Hardy Sauter sat in the Arena stands staring intently at the ice.
In his first training camp as the Spokane Chiefs’ bench boss, things didn’t feel much different. He essentially went through the same routine last summer as Spokane’s assistant coach.
Now, in terms of knowing the players, he’s a year wiser.
“It’s just all about watching the kids, kind of getting a feel on how they’ve changed from last summer to this (summer) and trying to pick the top five or maybe six that could potentially be Spokane Chiefs this year,” Sauter said Thursday while doing a radio interview on “The Dennis Patchin Show” from the Arena.
There was, though, the changing of the guard in the basement office he previously shared with former head coach Bill Peters.
“It was funny, (Bill) came in (three) days ago to say hello and when he did walk in my first instinct was to get out of that chair,” Sauter said about taking over Peters’ old desk. “It’s going to take a while to get things straight.”
The same can be said about how Spokane’s roster will take shape this season. While Sauter isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel, there are some personal touches he’d like to put on the ice this season.
Mostly, he’d like the Chiefs to make more of a splash on offense.
“I think defensively it will be almost identical – as close to the same as possible,” Sauter said. “I feel that we put a lot of good things in place last year that worked and the kids proved they worked so we’re going to stick to that plan for a while anyway.
“Offensively – at least early – I’m going to try to maybe open the gates a little more and see if we can’t generate a little more speed (and) a little more action. At the same time, I don’t want to compromise the strong defensive play in doing that.”
No goalie controversy
There are six goalies at this year’s camp, including Memorial Cup MVP Dustin Tokarski.
Take away the three 15-year-olds who are too young to make this year’s roster and you’re left with 18-year-old James Reid and 16-year-old Chase Martin.
The job of backing up Tokarski will almost certainly be handed to Reid, who was kept on the Chiefs roster last season until November so the Chiefs’ higher-ups could see what they had in the netminder. When veteran Kevin Armstrong, who would have taken up an overage spot this season, was traded to Prince George in the off-season, it became clear that the spot was Reid’s to earn.
“It’s right there for him,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz said. “You try not to assume anything or give anybody anything he doesn’t deserve, but we’re expecting that James will fit in. He did everything we asked him to do last year when we had our goaltending tandem of Tokarski and Armstrong, which was perfect for us last year in our team moving forward.
“We gave James back to his Junior A team and he had a great second half of the season – he was the main reason they got into the playoffs. We sure think he took all the steps necessary.”
The Chiefs open their seven-game exhibition schedule with three games at the Everett Silvertips tournament. They play Everett Friday, Portland next Saturday and Tri-City on Aug. 31. The Chiefs’ only home game of the preseason is Sept. 12 against the Kelowna Rockets at Eagles Ice-A-Rena. … The WHL announced the three teams that have submitted bid applications to host the 2010 Memorial Cup – the Brandon Wheat Kings, Everett Silvertips and Kelowna Rockets. Bid presentations will be taken at the next WHL Board Governors in-person meeting on Oct. 15 in Calgary, Alberta. The decision will be announced following the meeting.
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