The year 2000 is quickly approaching. By any definition, a new millennium symbolizes abundant change. What does the future hold? Some predict it will bring the end of the world, while others, more optimistic in outlook, believe 2000 will herald the beginning of a technological golden age, the beginning of a glorious new era. For sports fans it is a chance to fondly reflect on the past, dynasties and heroes alike, and move towards a brighter tomorrow. If the legends of yesterday have been surpassed in terms of skill, imagine the significance and impact of those yet to come. Who will they be?
Michael Jordan will forever be remembered as one of the finest and fiercest competitors in basketball history. The symbol of pure brilliance and centerpiece of 6 NBA crowns, his legend will live on for an eternity. Sadly however, interest in basketball has plummeted since Jordan announced his retirement. Superstar talent still exists, but it is hard to determine who exactly caught the torch.
Pavel Brendl continues to impress the New York Rangers at the Junior Level. Brendl was named WHL player of the week after his 4-3-7 in 3 games performance and is currently leading the WHL in scoring with 33-31-64, one pt ahead of teammate Brad Moran(33-30-63).
The upcoming World Junior A Championships begin Christmas Day and several New York Rangers prospects are to be donning their national team jersey. A preliminary listing includes: Pat Aufiero and Dave Inman (TEAM USA), Manny Malhorta and Jamie Lundmark (TEAM CANADA), Johan Asplund (SWEDEN), Arto Laatikainen (FINLAND). Of this group, many eyes will be on TEAM CANADA captain and seldom used New York Rangers center Manny Malhotra (6-3 218). Malhotra fell out of favor in New York with the emergence of Mike York and the resurgence of Alexander Daigle. Malhotra may be packaged to acquire a Keith Primeau or Bill Guerin type player. The World`s will provide him with the opportunity to showcase his talents and possible gain more ice time in New York. But Team Canada struggled early in a training match , falling 7-1 to SWEDEN. The USA fell to RUSSIA 3-1 as well.
The baby Rangers continue to play well in Hartford (16-8-5-1) and one point behind Division Leader Portland. Derek Armstrong (11-20-31), Brad Smyth (17-13-30), Mike Harder (12-11-23) and Ken Gernander (8-13-21) are the leading scorers in Hartford and will represent Canada and Planet USA in the upcoming AHL all-star game. Tomas Kloucek has also been named to the Planet USA Team.
Here is a look at a few OHLers who will be eligible for the 2001 draft,
and who should end up being ranked fairly high. Quite frankly this years draft does little
to excite me, but if the WHL, QMJHL, NCAA, and European leagues have players as talented as the OHL for 2001 it will be one heck of a draft.
Jason Spezza-Plays centre for the Mississauga IceDogs and has posted 40 points in 30 games this year. He has just made the National Junior team at the age of 16 (along with Jay Bouwmeester), the only other 16 year olds in Canadian history to do this were Wayne Gretzky and Eric Lindros. He is not just along for the ride. I expect him to be a key component on the team, and to average a point a game, if not lead the team in scoring.
At the last exhibition game in Kitchener vs the OUAA allstars, the only forwards who could have said that maybe they played better than Spezza were, Mike Riberio and Manny Malhotra, both of whom are on loan from the NHL. Spezza had 2 points and could have had 5 with a bit of luck.
I believe that he is the most talented player that Canada has produced since Paul Kariya. He is a lock to go first overall, barring serious injury.