The Lethbridge Hurricanes opened their 2014 Western Hockey League training camp at the ENMAX Thursday.
The hockey club has a large contingent of returning players who were part of last year's team eligible to come back again this season. That of course means nothing in junior hockey. Every player has to earn his spot on the roster, but for a hockey club which has missed the playoffs for 5 years in a row, there is no doubt pressure on everyone from top to bottom to get back into the post-season. It's time this organization turns things around and for me it starts at the top. There needs to be accountability throughout the hockey club. Even WHL Commissioner Ron Robison told Lethbridge City Council a few months ago that the Hurricanes must have better leadership. He pulled no punches during that visit to Council. He also stated at the April 28, 2014 meeting that "the league intends to make sure the Hurricanes are accountable to the plan it (WHL) put in place and moving forward the league will be monitoring things very closely".
Last season when CJOC held the broadcast rights, Fred Jack and I talked many times about "relationships" and the importance of building those. That has to be a big focus. Even when Peter Anholt was announced as the new Assistant General Manager, he told local media at that time that the Hurricanes need "an identity" and that all successful clubs know what they are and where they're going. I can't disagree with that at all.
Let's be honest here. The status quo of the last 5 seasons in not acceptable. Anyone who is willing to accept that needs a reality check. This team needs to be competitive and they need the community's support. But as we all know, wins and losses dictate a lot of that. The first quarter of this 2014-2015 season is going to be a very important gauge I think as to how this season could play out for the Canes.
Besides the additions of Peter Anholt as Assistant GM and Bryan Maxwell as an Assistant Coach, the organization looks pretty much the same as the one which ended this past season with only 12 victories. That win total was the worst-ever in Hurricanes history and this team must find a way this year to get more scoring and more out of every player. If the Hurricanes want to make the playoffs, they have to shoot to be at least a .500 team. Taking a look at playoff teams over the last 4 or 5 years, a .500 record should be able to get you a post-season spot.
Camp opened Thursday with player registrations and orientation. All camp on-ice session will be open to the public at the ENMAX Centre. Some notables from Day One. Veteran Defenceman Macoy Erkamps was a no-show. I had heard a month or so ago that Erkamps may be requesting a trade and that appears to be the case. Paul Kingsmith from Global TV confirmed that on Twitter Thursday evening saying he spoke with GM Brad Robson and noted Erkamps stayed at home, did not report to Hurricanes camp and requested a trade. One other thing of note from camp is forward Giorgio Estephan. Paul Kingsmith also tweeted that Estephan will miss the next 6 weeks after re-aggravating a foot injury. Obviously two significant things on day one right there. Also Reid Duke did not report either. Paul Kingsmith stated Thursday night also on Twitter that Duke did in fact stay home, but the club spoke with Duke and his agent and it's believed he'll report on Friday.
Even though I'm no longer broadcasting the games for the Hurricanes, doesn't mean I'm no longer interested in the club or not going to follow them closely. On the contrary. I want this club to succeed like every other Hurricanes fan or shareholder. I've been involved with this team for the last 7 years. I've decided I will keep this blog going while. We'll take it from here and see what happens. I've been on holidays so I will post training camp updates provided by team when they are available.