We were all over the map last night on The Pipeline Show as we checked in on the playoffs in all 3 Major Junior leagues in Canada, the USHL and the AHL as well. We also chatted with an Oiler prospect who is getting ready for the biggest week of his hockey life.
Dean and I began the program by discussing the big news of the day, that being the firing of the entire Regina Pats coaching staff. Dale Derkatch was shown the door after a single year, albeit a very disappointing one, but it caught both of us by surprise. Who would be solid candidates to take over the role? (see Dean's Top 5 Tuesday post from yesterday).
We then shifted focus to the Kelowna/Calgary series and we both offered up our opinions of why the Rockets have been able to get out to a dominating 3-0 lead over the #1 ranked team in the country. The much vaunted Hitmen offence has managed just 3 goals in 3 games which is a testament to how well the Rockets have been playing. Can Kelowna goalie Mark Guggenberger be this year's Mike Murphy... the over-age goalie who finally gets drafted now that he's got a chance in the spotlight and is making the most of it.
The OHL final featuring Brampton and Windsor was next on the agenda and we talked about their epic meeting including what I consider to be the story so far - that goalies Thomas McCollum and Andrew Engelage rank 14th and 15th in save percentage in the OHL postseason... and they're in the finals!?
Dean and I then talked about the interesting case of John Moore, the USHL defenceman who was just drafted by the Kitchener Rangers last weekend despite having a NCAA commitment to Colorado College. Dean asked me what my gut feeling was in regards to where he'll end up and we touched on how we feel about that.
We continued the opening segment by explaining the Johan Motin news that he and the Oilers have verbally reached an agreement and that a contract is expected to be signed any minute now.
Dean also touched on the success that young players are having at the World Hockey Championships like Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty. We also pointed out that Jonas Gustavsson's stats in the tournament are... not so great so far.
In segment #2 we welcomed Rimouski Oceanic forward Philippe Cornet to the program for the first time. Edmonton's 5th round pick outlined what he and his team have been doing since being eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs knowing that they'll be back on the ice in ten days at the Memorial Cup. Cornet talked about several key players on the team, why he feels that Drummondville (the team that beat them) would be a better fit for them than Shawinigan and also his thoughts on Oiler camp and his chemistry with Jordan Eberle.
Segment #3 was dedicated to the USHL playoffs as we talked to Kerry Collins of the Fargo Forum. The Fargo Force are an interesting story this year - an expansion team that has reached the championship series and are two wins away from taking the Clark Cup. Its a team made up largely of league castoffs with a few notable draft eligible players springled in like goalie Mike Lee and forward Josh Birkholz. On the other side is the Indiana Ice led by future North Dakota Fighting Sioux forward Mike Cichy. We got the low-down on the series and a prediction from Kerry as well.
We stayed south of the border for Segment #4 by speaking with NHL.com writer Lindsay Kramer who covers the AHL. The upsets, the players of note, the goalies standing out and what is keeping the star career minor leaguers out of the NHL. Lindsay also gave his opinion on why the Springfield Falcons failed to live up to expectations.
Bad Ass Trivia this week centered on the WHL playoffs and the Memorial Cup and produced a few winners making me think I'm getting too soft with my questions.
Finally, closing out this week's edition of TPS was the GM of the Regina Pats Brent Parker. It was a tough day for Parker who let go his friend Dale Derkatch as well as the rest of the coaching staff in Regina. Parker talked about what went wrong this year, Dean's list of candidates, he touched on Colten Teubert's tough year, the plans for the WHL's Outdoor Game (news Dean broke on last week's show) at Taylor Field and the Bantam Draft last week as well.
It was a big, big show but next week is going to be even bigger. It's our 4th Annual Memorial Cup Coach's Show where we'll speak with the four bench bosses leading their team to the tournament to crown Canada's top CHL club. Rimouski head coach Clement Jodoin will be making his second appearance after his debut in 2007 while behind the bench in Lewiston.
Past CHL coaches who have been a part of our Memorial Cup Coach's Show include 2006's Ted Nolan (Moncton), Patrick Roy (Quebec), Don Hay (Vancouver)... 2007's Mike Vellucci (Plymouth), Willie Desjardins (Medicine Hat), Clem Jodoin (Lewiston) and Don Hay again... 2008's Peter DeBoer (Kitchener), Bill Peters (Spokane) and George Burnett (Belleville). Interesting to note that the two coaches who failed to appear on the show (Peterborough's Dick Todd in 2006 and Benoit Groulx of Gatineau in 2008) both finished dead last at the Memorial Cup.