Saturday, September 4, 2010

High / Low with Corey Elkins

Next weekend the Kings will be hosting HockeyFest at their training facility in El Segundo, CA. Things should get off to a raucous start when General Manager Dean Lombardi opens the second annual event as the featured speaker.

In recent years his 'State of the Franchise' sessions have been can't miss events. While much of the discussion this time around will probably focus on his efforts to acquire a certain big-time unrestricted free agent this summer, past topics have included building his reserve list via the draft. Rarely talked about has been another Lombardi special - acquiring young free agents who have yet to appear in the NHL.

Just in the last few years he's signed guys like WHL Goaltender of the Year Martin Jones and OHL Defenseman of the Year Jake Muzzin.

Another such signing was Corey Elkins of Ohio State University.  After leading the Buckeyes with 18 goals and 41 points his senior season he moved on to the AHL last year, where he led the Monarchs with 19 points (8g, 11a) through 30 games...leading to his first NHL call-up in December.

He was with the big club for three games, even scoring a goal in one of them.  However, he finished the year in Manchester as a major contributor to a team that went all way to the Eastern Conference Finals.

In the interview below Corey reflects on his rookie season there, talks about getting advice from Dustin Brown and plays word association with some of his teammates - including Jonathan Bernier, Thomas Hickey and Kevin Westgarth.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Future Fridays - Interview with Justin Sefton

Labor Day is upon us. Along with a three day weekend and the end of summer, it also signifies the return of hockey.  Junior teams throughout Canada - and a few northwest U.S. cities - began opening their training camps over the last few days.

As the Sudbury Wolves took to the ice for the first time yesterday, many eyes were on defenseman Justin Sefton. The fifth overall selection from the 2009 OHL Draft is one of the top prospects for next summer's NHL Draft.

For the past few years he says he's kept himself away from "going to parties and hanging out in bad places. It was the rink, home, homework, working out, eating well - all the little things it takes to reach my dream."

Before joining the Wolves, he had moved away from his Thunder Bay home to attend Notre Dame prep school, located in a small town outside of Regina. The highly regarded institution - with an alumni of players such as Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards and Rod Brind’Amour - had been carefully chosen after exhausting research.

Like most young players, he consults with his parents on such major decisions.  However, he doesn't hide the fact that his agent plays a major role as well.  And why shouldn't he, he's represented by Kyle Dubas of Uptown Sports - a firm with a client list featuring some of the best young talent in hockey - including Kings prospects Jonathan Bernier, Kyle Clifford and Andrew Campbell.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Tuesday's 10 Tidbits on the Hockey-n-Wrestling connection

In 1985, in what's billed as the World's Most Famous Arena, Vince McMahon launched his version of professional wrestling into super-stardom, live from Madison Square Garden. Largely on the back of a "Rock-n-Wrestling" connection - fueled in part by a partnership with MTV - his World Wrestling Federation staged the first WrestleMania.

Fast forward 25 years...just a few weeks ago McMahon and crew were at the sold out Staples Center for SummerSlam, their annual mid-year spectacular. While connections to Cindi Lauper and MTV have long been removed from the on camera presentation, strong ties to the world of hockey still exist behind the scenes.

It only makes sense too. Professional wrestling has deep roots in Canada. And certainly there is nothing more Canadian than hockey, right?

Here in the U.S., many of the greatest wrestlers in history come from Minnesota, a state that promotes itself as 'The State of Hockey'. Thus, the opportunities for overlap are similar to our friends north of the border.

Sure enough, in today's 10 Tidbits article we take a look at several such connections, including at least two linked to the Los Angeles Kings.

1 - The most obvious connection between wrestling and the Kings is tied to a man considered to be one of the best wrestlers of his generation, the first ever unified world heavyweight champion, Chris Jericho.  His father was Ted Irvine (pictured), a member of the inaugural L.A. team in '67-68.  Wearing jersey #15 that season, Irvine scored 18 goals and had 22 assists, including a helper on the first goal ever scored in Kings history (October 14, 1967).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Interview with Dave Torrie, GM of the Soo Greyhounds (OHL)

Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver...are all names that come to mind when thinking of places in Canada.

Sault St. Marie isn't one of them. Located about six hours from the hockey hotbed of London, Ontario, the OHL Arena Guide notes "For a city as isolated as Sault Ste. Marie, visiting fans are a seldom-seen rarity."

However, it hasn't stopped the locals from packing the home town building to watch their Greyhounds. Through the years the team has featured a who's who of hockey - Ron Francis, Phil Esposito, Tony Esposito, Paul Coffey, John Vanbiesbrouck, Marty Turco...and that Wayne Gretzky guy.

For the last seven years the organization has been run by Dave Torrie, a man with his own impressive resume - he owned, coached and managed the Chatham Maroons (a successful junior B franchise) for 10 years and previously served as a scout and player personnel director for the 'Hounds. Thus, the man knows hockey, especially at the junior level.

In an article a few days ago he offered up his opinions on several Kings prospects that have spent time in the Soo.  Today, he's back for more - with insight into the world of junior hockey, the art of drafting players and thoughts about a very interesting road trip they'll be taking this coming weekend as part of their training camp.


MM:  Earlier this summer the Kings drafted Tyler Toffoli out of the OHL.  As a player born in 1992 he was part of the 2008 OHL draft, which has become one of more controversial drafts of late.  Several top players taken in the first round that year were accused of manipulating the draft by saying they were going to college instead.  Is this a common occurrence in junior hockey?