California’s All-Stars

One update I would be remiss in delaying any further is about the various All-Stars and Olympians with ties to the state of California.

This week, a Californian was selected to start in the ECHL’s All-Star Game, which will be held in the beautiful new arena in Ontario. He is defenseman Zach Tarkir of Fresno. Ironically, he’s done so well this season that he’s been called up to Lake Erie of the AHL. There he is a teammate of Matt Ford of West Hills, who was the MVP of last season’s ECHL All-Star Game, and Ray Macias of Long Beach. Ray made his NHL debut with the Colorado Avalanche last season.

And Pasadena’s Brett Sterling was selected to his third AHL All-Star Game in four seasons. The Chicago Wolves wing is back to his high-scoring ways this season. And he also has been an All-Star MVP as well as the AHL’s Rookie of the Year in 2007.

These are no small feats!

Congratulations to Zach and Brett!

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Training camp winds down

Several updates for you about Californians still in NHL camps as the exhibition season reaches its final weekend, and there is an interesting subplot as to why one player might have been sent to the AHL despite having a very good camp.

In Atlanta, left wing Brett Sterling is one of 17 forwards remaining in Thrashers camp. The Thrashers play back-to-back games this weekend to wrap up their preseason, and if Sterling demonstrates the scoring touch he did earlier in camp, when he had a two-goal game vs. the St. Louis Blues, he has a good chance to stick. …

In Toronto, forwards Robbie Earl and Ryan Hollweg are among 15 remaining forwards in Leafs camp. …As of this morning, it appears defenseman Garrett Stafford and forward Landon Wilson remain in Dallas’ camp. Stafford is one of 12 blue liners on the Stars’ roster while Wilson is one of 17 forwards. … Forward Ryan Murphy remains on New Jersey’s camp roster. …

The Thrashers’ opponent this weekend, Nashville, returned defenseman Jonathon Blum (Rancho Santa Margarita) to his junior team, the Vancouver Giants this week. Blum, the Giants’ captain, got in his first NHL exhibitions during camp. …

The Kings also sent center Gabe Gauthier (Buena Park) to Manchester of the AHL this week. There is a decent chance Gauthier could be the Monarch’s captain this season. … Colorado returned defenseman Raymond Macias (Long Beach) to Lake Erie of the AHL. …

And the Ducks’ sticky salary cap situation might have factored into why defenseman Brian Salcido was assigned to Iowa of the AHL on Monday, and why forward Bobby Ryan, who was expected to be a top-six forward in Anaheim this season, might join him. Check out this story from the Orange County Register.

Cepek in training camp with Red Wings

Defenseman Cameron Cepek (Huntington Beach) is attending the Detroit Red Wings training camp as a free agent.

Originally a seventh-round Entry Draft pick of  Montreal in 2006, the Canadiens did not sign the veteran Western Hockey League blue liner.

Cepek has had a busy month. On the 8th he was traded from the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Prince George Cougars of the WHL. This week he played for the Red Wings’ team in the annual Traverse City (Mich.) Prospects Tournament. NHL Network broadcast the games and Cepek held his own in the action I saw.

Jonathon Blum ‘one to watch’ at Predators camp

Defenseman Jonathon Blum, the first player born and developed in California to be drafted in the first round of the Entry Draft, is featured on the Nashville Predators’ Web site as a player to watch in the team’s traning camp. Click here to read the story.

Blum (Rancho Santa Margarita) was taken in the first round of the 2007 draft after leading the Vancouver Giants to the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup title. Blum was the second-highest-scoring defenseman in the Western Hockey League in 2007-08 and has been named the Giants’ captain for the upcoming season.

Coyotes bring Colin Long to main training camp

Center Colin Long, a fourth-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in June’s entry draft, has been invited to the team’s veteran training camp after his performance this week in the club’s rookie camp. Long played in both rookie exhibitions against the Kings, and his play warranted mention from Coyotes GM Don Maloney. Read Maloney’s comments by clicking here.

Long (Santa Ana) was a Western Hockey League All-Star last season for the Kelowna Rockets. He finished second in the league in scoring by one point with 100 durind the regular season.

Flames return Wahl to Spokane

The Calgary Flames announced this week that they returned center Mitch Wahl (Seal Beach), their second-round pick in  June’s entry draft, to his junior team, Spokane of the Western Hockey League.

Wahl, who helped the Chiefs win the Canadian Hockey League’s Memorial Cup last season, attended the Flames’ rookie and prospects camp before returning to Spokane.

To view an interview with Wahl during the Flames’ summer Development Camp, click here.