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Wednesday, February 27, 2013


I took a stab at ranking the Top 10 OHL prospects for the upcoming NHL Draft as I was contacted by Brock Otten, who runs a comprehensive site looking at draft prospects.  I have written for Brock before because he is well respected and likes to take opinions from a wide variety of respected sources. 

His full list can be found here:

My opinions are found here: 

1. Sean Monahan- Ottawa:  Sometimes you really need to see the character of a player when he faces adversity.   His team is last in the OHL and he was cut from Team Canada, but Monahan continues to produce with 67 points in 48 games.  He is strong in all facets of his game, and he might not realize it, but the substandard year for the 67's likely has made him a better all around player. 

2. Darnell Nurse- Sault Ste Marie:  I do not know what I like more- the imposing 6'5 frame the 34 points from the back end or the fact that he has 104 PIM this year.  He's the complete defenseman who just needs to add some subtleties to his offensive game.  Great athletic bloodlines with Dad being a former CFL receiver, and many, many members of the Nurse family excelling at NCAA schools. 

3. Max Domi- London : Love his game.  He's got speed to burn, quick hands and a quick release.  He plays with a bit of an edge, but nothing like his father Tie.  He could hit 40 goals this year on a deep London squad.  Plus he knows the feeling of being a winner, having gone to the Memorial Cup final last year with London.   

4. Kerby Rychel-  Windsor:  Coming from a small sample size personally, but there is no denying the excellent stats of Rychel.  He was a 40 goal marksman last year on a mediocre Windsor squad and has 33 in 57 games this year.   Father Warren was known for being a scrapper, but Kerby has a lot of offensive finesse. 

5. Bo Horvat- London:  Solid, solid player.  He was all over the ice when I saw him live versus Niagara.   Like Domi, he is an important part of a very, very good team.   I rank him slightly below Rychel only because Rychel has better statistics. 

6. Nikita Zadorov- London:  London could have three 1st round NHL draft picks this year, and it would not surprise me to see Zadorov  drafted ahead of both Horvat and Domi.  He's 6'5 228, but his skating stride is smooth, and he is very composed in his own end, as evidenced by his +31 plus/minus ranking.  Offensive stats are modest, but at this point that's not his game.  Could be a shutdown type defender.

7. Justin Bailey- Kitchener:   Stands 6'3 194 and with room to grow.  When I saw him earlier in the year his stats were modest, but there is nothing wrong with 17 goals on a team that does not light the lamp with regularity.  At that size has the potential to develop into a true power forward.

8.  Jason Dickinson-Guelph:   The time I saw him live this year, was on the wrong end of a thrashing by Niagara, so I did not get to see his true potential.  Stats are modest, but sometimes it is the intangibles that elevate the draft status.   

9. Spencer Martin- Mississauga-  When you draft a goalie in the first round of the OHL draft, like the Steelheads did with Martin, there are high hopes.  Martin has met all of them.  He has been a workhorse with 40 games and at 6'2 190 pounds has good mobility.  One thing when I saw him play is that he sometimes reacts unfavorably when goals go in. That's going to happen, and might need to calm the emotions down a bit. 

10. Chris Bigras -Owen Sound.  I really liked what I saw of Bigras. While one element of his game does not stand out, he does everything well and he logs a fair amount of minutes on a team expected to make a deep playoff run.  Very poised, and has a good shot. 

A Couple of Deep Sleepers
Stephen Harper- Erie- He was ranked very highly in earlier draft boards, but has had a very inconsistent year with the Otters and has really dropped off the map.   He should not be overlooked as he is 6'2 200lbs and is very adept at driving the net.  His goals have slipped from 24 to 15, but there is a lot of potential.  Could benefit from a change of scenery. 

Thomas Welsh- Mississauga- Pretty sure he has two years of draft eligibility.  If you look at his stats, they are very, very modest but he did not join Mississauga until the midway point of the year after decomitting from Penn State.  You could make a highlight video of some of the thunderous body checks he has thrown this year and with Stuart Percy and Dylan DeMelo expected to move up, he could be a top 2 D Man next year. 

Anthony DiFruscia-Niagara- Another guy earmarked for the NCAA and then turned to the OHL.   Offensive stats have been spotty and he has had his druthers, but he does a goal scorer's touch and is a very, very solid body checker.  The offense will come, but scouts should not overlook his gritty all around game.  

Friday, February 22, 2013


Sportscasting is constantly undergoing a metamorphosis of some sort, and the product on today bears little resemblance to days of yore.  Today much interaction, like the Tim and Sid Show on Fan590, is done through Twitter or e-mail, or texting.   Some eschew that sort of interaction in favour of the normal call in method.   One other trend that is really becoming apparent is the influx of print journalists to both television and the radio.  Newspaper writers come with a name familiarity and also a dedicated following. If a reporter is articulate, they are a natural fit for radio and TV.

David Naylor, formerly of the Globe and Mail now hosts TSN1050's important drive show.  Naylor, who cut his teeth as the football "Insider" started hosting a show on Saturday afternoon, and then got the important slot when TSN parted ways with James Cybulski.  Naylor is bright, articulate and has a lot of connections.  His on-air personality is not really defined, but that does not matter as he already has a built in audience.

There are many other writers with high profile gigs on TV and Radio.  Damien Cox and Stephen Brunt share time on Prime Time Sports, billed as the nations most listened to talk show.  Add in the fact that Cox is a regular panelist for hockey and Stephen Brunt does a number of wonderful TV essays, those two have effortlessly crossed mediums.

Others who have fit that bill are the well-regarded Bruce Arthur and antagonistic Steve Simmons who both are on TSN's The Reporters and are regulars on the radio.  All of the aforementioned still write for their home newspaper, with the exception of Brunt who rarely appears in The Globe and Mail.  Jeff Blair and Michael Grange are two other Globe and Mail Reporters who cross platforms.  It used to be that you had to have a good voice and an engaging personality.  Not some much anymore.  Never have their been so many "ink stained wretches" in important television and radio positions.  You need to learn how to write and to build a consistent and loyal audience.  

With that in mind, here is a video of a black Labrador doing funny things.  It is hoped that this video goes viral and I can build an nurture a large fanbase. 

Steve Clark

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Nothing really stood out in terms of dominant story.  As a sports and law enthusiast, I could go on and on bout the Oscar Pistorius case and another hero fallen.   This will turn out to be South Africa's OJ Case because of the media circus that will likely surround it, though the reach of Pistorius and how he is revered in South Africa is far greater than the faux-actor/football hero that OJ was.   

A brief furor ensued when it was discovered that one of the IceDogs Zamboni drivers proudly sported the Knights colours when tending to his intermission duties.    When I read about it, I was amused, and had a chuckle.  Bill Burke did not share in the laughter, and according to the St Catharine's Standard, was less than enamoured with the situation.  He's the one who pays the bills, not me, so I can understand that he was chagrined.   Why the guy did it?  I don't know.  Maybe he got dared by one of his co-workers.  Who knows?  It made for a bit of a story though!

While I'm at it, a trivial point.  It's not a blog if there are not some trivial points by the way!   I do not know what the rules are around other OHL arenas, but whomever runs the Jack Gatecliffe arena has a habit of open skates and rentals on game days and the ice is not cleared until 1 1/2 hours before game time.  How much of an effect it has on the ice remains to be seen, but to me, it remains in the best interest of the arena to have the ice as pristine as possible for your anchor tenants.  Players would be the best ones to ask this, but towards the end of a period the ice can be quite chippy, and can take some odd bounces.  The players are so highly skilled that you do not notice the difference for the most part.  

When you have the last name Domi, it tends to carry around something of a stigma or a target on your back. Max Domi's fluid skating style, creativity and toughness likely exceeds the talent level of this famous father who parlayed his skills into an 1000+ NHL games.   I got a request from someone to check the London/Niagara game film to see if Domi gave a "throat slash" gesture towards agitating forward Mac Lemmon.  The exchange between the two was quite heated, and more verbal than physical in nature.  Whatever Lemon said to Domi enraged the fiery winger and he tried desperately to get at Lemmon.  Whether or not there was a "throat slash" gesture can be questioned.  I did not see it, but I was also not specifically paying attention to the exchange.   Also, I do not see it as a really big deal.  I mean, the Undertaker does it.  Is Dave Branch going to levy a suspension to the dark and brooding WWE superstar?   Time to move on from this one.   

Man, this team is tough to figure out sometimes.  Brilliant at times, lost at others, the IceDogs sure epitomize the agonies of youth.  There is a noticeable drop off after Strome, Shipley and Ritchie but that is not meant as  an insult as those are elite and veteran OHL players.   Also the defense is hardworking, but looks a little worn out with all the minutes that they are logging.   Aaron Haydon's broken jaw, a potential season ender has not helped.   More often than not the goaltending of Chris Festarini and Brent Moran has been solid and support scorers like Brendan Perlini and Carter Verhaeghe have been stepping up.   Time will tell, but the IceDogs are in a stretch of games that will see them play 8 of 10 at home, and that will go a long way in determining playoff seeding.  

Apparantly there is some guy named Wale who raps, and has a Twitter following in the millions.  I've never heard of him, but I'm trapped in the 90's so much of today's music is unfamiliar.  Wale and Rudy Gay of the Raptors, had a running dialogue during last nights Wizards/Raptors game, and play by play man Matt Devlin made the comment that Wale was no Drake, who is Toronto born and bred.  Somehow it got back to Wale, who then confronted Devlin during the game, and also tweeted that Devlin should "shut his mouth"  I think the whole thing was likely in gest, and made for some good fun.  After all the Wizards are dreadful this year.   Inspired by this and with Kingston in town, I am going to comment that The Tragically Hip is no Walk off the Earth (or a band from St Catharines) and then sit and wait for Gord Downie.  There is no fence around me! 

Till next time
Steve Clark

Monday, February 11, 2013


Disclaimer #1:  The title of this blog refers to the recent book I read about the OJ Simpson case, not my own personal view points :-)

Disclaimer #2:  The only sports content in this blog is the fact that OJ Simpson was a famous running back.  

When I picked up Bill Dear's book OJ Simpson is Innocent and I Can Prove it , I jokingly said to some friends and colleagues that I was not sure if I should have found this book in the fiction or humour section of the book store.   It all seemed pretty clear that OJ Simpson was guilty of killing both is ex-wife and her friend and the DNA evidence appeared to back it up.  The only thing that cleared Simpson was both the ineptitude of both the prosecution and the judge, who seemed quite content to let Simpson's so-called "Dream Team" call the shots.   Also, the skillful manipulation of a jury who seemed to be quite star-struck by OJ lead to a verdict of not guilty.  It should be noted that Simpson was found guilty in a civil trial, partly due to the fact that the burden of proof is not quite so onerous in civil law.

I was afraid of a couple of things when I picked up Dear's book. First and foremost was the hope that Dear would not fall prey to Simpson hero worship and that he would attempt to humanize OJ.   That fear was put to rest as Dear does not actually meet with Simpson at all during the book and paints him as a conniving womanizer, both a physical and verbal abuser of women, an absentee father one who is quite willing to use those in his inner circle for his own benefit.   The other thing that I was fearful of was that Dear would rely on the usual cliche conspiracy theories and would offer nothing new to the investigation.  That fear was also put to rest as the story takes place over the 18 years that Dear spent investigating the case.  He is thorough, leaving little stone unturned, and you may come away with the conclusion that he was a tad obsessed with the case.

Without giving any spoilers, Dear does present to us a credible alternate theory, and a suspect that was not considered before.  He uses expert testimony and analysis to back it up and is not afraid to be a little duplicitous in order to find out what he wants.  There are gaps in his story that he does fill with his own speculation, and those points could certainly be exploited and in the final summation hinder Dears' ultimate theory.  His theory about why OJ would not kill his wife and friend at the time he did is almost laughable and full of holes.  Still, you cannot help but admire his dogged determinism. There was very little profit to be gained by Dear, a veteran private investigation yet he desires a full closure to a case that everyone seems to acknowledge is closed.  

In the end you cannot argue with 18 years of investigation.   He unearths clues that had not been analyzed and uses credible experts who back up his years of work.  I am not ready to make the "OJ is innocent" leap of faith but his presentation of an alternative suspect is extremely intriguing and worth re-opening the re-investigation.

Unfortunately for the LAPD re-opening this investigation rips open a would akin to the one inflicted by the killer of Nicole Brown Simpson and Fred Goldman.

Steve Clark