Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 16
BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – Each week we inch closer and closer to the start of the 2017-18 Hartford Wolf Pack hockey season. Still, teams are making moves in pursuit of being the only team to win their last game of the entire season.
PLAYER & COACHING MOVEMENT
Winger Michael Joly, who signed a free agent out of the QMJHL last summer with Hartford, has departed and headed out West. Joly signed a one-year AHL deal with San Antonio. Joly struggled early last season, then caught fire in the ECHL with the Pack’s ECHL affiliates, the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Upon his return to the American League, Joly was playing well for the Wolf Pack. A teammate’s errant shot from center ice late in the season caught Joly under his visor. The shot cracked his orbital bone, ending his season.
After four years in Hartford, defenseman Tommy Hughes, as expected, has moved on, signing a contract to play for the Hershey Bears this coming season.
Former Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig signed another one-year AHL deal with Vancouver and will start the season in Utica.
Another former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Justin Agosta, signs with Manchester (ECHL).
Ex-Sound Tiger Chris Langkow returns from Europe where he split last year with HDD Olimpija Ljubljana (Slovenia-AEHL) and VIK Vasteras HK (Sweden-Allsvenskan) and signs with expansion Worcester (ECHL).
Ex-Pack Vladimir Vorobiev was elevated from an assistant coach, which he’s been the last four years, to head coach for Dynamo Moscow (Russia-KHL).
The AHL Euro list has added Nikita Jevpalovs who left the San Jose Barracuda and heads back home to Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL). Fellow Latvian, Richard Burkharts, who split the season with Springfield and Manchester (ECHL) signs with HC Zlin (Czech Republic-CEL).
Chris Carlisle of Binghamton signs with HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).
28 of the 30 teams in the AHL have now lost at least one player signing in Europe. The list has 77 players signing overseas.
Harvard’s Alex Kerfoot pursued by the New York Rangers and nine other NHL teams, settled on signing an ELC (entry level contract) with Colorado.
Eric Sweetman of St. Lawrence (ECACHL) signs with Texas (AHL).
UCONN’s Evan Richardson signed his first pro contract with Tulsa (ECHL). Doyle Somerby of Boston University (HE) signs with Cleveland (AHL). James De Haas of Clarkson University (ECACHL), signs with Lehigh Valley and his collegian teammate, A.J. Fossen, signs with RoKi (Finland Division-I).
Blaine Byron of the University of Maine (HE) signs with Springfield. Danny Smith of R.I.T. (AHA) signs with Rapid City (ECHL) and Anthony Flaherty of Division III National champion, Norwich University, (Southfield, Vermont) signs with Rapid City.
That makes 182 Division I collegians signing North American pro contracts and 22 players from Division III. The total now stands at 204. Toss in another 45 signing in Europe and that’s 249 players moving from the American college hockey ranks to pro hockey.
NWHL & CWHL DRAFTS
The two professional women’s hockey leagues, the NWHL-National Women’s Hockey League and CWHL-Canadian Women’s Hockey League, recently held their respective drafts.
Two Yale players were taken in the NWHL Draft. Mallory Souliotis was taken by the Boston Pride which is coached by former Wolf Pack, Thomas Poeck while Eden Murray went to the CT Whale under new head coach, Ryan Equale (Wilton/UCONN)
Taylor Cianfarano of Quinnipiac University was selected by the New York Riveters coached by another ex-Pack, Chad Wiseman.
In the CWHL Draft, Nicole Kosta of Quinnipiac was selected the Markham (Ontario) Thunder and fellow Lady Bobcat Taryn Baumgardt was taken by the Calgary Inferno.
On Friday, some very sad and tragic news as former CT Whale Ticket Sales Director, Bob McCaffrey, passed away suddenly in South Carolina.
McCaffrey, a Hartford native, working for the ECHL South Carolina Stingrays was battling cancer the past two months and had his last chemotherapy treatment that morning. He was a passionate man and a former member of the US Air Force. After the CT Whale dissolved, McCaffrey worked for the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs for two seasons before moving to South Carolina in 2012.
His father, Jim McCaffrey, has been a goal judge for 19 of the 20 seasons in Hartford. He recently beat prostate cancer in the spring. Deepest condolences are sent to his mother, Barbara, and his sister, Karen, and the entire McCaffrey family.
IN MEMORIAM PART TWO
Another link to New Haven’s minor pro hockey history has passed away.
84-year-old, Parker MacDonald, passed away in a Branford nursing home last Thursday. His wife Janice MacDonald, who passed away in 2011, was the PR Director for the Nighthawks in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. She was the first woman to win the PR Person of the Year Award.
MacDonald’s career started out in his hometown of Sydney, Nova Scotia where he played with the junior Sydney Millionaires. He then moved on to play major junior with the famed, Toronto Marlboros in the mid-1950’s. He played in the AHL with the old Pittsburgh Hornets for four seasons (1952-56). MacDonald got his first NHL action with one game with the Maple Leafs in 1956. The following fall he played for the Providence Reds, then the Rangers farm team, and played with the Rangers from 1956-60.
MacDonald was back in the AHL. His first was with the Buffalo Swords and then with the Springfield Indians in the early 1960’s.
MacDonald actually got some playing time with Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe, in Detroit when he broke into a six team league in 1960. He then spent a split season in Hershey before going back to Detroit where he stayed from 1961-65. He played the rest of his career from 1965-1969 with Boston, Detroit and then the expansion Minnesota North Stars.
MacDonald had some more AHL time back with Pittsburgh and then closed his playing career with Memphis South Stars of the Central Professional Hockey League (CPHL).
His coaching career started with the Iowa Stars in the original Central Hockey League in 1969-70. There, MacDonald coached a young Rick Dudley who would eventually become a New Haven coach. he also coached a future Ranger in Walt McKechnie, a future WHA scorer in Danny Lawson, a long time North Star in Dennis O’ Brien and a goalie, Gilles Gilbert, who had a good run in Boston. Then he moved onto to Cleveland (AHL) the following year but was replaced midseason by John Muckler in 1970-’71.
MacDonald then took on the job with the AHL expansion, New Haven Nighthawks. He was the most successful and longest serving Nighthawks head coach and compiled a record of 221-151-43. He went to back-to-back Calder Cup finals as a Rangers affiliate from 1978-1979. his teams got swept both times by the Maine Mariners, the top farm team of the Flyers.
He won the Louis Pieri Award in 1978-79 as the league’s coach of the year. His only interruption in New Haven came when he started his second season in Minnesota but was replaced midseason. His last coaching stop was in Los Angeles as an assistant coach in 1980-81, and then later as a head coach in 1981-82. He was again replaced at midseason with a 13-24-5 record in 42 games by another New Haven hockey legend, Don Perry.
A Nighthawks player who remembers him fondly, was then just a young kid out St. Mary’s, Ontario, Dan McCarthy.
“I had great respect for Parker. I had a tough first year with knee injuries, but he never gave up on me and always gave me a chance,” remarked McCarthy.
“He came and ran a practice working on game situations, but he expected you do the rest, get in shape, work on what he talked about, and work on your weak points. He expected you to be a man and he thought of you as a pro. He didn’t say, ‘Ah he’s a rookie, a first-year guy.’ He thought of you as a pro and among equals in the locker room. Looking back on it years later, I really appreciate that man-to-man approach. There were no analytic guys back then. You had expectations to meet. Parker was a fair and tough coach.”
He also had a sense of humor.
“One night in Syracuse, I got a breakaway from the red line with about ten seconds to go in regulation. I missed it, so we have to go to overtime. I get back to the bench and Parker goes, ‘Thanks, McCarthy, now you’re cutting into my drinking time.'”
Parker MacDonald, a great part of New Haven and Connecticut hockey history rest in peace.
IN MEMORIAM PART III
The late first head coach of the Wolf Pack the effervescent and erudite, E.J. McGuire, was posthumously elected to Greater Buffalo Region Hall of Fame.
McGuire was obsessed with being healthy. He passed away in 2011 because of a rare blood cancer.
He started out as a head coach at Brockport University. He then went to the NCAA at the Division II level in the ECAC West. That was where he encountered a young, Mike Keenan, who was then the head coach of Rochester. After his five years there, he would become Keenan’s assistant. They went to the Stanley Cup Finals twice, losing to Wayne Gretzky’s Edmonton Oilers in 1985 and 1987.
He came from what was known as the First Ward of the city. Ironically, the ceremony was held around the corner from McGuire’s childhood home. His intellect was always off the charts. McGuire earned a Ph.D.d in Kinesiology/Psychology from the University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada) in 1990 certainly testifies to that.
He was a head coach twice in the pros and once in Canadian major junior. He coached Guelph (OHL) for two seasons where he earned a record of 80-41-10 in 132 games. His team lost in OHL Finals to Peterborough and then semi-finals to the Ottawa 67’s. Some of the players he coached those two seasons included ex-Wolf Pack players Dan Cloutier and Ryan Risidore and a trio of ex-Beast of New Haven players in the recently retired, Herbert Vasilijves, Dwayne Hay and Andrew Long,
Another Chris Hajt was recently named an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres.
McGuire coached the Maine Marines in 1991-92 with a 23-47-10 record and missed the Calder Cup playoffs.
He coached the first two Wolf Pack teams. In 160 games, McGuire had a a record of 81-55-17 mark and lost in the semifinals in six games his first year to the St. John Flames. He lost in his second year to the eventual Calder Cup champion Providence Bruins in a four game sweep.
He returned for one year as an assistant in Philly before becoming the Director of the NHL Central Scouting Bureau where he revamped and modernized the department.
After his passing, the NHL created the EJ McGuire Award of Excellence which is awarded to the draftee who best exemplified strength of character, competiveness, and athleticism.
He richly deserves to be in the Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame in the builders wing should be next.