Lots of stuff has happened in the hockey world over the last few days while I've been working. I know that I should be paying attention, but, when work pays the bills, the blog gets updated with the most prevalent story at my fingers. However, a ton of stuff has happened, and this needs to be reviewed. Why? Because it's hockey, and it's important. In fact, a few of these stories are a little eyebrow-raising. Let's check the headlines that have been kicking around the last few days.
- I totally neglected the Mastercard Memorial Cup in the last week, and I apologize to all fans of the CHL. As you may have heard, the OHL's Windsor Spitfires captured the 2009 Memorial Cup over the WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets by a 4-1 score. Windsor became the first team to lose their first two games and then run the board to win the championship. The QMJHL's Rimouski Oceanic, who hosted this year's tournament, and the Drummondville Voltigeurs, who won the QMJHL Championship this season, ended up fourth and third, respectively. The Spitfires won their first championship after appearing in only their second final in franchise history. Congratulations to the Spitfires, and to tournament MVP Taylor Hall for amazing seasons! And congratulations to the Kelowna Rockets, Drummondville Voltigeurs, and Rimouski Oceanic on a great season and an excellent tournament!
- One of the coolest parts about Windsor's run is that they never forgot one of their leaders. It was February 18, 2008 when Windsor Spitfires' captain Mickey Renaud collapsed at his home and passed away. Renaud has been an inspiration for the players on the Spitfires all season long, and they honoured their fallen captain by keeping his jersey on the bench during their games at the Memorial Cup, and then bringing it out onto the ice during their celebration. A very classy memorial for a classy kid. Huge kudos to the Spitfires for this. The hockey gods won't forget this incredible act.
- Some accolades were handed out the night before the Memorial Cup Final. Former Brampton Battalion captain Cody Hodgson was named as the CHL Player of the Year, beating out Brett Sonne of the Calgary Hitmen and Nicola Riopel of the Moncton Wildcats. Windsor Spitfires' head coach Bob Boughner won the CHL Coach of the Year Award. Yannick Riendeau took home honours as the top scorer in the CHL this season as he scored 58 goals and 126 points for the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Prince George Cougars' forward Brett Connolly was named as the CHL Rookie of the Year as he led his team with 30 goals and 60 points. Mike Murphy of the OHL's Belleville Bulls took honours as the CHL's top goaltender after posting a record of 40-9-4 with a 2.08 GAA and a .941 save percentage. Vancouver Giants' defenceman Jonathan Blum was named as the CHL's best defenceman this season.
- With it being Memorial Day in the US, the Eastern Conference Final in the AHL moved to the afternoon as the Hershey Bears looked to close out their 3-1 series lead over the Providence Bruins. The Bears did indeed wrap up the series today with a 5-2 victory over the Bruins today, giving them their 21st berth in the Calder Cup Final, and third in the last four years. The Bears will await the winner of the Moose-Aeros series to battle for the Calder Cup. The Moose lead the Western Conference Final 3-2 after losing two straight overtime games in Houston.
- Major kudos go out to the Rockford IceHogs this week. The IceHogs made a little girl's day, week, month, and every time this week more memorable when they signed 10 year-old Sydney Ives to a one-day contract. Now, you might be asking why an AHL team would sign a 10 year-old girl. Well, Sydney has an inoperable brain tumor that was diagnosed almost a year ago, and she is a life-long IceHogs fan. Sydney was presented with an IceHogs jersey with #19 and "Ivestrong" on the back during her big day. "Ivestrong" is the slogan the family has adopted during Sydney’s fight against cancer, similar to Lance Armstrong's "Livestrong" motto. This is exactly why minor-league hockey deserves your support. This writer gives a huge thumbs-up to the IceHogs for their help. If you would like to help Sydney, please visit her website.
- There is no shortage of news stories talking about free agent Russian players heading home to play in the KHL. Rangers' forward Nikolai Zherdev has been the most talked-about player thus far, but the French side of TSN is now saying another big name is considering the jump back to Russia. According to a report on RDS.ca, Washington Capitals' graybeard Sergei Fedorov is considering an offer from Metallurg Magnitogorsk that could pay him a slightly below $4 million per season. This move would put him on the same team as his younger brother Fedor, something that hasn't been seen for a long time. A very interesting report, to be certain, and one that may have an impact on the Russian contingent in Washington.
- Potential owner Jim Balsillie has finally decided to ask for acceptance into the old boys' club known as the NHL Ownership. He finally filed an application with the league's board of governors seeking a transfer of the Phoenix Coyotes ownership interest from Jerry Moyes to himself. While I'm not saying that Balsillie and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman are friends just yet, perhaps Mr. Balsillie is finally listening to what Mr. Bettman is saying - that is, follow the rules if you want to be accepted. I guess striking out three times would look pretty bad on the old résumé.
- Chuck Fletcher, son of Hall-of-Fame builder Cliff Fletcher, was named as the Minnesota Wild GM. I guess we're stuck with Pierre McGuire on TSN and NBC for at least another season. In all seriousness, Fletcher is a student of the game, having been around his dad all his life. The 41 year-old has 15 years of experience, and that will speak volumes in his work rebuilding the Minnesota Wild.
- With Fletcher leaving the Pittsburgh Penguins, the assistant GM position was open. And the Penguins looked within to fill the vacancy. Former NHL player Jason Botterill, son of sports psychiatrist Cal Botterill and brother of Canadian Olympic team member Jennifer Botterill, was promoted to assistant GM. Botterill won a World Junior gold medal in 1994, 1995, and 1996, but had his career cut short due to a series of injuries. At 33 years-old, Botterill has all the makings of a bright, young executive, and he will be learning from one of the best in Ray Shero.
- Quick update: Moose defeated the Aeros 3-1 tonight, and will face the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Final. Calder Cup Final starts on Saturday, so get ready for some AHL action!
- Quick update II: NHL Playoff Pool will be updated tomorrow when I have some free time.
- Quick update III: I'll be out in Selkirk on the movie set of the Don Cherry movie again this weekend. More updates then of the on-goings there.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!