Etem tops California’s 2010 NHL Entry Draft prospects

In the May issue of California Rubber Hockey Magazine I identify 11 prospects who have good to reasonable chances of being selected during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft in late June.

As you likely know, this year’s draft will be the first one held in California (at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles), and it’s quite likely one of the state’s native sons will be picked in the top half of the first round, Long Beach’s Emerson Etem.

Various mock drafts have the powerful skater who scored a WHL-rookie-best 37 goals this season going anywhere from 8th to 15th. One intriguing prediction has the Anaheim Ducks selecting him with their first pick.

Etem is a solid 6-foot, 200 pounds and he was the first teen-ager allowed to train at TR Goodman‘s prestigious training center (popularized by star student Chris Chelios and now host to dozens of pro players). I spoke with Etem there last summer (click here to listen), and I came away impressed with his even-keeled and mature personality. I was equally impressed with what I observed during his workout – he has a non-stop motor and oozes athletic ability.

What it boils down to is an intense drive to succeed, and that’s why I think any team who selects Etem will not regret it for a minute. He has the drive and physical and personal maturity to thrive in the NHL much sooner than later.

How does this tie in with the hockey book? If Etem is selected in the first round (he’s NHL Central Scouting’s 8th-ranked North American skater), he’d be just the second Californian to be so honored. Rancho Santa Margarita’s Jonathon Blum, who recently finished a very good first pro season with Milwaukee in the AHL, was the first – going late in the first round to the Nashville Predators in 2007.

More progress reports on the book and on 2010 California prospects are on their way in the coming days.

Book update

One of the reasons blog postings have been more scarce of late is I’ve had a bit more time to spend writing the book, and so I have.

Researching and writing the historical portion is far from an exact science because there really is no definitive authority the history of California hockey. I’m pulling information from books, records and dozens of interviews with players and coaches who have been involved in the game out here for the past 40-plus years.

Incidentally, one could make a case that this is the 50th year of youth hockey in California. GLAMHA (the old Greater Los Angeles Minor Hockey Association) was formed in 1959 from what I can tell.

Until next time,

Chris

Book progress report

I think it’s high time for a few updates on the hockey book.

My proposal and outline, and all that goes with those items, are completed (or at least more completed than they were) and ready to be submitted to prospective publishers. I’ve still got some more transcribing to do, but I’m making progress there (I have more than 250 interviews at this point).

What’s most exciting to me is I’ve started the actual process of writing a few chapters. That has gone much slower than I’d anticipated because of the sheer volume of data I’ve collected. Organizing it into something that hopefully is logical has been one of my bigger challenges.

The first two chapters that are underway are the book’s first chapter – the subject of which shall remain a surprise for now, but it’s a good table-setter in my opinion – and a chapter on how the San Jose Sharks came into being. That covers all angles of it and has nearly 20 sources. It also includes some of the funnest stories I’ve heard in this process, particularly from the team’s Cow Palace Days.

Sentimental sort that I am, it’s hard not to stop and take trips down Memory Lane as I review material for the book. The think I’m struck with is the quality of the people involved in hockey. It doesn’t matter if they’re pros or people who didn’t learn to skate until well into adulthood, it’s been quality across the board.

Every day I thank God for the people he has brought across my path during this process. It is truly amazing!

More updates to come.

Palm Trees book update

I’ve started the writing stage of Palm Trees and Frozen Ponds. Writing isn’t the hard part, organizing the volumes of information I have has been! To date I’ve interviewed more than 200 people connected with all levels of hockey in California, and that list will grow by the time I’m done. My conservative estimate is that I probably need to interview at least two dozen more people before it’s all said and done.

And as I organize my research materials, it’s become pretty clear I’m going to have to revisit some topics with people.

The standout element of all of this continues to be the people involved in this great sport. I defy anyone to show me a more close-knit and humble group of humans than the hockey fraternity. So a word of thanks to all of you in the California hockey crowd – this project isn’t possible without you!

Sport for a lifetime

I caught up former NHL player Craig Coxe recently. The California native played nearly 300 NHL games and at least 500 more in minor pro.

Coxe tells of a recent visit to California when took to the ice with his dad Bob, former NHL goalie John Blue, and Blue’s father for a game of  pickup hockey in Orange County. If anything, Coxe says, times such as that have given him an even greater appreciation of the game that he’s always loved.

Coxe, incidentally, is an answer to a trivia question that should interest the state’s NHL fans. Who scored the first goal in San Jose Sharks history? Making it more ironic was the fact Coxe scored it in the same building he’s spent most of his career – Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum.