Young Stars tournament a popular sell

Support for the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars tournament was so good there was little debate among Canucks brass to bring it back to Penticton.

Former Vancouver Canuck Stan Smyl gives future young stars hopeful KaliJo Zagula pointers during the Okanagan Hockey School practice at the community rink Wednesday. Smyl was in town to promote the Canucks Young Stars tournament later this year at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Former Vancouver Canuck Stan Smyl gives future young stars hopeful KaliJo Zagula pointers during the Okanagan Hockey School practice at the community rink Wednesday. Smyl was in town to promote the Canucks Young Stars tournament later this year at the South Okanagan Events Centre.

Support for the Vancouver Canucks Young Stars tournament was so good there was little debate among Canucks brass to bring it back to Penticton.

Stan Smyl, senior advisor to Canucks GM Mike Gillis, said in speaking with the teams that participated last year, they enjoyed it and wanted to come back. Well, everyone except the Anaheim Ducks, who were unable to return because of a previous commitment. The Ducks noted they want to be part of it again. Teams saw passion from fans and liked how they were treated on and off the ice.

A total of 20 players from last year’s tournament played in the NHL this season, including Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Cam Fowler, Mikael Backlund and Chris Tanev.

Smyl spoke to local media on Wednesday to promote the tournament, which runs Sept. 11 to 15. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. The tournament sold well last year and it’s expected to be the same this year. Fans will have to take a little more out of their pockets, however. The price rose to $80 from the $66 last year for the eight-game package. On Aug. 2 the price jumps to $100.Replacing the Ducks in the tournament are the Winnipeg Jets (formerly the Atlanta Thrashers) giving the tournament a more Canadian feel with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. The San Jose Sharks are the lone American-based team.

Smyl said the Jets will be a good replacement.

“We saw at the draft there was great support from their fans and you’re going to see it in this building also,” said Smyl, a former Canucks captain. “I’m sure you will see a lot of Jets fans come, probably come out from Winnipeg.”

During the announcement last week, city councillor and tournament organizing chair Andrew Jakubeit said they are excited about a fourth Canadian team.

“There is a lot of people who moved from the Prairies to the Okanagan so I think it will spark a lot of interest,” said Jakubeit.

With the tournament returning for a second year, Smyl said the goal is to make this an annual event. He added that a building is needed for it, which he said they obviously have.

“Have to have support from city council, must have the volunteers and support from the fans,” he added. “I don’t think that will change.” With regards to tickets, single game tickets will be made available mid-August at the SOEC box office, Wine Country Visitor Centre or online

at www.valleyfirsttix.com.

 

Smyl on the Stanley Cup Final

“It’s really exciting,” he said of watching the Canucks playoffs unfold. “Every series was different. You build and learn from that, how hard it is. And you get into the game 7 and I will be honest with you, It’s a disappointment. When you go into the final game and finish up the way we did, I know talking to some of the players, it has left a real sour taste in their mouths. That will make them stronger as a player for next year.”

Smyl on former Vees defenceman Joey Laleggia at the Canucks prospects camp

Smyl said Laleggia was a big surprise.

“He has high skill, but the question mark is the size,” said Smyl. “Those players find a way. I spent a lot of time with my staff and we see a lot of college games, he’s going to a great school, one of the top teams. He’s going to fit in there well. He’s not going to have a problem at that level. Watching him what he did in the camp, I think he has to work on just little things. His conditioning has to get better. That’s why they come to the camps. That’s why we invite them.”

Smyl said the Burnaby resident has the skill package for a small player and added Laleggia was sturdier than he remembered from last year.

“You never count out a guy that size (five-foot-10, 180 pounds) out of the picture,” said Smyl. “We’re about the same size. And that’s what I told him and now the game has changed.  We’re going to watch him as he goes along.”

Smyl on the floating the channel

“I’ve done it a few times,” laughed Smyl, adding he would be staying away this time around. “Maybe we can get our management guys to come do that in September. Mike hasn’t tried it yet. He was just up here for the Granfondo. Last year was his first time. He really enjoyed the Granfondo. The Channel, I don’t know about that.”