2001 Entry Draft
The 2001 draft featured the most Canadian players selected in the first round in over 20 years. 19 out of 30 players selected in the first round were Canucks, while the United States provided only four first rounders including the first overall pick, Jake Wilson. Goaltender Martin Barker of the Prairie League’s Lethbridge Tornados went second to the Denver Bulls, while Jayson Clarke, a skilled winger from Manitoba became the first pick in Atlanta Copperheads history. Portland made their first-ever pick Jyrki Rainimak from Tampere, Finland, selecting him sixth. Other interesting picks included Brandon Sweetwater, the first full-blooded Native American to be drafted into the league, he went 14th to the Carolina Raiders, while defenseman Corey Clark became only the second Prince Edward Island native to be drafted when Chicago took him at 24th.
1. Quebec – Jake Wilson, F, USA
2. Denver – Martin Barker, G, CAN
3. Atlanta – Jayson Clarke, F, CAN
4. Edmonton – Ilya Rusakivich, F, RUS
5. Boston – Chris Haines, F, CAN
6. Portland – Jyrki Rainimak, F, FIN
7. Calgary – Matthew Potter, D, GB
8. St. Louis – Blake Bennett, F, CAN
9. Winnipeg – Corey Watts, F, CAN
10. New Orleans – Trevor Shaw, D, CAN
11. Long Island – Daniel Hedlund, D, SWE
12. Cleveland – Owen Langley, F, CAN
13. Milwaukee – Alyn Marleau, F, CAN
14. Carolina – Brandon Sweetwater, F, USA
15. Vancouver – Trey Sawler, F, CAN
16. Oakland – Evan Butler, D, USA
17. Los Angeles – Matt Stover, G, CAN
18. Toronto – Trent Cameron, G, CAN
19. Detroit – Matt Hopkins, F, USA
20. Pittsburgh – Adam Briggs, D, CAN
21. Miami – Henrik Lindblom, F, SWE
22. Dallas – Ben Burgess, D, CAN
23. New York – Matt Kennedy, F, CAN
24. Chicago – Corey Clark, D, CAN
25. Montreal – Ryan Kent, F, CAN
26. Denver (From Washington) – Sergei Mikhailov, F, RUS
27. Philadelphia – Sean Nowakowski, F, CAN
28. Seattle – Luke Roy, F, CAN
29. Minnesota – Jesse Hollis, D, CAN
30. Kansas City – Jaromir Rezek, D, CZE
Vincent Ducharme, F, MTL, 1986-2001
Though his career was cut short, Vincent Ducharme had plenty of time to establish himself as one of the greatest players in PHL history. With 1644 points, Ducharme ranks seventh all-time in points and captained the Montreal Royale to three Lewis Cups during the 1990s, even scoring the winner in 1991. Towards the end of the 1990s, Ducharme began to suffer from knee injuries, which eventually forced him to miss the entire 2000-01 regular season. He would return for the playoffs, where his final great moment would be scoring the winner to send the Royale to the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. After losing to the Philadelphia Redshirts, Ducharme retired after 15 seasons.
Craig Bush, F, BOS, SEA, 1980-2001
One of the most popular players in Bulldogs’ history, Craig Bush played a total of 18 years in Boston, serving as their captain for twelve seasons. In 1993, Bush led a powerhouse Bulldogs team to their first Lewis Cup in 21 years, taking home playoff MVP honours in the process. The ‘Dogs endured some lean years in the late 1990s, and Bush eventually signed with Seattle, where he played two seasons before returning to Boston for his final season.
Alexei Yolkin, F, TOR, DEN, 1991-2001
After over a decade starring with the Soviet National Team, Alexei Yolkin finally made his PHL debut in January, 1992 with the Toronto Racers, just weeks after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yolkin lit up the Toronto offense, scoring over a goal per game in the second half of the 1991-92 season. Unfortunately for the Racers, Yolkin’s prime in the PHL was brief, as his play declined in the late 90s. He was dealt to the Denver Bulls in 1999 where he played his final two years. Yolkin will now head home to Russia to begin a new career as a coach.
Jeff Waters, F, PHI, 1979-2001
Few players waited as long as Jeff Waters with the same franchise to hoist the Lewis Cup. Waters made his debut in 1979 and played more than two decades in Philadelphia, eventually serving as their captain. The Redshirts’ legendary drought continued on as Philly lost a heartbreaker in the 1989 finals. The late 90s brought some difficult years for the team and Waters had opportunities to leave and join a contender. But Waters, a family man and devout Christian, opted to stay in Philadelphia to keep his focus on his family and faith. It would pay off in the end as the Redshirts quickly rose back to the top and claimed their first-ever Lewis Cup in Waters’ final game.
Carolina trades D Jean-Francois Belanger to Seattle in exchange for D Nick Spears.
Seattle replenishes their Defensive depth after losing Jason Driscoll to the Expansion Draft by adding all-star blueliner Belanger, while the Raiders bring some youth to their blueline in Spears.
Denver trades F Oleg Markov to Long Island in exchange for F Justin Pratt.
The Bulls launch a full-on rebuild, sending their star forward Markov to the Concordes for Pratt, the Canadian Junior MVP in 2000-01.
Denver trades F Kaino Rippola, G Nathan Bowman to Washington in exchange for 1st round draft pick.
Denver’s tank job continues as veteran Rippola and goaltender Bowman are sent to the generals for Washington’s first pick in the draft.
Key Free Agents
Scott Drayton signs new 5-year deal with Kansas City worth $12 Million/year.
Igor Nokavich signs new 7-year deal with Boston worth $8 Million/year.
Kyle Mathis signs new 6-year deal with Edmonton worth $5 Million/year.
Darren Reid signs new 5-year deal with New Orleans worth $5 Million/year.
Shawn Marchinski signs new 3-year deal with Dallas worth $3.5 Million/year.
The first in a summer of huge moves around the league, Hoyle leaves the Nuggets for Broadway after 15 seasons in the Bay area.
F Aaron Duplacy (NYC) signs 5-year deal with Montreal worth $10 Million/year.
Less than two hours after signing the biggest free agent on the market, the Civics lose their captain, as Duplacy heads to Montreal to replace the lost offense from Ducharme’s retirement.
G Jake Borman (WSH) signs 3-year deal with Toronto worth $5 Million/year.
One of the game’s top goaltenders heads to Toronto to replace the departing Tom Branson.
G Tom Branson (TOR) signs 5-year deal with Chicago worth $5 Million/year.
Branson leaves the struggling Racers to pursue a championship with the Shamrocks.
D Teppo Sikkanen (DEN) signs 1-year deal with Chicago worth $3 Million/year.
Chicago continues to load up, signing the former Cooper Award winner to a one-year deal. Sikkanen has said this could be his final season.
F Trevor Ramsey (EDM) signs 2-year deal with Boston worth $2 Million/year.
The 38-year-old Ramsey will likely finish his career in Boston.
The summer of 2001 kicked off with big news, when Darryl Byrd announced that for the first time in PHL history, two teams would play outside in a football stadium. The Chicago Shamrocks would face the Toronto Racers at Madison Field in Chicago on Boxing Day in an event called the Holiday Classic. “This event will go down in history as one of the greatest events of all time” Byrd. When asked if the event would become an annual tradition, Byrd replied “I hope so.”
There were a few notable coaching changes during the summer of 2001. The Boston Bulldogs fired both GM Bob Canton and Head Coach Gery Shantz, replacing them with former Bulldogs defenseman Bruce McKinnon as GM, and successful major junior coach Maxime St-Beaudoin as Head Coach. St-Beaudoin, one of the youngest coaches in PHL history at just 35, had led the Maritime League’s Moncton Narwals to the National Championship game in 1999-00, and also served on the PHL expansion committee. It would not take long for Shantz to find a new coaching job, just a day after being let go by Boston, Shantz was hired by the expansion Atlanta Copperheads, who had apparently been waiting for his dismissal. “We had a feeling Boston would be making a change so we just decided to wait and see what would happen” said Copperheads GM Paul Needham. The Portland Cascades also found their first coach when the Edmonton Northern Lights decided to part ways with Rick Camford. Edmonton then hired former Nuggets winger Rod Skelton as their new bench boss.
History was also made in New York, where defenseman Lamar Jackson became the first black player to be named captain of a PHL club. With the departure of Aaron Duplacy, Civics management resisted naming new acquisition Kevin Hoyle the captain, instead giving the honour to Jackson, who had been a key part of the team since 1988. “It’s a huge honour to be able to lead this team” said Jackson. “I can’t wait to get going, it’s going to be a good year.” The optimistic Civics would also be opening their new training facility in Jersey City at the start of training camp on September 11th. “We’ve had that date circled on our calendar all summer” said head coach Bruce Irvine. “We can’t wait to get started.”