Coyotes draftee unruffled

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Mike Stone has had a lot on his plate lately.

Winning the WHL championship and preparing for the Memorial Cup can really eat up a lot of your time.

So forgive the Calgary Hitmen defenceman if he hasn't been paying too much attention to where he'll be attending NHL training camp this fall.

The 19-year-old Winnipegger was a third-round draft pick of the Phoenix Coyotes in 2008, so his potential future home is up in the air as the NHL tries to settle the team's ownership situation.

The potential for the team to return to his hometown hasn't been consuming Stone's mind.

"Not that I haven't tried. I just haven't really had the chance to," Stone said Wednesday from Brandon. "We've been pretty busy. I just haven't really actually checked it out to see what's really going on.

"You hear the odd comment on SportsCentre or something like that, but I don't actually look into it or anything."

It appears the Coyotes will remain in Glendale, Ariz., for at least another season, and Stone would have no problem attending his third straight Coyotes training camp in the desert this fall.

"It'd be pretty cool (if the franchise moved to Winnipeg), but I've been to camp twice now down in Phoenix, and it's really nice down there. It's awesome," said Stone, who was a big Winnipeg Jets fans when he was a child. "I love it down there. So I would be good with whatever happens.

"I just want to play in the NHL. I don't really care where it is."

First things first, however. Stone and the Hitmen will open the Memorial Cup on Saturday against the QMJHL champion Moncton Wildcats, and the blue-liner can't wait.

"It means a lot for me," he said. "We've been to the conference final all four years that I've been playing for the Hitmen. Last year we had the team to go the whole way, and we just came up short in the final there. It was a huge disappointment.

"To get that second chance and be able to make good on it means a whole lot."

Another interesting twist for Stone, who has 20 points in 23 post-season game, is that his younger brother Mark, a forward with the host Brandon Wheat Kings who turns 18 on Thursday, is also in the tournament.

"Obviously my brother talked about it all summer long, and to be able to be in the tournament with him means a lot," Mike said.

And what happens if they meet in next Sunday's final?

"I don't really want to think about that," Mike said.

MEM CUP TIDBITS: The Hitmen travelled in style to get to the Wheat City on Wednesday, as the organization chartered a plane directly to Brandon ... The Memorial Cup will arrive at CFB Shilo on Thursday afternoon for a rededication ceremony and will then be transported to Brandon via light armoured vehicle ... The Wheaties will wear commemorative jerseys, in honour of the Canadian Army, during their opener on Friday against the Windsor Spitfires. The jerseys will be auctioned off online, with the proceeds going to the Dominion Command Poppy Trust Fund.


Videos

Photos