Sometimes, as a broadcaster, you get lucky.
Prior to last night’s game at the Enmax Centrium between the Rebels and Regina Pats, Cam Moon and I were saying “How cool would it be if Paul Charles came to the game tonight? He’d be a PERFECT intermission guest.”
Most of you probably don’t know who Paul Charles is… he is a scout with the Minnesota Wild. And, as we’ve all seen, there’s no shortage of Rebels-Wild activity to chat about these days.
Sure enough, about 10 minutes later, Paul walked into the media lounge while Mooner and I were still chatting. Perfect.
Paul is a big reason why Minnesota drafted Mathew Dumba 7th overall in last year’s NHL Entry Draft. Before that, he was a big advocate for drafting Darcy Kuemper, which the Wild did in the sixth round (161st overall) of the 2009 draft.
That particular selection is turning out to be quite a steal for the Wild, and Charles couldn’t be happier.
“I just can’t say enough good things about him, I’m a big Darcy Kuemper fan” he proclaimed while guesting with me last night on our 106.7 The Drive Rebels broadcast. “I just think he’s a terrific person, a thoughtful guy, he’s thinking and he’s focused on wanting to be a goalie.”
After putting in a lot of time and a lot of miles while keeping a close eye on Kuemper, Charles felt he was simply too good to pass up on twice.
“He actually went through the draft his first year and we took him with a sixth round pick the next year. We just thought this guy has a lot of passion for the game. He was a tall gangly guy and he was really quick. I just thought we’ve got to take a crack at this young guy.”
Upon graduating from the Rebels, after winning both team and WHL MVP honours, Darcy found himself playing for Minnesota’s AHL affiliate in Houston. A combination of hard work and fortunate breaks, namely Wild goalie Josh Harding’s current struggle with health issues, Kuemper found himself in the NHL in less than two seasons. When it comes to his big league debut, Charles says Kuemper is most definitely making the best of his opportunity.
“He got his first chance in Vancouver last week and he played very well. Then he played against Detroit the other night, started out a bit shaky, but he calmed down and was terrific. He gave us a chance to win that game [which Minnesota did]. I think there’s a bright future there for him.”
Many Rebels fans are already speculating about current goalie Patrik Bartosak’s fate in the upcoming draft. Bartosak was on-track to be taken in last June’s draft until his season ending shoulder injury derailed those plans. It’s fair to say that Bartosak could be drafted sometime in the fourth, fifth, or sixth round… setting the stage for another NHL team to cash in on a steal of a deal just as Minnesota has with Kuemper.
Of course, Minnesota drafted another high profile Rebel when they selected Mathew Dumba 7th overall this past June.
They created quite a stir in these parts when the not only invited Dumba to their abbreviated training camp following the lockout, but by keeping Dumba with the big team for a couple of weeks. He did not play in any games with the Wild during that time, causing many fans to wonder why they would do such a thing. Why keep Mathew with the club if he’s not going to play? Charles offered up an explanation last night.
“Just being around the other pro players, seeing how hard they work off the ice, on the ice, just picking up some little tidbits and hints here and there. To be a hockey player is a huge commitment. There’s a lot more that goes into it than just skill or talent. Mathew is a skilled, talented offensive defenseman. I think being around the pro players, even if he isn’t playing, for a short period of time is a good thing.”
At the same time, Charles admitted Dumba still has plenty of work to do before making the jump to prime time.
“Hopefully, that’s [attending camp] a bit of a carrot for him to keep working hard and doing the things he needs to do to get to the next level. He has a number of things to work on, believe me, he’s not a finished hockey player at all. He has talent, he has tremendous upside, but he also has some quirks in his game that need to be worked on and then he will have a chance to play at the next level.”
Much like Kuemper, Charles says Dumba has the right kind of personality and mindset that will bode well for future success.
“He has a lot of passion to play the game. He’s an energetic guy. His demeanor, the way he is, will allow him to be successful.”
It goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway, that Red Deer is dominated by Oilers and Flames fans. But with Kuemper and Dumba in their fold, Rebels fans will have at least somewhat of a soft spot for the Minnesota Wild moving forward… maybe :)
- I dare you to show me a better free agent pickup in the WHL this season than Rhyse Dieno, who as of last night is the Rebels team scoring leader with 45 points in 37 games (on pace for 73 points in 60 games)
- Patrik Bartosak admits to hating overtime but loving shootouts... you definitely can't deny his success rate in the "skills competition"... 26 saves in 28 attempts for 0.929 save percentage... and a perfect 8-0 record
- Turner Elson was the first star in last night's 3-2 shootout win over Regina... and with good reason... he was a man possessed in the third period and came through with the game tying goal with :59 remaining
- The Rebels unveil their Rustler Heritage Night jerseys this afternoon... I'll be tweeting pics (@Troy_Gillard) and posting them to the 106.7 The Drive facebook page