Friday, October 3, 2008

Capitals continue to make roster cuts

The Washington Capitals, just days away from opening night in the NHL, tweaked their roster on Thursday by assigning four players to the Hershey Bears of the AHL. Assigned to Hershey were defenseman Tyler Sloan, Grant McNeill and Sami Lepisto and goaltender Simeon Varlamov.

Sloan, a 27-year-old native of Calgary, Alberta, was pointless in two preseason affairs with a plus-minus rating of –1. The eight year pro, who was never drafted, played in 56 games for Hershey last season, recording one goal and seven assists.

McNeill, a 25-year-old native of Vermilion, Alberta, skated in two preseason outings, going scoreless and collecting 12 PIM’s. The former third-round selection of the Florida Panthers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft split last season between Hershey and the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays, accumulating a combined 278 PIM’s. The six year pro also has three games of NHL experience on his resume, all with the Panthers in the 2003-2004 season. During his short NHL stint, the always willing to drop the gloves McNeill did just that, engaging in a bout with former Capitals’ tough guy Chris Simon.

Lepisto, a 23-year-old native of Espoo, Finalnd, was scoreless and served two PIM’s in three preseason tilts. The former third-round selection of the Capitals in the 2004 NHL entry draft split last season with Hershey and the Capitals, picking up an assist in seven affairs with the Capitals, and notching four goals and 41 assists with Hershey. The swift skating rearguard, regarded as one of the premiere rookie defenseman in the AHL last season, finished third overall in the league with a plus/minus rating of +29.

Varlamov, a 20-year-old native of Sarma, Russia, made one preseason appearance, combining with fellow rookie Michal Neuvirth to shutout the Philadelphia Flyers on Sept. 18. The former first-round selection of the Capitals in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft is entering his first season in North America after appearing in 44 contests with Yaroslavl of the Russian Super League last season.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Bears sink Admirals in preseason opener

In a game that featured plenty of punching power in the early moments, including a pair of fights within the first two minutes of play, the Hershey Bears sailed by the Norfolk Admirals on the strength of four power play goals on Sunday at Giant Center, by a final score of 5-4.

Rookie Michael Dubuc, who scored the only goal of the first period 1:26 into the stanza when he beat Norfolk goaltender Craig “Killer” Kowalski, led the Hershey charge with a pair of goals. When asked whether or not he was surprised by Dubuc’s play, Head Coach Bob Woods replied, “We got a chance to see him in summer camp in Washington. He impressed everybody there, and that’s a big reason he is here now. It’s nice to see guys with offensive ability and a knack for scoring to score like he did tonight.”

Francois Bouchard, Sean Collins (GWG) and Ben Boudreau also tallied for Hershey. Hershey starting netminder Michal Neuvirth, allowed a pair of goals to Norfolk’s Daryl Boyle and Mathieu Curadeau early in the second period, but was otherwise unbeatable in 30:04 between the pipes, stopping 13 of 15 shots. Bobby Goepfert, Neuvirth’s replacement at 10:04 of the second period, surrendered goals to Norfolk’s Justin Keller and Jason Beckett in 29:48 of action, and was credited with the win.

Boudreau, son of former Hershey Bears head coach and current Washington Capitals head coach, Bruce Boudreau, talked about his first AHL game while receiving a congratulatory handshake from Hershey GM Doug Yingst: “I was worried about keeping the puck out of my own net; it was a huge bonus (to score). Watching for 3 years in the stands and then getting a chance here, it’s a lot of fun.”

Woods, who still converses with the Caps’ bench boss when he visits Chocolatetown, joked about Bruce’s presence on the night of his son’s first game as a player at Giant Center: “I had some parent coming in and giving me a hassle, saying his kid wasn’t getting enough ice time. I thought that only happened in minor hockey.”

With his youngest hockey-playing son, Brady, by his side, the proud papa quipped, “As a father, you can’t describe it; it’s pretty exciting. When my kids play, I get so darn nervous, and tonight was no exception.”

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Former Hershey Bears Assistant Coach Paul Jerrard has been hired as an Assistant Coach by the Anaheim Ducks’ top farm team, the Iowa Chops.

The 43-year-old Jerrard, a member of the 1997 Calder Cup Champion Hershey Bears, served as Assistant Coach for the Iowa Stars, the Dallas Stars’ top farm team for the previous three seasons.

During Jerrard’s two-year tenure behind the Hershey bench with Head Coach Paul Fixter, Hershey compiled a record of 72-71-10-7, failing to reach the Calder Cup Playoffs each season.

A trailblazer of sorts, Jerrard is one of only three black coaches in professional hockey, joining Grant Fuhr and Graeme Townshend.

Fuhr, who backstopped the Wayne Gretzky-led Edmonton Oilers to five Stanley Cups, is entering his fourth season as the goaltending coach with the Gretzky-coached Phoenix Coyotes.

Townshend, a native of Kingston, Jamaica, is entering his first season as skating coach with the Toronto Maple Leafs, after serving in the same capacity the past four seasons with the San Jose Sharks. Toronto’s new bench boss, former Washington Capitals head coach Ron Wilson, was the head coach in San Jose during Townshend’s four-year tenure in the Silicon Valley.


Jonathan Paiement, who developed into one of the steadier members of the Hershey Bears defensive corps last season after his recall from the Texas Wildcatters of the ECHL, has signed a two-way AHL contract with Albany for the 2008-09 season.

During the 2007-08 regular season, the 23-year-old Paiement, an eighth round pick (247th overall) by the New York Rangers in 2004 NHL draft, sported an impressive +13 plus/minus rating and collected 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists) in 37 outings with the Chocolate and White.

In last year’s Calder Cup Playoffs, in his first AHL post-season action, Paiement was the only Bears’ defenseman to light the lamp in Hershey’s eventual five game series loss to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Former Bear Dennis Bonvie has officially been hired as a pro scout by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bonvie, who was under consideration for the assistant coach position with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, recently withdrew his name from consideration for the job. With the Bonvie hiring and former NHL enforcer Dave Brown continuing in his position as a scout with the New York Rangers, one thing is for certain, press boxes around North America will be well protected should any trouble break out. Here is the link to the press release

Monday, September 1, 2008


Dean Arsene under contract with Hershey
Scott Barney signed with Augsburger Panther, Germany
Jay Beagle under contract with Caps
Mathieu Beaudoin UFA
Francois Bouchard under contract with Caps
Josef Boumedienne signed with Toronto Maple Leafs
Chris Bourque under contract with Caps
Frederic Cassivi signed with Sinupret Ice Tigers, Germany
Ben Clymer signed with Dyanamo Minsk, Russia
Sean Collins under contract with Caps
Shawn Collymore signed with Stavanger Oilers, Norway
Eric Fehr under contract with Caps
Ryan Flinn signed with Montreal Canadiens
Alexandre Giroux under contract with Caps
Josh Godfrey under contract with Caps
Andrew Gordon under contract with Caps
Jamie Hunt signed with Augsburger Panther, Germany
Andrew Joudrey under contract with Caps
Maxime Lacroix under contract with Hershey
Sami Lepisto under contract with Caps
Daren Machesney under contract with Caps
Tom Maxwell under contract with Hershey
Chris McAllister signed with Newcastle Vipers, England
Grant McNeill under contract with Hershey
Patrick McNeill under contract with Caps
Jason Morgan signed with Sodertalje SK, Sweden
Jonathan Paiement signed with Albany
Mathieu Perreault under contract with Caps
Steve Pinizzotto under contract with Caps
Sasha Pokulok under contract with Caps
Louis Robitaille signed with SG Cortina, Italy
Tyler Sloan under contract with Caps
Danny Syvret traded by Edmonton to Philadelphia
Stephen Werner bought out by Caps, UFA
Kyle Wilson under contract with Caps


Louis Robitaille is now officially an ex-Hershey Bear. Robitaille has signed a one year deal with SG Cortina of the Italian Hockey League.

With the departure of Robitaille, who led the AHL in PIM's for the 07-08 season, and the retirement of the AHL's all-time career PIM leader Dennis Bonvie, the penalty box attendants in Hershey and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton might have to look for other gainful employment during games between the Southern Division rivals.

From day one of the Hershey affiliation with the Washington Capitals, Robitaille, largely because of his antagonistic style of play, became public enemy number one to any team facing off against the Bears. The offensively challenged Robitaille, while scoring only 17 goals in his 200 game Hershey career, contributed mightily to the Bears' success with his ability to lure opponents into taking untimely penalties.

One of the best examples took place during the first round of the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs. Robitaille, with Hershey, up two games to none in the series, but down 2-0 early in the 2nd period of Game 3, was able to goad Norfolk defenseman James Wisniewski and Norfolk enforcer Shawn Thornton into penalties during the same sequence, which swung the momentum of the game. During the skirmish, Robitaille and Wisniewski each drew coincidental minor penalties, while Thornton received a major fighting penalty and two game misconducts. On the ensuing power play, Hershey was able to score a power play goal, their first of four straight goals, which paved the way to a 5-4 OT win and a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

While this change of address from Chocolatetown to Cortina will force a drastic change in culture, the move also figures to dramatically increase this former 4th liner's workload. In order to fulfill his responsibilites with the Italian club, including increased ice time and the chance to be part of special teams play, Louis will undergo a positional change from left wing to defense. The switch is nothing new to Louis, who played defense the majority of his junior career with the Montreal Rocket of the QMJHL and early in his pro career, before being converted to forward by Portland Pirate head coach Tim Army.

Despite leaving Hershey for a season abroad, the controversial Robitaille also leaves behind a lasting impression on all who came into contact with him, seemingly an equal number of critics and supporters. Perhaps current Washington Capitals and former Hershey Bears coach Bruce Boudreau said it best when he commented that "Louis is a guy that you hate when he's on the other team, but hate him a little less when he's on yours."