Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Coast Trip Weekend Audio

(St. Denis scores in Burnaby - Photo by Randy Emery's nephew... runs in the family)

Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Forward Travis St. Denis

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Former Smoke Eater Dylan Herold

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January 21: Trail 3 at Powell River 8

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January 23: Trail 6 at Langley 7 (2OT)

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January 24: Trail 0 at Surrey 4

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January 25: Trail 5 at Burnaby 2

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Surrey Gameday Audio

Coach Jim Ingram

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Smokies Forward Brett Corcoran

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Surrey Forward Chris Santiago

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Langley Game Day Audio

Coach Jim Ingram

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Langley Coach Harvey Smyl

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AP Defenceman Matt Malenstyn

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

There IS a Relocation Deadline

My head is spinning. If you want background on what I'm talking about read this post. Mr. Grisdale said there was a relocation deadline, then he said there wasn't, then he told me that there wasn't... now I'm told that in fact there IS a relocation deadline, but it's flexible.

BCHL media guru Jeff Dubois called me today to clarify the issue on behalf of Grisdale and I appreciate him doing that. Despite what the commish told me yesterday, the reality is that there is a relocation application deadline of December 1rst.

However, he also told me that the BCHL has by-laws (which are hard to break) and regulations (which can be broken by a vote of the governors) and the relocation deadline is just a regulation. When I asked him why bother having a deadline at all if the governors have to vote on any relocation anyway, he said it is in place as a guideline more than anything. He made the point that some governors may chose to vote against a possible relocation because it comes after the application deadline.

So that should clear things up once and for all. There is a deadline, but the governors can ignore it if they have a majority.

Any questions? (Did that even make sense)

Now back to the game! 2-2 after one, this has been a good one so far. Tune in to Mountain FM at 104.1 in Trail, 99.3 in Castelgar, 103.5 in Nelson!

Last Weekend's Audio

Forgot about posting this after the Salmon Arm victory on Saturday. Use it to pass the time before tonight's game in Powell River on AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey on Mountain FM! Also check out Brian's Making Cents blog for the latest on the Merritt situation.

Coach Jim Ingram

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Trail Captain Ryan Bulach

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Goaltender Marco Raimondo

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I also have some audio from a couple of Nelson Leafs who were huge in the KIJHL All-Star and Prospects Games. Former Smoke Eater Brock Monroe scored four points including the winning goal in the All-Star game. Smoke Eater APs Dylan Walchuk and Michael Spring had two points each (Spring scored the winner) in the prospects games. Smokies AP Goaltender Peter Alexander also did well in his time in goal.

Nelson Forward Brock Monroe

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Nelson Forward Dylan Walchuk

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dewar: Glendinning Kicked Kamloops Tires Last Year

(Barry Dewar from the Storm website)

Barry Dewar is the owner and GM of the KIJHL's Kamloops Storm. He was the Kamloops Daily News source for a story about the possible relocation of Merritt's BCHL franchise to Kamloops. In the story Dewar said that the sale and relocation of the Cents had been approved at the BCHL meetings in Vernon last week. Since that time BCHL Commissioner John Grisdale has denied the story in an interview with Ryan Pinder's Vees Blog. He didn't say it would never happen just that it hadn't happened. So how did those wires get crossed?

Today I called up Barry Dewar and did an interview with him that I'll air on our broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey tomorrow night. However, since this news is spreading around the league rapidly I figured we should get the word out ASAP

On top of suggesting that he doesn't think this move is going to happen, the most interesting thing Dewar said was that Merritt Coach and GM Al Glendinning approached him about moving the Cents to Kamloops approximately a year ago. Dewar says Glendinning has since talked to him on multiple occasions including as recently as about a month ago. Now from what I understand Glendinning doesn't have a financial stake in the current Merritt ownership group. Is it appropriate for a team's Coach and GM to be actively working to try and move that team when he isn't even their owner? It certainly adds some intrigue into what he said to Ryan Pinder in November. If Glendinning is or was involved in another ownership group looking to buy and move the Cents while he was coaching the team, does that not raise a ton of conflict of interest questions? If he was hoping to be part of a new ownership group that would move the Cents to Kamloops, wouldn't it be in his interest for the team to sink in the standings, lose value and become easier to buy and move?

I'm not suggesting that Glendinning tanked this season or last. What I'm saying is that if he was actively doing what Dewar seems to suggest he was doing, he's opening himself up to having people ask that question. It will also be very interesting to know if the current Meritt ownership group did or didn't know about what he was doing.

Here's Barry Dewar on how he got involved in this situation and what he has heard since the newspaper article came out:

Kamloops Storm Owner and GM Barry Dewar

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So what do you read from this? Did Dewar's source jump the gun? It sounds like there has been no formal approval of a Merritt sale or move, but where is this coming from then? I don't think Dewar's source just made it up, especially if he "got in trouble" for saying anything. I've heard these rumblings too so I wonder if we're just getting a lot of creative wording right now.

I can speculate because this is a blog and not a newspaper... so my speculation would be that the league had informal discussions about the idea of a Merritt sale and move to Kamloops. Perhaps they just wanted to get a sense of what the other franchises would think about that possibility should it come to fruition? I don't know this, but that would make sense given the conflicting stories we've heard. I certainly don't believe that it didn't come up at all.

Whatever the case may be, it is clear now at least that for a BCHL team to move to Kamloops they would also have to buy the Kamloops Storm from Barry Dewar. Given how successful the Storm have been in their nearly three years in Kamloops, I would think it might actually cost more to buy that franchise than it would to buy the Cents. That makes moving the team even more unlikely. However, stranger things have happened. I think we're just hearing the beginning of this story.

On another note, I talked to John Grisdale today as well and updated my story about the relocation deadline. He told me there isn't one and if he said there was in his interview with Brian than he misspoke and is sorry for the misunderstanding.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Relocation Deadline? UPDATED

UPDATE: I talked to John Grisdale today (Jan 20) and he told me very specifically that there is no relocation deadline and the only December 1rst deadline is for expansion. He told me he thought he had been clear with Brian but if he said there was a relocation deadline (which he did) than he was misspoke. Fair enough. I would think that even if there were a relocation deadline or guideline that the approval of the board of governors would overrule that anyway. I didn't get any of this on tape, I just quickly wanted to clarify the rule and have now done so. It sounds like technically Merritt would be free to move if they got the votes.


Does anybody know if there is actually a rule in place in the BCHL for a relocation deadline? Right now we have conflicting statements from the league commish John Grisdale. At the end of December he told Merritt blogger Brian Weibe that the deadline was December 1rst. Here's a transcript of the exchange:

Brian Weibe: "Now what is the timeline for something like relocation to happen. Again it might not be specific here to Merritt but I mean is it something that could be possible for the 09-10 season."

John Grisdale: "I can't speak to that specifically, we have a deadline for applications as of December 1rst and there was no application in the league office for that as of December 1rst. I can't speak directly to it again our regulation is December 1rst and there was no application from any franchise on relocation."
However, the commish spoke to Penticton blogger Ryan Pinder today and had a different story. This is what he said to Ryan:

John Grisdale: "We have a regulation in our league that has a date specific to a expansion which is December 1rst of any given year. There's nothing there's no expansion for the BC hockey league in 09-10. As far sale of a franchise or relocation there has been no application from any member club on the sale or relocation of it."
So which is it? It could be that Mr. Grisdale was mistaken when he first told Brian that there was a December 1rst deadline for relocation, but Brian's question was pretty specifically about relocation and not expansion so I'm not sure why there would be a mix up. Could be a simple mistake as I'm sure if you analyzed everything I say that I'd get a ton of things wrong all the time.

I'm not trying to be cheeky, I just want to know if anybody out there knows for sure. I'd call up the commish myself but I'm pretty swamped right now and frankly I don't have his number.

Merritt to Kamloops? UPDATED

UPDATE: Ryan Pinder has an interview with the commish over at the Vees Blog. He says there is no application and "nothing has been approved." Is someone lying? Is John Grisdale saying Barry Dewar is misinformed? Was Dewar misquoted or did he not have the facts? Did the league perhaps agree with the concept in principal at these meetings but there's nothing official yet? There are still a ton of questions here I have to say I'm inclined to think that where there's smoke there's fire. Brian Weibe doesn't necessarily share my doom and gloom viewpoint over at Making Cents. I just want to say for the record that I am not advocating for Merritt to leave the BCHL nor would I take any joy in it. I simply think a move to Kamloops could have some advantages given the way the Merritt situation has crumbled.


It looks like the Merritt folks enjoyed trading so much at the deadline that they might be trading teams. Could the Cents become a Junior B team while the BCHL franchise ends up in Kamloops?

I've heard rumblings about this, but of course you can't say anything until someone spills the beans on the record. Well it looks like the owner of the KIJHL's Kamloops Storm has done just that to the Kamloops Daily News. Gregg Drinnan has the scoop over at his Taking Note blog.
"Barry Dewar, the owner of the KIJHL’s Kamloops Storm, said Friday that a BCHL franchise has approached him about relocating to Kamloops.
Dewar said that Al Glendinning, the general manager and head coach of the Merritt Centennials, has asked him about the possibility of their teams switching locations, the Centennials moving to Kamloops, and the Storm to Merritt.
According to Dewar, the BCHL approved the sale of the Centennials by the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club Society at a meeting in Vernon earlier this week.
Dewar said he does not know who is involved in the group that bought the franchise.
Dewar also said the BCHL at that same meeting approved the relocation of the franchise to Kamloops."
Wow, that's pretty much spilling the whole bag of beans. A couple of months back I read the rumour on the BCHL message board that Glendinning would be involved in an ownership group that would try to move the Cents to Kamloops. He used to be an assistant coach for the Blazers in the WHL. If the sale is approved and the move is approved (only Dewar is saying this publicly) than I guess it's only Dewar and the Storm standing in the way of a move to Kamloops.

However, folks in Merritt are scratching their heads because of what Commissioner John Grisdale said to Making Cents blogger Brian Wiebe at the end of December.

"We have a deadline for applications as a December 1rst and there was no application in league offices for that on December 1rst."

So they must be wondering how could the Cents move next season if there was no application by the league's deadline? Frankly, I think these kinds of regulations are easy enough to break if you're dealing with a dying franchise. Grisdale also talked about the importance of a franchise being viable and being able to meet their budget. If Merritt can't draw more than a couple of hundred fans at most how can they realistically continue operating? Their building is one of the lets say least modern in the league, their attendance is the worst in the league by a wide margin (drawing a reported average of 460 which is a generous number based on the games I've been to) and they have a horrible time getting players to report to town after trades.

There are some wonderful and loyal volunteers and fans involved in the Merritt organization. They have a long and important history in this league. However, at some point is the writing on the wall?

Some Cents fans would say they need to start fresh with a new coaching and management staff. If they could generate some on ice success could the team start drawing? How have they done in previous seasons at the gate?

08-09: 460 (last place team)
07-08: 581 (last place team)
06-07: 607 (near .500 with Pierro-Zabotel in the line-up)
05-06: 663 (winning team with 33 wins in fourth place)
04-05: 624 (close to .500 sixth place team)
03-04: 473 (winning team with 29 wins in fourth place)

So what we're seeing here is that with a pretty good team Merritt had drawn a max of 663 fans. That would still be the second worst numbers in the BCHL this season. However, given Merritt's relatively easy travel schedule I would think that kind of support might be enough to keep the team in town.

However, is it too late? Has the team gone too far off the deep end for it to be pulled back from the brink? I'm not sure if there were 200 people there last time we were in town.

As for Kamloops as a possible BCHL market, I think it might work. I can't find any attendance numbers for the Storm, but I've heard from several people that they can draw some pretty big crowds. It would likely be much easier to recruit top talent as Kamloops is a bigger market with a WHL team right in town. That means a chance to get attention from more pro scouts, college scouts and even WHL scouts if that's something they're interested in. There is a bigger population base to draw from, more businesses to target for potential sponsorship and it is a central enough location that their travel costs would still be quite limited in comparison to teams like Trail, Williams Lake, Quesnel and PG.

However, a Junior A team would obviously get second billing to the Blazers. Is there enough room in the market for both? They make it work relatively well in Prince George. If the KIJHL team does do as well as I'm told, they do it while charging $10 for tickets. That's only a dollar less than it costs to go to a Merritt game so it's not like the current fans would be priced out of the games.

They might also have a pretty decent core to build around if Glendinning got some good young talent among all those "future considerations" deals at the trade deadline. I know there must be a few players mixed in with the cash.

You never like to see anyone lose their team, but this might be the best case scenario for the BCHL. It might be the best thing for Merritt too. If they could get a Junior B team for next season or a couple of years down the road it might be a more realistic recipe for success. The KIJHL is great hockey too.

I also think there is a real possibility that the team could go dormant like Williams Lake did a couple of seasons ago. I have no evidence to back that up, but if the new owners want to move to Kamloops and can't get a deal done in time for next season, are they going to want to spend a season in Merritt as a "lame duck" team? Who would support a franchise they knew was moving? They'd have to at least have a little hope I would think.

Personally I'd still like to see another team closer to Trail. Nelson anyone? I'll keep banging that drum until it happens...

What do you think?

Trail 4 Salmon Arm 2 Video Highlights

Saturday night's game was one of the best if not the best game the Smoke Eaters have played this season. The coaching staff has been asking for a 60 minute effort and they got it. They've been asking the guys to take time and space away from skilled players and they got it. They've been asking for all four lines and all three pairings to contribute to a win and they got it. Trail took the game to Salmon Arm for most of the game and won the special teams battle. Two games again between these two teams had played saw Trail get burned by special teams in a game where they won the even strength war. Last Saturday it was a bad first period that burned the Smoke Eaters in a strong effort. This time they put it all together and took down the league's top team.

That's the kind of win you can build on.

Marco Raimondo was very good in both games this week. The Mailey/Bulach/Sandor line is really clicking. Corcoran and Jacklin are fitting in wonderfully. DeKeyser and Koshey continue to evolve into a go-to pairing. The whole team got the job done up and down the line-up in that victory.

It doesn't get any easier as the boys roll into Powell River on Wednesday to take on the highly skilled Powell River Kings. It's the first game of a big four game swing to the coast. You can of course hear all the road games on Mountain FM with AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey.

Tune into Overtime tonight to get Jim Ingram, Ryan Bulach and Marco Raimondo's take on a great win against Salmon Arm and a big road trip coming up.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Post Nanaimo Audio

Another tough loss against Nanaimo last night. The Clippers played a very strong road game and limited Trail's ability to move the puck. The message from the coaching staff before tomorrow night's game at home against Salmon Arm? Back to basics, boys!

Assistant Coach Brian Youngson

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Forward Brett Corcoran

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Forward Scott Jacklin

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who is Scott Jacklin?

(Scott Jacklin)

A lot of heads turned when the Smoke Eaters traded leading scorer Chad Gehon to Merritt (and eventually Westside) for Scott Jacklin. How can you trade a top ten scorer for someone with 18 points? Well I think a lot of Trail fans are going to become big fans of the Kimberly native.

The BCHL is a league of opportunity. Just look at Nick Sandor. He had 3 points last season in Alberni Valley, but with Trail he's a point per game player. Right place, right time, right opportunity... right player. If the coaching and scouting staff does a good enough job, they can find a player who fits their system and will produce in the right opportunity. Scott Jacklin reads like one of those players.

Before I get into it though, here's an interview with Scott I did today for Mountain FM's Overtime.

New Smoke Eater Scott Jaclkin

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First of all, 18 points in 32 games is nothing to sneeze at in this context. Jacklin was not playing top 6 minutes in Cowichan this season. They have a loaded, veteran forward group and playing time was hard to come by. Despite that, Jacklin's points per game number is the same as Trail's young offensive force, Travis St. Denis. It's also tied for sixth on the Smokies behind only the likes of Ryan Bulach, Nick Sandor, JF Boisvert, Paul Mailey and Brett Corcoran.

This is an 18 year old second year player who is still producing those kind of numbers despite limited ice time and an admitted recent slump.

Jacklin produced at that same level last season as a 17 year old rookie in this league. The big question mark for him is not "can he produce 0.6 points per game?" it's "can he become a point per game player?" Even if he doesn't, a lot of players in the league would love to put up 0.6 points per game at his age.

Scott also admitted that due to slumping confidence he has been passing up too many shooting opportunities lately. Another player who admitted he passed up too many shooting opportunities and started to produce goals in Trail under Jim Ingram? Chad Gehon. Under Coach Ingram this season Gehon has 19 goals in 40 games compared to 11 in 45 last year. Gehon deserves a ton of credit for turning his game up to the next level, but certainly the coach had something to do with helping him get there too.

(Jacklin as a 16 year old in the KIJHL)

So what makes me believe (without having seen much of him) that Jacklin could be a big point producer here? Numbers don't lie. Take a look at Jacklin's history. As a 16 year old sophomore in the KIJHL, Jacklin scored 25 goals and had 67 points for the Columbia Valley Rockies. He scored at a 1.3 points per game pace as a 16 year old. That point total had him in a tie for 10th in the league scoring race with another pretty well known 1990 forward... Kellen Jones.

Unfortunately for Scott he didn't get to play on a line with Connor Jones and Hunter Bishop last season. Am I saying he's as good as the Jones twins? No, I have no reason to say that without getting to watch him play in a similar situation. What I'm saying is that he put up the same kind of numbers as the Jones twins at the same age. Anyone who can be among the top 10 scorers in the KIJHL as a 16 year old obviously has a lot of skill. Not to mention the fact that Columbia Valley was a mediocre fourth place team and he wasn't exactly surrounded by top flight veterans to help feed his point total. As 17 year olds in the KIJHL, Ryan Bulach and Chad Gehon put up about 1.4 or 1.5 points per game. Jacklin was just behind that pace as a 16 year old on a bad team. Jacklin also put up very respectable point totals so far in the BCHL without getting fed top line minutes at even strength or on the power play.

All I'm saying is that there's reason for optimism. If Jacklin produces at a 0.8 to 1.2 point per game level over this year and next (or even the next two) is that not worth trading two more months of Gehon? He likely won't cover all of Chad's production this season, but he should more than make up for it over time. Add the fact that Trail added Corcoran to the top 6 for Andrew Pickering who had been playing on the third and fourth line in Trail over the past two months, and I think it's fair to say this move shouldn't hurt immediate goal scoring totals.

The one thing you can say is that Trail didn't go out and buy an extra veteran scorer or defenceman for the stretch run. This is a community owned team so they aren't going to drop an envelope full of cash for any available veteran. If you want them to have the same resources to buy players that rich teams do you'll have to put more than 900 people in the seats for every home game. The Smokies all ready put more money into player recruitment and development than most community owned franchises. They also aren't going to ship off important pieces of a young team that they've been developing all season so that fans can be happy with some kind of a quick fix. If the Smokies win a championship this year, next year or in the future it won't be because of some high profile deadline scorer. It'll be because of hard work, dedication, passion and team concept from the first through the fourth line. That's how they got to first place in October. They just have to get healthy, get their confidence back and get back to what was working earlier in the season.

It's sad to see talented players like Chad Gehon and Andrew Pickering go. All I'm trying to say is that the impact of those trades isn't as simple as adding Gehon and Pickering's point total vs. Corcoran and Jacklin's. Opportunity could make fools out of early doubters.

Or not... this isn't an exact science. However, fans who are upset about moving Gehon should give Jacklin a chance before writing that trade off as a loss. Everything I see, read and hear about the young man gives me more reason to believe he's going to make Jim Ingram and his staff look pretty smart before it's all said and done.

Good luck to JF Boisvert, Chad and all the other all-stars participating in tomorrow's mid-season classic in Vernon. Tune into Overtime tomorrow night for updates from Penticton's charismatic play by play voice Ryan Pinder.

That trade analysis is still coming up sooner rather than later. I'll also have a little something on the visit of our Dutch Smokies fans and how generous this hockey community can be. I was very proud to be associated with this team after Saturday's gestures.

See you at the rink on Thursday!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Brett Corcoran Interview

(Brett Corcoran)

Brett Corcoran joined me on Mountain FM's Overtime tonight. He returns to the Smokies after playing for Cowichan and Surrey this season. He started this season on a red hot goal per game pace, but things cooled after an injury and trade. Brett is hoping to re-ignite that earlier fire with a return to familiar surroundings. He's thrilled about being back in Trail and you can hear that in this interview.

66% of you who voted on my poll wanted Trail to acquire a sniper. Brett Corcoran is that one shot scorer you asked for. Put him in a position to succeed and the twenty year old will use his great shot to deliver goals in bunches.

Smokies Forward Brett Corcoran

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So Brett will join the team (he's all ready here) for their game on Thursday at home against Nanaimo. Where will he fit in the line-up? I think Sandor/Bulach/Mailey as a unit looked terrific against Salmon Arm so I would imagine they wouldn't mess with that. If St. Denis is healthy could we see him work his playmaking magic with the veteran goal scorer? I think that would be an interesting pairing. You could also try to play Jacklin with Corcoran as the two were teammates on the Capitals earlier this season. It'll be interesting to see what kind of line-up Coach Ingram puts together with the two new forwards.

For more analysis on the trade deadline check out Ryan's Vees Blog for a post breaking down the moves in the Interior. Who do you think is the most improved team today? I have to say that Penticton adding players as talented as Odegaard and Grassi while only subtracting Grossman from their roster is very impressive. There may be a big price to pay in the off season, but for now I feel like the Vees did the most out of them, Trail and Westside to vault themselves into contention with Salmon Arm and Vernon. Are they tough enough, though? I also feel like Vernon did a terrific job addressing their needs with physical, veteran defencemen.

However, trades aren't won or lost in two days. Corcoran and Jacklin could be exactly what the doctor ordered in Trail. Gehon could be the piece that ignites the Westside offence. Goodship and Pickering might light a fire under what had been a sagging Spruce Kings group. Vandenberg and Cseter together could create a second line in Salmon Arm as powerful and dominant as their first. Chemistry, opportunity, long term competitiveness... those are all factors in determining the value of the deals teams made over the past week. Heck we could all be praising Al Glendinning this time next year for the building blocks he stockpiled at the deadline to build Merritt into a competitive squad again. Reactions at this stage don't mean anything. What does? Wins in the playoffs.

For Trail fans there is hope. A veteran goal scorer on the wall. A young speedster with a high ceiling. An ailing roster getting healthy by the end of the month. When Brandon Clark, Paul Barclay, Travis St. Denis, Steve Koshey and Riley Loyst all return to this line-up fans will see the Trail squad they remember from earlier in the season. A healthy group just in time for a stretch run and playoff war. These boys will be ready to roll.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Brief Sunday Update, Ingram Interivew

Check out the Making Cents blog for an update on what basically amounts to the rest of the moves at the trade deadline. I'm not sure if there was a trade this weekend that didn't involve Merritt some how! Brian has done a great job staying on top of all the moves. What does it amount to for Merritt? We have no idea. Lots of futures which means money or players next year or both. We won't know what kind of a return Merritt will get for the merry-go-round until the season is over.

Another note for Smokies fans is that Andrew Pickering got turned around by Surrey to Prince George for Grant Toulmin. There will be a lot of opportunity for him on that team when basically their entire top group (sans Muchalla) either graduate from the league or head to college.

There are some deals out there that we've heard about through a few sources but don't appear on the BCHL website. Does that mean they are up for review or late? I guess we'll find out sooner rather than later.

I'll have my analysis of all the deals tonight or tomorrow.

After the gutsy effort (but loss) for a shorthanded Trail team last night against Salmon Arm, I had the chance to chat with Coach and GM Jim Ingram. He made it absolutely clear that the moves at the trade deadline did not amount to Trail selling assets and re-stocking for the future. They wanted to make the hockey team better now. Here's Jim:

Coach and GM Jim Ingram

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I talked to Brett Corcoran today and will have that interview, Jim Ingram, Nick Sandor, Michael Spring and more on Mountain FM's Overtime tomorrow night. 6-9pm on Mountain FM.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

All Roads Go Through Merritt

I think Merritt is making it their personal goal to be involved in every Junior A hockey trade in Canada! Today they've moved Jacklin to Trail for Gehon (with some futures) and turned around Gehon to Westside for Betker and futures. They moved Valenti to North Bay for defenceman Andrew Glasser, now shipped Glasser to Burnaby for Grassi and now Grassi is headed to Penticton. Not sure for what, but the Vees told me yesterday no roster players would go anywhere today. That likely means futures and cash go to Merritt for Grassi. They still have Jimmy Geerin who won't report, Alex Goodship, Forster, Grant and a bunch of other guys who could still end up anywhere... but it's 6pm now so I don't know if that got done.

No word on a home for Brooks Robinson yet. That's the other major chip I expected to fall. Nothing out of the Bulldogs camp. Do they still really think they have a playoff shot?

So Burnaby has helped Vernon, Salmon Arm and Penticton load up. Which former Express players will mean more to their new team? Brodie and Leidl, Vandenberg or Reid and Grassi? I think the Vees just positioned themselves as a player with the Snakes and the Backs.

As for Trail, Brandon Clark WILL be back at the end of the month. Corcoran is a shoot first sniper that many wanted. Jacklin is a gritty kid with some scoring ability. Loyst, St. Denis, Legassic, Barclay and others should all be back healthy by February. Don't count Trail out just yet! They haven't sold out their future to add a big gun, but they've made some interesting moves that could shake things up now and down the line.

Perhaps still more to come. I'm off to the game.

Smokies Make Their Moves

More details coming shortly but I just want to get the word out.

After what Jim Ingram described as a frustrating week (so many injuries) Trail has traded Chad Gehon back to Merritt for Scott Jacklin. Jacklin is a 90 that Ingram really likes while Gehon hurt his groin yesterday and will be out at least a couple of weeks. Don't expect Chad to stay in Merritt.

Trail also traded Andrew Pickering to Surrey for Brett Corcoran. Corcoran is thrilled to be returning to Trail.

Finally, Trail has re-carded Riley Loyst with their last card.

Expect a decimated line-up tonight, but Ingram believes this makes Trail better for a playoff run.


We've seen some major moves before today's trade deadline. The big question today in BCHL circles is "What's Left?" Some thoughts at the Vees Blog.

At this point it's pretty obvious what teams will make the playoffs. What isn't known is how much those non-playoff teams will be selling. What teams are left to buy? Will any of the bubble teams be buying or selling? Lets take a look at some possible targets.

Non Playoff Teams

Merritt: Alex Goodship (89)(F), Paul Forster (88)(F), Scott Jacklin (90)(F), Jimmy Geerin (89)(D), Brad Bourke (89)(D), Harrison May (89)(G)

Quesnel: Trevor Hertz (89)(F), Mitchell Smith (88)(F), Taylor Rovatti (89)(F), Ben Payne (88)(F), Eric Galbraith (88)(F), Eliot Raibl (89)(D), Kiefer Smiley (90)(G) *Back to CV?*

Burnaby: Max Grassi (88)(F), Reid Edmondson (88)(F), Nathan Westover (88)(D), Greg Bay (89)(D)

Alberni Valley: Evan Witt (89)(F), Mitch MacMillan (89)(F), Chirs Moulson (88)(F), Brian Kang (88)(F), Matt Wong (88)(G)

Bubble Teams (Under 50 Points)

Prince George: Zach Davies (88)(D), Sean Ambrosie (89)(F), Alex Allan (89)(F), Wes McLeod (90)(D)

Trail: I'm not going to speculate in case anyone assumes I know something

Surrey: Adam Hartley (88)(F), Brett Corcoran (88)(F), Brennan Strang (88)(F), Tom Janosz (88)(D), Ilan Cumberbirch (88)(D), Tommy Tartaglione (88)(G)

Nanaimo: Russell Goodman (88)(F), Eric Filiou (89)(F), Steve Mason (88)(F), Ronnie Smith (8(F), Connor Krukowski (88)(D), Anders Franzon (89)(D), Jonathan Jobin (88)(G)

So there's part of what could be a large shopping list... but basically half a day to get it done. I think sleep is pretty hard to come by right now.

For teams like PG is the potential return for a guy like Davies too much to ignore? What about a guy like Hartley in Surrey? Those teams are not going to gut their rosters, but top end talent could sure fetch a nice return. We'll see.

Buy or Sell?

On the heels of a tough road loss, only 3 wins in 10 games, with injuries piling up (including your only multi-season veteran on D) and with teams like Vernon and Salmon Arm loading up... what should Trail do? Clearly the team is talented enough to win a playoff series with anyone. However, the question any GM has to ask themselves is "what is best thing I can do to build a championship team?" If you are Jim Ingram are your veterans more valuable to you as trade chips towards building a championship team in the future, or as members of a possible championship team this year?

That's a question more than one GM is facing today. Buy, sell or stand still?

Brian Burke once said that the worst thing you can do in sports is finish in the middle of the pack. The BCHL doesn't have a draft so there's no benefit to finishing last. However, if you don't believe your team has a very good shot at the BCHL championship or a Royal Bank Cup, is it smart management to hang on to a player when trading him could put you much closer in another year or two?

Ultimately (fair or not) winners are measured by championships. Jim Ingram is a winner. He built Kerry Park into a winner in the VIJHL and that's what he's doing here. He started his rebuild of the Smokies this off season with hard work and heavy recruiting. If that team is more likely to peak next season or in two seasons, should he not do everything he can to use his current assets to make those teams better?

There's lots to like and even love about this year's Smokies. They are a fantastic group of guys and I would hate to see anyone move. However, there is a case to be made that some of their veterans could make a bigger contribution to a possible Trail championship by playing elsewhere for the rest of this season.

I have no idea what Trail will do. Jim Ingram and the Trail staff are too classy to tip their hat to a media guy (as much as I consider them friends and would never spill those kind of beans... I'm still a media guy) and risk anyone finding out about their future from an outside source. I'm sure whatever choices he is facing are agonizing and complicated. As another bright BCHL source told me recently, Ingram is a smart man and can be trusted to make the right decisions.

Frankly, I don't know what those are... that's why nobody would pay me to make them.

Good luck to all BCHL GMs today. I know nobody likes trading young men. It's an emotional process. You want them all to succeed together and today is not easy. Good luck.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Dutch Smokies Fan Interview

A newly married Dutch couple is coming to Trail tomorrow night to watch the Smokies take on Salmon Arm. Why Trail? They are big fans of the Galeen Smoke Eaters. It's a Dutch hockey team named after the Trail Smoke Eaters because of their World Championship wins in 1939 and 1961. This is their honeymoon. Is that not every man's dream? A wife who would honeymoon in hockey rinks! This is what Ro had to say when I interviewed him for Overtime and our broadcast. He and his wife will drop the puck tomorrow before the game against Salmon Arm. They will also bring a Galeen Smoke Eaters jersey with them. Lets all come out and show them what Trail hockey fans are made of!

Check out the interview and forgive him for being a Red Wings fan ;)

Dutch Smokies Fan Ro Herregraven

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Cam Reid to Westside?

(Cam Reid)

Victoria's CFAX1070 apparently reported that young forward Cam Reid is on his way from Victoria to Westside. I heard that one before as well. Not sure if the futures will be a player this year or cash or a player in the future. There are rumours of it being more complicated, but I''ve heard nothing else officially. Have to catch a bus for now. More before tonight's game.

EDIT: The BCHL message board is speculating that this deal is a three way involving Quesnel as well. I called the Millionaires and they say there is no official deal done. That doesn't mean the rumour isn't true, it just means don't assume anything yet.

SECOND EDIT: The trade is official with Howe going from Westside to Victoria and from Victoria to Quesnel for futures. What could those futures be? Hmmm. Also, the Salmon Arm/Burnaby trade is official. Vandenberg to the Silverbacks for futures. I wonder if he'll come back to haunt the Vees? That's the fun of trade deadline season! I think he'll look great on a line with Cseter. I'm sure more to come.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Early Trade Analysis and Rumour

I'm hearing that the Salmon Arm Silverbacks are stepping into the game tonight. A former Interior Conference forward could be on his way back from the coast... but this time as a Silverback. I felt like the one thing they'd really want to upgrade is their forward depth. Another scorer on the second line to compliment Cseter. If what I'm hearing is legit, I think they've got someone who will be a very good fit in that role. Will this be Salmon Arm's one move? I suspect not.

I feel like Eklund today. Crosby to Trail (M4)

Here is my analysis of some of the moves we've seen so far as the BCHL heads towards Saturday's trade deadline. We've seen some big moves throughout the season, but I expect some of the contenders are still very active as we get closer to Saturday.

EDIT: I'm only half done for now, but my girlfriend has suffered enough. Time to take her out to a movie and get away from the computer for a while! Back with more analysis, rumours, weekend hype and an interview with a Smoke Eaters fan from across the pond who is going to check out their first Trail game this Saturday. It's a very cool story!

*The Vernon Vipers Hockey Club acquire the playing rights of Cameron Brodie (D)(88) and Mike Leidl (D)(88) from the Burnaby Express Hockey Club in exchange for the playing rights of John Digness (F)(89) and future considerations.

*The Merritt Centennials Hockey Club acquire the playing rights of Steve Tresierra (D)(90) from the Vernon Vipers Hockey Club in exchange for future considerations.

Analysis: The first two trades are somehow linked in a way we have yet to discover. I've commented on them and posted an interview with Mark Ferner of the Vipers. However, there is more analysis to be had. Check out Eddie Gregory's Burnaby Expressions Blog for an interview with Burnaby GM Darcy Rota on the deal. You can also visit Brian's Making Cents Blog for the Merritt perspective.

*The Merritt Centennials Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Alex Valenti (F)(89) to the North Bay Skyhawks of the NOJHL in exchange for future considerations.

Analysis: It's just part of the yearly sell off in Merritt. The big question is how many guys are going to go. Will the likes of Goodship, Grant, Bourke, Geerin, May and others follow Valenti out the door? The last place Cents obviously are completely out of playoff contention, so how many vets are going to be left on the roster after Saturday? Forster and Kightley are their only 20 year olds left though. More on this deal is also available on the Making Cents Blog.

*The Powell River Kings Hockey Club acquire the playing rights of Justin Hogan (F)(90) from the Newmarket Hurricanes Hockey Club of the OJHL in exchange for future considerations.

Analysis: Check out Hogan's bio from the Newmarket website. He had 34 points in 35 games this season in the OJHL. It's not as good or as deep as the BCHL, but still a comparable level of hockey. Hogan looks to perhaps be the skilled forward that can step into the Kings line-up to replace Brooks Robinson as it appears he won't be back with Powell River. Where will Brooks end up? I think we all know Powell River can score, but the question is do they have the horses on the blue line. I also think the Kings should look at getting a reliable back-up goaltender. I see an Ian Curtis listed on their roster. Perhaps he is their solution to that problem. Ketting's save percentage of less than 85% isn't going to cut it if he's called upon in the playoffs. Either way, this move signals that Powell River is one small market team that is ready to go for it. I'm glad to see that.

*The Alberni Valley Bulldogs Hockey Club acquire the playing rights of Ethan Gartner (89)(F) from the Fort William North Stars Hockey Club of the SIJHL in exchange for future considerations.

Analysis: I don't know much about this guy. Check out the Bulldogs release for a brief view on the deal from their perspective. Does Alberni Valley still believe that they have a shot at the playoffs? Nanaimo is in a free fall, but that just doesn't seem likely. I'd think they would still be sellers. A guy like Evan Witt could be huge for any team in contention. A goaltender like Wong would also be excellent insurance between the pipes. The Bulldogs should be thinking about building for next year as much as they can. Gartner is an 89 so he could be back next year anyway.

*The Penticton Vees Hockey Club acquire the playing rights of Kaare Odegard (90)(D) from the Canmore Eagles Hockey Club in exchange for future considerations.

Analysis: You can get all the details on Pinder's Vees Blog including an interview. There was some question on the BCHL message board on the number of import cards the Vees were allowed to use. I think after the Nick Goyens saga he didn't end up counting against them. Odegard was on an excellent scoring pace for a pretty poor Camrose team this season. The Vees have a lot of mobility on their blue line, but Odegard seems like the type of guy who could really upgrade their power play. He may be a 90 but he's a rental as he'll be headed to Alaska to play NCAA hockey next season.

*The Cowichan Valley Capitals Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Scott Jacklin (90)(F) and Jimmy Geerin (89)(D) to the Merritt Centennials Hockey Club in exchange for the playing rights of Curtis Gedig (91)(D).

*The Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Club transfer the playing rights of Stephen Simms (88)(F) to the OCN Blizzard Hockey Club of the MJHL in exchange for future considerations.

*The Langley Chiefs Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Wyatt Wasclenchuk (G) to the Nipawin Hawks Hockey Club of the SJHL in exchange for future considerations.

*The Nanaimo Clippers Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Mark Trousdell (G)(90) to the LaRonge Ice Wolves Hockey Club of the SJHL in exchange for the playing rights of Jonathan Jobin (G)(90) and future considerations.

*The Prince George Spruce Kings Hockey Club transfers the playing rights of Joe Rodwell (G)(88) to the Langley Chiefs Hockey Club in exchange for future considerations.

*The Salmon Arm Silverbacks Hockey Club transfer the playing rights of Jordan Berks (88)(D) to the Ft. McMurray Oil Barons Hockey Club of the AJHL for future considerations.

Mark Ferner Interview

After Vernon's trade to pick up Cam Brodie and Mike Leidl today from Burnaby I had the chance to chat with Vernon's Coach and General Manager. Looks like the Vipers are done, so rule them out of the bidding for the other available stars. We'll continue our coverage here on the blog and on Mountain FM's Overtime... and Friday's broadcast of AM Ford Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey in Penticton.

Vipers Coach and GM Mark Ferner

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Over at the Vees blog Ryan Pinder has word that a deal could be done to move Elias Grossmann (who demanded a trade) out of Penticton. He's also heard rumblings of something happening in Westside. Somehow I doubt we'll see another blockbuster from the Warriors this year. They seem to have great chemistry and their 3 for 1 deal last year didn't really turn out that well. How good would they be with those players still in place? Cowichan sure seems to be enjoying the benefits.

Vernon Beefs Up

It's not official yet (as in not listed on the BCHL official website) so I won't name any of the players. Don't want them to find out this way. But the Vernon Vipers are in the process of adding a forward and a powerful, physical defenceman from the coast. If these two players do end up in Vernon, a deep Vipers club just got more scoring and got a lot bigger. These would be the biggest additions for any team in the Interior so far.

Penticton has also added a big time defenceman in Kaare Odegard from Camrose. Salmon Arm, Westside, Trail, Prince George... it's your move.

EDIT: I got it half wrong. Not a good start here, Mullin!

(Cam Brodie and Mike Leidl)

It's official now at the Vipers website that Vernon has picked up two big, powerful 20 year old defencemen from Burnaby. Former Smoke Eater Cam Brodie and Mike Leidl will add their presence to what was a very young Vipers blue line.

Going the other way? D Steve Tresierra and F John Digness. Tresierra somehow ends up in Merritt and I'm not sure how that works yet.

My first thought? Great move by Vernon. They had a young core on the back end and I felt they lacked some size in their line-up as well. That's no longer an issue with the 6'1 215lbs Brodie and the 6'2 210lbs Leidl. Both players also have a scoring touch to their game as well. I got to watch Brodie all of last season and he's terrific at both ends of the ice. He's also probably the most powerful fighter in the league if someone does something to bring out his mean streak... but he's not a goon who will fight all the time by any stretch. This won't answer the call of some fans for a PP quarterback in Vernon. What it does is give them two steady veteran hands who can provide leadership, strong defensive play, some points, strong PK play and options on the PP.

Steve Tresierra is a good young D-man who will be a solid addition to Merritt if he reports. If not, he's another fine trading chip for them. As a 1990 born defenceman scoring at a 0.4 PPG clip, he'd be attractive to teams who are looking to upgrade but don't want to bring in a rental. How many cards does Merritt even have left at this point?

Digness is a fine forward who plays hard and has continued to improve in his second BCHL season. He'll likely get more opportunity to put some points up in Burnaby. However, in Vernon they can cover his loss rather easily with their extensive depth at forward. Frankly, I doubt Vernon is done adding. They'll likely want to add another forward. Perhaps someone who can be the sniper on a line with the Jones twins.

This is Brodie's third team this year and sixth in his BCHL career. Hard to get settled when you keep moving like this. However, he's a player that deserves a shot at a championship. He'll get that chance in Vernon. Leidl spent most of his career up north with Williams Lake and Quesnel. He's never played for a winner so I'm sure he's excited about the chance.

I'll have my thoughts on the moves we've seen earlier this week coming up before the end of the night.

EDIT: Vernon is done. Just did an interview with Coach Mark Ferner who says they're tapped out on cards and their roster is full. He has told his team they are done making moves before the deadline. There are some futures involved but the details of that aren't available for now. We'll have that interview with Ferner on the site shortly.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

What Should Trail Do?

Just like last year I want to stay on top of the BCHL Trade Deadline here on the Smokies blog. I'll post the trades as I discover them with my analysis of the moves and what they mean for the teams and players. There have all ready been a couple of moves (including one with a former Smoke Eater involved) and I'll get to them shortly.

First though I want to know what you think Trail should do. I've got two polls here on the blog asking your opinion on what kind of moves you think the Smoke Eaters should make. It's an interesting situation for Jim Ingram here. The team has shown the ability to compete with anyone in this league, but they also have so many young players on the team that it would seem like they are being built for a bigger run at a championship next season. However, they wouldn't have Ryan Bulach, Chad Gehon, Brandon Clark, Marco Raimondo, Jadon Porterfield and Patrik Martin next season. With that core in place and leading the team this season, isn't there a real opportunity here for the Smokies to add a couple of pieces and make a significant push?

What do you think Trail should do? Vote in the poll and comment here.

Jim Ingram Talks

After a 1-3 road trip Coach and GM Jim Ingram had a lot to say. He talked about why things went so well in Merritt and how they can build on that win. Ingram also discussed the trade deadline, line combinations and more in an interview on Mountain FM's Overtime.

Smokies Coach and GM Jim Ingram

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Road Trip Three Stars

(Steve Koshey, Ryan Bulach and Chad Gehon)

Taking a look back at the four game road swing the Smokies just had with my three stars of the trip.

Honourable Mentions: Marco Raimondo and Paul Barclay (both played strong games but split the work load and only won one out of four games), Nick Sandor (2G 3A), Jadon Porterfield (1A with two fights and a lot of terrific work), Grame Strukoff (3A), Paul Mailey (3A), JF Boisvert (2G 1A), Adam Gummer (2G 1A)

Third Star: Steve Koshey (2G 3A) With an injury to Brandon Clark, Koshey was given more responsibility over the weekend. He responded admirably with perhaps his best games in the BCHL. Koshey has a ton of talent and perhaps his excellent three game effort will lead to the confidence he needs to establish himself as one of the league's better puck movers.

Second Star: Ryan Bulach (2G 4A) Bulach is only credited with 3 assists right now, but he should have at least 4 if not 5. Combine that with his leadership, face off wins and defensive play... that's why he's Trail's Captain and consistently one of the most valuable players. Bulach was one of the Smokies (along with Patrik Martin, Paul Mailey and a few others) who helped calm the game down in Merritt when things looked like they were getting way too loose. His play this season has been another step up for a player who has consistently improved thanks to hard work and hockey smarts.

First Star: Chad Gehon (2G 5A) Gehon is Trail's offensive catalyst and one of the league's top point producers. He always comes to play against his former team especially. Gehon put up four points against Merritt and looked great re-united with his KIJHL teammate Ryan Bulach on a line with Nick Sandor. Bulach and Gehon were top scorers on a championship team in Sicamous. They haven't played together regularly with Trail, but perhaps this could be the start of a very successful line. In 39 games Gehon has more points (54) than any Smoke Eater put up in all of the 07-08 season. He needs to continue his production if the Smokies want to move back up the standings.