|Blades’ Post-Mortem: Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes Coming!|
|Written by Les Lazaruk|
|Monday, 02 April 2012 17:02|
Losing out in four straight games in the first round of the Western Hockey League isn’t much better than not qualifying for the Ed Chynoweth Cup Tournament.
Lorne Molleken seemed to be in agreement with that statement when the Saskatoon Blades’ General Manager and Head Coach spoke to the media the day after watching his club succumb to the Medicine Hat Tigers in the minimum amount of games in their Eastern Conference quarter-final series.
“We had a good regular season, not a great one (40 wins, 83 points, 5th place in the Eastern Conference),” stated Molleken. “The playoffs are something that is very frustrating because it is two years in a row where we’ve went out four straight because of lack of determination.”
“Moving forward into the Memorial Cup year (the Blades will host the CHL championship tournament in may, 2013), I’ve got lots of things to think about over the summer,” continued Molleken. “I’m not pleased and there’s going to be lots of changes.”
One of those changes will not see Molleken relinquish the Head Coaching part of his dual role to focus on just putting together the Blades’ team for next season as General Manager.
“I think Lorne has done an absolutely outstanding job,” said Blades’ co-owner, President and Governor Jack Brodsky. “Certainly, we’re as disappointed and he’s as disappointed as anybody is in the way this year ended. I have all the confidence in the world in Lorne as the General Manager and a coach. He’s very accomplished. I see what he does and he does a great job and there’s no problem with our coaching, I can tell you that.”
Being swept by Medicine Hat comes one year after being taken out 4-0 in the Eastern Conference semi-finals by Kootenay, who went on to win the WHL title that many thought the Bridge City Bunch had a great chance at following a franchise-best 56-13-3 record in the 2010-11 regular-season. Many fans feel coaching is at the root of the problem, but that view isn’t shared within the locker room.
“It’s obviously the players,” explained right winger Josh Nicholls, one of the Blades’ older and most offensively, gifted players in each of the last two years. “We’re the ones that go on the ice and we’ve got to compete every night and try to get those wins.”
Nicholls is one of 20 players on the Saskatoon roster that finished the year up who are eligible to be a part of the Blades’ team that is guaranteed to play in the MasterCard Memorial Cup, May 17-26 at Credit Union Centre.
Not returning, after completing their junior eligibility, are forwards Jake Trask, Jesse Paradis and Michael Burns. Besides Nicholls, the following players are eligibile to return…goaltenders Andrey Makarov, Adam Todd and Patrick Johnson; defencemen Duncan Siemens, Dalton Thrower, Connor Cox, Darren Dietz, Matthew Pufahl, Kyle Schmidt and Tommy Stipancik plus forwards Matej Stransky, Ryan Olsen, Lukas Sutter, Chris Collins, Brent Benson, Nick Zajac, Travis McEvoy, Brett Stovin, Kyle Haas and Locke Muller.
Molleken said the two import players, Stransky (Czech Republic) and Makarov (Russia), have committed to return in the fall…but added there were no “untouchables” on the roster when it came to a possible trade.
With that said, be sure to pick up a program when September rolls around!
BLADES PLAYER OF THE WEEK/TOP PLAYOFF PERFORMER – Being shutout in Game 4 and out-scored 8-2 in the two home games that finished off the season left little in the way of a “Player-of-the-Week” candidate. But, when combining all four games, the most prominent member of the Bridge City Bunch to stand out was captain and defenceman Duncan Siemens. He had an assist on one of the two goals and left it all on the ice in, what appeared to be, an impossible task of slowing down Medicine Hat forward Emerson Etem. Siemens moved on to join the Colorado Avalanche’s American Hockey League affiliate, the Lake Erie Monsters. The 18-year-old Sherwood Park, Ab product was the Avs’ second pick of the first round of the 2011 NHL draft…11th overall.