Welcome to Wolves Insider: the report presented by Power Crunch that gives you a taste of all Chicago Wolves developments as the organization enters its 27th season.
AHL PROJECTS FEB. 5 START FOR 2020-21 SEASON
The American Hockey League recently announced that the league plans to start the 2020-21 season on Friday, Feb. 5. It would mark the AHL’s first action since suspending the 2019-20 season on March 12. When play begins, the Chicago Wolves will feature a new National Hockey League partner: The Carolina Hurricanes. The Wolves and the Hurricanes have signed a three-year affiliation deal.
The Hurricanes are one of the fastest-rising teams in the NHL — they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2019 — and they boast one of the most loaded farm systems in the league, which will directly benefit the Wolves. The Hockey Writers rank Carolina’s group of prospects No. 2 in the NHL with The Athletic’s Corey Pronman lists Carolina’s group at No. 6.
Ryan Warsofsky has been hired as the Wolves head coach. While he’s the youngest head coach in the AHL (he turned 33 on Oct. 26), he boasts plenty of experience. After serving as the top assistant coach for the Charlotte Checkers’ 2019 Calder Cup championship squad, he was promoted to head coach last season and led the team to a .598 winning percentage and a third-place finish in the Atlantic Division. Warsofsky and new assistant coach Patrick Dwyer (who made his AHL debut as a player with the Wolves in 2005-06) already have worked with the majority of the players expected to be on the Wolves’ roster, while Bob Nardella returns for his fourth season as a Wolves assistant.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve as a coach,” said Warsofsky, who grew up in Marshfield, Massachusetts, competing with his three hockey-playing brothers. “Now, you have to have a balance as a coach and as a player to keep your emotions in check. But I want us to win. I want to see a player get to the National Hockey League. I’m going to push him as hard as I possibly can to help him reach his goals — and ultimately reach the goals of our team.
“That’s just who I am as a person and who I am as a coach. That doesn’t mean I don’t like you. That doesn’t mean there are hard feelings. But at the end of the day, we’re here to get a couple things accomplished: One is to improve the players and two is to win a lot of hockey games and ultimately win a championship.”
READ TO SUCCEED WITH SKATES
Over the last 23 years, the Chicago Wolves’ Read to Succeed program, presented by JULIE, Inc., has fostered a love for reading in more than 500,000 children via local libraries and schools. During a normal year, Chicago Wolves players make appearances at libraries and schools throughout the Chicago area to share the benefits of reading and encourage children to reach their reading goals.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, players aren’t able to make appearances now — but Skates, the Chicago Wolves mascot, is filling the void with the new program “Story Time With Skates.” He has set aside Tuesday afternoons to join local classrooms and read books. Teachers and librarians who want to sign their groups to join Skates via Zoom or Google Meet can do so by visiting Story Time With Skates.
VETERANS DAY WREATH-LAYING CEREMONY
On Wednesday, the Wolves and the 85th Support Command observed Veterans Day with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the Chicago Riverwalk.
Wolves senior executive vice president Wayne Messmer presided over the ceremony that featured addresses by Brigadier General Ernest Litynski — Commanding General of the Arlington Heights-based 85th USARSC — and U.S. Marine Corps Brigadier General (retired) Roger R. Machut. Several Chicago-area officers attended the ceremony while the Chicago Police Department, Chicago Fire Department and Coast Guard Great Lakes each stationed a boat on the Chicago River near the memorial. To watch the video of the ceremony, it can found on the Wolves’ Facebook page here.
HELP RESCUE CHRISTMAS
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s not as simple for the Salvation Army to raise money this holiday season via its traditional Red Kettle program. Worse yet, the problems caused by COVID-19 mean more families than ever need the Salvation Army’s help right now.
Thankfully, the Salvation Army’s online Red Kettle fundraiser can make a huge difference. The Chicago Wolves organization asks everyone to continue “Doing The Most Good” this season by making a donation online. Please click here to find the Wolves’ donation page and join us in helping families in need throughout the Chicago area. Donations help stock food pantries, provide emergency aid for rent and utilities and purchase gifts for children, teens and seniors in need.
TALKIN’ TURKEY WITH THE SHAVES
Have your favorite Thanksgiving moments called by Wolves play-by-play announcer Jason Shaver! Whether it’s highlights of the family’s Turkey Bowl, video of your uncle snoring after dinner or anything in between, the Shaves will make these moments better. Visit bit.ly/TalkinTurkey2020 to submit your family video.
The Wolves signed this 24-year-old defenseman to a one-year contract Oct. 25. The Boston native owns 11 goals and 22 assists in 112 career AHL games, which includes two goals and three assists in 25 appearances last year for the Charlotte Checkers. The 2020-21 season will be Fitzgerald’s fourth in the AHL.
The Calgary Flames’ third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Hickey signed a one-year contract with the Wolves Nov. 5. The 24-year-old Leduc, Alberta, native spent the last two seasons with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and posted two goals, nine assists and a +11 plus/minus rating in 61 games.
This 28-year-old right wing joins the Wolves on a one-year contract after notching three goals and six assists in 40 games last year for the Charlotte Checkers. Since making his AHL debut in 2014-15, the Princeton, New Jersey, native has produced 24 goals and 57 assists in 248 games for Charlotte, Texas and Bridgeport.