View Full Version : All,s quiet in blazerville

01-11-2006, 06:56 PM
All’s quiet on Blazers’ front www.kamloopsnews.ca
by Gregg Drinnan

Dean Clark, the general manager and head coach of the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers, gave his players a vote of confidence on Tuesday. Time will reveal how the players pay him back.

With most of the WHL’s 21 general managers doing their best to put the dead in deadline, Clark did his part by not making even one transaction as the league’s annual trade deadline slid past.

“I’ve got a headache … that’s all I got,” Clark said shortly after the 2 p.m. deadline passed.

The 21 teams — including the Chilliwack Bruins, who begin play in the fall — combined to swap 34 players, including defenceman Philip Magistrale, who was traded twice, and 14 bantam draft picks over the last two days.

Only one deal involved a B.C. Division team. That trade had first-place Kootenay and the Medicine Hat Tigers exchange 19-year-old Czechs, with the Ice getting left-winger Michal Psurny for centre Marek Curilla.

“I thought I was close on a couple of things,” Clark said. “It got down to the nitty-gritty and teams backed out.

“There will be people out there saying: Why didn’t we (do something). It was a frustrating day because we thought we had some stuff done. But in the end we didn’t do it and I’m not disappointed about that either.”

It was no secret that Clark would have traded veteran goaltender Devan Dubnyk. But in the end …

“I wasn’t close on (Dubnyk) and that was fine,” Clark said. “We were happy, especially with the way he played (in a 5-4 victory over the Silvertips in Everett on Sunday). It was a hard thing to do. Either we get the perfect deal or we don’t do anything.”

Reached in Calgary where he is enjoying a couple of days at home after four weeks with the national junior team, Dubnyk said he is relieved to be staying in Kamloops.

“It was certainly a little different,” he said of having his name involved in trade rumours. “It has been an anxious last couple of days. (The deadline) couldn’t come fast enough.

“But I want to be with this group of guys. We have shown that we can compete with the best teams in the league.”

Dubnyk said that he expects to find a happy dressing room when he returns to the Blazers on Thursday.

“Everyone has to be happy now,” he said. “I can’t see why anyone would want out of there. But we need to realize that this is what we have and that this is what we have to go with. We need to get stronger now that (the trade deadline) is over.

“This is our team.”

Clark admitted that his club’s play since the Christmas break was a factor in the lack of activity. The Blazers are 3-1-1-2 since returning.

“Maybe we make a bunch of deals and make them work,” Clark explained, “but in the back of our minds … playing the way we have and the way the guys have responded, we’ve seen more character in the last two weeks than we’ve seen all season. That said to us either we get the deals we think are fair or we don’t have a deal, and that’s kind of what it boiled down to.”

Clark met with his players yesterday afternoon. The message, he said, was that “we’ve played very well. This is what we’re doing and we’re marching forward.”

But he was quick to add that the Blazers had better not get lackadaisical just because the trade deadline is past.

“We’ve still got a big job to do here to get our team better with what we have,” Clark said.

The Blazers return to the practice ice today to prepare for home games on Friday (Kootenay) and Saturday (Prince George Cougars). The Blazers are fifth in the B.C. Division, one point behind the Cougars, who hold down the final playoff spot.

• • •

The only move the Kelowna Rockets made was to release defenceman Liam Couture, 20. Which, of course, left them room to add a 20-year-old, something they weren’t able to do.

“We were pitching a little bit,” Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton said. “We hunted around a little bit, but …

“I would have liked to have gotten an older defenceman,” Hamilton added, “but there was nothing there that would have made us a better hockey club.”

• • •

The Saskatoon Blades were the only team to make a real impact over the last two days. Lorne Molleken, the Blades’ GM/head coach, was involved in six of the 15 trades as he rebuilt his defence and acquired centre Chad Klassen, the one ‘big-name’ player who changed hands.

Molleken got Klassen, 20, from the Spokane Chiefs in a deal that featured six players and two bantam draft picks. Klassen is from Warman, Sask., which is near Saskatoon, and is one of the top offensive players in Chiefs’ history — tied for sixth in career games played (281), 13th in goals (96), tied for eighth in assists (154) and 10th in points (252). He was leading the Chiefs this season, with 29 assists and 43 points.

That deal was announced fairly early yesterday and, to show how the market has changed, the domino effect was nowhere to be seen.

“(The marketplace) has changed quite a bit,” Clark said. “What was interesting about this one is that Saskatoon makes a big deal and yet no one else in that division stepped up to kind of counter what they did. In years past, you would have seen that happen.”

The Blades acquired two veteran 19-year-old defencemen — Joe Logan and David Schulz — in that swap, along with goaltender Jim Watt, 19. In exchange, they gave up defenceman Evan Haw, 19, goaltender Kevin Armstrong, 17, and two draft picks.

• • •

Clark was unsuccessful in obtaining the rights to Czech LW Martin Hanzal, the Phoenix Coyotes’ first-round pick in the NHL’s 2005 entry draft, from the Regina Pats. In the end, Regina GM Brent Parker didn’t do a deal.

In a move that didn’t impress Parker, Hanzal’s agent presented Parker with a list of three teams for which Hanzal would play — the Blazers, Red Deer Rebels and Vancouver Giants.

“We could have just gone out and got something for him but we were backed into a corner,” Parker told the Regina Leader-Post. “Enough is enough. I’m not getting pushed around anymore. These guys who think they can dictate where players play, to hell with all of them.

“Quite frankly, (Hanzal) and his agent can go sit in Prague on their fat asses and do whatever they want because I’m so fed up with the whole thing.”

JUNIOR JOTTINGS: The interesting part of the Kootenay-Medicine Hat deal is that Psurny had been playing with his twin brother, Roman, in Medicine Hat … The Giants have added C Brett Parker, 20, to their list. Parker, who played three seasons with Prince George, is with the SJHL’s Melville Millionaires. In 214 games with the Cougars, Parker had 100 points and 398 penalty minutes. The Giants have been playing with two 20-year-olds — D Paul Albers and LW Mitch Bartley … Vancouver may yet get back sniper Gilbert Brule from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brule, who suffered a broken leg on Nov. 30, is to meet with the NHL team’s medical staff later this week … The WHL had 13 players, including four from the Everett Silvertips, selected for the Home Hardware CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 18 at the Corel Centre in Ottawa. No Blazers were selected. The complete lineup is in Scoreboard.