Besides dipping back into general sports writing, I always remind people that there really isn't an "off-season" when it comes to the Kitchener Rangers.
Case in point, the past two weeks.
Though, I have to admit I thought I'd be a bit safe from huge news while visiting six Caribbean countries in 10 days. The BlackBerry was off as I sat on white sandy beaches, sipping tasty beverages with the Mrs.
As it turned out, it was two of the busiest weeks since the season concluded.
Here's a recap of the madness.
Let's start at the top.
The Steve Spott era is over on East Avenue.
As most of you know, the former GM/coach has packed his bags for a new gig as head coach of the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies.
The move is no surprise. Since meeting Spott, he has always said that his goal is to coach in the NHL. The next logical step for him was the AHL. He's also a Toronto boy and proud of it. So, again, it is no surprise that he threw his hat in the ring when a job opened up in Hogtown.
One thing is for sure. He won't get the leash he had in Kitchener. The Marlies are coming off three winning seasons and a trip to the Calder Cup finals two years back. The club is loaded with young talent and expectations are high.
Spott has some big shoes to fill by departing boss Dallas Eakins, who was scooped up by the Edmonton Oilers last month.
Spott leaves Kitchener after five years as GM/head coach. In that span, he had four winning seasons and made it to the western conference final twice.
It didn't take long for ex-Rangers coach/assistant GM Paul Fixter to climb the ladder in Sudbury. Weeks after taking a job as an assistant coach, the Kitchener native was promoted to head coach.
The Rangers used just one of their two picks in the import draft and selected Russian blueliner Dmitrii Sergeev with the 21st selection. (No doubt Mike Farwell and Dave Schneider are busy practising the pronunciation of that one).
The 17-year-old adds even more depth to a loaded back line. Last year, he played for Traktor Chelyabinsk in Russia.
He's not the first Russian to suit up for the Rangers. Others included: Ruslan Akhmadullin, Vasily Bizyayev, Sergei Olympiev, Bogdan Rudenko (Kazakhstan) and Maxim Sharifijanov.
Note Sergeev's name change. It's the same guy, but spelling was wrong on draft day. For those wondering, he is willing to come to Kitchener and the team is working to get him in the lineup for opening night.
Kitchener is set to play five exhibition games, including a northern swing to Sudbury and North Bay.
Exhibition games are:
Sept 1 - at the Aud vs. North Bay, 2 p.m.
Sept 6 - at Sudbury, 7:30 p.m.
Sept 7 - at North Bay, 2 p.m. (in Temiscaming, Quebec)
Sept 13 - at the Aud vs. Erie, 7:30 p.m.
Sept 14 - at Niagara, 7 p.m.
The OHL schedule is also up (click link at top of blog for dates).
Only six games against the Erie Otters this year. Eight against the Guelph Storm once again.
The season kicks off Sept. 20th at home versus the Saginaw Spirit and wraps up against Windsor March 14, also at the Aud.
Not loving the Sudbury-North Bay roadie in early January, at least from a travel perspective. Especially since the Sat-Sun affair follows a home game the preceding Friday night. Ouch.
There will be no shortage of bodies in the lineup this year. Two more signings were completed in the past two weeks - fourth rounder Jacob Cascagnette and eighth round d-man Scott Pedersen.
Former first rounder Scott Teskey also joins the crew after a trade with the Mississauga Steelheads. Teskey, taken 21st overall in 2011, had just seven goals in 98 games for Missy. Perhaps a new environment will spark the Etobicoke native.
The Rangers surrendered a 10th round pick in 2015 in the deal.
Meanwhile, Cascagnette and first round pick Mike Davies have been invited to Ontario's Under-17 camp in August.
Current Rangers Justin Bailey and Brent Pedersen were selected in the NHL draft.
Pedersen follows a Rangers' trend by going to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Arthur native was picked in the fifth round and joins ex-Rangers Ryan Murphy and Jeff Skinner in the 'Canes system.
Bailey went in the second round (52nd overall) to his hometown Buffalo Sabres. Must have been a huge celebration for his family.
Locally, Waterloo's Kyle Platzer (London Knights) went in the fourth round to the Edmonton Oilers, Justin Auger (Guelph Storm) was taken by the Los Angeles Kings in the fourth round and Cambridge's Mitchell Dempsey (Soo Greyhounds) was the second last pick in the draft, going to the Boston Bruins.
Of note, Oshawa's Josh Brown was the first pick of the sixth round by the Florida Panthers.
New deals for some ex-Rangers too - David Clarkson inks seven-year pact with the Leafs, Andre Benoit signs with the Colorado Avalanche and Yannick Weber is Vancouver Canucks property now.
So that about does it, for now.
I expect the Rangers to announce the new coach/GM (or both) later this month when I'm back on vacation.