9/17/2012: Hockey Today

— From the team that brought you “Rod Blagojevic Prison Jersey Night” and “Dick Cheney Hunting Vest Night” comes an appearance by the world’s first topless professional hockey team. The ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers are promoting an appearance by the group of…well, I assume women on their “Over 18 Night” on February 4.

The Wranglers, who play at Orleans Arena, which is just a little ways off the Vegas strip (I covered a game there in 2010…it sure wasn’t on Over 18 Night) have long been innovators in unique promotions, and are also having an appearance by Andy Kaufman “sidekick” Tony Clifton and “Regrettable Tattoo Night,” in which fans can win tattoo cover-up and removal. I didn’t make a single word of that up, either.

— A few more teams announced AHL player assignments.

Montreal assigned the following players to Hamilton: forwards Alexander Avtsin, Alain Berger, Michael Blunden, Michaël Bournival, Gabriel Dumont, Brendan Gallagher, Blake Geoffrion, Patrick Holland, Louis Leblanc, Philippe Lefebvre, Joonas Nattinen, Steven Quailer and Ian Schultz; defensemen Nathan Beaulieu, Morgan Ellis, Brendon Nash, Greg Pateryn, Joe Stejskal and Jarred Tinordi, as well as goaltenders Peter Delmas and Robert Mayer (Hamilton PR)

Geoffrion, Leblanc, Nash and Tinordi are the names that stand out to me here. Geoffrion, 24, is in his first full season in the Canadiens organization after getting dumped off by the Nashville Predators in exchange for Hal Gill just prior to the trade deadline. The grandson of legendary Canadiens player Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, Blake Geoffrion bounced back and forth between the AHL and NHL last year, and scored just twice in 35 contests at the highest level.

Leblanc, Montreal’s 18th overall pick of the 2009 draft, is a 21-year-old prolific scorer who played in 42 games with the Canadiens last season. After one year each in the USHL, college hockey and juniors, Leblanc made his pro debut last season and tallied 16 goals between the Hamilton Bulldogs and Canadiens last year.

Nash played four years at Cornell and showed great consistency, scoring two goals each season while increasing his assist total each year. He made his pro debut last season as well, and played in two games with Montreal while spending the majority of his year with Hamilton.

And as for Tinordi, Montreal’s 22nd overall pick is just 20 years old and has spent the past two seasons with the OHL’s London Knights. The 6-foot-7, 212 pounder plays a physical game and is the son of long-time NHL defenseman Mark Tinordi. He is no longer junior eligible and is set to see a lot of ice time this season in Hamilton.

Also, San Jose sent 16 players to Worcester: forwards Curt Gogol, Freddie Hamilton, Bracken Kearns, James Livingston, Jon Matsumoto, Travis Oleksuk, Brodie Reid, Sebastian Stalberg; defensemen Sena Acolatse, Taylor Doherty, Danny Groulx, Matt Irwin, and Matt Tennyson; and goaltenders Thomas Heemskerk, Harri Sateri, and Alex Stalock. (Worcester PR)

Alex Stalock made his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season, but was sidelined for a calendar year with a career-threatening injury (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

This could be a big season for either Sateri or Stalock. With Antero Niittymaki out of the picture, the two netminders are battling to for the third spot in the organizational depth chart. Particularly for Stalock, whose career was nearly ended when he was cut with a skate during the 2010-11 season, he could go a long way towards reclaiming his prospect status.

— The quote of the day has got to be this one out of the WHL: “It’s basically depression right now, I can’t recover from this. It’s devastating to be honest. You know I’m not really going to buy it now I don’t want to have to live up to that. Hopefully next year I’ll be a little bit better” – Regina’s Kyle Burroughs (jokingly) on his 45/100 rating in EA Sports’ NHL 13. (Source: Regina Pats PR)

— And I couldn’t go a post without mentioning my Trenton Titans beat. The ECHL team has announced an affiliation with the FHL’s Danbury Whalers — they were previously affiliated with the Jersey Outlaws, but ended up using nine players from Danbury anyway last year — and have also officially extended an offer to actor/director Kevin Smith to coach the team for a day.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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