For a player whose first experiences with hockey included a pair of roller blades, it probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that today Chase De Leo might very well be developing the best set of wheels the WHL has to offer.
If there is one player among the 40 in Calgary this week for the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game who can relate to the wintery first day of festivities here, it’s probably Haydn Fleury of the Red Deer Rebels. Fleury, who will celebrate his 18th birthday in July, is a prairie boy from Carlyle, Saskatchewan.
With 40 of the top junior players from the Canadian Hockey League arriving in this bustling National Hockey League city in wintery western Canada, there is a very solid chance this annual all-star game of sorts will capture plenty of attention from Calgary and area sports fans when Team Cherry faces off against Team Orr in the 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Wednesday night.
In 1988, shockwaves were sent throughout Canada and California when Canadian icon and arguably the greatest hockey player to ever play the game, Wayne Gretzky, was traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings. But the after-effects of that trade created a hockey boom in the Golden State and its legacy is still felt more than 25 years later. 29 NHL players have called California home, and an even greater number fill out the ranks of the top North American junior leagues and NCAA collegiate teams.