View From the Booth...Summer Thoughts

Hello again, hockey fans, and welcome to another edition of "The View From the Booth.” We are now just a little more than two months away from the start of the much anticipated 2010-11 Monsters season. Personally, the summer is really flying by fast and I am very excited for training camp to get here!

Coming up in August there will be an exciting Monsters event for kids to take part in. For the third straight year, young hockey players will be able to take part in the Monsters youth hockey clinic. Ben Shank, who is in charge of our youth hockey programs and promotions here with the Monsters, and many other fine folks have put together a two-day clinic for kids ranging from mites to squirts, pee wees and bantams.

The clinic will be held on Monday, August 9th at The Pond in Chagrin Falls and Tuesday, August 10th at the Monsters practice facility, Hoover Arena in Strongsville. It will be a great opportunity for young players to work on all aspects of their game both on and off the ice with instruction from some of the Monsters coaching staff.

It's $30 per player and each player will also get a youth hockey clinic t-shirt and a ticket to the Monsters home and season opener on October 8th against the Syracuse Crunch. For more information, and to get involved in the clinic, you can contact Ben here at The Q at (216) 420-2000.

I think back to my days as a young hockey player and remember how beneficial and influential going to hockey camp with people who know the game inside and out was for me. It's a great way for young kids to further improve their hockey skills and bond with other kids in our great sport. It's also a great way for kids to gain confidence not only in hockey but in life as they round into young adults. With that said, we really hope to see you and your children at the clinic in early August.

Moving on to some other hockey-related items now. Our "Summer Interview Series" continues this week at LakeErieMonsters.com and we will unveil part one with Monsters defenseman Travis Gawryletz. He is spending a lot of his summer and offseason up in Calgary working on his conditioning and his game. He was without a doubt one of the best-conditioned players on our team last season and is training extremely hard to come to training camp in the best possible shape he can.

All of the "Summer Interview Series" features are on our website and will be there for quite some time, so if you missed our first one of the summer, Matt Ford, you can find that on the right side of our home page. After Travis Gawryletz we will also feature Patrick Bordeleau in the coming weeks.

It's been a pretty quiet last week or so with the Avalanche organization in terms of players signing and re-signing. The Avalanche has a plan to build from within the organization through the draft and in the last couple of years it has really worked well for the club. Training camp for the Avalanche and Monsters is still about two months away and I can't wait to get a look at the young prospects the Colorado organization has.

The Monsters players that end up here for the start of this coming season will arrive in Cleveland near the end of September before the home and season opener October 8th against the Syracuse Crunch. That should be quite a night here at The Q, as our organization will be a part of the 75-year anniversary of the American Hockey League and that's a big honor for everyone involved.

One player who was unsigned for quite some time since free agency started on July 1st was Ilya Kovalchuk, who was traded from Atlanta to New Jersey earlier this season. Earlier this week he signed a 17-year deal worth over $100 million. The top paid players in the NHL are Alex Ovechkin and Vincent Lecavalier, both at $10 million per season.

Kovalchuk is a great talent with 40 or more goals in each of the last six seasons and 328 goals and 615 points in 594 career games. But personally, I think the price tag for him is too much and too much of a risk for any team.

As is the nature of sports, teams have to pay big money for big names to give themselves a shot at winning. I think the Devils have one of the great young talents and leaders in Zach Parise and I just wonder how the ego and expectations of Kovalchuk will fit in with the Devils down the road.

Mike Modano is another free agent who, as of July 20th, was unsigned by an NHL team. The word is that he is going to sign with his hometown Detroit Red Wings. Modano is 40-years-old and will definitely have to play at a discounted price in Detroit. The guy can still skate like the wind, and I think he will eventually sign with the Red Wings.

I am looking forward to the coming weekend of July 24th and 25th, as I will be filling in as an anchor for the sports at 19 Action News and MY43 WUAB here in Cleveland. It's been great filling in over there, thanks to the help of one of my good friends, 19 Action News Sports Director Tony Zarella.

It's been awesome to be on the air at the two stations and keep the broadcast skills fresh during the offseason. It takes me back to my roots in Michigan when my first job in broadcasting was as a news writer at WDIV in Detroit and then a Sports Anchor in Lansing for six years.

I hope you continue to have a great summer and don't worry, the start of the 2010-11 Monsters season will be here before we know it!!

Sincerely,

Ben Holden

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