Monday, May 26, 2008

At home on the range

Unfortunately I didn't get to see as much of the Memorial Cup as I would have liked to. Considering I spent three years living in Kitchener - Waterloo, I should have been following the home team a little closer. The memories of their seven game OHL final against Belleville seemed to have been haunting the Rangers through the round robin portion of the tournament but they sure got organized on their day off. The powerhouse the home crowd had been expecting finally emerged when it counted most. Dispatching the Bulls 9-0 in the semi final game certainly sent a message to the home fans - don't count us out yet. But in the end, it wasn't meant to be as Spokane's defense won the day and the Memorial Cup.

One thing that struck me throughout the tournament as some teams racked up the wins and others piled up the losses, is how easy it is to forget these young men are all 16 to 20 years of age. The high level of skills on display was tremendous. All of the teams in the Memorial Cup are champions in their own leagues and should hold their heads high. They should take pride in this seasons accomplishments regardless of their place in the tournament.

During these games, when there is a close up of the bench, you see the excitement and love of hockey in the faces of these young men. When the games are over, the raw emotions that shine through. The joys of winning and the bitter taste of defeat are so real and genuine. It's refreshing in this world of thirty second sound bites.

Some of these young men, at 16, may be experiencing defeat at a professional level for the first time and they will learn from it and work towards next year. The star players may be moving on to the NHL or AHL where new challenges await them. For some players though, at 20, this may have been their last game. Unless they are going on to play university hockey or sign on with a team somewhere in Europe, their days of pro hockey may be over. Tears flowed on both sides of the ice as the Memorial Cup was handed to the Spokane Chiefs and that's one of the great things about junior hockey. Real emotion.

One quick note. Much has been made of the Memorial Cup falling to pieces... my theory? Could it have been the collective heartache of the Kitchener fans unconsciously wishing for it?


U NoWho said...

Dear Voice,

Agreed. There is nothing like youth on ice. And believe me..the best team definitely won here. Watching the Spokane Chiefs play the game was a pure joy. This team has the future of the Western Conference written all over it. And of course we'll never see any of these boy wonder gems down here in the Eastern Conference, because the GMs just aren't smart enough to send their scouts past Kenora. What's wrong with the system Voice? Why can't the Leafs or Sens get their dirty little mittss on a Falk, Bowman or Cowan That's right folks.. take those names down. You'll be seeing them debut in Anaheim, San Jose or Phoenix in the coming years...but not Calgary or Vancouver (I know - they're in the Western Conference...I should have said that little corner of delight called the American NorthWest Conference)

Want some others to watch? Try - Bruton, Blackwater,Glass and Wahl.
Any one of these guys will get you gold.

So what is the problem with Eastern Conference scouting?


The Voice of Sport said...

Hi U
It's too true. Watch for Cowan to win gold for Canada at the junior tournaments and then disappear as he gets drafted by the Blue Jackets. Gilbert Brule was a western scoring star from North Vancouver who is now a third line checker in Ohio. Bob Gainey in Montreal is the kind of GM that would look West for a defenseman. He likes big strong players that will complement the likes of Markov and Striet. Bryan Murray should make a splash this year at the draft as Ottawa is hosting the event. Look for him to move a quality player and his middle of the round pick for a top 5 and try to get a big time D-man. But he seems to be dipping in to the US college ranks for his players. At the very least he's broken Muckler's draft a Russian at all costs plan. With no transfer agreement, most of them are playing in Russia instead of playing on the farm. Then there's Toronto. Should I even go there? I'm working on a few pieces for the coming weeks on free agency and also the T.O. situation but for now let me say they need to figure out who's in charge and then pick a direction to go in. As Philly shows, a rebuild doesn't have to take long, but someone has to put there stamp on the situation. I think that eventually, whoever is in charge will look to get some Canadian Junior stars in the future just to prove to the fans that there is not only hope in Toronto, but also room for growth. Cheers - The Voice