Sunday, June 22, 2003


Another Farm Report-inspired blog.

Looks like the San Angelo Saints got themselves a good one in former Peoria Rivermen captain Derek Booth.

This confirms what I've been saying all along: limbo for the ECHL means uncertainty for us as well -- but also opportunity. Ray Edwards made the most of his.

Edwards' former teammate and current recruiting rival Tracey Egeland says much the same, though the juicy part of that interview is this:

... at this level of hockey there's a lot of Luch Nasatos out there. He's very good at what he does, and he'd be very good to have here, but his salary demands right now are way out of whack.

More fun reading: a Canadian columnist claims any ECHL team would wipe the floor with any WHL team.

That's a bit over the top -- figure the ECHL team would win by a couple of goals -- but people do tend to forget that even if you call this level "semi-pro" (as new Killer Bees defenseman Darcy Smith does), it's too good for lots of major junior players.

The ones who end up starring in the AHL or Europe aren't there yet, while every rookie that turns up here in October, whether from the "other" CHL or the NCAA, invariably mentions how everything seems bigger faster smarter.

Of course, that doesn't change the fact that the very best major junior players are both that much better and that much more exciting, whether they grow up to be Brett Seguin, Pavel Brendl or Rick Nash.

By the way, that Peoria article up top confirms that ECHL Arkansas is done; the full revised schedule will be made public Monday.

So if you haven't already, check out the Dem-Gazette's Little Rock hockey timeline, then ask yourself, can they make it in the CHL?

I hope so, but you can't pencil them into the Northeast Division just because they look good on the map. And that goes double for Baton Rouge.

What are the odds -- former Wichita star Ron Handy is mentioned in that timeline, 'cause he coached the Riverblades. He's also mentioned in this article on 57th draft picks (since that's where Toronto chose).

So what the heck -- let's throw his name out there as a potential Memphis coach, along with Shedden's previous successor Bill Thurlow and current assistant Dave "Midnight" Nicholls.

There's also "Governor" Kevin Ryan, but that title suggests someone who has left behind bus rides and early-morning practice.

I believe Doug Shedden should and will have input into the selection -- not because he's the old coach, but because he and his new bosses have a big interest in who will oversee the care and feeding of their prospects.

And don't expect Parsons in St. John's. To do what, learn how to be a third-line checker behind the Leafs' young forwards? Seriously, why would he go? I doubt AHL minimum is that much more than he already makes in Memphis, where his ever-expanding family resides. He's got nothing to prove up there at this point, unless it's just for shits and giggles.

Anyway, Parsons may well move behind the bench, but tomorrow? We aren't exactly talking Dale Henry or Joe Burton here. He's at the top of his game, still the best player in the league.

So if the RiverKings veterans can maintain championship intensity and "the Shedden Way," perhaps one of the names mentioned above would ensure that continuity. To be blunt, they'd wear the suit and keep the seat warm, while making sure the nucleus stays put.

However, if the goal is to get someone with the same track record and gravitas as Shedden... well, good luck.

In the CHL/WPHL universe, Bruce Garber is spoken for, Todd Brost is under contract in Elmira and I gather Mike Sauter's not an option.

So I'd think big, and several levels higher. How 'bout former New York Islanders head coach Bill Stewart? As a Calder Cup finalist, he had a couple of goaltenders named Jean Sebastien-Giguere and Mark Richards. His good year in juniors was marred by funny business, but that's why he'd be available.

I dunno... Butch Goring? NHL exile Ted Nolan?

Hey, good thing it isn't hockey season, or we'd have nothing to talk about...

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