OHL update on Windsor and Plymouth

by pbadmin
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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.”
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1999-2000 QMJHL Season Preview

by pbadmin
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The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) kicked off its thirty-first season this week with the league’s oldest team, the Shawinigan Cataractes, facing its newest, the Montreal Rocket. With sixteen teams, the league will be divided into the Lebel and Dilio conferences, each comprising two divisions of four teams. Here’s what to look for in the coming season.

LEBEL CONFERENCE

Western Division

Hull Olympiques (Coach: Claude Julien)—The Olympiques figure to be one of the teams to beat in the QMJHL this season and are the favourite to finish first in the Western division. Hull possesses a strong offensive team, which includes returning NHL draftees such as Michael Ryder, Ryan Lauzon, Paul Spadafora, Radim Vrbata and Brock Boucher. The Olympiques are also excited about Czech rookie Michael Pinc who could play in Hull this year if his release from his Czech team can be arranged. The key player on defense for Hull is 1998 Red Wings draft pick Jiri Fischer. However, he could remain at Detroit’s training camp for a while and may even graduate to the NHL this season. Should that occur it would be a big blow to the Olympiques.

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London Knights 1999-00 preview

by pbadmin
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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.
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What Direction Is Canadian Hockey Heading In?

by Brad Coccimiglio
on

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
for concern.

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.

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Webster And Kelly Give Spits Organization A Positive Facelift

by pbadmin
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In the Canadian hockey league, the most important asset that a team must first acquire is a positive reputation for developing young talent and maturing their skills both on and off the ice. If this asset is not met, the team will encounter many problems in acquiring their young draft picks and acquiring other players through trades and such. A team that has gone through this horrific ordeal? Why, the Windsor Spitfires practically define it.

The Spitfires have accomplished everything that any other team should not. This includes a vast array of different front office movements over the last 10 years resulting in numerous coaches and general managers. This results in a very unstable approach toward building a future in the league which is so important in the CHL. Also, a team that produces bad results year after year does not help a reputation. All future OHL’ers fear a few words come draft day, “The Windsor Spitfires select .” Take this past draft for example. Tim Gleason, a highly touted defenceman, previously stated that he would take a university approach or only play for the Plymouth Whalers if he was selected. The Spits took the risky road and selected him. Immediately after, he returned his jersey and hat through his agent back to the team and said he would not report. This is when the new era of the Windsor Spitfires organization takes place.
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