Friday, June 29, 2007

IHL hires two new employees

The International Hockey League announced today two new staff members who will be joining the League Office. Jennifer Costie has been named Director of Business Operations and Amy Stump has been named Director of Media Relations.

“It is my extreme pleasure to welcome Jennifer Costie and Amy Stump to the IHL league office,” stated Paul L. Pickard, IHL President-CEO-Commissioner. “They both have experience and knowledge that will help them succeed in their new positions. I wish them both nothing but the best with their tenures at the IHL.”

Costie, 32, joins the IHL staff after spending the last six years assisting with the operations of Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She was responsible for helping the Vice President-General Manager manage the day-to-day operations of the facility. Her experience in accounting and client service at Wings Stadium in addition to her previous experience as a billing specialist for Battle Creek Health System gives her the background to be successful in her new position. She received her degree in Accounting from Kellogg Community College in 2003. At the IHL, Costie will be responsible for the accounting as well as other business operations.

Stump, 22, joins the IHL staff after graduating this spring with a degree in Organizational Communication from Western Michigan University. She spent the 2006-07 season with the Kalamazoo Wings hockey club as a public relations intern. She was responsible for media relations, statistics, writing press releases and feature stories, press box management, managing post game interviews and contributions to the media guide. At the IHL, Stump will be responsible for all communications and serve as the liaison between the league and media outlets. She will maintain the IHL website and serve as the league administrator for hockey statistics. She also will assist in the league’s marketing efforts as well as assist the league President-CEO-Commissioner with the overall general business operations of the IHL.

Both Costie and Stump will begin their new duties on July 2. They are replacing former IHL employees Teppei Sakuma and John Odom who chose not to relocate to Michigan with the league office that was previously located in Lake St. Louis, Mo.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Kerr retained as Flint's head coach

Kevin Kerr has been named the Flint Generals' head coach for the 2007-2008 season. Peter South has also been signed as assistant coach.

The Flint Journal has more HERE.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

K-Zoo's Bootland to serve at charity dinner

The Kalamazoo Wings announced that forward Nick Bootland and Kalamazoo’s favorite mascot, Slappy, will be celebrity participants during the Race For the Kids Sake CLF Dinner this Friday at Wings Stadium.

Bootland will join several drivers from the Kalamazoo and Galesburg Speedways as celebrity servers during the fundraising dinner that will begin at 7 p.m. Doors will open to the public at 6 p.m. There will also be games and activities throughout the night.

The CLF Dinner, which is its fifth year, is organized by the Race For Kids Sake, an association developed to raise money to fight Leukemia here in Michigan. This will be the third year that the dinner is held at Wings Stadium.

Children's Leukemia Foundation of Michigan is a statewide organization that provides information, financial assistance, and emotional support to families of adults and children affected by leukemia, lymphoma, and other related blood disorders. Until there is a cure, CLF is here to help families overcome the challenges these conditions present.

For more information about the Children’s Leukemia Foundation log onto or

Tickets for the Race for Kids Sake Children’s Leukemia Foundation Dinner at Wings Stadium are $25 for adults and are available at the Wings Stadium ticket office or by calling (269) 720-9072. Race for Kids Sake is also offering discounts on children 12 and under.

IHL Dispersal Draft results

The International Hockey League conducted a dispersal draft on Wednesday to disperse players from the 2006-07 final rosters of the Chicago Hounds, Elmira Jackals, Quad City Mallards and Rockford IceHogs. Those four member clubs will not participate in the 2007-08 IHL season.

The order in which current member clubs selected players was based on their winning percentage in the final standings of the 2006-07 season, with lowest-ranked teams choosing first. By choosing a player in the dispersal draft, IHL teams have the rights to the selected player for the 2007-08 season.

(Team) (Player)
Bloomington, Don Parsons (F), Quad City
Port Huron, Marty Magers (G), Chicago
Flint, Steve MacIntyre (D), Quad City
Kalamazoo, Chris Busby (D), Chicago
Muskegon, Todd Grant (LW), Chicago

Fort Wayne, Sergei Durdin (D), Quad City

Bloomington, Jason Tapp (G), Quad City
Port Huron, Chris Gehrke (D), Chicago
Flint, Frederic Cloutier (G), Rockford
Kalamazoo, Chris Mann (D), Quad City
Muskegon, Mark Nebus (F), Chicago
Fort Wayne, Justin Chwedoruk (F), Quad City

Bloomington, Tim Wedderburn (D), Elmira
Port Huron, Mike Letizia (D), Rockford
Flint, Brent Currie (D), Quad City
Kalamazoo, Joel Rechlicz (RW), Chicago
Muskegon, Matt Johnson (F), Chicago
Fort Wayne, Brett Pilkington (F), Quad City

Bloomington, Jason Ralph (F), Rockford
Port Huron, Robert Chappell (D), Elmira
Flint, Nathan Lutz (D), Rockford
Kalamazoo, Jordan Hart (D), Chicago
Muskegon, Matt Amado (C), Chicago
Fort Wayne, Jesse Bennefield (RW), Rockford

Bloomington, B.J. Radovich (C), Chicago
Port Huron, David Morelli (F), Elmira
Flint, Paul Brown (RW), Rockford
Kalamazoo, Tim Plett (F), Chicago
Muskegon, Sean Starke (F), Quad City
Fort Wayne, Anthony Pototschnik (F), Quad City

Bloomington, Jake Moreland (G), Rockford
Port Huron, Bryce Cockburn (RW), Rockford
Flint, Luke Stauffacher (F), Quad City
Kalamazoo, Maris Ziedins (C), Chicago
Muskegon, Bruce Watson (LW), Rockford
Fort Wayne, Mike Sgroi (LW), Elmira

Bloomington, Matt Radoslovich (F), Quad City
Port Huron, Drew Otten (F), Chicago
Flint, Dan Veenema (D), Elmira
Kalamazoo, Matt Gens (D), Rockford
Muskegon, Corey Hessler (D), Rockford

Fort Wayne, Travis Granbois (F), Quad City

Bloomington, Mike Oliveira (C), Elmira
Port Huron, Dan Boeser (D), Rockford
Flint, Luke Fritshaw (D), Rockford
Kalamazoo, Preston Mizzi (C), Rockford
Muskegon, Benoit Doucet (LW), Rockford

Fort Wayne, Erik Anderson (C), Elmira

Bloomington, Andrei Lupandin (D), Elmira
Port Huron, Darryl McArthur (D), Chicago
Flint, Jason Notermann (LW), Rockford
Kalamazoo, Brad Smith (G), Quad City
Muskegon, Jami Yoder (D), Quad City

Fort Wayne, Mike Kautz (D), Chicago

Bloomington, Chad Loikets (D), Rockford
Port Huron, Mike Brolsma (C), Quad City
Flint, Curtis Tidball (RW), Elmira
Kalamazoo, Rod Aldoff (D), Chicago
Muskegon, Kelly Miller (C), Chicago

Fort Wayne, Will McMahon (F), Quad City

Bloomington, Josh Elzinga (D), Chicago
Port Huron, Scott Seney (C), Chicago
Flint, Zach Sikich (G), Elmira
Kalamazoo, Nicolas Corbeil (C), Rockford
Muskegon, Thomas Zabkowicz (D), Chicago

Fort Wayne, Shawn Degagne (G), Elmira

Bloomington, Patrick Nadeau (RW), Quad City
Port Huron, Dave Lemanowicz (G), Chicago
Flint, T.J. Reynolds (D), Elmira
Kalamazoo, Andrew Leach (F), Elmira
Muskegon, Kaleb Betts (F), Rockford

Fort Wayne, Bobby Kukulka (RW), Elmira

Bloomington, Mike Doyle (LW), Rockford
Port Huron, Kevin Ulanski (F), Rockford
Flint, Pass
Kalamazoo, Dale Lupul (D), Quad City
Muskegon, Derek Miller (D), Quad City

Fort Wayne, Frank Littlejohn (RW), Elmira

Bloomington, Noah Katz (C), Elmira
Port Huron, Chad Woollard (F), Quad City
Flint, Pass
Kalamazoo, Blake Stewart (LW), Quad City
Muskegon, Scott Drevitch (D), Elmira

Fort Wayne, Chaz Johnson (RW), Rockford

Bloomington, Eric Lind (D), Elmira
Port Huron, Marc Lefebvre (LW), Elmira
Flint ---
Kalamazoo ---
Muskegon ---

Fort Wayne ---

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Red Wings take defenseman Smith at No. 27

The annual NHL Entry Draft has concluded in Columbus and the Detroit Red Wings had five picks in the draft.

First Round, 27th overall - Brendan Smith
Defenseman, St. Michael's Buzzers (OPJHL) - 6-0, 170 lbs.
*Committed to the University of Wisconsin for this fall and was also the Toronto St. Michael's Majors' first-round pick in the 2005 OHL Priority Selection, but did not report, instead choosing to keep his NCAA eligibility.

Third Round, 88th overall - Joakim Andersson
Center, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden) - 6-2, 198 lbs.

Fifth Round, 148th overall - Randy Cameron
Center, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL) - 5-11, 175 lbs.

Sixth Round, 178th overall - Zack Torquato
Center, Erie Otters (OHL) - 6-0, 195 lbs.
*Former first-round pick of the Saginaw Spirit in 2005.

Seventh Round, 208th overall - Bryan Rufenach
Defenseman, Lindsay Muskies (OPJHL) - 5-11, 184 lbs.
*Committed to Clarkson University for this fall.

Detroit's second-round pick, 58th overall, went to Florida as part of the Todd Bertuzzi deadline deal from this past February. Their fourth-rounder, 118th overall, is Pittsburgh's from the Cory Cross deadline trade in 2006.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

K-Wings sign leadership and experience

The Kalamazoo Wings have signed forwards Nick Bootland and Tyler Willis.

Bootland will return to Kalamazoo for his fourth season with the K-Wings. The team captain for the past two seasons isn’t only a vocal leader, he also leads by example. The forward produced 85 points (40 goals, 45 assists) a season ago and led all K-Wing players in game-winning goals with nine. He continued his scoring dominance in last year’s United Hockey League playoffs contributing 22 points (12 goals, 10 assists) and helped the K-Wings reach the Colonial Cup Finals for the second consecutive season.

“We (K-Wings) need to strengthen our team with character guys that know how to win and no one fits that mold better than Nick (Bootland),” said Wings' general manager Wade Welsh. “In his time in Kalamazoo , Bootland has exemplified what it takes to be a member of the K-Wings and we are thrilled to be able to resign him.”

Last season, Bootland was rewarded by making his third straight appearance to the UHL All-Star Classic, his second appearance as a member of the K-Wings. For the second consecutive season, Bootland was voted by the fans to start in the All-Star Classic.

Bootland’s resume continued to get decorated during the postseason, as the native of Shelbourne, Ontario earned the K-Wings’ Pepsi Most Sportsmanship Award and was named to the league’s Second Team.

Two seasons ago, Bootland was a vital in bringing Kalamazoo its first professional hockey championship in 26 years. The veteran earned the UHL’s Most Valuable Player Award in the playoffs by registering 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in just 13 contests.

Bootland played junior hockey for the Guelph Storm in the Ontario Hockey League and was a member of the Storms’ championship team in 1998. An impact player wherever he has laced up his skates, Bootland was awarded the Hershey Bears’ Unsung Hero Award during the 1999-2000 season and also received both the Player of the Year and Fan Favorite Award during his two seasons with Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL). The veteran forward was selected by the Dallas Stars in the ninth round of the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.

With the addition of Willis, the K-Wings have already solidified two-thirds of last season’s top scoring line and are bringing back one of the most popular players in team history.

The 2007-08 season will be the tenth in Willis’ professional career and his fifth in Kalamazoo. Whether it be through physical play or scoring, Willis has been a spark plug for the K-Wings. For four straight seasons (2003-present), the fans voted Willis the team’s WLKM Most Popular Player.

“Willis is a hard-working player that does what it takes to win games,” said Welsh. “Signing Tyler adds a player not only with championship experience, but one who knows how to get the most out of the other players around him.”

In his tenure with the K-Wings, the former eighth-round draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks (1995 NHL Entry Draft) has played in 246 games, recorded 182 points (54 goals, 127 assists) and amassed 1,110 minutes in penalties. Willis’ best season as a K-Wing was during the 2005-06 season, when he set personal career highs in goals (20), assists (45) and points (65).

Willis has had success at every level of professional hockey he has played including the AHL. Willis’ best year in the AHL was back in the 98-99 season when he tallied 18 points on eight goals and 10 assists, accumulating 227 minutes in penalties.

UHL becomes International Hockey League

In a live announcement broadcast via United Hockey League corporate partner B2 Networks on Wednesday at the league’s annual meeting in Las Vegas, the UHL announced that it is immediately changing its name to the International Hockey League (IHL).

Paul Pickard has been named the first President/CEO of the new IHL.

The IHL will consist of six teams in its inaugural season. The Bloomington PrairieThunder, the Flint Generals, the Fort Wayne Komets, the Kalamazoo Wings and the Muskegon Fury join the league after being member clubs of the UHL during the 2006-07 season.

The sixth IHL team will be the Port Huron Icehawks based in Port Huron. New governors Frank Kinney and Robert Lahiff will be announcing more details about their hockey club in the near future. The Generals also had a recent ownership change as the transition from the former owners to Bob Perani was approved by the league.

“I am excited to announce the new IHL, and I am excited to lead the new era of this league,” stated Pickard. “One of the key focuses of the IHL Board of Governors and the league office will be to make on- and off-ice changes for the 2007-08 season that will create a better experience for the fans. At the top of the list, we are going to put an emphasis on strong ownership so that the fans can count on our member clubs being a long-term part of the IHL and on making the on-ice product much more physical and exciting.”

The IHL also announced its Executive Committee for the 2007-08 season. The Chairman of the Board of Governors will be Michael Franke of Fort Wayne and the Vice Chairman will be Bob Perani of Flint.

Below is other information that was given during the live broadcast and/or transpired during the annual meeting:

- The IHL office will be located in Rochester and will consist of four employees, league counsel and the president/CEO. During the summer, the UHL office in Lake St. Louis, Mo., will close and transition to the new office in Michigan. Existing UHL employees have been given the opportunity to relocate to the new league office.
- The IHL league website is being launched this evening at
- The new logo for the league was unveiled during the broadcast.
- The 76-game 2007-08 season will take place between October 19, 2007 and April 6, 2008.
- A deal was signed with B2 Networks to broadcast all IHL games via broadband for the next three seasons.


Paul L. Pickard has been named President/CEO of the new International Hockey League. He immediately begins his duties of running the six-team league whose member clubs were formerly in the United Hockey League.

“I am honored to have been chosen to the lead the IHL and usher in a new era of professional minor league hockey,” stated Pickard. “The IHL model is to have strong ownership of member clubs in an isolated geographical area so that we can provide intense and exciting rivalries and family affordable entertainment. There will be special focus to make our on-ice product much more physical without the goon tactics associated with the old IHL.”

Pickard’s strong background in facility management and professional hockey makes him an ideal person to lead the new IHL. Pickard was recently promoted to the President of the Stadium Management Corporation after serving as Vice President and General Manager of the Wings Stadium Complex and the Kalamazoo Wings from 1999-2007.

Pickard served as the Chairman of the United Hockey League Board of Governors for the past two seasons. He twice earned awards as UHL Governor of the Year (2004-05, 2005-06) and UHL General Manager of the Year (2003-04, 2006-07). The K-Wings won the Colonial Cup as league champion for the 2005-06 season. In addition, he has been a head coach in the NAHL and the ECHL, an assistant coach in the AHL and a player in the old IHL.

Pickard and his wife, Brenda, have been married 24 years and have two boys, Bryon and Brad, as well as three grandchildren, Caitlin, Gavin and Zoe.


The International Hockey League announced today new rules that will be in effect for the 2007-08 season.

The rule changes are as follows:
- The instigator penalty has been eliminated except during the final five minutes of a game.
- The game lineup has been increased to 17 skaters and 2 goaltenders.
- In regards to secondary altercations, players will receive a 10-minute misconduct as opposed to a game misconduct.
- If a dive and hook occur on the same play, only one penalty is to be called. Diving takes precedence over hooking in that situation.
- Officials will have tighter standards in the neutral zone and a looser standard in the attacking zone to promote battles in the corners and in front of the net.
- With a tied score at the end of regulation, there will be a 5 minute 4 vs. 4 sudden-death period. If the score remains tied after the overtime period, a three-skater shootout will take place (advancing to sudden-death if needed). There will be no resurfacing of the ice before the shootout.

Generals reveal new ownership group

The new ownership group for the Flint Generals:

Bob Perani - Owner and President of Perani's Hockey World, the world's largest distributor of hockey equipment.
Travis Prince - Flint-area businessman. Owner of AutoDealers Auction in Mt. Morris and many other business interests.
Jeremy Piper - Flint-area attorney
Ron Sanko - Owner of ProServices, Windsor, Ontario.
Chuck Glasscock - Vice-President, Perani's Hockey World.
Ron Mitchell - Former owner/operator - Mitchell's Foods in Flint, Mt. Morris, Davison and Holly. Also currently the assistant coach of the Davison High School varsity hockey team.
Kris Draper - Detroit Red Wings center.

An eighth member, a silent partner, doesn't wish to be identified.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Ireland out as Grand Rapids bench boss

Greg Ireland, the Grand Rapids Griffins’ head coach since 2005 and a member of their coaching staff since 2003, will not return for the final year of his contract in 2007-08.

The Griffins announced the decision today in conjunction with the Detroit Red Wings, who have acquired responsibility for Grand Rapids’ coaches under the teams’ new affiliation agreement.

Elevated from assistant coach on Feb. 10, 2005, Ireland compiled a cumulative record of 109-65-8-10 (.615), along with a playoff mark of 11-12 (.478), in his two and a half seasons as head coach.

“We are very appreciative of the job that Greg did for us as both a head coach and an assistant over the last four seasons,” said Griffins general manager Bob McNamara. “He was named head coach under tough circumstances and he helped us reach the conference finals in 2006 and return to the playoffs this past season. Greg assisted in the development of many of the young players now with the Red Wings, and he was a tremendous representative of the Griffins throughout the West Michigan community. We are thankful for all he’s done for our organization.”

Assistant coach Jim Paek, who joined the Griffins’ staff in 2005, will return this fall for his third season behind the bench.

The Red Wings and Griffins have begun the process of identifying candidates for Grand Rapids’ seventh head coach in 12 seasons. No timetable for the hiring has been established.

Fury to hold free agent camp in September

For the first time ever in their nearly 16 years of operations as a member club of the United Hockey League, the UHL’s all-time top winning team, the Muskegon Fury, will conduct a special free agent camp in Muskegon.

The Fury’s first-ever free agent camp has been scheduled from Friday, Sept. 21 through Sunday, Sept. 23.

All free agent camp sessions will be held at the Fury’s hockey home of the L.C. Walker Sports Arena, located at 470 West Western Avenue in downtown Muskegon.

The free agent camp on-ice times are set for Friday, Sept. 21 from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm; Saturday, Sept. 22 from 3:00 pm – 5:00 pm and Sunday, Sept. 23 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm.

The cost of the Fury free agent camp is $275 and includes on-ice insurance. Hotel rooms will be available at a special discounted rate.

Muskegon head coach Bruce Ramsay will be at the reins of the camp. It will be through his evaluations that as many as five players will be offered invitations to attend the Fury’s main camp Oct. 1, signaling the launching of the 2007-2008 campaign.

For more information on this camp, contact Ramsay at (231) 726-3879 ext. 233 or by email at

Lidstrom and Datsyuk win NHL awards

TORONTO (CP) - Nicklas Lidstrom, meet Ray Bourque.

Lidstrom captured yet another Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman Wednesday night, becoming the first five-time career winner since Bourque, the great Boston Bruins blueliner.

''It feels a bit unbelievable,'' said Lidstrom. ''Ray was a guy I looked up to coming into the league. He was a great player at both ends of the ice. . I really appreciated watching him play. To be tied with him is just an unbelievable feeling.''

Lidstrom, who replaced the retired Steve Yzerman as Detroit Red Wings captain this past season and was also named to the NHL's First All-Star Team, beat out the stellar Anaheim Ducks duo of Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger - both former winners - for this year's award in voting by selected members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association.

''I don't take it for granted,'' said Lidstrom, who won with 1,217 points in voting, ahead of Niedermayer's 1,024. Pronger was third with 608.

''I don't know what else you say,'' said Niedermayer. ''He's been recognized a number of times for good reason, because he's a very, very good defenceman. Smart player, he's got great skills, a good leader. He is everything that you need to be to be in his situation.

''Right now it's tough to say there's anybody better.''

Lidstrom, who has won the award five of the past six seasons, tied for the league lead among defencemen with a plus-40 rating and ranked third among all players in ice time per game at 27:29. He had 62 points (13-49), fifth among NHL defencemen.

Niedermayer, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in Anaheim's Cup triumph, won the award in 2004. He led all NHL defencemen in scoring this season with 69 points. Pronger missed 16 games but still ended up with 59 points.

Dan Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning was fourth in voting with 219 points, followed in fifth by Kimmo Timonen of the Nashville Predators at 144.

Red Wings star forward Pavel Datsyuk was recognized for his sportsmanship by becoming a back-to-back winner of the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy.

Datsyuk, who didn't attend the NHL Awards show in Toronto, bested Colorado's Joe Sakic and Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis for the player judged to have exhibited superior sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of skill.

Detroit general manager Ken Holland accepted the award on Datsyuk's behalf.

"Pavel couldn't be here tonight," Holland said. "Pavel asked me to thank his coaching staff and his teammates for helping (him) win this award."

Datsyuk produced 87 points in 79 regular-season games while serving only 20 minutes in penalties. He received 705 points, edging St. Louis' 513 and Sakic's 354.

Lidstrom photo courtesy Aaron Harris/Associated Press

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Chelios to return to Detroit in 2007-2008

DETROIT (CP) - The NHL's oldest player has at least one more season left in him.

Defenseman Chris Chelios and the Detroit Red Wings agreed on a one-year contract Tuesday. It will be the 24th NHL season for the 45-year-old Chelios, who had 11 assists and a plus-11 rating in 71 games for the Red Wings last season.

Chelios led Detroit defensemen with a plus-7 rating during the team's run to the Western Conference final.

"Chris is coming off another outstanding season and was one of the best defencemen on any team through three rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs," Wings GM Ken Holland said. "He has taken conditioning to a new level and has set the standard for how today's professional athlete trains year-round in order to compete at an elite level. In addition to his high level of play, Chris's experience and leadership are second to none."

Chelios won Stanley Cups with Montreal in 1986 and Detroit in 2002 and is a three-time winner of the Norris Trophy.

In 1,547 career regular-season games for the Canadiens, Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, Chelios has 182 goals and 936 points. Chelios has 31 goals and 113 assists for 144 points in 246 career playoff games.

Pickard, Welsh promoted in K-Zoo

William D. Johnston, president and chairman of the Greenleaf Companies, is pleased to announce that Paul Pickard has been promoted to president of Stadium Management Corporation.

Pickard had previously been the general manager of the Kalamazoo Wings and vice president-general manager of the Wings Stadium facility.

Wade Welsh, previously assistant general manager, will assume the general manager duties of the K-Wings.

As previously announced by the United Hockey League, Pickard will serve as acting president/CEO/commissioner of the league and will administer all league functions until a new commissioner is named.

A structured sale of Stadium Management Corporation to Greenleaf Holdings, L.L.C., now known as Catalyst Development Co., L.L.C., was entered into in 2005. Under the sale agreement, majority ownership of Stadium Management Corporation will be transferred from the estate of Ray T. Parfet, Jr. to Catalyst Development Co., L.L.C. in July 2007.

Pickard will focus his talent and experience in strengthening a stable and exciting UHL, while also bringing new and exciting entertainment venues to an ever improving Wings Stadium facility.

As a part of the family of Greenleaf Companies, Pickard will also identify ways to integrate Greenleaf Hospitality Group’s offerings into the stadium venues.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

June 7, 1997 - remember?

Ten years ago tonight...

Friday, June 01, 2007

Red Wings ink prospects Ritola and Ryno

The Detroit Red Wings signed prospects Mattias Ritola, a center, and Johan Ryno, a right wing, to three-year entry-level contracts Friday.

Both players were drafted by Detroit in 2005 - Ritola in the fourth round (103rd overall) and Ryno in the fifth round (137th overall).

“Mattias and Johan are two highly-skilled young players,” said Detroit assistant general manager Jim Nill. “They will attend our training camp this fall as a part of their continuing development towards the goal of playing for the Red Wings in the NHL."

Ryno, who turns 21 June 5, played 39 games in the Swedish Elite League this season, his first in that circuit, tallying five goals and 11 points. Ritola, 20, played 26 games in the Swedish First Division (one level below the Elite League), tallying two goals and six points.