the team.

- The WHL’s general manager, including Brandon’s Kelly McCrimmon, are meeting in Calgary today and while it’s not on the agenda, you can be sure some 20-year old discussion will be taking place. The deadline for team’s to be down to the maximum of three 20-year olds is Thursday and the Wheat Kings are one of the few teams that have an open spot. It’s not out of the realm of possibility Brandon could chose to continue with the two 20-year olds currently on their roster (Ciarelli, Melnychuk), but with Favreau and Meilleur out, they are short a forward (11 healthy) so it makes even more sense to pick someone up.

- Having said that, I’m one of those that believe your 20-year olds need to be a) a top six forward b) a top four defenceman or c) your #1 goaltender. Keeping that criteria in mind, the pickings for 20-year olds available at this point for the Wheat Kings is pretty thin. Keep an eye on Swift Current (one of Brad Hoban, Dillon Wagner and Taylor Vause will be dealt). Vause might be a good fit at centre between Stone and Bertaggia, but in my eyes I don’t think the Broncos will be moving him. Saskatoon (Jesse Paradis or Michael Burns) and Calgary (Kenton Miller?) also look like they might have an extra 20-year old forward to trade and/or release.

- The one thing I’ll miss while we’re in Spokane today and tomorrow is a chance to sit down with Chiefs’ GM Tim Speltz and ‘chew the fat,’ Speltz, like McCrimmon, is in Calgary for the GM and Governors’ meetings.

- The Western Hockey League Board of Governors will vote tomorrow (Wednesday) to decide who will host the 2013 Memorial Cup. A league official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, declined to get into specifics but did say the three finalists are from Upper Saskatchewan, Middle Alberta and Lower British Columbia.

- Seriously though, Saskatoon, Red Deer and Kelowna are the three finalists. I think any of the three would do an outstanding job of hosting the event.

- On another Memorial Cup note, do you think we’ll ever see another Memorial Cup in a U.S. market. I know some of the sponsorship logistics work against hosting in the United States (particularly, MasterCard CANADA is the primary sponsor), but it’s unfortunate that five teams are automatically out of the running before the bid process even begins.

- Looks like Winnipeg product and former Wheat King Jordan DePape could be out of the Kamloops Blazers lineup for a while. Gregg Drinnan reports DePape suffered what appeared to be a serious shoulder injury during Monday’s game with Medicine Hat. DePape has been battling a wonky shoulder since training camp.

- Moose Jaw F Sebastien Svendson took a knee from Prince George D Joshua Smith during Monday’s game, and could be sidelined for a long period of time. Smith was given a kneeing major on the play, and is now awaiting word on further discipline from the WHL office.

- The suspension count so far in 2011-2012: 21 players for 72 games, not including the upcoming suspension for Smith.

- I was fortunate to attend the Winnipeg Jets’ season opener Sunday versus Montreal, and had a chance to talk to both Eric Fehr and Kevin Cheveldayoff for a few minutes. It’s always a line that ‘once a Wheat King, always a Wheat King’ and it certainly holds true for those two gentlemen. BTW, Fehr looks like he’s still on target to return in early to mid November from off-season surgery on his right shoulder. Can’t wait to see him in a Jets’ jersey.

- Roy McGregor, of the Globe and Mail, took a closer look at Cheveldayoff…

- Wheat Kings' fans probably aren't as upset with the two-game suspension Minnesota's Pierre-Marc Bouchard got for high-sticking former Wheat Kings' captain Matt Calvert in the chops on Saturday. The blow bloodied Calvert, knocking out one of his front teeth and parts of two others. Calvert received stitches to his upper lip and played in the third period.  If you haven't seen the play, click here....

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