Kohn savours bite of Big Apple

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:08 AM ET

Making his first foray into the Big Apple for his NHL training camp debut, a wide-eyed Dustin Kohn made a good impression.

The Calgary Hitmen defenceman was returned to the WHL by the New York Islanders Monday but made sure the Isles' coaching staff put an asterisk beside his name.

Islanders head coach Steve Stirling said his club will keep a close eye on the Edmonton product.

"Dustin is definitely a kid we'll be working with," said Stirling in a statement. "He has the wheels and, better than that, he has the smarts."

Kohn returned to Hitmen practice yesterday and said he got some help from some

of the Islanders veterans.

"It was an unreal experience.

I got to play with Brent Sopel and he helped me out a lot," said the 18-year-old, who played in two NHL pre-season games.

"The pace of the game is just so fast and the players are so smart. The forecheckers come right at you."

Before returning to Calgary, Islanders brass told Kohn the same thing he's been hearing for a while.

"For the last couple of years here, I've been working on getting stronger. I've been told, 'Get stronger, get stronger,' " said Kohn, who was fourth in Hitmen scoring last season with eight goals and 35 helpers.

As for life in the Big Apple, the

6-ft. 1-in., 190-pounder said it was quite a bit different from Calgary or Edmonton.

"I got to go to a Yankees game and got to see a little bit of the town. On our way to game against New Jersey in the Meadowlands, there was a Jets game. It was two and a half hours after the game and there were tens of thousands of fans tailgating in the parking lot.

"How many people are there is just insane. I don't know if it's the kind of lifestyle I want but I know a lot of the guys find ways around it."

In addition to Kohn, fellow blueliner Jeff Schultz returns to the Hitmen after being sent back from Washington Capitals training camp yesterday.

Calgary is 2-0 and will play the Kootenay Ice tomorrow (Saddledome, 7 p.m.).

DONE DEAL: Former Calgary Hitmen star Andrew Ladd signed a three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday.

The 'Canes, who selected the Maple Ridge, B.C., product fourth overall in the 2004 draft, inked the 19-year-old winger to a two-way, three-year deal.

The 6-ft. 2-in., 201-pounder will make the maximum salary of $984,200 allowed for his draft class under the new collective bargaining agreement, plus a $590,000 signing bonus.

Ladd had been eligible to play for the Hitmen as an overager this season.


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