Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Open Letter From the USHL

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"You guys talked about playing the Memorial Cup winner. Sure. Ready to do it. It would provide some great hockey." - Skip Prince, (Commissioner of the USHL)

For the last week or so there has been a lot of discussion on our show comparing the caliber of hockey leagues across North America. It began with a listener's comment to us via Twitter and took off from there. We've tossed around hypothetical match ups that would pit the Memorial Cup champs against the USHL's Clark Cup winners, considered a clash between Clark Cup and RBC Cup champions and wondered if it was all just a pipe dream.

Those conversations have spawned a TON of feedback to us via Twitter and to our email inbox. Last Saturday we were joined by Brian Werger, Director of Communication for the USHL, who offered up a perspective from his league's vantage point.

Yesterday, CHL President David Branch dropped a bit of a bombshell on the subject and today we've got an open letter from USHL President/Commissioner Skip Prince.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Tuesday Night on TPS: Is the CHL Branching Out?

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Tonight we were honoured to have the head man from the biggest junior hockey league in the world with us, an up and coming prospect with the Pittsburgh Penguins, our resident CHL insider and a TPS favourite who shed some light on the Calgary Hitmen's import situation. It was a great show with some very interesting revelations.

NHL Rookie Watch

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Starting on Thursday, TPS will take a look at all 30 NHL teams and give you a few rookies to watch for this year. Not necessarily the most offensive or a Calder candidate, but simply one NHL freshman to watch for. Guy will handle the Eastern Conference and I'll take care of the West. One team from each conference will be featured each day as we get set for NHL training camps.

Interleague Play in the CHL

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Training camps are well underway in the CHL, the Q has even played exhibition games already. Now wouldn't it be nice if you lived in Regina and were able to watch Gatineau take on the Pats or Sarnia face off with Medicine Hat? How about living in Quebec and having the opportunity to see Kelowna skate against Belleville in the pre-season?

If the CHL held interleague play during the pre-season you would get to see that.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

2 Players Confirm College Intentions

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This weekend two high profile players went on the record confirming that their planned path to the NHL still runs through the NCAA. Normally this wouldn't be a big deal but in light of the "Summer of the CHL" and the recent comments from one very influential WHL General Manager, it's news certainly worth mentioning.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - Aug 27th

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With training camps opening all over the CHL and NCAA news still coming out south of the border there was lots to talk about on this morning's edition of TPS. We spoke with a recent draft pick of the New York Islanders, heard from a quartet of rookie hopefuls for the Edmonton Oil Kings, got a rundown on current events around the NCAA, discussed a really interesting hypothetical inter-league play idea and also spoke with a representative from the USHL in regards to comments heard on our last show.

Friday, August 26, 2011

A Few Match Ups We'd Like to See

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Tuesday night we had a fun discussion spurred on by this tweet from a listener.
rckaplan rob
"@ThePipelineShow How bout let the ushl play for the memorial cup?"
23 Aug
Guy and I chatted about the question and both agreed that while the USHL is a very good league it is not equal to the CHL. The USHL is more comparable to the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL) which includes Tier 1 junior leagues from B.C. to the Maritimes.

I was surprised to hear so many people disagree with us through Twitter, but enjoyed their reasoning. So we wondered about other league vs league games we might want to see or that are fair match ups.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oil Kings Open Camp

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Season 5 of the Edmonton Oil Kings has arrived. Rookie camp participants are all in town and will undergo fitness testing tomorrow with the first on-ice sessions scheduled for Friday in Fort Saskatchewan.

This is definitely the strongest Oil Kings team WHL fans have seen in the Alberta capital which only stands to reason; only 3 members of the 2011-12 squad played even a single game in the expansion year - you can find the answer to that trivia question and a rundown of my projected Oil Kings roster after the jump.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday Recap: August 23rd

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After one of the best episodes of The Pipeline Show last weekend the only way we could possibly follow it up was with another stellar line up of guests and that's what we were able to come up with for last night's show. A league commissioner made his TPS debut, we got the no-B.S. insight on the Plymouth Whalers and their off-season activities, one of last year's top NCAA freshmen joined us, a NHL GM kicked off hour 2, we hit Kelowna for a pre-season update and ended the show in the midst of a hot debate.

If you caught this edition of TPS, we know you were entertained.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Does David Branch 'Wear Too Many Hats'?

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The three CHL leagues have their own leadership in the form of Commissioners Gilles Courteau (QMJHL), Ron Robison (WHL) and David Branch (OHL). The leagues share many rules and regulations and during times like the CHL Top Prospects Game and the CHL Import Draft, they work in conjunction with each other.

But what happens when there is a dispute involving a couple of the leagues? Of course they take their issue to the CHL, however, the President of the Canadian Hockey League is the same David Branch that occupies the OHL office.

Is this a classic case of a conflict of interest? That's an argument coming out of the QMJHL right now and one that should be considered.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - Aug 20th

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Who says there is no hockey to talk about in the summer? Saturday morning we had a show that was wall-to-wall hockey featuring a couple of newcomers to TPS, a former TEAM 1260 personality, a regular media contributor from the Hockey East conference and possibly Dean Millard's favorite segment since I blindsided him with an Andy Moog wedding present back in Season 2.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

CHL Not Winning Every Battle

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A lot has been made this summer about the ongoing recruiting war over players between the CHL and NCAA programs. While the number of players backing out of their college commitment in favour of the CHL has actually gone down the last few years, the high profile players doing it in a short span this summer have drawn more attention to the subject.

I think it would be hard to argue that the CHL isn't winning this border skirmish and will continue to do so unless the NCAA alters some rules specifically for NCAA hockey and I am not sure if that is even possible for them to consider. But until then, they'll continue to lose more of the big players than they win.

But that's not to say that college hockey is not without some victories of their own. There are plenty of cases where high caliber players with CHL options are still headed down the college path, or at least haven't eliminated that option.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Hakstol Preparing Sioux for 2011-12

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"The best team doesn't always win." - Red Berenson (head coach, Michigan Wolverines).

That about summed up the feelings of most people who watched the semi-final of the 2011 Frozen Four that saw Berenson's Wolverines upset North Dakota 2-0, abruptly ending the season for the Fighting Sioux.

At the time, UND head coach Dave Hakstol told me that it was a loss that was going to take a very long time to get over. The coach joined me on Tuesday evening's edition of TPS for a pretty candid discussion which I began by asking if he's yet gotten over that devastating defeat.

"It was one of those ends to a season, one of those losses, that I don't think you necessarily can just get over and bypass but yeah... we've turned that page and after a few days you have to turn that page and move on to the next order of business and for us that's obviously building our team and our program for this year."

I spoke at length with coach Hakstol about that process as he and the Sioux get ready for the coming year with a high turnover in player personnel, a good incoming freshmen class, the loss of one key recruit to the CHL (was he surprised?) and the hope that some former depth players will step to the fore in 2011-12.

As usual, coach Hakstol didn't hold much back.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tuesday Recap: August 16th

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An absolutely loaded show tonight as we had a guest every segment to save me from solo tap dancing during Dean's absence. It started out, unintentionally, to be a coach's show as we brought in 3 bench men in the first hour alone to kick off the program. In hour 2 we spoke with our CHL Insider, an analyst who covered and could recap the Ivan Hlinka tournament and we closed the show with a former CJHL Player of the Year.

Did I mention that it was a kick ass, loaded show?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Robby Dee Hits UFA Status

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It's August 15th and barring some unreported last minute signing miracle, Robby Dee is no longer property of the Edmonton Oilers. TPS contacted the Plymouth Minnesota native yesterday and confirmed that nothing, as of 8PM Eastern, had been received from Edmonton. Dee declined to offer further comment other than to say that, at that time, he was "still Oilers property".

Dee played out his college eligibility at the University of Maine and ended his NCAA career in fine form scoring 35 points in 36 games for the Black Bears. It was the second consecutive season that he registered 13 goals as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Grimaldi NOT Jumping to 'The Dub'

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Via Twitter about half an hour ago:

RGrimaldi23 (Rocco Grimaldi)
"Many different choices, but I'm going with the Dub. The Dub is the best fit for me #TheDub"

TPS checked into this and the update is below.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - Aug 13th

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Another jam packed edition of The Pipeline Show this morning as we went touched base with a CHL team in the QMJHL, the OHL and the WHL plus went across the border for the latest at the U20 camp in Lake Placid for USA. We also checked in with one of our regular CHL gurus for his take on the latest chapter in the never ending border kerfuffle between major junior and NCAA hockey.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Tuesday Night: In Studio Guests and more

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Tonight we had a couple of special in studio guests and were joined by 2 others on the Moosehead hotline as well as running down a few hot topics in the world of hockey prospects. We covered the on going recruiting tug of war between NCAA and CHL, how to win the ongoing battle with concussions in the game and how 2 Buffalo Sabre prospects are progressing in their careers. Also what does the term 'Milk Bag' mean in the game of hockey? Keep reading to find out.

Oilers Invite Kelowna Goalie to Camp

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According to the voice of the Kelowna Rockets Regan Bartel, the Edmonton Oilers have invited goalie Adam Brown to take part in their prospect tournament in Penticton. Bartel posted a blurb about the the invite yesterday on his blog.

The 5'10, 165 lb Californian has put up terrific numbers with the Rockets over the last seasons including a 36-22-1 record last year which featured a .916 SV% and 2.59 GAA through 60 regular season appearances.

According to Bartel, Brown is expected to be back with the Rockets in 2011-12 for his final season of junior eligibility.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hands of Stone

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Up to this point the term 'Hands of Stone' has always been used in a negative way to describe a player who just can't produce offensively even when goals are gift wrapped for him. That saying might be due for an update because after notching 8-points in Canada's two Red/White games, Brandon's Mark Stone (OTT) is proving that there's absolutely nothing wrong with his hands.

Red/White Game Short On Highlights

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It was an exciting final few minutes that will be remembered by most of the fans in attendance at Rexall Place on Saturday, a good thing since much of the Canadian Red/White game was pretty average. With no cuts being made in this camp and the players in peak August form, one should have probably expected a game like the one we saw yesterday. It had big saves, nice goals, notable collisions and some thrills down the stretch but those highlights were often separated by lengthy lulls.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Morning Special - Aug 6th

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Hockey Canada's U20 camp dominated discussion today on TPS as should be expected when the summer World junior camp is going on in our back yard. But we also made time for a WHL GM who made a massive coaching move this past week and we also went south of the border to check in on Team USA's summer camp as well.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Camping Out For Canada

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The Hockey Canada U20 World Junior Championship summer development camp is 2 days in and it's been fun to watch 2 teams of highly skilled and motivated players.

I only saw part of Thursday's controlled scrimmage because of my shift at Global TV, but Guy and I caught the first two days of practice sessions this week and it's clear to me that there is more pure skill at this camp than last year's. If Canada can get the right guys back and everyone is mostly healthy Canada should be the favourite heading in despite two straight Silver Medals.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cougars/Americans Goalie Swap

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A deal today in the WHL that sees the Tri-City Americans and Prince George Cougars swapping goaltenders. The Americans have acquired Ty Rimmer and a 2012 rd plus 2013 5th round pick while sending 20-year-old Drew Owsley and a conditional 7th in 2013 to the Cougars.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Coaching Carousel Continues

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It was very interesting to see Kelly McCrimmon step down in Brandon today and had the Head Coaching duties over to Cory Clouston McCrimmon who is also G.M. and owner of the team brings in a guy who despite being only 41 years old has a wack of experience at the junior and pro level. The official release can be found here.

So why was now the right time for McCrimmon? I've been told that the 2nd winningest coach in team history has reviewed his situation each season. We'll find out if that's true this Saturday when he joins us on The Pipeline Line at 10:25 am mst. You can hear the interview on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton or online here. It's good to see that assistant coach Dwayne Gylywoychuk is staying with the club and that Darren Ritchie will become a full time assistant coach. Both guys bring tremendous assets to the team.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What Came Down The Pipe Tonight: Season 7 Debut

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Tonight Guy and I went 4 out of 5, which would get us in the Hall of Fame if we played baseball. We talked a lot about Hockey Canada and it's U18 and U20 programs, welcomed in a new WHL coach and went coast to coast in the CHL. The Only guest we missed out on was new Western Michigan Head Coach Andy Murray, but we hope to catch up with him soon. Check out the first show of season 7 below.

Penguins Sign Morrow to Entry Level Deal

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The Pipeline Show has learned that the Pittsburgh Penguins have wasted no time inking their most recent first found pick to a contract. Sources tell TPS that the club will announce Wednesday that they have signed defenceman Joe Morrow to a 3-year, entry level contract.

The Penguins selected the Sherwood Park, Alberta native with the 23rd overall pick in this past June's 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Morrow had a strong campaign with the Portland Winterhawks picking up 9 goals and 49 points in 60 regular season games. He contributed 20 points in 21 playoff appearances as the Winterhawks went the distance, losing in the WHL's Championship series to Kootenay.

Morrow is a 6'1, 200 lbs blueliner currently taking part in Hockey Canada's U20 summer camp as he hopes to represent his country at the 2012 World Junior Championship. The event will be held in two Alberta cities; Calgary and in Morrow's own back yard, Edmonton.

(Photo: Bryan Heim / WHL.ca)