Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Takeaways from Traverse City tournament 2009

Now that I've been back home for a few days, I have some perspective on the real takeaways from the 2009 Traverse City tournament.

First, four games each day is a lot of hockey. On the last day, an elder statesman scout sat down next to me and said "I'll just write down what you write down." I felt his pain. But if you want to see a lot of hockey in a short time, this is the place to go. And lots of scouts from other teams were there, so it's obviously meaningful hockey.

The stands were about 30% scouts, 50% parents and other family, and then miscellaneous, including agents. Not many simple fans. Not a lot of media either, except around the Red Wings. But the media who were there seemed to pick out their article topics before the tournament started, making for material that didn't seem to fit right.

There are no good camera angles in either rink. The one spot that isn't behind white netting cannot see the near boards. So I had to edit when the play reached the near boards. The video didn't work out as well as hoped. Better than nothing though I suppose.

I came away with an even lower opinion of agents, which seemed impossible. I stood next to a rather well-known one by the glass during warm-ups and he was trash-talking another agent and his recruits. Sports would be better without agents.

The Granato brothers take after their dad in their looks.

The Dallas Stars organization is not what I would call "serious." I used to think that Les Jackson must have been the heavy to balance out Brett Hull, but know better now. Joe Niewendyk seems to carry his new role well though.

The Wild dressing room was the best to hang out around, very friendly. Carolina was good too.

Players: Zach Boychuk should play in the NHL this year. It will be a shame, and a waste of money on an unnecessary vet, if he doesn't. I was also impressed by Evgeny Grachev, though more in potential than actual play. He's a horse. Matt Calvert certainly put himself on the radar. I had already interviewed him before he started scoring, which was great.

Ivan Vishnevskiy was a disappointment, and not just to me, I heard other people saying that too.

Tyler Beskorowany is a hoot to talk to, and Darcy Kuemper is very happy-go-lucky.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Predators hire Niagara goalie coach Ben Vanderklok

Ben Vanderklok will take over Mike Valley's duties with the Predators minor-league affiliates. Valley, who was recently hired by the Dallas Stars, had worked closely with Predators goalie coach Mitch Korn. Korn told me today that he got Vanderklok to replace Valley. Vanderklok had been Jeremy Smith's goalie coach in Niagara, and Korn had been impressed with his reports. He hired Vanderklok first to help with one of his summer camps in Buffalo as a get-to-know-you exercise, thinking that he might need him in a year. But Valley ended up getting picked up this summer.

Vanderklok will commute to Milwaukee 10 days a month, and Cincinnati five days a month. Korn will overlap in these cities as well. (Vanderklok's actual contract might be with Milwaukee, it's not clear, but in any case this is a Korn hire.)

Here's the only shot I have of him from today: