Original New Haven UHL'er Ivanans let go by Montreal
Raitis Ivanans (in red) fighting Zdeno Chara
Raitis Ivanans, an original member of the defunct New Haven Knights of the UHL, was released by the Montreal Canadiens earlier this week. The Canadiens declined to give the 27-year-old defenseman a qualifiying offer, thus making him a free agent.
Ivanas, a native of Riga, Latvia, played in 66 games for the Knights (the last team to play in the old New Haven Coliseum) during their inagural season in 2000-2001. His 270 penalty minutes led the team, and his 14 points (4g, 10a) were a career high. Ivanas started his pro career in the UHL in '97-'98, eventually battling his way up to the NHL and the Montreal Canadiens this past season, where he saw action in 4 games but was hampered by a broken orbital bone suffered in his second game of the season, while fighting Ottawa's Zdeno Chara.
By my reckoning, Ivanas is only the second player from the New Haven Knights to eventually make it to the NHL; Garret Burnett, who played in four games with the Knights in '01-'02 and was a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in '03-'04, is the other.
A very fast skater for his size (6'-4", 265 lbs), it's been said that Ivanans could outskate even Tomas Plekanec, his team-mate with the Hamilton Bulldogs who once won the Fastest Skater competition at the AHL All-Star Game.
For a Latvian news story (in Russian) about Ivanans' release, click here.
UPDATE 7/13/06 - Ivanans has signed a one-year deal with the LA Kings. Possibly this means he'll spend some time in Manchester and face the Wolf Pack this year?