BY: Bruce Berlet
Two former New York Rangers/Hartford Wolf Pack players were on the opposite ends of the happiness scale Wednesday.
Defenseman Fedor Tyutin hit the jackpot, while center Marc Savard’s career sadly could be over far too soon.
Tyutin, the Rangers’ second-round pick in 2001, signed a six-year, $27 million contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets, who added free agent James Wisniewski in a major offseason deal and now have a top-flight pairing. Tyutin will have a salary cap hit of $4.5 million a season after getting seven goals and 20 assists in 80 games last season. Tyutin, who will make $3.425 million this season, would have been an unrestricted free agent next July 1.
“Pleased to announce 6 year extension for Fedor Tyutin,” Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Fedor has been our top dman since we traded for him. He signed the deal this morning.”
On July 2, 2008, the 28-year-old Tyutin and defenseman Christian Backman were traded by the Rangers to Columbus for forwards Nikolay Zherdev and Dan Fritsche. Tyutin, who has 22 goals and 71 assists in three seasons with the Blue Jackets, is the only player in the trade since with New York or Columbus.
Tyutin averaged between 20:02 and 20:33 in ice time in parts of four seasons with the Rangers, but he has played at least 22:42 a game each season with the Blue Jackets. Tyutin also has represented Russia in the past two Olympics, getting four assists in 17 games. He had seven goals and 10 assists in 56 games with the Wolf Pack in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.
Meanwhile, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told Boston Globe writer Fluto Shinzawa that he doesn’t expect Savard to play this season. Savard, 34, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 1995, had two goals and eight assists while playing in only 25 games with the Stanley Cup champion Bruins last season, which started late because of symptoms from a concussion in 2009-10 and ended in January after another concussion.
“Marc Savard won’t play this year,” Chiarelli told Shinzawa. “Nothing has changed in our monitoring. He’ll be examined and he’ll be declared unfit to play.”
In the four seasons before his first concussion in March 2010, Savard averaged more than 89 points and was considered one of the top passers in the NHL. A two-time All-Star, Savard has five seasons remaining on his contract, but Shinzawa also reported Savard is not expected to be present for the start of training camp.
“Based on what I see, what I hear, what I read, and what I’m told, it’s very unlikely Marc will play again,” Chiarelli said. “Now, knowing the uncertainty of this injury, there’s always a chance [he could play]. But based on what I’m told, it’s very unlikely he’ll play. As an employer, I support him and hope he gets back to living a healthy life.”
It’s a sad ending to a blindside hit that Savard took from Pittsburgh Penguins’ noted headhunter Matt Cooke in a game on March 7, 2010. The on-ice officials did not penalize Cooke for the hit, and three days later, league disciplinarian Colin Campbell said the league would not suspend or fine Cooke. But the hit and its aftermath were part of the key evidence that caused NHL to institute a new rule more heavily penalizing blindside hits.
Savard sustained another concussion when hit by friend and former teammate Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche on Jan. 22. In an interview with TSN on Aug. 1, Savard said he was still suffering the effects of post-concussion syndrome.
“It’s obviously been a long road for me,” said Savard, who had 24 goals and 63 assists in 67 games with the Wolf Pack in 1997-98 and 1998-99 before being traded to the Calgary Flames. “I’m still suffering with a lot of daily issues. Right now it’s been a tough go. I’m just trying to get through and not worry about hockey right now, just worry about my health because I have three young kids and they’re important to me.
“Mornings have been tough. When I get up in the morning I’m a little foggy sometimes. But as the day wears on, I’m pretty good. Hot sun is tough; I try to stay in the shade and stuff like that and pop the odd Advil and it seems to be OK.”
Wonder if Cooke has any remorse about the senseless hit he put on Savard? Probably not, but at least he couldn’t prevent Savard from having his day with the Stanley Cup in his hometown of Peterborough, Ontario, where he took hockey’s most prized trophy to a local golf course.
Here’s hoping arguably the most skilled player in Wolf Pack history can live somewhat of a normal life for the remainder of his days.
BULLDOGS TO HOST OUTDOOR GAME
The Hamilton Bulldogs will host the AHL’s third outdoor game at Ivor Wynne Stadium on Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. The games against the Toronto Marlies will be the first time in AHL history that a Canadian team has held an outdoor game.
“This will be a week-long celebration of hockey, with an NHL and AHL alumni game, local minor hockey games, culminating with a battle between the Bulldogs and the Marlies on January 21st,” Bulldogs owner and chairman Michael Andlauer said. “It is our chance to showcase what a great hockey community Hamilton truly is. To me, this is about more than just a hockey game, it’s about bringing the community together in celebration of what is truly Canadian; an outdoor hockey game between the farm clubs of the two most storied franchises in hockey, being played in a Canadian Football League stadium.
“We are very thankful in partnering and working closely with Mayor Bob Bratina and the City of Hamilton as well as Bob Young, Scott Mitchell and the Tiger-Cats to ensure this is a great success. With their backing, and the support of ’Dogs fans, ’Cats fans and all Hamiltonians, I’m confident that together we’ll easily break the AHL’s attendance record of 21,673.”
That would be the 21,673 that attended the second outdoor game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford on Feb. 19, when the host Connecticut Whale lost 5-4 to the Providence Bruins in a shootout. The first outdoor game was Feb. 20, 2010, when the host Syracuse Crunch beat the Binghamton Senators 2-1 before 21,508 at the New York State Fairgrounds.
“The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are excited to be involved with the Bulldogs for such a great event for our city,” Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell said. “This outdoor game will be a terrific way to kick off the 2012 sports calendar in what is the final season of historic Ivor Wynne Stadium.”
“Hockey fans in southern Ontario are in for a terrific experience as the American Hockey League goes outdoors for the first time in Canada,” AHL President and CEO David Andrews said. “Historic Ivor Wynne Stadium has been the site of many great Hamilton-Toronto games in the CFL, and now the Hamilton Bulldogs and Toronto Marlies will bring their intense pro hockey rivalry to what could be an all-time record AHL crowd.”
All Bulldogs season ticket holders will receive a ticket to the outdoor game in their package. Prior to going on sale to the public, season ticket holders and flex pack holders will have an opportunity to purchase tickets to the game. Tickets for the outdoor game will go on sale to the public on Oct. 11 at 10:00 a.m. Ticket prices will be announced in the near future.
“A new era of professional hockey has begun thanks to Michael Andlauer and the Bulldogs,” Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said. “I encourage all Hamilton hockey fans to consider joining me as a Bulldogs season ticket holder.”
AVON’S DEMICHIEL SIGNS WITH KALAMAZOO
Goalie Jared DeMichiel of Avon signed a one-year contract with Kalamazoo of the ECHL but will attend the training camp of the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins. DeMichiel, 26, who was born in Torrington and played at Avon Old Farms, led upstart Rochester Institute of Technology to the Frozen Four in 2010, when he was 27-10-1 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .921 save percentage and had six shutouts in 38 games before signing a free-agent contract with the Washington Capitals. He previously played with the Boston Harbor Wolves in the Eastern Junior Hockey League, Springfield Junior Blues in the North American Hockey League and the Chicago Steel and Indiana Ice in the United States Hockey League.
In his rookie pro season, DeMichel was 2-1-0, 3.65, .873 in five games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, 14-10-0, 2.66, .913 in 26 games with the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays and 1-2-2, 3.93, .889 in five games with the ECHL’s Elmira Jackals. Now he gets to rub elbows with the reigning Stanley Cup champions, including star goalie Tim Thomas, before heading to Michigan. DeMichiel’s favorite sports moment so far is Kevin Dineen’s winning goal in a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Hartford Whalers’ last home game April 13, 1997. Maybe some time with Thomas & Co. will change DeMichiel’s mind.
WSE EXECUTIVE TO BE HONORED
Howard Baldwin, president and CEO of Whalers Sports and Entertainment, will receive the Connecticut Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s 2011 Community Leader of the Year Award at its Sportscasters’ Super Ball Nov. 12 at The Club at Rentschler Field in East Hartford.
The black-tie gala honors state sports stars and community leaders while raising money and awareness for Cystic Fibrosis. The gala was established in 2002 by ESPN’s Joe Tessier and Chris Berman to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and includes dinner, dancing and a live auction.
“Howard Baldwin is the definition of a community leader,” said Paul Drury, director of special projects at the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “He brings people together, simple as that. The Winter Fest at Rentschler Field last February is a perfect example. There were pee wee, high school and NHL alumni games, and thousands of fans to watch. But most importantly, he gives back to the community he believes in.”
Past Community Leader honorees have included philanthropist Mark Wilson, The Hartford CFO Liz Zlatkus, Open Solutions CEO Louis Hernandez and IAE President Jon Beatty. Former sports honorees have included: Geno Auriemma, Jen Rizzotti, Jim Brown, Steve Young, Brian Leetch, Luis Tiant and Dwight Freeney.
For tickets ($200) or to get involved with the foundation, contact Drury at 860-632-7300 or firstname.lastname@example.org.