Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Defenseman Vladimir Hartinger battling for the puck

An unofficial history of the Texas Brahmas

Part Three - Aftermath

Four days later, the Brahmas announced that head coach Guy Larose and assistant coach Sean Brady would not have their contracts renewed for 2006-07 season. Larose was a mid-season replacement, taking Al Sims’ place on December 19, 2005. In 40 games coached for Fort Worth, Larose compiled a record of 9-26-5.

Team owner Stuart Fraser, who had lost millions since purchasing the team in 1997 was fed up with the result of the season and announced that the organization would be making numerous changes.

“It goes without saying that we are tremendously disappointed with our on-ice performance this year,” Fraser said. “Making the playoffs was our number one priority this season, and we came up woefully short. Our results the last several seasons have been unacceptable, and, because of that, we are going to carefully examine the process by which we have been using to build our hockey teams. We remain committed to putting a winning team on the ice for our loyal fans and sponsors, and thus, we are going to completely reevaluate all areas of our hockey operations.”

General Manager Mike Barack made it clear that the organization would be thorough in its effort to find a new head coach.

“We are not going to rush to find a replacement for Guy,” Barack announced. “We’re going to take our time, and work to identify the best possible candidates available. A winning coach at the CHL level has to be many things - a recruiter, a motivator, a communicator, and a strategist. Our objective is to find the best possible individual with quality experience and a proven winning track record that wants to be here in Fort Worth and can guide the Brahmas to the top of the CHL.”

Although they were without a head coach, the Brahmas had continued with the business of building a roster for the upcoming season. General Manager Mike Barack took the reins of this effort, signing seven players during the month of April.

On April 3rd, the Brahmas announced the acquisition of right wing Caleb Moffat from the Corpus Christi Rayz, completing a transaction from December 3rd, 2005 in which the team transferred the rights to defenseman Dion Hyman to the Rayz in exchange for future considerations.

Moffat had split time with three teams during the 2005-2006 season. After playing five games with the Odessa Jackalopes in late October and early November, he moved on to the Fayetteville FireAntz of the SPHL for thirteen games. Then, in early January of 2006, he signed with the Rayz and played the final 34 games of the season for Corpus Christi. For the year, he totaled 52 games played, two points (1 G, 1 A), and 293 penalty minutes.

Four days later, on April 7th, the team announced the re-signing of defensemen Konrad Brand and Ryan Fairbarn.

Brand, at 6’3”, 245, skated in 55 games for the Brahmas, scoring one goal and assisting on 14 others. His fifteen points (a personal career high) were the third most by a Fort Worth d-man last year and his -4 was tied for the highest plus/minus rating on the team. He also finished fourth on the Brahmas with 128 penalty minutes.

Fairbarn began the previous season with the Wichita Thunder. After skating in the first 32 games of the year for Wichita, he was acquired by the Brahmas on January 9th in a trade for defenseman Matt Coughlin. He played in 22 games for Fort Worth, posting 1 goal and 8 assists. For the season, he finished with 31 points (8 G, 23 A), the most of any Brahma defenseman

“Konrad and Ryan are both solid defenseman,” Mike Barack said in a press release. Brand is a steady physical presence, while Fairbarn is certainly a capable offensive contributor. They want to be here in Fort Worth and they want to help get the Brahmas back to the top of the CHL. These are two quality signings for our team.”

On the 13th, the Brahmas announced that they had re-signed another defenseman, Vladimir Hartinger, to the roster for the upcoming season.

Despite missing several games throughout the season, Hartinger still posted impressive 2005-2006 statistics for Fort Worth, scoring 6 goals and assisting on 24 others. His 30 points were the second most for a Fort Worth defenseman last year and his 24 assists were the third most on the team. Eighteen of his points (4 G, 14 A) came on the power play, and he had seven multiple point games to his credit.

“Vladimir is easily one of the most versatile defenseman in the CHL. He has excellent hockey sense in his own zone, and he also knows how to contribute offensively. I anticipate that he will be one of the cornerstones for our team next year and play a major role in the success we hope to have,” Barack said.

On the 18th, the Brahmas added three more players, completing all remaining trade business from the previous season.

From the Rio Grande Valley Killer Bees, the Brahmas obtained the rights to center Matic Kralj and defenseman Matt Medley. Fort Worth was owed future considerations from the Killer Bees to complete the trade originally made on February 8, 2006 that saw left wing Bret DeCecco shipped to the Bees in exchange for center Bobby Davis.

Kralj, in his fourth professional season, scored 18 goals and assisted on 24 others in 56 games played with the Killer Bees in 2005-06. Kralj, 6’1”, 190, also enjoyed a productive postseason with Rio Grande Valley, as he tied for the Bees team lead in playoff points with two goals and two assists in the Bees six-game Southern Conference semifinals series loss to the Laredo Bucks.

Medley, in his second pro season, played in all 64 of the Killer Bees’ regular season games, and led all Bees defensemen in points with 34 (13 G, 21 A). During the playoffs, he picked up two assists in six games played. For his efforts, the Montreal, Quebec native was honored by the Killer Bees as their 2005-06 Defenseman of the Year.

From the Wichita Thunder, the Fort Worth picked up the rights to forward Tab Lardner. The Brahmas were owed future considerations from the Thunder to complete the trade originally made on February 13, 2006 that sent defenseman Andrew Nahirniak to Wichita in exchange for left wing Chris Bain.

Lardner, a fifth year veteran, would join Vladimir Hartinger as the second veteran player (then considered a player with more than 260 professional games played) on the 2006-07 squad. The 2005-2006 season was his first with the Thunder. He posted strong offensive numbers for Wichita, scoring 25 goals and earning 30 assists. His 25 goals were the fourth most on the team and his 55 points were the sixth highest total on the Thunder roster. Lardner also played in all six of the Thunder’s 2006 CHL President’s Cup playoff games.

“Tab Lardner is a proven commodity in the CHL. He is a versatile forward who can score goals and contribute in any situation, even-strength or special teams. Additionally, he has played on winning teams in the past and developed what I believe are very valuable leadership skills,” Barack said. “Tab is going to be one of our primary players during the 2006-2007 season.”

“All three of these players have proven that they can be contributing players at the CHL level,” Barack said. “They all played on winning teams last season and put up solid numbers.”

And so, the process of planning for the coming season began, but a cancer was eating away at the Brahmas organization, one that would threaten the very existence of the team and its future. Most didn’t know it yet, but once again, professional hockey in cowtown was about to come to an end.

Next up: Part Four - Negotiations

Photo Credit: Chip Crail/Pro Hockey News

No comments: