So You’re Telling me There’s a Chance – Adrian gets the winner as the Bobcats comeback to win in OT

That game wouldn’t have happened in September.  That game likely wouldn’t have happened in October.  But in the Bobcats last home game of the month of November, it happened.  “It” being a 3-2 OT victory after a being down 2-0 early in the hockey game.  The Cats could have just folded their tent and went home, but they managed to dig deep and pull out the 2 points.

 

Just 0:50 into the game it was the Storm’s Jackson Wozniak getting a hold of a rebound and riffling it past Cats goaltender Garrett Larsen, and quickly it was 1-0.  Then, just as the Cats had killed off their first penalty of the game, William Schimek made it 2-0 Storm at 8:02 with a shot from the point that Larsen didn’t see.  2-0 and not even 10 minutes in, just a night after a real solid effort where nothing went right, those are the ingredients to say “oh woe is me” and drag your feet the rest of the night.  “You go down by 2, but there is a ton of hockey left.  And for this leadership group to rally the troops on the bench and to understand that with composure they can crawl their way back into it” said Bobcats head coach Nigel Dube after the game.

 

The Cats began that crawl at the 11:15 mark of the 1st as on the power play Chance Adrian showed good vision finding Brendan Morrow in the high slot.  He was denied, but Ty Mosimann was there to put home the rebound and allow the teddy bears to begin covering the ice.  Storm took that 2-1 lead into the room, but the momentum was in the Bobcats favour.

 

And it carried over to the 2nd frame as at 8:46, once again on the power play and after some very good puck movement throughout, the puck would end up on the stick of Mosimann who this time found Mack Stewart in the slot for the redirection and the game was tied at 2 and would go to the intermission with that same score.

 

As the 3rd moved on, the Cats began to really take over the hockey game.  Twice late in the period, Brendan Morrow made great plays attacking the net and forcing the Storm to haul him down resulting in power plays.  If not for the play of Kaeden Lane late in the game, the Storm would not have left the Civic Centre with a point.  He held the fort for them however, and we would go to OT, still 2 apiece.

 

The Cats simply weren’t going to be denied on Saturday as by the time overtime hit, they had imposed their will on the Storm and taken control of the game.  After controlling the play and a few good chances, Mosimann gained the zone and then found Adrian the trailer in the high slot and he ripped a wrist shot past Lane to give the Cats the 3-2 victory.  Without a doubt this was a character building win for a club that is starting to really grow the past few weeks.

 

Mosimann and Adrian were the offensive stars for the Cats, but it was a big night for the Cats defensive star of the game which was Garrett Larsen.  The native of Waukesha, Wisconsin got his first win in the AJHL and was full value for it with 29 stops.  “A big win for him to get his first junior hockey win and the quality of our tandem is a big part of this team” Dube said.  Things may not have started right for him, but like his teammates Larsen stuck with it and throughout the game you could see his confidence growing.

 

Opportunity now knocks for the Cats.  Currently 8 points back of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons in the standings, but they own a game in hand, and they travel to the Casman Centre for a back to back Friday and Saturday.  There isn’t just 4 points to be had, it’s a possible 4 points to be gained and all while maintaining that game in hand.  Taylor Pope will have the call of both those games on Hockey TV, and you’ll be stuck with me for the next Bobcats home game with Shane Tomayer away on business, I’ll have the call on the December 4th game at home vs the Spruce Grove Saints.  So perhaps even more reason to make it down to the rink, but if you cannot then check out my first ever play by play call on Hockey TV, or the MixLR app.

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November Rain

After a 10 day layoff, the Bobcats were finally back in action Friday night at the Centennial Civic Centre for the first of two this weekend against the Grand Prairie Storm.  The Cats were looking to continue their strong play on home ice of late as they’d taken 5 of a possible 8 points in their last four at home, and at least a 2 goal lead in each of those four games.  Unfortunately though, last night’s very strong effort went unrewarded as the Storm took it 4-1.

 

It was a strong start for the Cats as Alex Danis opened the scoring for his first in the AJHL with a beautiful snipe off a 2 on 1 break.  The snipe was great, the celebration was better as I’m sure it was mix of excitement and relief for Danis who has been coming on strong of late and just been a little snake bit.  “All week in practice he said this weekend’s his weekend for it, and I think he went through about 3 celebration’s and pulled the monkey off his back” head coach Nigel Dube said after the game.  “The kid is dedicated and works hard so it’s good to see.”  The Storm tied it just 3:44 later as Jackson Savoie made a great pass to send Carter Myrol in and even though he failed to literally light the lamp, he did get the puck past Cats starter Josh Dias.

 

In the 2nd the Cats just couldn’t catch a break.  Devin Sutton would put the Strom up 2-1 at the 3:58 mark as he tipped in a Brody Dale point shot, and then after about 3 different players fanned on a puck on its way to the slot, Lukas Jirousek was the one who finally found it and he made no mistake firing it past Dias to make it 3-1 Storm and it remained that way through 2 periods of play.

 

The Cats never said die all night.  Would have been real easy to sulk after a 2nd period where they outshot the Storm 15-10, yet gave up the only 2 of the period, but they kept coming.  A few adjustments made in the intermission resulted in cleaner zone exits and more speed through the neutral zone, but despite the effort they just couldn’t cash.  Brody Dale would officially ice it with an empty netter right before the final buzzer to make it a 4-1 final in favour of the Storm.  Final shots on goal were also in favour of the Storm 36-31.

 

After a solid effort by the Cats that went unrewarded, understandably coach Dube was a bit disheartened about how things went.  “After 10 days off, there was a little bit of hot potato with the puck early on, but we held on.  And then in the 2nd period we controlled the better parts of the play and outshoot them 15-10, but a puck goes in off one of our shin pads, and one off the back boards and we over skate a puck and they bury on it, and now we’re chasing the game.  But there was no quit in our game.  Until they got the empty netter with 4 seconds left there was no quit in our game.  There were definitely some positives to take out of the game.”

 

Cats get a chance at redemption tonight as they’ll have a rematch with the Storm again at the Civic Centre.  7:30 puck drop, and don’t forget that it’s Teddy Bear toss night!  So make sure you make it down to the Civic Centre and after the Bobcats first goal we want to see that ice covered in teddy bears!  However, if you hate fun, or simply can’t make it down, as always Shane Tomayer and myself will have the action HOPEFULLY on Hockey TV (been a lot of technical issues getting the games on their lately), or on the MixLR app.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 10 WHL Prospects (November, 2019)

It’s that time again.  Vader time?  I wish!  I still remember when Vader hit the “Vader bomb” on HBK at In Your House International Incident (that was held in Vancouver) and I thought “that’s it for HBK’s title reign, Vader is taking it at Summerslam!”  But it was not to be for Vader.  Oh yeah, prospects!  It’s time to take another look at the 2020 draft-eligible prospects from the Western Hockey League.  Quite a bit of movement from my pre-season (pre Hlinka/Gretzky really) rankings.  Added to the top 10 are 6 honourable mentions.  Why 6 you may ask?  Why not a more common number of 5 or 10?  Well if you’d quit being an asshole about it maybe I’ll tell you!!!  Sorry, that was wrong of me.  ANYWAY…the number is 6 because I also include 3 kids out of the AJHL which I’m high on and 1 out of the BCHL.  That makes 20.  So I’m giving you 20 write-ups for the price of NONE!  Can’t beat that deal!

It isn’t a great year for the WHL.  Nobody to this point is truly separating from the pack.  But while the league lacks the high-end guys that the OHL does, and the superstar the Q has, it at least matches those leagues, and maybe even surpasses them in depth.  I’m not sure we’ll see a WHL kid go in the top 10, maybe not even in the top 15!  But from 16 to 50, I believe (at least at this point) we’ll see a big run on Western kids.

So here we go with number one, and at the moment for myself personally, it isn’t all that close of a race for the top spot.

 

1. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 2  A: 11  P: 13

Last Rank: 1

Born: 01/18/02, Sherwood Park, AB

So if I’m saying off the top “nobody is really separating from the pack”, what then makes Guhle (still) the top guy on my list?  Upside.  And I’ve maintained this entire time that the upside on Guhle is off the charts.  Right now, I see Guhle as a potential Jacob Slavin type.  Not a big contributor offensively, but a terrific skater, moves the puck well, and a terrific pure defender (angles, stick, and positioning are all very advanced for a player in his 17 year old season).  Added to all that, Guhle has a lot of physicality in his game which a guy like Slavin doesn’t.  Not to compare his style to Slavin, but if you’re drafting Guhle I believe that is the type of D-man he can realistically become.  If the offensive game comes though (and there are signs that it is developing), the sky is the limit.

 

2. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 13  A: 17  P: 30

Last Rank: 6

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

In my pre-season rankings, I had Zary 6th, mostly due to playing it safe.  He was I believe the 37th pick in his bantam draft, so he had very little fanfare.  It’s become pretty clear that he indeed is for real.  His 17 year old season nearly matched Kirby Dach’s, who of course went 3rd overall last season and has stuck with the Blackhawks this season.  Zary has a better 200-foot game.  In fact, if you listened to the podcast I did with SPR and Larry Fisher, Larry (who has seen Zary a ton) RAVED about Zary’s game and compared him with one of my favourite players in the NHL Bo Horvat.  Quite a compliment in my books.  Zary isn’t just putting up great numbers, he is a coach’s dream.  A player who can be placed in any role and thrive.  The skating isn’t concerning, but it is likely the key area he’ll need to improve as he continues to develop.  One other concern to keep an eye on: half of the production thus far has been on the power play.

 

3. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver Giants

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 18  G: 9  A: 8  P: 17

Last Rank: 2

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

Sourdif slips a spot in my rankings, and he is off to a slower start than most believed he’d have, but having said this I am still pretty confident in his ability to reclaim one of the top two spots by June on this list.  Sourdif has good edge work, a really good first step, but his top-end speed could use a little work, which I wonder if that is just a lack of lower body strength at this point.  Someone who looks as though he has the frame to get up to 190-200lbs currently being only 165, that is very possible.  It’s funny, many will tell you his playmaking is better than his numbers suggest.  I know that’s what I’ve seen with him, but it has yet to play out that way.  What perhaps hurts his assist totals is the poor Giants powerplay which currently sits 19th in the league at 13.8%.  Sourdif actually has just one less point 5 on 5 than Connor Zary.  Another thing I really like with Sourdif is his willingness to get his nose dirty.  Might end up as a winger in the pros, but I do believe as of writing this that he is a true centre.

 

4. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 9  A: 13  P: 22

Last Rank: 4

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

Off to a really good start this season and I often talk about the “glut” of wingers in this draft.  It can be argued that Sourdif is in that group, I have no problem with that.  For me, Sourdif’s ability to play the middle slightly separates him from that group, and it really starts here with Jarvis.  Only 5’10, and only 172lbs, but he is very willing to engage in the battle and play in the tough areas.  I love kids who have a little gamesmanship and Jarvis brings that to the table as well.  But his calling card is his blend of speed and skill, and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say both are a elite, both are really high end.

 

5. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 7  A: 16  P: 23

Last Rank: 5

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

Another thing Larry Fisher said during our podcast was speaking about the motor that Wiesblatt has which is my favourite quality about the Calgary native.  You are getting a max effort every shift from a kid who skates well, isn’t tall but he’s pretty thick, shows no fear of going to all the dirty area’s on the ice, will throw his weight around and will play in your face all game long.  Combine that with really good skating ability and a high IQ, and Wiesblatt just feels like a kid who will be a very safe pick for any team that drafts him.

 

6. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 4  A: 19  P: 23

Last Rank: 7

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

I’m still not AS high on Neighbours as some are.  That’s not to say I don’t like him, I do.  But the skating does concern me a little, and he doesn’t get the pass some would for concerning skating from me because he’s already mostly filled out.  Hovering around 200lbs, it’s tough to suggest that his lower body strength will improve to gain more power in his stride.  It isn’t as though he needs to improve his skating by leaps and bounds to make it, but he needs to improve it quite a bit to become a top-six forward.  The IQ though is impressive with Neighbours.  He’s an extremely intelligent player, coupled with good hands, and good vision.  I won’t lie though, for me it is a concern that everything other than his IQ I just view as good, not great.

 

7. Pavel Novak

Team: Kelowna Rockets

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 10  A: 11  P: 21

Last Rank: NR

Born: 04/16/02, Tabor, CZE

The WHL rookie is tearing it up right now for the Memorial Cup hosts.  Like Zary, I find myself deferring to Larry Fisher who watches Kelowna on a nightly basis.  “He’s a real offensive catalyst.  He thinks attack when he gets the puck, he’s always looking to attack.”  One thing I read in the summer prior to his arrival in Kelowna, was that his skating was a concern.  But I haven’t seen it being an issue (or if it was, it improved a lot over the summer).  One thing I don’t love with Novak is the fact that slightly over half of his production has come on the power play (as you can figure out by now, I put a lot of stock into even-strength scoring).  But this kid has really impressed thus far and given that he’s still likely getting adjusted to life in North America, his game may only get better from here.

 

8. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 156  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 5  A: 11  P: 16

Last Rank: 3

Born: 06/25/02, Wainwright, AB

A bit of a disappointing start for me to McClennon’s season.  Not just the 16 points, but half of that production is with the man advantage.  And this Ice team isn’t near as bad as last years group was.  They don’t have Vegas 1st rounder Peyton Krebs back yet, but Michal Teply, 2021 draft-eligible Carson Lambos is putting up big numbers on the blueline (keep an eye on him for next season, an 03 who is putting up numbers that would have people buzzing if he were an 02 draft-eligible D-man), and I’ve just frankly expected more.  Undersized, but has a lot of weight and strength still to be put on.  He is never going to cheat you with his compete level, and his speed and skill is as good or better than any of the draft eligibles out of the dub, but it’s just been an underwhelming start.  Obviously lots of time for the kid from my neck of the woods to turn it around though.

 

9. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 2  A: 11  P: 13

Last Rank: NR

Born: 09/20/01, Prince Albert, SK

I said it on the podcast I did with SPR and Larry Fisher, I fully admit I was flat out STUPID to have Schneider as an honourable mention the last time around.  I got too caught up in other kids upside and while I don’t like being “hot take guy”, that came off very “hot takey” in hindsight.  Not to say that I’m as high on him as most others seem to be, because I’m still not.  But I went overboard.  Schneider is a very safe pick.  Is the offensive production ever going to come?  I have my doubts.  But he’s a very good skater who makes a great outlet pass.  You’d think that would translate to more points (though in fairness, the Wheat Kings have struggled the last few seasons).  The guy Schneider reminds me of a lot is Travis Hamonic, who isn’t a point producer in the NHL but was a terrific top four defenceman during his time with the Islanders and able to log all the tough minutes.  Right shot, good size, plays a safe and physical game, plays for the Wheat Kings, you can see why the Hamonic comparison would come to mind for me.  And like so many of the WHL kids this season, I understand why so many have him higher, but I’m a tough grader on over-agers and believe we should be seeing more out of Schneider.  But again, very safe pick here, just not a big upside.

 

10. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane Chiefs

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 3  A: 12  P: 15

Last Rank: NR

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

The son of former NHL defenceman Jeff Finley.  Obviously the size is the first thing you notice about Finley, but his skating ability is terrific for a kid with his size.  Again I defer to Larry Fisher who has seen Finley more than I to this point, and he made a great point on how Finley has been placed in a shutdown role in Spokane.  To put up the numbers he has while seeing some very tough minutes is impressive.  Add to that only 4 of the points have come with the man advantage, and he is one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft.  There is a lot to like with Finley and I could see a lot of teams getting hot and bothered by his upside before we get to late June.

 

Hounourable mention

Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 4  A: 8  P: 12

Last Rank: 9

Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB

I don’t know what I can add from my last write up that I don’t want to say about Greig now.  But I’ll re-iterate that he has a lot of weight still to be put onto that frame, and with the weight could come the strength that he needs.  He plays a very understated game.  He seems to be a very coachable kid which was evident at the Hlinka.  Will he ever become a 1st or 2nd line centre in the NHL?  Unlikely.  You know who he reminds me of a BIT is Anthony Cirelli in his draft year.  A lot of similarities, and obviously if he were to pan out the way Cirelli has it would be a home run of a pick.  But that is the upside.

 

Michal Gut

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 15  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

Last Rank: NR

Born: 08/16/02, Kaden, CZE

I can’t wait for Corey Pronman to make “Gut-check” jokes when writing about the Silvertips forward this season…A lot to like about Gut.  A good skater who is a very responsible 200-foot player.  One thing I like about him from a production point of view is again the lack of it coming on the power play as just 3 of his 11 points have come with the man advantage.  He’s not tearing it up by any means but putting up very respectable numbers thus far.  With any European rookies in the CHL, I give them more time to get adjusted to life in North America.  Perhaps he starts to really pop as the season goes on.

 

Daemon Hunt

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 0  A: 10  P: 10

Last Rank: 10

Born: 05/15/02, Brandon, MB

Hunt falls out of my top 10 this time around but is still very much in the discussion.  He is nothing flashy, and it’ll be difficult for the Brandon native to get a lot of attention (barring his numbers going way up) leading up to the draft.  But he defends very well (stick, angles, positioning are all strong) and moves the puck well too.  The skating is a LITTLE concerning.  He can make it with how it’s progressing to this point, but he could stand to add an extra gear.

 

Simon Knak

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 5  A: 9  P: 14

Last Rank: NR

Born: 01/27/02, Kloten, SUI

A pun lover’s dream.  If Simon gives draft junkies any glimmer of hope to be a high pick this season all we are going to hear about is what he has a Knak for…although I’ve heard his name pronounced ck-nak, so perhaps it’s all for not.  Regardless, this is a kid who I know has had SPR’s eye for over a year now.  He’s had good numbers in the WHL thus far but hasn’t truly impressed to this point to make the jump into my top 10.  Again, I have a lot of time for European’s in their first season in the CHL as they need time to adjust to such a massive lifestyle and game change.  Knak does appear to have a very good all-around game.

 

Kasper Puutio

Team: Swift Current Broncos

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2020 StatsGP: 17  G: 1  A: 7  P: 8

Last Rank: NR

Born: 06/03/02, Vaasa, FIN

Mr. Fisher talked to Sean and myself on the podcast about seeing him live and how the skating jumps out at you so much more than watching on TV.  That’s interesting because a right shot D-man who moves the puck really well and has great skating ability is someone I’m going to be pretty intrigued by.  One more time I’ll state (it’s getting old, I know), I look to give European’s playing their first year in the CHL more time to adjust, so he may only be scratching the surface at this point.  It’s a rebuilding Swift Current club, so he will get a little bit of a break on his point totals as we move forward as well.

 

Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 0  A: 3  P: 3

Last Rank: 8

Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT

Truthfully, he only gets an honourable mention because he was on my initial top 10 list.  A disappointing start to the season for Seeley, at least for me.  I was anticipating a big jump in his game offensively and it simply hasn’t happened for the Yellowknife born, Olds Alberta raised Seeley (had to work that in somewhere to clarify).  Still, the skating ability remains, the puck-moving ability remains, he’s not an undersized kid by today’s standards, and therefore he’d be an intriguing kid to take late in the draft at this point.  There is a lot of season to go and still a great opportunity for Seeley to rocket up my rankings, but it is imperative he gets going.

 

AJHL

Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  Crusaders

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 175  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 6  A: 27  P: 33

Born: 01/05/02, St. Albert, AB

What stands out about Benning is his skating ability.  Lately, the stats have started to come with that skating ability is the numbers.  His PPG at the moment is better than Cale Makar’s in Makar’s 18 year old season.  This is Benning’s 17 year old season (although as I pointed out last time, the age difference from Makar then to Benning now is only a little over 2 months).  Another thing to keep in mind is that Benning’s goal totals at the moment aren’t at the same rate Makar’s were, and simply put I do not believe Benning is as good as Makar was.  But the PPG numbers combined with the skating suggest Benning should be getting more attention than he is.  Makar plays highly dynamic where Benning plays cerebral.  A good comparison might be Jared Spurgeon.  Not a ton of flash, not always jumping in the play, but extremely intelligent.  If I were to have him ranked with the WHL kids, I’d put Benning 4th, but could make the case for him as high as 2nd.

 

Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 26  A: 19  P: 45

Born: 01/23/02, St. Albert, AB

So far this season, Savoie has done nothing to discredit my pre-season ranking of him being 24th on my top 32 overall.  Too ambitious?  It may have been.  I can be guilty of that and am never afraid to say so.  But we’re talking about a kid in a quality league putting up 2 points per game, and over a goal per game.  He gets overshadowed a bit by his teammate and good friend Michael Benning, but the fact of the matter is both these kids are putting up insanely good numbers in the AJHL right now and at least in the conversation to be a late 1st round pick (which in this draft can also mean that he doesn’t go until 62).  He’s a sniper with a terrific shot, but who is also very willing to play in traffic and go to the dirty areas.  He has an edge in his game that will serve him well moving forward.  If I were to rank him with the WHL kids, I’d likely have Savoie 6th (I guess 7th if both he and Benning were in there).

 

Ethan Edwards

Team: Spruce Grove Saints

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 155  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 21  G: 5  A: 5  P: 10

Born: 06/06/02, Grand Prairie, AB

Edwards isn’t a kid who I’d anticipate going in the top 100 in the draft, and it is probably more likely at this point that he doesn’t get drafted.  So why am I discussing him?  In my viewings, I see a kid who could really develop in the next few seasons and in my opinion would be worth using a late pick on.  Ironically, Edwards grew up with Benning and Savoie in St. Albert (despite being listed from GP).  Their bantam AAA team featured these three, Savoie’s younger brother Matthew (who as most of you know has a lot of people pumped for the 2022 draft along with Shane Wright and Brad Lambert), and a total of 12 players who are now playing either in the WHL, BCHL or AJHL (and will move to 13 once Matthew Savoie is eligible for full-time duty with the Winnipeg Ice).  Anyway, Edwards is every bit as good of a skater as Benning is.  The size will be a concern, and the numbers don’t jump off the page at this point.  But he’s a Michigan commit and will not be playing for big blue until the 21-22 season, meaning that a team who potentially drafts Edwards would have up to four seasons to allow him to develop before a decision is needed to be made on him.  Talent, going to a great program, and a lot of development time is a recipe for a late-round steal.

 

BCHL

Ethan Bowen

Team: Chilliwack Chiefs

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 24  G: 8  A: 17  P: 25

Born: 05/14/02, Chilliwack, BC

Property of the Kelowna Rockets, he passed up the Memorial Cup hosts in favour of heading to North Dakota beginning next fall.  I wouldn’t say Bowen is a poor skater, but he lacks power in his stride.  Obviously, at 6’2 and only 170lbs, that should come as he puts more weight on his frame.  I won’t pretend to know a ton about Bowen, but he has been on my radar all season and I have made a point to check out a few Chilliwack Chiefs games on Hockey TV the last few weeks.  He’s a cerebral player.  He’s not a player who is going to wow you with a dynamic game.  Similar to Ridly Greig in the frame, lack of strength, and intelligent style of play.

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Don Cherry was Fired, and A Lot of his Detractors Showed Their Worst in the Process

Remembrance day is always a sad day no matter what.  Remembering such tragic events and that people had to give their lives for our freedom is pretty damn sombre.  But then the news broke that Rogers was getting rid of Don Cherry.  And while I want to do a bit of a tribute to a man who I view as the most entertaining hockey broadcaster of all time and a man who did a lot to grow the sport I love, there is also the other side to this.  I’m probably way out of my lane on a lot of this and should keep my mouth shut.  But like an idiot, I’m not going to.  First things first, I want to talk about Grapes.

 

Don Cherry

I got my first Rockem’ Sockem’ VHS (yes, I’m THAT old) from my Grandma Babb for my 8th birthday.  To this day, I can quote the entire video.  In fact, I’ve been wanting to start doing “watch-along” podcasts with different videos like that which are now on YouTube, and that will be the first one I do if or when I get around to it.  Anyway, I obviously was well aware of Don Cherry before I got that video, but after I got that video I became a massive fan of Grapes.  Coaches Corner became appointment TV for me on Saturday’s, despite not having the attention span to watch a full game (unless maybe it was the Oilers), I would know that Grapes would be on around 6:45 MST, and then starting in 1995 it would be around 5:45 MST (actually in that season and maybe 96 too, might have been 6:15 because I believe when HNIC first switched to doubleheaders they started at 5:30, not 5:00).  My Grandma knew I loved the Rockem’ Sockem’ videos so much that I’m not sure I ever again got a different Christmas gift from her (she got me 2 for my birthday, but of course they were always released around Christmas).  Even after they dropped off (around 7-10 they declined in quality), I’d still look forward to getting that gift, symbolic of one of my favourite gifts I ever received.  And you’d always watch the latest one once.  Even if they got bad, at some point on Christmas day (normally in that lull from about noon until 4 or 5) I’d be off to watch it with my brother, brother in law, nephews, whoever.

I’ve got his books, his videos/DVD’s, and watched Coaches Corner for years.  In more recent years, I haven’t cared whether or not I watched Coaches Corner, because if we’re being frank, it’s declined.  It’s what happens.  It just was no longer appointment TV for me.  Nothing wrong with that, and no doubt Don still had a big audience.  Otherwise, he wouldn’t continually be brought back.  But I still hold him in very high regard, have always understood that he shouldn’t have been taken overly seriously and that a lot of what he had to say was more schtick/brand than anything else.  “But he said X” yeah, and why are you taking it seriously?  He’s just being a loudmouth, that’s his schtick.

More than anything, Grapes reminds me of my Grandma who passed away a little over six years ago.  So when he was fired, a lot of that pain came back.

 

Outrage/cancel culture

Let’s be honest, people got “outraged” because it was Don Cherry, not so much because of what he said.  I follow a lot of hockey analytics people on Twitter for example, and a lot of them seem to watch Coaches Corner non-stop because they hate what Grapes had to say on hockey.  They wanted him fired, not because of anything controversial that he had to say, but because he had a different view of the game then he did.  If they were being honest, they would say they just wanted him gone, they didn’t care how.  In reality, they were likely the ones keeping his numbers up having far too little common sense to simply turn the channel.  But there is this desire to silence anyone who disagrees with anyone in anyway (speaking of all people).  And guess what?  It’s working.  Corporations are listening to this vocal minority.  The “outrage” about this is no different than it was for the latest Dave Chappelle Netflix special.  Is what’s being said truly offending people, or is it just that people are so thin-skinned these days that nobody can say anything?  It’s the latter, without a doubt.  People in general, no matter what your political affiliation, race, gender, etc need to get thicker skin.  Too many people love to play the victim card.  It’s something I talked to my psychologist about because I worry that I do it all the time.  A shit ton of people LOVE to play that card and it is an awful quality.

 

Hypocrites

So many people on social media love to look down on others as if they are so much morally better than everyone.  I think of a guy like Bruce Arthur, who will go after people on Twitter he views as pieces of shit (for lack of a better term).  Which is fine.  I have no issue with that.  But then you better be one damn good person.  A lot of people act this way online.  And you can tell with how they converse with people online that they aren’t.  They actually seem like the complete opposite of that.  Otherwise, why are you talking down to people no matter what the setting is?  I’ve got into it with people online and more specifically on Twitter, and I’m humiliated by it.  But I can at least say that I rarely do it, I’m not looking to do it as so many others are.  They’ll talk in one tweet about how they’re anti-bullying, and then they are looking to intellectually bully someone.  That’s not any better, jackass.  I go back to Bruce Arthur, and I have no idea if Bruce is perhaps the best person mankind has ever known, he could be.  But I do know that a day after he tweets #belletstalk, he is then looking to shout down or humiliate anyone who disagrees with anything he has to say.  I know when I get humiliated in more of a public setting, there are times that I get embarrassed to the point where I go into depression.  Do I “deserve” to get depressed?  Do I “deserve” to feel worthless and have suicidal thoughts?  Are there some people on social media who are pieces of shit?  ABSOLUTELY.  Is that everyone who might disagree with you?  Hell no it’s not and some people just don’t know how to articulate their opinion well or maybe just are heated in the moment but are actually a good person.  If you’re so much more intelligent than other people, how about we have the intelligence to know that you don’t know what might be going on in someone’s life and just walk away from it?  Those people would likely say that people just need to be more educated.  Well if I smack you in the teeth, shouldn’t you just hit a weight room or take some self-defence classes to fight back?

There are a lot of self-righteous people like I’m talking about above disgustingly dancing on the grave of Coaches Corner and claiming their reason is that Don Cherry would hurt people with what he would say.  And that’s not untrue, I’m sure this and other things have hurt people.  But they just want to use that as their crutch.  They are the same people who wouldn’t be anything even respectful, let alone gracious, to people in everyday life.  It’s all an act just because they believe it makes themselves look good.  Scott Burnside from the Athletic wrote earlier today that Rogers should look at Christie Blatchford as a possible replacement for Don.  Scott, you’re completely full of shit because the only reason you said that was to make yourself look “woke” to your readers (Scott also called for Ron McLean’s head in the piece, if you think Ron McLean should be fired from his job or that he’s ANYTHING other than one of the best people in the country, you should retire from writing because you are simply horrendous at your job).  Jonathan Willis did the exact same thing when writing about the Oilers GM opening last spring for the Athletic.  Fuck, Jon didn’t even mention the most qualified woman for the job!!  The woman he brought up didn’t have anything close to the qualifications for the job, and meanwhile, Meghan Chayka (sister of Coytoes GM John Chayka) was more than qualified and he didn’t bother to mention her.  If you MUST attempt to sound woke, AT LEAST get it right!!  That’s how you know these guys don’t actually believe what they’re saying.  I’m a guy that has ZERO issue with women getting roles predominately filled by men.  Could not care less who might occupy a job.  Gender, race, age, doesn’t even slightly matter to me.  I simply have one ask for any person getting any job: They’re qualified.  That’s it.

Back to my point here though which is looking to legitimately be a good person and not just act like it.

I know for myself, I look to beat people to the punch with politeness.  I think of anyone in the service industry, and how I’ll try to tell them to have a good day before they can say it to me.  Why?  Because I worry that others might not, and they are essentially forced to do that to customers, no matter how those customers might treat them.  I’ll look to hold doors open for people, and I’ll never forget the elderly man at the EPCOR offices in Edmonton 15 years ago who I did it for who was ELATED that I did that and exclaimed to me “apparently chivalry isn’t dead after all!”  I laughed and said “oh thanks” and then proceeded to go back to my apartment, go to excite.com, and look up what that word was he used…because at 20 years old and taking broadcasting, I didn’t know the word chivalry.  Look, am I a hero?  Of course.  But do I brag about it?  No….Seriously though, I don’t think I’m any kind of “do-gooder”.  I can pick apart a ton of things that I do wrong or should do better.  But common courtesy things like holding doors open, telling people to have a good day, showing respect by always shaking someone’s hand, I look to do non stop because you never know what someone might be going through and how you might impact that.  So why not do little things like that?  I deal with depression, and I don’t want anyone else to feel how I might when I’m going through that depression.

The easy thing to do on the internet is to be a social justice warrior and act like you care about everyone.  In most cases, those people are just looking for likes, the same as people are looking for likes for pictures of their kids on Facebook or likes for their beach body on Instagram.  It sounds good, but they don’t actually walk the walk.  If there is a quality I loathe more than any other, it’s being phony.  I really hate fake people.  I have an uncle who is the most fake person I’ve ever met in my life, guess how I get along with him.  It’s a disgusting quality in my books, and on social media it is all over the place.

 

Rogers

I’ve never been a Rogers/Sportsnet fan.  I knew they would do a poor job with the NHL package since desperately and wildly overpaying for it in the fall of 2013 (even wrote about it at the time how they were just looking to buy their way out of being a poorly run organization).  Whether or not you agree or disagree with Don Cherry being fired, announcing it on Remembrance day just shows how poorly this company is run.  It was disrespectful to the day and disrespectful to the man who perhaps does more to bring awareness to the importance of the day than anyone else in the country.  Wait until Tuesday or Wednesday to announce it.  Awful decisions are why Sportsnet is bleeding money and having to let so much talent go, and they proved it yet again with the timing of this.

 

The obvious bad in what he said

Back to the task at hand…I was in Edmonton on Sunday (November 10th) and was in Southgate mall (because Steph just HAD to go to Lululemon…although she also impressed me when she asked if we could go into Jersey City and later Lids where she bought a new Jays hat, brought a tear to my eye).  I made a point of looking for poppies because of what Grapes had said.  And in there, he was right.  Steph and I were in the MAYBE 5% of people wearing poppies.  It seems to me if I had to GUESS that it’s an urban thing, but even then I don’t want to generalize it like that, because it’s not as if Lloydminster is flooded with poppies on coats and shirts either.  And I’m sure as fuck not going to blame “immigrants” for not wearing one.  Those of us who have a few generations head start on them need to do a better job bringing awareness to its importance and lead by example.

For me, I do believe Rogers had no choice but to fire Don in the end.  From the outside looking in, it looks like Rogers were set to keep Don and just wanted an apology.  Don wasn’t willing to, and so how can Rogers bring him back (even if you wanted to suspend him)?  It was worded wrongly, and if you aren’t willing to clarify that, then yes you should be fired.  However, if he was willing to apologize on the air, then this definitely went too far.  It is painful to see such an iconic and from all accounts, a truly good man go out like this.  But if he had the chance to right the wrong and chose not to, then unfortunately, it was likely the choice that had to be made.

 

What can be done to further what he was saying

Let’s not forget the true point of what should have been taken here despite the way it was said.  We don’t do enough for our vets and we don’t do enough to honour those who have fallen on Remembrance day.  I’m guilty some years of not wearing my poppy, or at least not enough.

This is going to sound very “millennial” of me, but I believe it needs to be said because it actually could really help the issue.  Our government needs to look at not only how poppies are distributed, but how they can be improved.  Sounds funny?  Sounds ridiculous?  I’ve OFTEN relented from picking up a poppy when I’ve needed one because I don’t have any change to donate.  I rarely have any kind of cash on me.  I know I can simply take one and don’t have to donate, but then I’d feel like a complete piece of shit.  However, if I were able to donate while purchasing something, I’d be more than happy to add the charge to my purchase.

Then you also have the fact that the damn things don’t stay on!!  I just said this to my broadcast partner Shane Tomayer off-air a few weeks ago that they need something better.  The last four games we did I was wearing one and my head-set cord knocked mine off at least once a period.  They can fall off so damn easily.  They also can stab you if they aren’t pinned in properly.  I’d GLADLY pay a toonie for one every year in exchange for backs being put on them.  I’m well aware that I can find something myself (Steph and Shane both have something to ensure they stay on), but most are like me where they don’t think to go to such length’s, even though I’m well aware that we should.  Sometimes a person just doesn’t think, especially if they believe they’ve had the right intentions.

 

Let’s wrap this up

Grapes is going out on his shield so to speak.  He refused to apologize, which whether you agree or disagree, I strongly believe he should have.  And he didn’t, which I believe is the actual reason he is now gone.  But in his mind, I believe he was standing up for those who have fallen, and if that was in his mind, then good on him.  I don’t do a good enough job honouring those who have fought and/or given their lives for this country, nor have far too many of us.  Don has in a way sacrificed his career to bring more attention to this issue.  I guarantee you next November, you’re going to see a lot more people wearing a poppy.

As for Don himself, again, it’s a damn shame that he is going out like this.  But then again, Don has said in the past “Someday I’m going to say something that they don’t like and that’ll be it”.  And that is exactly what happened.  He’s 85 and has given those of us who enjoyed him damn near 40 years of entertainment.  For the faults that he has, his values are incredibly admirable.  I don’t consider myself an intelligent guy (in fact I often tell myself I’m just barely smart enough to realize how dumb I am), but I was intelligent enough to know to laugh off the things that I disagreed with and to incorporate the values he’d pass on.  And I believe there were MANY people who did the same.  Thank you Grapes.

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Soups Rankings: November, 2019

Power rankings.  They’re the WORST.  But here are mine.  Started doing these last year (although I didn’t have the time to do them all season as I had planned), and my method is different than simply ranking who the hot teams are in the moment.  That is pointless.  I try to look at where teams are in terms of being contenders, and at the bottom of the list (or top in this case because it descends) I shift my focus away from how well the teams are doing and more towards where they are as an organization.  For example, you won’t see Ottawa in the 31st spot because their rebuild is further along than other teams.

 

Ok, so with that awful intro out of the way, here are my rankings:

 

31. Los Angeles

Points %: .308 (T-30th)

For me, they’re the worst because the rebuild hasn’t even been able to start until they can clear out some of the bad deals like Quick, Brown and Carter.  So are they the worst team in the league?  Maybe not, but they’re in the worst situation.

 

30. Detroit

Points %: .346 (T-27th)

Again, not sure they are the worst team in the league, but out of the group that makes up the worst teams, they are further away than most.

 

29. Minnesota

Points %: 308 (T-30th)

The one thing I like for the Wild is that once Billy Guerin is able to rebuild this roster, he’ll have some real good D-men locked up to help things along.

 

28. Ottawa

Points %: .318 (29th)

Not much to say here, but at least the worst is over for this organization.  Bad now, but they have a ton of talent throughout the organization and might end up with two lottery picks this draft.

 

27. New Jersey

Points %: .350 (26th)

They wouldn’t be SO bad if they had any kind of goaltending, but they don’t have any kind of goaltending.  I’d trade Hall now because the offers aren’t going to get better.

 

26. Chicago

Points %: .364 (25th)

I really thought they found something in the 2nd half last season and were going to be able to build on that.  But it simply hasn’t happened.

 

25. Columbus

Points %: .500 (T-20th)

They work their asses off, but it just looks like they severely lack talent at the moment.  They’re in no man’s land, and I would guess Jarmo Kekelainen decides to sell this deadline to get the train back on the tracks.

 

24. NY Rangers

Points %: .450 (23rd)

Let this be a lesson to those who are fans of rebuilds: Just because you have drafted well and stockpiled the talent, doesn’t mean it’s ready to win.  This team got BADLY overhyped entering the season.  I overrated them too, but not anywhere near what some did.

 

23. Philadelphia

Points %: .500 (T-20)

Please don’t tell me they’re ruining ANOTHER goalie!!  Although, maybe Ken Holland can turn Carter Hart into his Sergei Bobrovsky?…

 

22. Anaheim

Points %: .571 (17th)

Maybe the most goaltender reliant team in the league right now.  John Gibson has a .920 Sv% right now, it looks as though he’ll have to be better than that to get them into a playoff spot.  But the scary thing is that he’s capable of doing so.

 

21. Edmonton

Points %: .679 (9th)

My fellow Oilers fans will be screaming at me right now and calling me a Frank Seravalli wannabe.  But it’s not an indictment on the team, it’s just that they haven’t had a chance to truly prove it yet.  November’s schedule is MUCH tougher than what they faced in October.

 

20. San Jose

Points %: .346 (T-27th)

Higher than most have them right now, I’m still going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they can get back to being a contender.  But I was the one person who HATED the Erik Karlsson trade for them and HATED the Erik Karlsson contract, and this is why.  No cap space, no assets to deal, not a good situation.

 

19. Dallas

Points %: .393 (24th)

Like the Sharks, I believe the Stars are eventually going to get things going.  But they have holes.  Still not too deep up front, and while they have some real good young D-men, Sekera isn’t a number four anymore which is where they have him.

 

18. Winnipeg

Points %: .462 (22nd)

The news just keeps getting worse for the Jets with Byfuglien (if he even had plans of returning) now for sure out for four months.  Cheveldayoff has to bring in a quality D-man to help out his squad.

 

17. Montreal

Points %: .615 (T-12th)

Right about where I expected them to be and expect them to be all season.  Quality club, battling for a playoff spot, 50/50 whether or not they can get in.

 

16. NY Islanders

Points %: .727 (5th)

I don’t buy them, but I should one of these days because once again Barry Trotz is making chicken salad out of chicken shit.

 

15. Buffalo

Points %: .769 (2nd)

Still too early for me to trust them any more than this.  That goaltending just hasn’t ever proven anything.  But still, great start, and I do believe they’re much improved.

 

14. Arizona

Points %: .625 (11th)

There is nothing flashy about the Coyotes.  But they have built a team with quality all over the roster.  They’re going to be a bitch to handle all season.

 

13. Vancouver

Points %: .708 (T-6th)

I’m a believer in the Canucks.  The kids look great, they’re insulated with a lot of players capable of playing the tough minutes, and the goaltending looks fantastic.

 

12. Florida

Points %: .615 (T-12th)

It’s concerning that they’ve done so much of their damage in OT thus far.  6 of their 13 games so far have gone to OT.  Having said this, I believe they have all the pieces in place to jump into the top 10 on my list.

 

11. Calgary

Points %: .533 (19th)

I had this ranking before last night.  This team is about to take off now.  Top team in the Pacific by the end of November, guaranteed.  They ride momentum better than any team I’ve ever seen.

 

10. Colorado

Points %: .750 (T-3rd)

Just outside of true contender status, but the depth they’ve acquired is noticeable, and the loss of Tyson Barrie hasn’t been thus far.

 

9. Pittsburgh

Points %: .615 (T-12th)

Without Malkin they’ve played outstanding.  Tomorrow, he returns (just in time to play the Oilers…lovely…).

 

8. Toronto

Points %: .536 (18th)

To me, they remain a team that is a true Cup contender, but all of a sudden I’m fearing for them.  The Toronto media really seems to be turning on them as they like to do, and it remains to be seen how this group will handle that kind of adversity.

 

7. Carolina

Points %: .708 (T-6th)

Maybe the best run organization in the league right now, at least when it comes to amassing talent.  Question will be whether or not they have the goaltending.

 

6. St. Louis

Points %: .654 (10th)

I’m not the biggest Vladdy Tarasenko guy, but they are definitely going to miss him for the next five months.  Brutal blow, but still a great team.

 

5. Washington

Points %: .750 (T-3rd)

They just keep on keeping on.  John Carlson, not a bad month…

 

4. Vegas

Points %: .607 (15th)

I still don’t like this blueline, but they somehow make due with what they have.  No other big concerns though.

 

3. Nashville

Points %: .692 (8th)

Awful loss in OT last night, but still look like they have all the pieces in place to compete for the Cup.

 

2. Tampa Bay

Points %: .583 (16th)

I really don’t give a damn how they’ve started, they still have the most talented roster in the league.

 

1. Boston

Points %: .833 (1st)

Look as though they’re primed for another deep run come this spring.

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