OK, here’s a few things that came out during the end-of-season interviews I conducted Monday:
– Several fans have voiced dissatisfaction with head coach John Becanic to me, both via e-mail and via the blog. I asked general manager Doug Soetaert about this and he voiced his support for Becanic, though he stopped short of declaring outright that Becanic would be the coach next season, answering the question by saying: “John is under contract to the Everett Silvertips.”
– Soetaert wasted little time clearing up next season’s overage situation. Everett had five potential returning overage candidates for 2009-10 at the end of the season: forwards Shane Harper, Zack Dailey and Jesse Burt, and defensemen Mike Alexander and Shayne Brown. But Soetaert declared that as of now Harper, Dailey and Brown are the guys. Alexander will be invited to camp, but more with the idea of showcasing himself for other teams. Burt will not be invited to camp.
I think the choices make sense, but I want to take a moment to talk about Alexander and Burt. These are two players who didn’t receive a lot of accolades, but were valuable members of the team. Alexander logged a lot of minutes and blocked a lot of shots over the past two seasons, and he paid as much price as anyone blocking those shots as it seemed the puck always found a seam in his pads. And Burt was a great energy guy who could be counted on to hustle no matter the situation, as well as play through pain. I hope they are able to find spots in this league as overagers next season.
– Everett will use both its first-round selections in the import draft, which I believe takes place July 1 (the Wednesday following the NHL draft). Everett has its own pick and Regina’s, which it acquired via trade last year. I have no idea what order the leagues pick this year, but Regina’s pick is sixth among WHL teams and Everett’s is seventh, so the Tips have picks in the 16-18 and 19-21 ranges, which is pretty good. Now, the import draft is a little sketchy as player agents have a lot of leverage in determining which teams pick which players. However, Everett’s traditionally done well in the import draft, getting several impact players — Ivan Baranka, Karel Hromas, Ondrej Fiala (and I’m certain Vitaly Karamnov would have been added to this list had he returned this season) — and getting every single selection to report. So the Tips should be able to use those selections to good use. Soetaert is braving the floods to do some scouting at the U-18 World Championships in Fargo, N.D., and Moorhead, Minn., to prepare for the import draft.
– Soetaert shared some amusing anecdotes about overage defenseman Taylor Ellington when Ellington was a 15-year-old. Let me say that I don’t think I’ve seen any player grow up more during his tenure with the Tips than Ellington. I remember the first time I interviewed him when he was a 15-year-old practicing with the team, and pretty much every answer he gave consisted of one word. That he was the player I went to after Jordan Mistelbacher died, and the maturity with which he handled my questions, gives a hint to how far he came in five years.