Friday, July 3, 2009

Free Agents and Draft Picks...

Spent the afternoon on the golf course with Dennis Beyak and Bruce Haralson. One of the really neat things about these two gentlemen is that they love to talk hockey. I've met hockey personalties that seem to want to "get away from it all" when they can, but Beyak and Haralson just exude passion for the game and the business.

Haralson, who scouts for the Detroit Red Wings, spent the entire NHL Final Series away from his summer home in the Okanagan Valley. After a short stay here, he was back at it in Montreal at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. We send him the occasional text message from the Golf Shop at the Shannon Lake Golf Club, where his presence over the years has pretty much guaranteed a healthy legion of support for the Wings.

I asked him about his thoughts on drafting Mitch Callahan of the Kelowna Rockets and he grinned when I suggested similarities between the young forward and the likes of Kirk Maltby and Kris Draper. Haralson likes that Callahan doesn't hesitate to mix it up on the ice and suggested his 14 goals in his rookie season with Kelowna is a number he can increase. The Wings like energy guys that they can develop over time and Callahan, a California native, will get his chance. Haralson advised that Maltby and Draper each have a couple years left on their contracts with Detroit.

Beyak keeps busy during hockey season with Maple Leafs radio, but enjoys the summer months in the Okanagan Valley. I met Dennis in Saskatoon many moons ago when he was the Assistant GM with the Saskatoon Blades around the time the city hosted the 1989 Memorial Cup, won by the Swift Current Broncos. Four years later, Beyak was at the helm in Seattle when the Thunderbirds hosted the Memorial Cup, won by the Kamloops Blazers on the now famous, last second tally by Zac Boyer. We've bumped into each other since then and enjoy reminiscing about the old and the new.

Beyak was on the fence about a couple of the Leafs' free agent acquisitions, but was happy for Nick Antropov signing with Atlanta for a few bucks more than he would have earned had he stayed put. We'll play again soon, and chat with Beyak then about his thoughts on the play of Luke Schenn during his first season in Toronto.

All in all, a round of golf with a radio personality like Beyak is always fun, especially when the opportunity guarantees witness to an expanded vocabulary, portions of which will never hit the airwaves!

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