Category Archives: NHL

NYR SIGN FORWARD RYAN BOURQUE

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BY: New York Rangers

NEW YORK, August 8, 2014 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has agreed to terms with restricted free agent forward Ryan Bourque.

Bourque, 23, skated in 74 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering 21 goals and 16 assists for 37 points, along with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-16 rating. He established career-highs in games played, goals, assists, points, plus/minus rating, power play goals (seven), game-winning goals (three), and shots on goal (158). Bourque led the Wolf Pack in plus/minus rating, ranked second in goals and shots on goal, tied for second in power play goals, and finished sixth in points. He registered a career-high, five-game point streak from January 4 vs. Worcester to January 17 at Adirondack (four goals, one assist over the span), including a career-high, three-game goal streak from January 4 vs. Worcester to January 11 at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Bourque established single-game career-highs with two assists, three points, and a plus-four rating, and also recorded the game-winning goal on March 8 vs. Albany.

The 5-9, 185-pounder has skated in 196 career AHL games over three seasons with the Whale/Wolf Pack, registering 35 goals and 31 assists for 66 points. Bourque’s goals, points, and plus/minus rating have increased each year since his rookie season in 2011-12. He made his professional hockey debut on October 8, 2011 at Adirondack, and tallied his first point with a goal on November 4, 2011 vs. St. John’s. Bourque has also recorded three points (two goals, one assist) in nine career AHL playoff games.

Internationally, the Boxford, Massachusetts native has represented Team USA in numerous tournaments. Bourque tied for fourth on Team USA with three assists in six games to help the Americans capture a bronze medal at the 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship. He also tallied three assists and posted a plus-three rating in seven games while helping Team USA capture a gold medal at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Bourque was originally selected by the Rangers in the third round, 80th overall, of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

CANTON’S CORNER: XL CENTER RENOVATIONS CONTINUE

gerryBY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings

Knock on wood, well gently, we are talking about the XL Center now. All kidding aside, the mighty XL Center refurbishing continues at a ferocious pace as the new month is now upon us.

CRDA Executive Director Mike Freimuth remains upbeat.

“So far we’re on target, but we still have several major hurdles to deal with as we get all of this to come together.”

Freimuth told Cantlon’s Corner that they now have a tentative date to re-open to the public to show off the shiny new digs.

“We have set October 8th for our NBA preseason game of the Knicks against the Celtics as our date. We have two concerts in September which we factored in with this schedule and we are working on a third as we speak, but we can’t name the artist. We can accommodate these events while work is ongoing,” Freimuth said. “Knock on wood things are moving along.”

It’s not to say this has been all smooth sailing.

“We have encountered some issues wiring we didn’t know existed or what it’s for, ceilings that the measurements weren’t the same as the drawings showed; materials that had to be removed, but we factored in contingencies into this project. But like working on your own home, you never like to have your progress stopped or altered.”

The RFP (Request for Proposals) is moving along simultaneously on the future of the XL Center as it undergoes its $35 million dollar renovation.

“We have received four proposals. We are interviewing two companies today (Thursday) and two others on Friday. We hope to make a selection by the end of the month and in September announce the finalist. We hope to have a report in hand by end of the year or early January,” Freimuth, who takes a well deserved vacation after these series of interviews, said.

Freimuth was willing to discuss if the location of a potential new arena, if that is the recommendation of a the future finalist, would be a part of this new analysis?

“No. That is a completely separate issue. Right now we want to know two things. Whether we can retrofit the current XL or does it require a new facility to get to the new, more modern state-of-the-art, competitive building we need and we need to know the cost.”

The lease situation for the other main tenant at the XL Center, UConn‘s basketball teams and the brand new Hockey East entity, plus the football team playing at, “The Rent” have been agreed to, but the documents are still in the process of being prepared.

“We have to do two separate documents. One for Global Spectrum, who represents the CRDA with the XL Center, and a separate one for Rentschler Field. We have agreed to terms. We have to get all the legal documents worked up, but I hope we will have a more formal announcement by the end of the month.”

Seems as if the end result of the negotiations left everyone satisfied, but not thrilled. “Everybody came out with bumps and bruises. Nobody got everything they wanted, but in the end everybody can be satisfied and we can go forward to doing our best with a new exciting XL this fall,” Freimuth remarked.

To see the latest video on the renovation work click here.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK MAKE MORE MOVES

gerryBY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings

The Hartford Wolf Pack roster overhaul continues.

The New York Rangers have signed yet another veteran for a team that is taking on a more veteran/older look than has been seen in the Connecticut capitol in sometime. That’s not to say that youth and development isn’t still the primary core mission for Ken Gernander and his staff, but trying to make the Pack a competitive team all season long, rather than just the first month and the last 25 games as they were last year, is clearly the off season campaign goal.

The latest signee for Hartford is forward Ryan Potulny. Fans will remember Potulny from his time playing with their I-91 rivals in Springfield.

Potulny played last season in Hershey after not signing until December 22nd.  He tallied three goals and seven assists (ten points) in 38 games. Potulny can play all three forward spots, but it would seem that the organization has the veteran targeted for an upgrade at the center slot. With 408 games under his belt, Potulny qualifies as a veteran.

Rangers training camp looks to be highly competitive for the fourth line center slot which also encompasses PK duty. JT Miller, the recently signed Matt Lombardi – who has serious NHL games under his belt, as well as Chris Mueller -who was signed from the AHL Calder Cup Champion Texas Stars, the Pack’s Oscar Lindberg and Potulny will all get a chance to audition for that role.

By default, a position Hartford has had issues over the past several years, will invariably be stronger when the season kicks off in October.

Potulny’s brother, Grant, is an assistant coach at Wolf Pack’s head coach Ken Gernander’s alma mater University of Minnesota.

NEW COACH ADDED IN NEW YORK

New Rangers assistant coach Darryl Williams has Connecticut ties. He played with the AHL New Haven Nighthawks from (1988-1991) playing 136 games with 28 goals and 58 points and 495 PM. He also spent nine years in the old IHL playing 540 games with 98 goals 224 points and 1,906 PM.

The Rangers are his 15th city between his junior and pro career. He spent the last six years as a Vancouver Canucks assistant coach. His role included being  in charge of video and he lost his job there as part of the entire coaching staff that was purged in the spring housecleaning after John Tortorella’s era ended.

Williams was an assistant coach for two years with the AHL Cincinnati Ducks (2002-2004) and played half a season of junior hockey in Canada’s western most city, Victoria, BC (WHL 1985-86). He returned as assistant coach to his native Newfoundland, the eastern most province and city, St. John’s, for one season with the defunct QMJHL team, the Fog Devils in 2006-2007.

LOTS OF CHANGES IN TEXAS

The Texas Stars will become the 14th AHL team owned and operated team by their NHL parent club, the Dallas Stars. The Stars parent holding company, Northland Properties, will purchase the team currently operating under the business title, Hicks Cedar Park LLC.

This completes the long and complicated bankruptcy of former Dallas Stars owner, Tom Hicks. The AHL team was not a part of his Hicks Sports Group, but was under his children’s names exempting them from the situation. Dallas was purchased by Tom Gagliardi and are now in the process of consolidating their operations, which this move was part of.

Former New Haven Senator Scott White, the current Stars GM and Director of Player Development, will continue in that role for the Austin, Texas based team.

The only change in store for the Texas Stars will be a uniform upgrade next season to the current Dallas ‘victory green” color scheme for the defending AHL Calder Cup champs. The Kelly-Green based uni’s are currently one of the NHL’s best sellers. Personally, any uniform that isn’t centered around some form of black, like so many other pro sports teams seem to be going to, is nice to see.

NOTES:

  • The Regina Leader-Post reports that former Wolf Pack head coach, and all time top AHL coach, John Paddock, has been hired as the WHL Regina Pats new head coach.
  • The Rangers renewed their Double AA ECHL affiliation with the Greenville Road Warriors for two more years. Hartford and Greenville have been together since the Road Warriors inception in 2010 after the Charlotte Checkers moved from the ECHL to the AHL. The Road Warriors also signed forward Justin Vaive to a new one year deal. Its kind of a surprise after Vaive played so well down the stretch for the Wolf Pack that he didn’t earn an AHL deal. he would seem to possibly be a victim of the numbers game. Anything can happen though in training camp.
  • Former Wolf Pack, Mikael Samuelsson, has returned to Sweden to play for Djurgarden IF in the Swedish Hockey League.
  • Former Wolf Pack Tommy Pyatt, who played with Tampa Bay Lightning last year, has signed with HC Geneve (Geneva)-Servette in Switzerland-NLA.
  • Jordan Owens, who started last year with the Hamilton Bulldogs and ended the season with the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL, heads back over to Europe with SSI Vitipeno in the Italian LIHG in the A Division.
  • Former Wolf Pack goalie Chris Holt was let go with Lincoln (USHL) as an assistant coach. Holt will lace up the skates and strap on the pads once again for defending Italian League Serie A champion EV Ritten/Renon. The team features recently re-signed ex-Wolf Pack Patrick Rissmiller.
  • One tine Wolf Pack and Sound Tiger defenseman Joel Bouchard owner, president and GM of Blainville-Boisbrand (QMJHL) added one more title, head coach. Bouchard assumed the title Thursday after his head coach, J.F. Houle, signed with Bakersfield (ECHL) as their new head coach.
  • Leaving the playing ranks and heading into coaching is former Wolf Pack, Rico Fata, who will be the developmental skills coach for the Soo Batchewana Attack of the brand new Canadian International Hockey League another Junior A type league starting play this fall. The team is located in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on the First Nation Reservation.
  • Son of Hartford Whaler, Landon Ferraro, has signed a one year two-way (NHL-AHL) deal with Detroit. He spent most of last year in Grand Rapids. Another former Whaler’s son, Jakub Baca, son of Jergus Baca, (Ten games with the Hartford Whalers) has signed with the Danbury Whalers of the Federal Hockey League for the 2014-15 season. He played last year in the Slovakia second division with HK 32 Liptovsky.
  • The 6’8″ former Sound Tiger defenseman, Joe Finley, signed a one year AHL deal with Hamilton. Foward Joey Martin who played nine games with the Sound Tigers heads to Cardiff, Wales to play in the EIHL. Mark Lee, who’s played the Wolf Pack and Sound Tigers, goes from Schwenniger in the German DEL to Nottingham in England and the EIHL. Former Sound Tiger, Daniel Tetrault, moves over in the Central Hockey League from the defending champion Allen (TX) Americans to the Rapid City (SD) Rush coached by one time Sound Tiger assistant Joe Ferras.
  • One-time Springfield Falcon, Todd Gill, who was let go as head coach by the Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL, was named the first assistant coach with the Adirondack Flames. Springfield tabbed Toby Petersen as its new second assistant coach and one time Falcon, Ben Simon, becomes the second assistant with the Toronto Marlies.
  • Springfield signed Mike Hoeffl (Albany Devils) and Hubert Labrie (Texas/Idaho-ECHL) to one year AHL deals.
  • Kirill Kabanov, the mercurial Russian winger who lasted just 16 games after an early season arm injury in Bridgeport and who then went to Stockton of the ECHL and closed out the season with MODO (Sweden-SHL), has signed with Swedish team Skelleftea AIK for next season.
  • Worcester’s Rob Davidson has retired and begun his coaching career in Austria with EC Salzburg as an assistant coach. Joining him with the Austrian team is Kristoff Kontos, son of former New Haven Nighthawk and New York Ranger, Chris Kontos. You may recall that the younger Kontos, finished up his junior hockey career with the Saginaw Spirit of the OHL and ended the year with the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL.
  • New Hartford native Mike Cichy signs with Florida (ECHL) after graduating from Western Michigan (NCHC).
  • Old Lyme, CT native, Matt Nickerson, has re-signed with the Fife (Scotland) Flyers of the English league EIHL.
  • 72 AHL players have now signed with European teams for next season. The latest signees include; Adirondack Phantoms Kyle Flanagan with MODO Sweden while his teammate, Cullen Eddy, joins Sheffield (England-EIHL). Dan DaSilva, who was with Worcester and Ontario (ECHL) signs with Augsburger (Germany-DEL); while Guillaume Desbiens of Lake Erie is off to Austria Dorbirner EC. Chay Genoway is the 9th Hershey Bear to leave to Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL).
  • Quinnipiac University alum Neil Breen leaves Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL) as an assistant coach to be an assistant coach with the Tri-City Storm (USHL).
  • Former Hotchkiss Prep star goalie Zane Kalemba moves over from HC Banska Bystricka (Slovakia-SLEL) to Rungsted IK (Denmark-DHL).
  • Eric Esposito, of West Haven, who played at Loomis Chaffe Prep School last year, which won the New England small prep school title in the spring, has given an oral commitment to the University New Hampshire for 2015-16 will play with Youngstown (OH) Phantoms (USHL) this year. His younger brother, Alex, also played at Loomis Chaffe has committed for the University of Vermont (HE) for 2016-17.
  • At the US World Junior evaluation camp in Lake Placid, New York, Quinnipiac University defenseman and fifth round Phoenix draft pick, Connor Clifton, was cut along with 14 others prior to a weekend slate of three exhibition games against Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic. Yale University sophomore John Hayden did make the cut, but incoming Yale freshmen Ryan Hitchcock was not.
  • North Branford’s, Adam Erne, (Tampa Bay) didn’t participate because of a wrist injury and Cole Cassels, son of former Whaler Andrew, and a Vancouver Canucks draft pick, also did not participate because of an illness.
  • The Finnish team will feature recent Pittsburgh Penguin first round pick Kasperi Kapanen, son of former Whaler, Sami, and Sweden will have William Nylander, Toronto’s first round pick and son of former Whaler/Ranger, Michael, plus Victor Cruz Rydberg who played some games with Bridgeport at the end of season after his Plymouth Whalers (OHL) season ended.
  • One time New Haven Nighthawk Dennis Desrosiers returns to the radio booth of the Saginaw Spirit (OHL) doing color commentator.

SONAR AND THE ALS CHALLENGE

Capture6BY: Mitch Beck, Publisher, Howlings

A quick note on a Thursday…
“Sonar,” the lovable mascot of the Hartford Wolf Pack, accepted the challenge posed by the Worcester Sharks mascot, “Fin,” to help raise awareness of ALS.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or ALS, is defined as, “A disease of the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary muscle movement.” ALS is also known by another name, “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
As you’ll see in the video posted on the Wolf Pack’s Facebook page, Sonar is up to the challenge and calls out several other mascots along the way. “Screech” of the team’s I-91 rival, Springfield Falcons; “Storm” of the Pack’s in-state rival, Bridgeport Sound Tigers and “Rocky” of the AA affiliate of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball team, the New Britain Rock Cats.

CANTLON’S CORNER: CENTRAL HOCKEY LEAGUE TO FOLD

gerryBY: Gerry Cantlon, Special To Howlings

As we have been charting here at Howlings.net over the past few months, the pieces necessary for the AHL to form a Pacific Division are beginning to see pieces of the puzzle falling into place over the next few months.

Cantlon’s Corner has learned from two separate hockey sources that the Central Hockey League (CHL), reborn in the early 1990’s will cease operations at the conclusion of the upcoming season.

Two of those teams expected to join the AHL are the Denver Cutthroats and the Arizona Sundogs, while four teams will make their way to the ECHL. Those teams include the Allen, (TX) Americans, the Rapid City (SD) Rush, the Missouri (Independence, MO) Mavericks, and Quad City, (Illinois, a former AHL city) Mallards.

Wichita, (KA) Thunder, Brampton, (Ontario) Beast and Tulsa, (OK) Oilers will be free to pursue other minor leagues and junior hockey opportunities.  The team from St. Charles, (MO) Chill folded this summer.

The addition of four teams to the already nineteen team ECHL, and potentially gaining some other AHL cities in the future, could see the league expand to a 30-30 arrangement of teams in both the AHL and ECHL. This expansion could emerge over the next several years as the NHL seeks to consolidate minor league operations in keeping player personnel as close as possible.

A Rapid City, SD franchise could conceivably become the Winnipeg Jets secondary affiliate to Thunder Bay. A Colorado Avalanche team could have their AHL team in Denver as expected and the Colorado ECHL franchise could become their secondary affiliate. The same could hold true with the Dallas Stars using Texas (Austin, TX) as their AHL affiliate and Allen becoming their ECHL team.

Presently, there are such arrangements. For example, the Buffalo Sabres have the Rochester Americans in the AHL with the Elmira Jackals as their ECHL affiliate. The Philadelphia Flyers have the Lehigh Valley (Allentown, PA) Phantoms and the Reading Royals in the ECHL. Detroit has the Grand Rapids Griffins as their AHL affiliate and the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL.

The Central Hockey League, presently at nine teams, revived the league in 1992 resurrecting the league name that ran from 1963-to-1986. The league absorbed five teams from the defunct Western Professional Hockey League (WPHL) in 2001. The teams at that time were the Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs, Odessa Jackalopes, Lubbock Cotton Kings, the Amarillo Rattlers and one of the all time best hockey names the Austin Ice Bats.

None of those teams lasted in the CHL. The league also received several teams from the IHL reincarnation that lasted all of three seasons from 2007-to-2010. Those included teams in Ft. Wayne, Bloomington and Quad City. The Ft. Wayne Komets, have been a minor league juggernaut in over five leagues the past 62 years. They left for the ECHL in 2012 and Bloomington left for US junior league for the USHL.

XL CENTER UPDATE 3

Work on the upgrades at the XL Center continue. This is going to be exciting.

The most amazing thing about this to me is that this is all part of a $35M upgrade package. The plan to fix it up entirely was at close to $90M. As beautiful as this is going to look, imagine if they gave them the full $90+M?

ROADIES EXTEND AGREEMENT WITH RANGERS FOR TWO MORE YEARS

new-york-rangers_thumb8-150x150Greenville Road WarriorsGreenville Road Warriors and New York Rangers Extend Affiliation for Two Years

BY: Andy Zilch, Greenville Road Warriors

Greenville, SC: The Greenville Road Warriors announced today they have extended their affiliation agreement with the NHL’s New York Rangers through the 2015-16 season.

The Greenville Road Warriors have been the primary “AA” affiliate of the New York Rangers since their inception in 2010.

“We are excited to continue our affiliation with Greenville for the next two seasons and look forward to working with Dean Stork and his staff as they help us develop our prospects for the NHL,” Rangers Assistant General Manager Jim Schoenfeld said.

This past season, Road Warriors alumnus, Cam Talbot, received a promotion to the NHL on October 24th making him the first Road Warrior to play for the Rangers. Talbot enjoyed success in New York, posting a 12-6-1 record with a .941 save percentage and a 1.64 goals against average. The 27-year-old netminder played for the Road Warriors in their inaugural season in 2010-2011. In addition, the Road Warriors sent forward Justin Vaive and defenseman Bretton Stamler to Hartford for the majority of the second half of the season. Stamler competed in 39 games amassing two goals, six assists, a +6 rating and 48 penalty minutes.

Road Warriors General Manager Chris Lewis continued, “We are extremely pleased to be continuing our partnership with the New York Rangers and look forward to providing a tremendous environment for the development of our prospects.”

The Road Warriors will continue to celebrate their partnership with the Rangers with third jerseys and uniforms modeled after the Rangers uniforms. This will mark the third straight year the Road Warriors will don the highly popular alternate jerseys and uniforms.

Season tickets for the Greenville Road Warriors’ 2014-15 season are available now and start as low as $170! Call a Road Warriors Account Executive at 864-674-PUCK or visit greenvilleroadwarriors.com to secure your Road Warriors season tickets today!