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Summer Blog

Summer Blog Entry: July 21, 2017

07/21/2017 7:00 AM - Adrian Denny

It looks like next week we’ll announce two returning defensemen; which will leave two other returnees and two rookies still unannounced that have officially signed contracts. 

Head Coach Tim Branham will have more contracts to submit when he returns from Wisconsin; where he is running two weeks of Branham Hockey Schools through the end of the month.

Of note so far on the roster: Of the 12 players the Grizzlies currently have under contract, nine are American, three are from Canada. Ten played college hockey and two played junior hockey before turning professional.

The latest step to the 2017-2018 season was completed for the most part this week with just about all of the team’s airline travel finalized and booked. The team will become familiar with a new airport this year when they fly out of Wichita twice following weekends with the Thunder.

Idaho announced a contract extension for Head Coach Neil Graham earlier this week. At this point every Head Coach in the Mountain Division either was Head Coach of their same team last year, moved to another team in Rob Murray going from Alaska to Tulsa or was Assistant Coach of their team in Daniel Tetrault in Rapid City.

Summer Blog Entry: July 14, 2017

07/14/2017 10:24 AM - Adrian Denny

Looking at official contracts into the league office, the Grizzlies currently have six forwards, five defensemen and one goaltender. We’ve currently announced two forwards and two defensemen and will announce some more next week to keep the content spread through the summer. We have several other contracts in transit.

The roster this year has come together quickly. The core of players the Grizzlies desired to return from last year’s team was a good start. In addition, Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham and now former Assistant Coach Jeff Carr essentially had their college recruiting done by the time last season ended as they looked to add a body or two for the stretch run after the college seasons ended. That being said, there were several college players targeted and contacted late last season, that for a variety of reasons didn’t join last year’s team, but are good to go for this year’s roster. That hard work put in early, while the season was still going, got the Grizzlies way ahead of the process for this year’s recruiting. By being first in line, it ended up creating early relationships with good college players that other teams would have gone after this summer as well. 

Branham is still targeting several new high end bodies; with signings like that always taking place closer to training camp.

Micheal Ferland, who played three games with Utah in 2012-2013, and has stacked up 173 NHL games already with Calgary; just signed a two-year contract extension with the Flames. But be careful, he’s the second former Grizzlies player in two weeks to sign an NHL contract who spells Micheal with an e before the a after Micheal Haley just signed with Florida. Trevor Daley, who recently won his second-straight Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh, just signed a three-year deal in Detroit.
And behind the scenes, a great friend of mine and the team, passed away last night in an accident up Big Cottonwood Canyon in KUTV’s Matt Hearn. Matt was my business contact at our television partner and was always anxious and enthusiastic to get hockey season going so we could come up with the next great idea to sell tickets. I couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with for the last three years; he was such a gamer and so much fun. 

Summer Blog Entry: July 7, 2017

07/07/2017 1:36 PM - Adrian Denny
The Grizzlies announced the first three player signings of the offseason this week in Taylor Richart, Brad Navin and Rob Mann. Coming up next week, we’ll either announce another popular returnee or two more 2016-2017 Alaska Aces who will be joining the Grizzlies. Feel free to weigh in on your preference to ADenny@UtahGrizz.com or on Twitter at @GrizzliesVoice.

Parting with Brad Navin was a difficult decision in February, though the Grizzlies only made the move because they were able to acquire a top defenseman in Marc-Andre Leveque during a very lean time on D. With Alaska suspending operations at the end of this past season, all Aces players were declared free agents and the Grizzlies again pursued Navin to return.
2007-2008 Grizzlies forward Micheal Haley has signed a two-year contract with the Florida Panthers. The Panthers are his fourth NHL team after previously playing for the Islanders, Rangers and Sharks. He played in 58 games last year with San Jose and had two goals and 10 assists for 12 points and 128 penalty minutes.

The Grizzlies second all-time leading scorer Chris Taylor (1995-98), who held the team’s all-time scoring lead for over 11 years until he was surpassed by Ryan Kinasewich in 2009, was named Head Coach of the AHL’s Rochester Americans late last week. He spent last season as an Assistant Coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre Scranton after three previous seasons as an Assistant in Rochester. He retired as a player in 2011 after nearly 20 years. His Assistant Coach in Rochester was named earlier this week and is a former teammate/captain of his here in Utah in Gord Dineen. 

Congratulations to Head Coach Tim Branham who will soon close on a house in a new subdivision on the south end of the valley.

Summer Blog Entry: June 30, 2017

06/30/2017 1:38 PM - Adrian Denny

The Grizzlies will announce the issuing of qualifying offers to six players on Saturday which means that they will retain the player’s rights for the 17-18 season and that they cannot sign with another ECHL team unless they are traded.

The team will announce three other returning players on Thursday of next week to start weekly announcements.

Didn’t cover it, but former Grizzlies forward Steve Ott (2002-2003) recently retired after playing 848 NHL regular season games with: Dallas, Buffalo, St Louis, Detroit and Montreal; and was named an Assistant Coach for the Blues.

The Anaheim Ducks on Thursday signed goaltender Kevin Boyle to a one-year contract extension after he spent half of last season with the Grizzlies going 9-6-1 and 8-2 in his last ten starts.
Grizzlies Assistant Coach Jeff Carr was named Head Coach of the SPHL’s Knoxville Ice Bears on Thursday after a hiring process that went well over a month. Carr parlayed one year coaching pro hockey with Utah into his first professional head coaching job. While never playing professional hockey, Carr is another example (Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay; Chuck Weber Former Utah Assistant Coach/Various AHL/ECHL Head Coaching jobs) of coaches who didn’t play professionally but have proven that education, excellent communication skills and an intellectual knowledge of the game are starting to be seen as more valuable to management than a former player with average marks in those areas.

Summer Blog: June 23, 2017

06/23/2017 2:06 PM - Adrian Denny

Head Coach/General Manager Tim Branham, who is operating his hockey camp in Ogden this week before shifting to Provo next week, has a stack of contracts on his desk that will soon be headed to the ECHL office for approval. They currently consist of some returning players, a rookie and an opposing player from previous seasons.

Tim continues camp in Provo next week and a few spots remain. Visit BranhamHockey.com for more information. Grizzlies defenseman Erik Higby is one of the instructors.

The ECHL announced on Tuesday that Tulsa and Wichita will join Utah, Idaho, Colorado, Rapid City and Allen in the Mountain Division. While Missouri moves to the Central Division and the Alaska Aces membership has been sold to a group that will operate the team in Portland, Maine starting in 2018-2019. Here’s what it means from last year’s standings: two teams that missed the playoffs in the Mountain Division (Missouri, Alaska) have been replaced by two teams that missed the playoffs Central Division in Tulsa and Wichita.

Rapid City announced this week that they will be affiliated with Minnesota starting in 2017-2018 after a two year run with the Arizona Coyotes.

Wichita will now be affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers after last year with Ottawa.

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