Our 4th Annual Memorial Cup Coach's Show was last night and although we weren't able to speak with all four coaches, due to the late Game 7 in the Q, it was a great preview for the upcoming tournament.
We began the program talking about a few different things: Could Kelowna hope to match the offensive prowess of a team like Windsor? Will they have to follow Spokane's successful plan of smothering defensive play with an effective counter attack? Are we disappointed not to see the Calgary vs Windsor dream match up? Who are the 2009 eligible players in the tournament that we'll be watching for?
Our first coach of the night was the host, Clement Jodoin of the Rimouski Oceanic. It was Jodoin's second time on our program after leading Lewiston to the 2007 QMJHL title and joining us before the tournament in Vancouver that year.
Jodoin answered questions about Logan MacMillan and his lack of offence, Philippe Cornet, what his team has been doing for the last three weeks, if the layoff is a positive because they are well rested or a negative because they'll be rusty and what being swept by Drummondville meant for his team. Coach Jodoin was also asked if his goaltending was good enough and that produced one of his most memorable answers of the night and generated a nice story as well.
We then played some Bad Ass Trivia with an obvious focus on the Memorial Cup.
At the top of the second hour we welcomed in the GM of the Windsor Spitfires, Warren Rychel. Coach Bob Boughner was unable to join us so the GM stepped in to take his place, perhaps not wanting to chance the bad karma.
Rychel discussed a number of his players including Taylor Hall, Andrei Laktionov, Greg Nemisz, Ryan Ellis and others. we asked him to tell us if it was an easy decision to not play Josh Unice in net, a goalie with Memorial Cup experience, and go with an undrafted overager in Andrew Engelage instead. Engelage had a fantastic regular season though and Rychel quickly put any goalie controversy to rest.
After a bit of phone tag we then hooked up with Kelowna Rockets coach Ryan Huska (who is in this picture but currently sports a shaved head and glasses). The big hit on Mikael Backlund and his impressive fortitude to recover and stay in the game was an early subject. Coach Huska's recounting of the hit and Backlund's version of it was memorable. We also talked about netminder Mark Guggenberger's sudden rise to fame, how Kelowna's offence is underrated and then we got into some specific players like Tyler Myers, Cody Almond, Colin Long and Tyson Barrie.
Our final coach of the night couldn't make it as Guy Boucher and the Voltigeurs had finally finished off the resilient Shawinigan Cataractes in Game 7 about 40 minutes before the end of our show. Dean and I did our best to talk about some of the key players the Volts will showcase in Rimouski like Yannick Riendeau, Chris Didomenico and Dmitri Kulikov.
At the end of each coach interview Dean asked: "If your team is successful and you win, try not to break (or 'Spokane') the trophy". It was a joke comment that drew different reactions from our guests. Two openly chuckled but one took it quite seriously and showed that he's already got his game face on.
The Memorial Cup gets going on Friday with Rimouski taking on Kelowna, Drummondville and Windsor square off on Saturday. All games can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet with our pals Peter Loubardias and Sam Cosentino painting the audio pictures.
If you missed it live, click the archive... HERE!