Dano joins Moose fold

AHL team still waiting for word on start to season

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Pascal Vincent saw his roster grow by two to 26 players Tuesday. The addition of veteran pro Marko Dano and rookie Jeff Malott, both forwards, was welcome news.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 02/02/2021 (674 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Pascal Vincent saw his roster grow by two to 26 players Tuesday. The addition of veteran pro Marko Dano and rookie Jeff Malott, both forwards, was welcome news.

The rest wasn’t quite as encouraging. The AHL is slated to open its regular season Friday night but Vincent’s Manitoba Moose and four other members of an all-Canadian Division do not have a schedule or firm understanding of when they will start their season.

“As far as starting the season and when we’re gonna start — it changes on a daily basis,” said the 49-year-old head coach following the team’s workout at Bell MTS Iceplex Tuesday. “So we’re just gonna focus on what we can accomplish today. Right now, I can tell you we’re a better team than we were two hours ago.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Jeff Malott (left) and Nicholas Jones watch the puck at Manitoba Moose practice at the Bell MTS Iceplex in Winnipeg on Tuesday.

“We did some good things out there and the guys were receptive and they worked hard and we’re gonna take the same approach for tomorrow.”

The Moose will practise until they are called upon to play, which may be a benefit with players arriving in Winnipeg at varying levels of fitness.

“When the league tells us when we play our first game, then we’ll get ready for that day but for now, it’s really hard,” said Vincent, who is beginning his sixth season at the Moose helm. “It changes how we approach the whole training camp because it’s not long-term planning. It’s really staying on a day-to-day basis and adjusting.”

On Monday, the Stockton Heat were relocated to Calgary and the Heat will share facilities with the parent Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The AHL team is expected to play in the Canadian Division with the Moose, Belleville Senators (Ottawa), Laval Rocket (Montreal Canadiens) and Toronto Marlies (Maple Leafs), requiring a reworking of the schedule.

Meanwhile, the Marlies and Senators are still awaiting approval to play games from provincial authorities, which further delays the process.

In Winnipeg, the show goes on.

Malott, a 6-3, 204-pounder from Burlington, Ont., wrapped up a four-year college career Cornell University last spring. After the completion of a 14-day quarantine, he was cleared for Tuesday’s practice.

“You don’t know if you’re trying to ramp it up for a month from now or three months from now or nine months from now, so that was probably the biggest adjustment,” said Malott. “But I had a great team to work with back home and everything was kind of just adjusting on the fly.”

Last month, he got a head start on his pro career, scoring once in four games with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades.

“The games I got into in Florida were great because nine months of just kind of working out and doing kind of off-season skates… they’re great for standard shape and stuff but there’s really no way to simulate the pace and the speed of a game,” he said.

Vincent admitted the majority of the current players will constitute the Moose roster to begin the season. Although players will be added in the coming days, a roster of between 25 and 27 players is likely.

The numbers at practice also vary from day to day, causing havoc with Vincent’s preparations.

“Just to give you an example, yesterday we got ready for today’s practice, the meeting and all the components we wanted to see and practise and teach our players,” said Vincent. “Maybe half an hour before practice some guys weren’t physically fit to go. So we went from 12 forwards to 10 forwards and six defenceman to five. It changes everything.

“We found out just a little bit before practice but this is the season that we have. We have to adjust and stay on our toes all the time.”

BLUE LINES: Victor Hadfield, a free-agent left-winger on a tryout with the Moose, is the grandson of former New York Rangers great Vic Hadfield. The elder Hadfield was a member of the famed Goal-A-Game line with Jean Ratelle and Rod Gilbert during the late ’60s and early ’70s in New York.

Victor, 20, is coming off a three-year career with the OHL’s Barrie Colts.

“I was told that the scouting report was he can play forward, he can play D, and he’s got some grit to his game in the sense that he’s hard on the puck and he gets through to the hard areas,” said Vincent. “And that’s what I’m seeing so far.”

 

mike.sawatzky@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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