Hay puzzles over how roster pieces fit
Giants remain a mystery to coach
By Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun
September 10, 2010
Almost two weeks into training camp, Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay is still scratching his head and wondering what kind of team he'll have this season.
"I think it's always a bit of a mystery until you see who comes back from the NHL camps," he said Thursday, scrunching up his face. "And this year has been a little tougher to evaluate because we've had three injured players -- Zach Hodder, Conner Redmond and Nathan Burns -- who have been out the whole time. Right now, we have more younger players here than we normally would."
The Giants are 0-2 in the pre-season and have scored just three goals, all on power plays. They'll go at it again tonight at the Ladner Leisure Centre against the Chilliwack Bruins with a return engagement Saturday in Chilliwack. The regular season opens Sept. 24.
Hay will be looking for two things in the weekend games: a better work ethic and the play of his 16-year-olds. The Giants still have five 16s in camp and will probably keep three. Defenceman Blake Orban and forwards Dalton Sward, Matt Bellerive, Scott Cooke and Austin Vetterl are all on the bubble, according to Hay.
"We'd like to make a couple of decisions on our 16-yearolds by Sunday or Monday," said Hay. "We need to get them back to their home organizations if we're not going to keep them. I don't think we've made up our minds on any of them because we're waiting for them to kind of sort it out amongst themselves. Nobody's really taken the lead so far."
The work ethic, a Hay trademark, has suffered after the enforced youth movement. In last weekend's two losses to Kelowna, Hay didn't dress the five Giants heading to NHL camps and he found leadership lacking. He may play blue-liner Neil Manning and forward Brendan Gallagher tonight before they depart for Philadelphia and Montreal respectively. Craig Cunningham, who has an early morning flight Saturday for Boston, will watch, however.
"I think we need a little more veteran presence than we've had," Hay explained. "What we want to establish first and foremost is a work ethic and the veterans are the ones who establish that."
Meanwhile, Cunningham still remains unsigned by Boston, which drafted him in the fourth round last June. The NHL Bruins are nearing their 50-contract limit and are saving a spot for second overall pick Tyler Seguin. If Cunningham is not signed, he will return to the Giants.
"Craig's situation is in a holding pattern," his agent, Al Roy, said Thursday. "I know it puts the Giants in an awkward position but he is kind of a victim of the 50-contract rule. The Bruins have been very diplomatic about it. All Craig can do is go in there and show them he's ready and then they'll have to make a decision."
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