2000 Entry Draft
After the European “invasion” of the 90s, the 2000 draft was dominated by North American players. The Northern Lights held the first pick, selecting Red Deer, AB native Brett Reed, who grew up cheering or the Northern Lights. “I’m so excited right now” said Reed, a tough winger with scoring touch. “My dream was to play for this team.” The New Orleans Sound added another piece to the defence, selecting talented and smooth-skating defenseman Ricky Wolfe second overall, while Denver selected the first European player, speedy Russian Alexei Suvorov at number three. Long Island, already developing into a big, hard-hitting team, took another big winger in Justin Pratt. Pratt, a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was the first American to lead the Canadian Junior Hockey Association in scoring, also leading the Prairie league in penalty minutes. Trent Cameron was the highest goaltender selected, going to Calgary at number six, while Vancouver took Ricky Wolfe’s twin brother, Devan, at number ten. Chicago made things interesting when they traded young defenseman Bryan Briggs to Miami the 11th pick to select Jonathan Wheatley, who had captained the Prarrie Hockey League’s Lethbridge Tornadoes to a National championship. “You don’t often see an 18-year-old with the leadership skills that Jonathan has” said Shamrocks new GM Mark Raines. “We simply couldn’t pass him up.”
1. Edmonton – Brett Reed, F, CAN
2. New Orleans – Ricky Wolfe, D, CAN
3. Denver – Alexei Suvorov, F, RUS
4. Long Island – Justin Pratt, F, USA
5. St. Louis – Kevin Gilmore, F, USA
6. Calgary – Trent Cameron, G, CAN
7. Quebec – Marcel Boivre, D, CAN
8. Boston – Travis Tearney, D, CAN
9. Winnipeg – Teemu Niskanen, F, FIN
10. Vancouver – Devan Wolfe, F, CAN
11. Chicago (From Miami) – Jonathan Wheatley, F, CAN
12. Cleveland – Hendrik Soderstrum, D, SWE
13. Oakland – Jordan Rifken, D, USA
14. Milwaukee – Adam Wyrzykowski, F, CAN
15. Dallas – Dan Smoulders, D, USA
16. Carolina – Evgeni Babkin, D, RUS
17. Detroit – Brad Rich, D, USA
18. Pittsburgh - Mikael Edstrom, F, SWE
19. Seattle – Nick Spears, D, USA
20. Philadelphia – Reid Kraft, F, CAN
21. Toronto – Theo Galvin, F, CAN
22. Montreal – Jayson Strickland, D, CAN
23. Kansas City – Matt Wilhelm, F, USA
24. Los Angeles – Matt Mosley, D, CAN
25. New York – Devon Darcy, F, CAN
26. Washington – Kyle Logan, D, CAN
27. Minnesota – Joni Kita, D, FIN
28. Chicago – Ryan Sturm, D, USA
PHL scouts are already drooling over a 15-year-old from Saskatchewan named Kris Nazarenko. Nazarenko is just entering junior hockey this season and won’t be eligible for the PHL draft until 2002. He scored 133 goals in bantam hockey back in 1998-99, and many wondered if he could keep it up playing for the Canadian Development team at 15. Playing for the national team in 1999-00, Nazarenko led his team in scoring with 76 goals despite being as much as three years younger than most of the other players. Nazarenko is a big center with great hands that many PHL teams would love to have on their top line.
Don Saleski, Head Coach/GM, CHI, 1969-2000
After a long and successful playing career in Chicago, Don Saleski was then hired to run the team in 1969. What followed was perhaps the greatest management career in PHL history. Saleski guided the Shamrocks to Lewis Cup championships in 1983 and 1994, and also played a big role in helping legend Vladimir Gaganov defect from the Soviet Union and become a star in the league. But Saleski’s most impressive achievement took his entire career to accomplish. During his 31-year tenure, the Shamrocks never missed the playoffs, and were almost always in contention. It is the longest playoff streak in the history of the four major team sports.
Stuart Burns, F, LI, TOR, 1979-2000
Drafted by Long Island just three years after the franchise started, Stuart Burns became the first true franchise player in its history. After a rocky start with troubled head coach George Allen, Burns flourished under Cam Norton, leading the Concordes to the Lewis Cup finals in 1984, 1987, and 1990, where they finally won their first championship. In 1996, Burns left Long Island for his hometown Toronto, where he played the final four years of his career with the Racers.
Dave Mack, F, NS, KC, 1980-2000
Growing up in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Dave Mack dreamed of playing for the hometown Claymores. In 1980, that dream was finally realized when the Claymores selected him second overall. Playing with his childhood idol, Russell Buchannan, Mack soon became one of the most popular players one the team, eventually becoming captain. In 1995, the Claymores were forced to relocate to New Orleans, at which point Mack, a free agent, signed with the Kansas City Twisters. After twenty seasons, Mack finally raised the Lewis Cup for the first and only time in his career with the Twisters.
Jaroslav Danek, G, STL, MIL, 1983-2000
After defecting from Czechoslovakia, Jaroslav Danek came aboard the St. Louis dynasty after a trade with the Nuggets in 1983. Danek backstopped the Spirits to four Lewis Cups between 1984 and 1991 before leaving for Milwaukee in 1994, where he would ultimately finish his career.
Jean-Claude Girard, QUE, MTL, KC, 1978-2000
Montreal native JC Girard made his debut with the Quebec Nationale in 1978, playing eleven years there before signing with his hometown Royale in 1989. Girard won three Lewis Cups with Montreal during the 1990s before signing with Kansas City, where he won his fourth and final title with the Twisters in 2000.
Chicago trades D Bryan Briggs to Miami in exchange for 1st round draft pick.
The Briggs brothers become teammates in Miami as Bryan joins his older brother Wade on the Stingrays’ blueline, meanwhile, the Shamrocks trade up in the draft and use the pick to select promising junior player Jonathan Wheatley.
Kansas City trades F Josh McKenzie to New Orleans in exchange for F Mike Singer.
Needing a veteran to replace Dave Mack, the Twisters send prospect McKenzie to the Sound for disgruntled veteran Singer.
Key Free Agents
Sergei Gulinov signs new 12-year deal with Cleveland worth $12 Million/year.
Dominik Musil signs new 6-year deal with Calgary worth $9 Million/year.
Zdeno Kadlec signs new 8-year deal with Montreal worth $ 8 Million/year.
Peter Lundholm signs new 10-year deal with Milwaukee worth $8 Million/year.
Andrei Yegorov signs new 7-year deal with Vancouver worth $6 Million/year.
Olli Heikkinen signs new 6-year deal with Seattle worth $7 Million/year.
Kyle Clark signs new 7-year deal with Dallas worth $7 Million/year.
The biggest signing of an otherwise quiet summer sees the Racers snag another superstar in Luna.
Jarkko Turunen (LA) signs 4-year deal with New Orleans worth $3 Million/year.
The Sound now have a veteran who can set up scoring star Brad McNair.
Cedric Thibault (VAN) signs 4-year deal with Chicago worth $3 Million/year.
Following one of his biggest offensive years in which he scored 28 goals, the tough 34-year-old winger hopes to pursue his first championship in Chicago.
Elliot Andrews (KC) signs 3-year deal with Dallas worth $2.5 Million/year.
Andrews joins his sixth PHL team as the Desperados strengthen their defense.
Craig Bush (SEA) signs 1-year deal with Boston worth $2 Million/year.
One of the most popular Bulldogs of all time, Bush returns after three years in Seattle at age 40 to finish his career in Boston.
Ted McDougall (CHI) signs 3-year deal with Los Angeles worth $1.5 Million/year.
The Wizards become one of hockey’s toughest teams, adding McDougall to lineup already featuring bruisers Kay Swafford, Owen Betts, and Marshall Jackson.
One of the most exciting stories during the summer of 2000 actually came out of Russia, where legend and future hall of famer Vladimir Gaganov announced he would be coming out of retirement to play for his home country in the 2000 World Hockey Challenge. It would be Gaganov’s third time playing in the tournament, he played for Russia in 1996 and for the Soviet Union in the inaugural tournament in 1976. Gaganov also addressed speculations about a PHL return, saying it is extremely unlikely. Meanwhile, Gaganov’s former team, the Chicago Shamrocks introduced their new staff in the wake of Don Saleski’s retirement. The Shamrocks decided to promote from within, as they had done with Saleski 31 years ago, hiring former assistant coach Brian Cullen as the new head coach and former head scout Mark Raines as the new GM. Cullen has been with the Shamrocks as an assistant since 1995, while Raines was in charge of scouting since 1989. “We’ve both been around this organization for a few years and we both learned from the best” said Raines. “I think it’s important that we carry one the rich tradition of this franchise.”
As the summer went on, more news came out regarding the PHL’s two newest franchises. In June, both clubs announced their names, the Portland Cascades and the Atlanta Copperheads. Neither team would unveil a logo but Portland did confirm their team colors would be navy and silver. Both teams will begin play in the fall of 2001.
After another poor season for the New Orleans Sound, there was widespread speculation that the franchise would leave New Orleans. In July, team owner Sam Bendt issued a statement that the Sound would not be going anywhere. “We’ve just added a new section of boxes to our arena and we’re looking to improve things on the ice as well” said Bendt. “We’re not ready to throw in the towel just yet.” On July 19, the Sound announced the hiring of former Denver Bulls Coach Grant Dunlop as their new General Manager. Dunlop promised to turn things around for the team on the ice, with the intention of building the franchise around Brad McNair, the 19-year-old center from Corner Brook, Newfoundland who had already helped draw fans to the Jewel Center in his rookie season with his natural scoring ability. The Sound’s acquisition of Jarkko Turunen from LA gave New Orleans a veteran playmaker to feed McNair. “I think if nothing else, we will be more exciting to watch this year” said Dunlop.
Despite the optimism within the Sound organization, the hockey world continued to prepare for another possible relocation. Houston billionaire Bernie Cratt, who had just barely lost the expansion vote, expressed interest in purchasing the Sound, as did an investors group from Ottawa led by young software tycoon Craig Boulton. Ground was finally broken in the spring of 2000 for a new 18,000-seat arena just a few miles from downtown Ottawa.
The Montreal Royale and Team Canada both received devastating news as the summer wound down. Vincent Durcharme continued to have problems with his knee at Canada’s evaluation camp just prior to the World Hockey Challenge. On only the second day of the camp, Ducharme left, announcing he would miss the tournament. After Ducharme underwent knee surgery on August 20, Royale team doctors announced he would be out of the Montreal lineup until at least Christmas. Ducharme has had a history of knee problems, the most recent injuring occurring during the 2000 playoffs when he received a devastating hit from Philadelphia’s Alex Leblanc. “With or without Vince, our goals remain the same” said Royale head coach Todd Beirness. “Our other guys know they’ll have to step up, we’ll be ready.” Veteran defenseman Jonathan Adams will serve as Montreal’s captain in Duchamre’s absence.
The hockey world was hit with sad news just as training camps opened in September, 2000. Bobby Sorel, arguably the greatest goaltender in PHL history, passed away at his summer home in Montreal after a two-year battle with cancer. Sorel played 20 years in the league from 1966 to 1986, mostly with Minnesota, backstopping the Lumberjacks to two Lewis Cups in the 1970s but also spent time with Chicago and Long Island. Sorel is perhaps best known for making what became known as “The Save” in the final moments of the 1980 World Hockey Challenge to give Canada the title. Sorel passed away at the age of 52.