2014 Top Prospects Game Podcast: Joel Otto, Calgary Hitmen

By Glen Erickson

Joel Otto - Calgary Flames Alumni Game

Photo: Former Calgary Flames forward Joel Otto (R), shown here taking part in a Flames Alumni Game at the 2011 Heritage Classic, is now an assistant coach with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen (courtesy of Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

The 2014 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Calgary marks the third time the city has hosted the mid-season festivities at the Saddledome, which is home to both the Calgary Flames (NHL) and the Calgary Hitmen (WHL).

Flames’ alumni will figure prominently during the game as coaches. Joel Otto will work the bench for Team Orr with Tim Hunter and Mike Vernon, while Jim Peplinski, Mark Hunter and Paul Reinhart will handle the duties for Team Cherry.

Aside from the events surrounding the Top Prospects Game, Otto works as an assistant coach with the Calgary Hitmen. As an assistant to head coach Mike Williamson, Otto and the Hitmen currently lead the Eastern Conference standings with a 29-10-2-3 record. They are battling both the Edmonton Oil Kings and Swift Current Broncos for the top spot.

The Hitmen won the WHL Championship back in 1999, advancing to the Memorial Cup where they lost in overtime to the Ottawa 67’s. Coincidentally, the Hitmen hosted the 1999 Top Prospects Game that season.

They last advanced to the WHL Championship series in 2009, dropping a six-game decision to the Kelowna Rockets.

Hockey’s Future spoke with Otto about his role with the Hitmen, his role as a Flames’ alumni at the Top Prospects Game, and the WHL trade deadline activity that would seem to confirm the Hitmen are loading up for a deep playoff run.

Right-click here to download this Hockey's Future Podcast.

Follow Glen Erickson on Twitter via @glenerickson51