Tag Archives: Francis Lessard


Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

If you want to see the personification of tough luck, look no farther than Connecticut Whale right wing Chad Kolarik.

After persevering through nagging hamstring problems last season to earn kudos from New York Rangers coach John Tortorella for his work during four games with the parent club, returning to continue his solid play in the AHL playoffs and then getting a contract extension on June 17 and married on Aug. 5, Kolarik was primed to enjoy a run at a steady job on Broadway.

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bruce mug shot 1BY: Bruce Berlet

The melancholy filtered through the phone line.

Brodie Dupont, the player with the longest standing with the Hartford Wolf Pack/Connecticut Whale, had got his wish this week when he was qualified by the parent New York Rangers.

But Saturday the multi-purpose forward suddenly found himself headed elsewhere.

Dupont, a third-round pick in 2005 who played in his first NHL game last season, was traded to the Nashville Predators for forward Andreas Thuresson.

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Connecticut WhaleA couple of quick notes.

As you might imagine, Kris Newbury has been returned to the Connecticut Whale from the New York Rangers. He should be in the lineup tonight when the Whale take on the Adirondack Phantoms in Glens Falls at 7pm.

Also, Blake Parlett and Lee Baldwin are skating with the Whale. Both Baldwin and Parlett are listed in AHL Transactions, and were reported earlier by Bruce Berlet in his report Thursday. Also, goaltender Pier-Olivier Pelletier was released from his PTO.

Other ex-Wolf Pack/Whale players on the move include Francis Lessard who’s been recalled to Ottawa, Nigel Dawes is with Atlanta and Dave Urquhart has been recalled from Wheeling to Hamilton in the AHL.

Here’s the official release:



New York, February 18, 2011 – New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that forward Kris Newbury has been assigned to the Connecticut Whale of the American Hockey League (AHL).

Newbury, 28, did not dress in a 4-3 shootout win vs. Los Angeles last night after being recalled from Connecticut on Wednesday.  He has registered one assist and 35 penalty minutes in eight games with the Rangers this season.  He made his Blueshirts debut at Montreal on January 15, and recorded his first point as a Ranger with the primary assist on the game-tying goal in a 3-2 shootout win at Atlanta on January 22.  Newbury returns to Connecticut, where he has recorded eight goals and 33 assists for 41 points, along with 98 penalty minutes in 49 games this season.  He leads the team and is tied for seventh in the AHL in assists, ranks second on the Whale in points and fourth in penalty minutes. Newbury registered three points in two games this past weekend, including a two-point performance in a 4-1 win at Providence on Sunday (one goal, one assist).  He has now registered a team-high, 11 multi-point performances this season, including two separate streaks of three games with multiple points – November 13 vs. Springfield to November 19 at Springfield (six assists), and December 3 at Providence to December 11 vs. Manchester (one goal, six assists).  The 5-11, 213-pounder established a career-high with an eight-game assist streak from November 28 vs. Adirondack to December 17 vs. Worcester, recording three goals and 12 assists over the span.

The Brampton, Ontario native was originally San Jose’s fifth round pick, 139th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.  He was acquired by the Rangers from Detroit in exchange for forward Jordan Owens on March 3, 2010.



Charlotte Checkers VERSUS     Binghampton

Senators netminder tied for league lead with four shutouts

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Goaltender Barry Brust was the difference, stopping 32 shots, as the Binghamton Senators blanked the Charlotte Checkers, 3-0, in front of more than 9,800 rowdy fans.

The shutout was Brust’s fourth of the season, tying him with Peoria’s Jake Allen for the league lead. Mike Murphy made 26 saves in a losing effort for the Checkers and for the first time this season was handed back-to-back regulation losses. The teams will meet again tomorrow at 3 p.m. Continue reading


Charlotte Checkers VERSUS     Binghampton

Matsumoto pots two; Staal nets first ever AHL goal

BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The Charlotte Checkers broke a  third-period tie with two goals, 1:18 apart, and downed the Binghamton Senators, 4-2, on Saturday evening. Continue reading

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

Bruce Headshot

By Bruce Berlet

No Nick Fotiu, no Jack Carlson, no Curt Brackenbury, no Gilles Bilodeau from the New England Whalers days in the World Hockey Association.

No Stu Grimson, no Jim McKenzie, no Dave Schultz, no Torrie Robertson from the Hartford Whalers days in the National Hockey League.

No Dale Purinton, no Richard Scott, no Francis Lessard, no Brandon “Sugar” Sugden from the Hartford Wolf Pack days in the American Hockey League.

No problem, no problem, no problem, no problem for the new Connecticut Whale. Continue reading

FROM THE CREASE with Bruce Berlet

Bruce HeadshotBy Bruce Berlet

Devin DiDiomete says he might resemble a bouncing cannonball on his first shift on the XL Center ice Friday night.

Who could blame the Hartford Wolf Pack’s feisty left wing?

The 5-foot-11, 200-pound DiDiomete hasn’t played in a game since March 30 with the Charlotte Checkers when the pain in his left hip just became too much to tolerate.

Since then, the Checkers have left the ECHL to become one of the AHL’s two new teams, and DiDiomete has spent nearly seven months trying to get back in a lineup, especially since May 7, when he had six hours, 15 minutes of surgery in New York to repair an impingement, micro-fracture and torn labrum in his hip.

So if you’re attending the Wolf Pack’s game against the Binghamton Senators on Friday night at 7, make sure you’re there in time for DiDiomete’s first appearance, which should be alongside rookie Kelsey Tessier and Evgeny Grachev, who returned to center during a brisk, 45-minute practice Thursday.

“I’m excited to get back at it. I’ve waited long enough,” said the 22-year-old DiDiomete, whose closest proximity to the ice for months was as a radio analyst with play-by-play man Bob Crawford. “I can’t even remember the last game I played. It’s awful, huh? I have enough energy for about 20 games, so I’m going to pile all that into positive energy in one game.

“I’m playing with two good players, so hopefully I can get in on the forecheck, provide energy and get under (the other team’s) skin without putting the team at a disadvantage (with penalties). If I provide some offensive zone pressure, maybe create some chances, be good in my defensive zone and not get scored on, then I’m doing my job.”

DiDiomete had a season to forget in 2009-10, when he broke his arm and then had the hip issues that limited him to two goals, seven assists with 247 penalty minutes in 49 games with the Wolf Pack and Checkers. But he said lots of hard work, the efforts of his surgeon and help from trainer Damien Hess, strength and conditioning coordinator Jeremy Goodman, coach Ken Gernander and assistants J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller enabled DiDiomete to return ahead of schedule.

“Obviously last season I didn’t have a great season, but I just have to put that all behind me and kind of totally refocus,” said DiDiomete, signed as a free agent two years ago Wednesday after being the Calgary Flames’ seventh-round pick in 2006. “I have 10 times the confidence that I had last year. I’m skating better than I did last year. I’m handling the puck better than I did last year. I’m confident when I get the puck now because of all the things I’ve had to do to get back.

“When you sit around and go nothing for three months, you tend to realize stuff can be taken from you pretty quick. I think that inspired me to work harder this summer and work real hard on my rehab. It’s pretty serious to think you’re going to be out nine months and then be back in five months, three weeks. I’m way ahead of schedule, and a lot of credit goes to a lot of people for getting me back in shape. It’s going to awesome to get back at it.”

Gernander said the Wolf Pack “could use a little fireworks” that DiDiomete can provide after a 5-1 loss to the Norfolk Admirals (4-0-0-0) on Wednesday night, when they started well but got worse as the game progressed. It began with penalties and turnovers in the second period, and Chad Johnson admittedly allowed two bad goals, with the middle three resulting from some strange bounces and deflections off the foot and stick of Wolf Pack rookie defensemen Tomas Kundratek and Pavel Valentenko.

“Devin has been working hard on his conditioning and is game-ready, so I think he’s someone who can help us,” said Gernander, who monitored DiDiomete’s post-practice skating the past week. “I think he has several attributes. He can stir things up, but I thought at times (Wednesday night) we were flat or lacked guys who were willing to finish hits or get pucks deep and do good grunt work. Not that we don’t have the personality, but we didn’t (do it), and that’s one of the things he brings and has to offer.”

Captain Dane Byers, another in-your-face player, said he looks forward to DiDiomete’s return.

“I wasn’t happy with the way we played,” said Byers, who made an unusually quick exit from the locker room to meet with his agent. “The first period was OK, then our special teams took away from us and we started making plays that don’t win hockey games. When you don’t do the little things in this league, you’re not going to win games, and it all starts with working hard.

“But there are 74 games left, so we have to learn from it. If we do, then I think we have the talent to be a good team. And I’m sure (DiDiomete) will bring some energy and maybe a little something we’re missing.”

Johnson said a lot of things were missing the last 40 minutes Wednesday night.

“There were a lot of bouncy pucks, but it could have probably been 9-0 with all the chances they had,” Johnson said. “We just weren’t sharp, didn’t have it. They had our defensemen working hard trying to get pucks. We didn’t have a lot of outlets (to the forwards), and we were turning pucks over, couldn’t get the puck in (the Norfolk zone) and had penalties. I think everyone has to be better, myself included.

“It’s disappointing. We had a good weekend (getting five of six points on the road), but maybe we got too far ahead. We’ve just got to regroup and look ahead for the weekend.”

The Wolf Pack (3-2-0-1) continues a season-high, five-game home stand against the Senators (2-3-0-0) before the Syracuse Crunch (1-2-0-1) comes to town Saturday night at 7.

Binghamton, the top affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, is led by center Corey Locke (one goal, five assists), who wasn’t re-signed by the Rangers after leading the Wolf Pack in assists (54) and points (85) last season and being named to the second all-star team. Former Wolf Pack tough guy Francis Lessard is pointless but has 25 penalty minutes in three games.

Former Lowell Devils coach Kurt Kleinendorst has replaced former Whalers center Don Nachbaur behind the Senators bench and is assisted by former Bridgeport Sound Tigers coach Steve Stirling, who replaced former Wolf Pack assistant Mike Busniuk. Fans can meet World Wrestling Entertainment superstar MVP before the game in the XL Center atrium, starting at 6 p.m.

Weise To Have Hand Surgery in New York on Friday

After seeing specialists in Hartford on Monday and New York on Tuesday, Wolf Pack right wing Dale Weise has decided to have surgery on his broken left hand on Friday.

“The doctor said I needed the surgery because there was a potential the bone could attach to the tendon,” Weise said. “It’s similar to what Soryal and (Artem) Anisimov had, though the doc said it’s worse than Artie, which didn’t make me happy. But it looks like it’ll be 4-to-6 weeks (to recover), compared to 6-to-8 if I didn’t have the surgery and just tried to rehab it. But there was no guarantee that it would heal on its own, so I told the doctor, ‘Let’s get it done.’ ”

Weise traveled to New York on Thursday, will have the surgery Friday morning and hopes to return to the lineup by early December. It’s especially frustrating for Weise to be injured now because the Rangers have only 12 healthy forwards with leading scorer Marian Gaborik (separated left shoulder), Vinny Prospal (knee) and captain/Trumbull native Chris Drury (broken left index finger) out from three weeks to six weeks.

Weise has one goal and one assist in three games this season after recording career highs in goals (28), assists (22) and points (50) in 2009-10. … Before getting injured, Weise played with center Kris Newbury, who was sporting a San Francisco Giants cap in the locker room. Newbury said he wasn’t jumping on any bandwagon. “I just like the hat,” Newbury said — along with Giants’ position in the National League Championship series, leading 3-1 in the best-of-seven entering Game 5 Thursday night. “But they have to face Roy Halladay, so that’s not going to be easy.”

Film Session

Before practice, Gernander and his assistants had a video session with the team.

“After some of the things that transpired (Wednesday) night, we felt it was important that people see them, some from a teaching standpoint and some from just recognition of defensive zone coverage and turnovers, as opposed to just simple plays that lead to forechecking pressure,” Gernander said. “If you turn the puck over, now they’re transitioning and pressuring us as opposed to us doing it.

“Not every goal is going to be scored on the rush, but we need to find ways of controlling the tempo of the game, sustaining pressure with the forecheck and those kinds of things. When things aren’t well, you go right back to Square One and the building blocks. You don’t try and become more elaborate.”

When practice started, Gernander had only one line still intact from Wednesday night: Byers-Newbury-Jeremy Williams. Besides Grachev being between DiDiomete and Tessier after a listless effort against the Admirals, Tim Kennedy centered Brodie Dupont and Mats Zuccarello, and Justin Soryal, Ryan Garlock, Chris McKelvie and Brandon Wong rotated on a fourth line. Wong didn’t play much the last two periods against Norfolk, so DiDiomete might replace the former Quinnipiac University standout Friday night.

Dupont was put with two offensive players to hopefully get him going. He doesn’t have a point in six games and is a team-worst minus-4 after being minus-3 Wednesday night, though he was one of the Wolf Pack’s better players. Defenseman Jared Nightingale could return and add some more spunk to the team after missing five games with an infected right foot. “Obviously that’s an option,” Gernander said. “He’s a physical player and a hard-nosed kid.” … The five-minute video on Wolf Pack defenseman Wade Redden that the Canadian Broadcasting Company filmed last week to show during the Ottawa Senators-Montreal Canadiens game on “Hockey Night in Canada” on Saturday night can be seen at www.whalerssports.com. Redden played the first 11 of his 13 NHL seasons in Ottawa, where he was one of the team’s favorite players, before signing a six-year, $39 million contract with the Rangers in 2008. On the video, which included time at his home in New York City with wife Danica and 4-week-old daughter Leni, Redden said he considered retiring after he cleared waivers and was assigned to the Wolf Pack so his $6.5 million salary would be erased from the Rangers’ $59.4 million cap. But he felt he still could play in the NHL, so he reported and has been a steadying influence on the Wolf Pack’s young defense in his first six minor-league games of his career. 

Voting Underway for All-Wolf Pack Team

Voting for the All-Time Wolf Pack Team began Wednesday and continues through Nov. 7. The team will be announced at the Nov. 13 game against the Springfield Falcons, the last at the XL Center for the Wolf Pack before they become the Connecticut Whale two weeks later. Fans can vote at CTWhale.com and at various retailers courtesy of Hartford Distributors and Bud Light.

Fans can choose one goaltender, two defensemen and three forwards. Candidates for the team are goaltenders Jason LaBarbera, J.F. Labbe and Steve Valiquette, defensemen Dan Girardi, Mike Mottau, Thomas Pock, Corey Potter, Dale Purinton and Terry Virtue and forwards Gernander, Byers, Derek Armstrong, Nigel Dawes, Alexander Giroux, Todd Hall, Greg Moore, P.A. Parenteau, Richard Scott, Brad Smyth, P.J. Stock and Craig Weller.