Dealing with a deadline

Robin
Robin Short
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As head of pro scouting for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Derek Clancey's a busy man these days

"What day is it?" Derek Clancey wonders aloud over the telephone. "Wednesday? Thursday? It's Wednesday, right?"

Wrong. It's Thursday, actually, and you can understand why Clancey doesn't know if he's coming or going these days. With the NHL trade deadline looming Monday, Clancey is busier - as hockey lifer Tommy McVie would say - than a one-legged man in a kick-butt contest.

The 42-year-old former minor hockey, high school and junior star from St. John's has done well for himself, climbing the Pittsburgh Penguins corporate food chain to director of professional scouting, overseeing a staff that includes a pair of former National Hockey League general managers, Don Waddell and Andre Savard.

With Monday's 3 p.m. (EDT) trade deadline, Clancey and the Penguins' pro scouts have been criss-crossing the continent, watching an endless supply of hockey, and building a catalogue on just about every player on the other 29 NHL clubs.

Consider Clancey's schedule over the past week or so: Tuesday, Feb. 21 in Buffalo to watch the Sabres and Devils; Wednesday in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to catch the AHL Penguins and Norfolk Admirals; Thursday in Philly (Flyers and Sabres); Friday in Carolina (Hurricanes and Sharks); Saturday back home in Phoenix to unpack and repack and see the Coyotes and Stars; on the road again Tuesday in Columbus (Blue Jackets and Sharks); Wednesday in St. Louis (Blues and Bruins).

Home again Thursday and off to Pittsburgh yesterday, where he will hunker down for the next few days, meeting with Pens GM Ray Shero and his assistants, Jason Botterill and Tom Fitzgerald, player personnel director Dan MacKinnon, Waddell and Savard.

"It's been a light week," he quips.

This weekend, the front office will convene to compare notes and lists, "to cover off as many scenarios as we can.

"You can get a call you're not expecting, so you have to be ready," Clancey said. "You have to be ready for all options. The year we got (Marian) Hossa (at the 2008 deadline), that call came out of the blue, about an hour and a half before the deadline."

Clancey's been at the pro scouting racket five years now, winning a Stanley Cup with the 2009 Penguins. He knows the ropes and can probably provide a verbal abstract on most players in the NHL.

Truth be told, it might be a little slower this year than in the past, considering the Penguins are tight to the salary cap. So don't expect Pittsburgh to make another deadline deal for an Alexei Kovalev.

Or Rick Nash.

"He's a special player, no doubt," he says, "but when you're talking potential deals of this magnitude, the biggest factor is the fit. If you're doing well now, you're a Cup contender, why would you remove a piece of your core?

"We filled holes with guys like Billy Guerin and (Craig) Adams, and they turned out to be crucial pieces.

"When you add that kind of term and money (Nash is signed for six more years after this season, for $46.8 million), you have to be careful. And there's no point having Rick Nash if you don't have a centre to play with him. If not, he's in the same place where he is now."

Bern Tobin, who's done a superb job as president of the Kent St. John's Junior Hockey League, has resigned from his position.

Thanks to Tobin, and a handful of others, the league can boast it is perhaps the best-organized, and best-run competitive hockey circuit in the province.

But sometimes that's not enough.

According to an email obtained by The Telegram, Tobin writes, "Tonight (Wednesday) was a good night for the (league's awards) banquet. But a good night went sour at the end when I was approached and displeasure shown for my decision to award a second player a plaque for most goals. I felt embarrassed as I looked around and noticed people were taking in the confrontation. This unnecessary embarrassment could have been avoided by a simple e-mail ... I am resigning my position as president of the Kent St. John's Junior Hockey League. I will complete my duties as president within the next week by clewing up any loose ends."

According to sources, Tobin was confronted by Mount Pearl Mark's Work Wearhouse Blades coach Brian Cranford.

I was not present, and cannot comment.

But this, however, can be stated: Tobin has punched in countless hours for the good of the junior league. He's a good man, with good intentions, and the league's executive and its delegates would be nothing short of feeble to let this chapter end this way.

In short

Nathan Noel is enjoying a heck of a season at Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school in Faribault, Minn., where he's tied for second on the school's Tier I bantam hockey team with 87 points in 42 games. The 14-year-old from St. John's is also raising plenty of eyebrows with scouts - NCAA Division I schools are already sniffing around - and there's talk Noel is a contender for the No. 1 overall pick in the QMJHL midget draft two years from now. One thing is certain: Noel will be returning to Shattuck next season, and will not be applying to the Q for special exemption status to play major junior as a 15-year-old ... Why would the Canadiens trade for Blake Geoffrion, of all people? As if there's not enough pressure on hockey players in Montreal, let alone when your grandfather (Boom Boom Geoffrion) and great-grandfather (Howie Morenz) just happen to be icons in the city. Blake's father, Danny, was a first-round draft pick of the Canadiens, and lasted 32 games before he was traded. Hope for the youngster's sake he has better success ... Will there ever be a greater single-season hockey performance than Bobby Orr's 1969-70 season when he won the scoring title, regular season and playoff MVP, top defenceman and the Stanley Cup? ...

Robin Short is The Telegram's Sports Editor. He can be reached by email at rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Pittsburgh Penguins, National Hockey League, Junior Hockey League Canadiens The Telegram NCAA

Geographic location: St. John's, Pittsburgh, Buffalo Wilkes-Barre Carolina Phoenix Columbus St. Louis Faribault, Minn. Montreal

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