Silvertips ready to rebuild
Training camp begins today with a new coach and a large group of younger players.
The Everett Silvertips start preparations for the 2011-12 WHL season with the opening of their training camp today at Comcast Arena, and the plan of attack for Everett in its ninth season is building from the ground up.
All the circumstances conspired to force the Tips to enter their first true rebuilding season since beginning play in 2003:
w Everett had a disappointing 2010-11, going 28-33-7-4 while struggling to score goals, then was swept by Portland in the first round of the playoffs.
w The Tips were not a young team and thus will lose at least six key veterans from last season.
w Everett went through near complete turnover in the coaching staff over the offseason, including at head coach where Mark Ferner takes over for the departed Craig Hartsburg.
Tips general manager Doug Soetaert acknowledges this will be a rebuilding season in Everett.
"We're going to go with a younger group," Soetaert said. "Saying that, we don't think we're taking a step backward. We like our group. We've got a lot of (18-year-olds and 17-year-olds) with a year or two under their belts and they should be able to figure it out. We hope those players can elevate their play and push the older guys."
Everett's training camp returns to Comcast Arena this year after a one-year hiatus to Lynnwood Ice Center because of building conflicts.
The Tips also are returning to their previous training camp format. Last year, there were four teams of rookies that participated in scrimmages, while the veterans skated in separate practices. This year both veterans and rookies will be sprinkled among four teams for scrimmages, and a total of approximately 70 players are expected to take part, including most of the 50-player protected list and many invited unlisted players. Each of the four teams will play twice each day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
"Everyone is going to scrimmage this year so that (Ferner) can see everybody and see what they bring to the table playing wise," Soetaert said. "It also gives the younger guys a chance to see the speed and pace that the older guys are playing at. It worked well in the past, so we brought it back this year."
The sessions today, Friday and Saturday are from 9-11:45 a.m. and 2:30-5:15 p.m. Camp concludes with the annual Green vs. White game at 1 p.m. Sunday. All sessions are open to the public free of charge.
While the Tips may be rebuilding, they have two tremendous foundation blocks in defenseman Ryan Murray and goaltender Kent Simpson.
Murray, who's entering his 18-year-old season and already has been named captain, is considered a likely top-10 selection in next year's NHL draft. Simpson, a 19-year-old who was a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, was rounding into top form during the second half last season when an ankle injury derailed him.
All four of Everett's returning overage candidates -- forwards Tyler Maxwell, Josh Birkholz and Scott MacDonald and defenseman Brennan Yadlowski -- are here to compete for three roster spots.
Also, Soetaert said center Landon Ferraro, while not attending training camp, will begin skating with the team after Labor Day to prepare for training camp with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings. Ferraro, who has already signed a contract with Detroit, is eligible to return to Everett as an overager. However, he is expected to play professionally in the minors this season.
Everett's two selections in this year's import draft, Slovakian winger Vladimir Dolnik and German defenseman Dominik Bittner, have arrived and will take part in training camp.
Radio deal extended
The Tips extended their radio broadcasting contract with For Sports 1380 AM (KRKO), the team announced Wednesday. The extension runs through the 2013-14 season. Everett's games have been broadcast by KRKO since the team began play in 2003.
Check out Nick Patterson's Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.
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