Monday, April 24, 2017

1991 Off-Season

1991 Entry Draft

After a tough season, the Winnipeg Pioneers held the first overall pick in the PHL draft for the first time in franchise history. The Pioneers finally got a true franchise player when they selected Dan Crow, a superstar in the Ontario Junior league who had scored 58 goals in 1990-91. The Miami Stingrays finally had their franchise defenseman after selecting Edmonton native Brad Little with the second pick. Little won defenseman of the year honours in the Canadian Junior Hockey League at only 17 in 1990-91. The California Nuggets added to their European nucleus with the selection of Finnish winger Teppo Saari to round out the top three. As Communism continued to fall apart, several Eastern European players were selected, including three Soviet players, Stanislav Zykov went to Minnesota, Vladimir Kozakov was selected by Chicago, and Ilya Severov was the last player picked by the California Nuggets, while Czech forward David Havel was selected by Toronto.

1.      Winnipeg – Dan Crow, F, CAN
2.      Miami – Brad Little, D, CAN
3.      California – Teppo Saari, F, FIN
4.      Ottawa – Jean Francois Belanger, D, CAN
5.      Washington – Justin Hill, D, USA
6.      Kansas City - Travis Watson, F, USA
7.      Denver – Alexander Simard, D, CAN
8.      Calgary – Jonas Andersson, F, SWE
9.      Pittsburgh – Brendan Bittner, F, CAN
10.   Quebec – Anders Henriksson, F, SWE
11.   LA – Luke Webb, D, USA
12.   New York – Ryan Cobb, F, CAN
13.   Detroit – Igor Kharitonov, F, USSR
14.   Nova Scotia – Teemu Nurminen, D, FIN
15.   Minnesota – Stanislav Zykov, F, USSR
16.   Chicago – Vladimir Kozakov, F, USSR
17.   Vancouver – Trevor Kerwick, D, CAN
18.   Toronto – David Havel, F, CZE
19.   Seattle – Jason Whitaker, F, CAN
20.   Philadelphia – Jay Lydon, D, CAN
21.   Milwaukee – Brent Zahorsky, D, CAN
22.   Long Island – Niklas Jonsson, F, SWE
23.   Edmonton - Elliott Reese, F, CAN
24.   Boston – Jeffery Kaiser, F, CAN
25.   St. Louis – Ryan McCarthy, F, CAN
26.   California (from Montreal), Ilya Severov, F, USSR

Notable Retirements:

Grant Millen – STL, 1973-1991
Playing alongside the greatest scorer in PHL history, Grant Millen forged a reputation of his own as one of the league’s genius playmakers. Millen played most of his 18-year career on hockey’s most dominant line with David Appleby and Niklas Ekberg. Together the three superstars led the St. Louis Spirits to five Lewis Cups in a nine year span. Millen retires as the Spirits’ second leading scorer all-time, behind only Appleby.

Alan Chadwick – CAL, LI, 1973-1991
Alan Chadwick played most of his 18-year career with the Nuggets, helping lead them to a Lewis Cup victory in 1980 and eventually serving as their captain. In 1987, Chadwick was traded to the Long Island Concordes, where in 1990, he won his second championship.

Terry Wolfe – STL, 1972-1991
Another key piece of the St. Louis dynasty, Terry Wolfe was a steady presence on the Spirits’ blueline for nearly two decades. Wolfe was selected seventh overall by the Spirits in 1972 and a decade later, helped lead St. Louis to their first of what would be five Lewis Cups in nine seasons.

Clint Allen – MIN, 1973-1991
The son of PHL legend George Allen, Clint Allen played a valuable role in the Lumberjacks 1979 Lewis Cup victory, playing alongside Guy Dupont. In the latter years of his career, Allen served as a mentor to younger Lumberjacks Jason Crowley and Pavel Vana and played a key role in Minnesota’s surprising run to the finals in 1990.

Craig Tucker – HAM/WSH, MIA, 1970-1991
Selected second overall by Hamilton in the 1970 draft, Tucker retires as the final PHL player to have played for the Kings in Hamilton. Tucker played 19 years with the Kings/Generals franchise before signing with the expansion Miami Stingrays in 1989, where he played the final two years of his career.

Toby Griffin – STL, 1971-1991
Griffin was yet another important part of the St. Louis Spirits’ depth on the blueline during their dynasty years in the 1980s.

Notable Trades

Philadelphia trades F Alexei Yolkin to Toronto in exchange for F Jonathan Stafford.
Redshirts captain Gary Johnson will likely retire at the conclusion of the 1991-92 season, so the Redshirts are desperate to make a run. With continued uncertainty about the future of the Soviet Union, It may be a while before Yolkin can come to North America so the Redshirts sent him to Toronto in exchange for an established star in Stafford.

Quebec trades G John Gage to Chicago in exchange for F Graham Boswell.
The Nationale add to their forward depth. Patrick Lemoine is expected to take on the goaltending duties, so Quebec could afford to part with Gage. Chicago finally gets the number one goaltender they need, at the cost of one of their most popular players.

California trades D Evan Flowers to Montreal in exchange for 26th overall draft pick.
Montreal strengthens their defense while the Nuggets continue their rebuild, using the pick to select Soviet forward Ilya Severov.

Key Free Agents

Pete Holloway (SEA) signs 3-year deal with Milwaukee worth $2 Million/year.
The Choppers get a veteran star as Holloway leaves Seattle for a chance to win his first Lewis Cup.

Dawson Robb (MIA) signs 2-year deal with Long Island worth $1 Million/year.
Robb joins his fourth team, adding veteran experience to the Concordes’ blueline.

Pascal Renaud (LI) signs 3-year deal with Quebec worth $1.5/year.
In a surprising move, Renaud leaves Long Island to sign with his hometown team, leaving 20-year-old Jeff Pickard as the number one goaltender on the Island.

Brett Zimmer (WSH) signs 4-year deal with Minnesota worth $900,000.
Zimmer, looking for his first championship, gives the Lumberjacks some defensive depth.


The first major announcement of the 1991 off-season came when the Boston Bulldogs announced that plans for a new 20,000 downtown arena had been approved and construction would begin in the spring of 1992. The Bulldogs and the PBL’s Boston Muskets would move into the new building by the 1994-95 season.

In other arena news, the Nova Scotia Claymores approached the city of Halifax about funding for a new arena. Owner Jim MacDonald still hoped to find a buyer who would keep the team in Nova Scotia and hoped securing the funding for a new facility would make the team more attractive to any potential buyer. It was a long shot and the city was more than a little hesitant about giving financial support to a franchise with such an uncertain future. By late July, Darryl Byrd advised MacDonald to widen his search for both a new owner and a new building to include other markets.

Cleveland made a big step during the summer of 1991 towards acquiring a PHL franchise. The city finally approved David Farber’s 18,000 seat arena, meaning construction would begin in early 1992. “This is a huge step in the right direction for the city of Cleveland” said Byrd. “The fact that there will now be a tangible building changes everything.” Meanwhile, Clint Love also said he was close to securing the approval he needed to build a 20,000-seat arena in Dallas as he continued to lobby for a PHL franchise of his own. The other cities rumoured to be bidding for expansion franchises include Atlanta, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and Houston. Byrd has yet to make an official announcement on when the next expansion will take place or if and when he plans to assemble an expansion committee as his predecessor did to decide which cities will be admitted.

In other news Seattle overhauled their front office, firing both GM Bob Creelman and Head Coach Grant Dunlop. Former Grey Wolves Winger Bruce Dickenson was named Head Coach, while former Detroit Mustang Bobby Vail was named GM. Quebec also fired head coach Jean-Pierre Boisvert, replacing him with former Ottawa coach Jacques Colette.

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