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Monday, October 30, 2006

Skating in Memphis

We’re back from Memphis and I’m at home doing this blog. Unfortunately, I burned my dinner while doing this!

That’s about as well as the weekend against the RiverKings went.

I wasn’t feeling so well after getting banged up pretty good from Sheldon Wenzel on Saturday.

I was about to go off on a high-sticking penalty when I tried to touch up the puck. Wenzel came after me and starting throwing, but I couldn’t do anything because I had a linesman holding me. So I got four minutes and Wenzel got two. Basically my second penalty was two minutes for taking punches.

Referee Steve Cruickshank said I didn’t take any punches. I told him in my own way I wish he could have felt what my head felt like. I thought I may have had another concussion. It was pretty bad there for a while.

I thought we got off to a slow start. They play a different style of game. They are high-flying team. They flip the puck in the air from their own zone and send three and four players to chase it.

We didn’t figure it out until it was too late.

I don’t know if we competed as hard as we should have.

They used to do that, but now they do it a lot more.

We havent even practiced as a team yet. With Musky’ system it takes time to get used to. There are some expectations. He pushes us hard, that’s why we’re successful. I think it just takes time for guys to be pushed to the limit and learn what it takes to win in this league.

You just don’t win on just your talent in this league. It’s hardworking.

We just don’t know the systems as well as we should have.

We went to St. Jude’s hospital on Saturday. There was a little guy that had cancer, he lives just outside of Shreveport.

Too be honest we were pushed around a bit in Memphis.

Memphis is a different team since Don Parsons left. It seems as if they are playing more like a team, not just relying on Parsons.

When you have a superstar like that on your team, you kind of go, “Oh well, Donnie will do it tonight.”

They are a good team. Next time we see them we have to expose their D and get the power play going.

Mike Nason took a bad hit last night from Campbell. It was an elbow to the head. I was on the ice and didn’t see it. I wish I saw it. I might have jumped in and done something about it.

It’s super frustrating because Nason is just trying to sacrifice his body for the team. For that to happen early in his career in Shreveport wasn’t good for him. The refs have to help protect us out there to.

Honestly, we should have had another brawl.

We don’t have a tough guy, so we have to stick up for each other. When you have a whole team sticking together as one, it’s obviously better. Think about it, if you try and punch someone with one finger it’s not going to hurt, but do it with five and it’s a lot stronger.

When it’s all said and done, this is your family. You expect them to protect you. If you’re not protecting one of your own, are you really a team? Do you really have each other’s back?

That being said, there is a way to go about sending a message without hurting someone, without going stepping over the line.

I’ve been in those situations before. I try to walk the line, and sometimes I’ve crossed it. When that happens, I certainly expect the other team to defend their player.

We have a young team, so maybe this was a little learning experience.

In the Laredo game Thursday, we all came in and came together when Lawson was sticking everyone. I think we just have to keep on doing that.

Maybe we were a little fatigued this weekend, but that’s no excuse. We have to rebound from this and learn from our mistakes.

Unfortunately Nason has to take brunt end of this lesson. As a team we really have to stick together -- the sooner the better.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Well if that doesn't sell tickets ...

What a great way to start at home.

It really builds team bonding in there, guys sticking up for each other. When you have a good comeback like that it gets the guys together. Everyone on the bus is excited and ready to play the next game.

As far as the fights at the end of the game, we have to protect each other out there. That Lawson guys was running around a little bit, nothing against referee Paul Depuydt, maybe he didnt see it, but we all decided to stand up and help each other out and protect each other.

Any stick to the face, or attempt to go to the face -- you can take an eye out. You have to respect the other player. Chris Brassard wasn't even looking on the one penalty. It should have been an extra penalty.

As far as the game goes, Musky came in after the first period and said they were getting too many shots in close, in tight. We had to get our feet going and get some energy going and win the one-on-one battles.

The boys just dug deep and kept it simple. I think that's what got it dont. We dug deep and were worrying a little too much about systems. We decided to go out there and play.

No we're headed to Memphis for two straight games. It's going to be weird to play them without Don Parsons. He was always a league leader, a guy we always wanted to watch out there on the ice. I'm sure it's going to be a big loss for them and a gain for us, but they have a new team, I'm sure coach Kevin McClelland has a hard-working team and he went in a different direction for a good reason. They are in our division, tonight was a great win, but we have to put it behind us and worry about these next four points.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Welcome to Opening Night!

Well, here we are, opening night.

Opening night is always a lot of fun. We have a lot of guys who haven’t played in this rink before. The atmosphere is great – one of the best in the league. I told them after our morning skate, “just have a little bit of fun, enjoy it, but don’t let your emotions take over. Control the controllable.”

Musky had a lot of decisions to make before tonight. He cut some pretty dang good hockey players. Hopefully that’s good for our team. Hopefully everyone pans out and we’re going to have a good year this year.

Personally, I expect to just have a good year – on and off the ice. I have to do what I need to do to help the team get a President’s Cup here – whatever it takes to get that Cup here.

As you get older, your job is still to score and put up points, but it’s also to help these young guys know what it takes to get the job done and know what it takes to be successful in this league. I’ll take pride a lot more in helping develop young players and pushing them in the right direction.

Tonight’s game brings those beloved Bucks to town. It’s always great to play a good organization like the Bucks. It’s fun. They are well-coached by Terry Ruskowski, he always puts a good product on the ice. It’s always nice playing against one of the top teams in the league every year.

It’s going to be a good test right off the bat to see where we’re at.

We’ve dominated them during the regular season, but things haven’t gone so well in the postseason for us.

To pinpoint the problem, I’d have to say it’s the little things. You never know what shift a mistake will cost you. It’s just mental, a lot of it – mentally being tough and knowing “when I get out there, I have to get my job done for my team.”

Sometime you’re in the regular season and it’s not like that. If you lose a game here or there it’s not going to kill you, but in the playoffs it’s all or nothing. You get that mental edge on other teams.

My thoughts go out to my good buddy Forbes MacPherson, who recently lost his father.

I’ve talked to him a few times now. It’s never easy losing anyone. He had to go home to take care of a lot of stuff, so we wish him the best and we definitely will love having him back.

Hopefully he’ll take his time and everything will come out alright with his mom.

We stood up in each other’s wedding. We’ve been on lines with each other more than anybody else in our careers.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The effort was there, the win wasn't

I just got on the bus after our 5-3 loss tonight to Oklahoma City.

We were just tired in the third period tonight. The killer was a 5-on-3 shorthanded goal in the third period, the first of two shorties by the Blazers.

Oklahoma City kind of banked the first one off the boards. Our defense got double-shifted, they were gassed. Under normal circumstances our D would have got them, no problem.

It was just a lack of bodies, not the effort. The effort was there.

Karlis Zirnis scored twice tonight. He is a great player and has a great attitude. He's a winner and has won before. Hopefully we can talk him into staying.

It felt good to score early, but for me, the outcome is the main goal. We fell a little short, but our goaltender John DeCaro played really good. We're not making excuses, but once we get our full lineup, we'll be OK.

We head to Austin tomorrow. We have to keep it simple -- defense first. We took a few chances tonight and it cost us. If we battle like tonight, we'll be OK.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Ok, here it goes ... my first post!

I'm about to head a bus for Oklahoma City for Friday's season opener. I look forward to keeping the fans up to date on the Mudbugs through this blog as we attempt to capture the 2006-07 President's Cup.

I’m excited about this year. We have great leadership -- Forbes MacPherson is back, we have Kenny Carroll who is a veteran goalie. We have Jason Basile back, Chris Brassard and Quade Lightbody.

We also have a few guys who have been captains before on other teams.

I’m excited about a lot of the youth as well – that’s what the new style of game is all about -- a lot of fast, high-speed energy guys that have not played much pro hockey. All they want is to win.

We have to keep the traditions alive that some of our past players have built in this program. We’re just trying to keep that alive.

One thing we’re focusing on this year is: nothing less than a championship is going to be satisfactory. We’ve gone too many times to the finals and lost – it hurts just the same as not making the playoffs. It’s going to be a key this year that we focus on the big picture. Think we have a good young core, hopefully we jell quick.

Our head coach, Scott Muscutt has done some team building exercises that have really helped. Hopefully we’ll use it in the first few games and then obviously we’ll bond after that.

Our first game is at the Ford Center in Oklahoma City. Anyone would be thrilled to play in that building in this level. This is an NHL-type barn. I’ve been to Dallas Stars games and they have a great atmosphere for the playoffs there, but it feels like every game there is a great atmosphere to play in. That’s what you want as a player – a great atmosphere, a great building, great fans and a great city.

The preseason was hectic and you might hear from Chris Gustafson is going to be a great player. He’s a great got and reminds me of Christian Lariviere. Christian has been one of the better defensemen in this league.

You’re going to hear a lot from Mike Nason and the Sutherland brothers, Robbie and Brian.

Chris Murphy is going to battle every night. He’s a phenomenal sparkplug that is going to be valuable. A lot of people say he reminds them of me, but I don’t think I was that aggressive to start with.

I’ve spent a lot of time on a line with Chris Brassard and Nason while my old linemate and former Mudbugs captain Forbes MacPherson has played with Milan Vodrazka.

This will be my second year as the team captain. Last year I was a little more reserved and tried to show by example. I still have to do that, but I have to be much more vocal. If I’m having an off-night, I can’t have it affect my leadership in the room. I have to be upbeat and try to block out my personal side to make it better for the team and help lead some of these young guys in winning.

We have such great depth in our room – Quade, Brass, Forbie and Kenny and Basile. It’s really exciting to have that core group of guys that knows what it takes to be successful in this program.

It’s going to be interesting and fun. Everyone of these guys Musky brought in is a character guy. He didn’t bring in any “guy off the street.” These guys are character guys that you want in your community and that are really going to make an impact in the community, not just on the ice.

I remember Jean LaForest told me one year, ‘You’re a rookie, your job is to push the veterans.’ And former Mudbugs captain Jim Sprott told me when I took over captain,’ Your job is too lead the rookie, to lead the young guys.’

I think it’s a mixture. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to be successful. It’s going to be an exciting year. I know we have a lot of young players. There are a lot of unknowns, but I’m really excited about that. I’m so excited about starting this season.