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Daniels, Wesley strengthening the pipeline

by Lindsay Kramer

Former Hurricanes' assistant coach Jeff Daniels has been tabbed as the new head coach of the Albany River Rats, Carolina's AHL affiliate.
The Carolina Hurricanes organization is shipping a pair of its top hockey mechanics to tinker underneath the hoods of its prospects.

Just a few weeks ago, Jeff Daniels was behind the Hurricanes' bench as an assistant coach and defenseman Glen Wesley was putting the finishing touches on a historic career on the ice. Now, both will be strengthening the pipeline between Carolina and affiliate Albany.

Monday, Daniels was named coach of the Rats. Last week, Wesley announced his retirement from the Hurricanes and his new job as director of defensive development for Carolina.

"The biggest thing when the kids are down there is know you are not forgotten," Daniels said. "Hopefully, they realize we are there to help them."

Daniels, 39, replaces Tom Rowe, who was promoted to assistant coach in Carolina. Current Rats assistant Geordie Kinnear will remain in that job.

Daniels completed his 11th year with the franchise and fourth as a Hurricanes assistant coach in 2007-08. Prior to joining the coaching staff, he served in a player-development capacity in the team's front office. But this will be his first head-coaching job.

"Career-wise, it's a great opportunity," he said. "It's definitely (head-coaching) experience that teams look for. I'm going to have to learn a lot, too. The hockey part is the hockey part. A lot of the stuff you deal with is off the ice. You are going to make mistakes. You have to learn from them."

That's where Wesley, 39, comes in as a solid sounding board. He completed his playing career ranked sixth on the NHL's all-time list of games played by a defenseman, skating in 1,457 contests during 20 seasons with Boston, Hartford, Toronto and Carolina. Wesley will work with all the defensemen in the organization's system.

He never played in the AHL, but there's not much question that he'll get a quick read on that level.

"I think I can help out with my experience playing pro for 20 years," he said. "I read the game very well. I saw it well. I told (Carolina GM) Jim Rutherford I was nervous about the opportunity. But once you sit down with the players, get on the ice with them … that's something I think I'm really going to enjoy."
Oh brother, says Syvret -- One Syvret may or may not be worth two Potulnys on the open market, but that's been the case on the ice in the past few of months.

Last week, the Flyers picked up defenseman Danny Syvret from the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Phantoms prospect Ryan Potulny. Earlier this season, at the trade deadline, Syvret was reassigned from Edmonton to Hershey for Grant Potulny, Ryan's brother.

"I went brother to brother. I just sort of laughed," Syvret said. "It was strange. They are both good players, offensive guys who can put the puck in the net, and that's what Edmonton and Springfield were looking for. I've been traded for two players now. Hopefully I can hold up my end of the bargain."

Syvret, 23, would probably settle for a consistent mailing address at this point. He's played in four different AHL cities -- Hamilton, Grand Rapids, Springfield and Hershey -- the past three seasons. Still, he found enough footing to play in 26 games for Edmonton.

"I'm happy about the (trade). Philly went out of their way to get me," Syvret said. "Hopefully, I can help with their depth. For me, this is a good change. If I can slide in there as a sixth or seventh guy, or maybe an up-and-down guy, that could be beneficial to me."
Ouzas glad to see Gilbert --
Toronto coach Greg Gilbert already jump-started goalie Michael Ouzas' career once. Ouzas is hoping Gilbert still has that kind of impact

Ouzas, 22, has signed an AHL pact with the Marlies. He comes to the team after leading the University of New Brunswick Varsity Reds to consecutive national finals, winning gold in 2007 and capturing silver in 2008.

Playing consecutive seasons in the same place was a luxury after a bumpy junior career. He was traded three times and played for four teams in the OHL -- Barrie, Toronto St. Michael's, Mississauga and Owen Sound. His best season came with the IceDogs in the 2004-05 season, when he went 24-11-9, with a 2.18 GAA and .926 save percentage and was named the OHL Goaltender of the Year. That was the season he worked under Gilbert.

"I'm pretty well-traveled for a young guy. The first couple of years (in juniors), you think, 'Am I ever going to get an opportunity to play?' " Ouzas said. "He gave me a chance to step in. I did pretty well. I just stuck with it and never looked back."

Ouzas' potential playing time could be a little shakier in 2008-09 than it was in his first go-around under Gilbert. Justin Pogge figures to be the Marlies' minutes-eater if he doesn't earn a spot on the Maple Leafs. Ouzas got a close-up look at Pogge and the AHL competition by skating with the Marlies at the end of their playoff run this year.

"Pogge is an unbelievable goalie. I'm just going in hoping to make the lineup," Ouzas said. "I know my role."
Around the AHL -- Columbus has signed Syracuse coach Ross Yates and assistant Trent Cull at least through the 2008-09 season. Both of their current deals expired this season. Next year will mark Yates' ninth with the Crunch -- six as an assistant and three as a head coach. ... The Pirates have announced an affiliation agreement with Buffalo that will begin next year. That officially ended a 29-year marriage between the Sabres and Rochester Amerks. ... Chicago's Jason Krog capped a story-book season by producing a hat trick in the Wolves' 5-2 series-clinching win against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in Game 6 of the Calder Cup finals on June 10. Krog won the most valuable player award of the 2008 Calder Cup playoffs, finishing with 12 goals and a league record-tying 26 assists for 38 points in 24 playoff games. Krog was also named the AHL MVP in the regular season after leading the league in goals (39), assists (73) and points (112) in 80 games played. … Wolves goalie Ondrej Pavelec became the third goaltender in AHL history to win 16 games in a single postseason. ... Chicago's John Anderson became the 12th coach to win more than one Calder Cup championship. ... Chicago's 34 power-play goals in the playoffs were one shy of the AHL record for a single postseason, set by Hershey in 1997. ... Bryan Little's eight goals this postseason set a franchise record for a rookie. ... The Wolves are 14-3 all-time in clinching situations at the Allstate Arena, which includes 3-1 mark in the Finals and a 3-0 mark this postseason. ... Of the 21 teams in AHL history to fall into a 3-0 series hole in the finals, the Penguins were the first to bounce back for two wins and force a Game 6. ... The Penguins were 4-0 in elimination games this season before dropping Game 6. ... Before this series, the last time any team successfully staved off elimination in a Calder Cup finals game was 2003, when Hamilton won a Game 6 vs. Houston.

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