The Kelowna Rockets never really envisioned being without Brett Bulmer for the 2011-12 season.
Then again, the Western Hockey League club didn’t expect Luke Schenn to catch on with the Toronto Maple Leafs as an 18-year-old in 2008.
Such is the reality of today’s game where teenagers leave in September for National Hockey League training camps and, on occasion, don’t return.
While it’s very early in the new campaign and the Rockets may yet see Bulmer in their uniform this season, he continues to stick with the Minnesota Wild.
Three games into the NHL regular season, the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Prince George native is settling in on the club’s third line with Matt Cullen and Guillaume Latendresse. Bulmer played 13 minutes 35 seconds and recorded his first point, an assist, in a 2-1 loss to the Islanders on Monday night.
On Tuesday in Ottawa, Bulmer played nearly 12 minutes and again displayed his agitating style, inciting Senators’ forward Jason Spezza to take a slashing penalty in the first period.
Wild head coach Mike Yeo recently told Fox Sports North he was impressed with Bulmer’s tenacity and grit.
“I was taken aback by how fearless this kid was,” Yeo said. “Most often when youngsters play in that league they are a little tentative… but not Brett—he came in with quite an edge.
“He has this (pesky) side to him that drives players crazy. Being so tall he is able to poke the puck away with his reach and he is always yapping at players while he is doing it.”
For Bulmer’s part, the 19-year-old insists he’s leaving nothing to chance in his bid to remain with the Wild for the entire 2011-12 campaign.
“Every day is a new day for me to show that I belong here, and I’m not going to take anything for granted,” Bulmer told Fox Sports.
“The guys here have been really good to me and helped me feel very welcome. Now it’s my turn to go out there and help this team win, by working my hardest to get some results on the ice.”
The Wild can play Bulmer in nine regular season games before deciding whether to return him to the Okanagan. If he does play in a 10th NHL game, then the first-year of Bulmer’s three-year entry level deal would officially kick in and he would most likely spend the entire season in Minny.
As a 19-year-old, he cannot play in the American Hockey League this season, making the Rockets or the Wild the only options.
Rocket Shots…The Rockets have a busy weekend ahead with three road games in as many nights. On Friday and Saturday, Kelowna will visit Marc Habscheid’s Victoria Royals for a weekend doubleheader. On Sunday, the Rockets will travel to Kamloops…The Rockets next home action is Thursday, Oct. 20 against the Vancouver Giants.