Saturday, April 12, 2008

Buzz About Boris

As the Camrose Kodiaks get set to try and finish off the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the AJHL final Sunday night, a few players are getting some great exposure.

Last year a run to the Royal Bank Cup impressed the Columbus Blue Jackets enough to draft goaltender Allen York in the 6th round.

If the Kodiaks do advance to the Doyle Cup, and then to the national championship, it will give the likes of Joe Colborne (projected to be a first round pick) Andrew MacWilliam (a possible 2nd round pick) and Mike Connolly (a point per game forward who lacks size that could be a mid round pick) a bigger stage to up their stock.

But it's not just the players who get more of a chance to impress NHL brass.

Camrose head coach Boris Rybalka has done everything possible at the junior "A" level and it's time for him to move on to bigger and better things.

In case you don't know, Rybalka has led the Kodiaks to AJHL and Doyle Cup titles in 01, 03, 05, and 07, winning a Canadian title in 2001, and silver medals in 03 and 05.

He has also led Team Canada West to World Junior "A" Championship gold medals in the last 2 seasons (see picture).

Next year the tournament is being held in Camrose, and while Rybalka hasn't been officially offered the job, a source close to Hockey Canada has told me, it's his if he wants it, and an announcement should be coming shortly.

What's holding up the proceedings is Rybalka's loyalty. He doesn't want to take the job, and then have to back out if he's not coaching in Camrose anymore. I've been told that Hockey Canada will give him that option and fully understand that while Rybalka might take the job this summer, he may not be coaching the team next year.

So that leads to speculation about where Rybalka might end up. I've always thought the WHL was his first choice, and I'm pretty sure the dub is still high on his list. Over the last year or so though, I've been thinking Rybalka would make a great coach in the NCAA, after all he has so many connections down south after sending player after player to college teams. There are 2 reasons why I'm starting to think the school route might not work though, and both have to do with family. Rybalka's wife is a teacher and might not be able to work in the states. She has also battled illness in the last few years, which is why the bench boss hasn't moved on yet despite several offers from the college game. Thankfully his wife Roxy is healthy now, but with her past history and the American health care system, you have to wonder if the family is a little leery about heading south.

One option that might be available though is the pro game, which would bring with it a great health care plan, and a pretty good pay cheque as well. I've talked with Boris many times about moving on, and he's continually said the offer has to be right, and even being an assistant coach in the pro game would be the right move.

Try this scenario on for size....Kelly Buchberger is promoted by the Oilers to the big club. That leaves Jeff Truitt to take over the reins in Springfield, and Boris Rybalka moves into Truitt's vacant assistant position. The move would give the Oilers 2 young, smart, up and coming coaches in the system, that know exactly how to develop young talent.

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