Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Wolf Pack News and Notes

Here are some paragraphs that I pulled from stories written by Bruce Berlet in the Hartford Courant, 9/16 and 9/15:

Barring an acquisition during or after training camp, which starts today, captain Craig Weller, defenseman Bryce Lampman and goalie Steve Valiquette could be the only Pack players older than 25 and with more than two years of pro experience.

"The difference this year is there's really no situation where we'll say we've got to play the young kid over the old guy," Wolf Pack coach/GM Jim Schoenfeld said. "We're going to play the young kid over another young kid, so it's going to be the best playing."

Marvin Degon, Greg Moore, Brandon Dubinsky, Lauri Korpikoski, Rick Kozak and Dane Byers got a taste of the AHL at the end of last season. That group, plus Corey Potter, Marc Staal, Hannu Pikkarainen, Bruce Graham, Ryan Callahan, Jakub Petruzalek and Zdenek Bahensky helped the Rangers to a 2-2 record in a prospects tournament that ended Tuesday in Traverse City, Mich.

Rangers coach Tom Renney said Staal, Dubinsky, Korpikoski, Byers and several June draft picks distinguished themselves but hopes others emerge in camp.

"I think that by the time we go through this process, there are going to be five or six guys from Hartford who are serious contenders."

Goalie Al Montoya, talking about his shoulder injury:

"It was a freaky play, and my whole body went numb," Montoya said Friday as he watched a scrimmage at Rangers training camp. "It was tough to get injured when things were going well, but the injuries I had last season were not ones I could have prevented."

Montoya, 21, faced shots for the first time Aug. 10 and practiced at a prospects tournament last week in Traverse City, Mich., spending a lot of time with Rangers goalies coach Benoit Allaire.

"You don't know how a shoulder injury is going to heal," Allaire said. "But he did a pretty good job in the summer getting back in shape, and I can see he's pretty much top notch right now. I was very surprised he came back as quickly as he did. Three months ago, we weren't sure if he would be ready for training camp, but he's reacting very well."

Also, Dale Purinton is back in town:

With defensemen Sandis Ozolinish, Dave Liffiton and Hannu Pikkarainen injured, veteran tough guy Dale Purinton was a late addition to the Rangers camp as a tryout. He got a call from the Rangers Wednesday in British Columbia, caught a redeye to New York and made it in time for physicals Thursday. "After having been in the NHL, it's a little humbling not to get any offers, but I'm just happy to have a chance," Purinton said. "And I'd go to Hartford if I have to. That's not a bad place." Purinton, who spent eight seasons with the Rangers and Pack, could help fill a veteran void in Hartford. ... Dave Liffiton had surgery July 6 and hopes to be ready for the opener Oct. 7 at the Civic Center against Springfield.

Greg Moore (Chris Rutsch photo)

Blueshirt Bulletin has some good words to say about Brandon Dubinsky's performance so far in training camp, and not as much about Hugh Jessiman:

Brandon Dubinsky, who has seriously bulked up both his upper body and his legs (as we saw in the locker room afterward), made a strong case for himself on the first day, playing strong, intense, effective hockey, combining strength and skill (he took a tricky backhand centering shot from the corner with his back to the net and checkers all over him that nearly snuck in).

"I'm not sure who's gonna cross the finish line first, but there's a race there of good young players," said Renney. "He's certainly one. He thrust himself in the forefront last year. All I've done is suggest to him that that is exactly what he should do here -- don't sit and wait, do everything you can to make our team now. Brandon is one of those young fellows who has clearly gotten that message. He's trying to bring his A game every day."

Hugh Jessiman remains a subject of debate. One observer who watched him play all last year said that unless he had a lobotomy over the summer to not expect much more from him. He lacks a key quality, I was told, that someone like Hollweg rode a wheelbarrowful to the NHL.

Also, former Wolf Pack goalie Robert Gherson (20-11-2 with a 2.69 GAA and .904 sv pct with Hartford last season) has signed with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.