Tag Archives: Ken Gernander

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.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK PLAYERS COMING AND GOING

gerry-300x260BY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings

The comings and goings continue in the NHL as well as the AHL on Thursday, the third day of player movement under free agency.

The Wolf Pack will have a new captain for Head Coach Ken Gernander‘s team in 2014-2015. Last season’s captain, defenseman Aaron Johnson, has signed a one year deal with the Ottawa Senators which will likely see him lacing up his skates for the Binghamton Senators.

On the arrival front, Hartford has picked up some serious physicality on the left wing. Nick Tarnasky, who skated with the Hamilton Bulldogs last year and notched 13 goals and had 22 points in 77 games and 144 PIMs was signed by the Rangers. A Rocky Mountain House, Alberta native, Tarnasky has 369 AHL games with 60 goals, 111 points and 715 penalty minutes.

In AHL moves directly related to Connecticut, defenseman Jamie Sifers, a Stratford, CT native who played his public high school hockey at Fairfield Prep and a year at Taft of Watertown, has signed a one year deal with the Springfield Falcons.

Sifers, a speedy right handed shot was an AHL All-Star with Toronto several years ago and just finished his third year in Germany in the DEL League with Adler Mannheim. Sifers played his collegiate career with the University of Vermont where he was team captain his final three seasons.

Rugged ruffian, and ex-Wolf Pack, Trevor Gillies will be back in the East and playing with the Adirondack Flames. Gillies has 1,548 PM in 359 AHL games – an average per game of 4.31. Interestingly, Gillies will now have played in every AHL Northeast city in his career except Manchester.

In executive movement, one time Hartford Whalers’ assistant coach, Darcy Regier was hired by another former Whaler and a Ranger as well, Don Maloney. Regier was hired by the Arizona Coyotes  as Senior VP and assistant GM.

Here’s the official release on the Tarnasky signing…

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the team has agreed to terms with free agent forward Nick Tarnasky.

Tarnasky, 29, skated in 76 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) this past season, registering 13 goals and nine assists for 22 points, along with 144 penalty minutes. He established a career-high and led Hamilton in games played. Tarnasky also led Hamilton in penalty minutes and tied for fifth on the team in goals and power play goals (four). He skated in his 300th career AHL game on October 26 at Utica, and tallied his 100th career AHL point with an assist on December 28 at Utica.

The 6-2, 230-pounder has skated in 245 career NHL games over parts of five seasons with Tampa Bay, Nashville, and Florida, registering 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points, along with 297 penalty minutes. Tarnasky made his NHL debut with the Lightning on October 20, 2005 at Atlanta, and tallied his first career NHL point with an assist on November 5, 2005 at Toronto. He skated in a career-high 80 games during the 2007-08 season, ranking fourth on Tampa Bay in hits (119) and tying for second among forwards on the team in blocked shots (45). Tarnasky has skated in six career NHL playoff games, all of which were with Tampa Bay during the 2007 Playoffs.

In 369 career AHL games, Tarnasky has recorded 60 goals and 51 assists for 111 points, along with 715 penalty minutes. During the 2012-13 season, he established AHL career-highs in goals (16) and points (26) with the Rochester Americans. Tarnasky also added one goal in three games with the Americans in the 2013 Playoffs.

The Rocky Mountain House, Alberta native was originally selected by Tampa Bay in the ninth round, 287th overall, in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

BECK: A PREMATURE POST SEASON ANALYSIS

mitch-headshot-10-13t-150x126BY: Mitch Beck, Editor of Howlings

So I was told that when I’m analytical and critical of the New York Rangers they do better.

Well, despite not being superstitious, I want to do my part to help them in their efforts to come back from their 3-0 games deficit with Game Four coming up on Wednesday night. SO, with the hopes of helping them keep this thing alive, and with the fact that should they lose and be eliminated, fans will be rightfully reading the better known analysts and experts, I thought I would do my part and jump the gun a bit and give you my take on who should stay and who should go when it’s all over.

Besides, is there anything that people who love the Rangers like to do more than argue this stuff…

One little side note to all the Hartford Wolf Pack/New York Rangers-bashers who use every excuse they can to undermine the GREAT success that the franchise has had on the ice in the Connecticut state capitol, of the 24 players on the Ranges playoff roster, NINE of them have played for the Wolf Pack. That’s 37.5% of that team comes from Hartford and they are playing for an NHL Championship. That is a TREMENDOUS accomplishment for Ken Gernander and the coaching staff in Hartford. Continue reading

HAWK’S EYE: “WE JUST RAN OUT OF SEASON”

Action Shot - Bench Celebrationbob-crawford3-150x139BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

It is difficult to find many positives in a hockey season that does not yield a playoff berth, but the Hartford Wolf Pack’s finish to their 2013-14 campaign was so impressive that it left the entire team feeling that much had been accomplished.

The Wolf Pack, who finished nine points out of a playoff spot in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with a record of 37-32-1-6 for 81 points, won nine out of their last ten regular-season games and went 18-6-1-0 in the last 25 games of the season, a points percentage of .740 and the second-best record in the conference over that time.  That surge is a point of considerable pride for head coach Ken Gernander. Continue reading

HAWK’S EYE: BIG MAC FOR THE PACK

McIlrath Action Shot 4

bob-crawford3-150x139BY: Bob Crawford, Hartford Wolf Pack

There will be no more Hartford Wolf Pack hockey until October, but a Wolf Pack presence is still very much a factor in the hockey world.  That is because a crew of ten Wolf Pack regulars from this season is still active, practicing as “black aces” for the parent New York Rangers.  That list includes goaltender David LeNeveu, forwards Ryan Bourque, Marek Hrivik, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg and Darroll Powe, and defensemen Conor Allen, Tommy Hughes, Dylan McIlrath and Danny Syvret.

For those who might not know, the term “black ace” refers to a playoff extra, a “taxi squad” guy who is on hand for NHL playoff depth.  An NHL team’s black aces will only get a chance to play in a Stanley Cup playoff game if the big club gets hit by a run of injuries, but they practice throughout the postseason run in case they are needed.  Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: KEN GERNANDER’S SUMMARY – UPDATES ON TEAM MOVES

gerry-cantlon1-150x15011BY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings

HARTFORD, CT - The strong stretch run of the Hartford Wolf Pack to end the 2013-2014 season doesn’t make it any easier to swallow for Head Coach Ken Gernander. His focus is that they still missed the playoffs.

“It’s tough. We wanted to make the post season and we didn’t do that,” Gernander said. “That being said, I thought a lot of guys should be commended for what they did. You can start with the goalies, the veterans and clearly the goalies made a big difference when they came in.”

Clearly the team that played over .700 hockey down the stretch and won nine of their last ten games and posting four shutouts as part of an 18-6-1-0 mark over the last 25 games, took the sting out of what could have been a monumental disastrous season after having cratered at the bottom of the AHL for two months. Continue reading

CANTLON: PACK END SEASON ON HIGH NOTE – LOTS OF VIDEO

hartford-wolf-pack-logo2-150x133111         VERSUS       bridgeport2-300x273-150x136

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Special to Howlings

HARTFORD, CT - A stingy defense  combined with the reliable, solid goaltending of Dov Grumet-Morris lifted the Hartford Wolf Pack to shutout the visiting Bridgeport Sound Tigers, 2-0, before 5,272 fans in the regular season finale for both teams at the XL Center Saturday night.

Grumet-Morris, acquired from the Florida Panthers organization on December 13th, was the easy choice for the game’s First Star and was also voted by his teammates as the Team MVP. Continue reading