There isn't a lot of room for new players to join the Spokane Chiefs hockey team with 18 players returning, but one newcomer has already joined the team - former star defenseman Jon Klemm.
"He gives us some intanglibles that obviously no one here has been a part of. That being playing in the American Hockey League, then the NHL, being part of winning Stanley Cups," second-year coach Hardy Sauter said. "Those are just experiences we are going to exploit."
Of course Klemm had to pay a price in swapping his jersey for a whistle.
For the explanation and Klemm's thoughts heading into camp - plus a couple of links, keep reading.
The almost 70 players in camp are split into three teams - carefully divided in attempt to make all teams equal - for the daily scrimmages, which are at 10:30 a.m., 1 and 3:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
General manager Tim Speltz said, "Former captains will be the names of the teams. We'll have Team Cote, after Brandon Cote, Team Sawyer and Team Whitfield. What happened is Team Klemm is no longer because Jon joined our staff. So Klemm is out, Cote is in.
"There will be a Team Bruton soon. It's a pretty special group for us. When we first started, it was NHL guys, guys still playing pro still, that was Klemm, Sawyer and Whitfield. Then when Sawyer retired and now Klemm retired, we changed it a little bit again. It will be kind of prominent Chief captains. I could see Chris Bruton being on that list some day, Derek Schutz being on that list some day."
Feel free to make suggestions for the future.
According to Sauter, the players are excited to exchange playing on Team Klemm for getting instruction from a player who played 13 seasons in the NHL and has a couple of Stanley Cup rings to show for it.
"Already our guys are excited to visit with him, hear about what he thinks, how he does things, or how he's seen them done," he said. "That experience is going to be invaluable."
Klemm is excited to start a new chapter in his life and he knows it isn't going to be easy.
"The tough thing for me is getting nto
know all these players," he said. "Not only as players, their personalities. Who
you can really push and who you might have to baby at some point.
That's going to be a learning experience for me."
"The tough thing for me is getting nto know all these players," he said. "Not only as players, their personalities. Who you can really push and who you might have to baby at some point. That's going to be a learning experience for me."
Maybe some day that will translate into another trip to the "bigs."
I have no time frame on anythying. The last couple years of my playing career I knew I wanted to stay involved in the game. I knew I wanted to start out at this level. I dont' know where that will take me. I'm very excited. It couldn't happen at a better place. I feel very fortunate this organization has given me an opportunity to come back here and share some of my experiences and hopefully help some of these young kids get where they want to go."
Though it will take time to learn the players, Klemm knows the most important advince he can pass on.
"I think that effort is non-negotiable," he said. "At a young age you might get some inconsistencies that way because they don’t know any better. You learn very quickly with an organization that prides itself on being competitive, being at the top of their league, the top of their game night in and night out, effort and work ethic is a non-negotiable thing. From what I’ve heard from Hardy so that won’t be the case with most of our guys."
Now, a few links. Yesterday our columnist John Blanchette caught up with former Chiefs goalie David Lemanowicz. Recently there was a story on another Chiefs goalie, Dustin Tokarski. And, just in case you missed it when Klemm was hired in June, he's what he had to say to Blanchette.