“It’s a new experience for mostly everybody in Chicago, from the head coach down to the players,” says Emily Polglaze of the Las Vegas Review Journal

As it turns out, the American Hockey League isn’t just a development league for those who are competing on the ice. It also happens to be a development league for many of the reporters who aspire to someday make it to the NHL.NHL-Announcement-1600x700

Emily Polglaze, who covers the Chicago Wolves for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, recently took the time to answer a few questions I had for her.

Not only does Emily cover the Wolves for a professional publication, she reports on the development of Vegas’ prospects as her primary focus, which has been a major point of emphasis for me as well.

I believe our conversation is a compelling one, because she offers insight into the direction of the Chicago Wolves and how it relates to the Golden Knights. In particular, the NHL’s upcoming Feb. 26 trade deadline was a conversation topic, and so was the recent acquisition of defenseman Zac Leslie.

Since you are covering the Wolves from a Vegas Golden Knights angle, and since the Knights are only in their first year of existence, how do you approach your reporting about this American hockey league team?

Photo from USA Today

“It’s a new experience for mostly everybody in Chicago, from the head coach down to the players. Some of these guys are held over from the Blues affiliation, but most aren’t. In that respect, I approach it how a lot of people approached Vegas: a ragtag bunch of guys that were going to be figuring it out along the way, with the expectation of just building a team and “new” organization to start. The Wolves have done much more than that, just like their Vegas counterpart, so it’s a rare opportunity in reporting because you’re really seeing it built from the ground up.”

What did you make of the acquisition of defenseman Zac Leslie? How do you think he will help the Wolves? And what do you think Vegas has planned for him?

Leslie Zac
Photo courtesy of the Ontario Reign

“I personally haven’t seen Leslie play yet, but Vegas definitely wins the trade here. Leslie hasn’t been incredibly impactful on the scoresheet in the AHL over the years, but he’s proved he’s reliable and that’s something Chicago will need down the stretch. With d-men like Griffin Reinhart and Jason Garrison in bubble territory with Vegas’s solid core, I doubt that Leslie will see the ice in Vegas any time soon, but Chicago head coach Rocky Thompson continuously stresses building a team, and have solid, albeit quiet defensemen like Leslie, Jake Bischoff and Chris Casto is going to keep the Wolves defense sound for years to come.”

What are you expecting from the Knights / Wolves as the Feb. 26 trade deadline approaches?
“My answer probably would’ve been different a year ago, but honestly, not much. By way of offense, there’s a couple moves that Vegas could make (Eakin stands out), but there will be no blockbuster trades in my mind. Vegas could’ve been in a mess at this point with the expansion draft, but all the right pieces fell together and it worked. If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I could see them adding to the Wolves roster if anything, but AHL for AHL trades are still semi-rare, and they have enough going on to be too concerned with that.”

Who do you think is next in line for a call up?
Brandon Pirri, for sure. It’s no secret that Pirri is an NHL-caliber player, but Vegas has really lucked out in not needing call-ups until right about now in the season (other than goaltending). He’s had an outstanding season in Chicago and if he doesn’t make the team out of camp next year, he’ll be one of their main guys to call on. I’d also like to see a call-up for TJ Tynan. He works incredibly hard and I know he’d make the most of the chance. He’s always been good in the AHL, it’s only a matter of time.”

What’s your favorite part about covering the Wolves?
“Since the team is new for everybody, there’s a sense of positivity and excitement surrounding it. They hit a skid earlier in the season, but the team was always upbeat and looked to the next game with optimism. It’s always rewarding to cover a group like that, and especially so when they start improving. Beyond the hockey staff, the front office is excellent. It’s a top-notch club all around.”

Photo from SI.com

To read more of Emily’s work, check her out at http://www.reviewjournal.com. Her most recent piece features exclusive interviews she conducted with Wolves goalie tandem of Oscar Dansk, and Maxime Lagace.


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