Calgary Herald article (Alzner may get little rest)April 25 2008 at 7:26 AM
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Alzner may get little rest
John Down, Calgary Herald
Published: Friday, April 25, 2008
Karl Alzner was wiping the sleep out of his eyes Thursday morning when the phone rang.
It was the Washington Capitals and they wanted their 19-year-old, first-round selection of 2007 to report to their Hershey farm club for a playoff game . . . immediately.
"I thought about it for a little bit, but every bone in my body aches and I'm fighting a bit of a flu bug or something, so I'm really not feeling that well," the Calgary Hitmen's all-star defenceman said as he cleaned out his locker during the noon hour at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
"Right now, I'm just trying to get everything out of my mind, relaxing and wanting to clear off all the thoughts that I have."
If Hershey can find a way out of its 1-3 playoff hole, Alzner said he'd be ready to go, but you can bet the unsigned nominee for Western Hockey League top defenceman and player of the year awards will be in the Capitals organization for the start of next season.
Alzner is one of Calgary's eight 19-year-olds and one of at least two players the Hitmen don't expect to see playing their final year of junior eligibility. Veteran centre Ryan White, another fourth-year player and the third- round choice of the Montreal Canadiens in 2006, doesn't plan to return.
"I want to turn pro," said White, who recently turned 20. "It's tough to leave, but it's got to happen sometime. I don't know what's going to happen with Montreal. I might end up going back in the draft but, hopefully, I'll get something done there (Montreal).''
T.J. Galiardi, another 19-year-old who marked his first year in the WHL and led all rookies in scoring, is also crossing his fingers the Colorado Avalanche will call his name before long.
"I would prefer to turn pro . . . that's the goal," said the slick playmaking Calgarian, who continues to lead the playoff scoring parade. "I don't know when it's going to happen or if it's going to happen. If not, I guess I'll be back here."
Other 19-year-olds are goaltender Dan Spence, defenceman Keith Seabrook, and forwards Kyle Bortis, Carson McMillan and Ian Duval.
Head coach and general manager Kelly Kisio isn't sure who will be back from that seasoned lot, but he'd only be able to play three of them as 20-year-olds. Throw in the three 20-year-old graduates from this season and the WHL nominee for executive of the year is facing a big task to rebuild a team that went to the Eastern Conference final for a second straight spring and hasn't missed the playoffs since he became GM 11 years ago.
"I think we'll be a much younger team next season," smiled Kisio. "It's probably going to be a bit of a rebuilding year. We had eight 19-year-olds, the three 20s, so we're going to have to restock and hopefully find some guys."
The Hitmen will have some strong returning players to build around in the likes of Martin Jones, Paul Postma, Brandon Kozun, Chase Schaber, Brendan Rowinski, Ian Schultz, Matt Mackenzie and Michael Stone.
In reviewing the season, in which the Hitmen finished first in the Eastern Conference and were ranked for most of the season among the Canadian Hockey League's top 10, Kisio called it "interesting. I think we did some damage, played some pretty good hockey. Obviously, we would have liked to have done better."
Although the atmosphere around the locker-room was filled with the disappointment after Wednesday night's season-ending playoff loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes, the frowns eventually turned into smiles as teammates shook hands and bid adieu, some to their junior careers.
"It's been a whirlwind, for sure," said White, who leaves as one of the club's all-time leading scorers with 257 points. "It's gone by pretty quick, but they were probably the best four years of my life."
© The Calgary Herald 2008
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