Congratulations to Shawinigan for hoisting the Memorial Cup at the expense of the London Knights. Anytime you see a championship game decided in Overtime, it is a special thing even though it is absolutely devastating for the vanquished team. Four London Knights who really stood out for me were Austin Watson, Greg McKegg , Matt Rupert and Ryan Rupert. Everyone was talking about the two way game and intensity that Watson brought to the table, but equally impressive was McKegg. His offensive talents are well documented, but he also developed a very, very solid two way game.The Leafs have a bonafide solid prospect. It will be hard for any NHL team to ignore the Ruperts, two guys with 50 point, 100 PIM potential. They are cut from the Andrew Shaw mold and he made an instant impact with the Chicago Black Hawks this year. Michael Houser was ranked 16th for goaltenders in the upcoming draft. His stock has sky-rocketed since then and will be a great pick for whomever is lucky enough to nab him. The only negative from the tournament was the poor ice that seemed to plague games. Credit goes to the players for putting on a first class performance in spite of the ice issues.
People may quibble with the nature of Sportsnet's coverage for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the announcers style are not everyone's cup of tea and the "expert analysis" is lacking. Many do not like the interruption of the flow of the game. Personally, I enjoyed the game coverage, but in particular getting a regular Friday night spot did wonders for the legitimacy of the product, and it showed during the Memorial Cup. During OT, upwards of a million people tuned in at some point. Those are great numbers for junior hockey. This combined with the wall to wall coverage put forth by local cable companies gives great exposure to the athletes.
Congratulations to Dougie Hamilton, CHL Defenseman of the Year and to Mark Visentin who had a chance to savour some playoff experience with Phoenix before they bowed out of the conference final versus LA. The next announcement I hope to make in regards to the IceDogs is a pro contract signing for Andrew Agozzino. The guy is just too good not to get a look professionally.
Hearing he wants back in the game with the San Francisco in some sort of front office/advisory role. Here is the irony of the situation. There is no doubt that Bonds could add something to a team, but his complete selfishness, and propensity to treat people with complete and utter disdain ruin any credibility he could have with an organization. How could any team want to take a chance on that?
Unfortunately this team is getting more headlines for their emotional outbursts and real or contrived war with the umpires. Plus, they seem to be spiralling in the wrong direction having lost 5 of their last 6. The talent is there, but the maturity and consistency have a long way to go. They got a stabilizing performance from Drew Hutchinson last night after Kyle Drabek and Brandon Morrow got lit up, Henderson Alvarez gave up back to back to back jacks before getting tossed, and then Ricky Romero who cannot locate the plate, but did find the time to snipe back to fans on Twitter. Brett Lawrie also took to social media to bash at the "haters" out there. I think they need to corral their emotional outbursts and channel on the field don't you think? Not quite the halcyon days of the glaring, crotch grabbing Dave Stieb and the uniform burning of Damaso Garcia, but getting there!!
This might rank up there with Carolina/Edmonton, Ottawa/Anaheim in terms of match ups with a lack of buzz. That said this year's Stanley Cup does have a nice level of intrigue with the upstart Kings versus a Devils team with a lot of talent and goalie hoping for one last Stanley Cup before riding off into the sunset. That said, I'm cringing in advance at what Ron MacLean might come up with for an opening for CBC.