Monday, April 28, 2003

Congratulations once again to Hockey Crazy for his winning entry in the President's Cup Prediction Contest. Sometime next season he will enjoy a Dallas Stars game on me.

No lack of news around the league -- Al Sims is back on board in Corpus and San Angelo got itself a coach in Ray Edwards. Given his background in Huntington we can wonder if, say, Van Burgess might set out for the Concho Valley. I guess we'll never know for sure whether Shaun Clouston pulled out or didn't really have the job, but I do hear Edwards was also in the running up in Lubbock.

And let's not forget, while everyone will continue to wonder if Doug Shedden and/or Brent Hughes has a chance to move on up, at least one other CHL head coach remains in play.

Here's my take on the Ice Bats' post-season awards.

Outstanding rookie
Will win: Peter Brady.
Should win: Mike Olynyk.
As great as Brady was -- and the former Vancouver Canucks draft pick was great enough that I'm sure he'll start next year at an AHL training camp and bid for Austin's starting job -- he was also helped out by the team's defensive system, and made nine starts against the CHL's four last-place teams. But mainly, I figure his 17 appearances don't measure up to Olynyk's 60 nights of third-line effort. The forward had little in the way of numbers, especially compared to what Tab Lardner did last season. But he showed the same kind of determination, and joined Lardner, Smart and Greenlaw on the Bats' top-ranked PK -- no small thing.

Outstanding defenseman
Will win/should win: Darryl McArthur.
A poster boy for player development, as well as a testament to the teaching ability of Brent Hughes, Jeff Kungle and Ken McRae. His partner Pat Brownlee also deserves a shout-out; let's call him the Bats' most improved performer.

Outstanding forward
Will win: Kelly Smart
Might win: Dan Price
Should win: Brett Seguin
Smart had the best regular season, but last year's CHL scoring leader Price, more of a highlight-reel player, came on late. Some people vote for these things based on popularity rather than performance; so it could go either way. But since voting continued through the playoffs, that means they count, so I'm throwing my support behind Seguin. He joined Price as a point-per-game player during the regular season, and when he sat out for two weeks, the team looked awful. Like all his teammates, the veteran center didn't do much against Memphis, but for two rounds the STP was fully back in business, and he is the engine of the line, as well as the PP. Seguin finished fourth in total playoff scoring with 20 points, and third in goals with seven.

Fan Favorite
Will win/should win: Shawn Legault
The will of the people is all that matters here, though I personally would have voted for Tab Lardner, partly to allow for what comes next.

Will to Win
Will win: Tab Lardner
Should win: Gerald Tallaire
This award isn't meant for an offensive star. But the Lardners, Greenlaws and Sharugas of the world don't have a lock on grit and doggedness. Tally just happens to have first-line caliber wheels and hands as well.

Will win/should win: Matt Barnes
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