Category Archives: NHL

CANTLON’S CORNER: UCONN’S TAGE THOMPSON READY FOR THE NHL

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlingsgerry-150x130

STORRS, CT The long hours and years of hard work are about to pay off for UConn‘s Tage Thompson.

The poised winger, listed at 6’5 has the potential to be drafted in the first round of the NHL’s Entry Draft on Friday night in Buffalo, New York at the First Niagara Center. The draft will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network starting at 7 pm.

The Thompson clan will be all be on hand, including his parents (Brent and Kim), as well as his grandparents. They’ll all be there except for his younger brother, Tyce, who is attending the US-17 Development camp in nearby Amherst. The coach of that team is Hartford Wolf Pack assistant coach, and assistant GM, Pat Boller.

Thompson Action # 3 Agaisnt QUMaybe he’ll be excused to head over to see the big moment?

“It’s very exciting to be projected in the first round,” said Thompson. “I’ve dreamt of it, my entire life, and now it’s starting to become a reality. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind lately, but we’re hoping for the first round, and we’ll see where Friday takes us. I’ll just be happy whoever selects me,”

At age 18, Thompson has been hard at work in the off-season, weight training, and following a nutritional plan to add some weight to his already impressive size.

“I’d say I’m in pretty good shape right now.  I’ve been training all summer; I was up at UConn during May, and I can feel myself getting stronger, putting on some weight. I think I am ready for this. I’d like to be between 200 and 205 [pounds] before the (Hockey East) season starts. Right now, I’m at 195.” Thompson said.

Last year playing as true freshmen, he formed one of college hockey’s most potent power play combos with center Maxim Letunov. Thompson led the nation in power play goals with 13, en route to posting a total of 14 along with 18 assists in 36 games. Thompson has the ability, as big as he is, to consistently find a way to be in the right position to release his rocket of a shot.

“It was a natural connection,” Thompson said of playing with Letunov. “We knew Thompson Action #2 Against SHUwhere each other was and playing with him helped me as a player.”

Thompson is currently a resident of Orange, Connecticut. He grew up in a hockey environment. His father, Brent, was a former, Wolf Pack defenseman who had a 14-year pro career. Currently, the elder Thompson is the head coach of the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the New York Islanders’ top farm team. Having a father with Brent’s experience and teaching ability has been a great lifelong resource at his disposal that few others rarely have.

“It’s obviously helped so much to have a father who has played the game and is now into coaching. He’s been around the sport his entire life and growing up with him helped show me what it takes to get there. He’s given me advice that’s had a huge impact on my game and development. And his competitiveness is definitely a part of who I am as a player.” remarked Thompson.

Brent is on his second tour of duty as the head coach of the Sound Tigers. He played 121 NHL games in his career and took part in 635 AHL games, of which 153 were with the Wolf Pack in their first two seasons. Brent was a second round pick, 39th overall, in 1987 by the L.A. Kings while playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL).

Thompson has his father’s frame but a bit more angular than bulk, but his hockey idols give a key to his mindset.

He admires Evgeni Malkin of the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as Jeff Carter (LA) and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars). Certainly not a bad trio to emulate.

Thompson will be among several second generation players likely to be drafted in the first round. One of those will be Alexander Nylander, (Missuagua Steelheads OHL), the son of ex-Hartford Whaler and New York Ranger, Michael Nylander. Another is Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires, OHL) the son of former NHL’er Jeff Brown, and Matt Tkachuk, the son of 19-year veteran Keith Tkachuk. The younger Tkachuk scored the Memorial Cup winning goal in OT for the London Knights (OHL) and of course Kieffer Bellows, the son of Brian Bellows, from the USNDTP (US National Development Team Program). Bellows will attend Boston University in the fall.

Thompson Action # 1 Agaisnt BrownThompson also has had access to the hockey community over the years including his father’s trusted assistant coach and West Haven native, Eric Boguniecki, who played his prep school hockey at Gunnery and Westminster and had been invaluable to him.

“He has played the game in the NHL (178 games, and 341 points in 351 AHL games) and I’ve been able to talk with him to get advice on certain aspects of the game that you could only get from somebody with experience,” Thompson stated.

Thompson came to UConn via the USNDTP program which now operates out of Plymouth, Michigan. He plays in the Junior A USHL (United States Hockey League) and a fellow former teammate and Connecticut native from Ridgefield, Chad Krys; a defenseman who’s also a projected first round pick. Krys is heading to Boston University, and the two have been training together.

“We have been working out down here (Fairfield County), and he is top flight player himself,”

As tempting as it might be, even in jest, there haven’t been any side bets on who gets drafted first between the two pals.

“No, no,” Thompson said with a laugh. “I wish him the best.“

The two were at the NHL Combines, for a strictly off the ice, dry land situation, and no skating in the evaluation process.

“For the first few days, we met with all the teams, interviewed with their staff and so on so they could have an opportunity to get to know you,” Thompson said. “Then they put us through all sorts of tests, like the long jump, vertical leap, stuff like that. There was no skating at all, just all off-ice things.”

The decision to go to UConn as a true freshman last year was not an easy decision for the then 17-year-old when he arrived at Storrs.

“There was a certain wow factor playing against 24-year-old men. There was an adjustment to that, and I got more comfortable as the year went on.”

UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s trust in his prized freshmen on one of the youngest Division I teams in the country, was not unnoticed by Thompson.

“I’m in a really good spot here at UConn They’ve given me many opportunities to be successful. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff, my teammates, and I feel like we’re going to have a solid team next year. Coach showed his faith in me by trusting me, even though I was young coming in. There were growing pains he had to work with (with me) along the way.”

In addition to the joy coming tomorrow night, Thompson was selected on Monday to take part in next month’s trip to Michigan as a part of the 42 player World Junior Championship Evaluation Camp. The highly regarded Christmas time (December 26-January 5) tournament will be held in Toronto and Montreal this year. The Pool A Group the US is in will play in Toronto and games at the Air Canada Centre.

Thompson, who has dual citizenship, said college, not Canadian major junior, was the preferred route for him and that he will be back for his sophomore season at UConn, only he’ll return with an NHL jersey to sport with his name on it.

NOTES:

Thompson’s teammate, defenseman Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, NJ), is also draft eligible. Masonius was also named to the WJC Evaluation Camp next month.

The last time the NHL Draft took place in Buffalo was in 1991 and was held in the old Aud. That year, there were two Connecticut natives drafted. The first was Mike Pomichter of North Haven. He played at Boston University and was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round. The other selection was former Wolf Pack, Todd Hall. He was taken by the Hartford Whalers in the third round out of The University of New Hampshire.

Thompson’s linemate, Letunov had his NHL rights dealt for the second time on Monday as the Arizona Coyotes sent his rights to the San Jose Sharks along with a 2017 6th round pick for the Sharks 2016 4th round pick this year and 3rd round pick next year.

Letunov was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2014 in the second round, 52nd overall. St. Louis sent Letunov to Arizona for D Zybnek Michalek and last year’s third-round pick.

The 6’2 swift skating and puckhandling Russian came to UConn after changing his mind and rescinding his commitment to Boston University. He was named to the All-Hockey-East Rookie Team and selected to the All-Conference second team. Letunov set the Huskies record for regular season points.

Letunov played US junior hockey with the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) and then the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) selected him in the first round, 36th overall, in the 2014 CHL Import Draft. The Moscow native saw the Russian team, Salavat Yulaev, select him in the KHL Draft in 2013.

Enfield native Robbie Baillargeon might have achieved a college hockey first. As a graduate transfer from Boston University to Arizona State, under current NCCA guidelines, Baillargeon can play this season only as an undergraduate or would have to wait a year. Grad transfers have happened in football and college baseball.

In Hockey East news, goalie Patrick “Packy” Munson has left the University of Vermont and headed back home to Minnesota. Rumors were that he was going to transfer to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but he decided on the University of Denver.

Two more underclassmen from college hockey have signed with NHL clubs this week.

Boston College lost big defenseman Ian McCoshen to the Florida Panthers, and would likely see him start the season with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL).

RW Nick Schmaltz of the national champion, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (nee Fighting Sioux), has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and will start next year with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

Jimmy Vesey of Harvard could be a third to sign an NHL deal. The much-heralded left-winger has his four-year degree in hand. He had his rights traded from the Nashville Predators to the Buffalo Sabres, who gave up a third round pick. Vesey has elected under the CBA rules to become a free agent, so Buffalo enters the same sweepstakes as the rest of the NHL to win his rights. Toronto is one of the biggest players in that pursuit and just made his father Jim Vesey, a team scout after drafting his brother Nolan (University of Maine) last year, The Rangers and Boston Bruins are both considered to be players in the Vesey Sweepstakes.

35 Division 1 underclassmen have signed professional deals thus far, 143 players in total have departed for the pro ranks since the end of last year’s collegiate season among the five college hockey conferences.

North Dakota, Michigan, and Boston College have lost the most with five underclassmen each.

Former Yale Bulldog, and Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Jesse Root, heads overseas to HC Bolzano in Italy. HC Bolzano plays in the Austrian Elite League. Root spent most of the last year with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) and just seven games in Bridgeport.

At the US U-17 Select Camp, Pat Boller is not the only HWP connection. As mentioned, Boller is the head coach, but one of the goalie coaches is none other than ex-Wolf Pack, Phil Osaer. The Team’s GM is Danbury native, Kenny Rausch, who played at Immaculate High School. Besides Tyce Thompson, one other Connecticut prep school player invited was Ben Mirageas of Avon Old Farms.

Our condolences on the passing of Michigan State’s great head coach Ron Mason, who dies earlier this month at age 76. Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, MI was the site of the memorial service and honored the second all-time winningest coach in college hockey history (Jerry York BC is tops). Mason had a career record of 924-380-83. Mason also coached at Lake Superior State and Bowling Green University and played at St. Lawrence University in the early 1960’s.

His son-in-law was Shawn Walsh of the University of Maine and his grandson, Travis Walsh, just graduated from Michigan State. Travis went undrafted and played three games apiece with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) and the Chicago Wolves (AHL). Tyler Walsh is an assistant coach with the USNDTP U-18 Team.

Photos Courtesy Of UConn Athletic Department

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF-SEASON VOLUME 9

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT –  The Stanley Cup Championship has been won, and now the leaders of the thirty NHL teams are beginning the hardest part of their jobs…drafting prospects, trading players and signing free agents. But there is a LOT more than that going on.

AHL NEWS

The Tucson Roadrunners it is.

On Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes christened their new AHL team ready to begin to play in the fall at the Tucson Convention Center. They named the team The Tucson Roadrunners, a very familiar name to several generations of hockey fans in the state of Arizona. You can read about it in two well-written stories, HERE and HERE

While the former Springfield Falcons will now be in Arizona, there’s a new sheriff in town. The new team in Springfield will be known as, The Springfield Thunderbirds.

Having a team in Springfield makes Bruce Landon, the long-time face of hockey in Springfield, happy, though his role has significantly changed.

“I obviously couldn’t be more pleased that hockey is going to be in Springfield this fall and for a long time to come, but I’m no longer involved in the day-to-day business. I really defer to Mr. (Paul) Picknelly and attorney Frank Fitzgerald, who really put this together. I’m a consultant now, and I helped them with some pieces of this, but for any comment on the franchise, it’s theirs, and I will be strictly consulting on hockey matters like I was last year,” Landon said.

The team has acquired Paul Thompson, re-signed Connor Brickley, and are coming off a ninety point season in Portland where they posted a 41-27-6-2 record.

“They had a very good season in Portland, were in the playoffs and Florida had a good year last year, so things are trending in the upward direction. This week is a busy week in our business, with the draft and free agency, so the roster will be a little more formed, but we should have a strong team this season.”

ON THE MOVE

The National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) has four teams, and they held their draft last Saturday.  A few names of Connecticut interest were selected.

In that draft, there were a few names selected that could be of interest to Connecticut residents.

Sydney Daniels of Harvard, a former Westminster Prep (Simsbury) player, and the daughter of ex-Hartford Whaler, Scott “Chief” Daniels, was selected in the second round by the New York Riveters and its General Manager/Head Coach and former Hartford Wolf Pack forward, Chad Wiseman.

In the fifth round, the Connecticut Whale selected Quinnipiac University standout goaltender, Sydney Rossman, the ECACHL Goalie of the Year.

Former New York Rangers’ forward, Matthew Barnaby, has been named as an assistant coach with the Kitchener Rangers (OHL). Barnaby’s son, Matt Jr., has left Avon Old Farms to play for the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) where he will be coached by a former teammate of his father’s, Philippe Boucher. Joining him on the team will be Igor Larionev Jr.

The USNDTP that plays in the USHL could be renamed, “The Sons of Former NHL’ers.” Next year’s roster features eight players who are son’s of former NHL’ers and several with Connecticut connections.

Jack DeBoer, the son of the NHL San Jose Sharks’ head coach Peter Deboer, leaves Avon Old Farms to for USNDTP. Adam Samuelsson, the fourth and youngest child of Ulf Samuelsson, who was a one time Whaler favorite as well as an assistant coach with the Rangers, Wolf Pack, and Avon Old Farms goes as well. The youngest of the Samuelsson boys is Boston College-bound in two years. Mattias Samuelsson, no relation to Ulf, is the son of ex-New Haven Nighthawk, Kjell Samuelsson and he’s committed to attend the University of Michigan. While DJ King is the son of former Whaler and Springfield Indian, Derek King is another headed to the USNDTP.

Jack Barre (Greenwich/Salisbury Prep), who finished his four years at Dartmouth and was the team’s MVP, has signed an AHL deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

TRAVERSE CITY

The date for the annual Prospects Tournament has been released. The games will be played September 16-20. Playing in the tournament are the same eight teams as last season. The Detroit Red Wings are the host team while the Rangers, the St. Louis Blues, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Minnesota Wild, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Dallas Stars, and the Chicago Blackhawks make up the participants.

A complete schedule will be released at a later date.

UCONN HOME SCHEDULE

The Huskies announced their third season schedule as part of Hockey East. However, the times for the games are still being worked on as is the same for its entire 2016-17 schedule.

Oct 7 & 8 vs. Alabama-Huntsville
Oct. 21 vs. AIC
Nov. 18 vs. BU
Nov. 22 vs. BC
Nov. 26 vs. Sacred Heart
Dec. 3 vs. UMass-Lowell
Dec. 9 vs. UMass
Jan. 7 vs. Yale
Jan. 27 vs. Vermont
Feb. 4 vs. Merrimack
Feb. 8 vs. Providence
Feb. 17 vs. Northeastern
Feb. 25 vs. New Hampshire

UConn will also play some non-conference games on the road. The one’s they’re already committed to include:

Quinnipiac, Colgate, RIT, Ohio State (a two-game series), and another trip to the Desert Hockey Classic in Phoenix against Arizona State, St Cloud, and Brown.

Speaking of UConn, expect Cantlon’s Corner to have a feature story on an interview with Tage Thompson shortly.

2016-2017 NEW YORK RANGERS SCHEDULE

rangers-schedule

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF SEASON – VOLUME 8

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – Hard to believe that this is the eighth week since the Hartford Wolf Pack ended their 2015-2016 campaign, but the hockey world presses on and we have got all the news for you.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the Pittsburgh Penguins captured their third title of the Sidney Crosby-era. “The Next One” was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy for the MVP of the playoffs and for owner Mario Lemieux, whose sale of the franchise will be announced likely in the next week, goes out on top with his fifth Stanley Cup.

Nick Bonino, the Farmington native who played high school hockey at Farmington High and then in prep school at Avon Old Farms, had a strong playoff run. Bonino captures his first silver chalice while former Hartford Whalers GM, and a one-time New Haven Nighthawk. Jim Rutherford, the current Penguins GM, gets his second Stanley Cup ring. His first came with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS

The Lake Erie Monsters swept the Hershey Bears to capture the first AHL title for the city of Cleveland since 1964. Attendance for Game Four was an AHL record for a championship game. The crowd was announced at 19,558 for the 1-0 overtime win and brings to an end the 80th AHL season.

Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the game’s only goal which also turned out to be the series winner with just 1.9 seconds left in the first overtime.

The play started with a faceoff win by Lukas Sedlak who drew it back to Zach Werenski at the right point. The young rearguard, signed by Columbus after Michigan’s season ended and who’s had a superb playoff, put the shot on net. The rebound came back to Sedlak whose shot was stopped by Bears’ goalie Justin Peters. However, the rebound of that shot went right to Bjorkstrand at the right side of the net. Bjorkstrand’s shot went off Peters while trying to make the save, and the puck fluttered over the goal line. For Bjorkstrand, it was his tenth of the post-season and set off a wild celebration.

Bjorkstrand, a Danish rookie, became just the fourth first-year player to ever capture the playoff MVP award and he was the first forward. The first three were goalies Pasi Nurminem (Chicago 2002), Carey Price (Hamilton 2007) and Michal Neuvirth (Hershey 2009). The award bearing the name of the former league commissioner and was first handed out in 1983-84 to former New Haven Nighthawk Bud Stefanski, who was then playing with the Maine Mariners.

Both Peters, and Monster goalie, Anton Forsberg, put on a goaltending clinic with fantastic stops that kept the game scoreless for 89:59 of action.

In overtime, with 6:20 left, Peters made a glorious glove save on Alex Broadhurst coming in from his off wing, the right side.  Forsberg followed denying Riley Barber on his turnaround shot off the left-wing and coming from behind the net. Before scoring the winner, Bjorkstrand was on a three-on-two break and denied by Peters. With 4:07 left, Forsberg stopped Carter Camper from dead-center, fifteen feet out as he tried to keep Hershey alive in the series.

In the third period, an early save by Forsberg and then Peters stopping Bjorkstrand on the power play at 9:35 and then 50 seconds later, Peters stoned Werenski following up a rebound from a right point shot from former Ranger and CT Whale, Steve Eminger.

In the second period, Peters made successive sterling saves to keep the Monsters off the board. Peters made a skate save on Bjorkstrand coming off the left wing with a backhand shot and then Sedlak on a clean breakaway twelve seconds apart. He also stopped Josh Anderson late in the period. Then Forsberg stopped ex-Pack captain, Chris Bourque while on the powerplay and Liam O’ Brien nearly halfway through the period.

Stratford native and Fairfield Prep as well as Salisbury prep player, Jamie Sifers, made a fantastic shot block with an open net on Barber’s left-wing follow-up shot to a rebound of a bid by Nathan Walker. All attempts were obviously put down by Forsberg.

Josh Anderson had a great chance for Lake Erie in the first period on a beautiful dipsy-doodle move, but Peters rejected the bid and Sedlak’s sharp angle, left-wing shot at 13:52.

SUMMER SIGNINGS

In a surprise move, UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) defenseman, Chris Summers, was resigned by the Rangers to a one-year, two-way contract. He’ll earn $600K in the NHL and $350 in the AHL. He was signed in the open period that comes before free agency kicks on July 1st.

Last season, Summers played on an NHL one-way deal that he signed with Arizona for $625K.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan native played superbly in the last 25 games in all situations in helping the Pack make their late season charge to try to make the playoffs.

He makes himself a player with an attractive contract. Much will depend upon where the salary cap lands, thus making any future trades by The Rangers that involve defenseman and for next year’s NHL expansion draft with Las Vegas that much more important.

  • The Rangers have signed 23-year-old, 6’3, 210lb. Finnish left winger and defenseman, Ahti Oksanen, to a one-year AHL contract for Hartford next season. He played four full years with Boston University (HE) playing 150 games with 51 goals 64 assists and 115 points. He started out as a defenseman and played primarily left wing in his senior season.
    His senior season he played 39 games with 15 goals and 36 assists and his junior campaign he played 40 games with 25 goals and 38 points and played in the NCAA championship game as the Terriers lost to the Providence College Friars.

MR. HOCKEY

Gordie Howe’s iconic number 9 hangs in the rafters of the XL Center and in Detroit, the legend that filled it out the jersey has passed.

Last Friday, Howe passed away the age of 88. Howe was in Ohio with all four of his children present at the home of his son, Dr. Murray Howe.

Howe truly was a man of legendary proportions. He was a ferocious on-ice competitor, a true gentleman, and an ambassador for the game off the ice.

His accomplishment list is not just a simple compilation of numbers pointing to the power of his game. Howe played mostly in a six-team league except for his last five of his first NHL tour. He also played in the WHA and ended his career in the city of Hartford. Howe scored his first point assisting on a goal by Adam Brown in 1946 and originally wearing the number 17. He shifted to nine when it became available to get better sleeping quarters on the train!

Howe was part of Detroit’s run to Stanley Cup glory in the 1950’s as part of the famed, “Production Line,” with Ted Lindsay and Sid Abel.

He played 2,421 NHL games and played up until age 52. In 26 NHL seasons, Howe won four Stanley Cups, and played in 21 All-Star games, his last coming in 1980 in Detroit. He was a first team NHL All-Star selection twelve times. He won the scoring title and league MVP awards a total of twelve times and scored twenty goals or more 22 consecutive seasons.

Howe was the only player for whom the three-year grace period was waived when h was selected to join the NHL Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. Howe is also the only player to come back to actively play while being in the HHOF.

He scored 1,850 points before Wayne Gretzky obliterated his childhood hero’s marks with 2,857. In that last All-Star game, Gretzky, then 19 years old was his center. Howe was the first player to crack 1,000 points for an NHL career. Howe’s legendary toughness he was built with the strength of working on a farm. Howe topped 100 PIM just four times in his career and after a legendary scrap with Rangers tough guy Lou Fontinato on February 1,1959. He was rarely challenged.

The term, “a Gordie Howe hat trick” which consists of a goal, assist and fight in a single game is a revered hat trick among players. Howe did it just twice in his career.

His 801 goals scored was tops till Gretzky surpassed him in 1990. His 801st and final goal was scored in hockey’s golden cathedral, the Montreal Forum, on April 9, 1980. The primary assist was from his son, Mark Howe.

The younger Howe was chugging up the right wing side of the ice, cut to the middle and found his father on the left wing. Gordie sent a backhander to the net with the screen provided by former Wolf Pack assistant coach, New England and Hartford Whaler, New Haven Nighthawk (player and assistant coach) and Ranger, Nick Fotiu, that sailed past goalie Denis Herron.

In his last season, Howe had 15 goals and 41 points and played in all 80 games.

He played the most games regular season games at 1,767. Mark Messier in second with 1,756 followed by Whaler great Ron Francis at 1,731. His 26 NHL season mark was tied by Chris Chelios when he was with the Red Wings.

The second act of his magnificent career was coming out of retirement after two years to play with his two teenage sons then Mark and Marty with the WHA Houston Aeros as their mother Colleen Howe engineered one of the most important sports contracts of the era and gave the then fledgling league another marquee name along with Bobby Hull.

In four years, Howe would top 100 points twice. He just-missed having a third 100 point season with a total of 99 points, won league MVP his first year and two AVCO Cup titles.

Howe played 419 WHA games with 174 goals and 334 points. He moved to Hartford to play for the New England Whalers when the Aeros franchise folded again. A trio signed a free agent contract as talks of an NHL merger were heating up.

Howe recorded his 1,000th career goal against the Birmingham Bulls on December 7, 1977, for the New England Whalers, who sported a great harpoon logo jersey in Springfield, their temporary home after the collapse of the XL Center, then Hartford Civic Center, roof.
Howe played one shift in 1997 with the old IHL Detroit Vipers at the age of 69 on opening night on October 7, 1997, becoming the only player to have played professional hockey in six decades.

Wolf Pack players got a treat when “Mr. Hockey” came to see the team on November 27,  2000, for the first, Hockey Heritage Night.

On March 26, 2011 the CT Whale honored Howe when they made it “Gordie Howe Night.”  The Whale also honored the past teams of the NHL and WHA.

Howe’s last visit to the XL Center was inauspicious. He sat in the stands in the back row of the lower bowl at the visiting goal side for an 11:00 AM morning game between the Wolf Pack and the Albany Devils on November 5, 2014. Gordie was accompanied by his son Marty who still resides in the area.

Howe’s health deteriorated the past few years as he suffered a major stroke and had spine issues that required surgery. The family made a last ditch effort by getting him stem cell treatments at a Mexican clinic. They were able to turn around his fortunes as shown to Cantlon’s Corner by Mark Howe and it was remarkable till his passing last week.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE

Well not really.

The NHL is set to announce next week that Las Vegas will become the 31st NHL franchise. The organizers will post the incredible $500 million entrance fee and will begin play at the brand new, 20,000 seat, T-Mobile Arena in the 2017-18 season. It will make the NHL the only one of the four major sports leagues to have a franchise in Sin City.

Quebec City was rejected despite having a brand new $450 million Videotron Centre. The Videotron Center has hosted an NHL exhibition game during the past season and which will do so again when the Montreal Canadiens will host a game in October.

Cantlon’s Corner wrote that would be the case back in February.

It is a big gamble by the NHL (pun intended) to have hockey in the Mojave desert to attract a core group of fans, be competitive with a shrinking player pool and with the nation’s economy still stuck in neutral trying to develop a consistent revenue stream. The expansion draft will take place with a lot of players with large contracts made available as a salary dump to help other teams clear cap space.

This will also create 31st AHL team.

Potential candidates to join the Pacific Division of the AHL could be a team in Reno, NV. They still have the Reno-Sparks Convention Center (formerly Centennial Coliseum). The RSCC was built in 1965 and renovated in 2009. Their last pro hockey team was the Reno Renegades/Rage of the defunct WCHL (West Coast Hockey League) in 1995-98, that merged with the ECHL. Then would likely have a secondary affiliation with a regional ECHL team like Salt Lake City.

This also would allow Vancouver, the last West based NHL team still out East in the AHL to shift West into the Pacific Division from Utica. The two most likely destinations would return the AHL to Abbotsford 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver or place their AHL team in the Pacific Coliseum, the former home of the Canucks, whose junior tenant the WHL Vancouver Giants are moving in the fall to nearby Langley,BC, but will retain their name.

ON THE MOVE AND OFF SEASON AHL NEWS

New Canaan native, and one time Taft Prep star, Jack Downing, who played in Cincinnati (ECHL) last season has signed to go EC Kassel (Germany DEL-2) next season.

Cheshire native Luke Curadi has retired from hockey after just one minor pro season with Adirondack (ECHL). Curadi was in Wolf Pack training camp last fall. Curadi, who had a four-year collegiate career with R.P.I. (ECACHL) played his public school hockey at Cheshire and ND-West Haven and junior hockey with the Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack. Curadi is getting into coaching with Elite Hockey Academy at Cheshire Academy as an associate head coach for the U-16 team. The head of the hockey academy is run by another ND-WH alum Peter Alden. Read about it HERE.

Former Wolf Pack captain, Aaron Johnson, who also played briefly for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers earlier in his career, is going from Stockton to Adler Mannheim (Germany-DEL). Rob Klinkhammer goes from Bakersfield to Dynamo Minsk (Belarus-KHL)

Jeff Tambellini, the older brother of the Wolf Pack’s Adam Tambellini, after one season in Syracuse, heads back to Europe and Djurgardens IF (Sweden-SHL).

Another AHL’er to Europe is Christian Marti who split the year between Lehigh Valley and Reading (ECHL). Marti goes back to Switzerland to play for ZSC Zurich (LNA). That makes 31 AHL players have signed to go to Europe and more announcements to be expected over the next three weeks.

Derek Ryan of Charlotte, who was strongly being courted by Swiss-based teams, returns to Carolina with a one-year, two-way deal ($600K-NHL/$300K-AHL) with the Hurricanes.

A trio of former Sound Tigers are getting new hockey addresses. Kevin Mitchell goes from EC Graz (Austria-AEHL) to HC Nikko (Japan-ALIH), David Ullstrom Sibir Novosibirsk (Russia-KHL) to Dynamo Minsk (Belarus-KHL) and Justin Courtnall goes from Allen (ECHL) to Brampton (ECHL).

Retired Wolf Pack centerman, Marc Savard, who hasn’t played hockey since the 2010-11 season, had his contract for which he is still paid, traded for a third time this time to the New Jersey Devils from Florida for two AHL forwards in Graham Black and Paul Thompson, who spent all last year in Albany. For Thompson, it will be his second tour in Springfield next season who are the new affiliate city for the Panthers.

The new Springfield team name will be called the Thunderbirds and was announced on Wednesday.

A series of articles from Springfield first the deal to sell Florida on Springfield; HERE

Naming of team; HERE and HERE

A street being named after Bruce Landon; HERE

The Vancouver Canucks have done an organizational goalie coach switch . Ex-Pack Dan Cloutier will be in Vancouver handling the NHL goalies for the Canucks and taking his spot as the organizational goalie development coach is one time Nighthawk-Rollie ‘The Goalie” Melanson.

Former Wolf Pack goalie Vitali Yeremeyev moves up from Barys Astana (Kazakhstan) junior team in the Russian MHL league to be the goalie coach for Dynamo Moscow (Russia-KHL).

The Milwaukee Admirals have moved to their new home the Carver Arena at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the BMO Harris Bradley Center (presently 28 years old remember the XL is 41 years old) is slated to close in two years when the Milwaukee Bucks open a brand new NBA-only arena and the Bradley Center will be knocked down 12 months after the opening of the yet unnamed arena.

The Rockford Ice Hogs and the Chicago Black Hawks have extended their affiliation agreement another five years.

Texas Stars have extended their ECHL agreement with Idaho another two years.

The last European championship goes to HC Bat Yam of the Israeli Hockey League capturing their second title and first since 1995 beating Monfort Maalot 6-3.

RANGERS: THE LIGHTS ARE OUT ON BROADWAY FOR YANDLE

rp_nyr_thumb.pngRANGERS ACQUIRE SIXTH ROUND PICK IN 2016 NHL ENTRY DRAFT

Blueshirts trade Keith Yandle to Florida; Rangers would also receive a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft if Yandle signs with Panthers

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, June 20, 2016 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has acquired a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft and a conditional fourth round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft from the Florida Panthers in exchange for Keith Yandle. The Blueshirts would receive the fourth round pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft if Yandle signs with the Panthers.

The Rangers currently have six selections in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft: their own third round pick (81st overall), Arizona’s fourth round pick (98th overall), their own fifth-round pick (141st overall), their own sixth-round pick (171st overall), Florida’s sixth round pick (174th overall), and their own seventh-round pick (201st overall).

Yandle registered 58 points (seven goals, 51 assists) in 103 games with the Rangers over parts of two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16).

RANGERS: SUMMER SIGNS BEFORE SUMMER STARTS

22438194553_abcb13eb35_bRANGERS AGREE TO TERMS WITH CHRIS SUMMERS

BY: The New York Rangers

NEW YORK, June 15, 2016 – New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Chris Summers on a new contract.

Summers, 28, skated in 74 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering three goals and eight assists for 11 points, along with a plus-two rating and 51 penalty minutes. He tied for third on the team – and tied for second among Wolf Pack defensemen – in games played in 2015-16. Summers tied single-game AHL career-highs by registering two assists and two points on Nov. 15 vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and on Mar. 12 vs. Lehigh Valley. In addition, he recorded a goal and posted a plus-three rating in two of the final five games of the season – Apr. 9 vs. Springfield and Apr. 15 at St. John’s.

The 6-2, 209-pounder skated in three games with the Rangers during the 2015-16 season, registering five shots on goal and four penalty minutes. Summers was credited with two hits and recorded two shots on goal in 15:35 of ice time while making his season debut with the Blueshirts on Dec. 18 at Winnipeg.

Summers has skated in 70 career NHL games over parts of six seasons with the Rangers and Coyotes, registering two goals and seven assists for nine points, along with 51 penalty minutes. He has skated in six games with the Blueshirts over the last two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16). In addition, Summers has appeared in 312 career AHL games, recording nine goals and 38 assists for 47 points, along with 265 penalty minutes. In 87 games with the Wolf Pack over parts of two seasons (2014-15 and 2015-16), Summers has registered three goals and nine assists for 12 points, along with a plus-five rating.

The Ann Arbor, Michigan, native was acquired by the Rangers from the Coyotes, along with Keith Yandle and a fourth round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for John Moore, Anthony Duclair, a second round pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, and a first round pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft on March 1, 2015.

PHOTO CREDIT: CHRIS RUTSCH

FUEHRING: SWAMP RABBITS ACQUIRE SKILLED FORWARD TO COMPLETE MARCH TRADE

rp_Greenville-Swamp-Rabbits-300x225.pngSWAMP RABBITS ACQUIRE SKILLED FORWARD TO COMPLETE MARCH TRADE

Greenville receives rights to point-per-game skater Kellen Jones from Missouri

BY: Alan Fuehring, Greenville Swamp Rabbits

Greenville, SC – The Greenville Swamp Rabbits, proud ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack, today announced the team has acquired the rights to scoring threat Kellen Jones from the Missouri Mavericks to complete the trade for Darian Dziurzynski from Mar. 3.

“Kellen is a highly productive, high character forward who has good hands and quick feet,” Head Coach Brian Gratz said. “He’s played nearly 90 games in the American Hockey League and we are excited to acquire his rights.”

Jones, 25, collected more than a point-per-game with the Mavericks last season, helping Missouri to the ECHL’s best regular-season record (52-15-5) and the 2016 Brabham Cup title. He notched 25 points (6g, 19a) and a +9 rating in 23 regular-season games and also made 33 appearances in the AHL with Bakersfield and Utica. Continue reading