This column will endeavour to keep you informed about happenings going on with the Windsor Spitfires and Plymouth Whalers over the course of the 1999-2000 OHL season. Emphasis will be placed on the progress of the teams, of course, but particular emphasis will be placed on the rookies and selected sophomores on each team. You will be able to check out how these youngsters are doing offensively, along with some comments on how they’re handling themselves as the season goes on.
For now, some jots and thoughts as the teams get ready to open the season.
For some, the pre-season is a lot like the TV game show “Whose Line is it Anyway.” (Everything’s made up and the points don’t matter.)
However, coaches and GMs spend long hours going over each player’s performance.
In Windsor, the feeling is one of rebirth. Things are looking up with the hiring of Tom Webster as coach and Mike Kelly as GM.
Together, they’ve brought an air of knowledge and professionalism, the likes of which Windsor Arena hasn’t seen in a good, long while.
It started in early July, a few weeks after the draft. The players were sent a conditioning program to follow, and while it’s a work in progress, things seem better this time than they did a year ago.
Webster told the Windsor Star the biggest challenge is getting players to do the program.
“What they have to realize eventually is that the game becomes so much easier when they’re in shape.”
What awaits the Ice House this year? Will it be a version of the 95-96 London Knights or the Knights of the last two seasons?
This Knights team can do some more damage if they get some keys guys returning. Teams like Barrie, Sarnia and Plymouth will be taking the brunt of a lot of games this year instead of giving them. Then again that all depends on how Finley plays for Barrie or if Sarnia gets back Sarno and if Plymouth can get back Legwand. As for the Knights, if the first exhibition game is any indication then the Knights are in good shape. They are coming off a birth in the OHL finals. Last year nobody thought they would make it out of the first round let alone make it to Game 7 of the finals.
WHO IS GONE:
Richard Pitirri – A excellent center. What can’t be said about this guy. He is a faceoff artist who was voted third in the league at faceoffs. Last season he decided to comeback to the London Knights as an overager. He turned down playing with Cincinnati of the IHL to play for them. Well it was probably his best choice as he finished the season with 76 points leaving him 4th on the team. Plus his 34 points in the playoffs was a great accomplishment. This season he will be playing with Portland of the AHL.
Over the past few seasons there have been a lot of people
questioning what direction Canadian hocky was heading in. With an eighth
place finish at the 1998 World Junior Championships, and fourth at the
Nagano Olympics, many people in hockey crazed Canada were left with reasons
That’s when Canadian hockey decided that something needed to be done to get back on track, so to speak. Canada is still the number one player producer for the NHL as 60%-70% of NHL players call the “Great White North” their home. The problem lays in that
European players are becoming more dominant, and Canada is not producing talented players at a rate comparable to smaller countries like Sweden and the Czech Republic.
To try and figure out how to get back on
top, Canadian Hockey held the Open Ice Summit, the first of its kind, from
August 25-27. Some of the best hockey minds in the country like Toronto Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden, Canadian Hockey Association president Bob Nicholson and Canadian Hockey League president David Branch were in attendance.