Saturday, July 31, 2010

Leblanc Leaves NCAA for QMJHL

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Montreal Canadiens 2009 1st round selection Louis Leblanc has signed an entry level contract and will reportedly join the Montreal Juniors of the QMJHL next season. The Quebec native leaves Harvard after just one campaign at the highly regarded academic institution.

Here is the official release from the Canadiens.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Coaching & Broadcasting Dominoes Keep Falling

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In case you missed it in our update that appeared below yesterday, it appears that Terry Virtue leaving Tri City for personal reasons, meant he wanted to join Owen Sound. He is now an assistant coach with the Attack of the OHL. Hockeydb.com shows Virtue as being born in Scarborough so maybe going back east was his reason. Tri City also looks like they have someone in mind for the vacant gig, word is it's Scott Beattie who was an assistant coach with Kootenay last year.

Speaking of vacant gigs, who is getting the Warriors open G.M. job?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Another College Kid Jumps Ship

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First it was Nick Leddy (who signed a 3 year - 2.7 million dollar deal with Chicago today) and Josh Birkolz (who violated team rules, reportedly a failed drug test) who left Minnesota. Now Lucas Lessio (pictured) has chosen the Oshawa Generals over the Michigan Wolverines. You can read the story here.

Now, some might say Leddy leaving is a feather in the cap for the NCAA as he will likely either play in the NHL or AHL, but he only played one year at Minnesota. Where I come from it's pretty hard to get a college degree in one year, and one of the biggest arguments from College Hockey Inc is that players get a better education packaged by going the NCAA route as opposed to the CHL.

Throw in the fact that half of the Notre Dame hockey roster has been arrested this year and it hasn't been a good summer for NCAA hockey. There are still tonnes of great hockey players playing college hockey and there will be great games this year, with great story lines that TPS will talk about, but there's no doubt the image has taken a hit this year.

Americans Looking For New Assistant Coach (Updated)

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Almost at this time last year, Terry Virtue was promoted to Associate Coach with the Tri City Americans, which you can read about here. Today TPS has learned that Virtue has left the club for personal reasons.

UPDATE: The Pipeline Show has learned that Virtue is headed to the OHL and the Owen Sound Attack. A candidate for his replacement in Tri-City might be Scott Beattie who played in Europe before becoming a coach. He's been on the bench of the Kootenay Ice for the last few years.

Virtue played for 3 different WHL teams before bouncing around the minors. He played 5 NHL games with Boston and the Rangers.

In other Tri City news, the Americans hold the WHL rights to Nick Leddy, a first round pick of the Minnesota Wild who was traded to Chicago this year. Leddy just left the Minnesota Golden Gophers and will likely sign a contract with the Hawks. Because the NCAA doesn't have an agreement with the NHL, Leddy can play in the AHL as a 19 year old, but if the Hawks don't feel he's ready then it will be the Americans gain.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Top 5 Tuesday: 2nd Annual JPL Trip - Wild Times

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Last year a group of us connected to TPS took a golf trip to Jasper and had a blast. So much fun we decided to make it an annual event and this year's trip just wrapped up.

Golden Gophers Lose Two More

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As first reported here, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are about to lose two players. The Chicago Blackhawks are expected to sign defenceman Nick Leddy and forward Josh Birkholz has left the program and is likely headed to the WHL's Everett Silvertips.

Tigers and Raiders Complete Trade

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The Pipeline Show has learned that the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers and the Prince Albert Raiders have agreed on an exchange of players. Sources indicate that 18-year-old center Ryan Harrison is headed to Medicine Hat in exchange for 17-year-old center Todd Fiddler and almost 18-year-old defenceman Austin Bourhis.

Fiddler and Bourhis, a former part of the Edmonton Oil Kings organization, has just 1 WHL game each on their record. Medicine Hat drafted Fiddler in the 3rd round in 2008 while Bourhis was listed by Edmonton.

Harrison scored 54 points in 72 games with the Raiders during the 2009-10 season, his second year in Prince Albert. The Kelowna product was a 2nd round pick in the 2007 Bantam draft.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Constantine Gets Another Shot

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Some say Kevin Constantine is in the same boat as a Sutter, or Jeff Jackson at Notre Dame. Good coaches, but with a shelf life, meaning they wear out their welcome after a while. The good thing about them though, is they're usually not out of work long.

Word today that Kevin Constantine will be coaching in the Elite Ice Hockey League for the Sheffield Steelers. It's not exactly the NHL or even the AHL, but it's coaching in Europe.

The former bench boss of the San Jose Sharks, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins has been in Houston for the past three seasons after four strong years with the WHL's Everett Silvertips (above).

Wheeler Arbitration, and coach quits over cell phone bill?

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A lot of eyes are pointed in the direction of Blake Wheeler and the Boston Bruins going to arbitration. How much will he get? Can they fit him in the cap? Who will get traded? Greg Wyshinski has a great write up here. Who would you rather have, judging by what they've done so far in their careers. Wheeler or Raymond?

Also heard this one the other day from the AJHL. Word is Doug Hedley has quit as coach of the Olds Grizzlys, after getting hired June 3rd. One report has him leaving the team over a cell phone bill. Seems odd to me, unless it was something crazy like a $550 difference. Hopefully they patch things up and Olds doesn't have to start looking for a coach this late in the off season. Here's the original release when he was hired.

The show is starting to take shape for tomorrow night. Newest Everret Silvertip Landon Ferraro will join us, as well as Rod Pederson, former voice of the Pats and current Rider voice. You can read Rod's thoughts by clicking here.

Ferraro A Silvertip, Froese A Rebel

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Red Deer and Everett have swapped forwards, and for the Rebels they rid themselves of a potentially ugly training camp situation. In exchange they get a guy who has played internationally for Canada before and was taken at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Another former Gopher Joins The Mavericks

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Dean Blais has added another one time Minnesota Golden Gopher coach to his his bench, as Mike Guenztal has joined the Nebraska-Omaha coaching staff. He joins Mike Hastings who was at U of M for one season before hooking up with the Mavs.

Guenztal patrolled the Gopher Bench for 14 years as an assistant before becoming the head coach and G.M. of Des Moines of the USHL last year. Current Mavs bench boss Dean Blais played 2 years for the Gophers in the 70's and all 3 will get to see their former school quite a bit this year as the Mavericks are joining the WCHA.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Nash to join TPS Tuesday

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Put on your Surprise face - Riley Nash has signed with the Canes.

Wow...anyone see this coming. This was almost as predictable as the sun rising. Riley Nash was dealt at the draft by the Oilers for a 2nd round pick. The reason was Nash wanted to go back for his senior season at Cornell, and was likely going to become a free agent next summer. Boom goes the dynomite and he's now signed, sealed and delivered to pro hockey after signing an entry level deal with Carolina today.

Unlike some, I think Nash will be a good pro hockey player. Was he the best choice for the Oilers in 2007? That's still to be debated, but word is every scout was on board with taking the then BCHL sniper. Oilers head scout Stu MacGregor has a good relationship with the Nash family, which tells you things must have really soured for him to decide he wanted to play elsewhere.

In talking to some, the fact that the Oilers had a log jam of centres was one of the reasons Nash wanted to play eleswhere. We'll find out if that's true and how he views the spots down the middle in Carolina - Staal, Sutter, and very soon Skinner, Paradis, Dalpe, Boychuk - when Nash joins us Tuesday night, 7-9 PM MST on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton or online through The Pipeline Show site.

Monday, July 19, 2010

More Legal Trouble at Notre Dame

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As has been reported by USCHO.com, 9 current and future members of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish hockey team were arrested over the weekend at a house party which involved under-aged players.

All of the players have been identified.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Oilers Looking for a Hitman

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With some recent change to their scouting staff it stand to reason that the Edmonton Oilers would be looking to add some new eyes to the organization. Sources have told The Pipeline Show that the Oilers have approached Brad Whelan, the Head Scout of the WHL's Calgary Hitmen in regards to a position on their amateur scouting staff.

Nelson OK for OK City

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As widely reported yesterday from many outlets including right here at TPS, Todd Nelson has been named as the head coach of the Oklahoma City Barons. Also, as was written in this space back on July 5th, Gerry Fleming is indeed back with the team as the assistant coach.

Nelson is in the middle of the photo above patrolling the Atlanta bench last season.

Interestingly, the Edmonton Oilers also announced the bench staff for the 2010-11 season today which will pretty much drown out the minor league team's thunder.

Kelly Buchberger is back and, surprise surprise, Steve Smith has returned to the organization as well. That name alone will be a contentious one for much of Oilerville.

I'm a little surprised the Oilers and Barons would present these announcements on the same day - I would have thought, especially from the Edmonton end, that they'd want to help the Barons a bit with the publicity. Perhaps it won't matter in the end but would giving the Barons the media spotlight in Edmonton for one day be a bad thing?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is Todd Nelson the New Coach for OK City?

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The Oklahoma City Barons coaching staff will be announced tomorrow but today a few names have come out as candidates for the job. Kelly Buchberger and Mark Lamb were mentioned on Oilers Lunch by Bob Stauffer as was the name Todd Nelson. Nelson's name also appears on the Edmonton Journal's site so he should be added to the list and possibly placed at the top of it.

If the name Todd Nelson doesn't ring a bell, don't worry because you're not alone.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bonner Not Joining Edmonton as Asst.GM

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"One day I would like to work for the Edmonton Oilers, I don't hide that fact, but... will it be next season? Probably not."

That from the man himself who appeared on The Pipeline Show on Tuesday evening and effectively put an end to the reports that he would be replacing Kevin Prendergast as the Assistant GM in Edmonton.

Bonner, a native of Edmonton, gave specific reasons as to why he wasn't going to leave his comfortable surroundings in Vancouver to take on the job as the Oilers described it to him.

More Coaching Moves

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The off season coaching changes just keep on coming. Last week TPS first told you about Willy Desjardins landing a gig with the Dallas Stars, which didn't surprise us as Guy and I talked about it last Tuesday. Desjardins was very close to getting the head coaching job with San Antonio of the AHL last year.

Now we are hearing Brad McEwen will take over the G.M. duties that Desjardins has left vacant, while Shaun Clouston will be the next head coach in Medicine Hat. McEwen had been the director of scouting for Tigers, and was largely responsible for attracting high level American players recently. He's also worked with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in a similar role and was the head coach in Swift Current earlier in the new Millennium.

Clouston meanwhile had held the post of assistant or associate coach with Medicine Hat for the past 7 years.

Also from around the dub, TPS has been told that Jeff Truitt will be joining the San Antonino Rampage of the AHL as an assistant coach. Ray Edwards and Mike Pelino are currently listed as interim head coach and assistant coach on the Coyotes farm team web site.

We had reported a while back that Truitt was thinking of inserting himself as head coach replacing Dave Hunchack with the Tribe, but that move is obviously not happening now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

One on One: Oiler Prospects and Invites

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Last week the Edmonton Oilers held their annual orientation camp for their prospects and a smattering of un-drafted free agent invitees. As you would expect, The Pipeline Show was there and spoke with a number of players taking part in the 4-day sessions.

On Tuesday, defenceman Troy Hesketh and forward Tyler Pitlick came in studio for an extended 1-hour interview during which the two players answered submitted fan questions.

You would have also heard several one on one interviews that I had with players during Sports Night with Corey Graham and Wil Fraser which airs live from 9-Midnight, Mon-Fri on the TEAM 1260.

Here is what you may have missed...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

More Coaching Scuttlebutt

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Late on Friday we mentioned that Medicine Hat Tigers GM/Coach Willie Desjardins appears headed for the NHL's Dallas Stars. Tonight, two other credible reports have come our way as well as a third being discussed that also concerns Medicine Hat.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Willie Headed for Star-dom?

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The off-season coaching carousel is always worth paying attention to as bench bosses move from one team to another, from one league to the next. We are seeing more coaches with NHL backgrounds ending up in the CHL and the natural progression of CHL coaches to the AHL and on to the NHL, sometimes without that stop in between.

The latter scenario might be about to unfold again as The Pipeline Show has learned that Medicine Hat Tigers General Manager and Head Coach Willie Desjardins is a leading candidate to join the Dallas Stars organization.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

OK City Gets Another Hired Gun

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TSN's Ryan Rishaug is reporting that the Edmonton Oilers have signed former Calgary Hitmen star Brad Moran to a new contract. The former 7th round pick of the Buffalo Sabres has played 7 seasons in the AHL and 2 more in Sweden and has produced points in all stops in between.

Moran's WHL stats are a thing of beauty - three consecutive +100 point campaigns in the late 1990's with the Calgary Hitmen playing alongside Pavel Brendl. He surpassed the 50-goal mark in two of those years and had 48 in the other.

His junior scoring prowess didn't lead him to the NHL but Moran has carved out a pretty good minor pro career for himself. Moran has played for both the Syracuse Crunch (CLB) and the Manitoba Moose (VAN) and has been one of the leading scorers in both cities.

This is another terrific signing by the Oilers as they seek to ensure that their farm team is truly competitive in its first year in OK City.

List of UFA Goalies Shrinking

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Teams looking to add goaltender depth with their AHL affiliate in mind are seeing their shopping list get shorter and shorter as the UFA season continues. 9 UFA goalies who will probably spend the year on the farm have been inked to contracts already and that leaves about 10 guys for other teams to zero in on.

Bucky For the Barons?

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I mentioned it on Monday in my lengthy "This n' That" write up - Kelly Buchberger's name was given to me as someone who is being considered for the vacant coaching position with the AHL's Oklahoma City Barons. Buchberger was one of three names I brought forward on Monday (Gerry Fleming and Don Hay being the other two, a tip of the hat to Jim Matheson for Hay being mentioned).

Monday, July 5, 2010

TPS Special: In Studio Q&A

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Every year the Oilers hold a summer orientation camp for their prospects. It's not the most fan friendly event, in fact unless they change things drastically this year most of you who attend will be bored beyond belief. The purpose of the week is to help young players get accustomed to the organization, receive their summer training programs and basically get to know each other.

Each year at this time we borrow a couple of players and bring them in the studio with us for an hour so that fans can get to know them a bit better. In the past we've had duos of Theo Peckham & Ryan O'Marra, Taylor Chorney & Riley Nash, Geoff Paukovich & David Rohlfs.

The Pipeline Show is pleased to announce that Tuesday night we will continue the tradition by welcoming two more Oilers prospects into the TEAM 1260 studios for a full hour taking your calls and emails.

This n' That - Early July '10

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A surprisingly busy start to the NHL off-season has provided plenty of fodder for fans around the league. There have also been other rumblings from the major junior, minor pro and NCAA ranks as well, some of which has gone largely unnoticed by the mainstream media. As always, when it affects the future of hockey, it attracts the attention of The Pipeline Show.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Edmonton Signs Petiot

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He's not a player that is going to set the world on fire but Richard Petiot is the type of player that the Edmonton Oilers need to sign with the Oklahoma City Barons in mind. The Alberta native has 5 professional seasons under his belt after a 4-year NCAA career at Colorado College making the 6'4 blueliner a strong addition to the growing Barons roster.

Tambellini's Great Week is a Good Start

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It's been a a long time since Oilerville has felt this much optimism. After 4 years of non-playoff hockey that has featured seemingly endless stretches of futility, injury and turmoil, Edmonton fans are starting to get a sense that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Time to give credit where and when it's due: General Manager Steve Tambellini, who has been criticized a lot in this space, has had one hell of a week.