Tag Archives: Bruce Berlet

BRUCE BERLET REPORTS – WHALE OF AN UPDATE FROM MANAGEMENT

BY: Bruce Berlet

Operating a professional sports franchise is never an easy undertaking, but few, if any, companies had more to deal with than Whalers Sports and Entertainment a year ago.

WSE assumed management control of the then Hartford Wolf Pack only 21/2 weeks before the season opener in early October and then had to organize a two-week outdoor extravaganza at Rentschler Field in East Hartford in February for local youth, high school, prep school and college teams. The unprecedented event was capped by a tripleheader of AIC playing Army, followed by a Hartford Whalers-Boston Bruins alumni game and an AHL game between the rebranded Connecticut Whale and Providence Bruins.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

With general manager Dale Tallon having added 11 new players to the Florida Panthers’ roster in less than a month, first-year coach Kevin Dineen has plenty of familiarizing and strategizing to do before the season opener Oct. 8 on Long Island.

Dineen, the former Hartford Whalers icon and captain who coached the AHL’s Portland Pirates the past six seasons before being hired June 1, said his major challenge in his first six weeks on the job has been getting in touch with so many new players and running his cell phone bill.

“I waited to get in the office to call the Euros because I don’t think that falls under my phone plan,” Dineen joked to Dave Lozo of nhl.com.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

The Phoenix Coyotes continue to have a Hartford Whalers look behind the bench.

Former Whalers and New Haven Nighthawks wing John Anderson has signed a multi-year contract to be a Coyotes assistant coach under former Whalers wing Dave Tippett. Anderson and Jim Playfair, who also has NHL head coaching experience with the Calgary Flames, replace former Whalers and Rangers defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, who became head coach of Modo in his native Sweden on May 2, and Dave King, who was named a development coach last week.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – There was a passing of the veteran center guard in New York Rangers camp on Thursday.

A day after buying out the final year of Trumbull native/captain Chris Drury’s five-year, $35.35-million contract, the Rangers signed veteran John Mitchell, the Connecticut Whale’s best player in the playoffs in April.

Mitchell, 26, was acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 28 for a seventh-round pick in 2012 to help compensate for the loss of Tim Kennedy, who was part of a deal with the Florida Panthers that helped the Rangers land defenseman Bryan McCabe. Mitchell signed a two-way deal for $650,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL after having a one-way deal at $725,000 last season, according to capgeek.com.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

With goaltending and defense in lots of good hands, it wasn’t surprising the New York Rangers’ first four picks in the NHL draft Friday night and Saturday were forwards.

With the 15th pick, the Rangers chose center/left wing Jonathan T. Miller, who led Team USA in scoring with four goals and nine assists in six games en route to winning the gold medal in the Under-18 World Junior Championship in Germany. He tied for third among all skaters in points and was selected by tournament coaches as Team USA’s top player in the elite event.

Miller’s selection at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., came with some emotion, as it was announced by Aaron Boogaard, the younger brother of Derek Boogaard, the Rangers’ left wing who died at 28 at his apartment in Minneapolis on May 13. Boogaard, whose late brother was a seventh-round pick of the host Minnesota Wild in 2001, was introduced by Rangers director of player personnel Gordie Clark.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

Hopefully NHL officials will again take notice of the Hartford market’s interest in hockey.

As in the Eastern Conference finals, the Insurance City region ranked fourth in the overnight ratings for Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals won by the Boston Bruins, though this time Hartford tied with Detroit at 8.7.

Overall, the game generated a 5.7 overnight rating for NBC, tying Game 7 of the 2003 finals between the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks for the most-watched Game 7 in NHL history, according to The Nielsen Company.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

Trumbull native Chris Drury’s time as New York Rangers center and captain is on the verge of ending.

Multiple sources have told the New York Post that Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather has informed Drury that he will be bought out of the final year of the five-year, $32.05 million contract he signed as a free agent on July 1, 2007. The same day the Rangers signed center Scott Gomez to a seven-year, $51.5 million contract, but he was traded to the Montreal Canadiens on June 30, 2009 in a deal that included defensemen Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko, who started last season with the Connecticut Whale.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

Good news and bad news today on the “used to be on the local hockey market scene.”

First, the Phoenix Coyotes, who are NOT moving to Winnipeg, Manitoba, signed former Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers goalie Jason LaBarbera to a two-year contract extension.

Terms weren’t disclosed, but the unrestricted free agent earned $1 million this season to be the backup to Ilya Bryzgalov, who made $4.2 million. So it’s safe to assume former Rangers assistant general manager/Wolf Pack GM Don Maloney gave LaBarbera at least some kind of raise after he was 7-6-3 with a 3.26 goals-against average, .909 save percentage and two shutouts in 17 games in his second season with the Coyotes.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1I can only imagine what it was like inside the Rogers Arena in Vancouver on Saturday night.

I might have been more than 2,000 miles away, but I’m not afraid to admit I got a bit choked up when I heard the raucous crowd chanting “Man-ny, Man-ny” as I watched Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals on TV.

So much for no cheering in the press box – or from a living room couch.

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FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

bruce mug shot 1The Binghamton Senators moved within one victory of their first Calder Cup title Saturday night, but they’ll have to win it on the road.

Former Hartford Wolf Pack center Corey Locke got the Senators started and Zach Smith scored a power-play goal late in the second period and added an insurance tally with 4:04 left in a 4-2 victory over the Houston Aeros at the Broome County Veterans Memorial Arena.

The win was the second in a row for the Senators, who have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven finals and can capture the title Tuesday night at the Toyota Center in Houston. If the Aeros prevail, a decisive Game 7 will be Thursday night in Texas, but the odds aren’t in their favor of adding a second title to the one that they won in 2003. Of the 19 previous best-of-seven finals that have been tied 2-2, only the 1987 Rochester Americans won after losing Game 5.

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