Thursday, September 27, 2007

No dancing on Bill Wirtz's grave here...

It has been 24 hours since Chicago Black Hawks owner Bill Wirtz has left this life, the tasteless vultures have been dancing on his yet to be dug grave already.You will not see any jigs on this blog only sadness for what could have been.

My last entry and this one will not feature any photos, why? I have never been to a Hawks game. I wish I was a Hawks fan but sadly am not. Since moving to Chicago in 99' I have never had any chance to develop any loyalty to Chicago's NHL team. The Wolves and the AHL quite literally reached out to me through advertising, attractive pricing and quality of product and made this Sabers fan a rabid minor league follower.

This spring I will attend my first Hawks game, joining my partner in a NHL indulgence. I hope we will see a rejuvenated Hawks and a chance for us to fall in love with another level of the game again.However in the meantime, Gods speed Bill Wirtz, I have always thought there is a place in heaven where the ice is always clear, the sun is shining and it is everyones home pond advantage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Chicago Black Hawks owner Bill Wirtz dead.

The reports came in over the net early this morning that Bill Wirtz, owner of the Chicago Black Hawks has transcended into immortality. In the end it is said cancer took his life. Bill Wirtz left his mark forever on Chicago Hockey, but never on Lord Stanley's sacred cup. Tonight as we gather at a Wolves pre-season game we will be sure to keep him and his family in our thoughts and prayers.

God Speed Bill Wirtz, drop that puck!.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Red Wings-vs- Thrashers Opening night!

Opening night of the Red Wings Rookie Tournament for the second year featured a matchup against the Atlanta Thrashers. This years Atlanta team had several pre tourney interesting prospects, Chad Denny(a year older and bigger after impressing us at the 06' camp), Spencer Anderson (son of Chocago Wolves coach John Anderson),Bryan Little (after a great year with in Gwinette) and the goalies, Dan Turple(the big guy from Kitchner) and Ondrej Pavelec (The hot Fin of 07'). This years crop of rookies was notiable for size most were over 6' only one, Jonathan Duchesneau stood a diminuitive 5'8". Last year the starting line up for the camp looked like the chorus line Munchkin Land, most were well under 6'. A second difference, all were invited to the camp, none were tryouts. Last year several, like goalie invitee Dave Caruso were there to strut their stuff for a shot at the big time. Lastly none were college boys but this time grads of one of the devlopenent leagues.Proving grounds like MooseJaw,Rigina and Swift Current (WHL) Flint Generals (UHL)and the always tough QMJHL were well represiented. Yes it looks like this years class will be bigger,tougher and more aggressive by a quick look at their backgrounds.

With the same gleam in our eyes usually reserved for four year olds on Christmas morning Patrick Kissane and I found our seats. Grasped our hot drinks and waited for the Thrasher prospects and the Wings babes take the ice. Our first taste of hockey in months, the new boys were about to take the is a bit of what we saw on opening night!


Monday, September 17, 2007

Favorite shots from the 07' Tournament,Dallas-v- Bluejackets

One of the best things about the Rookie Tournament is the chance to photograph eight teams all playing daily during the three day event. It gives hockey photographers a slice of heaven. Imagine the ability to shoot four different teams simply by crossing a hallway? Now close your eyes and understand it happens twice a day at the tournament. Yes, twice, NHL prospects working their hardest to impress the coaches, looking to see years of hard work turn them into overnight successes. It's not NHL level hockey yet, but for many of these guys it is the first step out of the Jr's and college and into the professional world.

I will try to show you a few moments from each game as I was able to catch it. First the Monday Dallas vs Columbus game. This game was marked by a two fights and the loss of the Bluejackets goalie John Murray to a shoulder injury. Best of luck to him in his recovery, in general Murray looked great during the weekend, wonder if he will end up with the Crunch in Syracuse? Only coach Claude Noel knows and he wasn't telling this photog at the time.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Atlanta, the new prospects.

Obviously the main focus of my hockey attention is the Chicago Wolves, which means as their parent club the Atlanta Thrashers holds quite a bit of interest for me at the rookie tournament. It is the invitees to the tournament that often make up the lineup for the Wolves and their AA farm team the Gwinett Gladiators. This year in Traverse City was no exception, there are several prospects that can be expected to make it to Chi town and even more will see time in Gwinnett. Players that this photog IHHO we will be seeing on Chicago ice in October : Bryan Little ,Chad Painchaud,Thoms Popisil,Chad Denny,Tobias Endtrom,Scott Lehman and Grant Lewis. Goalies, tough one, but to be honest Ondrej Pavelec was more impressive than Dan Turple. If only there was room on the Wolves roster for three goalies, it would be a great thing for Freddy Brathwaite to work with both these young men.

A last possibility is this years "excitable boy", Myles Stoesz. Considering he had a fight in nearly every game he played in at camp, he could be a future enforcer. However, given the fact he also had no goals or assists on this weekend,his value to the team could be limited to protection. In modern hockey is there still a place for the man who stands up for every line change yet doesn't score? I think so, where would Alex the Great have been in Buffalo without Rob Ray? Things haven't changed that much.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Traverse City, just the smell of the place...

No doubt about it after two months without hockey Friday night I slept like a 5 year old on Christmas Eve. Tomorrow come noon my favorite subject was going to open itself up to me for a new season of action, art and splendor. Traverse City is the perfect place to start a hockey season. First and foremost the volunteer staff at Center Ice make everyone from athletes, parents and press feel like family. Then there is the city it's self, TC is beautiful with an abundance of fine restaurants and wineries to keep you well fed and lubricated when not watching the worlds greatest sport. Lastly there is the atmosphere of Center Ice. The arena boasts of year round ice and it just plain smells different than the seasonal stuff we have in Chicago. If it could be bottled, that is what I would want my car to smell like. That way morning drive time would remind me of why I work hard at my day job-to support my hockey and photography passion.

I make no secret of the fact of my love of defensive game, three days deep into the tournament I have some good news for Grand Rapids fans and Peoria, you have some nice netties heading your way. However, to those in Iowa, hold on to your socks,the news isn't rosy. Tobias Stephan(6'175lbs,AHL Iowa) on Friday went into the net cold and gave a lack luster performance. Saturday JC Blanchard(6'2"190lbs Victoriaville,QMJHL) was lit up like a Christmas tree. He needs a year more in the hockey incubator and a look see next year, no shame there. But to put it bluntly unless management has a plan it could be a long season first ahead in Iowa.

Detroit's goalie on Friday was Dominic Vicari(5'10" 190lbs, ECHL Toledo), he looked good,light on his feet and quick to respond. At one point it looked like he was about to join in on a fight behind the net.(His gloves were off before he thought the better) I like a goalie with passion. Spending last year in Detroit's ECHL farm team the infamous Toledo Storm he looks AHL and Grand Rapids Griffins ready.

Peoria season ticket holders, Mike McKenna (6'2" 190lb, ECHL Las Vegas) was the surprise of the weekend. Nice butterfly, fast hands and the eye of the tiger. Best yet for photogs he has a graceful stance and an expressive face.I am so happy we will be possibly seeing so much of Peoria and McKenna in their net this year in our midwest nifty AHL bus league.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Back again ...From Red Wings Rookie Tournament!

Hello from beautiful cool and clear Traverse City Michigan the site of the Red Wings Rookie Tournament. This year like previous years the tournament is efficiently run by a legion of friendly,well organized volunteers. Seeing to it that eight NHL teams, press and parents are all well taken care of. For this photog it has been one of the most fun,informative and exciting weekends I can remember in a long time.This blog entry will be the first of several reporting on the sights of this intense moment in time for these NHL hopefuls.

What first strikes me is the faces, some of these young men are very nervous a few look cocky and fewer still down right arrogant. I will share with you tonight a few of the faces of the tournament that the camera managed to capture before their big moment.