Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - June 11th

Another fully loaded two hours of radio this morning as I packed a guest into all 6 segments of the show. With no Dean to bounce things back and forth with, I knew more guests and less me is probably the way to go.

I talked to a prospect of the Vancouver Canucks who plans on being with the big club next year. I chatted with a coach from Hockey Canada who is helping run the goalie camp in Calgary this week - and he updated listeners on the injuries to both Kent Simpson (CHI) and Sam Brittain (FLA). Daren Millard checked in for his weekly conversation and we set up Game 6, picked our playoff MVP and learned more about the new brass in Winnipeg. And of course the NHL Draft was a major focus so I spoke with 3 players eligible for the big event a couple of weeks from now.

I started the show off by having a conversation with a player I've actually been wanting to have on the show for some time now. Billy Sweatt, the former Colorado College star who was drafted by Chicago in 2007 but became a UFA and signed with Vancouver last summer. What happened there? How did the speedster feel about his performance as an AHL rookie this past season and has the Stanley Cup excitement in Vancouver trickled down the organization to him? I enjoyed my discussion with the guy that I think is eventually going to be a valuable NHL player.

Next up was the first of three 2011 eligible players; Robbie Russo. The defenceman from the US-NTDP talked to me about his two years with the program and how he and it have grown in the USHL. We discusses the World U18 Championship victory where he was named one of USA's top 3 players - which really started the buzz for him. Why did the Illinois kid pick Notre Dame as his NCAA program of choice? That answer might be obvious but the way that program keeps adding young talent, it's going to bode well for them and poorly for the rest of the CCHA.

Segment 3 was our Hockey Canada session. Coach Ron Tugnutt, fresh off the ice, updated us on the progress of the summer goalie camp. 10 goalies vying for 4 invites to the August WJC camp in Edmonton and with 2 on the sidelines, competition is fierce. Tugnutt confirmed that Kent Simpson's high ankle sprain that kept him out of the WHL playoffs is the source of his current inactivity but the coach didn't know if this was a re-aggravation or just the tail end of his recovery. The news for Sam Brittain was much worse - impending knee surgery which is now being reported to likely keep the Florida prospect on the shelf for the next 6-8 months, meaning much if not all of the 2011-12 season. We also talked to Tugnutt about Jordan Binnington, Louis Domingue (PHX) and Tyler Bunz (EDM).

At the top of the second hour of the show, Tyler Wotherspoon of the Portland Winterhawks came into the spotlight. I talked to the B.C. native about the year in the WHL and whether he can look back on it and be satisfied or if the wound is still sore over the loss to Kootenay. The rearguard talked about his role with the 'Hawks, how his teammates prepared him for the combine and what he's looking to improve on for next season. The admitted Canucks fan also said he's caught up with Stanley Cup fever, just like most of the Province.

We've taken calls from Hawaii before but never from a player there on vacation but that's exactly what happened on Saturday morning. Kelowna Rockets forward Shane McColgan took time to chat with me about this past year, the disappointing start and the resultant draft rankings, the top prospect game, the recent invite to USA's summer WJC in Lake Placid and more. We also learned how he and Kelowna teammate (and Hawaii vacation buddy) Mitch Callahan (DET) were the opposite of childhood friends but are now tight. Beau Bennett (PGH), also on the Hawaii trip, inspired another topic - why McColgan chose the CHL route instead of the NCAA path like his longtime pal. It was an interesting and enjoyable conversation for sure, highly recommended listening.

Lastly, Daren Millard joined me for our final segment and we discussed Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals and also set up Game 6. Will there be a game 7? If not, is any member of the Canucks really more worthy of the Conn Smythe Trophy than Boston netminder Tim Thomas? Daren also gave us some personal insight into the brass of the unnamed NHL club in Winnipeg - Craig Heisinger and Kevin Cheveldayoff.

It was a really busy show, and an entertaining one. If you missed any part of it you can find it now in our media archive... HERE.

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