Eruption re-routes scouts in Europe

Columbus Dispatch NHL beat writer Aaron Portzline pointed out late Sunday that many scouts never made it to Belarus for the world under-18 championship, due to the air traffic nightmare in Europe caused by the spread of volcanic ash:

"The Blue Jackets were planning to send six of their amateur scouts to Belarus for the World U-18 Championships. At this rate, they'll be lucky to get one there. Don Boyd, the director of hockey operations, made it to Sweden before his air travel plans hit the skids. At last report, Boyd was hopping a boat to sail the across the Baltic Sea to Latvia. That would have been the best part of the trip. After he hit Latvia, Boyd faced a seven-hour drive to Minsk, Belarus, for the tournament ... Two others were stranded in Iceland for two days, and, no, Bjork wasn't playing a two-night set at the Sun Never Rises Cafe. All except Boyd headed back to their home bases in North America. Lots of other NHL scouts suffered a similar fate.

"Why so hot to get to Belarus? The two studs in that tournament are right winger Brett Connolly and defenseman Erik Gudbranson, both Canadians and both expected to go in the top five to eight picks in this summer's NHL entry draft."

Gregg Drinnan also caught up with Edmonton Oilers scout Stu MacGregor. MacGregor and Oilers' European scout Kent Nilsson were forced to "hire a driver to take them the 400 kilometres from Minsk to Riga, Latvia, from where they took an overnight ferry to Stockholm, arriving Sunday morning."

This is pretty busy period for CHL and NHL scouts, with the NHL entry draft and the CHL import draft also fast approaching.

Canada's U18 team has to play Wednesday and Thursday. There's no guarantee they'll be able to fly home as scheduled.

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