Day two of Hurricanes training camp was certainly not a quiet one.
A few key things happened off the ice. First, Reid Duke who did not show up to camp Thursday for registration and orientation was supposed to make it to camp Friday. General Manager Brad Robson told me Friday morning he had given Duke until 2:00 pm MDT to report. Duke did not make an appearance by that deadline and Robson said because of that he would be suspended. The same deadline was given to Macoy Erkamps who also did not show up to camp. It was noted Thursday that Erkamps had stayed home and requested a trade.
Obviously this is significant news for the Hurricanes. Last season four players: Jaimen Yakubowski, Sam McKechnie, Remi Laurencelle, and Ryan Pilon all asked to be traded during the course of the season, leaving the hockey club in a big bind. Erkamps not reporting to camp is not surprising given some of the talk in the off-season, but to be honest Reid Duke not reporting caught pretty everyone by surprise. What happens from this point on, who knows. This is certainly not the way this hockey club was expecting to start the season.
In my opinion, the Western Hockey League must do something to prevent this stuff from happening, or at least have some consequences. It's not just Lethbridge. It's happened and is happening with other teams. There seems to be this idea that if a player doesn't like his situation or the team he's on, he can just walk out, wait a while, and get traded to a different team. This is sending a very bad message. I think the WHL needs to take a long, hard look at player defections. This needs to be addressed somehow and some way.
Also off the ice, GM Robson told me goaltender Justin Myles has officially retired from hockey. The Canes acquired the goalie from Kamloops last season, but his doctor advised him because of ongoing concussion issues, he should not play. The Canes did receive the conditional draft pick back as part of that transaction. So with Myles out of the equation, Robson jumped into the trade pool and swung a deal with an unlucky partner.....rival Medicine Hat. The Canes picked up 1996 born goaltender Zac Robidoux from the Tigers in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 2015 and conditional 5th rounder in 2017. It's the first trade the two clubs have made in more than five years.
Ok, let's get to what happened on the ice!
Some good reports about the two Russians the Canes picked up in the Import Draft. Nikita Milekhin seems to be a very skilled forward while Pavel Skumatov showed his speed and talents as well. It's been a while since the Hurricanes really have had a pair of dynamic Euros. In fact, you have to look back at Juha Metsola and Luca Sbisa as being the last two "big" Euros the Hurricanes had at the same time in 2007-2008. As I've seen on other teams, having strong Imports can make a huge difference on a team. Let's hope that's the case with these two boys from Moscow.
Others newcomers who impressed were Zane Franklin, Connor, Rokosh, and Jordy Bellerive. It's very clear Bellerive is a talent. He's got the skills and the speed. It appears the Canes made a solid choice by drafting him. Bellerive played on a line with Cooper and Watson and seemed to have a lot of chemistry with those two. Of course Bellerive is still unsigned and is a year away from playing in the WHL. The good thing is the talent and skill are most definitely there.
Also, the Canes have had to juggle their camp teams around. They went from a planned four teams at the start to only three teams for the rest of training camp. Things resume Saturday and wrap up Sunday. The Hurricanes will play their first pre-season games August 29th and 30th in Regina.