CANLTON’S CORNER: Wolf Pack Off Season Volume 11
BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – NFL football camps are opening. In basketball, the free agent signing period is in full-swing while in the NHL, nothing seems to be slowing down as the summer moves along.
Of the many problems that existed for the Hartford Wolf Pack last season, the most glaring concern was between the pipes as the goaltending was far beneath an acceptable level.
The theory was that with both Magnus Hellberg, returning off a solid season, and a healthy and seeming revitalized Mackenzie Skapski, who is now fully recovered from hip surgery, could be the foundation upon which the team could build as the team’s young members adjusted to life in pro hockey.
It’s pretty apparent, that never materialized.
Hellberg freely admitted at the end of the year that he was sub-par. He seemingly was always fighting the puck and had problems shoulder high to his glove side and getting beaten early in too many games. Skapski just never seemed to recover sinking deeper and deeper on the depth chart as the season progressed.
Skapski never seemed to recover and sunk deeper and deeper on the depth chart as the season progressed.
After such an impressive training camp in New York, Skapski had a terrible performance in an early season game in Providence. “The Buffalo Killer,” as Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault dubbed him in his rookie season after two wins against the Sabres, dropped to 0-4 and was getting beaten cleanly on long shots. He also was apprehensive in his decision making deciding to stay back in his net instead of getting to a loose puck that the Bruins Jake DeBrusk raced in to get before beating him to the top shelf. His performance earned him a return ticket to the ECHL and the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, where he remained except for a few emergency recalls. Skapski ended the year with his getting bombed in a 6-1 shellacking in his only playoff appearance. He did not even dress for the following game.
Hellberg has since signed in Beijing, China with the Kunlun Red Star, a KHL team there. Continue reading