Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interview with JF Berube

Earlier this week we checked in with Kings prospect Kyle Clifford, getting his take on the just completed evaluation camp for Team Canada's World Jr. team.

Today, we move to the other end of the ice. Fellow Kings prospect JF Berube steps away from the goaltending crease and shares his thoughts on the, a few notes on being drafted, his UFC-inspired mask and his plans for the future.

While JF didn't have any horrific travel stories to report - read about Kyle's experience here - he did open up on what it's like to be part of a Kings organization currently stacked with prospects between the pipes.

Of course, he also provided a few opinions on the other Kings draft picks at the camp too - guys like Brayden Schenn, Tyler Toffoli and Nic Deslauriers.

Yet, national pride is at the heart of this story. Most Canadians tend to think the game of hockey belongs to them. So, losing the gold medal to the U.S. at last year's WJC tournament had to sting - especially considering Canada's recent domination, having won five straight golds coming into the action.

To make matters worse, the silver medal came on home ice in Saskatchewan. This year, the U.S. enters as the defending champions on their own turf, in Buffalo, NY. That whole dynamic seemed like a great place to start...

After watching Canada lose to the U.S. last year at the World Jrs.  How important is it to you personally to get some sort of revenge in Buffalo this year?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tuesday's 10 Tidbits on Team USA's WJC Camp

Nearly all of the best hockey players in the world make a stop at the annual World Junior Championships, held each year right after Christmas.

Both the Canadian and U.S. programs just completed their evaluation camps for this winter's tournament. Yesterday, Kings prospect Kyle Clifford checked in with a report on what went down with Team Canada - including his comments on the five other Kings players who joined him in Newfoundland.

Today, we catch up with a few of the young stars that attended the rival's camp...that of team USA, the defending champions!

Two first round selections at the recent NHL Draft in Los Angeles join us for this special report, Charlie Coyle (San Jose) and Nick Bjugstad (Florida). They have all the details of the happenings from Lake Placid, NY...including their thoughts on the play of Kings first round pick, Derek Forbort.

Creating a Monarch

Last summer, the Vancouver Canucks asked their fans to help design the mask for backup netminder Curtis Sanford. A few months ago, the folks in Minnesota topped that by asking Wild fans to create the mask of starting goaltender Niklas Bakstrom. Now the Manchester Monarchs are getting in on the fun. Yesterday, they announced their own 'design a mask' contest for Jeff Zatkoff.

They've also raised the ante by adding a second component - raffling off the mask at the end of the season. Details of the entire contest are available here.

Zatkoff is the heir apparent in Manchester after backing up AHL Goaltender of the Year, Jonathan Bernier, last season. As the Monarchs second netminder, he compiled a 10-9-3 record in 22 games, after playing for the ECHL's Ontario Reign the year prior.  He also is among the large group of college players in the Kings system, having been drafted out of Miami (OH) University in 2006.

Info on Bernier's mask design after the jump...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Warming up for the World Jrs with Kyle Clifford

Kings GM Dean Lombardi has often talked about needing more 'character guys' in the Kings' system, players willing to put team first at all cost. He's probably found one in Kyle Clifford.

If the small things, the intangibles, are what separates players at the pro level, Clifford stands on the proper side of the line. Having just endured a horrific return trip home from Team Canada's World Jr evaluation camp, he still had the right frame of mind to be a 'team first' guy during our casual conversation about how things went for the group of Canadian youngsters participating in the sessions - including an NHL best, six from the Kings organization.

This past weekend was just step one towards his goal of making the squad...a group that will be out for revenge, having lost the gold medal to Team USA at the most recent World Junior Championships.

How did camp go?  Let's ask Kyle...

Two Minutes w/ Modano

Had a chance to catch up with Mike Modano yesterday...

As was reported late last week he has signed a one-year deal to join the Detroit Red Wings as their third line center.

A few weeks ago I tweeted that Modano had spoken with good friend Jeremy Roenick at length about his impending decision to come back or retire...and at Friday's press conference it was noted that he also consulted with Brett Hull. What I found interesting yesterday was that he talked with several other athletes as well - and not just from the world of hockey - while mulling things over.

For example, at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe last month he spoke with "a number of guys," including Charles Barkley, Marcus Allen and Joe Sakic.  According to Mike, "Everyone had their own spin on things."  Understandably so when you look at that trio.