TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- While Dan Marr, the director of scouting and player development for the Atlanta Thrashers, feels 2008 first-round pick Zach Bogosian has met and already exceeded the organization's expectations, there's one facet of Bogosian's game Marr hopes will eventually take shape.
"The problem is he doesn't have an off switch," Marr said with a smile. "He goes 110 percent and whatever situation occurs, he's more than willing to face the challenge. We keep telling him to keep his head up. But we know he's more than capable of standing up for himself. He's a special kid." Marr and the coaching staff here in Traverse City informed their prospects prior the tournament to respect every player on the ice.
"We just told everybody that you have to respect each opponent because everyone is here with a clear-cut purpose and, especially in the first game, everyone wanted to impress right off the get-go," he said. "It's pretty fast paced and intense and if you take it lightly, you're going to look bad."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Stormy days for Wild -- While hockey is certainly the big topic of discussion here at Centre I.C.E. Arena, coaches and players of the Minnesota Wild are also focusing on those suffering tragic losses in the Houston area as a result of Hurricane Ike.
Kevin Constantine, who is coaching the Wild prospects this week, is also the head coach of Minnesota's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros. His thoughts and prayers were with all who suffered in Texas. The storm, which ripped through Galveston and Houston last week, topped out with 110 mph winds upon reaching the Texas coastline.
"We had a trainer who was supposed to be here that we sent back to Houston, mostly because he's lived in the city a long time and has family and property, so we felt he needed to be there as a priority," Constantine told NHL.com. "We've gotten most of our reports from him and he's been through five hurricanes now and told us this was probably the worst in terms of the damage.
"The loss of power, the unbelievable amount of trees and limbs that had come down and shingles off roofs was devastating. It's tragic to hear that many lives were lost and our thoughts and prayers are with them. In our area, where we practice in Houston (in the southwestern part of town), we were a considerable distance from the ocean, so the devastation was less severe. Our practice facility lost power, but they restored it in a couple of days."
Tyler Cuma, Minnesota's first-round pick this past June, said the players have been following the news reports all week.
"I know before we came here, coach Constantine was really looking at what happened back there and we watched the news (Monday night) and saw the devastation," Cuma said. "It's a terrible tragedy for anyone to go through that. Lives were lost and houses were ripped right out of the ground, so it was a real eye-opener. It kind of makes you appreciate what you have. Hopefully, everything works out for everyone over there and our hearts are with them."
-- Mike G. Morreale
It's their time -- The Red Wings have five prospects playing in the tournament that were drafted in 2006, and Detroit Assistant GM Jim Nill said the scouting brass is watching them closely here in Traverse City.
"They're kind of coming out now," Nill said. "I've told all our people that it will be interesting to watch and evaluate those guys because this is going to be the core of our group coming up in two, three or four years. We're going to count on these guys."
Cory Emmerton, selected at No. 41 in 2006, leads the team with three points through the first two games. GM Ken Holland said Emmerton will play in Grand Rapids for the Wings' AHL affiliate this season. He had 30 points in 30 games for Brampton of the OHL last season. Mono kept him out for half the season.
Dick Axelsson (No. 62), Daniel Larsson (No. 92), Jan Mursak (No. 182), and Logan Pyett (No. 212) are the Wings' remaining 2006 picks in Traverse City. Axelsson will return to Sweden to play, but the rest will likely wind up playing in Grand Rapids with Emmerton.
"Maybe last year they were just getting their feet wet," Nill said, "but now they're turning pro and they're part of our future."
The Blues, meanwhile, have four players in the tournament from the 2006 draft, a contingent led by Patrik Berglund, who is likely to make the big club this season. Jonas Junland, Alex Hellstrom and Tomas Kana will all be given long looks in camp as well.
"It really kind of is our time," Berglund said. "Now it's real. I think everybody is ready to be a professional hockey player now."
-- Dan Rosen
On his own -- Tony Dehart was supposed to tag along with Blues' prospect Philip McRae in Traverse City this week, but McRae is home with mono. So, for the first time in two years, Dehart, a defenseman, is playing without one of his best friends.
"We've been playing on the same team since mites, maybe squirt," said Dehart, who is here with St. Louis on a tryout basis. "We grew up together. His dad, (former NHLer and current Blues' scout), Basil, was our coach."
Dehart and McRae were drafted by the OHL's London Knights in 2006 and spent the past two seasons playing there. Dehart, who played only 34 games last season, was with McRae in Ottawa for the Entry Draft, but never heard his name called.
Dehart's connection with McRae -- specifically Basil -- got him an invite to the Blues Prospect Development Camp in June. His goal was to play well enough there to earn an invite to Traverse City, which he did. Dehart sat out the Blues first game, but played in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Dallas Stars. He's hoping for more playing time this season in London, and if that doesn't happen he's hoping to be traded to a team that would use him on a regular basis.
"Maybe if I do well here teams will notice me a little bit more," Dehart said.
-- Dan Rosen
Something Stu-ing in Dallas -- Stu Barnes, who announced his retirement last month after 16 years and signed a two-year deal to join the Stars as an assistant coach, is enjoying his time working with the prospects here this week.
"This week is also a learning process for me to come in and see how things work, but once we get back to Dallas, I'll be doing some work from the press box as our eye-in-the-sky during most games," Barnes said. "I'm learning the ropes for this part of the game and I intend on helping out on the penalty kill and on faceoffs, while working with the younger players.
"It's just another opportunity for me to learn different roles and how to do things behind the scenes. Once I get settled in and get into more of a day-to-day routine, things will work out a lot better."
Defenseman Trevor Ludwig is grateful to have Barnes as a coach.
"He has a lot of knowledge of the game and is really smart," Ludwig said. "As a player who just recently retired, his mindset is still on the game so he's still fresh. He was part of the transition from the lockout to the new style of play, so he can pass down that knowledge with the new rules and the officiating. We're all extremely fortunate to have him coaching with us and passing down what he knows."
-- Mike G. Morreale
Lyon's den -- Lyon Messier's dad is the one who told him about the Traverse City Prospects Tournament. When dad asked Lyon if he wanted to be on the roster the New York Rangers were sending here, the 20-year-old defenseman jumped at the opportunity?
"Who wouldn't," Lyon Messier said.
If dad wasn't hockey legend Mark Messier, maybe Lyon isn't here this week. Well, dad is Mark Messier and Lyon is with the Rangers this week, trying to impress the scouts in attendance in hopes of earning an invite to an NHL training camp.
"This is the best place you can be for your age so it's a big honor to be here playing with the best players," Lyon Messier said.
Lyon Messier is more famous for his last name than his hockey game, but he's trying to break away. He finished last season strong, playing top minutes for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL. Messier had 17 points and 45 penalty minutes in 46 games.
Messier, 21, isn't sure if he has a future in the game or not, so he said he's just trying to enjoy the camp, play hard and hope for the best. He sat out the opening game Saturday, but registered a shot on goal in Sunday's 3-0 loss to Atlanta. The Rangers were the only team through two games that did not score a goal.
"I'm just taking it day by day," he said. "I really don't know."
-- Mike G. Morreale