Friday, June 29, 2007

Rakhshani Making An Impression In NYC
DU Star Attends NHL Prospects Camp

From: New York Islanders Website

(left) Rhett Rakhshani (#65) goes through drills with the other Islander prospects

All reports out of the New York Islanders Prospects Camp have Rhett Rakhshani making a positive impression. Most NHL teams hold the camps each summer and invite their draftees to participate in drills and practices.

On the ice, the propects continued to work on their skating and puck skills. Like yesterday's shootout drill, Thursday's final ice activity was a fun game, where two skaters went 2-on-0 against a netminder. The game pitted the defensemen against the forwards.

Two Islander prospects have met on the ice before. Minnesota Golden Gopher Kyle Okposo and Rhett Rakhshani's Denver Pioneers had a couple of battles this past January. The teams split a pair of one-goal games, while playing in Minnesota.

"It's always fun going up against DU," said Okposo. "You just try not to give them any cheap shots."

"There was a scrum during one of the games while Kyle and I were both on the ice," said Rakhshani. "We just looked over at each other and smiled."

Stastny Looks Forward To Next Season

From: Colorado Avalanche Website

Paul Stastny never expected this.

A mere 20 years old and fresh off of two stellar years at the University of Denver, Stastny’s goal entering the Colorado Avalanche’s 2006 training camp was to earn a jersey and some ice time. He never expected his season to end on the NHL’s version of the red carpet.

“I just wanted to make the team and shoot for 30 or 40 points,” Stastny says.

He did a lot more than that, which is why, on a warm June 14 night in Toronto, the Avalanche center was rubbing elbows with NHL royalty. As a finalist for the Calder Trophy, given to the NHL’s top rookie, he was invited to the NHL awards ceremony that caps off the season. Although he finished second in voting to Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, it was a banner evening for the 21-year-old Stastny.

“I knew Malkin was going to get it,” Stastny says. “He had a phenomenal season. If I would have won it I would have winged (the speech).”

Stastny didn’t have a speech prepared for the ceremony, guessing correctly that Malkin’s 33-goal, 52-assist season was enough to win the Calder, but he didn’t walk away empty-handed. Stastny became the sixth player in franchise history to be named to the NHL All-Rookie Team, joining Bruce Bell in 1984-85, Peter Forsberg in 1994-95, Chris Drury and Milan Hejduk in 1998-99 and John-Michael Liles in 2003-04

Not a bad honor for a guy coming into camp just trying to make an impression. He did, making the team out of training camp, and he was one of five Avalanche players to play in all 82 games. He finished third on the team in goals (28) assists (50) and points (78), and was second in rookie scoring in the league.

“I worked hard but got a little luck and wound up having a great season,” Stastny says. “I have to give credit to our coaching staff for having the confidence in me, and all my linemates I played with.”

There was one six-week stretch that set Stastny apart from not only the rookie class, but every NHL player. Stastny, already a fan favorite in Colorado, arrived on the NHL map with a rookie-record 20-game scoring streak from Feb. 3 to March 17. It was only the third 20-game scoring streak in the league since 1993-94, and Stastny was the third youngest player in NHL history to have a 20-game scoring streak. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux accomplished the feat at an earlier age.

Stastny, who had 11 goals and 18 assists in that 20-game span, said he started feeling more comfortable playing in the NHL in the second half of the season.

“After 25, 30 games, when I played all teams in Western Conference, I got used to them,” Stastny says. “You realize what brings you success and what could be your downfall. You get used to all of the teams and the different atmospheres. The more games you play, the more you can keep the pace and see what is different from college.”

Now comes the hard part for Stastny – building on a stellar rookie season. Since playing for the United States team in the world championships this spring, Stastny took some time off, but he’s now getting ready for his sophomore season.

“I just started working out,” Stastny said the night of the NHL awards ceremony. “I’ll do the same things I’ve done every year, and I’ll add things to get quicker.

“I came in pretty good shape (last year), but it could have been better. I'll come in ready on Day 1. I’d like to try and get a little quicker next year.”

Stastny knows that he’ll have more attention from fans and opponents. The Avalanche, which narrowly missed the playoffs for the first times since moving to Denver in 1995, came on strong in the last six weeks of the season, going 14-2-2, and Stastny was a big part of that late-season surge. Colorado wants to continue that momentum at the start of 2007-08, and Stastny is conscience that defenses will focus on him more.

“I may have pressure on me,” Stastny says. “I want to come into camp in top shape and be ready for anything. You’re only as good as your last game. There’s pressure, and people are expecting things. Like anything else, I want to maintain what I’m good at.”

If Stastny needs any measuring stick, he can look at organizational history. The last four Avalanche players who were on the NHL All-Rookie Team – Forsberg (1995), Drury (1999), Hejduk (1999) and Liles (2004) – followed up those campaigns with even better second seasons. In fact, all but Liles went on to win a Stanley Cup with Colorado. Forsberg won in his second season of 1996 and Drury and Hejduk both lifted the Cup in their third season in 2001.

For now, Stastny was happy to be hanging out with the NHL elite. He topped off the NHL awards night by having dinner with one of the best and most respected players in the league – teammate Joe Sakic.

“It was a good experience coming here, hanging out with the cream of the crop,” Stastny says.

After his outstanding rookie season, some might consider Stastny part of that crop.

Monday, June 25, 2007

DU Recruit Drafted in 5th Round

In the NHL Draft this past weekend, DU had one recruit drafted in the 5th Round and two fish that got away taken in the 1st & 3rd rounds. Brock Trotter who just completed an outstanding season with the Pioneers was not drafted. He becomes an unrestricted free agent and can sign with an team at the conclusion of his college career.

Incoming University of Denver 2008-09 hockey recruit John Lee (Moorhead, Minn.) was selected by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round of the 2007 National Hockey League Entry Draft today.

Lee, a 6-2, 185-pound defenseman was picked No. 131 overall by Florida. Lee, who will play for Waterloo of the United States Hockey League (USHL) this season, helped Moorhead High School (Minn.) to the quarterfinals of the Minnesota State Hockey Tournament in 2007. He was a finalist for Mr. Hockey in Minnesota and tallied nine points on two goals and seven assists in 27 games for Waterloo last season. He will enroll at DU next fall for the 2008-09 season.

Riley Nash who was considering DU but ended up at Cornell, was drafted in the 1st Round by the Edmonton Oilers and Jason Gregoire, switched his commitment to UND went in the 3rd Round to the New York Islanders.

Friday, June 22, 2007

DU Alums Involved In AHL Coaching Shakeup
Two Former DU Hockey Captains Reunited

From: Portland Press
by Paul Betit

(left) DU Alum Kevin Dineen starred at the University Of Denver before playing 18 seasons in the NHL

Portland, Maine - The Portland Pirates are expected to announce the hiring of two assistant coaches today.

According to NHL.com, Gord Dineen, the older brother of Pirates head coach & DU Alum Kevin Dineen, and Matt Laatsch, who played four seasons at the University of Denver, have been hired to replace Bruce Crowder and Eric Weinrich.

Crowder was rumored to be a finalist for the University of Denver head coaching job back in 1994 when DU named George Gwozdecky as head coach. Crowder, a former assistant coach at the University of Maine, spent the past two seasons with the Pirates after serving 14 years as the head coach at Northeastern. He was informed of the change weeks ago.

"Kevin called me and said they were going in a different direction," he said.

Crowder, 50, took a job as the New England sales manager for Atrium Medical Corporation, a surgical supply company based in Hudson, N.H.

"I have a lot of confidence in my coaching abilities, and I have no doubts I will be successful at this," he said. "I'm actually looking forward to having my weekends to myself."

Gord Dineen, 44, has spent the last three seasons as an assistant with AHL teams in Springfield, Utah and San Antonio. During an NHL career spanning 14 seasons, he played a total of 528 games.

Laatsch, 26, moves into the professional ranks as a coach after serving one season as a volunteer assistant at his college alma mater. He was captain of Denver's 2004-05 team and anchored DU to back-to-back NCAA titles.

Despite his age and a limited pro experience that consists of just four games with Utah of the AHL, Laatsch said he doesn’t see credibility being an issue with AHL players.

“The way I look at it is I’m a winner. I’m going into an organization that’s a winner,’’ Laatsch said. “Coaching is knowing how to develop and foster relationships. I think guys figure out pretty quick whether a guy knows the game or he doesn’t.’’

Dineen was DU's Captain in 1982-83 as a Sophmore, under head coach Ralph Backstrom. Kevin & Gord are sons of longtime WHA & NHL coach Bill Dineen.

When Kevin Dineen asked Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky for a heads-up on coaching candidates, Gwozdecky mentioned Laatsch.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Connor James Signs Minor League Contract
'04 Alum Re-signs With Penguins Organization

(left) Connor James will be staying in Pennsylvania


The Pittsburgh Penguins signed right-wing Connor James to a one-year contract.

James, 24, likely will play this season for the club's AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He spent this past season there and scored 12 goals to go with 32 points in 70 regular-season games. James was fourth on the club in scoring during the playoffs with eight points over 11 games.

"He is a hard-working, good-skating kid who was arguably our most consistent playoff performer in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton," assistant general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "He is a good penalty-killer, plus he chips in a bit offensively. He is a depth player."

James originally was signed as a free agent by the Penguins on Aug. 8, 2006. He was a ninth-round choice by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2002 entry draft.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paul Phillips Commits To DU

(above) In 2006, Paul Phillips helped the Bauer Select 91 team win the prestigious Toronto Prospects Tournament over other all-star teams

Illinois Defenseman Will Enroll In 2009

Heisenberg's Site, USHR & Western College Hockey Blog are reporting that DU received a "verbal commitment" from Paul Phillips. Phillips, a 15-year old native of Darien, Illinois, skated for the Chicago Chill midget program last season. Darien is a suburb of Chicago.

Phillips is a defenseman and reportedly was invited to tryout with the USNDP earlier this season. Playing for the Chicago Chill last season against players that were up to three years older, he tallied 12 points in 26 games, including four power play goals.

Phillips will play for Cedar Rapids in the USHL for the next two seasons and will enroll at DU in 2009. At Cedar Rapids, he will be a defensive teammate of DU's Oklahoman Recruit Matt Donovan.

Phillips joins Donovan and Nate Dewhurst as probable 2009 recruits.

Monday, June 18, 2007


LetsGoDU Goes On Summer Hiatus

Its time to put the LetsGoDU to bed for the summer. Its been a busy second season covering DU's world-class hockey program. Since 2005, we've found a niche in the cyberworld and tweaked our content.

Thanks go out to du78 for writing articles and posting game stories. Also thanks go out to all the DU posters on USCHO.com who helped find links to relevant stories about our alums, players, recruits and other items of interest.

Special thanks to all the newspapers, bloggers, writers, photographers and online hockey publications for providing articles about DU and not suing us for "poaching" their articles. We rewrite the articles instead of providing links to keep a permanent record of the article. Many newspapers and websites delete their old articles and they can be lost forever.

Thanks to all the DU fans who provided feedback and commentary about LetsGoDU in Denver and via email. We couldn't do it without you. Thanks to also Donald at UAAFan Blog for inciting the North Dakota Herd and switching blogs in December.

And especially thanks for all the readers and people who contributed "Comments." Often the "Comments" were better and more interesting than the articles.

We have 865 articles backlogged in the Archives and available for people all over the world to Google. Additionally, more than 93,000 visitors have hit LetsGoDU over the past two seasons and its growing daily.

If you are a member of Facebook.com don't forget to sign up as a friend of Denver Boone at some point over the summer.

I'm not sure we've advanced the DU cause in the past two years with this Blog, but certainly people know when we say "Lets Go DU" we mean it.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Carle & Stastny Named To NHL's All-Rookie Team

Stastny Finished 2nd In Rookie Of The Year Balloting

(left) DU Alum's Paul Stastny & Matt Carle were named to the NHL's All-Rookie Team on Thursday. Voting was conducted by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association at the conclusion of the regular season.

The Sharks received an offensive boost from Carle, who scored the Sharks' first goal of the season on opening night vs. St. Louis Oct. 5 and he finished the month with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists), the third-highest October point total for a rookie defenseman in League history. Carle finished the campaign as the scoring leader among rookie defensemen and sixth among all Sharks with 42 points (11 goals, 31 assists) in 77 games.

Stastny earned a place in the NHL record book in his first NHL season, setting a rookie mark by registering at least a point in 20 consecutive games from Feb. 3 to Mar. 17. Stastny became just the third NHL player since 1993-94 to record a 20-game streak, joining Dany Heatley (22 games) with the Ottawa Senators in 2005-06 and Adam Oates (20) for the Boston Bruins in 1996-97. Stastny finished the season tied for the rookie lead in game-winning goals (six), ranked second in points (78) and power-play goals (11) and was fourth in goals (28).

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hockey's Future Cites Trotter As NHL Prospect


Hockey's Future compiled a list of the "Top 20 NHL Prospects currently playing NCAA hockey and haven't been drafted yet." Brock Trotter came in at #7.

Redshirted Freshman, University of Denver
5'10 170 lbs.
DOB: 9/18/87 Shoots: Right
NHL Central Scouting final ranking: N/A


2006-07 season:
A year after suffering a season-ending Achilles tendon injury, Brock Trotter emerged as a better, wiser and more appreciative player. The Brandon, MB native led the Pioneers with 40 points (16 goals, 24 assists) playing in all 40 games this season. His 24 assists also led the team. He was the first freshman to lead Denver in scoring in two decades. Trotter's stellar season earned him the team's Leading Scorer and "Star of the Year" awards.

Talent Analysis:
Trotter is an instinctive, multi-dimensional player who is equally adept in both offensive and defensive situations. He possesses great vision, awareness and anticipation, and utilizes those attributes effectively regardless of where he is on the ice. While Trotter is not an overly physical player, he has the capability to deliver some pretty solid checks. One of Trotter's greatest assets are his hands, whether it's in making nice tape-to-tape passes or keeping the puck on his stick. Continuing to add size and strength should help to not only make Trotter tougher to play against but also add power to his quickness and speed.

Denver head coach George Gwozdecky's comments on Trotter:
"After sitting out a year, Brock was starting over again in many ways, especially in his timing and confidence. He is the kind of athlete, not only physically but also intelligence-wise, where he picked it up again pretty quickly. We're very fortunate that Brock has the skills and the attitude that makes him as good in our own zone as he is the offensive zone and that's kind of player that you can build around."

Thursday, June 07, 2007


Rakhshani & Ruegseger Invited To Team USA Tryout

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – DU Freshmen Rhett Rakhshani & Tyler Ruegsegger have been invited to the 2007 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., Aug. 3-11. Participating players are candidates for the 2008 U.S. National Junior Team that will compete in the 2008 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship, Dec. 26, 2007-Jan. 5, 2008, in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic.

Monday, June 04, 2007

DU Alum Watches Stanley Cup Finals With Interest
Marshall Johnston Sees His Trades Paying Off

From: Denver Post

by Terry Frei

(left) When asked what was the best moment of his playing career, Marshall Johnston said, "Winning two National Championships at the University of Denver in 1960 & '61."

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Speaking from his home in Bemidji, Minn., Marshall Johnston laughed.
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"We had a salary cap before the salary cap," the former University of Denver and Colorado Rockies coach said Friday.
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What Johnston meant was that during his 1999-2002 tenure as the Ottawa Senators' general manager, financial troubles and conservatism meant the payroll wasn't even in the same rink with those of Detroit, Colorado and the New York Rangers.

Yet the Senators were competitive, and a significant number of the players now wearing Ottawa sweaters in the Stanley Cup Finals - including center Jason Spezza and goaltender Ray Emery - were drafted when Johnston was the GM. He was also the director of player personnel from 1996-99. The Senators drafted Chris Phillips, Mike Fisher and Chris Neil during that period.

"Sure, I'm happy for the players, I'm happy for the fans there," said Johnston, 65, now the Carolina Hurricanes' director of professional scouting. "They were supportive of the team from the get-go. They got progressively better and they've been knocking on the door, and now they're banging on the door."

The catch is that in 2005, Johnston sued Senators president Roy Mlakar and former team vice president of finance Mark Goudie for $275,000, and the case has yet to be decided. "That's taken a little bit of the shine off my support," Johnston said.

Johnston had filed a grievance with the league before the Senators filed for bankruptcy protection and eventually were sold to Eugene Melnyk, but the NHL front office sided with Mlakar. So Johnston sued. His stance is that when he became GM, he was promised he would be making the same salary as his predecessor, Rick Dudley - and that he discovered later that Dudley had been paid more.

"I've been into it now for so long and have had so much in attorneys' fees," Johnston said, "I'm going to see it to the end. But forget about that, and, yes, you're in it to see the players you drafted or traded for do well."

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The major move in Johnson's tenure was a 2001 trade. The deal seems incredibly lopsided now. On June 23, 2001, the Senators sent disgruntled center Alexei Yashin, who had sat out the entire 1999-2000 season in a contract dispute before the league ruled he had to play an additional year for Ottawa to fulfill the terms of his deal, to the Islanders for defenseman Zdeno Chara, winger Bill Muckalt and the No. 2 overall pick in that year's draft.

That turned out to be center Spezza, now one of the NHL's young stars.

"There's as much good luck as good management in these types of things," Johnston said. "Here was a guy who had a contract who had renegotiated a couple of times. The irony was that when he tried it a third time, I don't think the franchise was in a financial position to renegotiate, anyway. But to me, it was a matter of principle."

Johnston said at that point, it was inevitable that he had to trade Yashin after he played out his contract.

"Fortunately, he was a good player with some market value," Johnston said. "There were quite a few teams interested at the time, and when push came to shove, we were able to make the deal we were able to make."

Johnston was familiar with Chara, who had struggled at times in his four seasons with the Islanders, because he had done some scouting work for the Islanders in the late 1990s. With the Senators, Chara blossomed into one of the league's top defensemen before signing as an unrestricted free agent with Boston a year ago.

And Emery, the frequently combative goalie who went to the Senators in the fourth round of the 1999 draft?

"The credit for drafting Ray goes to Frank Jay," Johnston said of the Senators' director of scouting. "I had hired Frank and we had worked together at New Jersey. ... I went to see Emery play at Sault Ste. Marie, and Craig Hartsburg was coaching him. I remember telling Hartsburg, 'Tell him not to fight so he stays in the game!"'

He apparently did.

THE MARSHALL JOHNSTON FILE

A native of Saskatchewan, Johnston was a star defenseman at the University of Denver and had a seven-season NHL career with Minnesota and California. Head coach at DU (1977-81), assistant and head coach with the Colorado Rockies (1981-82), director of player personnel with the New Jersey Devils (1982-92). Has also worked for the N.Y. Islanders and Chicago, and was with Ottawa for six years. Currently the Carolina Hurricanes' director of pro scouting.

Guess Who Has His Own Facebook Page?

A week ago an enterprising Denver Boone started his own Facebook.com Page. Since that time over 450 people have signed up as "friends."

You have to be a facebook member to check out the page, but it only takes a few minutes to sign up. If you belong to Facebook.com, sign up as a friend of Boone's and help bring Boone back to DU.

All I can say is if you can't access the site, Boone has some smokin' hot friends. Why he's not DU's Mascot is a mystery to me. Lets see if we can get Denver Boone to 1,000 members.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Butterfly Goalie Effect

Its All Mannino's Fault


(left) Peter Mannino and Alyssa Hampton lead Boone's Rebel Alliance against the Administration

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We all know the basic premise of the Butterfly Effect that encapsulates the more technical notion of sensitive dependence on initial conditions in chaos theory. The phrase refers to the idea that a butterfly's (or Red-Tailed Hawk) wings might create tiny changes in the atmosphere that ultimately cause a tornado to appear (or prevent a tornado from appearing). The flapping wing represents a small change in the initial condition of the system, which causes a chain of events leading to large-scale phenomena. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, the trajectory of the system might have been vastly different.

For the purposes of this article, a young sophomore at the time, Peter Mannino, decided to decorate his goalie mask with the past (Boone) and present (Jelly Donut-photo left) logo/mascot's of the University of Denver. This seemingly harmless act two years ago has set off a cataclysmic chain of events that's being called the Boone Revolution and threatens to pit the DU Student Body in a standoff against the administration and athletic department. Fittingly, Mannino has appointed himself a general of the Rebel Forces.

Berkhoel's Bombers Lose Championship Series

(left) Sadly Adam Berkhoel's season with the Dayton Bombers did not end as gloriously as his college career


The Idaho Steelheads won their second Kelly Cup (ECHL) Championship on Thursday beating Dayton 4-1 in Game 5 at the Nutter Center in Ohio. DU Alum Adam Berkhoel played well throughout the series, but Dayton was plagued by a lack of scoring in key moments in the series.

Best of luck to Berkhoel next season as he hopes to catch on with an AHL club.

That concludes our coverage of DU's recruits and alumni who made it to the playoffs this season. It was a fun run and a welcome distraction after a Pioneer season that ended all too abruptly in the WCHA playoffs.

Boone's "inner circle" includes DU enforcer Geoff Paukovich (center)

Paukovich Adds Beef To Boone Supporters

DU center Geoff Paukovich is 6'4" and 215 lbs and brings an element of toughness to the Pro-Boone movement. He's a member of the Denver Boone Facebook Team and is also an Assistant Captain on next year's hockey team.

If there's anyone left on the planet who's "Pro-Ruckus" I suggest you take up the matter with Mr. Paukovich.

(above) Is the Coach "Pro-Boone?"

Another National Blog Covers Boone Debate


Western College Hockey is the most widely read college hockey Blog and attracts over 300,000 visitors per year (& growing) profiled the Denver Boone Debate today.

He compares Boone to Ruckus in a tale of the tape format. One item he omitted was that you can't spell Ruckus without "u suck."