Veteran defenseman Chad Starling and rookie center C.J. Stretch have been added to the Reign roster for the upcoming season. Check out tomorrow’s editions of the Sun and Bulletin for the basics.
Here are some non-basics:
Starling is currently in Saskatchewan helping with the family business
(vacuuming out the contents of septic tanks, then dumping them in designated lagoons or
on farms larger than 10 acres). He’s not skating yet – he delays that portion of his training until September, but has been working on plyometrics drills – ladder, hurdles, sprints – to stay in shape. Conditioning was less of an issue last season for Starling than it was the previous season, leading Karl Taylor to theorize that Starling “only gets better with age.”
The 30-year-old will have to overcome a pair of postseason surgeries (nose and knee), but his recovery is on track. And he’s looking forward to taking on a leadership role that will be different than seasons past.
Not only will next year’s team be younger than last year’s (average age: 24.5), Taylor said the team will be “most likely” be younger than it was in 2008-09 (average age: 24.0).
Starling, a 10-year pro veteran, is OK with that.
“On younger teams, I find the players are hungrier,” he said. “They want to move up. They want to go at it more. I think we were older last year. We weren’t as hungry as we could have been. The first year, we came together close. When you’re younger you’re just a sponge. Last year was fun too, but not as much fun as when you’re winning.”
The drawback, Starling said, is that “with young teams, you run into the problem of guys getting called up. I played one game with 11 guys when I was in salt lake. Hopefully call-ups don’t happen for too long. That’s another risk, but when guys called up, it looks good on the team, coach, organization. As long as they’re not gone for too long.”
Stretch is a youngster who turns 21 in August, an Irvine native, and hopefully part of the answer to the Reign’s scoring woes. He did not return a voicemail Thursday, but I’ll try to get his thoughts on the upcoming season in a future blog.
Taylor is also cooking up a special plan to help the youngsters acclimate to pro hockey, one he’s never tried before. I’ll save that for a future blog, too.