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Hockey: Tales from the Trough: Mike Peck interview, part two
Posted By Brandon Reid On August 31, 2011 @ 5:58 am In Online Exclusives | No Comments
Editor’s note: Following is part two of a three-part interview. Part one appeared in the Aug. 24-30 issue.
By Todd Reicher
In part two of the interview with Mike Peck, IceHogs vice president of communications and “Voice of the IceHogs,” we talk about, among other topics, the new IceHogs coaches and the potential new roster.
Todd Reicher (TR): What is your scouting report of our new coaches: Assistant Coach Ben Simon and Developmental Goaltending Coach Andrew Allen? Wasn’t Allen a goalie for Edmonton (Oilers) at some time?
Mike Peck (MP): Allen was recently the goaltending coach for St. Lawrence University, and was also the National Team Goaltending Coach and Developmental Consultant for Japanese Ice Hockey Federation since 2006. He knows Teddy (IceHogs Head Coach Ted Dent) well as he was the goalie in Trenton, and Dent was the assistant coach and Mike Haviland was the head coach. So, Ted knows him pretty well, and they won the Kelly Cup that year in the ECHL, so he’s got a pretty good background. He played a little in the AHL, more in the ECHL, but just because he didn’t play at the higher level doesn’t mean you can’t coach it.
Ben Simon just retired from playing last year where he was the head coach/player in England last year for the Sheffield Steelers (of the United Kindgom’s Elite Ice Hockey League). The team won the regular season title last year, and they lost in the semi-finals. He’s ready to get into coaching full-time.
It’s funny, you look at the coaching staff, you have Dent, who has been in coaching for 10-12 years, Steve Poapst has been in coaching for what, five years now, and you have Simon, who had his first year. You have Poapst who has played in the NHL, so you have that perspective, and then you have a guy like Dent who has made his way up the coaching ranks, but has been around. And then you have Simon, who can really relate to the players because he is coming from that perspective, literally, last year. So, I think that’s a good dynamic in the coaching staff.
TR: When these coaches are recruited, does that come straight from the Blackhawks? Does Dent have a say in who gets a shot at the position?
MP: I think it’s a little bit of both. I know Dent did have a say as to who the assistant coach was going to be. I can’t vouch that he solely picked it, which I don’t think he did, as I think the organization has to approve, but I think Dent was directly involved in the process and helped decide, and was very influential on who they brought in.
TR: You talked about the coaching transition, and how there will be some players returning. I think in my last count there were about 20 players that are under contract. And when we talked last year, you had thought this year was going to be the lowest turnover that we’ve had in the team.
MP: It depends when you look. If you look at the last roster, the last day of the season, we had a dozen guys, but there were three, four that were guys that came from juniors for the last few games, so that would bring you to around 20 if you counted the David Gilberts, the Phillippe Paradis, the Joe Lavins, but it’s still guys that are a little familiar with the system. And then, you have the guys like the (Kyle) Beach, (Brandon) Bollig, (Rob) Klinkhammer, (Brian) Connelley, that have been here, and are very familiar with what the Blackhawks accept and what is run here. And it goes a long way in knowing the routine of where to go for lunch, where the movie theaters are, all that stuff. It’s important to have that familiarity, especially with a bunch of young guys.
TR: You could say the roster is set, not fully set, because you will have call-ups, people sent down before the season, but we know a lot of these people and where their positions are going to be, with the exception of the net presence. We really don’t have a solid tandem set. We do know (Alec) Richards was signed, and (Ray) Emery was invited to try out for the Blackhawks, and we have Alexander Salak and Corey Crawford with the ’Hawks. What is your guess, or what do you think will happen? Emery had a great end to last season, and he has experience to be a great backup. Would you say that if he stays with the ’Hawks, Salak comes down to Rockford, and Carter Hutton (who has recently signed by the IceHogs) gets sent down (to the Toledo Walleye)?
MP: The way it stands now, it’s probably Crawford and Salak with Richards and Hutton here in Rockford, but they want someone to push Salak in Chicago, which is why Emery was brought in. So, it’s hard to say what is going to happen with Emery. but if he shines in camp, then Salak will probably be sent down here. It’s one of those situations where Emery, looking to get a job in the NHL next year, going into a camp, and being in front of other teams is important for him as well. And you have to believe, now this is not any insight, that if Salak plays well, Emery is going to be put through waivers. He’s probably not going to just settle for an AHL job. I would say chances are slim that he (Emery) is going to end up here. But, at the same time, he is coming back from injury, he might just say “I want to be playing hockey,” and it could be a situation where he comes down here to Rockford and the ’Hawks say “If you go down to Rockford and play, and someone needs a goaltender, we’ll put you through waivers, or we’ll trade you.” There’s a lot of different things that could happen, and I think a lot of it depends on how Salak performs in camp, and obviously how Emery performs as well. The best guys are going to win the jobs, and that is proof over the last two years.
TR: With the Blackhawks picking up players like Rostislav Olesz, Steve Montador and Dan Carcillo, it kind of tightens up their roster. I think at last count they had 14 forwards, including Ben Smith. Knowing that there is limited space for players to go up, you have to think it has to be an incentive for them to play harder and perfect their skills. How do you think that affects the players getting ready for the season?
MP: I think everybody from Patrick Sharp to Jonathan Toews to Chris DiDomenico and Lavin, train during the summer to be in Chicago’s opening-day lineup, regardless. Sure, there are guys that know in the back of their mind that sure, they are going to end up back in Rockford, but it happens every year, that there is one surprise that someone gets sent down. The first year it was (Dustin) Byfuglien, the second year it was (Troy) Brouwer. (Jassen) Cullimore was sent down last season and he went back up and played half the season. … Sometimes it’s to send a message, sometimes it’s a numbers game. Byfuglien was kind of banged up, so that was why he was sent down. but you just don’t know what is going to happen with injuries. I’ll use a guy like Brandon Pirri. There may be a 90 percent chance that he starts in Rockford. But what happens if three guys get hurt in Chicago, and Pirri outperforms two guys that are ahead of him on the depth chart? Guess what, he’s starting in Chicago. It might only be for the first few weeks or a month, but he’s starting the year in Chicago. So you can’t go in looking at depth charts because you just don’t know what’s going to happen in training camp. If you’re working hard, you can’t worry how hard someone else is working in the summer. I’ll use Pirri again as an example. Let’s say he comes in to camp in tip-top shape, and a few other guys are lagging, and Pirri gets sent down to Rockford. Chicago is going to remember he came in at tip-top shape and was hungry, so he’s probably going to be one of the first considered to come back up.
From the Aug. 31-Sept. 6, 2011, issue
Article printed from The Rock River Times: http://rockrivertimes.com
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