New Wolves coach Rocky Thompson has been on the job for five weeks. His new team is a work in progress as the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights decide who will be sent to the Wolves and who will stay in Las Vegas. Thompson has managed to take the uncertainty in stride as he prepares for a job that will be a bit familiar and still provide a sense of freshness.
Thompson spent much of his playing career in the American Hockey League before he worked as an assistant with the Edmonton Oilers’ AHL affiliate and took over the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League.
Still, after running much of the on-ice portion for the Knights’ recent development camp, Thompson admits he doesn’t know what his first Wolves team will look like.
“All I’ve been doing is thinking about hockey up until about two days ago,” Thompson said. “I just started my vacation, and I’m going to enjoy it.”
The development camp provided Thompson with an up-close look at not only the Wolves’ NHL affiliate, but also some of the talent that could be coming his way. Vegas signed several players to two-way contracts July 1, including former Wolves defenseman Brad Hunt, who led the AHL in scoring last season before he appeared in 12 games with the Nashville Predators after being released by the St. Louis Blues.
Depending on the impression he makes with the Knights, Hunt could be back with the Wolves. Thompson said he also expects to have Tyler Wong, the Western Hockey League’s leading scorer last season; forward Reid Duke, the first player to sign with the Knights; and Jake Bischoff, a defenseman who recently finished his college career at Minnesota. Forward Bryce Gervais is the lone returning player from last season.
Thompson expects the Knights to complete additional free-agent signings in the coming weeks. He also expects to have four or five players from the Blues, who will not have their own AHL affiliate this season. But not knowing his roster at this point won’t change what Thompson expects from his team.
“No matter who the parts or the people are, our team is going to be an extremely aggressive hockey team,” he said. “It’s going to be fun to play, they’re going to be well-conditioned. Players love being in attack mode, and that’s the type of players we’re going to get. That’s the kind of game we’re going to play.”
The Wolves open the season Oct. 6 at the Texas Stars. Their home opener is Oct. 14 against the Ontario Reign.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffArnold_.
OTHER LOCAL SCENE STORIES